Invitation to others…

July 30, 2009

Today I sent out some  e-mails letting people know I’ve started this blog.  My hope is that others will contribute what they know and this becomes a place we can all learn more about the local history.

Welcome everyone.

One of many Lucys

July 29, 2009


1900 Census, Indian Schedule

In the western movie, Broken Trail  , there is a scene where Robert Duvall struggles to learn the names of five Chinese girls under his care.  They speak no English and growing frustrated, Duvall’s character points to each one in turn and names them, “One, Two, Three, Four… “.  The girls accept the names, because they have no choice. 

 The same thing happened here.  When the white settlers arrived, they re “named” the native people.  Smo-Wa became Henry Capell (he was from the village of Capell).  Corn-no-wish became Weichpec Oscar.  Zo-wish-wish, a Wiyot woman related to Lucy’s daughter, Annie, was also known as “Rose”.

 Lucy, the woman I write about, was only one of many “Lucys”.

She was known by the name of Lucy

July 28, 2009

There are no known pictures of Lucy

There are no known pictures of Lucy. This woman and child are Yurok.

Twenty year old Allen Hill was the first to examine the bloody toddler, to see if he was injured.  John Preston had already decided the mess on Charles’ face was from a bloody nose and his wife Sarah thought it was from a whipping by the boy’s mother.

 The Prestons were wrong.

 It was also Allen that discovered Lucy’s body, after he looked through the door of the small cabin where the Native American lived with two of her three small children.  He described seeing her blood “running on the floor.”   According to Hill, the body was covered up and “the children were in bed with the corpse.”

 When questioned, Annie, Lucy’s younger daughter, could not say how long her mother had been dead.  The four year old girl claimed two white men did it.  

 An inquest was called and prominent businessmen in the community devoted three days to the investigation.  The Prestons, their neighbor Allen Hill,  and others were interviewed in an attempt, it sometimes seemed, to discover a motive and identify the killers.

  Lucy, according to John Preston was between twenty-eight and thirty years old and “very nearly blind”. At the time of her murder, on January 12, 1862, she may have been the only adult Indian in Union.  The others, according to Sarah Preston, had been removed to the reservation.

 According to the witnesses, Lucy’s murder was not unexpected. William Lindsey, Sarah’s brother, admitted that he thought Lucy would be killed because he “did not think that any but children would be allowed to live here [in Arcata]”.   A witness claimed to have heard William say that the murderers had done “a good job,” but William denied it.  He also denied another witness’s assertion that William said that it might have been better if they had “killed the little ones”, meaning Annie and Charles, as well.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Lucy, or how this came to be, part 2

July 27, 2009

I learned about Lucy Romero after I stumbled upon an historic inquest record in the basement of our county courthouse.  Lucy had been brutally murdered with a hatchet in 1862 and the inquest had been called to uncover the killers. 

In the weeks leading up to her murder, rumors had been floating around Arcata that she was in danger.  Her landlord, Sarah Preston,  urged her to leave the area, as did Sarah’s father, Findley Lindsey.  Lucy said she had no where else to go.  No where safe to hide.   

Learning about Lucy solidified the journey that lead me here.  And so the journey continues…

How this came to be, part 1

July 26, 2009

Two days before I “met” Kym Kemp over the phone, I told myself I should create a blog about local history, like Ernie Branscomb’s , but focus it more on the northern part of Humboldt County.  Ernie has an incredible site that offers a lot of info about Southern Humboldt history, and provides a forum for others to share what they know.  

After telling myself I should have a blog, I realized I had no idea of how to start, and because the idea intimidated the hell out of me, I let it go.   Until two days ago when I met Kym.  I talked to her of my interest in history, and she suggested I start a blog.  When I told her I had zero aptitude for creating such things, she offered to walk me through it.  And did.  Thank you, Kym.  Very much.  All the glitchy, ugly things are mine.  Give credit to Kym for anything that looks good.

Miners’ Camp

July 26, 2009



July 24, 2009

My husband looked up from the computer with awe in his voice, “It is still happening,” he said.  “All that stuff you write about is still happening, isn’t it?”

He was reading a comment on a local newspaper site responding to the recent arrest of a former Hoopa Tribal Chairman .   “Anti Indianscum” was upset that he has to live “near those bunches of bum Indian methheads, Indian thieves, and murderers,” and asserted that  “we should annihilate them for good. There no good, or functioning so eliminate them.”  (the misspellings are the author’s).

I would like to think that Anti-Indian is all alone in his prejudice, but other posters shared his hateful sentiments.   

My husband was right.  “Anti Indianscum” bears a striking resemblance to E.L. Davis, who, in 1860, wrote to the state governor complaining  about the local Indians.  He stated very clearly his desire to “exterminate the Indians from the face of the earth as far as this county is concerned.”   Davis lived in Hydesville and was upset because he believed the local natives were killing his cattle.   


Perhaps Anti-Indian is a Davis descendant. Perhaps he is  our neighbor.  I would like to believe that this county’s ugly history is far behind us, but Anti-Indian reminds me it isn’t.    Our history is ancient past, and today’s news.    Many of our local landmarks are named after serial killers and our small town blocks are lined with quaint historic homes where indentured  Indian servants once lived as slaves. Many of us pass the site of a bloody massacre on our way to work  and share offices with Anti Indianscum .


We have much to learn…