Incentive to quit the filthy weed, Arcata 1863

January 29, 2010

I went though some old newspaper archives recently and am obviously having fun with what I found.

Apparently “progressive” Arcata has a long history with filthy weeds…

Humboldt Times, 28 March 1863

Arcata Anti-Tobacconist–Our sister city, across the Bay, has taken another progressive step, in the organization of a league whoe one idea is to discourage the use of the filthy weed.

Some ten inveterate victims of this habit always fallacious and at present extremely extravagant have pledged themselves to abstain from the use of tobacco in any form during the year 1863, under penalty of a fine of ten dollars, which in case of forfeiture is to be applied to the school fund of the town.

We consider this a good arrangement; for if they really succeed…   it certainly will be to his advantage, while if his resolve melts away like the smoke of his discarded meerchaum*, the ten dollars remains as a tangible benefit to the school fund, which will gain what he loses.

*meerchaum: a claylike mineral used to make tobacco pipes

Why doesn’t the Times Standard still print stuff like this???

January 28, 2010


Humboldt Times, 21 Feb 1863

G.W.H.—We received your communication and are at a loss to know what to do with it, or what to say about it.  Don’t know who you are, don’t know who “J.K.” is, nor where the communication was written, or what it refers to.  Don’t know who “J.E.” is, don’t know who stuck the pitchfork in Mr. S nor whose wife “J.E.” fell in love with.  In short we know nothing of the circumstances or parties, and decline your communication with the advice that when you write again for a newspaper, let the editor have your name.  We do not care to do your fighting.

Photo: Lang and his child bride

January 27, 2010

I did a post recently about Ah Lang and his child bride and yesterday I was able to go back and get a scan of the photo.  For those who didn’t read my earlier post, handwritten on the back of the picture is this: 

Ah Lang
Bought wife for $6 in San Francisco.  She poisoned him six years later and remarried.   Oroville, Butte County, c. 1900.

From County of Humboldt Collection

We all bleed red, but are NOT equal

January 22, 2010

Yesterday’s post automatically linked to another blog with an entry about the Fort Mims Massacre, in which hundreds of white settlers were apparently killed by indians.    The writer is quite angry (and rightly horrified) by the atrocities that supposedly happened there, concluding:

The Indians have always fought each other, well before whites arrived in America. The story above is just one example of how offensive and savagely barbaric the Indians really were. It’s the stuff they don’t teach in school.

500 whites and mixed-blood people were murdered including women and children, and 250 scalps were collected by the Indians. The blacks were mostly spared as to become slaves to the Indians, (which were later used as human shields and all quickly killed).

Notice how they call the savage Indians the non-offensive word “warriors”, when “barbarians” is a perfect fit.

So… It’s a bummer he didn’t include anything about why the fort was there in the first place (likely to defend encroaching pioneers who were taking over indian lands, or launch offensive attacks to drive the natives out) , and any events that lead to the massacre. 

I’ve heard there were violent tribes, and they did war against each other, but can guess that there were probably some instigating factors here that were conveniently left out. 

I just tried wikipedia to find out more about the massacre and though it’s very clear the attack at Fort Mims was not random or completely unprovoked, I am still confused.  Maybe someone else can figure out what, exactly, happened there:


I would love to leave it at that, but am compelled to share the blog writer’s bio, which he proudly displays on his main page.   I’m a little scared it’ll draw the guy to my site, but can’t resist sharing.  I’ve gotten familiar with the tragic events that happened here during the settlement period, but have a hard time understanding the mentality that allowed them to happen.  This, unfortunately, kinda helps…


I am an American. I am white. “White guilt” is a political term used to oppress white people. I am not guilty. White pride, not white guilt. Just because we all bleed red, does NOT make us equal. Politically, only whites can be racist. I don’t put much into politics. Specific races destroy our land, our culture, and our people. The liberals allow the change of history if it offends non-whites. Schools are brainwashing white students to believe their multicultural propaganda, and to promote “white guilt”. Only a nigger can say nigger, bullshit. Blacks try to steal the creation of inventions from ‘peanut butter’ to the ‘great civilizations’. The United States of America was built by white Europeans ALONE. Facts mean nothing to liberal eyes. Faith, Hope, and Change are nothing more than feel-good words, in a fantasy life. We speak english, you get the fuck out.

Just leave me and my family alone.

A contagious obsession

January 21, 2010

 Randy, a blogger parked at, has gotten interested in our local history, in part, he says, because of this blog:  

A special shout out to Lynette and her awesome history blog (see sidebar) for getting me all fired up about this subject again.

He seems appreciative now, but I don’t know that it will last.   Jim Baker, a local historian, once told me that Lynwood Carranco, co-author of Genocide and Vendetta, warned him that researching  local history of the settlement period would become an addiction… and that he should try to keep some distance (some sort of life, most likely) before it became an obsession.  Jim Baker, thanks to his research into the notorious Hank Larrabee, was unable to heed that warning and has been researching the indian killer for the last thirty years.  But maybe Randy can do it– keep an emotional distance despite the things he’ll learn that haunt his sleep.  Perhaps Randy can do it, but probably not.    

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Are you inclined to sloth and idleness?

January 20, 2010

The biggest trouble I had with this post was deciding which phrase to use as my title…

  • Dare I presume to kiss you?
  • Do you speak and think a different way?

Oh, or this one. 

  • Are you my friend?

I didn’t see a publish date, but would imagine mid 1800s (ish).   It was published for “gentlemen”  and contains some of the sweetest lines I’ve ever heard.

Pay attention, damn it.

January 19, 2010

I am fortunate enough to live on Glendale Dr. (near Blue Lake) about 1/4 mile from the foot of Liscom Hill.  Liscom Hill Road goes up about three miles before turning into a private road at the old Ford Ranch, where there is an amazing view of the ocean.  I walk up a little, or a lot, of the road depending on the weather and the time I have.  The road follows the old trail to Hoopa and thoughts of others who’ve gone before me always keeps it interesting.

The other day I had some time on my hand and a break in the rain and so I went.   About a mile and half up I heard a crunch in the woods and turned to see an elk looking at me.  I said “hello” and about five other heads popped up not twenty feet from where I stood.  I said hello again and started a mild stampede away from me (which was good because some of the bulls had very big horns), and was amazed to see at least twenty other elk nearby.  If I hadn’t heard the one, I might have passed them by completely, never aware that they were there.

Which is my point.  There are so many things in this world that we don’t, or won’t see.  Regular things, but magical things, too, that surround us.

I have posted (and talked) often of Lucy, a Native American woman murdered in Arcata in 1862, and in my stories, I always try to include my discovery of  her son, Charles’ , obituary in our house.

I’ve recently, with a lot of help from Humboldt Historian editor Suzanne Forsyth, completed an article about Lucy Romero for the Spring 2010 edition of the Historian.  In the article we’re including the story of finding Charles’ obituary in my house,  along with a photo of the clipping.

The thing is, I hadn’t looked at that obituary for a long time.  It is upstairs in a room used for storage  and I covered it to protect it, probably over a year ago… and hadn’t seen it since.  And sometimes, I must admit, I feared it wasn’t there at all.  That I imagined the whole thing as some sub-conscious push to keep working on Lucy’s story.

So it was with more than a little trepidation that I walked upstairs the other day to take a photo of the obituary to go with the article for the Historian.

It is there.  Placed on my wall some 66 years after Lucy’s murder, to be found two years after I learned about Lucy.   The odds…. I can’t calculate the odds of this being so.  Yet is is.  There is magic all around us folks.  Ghosts whisper in the creaking of old floor boards, in the rustling leaves.  There are stories, too.  Just waiting to be heard. 

Charles was Lucy Romero's son

Printing our own money

January 18, 2010

Humboldt County residents have created a community currency , but I don’t know how well the system is working, and how widely it is used.  The one advantage I can see is that we can create bills that reflect our community–money is, or can be, art, and a wonderful reflection of a culture and time (however romanticized the illustrations).  

I can’t find a picture of the Humboldt currency to post (worries about counterfeiters, perhaps?), but I did find money from the  Republic of Texas, which printed its own bills before becoming a part of the U.S in 1845.  

Bills of currency issued by the Republic of Texas, 1837-1841

Currency Detail

Currency detail

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Chinese wife for $6

January 15, 2010

I was looking through a collection of old photos the other day and noted one in particular of a Chinese man and a young girl that looked to be about thirteen.  The man was holding a small child and the girl an infant. 

The back of the photo said, :

Ah Lang
Bought wife for $6 in San Francisco.  She poisoned him six years later and remarried.   Oroville, Butte County, c. 1900.
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Those in Haiti

January 14, 2010

I haven’t been ignoring the events happening in Haiti.  I think it is just still too big to get my head around.

My heart goes out to all of those affected by the tragedy.