Things I wish I’d said

March 30, 2010

Yesterday I got the opportunity to tape a radio show, Through the Eyes of Women, which airs at 1:30p.m. on Mondays on KHSU.

It is hosted by my friend Kathy Srabian and because it was National Women’s History Month, she asked me to come on and we would focus on women in history, as participants and as recorders.  I prepped with questions she provided and took my notes with me, only to forget and skip most of the things I’d planned to say (something about that darn microphone in my face and that recorder going mushed my brain). 

Anyhoo, this is what I’d hoped to say…  It’s not pretty (and you must ignore the typos), but hopefully the thoughts are clear.

Kathy’s Intro:

A recent article in the north coast journal and my last show on National History Month made me curious about women who record history.   And the roll it plays, the way it affects our stories about ourselves. 

The NCJ article on the Indian Massacres  made several references to journals that women had written.  The only personal account of the Indian island massacre was by a native woman… 

The stores we are told about who we as a people, as a population are affect our perception of ourselves.   And our expectations of  our children. 

Our lives are paved with our history, we walk on it everyday, we follow the paths our history has  laid out for us Unless we make a conscious effort to change it. 

Lynette..  You are a historian?   In your blog you speak of your passion for research.  What is it you are looking for?


I’m still trying to articulate it.  I know there is value in history, but honestly it is still the magic I love the most.  It is the only time travel I know—and the only way to talk to ghosts. 

History, its written records and images transcend time and space, mortality, even.  It allows us to discover and learn about the people, places and events that occurred before we even existed.  And the only way to know about these people, these events, is through those records.  See what they saw.  Learn what they learned, and experience, or at least imagine to a certain degree, what they experienced.  Who wouldn’t want to study and preserve that?

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Let a woman vote? Are you crazy?

March 29, 2010

It was thought dangerous by many to let women vote, c 1911


It is easy to forget that women in this country have only had the right to vote for ninety years.  And I didn’t know (until I looked it up on Wikipedia) that many countries beat us in granting equal voting rights to women.

  • Norway and Denmark: 1913
  • Finland: 1906
  • Even the United Kingdom granted women over thirty the right to vote in 1918, while it took until 1920 for American women to enjoy that same right.  


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Ignoring the dead white man

March 25, 2010


I discovered the copy of the inquest that occurred after the lynching of  two Indians at the same time I discovered Lucy’s inquest

Later, as I read through old newspapers, I was able to piece together some of what happened.  Two Native American men both known as “Jack” were accused and hung for murdering a white man living on an island in the middle of the Eel River near Loleta.  They were given no trial and their deaths were added to the many already suffered by the aboriginal people during the settlement period of Humboldt County’s history.  But this time we knew their names.  We could learn their story.  

I imagined them terrified as their “jail” was broken into (I’m jumping ahead in my story, I know, but maybe this is part of the story, too).    I imagined them dropping as dead weight or pleading for their lives as they were brought to the waiting noose, the crowd loud and volatile around them (or quiet and secretive to avoid detection from citizens who might object to such vigilante justice).

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Mail Tree in SoHum

March 24, 2010

Early Mail Box

This tree is just a tree.  Until you read this…

(Harris is near present-day Garberville).

Saw dust sleep for two bits a night

March 23, 2010

Saw dust sleep for "two bits" a night at a billard saloon

I found this in a collection of  illustrations created during and about the Gold Rush, so am assuming (dangerous, I know) that it reflects the lodging enjoyed by some of the emigrants on their way to California.

Healthcare bill: Creating a social safety net

March 22, 2010


Those without a dwelling place
Those without a dwelling place


Months ago I did a post about the lack of a social safety net for folks who needed healthcare but lacked the resources to pay for it.

With the House passage of the healthcare bill yesterday, I thought it was appropriate to run it again, emphasizing that  over 150 years ago, Humboldt County addressed this issue successfully.   It is nice to  see that the rest of the country has finally recognized the need and is taking positive steps to address it.

Original Post October 2009

Yesterday I said that there was no welfare or other social safety net for widowed or abandoned women in the settlement period,  but that wasn’t quite true.In 1855, the Humboldt County Supervisors added a five cent tax for every hundred dollars of property value.  These funds would be used to assist the sick and indigent.  

People wanting the services of a physician needed to be within four miles of the doctor and prove their need.  The Doc was also required to keep a book with the names of the folks he treated and the details. 

By 1857, the supervisors added a caveat that anyone claiming need had to petition their supervisor directly for approval.

As a side note, it is interesting that in a community where the local newspaper gleefully reported that local natives  were “entirely starved out” ,  the county paid $170 to A.S. Baldwin to help Lewis Howard, a “man of color”.   In August of 1857, the county purchased $12.75 worth of clothing for Mr. Howard and in February of 1858, a coffin.

Over the years, the fund was used to pay for room and board, physician services, druggists, as well as funeral expenses and coffins.

Ironically, today we seem much less willing (or able, depending on your views) to care for our sick and indigent.  The New York Times recently reported on California’s budget crisis, and the ensuing cuts to health care and other services for those most in need

While the state’s health insurance program for children, Healthy Families, remains, it was cut by $144 million, meaning thousands of children will probably be on a waiting list for the program ….

In-home services for the elderly and infirm were reduced by several million dollars.

 When I talked about the lack of a safety net yesterday, perhaps I should have been referring to now.

What baseball is really all about

March 19, 2010

And this one…

The notes I have say “Arcata”.  I’m not sure of the year.

Sick plumbing?

March 18, 2010

From the


Mon. Jun 15, 1953

Sick Plumbing???

Call your plumbing Doctor.


Serving Eureka since 1923

I8 3th St. Ph. 2-13D3




New rates in effect In Humboldt


Not to exceed  $20 for ANY residential

Septic tank. Work Guaranteed,

Licensed & Bonded 

(I just included this one because it cost us $450 the last time we had ours cleaned)





(Many ads have “adults only”)


In 1953 you could buy a lot in BAYSIDE HEIGHTS

124 X 193 for $2850 cash.


Women, an underprivileged and needing class…?

March 16, 2010


In the 19th century, teaching was one of the few "respectable" occupations open to women

On Saturday I attended a great workshop put on by WEI (Women Entrepreneurs Institute),  which focused on providing local female entrepreneurs with the tools and support they need to build successful businesses.

Before I started researching local history (and even now, I must admit) I tend to bristle at any organization or event focused on helping a particular ethnic group or gender (try having a Male Entrepreneurs Institute or a White Student Union).    Non-traditional or reverse discrimination is still discrimination.

Yet.  Yet… I’m the one who posted info about the feme sole trader laws,  which were needed before women were “allowed” to own and operate their own businesses independent of their husbands.   I’m the one who cited the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C.,  which found that white females earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by a white males for doing the same work. The institute that also found that minority women, such as Latinas, face greater earning disparities, earning, on average 51 cents for every dollar earned by white men.   

Things are changing, though,  and opportunities for women are growing.  Today women own about 40 percent of all businesses in the U.S. and the number of women-owned businesses is growing.  Women also benefit from events like WEI, even while male entrepreneurs,  who need the training and information just as much as women do,  are excluded.

I understand that in a sense, WEI was an affirmative action event*, as are the many small business grant and loan programs that are not available to other (male-owned) businesses.   

Yet, as a woman (and business owner) I look forward to the day when I am not considered part of a special, underprivileged class that needs extra help to achieve the same success as a man.  The extra help may be a necessary evil to address and reverse centuries of disadvantage and discrimination, but eventually we won’t be classified as white, black, male, female and instead we’ll just be people. People working hard to achieve our goals.


*The term affirmative action refers to policies that take race, ethnicity, physical disabilities, military career, sex, or a person’s parents’ social class into consideration in an attempt to promote equal opportunity or increase ethnicity or other forms of diversity. The focus of such policies ranges from employment and education to public contracting and health programs. The impetus towards affirmative action is twofold: to maximize diversity in all levels of society, along with its presumed benefits, and to redress perceived disadvantages due to overt, institutional, or involuntary discrimination.

Early Blue Lake

March 8, 2010


[Casebeer’s story is on hold for a bit while I focus on other projects]

In April I am going to be giving two presentations on the early history of Blue Lake (one where I talk, another of just photos) and would appreciate any photos or stories that folks are willing to share of the Blue Lake, Glendale, Essex, Warren Creek areas, especially anything prior to 1900.

You can reach me/send them to:  Thanks !

The following photo was among many great ones that can be found at the  Humboldt State Library.  Though many photos are online, it is worth a trip to the library to see the ones that haven’t been digitized yet.

Blue Lake Christening

Written on the back of the photo