Continued from Part 1
And Part 2
An inquest was held by Justice Jameson of Eel River (the Fortuna area). Jameson examined Casebeer’s body and declared the case a homicide.
Neighbors, as is typical, talked about the murder and a “squaw” “intimated” to James Tukesbury, a local farmer (and white man) that Indians may have committed the crime.
Though many of Humboldt County’s indigenous people died at the hands of whites (in early September, seven were killed for slaughtering “a few head of cattle”), the murder of a white man was uncommon. The murder of a white man at the hands of an Indian was considered an egregious and intolerable crime.
Local Natives were questioned and Jack, an Indian living with Tukesbury, most likely as a servant, finally admitted that he witnessed the murder. According to Jack, he was walking by Casebeer’s house with another Indian , “Big Jack” , and two Indian women when they spotted Casebeer’s gun through a window. Casebeer was in the distance chopping down trees and hadn’t seen them. Big Jack decided to steal Casebeer’s gun and shoot him for being “very bad”. Jack said he protested, fearing the murder of a white man would prompt the whites to “plenty kill Indians”, but Big Jack climbed through Casebeer’s window and retrieved the gun. He then approached Casebeer and shot him “through the breast”, killing him. Big Jack then hid Casebeer’s body by pulling it into the brush.
To be continued…