When the ratio of men to women was 76:1

There was a California census taken in the summer of 1852.  At that time there was no Humboldt County and so folks here were enumerated in the Trinity County census.

The information reported to the state legislature was:

Population: 1,764


Male: 1,741

Female: 23

The number of females noted neglects to count the number of Native American women that were in this area when the whites came in.  I would like to think that at least some of the early (male) settlers missed, and wanted, more domestic lives (and not just sex),  and these numbers help to explain (to a limited extent) why so many became “squawmen”.

Though taking a native “wife” was not uncommon in the early years of the settlement period, it was also not widely accepted by the wider population, as this short article, like many others,  shows…

1859, Dec. , Humboldt Times, DUEL Indians MATTOLE. … The duel occurred between a Mr. Lafferty and his brother-in-law.   The social positions of the parties is about equal, one of them being an Indian, and the other , though claiming to be white, lives with the Indian’s sister.  They were both wounded at the first fire, after which a reconciliation was brought about by the sister.  Unfortunately their wounds are not considered dangerous [emphasis mine].

Many squawmen didn’t care about public opinion, and at least a few, like “Duncan” of Eel River,  legally married their wives.  Unfortunately, many others came to regret their early relationships, and chose to hide them (or worse) instead.  

To be continued…

3 Responses to When the ratio of men to women was 76:1

  1. Nan Abrams says:

    I have been noticing on the census records how some households had a young Indian girl living with them. I assume they were there as domestics. In any case, it raises the question as to how they wound up there. Was it employment or indentured servitude?

    • lynette77 says:

      Unfortunately I haven’t found any indicators that these child servants were ever paid.
      Some were purchased, others were parcelled out after raids on local villages left orphans that were collected by the militia-men/volunteers,
      and some were just kidnapped by those needing help (unfortunately there is documented evidence that all these situations occurred).

  2. […] “A good white man” Continued from previous posts, Early Polygamists &  The Ratio […]

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