Fathers that kept their families intact

Unfortunately I realized rather late that perhaps I should have posted a more positive blog about fathers because of the holiday.  Ooops. 

I’ll try to rectify that now.

Though there were men who regretted their early domestic choices in Humboldt County, there were far more that built what resembled, at least from the outside, traditional families with their Native wives.

My husband is descended from a white miner who came into the Orleans area in the 1800s and a native woman taken as his wife. 

Unfortunately the wife died-though I can’t remember if it was during the birth of their first son, or shortly after.  After the wife’s death, her sister came to care for the child, as the miner/father was often away in the hills for long periods of time.  Once, when the miner was gone for an extraordinarily long period, the sister took the baby and returned to her village in the hills.  The miner came home and found his son gone.  According to family lore, the miner walked to the village, straight to where his child was, retrieved the boy and left.  It was his child and the fact that he was of mixed race and motherless was irrelevant. 

Today we go to the family cabin in Orleans and see photos of that  first Humboldt County pioneer. And his son, John. And John’s children… You get the idea.   The first pioneer raised his son in Orleans and the family has remained in the area ever since, a legacy intact.

OlManRiver recently pointed out that a majority of the early settlers in upper Mattole, Briceland and Elk Ridge were squawmen and many of those families are still intact, generations later.

And perhaps the others, men like Heacock,   ultimately did their families a favor by going away.


4 Responses to Fathers that kept their families intact

  1. Jay Toobad says:

    Your comment reminded me of another I read long ago, from Washington Irving’s account of Capt. Bonneville’s trapping expedition of 1832-35. A trapper and his Indian wife are separated by a sudden outbreak of violence between the trappers and small group of Indians (started by the trappers). A cease fire is called because the child cries so piteously for its mother, and the trapper bravely crosses the divide to reunite the two. Here’s Irving:

    he urged to have his wife restored to him, but her brother interfered, and the countenance of the chief grew dark. The girl, he said,belonged to his tribe-she must remain with her people. Loretto would still have lingered, but his wife implored him to depart, lest his life should be endangered. It was with the greatest reluctance that he returned to his companions.

    The affection expressed here seems to correspond to your story, though ownership goes the other way. I should add, Irving writes that Loretto later reunited with his wife and child, and lived with them at a trading post in Blackfoot country. This twice-told tale isn’t exactly conclusive evidence on the existence of such benevolent cross-cultural marriages, but the story is suggestive of their possibility.

    • lynette77 says:

      Actually Jay, I think there were probably a number of these marriages (unfortunately, those aren’t the ones noted in the accounts I read).

      I’ve also read of men that shunned the white lifestyle altogether, living with the Natives and eventually being hunted, and killed, right along with their “red brethren”. If I find the description I’m thinking about, I’ll post it.

  2. JkRob (screen name) actual Jeanna Robledo says:

    When I saw the term “Squawmen” and “Elk Ridge” mentioned in this blog, my eyes (ears) perked up instantly. My husband’s Great-grandmother, Dora (or possibly Victoria) Rutledge, was said to be born in Elk Ridge. She married an Indian (Mattole) named Thomas (Tom) Scott. All we knew about Dora was from family lore that she died due to injuries sustained in a fire, when her oil lantern exploded. She had a baby at the time and tossed the child out the window. She died in Scotia Hospital in 10 Mar 1906 and is buried at Sunrise Cemetery. DNA results shows a strong tie to a Rutledge family that lived in the Yager Creek area. We are not sure if Dora was white, mixed, or Indian. Death certificate of Tom, says he was born in Bridgeville, and I we surmising that they may have come in contact there. But seeing the name Rutledge, makes me rethink my assumption. Any ideas from readers out there?

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