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.