Jolly Giant Mill in Arcata, c.1878

July 30, 2010

Jolly Giant Mill, located northwest of HSU. Photo c.1878

I’m thinking that “Historic Photo Fridays” might be a good idea…


Training for “the enemy”

July 29, 2010

Historic Church in Santa Barbara

A few years ago I watched the movie Jarhead and while I’m sure there was drama and suspense, the thing I remember most was the waiting.  Soldiers preparing and waiting.  Training and waiting.  Anticipating  and waiting while nothing happened. 

Here   is a synopsis of the movie 

 Jarhead (the self-imposed moniker of the Marines) follows Swoff (Gyllenhaal) from a sobering stint in boot camp to active duty, where he sports a sniper rifle through Middle East deserts that provide no cover from the heat or Iraqi soldiers. Swoff and his fellow Marines sustain themselves with sardonic humanity and wicked comedy on blazing desert fields in a country they don’t understand against an enemy they can’t see for a cause they don’t fully grasp.  

 which doesn’t really give you a feel for that whole waiting thing, but offers a great segue into another good point.  Often soldiers are trained to fight whatever. You know,  “the enemy”. 

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Soldier on his way to Humboldt in 1862

July 28, 2010

Several months ago I began a series of posts about the murder of an early Humboldt settler, James Casebeer

Part 1

 Part 2

Part 3

But it was as I was working on the fourth post that I realized I’d forgotten something.  I’d gotten so caught up in the drama of the lynchings of the murder suspects that I’d forgotten Casebeer entirely.

It was then that I decided to back up and more thoroughly examine the bigger picture.  Who were ALL the people sharing the Northcoast during those early years?

 I had looked at the hopeful homesteaders, like Sarah Royce and her family ( here and here)

And the renegades with little regard for human decency here

But the naïve gold miners also needed to be considered… here

There were also the soldiers , sent to Northern California to protect the settlers during the “Indian wars”.

Civil War Soldiers posing in front of Sibley Tent

James Brown  was  a soldier stationed here in 1862 & 1863.  He kept a diary of his experiences, which provides rare details about his journey to Fort Humboldt and his experiences with the other soldiers, the community and the natives he came to “hunt”.

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More changes for Bracut

July 27, 2010

The Mill Yard will be moving from Hwy 101 between Eureka and Arcata to their new building in the Arcata Industrial Park, but it is only one of many changes that have happened in that area over the years…

Brainards Point Cut for Railroad, c. 1900

"Brainards Cut"

Brainards Cut- HWY 101


Poor miserable half naked half starved wretches

July 20, 2010

Fort Humboldt, c. 1885

I realized last night that it might be time to warn new visitors that if they are looking for linear content on this blog, they’d best look elsewhere.  My vocation is project management,  where everything needs to be organized and run in straight lines.  This, on the other hand, is a hobby.  I get distracted, leave topics in the middle, find new sources at random times and insert  tangential facts.  Those with a low tolerance for such things likely don’t come back.  To all you others, I am glad to have you here.  

I recently received a transcript of a diary written by a young man named James Brown (no relation to the other, more infamous James Brown) who served in the military during the 1860s.  

The more “innocent” Brown’s entries are from 1862.  He describes his journey to our rugged and isolated North Coast  and his experiences while stationed here during the beginnings of the civil war (which became the height of our “Indian Wars”). 

It was an excerpt of the following entry he wrote while at Fort Humboldt  (which was located above the Bayshore Mall in Eureka)  that grabbed my attention and prompted my request for the entire document. 

May 9, 1862: On guard.  40 or 50 Squaws and children brought in by the Calvary.  Poor miserable half naked half starved wretches.  The sight was sickening. 

 


Joe Russ’s home and… family (?)

July 19, 2010

Fern Cottage,

Yesterday a friend and I made the trip to Ferndale to take a tour through Fern Cottage.

“Fern Cottage is the 30-room home of pioneers Joseph and Zipporah Russ, built for their growing family in 1866.  Architect/Builder George Fairfield designed Fern Cottage for the cattle-ranching family and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.  Nearly all of the furniture and furnishings in Fern Cottage are original, so visitors will see it much as it was in the 1870s when the family lived there.  

Located three miles west of Ferndale, Fern Cottage sits on 1,600 acres, surrounded by pastoral fields.

Public Tours
are available Wed – Sun
   Memorial Day Weekend through August 31 from 11am to 4pm. “

 There is a great video about the cottage and some Russ family history HERE

Of course, the video doesn’t address rumors that early in the settlement period, Joseph Russ kept an Indian girl as a mistress and had a child by her.  The narrator doesn’t talk about Russ’s missing ear–and tell me whether it was damaged because a bull bit it, or because, when Joseph Russ grew tired of his Native concubine and tried to drive her and their child away, she attacked him and bit part of his ear off.

It also doesn’t contain any interviews with a Russ descendant I met once in Ferndale who said, “Oh yes, Gus-Joe Russ’s Indian child.  We know about him.  Some family members tracked the family down once, but they didn’t want to have anything to do with us. Said they were happy with life and didn’t need any of the Russes from Humboldt County…”

I must admit all of that is simply gossip, rumor.  But Gus Russ did exist (I found him the Mendocino Census).  And apparently Joseph Russ was missing part of his ear…


Broadway, Eureka. C 1937

July 16, 2010

Broadway, Eureka, c. 1937

So yesterday someone I was talking to kinda dissed (said less than pleasant things about) some of Google’s applications, but you gotta admit Google Earth‘s “street view”, which provided the photo below,  can be very cool !

Broadway, Eureka, c. 2010