Soldier on his way to Humboldt in 1862

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”.

Brown seems like a gentle soul in many ways.  In January of 1862 he was stationed for a time in Santa Barbara and noted that he and fellow soldiers  “…were surprised at the sweetness of the sound of chimes rung on the bells of the Mission Church.”  A Church, he learned, that was built by the Society of Jesuits in 1792.

He and the others of his company were eventually invited by the monks to sleep in the Church, which Brown saw as a huge improvement over the Sibley tent he has been sharing  with 15 men–a tent that was “not very comfortable in such bad weather.”

Brown was in his mid-twenties and open to new experiences.  He once listened to the monks’ service and though he couldn’t understand a word,  ”the curiosity” kept him there.

Unfortunately even the monks weren’t enough to stave off boredom and at one point he remarked that “The town of Santa Barbara is the dullest place I ever saw.”

My sister lives there now and I’m sure she wouldn’t agree.

To be continued…


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