In Memory of an Indian boy

July 30, 2011

Shasta Cemetery

In the Inquest Record, Lucy is quoted as expressing fear over the well-being of her children.  She had good reason.

During the “Indian Wars” of the 1850s and 1860s in Humboldt County, Indian children were quite vulnerable.  Many were purchased or taken as pets or servants, but even then, they weren’t fully protected.

1861, June 22, Humboldt Times-Outrageous—An Indian boy, in the service of Mr. Swain, Elk river, aged about fifteen years, was murdered while at work in the garden of his employer on Wednesday.  He was shot through the body with a rifle ball and died almost instantly.  The boy had lived with Mr. Swain, we are told, for several years; indeed, had been brought up by him almost from infancy, and is said by the neighbors to have been a good servant and an unoffensive lad.   Although this deed was committed in the daytime and but a short distance from the house, it is not known who was the perpetrator; but whoever it was we trust he may be known and have justice meted out to him.  A man who will kill an Indian boy in this manner, without adequate cause, but merely because he belongs to that race of human beings, is not exalted above the savage.  It is cowardly acts like this that casts a foul stain upon the reputation of this county, and paralyzes the efforts of those who endeavor to secure aid from Government to protect the lives and property of her citizens from the attacks of hostile bands in the mountains.

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Local homeless camps

July 27, 2011

Today I took a “tour” of some of our local homeless camps, where I saw ragged tents that served as homes tucked into the brush, tarps stretched over the worn canvas as extra protection from any rain.  I saw nylon cords strung through the trees where faded shirts washed who-knows-where hung to dry on this incredibly sun-shiny day.  I also overheard a woman say she was cleaning up her camp, but was keeping the one ugly tarp hung up in the corner of the clearing because it provided privacy when she “piddled”.

I heard people with beautifully sweet smiles and no teeth explain what they were doing to try to get indoors. To pull their lives together.

I met a woman named Iris with a beautiful dog (that scared the shit out of me at first but turned out to be a love) who explained that she could get shelter IF she gave up her dog. The dog she loved that kept her safe.  Then she described where her camp lie deep in the marsh.

After this I drove back to Arcata and watched a Crabs baseball game.

Lucy’s Children

July 27, 2011

After finding the inquest,  I became compelled to learn more about Lucy and began hunting for information where ever I could find it.  Fortunately members of the Preston family wrote a book about their history and included information about Lucy…  

From The Preston/Lindsey Trail, 1995 ( Rosaline Preston and Carol Huber) [A copy of this book is in the Humboldt Historical Society]

page 105

“The eldest girl was named Carrie and the old pioneers Bowls raised her. She married and came to Blue Lake about six years ago, where she died.”

“The other girl was named Annie and my father and mother Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Preston, took her to raise and she grew womanhood with my father’s family and when she was about nineteen years old she was married to a man by the name of James … at my father’s ranch, known as Blue Slide, in 1876, by L Foster. Soon after Annie and her husband move to Covelo, Mendocino County. Some time ago Mr. … died and Annie married a man by the name of Arthur … and they were living at Covelo the last time I heard from them.”

“Some stories told of only one baby surviving the massacre, others of two or three but actually there were several survivors who stayed hid for fear of also being killed. The three children that were known about were two sisters and a brother. In an article in the Arcata Union, 12 Apr 1928, under the title of “Pioneer Makes A Correction” Mrs. Sarah Jane Preston Bates tried to clarify some of the confusion after the death of Charles Muhlberg when his obituary said he was the lone survivor of the island massacre. She says the obituary was not entirely correct as the Indian mother was found murdered in a cabin which stood on the old Preston ranch north of Arcata, about where the Twin Park building addition is now located. The Preston family took one of the three children, a girl, which they named Annie Preston and raised’

1928, March AU (29 March 1928) Death Recalls Tragic Incident-Charles Muhlberg, a painter and paper’ hanger, who has made his home in Arcata and Blue Lake for many years past, died at a hospital in Eureka Thursday from heart trouble from which he had been suffering for some time past.

Muhlberg was born in Arcata in 1860 and was 68 years of age. His mother was an Indian woman and from Mrs. Marie Todd, one of our early day pioneers, is learned a tragic incident connected with his childhood. The mother lived in a small cabin on the edge of the old Preston ranch which is now Twin Parks Addition, north of town, with three small children, two girls and an eight months old infant son, who was Charles. The mother was found murdered in the cabin, Charles being at her breast. Gustav Muhlberg took the boy and girl to raise, the other daughter being taken into the home of the pioneer Bowles family. Who killed the mother always remained a mystery.

One of the sisters grew to womanhood and became the wife of Jack Wright, passing away some years ago. As near as can be learned, a half sister, whose name was Mrs. Minnie … survives, her last known address being Sacramento. A niece whose first name was Emily, at one time lived in San Francisco.

The funeral was held from the Dolson-Devlin Funeral Parlors on Monday afternoon, Rev. C.P. Hessel officiating

Murder that began an obsession

July 24, 2011

I was “talking” with a friend over email today about how frustrating it can be when folks have historical information and don’t share.  

Fortunately it only took me a few minutes to realize what a hypocrite I am.

I started this blog, and my obsession with our local history, because I found the record of an inquest that occurred after a Native American woman was brutally murdered in our county in 1862.

And while I’ve shared some of the details of Lucy’s murder  and the stranger-than-fiction fact that I found her son’s 1928 obituary on the wall of our new (very old) house two years AFTER I found the transcript,   I’ve never posted the transcript itself.  Perhaps because of my (maybe never to be realized) desire to write a book.  To tell Lucy’s whole story.  Whatever.  I have yet to write a book.  And may get hit by a bus tomorrow.

 And so here is the transcript.

There may be typos (ignore ‘em please).  There will also be some weird grammatical errors as the handwritten record is difficult to read in places but I wanted to keep my transcription as true to the original document as possible.

 Today I’ll just post the whole document and hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll add what I’ve learned about Lucy and her children in the years since I discovered the transcript.


Humboldt County Courthouse

Transcript of microfilmed records of Inquisition  into Lucy’s Murder-Union, 1862                                                                

 12 January 1862

Murder of Squaw in Arcata

Lucy (Indian woman) Coroner Inquest held 15 to 17, January 1862.



Inquest held before Byron Deming Coroner of Humboldt on the 15th day of January 1862 to inquire as to the cause of death of an Indian woman found dead on the premises of John Preston in the Township of Union, County of Humboldt, State of California, Sunday morning, January 12th, 1862.

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More about Helena

July 20, 2011

Of course now I regret not taking a photo of this one from the road. Actually, I regretted that before I ever took this photo as my socks (worn with open-ish shoes) were completely filled with terrible, sharp, pokey burrs hidden in what looks like lovely grass.  If you go to Helena, wear solid shoes and long pants.  But I digress…

Our friend Skippy was kind and generous enough to share some great historical info about Helena.  I’ll just pass it on from him. Thank you, Skippy !

By far one of the best histories of the area comes from editors/authors Jerry Rohde and Lowell Bennion in their 2000 book, Traveling the Trinity Highway. Mr. Rohde, Bennion, and others, have devoted 6 pages of interesting stories, excellent old pictures (including an old Trinity County Historical Society’s picture of the Schlomer building as Lynette photographed), and a well documented history of the ghost town, North Fork, later known as ‘Old Helena’. I encourage the reader to check out their book. It’s a fascinating and well documented history taken from primary sources– and a delightfully good read. A highlight is the sidebar story, The “Wedding” of Craven Lee, a surprising account of one of the first residents.

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Ghost Town of Helena (Just West of Weaverville)

July 19, 2011

Helena, July 2011

Darn, I just figured I’d come home and find a whole handy history online that I could post along with these photos. No luck.

Helena is a “ghost” or deserted mining town about 15 miles west of Weaverville.

It is only 1/4 mile off Hwy 299 and so worth the drive.

The building above is the first I saw to the right of the road, though it was the last I explored.

Door was open…

Though why I found this appealing and wanted to venture further, I can’t explain…

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Belcher Map, 1921 (Rio Dell and other Humboldt Areas)

July 16, 2011

Belcher Map, 1921, Calisphere

So you’re going to want to click on the map.  It will take you to the source site, where you’ll find a lot of other Humboldt Maps (I grew up in Rio Dell and that’s why I picked this one).  I always heard that Wildwood became Rio Dell, but it looks like they were two separate towns in 1921 and must have merged later.

As a reminder, once you click on an image you’ll go to a page with the image and a miniture version of it in a box on the left.  Adjust the zoom, then drag that little red box around on the mini-image to change the main image focus area.  Oh yes, and have fun.