Camp Curtis in Arcata

Camp Curtis, Arcata

Per the California State Military Museum:

Today, all that remains of Camp Curtis is a California Historical Landmark. Before its official establishment in September 1862, it was called Camp on Janes Farm and was used by local volunteer companies of the California Militia as early as 1858 during the “Indian Wars“. Camp Curtis was the headquarters of the 1st Battalion of Mountaineers of California Volunteers from 1862 until 1865. In 1863, Captain George Ousley and 34 soldiers of Company B of the Battalion first garrisoned Camp Curtis near Daby’s s Ferry [per LCM–this is at Essex, off Hwy 299 between Arcata and Blue Lake] and then moved to Fawn Prairie on the Hoopa Trail.

A bronze tablet commemorating the camp’s site was unveiled on October 5, 1930. Location: Take the Sunset Avenue off ramp from US Highway 101, go North 0.9 mile on L. K. Wood Boulevard frontage road in Arcata

[Click HERE for current photos of the location and bronze tablet]

From the War of the Rebellion Letters-correspondence records from the Civil War.


Lieutenant E. HALE,

First Battalion Mountainers, Cal. Vols., Commanding Camp Curtis:

SIR: In placing you in command of detachment at Camp Curtis, the district commander had in view the protection from Indian hostilities the town of Arcata and adjacent settlements. This will be your special duty. With the force at your command it is believed that you can prevent the murder by Indians of any more citizens in that vicinity. It is not expected that you will send parties on distant scouts, but that your command will be constantly alert and use all possible endeavors to kill or capture all wild Indians which may venture into your neighborhood. You are at liberty in your discretion to send a few men at a time on short scouts, say, to Little River, Angel Ranch, Mad River, &c., but not when it will interfere with the protection of Arcata and its immediate vicinity. Upon Lieutenant Middleton’s arrival your command will be increased by five men of Company B. While you hold command at Camp Curtis it is expected the necessary discipline will be observed – a guard at night, the regular roll-cals, &c.

By order of Lieutenant Colonel S. G. Whipple.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant and Adjt. First Batt. Mountaineers, Cal. Vols.,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


34 Responses to Camp Curtis in Arcata

  1. Ross Rowley says:

    That’s interesting the plaque would say “Marie Brizard Todd, Pioneer of 1847.” Didn’t the Gregg Party come through this area in 1849? Was that a mistake on the marker? Who arrived at that location in 1847? And from where? Certainly not the Brizards or the Todds. The Greenwood Cemetery headstone has her listed as being born in 1848 and died in 1929. Ok, Humboldt Pioneer Society….someone is nipping on the sauce and making ill proclamations. Ha!

    I used to live up on Curtis Heights at one time. Boy, the trees sure grew back since that photograph.

    • skippy says:

      Ross, I believe you’re accurately spot on. Good eye.

      Looking briefly into records, Brizard/Todd genealogy, etc., I could find nothing warranting the 1847 date in any context.

    • Lynette M says:

      Good catch. I didn’t notice at all.
      I’m sure there is a lot of inaccurate “historical” info out there.
      Actually one of my challenges has been hearing family stories that directly contradict the documentation and other evidence I’ve discovered
      Even noting discrepancies can be … awkward.

  2. skippy says:

    A rare photo, Lynette.

    Equally rare is information about Camp Curtis. Miltary correspondence offers glimpses into its mission:

    Headquarters Humboldt Military District,
    Fort Humboldt, August 15, 1862.
    Capt. J. C. Schmidt,
    Second Infantry California Volunteers,
    Camp Curtis

    “Captain: A band of hostile Indians is reported at the head of the Big Lagoon on the coast trail, twelve miles above Trinidad. You will proceed without a moment’s delay with twenty-five men of your command, and accompanied by Lieutenant Campbell, to Trinidad, where you will arrive to night, or, if this should be impossible, as early as possible tomorrow. You will thence proceed with as little delay as practicable up the coast trail as far as the head of the Big Lagoon, leaving five men at Trinidad for the protection of that place, if you deem it advisable. About opposite the lower end of the Big Lagoon you will detach a part of your command by the trail to the right leading to Redwood Camp, from which point they will take the trail to the coast, coining out near the head of the Big Lagoon, and meeting the other detachment at that point.

    “If five or six armed citizens can be found at Trinidad who will volunteer for the purpose, Lieutenant Campbell will take command of them and proceed with them immediately in a row-boat to Lower Gold Bluff, about five hours’ sail above Trinidad. After being joined by the settlers there, Lieutenant Campbell will proceed down the coast trail to the head of the Big Lagoon, where he will rejoin the detachment of his company.

    “The object of this movement is to kill or capture the band seen at the head of the Big Lagoon two days since. If in order to accomplish this object it should become necessary to vary from these instructions, the officers in command have authority to do so. You will take with you fifteen days’ rations for twenty-five men. Lieutenant and Regimental Quartermaster Swasey will furnish the necessary transportation and one or more suitable guides, if they should be necessary…
    By order of Colonel Lippitt.”

    “Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    W. F. SWASEY,
    First Leiutenant and Regimental Quartermaster
    Second Infantry California Volunteers, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen.


    “Special Orders, Hdqrs. Humboldt Military District, Fort Humboldt, January 6, 1863.

    I. Captain Gibbs, commanding at Camp Curtis, will put a detachment of twenty men under Lieutenant Gonnisson at Daley’s (Daby’s) Ferry as soon as he is notified that Mr. Daley is ready to proceed thither.

    II. Lieutenant Gonnisson will guard the ferry and ferry-house from attack, and will use every exertion to capture or destroy every band of hostile Indians that may come into his neighborhood, leaving always a sufficient force at the ferry for its defense. He (Gibbs) will forward Lieutenant Gonnisson’s reports of scouts or military operations to these headquarters.

    By order of Colonel Lippitt:
    W. F. SWASEY”


    Headquarters Humboldt Military District,
    Fort Humboldt, Cal., June 21, 1863. Lieut. Col. J. N. Olney, Second Infantry California Volunteers, Camp Curtis, Cal.:

    “Colonel: Your report of the 15th instant was received and duly submitted to the colonel commanding the district, who approves your official action in relation to the Hoopa Indians and their fortification on Trinity River. The colonel commanding directs you to inquire as to the truth of the report of a band of hostile Indians having attacked the settlements near Trinidad. If so, and there should be any reasonable prospect of finding the guilty band, you will on the arrival of Company K at Camp Curtis immediately dispatch it in pursuit of these Indians.

    “I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    First Lieut, and Adjt. Second Infantry California Volunteers

    …more to follow…

    • Lynette M says:

      More great stuff, Skippy. Thank you.

      That small note about the ferry makes me want to get the info about the “massacre” at Daby’s ferry done.
      I was actually quite pleased when the indigenous people started to fight back. Unfortunately they were so outmatched technologically (weapons) that they stood no chance.

      Argh, this is all I could find on Daby for now. I’ll keep hunting…

      1862, June 14, Humboldt Times. Account of attack at Daby’s Ferry, The Indians said they would not hurt her or her children and were sorry that the older woman was killed. He gave her permission to seek help in retrieving the body. Mrs. Daby also thought she saw one white man painted as an Indian.
      There are many stories of whites dressing/acting as indians to insight more violence.

      • skippy says:

        Thank you, Lynette and olmanriver. Hmmm.. I think we can find something on Daby’s Ferry, can’t we? That was an important incident taking place several miles from Arcata near the Mad River in 1862. The account is rarely related, especially in full.

        Let’s see what we can do. I’ll post farther below– to save the space and continuity thread here.

        … happy birthday… a href=””>skips

      • David Peterson says:

        I like the way you cherry picked the article. There were 75 Native Americans who Attacked Darby’s home and family by open firing on the house. They ran to the river and were shot at from both sides as they made there way down the river in a boat. Finely they beached the boat and ran into the woods. One native American said he was sorry after he took her ear rings and the ring off her finger. They kidnapped one boy and I could not find weather or not he was ever found. As you well know if you do good research they more often find them dead or never again. They then burned down all of the structures. The only stake I have in this game is for accurate history. We have enough hatred in the world without promoting more. Oh one more thing, they were brave and strong and fought from the onset.

        • Lynette M says:

          Hello David,
          I apologize for taking so long to respond.
          I understand the description seems one sided to you but in my research (and only that, I realize) for many years the local Native Tribes did not attack whites without previous provocation/good reason. The whites outnumbered/outpowered them to such an extent that any attack on the whites meant retaliation–attacks on villages and the deaths of many native people, including women and children. The native people generally attacked to retrieve kidnapped women and children or avenge the rape or murder of a tribal member. Would you mind commenting or emailing me at with more info about your interest/research? Thanks.

  3. skippy says:

    More Camp Curtis military correspondence:

    Headquarters Humboldt Military District,
    Fort Humboldt, September 22, 1863. Lieut. E. Hale, First Battalion Mountaineers, Cal. Vols., Comdg. Camp Curtis:

    Sir: In placing you in command of detachment at Camp Curtis, the district commander had in view the protection from Indian hostilities the town of Areata and adjacent settlements. This will be your special duty. With the force at your command it is believed that you can prevent the murder by Indians of any more citizens in that vicinity. It is not expected that you will send parties on distant scouts, but that your command will be constantly alert and use all possible endeavors to kill or capture all wild Indians which may venture into your neighborhood.

    You are at liberty in your discretion to send a few men at a time on short scouts, say, to Little River, Angel Ranch, Mad River, &c, but not when it will interfere with the protection of Arcata and its immediate vicinity. Upon Lieutenant Middleton’s arrival your command will be increased by five men of Company B. While you hold command at Camp Curtis it is expected that the necessary discipline will be observed— a guard at night, the regular roll-calls, &c.
    By order of Lieut. Col. S. G. Whipple.

    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    A. W. HANNA,
    First Lieut, and Adjt. First Batt. Mountaineers, Cat. Vols.”


    Headquarters Humboldt Military District,
    Fort Gaston, Cal., February 16, 1864. Capt. E. B. Gibbs,

    Second Infantry California Vols., Commanding Camp Curtis:

    Captain: Your letter of the 8th instant, with the accompanying petition of the people of Arcata, is received and contents noted… The state of excitement you describe I can very readily understand, and there is no doubt some cause of alarm. The Indians have a hatred toward the settlements on the coast, particularly Arcata, and the greatest vigilance is required to guard against them.

    It was my opinion that the force at Camp Curtis would be sufficient during the winter, though there has been so little storm of late that the Indians move about at pleasure. For a month past I have wished that your company was all at Camp Curtis to be stationed as you deem necessary for the protection of Areata and adjacent settlements, but have not been able as yet to replace the detachment at Camp Gilmore

    Constant call is made upon me for troops from every quarter and to keep up the scouting parties that are now in the field. It seems almost impossible to spare any men from here just now for the coast.

    Please advise me by return escort if any indications have been discovered of the presence of Indians in the vicinity of Camp Curtis.

    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
    S. G. WHIPPLE,
    Lieut. Col. First Battalion Mountaineers, California Vols.,
    Commanding Humboldt Military District


    “Fort Gaston, April 21, 1864. Lieut. James Ulio,
    Adjutant Sixth Infantry California Volunteers,:

    …The white population of Klamath and the most reliable Indians fear that the residence of the Hoopas among them will result badly… The latter part of last week I sent Charley (ed. note– name omitted for discretion) with a party of his Indians on to the lower part of Redwood Creek to bring in a few Indians who have been skulking about there for some time past. As I understand, these Indians formerly lived in Hoopa, but of late have deemed it necessary to keep out of the way.

    Yesterday Charley returned with the Indians he went after, about twenty in number all told, nine of them being full-grown bucks. Charley (omitted) reports that while on this trip some of his Indians saw the band led by Curly-headed Tom, and that this notorious savage was “plenty mad” at learning that the Hoopas were negotiating for peace. Tom declared that he would never come in or cease fighting the whites or their Indian allies.

    Curly-headed Tom is a most noted scoundrel, and has a force of about thirty fighting Indians with him from Upper Redwood, Grouse, and Boulder Creeks, with perhaps some from Mad Biver. It was this party that Lieutenant Geer, First Battalion Mountaineers, California Volunteers, had a fight with about the 29th of February. While this band is abroad they will infest the road between this place and Camp Curtis, making it dangerous to small parties of travelers and very unsafe for pack trains without a sufficient escort.

    I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
    S. G. Whipple
    Lt. Col. First Battalion Mountaineers, California Vols.,
    Commanding Fort Gaston

    “Special Orders, Headquarters District Of Humboldt,
    No. 24. Fort Humboldt, Cal., June 24, 1864.

    I. Lieut. Col. S. G. Whipple, First Battalion Mountaineers, California Volunteers, commanding Fort Gaston, Cal., will take charge of and be held responsible for the good conduct of the Indians east of Redwood Creek (including the Klamaths) to the eastern limits of the district, and to facilitate operations the commanding officers of all posts and camps within these limits will promptly obey any call made by him on them for troops.

    II. The camp at Forks of Salmon is hereby broken up, and the commanding oflicer of the troops at that point will proceed without delay with his command to Fort Gaston, Cal… Camp Gilmore, Cal., is hereby broken up, and the troops at same will proceed without delay to join their respective companies, after which the commanding officer of Camp Curtis, Cal., will be held responsible that active and responsible scouts are kept up, so as to secure peace and quiet in that section of the district; also in vicinity of Liscombe’s Hill.

    All public property at said camp that can be transported will be sent to Camp Curtis for further disposition. The acting assistant quartermaster at Fort Humboldt will furnish the necessary transportation.

    By order of Colonel Black:
    First Lieut, and Adjutant Sixth Infty, California Vols.


    “Special Orders, Hdqrs. District Of Humboldt,
    No. 17. Fort Humboldt, May 11, 1865.

    Upon the muster out of Company B, First Battalion Mountaineers, California Volunteers, the military post of Camp Curtis will be broken up. Captain Ousley will invoice his ordnance and ordnance stores to Maj. John O. Schmidt, Second Infantry California Volunteers, and the quartermaster’s property to Capt. George Lockwood, assistant quartermaster, U. S. Volunteers, who will remove it to this post or leave it in hands of an agent there.

    By order of Lieutenant-Colonel Wbipple:
    A. W. RANDALL,
    First Lieut., First Battalion Mountaineers, California Vols.,
    Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.


    (Camp Curtis and other period military correspondence for readers and historians may be found in ‘The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union’ by the United States War Department, et al.

    The roster of the First Battalion of Mountaineers, Company B, stationed at Camp Curtis in Arcata can be found here.

  4. olmanriver says:

    Glad for your contributions again, skippy!

    Lynette, this statement of yours was interesting to me… “There are many stories of whites dressing/acting as indians to incite more violence.”

    As you know, I am a read-it-all type and have seen a number of mentions of whites who apparently were siding with the Indians. I have often wondered whether they were on the Indian side by virtue of being a squawman, and/or living with the Indians. Were those who helped the Indians get guns and bullets sympathizers, or just opportunists out to make a… dollar. Guess we’ll never know.

    Across the West there were certainly instances of white masquerading as Indians, the Mountain Meadow massacre is a notable example. Ernie covered it here.

    Another fine post Lynette, and thanks Skippy.

    • Lynette M says:

      I would like to think that at least some of the squawmen were decent folks (Susie Van Kirk told me John Lyons of Lyon’s Ranch was), and that once they came to know their wife’s relatives, relationships and sympathies were formed.
      I am sure there were others just looking for money–or whatever other gains were to be had.

      I may not have been clear, but I was talking about the whites who would disguise themselves as Indians, and then act violently to incite the whites against the local villages. I think I posted one such story (hold on…) nah, anyway, I was told a story about a family attacking a home disguised as Indians hoping to scare the property owners into abandoning their homestead (and freeing it up)–but I’m sure an attack on a neighboring village could have also been the outcome.

  5. skippy says:

    Two interesting accounts of the 1862 Daby’s Ferry incident appear in Theodore Henry Hittell’s ‘History of California, Vol III ‘(1897) and Anthony J. Bledsoe’s ‘Indian Wars of the Northwest: A California Sketch’ (1885). Both accounts are fairly consistent with each other.

    Readers and Lynette are more than familiar with these accounts. For those who are not, it’s a fascinating history of early Arcata, the skirmishes taking place and establishment of local military forts, and related to this thread here. Mr. Bledsoe’s’ California Sketch is the earlier narrative from 1885, placed into two posts here (for brevity, paragraphs mine), and the more interesting story of the two:

    Daby’s Ferry.”
    A Night of Terror.—Adventures of a heroic Woman.—Mrs. Danskin’s fate.—Babes in the Wood.—Peter Nizet and George Danskin.

    “Five miles North of Union, where the main road crossed Mad River, a settler, S. Daby, had established a ferry and located Government land. The house was a stopping-place for travelers, well patronized, and the ferry property produced a handsome income.

    The surrounding neighborhood was not thickly settled. The ferry-house was situated in a wild spot not far from the gloomy forests. Daby himself saw the advantages which were certain to accrue from an early settlement there, for he knew that the land, when once cleared and under cultivation, would be remarkably productive. The Government price was exceedingly low. He could afford to wait for increase of values and profits.

    Supper was on the table at the Daby House at 6 o’clock on the evening of June 6th, 1862. Around the board gathered Mr. Daby and his wife, their three children, Mrs. Danskin, mother of Mrs. Daby, and a boy, George Danskin, Mrs. Daby’s nephew. In a tent’ near the house were two soldiers from Camp Gaston, and on the place were also a Frenchman named Peter Nizet and a half-breed Indian boy. Nizet, who took his meals with the family, had not come in.

    Mr. Daby went to the door and called Nizet. As he did so a bullet whistled by him. Other shots were heard. Hastily closing the door, Daby said the Indians were firing at the house, and told the women and children to get under the bed in Mrs. Daby’s room.

    The back part of the house being built into a bank, and the bedroom being next to it, the retreat was a safe one so long as the house was not invaded. Mrs. Daby, Mrs. Danskin and the four children were in the bedroom a quarter of an hour, when Mr. Daby told them that their only prospect of escape was to run for the river.

    A trail led from the house to the river bank where the canoes were tied. The winter flood had carried the ferry-boat away. The inmates of the house and the two soldiers in the tent ran together towards the river. Mr. Daby had one child, Peter Nizet had one, and Mrs. Daby had the 13-months-old baby in her arms. Before reaching the river one of the soldiers was shot. Twenty guns were flashing in the gathering dusk of the evening, and bullets were flying through the air in every direction. There were Indians on both sides of the river.

    Exposed to a murderous cross-fire, with the prospect of escape dwindling into hopeless nothingness, the men and women and children leaped into a canoe and pushed out into the stream.

    From the opposite bank sounded the report of fire-arms. A fusillade of shot splashed in the water as the boat drifted with the current. Mrs. Danskin was struck by a bullet and slightly wounded.

    Not far down the river was a thicket of bushes. Mr. Daby suggested that a landing be made there and the party separate in the brush, for none could be saved if they continued in the canoe. The suggestion was followed, and the canoe landed. Mrs. Danskin went a few steps and fell, pierced by two bullets.

    Mrs. Daby, with the baby in her arms, had, gone a short distance when a bullet struck her in the right arm, and she fell fainting to the ground. Although she was in a senseless condition for several minutes, she was dimly conscious of what was occurring around her. She heard her husband say to Nizet: “We will hide the children in the bushes.”

    Then she heard no more, and when consciousness fully returned she saw nobody but Indians. She picked up her baby and started toward the clump of bushes.

    The Indians surrounded her and robbed her of the money and jewelry she had about her person, taking her wedding ring from her finger. Having robbed her they told her to “find papooses” and go to Union. She asked them: “Where is the little boy, George Danskin?” They answered: “Indians take the waugee boy; you go to Arcata (Union), and send men with plenty money, and you get the waugee boy…”

    (Continued, below)

  6. Ross Rowley says:

    Yes, you can see the familiar names that have dotted our area for generations since that era. Especially in the Klamath-Trinity region.

    I would imagine once the soldiers were mustered into this area, they decided to stay on and stake their claim. Not unlike many, many people who have come to this part of Northern California for one reason or another and then decide to stay on to make a go of it.

    I believe no humans are actually from here originally, but have traversed to this place and settled. The Bering Strait land bridge from Eurasia, while hypothetical, seems to hold weight in my eyes. (True, the creation stories of the original inhabitants begs discussion, though) Some settlers arrived thousands of years ago and some have only been here a short time. Through that time, place names have come and gone and are always changing with time with the settlements of new people.

    This military roster shows that. That’s why there are the place names, from various eras in the Hoopa Valley. For instance, Me’dil-ding/Matilton (sp?) and Moon Lane and of all things Cal-Pac Road or China Flat and Brannan Mountain in Willow Creek. Right there from that Camp Curtis list is the Underwood name. That name still accounts for a place name for a ridge just west of Burnt Ranch.

    Who knows what the future of place names will hold? All I know is I can’t stand the naming of developments or roads with names like Greenbriar or Fern Vista. I prefer the use of an indication of historical importance. But, then, whose history gets chosen? Larabee comes to mind.

    • Lynette M says:

      This reminds me to recommend Place Names of Humboldt County by Dennis Turner
      as the book contains a ton of fascinating info about this area-not only place names, but history as well.

      I’m with you, Ross, regardng the silly names.

      I do enjoy looking at old maps (as well as Dennis’s book) as places literallly disappear over time as well.

    • olmanriver says:

      Supporting your observation I would imagine once the soldiers were mustered into this area, they decided to stay on and stake their claim., the Northern Californian of 3/20/59 wrote:
      “Upon completion of the Indian war, and the consequent disbanding of the volunteer corps, we learn that it is the intention of many who have been engaged in the service, to locate upon the territory reclaimed from aboriginal occupancy. We hope that those who have sacrificed pecuniarily, bodily, and spiritually, should have due preference in the selection of homes.”

      This was written after Messic’s volunteer company rode, but four years before the Mountaineer Battalions were enlisted, but the sentiment no doubt held true.
      Half a dozen or more of the earliest southern Humboldt settlers had first served in Company E with Captain Simpson, and his primarily Mendocino county volunteers. They were stationed on the main Eel at Fort Grant to guard the mail trail and prevent the slave trade. The 1865 Doolittle map shows a “Simpson Trail” going up the east side of the southfork of the Eel to Garberville which was probably the way that these future settlers saw the local real estate. One such volunteer, John Brock, settled on a flat along the southfork, but he sold his squatters claim in 1869 to Elias Myers, and it became… Myers Flat.
      All but one of these paid volunteers took Native partners and had families.

  7. skippy says:

    (Daby’s Ferry 1862 Incident, Arcata; continued)

    “…Perceiving that the Indians did not intend to kill her or the children, she rose and went in search of the little girls. As she rose to her feet she distinctly recognized the features of two white men among the savages, imperfectly disguised as Indians, who turned quickly and walked away. When she reached the nearest thicket she heard a voice say ” Mamma! ” and there she found the two girls, Lizzie, aged five, and Carrie, aged three years, now the wife of C. L. M. Howard of Eureka.

    Carrying the baby and leading the girls, she walked two miles until she reached the forest, where, sick and weary, she hid the two girls at the foot of a tree where the dense undergrowth formed an impenetrable screen. Taking off two of her skirts, she put one under and one above the children, telling them to be still and quiet till she returned for them. Again, with her baby in her arms, she started through the woods and the fields, reaching the Prigmore farm, three miles down the river

    The house was deserted. She then went back to the road, and reached the Janes’ farm, where there was only a sick man named Chapman and another man who watched over him. Chapman said to ‘his attendant: “I am not afraid to stay here alone; you go and help Mrs. Daby to town.”

    The man carried the baby and they started for Union. It was two o’clock in the morning. When they got to the main road they met a great crowd coming up from Union, among them a physician and Mrs. Daby’s father and brothers. Mrs. Daby went on to Union, and the crowd of citizens went to the river.

    Mr. Daby, when the family separated at the river, had escaped unhurt, and carried the news of the attack to Union. The two soldiers also got in that night, both seriously though not fatally wounded.

    The relief party from Union carried the dead body of Mrs. Danskin to town at daylight. They had been unable to find the two little girls, and were about to give up the search in despair, when a fortunate idea was carried into execution by Mrs. Daby’s youngest brother, John Danskin.

    A valuable dog belonging to the family was still on the place. John Danskin called the dog to him and said: “Jingo, go find the children!”

    With what seemed to the excited men as more than brute intelligence, the dog led them eagerly into the forest—and at the very spot where Mrs. Daby had left the children, stopped and growled, as if directing further search. Parting the intervening boughs and brambles, the men saw the children lying there, locked in each other’s arms, fast asleep.

    Only Nizet, George Danskin, and the half-breed Indian boy remained to be accounted for. The halfbreed was wounded in the thigh, and after a desperate fight, in which he killed two of his assailants, he escaped, crawling to Union in his disabled condition, reaching the town on Saturday night. It was the general supposition that Nizet had been killed and George Danskin carried into captivity by the Indians. Rewards were offered and searching parties organized, but with no avail.

    The days passed and neither Nizet or the boy was heard of. The Danskin family as a last resort employed friendly Hoopa Indians to make inquiries about the fate of Nizet and the boy, promising them a liberal reward for reliable information.

    At the end of nine days the Hoopa Indians returned and reported that they had ascertained the fate of the missing. The attacking Indians, they said, tried to capture the boy, but Nizet picked him up in his arms and ran to a large log which spanned the stream. Half-way across the stream Nizet was shot, falling to the water below with the boy in his arms. They fell in a deep pool, where a powerful eddy whirled them round and round and dragged them down to death. When their bodies were recovered the arms of Peter Nizet still clasped the form of the boy, loyal even in death.

    It was a miraculous thing that any escaped from the river unhurt. Besides being wounded in the arm, Mrs. Daby had two bullet holes in the ruffles of her dress. There were three holes in the baby’s dress. Mr. Daby had a bullet hole through his hat. The Daby family never returned to their farm. The Indians burned the buildings and drove off the stock, and the land passed into the possession of others.”

    Mr Hittell’s ‘History of California ‘ further added to the account:

    “The news of the attack on Daby’s Ferry occasioned another mass-meeting at Eureka; and the mass-meeting resolved upon organizing new companies of volunteers, applying for state arms and asking further aid from General Wright. Upon being interviewed on the subject, Wright promised three more companies, and the state furnished thirty rifles; but in the meanwhile the Indians committed a number of other murders and depredations; and, without waiting for United States troops, the citizens of Arcata enrolled a new company, known as the Union volunteers with George W. Ousley as captain, and the people of Eel river valley a company, called the Eel River minute-men, with A. D. Sevier as captain.

    These immediately took the field against the hostiles, while the United States troops were principally employed in gathering together several hundred prisoners from comparatively friendly tribes, who were not averse to being supported by the government. On the morning of August 21, 1862, Ousley, with thirty of the Union volunteers and seventeen United States regulars whom he had induced to accompany him for the service, attacked a camp of the hostiles on Light’s Prairie, five miles from Arcata…”

    (From Anthony J. Bledsoe’s ‘Indian Wars of the Northwest: A California Sketch’ (1885)
    Theodore Henry Hittell’s ‘History of California, Vol III ‘(1897))

    my apologies for so being long. Hopefully it’s a good addition here and an interesting read. Arcata, the nearby Mad River, and Humboldt County have an early pioneer history during the Civil War and settlement period few may know of– and rarely reported in full. Please remember the accounts related here are those of the white settlers and historians.

    • Lynette M says:

      Never, EVER, apologize for the length of a contribution. Wonderful information. Thank you.

      I will likely copy it into a new post–as I don’t folks to miss it buried in the comments.

      I think I’ve read accounts of the massacre at Light’s Prairie.
      And I think that Willaim Lindsey (who I believe helped kill Lucy) participated in that attack and died in that same area years later. The story was that he went back there as an older man looking for indian skulls (remnants of that same “battle”) and fell into a creek and drowned. The creek had only inches of water …

  8. olmanriver says:

    Great thread contributors!
    The Humboldt Times of June 14, 1862 covered the Daby attack with an article titled “Startling Indian Depredations! INCREASED BOLDNESS OF THE SAVAGES! Mass meeting of the citizens”. Besides the basic storyline given above, the article made a point of mentioning the”very good English” the Natives spoke when taking Mrs. Daby’s jewelry, and that she recognized “some of them as the tame Indians of a year ago”.
    After plundering and burning the Daby place, the next morning a group of the Indians attacked the house of Mr. Muhlenberg, two miles downstream. Mr. and Mrs. Muhlenberg escaped with their lives, but their place was burnt down. A patrol of dragoons from Ft. Humboldt arrived across the river but did not prevent the house from being burnt down, and their bullets fell far from their targets.
    The Indians headed back to the mountains.

    The mass meeting of the citizenry was held on June 10th and their resolutions included a lot of wherases that may be summarized as the Indians are getting bolder (Robert Neece had just been attacked within a mile of Rhoner’s store), the military is inept at preventing such attacks, the whites can’t live in the area unless the “savages” are subdued and removed. The meeting resolved:
    1- to appeal to Brig. General George White, commander of the Pacific Division of the US Army,
    2- to form, where practicable, independent volunteer companies as a home guard to enable the US troops to take the field against the Indians,
    3- apply to the state for arms for the Independent Volunteer Companies,
    4- “That the prescence of white men in the community who, forgetful of all self-respect, place themselves upon the level of Indians by cohabitating with squaws and encouraging the prescence of Indians about their premises, is fruitful source of trouble, and should no longer be tolerated.”
    5- “That it is the duty of all good citizens to discourage, by all lawful means, the further apprenticing of Indians of any age or either sex”.

    “The preamble and resolutions were then adopted seriatim by a unanimous vote”.

    • Lynette M says:

      Ah, I was going to dig up this info, so thanks so much ‘River, for taking the time to find it (for me, though you didn’t know it).
      I plan to put Skippy’s info into a post and now I can add yours too.

    • skippy says:

      Nice find! What a good addition, OMR. May I ask how you obtained the news from 1862’s HT? It’s a great and rare complement– one that’s hard to come by. Thank you.

      • olmanriver says:

        skippy… the Humboldt Times is on microfilm at both the Eureka and HSU libraries. Photocopies are a quarter and twenty cents respectively, per page.

        • skippy says:

          Awesome! I didn’t know this. Thank you for the tip and a great resource to look into, olmanriver.

          • olmanriver says:

            Your welcome skippy, but I must warn you that hours of scanning the pages that go by right to left will feel like your head is going to spin around like Linda Blair’s. Mine hasn’t, yet.

      • Lynette M says:

        I hate to admit this because of how … we’ll say “dedicated” I sound, but I’ve gone through all the Humboldt Times (and Northern Californian Newspapers) from 1854 to 1862, I think, and printed out all articles related to the indigenous people that I could find.

        I have all the copies in binders. Actually I think I’ve gone into 1863, but haven’t pulled out/highlighted the relevant info yet.
        I am willing to share on a temporary basis if one (Skippy or ‘River) is so interested….

        I have also added much of that info into an excel database, along with the war of the rebellion records, with the names pulled out so I can cross-reference/find the same folks mentioned in different sources. Unfortunately the excel stuff is glitchy and isn’t as clean as I want it. When I have time, I’ll work on it more.

        Little crazy, I know, but it has been useful over time.

        As an aside, the Muhlbergs mentioned by ‘River were the same ones that adopted Charles, Lucy’s son.

        Stories of him talk about the indian with the perfect german accent…

  9. olmanriver says:

    S’welcome Lynette.
    When I went through the 1860’s newspapers I tried to focus on only my area, but I wasn’t very successful. So glad for your blog and the opportunity it provides for my random gleanings.

    • Lynette M says:

      My pleasure Olman ! Happy I can help.
      If you’re looking for anyone/thing in particular, let me know and I’ll see what I can find.

      • olmanriver says:

        Thanks Lynette, I meant to convey that I had not successfully kept my focus on my area, you northerners have so much more interesting news from this period that was recorded… so I too have folders of HT articles. Thanks for the offer, will ask if I have need.
        How well I understand the “dedication” it takes to do thorough research… though I suspect there is a psychological term that is more accurate. Wink.

  10. olmanriver says:

    Of course I mean no disrespect, and may only be talking about my own obsession with history.

    • Lynette M says:

      Oh ‘River, no offense taken, truly.
      I am obsessed, to put it mildly, and could think of many more descriptions I’ll omit this evening.

      Glad you still stop to visit and I hope all is well with you.

  11. United States Army Camp Curtis…

    […] the Hoopa Indians returned and reported that they had ascertained the fate of th […]…

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