Environmental Damage in 1880 ?

May 6, 2021

So I’ve always thought of environmental awareness and activism as a relatively recent phenomenon, but as early as 1880, there were local folks that believed there was damage being done by the over and uncontrolled harvesting of our timber….

Source: Into the Redwood Realm, 1893

Humboldt State University Special Collection

The following is another article quoted from: LAND USES ON HUMBOLDT BAY TRIBUTARIES (Salmon Creek, Elk River, Freshwater Creek and Jacoby Creek), which was compiled by Susie Van Kirk in February 1998

DHT (4 April 1880) Eureka, Eds Daily Times:

Much has been said about Elk River–about the booms and logs and farms there.  And is it any wonder?  At the present time Elk River valley is in a worse condition than ever before.  When I came to be an owner of some land on Elk River about four years ago the banks of that stream on the back line of my land were about sixteen feet deep, while today they are no more than nine feet deep.  What is the cause of this great change if the boom and the logs placed in the river are not?  Any man who thinks he can make me believe that these booms and logs have not been the cause, I will say in a very few words, he is a fool.
        …Why is it that certain men have been given a priviledge to boom Elk River?…

If these men can boom Elk River and not become responsible for the damage they may occasion by so doing, it may be very fine for them, but I can assure you it is not fine for others…

By the first freshet [another word for flood] in December, 1879, most of my improvements on my land were washed out.  There were five inches of water in my house, my stable and horses were afloat, and I lost some seven tons of carrots and two thousand feet of lumber–and don’t forget that the booms and logs in the river were the cause of it.  Then I made up my mind to sell out to these gentlemen for something—and the answer I received to my offer from D.R. Jones was that he had done no damage; and H.H. Buhne tells me that I had no business to buy the place…B. Glatt


Once Inhabited by the Festive Clam… (1892)

May 5, 2021

Over the years, much of Humboldt’s wetlands have been diked and converted to pasture. We’ll talk about negative environmental impact another day (it is extreme). Today I’ll just share the history….

The Arcata Land Imp. Co.’s Dredger, Arcata (1893?)

The following was published in LAND USES ON HUMBOLDT BAY TRIBUTARIES (Salmon Creek, Elk River, Freshwater Creek and Jacoby Creek)– Which was compiled by Susie Van Kirk in February 1998

Arcata Union (18 June 1892)

The Harpst and Spring Dike…starts in on the bank of Butcher Slough just beyond the town [Arcata] line and follows the course of the slough as near as possible to the bay.  Here it follows along the edge of the mudflats for a mile or more and crosses Flannigan and Brosnan’s railroad at the edge of the bay.  It then goes down along the bay comes up and crosses the big slough by the draw bridge where a flood gate will be put in, and follows down the further bank of the slough to the mouth of Jacoby Creek.  From there it follows up the bank of the creek till it gets out of the reach of the highest tides and there ends…
        The first owner who took up this marsh as swamp and overflowed land never dreamed that this large stretch of country, from Arcata to Jacoby Creek, inhabited only by the festive clam and the busy little crab would some day be pasture for hundreds of cattle… [emphasis added]


The Londons on a Houseboat in Humboldt Bay, 1911

January 31, 2021

During writer Jack London and his wife Charmian’s VISIT and TOUR of Eureka in 1911, they were apparently invited to stay on former Eureka Mayor H.L. Ricks’ houseboat, the Harbor Rest, which was moored on Humboldt Bay. I had no idea there were ever houseboats on Humboldt Bay, especially over 100 years ago…

London Collection, Huntington Library

The Ricks family often used the boat for entertaining…


Jack & Charmian London in Eureka

January 30, 2021
Jack and Charmian London, Huntington Library

The fight between celebrated writer Jack London and Stanwood Murphy, son of Pacific Lumber Company owner Simon Murphy, at Eureka’s Oberon Grill in 1910 (or 1911) is the stuff that local legends are made of. According to a letter written by eye witness Hap Waters, the fight started over politics and ended with both men in the hospital recovering from their wounds.

Stories of the fight fail to mention that London’s wife Charmian had traveled with him to Humboldt and that Eureka was only one of many stops the adventurous couple made along the west coast during that time.

The Huntington Library has an amazing collection of London’s photos, including many from Humboldt County. More coming soon….


What’s for sale in Eureka in 1881

January 9, 2021

I ran across this ad researching information for my recent post on Mathews Music Store (and more)– and thought it might be fun for folks to see what was up for sale in Eureka on August 11, 1881

Block image

Ione Building becomes Woolworths and then the Ritz

December 10, 2020
Original Ritz Building (source: HSU Special Collection)

Yet another accidental find….

I knew the Ritz Building (240 F Street, Eureka) was a significant building- and I found it listed as one of the Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Humboldt County but had no idea it had been through such drastic changes. It was built in 1885, altered 1913 (to accommodate a Woolworth store- who knew?!?!) and then completely redesigned in Streamline Moderne in 1947 to become what we see today,

Grand Opening of Woolworths (Source: theclio.com/entry/96794)
And today…


Attempted to Lead Her into a Life of Shame….

December 6, 2020

I looked across an empty Eureka waterfront parking lot to take a photo of an old building when it occurred to me that the parking lot might have a story too. I had no idea….

The 1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the Scandia Hotel on First Street- between C & D, and there is good reason to believe it was more than just a hotel…

Per The Humboldt Times, 7 August 1915

HOTEL MEN ARE SUED BY WOMAN FOR $ 10000. Virginia Jeffrey Sues Proprietors of Scandia Hotel for Damages In Sum of $lO,OOO. ASSAULT AND BATTERY CHARGED. City Authorities Are Said To Be Investigating Alleged Attack on Woman

Alleging that she was the victim of a statutory assault at the hands of the proprietors of the Scandia Hotel at First street, Mrs Virginia Jeffrey has commenced suit for $10,000 in the superior court against Joe Costa and Emmanuel Enos. The complaint, charging assault and battery, was filed several days ago by Attorney John F. Dufur, who represents Mrs. Jeffrey. According to the woman’s story, as told to the local authorities, she was employed by the proprietors of the Scandia Hotel to care for the rooms upstairs. A few days after assuming her position she alleges Enos and Costa endeavored to lead her into a life of shame. When she refused to permit their advances the woman charges the men used violence. It is understood the matter his been laid before the city authorities and that an investigation is being made to determine whether the license under which the Scandia operated shall be revoked. Mrs. Jeffrey is the mother of seven small children. A year ago it is said her husband deserted her. The county has been contributing toward the aid of the children.

Note the men faced the possibility of losing their operators license, but there was nothing about being charged with assault….

It does look like Virginia was remarried by 1920 to Albert Pavey, a laborer in a lumber mill, and living at 1515 McFarlan Street in Eureka but unfortunately it looks like Albert was gone by 1930- even though they were still married. The 1930 census also shows that Virginia was first married at 13 years old- so maybe she’s always had a tough go of things….

1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
And today…


The End of Teepee Burners…

November 17, 2020
HSU Special Collection: “Eyesores” 1966
HSU Special Collection: “Eyesores” 1966

I’ve written about slash or teepee burners before HERE and HERE. They were used to burn sawdust and wood scraps from lumber operations. The material was delivered to an opening near the top of the cone by means of a conveyor belt or Archimedes’ screw,

In the 1950s and 1960s, most mills had one – but unfortunately they spit smoke and ash directly into the air. An air quality study completed by the Bureau of Air Sanitation in 1959 and published in 1961 found that “The concentrations of settleable particulate matter at the Arcata High School were higher than those for any other California city for which data are available and well above that for any known American city.” Yikes.

Thankfully they seem to have been going by the wayside by the mid 1960s though it clearly took awhile to clean ’em up…


George (Washington) Pate on a Wagon (Rio Dell)

November 16, 2020
Source: HSU Special Collection

As some folks know, I grew up in Rio Dell but have been unable to find many old photos of the place. Searching “Rio Dell” online I did find this rather simple but wonderful photo- and I think that is the hill above Belleview Ave in the background.

The information with this photo says George Pate, Rio Dell (?).

I did find Mr. Pate’s information on Find A Grave, and he was, in fact, from Rio Dell. He died in 1907 just after his 70th birthday. He doesn’t look anywhere near that old in this image, making this a pretty old photo…

Mr. Pate was a veteran and suffered “worse than wounds” (I am not sure what this means…- maybe mental health issues/trauma?). I found the following information in his online obituary

Obituary

“Old Soldier Called”.  Not unexpected came the call of “taps” to Veteran George W. Pate at his home in Rio Dell on Monday, July 22, 1907.  Burdened with years and since the war handicapped with internal troubles contracted during arduous campaigns he at last succumbed.

George W. Pate was born in Maquoketa, Jackson county, Iowa, May 18, 1837.  His youth and early manhood were spent on the farm.  In 1862 when the country needed men he enlisted in Co. F. 31st Iowa regiment and served until the end of the war.  Tho present at Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga and with Sherman during his march to the sea, Comrade Pate was never wounded, though he suffered worse than wounds and was never a well man again.

At the close of the war he returned to the work on the farm.  In December of 1889 he came to California, settled at Rohnerville and farmed.  About 13 years ago he obtained his present home at Rio Dell where he has since resided.

George never married.

George Washington Pate

BIRTH18 Jul 1837 Hurstville, Jackson County, Iowa, USA
DEATH22 Jul 1907 (aged 70)Rio Dell, Humboldt County, California, USA
BURIALSunrise CemeteryFortuna, Humboldt County, California, USA
PLOTBlock 2, Lot 22, Grave 1
MEMORIAL ID17426559 · View Source


Seeking information on Jack Ryan (framed and falsely convicted for double murder in the 1920s)

November 14, 2020
Photo found among the corrupt attorney’s ego collection

Jack Ryan was framed for a double murder by corrupt Humboldt County District Attorney Stephen Metzler in the 1920s during prohibition. I’ve known about Jack ever since I found the DA’s ego collection (newspaper clippings and more) in a trunk in a Eureka antique store years ago. I wrote about him briefly on my blog HERE but I woke up this morning knowing it was time to do more.

And so… I am looking for any and all information, stories, descriptions that anyone might have about Jack, his brother Walter David (strangled with barbed wire in an attempt to get Jack to confess), Metzler and/or others involved in the case. You can email lynette.mullen@gmail.com or even share in the chat so others can see it.

Below you’ll find a time line of the case outlined by Northwestern University

Chronology of the case of Jack Ryan

Compiled by Steve Art

— 2006, Center on Wrongful Convictions, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law

October 7, 1925 — Twenty-one-year-old Henry Sweet and his seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Carmen Wagner, leave their homes in Eureka, California to go hunting on Coyote Flat, forty-five miles to the southeast.

October 11, 1925 — Sweet’s body is discovered in an abandoned cabin. He has been shot once in the back.

October 23, 1925 — Wagner’s body is found in a shallow grave near Baker Creek, a few miles from Coyote Flat. She has been shot twice and has skin and dried blood beneath her fingernails. Later that day, Walter David, Jack Ryan’s half-brother, is arrested in connection with the murders.

October 24, 1925 — Jack Ryan is arrested in connection with the murders. The two brothers have no known connection to the victims and were considered suspects only because they lived in the area and, in the vernacular of the press at the time, are considered “half breeds.” David has a verifiable alibi and is soon released. Ryan is charged with Wagner’s murder, which appears to be the stronger case.

March 12, 1926 — A jury of twelve white men returns a verdict of not guilty at the end of Ryan’s five-week trial.

January 1927 — Stephen Earl Metzler, a lawyer and bootlegger, is elected district attorney of Humboldt County after campaigning on the promise that he would solve the murders within two years. Upon assuming office Metzler sets about fulfilling his campaign promise. Rather than pursuing Bill Shields, an obvious suspect with a clear motive who has been placed at the scene of the crime by an eyewitness, Metzler makes him a strategist and consultant in the renewed investigation.

October 31, 1927 — David, Ryan’s half-brother, is found tortured and strangled to death with barbed wire.

November 1927 — Metzler attempts to intimidate Ryan, sending anonymous letters warning that a similar fate awaits him unless he confesses to the murders. This and other tactics to elicit a confession fail.

July 12, 1928 — Metzler pays a woman $100 to falsely accuse Ryan of having sex with her thirteen-year-old daughter. Ryan is arrested and charged with three counts of statutory rape. Out of fear of remaining in Humboldt County, Ryan pleads guilty to two counts of rape; the third count is dismissed. Ryan is immediately sentenced. That night, Metzler intensively interrogates Ryan.

July 13, 1928 — Following the all-night interrogation Ryan confesses to both murders. A second prosecution for the Wagner murder is barred on double jeopardy grounds, but without legal representation, Ryan pleads guilty to the Sweet murder. He is sentenced to life in prison and is taken to San Quentin State Prison the same day.

1930 — Metzler is indicted and convicted of conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act.

1939 — Franklin D. Roosevelt pardons Metzler.

1947 — The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs launches a reinvestigation of the Ryan cases. Metzler acknowledges to agents that he had set Ryan up, and that Shields had likely killed the couple. The Bureau’s report, issued the following year, is instrumental in Ryan’s parole.

May 11, 1953 — Ryan wins parole.

March 20, 1969 — Governor Ronald Reagan commutes Ryan’s life sentence to time served, in effect releasing him from parole.

August 23, 1978 — Ryan dies of natural causes.

April 15, 1996 — Governor Pete Wilson grants Ryan an unprecedented posthumous pardon after an extensive reinvestigation of the case by Richard H. Walton, a local DA’s investigator.