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.
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”.
Several months ago I began a series of posts about the murder of an early Humboldt settler, James Casebeer
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?
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”.
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”.
There was a California census taken in the summer of 1852. At that time there was no Humboldt County and so folks here were enumerated in the Trinity County census.
The information reported to the state legislature was:
The number of females noted neglects to count the number of Native American women that were in this area when the whites came in. I would like to think that at least some of the early (male) settlers missed, and wanted, more domestic lives (and not just sex), and these numbers help to explain (to a limited extent) why so many became “squawmen”.
Though taking a native “wife” was not uncommon in the early years of the settlement period, it was also not widely accepted by the wider population, as this short article, like many others, shows…
1859, Dec. , Humboldt Times, DUEL Indians MATTOLE. … The duel occurred between a Mr. Lafferty and his brother-in-law. The social positions of the parties is about equal, one of them being an Indian, and the other , though claiming to be white, lives with the Indian’s sister. They were both wounded at the first fire, after which a reconciliation was brought about by the sister. Unfortunately their wounds are not considered dangerous [emphasis mine].
Many squawmen didn’t care about public opinion, and at least a few, like “Duncan” of Eel River, legally married their wives. Unfortunately, many others came to regret their early relationships, and chose to hide them (or worse) instead.
To be continued…