Fathers that kept their families intact

June 22, 2010

Unfortunately I realized rather late that perhaps I should have posted a more positive blog about fathers because of the holiday.  Ooops. 

I’ll try to rectify that now.

Though there were men who regretted their early domestic choices in Humboldt County, there were far more that built what resembled, at least from the outside, traditional families with their Native wives.

My husband is descended from a white miner who came into the Orleans area in the 1800s and a native woman taken as his wife. 

Unfortunately the wife died-though I can’t remember if it was during the birth of their first son, or shortly after.  After the wife’s death, her sister came to care for the child, as the miner/father was often away in the hills for long periods of time.  Once, when the miner was gone for an extraordinarily long period, the sister took the baby and returned to her village in the hills.  The miner came home and found his son gone.  According to family lore, the miner walked to the village, straight to where his child was, retrieved the boy and left.  It was his child and the fact that he was of mixed race and motherless was irrelevant. 

Today we go to the family cabin in Orleans and see photos of that  first Humboldt County pioneer. And his son, John. And John’s children… You get the idea.   The first pioneer raised his son in Orleans and the family has remained in the area ever since, a legacy intact.

OlManRiver recently pointed out that a majority of the early settlers in upper Mattole, Briceland and Elk Ridge were squawmen and many of those families are still intact, generations later.

And perhaps the others, men like Heacock,   ultimately did their families a favor by going away.

When the ratio of men to women was 76:1

June 8, 2010

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:

Population: 1,764


Male: 1,741

Female: 23

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…

Probably not as quick as FedEx

November 4, 2009
Ox pulled wagon

Ox pulled wagon in early Trinidad


Photo info per HSU: Located at the corner of Golinda and Van Wycke was the old brick store. Sangster’s Tobacco Shop was next door. The brick store was used for defense in the early days .