1906 Expulsion of the Chinese

January 24, 2016
The County photo is dated 1885, but Pfaelzer dates is 1906...

Source: Humboldt County Collection (notice the Yacht Club in the background)

Jeannie Pfaelzer included a photo in her book, Driven Out, The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans, that references a Chinese expulsion in Humboldt County in 1906- I’ve finally found the story…

In the summer of 1905, the Tallant-Grant Co. of Astoria, Oregon established a cold storage plant at Port Kenyon on the Salt River and with the commencement of the salmon season in October, purchased the fishermen’s catches for two cents a pound. During two months of fishing and at various times, daily receipts of nine, ten, and twelve tons were recorded (Ferndale Enterprise, 1 Aug. 1905; 17 Oct. 1905; 27 Oct. 1905; 5 Dec. 1905). Because Eel River salmon were no longer of the size or grade most desirable for cold storage purposes and in order to handle this surplus, the Company explored the feasibility of developing a cannery at Port Kenyon (Ferndale Enterprise 2 Oct. 1906). An inquiry was made to the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce about the employment of Chinese labor, without which, the Company claimed such a plant could not be successful. The Chamber responded that there would be no objection as long as certain conditions were met,including 1) the Chinese would work only at the cannery, 2) stay no longer than the period of operations, and 3) they would not be permitted at any time to leave the vicinity of the cannery (Ferndale Enterprise 22 June 1906). The Tallant-Grant Company built a 110×50 addition to the Port Kenyon Cold Storage Company building for the cannery, which began operations during the 1906 season. The investors felt that such a facility would be economically viable by utilizing the smaller salmon caught by the local fishermen and easily exported via the Salt River (Ferndale Enterprise 4 Sept. 1906; 9 Oct. 1906). Read the rest of this entry »


Gunther’s memory of the massacre

August 8, 2009
Gunther's mansion on Indian Island: HSU Photo Archives

Gunther's mansion on Indian Island: HSU Photo Archives

I’ve decided that sometimes, when I am going out of town or have little to say, I will simply post excerpts/information I’ve dug up over the years that others may not have seen (this time I’m going out of town) .

I won’t fixate on the massacres of February 1860, but thought a little more information from a different perspective couldn’t hurt.

This also emphasizes a point brought up in one of Ernie’s comments that many folks here disagreed with the harsh treatment of the Natives, but were scared.   A man capable of killing an infant with a hatchet was not a man you wanted for an enemy, especially if you had a family.  These were scary people and scary times,  yet many had risked everything to come “out west” and had to make it work.   So you kept your mouth shut…

The following is from Genocide in Northwestern California, by Jack Norton—pg. 86-88, quoting  Andrew M. Genzoli and Wallace E. Martin, Redwood Cavalcade… Pioneer Life, Times (Eureka, California Schooner Features, 1968), pp. 11-13

Years after the Indian Island massacre,  Robert Gunther was asked to address a special ban­quet at the Old Sequoia Yacht Club, which for years stood on the south end of Gunther Island (Indian Island). In a surprisingly can­did presentation, he reviewed the heinous acts of butchery, but also stated that secretly the parties who did the killing had been pointed out. The following description of activities involved in the genocide committed by a gang of ruffians euphemistically called “the good citizens of Humboldt” bears repeating in full:

Early in 1860, I learned that Indian Island was for sale. It was owned by a Captain Moore who took up eighty acres on Washington’s birthday, 1860, and three days later, the Indian massacre occurred.

Read the rest of this entry »