One of Many Lucys

October 8, 2015

Lucy.Murder in Arcata.NCJCover..F.2015.1008

I recently (finally) finished a story about Lucy Romero for the North Coast Journal. It is an important story and I am thankful to Thad Greenson, their editor, for working so long and patiently with me to get it done.

There is one point I failed to include though and so want to share it here. This is from a post I did years ago, but it is just as important to remember now…

In the western movie, Broken Trail  , there is a scene where Robert Duvall struggles to learn the names of five Chinese girls under his care.  They speak no English and growing frustrated, Duvall’s character points to each one in turn and names them, “One, Two, Three, Four… “.  The girls accept the names, because they have no choice.

The same thing happened here.  When the white settlers arrived, they re “named” the native people.  Smo-Wa became Henry Capell (he was from the village of Capell).  Corn-no-wish became Weichpec Oscar.  Zo-wish-wish, a Wiyot woman related to Lucy’s daughter, Annie, was also known as “Rose”.

Lucy, the woman I write about, was only one of many “Lucys”.


Bucksport, c. 1858

March 14, 2012

Bucksport, c. 1858 (County of Humboldt Collection)

So many things make this cool that it is really a wonder I haven’t posted this picture before.

I love Table Bluff in the background. And the pennisula to the right. The rider on the horse and someone walking on the road. This photo does make me wonder, though, where the Indian Village was located.

Two years after this painting was done, it was believed that all who lived in that village were killed…  I may enjoy the tangents, but the original driver for this blog, the murder that began an obsession.  is never far from my thoughts.

Illegitimate children expose illicit relations

August 30, 2011

Researching Lucy has given me an opportunity to learn many, many things about our history, including the court’s attitude toward illegitimate children in the early 1900s.   The following came from the Superior Court of California (County of Humboldt) probate record for Charles Mulberg (Lucy’s son) , who died “on or about March 23, 1928″.

Inheritance in all other cases is eliminated on account of public policy founded upon a moral reason.  If every illegitimate child could claim inheritance from his brothers and sisters, public scandal would be placed upon the head of many otherwise decent and respectable citizens.  The legislature therefore evidently considered it a better policy to lessen public scandal and deny inheritance to an illegitimate, than to throw open the doors of public scandal and gossip, subject many persons to questionable ridicule and permit an illegitimate to expose the  illicit relations of his or her ancestors, merely for the purpose of sharing the estate of his parent’s kindred.   It therefore left the right of inheritance of an illegitimate to these cases where the parents themselves had exposed such illicit relations by admitting parentage. …

 Sucks for the poor bastards (literally) whose parents didn’t want to claim them.

Now the Probate Record, which revealed much about Lucy and her children

Read the rest of this entry »

Pay attention, damn it.

January 19, 2010

I am fortunate enough to live on Glendale Dr. (near Blue Lake) about 1/4 mile from the foot of Liscom Hill.  Liscom Hill Road goes up about three miles before turning into a private road at the old Ford Ranch, where there is an amazing view of the ocean.  I walk up a little, or a lot, of the road depending on the weather and the time I have.  The road follows the old trail to Hoopa and thoughts of others who’ve gone before me always keeps it interesting.

The other day I had some time on my hand and a break in the rain and so I went.   About a mile and half up I heard a crunch in the woods and turned to see an elk looking at me.  I said “hello” and about five other heads popped up not twenty feet from where I stood.  I said hello again and started a mild stampede away from me (which was good because some of the bulls had very big horns), and was amazed to see at least twenty other elk nearby.  If I hadn’t heard the one, I might have passed them by completely, never aware that they were there.

Which is my point.  There are so many things in this world that we don’t, or won’t see.  Regular things, but magical things, too, that surround us.

I have posted (and talked) often of Lucy, a Native American woman murdered in Arcata in 1862, and in my stories, I always try to include my discovery of  her son, Charles’ , obituary in our house.

I’ve recently, with a lot of help from Humboldt Historian editor Suzanne Forsyth, completed an article about Lucy Romero for the Spring 2010 edition of the Historian.  In the article we’re including the story of finding Charles’ obituary in my house,  along with a photo of the clipping.

The thing is, I hadn’t looked at that obituary for a long time.  It is upstairs in a room used for storage  and I covered it to protect it, probably over a year ago… and hadn’t seen it since.  And sometimes, I must admit, I feared it wasn’t there at all.  That I imagined the whole thing as some sub-conscious push to keep working on Lucy’s story.

So it was with more than a little trepidation that I walked upstairs the other day to take a photo of the obituary to go with the article for the Historian.

It is there.  Placed on my wall some 66 years after Lucy’s murder, to be found two years after I learned about Lucy.   The odds…. I can’t calculate the odds of this being so.  Yet is is.  There is magic all around us folks.  Ghosts whisper in the creaking of old floor boards, in the rustling leaves.  There are stories, too.  Just waiting to be heard. 

Charles was Lucy Romero's son

The murder that began an obsession…

August 22, 2009

Lately I’ve had folks ask me why I’ve started this blog, and thought it might be good to repost my little “story” for those who missed it before.

 A few years ago I was combing the basement of the county courthouse looking for old records and ran across the copy of an inquest that occurred after an Indian woman was murdered in Arcata in 1862. She was blind, her children were with her, and the murderers used a hatchet to do the job.  Oh, and she was warned she was in danger and chose to stay in Arcata anyway  because she thought her kids would have a better chance of surviving if she was killed here… Crazy stuff that got me fascinated with her and obsessed with learning her story…

I started researching the “settlement period” of Humboldt county and learned so much I’d had no clue about, even though I’d grown up here.  Things like California made it legal to “indenture” (pretty word for legally inslave) Native Americans in the 1850s and 1860s.  That Humboldt County was infamous for our human traffickers who kidnapped and sold Indian children.   That Eureka was once dubbed “Murderville” by those in San Francisco because of the blatent atrocities that happened here against the natives.

I also kept learning about the murdered woman, called Lucy.  I tracked some of her descendants and kept trying to write something, anything,  about her.

So I was still working on Lucy’s story on and off when we moved to an old farmhouse in Blue Lake about a year and a half ago.  I was upstairs waiting for a house inspector, and among the old newspapers used to insulate the walls I found the obituary of Lucy’s son, dated 1928. It describes his mother’s murder.

So, Lucy’s ghost was giving me a poke and I’ve gotten back into it. I am working on an article about Lucy for the Humbodlt Historian and will figure out where to go with it after that. In the mean time, all these stories I’ve found about that time period are in my head and I want to share them.  I think it is important that people know the history here… it wasn’t that far back and if you talk with Native Americans , you’ll find the effects of previous oppression (and aggression) still ripple through the community.

I also want people to know about Lucy, that she existed. That she was courageous and her courage probably saved her children’s lives.   So many natives died here and we’ll never even know their names.    I hope to honor them through the story of Lucy.