Later, as I read through old newspapers, I was able to piece together some of what happened. Two Native American men both known as “Jack” were accused and hung for murdering a white man living on an island in the middle of the Eel River near Loleta. They were given no trial and their deaths were added to the many already suffered by the aboriginal people during the settlement period of Humboldt County’s history. But this time we knew their names. We could learn their story.
I imagined them terrified as their “jail” was broken into (I’m jumping ahead in my story, I know, but maybe this is part of the story, too). I imagined them dropping as dead weight or pleading for their lives as they were brought to the waiting noose, the crowd loud and volatile around them (or quiet and secretive to avoid detection from citizens who might object to such vigilante justice).