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November 14, 1863: Crescent City

November 14, 2013
Crescent City 13

Crescent City; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Quite a number of Indians live in the city, and not a few white men have squaws for their wives—a sad feature of the civilization of many of these back places. One sees as many half-breed children as he does pure bloods of either race. What is to become of these half-breeds, and what their situation is to be in the future society of various parts of this country, is a serious problem. It is a good American doctrine that a man not entirely white has few rights or privileges that a pure white is bound to respect, and as abuse and wrong has thus far failed to civilize and raise the Indian, it is, indeed, a serious problem.

Crescent City 01

Del Norte County Historical Society; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

The Indian wars now going on, and those which have been for the last three years in the counties of Klamath, Humboldt, and Mendocino, have most of their origin in this. It has for years been a regular business to steal Indian children and bring them down to the civilized parts of the state, even to San Francisco, and sell them—not as slaves, but as servants to be kept as long as possible. Mendocino County has been the scene of many of these stealings, and it is said that some of the kidnapers would often get the consent of the parents by shooting them to prevent opposition. This was one cause. Some feeling arose between the races, and doubtless the Indians stole cattle—at least the whites accused them of it, and retaliated fearfully.

About three years ago fragments of two or three tribes were at Trinity Bay, or Humboldt Bay. The warriors were out hunting and fishing farther north, while the women, children, and the old and infirm were left on an island near Eureka. Some “bold” whites saw a chance for an easy victory. They went in the night to this island and murdered the whole of these people! Women, children, infants at their mothers’ breasts, decrepit, infirm, and aged people were killed in cold blood and with the most revolting cruelty. Some of these squaws had white husbands, some of the children were half-breeds. Over a hundred were slain! The husbands, sons, and brothers of these victims swore eternal revenge, and fearfully have they gratified it. Men, women, and children have been alike murdered. They take no prisoners—their white foes took none. Desolated farms, the ashes of dwellings, and mutilated dead mask their track. They have nearly depopulated Klamath County and made life unsafe for near two hundred miles in the coast ranges.

Of course, the innocent people suffer. And yet these hostile Indians are but very few—not two hundred are left. They are the desperadoes and outlaws from several tribes, with whom the friendly tribes have no dealings. Nothing short of their absolute extermination can bring peace, and it is a costly matter. They are well acquainted with all the intricacies of the mountains, they are brave to desperation, and live only to wreak their vengeance on the race that has wronged them. The three counties they infest are the only ones in the state we have not visited.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Marsha permalink
    November 14, 2013 5:29 pm

    This entry a very sad commentary on the Native American genocide happening at the time.
    Happy Camp, now the tribal headquarters of the Karuk people, was originally called Murderers Alley. It was the site of bloodbaths for the Chinese working the claims as well as and the indigenous people.

  2. Tim permalink
    November 14, 2013 7:23 pm

    Growing up in Eureka, this hits close to home.It puts a light on the thoughts of the settlers at the time.It was a “conquer” mentality. In the whole scheme of things it really wasn’t that long ago. How times have changed! Look up “Red Cap war” happened around the same time.

  3. Marsha permalink
    November 14, 2013 7:49 pm

    Have times changed so much? There is a deep wariness (and that is understating it) between the “first people” and “settlers” to this day.

    • Tim permalink
      November 18, 2013 8:34 pm

      Marsha, Next time a vigilante of whites in the USA goes out and slaughters a group of people of another race, let me know.

      • Marsha permalink
        November 18, 2013 8:55 pm

        That’s what Twitter is for.

  4. William H. Brewer permalink*
    November 18, 2013 1:08 pm

    I find Brewer’s attitude fascinating here (and in other passages about Native Americans). On the one hand, he clearly accepts then-current notions of white superiority; on the other hand, he’s repeatedly appalled at the treatment of fellow-humans that flows from those notions.

    • Tim permalink
      November 18, 2013 8:45 pm

      I find it fascinating also. Note how in the last post he mentions( and a couple other times) “some really beautiful half-breed children” The whole book is fascinating to me. It’s mind boggling ( and sad in a way) how much we have developed and grown in such a short time. And how Brewer foresaw what was too happen. Makes you think about how much longer we can sustain this way of life.Thank you for putting this together. I read the book, found this site and have been following it for a year now.

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