Odd, Old News: A Riot in Westport, 1882

public information

Historic American Buildings Survey, Roger Sturtevant Photographer March 13, 1934 GENERAL VIEW FROM SOUTH – Westport, Mendocino County, CA [image from the Library of Congress]

Nuggets of old news served up once a week by David Heller, one of our local historians.

On May 6th of 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed by the President having been passed by the US Congress. This was the first U.S. immigration law to exclude an entire ethnic group. It prevented Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States and denied those here the possibility of American citizenship. Fanned by an anti-Chinese press, resentment against the Chinese continued to grow, despite their economic “usefulness” as menials and cheap laborers.

In July of 1882, a few weeks after a group described as “worthless loafers” formed an armed mob and forced Chinese mill workers to leave their jobs near the town of Westport, the most detailed account of the incident appeared in the news.

After marching the Chinese millworkers south, the mob retreated to their headquarters in Westport saloons. When offered the jobs “at white man wages” that the Chinese were forced to vacate, the rowdies declined to take the jobs.

By 1889 there were at least six saloons in Westport. To state the obvious, alcohol was the drug of choice back in the day. One news article decrying the tax on whiskey stated that in 1860 there were 90 million gallons of whiskey consumed in America by a population of some 30 million. The latest issue of National Geographic confirmed these three gallons per capita alcohol statistics which do not take into account for more than half of the population being mostly non-drinking women and children. One newspaper article from this time period asked the question “Are We A Drunkard Nation?” The influence of ubiquitous alcohol consumption on history finds a clear example in the following article.

PBS did a fine series presentation on THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT that may be of some interest.



Finally, after a lapse of two weeks since the riot at Westport, Mendocino county, the Dispatch-Democrat brings particulars of the shameful affair. It seems that for some weeks previous to the demonstration a crowd of strangers has been gathering at Westport, where secret meetings were held. It finally developed that the real intention was to drive off the Chinese employees in the mills. On the night of the 9th, according to the paper above quoted, the gang, numbering 25 or 30 men, all armed with Winchester rifles or 6-shooters, proceeded to the Wedges(sic Wages) creek mills owned by McPhee, Gordon & Gill, and Graham & Com., and after gathering all the Chinamen employed drove them in a body down the coast to a point below Kibesillah, where they were turned loose and warned not to return. The nature of the mob may be judge of by the following from the Dispatch-Democrat:

This action practically closed the mills, as the loss of the Chinamen reduced the number of laborers to such an extent as to render it impossible to close down, the mill owners then offered the rioters the places which has previously been filled by Chinamen, at largely advanced rates, but one and all declined to work and have since spent their time in drinking, carousing and offering indignities and threats to all who do not indorse their unlawful proceedings. The closing of the mills would be a great loss to the people of that neighborhood, and benefits a number of citizens, on Saturday, went down the coast and gathered together a large portion of the evicted Mongolians and escorted them back to the mills, where they now are, armed and ready for any emergency. We learn that no serious damage has been done beyond the stopping of the mills. One Chinaman had his queue cut off by one of the mob, and another one was robbed of orders amounting to about fifty dollars.

A healthy state of affairs, to be sure. The gang of lazy rowdies who would not work themselves or allow the Chinamen to work, made Erickson’s saloon their head quarters, drinking, carousing and threatening destruction to life and property. There is no shadow of excuse for such cowardly doings, and we are glad to read that the mill-owners had determined not to be longer dictated to by them, but had armed the Chinamen and set them to work again. At last accounts Sheriff Donohue had lodged a number of the ringleaders in the Ukiah jail. At any point on the Mendocino coast there is labor for all the white men and Chinamen that offer, but these fellows are not looking for employment, and not willing to let men who desire to do so earn an honest livelihood. If white men were crowded out of working positions the case would be different. As it is we hope the Mendocino millmen will maintain their present attitude to the last, and the ringleaders in this disgraceful riot will be provided with work inside the wall of the State institution at San Quentin.


Earlier Odd and Old News:

There are many more, but here are the most recent:



  • 🕯🌳Now over 300,000 Vietnamese refugees set in Canada waiting to take advantage of Air BND in a certain small town in Humboldt. Now people do you want more refugees in your country/County? And I’m the one that’s usually out fighting for their rights, but these people are trying to sneak in the back door and take advantage of you in the process. They’ve been sitting in Canada since 2017.🇺🇸

    • What are you talking about? I’ve never heard of this.

    • Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

      Let’s take in all the refugees and kick out all the thieves. Americans better teach their children how to work or else be overrun.

    • So Willie who’s side are you on today?

    • I am not sure what your talking about Willie, but the entire pop of Humboldt is only like 140,000. So I seriously doubt they would send like 300,000 people to an area with out any jobs or infrastructure. Besides, How many US citizens live in Vietnam? . I am hearing many Americans are retiring there, including one of My Cousins. He’s a retired Helicopter mechanic. He luvs it there. He won’t return to America to live.

    • No more immigrant Air BnB s in Fortuna!

    • Just sitting, waiting, invading? I doubt it. While I know immigration should be controlled to the benefit of all Americans, the cliche’ of lazy immigrants is counter to all evidence and only spouted by willful ignorants.

  • This was, how the West was won.
    Our anscestors didn’t get here by being nice and asking permission(alcoholism aside). This land was won by force and ambition and we need not apologize for any of it, unless we regret living here.
    Modern progressives would not have had the will or the stomach, to do what needed to be done, had it been them, at the periphery of manifest destiny.
    I also, would have doubts about the propriety of it all..
    I can, however, recognize the sacrifice, however traumatic, that links the path from the past to me.
    I’m glad that my anscestors knew who they were.
    The Chinese exclusion acts don’t seem horrible to me.
    Somebody’s culture had to dominate the evolving society. I’m glad it was my peoples and not theirs.
    Most of my peers are in the buisiness of apologizing for American history, trying to subordinate themselves to futures reprisals.
    I want no part of that.

    • There were plenty of people there with a conscience I am sure, Brett Harte being one that we have all heard of.

    • You would have been considered a shameful, worthless, drunken loafer even by the low standards of those days.

    • When someone, with force and ambition, takes your home and makes your children indentured servants, I suspect that you would not be so cheery about how those doing so knew who they were.

      It is so weird that on the one hand you are celebrating immigration and the strength and the sacrifice of those who did it and on the other you are not at all concerned that the Chinese immigrants who surely must have had strength and sacrificed were treated badly.

      “I’m glad it was my peoples and not theirs,” you say….By your logic, the children of thieves and murderers should be glad their parents got away with the loot–“I’m glad my family has the money and not theirs….” seems to be exactly the same argument you are making with no more justification than a criminal who sees something and takes it has for their action.

      Apologizing for wrongdoing is not the sign of the weak but rather a sign of the strong and the logical who have true leadership abilities. Trying to pretend something is fine just because you benefited is neither logical nor moral. Nor does it lead to a peaceful world.

      • https://www.wired.co.uk/article/world-peace-in-2050

        There are many questions about the nature of mankind , given the historical precedent and perspective we have from the historical record.

        ” what is a peaceful world?”

        Is it even possible?

        Or is it just more magical thinking?

        • The world can’t be more peaceful in 2050 because it’s supposed to end in ten years due to climate change, don’t these scientists talk to each other? In the interest of being fair, will our grandkids have to apologize for our benefiting from bombing children in the Middle East? I’m just glad we can keep the tradition going. Our ancestors weren’t horrible, humans are horrible.

        • Arguably, we are living in the most peaceful time in human history. Given how much people are fretting it appears humans will imagine conflict if there are no real ones to fret about.

          • “A Renaissance, if you can keep it”

          • Agreed, but this peaceful time still is nowhere near “peaceful” and on the timeline for our species ww2 was yesterday

            • Considering the amount and frequency of conflict throughout the world prior to WW2 70+ years of relative peace is a long time.



              • What’s the longest we’ve been without being in a conflict since ww2? but wars aren’t my point. We’re talking about apologizing for the acts of your ancestors. That means every sweatshop in Asia using children as slave laborers to supply out consumer needs, or every death in central or South America from our insatiable appetite for the drugs they produce, the children being bombed in the Middle East is more a crack at our need for fossil fuels than war, the headlines from this era of locking children in cages at the border. Will these and countless others be the discussion of our grandchildren as they are just as bad if not worse than what is being discussed about this article. We pretend that we are better than our ancestors, yes we are no longer burning witches at the stake, but with the trend that our society is doing, will we be considered evil because a 9 year old is forced to work 19 hours a day in a third world country to mine the minerals required for our electric vehicles? Or because economic sanctions that make startvation for political gain? Because if we are talking about morals, every one of them is “morally” wrong. Will future generations tear down statues of Obama because he dropped over 20,000 bombs on Syria? “Trying to pretend something is fine just because you benefit from it is neither logical or moral”

                • We certainly don’t live in a time that is “perfect”. I don’t think that exists. All these issues you mentioned are problems solved by not supporting that end of the system. We vote for or against this type of exploitation with every dollar we spend. That is power every person in the developed world has and a power never before distributed like it is now.

                  • I’m not saying that’s what the world is all I’m saying is that what future generations will think they have to apologize for?

                    • I think that apologizing for what our ancestors did is, at best, odd. We weren’t there. We weren’t walking in their shoes and looking through their eyes. History is made up of hard people making hard decisions. Hopefully future generations understand the same.

          • Even though, I agree that the world may be more peaceful in the modren age than in the past, Humans now have even more capabilities to completely annihilate ourselves then ever before. Despite Nuclear proliferation being on a down swing through the last two decades.. looks like 2020 will bringing on a new trend of Nuclear Proliferation thru out the world!


            ‘Indeed, we’ve gone from the first decade since the advent of the atomic age to not yield a new nuclear-weapons state to, in the first days of 2020, the brink of war between the world’s leading nuclear power and a nuclear aspirant. ‘


            • Considering that since Oppenheimer opened Pandora’s box 75 years ago it is amazing that nuclear weapons have only been used twice in acts of war. Imagine if the great Khan, or Alexander the Great, or Napoleon, or Stalin, or a myriad of other conquerors had them would they have shown the restraint modern countries have?

              It’s a tough balance to be wary of potential, exestential threats while being grateful for the peace and abundance of our modern culture.

              • I guess it depends on Which side of this suppposed Peace your on.. It’s all good until it’s not! I am greatful, and I am grateful we have the capabilities to defend ourselves if Necessary.. But I still question the capabilities they have, the temperance and intentions of the people who wield those capabilities today. Lots of questions, so little answers, and too many outrageously destructive weapons.. It is a tough balance that’s for sure!

      • By what means do you suppose the pilgrims were enticed to leave their native land?

        • They were considered religious kooks and shunned away from their native land. The New World seemed a much better option to them than staying home.

      • I’ve never celebrated immigration.
        I’m not justifying it, I’m reminding white progressives that there is nothing they can do that can exempt them from bieng the beneficiaries of American history.
        And to your point that I’m inconsistent with my views on immigration?
        I view immigration, by any group, as bieng synonymous with colonialism.
        I think it was wrong for Europeans to come here, as it was with the Chinese, but we did, I’m here, and I’m not apologizing to anybody.
        people make excemptions that favor their own community.
        It’s ridiculous not too.
        I can appreciate the hard work the Chinese did strip mining along the Klamath river, I’m not saying they didn’t work even harder than Europeans, but I most certainly know that I’m not Chinese.
        Ex-pat logic is pretty vogue nowadays.
        Look around us..
        Logic doesn’t run nature, and it doesn’t run human nature

      • “Apologizing for wrongdoing is not the sign of the weak but rather a sign of the strong and the logical who have true leadership abilities.” While it is pretty clear that has never been a reality, wanting it to be true still doesn’t mean that you can apologize (and keep apologizing over and over and over) for anyone except yourself. And never expect any contradiction. The reason for doing that is strictly self indulgent hectoring.

        Do you ever celebrate the social advances created by the same people? Or just use negatives to flog groups of people in order to advance a current political agenda? When do the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren get to stop bearing the blame for being part of an imperfect world? The idea that some liberals hold that they can magically conform humanity- local or international- to their own fantasies is incredibly irritating.

        “Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.” William Buckley

      • “I’m glad it was my peoples and not theirs,” you say.

        Called ‘entitlement’, which is a two edged sword. Both strong, ‘might makes right’ and ‘manifest destiny’ on one side, and weak because a bunch of liquored up inbreds with better weapons and disease can wipe out a whole functioning culture spanning continents to the detriment of all on the other.

      • Well said, thank you

    • Yeah, learning from the past is a bunch of MALARKY.

      • Learning comes after the past is understood. Understanding is being suppressed just as much here as when the original article was written. No learning is taking place.

    • How about the Irish exclusion acts? The Italian exclusion acts? The Catholic exclusion acts. Wow. Just . . . wow. A buncha lazy, loudmouthed drunks drive off the local mill labor, destroy businesses and then refuse to fill the “jawbs they (the “Chinamen”) stole!” I felt a tinge of guilt and even more of disgust. That ain’t American by any stretch of the imagination. The concept seems to be “they don’t look like me so they’re inferior.”

      • Not one of the rowdies of Chinese had any input into this report. Do you really think that is all this was about? The “secret meetings”, “the gang, numbering 25 or 30 men, all armed with Winchester rifles or 6-shooters” and “We learn that no serious damage has been done beyond the stopping of the mills” doesn’t raise some questions with readers? It is uninformative, button pushing opinion. Not news and should be treated as such. Just as the internet is full of dubious reporting today.

      • “That ain’t American by any stretch of the imagination.”

        Unfortunately you don’t need imagination. A look at any period of history, including the present Trumpist nightmare would show you it IS American, but not the one that exists only in your imagination.

        I have a dream… It would be better if we could wake up.

    • You want No Part of anything faintly resembling a decent human being!!!

    • Government Cheese


      • As long as we are robbing words and concepts of their meanings 1984-style , I would like to declare that #candyisavegetable.

    • French fries over rice:! Im glad my people enslaved other people so i can shop at walmart

    • Now “The evolving society” is making whites a minority and Mexicans are coming back to California, Arizona, Texas, land stolen from them. Manifest Destiny pushing back the scum who rationalized that genocide was OK so they could pillage. Maybe someday the Mexicans will try to run lazy ol’ white folk who think they’re special back to Poland or wherever they came from.

  • It is important for my daughter (adopted from China) to understand both the past here, and that some people today have beliefs in line with those clearly racist actions. Yes, the Chinese Exclusion Act was racist, and represents the very definition of racism. It may or may not be ignorance, but is shameful that so many in our country hold those view of people other than themselves.

    • Is she also going to understand that the Chinese, whose own racism is so refined they not only reject Westerners but also have a long history of excluding any minority ethnic person in areas overrun of the Han majority? That in fact such attempts at control are the norm, not at all unusualn

      “Foreign merchants became subject to numerous demanding regulations, including the exclusion of foreign warships from the area, the prohibition of foreign women or firearms, and a variety of restrictions on the merchants’ personal freedom. ” sounds like the Chinese Exclusion Act … Oh, wait! That was the Canton System imposed on Europeans by the Chinese 200 years before.

      “Under Hongwu’s rule, Mongol and other foreign bureaucrats, who dominated the government during the Yuan dynasty along with Northern Chinese officials, were replaced by Han Chinese officials” in the 1300s. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hongwu_Emperor

  • Alcohol is still a drug of choice for those unable to think for themselves. Thanks for helping to cull the herd.

    • A really not-so-wise-man once said:

      ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ – Rodney King (1965-2012)

      Apparently it’s not in our nature.

  • Possible alternate views of the origin of this article:

    1) the mill owner imported Chinese ethnic workers because they were cheap replacements for troublesome Irish ethnic workers who he considered stereotypically as unreliable chronic drunks. These displaced workers drove off the Chinese and refused to return to work for an abusive boss. Or
    2) the editor of this paper was a confirmed temperance man who painted everything in terms of the “evil of drink.” Or
    3) the reporter is a co owner or relative of the mill owner whose profit comes from running a sweat shop business and thinks it’s fine to run a dangerous business as long as he can keep replacing the workers.

    Under any circumstance this article is opinion, not informative. The assignment of motives is hateful enough to be clearly biased and there is zero attempt to gain information from the people assigned to villain roles. And more than a hundred years later that defect is doubled down by assigning more current biases to these “rowdies” without the least effort to see just how unlikely the whole earlier opinion was. Apparently the game neverchanges- just the players.

    • Good god, its embarrassing seeing you bend over backwards to excuse the actions racist, thieving shitheel bullies you identify with. Theoretically, if this was a management issue, unionizing would have been the logical choice, not running your fellow workers out of town based on their genetics. Those are the actions of an idiotic class-traitor.

      • Good lord, it’s embarassing to see you have so little judgement as to fall back on your shibboleths instead of facts. Do you think that private sector unions existed there at that time or that importing low wage ethnic groups to break unions does not go on to this day? Do you really thing that a group of immigrants would magically ally with the people they were brought in to replace? And do you think that the Chinese were not equally racist?

        I don’t identify, as you so flippantly allege, with “rowdies” drinking in bars at all. I refuse to accept crappy reporting, if that is even what this, as if it were any facts at all. Where as you apparently are not troubled at all by the difference between an opinion and a fact.

      • Well said indeed!!!

  • An earlier view:

    Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 15, Number 125, 17 July 1882


    The Ukiah Dispatch states that an anti Chinese riot has occurred at Westport, Mendocino county, under the following circumstances : Forty or fifty white men, armed with repeating rifles and revolvers, assembled and drove all the Chinese out of the mills on Wedge’s Creek, threatening them with death if they returned. The owners of the mills then offered the places of the Chinese to the rioters, but the latter refused to a man to undertake the work. They repaired to saloons in tho neighborhood, and proceeded to get drunk and to make themselves nuisances generally. At last accounts the law-abiding citizens in the vicinity bad taken the matter up, armed themselves, escorted the Chinese back to the mills, and made preparations to receive the rioters warmly should they venture an attack. These men would not take the work themselves, but they would not let the Chinese do it. Apparently they are worthless loafers, and it is to be hoped that the Courts will deal with them.

    • That the same thing as the first article repeated. Does nothing in that rather unlikely scenario raise an issue? That “law abiding” citizens took their rifles and escorted the Chinese back? Do you really think a bunch of random citizens would do this for the morality of racial equality at that time? Or is it more likely that the mill owner hired a different bunch of “rowdies” to enforce his will? And the wording choice of law abiding or rowdy has more to do with financial gain? Somehow in the first place I can’t see a bunch of saloon patronising drunks just up and deciding to get escorting of Chinese for no reason other than racism without hurting one of them. In the second place why are there only Chinese working at that mill at a time when a person who didn’t work starved? And where is the law in all this? If this was some sort of gang intimidating the mill owner, where is the law? It sounds like a PR piece for the mill owner but the real point is that there just has to be more to it than that. Sheesh. It just seems do unlikely.

      • So you think that the mill owners were playing people’s cultural and ethnic identities against each other. Okay, they probably were, that’s a common management tactic to suppress labor organization. So *how the fuck* do you think these guys are heroes for getting *tricked* by mill management into acts ethnic cleansing?

        • The only imagining of “heroes” comes from you. All I did was point out the original article was mostly opinion, not facts. There was obvious emotional rhetoric without much in the line of information that created understanding of what is going on. Pointing that defect out is not anything more than that no matter that you prefer to magnify the defect by even more emotional rhetoric. If you really wanted better people, you would want encourage better understanding.

          • “Better understanding?” You were the one trying to tell me organized labor didn’t exist in the 1860’s. It’s pretty clear whatever you mean by “better understanding” has very little to do with the facts of the matter.

  • Just like today. People angry that colored folks are here, working harder than them, basically making them look bad. “They are steeling our jobs and ruining our culture!” So you want the jobs they have right? Oh you dont? Not even for “white man wages”? uh-huh. Its abundantly clear what motivates people like this.

    • History is rhyming again.

    • It shouldn’t be so clear to you from so little information. Filling in the gaps with assuming does save energy. Imagine what stress you might feel if you had to think about it first. Yes, the “law abiding” are as racist as the bar meeting “rowdies.” The Chinese workers were marched back and forth without the authors of the articles caring to report what they thought about it. So what does that tell you about what the whole thing might have been about? The phrase in the article gives an idea – “The closing of the mills would be a great loss to the people of that neighborhood, and benefits a number of citizens”. And for everyone, including the reporters, the Chinese workers are a tool in their own agendas.

      Apparently none of the people involved cared one whit about the values you choose to read into it. Yes, careless racism was endemic. Everywhere, among everyone. If you’re going to pick out a lesson to be learned from this, it would be that it is much harder than mouthing anti white insults to create a society less burdened by racism. It takes living the principle that race can never be used to abuse anyone ever. Until then what you’re doing is adding to racists hold on humanity. No, you don’t get to consider yourself as righteous for choosing to perpetuate the problem you see as someone else’s fault.

  • Burnt Roach (new handle)

    Setting aside the question of Chinese racism for the moment, does anyone out there really believe the U.S. Government is going to place 300,000 more people in Humboldt? I read recently that a second county (this one in Minnesota) in the US has placed restrictions on the Federal Government placing refugees in their county. If you truly don’t want immigration in your back yard perhaps you should ask your supervisor to do the same. The catch? You would have to thank Trump for his executive order facilitating this, and Fox News for reporting it. Omar was pissed by the way.


    By the way, an Iranian doctor put my four year old back together when he got broken. He is an immigrant (the doctor, not my kid). A Pakistani doctor just helped me today. He too is an immigrant. Nothing wrong with controlled, legal immigration. Taking in refugees is somewhat different, and should be even more controlled.

    If you truly want to be a racist, be one. I only have two words for you, but I respect Kim and won’t say those two words, even though she might leave the post up because I didn’t direct it towards anyone. Instead, I will urge everyone to try to be more tolerant of others, no matter what they believe.

    Try to be more tolerant of others. Please at least try. It’s difficult, as I well know but well worth it.

  • guest–‘why are there only Chinese working at that mill at a time’….? “This action practically closed the mills, as the loss of the Chinamen reduced the number of laborers to such an extent as to render it impossible to close down”– doesn’t say only Chinese worked the mill

    guest– ‘And where is the law in all this? If this was some sort of gang intimidating the mill owner, where is the law?’—“At last accounts Sheriff Donohue had lodged a number of the ringleaders in the Ukiah jail.”

    guest– ‘And the wording choice of law abiding or rowdy has more to do with financial gain’ — “The closing of the mills would be a great loss to the people of that neighborhood, and benefits a number of citizens, on Saturday, went down the coast and gathered together a large portion of the evicted Mongolians and escorted them back to the mills, where they now are, armed and ready for any emergency.” —Economic reasons to be sure guest!

    The other article about this incident that I have seen mentioned how intimidating it was in the small town of Westport (population approximately 250, with about 22 businesses) in the middle 1880’s) to have 40-50 drunks with guns terrorizing(the word used) the citizenry.

    Economic reasons underpinning the story– yes. Thad Van Bueren in his wonderful Belonging to Places history of the coastline between Ten Mile and Cottoneva creek determined that there were eighty Chinese living north of Cleone in 1880, out of a population of 859. (There were only 28 Irishmen in this population).

    Competition for jobs was a motivating force for the formation of the League of Deliverance, a group which (and I am no authority on this) started with a boycott of Chinese goods and the stores that carried them. Later it devolved into group thuggery and the comment was made in another article that if the Westport incident was an example of the League’s behavior… then ‘we’ don’t support the League.

    Four years later there was an article in the 4/24/1886 Alta detailing where in Northern California the Chinese were living and who was employing them… “Miller of Rockport, owner of Cottoneva Mills, employs a full crew of Chinese”.

    There is always more to a story, and until I get down to Ukiah and go through the Mendocino Herald in the MendoHistSociety microfilm… we have only these newspaper articles from which to determine fact.

    • I did find some reference to the League of Deliverance as a union movement and here pdf.oac.cdlib.org/pdf/berkeley/bancroft/mcb366_cubanc.pdf

  • Hi David Heller, Good job addressing observations that seemed to require some response, though mine was basically, “Yes… and?” More information is always helpful, but we can’t time travel for the full story. We must assume that any printed story was one-sided; of course it was. We can learn from both the story as it may have been–as suggested by the news report–and from the slant itself, considering who’s telling it.
    The exciting work of the historical detective!

  • Here’s an interesting article from the Redding side of the hill about the Chinese in Shasta County.


    Researched prevailing wage in 1870s. White men making about $2.50 an hour. Chinese 50 cents.

    Chinese were literally slaves. The Chinese miners were brought (forced maybe a better word) to relocate to Southern Humboldt for road building projects in 1870s/80s. You may be familiar with China Creek Road…….

    • And thanks for showing the wage disparity Mary Ann, that was revealing. I made some reference to “Taylor’s Oriental Brigade” that built the roads to the coast from Garberville in last week’s post, but let me articulate it in more depth as it does show the job competition issue in 1878… It was announced that sixty Chinese men had been landed at Shelter Cove, and it was thought that they were there for the fisheries, but it was announced that the Board of Supervisors had awarded the contract for constructing a wagon road to Messrs. Ray(John) and Yates. These men then sublet the contract to San Francisco parties (presumably Taylor) who landed the Chinese at Shelter Cove to “perform labor which ought to have been given to the white citizens of this county who would have been only too glad of the opportunity to earn an honest living for themselves and their families by labor on this county road.” The writer went on to complain that every laborer who had worked to provide a home for their family was now going to be taxed to pay those Chinese “whose presence is calculated to starve him out”. The complaint was made that the supervisors shouldn’t hire Asiatic labor for public works.
      When their work was done the Chinese were shipped out of Shelter Cove. An article in the 2/12/79 West Coast Signal titled Shelter Cove Imports and Exports lists the merchandise received and shipped. At the very end of the list of goods was “112 Chinamen. Which goes to show the Chinese are going.”

    • And somehow you think this is new information? Or not exactly what’s still going on with the latest groups of immigrants? People who have a priority of making money before all else (Bill Gates is the Andrew Carnegie of today) always seek to minimize their expenses for labor. And the more government chooses to facilitate that or at least ignore it because they are lobbyied by the powerful to do that, the higher the likelihood that it will create division and conflict.

      You choose the modern tunnel vision of seeing racism as the cause because it takes so little thought. But guess what – racism is the result. And to avoid it takes hard work.

    • I am correcting my earlier statement about wages. Previously I stated:

      “Researched prevailing wage in 1870s. White men making about $2.50 an hour.
      Chinese 50 cents.”

      It’s not per hour, it’s per day.


  • Thanks Laura, it is important to remember that the news that is reported from outlying areas to city newspapers is an oral account first and definitely subject to bias. The suggestion that newspapers have a businessman’s bias in any era should not be shocking to anyone. Since I had more info at my disposal than what was used in the intro to the article, I thought it might help to share all the ‘facts’ to eliminate some of the speculation. Nothing wrong with guests sense of there being more to this than meets the eye… there is an inference in another article about it possibly being an action initiated by the League of Deliverance… outside agitators…but it isn’t clear. It is fun to dig deeper into historical matters. I had thought that the plot line was sooo like one of those scenes in Westerns where men get drunk in the bar, get all emotional and rabble rouse themselves, and go out and do something impulsive and foolish/wrong. Classic scene.

    • As reluctant as I am to be drawn to comment on anything that contains racism or politics, I am remiss to not comment when such true students of history as David Heller, Mary Ann Machi, Laura Cooskey and others are commenting.
      Having ancestors that have been in northern Mendocino since 1857 I have heard many stories handed down through my family(s). My family’s stories often vary from other local family’s stories. So, I have always listened to any story with a great deal of skepticism.
      My family was deeply involved in the history of Laytonville, Branscomb, Usal, and Rockport.
      Stories of our history remind me that people of today are no different than the people of yore. Their opinions were as wildly different as opinions of today. They viewed events and politics as differently as we do. A good example would be the difference of opinion between a Liberal and a Conservative. Both sides make good points and make good arguments. Both sides use solid proof and evidence, but the WHOLE truth lies somewhere in between.
      Any true student of history knows that, and accepts that the whole truth of any story history hides in its little nest somewhere in between all the tall tales. I totally appreciate David’s history stories and fully understand that no matter how “woke’ that we become that we should not try to erase what happened to our beloved ancestors. History should always be viewed with an open, but somewhat skeptical mind.

      • Thank you, Ernie! Possibly the most reasonable comment I’ve ever read on here…I know these same areas fairly well but only since ’77. And I have no family stories to hear but I meet all my neighbors and listen especially to the old-timers. Westport area has always had a mystic or supernatural hold on me. The history I’ve heard and read is epic- huge influx of white people and business, boom times and then today- a tiny general store and so so quiet. Abalobadiah Creek was at one time an Indian reservation- until the increasing white people decided they wanted that too! It’s no wonder the Chinese were treated horribly, given the previous treatment of the Native Americans on the coast….Still I have a hard time imagining the ships being loaded off the rocky coast of Westport- those old-timers were some crazy, hardy and hard-working dudes! I would also like a few drinks after surviving a day of that kind of work!!

        • Farce
          The ships that loaded cargo on and off in Westport, Rockport, and Usal were called “Dog Hole Schooners”. They were called that because the ports that they used weren’t as big as a good sized dog hole for them to enter and turn around in. These ships were small sailing vessels from 50 to 100 feet long, with a shallow draught.

          That was back when “men were men”, (not necessarily a compliment). They would sail the ship direct to shore, then a couple of men in a rowboat would paddle like hell to tie the ship to the moorings before it crashed into the rocks. They weren’t always successful, thus the many artifacts still found along the Pacific Coast shore. The ships were mostly owned by “gyppos” (private contractors) with stars in their eyes about getting wealthy and being a captain on a China Clipper. Also, most were not successful.

          The Dog Hole Schooners were manned by what they called, in the day, as the “Scandahoovian Navy”, because they were mostly Scandinavian. The Scandinavians played a major part in the development of California. They did most of the small ship shipping and logging in the late 1850’S. There is a way of falling a tree that is still called a “Swede”, where the undercut is done in such a way that starts to fall the tree in one way then it swings around and falls in a direction that it could not originally fall. Also Called a “Dutchman”.

          Please use theses interesting links:

      • Thanks for adding your perspective again Ernie…and for getting my label correctly… student of history! As we all are.
        And I am a student of human behavior, using the lens of history to help view similar attitudes and behaviors arising around current issues.

      • Thank you Ernie!!! For you to weigh in gives a substantial weight to these topics. Another student of history. Cheers!

  • 🕯🌳In 1867 who did American buy Alaska from? The same people that first discovered America.🇺🇸🖖🇺🇸🗿

    • Russia?

      There are a lot of people who would contend they were here long before anybody who identified as “russian” came anywhere near North America.

    • The only thing that was ever bought and sold with government land purchases was the agreement not to fight over who makes the rules inside it. Which is always the same whether the government is a tribe or the UN.

  • On Feb 1 the Clarke Museum will be opening an exhibit Immigration, Expulsion, Homecoming the Legacy of the Chinese Expulsion in Humboldt County.

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