Odd, Old News: Petrolia’s Ocean House Hotel is Delightfully Described

public interest

Image of a postcard of Cape Mendocino mailed August 4, 1960 [from HSU’s Humboldt Collection]

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

The Ocean House

This week in Odd Old News we take a picturesque journey down the Lost Coast from Ferndale to the Petrolia region in 1881. This portrait of the natural beauty of the coast is rendered through the eyes of a woman, not a common occurrence in newspaper articles of that era. Her travelogue takes us down the coast to the Ocean House, a popular vacation and way station on the wagon road from Petrolia to Ferndale. Continuing on, her buggy went past a number of the prominent ranches in the Petrolia region to where a “Camp Meeting” was being conducted by Reverend Shuck, and Pastor Skinner of Petrolia.

public information

This picture is originally provided in the comment section below by Laura Cooskey where she describes it as “a photo of the old place, though (originally procured through The Wildcat site on Facebook)”

The 1886 Forbes map shows the Ocean House as the Pacific Ocean House, located on the south side of Singley Creek, and that by this time it was owned by Joseph Russ, scion of the wealthy Russ family of Ferndale. After his passing in 1886, the Ocean House Ranch remained in the family name for many decades functioning as a sheep ranch as well as a family retreat much of that time. The last mention of the Ocean House Hotel was in an article from 1905. Perhaps someone knows how long it served as a Hotel past that? Anyone with more details about the place should feel to contribute as I am unable to access my usual library/Humboldt Historical Society sources to provide more depth.

FERNDALE ENTERPRISE August 11, 1881

THE OCEAN HOUSE

Petrolia and the Camp Meeting

Saturday last by invitation, we, with the usual supply of Saratoga, bandboxes, satchels, valises, parasols and other necessities of a woman’s existence brought us at noon at the sea-side resort known as the “Ocean House”. Leaving Ferndale at a quarter to eight in the morning after a brisk trot of some five miles the ocean beach was reached; then down along the sand a drive for another four miles, varied by the surf frequently washing in upon us, and then over the hills via Myrtle Grove, we reached the summit of Bear River Ridge and saw nestled away down in the valley several farm houses, among them the beautiful residence of Mr. Thomas Stewart. Soon reaching the river we found a capacious school house, post-office and coopershop on its banks. Another climb of a couple of miles brought us to the top of “Cape Ridge”, on the point of which is located the famous light house of Cape Mendocino. Down the winding grade that runs around the southern side of the ridge we go, with nothing but the “break” on our light wagon between us and the canyon a thousand feet below, or eternity, the two being, in this case, synonymous terms. We are borne out in this statement from the fact that as we reach the foot of the mountain and find ourselves actually at the mouth of the canyon, there is seen a little beyond up on a level table land a sort of “fairies home in the palace of Neptune”—a veritable “paradise”, which of course is somewhere in the neighborhood of eternity. Do we need to say that we refer to the “Ocean House,” kept by Mr. And Mrs. S.S. Johnston? Not only was a warm welcome extended us, but a “boilin” hot dinner as well, which was thoroughly considered for about an hour. What can be more invigorating to a poor homesick stomach than a ride of twenty miles in the health giving atmosphere of this sea-coast?

After a rest over night on a couch of down plucked from the breasts of the wild sea birds that have their homes in the haunts of the ocean, we, with a jug of milk as our passport, journeyed down the coast toward the beautiful valley of the Mattole. Six miles along the ocean beach over as fine a road as any Jehu could wish for, brought us to a graded wagon road that runs over the hills intervening the ocean and the valley. Up these hills 800 feet we wend our way behind the steaming horses and beneath a scorching sun, observing on our left, in a “slight little nook by a babbling brook,” the palatial residence of one of Humboldt’s wealthiest citizens.—Mons. Dominique Zanoni, a man, by the way, who has made his fortune in this county as a stock raiser. In a notch in the summit of the hills is seen the ranch of Mr. Jesse Walker, a half-mile off the road. But soon before us burst a vision of loveliness that art cannot reproduce. The Mattole valley as a landscape cannot be excelled for its picturesque beauty by the boasted charms of Italy and Switzerland. The eye can never tire of its diverse charms of form and color that her glow in the noonday sun. With cattle on her thousand hills, and a thousand hills without the cattle. This pantheon of nature is the receptacle of all her bounties of wealth and beauty. Clad in the evergreen garb supplied by the forests of fir and spruce, and toned down by the golden hues of her grassy hills, this valley is the paradise of Southern Humboldt.

Wending our way down the gentle grade we soon reach the beautiful home of Mr. Chas. Cook, and still further on that of one of Mattole’s old-timers and extensive stock raisers—Mr. Walker Hunter. Still further on we find ourselves above and overlooking the “North Fork” of the Mattole river, and see a short distance up the valley the delightful home of Mr. Chas. Doe, whose residence, one of the finest in that entire country, is surrounded by green orchards, fields of ripe grain and groves of young timber. A short distance further on we come upon the “Camp Meeting” that is being held by the United Brethern in Christ. Here the presiding elder, Rev. D. Shuck, was engaged in preaching “The Word” to the benighted ones of Southern Humboldt. A large and attentive audience was assembled in the leafy glades and drank in the truths so ably presented by Mr. Shuck. The meetings opened last Thursday, and will close the first of ext week, unless unusual interest in manifested. Several conversions have been the result thus far, we understand. Rev. Mr. Bowman of Eureka is now laboring with them. Rev. J. Skinner, the local pastor at Petrolia, is also doing his part in a most able and accepting manner.

After spending a few hours chatting with old-time friends, we “hitched up” and retraced our steps to the Ocean House on the beach at Cape Mendocino. At this lovely retreat, where milk literally flows and honey is bountiful, we basked in the sunshine so liberally bestowed upon this region, sported in the surf and rambled over the rocks for another day or two, and then bidding our friends farewell, and taking a last look at the beauties of this place, we boarded the stage and hied us away from the land of fog, voting the Ocean House one of the pleasantest resorts for solid comfort that this county contains.

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Willie Bray
1 year ago

🕯🌳Great story Kelley thank you for the break in the bummer news.🥀🕯🖖🐸

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  Kelley Lincoln

Posters deserve props too!

Willie Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

🕯🌳Thank you David.🕯👍🏽🐸

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Bray

You are welcome Willie, I don’t mind Kelley as the poster, and Kym and the rest of her crew, getting thanked whenever it happens. The Redheadedblackbelt team makes this all happen.

Ernie Branscomb
Ernie Branscomb
1 year ago

Nice find David. Certainly written from a female perspective. Does it mention her name anywhere? Maybe I knew her. Lol.

Was the Coast Road built from Fort Bragg to Eureka then?

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

Ernie, they still haven’t built it, and i don’t suppose they ever will!

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

I may be extrapolating from my own experiences driving that road over the years, and this isn’t what you meant, shouldn’t put words in peoples mouths. Were you referring to a more recent road plan through that area?

Ernie Branscomb
Ernie Branscomb
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

Laura, David or Mary Ann Machi, If you are still checking, I was talking about a road that back in the 1800’S went from from Fort Bragg, Westport, cotteneava Creek, Usal, Four Corners, then branched into two roads. One road went through Thorn. There is still an old stage stop there just south of Thorn. The other road went west to Bear Creek, out Kings Peak and down through the Bear Creek and out Wilder Ridge. I just don’t know where the stage went, or the route it took. Eureka?

All that I know is Bullshistory. I thought maybe you real historians might know.

Then I see below that you already answered my question. Thanks!

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago

I think Laura may be speaking on behalf of her vehicle’s suspension system…. 🙂
the Coast Wagon Road was built in sections, the stretch from Wilder Ridge to Briceland’s, as the Ettersburg area was first called, was completed in 1884. The Forbes map of 1886 shows that the King’s Range road was the first section to connect with the E/W Garberville to Shelter Cove road, and that intersection is at the former site of the short lived town of McKee, where Chemise Mntn road meets today’s Shelter Cove road. shows that they hadn’t built much south of this point yet, there was endless debate in the papers over the best route. I don’t have a date for when the road was actually completed south to the Mendocino border. As of 1886 the road we call the Ettersburg road had not been completed all the way to the ShelterCove/Thorn road.

Lost Croat Outburst
Lost Croat Outburst
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

Yes, I think Laura was speaking about the quality of the road surface in a humorous way. There’s no sarcasm font. We’re all a bit testy (teste) these days. There I go putting words in people’s mouths.

Just a delightful blast from the past. Thank you to all. Oops, gotta go! Time for the latest Epistle from St. Donald the Demented on his Facebook ratings or other drivel while the nation suffers.

Missouri Mike
Missouri Mike
1 year ago

Gosh, is it too much to ask to be spared from the anti-Trump rhetoric when reading a historical post? Thx

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

Hey David, Ernie, and Lost Croat, I could well have been joking about the condition of the road–that’s a good one!–but no, i was thinking of what i considered the long-planned, but never done, Coast Road: hugging the coast.
The route as planned up until at least the early 1960s, which Senator A.W. Way championed, was from Shelter Cove along the Lost Coast, through Petrolia to the Wildcat. That never got built; thank goodness for the King Range National Conservation Area. That Coast Route would have really put Petrolia on the map and helped out economically, a popular movement because timber and fishing were drying out. But development headed inland, and that’s fine with most of us.
At least I think that’s what the “Coast Highway” plan was… to go right along the cliffs… maybe I should go back to the office and read up the old articles about it. “Shoreline Highway” was the other name for the proposal, and i’m pretty sure following the ocean was the plan. Will let you know if i find out anything different.

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

Thanks for clarifying what you meant Laura!

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

A Garberville correspondent told the 7/19/1879 Humboldt Times that “The Coast Wagon road is now open for travel for wagons from Petrolia through to Garberville…” and “The Garberville and Shelter Cove wagon road will be completed in about ten days”. So there we have a date for that section of the Coast Road. As I mentioned, the segment south of McKee happened later.

R.K.M.
1 year ago

I think the road from the Cove (Ocean) at Shelter Cove up to Ocean View was built in 1873. There was another road from the “Frank H. McKEE’s” homestead down McKEE Creak to the Cove. Greater downtown “Frank” (and not “McKEE”) was where the local post office in Bear Creak was located, was on the F.H. McKEE homestead on Bear Creak; and just east of Ocean View near the NEW bridge designed by (uncle) Bob FALKENBERG. F.H. was the mailman. Ref.: older edition of Metsker’s Humboldt County Map. Distant cousin Ernie BRANSCOMB is right in his road descriptions. I might mention we found, when land surveying, parts of the wagon road from Redwood Valley -to- Hurst -to- Eden Valley -to- greater downtown Blocksburg, just east of Willets.

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

Hi David, I’m sorry to say that i have no information about the hotel at the Ocean House. Here’s a photo of the old place, though (originally procured through The Wildcat. site on Facebook):

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

And here’s one of the working ranch behind/aside of this front house, courtesy of Francis Sweet, as it says. I pencilled in the outline of the big rock because otherwise it had almost disappeared:

Thanks for this fun post! There’s one from the 1880s about six ladies taking a road trip “around the block” through the Valley… i put it in one of the old newsletters. You would enjoy that one, as well.

Kym Kemp
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

Thank you!

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

Of course, Kym! Have a great Friday.

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

Thanks so much for offering up Mattole Historical Society photos Laura… really adds to the narrative. I hope that you will always feel free to add your wealth of knowledge and perspective to Odd Old News!

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

You’re welcome, David. I will… but this article already says a lot. I love that the author names the homes she sees and visits, all those familiar names of early Petrolia-area history. Thank you for putting this together!

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

Joseph Russ was more the stock than a scion, if you think about it! He was the original, out from Maine, huge success story. Like him or not, there he was.

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

Thanks again Laura for another gentle correction. Scion was not the correct term at all!

Elizabeth Moore Bareilles
Elizabeth Moore Bareilles
1 year ago

Our family has a place up Bear River – west of the Chase Ranch and east of the Morrison Sisters. We’re 198 acres in the middle of the Russ’ 7500 acre Forest Home Ranch ;-). Does anyone have any info on Shoofly Harry or Henry Luce -that homesteaded our ranch in 1856? Just curious. Our Uncle Vern Moore came from West Virginia and bought it from Shoofly in the 1920’s, I think.

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

Hi Elizabeth, I never heard anything about him, but suspecting he might be related to the Luce Brothers, Simon and Joshua, who homesteaded in the Mattole Valley (Simon marrying Mary Ann Fleener), i looked him up. I don’t believe it was the same Luce family. Henry “Shoo-fly Harry” went by Loose or Luce. (He was loose about it, haha.) He was born in Prussia (Germany) 1838-39, immigrated to U.S. 1860, naturalized in Humboldt 1874. Lived in Ferndale-Eagle Prairie (Rio Dell)-Bear River areas, by census and voter’s registrations. Ag land next to Arthur French Chase. 1875, Henry Loose homesteaded 160 acres in the S half of the SE quarter of Sec. 30, Township 1 North, Range 2 West. Southeast of Capetown. 1880, married Maggie (Margaret) Hand, b. Ireland 1850, in Rohnerville. She was listed as a servant in the Lorenzo Painter household earlier in 1880. In 1888 Maggie and Harry had a baby, Anna Clare Luce. In 1900, Anna is living as a 12-year-old boarder with the Frederick Richardson family, where Oscar Gerald Richardson is 5 years her senior. In 1906, Anna and Oscar married, and several Richardson descendants, grandchildren of Harry Luce/Henry Loose, were born. I don’t know if Maggie… Read more »

Charlie Weaver
Charlie Weaver
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

He was called “Shoofly” because he never changed his socks.

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago
Reply to  Charlie Weaver

LOL thanks Charlie! I guess that would attract the bugs. Wonder if he ever lived near Flyblow Gulch?

Lorena
Lorena
8 months ago

hello. just curious to know if you were able to find more info about the harry luce family or descendants.
thanks

David Heller
David Heller
1 month ago
Reply to  Lorena

I found a few news mentions: Henry Loose, better known as “Shoo Fly Harry.” was very sick last week, but Is now much improved In health.HTS 4/24/1901 Henry Loose returned the first of the week from Ferndale where he received a course of “Christian Science” treatment, much improved, both mentally, and physically. HTS 8/22/1901 LEAVE IN AUTO TO HOLD HEARING District Attorney Otto C. Gregor and Court Reporter W. K. Strong will leave In an automobile today for Rio Dell, where they will hold the preliminary examination of Henry Loose, familiarly known as “Shoe Fly Harry.” against whom a charge has been placed of taking two shots at several of his ranch employees. They expect to return tonight.HTS 4/20/1907 Harry Loose of the Hear River section is spending a few days in town here. On his return he will take 15 head of yearling calves for E. G. Ogle and two horses for Walter Arndt, which he will pasture. “Shoo-Fly” says feed is very good on his place and the stock are all looking fine. HTS 3/9/1914 Harry Loose returned to his home at Bear River after spending a week here. Bert Cross Is visiting his nephew Arthur Cross and… Read more »

Lost Croat Outburst
Lost Croat Outburst
1 year ago

Just noticed the “1881” date. Wow, an upside-down year! As a mnemonic, just remember Pfleuger Fishing Company’s first year. 1961 was next; Obama’s birth year and Cabela brothers ran their first classified ads. Coming up is 6009; we should be dug out of this hole by then. I hope. A vaccine. Mail-in voting, a return to democracy, of the people, by the people, for the people, stuff like that. Dreamer. But I’m not the only one. Where’s Barry Evans when we need him?

Missouri Mike
Missouri Mike
1 year ago

Great article! Makes me appreciate much more all we take for granted these days especially when it comes to transportation. I can’t imagine having to endure all those hours in a coach or wagon just to go what appears to us nowadays such a short distance. Never mind the fact that it once took an entire DAY just to reach or return to Garberville from Shelter Cove!

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago

The main stage through from Cahto to Eureka was Bell Springs Road. From Willits, one would go to Sherwood Valley and over the old Eureka Stage Coach Road on Strong Mountain North West of Sherwood Valley.
The Troops stationed at Fort Bragg in 1860s used this route to invade the Bear River and Mattole tribes where they massacred huge numbers of indigenous people.

R.K.M.
1 year ago

Please ask and have Lauracooksey send you the 52 page file: Civil War References.odt

BUELL, Adj. Gen. Don Carlo
BUELL, D. C.; Adj. Gen. & Brig. General of Volunteers on pg. 21: B698, 9 Oct. 1861 (M619, Roll 7). Also see Microfiche M617, Roll 497; M594, Roll 2.
This was the damning letter from him received (i.e., acknowledged in the “Letters Received” logbook) in D.C. by the ARMY in 1861; but the actual letter (Field Report) sent by BUELL, his summary 1861 report about the ongoing Native American genocide by the ARMY, is missing in the stacks. This is the “key” document: I spent two full days in the D.C. stacks with staff and their help trying to find it, with no results!
With 20/20 hindsight today ‒ one could say BUELL really didn’t understand what the Federal National Policy plan towards all Native American back than was all about – total genocide.
Later I did find an official Letter by an Army Officer having review BUELL’s summary; but apparently he never returned it; or worst, destroyed it.
My question to you: do you have any background information on BUELL? Please answer back here on kymkemp’s webpage — thank you.

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  R.K.M.

‘Scuse me MH for cutting in line to comment please but this part of RKM’s comment screamed at me to respond: ” BUELL, Adj. Gen. Don Carlo BUELL, D. C.; Adj. Gen. & Brig. General of Volunteers on pg. 21: B698, 9 Oct. 1861 (M619, Roll 7). Also see Microfiche M617, Roll 497; M594, Roll 2. This was the damning letter from him received (i.e., acknowledged in the “Letters Received” logbook) in D.C. by the ARMY in 1861; but the actual letter (Field Report) sent by BUELL, his summary 1861 report about the ongoing Native American genocide by the ARMY, is missing in the stacks. This is the “key” document: I spent two full days in the D.C. stacks with staff and their help trying to find it, with no results!” Key indeed! Ditto on frustration for my paid research there RKM! I ran into four important reports either listed in indexes of reports, or in responses to reports, that were never found. There are probably less than a handful of others who have tried to do the primary research at the National Archive and Research Administration for our area. The suggestion of documents being whitewashed has been discussed. Two… Read more »

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  R.K.M.

R.K.M. –D.C Buell was on assignment as AAG (Assistant Adjutant General and Inspector) from April to August of 1861 with the 6th Infantry before shipping back east to join the Union efforts in the Civil War. I think Wiki would tell you more. In 1861, the new Commander of the Pacific, Albert Sydney Johnston(Civil War buffs know that name?) listened more than his predecessor to the petitions and reports from Mendocino and Humboldt citizens and ordered a large military campaign against the Natives of Sohum. Rumors of a late January attack on the Sproul brothers fed into his intel, and he ordered a three prong attack with units of the 4th Infantry and 6th Infantry from the north, and a unit of the 6th out of Fort Bragg. Johnston was a no nonsense military officer, having served in campaigns and larger pitched battles against Indians in Nebraska. The troops were ordered out before Lt. Daniel Lynn’s report from the area revealed that the attack on the Sprouls didn’t kill them and that they had encouraged and harbored a known slaver to merit the attack. When informed that the incident wasn’t significant and perhaps not enough to justify such a campaign,… Read more »

R.K.M.
1 year ago

Where is it written: “they massacred huge numbers of indigenous people”? War of the Rebellion volumes?

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

Mendo Historian: Please contact me at [email protected] and i can forward you some important and interesting papers. I hope you see this!

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago

Mendo Historian, you are usually more on your game than this…. there is no record whatsoever that troops out of Ft. Bragg ever entered the Mattole or Bear River region. Whatever massacres happened to those tribes were perpetrated by local ranchers and California volunteer units based out of Ft. Humboldt, and Camp Grant. Miltary units out of Ft. Bragg did come up the coast as far as Shelter Cove, and others operated in the Eel River area. No matter the details of who did it, the outcome was horrific for the Native Americans of those regions.

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

Hold up, I have poor connection here, I am digging up the info, it is hidden in Civil war book containing Pacific Coast Entries, I tried to edit the post after making it, but missed the time limit. Headquarters Humboldt Military District, Fort Humboldt, May 29, 1863. Colonel : I have the honor to report that Captain Hull, with twenty men of Company D, Second Infantry California Volunteers, proceeded on the 3d instant from Fort Bragg in pursuit of a band of hostile Indians who had been committing depredations on the coast; that on the 9th instant, with a detachment of eight men, he came up with them near Shelter Cove, and out of some thirty-five or forty killed 4 and wounded 3 too severely to be carried away, bringing in 1 boy and 5 squaws as prisoners, who were delivered over to the supervisor on the Mendocino Reservation. ((Mendocino Reservation was Fort Bragg) In consequence of the representations of some of the inhabitants of the outskirts of Areata, instead of bringing Com pany I to this post I have halted it at Camp Curtis, near that place, where it is now stationed. To embark that company and the one… Read more »

lauracooskey
lauracooskey
1 year ago

Hmmm Mendo, i can’t see where there’s a connection between the inland route you mentioned earlier and the coast. Fort Bragg-Shelter Cove-Fort Humboldt-Camp Curtis–all (roughly) on the coast. Then too,Lippitt mentions how much longer it would take to embark the inland companies (Forts Gaston and Baker) than the Humboldt Bay ones. This seems to me to back up the idea that the coastal battles or massacres were operated between the coastal points, mainly (though in Mattole there was back-and-forth between the Eel and Mattole Valleys and the coast). It would have been extremely time-consuming to go from Fort Bragg to the Mattole Valley via the Willits/Sherwood Valley route when there were trails up and down the coast.
But thanks for the interesting letter. Maybe I’m missing something in my reading here!

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago
Reply to  lauracooskey

They did not use that the Fort Bragg to Sherwood “Bushka Indian Trail ” which then led to White and Simpsons in Cahto. Your absolutely right, they went straight up the Coast through the Usal and Sinkione along to Shelter Cove and then Continued to Cape Mendocino Bear River Mattole area. I mis construed that the main North to South was the inland route. The trail between Fort Bragg and Mendocino Reservation went the Sherwood-Cahto route, there was later a Fort Bragg to Cahto Route which followed ridge trails belonging to the Coastal Yuki, these trails were used to pack 50 pound sacks on the backs of indian women to supply the Mendocino reservation, but also White and Simpsons Mercantile at Cahto. Some did not get paid the promised shirt and they were whipped! Another story however…..

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago

Seems to me that it depends on where they were going MH… up the coast was the logical route for up the coast… continuing to clarify the truth here– my contention that there was no record of your comment: “and then Continued to Cape Mendocino Bear River Mattole area” in the written record for any military group out of Ft. Bragg was not correct according to the link below which stated “Scout to Shelter Cove and Mattole River, August 3–23, 1863, Captain Hull, with nineteen men, proceeded to the neighborhood of Shelter Cove and Mattole River, on a scout, and returned August 23, 1863, not having seen any hostile Indians” so I was wrong in that he did scout to the Mattole! And, as you can see, no massacre of the Mattole people resulted…..the 2nd Infantry reports you posted were from Lt. Hubbard of Company A, based out of Ft. Baker. This wiki link about the 2nd Infantry will show how many times Hull was on the Eel River, my suggestion being that using the Mail Ridge route via Cahto would be a more likely route for some of their expeditions than up the barely used Humboldt Trail along the… Read more »

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

Or not? Wiki took its information from the War of the Rebellion somewhere.. in Captain Hulls August 23 report to the Ass’t Adjutant General at Ft. Humboldt that he wrote upon his return to Ft Bragg he stated: “..I proceeded…to the neighborhood of Shelter Cove and from thence followed up the course of the Eel, scouting over a distance of eighty miles…”. There is no mention of going past Shelter Cove in the original report. (No Native people were seen). hmmm?

David Heller
David Heller
1 month ago
Reply to  David Heller

I believe that he is referring to the upper Mattole River which is east of Shelter Cove, as his previous report on page 258 of the War of the Rebellion explained that he couldn’t go the Mattole or Bear River as ordered due to lack of pack animals.

David Heller
David Heller
1 month ago

MH… you have mushed two different reports together here, maybe that was the result of your edit timing out…
…”Mendocino Reservation. ((Mendocino Reservation was Fort Bragg)” is the end of Captain Hull’s report about his Company D.. the next sentence begins Lippitt’s report to AAG Drum about company I. This is just to keep the record straight online, and you were correct that Hull was directed to scout the Mattole, but his actual report stated “I beg to state that Mattole and Bear River alluded to in District Orders, No. 18, are beyond the capability of my means of transportation,in consequence of want of pack animals. The roughness of the route makes it difficult to find animals to hire in this vicinity equal to the task.” Chapter LXIL, p.258.
The notion of Hull’s going up the coast to Fort Curtis is a misreading of the reports. This is a summary of a few comments below.

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago

I welcome your attempt to add to what I have read in my military records from the National Archives, the primary sources from which the online War of the Rebellion reports are found. Don’t mean to sound haughty, but I have been over those reports thoroughly in an attempt to record all of the war on Native Americans in my area. To the best of my knowledge, the military out of Ft. Bragg 1st came up the coast in the spring of 1860 to investigate a Shelter Cove incident. Following that, company D of the 6th US Infantry was ordered to come north to Southern Humboldt and join other units in the field. They operated from late May to early August(approximately) of 1861. Their scouts and fights were confined to the South Fork of the Eel on the west, and the approximately the Eel River on the east from what was reported.I believe that you are correct that the company out of Ft. Bragg, 1st under Lt. Dillon, and secondly, Captain Carlin, did use the Mail Ridge route, the primary trail to Southern Humboldt from the early 1850’s on. The US Army left Ft. Bragg in the late fall of… Read more »

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

298 OPERATIONS ON THE PACIFIC COAST. [Chap. LXII. and succeeded in reaching it at 10 p. m., hungry, wet, and cold. Dis tance marched, five miles. April 9, laid over and rested my men at headquarters. April 10, started on a scout with six men and five days’ rations. Having discovered no fresh Indian sign, camped at Homer’s burnt cabin, situated about five miles south of Bear River, on the Hydesville trail. Distance marched, ten miles. April 11, left the burnt cabin and traveled down the ridge toward Southmade’s ranch, and posted a lookout on a high mountain with a good spy-glass, thinking we might discover the Indians running cattle; but we were disappointed; no Diggers were to be seen in that neighborhood. We then crossed over to Taylor’s Mountain and camped. Distance marched, eight miles. April 12 and 13, lay round concealed in the brush in hopes of seeing the Indians traveling after cattle, but they did not show themselves. They have most probably found out that we are on the lookout for them. April 14, returned to camp in order to throw the Indians off their guard and give them a chance to come out of their hiding… Read more »

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

Of course, I have that information, let me find my reference for you, you do amazing work by the way. 👍

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago

I love having all this accessible to a google search, thanks MH! In addition to the scouts and fights that you cite involving Lt. Frazier of Company E, who was based out of Camp Grant on the Eel, and not out of Ft Bragg, Lt. Dillon is one of my heroes in this dark time era. At NARA central in Washington, DC there are extensive military reports out of which the online War of the Rebellion reports were cherry-picked, and there are many many more that weren’t used. A thorough search of numerous locations for more Dillon letters to his superiors turned up little extra information, and definitely nothing to suggest he even went as far west as Briceland…. I can see where his order to patrol between the Coast Range and the Eel would make you think he did range into the Mattole.
Company E was a nightmare for the Mattole Natives, and though they were primarily Mendocino county volunteers, they were never based out of Ft. Bragg. I may sound, unintentionally, “top doggy” but my interest in only in keeping the record accurate. I am smiling widely that you posted so much for future researchers!

R.K.M.
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

What are your sources? I would suggest you list your primary sources for those of us who are not yet very knowledgeable about this subject. Is your main reference the CD “The War of the Rebellion: Master Edition”? What does NARA stand for? There was an old mule trail from the Ocean, up Anderson Valley -to- Branscomb; which, from there, followed the Eel to Cummings – and on to the top of Red Mountain and thence to Mail Ridge Mtn Road — bypassing Bell Springs. There were other inland trails too: Bear Harbor -to- Garberville. How did the Army back then get pass “No Man’s Pass” just south of Shelter Cove? Was the old McKEE road, originally as a trail up McKEE Creak to F.H. McKEE’s homestead at Frank on Bear Creak, used by the Army — instead of going directly to the Cove? If so the Army would have gone to Ocean View just west of Bear Creak and from there proceed north on Horse Mountain to Oliver’s Gap and the Indian camp at the Wooley Place, and do their killings. BUELL’s Report describes the Shelter Cove massacred and others too. BUELL said when he got back to D.C.… Read more »

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  R.K.M.

Great questions that again, I am perhaps over-eager to chat again, cutting off your directed question to MH. I have obsessed over what trail was taken by Hamilton to escape from Shelter Cove and your makes sense. Why would Oliver’s Gap be there, but the primary oral recollection for Oliver’s death comes from the Mendocino Historical Society’s archives “the Shoemake, Oliver, Shepard version of the event to the best recollection of John Biaggi, Jr.”. This version is from one of the families of a man who went back to Shelter Cove to retrieve Oliver’s body and avenge his death. “Hamilton was able to spur his horse over a high embankment and get away along the sand of the ocean beach, but Oliver was caught…”. Would he be able to hook up with that McKee trail you describe by going over the bluffs(?!) at the south end of the Cove? Your thoughts are most welcome, as you know the terraine. This account has the most information on the incident that I have found though five or six newspaper articles add to the complete story. Establishing when John Archibald Hamilton brought his stock from his Punta Arena ranch where he was the… Read more »

R.
R.
1 year ago
Reply to  David Heller

I have to add: at the Wooley Place is a huge mound of mussel shells, evidence of an ancient Indian camp; plus there was an old Indian trail from the Wooley Place straight down (west) to “Little Island” and “Big Island”; and thence to the Ocean’s shore where mussels on the rocks were gathered (since all removed, and more, by hippies and Chinese). (I won’t go into more detail about this magical place on the shore because then it will be destroyed even more.) But specifically, the W-P supposedly is the place were OLIVER was killed. Much later the Wooley Place was were Austin S. NOTLEY first homestead and is directly on the west side of “Oliver’s Gap,” i.e., O-G is the lowest saddle point on Horse Mountain — so call Horse Mtn. because Austin’s father Wm. Franklin NOTLEY keep his horses there at the north end (ironically 160 acres bought from Archiball’s son Bill HAMILTON): horses above 2000 feet don’t have as many worms — and from a short walk east from the top of the ridge on the County Road is Bear Creak and fresh water. There is actually a trail on the far side of Bear Creak… Read more »

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  R.

Great to hear from one who knows! The account passed down in the family of the man who went to Shelter Cove from the Punta Arena area when Hamilton went back gives quite a bit of detail, the family had Oliver’s gun that they retrieved at Shelter Cove in their possession for many years. Taking some of the Indian children who survived back south was part of the story. One of those was Indian Jim, who I always wondered about after Mr. Machi mentioned him in one of his writings, and then I found reference in a Humboldt Historian comment section about Bill Hamilton and his Klondike bar at Gopherville that mentioned Jim and his past. Before this, I thought that Sally Bell and Jenny Young were the only survivors of the coastal tribelets. I so respect your knowledge of the land! Do you know who Cooley was, that the place was named for?

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  R.

I want to more deeply acknowledge the value of what you shared sir. There is scant knowledge passed down in local oral accounts of this incident, and what we have is very diluted. You have studied this at more depth than anyone alive undoubtedly, and talked to oldtimers that are no longer with us. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

David Heller
David Heller
1 year ago
Reply to  R.

When Captain Hull was on the coast he had a camp set up at Bear Harbor… are you aware of trails down into Bear Harbor that would have been different than the route through Needle Rock, perhaps to the south of the Bear Harbor Lumber Co. railroad?

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago

Headquarters Humboldt Military District, Fort Humboldt, May 29, 1863. Colonel : I have the honor to report that Captain Hull, with twenty men of Company D, Second Infantry California Volunteers, proceeded on the 3d instant from Fort Bragg in pursuit of a band of hostile Indians who had been committing depredations on the coast; that on the 9th instant, with a detachment of eight men, he came up with them near Shelter Cove, and out of some thirty-five or forty killed 4 and wounded 3 too severely to be carried away, bringing in 1 boy and 5 squaws a8 prisoners, who were delivered over to the supervisor on the Mendocino Reservation. In consequence of the representations of some of the inhabitants of the outskirts of Areata, instead of bringing Com pany I to this post I have halted it at Camp Curtis, near that place, where it is now stationed. To embark that company and the one at Fort Humboldt twenty-four hours’ notice would suffice, but to embark 190 OPERATIONS ON THE PACIFIC COAST. [Chap. LXU. tlie companies at Fort Gaston and Fort Baker (Captain Morton’s and Captain Flynu’s) four days’ notice at least would be required. The supply of… Read more »

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago

Here is the official Order: Headquarters Department op the Pacific, San Francisco, March 12, 1861. Second Lieut. Edward Dillon, Sixth Infantry, U. S. Army, Commanding Fort Bragg, Cal. : Sir : The commanding general directs you to take the field with your detachment and proceed to the region of country between the Coast Range and the coast watered by the Eel Kiver and tributaries. You will keep your command in motion and visit the settlement* in that region, giving protection to the settlers and their stock, pursuing and •attacking any parties of Indians who may commit depredations. A detachment from Humboldt has been ordered to the same district. On reaching the neighborhood put yourself in communication with the commanding officer, and you will then be able to concert your move ments and thus better attain the object had in view. If at any time you find that a force greater than your own is required you must unite your forces. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. W. MACKALL, Assistant Adjutant- General. FOR GENERAL IDEA OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING AT THIS TIME; Fort Bragg, Cal., May 31, 1861. Maj. D. C. Buell, Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. Army, San… Read more »

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago

No. 5. Report of Lieut. Charles G. Hubbard, Second California Infantry. Upper Mattole, Camp Olney, June 20, 1862. Sir : I have the honor to report that in pursuance of Special Orders, No. 65, with a detachment of fifteen men from Company A, Second Infantry California Volunteers, I marched from Camp Swasey on the 31st day of May, and arrived at my present camp on Mattole River on the 5th day of June, 1862, stopping one day in Lower Mattole for rest, and to ascertain the most eligible position for me to operate from in order to fully carry out the scope and intentions of the order above referred to, and the letter of instructions accompanying the same. My present camp was selected by me after duo consultation with those appearing to me to bo best acquainted with this valley, and, from care ful examination and extended scouts, I am satisfied that my present location is the very best that could have been selected for the present, being convenient to Kushka and the coast, Lower Mattole, and the country on Bull Creek, South Fork of Eel River, and Eel River. The day after my arrival at this camp, I started… Read more »

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago

They did not use that the Fort Bragg to Sherwood “Bushka Indian Trail ” which then led to White and Simpsons in Cahto. Your absolutely right, they went straight up the Coast through the Usal and Sinkione along to Shelter Cove and then Continued to Cape Mendocino Bear River Mattole area. I mis construed that the main North to South was the inland route. The trail between Fort Bragg and Mendocino Reservation went the Sherwood-Cahto route, there was later a Fort Bragg to Cahto Route which followed ridge trails belonging to the Coastal Yuki, these trails were used to pack 50 pound sacks on the backs of indian women to supply the Mendocino reservation, but also White and Simpsons Mercantile at Cahto. Some did not get paid the promised shirt and they were whipped! Another story however….. No. 4. Reports of (Japt. William E. Hull, Second California Infantry. Camp No. 25, Red Mountain, March 31, 180-1. Sir: I have the honor to report that on the 17th instant at the lied Mountain, seven or eight miles southwest of the Blue Rock Station, the scouting party of the company under my command routed a band of hostile Indians and pursued them… Read more »

Mendo Historian
Mendo Historian
1 year ago

Sir: I have the honor to report the operations of this command during the previous fifteen days: June 1, Lieutenant Taylor, Sixth California Volunteer Infantry, was sent with twenty-live men of Company E, with instructions to select a suitable place near the Upper Crossing of Mad River and there erect a small block house. This point has been much frequented by Indians, and they have given much trouble to people traveling that route over the mountains. Large droves of stock pass over this trail during this season of the year, and it is necessary to have a force sufficient for escorts and protection. On the same day, in accordance with instruc tions from the commander of the district, ten men and two corporals were sent to Light-House Point, near Fort Humboldt, to guard Indian prisoners there. June 2, four men were detached to guard Harris’ ranch, four miles southeast of this post, for the protection of forage belonging to the quartermaster of this post. On the 6th Lieutenant Geer, of the Battalion of Mountaineers, with a detachment of twelve men was sent to meet a party of Indians (Redwoods) who were said to be anxious to deliver themselves up. The… Read more »

Carol McFarland
Carol McFarland
1 year ago

Thanks for this astonishing interchange of coastal history. It made me long for the lost stories of my great great grandparents who pioneered on Table Bluff, built the beautiful round barn and raised six children while supplying vital goods for the miners and explorers who came their way. I sincerely hope that the historians herein have found a repository for all of these gems of our past and that they will be preserved in the state’s archives for those who follow.

The importance of your work is underscored as we lose the last remnants of our regional news gathering — the combined The Humboldt Standard and The Times Standard.

Carol Kirkby McFarland

Mark
Mark
11 days ago

Sounds like a very detailed history of using the military to save a few lives of the dispossed, claiming a civilizing influence, while never lifting a finger to stop the land grab or ensuring the original “property owners” get reinstated on their lands. Property becomes private when whites steal it. Then the military will defend the whites.

Those who pillaged, rape, enslaved, and murdered were doing the dirty work for those who were the genteel owners of the land – the barn builders and stockmen.

Land Back is a small price as penance for what the now private property holders owe for these crimes. The curse of the devil will not lift with token gifts. Greed, Fear, Pride are just a few marks of the damned. One cannot fully enjoy what is stolen. A nation immersed in guilt and pain is tearing itself apart. Not much longer to go.