Archive for the ‘Current News & Links re: history’ Category

Let’s wrap up this Chippewa and Sioux scrip business today.
(Reminder, though–if you haven’t seen the original article in the Mattole Valley Historical Society’s Issue #44 of Now… and Then, please comment below or email mattolehistory@frontiernet.net and i can send you a digital copy.)

First, some of my sources you may enjoy looking into further if this matter interests you deeply–most of you might want to scroll past:

Franks, Kenny A., and Lambert, Paul F. Early California Oil: A Photographic History, 1865-1940. Texas A & M University Press, 1985.

Gates, Paul W. Land and Law in California: Essays on Land Policies. Iowa State University Press, 1991.

Half-breed Scrip, Chippewas of Lake Superior. Correspondence and Action [re: the 1854 LaPointe, WI, treaty] including the Report of the Commission appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, April 21, 1871, composed of Henry S. Neal, Selden N. Clark, Edward P. Smith, and R.F. Crowell; and the Report of the Commission appointed July 15, 1872, composed of Thomas C. Jones, Edward P. Smith, and Dana E. King. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Washington, 1874. (Available as free e-book on Google Books.)

Journal: Appendix. Reports, Volume 5. California Legislature, 1874. Available on Google Books (free to read online). Reports of a couple of dozen committees on all sorts of bureaucratic matters. A gold mine of information from the chaotic early period of the state’s development.

W.W. Robinson. Land in California: The story of mission lands, ranchos, squatters, mining claims, railroad grants, land scrip, homesteads. University of California Press, Cambridge University Press, 1948. (Part available on Google Books, or can be downloaded for a small fee.)

Lavender, David Sievert. California: Land of New Beginnings, Harper & Row, 1972, or University of Nebraska reprint. (Part available on Google Books, or find print copy.)

Stalder, Walter A. Contribution to California Oil and Gas History (California Oil World). 1941. [This essay, not available on amazon nor, with reasonable searching, online in its entirety, i found excerpted in the handwriting of Martha Beer Roscoe. It was located in her volume of notes titled Chippewa Scrip at the Humboldt County Historical Society, H and 8th, Eureka. It is probably excerpted from this slightly earlier report often appearing on a google search for Stalder: History of exploration and development of gas and oil in northern California: Calif. Dept. Nat. Res., Div. Mines Bull. 118, pt. 1, pp. 75-80, illus., Apr. 1940.]

Taylor, Frank J., and Welty, Earl M. Black Bonanza: How an Oil Hunt Grew into the Union Oil Company of California. Whittlesey House (McGraw-Hill), 1950.

http://files.usgwarchives.net/ca/humboldt/land/humboldt.txt An index to Federal Land Patents in Humboldt County.

https://glorecords.blm.gov/default.aspx Both of these two websites are full of valuable information; but this one has everything. You can find old surveys and plats, related patent information, all the government patents on any section of land… just fill in your Township and Range, Section number if you want to narrow it down, Humboldt Meridian, etc. and voila! Historical data at your fingertips.

I also had access to the transcribed diaries of James W. Henderson from 1865 and 1867, though i am not at liberty to publish their contents now.


In case you don’t want to go digging around online, I will call your attention here to a few key passages from the online books Half-breed scrip… and Journal…; both thorough, and, we hope, faithful reports of testimony and correspondence regarding the Indian scrip scandal investigations, and both published in 1874.

Regarding how much the half-breed scrip recipients may have been paid for their land rights–Half-breed scrip…, p. 60 (my page numbers will refer to those printed on the page, not the digitization’s Google book number, in case you find a different version…):

“Matilda Thompson (No. 46) swears that ‘I was a married woman September 30, 1854; that I made application for scrip under the treaty of September 30, 1854, made at LaPointe, Wisconsin, through Isaac Van Etten; that I never saw the scrip, but was told by Van Etten that the scrip was worthless; that it could only be laid on some land around Lake Superior, on which I would have to pay taxes, and thereby induced me to sell it to him for $20.’ ”  That’s for scrip worth 80 acres of land.

“Elizabeth Monchand (No. 32) swears: ‘I applied through Isaac Van Etten, about seven years ago, and have never received either land, scrip, or money, nor do I know that any scrip was ever issued. Van Etten told me to sign the paper, but did not explain it to me.’ ”  Van Etten is the man who witnessed the Power of Attorney being granted  to E.O.F. Hastings by some of our recipients of local land in 1864. He also witnessed for many Chippewa, including many on our Mattole-area scrip patents (Massey, Brunelle, Folstrom), handing over Power of Attorney to Thomas R. Bard. Van Etten was an attorney and investor in pine forests to feed Minnesota’s booming lumber industry, and used some of the scrip he managed to procure for himself for personal enrichment via that pine timber.

As early as 1856, concerned public servants had fretted about the potential for abuse of the scrip. Thomas A. Hendricks, Commissioner at the General Land Office, wrote (Half-breed scrip, p. 38) that “…the seventh section of the second article of said treaty [the 1854 LaPointe treaty with the Chippewa] requires lands to be selected by them (the Indians,) ‘under direction of the President, and which shall be secured to them by patent in the usual form.’ The third article of said treaty contains a stipulation that the President may, ‘at his discretion, make rules and regulations respecting the disposition of the lands in case of the death of the head of a family or single person occupying the same, or in the case of its abandonment by them, and may also assign other lands in exchange for mineral lands, if any such are found in the tracts herein set apart,’ &c.

“There is no provision whatever in the treaty for the issuing of scrip or land certificates, and, in my judgment, there is no law for it. If adopted, even as a temporary expedient, it seems to me it would be fraught with many evils in opening the door to speculation and irregularities, by creating a sort of Indian pre-emption float, liable to pass, indirectly if not directly, into other hands–leading to disputes in ownership, and liable to conflicts with settlers.” Hendricks therefore proposes a more isolated process between the Indian agent and his particular assigned purview of Natives and half-breeds, which would then be approved by the Indian bureau, without intervention from outsiders.

Here (p. 303) is the response of Charles Gilman, a register of the Land Office of St. Cloud, Minnesota, throughout the 1860s, when asked about how applications for scrip were made: “The half-breeds claiming to be entitled to land usually came to the office and stated that they wished to apply for land under the treaty. They usually came with some person who did their talking for them. Many of them could not speak English… Unless there was an appearance that they clearly were not entitled, I usually filled out their applications for them, and administered the oath that was required to their witnesses, and in due time sent the applications to the Department [Dept. of the Interior/Indian Affairs, or General Land Office?] for their approval or decision in the matter. No decision of the merits of the case was made at the local office, but left wholly for the Department at Washington.”

Perhaps this is a sort of answer to how this abuse managed to slip by. The people usurping the rights of legitimate scrip recipients were trusted by the Washington authorities to have allowed only worthy applications to be passed on to the federal gov’t; at what point Washington figured out that something fishy was going on, i don’t know, but hundreds of scrip certificates had been issued by then.

The “fishy business” was really on two levels: first, in order to get the numbers of scrip patents the businessmen really wanted for their timber (or in our area, oil) claims, many half-breeds or Indians of questionable eligibility were recruited to sign up for scrip. This padding of the numbers of recipients is a matter whose investigation takes up much of the testimony and correspondence in the Half-breed… publication. People who had already been granted scrip, or whose spouse had been granted (making for two heads of a household, rather than the specified one), those with no connection to the Chippewa of Lake Superior, people already deceased, etc., had their names on scrip applications. Before you feel badly that these people were eventually discovered as non-entitled and had their scrip-provided patents cancelled, remember that they wouldn’t have gotten the land anyway; they maybe got 25 cents or 50 cents an acre for the right to it, when a lawyer bought Power of Attorney from them.

Question to Gilman: (p. 304) Do you know whether it was the custom to make purchase of the rights of the half-breeds after they had made their applications and before they were approved at Washington?
A: “I think it was the general practice.”

Now comes William S. Chapman (p. 306), testifying in November, 1872. Though the question directed to him concerned Chippewa scrip redeemed for land in the Mount Diablo meridian, i think we can assume this was the stand he took regarding all his scrip purchases: “I am forty-five years of age. I have lived in Nevada and California during the last nine years. My occupation is dealing in real estate. During the years 1865 and 1867 I obtained from C.W. Thompson and Franklin Steele, of Minnesota, the eighteen pieces of Chippewa half-breed scrip described in the annexed schedule… and agreed to pay for the same from one and a quarter to two and a half dollars per acre. I located the said scrip at the time… the value of which lands, respectively, I believe to be therein as stated. I obtained the said scrip in good faith, never having heard the regularity and legality of its issue questioned before the location of that class of scrip was suspended by order of the General Land-Office in the year 1871.” Sworn before a Notary Public by Wm. S. Chapman. He says he had no idea!

There is much more about the investigation in the Journal: Appendix. Reports, Vol. 5. from 1874. All you ever are likely to want to know about how both the U.S. Government and the half-breeds of Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc., were defrauded. Instead of typing up the excerpts here though, i will list the pages of the references i found most relevant to our angle on the matter; but first, here is a web address to bring you to the same version i am looking at:

pp. 149, 163
pp. 191,199,201,211,224-25
pp. 241, 250, 254, 258, 262-63
pp. 315, 318
pp. 337, 346-47 (this section especially concerning William S. Chapman)

Before signing off here today, however, i want to let you know how some of this story came together for me in the Humboldt Co. Recorder’s Office, 5th floor of the courthouse in Eureka. It began when i spied the books recording Powers of Attorney, after seeing on some of the sales of Indian land that they were sold “by” thus-and-such “half-breed” by (or via) their attorney-in-fact, whose name would be that of one of the bigwigs mentioned in James W. Henderson’s diaries from 1865 and 1867. An “attorney-in-fact” is someone who has acquired Power of Attorney for another party, and legally acts in that person’s stead. At first, browsing through Book A of the P of A’s, I saw many of the by-now familiar Chippewa and Sioux names, French-sounding names, giving P of A to a Jno. P. Green, E.O.F. Hastings, and William S. Chapman. These P of A documents were hand-copied versions of agreements signed in Minnesota, but registered here, i suppose, to legitimize land business done in Humboldt County. And a lot of business was being done!

Here’s a reversal of the usual pattern of the illiterate “half-breed” giving his rights to an attorney; it’s Thomas A. Scott himself, of Philadelphia, a very busy man, appointing Samuel L. Theller of San Francisco as his true and lawful attorney, “to sell and convey by quit claim deed all my right title and interest in, of, and to, the following tracts… situated in the County of Humboldt, State of California, and described as follows, to wit…” and then 3760 acres in 1S, 2W, and 507 more acres in 1N, 3W, and 1S, 2W are described–these are the scrip parcels–  “… and to ask, demand, recover, and receive all sums of money which shall become due and owing to me by reason of the Sale of the Real Estate aforesaid. Giving unto my said Attorney full power to do and perform everything necessary to be done in the premises with the additional authority to substitute one under him with like power.” This was on Dec. 26, 1866–after the main promise of the Mattole oil boom had failed, but yet before a good portion of Scott’s land acquisition. The Power of Attorney contract was recorded in Humboldt County at the request of Samuel L. Theller on April 27, 1867.

It’s interesting that one of the witnesses to this agreement was William V. Archer, a “Commissioner of California” at Philadelphia, “duly appointed and qualified with authority to take acknowledgments and to administer oaths and affirmations to be used … in said State of California.” I guess Pennsylvania and California had a lot of shared interests then.

In 1869, Thomas A. Scott vested in John P. Green, his private secretary, of San Buenaventura (now Ventura County), his Power of Attorney, with the same provision granted to Theller, above, for deputizing someone below him with like power. Accordingly, soon afterward, Green shared this P of A with Thomas R. Bard of Rancho Ojai, to take care of Scott’s business. Bard was one of the wealthiest men in California, and a nephew of Scott’s; a Pennsylvania wildcatter who had come west to profit from the promising new oil fields of California. John P. Green could do business as an attorney representing both Thomas A. Scott, backer and investor with the moneybags, and the landless, cash-poor half-breeds of the upper Plains; Bard could do the same, but spent most of his time turning his own oil wells into one of the world’s largest energy corporations to this day, Union Oil Company of California. Bard was the first president at the formation of Unocal in 1890, due largely to the fact that he owned two of the three oil companies that merged to form the new entity. Unocal owns Union 76 gas stations and… well, no need to inform you of the vast wealth, and therefore power, of such an oil company.

That’s about it for this topic, which has gotten rather far afield of the Mattole Valley. Once upon a time the world sent emissaries of these men to the sleepy little ranching town of Petrolia; as luck would have it, our oil was just a bit too stubborn to come out in any lasting quantities.  The Chippewa and Sioux who signed away their scrip rights never knew of the beautiful land that was once tied to their names on the white man’s pieces of paper.


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Hello Everyone!
I am writing to catch you all up on some of our recent projects and changes. In the last MVHS newsletter, #44, I didn’t have room to share all the news we had. I feel a little guilty, in that i seemed to give short shrift to the all-important building project and the fund-raising efforts that support it.

So i am going to reprint here Kay Raplenovich’s reports, edited a bit by me and with information from a couple other MVHS Board members, and will include the whole page of drawings from Jim Groeling–his most recent, but certainly not final, version of plans for the new museum building. Kay is on the Mattole Valley Historical Society’s Board of Directors, and one of the firecrackers behind both our Building Committee and our Fund-raising Committee (with the equally brilliant fund-raiser, event coordinator, and caterer Lori Cook), including the Capital Campaign subcommittee. Kay had written her report for the newsletter, but i think it deserves a wider exposure and some context.

Therefore, i will precede it with a little report of my own. First, especially if you don’t get the newsletter or are new to this blog or the MVHS, please go to the other tab at the top of this screen for the updated “About the MVHS and West of the Redwoods” page. There you will find a very general report of where we are now.

Second, i want to thank and congratulate the Board of Directors now running the show. And a very able and amiable group it is, consisting of: Gary “Fish” Peterson, President/Chair; Dyan Damron-Cushing, Treasurer; Cindy Lyman, Corresponding Secretary; Thomas Dunklin, Kay Raplenovich, Becky Enberg, Bob Stansberry, Lori Cook, Jamie Roscoe, and Ellen Taylor. Our latest addition–the eleventh Board member– is Lisa Hindley, a dynamo at the Humboldt County Fair, who enjoys a family cabin in Honeydew with her husband, Laurence; the couple grow the locally-prized organic Hindley wheat.
Other locals who have contributed (and continue to give) to our current ambition in a big way are Kathy Major, our grantwriter, of Ferndale; Tracy Maher, daughter of Becky Enberg and a gung-ho businesswoman with the interests of both her family and the Mattole Valley at heart; Steve Nesvold, of Omsberg & Preston Engineering (not to mention that whole firm); and Jim Groeling, Mattole designer-builder, who has warmly embraced this Museum project and indeed, can’t help but cast his creative eye onto the development and landscape design of the entire parcel on the Petrolia Square. The chummy, community-minded approach taken by Groeling and his associates from our Board–Thomas Dunklin, Gary Fish, Bob Stansberry, and Kay R.–makes for an effort lightened by heart and spirit.

Thanks to the generosity of Linda Stansberry, we also benefited from a couple of hours of advice on the professional way to run Board business from local non-profits expert Byrd Lochtie. We felt so grateful for Byrd’s wisdom and experience that we are hoping to engage her later this summer for a longer workshop to fine-tune our Strategic Plan and learn more about how to prioritize and pursue our goals.

I, Laura, resigned from the Board of Directors at the June, 2019, Board meeting–from the duties of minutes-recording Secretary, from the obligation of attending every monthly meeting, and from primary responsibility for the twice-yearly newsletter and the membership and mailing lists. For a quarter-century i have been keen on Mattole history, since the time Ellen Taylor asked me to open a P.O. box, as Secretary of an Historical Society, to receive entries to a poetry contest celebrating the rescue of the F.V. Misty from the beach at the mouth of the Mattole in 1994. The MVHS has been my life here. I have nothing but appreciation and love for the people i have met and worked with around local history, and i have been honored to be entrusted with so many personal and family treasures. Still, i have several personal reasons for needing to take back my time; even in terms of the Mattole Valley Historical Society alone, i see that i need to focus on the past itself, and let other energetic, worldly, practical people take over the running of business. I think the timing is good. As i mentioned on the “About–Update” page, online there will be a loose division between the upcoming website, probably focusing more on business and fun matters, and this blog, where i will be freed up to post more historical information. I think the newsletter will probably likewise become less a collection of in-depth history-geek investigations mainly by yours truly, and more a participatory collection of whatever people want to contribute–a bit lighter, with more short articles or pictures from various sources. I myself have promised to feed information to the new newsletter editors, though i may tend to root through the archives and the emails to find interesting stories, rather than research deeply myself (other than if i am already doing that for this blog).

I believe we have someone to put together the newsletter and send it out to the membership, though i am not going to reveal her yet; however, any help is welcome! Whether you have information–researched articles, photos, interviews–to share or have an interest in helping with the production and mailing of the newsletter, probably twice a year, we can certainly use your assistance. Please reply below or email mattolehistory@frontiernet.net if you want to get involved with the Now… and Then newsletter.

And what will i do? Well, besides the immediate pressing personal projects of finishing my Tiny House, finding a way to make money, and finishing a non-historical book i’ve been off-and-on writing for fifteen years, i do have intentions of continuing to contribute to our local Mattole historical collection. My goals (preferably to be near completion when i die; that is, i’ll work on them, off and on, for the rest of my life, but whether they are ever finished will be another matter) are:
~Organize the office collection (get advice and guidelines from professional curating sources, because this collection will someday be housed in our new museum, and may as well start from a logical and secure system)
~Organize all my digital files and be sure to have adequate backup, both on devices and in “the Cloud”
~Write research articles, reflections, or interviews, and post old photos, on this blog, and share historical information with the newsletter as mentioned above
~Scan all the old newsletters, and digitize the collection (see post just previous to this called “Back issues of MVHS newsletter”)
~Integrate corrections into the Petrolia Cemetery Burials Guide for an accurate handbook
~Transcribe a zillion old hand-scrawled notes of mine into a searchable “Random Notes” file
~Put together the Images of America book on the Lower Mattole Valley. Tammy Durston wrote one on The Lost Coast and has urged me to make this next one happen. It could focus on Petrolia, or (my preference, if the editors agreed) on the whole community downstream of Ettersburg: Honeydew and Petrolia to the ocean.

I almost forgot to mention, though, that one of the main features of my backing-off from the MVHS was that although i hope to do all these things, i cannot promise them by any particular time! That is, they are uncompensated, voluntary hobbie projects, and i will be happy to get to them whenever i can. On the other hand, some of these jobs could certainly use assistance from an eager volunteer, in which case i will have to agree to some timelines. Please, if you would like to help out, say, organizing the office collection or replacing the old photo display on the walls inside the Grange, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do!

All right now, without further ado, i present the updates Kay Raplenovich sent us this summer on our current exciting projects. The text will be followed by the latest of Jim Groeling’s plans for the museum building.


The Board of the Mattole Valley Historical Society enthusiastically approved the blueprints of The Mattole Valley Historical Society and Education Center, created by local architect Jim Groeling. Three lots across from the fire station were donated to the MVHS by Becky Enberg for the sole purpose of creating a home to preserve and share the history of the Mattole Valley. Groeling created a design reminiscent of the residence structures that were once at the Punta Gorda Lighthouse, in a style also similar to the buildings at Point Cabrillo Light Station in Mendocino. The museum will be the first new public building in downtown Petrolia since reconstruction after the 1992 earthquakes. The vision is that this education and visitors’ center will serve the community of Petrolia and Honeydew, and all who travel through, as a place for local research, for quiet conversation on the porch, for community gatherings, and as a place to share ideas and stories. Here too, artifacts can be preserved and observed and meetings will be held; it will be a home for the film and lecture series, groups of school children will be guided through the past, and visitors to the Lost Coast will discover the journeys of those who traveled before.

The building committee, consisting of Thomas Dunklin, Kay Raplenovich, and Bob Stansberry, has met with Jim Groeling to finalize plans and develop an innovative approach to building a new structure with a historical focus. Discussions have included: Designing an apprenticeship program, in the style of journeymen, for high school students and locals interested in construction; involving local timber producers to donate local woods; organizing community volunteer construction days in the style of Amish barn raisings; and hiring local qualified builders to supplement Groeling’s crew.

Funds amounting to $200,000 must be raised before breaking ground. Until that goal is reached the land will be maintained and eventually used as a green space with picnic tables and a historical kiosk.


            A fundraising campaign has begun to raise needed costs to build the new museum and education center. The committee consisting of Lori Cook, Dyan Damron, Cindy Lyman, and Kay Raplenovich has

initiated Petrolia events to raise visibility and inform local residents of the exciting plans for the downtown Square. The building plans were publicly unveiled at the St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner to great interest from those in attendance. 

The INSIGHT series was launched with the showing of A River’s Last Chance, Shane Anderson’s award-winning Eel River documentary. Board member Thomas Dunklin led discussion following the viewing and shared a short film he shot underwater of salmon frolicking in the river. The INSIGHT series is a film and lecture series that will continue in the Fall with travelogues by local residents, historical lectures by board members, and viewing of other enlightening films.

Lori Cook’s May Days Raffle raised nearly $4,000 for the building fund. Each day in May a raffle ticket was drawn, a prize awarded to the winner and announced on the Google Group. The array of prizes was a showcase of the wild range of the various gifts our creative locals have to offer: local food and wine, cosmetics, health and beauty products, household furnishings, kitchenware, quilts and afghans; gift certificates for such things as brush clearing, mowing, firewood, etc., and for stays at Bed & Breakfasts and credit at businesses and restaurants in town; fine crafts and paintings; a full massage; and many more gifts that anyone would be delighted to win. Lori did a fantastic job collecting these prizes and staying on this project for well over the month it took to choose a winning ticket every day.

On June 30, Tom Hart, owner of the Humboldt Cider Company and fan of heritage apple trees, lit up the Mattole Grange with his presentation on Albert Etter and his Ettersburg farm. Lori Cook was responsible for a delicious lunch, and Etter family members had laid out an impressive array of historical photos and articles on Albert and his work. Thomas Dunklin filmed this video: https://vimeo.com/345924460 ; go online and have a virtual Mattole experience. Thomas also took on the organization and preparation for this event quite late in the game, so many thanks go to him, Lori and John and their helpers, and to Miss Mary Etter, money and people magnet extraordinaire, for helping that wonderful Sunday afternoon net $800 for the Building Fund.

            The local Petrolia fundraisers are just the beginning of raising needed monies to build the MVHS home on the Square. Grant writer Kathy Major, of Ferndale, has been employed to assist with grants and projects throughout Humboldt County and beyond.

And here are Jim Groeling’s preliminary building plans:

Oh! Well there’s an interesting development. Because the plans are in a .pdf file, they don’t just show up here. However, if you click on the link, it should open–it did for me.

Thank you for your interest in Mattole Valley history and its preservation!


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Hello Dear Readers,
A decade or so back, i had published a list of back issues, but it was buried in another post; so rather than adding to that, i am making a new stand-alone list. I should add to this as each newsletter comes out. (I must say that WordPress has gotten much easier to use lately, and i mean to pay more attention to it now–it will be a snap.)

Some of these newsletters, the recent ones, are available as .pdf’s which can be emailed upon request; and some of the old ones may be available in hard copy. But i’m afraid some of them are out of print now, although we still have the page-by-page master sheets for each one. Many of the early issues were put together by the old cut-and-paste methods, not digitally, and must be scanned into .pdf’s in order to be easily available. Eventually, perhaps i will post some of them online. That’s one of my upcoming projects: digitizing the newsletter collection. Meantime, if you see an issue below that piques your interest, reply and maybe we can help you get a readable copy.

Back Issues of Now… and Then

Vol. 1, no. 1 (June, 1999): Proposal for Historical Society, seeking members and ideas. 4 pages.

Vol. 1, no. 2 (September, 1999): A.W. Way and his Place in the Mattole; Bear River Natives’ fishing methods. 8 pages.

Vol. 1, no. 3 (Winter, 2000): Reminiscences of Ruth Miner; Mattole Union School becomes Mattole Valley Community Center; more. 8 pages.

Vol. 1, no. 4 (Spring, 2000): Rudy Senn’s Schoolbus Memories and more; School to Community Center, part 2; Riding through the Valley in 1912 (excerpt from J. Smeaton Chase book). 8 pages.

Vol. 2, no. 1 (Summer, 2000): Early Days of Mattole Grange, more. 10 pages.

Vol. 2, no. 2 (Autumn, 2000): John Salladay’s First 92 years, by Sandy Antonson-Solo; Ancient World Animates Grange, by Ellen Taylor. 10 pages.

Vol. 2, no. 3 (Winter, 2001): Searching for Miss Katie Cummings; A Tribute to Tanoak; Teamster Remembers Eerie Events (excerpt from Vera Snider Teague book). 10 pages.

Vol. 2, no. 4 (Spring, 2001): Young Petrolian Drew Barber Discovers Roots; Book of Petrolia to be republished; Taylor Peak. 10 pages.

Vol. 3, no. 1 (Summer, 2001): Hometown Horsewoman Doris Loudermilk, by Sandy Antonson-Solo; Curly Wright anecdote; Dick Collins remembered. 10 pages.

Vol. 3, no. 2 (Autumn, 2001): Journal Illuminates Judge Moses Conklin; more. 10 pages.

Vol. 3, no. 3 (Winter, 2002): Buckskin Jack, Family Man (notorious killer/Indian fighter, 1860s); Marguerite Tooker’s Light Station memories. 10 pages.

Vol. 3, no. 4 (Spring, 2002): Reminiscing with Frankie Lawrence; more. 10 pages.

Vol. 4, no. 1 (Summer, 2002): Gracious Lady, Good Neighbor– June Chambers Mathison, by Sandy Antonson-Solo; Memories of Telephone Man Gene Schonrock; more. 10 pages.

Vol. 4, no. 2 (Autumn, 2002): Capetown Schoolhouse Saved; Ruth Cartwright, teacher, interview; more by Gene Schonrock; Six Ladies on a Mattole Road Trip, c. 1885 (from old newspaper). 10 pages.

Vol. 4, no. 3 (Winter, 2003): Curly Wright, by John M.G. Brown; more. 10 pages.

Vol. 4, no. 4 (Spring, 2003): Walt Davis Decides to Look Back; Mayme Hunter Cook remembered by son Leonard Cook; Letter from Wanda Harrington Hart, re: Hunter, Cook families and lighthouses. 10 pp.

Vol. 5, no. 1 (Summer, 2003): Walt’s Return to Upper Mattole, by Walt Davis; Mr. Hill in the Mattole Valley, 1854; Fletch Harrow-Jack Lucy Duel, by Bob Stansberry. 12 pages.

Vol. 5, no. 2 (Autumn, 2003): Was He Really “Crazy” John? (John the Beach Hermit); Jim O’Dell to the Rescue, Chapter 3 of Walt Davis’s writings; Honeydew/Petrolia relations; Allen Miner and Mary Rackliff Etter remembrances. 12 pages.

Vol. 5, no. 3 (Winter, 2004): Honeydew this and Honeydew that… (name origin); It’s Cooskie on the Map (another about name origin); Uncle Bill Squires and Aunt Lil, Chapter 4 by Walt Davis. 12 pages.

Vol. 5, no. 4 (Spring, 2004): Honeydew Milltown Swept Away like Sawdust; Sesquicentennial plans. 10 pages.

Vol. 6, no. 1 (Summer, 2004): Special Sesquicentennial Issue. Oil Dream Creates Petrolia in Lower Mattole; The Mattole Native People, by Gordon Bussell; What Happened to the Natives Here/A Bloody Decade (1854-1864); Sesquicentennial Events schedules. 16 pages.

Vol. 6, no. 2 (Autumn, 2004): The Rex and Ruth Rathbun Story, by Sandy Antonson-Solo; Sesquicentennial reports and pictures; Time Capsule dedication speech. 16 pages.

Vol. 6, no. 3 (Winter, 2005): Rathbuns’ 30 Years Here Makes a Difference (conclusion of Rathbun series), by Sandy Antonson-Solo; The Ranch House Message System, 1975-2000, by David Simpson; Triple R Ranch, brief history; Chambers (Lanini) Cabin. 12 pages.

Vol. 6, no. 4 (Spring, 2005): On the Trail of Bonnie Buckeye (by Laura Cooskey with Becky Enberg); 1919 letter to Aleita Schortgen; more. 12 pages.

Vol. 7, no. 1 (Autumn, 2005; #25): Albert Etter and Brothers, Engineers in Eden; more. 12 pages.

Vol. 7, no. 2 (Winter, 2006; #26): Albert Etter: The Legacy of a Fruit Explorer, pt. 2 of Etter story, by Ram Fishman; 1970 Petrolia phone directory. 12 pages.

Vol. 7, no. 3 (Spring, 2006; #27): For Gypsy Evenden, with her letter; World War II in the Valley. 8 pages.

Vol. 7, no. 4 (Spring, 2007; #28): Spiritual World of Mattole Natives (by Ellen Taylor); Sam Kelsey by his great-great grandson; Donell McCanless (by Buck Miner); the Mary Rackliff Etter house (by Ellen Taylor). 12 pages.

Vol. 8, no. 1 (Autumn, 2007; #29): St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, by Margot Wells; Rosa Wright Johnson’s diary of covered wagon journey, 1859; preliminary list of historic homes in lower Mattole. 12 pages.

Vol. 8, no. 2 (Summer, 2008; #30): Ray Azevedo interview; Don Etter, Man on the Move (by Brian Doyle). 12 pages.

Vol. 8, no. 3 (Summer, 2009; #31): Gideon Cummings journal of covered-wagon trip West; Dr. Earl E. Gossard tribute; Aleita Schortgen autobiography; history of restaurants/bars in the Valley. 16 pages.

Vol. 8, no. 4 (Winter, 2010; #32): Drownings in the Mattole; Chief and Nina Mathews. 12 pages.

Vol. 9, no. 1 (December, 2010; #33): First Accounts of White Settlers; Becky Enberg on Petrolia Store in ’40s; Patty Langer on Rock House in ’50s. 12 pages.

Vol. 9, no. 2 (December, 2011; #34): Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery-A Guide to the Burials; Leah Kausen obituary. 20 pages.

Vol. 9, no. 3 (Autumn, 2014; #35): Their Ship Came In with the Sea-Weed (1970s marijuana); The Women of the “Squaw Men” of Upper Mattole. 16 pages. (corrected .pdf)

Vol. 9, no. 4 (Spring, 2015; #36): ‘Colorful Characters of Yesteryear’ (murderers and fugitives in Mattole history); Punta Gorda light station burning; Roger Brown. 12 pages.

Vol. 10, no. 1 (Autumn, 2015; #37): Johnny Kazipp; End of the oil boom, by Nicole Log. 12 pages.

Vol. 10, no. 2 (Spring/Sum, 2016; #38): Musings on Mattole Trees; brief description of building project progress, with floor plan. 12 pages.

Vol. 10, no. 3 (Winter, 2016-17; #39): Francis Cook; 1890 letter re: visit to Mattole; Honeydew Bridge meeting. 12 pages.

Vol. 10, no. 4 (Spring, 2017; #40): Mattole Lumber Co.; list of Mattole deaths since mid-2003; Mattole Hole microclimate, by Ken Young. 12 pages.

Vol. 11, no. 1 (Autumn, 2017; #41): Mattole Lumber Co., Pt. 2; Tanbarking, by Bob Stansberry; Ruth Miner is her dad’s “boy” in 1920s; Wool Creations from Valley sheep. Continuation of death notices, now a standard newsletter feature. 12 pp.

Vol. 11, no. 2 (Spr-Sum, 2018; #42): Shivarees; Old-Time Remedies, by Becky Enberg; Grange BBQ reminiscences; Ken Young story. 12 pp.

Vol. 11, no. 3 (Autumn-Winter, 2018; #43): Gender Roles in Mattole; Museum Plan Update; Current membership list. 12 pp.

Vol.  11, no. 4 (Summer, 2019; #44): The Other Native Land Grab: Indian Scrip; Building and Fundraising Committee updates. 12 pp.


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Hi Everyone,
If you are members of the MVHS, you should have received Issue #44 of the Now… and Then newsletter. The paper copies were mailed Monday, July 22, and emailed .pdf’s were sent out mid-week.

(If you are not a member, please contact the Mattole Valley Historical Society [mattolehistory@frontiernet.net] to sign up.)

This edition’s main article, entitled “The ‘Other’ Native Land Grab: Chippewa, Sioux, and Big Oil Ambitions,” got too big and unwieldy for the pages available for it; I couldn’t fit all the information I wanted to in the newsletter, so I promised to post more on this blog. Of course, the best solution for people wanting to know more about the Indian scrip and how it came to be used for oil lands on the coast north of the Mattole River would be for them to read further in the sources listed below, and to do some of their own research. Unfortunately, I left some pretty big holes in the story as printed. Some of the answers might be found by learning more about the operations of the federal General Land Office’s outpost in Eureka in the 1860s–who worked there and by whom in Washington they were directly supervised; and by asking an attorney well-schooled in real estate law and California history how and when the patents were cancelled, what the legal status of lands whose patents never were cancelled, etc.

As far as wondering who worked in the Land Office goes, it would be interesting to verify some of the claims made by Paul W. Gates in his Land and Law in California: Essays on Land Policies. On p. 240, Gates writes, “Clinton Gurnee, a son-in-law of [William S.] Chapman, was secretary of the Sioux commission, and it was he who actually negotiated for the scrip and entered for Chapman 8,000 acres in Santa Cruz County. Altogether, in the San Francisco and Humboldt districts, Chapman entered 20,685 acres with this scrip and 14,200 acres in Nevada. Chapman’s brother was deputy surveyor in the Humboldt district and through his control of the maps and knowledge of the best timbered sections was able to secure the lands with the best stumpage, as was pointed out by a rival.” The rival was A.W. McPherson, who is mentioned in Henderson’s journal and in several of the government reports and investigations into the scrip fraud. Now, this explanation of the son-in-law on the Sioux commission and the brother being a deputy surveyor in Humboldt sounds like a pretty convenient way to explain Chapman’s ease in abusing the scrip. However, my research on ancestry.com so far does not bear out these kinship claims. Chapman’s daughter Elizabeth married Jesse Grant, the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. That’s a pretty influential level on which to operate, but he was not Clinton Gurnee. Elizabeth’s sister Mary Ellen married John Elliott Mason, and Josephine Lucelia died at the age of 18. (Two different death records exist; one claims her cause of death as typhoid fever, and the other says premature birth, which is scratched out and replaced by “Abortion.”) Josephine still carried the surname Chapman, so I doubt she was a connection to Gurnee. And as far as William S. Chapman’s brother being a Humboldt County Surveyor, it’s possible–he had many brothers and I haven’t tracked down the locations and occupations of each. But it’s also possible that Gates is confusing our William Smith Chapman with the W. W. Chapman family. The Surveyor General of Oregon, W. W. Chapman, had four sons who were also involved in that calling: Arthur, Winfield, Huston, and Thomas. I can’t see that this family was related to our William Smith Chapman family, though it could be. W.W. Chapman was not W.S. Chapman’s brother, that much is clear.

We’ll get back to these sources and the investigation in a little bit. But this 1865 map, part of which appears on the front page of our current newsletter, shows something that was cut off there: A dot labelled “Johnson’s House” in the northwest quarter of Section 13 (T1S, R3W, Humboldt Meridian)–just south of the mouth of Davis Creek.


Now that’s a pretty location for a house. It is likely the place and the person mentioned in two of Henderson’s 1865 journal entries: on March 4, he says, “Johnson arrives from San Francisco,” and on March 22, “Hastings arranging to locate the property (…?) of 1S, 3W Johnson purchase.” Who is this Johnson? Well, later that year, six parcels in 1N, 3W (Cape Mendocino and north) were deeded from the U.S. Government to Thomas A. Scott and John F. Johnson (on 11/01/1865). A letter in the Humboldt Times of June 11, 1864, from Mattole’s Judge Moses J. Conklin, had related that “A company in San Francisco has purchased some of the [oil] springs and I believe some land also. A gentleman named Johnson, who is versed in such matters, has been looking at the springs and making enquiries. As to the intentions of the company, I am not advised. But I would like to call the attention of capitalists and enterprising businessmen to the fact that we have large and extensive oils springs in our valley.”

I am pretty convinced this Johnson is the John F. Johnson who purchased land with Scott, and whom Henderson mentions. There were other people named as “Johnson” in Mattole oil history; one was D.J. Johnson, who came from Pennsylvania but did not arrive until late in the decade, and the other, Charles A. Johnston, whose name is persistently misspelled without the “T” but who likewise was not in the Mattole area of 1865. So oilman Johnson is likely John F. Johnson, and he probably had the house at the mouth of Davis Creek. But what else do we know about John F. Johnson, of San Francisco and Mattole? Nothing. There were dozens of John Johnsons in the man’s likely age range in San Francisco in the 1860s, so it’s hard to pin him down. But that’s just an interesting thing to know, i think– that there was once a house on the south bank of Davis Creek, probably up against the hillside on the east side of the road, though i can’t tell if it would have been down on the flat close to the creek or on the little plateau above that.

Here are the two maps that wouldn’t fit into the newsletter, showing more of the Chippewa scrip claims in, first, 1N, 3W–these seven patents were issued in May of 1870:


… and the one to John B. Nolin in Section 34 at Upper Mattole:


Below is a photo circulating around Metis websites of “Five of the Earliest Indian Inhabitants of St. Mary’s Falls, 1855.” That would be Sault Ste. Marie to us, and the men were Metis, not strictly Native, though adopted into the Ojibway tribe. Although there are various versions of the order of the names, Louis Cadotte is probably one of the two men on the left. If this is the Louis Cadotte who was issued Chippewa Scrip to Mattole-area land–and his other connections make me believe this is possible, if not likely–then he briefly held title to some steep land just north of Domingo Creek.
Just to give a little more of a picture of the players in this episode of history.


Photo from http://metis-history.info/photo-ck4f.shtml


There is quite a bit more information I will post on this topic, so stay tuned for #2 and maybe #3 of this follow-up.
I also will put up some more info on other MVHS projects soon! Please be patient.
Thank you!

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Sometimes it seems we seldom talk about history anymore around the Mattole Valley Historical Society. We are busy talking up our exciting plans for developing the Square in Petrolia and building our beautiful museum and visitors’ park there.

However, meantime, as ever, Bob Stansberry has been quietly working on a unique project. It’s a map of old homesteads, cabins, and other places of significance in his neck of the woods, which is between Honeydew and Ettersburg. He’s working from the late-1960s USGS topo maps, focusing on the townships at the Township 3 South latitude. That is, the 6-mile-by-6-mile “townships” of 36 sections (each one square mile) lying roughly in a west-to-east belt inland of King’s Peak and on toward Gilham Butte, Elk Ridge, and Salmon Creek, which is part of the South Fork Eel watershed.


This excerpt from the 1911 Denny’s map shows the western part of the area addressed by Bob’s project. He goes over into Salmon Creek to the right.

The idea is to number each of the named spots on the topo maps, and on a document have notes for that number: dates of when the cabin or development was built, names of owners and/or occupants, and mention of any related stories, etc. Some of the structures are still in evidence; others have disappeared, but are either shown as small blocks on the topo maps or were already known to Bob.

In final form, the project Bob envisions has the maps copied and printed in roughly 2-foot by 2-foot squares, and the document a simple folder of several pages; but of course we can digitize this project and make it all viewable on the computer screen.  If we had some help from someone who knew their way around web-page design, and we wanted to get so 21st-century, we could even make it so that if you clicked on a number on the map, you would go immediately to the matching description, and vice versa.

Bob has already identified 120 places for which he has notes, and figures he’s about 80 percent through looking for them. Basically, he’s interested if there’s any history to a place from before 1980, and says that many of the old structures dated from the 1860s. At least 100 of his identified sites are in his own township block, 3 South, Range 1 East, though he says he is not himself familiar with all of them. His knowledge of the places comes from his own personal history, roaming the hills on ranching or surveying duties, or merely exploring the woods and rangeland, and from anecdotes he heard long ago. His interest in spots he may not have known of otherwise derives from places denoted on the maps by either name or the aforementioned little blocks: tiny black squares for houses, little empty outlines for outbuildings. And then, his research has led him to seek out knowledgeable old-timers in the past couple of decades, with the intention of collecting and compiling what he has learned in this most local of local-history endeavors. Some of his best informants have been Gene Landergen, Les Harrow, Lee French, Greg Mullins, his own mother—Clarice Smith Stansberry—his cousin Bill Lee, and many others.

Bob is referring to some printed resources, but essentially he is creating a primary-source archive. The 1921 Belcher’s maps, which show ownership of the larger land parcels and ranchers, have been helpful; likewise the Metsker’s maps, which are from the 1950s and ‘60s. He has the book on the history of Southern Humboldt schools. I have promised to look up a few of the spots in Turners’ Place Names of Humboldt County.

While the pilot project allows only an even-handed single line of information for each place—”just the basics or highlights”—Bob has a lot more in the way of stories that will probably go into a later update. Using the same place numbers assigned for the initial list, it would be easy to attach new paragraphs of information, or old photos, to flesh out the history. In chatting with him about what he’s put together so far, I find that the Pringle for whom Pringle Ridge was named was a silver miner. There was a silver mine in the area, on Grindstone Creek, and Bob’s cousin Bill Lee is probably the only living person to know the location of the mine shaft, since covered over by slides in this steep, unstable terrain. Speaking of mines, June Lindley, who later married Leo Etter, was first married to a miner in the Queen’s Peak area. The mines there were mainly seeking manganese, which was important to our military efforts in WWII. (Manganese is a corrosion-resistant alloy used in stainless steel and aluminum.)

There was an old still from Prohibition days on Bear Creek (the river feeding into the Mattole at Ettersburg, which runs roughly parallel to the coast behind the King Range, and closely below the King Peak Road for much of its length). A man named Cy (or Si) Cole ran the still. One night, probably in the late 1920s, the still blew up. The explosion was heard for quite some distance.


If anyone reading this has something to add to the treasure trove of history on this area from King’s Peak over to Salmon Creek, and between Ettersburg and Honeydew, let us know—you can comment below, or get in touch with me.

Also, it would be very helpful if someone with the ability to take crisp photographs, or scan, large documents such as sections of the topo maps, might like to contribute a little bit of their time to make a satisfactory final version of this project—in several hard copies.

This map of old homesteads and other significant places is only one of several historical documents Bob has compiled, most based on his own family stories. But this one is special in that it’s really the result of one man’s life spent in a grand, borderless place—the culmination of a lifetime spent ranching and exploring and learning about his own back yard. There are many things to be revealed that only Bob knew about… until now.


Bob Stansberry built this footbridge across the Mattole on his property around 1968-69. The half-century-old bridge is 32” wide and 330’ long.

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Hi Everyone,
The meeting we had on November 17, our annual Membership Meeting, went off very well, and between that conference and our regular monthly meeting on Nov. 28, we have found ourselves in a mood of renewed optimism about the building project. This is the planned museum and Memory Garden Park on the Petrolia Square, which we have been brainstorming for over three years now… and on which we are finally making headway.

At the Annual Meeting, Thomas Clark, Building Project Director, gave a talk as to the status of things. He was kind enough to share with me the speech as written.  I will follow Tommy’s words  (which I did edit slightly) with a preview of the plans for the museum itself.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Greetings! I am Tommy Clark. I am your current Building Project Director.  Love the title; here’s how I view my job. It’s not unlike a cop directing traffic at a busy intersection.

Here’s where we stand:

Becky Enberg has pledged the land, two adjacent lots located in downtown Petrolia, provided the museum is built within the next 20 years.

Kathy Major has secured $15,000 in up-front grant money, which is sufficient to cover the County fees associated with the project.

The engineering firm of Omsberg & Preston and associates have pledged a total of $20,000 in engineering services towards the project. These services include:

Lot Merger Application.

Sewage disposal testing, design, and report preparation.

A Grading, Drainage, and Erosion Control Plan.

A Field Survey of the property, Monumentation, and a Record of Survey.

A Building Permit Application Package.

And Structural Analysis of the building plan.

To date, the fieldwork for the Site Survey and the sewage disposal testing have been completed.

The lot merger application has been approved by the county, pending final document preparation, survey check and recording. The overall site design for the property will commence as these preliminary steps are completed.

The property is located in an SRA  (State Responsibility Area) which deals with wildland fire safety requirements, and it will impact on various design elements to the property as well as the Museum building. Given our proximity to the Fire Station, our board has decided to engage a land attorney to look into the possible mitigation of some of the SRA requirements, and have set a preliminary budget of $400-$500 for this exercise.

Brian Gaynor has been suggested by Jim Groeling for this purpose.

Our Board of Directors is actively moving towards final details resolution on one of two building design studies that have been generously donated by Jim Groeling. Our board is leaning towards design #1, with slight modifications and final design elements being actively discussed by the board.

The task before us, the construction of a permanent museum, is daunting. On the face of it, cost estimates for the total undertaking run between 250 thousand to 400 thousand dollars. Furthermore, by one estimate, it will require 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year to maintain and sustain the museum.

It is widely held by the board that the launch of this project be accompanied by sufficient funding, and/or pledges of labor and materials to insure its successful completion.

As a first step, a contract to engage Jim Groeling to produce a working set of blueprints for the building [for a very friendly price, which is confidential]. This has the approval of the Board, and the contract as written has the cursory blessings of Ed Gilda, Attorney at Law.

We have two pledges of Douglas-fir timber totaling 4000 board feet from Mattole Valley ranchers. I am certain that among our 200-plus member Historical Society, many more pledges of  labor and materials will be forthcoming, to help bring down the dollar cost of the project.

Throughout the entire known history of the Mattole Valley, from indigenous times to the present, her occupants regardless of stripe have shared the common characteristics of  fierce determination, rugged self-sufficiency, a can-do spirit, and above all a willingness to come together and pitch in for any cause deemed worthy. I believe that the building of a permanent Museum meets these criteria, as it serves the purpose of the collecting, preservation, and dissemination of the entire known history of the Mattole Valley, for future generations as well as visitors to the Mattole.

As I consider the current crop of citizens of the Mattole Valley, I would have to say: Yes we can and should do this!

Here then, are the design studies, and my good friend Jim Groeling to share his thoughts on them…

Thank You.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jim showed the group his two preliminary plans, which the Board had already had a chance to look over (except for the four new members voted in at this same meeting–see below) . We agreed that we did like Plan 1 better so I will show you a sneak preview of it here.

Look at this Plan with the awareness that it is a very rough idea, and nothing Jim Groeling, nor we, would consider close to a final word; in fact, Jim will come up with an engineer-approval-ready plan probably within the coming month. I am only posting these here so you can see what we are thinking about and why we are getting excited about it all. Also, of course, if anything appears particularly interesting (off or on) to any Historical Society followers or members, please let us know!

And look at this with our recommended changes in mind: First, we have lengthened (west to east, or left to right) the building by 4′ for a main rectangular footprint (minus decks) of 24 N-S x 36 E-W. The extra 4′ would be added to the main hall, making its width 26′. Second, instead of a separate gabled roof over the restroom push-out on the east side, we will continue the uniform-level shed roof over the porch all the way around front (south) and east sides, which will completely cover the couple of short outdoor steps between the east exit door and the restroom door. It will also enable the Third suggested change: pushing the bathroom, which is half in the main rectangular plan in the original version, out eastward to end flush with the end of the porch, thus adding about 48 s.f. to the 864 s.f. of the rectangle for a total square footage of 912 or so. The main display room would be 24′ deep by 26′ wide at the entry; minus the utilitarian/HVAC room in the right rear, that’s about 480 s.f., with around 80 linear feet of wall display space. A Fourth change is reversing the positions of the two rooms on the west side: the library/research/study room will be on the sunnier south side, and the storage/display prep room on the back. Also, putting in a door between the two rooms, rather than wasting wall display footage on a door to the storage room from the main hall, is suggested.



JimG,plan1,NorthJimG,plan1,WestJimG,plan1,SouthJimG,plan1,EastJimG,plan2,East,preferredPorchRoofThe first EAST view is of the originally planned porch roofline from Plan 1; the sketch below it is from Plan 2, but is the shape we have proposed with our second modification, mentioned above.
Although we are very happy about these plans in general, and have left our most recent two meetings with a sense that this project is in good hands, there are, of course, a couple of general building-philosophy questions that have us occasionally asking ourselves, “Huh?” The main one is probably the question of general scale and expense. Thomas and I visited a friendly Patti Fleschner, Director of the Trinidad Museum, ensconced in her enviable surroundings at the greeting desk of that beautiful building. Patti shared with us, among many other edifying remarks, that one thing they regretted was not having a bigger building from the get-go. Once the site plan is in place, and utilities established, permits obtained, etc., it might be harder to expand than to just go for what’s wanted in the first place.
Well, we have left the option open for further expansion to the west, which is basically a plain wall with nothing outside of it. Perhaps such an enlargement wouldn’t happen for a couple of generations, but it’s good to know that it could.

But I am thinking of a more general philosophy question: Should we try to build the museum and grounds of our (current) dreams, since we need to raise a bunch of money anyway–should we shoot for the moon, go for a comfortably roomy floor space, have a beautiful custom-made design with specialty materials (often donated or locally sourced, which doesn’t add to the materials cost so much as complicating things, and in some cases, costing quite a bit more to accomplish)–or should we start as small as possible, keeping things uniform and simple, just so that we can get a fire-safe foothold there on the Square in downtown Petrolia, per the original wishes of the land donor?

Heck, Buck Miner doesn’t see why we shouldn’t have a museum there for about $40,000–fire-proof and all… “You just get a rectangular metal building kit, put it on a poured slab, throw it up with volunteer labor, and there you go!” I reminded him that now in the 21st century, and with our location right out there in front of everyone, we’re getting to that cost with permits and property legalities alone, not to mention installing utility systems (water, septic, electricity)… it is a whole new world for making a public building. The SRA requirements, as well as ADA (handicapped access) guidelines must be considered; liability is always an issue and we must be careful that everything is safe and scrutiny-proof for any agency that might be interested. Also, volunteers for work parties are fine, but we will need professionals to oversee essential elements.

Yet of course, the simpler, cheaper path would happen sooner, while a more elegant plan, costing more, will take that much longer to even begin–though I don’t doubt that eventually we could raise the sums we need.

So let us know if you have any ideas. You can reach me at my cell and message phone, 707-601-7300… or comment below.

You can see that Thomas and the other Building Committee members–Gary Fish Peterson, Bob Stansberry, Thomas Dunklin, and Kay Raplenovich–have some work cut out for them. However, with our four new Board members (including Thomas D. and Kay), all our “burdens” seem a little bit lighter.

Here are a few lines about each of our new Directors, and a fine bunch they are! A very condensed version of these paragraphs appeared in limited space in the print newsletter (#43 of Now… and Then), which is being mailed out this week. These notes are from my Minutes of the Nov. 17 Membership Meeting:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Next, the new candidates spoke their pieces. Unfortunately, our fourth Director candidate, Lori Cook, was not present, but her name was still on the ballot as she had expressed eager interest. Cindy Lyman offered that besides Lori’s solid, nay, stellar, record as co-head (with her husband John Cook) of the Grange Beef ‘n’ Beans Barbecues for many years and her well-known Petrolia Vol. Fire Dept. service, that she is an incredible git-‘er-done fundraiser who has consistently rolled up her sleeves and gotten right to work to make benefit events profitable.
Thomas Dunklin, returned to the Valley to live at Jim Groeling’s old woodshop down on Lighthouse Rd. after 20 years or so in town, mentioned the potential for a barn-raising spirit with getting this museum built. So many talented wood-workers and builders here! We can build community while building a museum, as Nick Tedesco is doing with his recently-purchased home (Lita Cook’s old place) right there downtown—having volunteer work parties. Thomas is a geologist and can contribute the long view of geological history. He mentioned that there are only 14 triple-junction tectonic plate intersections around the globe, and we are on one of them. He said he will be happy to give geologic tours. He works well with Gary Fish, as they have both been heavily involved with the Mattole Restoration Council. He has a lot of old photos. He was friends with preeminent Humboldt (and further) photo historian Peter Palmquist and shared with him a real love of historical pictures. He can clean up and blow up photos to museum-ready condition.


Jamie Roscoe said that he was just getting ready to retire when Thomas Clark collared him with the question of service on our Board. He taught history at Eureka High, and at HSU for 20 years. His grandmother Martha Roscoe was a standout researcher and recorder of Mattole Valley and Humboldt Co. history, and a founding member of the Humboldt County Historical Society. His uncle was local history author Neb Roscoe (of course Neb was much more than that, but that’s another story), and his entire family reads like a who’s-who of Mattole Valley history. (Jamie didn’t say that; he mentioned all his close family members and relatives, which do read that way!) He listened to his elders—that was his point. He is an expert on local Native American matters, and will bring that knowledge and those connections to our Society, too. He still spends a lot of time up in Bayside but is basically planning on retiring to more time in the Mattole, as he has a couple of family places to stay out here.
Thomas mentioned that Wiyot tribal chairperson Cheryl Seidner, a good friend of his, recommended Jamie’s knowledge of Native artifacts and local history—high praise.


Kay Raplenovich told us about some of her background. Although she has only been here a few years, coming here from Ohio with her husband Bob because their son Aaron had already found the Mattole Valley and settled in, she is very enthusiastic about this place. Kay taught classical voice for preschool ages up through adult professionals, and currently leads the Mattole Singers choral group. She has a lot of experience in grant writing, and has sat on Arts Councils in Ohio and in Washington, D.C. She has also been “the one” in her generation to collect her own family’s history, and notes that her ancestors were Mayflower Pilgrims. Her husband, Bob’s, ancestral home was Slovenia. They have taken trips and lived there for stints that have been amazing and eye-opening for Kay. She is an “organized worker bee who answers emails.”


Well, that’s our report re: the Board and our Petrolia development plans.

I would like to finish with a request that you consider a donation to our Building Plan. We are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation. Any amount you can afford would be a blessing, but bequeathing a notable amount as a legacy would be a point of satisfaction for your friends and descendants forever. (Okay, maybe not a notable amount… a “breathtaking” amount would be better! Haha–well, anything at all is appreciated.)
We will be selling Memorial Bricks with names engraved in them soon, for our Memory Garden… but there are benches, rooms, tables, garden plots, etc., that will need naming, too!


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Major forgetfulness let me leave this notification until the last moment.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m., the Mattole Valley Historical Society will be holding our annual Membership Meeting. Actually, although we have been a Society since 1994, and incorporated as a non-profit 501 (c)3 since March, 2016, we just realized that we need to conduct these annual public business meetings to satisfy the requirements of our status. We will meet at the Mattole Valley Community Center in downtown Petrolia–the old Petrolia or Mattole Union schoolhouse.

The purpose of the gathering is to do business, but there will be people to see and refreshments to enjoy, and I have prepared a slideshow of 160 images (and not just the same old ones we always see), which will be running in a loop; maybe after we sit down and take care of business, we can focus on and talk about the pictures. So there will be some fun to be had!

The main business is to elect or re-elect Board members and to report to our attending membership on our plans, achievements, finances, and so on, and to field any questions or requests the local public might have for us. Of course, our most exciting topics will be around the plans for our historical museum and visitor park on the Petrolia Square. Local son-returned-home Thomas Clark will report on this Building Project. If you would be interested in learning more, getting involved with your local Historical Society, serving on the Board in the future, etc., please attend if you can.

Now please don’t be too upset with me about not getting this notice out sooner, though it is a shame. The slideshow conglomeration of images will not disappear. I could always bring it to town for a private showing in your living room if you want to invite me! (There are other slide shows–without too much overlap–on my laptop computer, too, such as the one that was running at the Mattole Valley Community Center’s 40th Anniversary Party in August of this year, including many shots of the Mattole Union School and its pupils; also, the thematic one regarding sunshine and rain in Mattole history, shown early in 2018 both in Eureka and in Petrolia; and a couple of previous slideshows of highlights from our collection.) I did get the present event announcements onto our local Mattole Valley Google Board and onto Facebook, and we put up posters in Honeydew, Ferndale, and around Petrolia; but it is true that you long-distance and non-Facebook real people would have missed them.

I do sincerely apologize.
Here, however, is the poster concocted by our Director, Gary Fish Peterson, and finessed by our Treasurer, Dyan Damron:

poster,11-17-2018If you can make it tomorrow, we will be happy to see you! If not, please accept my apologies, and let’s see about making it up (the picture-viewing, at least) to you.

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