Home > Uncategorized > Hank Larrabee – Humboldt County Honors a Murderer

Hank Larrabee – Humboldt County Honors a Murderer

Ten days ago, the Humboldt Herald featured a post entitled Toward a Full Disclosure of the Names of the Men Responsible for the Indian Island Massacre.

There is one man whose participation in the grizzly murders appears certain.

Hank Larrabee was a violent thug who had murdered other indigenous people in what is now known as Humboldt County prior to the massacre on Indian Island:

Larrabee–called a “thug” even by the other rowdy white miners in the area… had killed Native American children on several occasions previously, and committed another massacre, of Eel River Athapaskans.

Despite being a homicidal psychopath, Humboldt County continues to honor this asshole by retaining his name on the map. Humboldt County still has a “Larrabee Creek” and “Larrabee Valley.

Larrabee was not a nice guy by day and a murderer of Indians under cover of night. To the contrary, this man bragged about his murderous rampages against native people. The early white settlers of Eureka awarded him by giving him guns and weapons.

[Hank Larrabee] killed this little (Indian) boy, whose parents lived on this other man’s ranch and worked for him. And this little boy just happened to be on Larrabee’s property and he killed him, and pinned a note to him and sent him down the river on a makeshift raft. And I think the note said something like, this is what’s going to happen to you if you continue to harbor Indian people. Larrabee also used Indians as target practice. They see an Indian up on the ridge, you know, they start shooting at them and things like that… [Larrabee] brought his goon squad into Eureka and started gathering people. And doing things, you know, beating up people. I guess they said that he was given guns by merchants or the people in town. And they say these people knew who did it. And it wasn’t just the island that got hit that night, it was also the (Indian) people on the south spit and on the Eel River. [1]

Larrabee’s reputation as a blood-thirsty Indian killer wasn’t restricted to Wiyots. He even appears to have enjoyed murder by hand weapons rather than distance offered by a gun.

[M]any white settlers in California considered the Yuki subhuman. Why else would settler Dryden Lacock proudly brag that he routinely joined Yuki-massacring parties while his neighbor Hank Larrabee boasted of killing 60 Yuki children with his hatchet. [2]

Larrabee was eventually “driven out of town over a more mundane altercation with other white men in Eureka.”

The city of Eureka did a good thing in 2004 when it returned 40 of the 270 acres of Indian Island to the Wiyot people. It was an overdue first step.

But more needs to be done to remove the “dark cloud” that hangs over Humboldt County. While some things are more difficult than others, the easy stuff should happen without delay. It would be painless for the county to acknowledge the role of a long dead, shameful butcher of innocent humans and promptly remove his name from Humboldt’s geographic landmarks.

  1. Nick Bravo
    August 15, 2006 at 2:30 pm


  2. Eric V. Kirk
    August 15, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Very good post Heraldo. I haven’t hit your links yet, but are you sure the creek and valley are named after him and not other members of his family? I don’t know the history, but I guess I should read up.

    We have a petition down here to name the new bridge outside Garberville for the Walaiki people – hope I’m spelling that right. Geographic names might just be a matter of symbolism, but gestures of any sort have meaning.

  3. Heraldo
    August 15, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks, Eric. When looking up sources and info for this post, I found part of a letter written to Roger Rodoni from SoHum residents regarding the Wailaki Pass Bridge issue, probably from the same people who have the petition. Unfortunately, the letter is cut-off right when it gets into Hank Larrabee. Hopefully I can find the rest of it.

    Hank Larrabee was a property owner before and at the time of the massacre. It appears that Larrabee Creek and Valley are named after Hank. If you click the link marked “[1]” you can read what Table Bluff Reservation Chairwoman Cheryl Seidner says: “There is a book called ‘Little White Father,’ it’s not a real flattering book when it describes Wiyot people. But, it talks about the massacre and it talks about people like Larrabee. And I think the Indian people in Humboldt County need to start getting together and saying we no longer want it to be Larrabee Valley or Larrabee Creek. The Indian people need to band together and say this is an outrage, because he was one of the main characters, as I understand it, one of the main goon squad leaders.”

    It seems that it isn’t just Indian people who should demand that places named after murdering psychos should be changed.

    In making such gestures, such as changing place names, the county (or city, or wherever the gesture is made) can collectively remember and understand the past and reflect on how we got to where we are now. This is what happened during the Eureka City council meeting when the motion was made to return the portion of Indian Island to the Wiyot people, and it gave this region the opportunity for that reflection. So, yes, there is a lot of meaning in acknowledging the past. It allows us to heal cultural wounds and orient ourselves with the present.

  4. FaulknA
    August 15, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Sound like Bush could have used him over in Iraq although it doesn’t sound like he was an “in your face” kind of guy. More like a back-stabbing coward in my book.

  5. Anonymous
    August 16, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    If Larabee was such a bad guy, and ran out of the area by some “white guys” then why did he get the creek and valley named after him ?

    What ever happened to him ?

    And as for your comments FAULKNA, who would read your book?

  6. Eric V. Kirk
    August 16, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    Did he own the valley? If so, that’s probably why.

  7. lynette77
    August 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I know this is an old post, but I am glad to see it. Many landmarks were named after the first white settlers in those areas… and this is true of the Larrabee

  8. humboldturtle
    August 10, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Where have YOU been the last three years?

  9. August 10, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Aww, Humboldturtle wags his turtle finger at those who have somehow escaped daily reading of the Humboldt Herald every day for the last 3.2 years. Thanks, buddy!

    But hey, that’s what archives are for. Google the name Hank Larrabee and see what gets top rank.

  10. humboldturtle
    August 10, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Turtles don’t have fingers. That was more of a wave of the flipper, not a flip of the finger.

  11. Anonymous
    October 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Any update on this? Was the creek and valley named after the murderer? If so, any movement to change the name?

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  18. Anonymous
    September 20, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I don’t approve of using foul language): Learn to control yourself and quit acting childish. What happened in the past is done you can’t do nothing to change it.

  19. james oates
    April 30, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Just to clarify, those place names in humboldt county named “larrabee” are all named after the psycopath Hank or Henry P larrabee.. Some of the place names are, “Larrabee Ranch” “Larrabee creek” “little Larrabbe creek” “larrabee bluffs” and “Larrabee Valley”
    He was only in the county for around 3 years (1859-1861) before being run out of town… In his short time made quite the name for himself in the slaughter of innocent peoples.. (he had a hatchet that he bragged he’d killed over 60 children with)
    Anyways.. I own property next to his cursed ranch and the vibes are heavy.. theres some pretty intersesting literature out there on the subject

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