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Genocide and Vendetta

Last year this blog focused on Hank Larrabee, the genocidal murderer whom Humboldt County continues to commemorate with place names on the map. Regular commenter Derchoadus suggested this blogger hunt down a copy of the book Genocide and Vendetta for more information about the mass Indian killings that characterized the formation of what is now known as Humboldt County.

The book’s index lists a single reference to Hank Larrabee, which is reprinted below in full:

Another man who lived just northwest of the Yolla Bolly Country had a wide reputation as an Indian hater. Hank Larrabee, whose name now labels some of the local geographical features of the area, had a cattle ranch on Larrabee Creek. He boasted of having killed sixty children with his own hatchet at different slaughtering grounds. One day, angered because his Indian servant occasionally visited his relatives, he killed the family of six persons and the boy and sent the bodies down the Van Duzen River, which was labeled with the name of an American known to be opposed to killing Indians, on a raft. Larrabee, according to much of the evidence, was probably one of the six or seven men who later massacred approximately sixty Indians on Gunther Island in Humboldt Bay on February 26, 1860.

Lieutenant Daniel Lynn, who had been sent to “Larrabee’s Valley” with a detachment of men in March, 1861, described Mr. Larrabee to his superior, Captain Charles Lovell:

Here in this apparently lovely valley lived a man about whose qualities I feel myself impelled to speak…I heard no man speak in his favor, nor even intimate one redeeming trait in his character. The universal cry was against him. At the Thousand Acre Field and Iaqua Ranch even the woman who was shot and burned to death was condemned for living with such a man. Of most enormities of which he stands accused you are aware. An accomplice and actor in the massacre at Indian Island and South Bay; the murderer of Yo-keel-la-bah; recently engaged in killing unoffending Indians, his party, according to their own story, having killed eighteen at one time (eight bucks and ten squaws and children), and now at work imbruing his hands in the blood of slaughtered innocence. I do not think Mr. Larrabee can be too emphatically condemned.

Clearly, it would not be too emphatic to remove this man’s name from the
Humboldt County map.

  1. EkoVox
    June 10, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Good luck in locating a copy. It was taken out of print many years ago. If you do find a copy it is a very intriquing and difficult read. My dad purchased a copy many years ago and ended up loaning it out and it never returned. It’s worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

    Probably, the darkest era of Humboldt History.

  2. Heraldo Riviera
    June 10, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I found a copy, and the quotes are directly transcribed. The book lists one atrocity after another and includes many photos. There seems to be some controversy surrounding the book going out of print.

  3. anon, a mouse!
    June 10, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Humboldt County’s very own Mr. Watson — except for the good parts about Watson, which were few.

    Completely agree we should change the place-names. But we shouldn’t do it in a way that’s going to sweep these histories back under the rug.

    So, what’s it going to be?
    Eliminationist Valley?
    Despised Ancestor Buttes?
    Really, Truly Awful White Man Creek?

  4. Heraldo Riviera
    June 10, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Really, Truly Awful White Man Creek?


  5. Carol
    June 10, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Interesting that you would blog about this today Heraldo. Greg and I went for a drive today out highway 36 then on the road to Blocksburg down to Ft Seward and up the mountain. Wasn’t Ft. Seward a place where the natives were rounded-up? I’ll google it and see what I can find. Beautiful country.

  6. Carol
    June 10, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Found it:

    Fort Seward was established by Captain Charles Lovell on September 26, 1861. The Military Fort was named after William H. Seward, President Lincoln’s Secretary of State. The Fort was put here to give protection for the settlers and ranchers over the Indian uprisings. The troops remained for one year then the Fort was abandoned. The Fort was closed because it was too hard to get supplies up the Eel River because of the really strong rapids.

    In 1910, Fort Seward was put up for sale by Frank K. Mott Of Oakland. The ad to sell the land was said that Fort Seward was destined to become the second largest city in Humbolt County. The land developers were subdividing 22,000 acres of orchard, farming and grazing lands lying along 15 miles of the Eel River. The average price of timberland was twenty five dollars per acre, and the average price of grazing land was fifteen dollars an acre. This information was taken from an ad in ” The Californian,” in the December 24, 1910 Edition, published in Eureka, California.

    In the early 1900’s, the instant the Northwestern Pacific sent its engineers to survey a route north of Willits, that entire country began to increase in value. Especially was the case with the townsite and land surrounding Fort Seward which the Northwestern Pacific engineers reported as the most avalible townsite, centrally located as it is, in the heart of the fruit district between Eureka and Willits. The Northwestern Pacific surveyors quickly saw the value of the land and acquired ten acres for a depot, warehouse, freight sheds, cattle corrals and side tracks. With the completion of the railroad to Fort Seward in May,1914, the N.W.P. Railroad offers travelers a chance to go overland to San Fransisco for twenty dollars. An overnight stop is made at Fort Seward, where passengers stayed at the Hotel Fort Resort.

    The fort and hotel are no longer in existence, Fort Seward is now a private cattle ranch.

  7. non, non, c'est pas un souris
    June 10, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    “Heart of the fruit district,” hunh?

    Maybe “fruit and flower district.”

    Last time I was through Alderpoint, well, I dunno. There are places in Oklahoma you’d go to jail for years just for having a carful of those smells.

    It is truly bizarre how some of the earliest places colonized – the mainstem Eel; the trail past the Yolla Bollys to the Sacramento; the Salmon River basin – are now among the wildest, most remote places in the region.

    Any other frontier demons need spotlighting, Heraldo? I was recently reading Stephen Most’s new Klamath book, River of Renewal (which manages to be sweepingly well-informed and yet powerfully naive all at once), and he painted a pretty grim picture of some of our antecedents up the big river. Worth checking out.

  8. Anonymous
    June 11, 2007 at 7:52 am

    The car culture makes less accessible vast terrain that earlier modes of transit–water, sail, coach and packhorse–got to as ‘easily’ as going from SF to Oakland. It is bizarre, but freeways created deserts and Niles of development.

    “Genocide and Vendetta” was pulled out of print in the mid-80s due to an arcane plagiarism dispute between one of the authors and his graduate student, I believe, who I’ve heard was unstable. It’s a terrible pity, I found it really informative and a good read covering a terrible time in cow-paradise, if you can follow the tangled trail of names (that leads to the finest families of Round Valley today). You can still find it and it’s in libraries here.

  9. Anonymous
    June 11, 2007 at 9:53 am

    So who are you today Mr. H? Mark, Doc Pot (aka ken miller), Salzman? The list is growing. So exactly where do you meet? how about coffee with the rest of us….

    Oh that won’t work, we have real jobs.

  10. Anonymous
    June 11, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Hmmmmm, let’s see,,,,,

    JFK put us into Vietnam,,,,,

    Where we murdered untold thousands of innocents,,,,,

    Ergo, rename everything that was ever named after him.

    Is that how this game is played?

  11. Carol
    June 11, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Heraldo, do you subscribe to the Humboldt Historian? There often are articles regarding this subject. Seems to me there was an article about Rohnerville a couple of months ago that mentioned Larabee.

  12. Heraldo Riviera
    June 11, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    No, and it would be great if the articles were on their website.

  13. Derchoadus
    June 11, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    G&V is going for $600 on Amazon now. I’ve seen it go for over $2000 on Ebay a few years ago. It was sued out of print, like Anon pointed out. Quit the read.

  14. Ekovox
    June 11, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    It was my recollection that family members of the people mentioned in the book were suing them. It was either the Asbills or the Whites.
    Or someone like that. I don’t remember who the names were?
    You might ask Edith Butler up at Humboldt State Library. Is Lynwood Carranco still alive? You might ask him.

  15. Anonymous
    June 11, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Hey eko,

    I used to hear that too, and it makes sense. But a scholar-anthropologist or someone like that told me the plagiarism story above. He also said (if it was the same guy, who knows, so sue me) that Larrabee quit the country after just a few years with his swag and returned to Kansas, where his descendants have no idea where the farm came from. I guess they call him a ’49er. It’s strange that such a big name left just a big name-hole behind. Anyone ever known a Larrabee here?

  16. Heraldo Riviera
    June 11, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Larrabee was from Ohio, according to my earlier research:

    “Hank Larrabee, the notorious crazed murderer of Native Californians, headed West from Ohio in 1849 with his brother and other men from his hometown in search of California gold. Their goal was to strike it rich and return home. Such plans did not come to pass.

    “Some of Larrabee’s movement prior to coming to Humboldt County can be traced through Masonic lodge rosters, first in Shasta in 1853, and later in Healdsburg.”

    More at the link.

  17. Steve H.
    June 11, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Hey Heraldo-

    If the book is out of print, who owns the copyright? Perhaps since you have a copy, the copyright owner would allow you to sell some photocopies. I’d love to have a copy of this book, speaking the truth about our common Humboldt history.

  18. Heraldo Riviera
    June 11, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    If there wasn’t a legal challenge, copyright probably lies with the book’s author.

    Last I looked there was a copy at HSU.

  19. Anonymous
    June 11, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Teacher, in our nation’s history, were there any instances of Indians killing settlers? Or was it just the evil white man, mercilessly killing defenseless Indian woman and children?

  20. Carson Park Ranger
    June 11, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    What’s your point?

  21. Anonymous
    June 12, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    The plagiarism suit enjoined U of Oklahoma Press from publishing. No rights available.

  22. EkoVox
    June 12, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Actually, there were many incidents of Indians killing European settlers in Humboldt County just prior to and after the Humboldt Bay massacre and leading to the establishments of reservations.

    History accounts(available online, Google “Indian Wars in Northern California”) show many back and forth retaliations from each side. Where do you think the place names of Fort Jones, Fort Baker, Fort Gaston, Fort Dick, Fort Seward and Fort Humboldt came from.

    “The Indians would confide in us as friends, and we had to witness this unjust treatment of them without the power to help them. Then when they were pushed beyond endurance and would go on the war path we had to fight them, when our sympathies were with the Indians.”

    George Crook while at Fort Jones, California, 1853.

    The Indian Wars of Northern California are well documented.

  23. Anonymous
    June 13, 2007 at 12:07 am

    9:27 yes there were murders of settlers by unprovoked Indians just like there were Indian on Indian killings pre-European arrival. I’m sad to say that they pale compaired to the near extinction manifest destiny caused native peoples. The fact that this nation is striving to right that negitive past gives me graet hope for all our future. What happened in the past doesn’t make any of us bad unless we try to embrace it.

  24. Anonymous
    June 13, 2007 at 6:23 am

    And now it’s self-genocide with casinos and alcohol and drugs.

  25. Anonymous
    June 14, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Manifest Destiny is always capitalized by well-educated persons.

  26. a non mouse
    June 14, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    and here I thought it was the Robber Barons who capitalized manifest destiny…

  27. Anonymous
    June 14, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    The plagiarism suit was brought by an anthropologist named Virginis Miller. She wrote a work (thesis) on the Yuki and used material from Frank Asbill’s “Last of the West”. Carranco and Beard worked from the same text and were sued. One Abebooks ad is for $1850 as I recall. It is possible to find Xeroxes from time to time. HSU, Humboldt Main, Willits all have it. “Last of the West” is at the HSU Library. It’s wild and wooley and might just contain some Tall Tales. Not a provable source if it’s used alone.Try Blocksburg.com for Ft. Seward info. It was used as a holding camp for the child slavers after the Army left. Find Lucy Young’s Story at Blocksburg.com to rad a first person acount of all this. Larribee did wind up in Kansas where he was a respected citizen and has descendants. The Wailaki name for Larribee Creek was Slang.kok, which means “big creek”.

  28. October 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    There are several copies at the Eureka Library’s Humboldt Room. I asked the publisher (University of Oklahoma Press) about reprinting this, and they said there are no plans for such a reissue, and that they would not permit one by a second party. The plagiarism suit is the issue, though of course many of the old Eureka and Round Valley area families are infuriated by its implication of their ancestors–the source of many conspiracy theories of the “suppression” of this work.

    Bigfoot Books
    Willow Creek

  29. Plain Jane
    October 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    From your quote, “unjust treatment” and “pushed beyond endurance,” it doesn’t sound very unprovoked to me, Ekovox.

  30. Bear dog
    May 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

    I am a native to round valley and still live there. What are all you humboldt people even bothering with this for? Yes larribee valley and fort Stewart are mentioned in the book. But it is based around the history of covelo and northern mendo and southern trinity. I have heard many reasons why the book is hard to get. I remember in my lifetime, when the books were burned by a certain wealthy covelo family. That’s probably one reason. There are still several copy’s of g&v in the valley.

  31. Patricia Choate
    May 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I own a copy, my dad was the Roland Choate mentioned in the preface. It has a signed personal greeting from both authors. Sat on the shelf for years before dad found out it was a “banned book.” Then became a prized possession. He passed last week. Oddly it is worth more than a 2 page 1937 letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to my grand mother that we found in his safe deposit box. I’m glad there is still interest in the book. I just started reading it on my flight home from Arcata. A bit of a snoozer so far….

  32. Patricia Choate
    June 10, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I know find I have the “Last of the West” annotated by me father. They have sentimental values to me and I’m not interested in selling but would be interested in donating them somewhere where they would be read and not destroyed.

  33. spyrock
    March 24, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    any fool can cherry pick history. not sure what the island massacre in humbolt county has to do with genocide and vendetta or last of the west. my mother’s cousin was married to the daughter of wild mountain hattie who frank asbill was sent to san quenton for pushing down the stairs when they were both drunk and she refused to go to the doctor and eventually died from the injury. unfortunately, that’s the only history we have which was intended to make frank’s father the Davy Crockett of California. the thing is frank wasn’t alive when most of these stories took place. he heard them sitting around the campfire or the dinner table after someone was drunk enough to retell them. and here we have a bunch of people commenting about books they’ve never read. like today, our ancestors were just like us. some of us hate minorities and some of us love them. history depends on who you are talking to. frank thought that the more indians you killed the more famous indian fighter you were. he didn’t understand that his book would be so not pc it would be banned to protect us from our past. they don’t want you to know the truth. that’s why it cost $500. and yes, i have both.

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