Unknown History of Marin County Pt. 1 ~ Lucas Valley, Marinwood, San Rafael

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Lucas Valley map 1844? “Callinas”
Did you know that the Miwok sat and created beads and cooked their food, and buried their families, across the creek from Dixie Elementary School ?!?http://upperlucasvalleyhistory.blogspot.com/2008/05/miwoks-in-our-valley.html

The Native Americans who lived in what is now the Dixie School District as early as 1,500 BC,

and who may well have lived here for hundreds of years before that, were the Coast Miwok and their ancestors.  Culturally they were similar to the Pomo Native Americans, their neighbors to the north; however, they spoke a different language. On January 7, 1855, Sister Corsina McKay, Donna Barbara, Miss Glover and four children arrived by boat from San Francisco

Before the houses east of Mt.Shasta were built, the view still looked much like that. You were unlikely to have found any remnants of Miwok habitants along the banks, after 1970 or so, as they dredged Miller creek several times, scarring the water shed permanently.We moved into our house on Mt. Shasta Dr. in 1962, and a few years later, my dad took me down to the area now paved over by Mt. Muir. “Sisco’s Meadow”. Along the creek there we found midden, charred bones and shells and several obsidian points. I still have them.

My name is Jim I lived in Lucas valley back in the 60s and I believe I was the one who found the first skeleton remains across form Dixie school known as site mrn-403 I ran across old photos of Dr Slaymaker? My name is Mark and I lived in the valley during the 60’s. I remember the blackberries on the creek banks behind Dixie school. I remember the steelhead and crayfish we would catch from the creek. Back then you could swim in the creek. I lived on Mt. Lassen and spent a lot of time in the hills behind my house. There were specific areas that would give me a heightened awareness of an Indian presence, almost like I was being watched. When they began digging drainage ditches before installing a playing field next to the school, we used to search them for Miwok artifacts. We found many arrowheads and objects I couldn’t identify as well as shells.

Screenshot_2020-11-27 Park sign describing 4 MRN 138 Miller Creek Mound--Miwok Indian Village Archaeolgical Site.jpg

Mrn 403, nicknamed Ripoff because of its destruction, was located in upper lucas valley about 2 miles west of mrn-138. On the south bank of miller creek, its dimensions approached 30×30 meters with a depth of close to one meter in some sectors. During the excavations in Marinwood, many tools and ornaments were found, in among the remains of the shellfish they ate: mussels (mytilus edulis), oysters (ostrea lurida) and other species, clinocardium nuttalli and macoma. There were stone mortars, obsidian arrowheads, antler tines, bird bone whistles, mussel shell spoons, horseneck clams made into fiber strippers, clam disc beads, and gambling bones. The site, formally known as Mrn-138, is also the only site in Marin county where an atlatl spur (a spear thrower) has been found. There were also people: they found a number of careful burials, in one place seven adults 2 infants, and they also found signs that some people had been cremated.

A lot of people participated in this excavation, adults and also junior high schoolers, so I am sure there are Valley residents around today who remember working on this. (YES I DID in Jr. High)

His comments and discussion of the whole area includes such interesting comments as:
It has been shown that the residents of Gallinas Valley probably maintained a secret society and a semi-subterranean dance house at the village… it is suggested that the triblet population approached 150 people who were aggregated at a number of permanent and impermanent villages…



That littlest purple blotch on the left? that’s in upper lucas valley, just east of where the creek that omes in at Dixie school, formerly joined the main creek. I say formerly, because I imagine that little creek has been redirected a little bit, when our homes were built, and Mlller Creek probably has been, a little, as we know.

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Indigenous Management and Land Practices

The local population of Coast Miwok managed and utilized every part of Miller Creek Watershed. Archeologists have studied some of the locations where they settled. The Miwok obtained acorns from oaks, salmon from the creek, pinole1 from the grasslands, shellfish and fowl from the marsh, and larger game from the savannas, forests and chaparral. Dozens of species were used and managed for medicines, food, clothing, ceremonial regalia, tools, and construction materials.

Fire was expertly used as a land management tool. Oak groves and savannas, grassland and chaparral were carefully burned to increase grain production, clear underbrush for better hunting, suppress plant pests and diseases, flush game, nurture particular plants used as food or construction materials, and to protect forests, savannas, and villages from destructive wildfires.

The Northwest Pacific Railroad connected San Rafael to Petaluma. The railroad crossed the watershed and was completed in 1878. Other infrastructure continued to expand during this era as well. These developments included roads, bridges, dikes, levees, and water delivery and drainage systems.

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MIWOKS Homeland

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   Coast Miwok Native Americans lived in tribelets which consisted of a central village and several associated settlements, and might include 100 or more people.  Each tribelet had a headman (hoipu) or headwoman (maien), who was an adviser and settler of disputes.  This person also welcomed and entertained visitors and was responsible for making speeches on special occasions.

The triblet which lived in the valleys which are now Terra Linda and Lucas Valley- Marinwood identified themselves with the central village site, Cotomko’tca (Grasshopper Houses), which is behind Miller Creek School.

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Sweat houses, which were semi-subterranean, framed with wood and roofed with woven branches, tules and clay, were more permanent structures.  Like many other California Native Americans, the people of Marin used sweat houses for purification and cleansing before hunting, and as meeting and sleeping quarters for the men.

Each central village community had a dance house, a circular, semi-subterranean building with the floor 30 to 50 feet in diameter.  Several of these floors, at different levels, the remnants of dance houses dating from different periods in time, have been found by archeologists at Cotomko’tca on Miller Creek.

Ceremonies and dances played a large part in tribelet life.  Elaborate feather costumes and headdresses, decorated with bone hairpins, shell beads and abalone ornaments, as well as special body paint designs, were used for these dances.  Some dances were accompanied by cocoon or split-stick rattles, whistles, and foot drums, as well as by singers.  Bone and shell fragments, all that remain of the beautiful costumes, have been found at Miller Creek.

Often found in Marin are stone mortars and pestles, used for grinding acorns, other seeds and body paints.  Less well known are Coast Miwok baskets.  The few specimens still remaining show fine workmanship.  Early descriptions and basketry impressions in clay from archeological sites confirm the basketry was a highly developed art.  Large conical baskets supported by tumplines around the forehead were used to carry bulky and heavy loads.  Watertight baskets were used for cooking; hot rocks dropped into the basket’s contents brought them quickly to a boil.  Finely wrought hairnets, as well as nets used for trapping small animals and birds, were further evidences of the weavers’ skill.

Boats used by the Coast Miwok were made of tules bundled and tied in a canoe-like shape.  Native Americans with such a vessel in San Francisco Bay appear in an 1816 painting; Drake’s chronicler, Fletcher, described a similar craft.

Clothing was needed only in inclement weather.  Men usually wore nothing; women wore skirts or aprons of shredded bark or tules, or fringed deerskin.  Woven fur blankets were also worn.  Hair was worn loose, confined in a net, or tied up in a knot or club.  Women’s chins were sometimes tattooed; both men and women wore ornaments in their pierced ears or noses.  

Chipped stone was used for many purposes.  Chert, which is native to Marin, is common in archeological sites in the form of cutting tools, scrapers and drills.  Obsidian, volcanic glass traded from northern California, was fashioned into projectile points for arrows and spears, as well as knives, and into large blades with no practical use but valued as items of wealth.

The Star Wars films feature a fictional species of forest-dwelling creatures known as Ewoks, who are ostensibly named after the Miwok.[19] However, the historical Northern-California footprint of the Miwok people (where George Lucas‘s home and corporate headquarters were located) may have caused the Ewoks’ name to be retconned to enhance the marketability of the 1983 film.[ 

In the mid-1830s, lands were promised by General Mariano Vallejo to the San Rafael Indians, whose land had been co-opted by the Mission San Rafael.[4] When asked what land they wanted, the Coast Miwok chiefs chose 80,000 acres (324 km2) ranging from Nicasio Valley to the area surrounding Tomales. The land was granted by Mexican Governor José Figueroa to the Coast Miwok of Marin County in 1835, but the Miwok claim was rejected by the Public Land Commission in 1855.[5][6]

In 1844, Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted the 56,621-acre (229.14 km2) Rancho Nicasio to Pablo de la Guerra and John B.R. Cooper.[7] By 1849, there were three owners — Pablo de la Guerra, Cooper, and Jasper O’Farrell. In 1850 Pablo de la Guerra sold his 30,848 acres (124.8 km2) undivided share of the ranch to Henry Wager Halleck. Halleck had arrived in California in 1847 as a lieutenant in the United States Engineers, accompanied by his friend, Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman. Halleck was a partner in the San Francisco law firm, Halleck, Peachy & Billings, and in the Civil War was promoted by President Abraham Lincoln to general-in-chief of the armies of the United States. Halleck hunted and fished at Rancho Nicasio, and built a house on the creek near Nicasio, now called Halleck Creek.[8] In 1850, Cooper sold his 16,293 acres (65.9 km2) undivided share of the ranch to Benjamin Rush Buckelew. Besides Cooper’s share of Rancho Nicasio, Buckelew also purchased Cooper’s Rancho Punta de Quentin and John Reed’s Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio. In 1851, O’Farrell sold his 9,479 acres (38.4 km2) share to James Black, the grantee of Rancho Cañada de Jonive. In 1852 Buckelew sold 7,598 acres (30.7 km2) to William Reynolds and Daniel Frink.

With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Nicasio was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[9] and the grant patented to Black, Buckelew, Halleck, and Reynolds and Frink in 1870.

The Land Claims Act

Main article: California Land Act of 1851

On March 3, 1851, Congress enacted the California Land Act of 1851, sometimes known as the Land Claims Act, requiring “each and every person claiming lands in California by virtue of any right or title derived by the Mexican government” to file their claim with a three-member Public Land Commission within two years.[17] The Commissioners were to issue patents to the claims they found meritorious and the other lands were to pass into the public domain at the end of the two years.[18] Two years later, Congress passed an act to survey those lands that had passed into the public domain under the first statute, but exempted “land in the occupation or possession of any Indian tribe.”[19] That act also authorized the President to create five military reservations in California for Indian purposes.[20]

The effect of these acts on aboriginal title in California has been a subject of litigation for 150 years.[21] Regardless, the United States never again pursued treaty negotiations with California Indians, instead favoring legislation and executive orders.[22] By statute, Congress created several Indian reservations.[23] Congress gave the executive the discretion to create further reservations.[24] By 1986, Presidents had used this discretion to create 117 reservations totaling 632,000 acres (256,000 ha)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_title_in_California#Effect_of_the_Land_Claims_Act_of_1851

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Early explorers found Bay Area Native Americans to be peaceful and friendly.  Accounts by Francis Fletcher who accompanied Francis Drake (1579), Cermenho (1595), whose ship was wrecked off Limantour Spit, and Father Vicente Santa Maria who accompanied Ayala (1775) on the San Carlos, the first ship to enter San Francisco Bay, all remark on the Native Americans’ friendliness and lack of antagonism toward the newcomers.  Remember the Ca Gold Rush of ’49 allegedly created the mass build out of the Bay Area…yet in 1776 the Jesuits were already here and that is when the extermination of the Natives began when they were forced to convert or else be jailed or murdered. In 1776 the Mission Dolores in San Francisco was founded.  Coast Miwok Native Americans, tempted by offers of food and clothing and by religious ceremonies, music and processions were taken there early, as well as to the missions at Santa Clara and San Jose.  The people of Cotomko’tca were close to the main travel route along the bay shore and probably were among the first to go.

The Native Americans were accustomed to the hard work of procuring and preparing food and shelter.  However, their work schedule was tied to need and to seasonal food supplies.  At the missions a set daily work routines was enforced. Native Americans were also hired out to work for the military establishment at the Presidio.  Any payment for this work went to the missions, rather than to the Native Americans.  Those who attempted to leave and return to their homes and previous ways of life were brought back by soldiers and punished.  

Poor nutrition, even famine, contributed to the Native Americans’ dissatisfaction with mission life.  Tuberculosis infected many.  In 1816, a measles epidemic killed almost every child under 10 at the Mission Dolores. During the Mission era, cattle grazing began to modify the grasslands. Timber began to be extracted from nearby watersheds during this period as well. After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, former mission lands, or ranchos, were granted to prominent Mexican citizens.  Miller Creek Watershed occupies the northern portion of Rancho San Pedro, Santa Margarita y Las Gallinas, which was granted to Don Timoteo Murphy in 1844. Grazing continued throughout the Mexican Rancho era.

A few years after Murphy obtained his land grant, California was ceded by Mexico to the United States. After gold was discovered in 1848, the regional population grew rapidly. As a result, grazing in the watershed intensified. New changes in the landscape were also initiated during the early Anglo-American period. The margins of the Bay filled with sediment from hydraulic mining in the Sierra. By the 1890s, the baylands extended a mile farther into the Bay because of the massive transfer of sediment from the Sierra Nevada foothills.


Shift to a European Management Regime

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Native land management ended abruptly in the early 19th century, as the Coast Miwok were removed from their villages and often died as a result of Euro-American contact. After the cessation of native management, the plant and animal communities in the watershed struggled to establish a new balance. Without the regular application of native management techniques such as controlled fires, selective harvesting, and culling of wildlife herds, ecosystem dynamics became more chaotic and unpredictable. The introduction of invasive Mediterranean species also changed the balance of the ecosystems. With little or no knowledge of the influences that shaped these working landscapes for thousands of years, the new settlers employed land management practices that had been developed in Europe. A new era of “trial and error” land management began.

During the Mission era, cattle grazing began to modify the grasslands. Timber began to be extracted from nearby watersheds during this period as well. After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, former mission lands, or ranchos, were granted to prominent Mexican citizens. Miller Creek Watershed occupies the northern portion of Rancho San Pedro, Santa Margarita y Las Gallinas, which was granted to Don Timoteo Murphy in 1844. Grazing continued throughout the Mexican Rancho era.

For a very long time, the Coast Miwok thrived in Lucas Valley. We know that by the time the Spanish missions were active, the tribelet that lived here had a name, that was pronounced something like Shotomko-cha. One of their members from ‘Rancheria Sotomcochi’ was baptised in San Rafael Mission in 1921. Apparently it’s most correct to write it, Cotomko’tca.

The Material Culture of Cotomko’tca: A Coast Miwok Tribelet in Marin County, California. MAPOM Papers No. 3. Miwok Archaeological Preserve of Marin: San Rafael, CA. It’s in the Anne Kent California Room, at the Marin Civic Center Library. Dr Slaymaker was also a major investigator at Ollompalli. The book was published in 1977, but it documents what they found when they excavated the shell mound and some of the other Miwok sites on Miller Creek, just behind the junior high school, and also did a quick search at one of the sites up here close to us, before it was buried under either the Muir Creek subdivision or the office buildings.

There is a map by the archaeologist Nels Nelson, 1909, “Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay”, which shows the shellmound in Marinwood and traces of mounds or sites up in our part of the valley. The sites were surveyed formally in 1955 before marinwood was developed.

And then, in 1969, after some informal digging and collecting was apparently happening, the formal excavation by Charles Slaymaker began. Nelson’s map shows a number of sites. In addition to our tribelet or town of cotomko’tca, there was also another village, Ewu, whic Dr Slaymaker thought was probably a cluster along gallinas creek 1.5 miles south of miller creek. There was another settlement, called Puyukuis, over deep in Ignacio valley. In upper lucas valley, he noted two sites, across from each other on our creek, now under development.

It would seem advisable to present this period by describing the main characters and institutions which were to mold its history, as the Dixie District took shape.  Don Timoteo Murphy, John Lucas and James Miller are the early pioneers of this area.  St. Vincent School for Boys and the Dixie School are the institutions of this era.  Links to this period are provided by two individuals, Mary E. Silveira and Bernard Hoffman, who have contributed greatly to the Dixie School District.

Don Timoteo Murphy – The most outstanding of these men was, doubtlessly, Don Timoteo Murphy.  He was a giant of a man both in body and heart.  As a genial host, he was known far and wide for his wit and tall tales.  His contributions of talent and worldly goods were notable and far reaching.  In 1818, when he was twenty-eight years old, he came to California.  He made a living for a time trapping coastal otter.  In 1835, after the secularization of the missions, he was placed in care of the Nicasio Tribe of Indians by General Vallejo.  They had been granted one square league of land by the Mexican Government.  In 1837, General Vallejo placed all the small ranchos of the Nicasio Tribe into a common fund.  Murphy was appointed administrator of the San Rafael Mission.  In 1844, on a site to become 4th and C Streets, Dom Timoteo Murphy built San Rafael’s first home, a two-story, tile-roofed hacienda.  During the Gold Rush, he helped to organize a group of 30  ranchers, their Indian servants, 100 horses and 200 head of cattle and led them to the Sierra gold fields.  This was the beginning of the beef cattle industry in Marin County, as it proved a very shrewd business venture.  A slaughter house was built on the shores of San Rafael Creek.  

To this slaughter house, herds of Longhorn were chased from the surrounding hills by hard-riding, Spanish-speaking vaqueros.  They raced down the main street of San Rafael (now 4th St.).  As they passed, huge clouds of dust filled the air and the clatter of their sharp hooves, as they thundered by, was deafening.  The beef was shipped four times weekly on Captain Higgins’ old sloop, the “Boston”, to San Francisco’s hungry populace.  At least 100 head passed through San Rafael every week.  Much of this beef was furnished by the Murphy Rancho.  Don Timoteo Murphy was appointed, by the Mexican Governor, as alcalde (mayor) or San Rafael and was later elected to this job.  Subsequently, he was appointed overseer for the San Rafael Mission Archangel. John Lucas  –  John Lucas built a mansion for his wife, in the center of what is now Terra Linda.  It was known as the Lucas Home Ranch and later, around 1900, as the Freitas Home Ranch.  In the early days, longhorn steer were raised for beef.  Later, dairying was the chief industry.  The Lucas Home Ranch was noted for its hospitality.  The Lucas family had nine children.  Only one ever married.  She was Alice May who, in 1877, married Patrick Cadogan, a native of Ireland.  Now standing on the site of the former mansion is St. Isabella’s Church and St. Isabella’s School.  This is most fitting as Don Timoteo Murphy, a devout Catholic, had always wanted part of his land used to this purpose.

James Miller

One of Marin’s earliest residents, is a native of county Wexford, Ireland, having been born there May 1, 1814. – The James Miller family came to California in 1844 as part of the famous Murphy party who crossed the plains in covered wagons and opened a new route through the challenging Sierras.  They “crossed by way of Lake Tahoe and the head-waters of the American River… hence into California by the Truckee River and Pass, the first to utilize this subsequently favorite route and the first to get their wagons into California.” At this period, accompanied by his wife and four children, he started in a train of thirteen wagons to California, and after a long and tedious journey arrived in the State near the head-waters of the Yuba river, where they recruited for six weeks, and thence following the course of the Bear river they reached Sutter’s Fort December 15, 1844. February 1, 1845, he arrived at the place known as the Houck farm, where another halt of six weeks was made, after which his journey to San Rafael was continued, and where he arrived April 6, 1845.

In the following year (1846) Mr. Miller purchased six hundred and eighty acres of land from Timothy Murphy, situated on the Las Gallinas grant, the deed for which is the first recorded in the county. Here he erected a shake shanty to begin with, later a substantial abode was constructed, to be in turn succeeded by a dwelling of magnificent proportions. In 1849 Mr. Miller went to the placers, driving one hundred and fifty head of cattle, all of which he slaughtered and sold at the rate of one dollar per pound weight. Besides owning a considerable quantity of real estate in the thriving town of San Rafael, he is the proprietor of no less than eight thousand acres of land in different parts of Marin county.

http://upperlucasvalleyhistory.blogspot.com/2008/05/save-spot.html

Mary E. Silveira – The present Mrs. Mary E. Silveira came to Miller Hall, the name given the mansion, as the bride of Mr. Silveira, who had been in the employee of Mr. Miller since he was sixteen years old, and who later became co-owner of the ranch.  She lived at the ranch for nineteen years.  She tells about the gracious life of the Miller Family.  She recalls the extensive vineyards on the hills where the Marinwood homes now stand.  They were planted in Zinfandel Wine Grapes, which were made into a delicious wine and sold by the barrel.  She says they also had a large herd of milking cows.  They made their own gas, she recalls, for cooking and lights. The members of the family dressed elaborately as was the custom in those days for people in their situation.  The home was furnished elegantly.  There were heavy red drapes with gold tassel trim.  Everything, she says, was just beautiful.

Bernard Hoffman – A little to the south of Mrs. Silveira’s home lived Mr. Bernard Hoffman, another former trustee, who served in this capacity for fifty years.  The Bernard Hoffman School was named after him in recognition of his service.  Shortly before his death in 1968 he recalled having attended the Dixie School house, as a pupil, for eight years and having graduated 80 years ago.

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https://www.dixieschoolhouse.org/the-pastoral-period-1843-1954

Even this most basic question is hotly argued. The original Dixie School was named by Marin County pioneer James Miller in 1864, and the district took its name from that. It’s unclear why Miller chose the name. The school was in use for classes from 1864 until 1958.

Some people contend it was the result of a dare from Southern-sympathizing carpenters who worked on the schoolhouse for Miller. Others say it was in honor of Mary Dixie, part of a Miwok family in Calaveras County. Still others make a connection between Miller’s former residence in French-speaking Canada and the word dix, meaning ten.

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Her husband was made trustee of the one-room Dixie School and served in this capacity until his death.  Mary Silveira then assumed the position, which she held for eighteen and a half years.  She served her district well, and it recognized this faithful service by naming one of its schools in her honor.  She lived in a Spanish style home on the east side of Highway 101, opposite the original Dixie School house site, which stood on the west side of the highway.  This picturesque little white school, the original with added rooms has undergone restoration and serves as a community meeting hall as well as a historical museum housing documents and memorabilia of the original Dixie School house.  It duplicates, both in exterior and interior furnishings and fixtures, the appearance of the original little white school house.

On January 7, 1855, Sister Corsina McKay, Donna Barbara, Miss Glover and four children arrived by boat from San Francisco.  They took possession of the land and opened the tiny new school.  Formal education in the Dixie District had begun. Because the new school was inaccessible and the Sisters were without the services of a priest, it was under consideration to return the property to the Archbishop.  Instead, the boys from the Market Street Orphanage were transferred, along with a priest, to the new school.
By the end of 1855, the Archbishop reported there were twenty-eight orphan boys under the care of Rev. Robert A. R. Maurice and a free school numbering forty pupils.  The number climbed to 133 by 1861.In 1868, the Dominican Sisters (now of San Rafael) of Benicia took charge of the domestic chores at the request of the Archbishop.In 1870, there were 200 boys, ranging in age from two to fifteen years.  A glimpse of the school life in October 1874, was reported in the San Rafael Weekly Herald:

In 1878, the school accommodated 400 boys.  That year a railroad was completed between San Rafael and Petaluma.  It ran right through St. Vincent’s property and stopped at “Miller Station”, common to St. Vincent’s and Mr. Miller.

https://www.dixieschoolhouse.org/the-pastoral-period-1843-1954

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie_Schoolhouse

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Built by “Horse n’ Buggy” !?!

St. Vincent’s School for Boys The Miller home ranch had a train stop, it was right opposite just west of the St. Vincent’s Orphanage, or it used to be the St. Vincent’s Orphanage. Today it is the St. Vincent Boy’s School I believe. It’s all Marinwood except for a portion of the original ranch where Mrs. Silvera has — They bought 400 acres adjoining the St. Vincent’s School, on the east side of 101. And west of it was sold to a group that was going to build a boys school. However, something fell through and they decided not to, so it was sold to a Mr. Texeira.

According to A Mission That Endures: A History of St. Vincent’s School for Boys by Peter Rudy, when notified by Archbishop Alemany that the Sisters of Charity were needed to care for children orphaned by a recent cholera plague, Sister McEnnis and a small band of nuns agreed to make the hazardous trip and immediately headed west. After a grueling cross-country journey, they raised the necessary funds and made sure the school was open for students on January 1, 1855—beating Murphy’s deadline by ten days. As for naming the school, Sister McEnnis reached back to her roots: it would be called St. Vincent’s.

By 1868, the orphanage was housing 150 boys. By 1884—after initiation of farming operations, building expansion and outreach, and bringing in the Dominican Sisters to help with teaching—St. Vincent’s was home to nearly 500 orphaned as well as neglected or abused kids.

St. Vincent’s School for Boys was started as St. Vincent’s Seminary by the Sisters of Charity on January 7, 1855.  The story starts with Don Timoteo Murphy’s will which bequeathed 317 acres of land across from Miller to “aid in the establishment of a seminary or institution of learning.”  The terms of the will had to be met by January 11, 1855.  Archbishop Joseph Alemany was involved in erecting a cathedral and had no time to build a school twenty-five miles away with no adequate communication.  One had to travel to San Rafael by sail or row boat, and then along a dusty or muddy road to the site, or else make the entire journey by boat and up the creek which flowed through the property.  The Archbishop appealed to the Sisters of Charity who had an orphanage and school on Market Street.  He asked if they would assume responsibility for building the new school and if they would do so by January 11, 1855.

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By 1868, the orphanage was housing 150 boys. By 1884—after initiation of farming operations, building expansion and outreach, and bringing in the Dominican Sisters to help with teaching—St. Vincent’s was home to nearly 500 orphaned as well as neglected or abused kids.

On May 19, 1888, half the St. Vincent’s campus was leveled by a disastrous fire

2 great windmills whirl their arms when there is sufficient breeze and exert their force in pumping water to the tanks on the hill; when the wind fails a horse power is ready for use which is also utilized in the laundry adjoining, in revolving the washing machine

In 1878, the school accommodated 400 boys.  That year a railroad was completed between San Rafael and Petaluma.  It ran right through St. Vincent’s property and stopped at “Miller Station”, common to St. Vincent’s and Mr. Miller.  Visitors from San Francisco took the steamship to Point San Quentin and then the train to St. Vincent’s.  What had taken Sister Frances McEnnis a full day in a row boat in 1855 now took about two hours.

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In 1889, several thousand fruit trees were planted “We are happy to state that everything appeared neat and comfortable.  There are at present 429 boys of all ages up to nineteen years in the asylum. 

1853: Don Timoteo Murphy generously deeded the land to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

1855: St. Vincent’s School for Boys opens to house, clothe, feed, educate and care for the orphans of California’s By 1909, a more formalized organization, Catholic Humane and Settlement Society, evolved, led by the same group of women. The organization’s work remained focused on care for, protection and maintenance of foundling, dependent or neglected children and did this by securing families who could provide foster care. Of the over 500 children received from the Juvenile Court and from the community, approximately 300 were boarded out in private families, where clothing, food, and medical treatment were provided and the others were placed in orphanages.   Over one hundred women community leaders comprised the service volunteers and fundraisers for this work. Gold Rush.

Murphy was appointed administrator of the San Rafael Mission.  In 1844, on a site to become 4th and C Streets, Dom Timoteo Murphy built San Rafael’s first home, a two-story, tile-roofed hacienda.  During the Gold Rush, he helped to organize a group of 30  ranchers, their Indian servants, 100 horses and 200 head of cattle and led them to the Sierra gold fields.  This was the beginning of the beef cattle industry in Marin County, as it proved a very shrewd business venture.  A slaughter house was built on the shores of San Rafael Creek.  

In 1843, Murphy was granted five leagues of land, equal to 22,000 acres, by a grateful Mexican government.  This included Santa Margarita Rancho, Las Gallinas Rancho, and San Pedro Rancho, the land which now comprises the Dixie School District.  “He stocked his ranch with blooded cattle, merino sheep, pedigreed swine and bigboned horses…”

Mr. Murphy took ill suddenly with appendicitis and died, in 1853.  In his testament, he bequeathed 317 acres of land (across the road from Miller Manor)—to the archbishop of San Francisco “to aid in the establishment of a seminary or institution of learning.”  The southern half of the remaining real estate was willed to his brother, and the northern half to his nephew John Lucas.

https://www.dixieschoolhouse.org/the-pastoral-period-1843-1954

Mission De San Raphael

Mission San Rafael Arcángel is a Spanish mission in San Rafael, California. It was founded in 1817 as a medical asistencia (“sub-mission”) of Mission San Francisco de Asís. It was a hospital to treat sick Native Americans, making it Alta California‘s first sanitarium. By 1844, Mission San Rafael Arcángel had been abandoned; what was left of the empty buildings was sold for $8,000 in 1846. The Mission was used by John C. Fremont as his headquarters during the Bear Flag Revolt.

On June 28, 1846, three men departed the mission, including Kit Carson, and murdered three unarmed Californians under the order of John C. Fremont: Don José R. Berreyesa, father of José de los Santos Berreyesa, along with the twin sons of Don Francisco de Haro, Ramon and Francisco De Haro.[10]The Mission was used by John C. Fremont as his headquarters during the Bear Flag Revolt.On June 28, 1846, three men departed the mission, including Kit Carson, and murdered three unarmed Californians under the order of John C. Fremont..

In 1847, a priest was once again living at the Mission. A new parish church was built near the old chapel ruins in 1861, and, in 1870, the rest of the ruins were removed to make room for the City of San Rafael. All that was left of the Mission was a single pear tree from the old Mission’s orchard. It is for this reason that San Rafael is known as the “most obliterated of California’s missions

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_San_Rafael_Arc%C3%A1ngel

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The mission ruins were removed in 1870. This church was built on the site of the original mission and later replaced by the imposing current parish church. The Jesuits were here WAY BEFORE the CA Gold Rush and had missions all over California since 1700’s~ So who was really the founders of CA???

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By 1880 trains from Sausalito, Mill Valley and San Quentin connected rails up Mt Tamalpais, up to Bodega Bay and also up to Mendocino and Eureka…HOW?

The history of the electrics in Marin starts in 1871 with the North Pacific Coast Railroad (NPC), which was built to bring timber from the large reserves in Marin to San Francisco. The narrow gauge railroad, built as narrow gauge to save on cost, ran from Sausalito to San Anselmo and then east to San Rafael. The railroad opened in 1874 and by the end of that year, the line had been extended from San Anselmo through Fairfax all the way to Tomales Bay. The line to Tomales Bay required impressive engineering to get through White’s Hill. In 1886, the line essentially was completed when it reached present day Cazadero.

With its lines from Sausalito to San Anselmo and San Rafael, the NPC had established itself a modest commuter business. In 1889, the San Francisco, Tamalpias and Bolinas Railroad built a line from a junction on the NPC and Mill Valley. The NPC leased their tracks for commuter and freight service even before the line opened. In 1896, Mill Valley became an even more important stop on the NPC when the Mill Valley & Mount Tamalpias Scenic Railway opened between the NPC’s terminal and the top of the 2600 foot mountain (The railroad was called the crookedest railroad in the world with its 281 curves on only 8 1/2 miles of track. The “Mountain Railroad” as the locals called it was the Northern California equivalent of the wonderful Mount Lowe Railway in Los Angeles).

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The first, the San Rafael & San Quentin Railroad, was built in 1869 as an even quicker way to the point than the toll road. This shows how important Point San Quentin and its ferry was to early San Rafael commerce. It was quicker to travel to the point than to send a shallow draft schooner or steamer up the sloughs to the town. The SR&SQ left downtown from Second Street and made a beeline for the point. By the time the map was made, it had been brought into the North Pacific Coast Railroad as a branch line. Out on the point we can see how the tracks left land on a long trestle to reach the wharf at Agnes Island. Today, motorists on Andersen Drive are following the exact route of the old SR&SQ Railroad, at least to the sanitation plant.

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The second rail line came in 1884, only five years before the map was made. Peter Donahue’s San Francisco & North Pacific Railroad ran trains from its ferry terminal at Tiburon to San Rafael, Petaluma and northward. Construction required crossing the tracks of the SR&SQRR at a sharp diagonal. The SF&NP turned south at Simms Island and entered a tunnel, today known as the Cal Park Tunnel.

The North Pacific Coast Railroad, incorporated in 1871 with the aid of a public bond issue in Marin County, had a grand plan to run a line through Marin connecting the emerging towns, and continuing up the coast to the vast redwood stands along the Russian River in Sonoma and the Gualala River in Mendocino County. The Sausalito Land & Ferry Company directors, sensing that this could be the breakthrough for their town, gave the financially feeble railroad company thirty acres along Sausalito’s waterfront as an inducement to make Sausalito the southern terminus of the new line.
Because the bond issue called fora southern terminus at Point San Quentin rather than at Sausalito, a legal battle ensued. After considerable legal fireworks, Sausalito won out, and in 1873 construction began. One work gang commenced at Tomales, moving south. Another gang worked at Fairfax, and a third started at Strawberry Point where a trestle was constructed across Richardson’s Bay to Sausalito. The trestle connected with Alameda Point (later Pine Station), approximately where Nevada Street meets Bridgeway today.   https://www.mendorailhistory.org/1_railroads/nwp/interurban.htm

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Samuel P. Taylor Park

Taylorville is a former settlement in Marin County, California.[1] It was located on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad 11 miles (18 km) west-southwest of downtown Novato,[2] at an elevation of 141 feet (43 m).[1] Taylorville still appeared on maps as of 1914.[1]

Taylorville had a post office, a tannery, a gun powder factory, a water powered paper mill, then later a steam driven mill. An orchard, cattle ranch and was serviced by train from 1875 until 1933. Cap Taylor, on the same property had a hotel, a dance hall,two bowling alleys, boating on the creek, hunting and fishing. As many as 3000 people would visit on popular weekends.

The name honors Samuel P. Taylor, founder of the first paper mill on the West Coast.[2]

He is best known for building the Pioneer Paper Mill, the first paper mill in California. Taylor sailed from Boston Harbor in a schooner that he purchased with a group of friends, arriving in San Francisco ten months later.[1]

Taylor’s first business in California was a bacon and egg stand on the beach. “Upon arrival Taylor found a wooden cask of eggs floating near the shore. He cooked the eggs, overturned the cask, and set up a food stand on the beach.”[1] In 1853, Taylor left for Hawkins Bar, California in Tuolumne County to prospect for gold. He used his profits to buy land in Marin County and enter the paper business.[1]

Taylor is buried on a hill overlooking the former site of the mill. His gravesite was restored in 1997 by Freemasons of San Francisco Oriental Lodge No. 144. Sarah Washington Irving now lies next to her husband on the southwest slope of Barnabe Mountain (near 38.0263°N 122.732°W).

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Ha ha mail for Novato in 1850 where image shows population in 1890! Who was the mail delivered to?? with a pop of just a few? how, why,?? etc.

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https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=102594

This California history museum is located in the former Postmaster’s House which was built circa 1850.  A picnic area is located in the grounds of the museum, overlooking City Hall. The Postmaster’s House, one of the oldest structures in Novato, was built circa 1850 and was originally located on South Novato Blvd west of Yukon Way. The earliest known occupant was Henry Jones, who began Novato’s postal service in 1856 and served as postmaster until 1860.

In November 1848, Postmaster General Cave Johnson dispatched a special agent to California to establish Post Offices. By Christmas, steamships were carrying mail from New York to California via the Isthmus of Panama. This was before the construction of the canal. When the ships reached Panama, the mail was taken off and transported in canoes or on pack animals – and later by railroad – about 50 miles to the Pacific coast. Another steamship collected the mail on the Pacific side and headed north.

The first U.S. Mail traveled to California by steamship, via the Isthmus of Panama, in 1848. The ocean routes via Panama remained a vital link in the nation’s mail system until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.

In the 1850s, Congress authorized four mail routes that linked the new settlers in California with the rest of the nation over land. Congress authorized funding for the overland routes not because they brought any financial profit to the Post Office Department or the federal government, but because they helped build and bind together a nation. The mail contractors and carriers were pioneers, finding or creating the best routes of travel and building supply stations that later eased the way for emigrants heading west.

First Overland Mail to California: Central Route via Salt Lake City
The first overland mail service to California came via the central route, by way of Salt Lake City. In the spring of 1851, Absalom Woodward, who was 50 years old, and George Chorpenning, who was 30, agreed to carry mail from Salt Lake City to Sacramento. (Mail had been carried between Independence, Missouri, and Salt Lake City since the previous year.) For $14,000 a year Woodward and Chorpenning agreed to leave from each end of the route once a month and complete the trip in 30 days. Both were Pennsylvania natives who had met in California. They soon found that transporting mail in the West was easier promised than accomplished.

Chorpenning started east from California on May 3, 1851, and reached Salt Lake City the next month without too many problems. However, when Woodward led another eastbound trip later that summer, he was not so lucky. He was riding 10 miles ahead of the main party, when he was pursued by Indians. Only his faster horse saved him.

https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/overland-mail.htm

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Massive Shellmounds of Marin County

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For a very long time, the Coast Miwok thrived in Lucas Valley. We know that by the time the Spanish missions were active, the tribelet that lived here had a name, that was pronounced something like Shotomko-cha. One of their members from ‘Rancheria Sotomcochi’ was baptised in San Rafael Mission in 1921. Apparently it’s most correct to write it, Cotomko’tca.

The Material Culture of Cotomko’tca: A Coast Miwok Tribelet in Marin County, California. MAPOM Papers No. 3. Miwok Archaeological Preserve of Marin: San Rafael, CA. It’s in the Anne Kent California Room, at the Marin Civic Center Library. Dr Slaymaker was also a major investigator at Ollompalli. The book was published in 1977, but it documents what they found when they excavated the shell mound and some of the other Miwok sites on Miller Creek, just behind the junior high school, and also did a quick search at one of the sites up here close to us, before it was buried under either the Muir Creek subdivision or the office buildings.

There is a map by the archaeologist Nels Nelson, 1909, “Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay”, which shows the shellmound in Marinwood and traces of mounds or sites up in our part of the valley. The sites were surveyed formally in 1955 before marinwood was developed. And then, in 1969, after some informal digging and collecting was apparently happening, the formal excavation by Charles Slaymaker began. Nelson’s map shows a number of sites. In addition to our tribelet or town of cotomko’tca, there was also another village, Ewu, whic Dr Slaymaker thought was probably a cluster along gallinas creek 1.5 miles south of miller creek. There was another settlement, called Puyukuis, over deep in Ignacio valley. In upper lucas valley, he noted two sites, across from each other on our creek, now under development.

Over the centuries, these ancient earthworks, which frequently contain the remains of Indigenous peoples, have been thoughtlessly plundered and destroyed, falling prey to antiquities collectors, urbanization, and the elements. The shellmounds tell rich and nuanced stories to local Indigenous people, while archaeologists cite numerous unknowns. Varying in size and orientation, they have been documented from Petaluma in the north to San Jose in the south, but despite numerous surveys and analyses, there are few definitive archeological conclusions. How exactly were these sites used? What role did they play in Indigenous cosmologies?

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Here is my work up on Shellmounds of the Bay Areahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PigZjlFZqLU
https://www.kqed.org/news/11704679/there-were-once-more-than-425-shellmounds-in-the-bay-area-where-did-they-gohttps://sacredland.org/shellmounds-of-the-bay-area-united-states/http://www.allgov.com/usa/ca/news/controversies/marin-county-developer-paves-over-ancient-indian-village-140428?news=853022

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Masonic Lodges in Marin County, CA

Lodge Name ( # )CityMeetings
Fairfax #556Larkspur, CA1st Thur.
Marin #191San Rafael, CA2nd Wed.
Mill Valley #356Mill Valley, CA1st Tues.

Marin Lodge No. 191 F. & A.M.was organized by sixteen Freemasons to help improve themselves and their community in San Rafael in 1868. These men formed the first Masonic Lodge in Marin county. We received our charter from the Grand Lodge of California F. & A.M. in October of 1868 during the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge that year. We are the 191st Masonic Lodge to be chartered in the state of California. We are located in downtown San Rafael at 1010 Lootens Place at the intersection of 4th Street and Lootens Place. Under the sponsorship of Grand Lodge, the cornerstone of the new San Rafael High School was laid on December 13th, 1924.As previously mentioned in our history, Marin Lodge No.191 laid the cornerstone of the court house in 1872 .
The passing of our Brother John F. McInnis was a severe loss to the Lodge on August 28th, 1972. Brother McInnis has faithfully served as Secretary, Treasurer and Building Manager of our Masonic Building for many years and under his guidance the affairs of the building were in excellent condition. On Oct. 30, 1973, a time capsule was placed east of and near the Doughboy Statue at the Marin Civic Center. The Marin County Supervisors were in charge of the ceremonies with P.M. Warren H. Williams representing Marin Lodge No. 191. http://www.marinmasoniclodge.org/history.html

It was during that year that President Andrew Johnson was acquitted during impeachment proceedings.  The Civil War had ended and President Lincoln had been assassinated only three years before. It was a year after the purchase of Alaska from Russia. In California, the gold rush fever was subsiding while in San Francisco Brother Joshua Norton, the self proclaimed “Emperor of the United States,” continued to “reign” over his admiring subjects. Across the bay in Oakland, another fine institution was founded that year — The University of California.

Marin County was chiefly agricultural and residential with taxable property estimated at a value of $2,240,000.00 while San Rafael was a village with a census record of 606 residents and an estimated transient population of around 200. By 1871 the population of San Rafael had grown to 876, a Hook and Ladder Company had been organized; gas (lighting) service had begun (WHY< HOW??). The following year in 1893 San Rafael became a city – “Fifth Class” – and now had a population of 3,300

http://www.marinmasoniclodge.org/history.html

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Stanford U founded by FREEMASONs

Leland Stanford was an active freemason[38] from 1850 to 1855, joining the Prometheus Lodge No. 17 in Port Washington, Wisconsin. After moving west, he became a member of the Michigan City Lodge No. 47 in Michigan Bluff, California.[39] He was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in California.

Amasa Leland Stanford (March 9, 1824 – June 21, 1893) was an American industrialist and politician. He was the founder (with his wife, Jane) of Stanford University.[1] Migrating to California from New York at the time of the Gold Rush, he became a successful merchant and wholesaler, and continued to build his business empire. He spent one two-year term as Governor of California after his election in 1861, and later eight years as a United States Senator. As president of Central Pacific Railroad, beginning in 1861, and later Southern Pacific, he had tremendous power in the region and a lasting impact on California. He is widely considered a robber baro

In 1856, he met with other Whig politicians in Sacramento on April 30 to organize the California Republican Party at its first state convention. He was chosen as a delegate to the Republican Party convention that selected US presidential electors in both 1856 and 1860. Stanford was defeated in his 1857 bid for California state treasurer, and his 1859 bid for the office of governor of California. In 1860, he was named a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago but did not attend. He was elected governor in a second campaign in 1861.[9]

He was the eighth Governor of California, serving from January 1862 to December 1863, and the first Republican governor. Due to the Great Flood of 1862, the governor was said to have needed to row in a boat to his own inauguration. A large, slow-speaking man who always read from a prepared text, he impressed his listeners as being more sincere than a glib, extemporaneous speaker.[26][27]

The Stanfords donated approximately 40 million United States Dollars[36] (equivalent to $1,152,000,000 today) to develop the university, which held its opening exercises on October 1, 1891 and was intended for agricultural studies. Its first student, admitted to Encina Hall that day, was Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st US President. The wealth of the Stanford family during the late 19th century is estimated at about $50 million (equivalent to $1,555,000,000 today).

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The series of massacres, battles, and wars between the United States and the indigenous peoples of California lasting from 1850 to 1880 is referred to as the California Indian Wars. When in 1846 the Applegate Trail cut through the Modoc territory, the migrants and their livestock damaged the ecosystem that the locals were dependent on.

During the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th century, the government attempted to force the indigenous peoples to break the ties with their native culture and tribalism and assimilate with the white society

Some anthropologists insist that the indigenous resistance is often used to camouflage genocide in colonial history. For instance, the final stage of the Modoc Campaign was triggered when Modoc men led by Kintpuash (AKA Captain Jack) murdered General Canby at the peace tent in 1873. However, it’s not widely known that between 1851 and 1872 the Modoc population decreased by 75 to 88% as a result of seven anti-Modoc campaigns started by the whites.[14]:95 There is evidence that the first massacre of the Modocs by the white men possibly happened as early as 1840.

  In California, the federal government established such forms of education as the reservation day schools and American Indian boarding schools. Some public schools would allow Indians to attend as well. Poor ventilation and nutrition (due to limited funding), and diseases were typical problems at schools for American Indians. In addition to that, most parents disagreed with the idea of their children being raised as whites: at boarding schools, the students were forced to wear European style clothes and haircuts, were given European names, and were strictly forbidden to speak indigenous languages. The Native American community recognized the American Indian boarding schools to have oppressed their native culture and demanded the right for their children to access public schools. In 1935 the restrictions that forbid the Native Americans from attending public schools were officially removed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_California#Conflicts_and_genocide

The California Indian Wars were a series of massacres, wars, and battles between the United States Army (or often the California State Militia, especially during the early 1850s), and the Indigenous peoples of California. The wars lasted from 1850, immediately after Alta California, acquired during the Mexican–American War, became the state of California, to 1880 when the last minor military operation on the Colorado River ended the Calloway Affair of 1880.

  • Act for the Government and Protection of Indians, April 22, 1850.[1] Passed by the legislature of California, it allowed settlers to continue to the Californio practice of capturing and using Native people as forced workers. It also provided the basis for the enslavement and trafficking in Native American Native labor, particularly that of young women and children, which was carried on as a legal business enterprise. Raids on villages were made to supply the demand, the young women and children were carried off to be sold, the men and remaining people often being killed. This practice did much to destroy Native tribes during the California Gold Rush.[2]

A number of Pomo, primarily members living in the Big Valley area, had been enslaved, interned, and severely abused by settlers Andrew Kelsey (namesake of Kelsey Creek and Kelseyville, California) and Charles Stone.[4] Kelsey and Stone purchased cattle running free in Big Valley from Salvador Vallejo in 1847. They captured and impressed local Pomo to work as vaqueros (cowboys). They also forced them to build them a permanent shelter with promises for rations that were not kept. Because they made a residence there, their treatment of the Pomo was more brutal than had been Vallejo’s, though the massacred Pomos at Anderson Island might have argued that point. The people were eventually confined to a village surrounded by a stockade and were not allowed weapons or fishing implements. Families starved on the meager rations they provided, only four cups of wheat a day for a family. When one young man asked for more wheat for his sick mother, Stone reportedly killed him.[5] In the fall of 1849, Kelsey forced 50 Pomo men to work as laborers on a second gold-seeking expedition to the Placer gold fields. Kelsey became ill with malaria and sold the rations to other miners. The Pomo starved, and only one or two men returned alive.[6]

Stone and Kelsey regularly forced the Pomo parents to bring their daughters to them to be sexually abused. If they refused they were whipped mercilessly. A number of them died from that abuse. Both men indentured and abused t Pomo women. The starving Pomo became so desperate that

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendocino_Indian_Reservation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Island_massacre SMALL POX USED TO GENOCIDE NATIVES
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN!!

The population of Native California was reduced by 90% during the 19th century—from more than 200,000 in the early 19th century to approximately 15,000 at the end of the century, mostly due to disease.[3]:113 Epidemics swept through California Indian Country, such as the 1833 malaria epidemic.

San Diego 1832-33 Malaria epidemic kills many Indians. Secularization Act leads to closing of missions.
1837-39 Smallpox epidemic kills many Indians. Indians plunder San Diego back-country ranches.
https://sandiegohistory.org/archives/biographysubject/timeline/1800-1879/
Los Angeles As the bleak winter of 1862 dragged on into 1863, the isolated, ramshackle town of Los Angeles was visited by a terrifying scourge — smallpox.

With its telltale fever and disfiguring skin rash, the highly infectious disease jumped from adobe to adobe, killing more than 100 people and sickening hundreds of others. If those numbers don’t sound like much, remember L.A. had only 4,000 or so souls at the time and the outbreak wiped out half of its indigenous residents.

The city’s smallpox wagon, dubbed the ‘black Maria,’ was a frequent and disheartening sight as it rolled through the streets carrying victims to the city hospital, or ‘pesthouse,'” writes John W. Robinson in Los Angeles in Civil War Days 1860-1865.

https://laist.com/news/entertainment/los-angeles-smallpox-epidemics-1800-can-teach-us-about-covid-19-plague-history

As Europeans settled the New World, their diseases readily infected the native people, who had no previous exposure or immunity. Over 50 million perished of smallpox and other diseases after European contact; about 90% of the original population of the Americas. In the 1790s, back in England, British doctor Edward Jenner tested the idea that milkmaids infected with cowpox, a milder disease, were immune to smallpox. He proved it by inoculating a 9-year-old boy with cowpox and then exposing him to smallpox with no ill effect.

Although the Spanish did their best to screen those they sent to settle California, international travel remained a primary avenue for the spread of disease. The smallpox outbreak of 1828 was introduced by a foreign vessel that docked in San Francisco. Seven years later, smallpox appeared in Sitka, Alaska, the capital of Russian America, likely arriving on a ship from across the Pacific. What followed fits a pattern that has been noted since Roman times – epidemics begin in ports of entry and spread from there. Within a year, it had reached hundreds of miles north over much of modern-day Alaska and south into British territory around Puget Sound. The British managed to vaccinate people ahead of the outbreak and stalled the spread of the virus in the summer of 1837. Whatever efforts the Russians made, on the other hand, were not successful in containing it.

Smallpox soon arrived by Russian ship at Fort Ross. By then, California missions had been disbanded by the Mexican government. General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo had taken possession of the Sonoma mission property and established a military presence. In late 1837, before the virus was detected, he sent a cavalry unit led by corporal Ignacio Miramontes and accompanied by Indian auxiliaries, to Fort Ross to bring back supplies for the troops at Sonoma.

By the time he returned, Miramontes was already showing symptoms, as were his men. Having been vaccinated, Miramontes recovered in two months. But the disease was already spreading rapidly. Though Vallejo practiced “social distancing” by relocating his native laborers to a place a mile and a half away, they still perished “by the hundreds.” From there, smallpox cut a wide swath through the North Bay to Clear Lake and beyond. It was a terrifying time – hoping for a cure, many natives entered their sweathouses and then plunged into cold water. But it was no use.

Whole villages were struck down without a single survivor.

For years after, the bones of thousands “often left unburied, bleached the hills” of Sonoma and Napa counties. Chief Solano, Vallejo’s friend, estimated that his tribe, which had numbered in many thousands, was reduced to just 200 survivors. The death toll may have exceeded 90%, on par with other places in the Americas.

The epidemic in the North Bay continued into 1839. Pattie’s efforts 10 years earlier seem to have given some protection to those tribes to the south. According to Platon, most Mexicans were vaccinated and did not suffer the same fate as the indigenous people. Chief Solano, one of the few natives vaccinated by Vallejo, survived. No one knows why Vallejo never vaccinated his native laborers or native soldiers.

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