Sunday, November 28, 2010

A South Fork Indian

charlie two crows said...
I wonder what it was like to be a native american on the south fork in the 1800's. Charlie two crows.

Charlie Two Crows. First, I want to thank-you for all of the fine contributions that you have made to this blog. Then I will try to answer your question.

I want to say that I am no expert. The things that I know about the Indian people are only things that I can scratch up from my childhood memories. Tales that I’ve heard, that were related by the Indian people to the early whites, and history that has been gleaned by surmising. Some that I have learned through this blog.

The 1800’s were a period of great change for the South Fork of the Eel Indian. The Indians started off as people that had maybe only heard rumors about the white man, to being almost completely exterminated by the white man. The 1800’s completely changed the life of the local Native American.

The early 1800’s had tribes that were not yet exposed to the new world diseases. Their culture was intact and functioning. They hunted, fished, dug roots, picked plants, and gathered nuts and berries. They truly “lived off the land”. They moved about within their tribal spaces, hunting and gathering. In the summer the coastal tribes lived along the seashore. In the winter they lived inland in the coastal valleys, like the South Fork of the Eel River.

As all American Indians were, they were highly spiritual people. They believed that animals were directly connected to the people and the land. Many of their stories related how people and animals could change shapes and become the other person or animal. Many of the stories that I heard as a kid were about “Whiptali”, who was a deer-human. Whiptali was very smart, and very evil. He liked to kill men with his horns if he could. The stories goes that Whiptali didn’t like noise or water. And, the big one… he could be invisible! When Whiptali was after you, the only thing that you could do to ward him off is make a lot of noise or scare him off with water.

My Uncle tells a hunting story about when he was a kid. He and a local Indian kid were hunting deer out near Covelo, My uncle said that he heard all kinds of yelling and screaming. As he watched the Indian kid came running down the hill, making as much noise as he could, yelling and beating the brush with a stick. He ran down the hill and out into the creek. My uncle caught up with him and asked him what was wrong. He proclaimed, “Whiptali is after me!”. My uncle jumped in the creek after him and asked: “Where!!!”

I often thought about my uncle's close association with the Indian kids. When he was growing up he believed a lot of the old Indian Spirit stories, much as other children being raised in any other religion or culture, he adopted the culture of the people he was closely associated with. I viewed the Indian Spirits and the Biblical myths as much the same, something to ponder, and wonder where these stories came from. But, I never really believed in them.

Another Indian Spirit story that my uncle talked about was ChinHaHa. He was a bear/man spirit, and just like all of the other spirits he could be invisible. All of the Newcomers tell me that I have my tales mixed up, and this is entirely possible, but I remember ChinHaHa as being a bear. The newcomers tell me that the spirit ChinHaHa should be “the trickster”, the Coyote. The Bear Spirit was “The Grandfather Spirit”. But, I’m used to being told that I’m wrong, so I will tell it they way I remember it, and you can twist it however you will. ChinHaHa was the one that takes things right out from under your nose while you are using them. Sometimes they disappear forever and sometimes he puts them back. That bear follows me everywhere. He hides my keys, the wrenches that I’m using, and sometimes even takes my glasses. Sometimes he returns them as a bigger joke. He is a very funny bear!

So, the Indian people were very spiritual, before the white man came along to tell them that they were wrong. They put the Indian people in school, taught them the white mans language and religion. The whites even beat the Indian kids that tried to stick to their religion or practice their culture. I think that the way they treated the Indian religion, and language, has a lot to do with why I resent the practice of Christianity. Christianity leaves no room for spirit or wonder, they claim that all of the answers are it their Bible. I don’t see how anyone with a truly open mind could believe totally in the Bible. I really think that any religion would have to include respect and wonder for the world around us, much as the local South Fork Indians did.

As the white man’s diseases came, the Indians died off. Many died of diphtheria and smallpox. The Indians would die from as simple a disease as the flu. So many of the Indians died of white man diseases before they even saw a white man. The Indian tribes were almost decimated from disease. The remaining were killed off when the white man showed up. The first of the whites came for the gold. The rest came for the land and the timber. The Indians tried to fight back, but they never had a chance. Some of the white people protected them. Proof of that is that some Indians remain. That would never be true if someone hadn’t protected them.

The Indians of the South Fork were well known for fighting amongst themselves. There is a “Great Battleground” up on the ridge just north of Bell Springs. There were many legends about Indian battles up there. There were many artifacts that had to do with fighting recovered there, so the legends must be true. As with many stories that I heard as a child, a lot of things went unanswered. I don’t know what they fought about. The best explanation that I got was that “they were bitter enemies, and enemies fight”. What they fought about I can’t began to say, but they fought to the death over what appeared to be a “sport”.

Another battleground was on the Valley in Laytonville. My uncle used to tell a story about a great Indian battle that the Indian people fought. Many people were killed. When one side ran out of arrows they would stand out in the open and dodge the enemy’s arrows until they had enough to shoot back. It sound like great sport and bravery to me. Maybe the fighting was to prove their prowess as a fighter or to prove their bravery. I don’t know. I asked my uncle who won. I got the impression that it really didn’t make any difference who won, it was more about the fact that they fought and proved themselves in battle. He said that if rained they would just go home. “You can’t fight in the rain”.

I’ve heard many stories of the things that the Indian tribes would do to provoke a battle with another tribe of Indians. They would taunt them by killing one of the elders of the tribe that they were trying to pick a fight with, and play with the severed head in front of them. Strangely, as civilized as we think that we are today, we can still see the same sort of things go on. The gangs, drug culture and turf battles today are much the same.

But, of course the white man did show up and ruin everything for the Indian, and much is known about history from that time forward. The thing that still bothers me, is how little we really understand about the motivation of people back then. Jack Farley of Laytonville killed many Indians. It is claimed that he said, “A white man’s life is worth twenty Indians.” He had a string of scalps to prove it. Yet, he was revered and protected by the local Indian tribe. He said, when asked what he credited his long life to, that it was the care from the Indian people, and their medicine that gave him his long life. He killed them, and they treated him like a God! Go figure.

So, such was the life of The South Fork Indian in the 1800's. Do you think that you would have liked to have been to be one???

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Better late than never! I've been having trouble with "malware again".

Our good friend Olmanriver sent me some information pointing out the fallacy of the “Thanksgiving” event, and the relationship between the white man and the Indian. I don’t think that he intended for it to be a controversy, so I will not include it here unless he wants to. I found it very interesting. He also wished me a happy Thanksgiving.

I was going to reply to him, but it got so long I thought that I would just put it here as a post!
Happy thanksgiving to you also! Thank-you.

You forget that I know that there are usually many stories that lead away from a historical event. I usually say "at least five". Seldom will we be able to know the real truth of any event.

As to the fairness of the conduct between the Indian and the white guy, I think that I will plead "Human Nature". I don't think that "white guy" and "Indian" had much to do with anything. I sincerely think that what happened was simply human nature applying itself. You need look no further than Northern Ireland fighting England, the Protestants fighting the Catholics, the Muslims fighting the Jews, and the latest; North Korea and South Korea, to find that it is within human nature to be treacherous. Seldom does wars have to do with race… with a few rather remarkable exceptions.

If we refuse to take blame for what happened in the past, it becomes incumbent upon us to conduct ourselves in a civilized manner toward each other today. Therefore I sincerely wish each and everyone a peaceful and joyous thanksgiving in the manner that we have come to accept the day, and be truly thankful for our friends and relationships.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Bullshistory fish stories.

Okay, I’m way too busy for this, but I can’t resist a good fish story. Fish stories and my family go hand in hand. When we were all kids we were raised on lots of fish, deer and wild game. Some of it was even legal. All of these stories have origins before 1935.

Olmarnriver said... (paraphrase)
Ed Downing said the largest salmon he'd heard tell of was a ninety pounder ["caught by an Indian" ] out of Jackson Valley who promptly traded it for a sack of flour.

Oregon said:
Most likely a small sack of flour for a 90 lb. downstreamer.
who promptly traded it...

Then here’s the story I told:
Don't knock downstreamers, That's how we ended up in Garberville.

Seeing as how we are now telling fish stories, the Branscomb’s have a story about my, and Oregon's, great grandfather Ed Branscomb catching a fish in Ten Mile Creek in Laytonville. The creek ran by his house, about a hundred yards away. They used slip point spears to catch fish back then. NO, it wasn't legal, but the creek ran through the family ranch for miles in both directions, so it was hard to tell an old-timer that he couldn't fish in his own creek.

The spear has a barb that is attached to a rope, that barb slips off when stabbed into a fish. Typically you tie the other end of the rope around your wrist, so as you are fumbling to put down the spear shaft on the river bank, the fish doesn't get away.

Grampa saw a big fresh fish so he stabbed it. As he was putting the spear shaft away, the fish came to the end of the rope. They say that the rope came tight so hard and fast that it lifted grampa clear off his feet and into the water. The fish drug him through the pool and out the lower end. My grandfather Roy caught grampa Ed bumping through the riffle, and heading into the next hole.

They say that it took three of them to land it, and that Grampa was lucky that he had someone fishing with him or he might have ended up in the ocean.

The typical ironic ending to the story is that they didn't weight the damn fish, and weight is the first question that anybody asks. They do say that when they cut the head off, it completely fit a peach lug! The guess is about 60 lbs!

I don't know what is wrong with my family, but they never have an ending to their stories. My uncle Ben tells a story about a great Indian battle in the Laytonville valley. When asked who won... (Drumroll) Nobody won, they went home because it rained! Just don't expect big endings from my families history stories.

Then… as a I often do, I fact-checked my facts with my mother. She is a great source of facts about history, but, just like all of us, her memory adds her own twists to things. She is good on the things that were important to her, but crummy on the things that she wasn’t really involved in. I also remember that she traumatized my childhood by pointing out a different rock as “Black Bart Rock” every time we went to Ukiah. Laugh, but ALL the kids in the fifties had outlaw heroes. My was “Black Bart, the Gentleman Bandit, and PO8”. A really cool outlaw, but it frustrated me to no end to not really know which rock that he hid behind! Crap! I did not know where the “REAL black Bart rock was. Woe was me! The good news is that the new freeway took it out. It doesn’t bother me anymore!

Now back to my fact checking… Mom says that she remembers Grampa Roy using both hands to hold up a fish. It came up to his chin, but the tail was laying fully flat on the ground “laid out in front of him”. She said that “the fish was wider than he was”. She said that they did weight it, but the scale only went to 50 pounds and it hit the end with a thud when they tried to weigh it. She doesn’t remember the peach lug story, but she did say that a lug of peaches was much larger then, than now.

She went on to say that the fish might have been caught down by Leggett, but she is not really sure who or where it was caught. She said that she thought that grampa Roy caught the fish and that is was around 1935, he was fishing alone and almost got pulled in. She said that maybe it was two different fish, there were MANY large fish back in the 30's. The good news is that she distinctly remembers the fish.

Like I have often said, every South Fork of the Eel history stories have at least 5 versions.

I should also say that nobody ever tells a Laytonville fish story without invoking the name "Ed Downing" so there you have it. A South Fork of the Eel story with a beginning a middle and an end.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Philosphy kindergarten

I have often wondered why I like the old English authors and philosophers. It finally came to me that it was because they project the wisdom of the past in a language that I can understand. (Understand, with a little struggling.)

When reading things written in Old English, I like to take one line at a time and try to completely understand it, then I read the whole paragraph in place, then I read the whole story in context. That is the only way that I can understand Old English. If I don’t read it that way, I will often scan through it, think of it as gibberish, and move on, often missing valuable understanding.

In the post about “Indigenousity” I referred to the passing of the baton from one group of people to the next. I made reference to how I know that many people have been replaced by a new group. I mentioned the different languages, and where they came from as proof. I also mentioned different artifacts from Clovis being the same as found in a cave in France, more proof that people moved around and supplanted groups of people with their own people.

I gave anecdotal evidence that there were various races of people in America before the Indian people. I don’t see that as good or bad, simply that the indigenous people were replaced untold many times. There is much evidence that this is correct.

As a 5th generation resident of the South Fork of the Eel River, I know the pain of being replaced and supplanted by newcomers. I also know that it is the way of things. One generation of people replace the previous. Or, one kind of people replace the last kind. The last takeover was the Back-To-The-Landers that moved here and displaced, or at least took the place of the logger and rancher. I know that it is the natural way of human nature to do so. I’m not sure that an apology is even necessary, or in order… By either side. Such is life. We move past the things that we can’t change.

Now, what brings me to this philosophy, is that, as often happens when I’m writing, I get the feeling that this has all happened before. Not really a Déjà vu feeling, but more of a “knowing”.

John Doane (1572-1624) was on his death bed and contemplating the order of things. As he pondered his passing, in his need to understand, he came up with the following thoughts. In his writing he said; “any mans death diminishes me”. At my age, I know the truth in that. I have had so many people, that knew so much history, die, and leave me knowing that much of my source of history and knowledge died with that person. The dying takes away knowledge, and diminishes us all.

I have often said “I’m not a historian, but I know where the bodies are buried”. That is my reflection of the history that we have lost in the passing of the good-and-the-bad, the people and the stories. Plus, it has the obvious double-entendre of murder most foul to cover the truth, and hide the evidence. A deliciously deceptive phrase, much in the nature of the Eel River Valley. But “any mans death diminishes me”, as it diminishes us all.

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…”

Meaning that as painful as one mans passing may be, it is the nature of things to move on, and the old is replaced with the new. The “new” writes it’s own story, and somehow seems to reject the old, much to the agony of the old. However, we accept it, much as our children reject our standards and they form their own, somehow not worse than ours, but different. We turn the page, move forward, and leave the past in history.

“As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all”

The “Bell” calls not ONLY the preacher, but ALL of us... If there is anything that I ever meant this blog to be, is that it is for EVERYONE. I enjoy each and every comment made on this blog, because it adds to our collective consciousness. I don’t delete comments that should be deleted, because I think that It helps people see the world around them, and who lives in it. The thing that I have noticed, is that most everyone seems to “get it” when there is unfairness afoot.

The “Bell” that this blog rings is for everyone! I know myself, and many others, have gained an interest in history, and learned about history far beyond what a group of “non-historians” could have ever gained without it. Sadly, there are people out there with great history stories that don’t comment because they are too embarrassed to comment, or they are afraid that somebody will say they are wrong. That saddens me, because I never allow criticism on language, spelling, or concept on this blog. I will delete criticism of colloquial language instantly. I have seen too many good stories blown away by somebody correcting another’s language. Let me be an inspiration to you! As bad as I am, I still tell stories, and I am often wrong, but I tell the story the way I know it. I think that I’m even getting better because of it. (Not!) You could even start your story with “Here’s a new lie for you to pass on”.

We all gain from this blog, and to paraphrase a friend of mine. “You get out of this blog as much as you put into it. Participate”.

Now read the following Quote from John Doane, and see if it also reminds you of why we need each other:

This is a quotation from John Donne (1572-1631). It appears in Devotions upon emergent occasions and seuerall steps in my sicknes - Meditation XVII, 1624:

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Uncle Ben the fisherman.

Photo from Robin Shelley. Clipped from the (Laytonville) Leger.

This is what kind of fish were in the upper South Fork of the Eel River 31 years ago, almost to the day. My uncle Ben loved to fish, and he caught his share. This is not the largest fish he ever caught, but this was a large fish. The Sacramento River Pike Minnow have decimated the salmon. That and the late winter rainfall that we had in the past.

With the heavy and early rains that we have been having the last few years, I expect the salmon runs to come back. The early rains get the salmon up the river and past the sea lions that eat them in the mouth of the river. Good wet years produce abundant salmon.

Now if we could get permission from the fish and game to channel gravel mine the river, and plant willow and other riparian shrubs we could have a healthy river again.

Getting back to my uncle Ben, he was the repository of a great amount of old Laytonville history stories, some were even true!

Friday, November 12, 2010


In the last post, Olmanriver hinted at the fact that the white man might be wrong in his name for the “pepperwood”. The indigenous people that preceded the white man called the tree an “Aantcin.” Also in the last post, Spyrock related a tale about a tribe of white people that lived here before the darker skinned Indian people. The white people were called the Wa-Gas. They “left going north saying that they would return someday.”

What I’m getting at, is that there is so much about history that we don’t know, that it is hard to say, definitively, what anything might be called. Names change as people change. The latest wave of newcomers, "the-back-to-the-landers”, is evidence of what I say. They have their own names for everything. Some brought the names with them, from the place that they departed, and other names they have made up, because they can’t, or won’t, accept the local names. Such is life.

There has been wave, after wave, after wave of “newcomers” on the north coast. Change and conquest has always been a part of the Human Condition. Who’s to say who really belongs here, and who’s to say what things should really be called.

The other day I made the comment to a friend of mine, who came with the first wave of the-back-to-the-landers, that I hoped he didn’t take my banter about the “dratted newcomers” too seriously, that it was just my sense of humor about the situation, and to make it clear that I understood that the times are a changing’, and it was as unstoppable as time or tide. He said that he “fully got the humor” and understood that it was just a sign of my frustration at having to change. So if you are still offended that I curse the Dratted Newcomer… Gotcha!

I know, as most students of history know, that there has been many conquests, and name changes on the north coast. Ray Raphael and Freeman House made note in their book, “Two Peoples, One Place” that there was a tribe of people that lived here before the current Wiyot tribe. The Wiyots claimed that the indigenous people were not a very smart tribe of people. The story goes that they drove them off by dropping poop down the smoke holes of their dwellings. “They got mad and left.” I often wondered where they went.

The fact that the Wiyots didn’t think that the people that came before them were very smart was probably because they didn’t speak the same language. And, they called everything by the wrong names. They probably called the Aantcin tree an Ooohwho tree. Who knows what happened in pre-history. The only thing that we know for sure is what archeology tells us.

The cupuals, little holes chipped in rocks about 2.5 inches around, and 1.5 inches deep, are found all over the world. So, did they come from one common tribe, or is it just a natural instinct to make them?

The Clovis Point, made by knapping chert, obsidian, or flint, is found in Clovis New Mexico. The points are about 13,500 years old. They were used for spear points. The same identical points are found in the Solutre Cave in France. Not only are they similarly made points, but all of the other tools are the same as found in the Solutre Cave in France.

The Athabascan languge that the local Wailaki tribe speaks originates in upper central Canada. So we know that any Athabaskin language speaker is a “newcomer”. Also, at least 36 words are identical to the same words used in the Basque language, from the region north of France. How could that be a coincidence?

Many connections can be made to European ancestry. I feel that it is only fair to warn you that when you start trying to research ancient ancestry, most of the sites that you go to will be white supremacy crap. They are trying to prove that the white man was here first, therefore the Indian people should just go away. I don’t advocate the kind of thinking, in fact I find it highly objectionable. I don’t think that research trying to prove who is right, and who is wrong, is productive. The white people may very well have been first in America, and they were killed and driven off by the Indian people. Remember, the fact that the Indian people weren’t resistant to our diseases, and the fact that we had them seriously outnumbered, and outgunned, is the only reason we were able to take land away from them the last time that the whites showed up. The Indians were very skilled fighters.

The carvings on the rocks in Laytonville are the same as found in England and Ireland. There is much evidence that the American natives came from Europe. The north coast and Inuit tribes probably came from Asia, some say the South Pacific. The rock carvings in central America depict the round head, broad nose, and full lips of the African natives. At any rate, we would be hard pressed to say who belongs here now.
I was born poor and have been completely broke twice in my life. I can fairly say that my wife and I worked for everything that we have, (which isn’t much). It kind of bothers me when people say that this land belongs to the Indian people. The old Indians used to say that nobody owns the land any more than you own your mother or your father. The land is what we came from, and back to which we will go. Ownership is not that important. things whatever you need to... to get your point across.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was over at Eric Kirks blog nosing around, and he has just done another “Food Post”. I've been wanting to tell him that my wife and I had lunch at Patrona's in Ukiah. (Located across the street from the north west corner of the Mendocino courthouse.) It was every bit as good as he and Ed Denson said it was. I had a grilled Ahi Tuna sandwich with aioli sauce and bib lettuce, with a side of spring salad. My wife had something that she said was delicious, I didn’t pay much attention because it was all veggies. The food was outstanding, the service was good, and, compared to Garberville,… swiftly delivered.

But, the thing that popped right out at me was their handcrafted furniture. I noticed immediately that it was pepperwood. Pepperwood is one of the prettiest grained woods that you will ever see. It is a light ginger colored wood with dark brown to charcoal streaks in it. The only problem with pepperwood is that it can never truly be tamed. It can be cured for years, then as soon as it is made into something it warps and curls and almost crawls away. If you try to brace or contain it, it will only crack and end check.

Pepperwood is so truly beautiful that I have always made things out of it with a high gloss, clear finish, to show off the wood. I’ve never tried to make anything large like a table, because I knew that it would only warp. It makes great bowls, jewelry boxes, and any SMALL item that won’t show the warpage.

As soon as I walked in, and recognized the wood, I also recognized the genius of the person that made the tables. Instead of trying to make a perfect, and flat finish, he went with the crude beauty of the wood. The wood appears to still have circular saw-blade cut marks in the wood. He made cross hatch marks across the blade marks so it appears that the back side of the saw blade cross hatched the lumber. It appeared to have been done with a sander rather than a saw blade because the wood ended up smooth, rather than slivered. The cross hatch marks are very subtle, but still highly visible. Then the whole table was sanded to a very smooth finish, lumps bumps warps and all. He oiled it with a light oil that sealed the wood with a light satin sheen. WOW! Why didn’t I think of that? Genius.

The above is a piece of pepperwood that I made a plaque for my wife from. I had such good cooperation from the club members, the year that I was president of Rotary, that I made them all plaques. I believe that most of them probably ended up as firewood, but I still see a few around. I made my wife one just for putting up with me. The wood is deep root-beer colored. The bottom looks to me like a sun and the rays away from it look like fire. The top looks like a brilliant sunset. It is very three dimensional in real life. The photo really doesn’t do it justice. But maybe I’m just prejudiced because I like pepperwood so much. I cut the pepperwood tree for firewood, but it had such beauty that I couldn’t bring myself to simply burn it.

I asked the owner of Patrona's what Kind of wood it was… but of course, I already knew. He said that it “is Pepperwood”. I knew instantly that he was a “Homey”. Only people that were raised on the north coast call it “Pepperwood”. The newcomers call it “Bay, Laurel, Oak, or Myrtlewood”. Cripes folks… The north coast of the United States is the only place in the whole wide world that this stuff grows... called what it has been called by the locals for years! Pepperwood! (It’s even more rare than Redwood) (but don’t let that get out or we will have Idiots trying to have it declared an endangered species.)

I digress… anyway, when he called one of my favorite trees “Pepperwood” I had to fight back the tears. I asked him how he came across the wood. He said that he had cut it for firewood, but couldn't bring himself to burn it… Well now I’m really choking back the tears. I complimented him on his knowledge of north coast timber, and his excellent taste. And, I thanked him for showing me how to let my wood be free and still be beautiful.

I hope this rain lasts long enough to build a butterflied Pepperwood coffee table. I have had the wood curing in my garage for thirty years, now I finally know what to do with it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Laytonville Middletons and the Arizona Middletons are connected again.

So many of the old family stories keep popping up on this blogsite. When I was a small child, in Laytonville California about 1951, my great Grandmother Laura (Lockhart) Middleton lived on my Grandmother Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb’s ranch in a small house by the highway. Her husband, Lafayette Middleton, had already died. There was a man by the name of Fred Grimes lived in the same house. I often wondered who “Fred Grimes” was. I just assumed that it was one of those questions that little kids weren’t supposed to ask. Now, I began to hear stories about how the Grimes and the Middletons have long history together.

The thing that I remember about Fred grimes, is that he had a cleft pallet and a slightly deformed upper lip. Not so bad as to be a deformation, but enough that it was noticeable. He pronounced his name as “Thread”, which I would repeat, and not be able to understand his frustration. I would pronounce it as carefully as I could, but he would only get more frustrated. My mother had to drag me aside and tell me that, “no matter what he said his name is, just call him Fred, and nothing else.” I thought that must be another one of those things that kids just don’t understand.

I just asked my mother a few minutes ago about Fred, and she told me he had a brother called “Doc” Grimes, he also had a Cleft Pallet. She thinks that one was a “Cicero” and there was another Grimes that didn’t have a cleft pallet. The three brothers lived in Laytonville.

Now, the stories that I am starting to hear about the Middletons and the Grimes are starting to sound like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. I also understand that there are many old stories about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being around Laytonville and especially the Covelo area. However, I'm not making a connection to that history, but just pointing out the "outlaw" similarities here.

From Robert Flowers:
I too have heard the "Lafayette/crazy" family legend, but it refered to family inlaws (outlaws?) Lafayette and Royal (Cicero) Grimes, who robbed the packtrain carrying the Mack Mine payroll at "the Big Rock" at 14 mile Wash on Sunday, August 20, 1882. Unfortunately, they also killed Andy Hall (who was with Powell at the Grand Canyon Expedition) and the only doctor of medicine in Miami, Dr Vail (who had just donated a foot pumped reed Organ to the local church (--ha, he was an organ donar back in 1882!). Lafayette Grimes and Hawley were lynched at gunpoint by an angry mob and hanged from a Sycamore tree growing in the middle of Main Street in Beautiful downtown Globe (at that time Main Street was mostly in an arroyo, and everything tended to wash away every time it rained). It was Cicero Grimes, nicknamed "Royal" who was sentenced to 21 years in the Yuma Territorial prison, but was sent to a Mental Institution in San Francisco after telling the Warden he "heard voices in his head". From San Francisco, he escaped from an unlocked upper story window by sliding down bed sheets tied together (which he obtained while working in the facility laundry). He is said to have made his way to Oregon and rejoined his Family, using the name Lafayette Middleton for the rest of his life, to the possible discredit of the real person of that name. Read story here
Bob Flowers
My mother tells a story about a Middleton, "who she thinks was "Granville", that might have killed somebody and he hid out in the hills of Laytonville. He also pretended that he was crazy. Connection???

Do you suppose that those "dratted Grimes" all changed into "Middletons". (Just more romantic speculation, and wild assumptions)

I know that my Great Grandfather Layfayette Middleton was a varifiable life-long local resident and worked at running a redwood split-stuff camp his whole life. So he must have been the "real Layfayette Middleton." I had never heard about the "Cicero 'Royal' Grimes Layfayette Middleton", but I think that My mother might know more than I do.

Now, onto more Arizona Middleton History,
From Robert A. Flowers:
Enjoyed the Middleton history website, especially since William and Miriam are my GGGgrandparents also.  I own a few acres of horse pasture in Young, Az about 7.5 miles West as the crow flys over Gentry Mesa from the old family cabin at Middleton Mesa on Wilson Creek, a tributary of Canyon Creek & literally bordering the White Mountain Apache Reservation within several hundred feet.  The Middleton cabin site is still accessible today, but exists only as a ruin, having burned in the 1920's.  Its visible ground layout nonetheless conforms to the stories exactly.  The stone fireplace is a work of art, having used no mortar, and the deep hand-dug stone-lined well on the flat by the creek says much about the profitability of the family butter business, as it was paid for by the proceeds of Miriam's butter, dug by miners at full wages.  There is a road to within a quarter mile of the ruins,  which are about 2 miles from the Nail Ranch and 1-1/2 miles from the Flying V (formerly Vosberg).  I have taken photos (film) of the area, which is quite green for Arizona, and I have stood where Uncle Henry (William Henry Middleton) was standing when he was shot by the Apaches. I wish to add that he was later killed during the Pleasant Valley Range War, while he was riding for the Grahams, though the rest of the family indeed did not take sides or talk about it much.  He is buried in the Young community Cemetery between 2 Grahams shot within 30 days of himself, during the most violent month of the feud.  The decayed wood marker was replaced in the 1920's with the present stone tablet paid for by a ladies historical society in Globe, which gives his name as "Harry Midleton", but with correct dates, and he is locally honored every year during "Pioneer days" events.  The Henry in the "middletonfrank" obituary attachment is presumably Frank's brother-in-law, Henry Price, although it probably helped calm the water during the feud by placing "Henry Middleton" out of Arizona Territory altogether.
Despite it never being mentioned in the Range War History, I have always pondered whether the Middleton cattle were at the heart of the Pleasant Valley Range War.  When Stinson's ranch boss John Gilleland drew on the Tewksbury's at the Middleton ranch a year after they sold to Mr. Vosberg (who by then was partnered with Edwin Tewksbury), it is generally agreed Gilleland had just come past the corral, and what he saw was what set him off.  Cowboys are apt to do most anything, seldom have cool heads, and the ranch boss got to be boss by beating every man at the ranch in a fist fight!  Plus he had been drinking from a flask all morning.  The Middletons had driven 50 head of Scottish highland red cows (Devons, the premier milk cow of their day) from San Francisco to Arizona, selling one troublesome young bull to a rancher in San Bernardino, California and arriving with the rest.  They bred reliably, and when the family sold the ranch, the Stinson's, the Grahams, and the Tewksbury's all maintained they owned Scottish reds along with their other cattle.  They probably did, but all Scottish highland reds look pretty much alike, especially when they are all branded with a Middleton brand...  As they say, the rest is history, and tales of over-branding.  For good reason the Middleton's certainly wouldn't be the ones to bring it up..  For a fact, every cow brand in Arizona Territory registered up to the feud could be overbranded on a Stinson, including the "tumbled" Hashknife, newly arrived from Texas!, and for years the opposing factions shot first and asked questions later (and it was a very small valley!)  The postmistress changed that years later, telling everyone that if they expected their mail, they had better wave instead of shoot. (To this day, every car passing by in the opposite direction on the road in Young, Arizona will wave at you as you go by, and we could all learn from that.)
Respectfully Yours
Bob Flowers
Photos By Robert A. Flowers

The Obituary of Frank Middleton:
Frank Middleton
Arizona Silver Belt
May 14, 1896

The distressing news was received by telegram last Saturday
that Frank Middleton had been killed that day, May 9, by a
saw at the saw mill owned and operated by the deceased and
his brohter Henry, at Chiwankum Kittitas County, Wash. 
Particulars of the dreadful accident are expected by letter
written a few days.  The announcement was a severe shock to the
relatives in Globe and Mrs. Miram Middleton, mother of the
deceased, is prostrated with grief.

Frank Middleton was the eldest of nine children, all of whom,
except Henry, reside here. He was 43 years of age.  Frank was
for many years a resident of Globe and was married here to the
eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. N.H. Price, who, with four
children, survives him.  The family left Globe in 1883 and
went to Flagstaff where they remained four or five years,
going thence to Washington where they have since resided.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alabama Indian artifact

Sometimes it pays for me to have my email address on this blogsite. The other day I got the following photos and email from a man that has some property in Alabama. I asked for his permission to post them here and he gave me his okay.

I saw on your website as I was browsing today your email to send any pics to.

I found this years ago and wondered what it was. Tool of sorts? I came across your website and remembered I had some pics of my finding on my PC from years ago. I can get better pictures of it, but from these you can see the groove that runs don the entire piece. The other side is like a bowl and there is a notch on one side. Also there are what looks like cut marks to the right of the groove. Along with the picture I have some arrowheads I found along with it. I found these in Lay Lake in Shelby county Alabama. Any explanation on what this is would be greatly appreciated.


I replied:

Can I make your letter and photos into a post? The little tool is very unique, but I'm sure that some of my friends will have and explanation of what it was used for.

Thank-you for sharing this with me!

Sure thing Ernie. I took some pictures and put them in a compressed Zip file. I took these pictures yesterday. Not the most clear still but I think it is good enough. I sure hope someone has an idea. Thanks for the help


The first photos were the best, so I posted them below.
Some of the things that the Indian people did with what nature provided them is just amazing to me.

What is it???