Humboldt Volunteers

The Humboldt Volunteers, or Humboldt Dragoons, were a militia company formed by residents of the Eel River Valley at Hydesville, Humboldt County, California in early February 1860. Seaman Wright was elected Captain and E. D. Holland, First Lieutenant of this unit. Part of the unit included: James D Henry Brown and Henry P Larabee (pictured below). This company had several clashes with bands of Indians in the Eel River Valley, during February 1860. They were said to have been the perpetrators of the Indian Island Massacre, on the night of February 26, 1860. They were also responsible for attacks on several other sites around the Bay and on the Eel River. News of these massacres brought a storm of criticism that compelled the Humboldt Volunteers to disband in the later part of 1860.

Picture of James D. Henry Brown

Here is a photo of James D. Henry Brown who was named by those in the Wiyot tribe as one of the main perpetrators and leaders responsible for the Indian Island Massacre on Tuluwat Island. Historian Martha Roscoe later determined this to be true, writing that while Brown was ranching in the Kneeland area (a few miles East of Eureka), and he reportedly “tried to run everyone [Natives] out and was said to have scalped people in order to blame it on the Indians.”

Picture of Austin Wiley

Here is a picture of Austin Wiley, the second owner of the Humboldt Times, a newspaper regularly published in 1860. Wiley preached for the "removal or extermination" of the Natives within the area and frequently posted articles offering bounties for their deaths within the newspaper. Ironically, he was later named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California. He once said "we have long foreseen the present state of things and have been well satisfied, and so expressed it repeatedly, that it could be averted by placing the Indians on the Reservations or by extermination: in other words, by removing them from the range they now inhabit, either alive or dead."


Photo of Henry M. Black
Here is a photo of Captain Henry M. Black, the man put in charge of Fort Humboldt after the Indian Island massacre. Black was one of the main voices in support of the removal and mandatory relocation of Natives. He also revived the order "that all Indian men taken in battle shall be hung at once", and bragged that his troops had killed "perhaps 100 people". At times, Black had as many as 500 prisoners at Fort Humboldt.



Another perpetrator who has no photos available is Henry P. Larrabee. He was a local gold miner and ranch owner who is often identified as the main perpetrator of the Indian Island massacre, along with others in the Humboldt Volunteers organization. He is widely believed to have been an instigator and among the killers in the Indian Island Massacre, alongside Sergeant Charles A.D. Huestis, Private George W. Huestis, Private Wallace M. Hagan and James D. Henry Brown. Larrabee was notorious as being a killer of Indians, having once bragged that he killed more than 60 Indian children with a hatchet. He served as a corporal in the Volunteer Guides during the Bald Hills War. His name is quite famous around Humboldt County, and numerous sites have been named after him, including Larrabee Valley and Larrabee Creek.