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Fears lead to massacre

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

Tension between white settlers and local Indian tribes erupted in violence during 1854-55 when 30 natives were slaughtered on the banks of Lake Earl.

The killings were in part due to the retaliation of the death of a white farmer, A. French, who was allegedly murdered by a Yurok tribesman.

In 1854, French had gone out with a hunting party and never returned. His body was later found under a log and parts of his body was eaten by animals.

The settlers blamed a Yurok named Black Mow, his son Jim and a Chetco Indian, Narpa in the slaying of French. An eight man group of Klamath Mounted Rangers was formed to catch the suspected murderers.

The Rangers were formed earlier that year, on April 27, as a defense unit to protect white settlers from hostile Indians in the area. It was comprised of 66 men. Henry Kennedy was the company's first lieutenant, and the one charged in finding Black Mow and his alleged accomplices.

After Kennedy and his posse found Black Mow, Jim and Narpa, the three were tried, found guilty and subsequently hanged on Battery Point.

However, retaliation for French's death continued.

Residents of the Smith River Valley feared revenge from local Indians for the execution of Black Mow, Jim and Narpa. Their paranoia led to the surveillance of Tolowa rancheria at Yontocket, where surveyors found Yurok, Rogue River and Chetco Indians in addition to the Tolowa.

This, along with the discovery of "secret trails," raised the whites' suspicions.

On Jan. 1, 1855, the Smith River settlers, the Klamath Mounted Rangers and the Coast Rangers – a volunteer calvary company similar to the Klamath rangers – attacked the Indians, leaving 30 dead.

 


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