Humboldt Co., CAGenWeb    


Humboldt County, California
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Attention Genealogists: Judy G. Russell, the Legal Genealogist, will be giving an all day seminar in Santa Rosa on 16 April at the Finley Center. For more information please contact the Sonoma County Historical Society, or see the seminar announcement or the registration form.

Brief History of Humboldt County

Humboldt County sits approximately 200 miles north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast on Hwy 101. Eureka, the county seat, is 278 miles north of San Francisco and 466 miles south of Portland, Oregon. The county encompasses 2.3 million acres, eighty percent of which is timber land and recreation areas. The county is mostly mountainous, except for the level plain that surroundsHumboldt Bay. Elevations run from sea level to 6,934 feet. Located within the county boundaries are 10 state parks, 16 county parks and beaches, recreational areas and reserves, and portions of the National Park and National Forest.

Humboldt County was incorporated on 
May 12, 1853. It's County seat, Eureka, was created on that same date. The county derived its name from Humboldt Bay which was entered by a sea otter party in 1806, but was not rediscovered until 1849. In 1850, Douglas Ottinger and Hans Buhne entered the bay, naming it Humboldt in honor of the great naturalist and world explorer.

And from the Humboldt Wiki:

Humboldt County is a county in the U.S. state of California, located on the far North Coast 200 miles north of San Francisco. In 2008, its population was estimated to be about 129,000. Its primary population centers of Eureka, the county seat, and the smaller college town of Arcata, home to Humboldt State University, are located adjacent to Humboldt Bay, California's second largest natural bay.[2]Area cities and towns are known for hundreds of ornate examples of Victorian architecture.

Humboldt is a densely forested, mountainous, and rural county situated along the Pacific coast in Northern California's rugged Coast (Mountain) Ranges. With nearly 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of combined public and private forest in production, Humboldt County accounts for twenty percent of the total forest production for all of California.[3] The county contains over forty percent of all remaining old growth Coast Redwood forests,[4] the vast majority of which is protected or strictly conserved within dozens of national, state, and local forests and parks, totaling approximately 680,000 acres (over 1,000 square miles).[5]


The Formation of Humboldt County

Humboldt County was formed in 1853 from the coastal section of Trinity County, the rapid settlement of that part making it necessary. The county seats have been Uniontown, now Arcata, 1853, and Eureka since 1856.

Humboldt Bay on which Eureka is situated was first discovered in 1806. The American crew from the ship O'Cain of the Russian American Company headed by Captain Jonothan Winship in search of sea-otter discovered its obscure entrance. Later the O'Cain sailed into the bay and dropped anchor opposite to where Eureka now stands. Because of the many Indian villages on the shores of the bay the party named it "Indian Bay".

After the discovery of gold in California there were gold mines operated on streams flowing west in Trinity and Siskiyou Counties. Hauling supplies overland was both tedious and expensive so several expeditions were fitted out in San Francisco in the hopes of discovering a coastwise connection with the mines. One of these expeditions under the command of Captain Douglass Ottinger of the "Laura Virginia" rediscovered the entrance to the bay in 1850 and on the following day, April 9, 1850 two small boats were launched and went over the bar. Humboldt point seemed the most central location so here "Humboldt City" was founded, named for the naturalist and explorer Baron von Humboldt. The same year Eureka was founded on Humboldt Bay about three miles from the entrance.

Eureka could be reached from the outside world by overland stage from San Francisco. It took three days in summer and four in winter; there were also two steamship lines, but most people preferred the overland route as the entrance to the bay was dangerous and there was many a disaster suffered by ships "crossing the bar". Mail came by pony express whenever the roads did not permit the stage to travel.

In 1852-53 Fort Humboldt was established on Humboldt Heights, a high bluff about a quarter of a mile back from the bay. This was established to afford protection from Indians. Captain Ulysses S Grant served here from October, 1853 to April, 1854.

There was no courthouse until the move to Eureka. The first Courthouse was of brick, but we do not find any record of the dat it was built nor any description of it. The first section of an elaborate Courthouse was built in 1885-86; the second section in 1886; the third in 1887. This third section had statues on the roof, Minerva on the extreme top of the tower, four Justices, two Flora, Goddess of Flowers and Gardens, two Ceres, Goddess of Corn, two Fortunio, Goddess of Chance, two Juno, Goddess of Marriage and Birth. These statues were made of zinc, coated with heavy gray paint and sprayed with gray colored sand to give the appearance of stone. The fourth section built in 1888 added nothing to the exterior of the building but provided for the finishing of the interior, plumbing fixtures, stairways, heating plant, radiators, window frames, tiling floors, painting and all the work necessary to have the building ready for occupancy. The clock was added in 1893. In 1950 the tower had to be removed for safety.

Often a county or a county seat has a personage or a building in it which, while not directly connected with the Courthouse, does add to the total picture and for that reason should be included. This is true of a house in Eureka. There is in that city a famous Victorian house, pictured in about every book on Victorian houses that was ever published. It was built by William Carson of the Dolbeer-Carson Lumber Company. In 1885 the lumber business was going through a period of depression and William Carson was hard put to find employment for his men for whom he felt responsible. The decided to build a new home, "a mansion that would represent something of the dignity, the grandeur and the character of the redwood country, a mansion, moreover, that would be a credit to the city on Humboldt Bay, which he and his family had helped to build."

The house is solidly built, each wall, inside and out is supported by a separate foundation, the entire outline of the framework can be seen in the basement. There are three stories and a full basement. Its eighteen rooms include besides the usual compliment of rooms a large ballroom on the top floor as well as a billiard room. The exterior of the house is redwood with fir timbering, the interior of redwood, oak, Philippine mahogany and Primavera wood from South America. For this last Carson sent one of his ships to bring back a cargo of 97,000 feet. This wood was widely used in the interior, each piece elaborately carved. The house also has many stained glass windows. There are tow massive front doors, each of which has a stained glass panel with life sized figures from Shakespearean drama. There are two onyx fire places in the house, light in color, almost flesh color, partially translucent. According to legend the onyx came from Mexico. The garden of the house covers two city blocks.

William Carson lived in the house until his death in 1912, then J M "Milton" Carson and his family lived there, he dying in 1941 and Mrs Carson in 1944. After that the house was carefully maintained by M and Mrs La Boteaux. Today it is the home of the Ingomar Club, and organization of Humboldt business and professional men whose principal purpose is to retain and maintain the house.

Sources: The following sent by the County Clerk:
"Early History of Eureka," prepared by Eureka Chamber of Commerce and Humboldt Board of Trade.
"The Carson Mansion." Distributed by Eureka Chamber of Commerce and Humboldt Board of Trade taken from Humboldt Times, March 12 1950.
"The Construction of Humboldt County Courthouse at Eureka, California." 1883-1889. Howard B Melendy. January 1953 for Humboldt County Centennial.

Counties and Courthouses of California: A Survey 
The Historical Activities Committee 
The National Society of Colonial Dames of America
Resident in the State of California

Historical Activities Committee:
Mrs Sherman Rogers, Hall, Jr
Mrs George Storm Hauck
Mrs Bullard Nugent
Mrs Donald Rex Tallman
Mrs Slocum Wilson
Mrs Frederick Mewborn Fisk, Chairman

 Baron Alexander von Humboldt.

Baron Alexander von Humboldt.


Humboldt County Resources

Humboldt County - Recorder / Clerk's Office

 USGW - Humboldt Co., Archives

Humboldt County Historical Society

LDS ~ Family Search

Search for Living Persons:

Zaba Search

California Birth Index Lookup ~ Fill in the Form

California Vital Records - FamilyTree Legends

Social Security Death Master File - Another Version

"Sorted by Name" - Genealogical Database

"The Espy Files" ~ Executions in the USA

Note: California Records located on Pages 37-56 of the 'State Sort' ~ Dates 1778-2002

Search California Mission Records!

The Huntington Library along with Sponsors support the "Early California Population Project"

Note: Be sure to register: There are digital images of the original records for the California Missions

California Maps ~ Humboldt State University Library
This link is a wonderful resource, it is chock full of historic California Maps, many of which are "topos".
California Formation Maps

Perry~Castenada Library ~ Maps

Getty Thesaurus ~ Geographical Locator

                                  Search California Digital Newspapers:
                                                Humboldt County

"What's New"
Free Census Records
Indexes & Images

Humboldt County Vital Records
Marriages - 1893-1931
These Vital Records are located on the USGW Servers

Catholic Church

Adventist Church

Congregational Church

Danish Lutheran Church Parsonage

German Lutheran Church

Home Parlor Weddings

St Mary's Episcopal Church


"Davis' Commercial Encyclopedia of the Pacific Northwest" California Nevada, Utah, Arizona.

Edited and published by Ellis A. Davis Berkeley Calif

Copyrighted by Ellis A. Davis

1911 Berkeley Calif

Sally has generously donated a batch of photos from this great old book, my research indicates that the book is rare and not generally available. There are Biographical Sketches included in the Chapters, Sally is willing to do lookups. Please contact her for more information about folks listed in the Index.

Included is information on: California Public School Systems, Horticulture, Topography and Agriculture, Mining Industry, Lumber Industry, Conservation and a lot of pictures of early California.

Bios of the "Men of California", "Merchants", "The bench and the bar", "Architects", "Engineers", "Contractors", Real Estate", "Men of Insurance" and "Bankers".


"The Fine Print"
The CAGW Administrative Team:
State Coordinator: Martha A Crosley Graham
Assistant State Coordinators: Claire Martin, Joy Fisher & Jeannette Harper

Online Continuously Since 1996

All materials, images, sounds and data contained herein are not to be copied or downloaded for purposes of duplication, distribution, or publishing without the express written permission of The Humboldt County Coordinator. Any and all future data which is contributed to this project will be returned to the donor upon request.

This web page is maintained on behalf of the California portion of The USGenWeb Project and is paid for by financial Supporters.  Although believed to be correct as presented, if you have corrections, changes, additions, or find that any links provided on this page are not functioning properly, please contact the webmaster for prompt attention.

Disclaimer  ~ Site Updated: 24 October 2015