Placerville Parlor N.D.G.W.
Will name Mountain Peak.


The Mt. Lassen Geographical Research Society, having been given the authority by the government to name the unnamed peaks, decided to carry on a contest among the Native Daughters of the Golden west and allow those parlors to name peaks that contributed the best letters giving incidents in the early life of the state where Indians were one of the problems of the pioneers.

In reply to the letters of the Geographical research Society Mrs. Mary Swansborough wrote a letter the result was the awarding to Marguerite Parlor No. 12 of Placerville the privilege of naming Peak in the Mt. Lassen District.

The following is Mrs. Mary Swansborough's contribution.


A Narrative of the Pioneer Indians of El Dorado Co.


Bible students tell us that the Digger Indians of California are one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. They have never been able to tell us how they landed in California from Egypt but there were hundreds of them here when the white man came in the gold rush of 1848 and 1849. We cannot judge them by the handful that is left now. They fought to the best of their ability to keep their land and to keep their tribes from mixing with the whites.

My father, William Toombs was in one war with them in 1853 on the north side of the American River near the mouth of Silver Creek. And his partner, Mr. Courier, who crossed the plains with him was killed and another man wounded. They had to carry them up the sides of the bluffs through a shower of spears and arrows that came from where the Indians were ambushed. One incident told me by my mother, showed how strong was the antagonism of the Indians for the whites. About two miles from where I was born on Texas Hill in 1855, was a camp of about three hundred Indians, in the camp was a young girl, the daughter of one of the head men. A young miner fell in love with her and she with him but the tribe would not stand for them getting married. They drove him away time after time and at last shut the girl up. The chief called a council of the head men and they told her she must give him up or be put to death, but the Indian maiden loved the white man and would not give him up so they told her she must be burned at the stake and they shut her up again. One day Mother said she heard a horse gallop to the house and then she opened the door the young man put the girl in her arms saying "Mrs. Toombs please keep this girl for me until I call for her", and rode away. Mother put the girl in the bedroom when the Indians swept past, warriors first then the old men and squaws. Soon the squaws came back and one looked into the bedroom but the girl had disappeared. She had pulled the bed out from the wall a little and squeezed herself in between the wall and the bed and smoothed the covers over herself and was lying there shaking with fear. Mother kept her hid for two days and then the young man came for her. Mother would not give her up until he gave his solemn promise that he would make her his legal wife and doubtless some of their descendants are among our most respected citizens.

The first chieftain that I remember seeing was in 1867, old Yahoe, a stately oil Umbrra. He claimed to be over a hundred years old and told us that when he was a boy it did not rain for three moons, of years. The game nearly all starved to death and lots of the Indians. The rivers all west dry except a few water holes.

Two noted Indians of early days were old Copper or Captain Hembo of Mosquito Canyon. Copper was noted for his honest, truthful character and when he died he was buried by the white people with all the honor of a white man's funeral. Old Sam Pete belonged to the Kelsey and Spanish Flat tribes and was a warlike chieftain in his youth but was highly respected in his old age by the white people.

Wherever father mined in early days we happened to live by an Indian settlement and I have always been interested in them. I have watched them make their baskets grind their corn and manzanita berries and make their bread and mush. The mush was cooked in baskets with hot stones. They would lift the stones from the fire with two sticks, dip them in water to wash the ashes off them, then drop them into a basket of water and meal, stirring it all the time and would soon have a basket of mush, when all would gather around it and eat with their hands.

The dearest to me and the one I knew best was old Mollie, a princess in her own right and a smart woman. She knew my parents before I was born and always called me Little Malee and when they passed away she came to visit me saying "Little Malee, I came to mourn with you for your father and mother". When her youngest daughter wanted to live with a white man, she hid the girl until the man got a license and promised to marry her, which he did and today although Mollie's spirit had long gone to the Indian's Happy Hunting Ground, her grand children and great grand children are with us, honest, industrious people. Three of her great grand sons were over sea in the world war. One was a sharp shooter and returned with a medal of honor. One was gassed and is being cared for by those in authority. The third one also returned home.


Mrs. Mary Swansborough
Marguerite Parlor No. 12

The article above was transcribed from a type-written document found among family papers collected by Bob Carty of Suisun Valley, California. However, Mary Swansborough's Indian story was also published on page 10 of the Saturday, June 16, 1923 edition of the Placerville Mountain Democrat. Clicking on the thumbnail on the right will bring up a higher resolution image of the original newsapaper article.



Copyright © 1998- - Bella Vista Ranch