For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Yanks in the Redwoods
Carving Out a Life in Northern California
  • Frank H. Baumgardner III
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Yanks in the Redwoods. Carving Out a Life in Northern California
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Yanks in the Redwoods presents life on the frontier of northern California through individual stories and documentary details of families going about their personal and business activities. Each glimpse of their experience leaves us curious for more; yet added together the evidence belies the myth Americans hold dear, the myth of the noble pioneers, the white settlers as solitary heroes/heroines who on their own tamed a wilderness. These hardy folk were remarkably self-reliant and they did lay the foundations of towns and cities that grew beyond their wildest imaginings; but they did it by pulling together, not by going it alone.

The book also highlights the impact of big business in the second half of the 19th century as it destroyed precisely the economic independence and community life which the settlers worked so hard to build. 

About the Author

Frank H. Baumgardner III holds an MA in American History from San Jose State University and did postgraduate work in history at University of California-Santa Barbara. He has published articles in California Historian and two books with Algora focusing on early California history.

About the Book

Yanks in the Redwoods tells the story of the exploration and settlement of the Northwest, focusing on a one-hundred-mile region of the Mendocino Coast, 70 miles north of San...

Yanks in the Redwoods tells the story of the exploration and settlement of the Northwest, focusing on a one-hundred-mile region of the Mendocino Coast, 70 miles north of San Francisco.

Covering the period of 1800–1900, the book presents several never-before-published accounts by participants. 

The founders of the Humboldt Bay Community are seen through the eyes of George Gibbs, Customs Collector, Astoria, OR.  A unique look at the Oregon Trail, derived from the notes jotted down by Jesse Applegate and Stanley and Clarissa Taylor, debunks the Hollywood image of the hostile Indian.

Sparely-written diary entries convey the pungent flavors and kernels of wisdom squeezed out of a life of hard work in a family timber business and the almost speechless surprise when corporations quickly moved in and muscled the founders out of their own enterprises.

The book contains personal accounts by John Work, leader of the Hudson Bay Co. Expedition to the North Coast, and by Jerome and Emily Ford, founders of the Mendocino Lumber Co., and the fraud investigation of Thomas J. Henley. It tells of the founding of Mendocino and Ft. Bragg, the experiences of the Chinese community, the role of “Dog Hole” schooners, and the opium trade. 

The book concludes with excerpts from the diary of Etta Stephens Pullen, a pioneer who relocated from Maine to Little River, California, and the transcript of an interview with Lucy Young, a Wailaki-Lassik Indian telling the grim story of genocide that was going on coincidental with events in Etta Pullen’s diary.


Never before has this coastal segment of Northern California been studied in a comprehensive historical book. All of the earliest participant groups, Indians, Yankees and immigrants from the Midwestern and Southern states, northern European immigrants and Chinese, are presented. Wherever possible excerpts from primary sources, written by the people who made this history, are directly quoted. This work will become an example for other Northwest coastal regions to tell their own stories for later generations to enjoy.  


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Pages 300
Year: 2010
BISAC: HIS036010   HISTORY / United States / State & Local
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-801-1
Price: USD 21.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-802-8
Price: USD 31.95
ISBN: 978-0-87586-803-5
Price: USD 21.95
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