My third post in my 100 Days of Novel Research continues to draw from “Humboldt History, Volume One: Two Peoples, One Place,” by Ray Raphael and Freeman House.
Joseph Russ and his wife Zipporah Russ had 13 children together in Humboldt County. He exhibited a keen business sense in buying up land that became available when “whites who feared local Indians fled from their homesteads in the Bear River area.” Then he rented out the parcels he had acquired…”His store in Ferndale was described as the largest in the country, and he eventually operated an impressive chain of butcher shops in Eureka and several smaller towns. Naturally, he did not overlook the county’s vast timber resources… He bought up land, cut down the trees, sent the logs to his own mill, and shipped the finished lumber to far away places such as Honolulu on his own fleet of schooners…”. The authors conclude this section with, “During an era in which entrepreneurial spirit was lauded and Euro-Americans did whatever they could to ‘develop’ the Humboldt region, more people owed their livelihoods to Joseph Russ than to any other local magnate.”