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In Search of Indian Dick Coffman

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Since completing and publishing my Ishi expanded story (see my last three books), a lingering curiosity for me has been what ever became of the six year-old Indian youth named Dick, who miner Chris Kauffman had saved from certain death in February 1860, at the Battle of Black Rock on Mill Creek in Tehama County, California?

I introduced "Indian Dick" in Ishi's Untold Story, Parts III-VI (2012) in my Chapter 32, pp. 409-424, and in Chapter 44, pp. 577-578. Provided below, as a PDF, is my follow-up investigation, "In search of Indian Dick in Santa Clara/San Benito Counties."

This is a call for help to anyone may be able to shed new old information or helpful suggestions about Dick whom I believe we have located in the 1870 Census, and living in or on the outskirts of San Juan Bautista (San Benito County), California, on a farm owned by John B. Pendleton and wife Mary Pendleton. In the 1870 census report (see Fig. 5 in PDF), Dick was going by his apparent "adopted" name "Dick Coffman." He is listed as "Indian," and from "California." His work status is "servant." His reported age is "20" (which would be about right in 1870).

Can we undiscover who Dick Coffman married? The woman was Mexican, and also had Indian heritage. What was the wife's family name? Did they have children? Have we descendants living today?

Dick proudly believed he was the last of his tribe of remote living Indians until, unbelievably, in 1881, and again in 1882, some of the remote Indians in hiding, revealed themselves publicly, twice at Buck Flat (located some 35 miles east of Red Bluff). Indian Dick realized that he was not the last of his tribe after all.

So Dick and a mysterious friend named Rod D. McDonald, returned north and paid a short visit themselves to the remote Rancheria (village). What transpired when "they made an examination of the camp and returned unharmed" (Kauffman 1882)? Two of the ones hiding in this camp were most probably "Ishi" (who was about the same age as Dick) and his mother, for whom Ishi remained her caretaker for most of his adult life. Did Dick, in about 1883, rendezvous with the mysterious "pilot" (a woman maybe?) who was trying to broker a save home with one of the neighboring tribes for the few still hiding in the foothill country? Chris Kauffman (1882) wrote about the "Indian pilot" that "he" was "endeavoring to get his wild and untutored brothers to quit their savage life and adopt that of civilization."

Enjoy! Here is what I have pieced together (as a PDF of 30 pages) thanks originally to the miner Chris Kauffman of Tehama County and recently by volunteer Tom Howard with the Gilroy History Museum, who in 2015, located the 1870 census report for me with the listing who I believe may be Indian Dick himself when about sixteen years old.

In Search of Indian Dick in Santa Clara/San Benito Counties(PDF)

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