The Aborigines of Oakland

San Francisco News Letter/November 7, 1868

The aborigines who once inhabited the spot upon which now stands the great city of Oakland, and of whose history only a few vague accounts have descended to us, seem to have been a singular race. We learn from the pages of that old chronicler, the renowned Jokot Bumfustian, who devoted a more than ordinarily long life to the study of this ancient people, that they were descended from the Chinese, who were driven from the Flowery Kingdom some time in the first century of our era by an anti-Coolie movement which originated in the heart of China and extended to the most remote provinces—to the very fingers and toes of the country, as it were. Compelled to take to their junks, they were driven to this continent, landing at Victoria, then a flourishing village of Chinooks. Being unable to show the proper papers, they were accused of attempting to defraud the revenue, confiscated, and their ships sold to the junk dealers. After several centuries of servitude their task-masters became tired of them, and drove them southward, after imparting to them much of their own language and complexion, and a great many of their customs. We next hear of them in the mountain fastnesses of Oregon, or, as it was then called, Boo-bum-pum-kin, then a cold and inhospitable region, covered with glaciers eleven months in the year. Here they tarried long enough to cover every available spot of ground with female seminaries, and then were driven out by the powerful and warlike Blatherskites, who killed all the males and made free with the women. The next generation consequently differed somewhat from the original type, presenting, in the quaint words of the old chronicler, “a mottled uncomeliness of face, exceeding unpleasant to look upon, and a great overfluency of speech, so that no one could hear their vaporings but he straightway stopped his ears and ran away.”

We next find this wandering people laying out town lots in what is now Yolo County, then a vast marsh inhabited only by the Megatherium, Behemoth, Castilian, Democrat and other obsolete forms. The lots advanced so rapidly in value that there was not money enough in the community to pay the taxes upon them, and this unfortunate people were compelled again to emigrate. They quarreled about the location of a city hall and separated, one party going directly southward, to Stockton, and passing west through the Diablo range to San Leandro, another southwest to the present site of Vallejo, across the straits of Carquinez, and so along the bay, until they arrived opposite Goat Island. They distributed tracts along these routes, setting forth the advantages of a collegiate education and investments in real estate. By these means the Yahoos, through whose domains they passed, were converted to Polytheism, and built churches innumerable and several state universities, the ruins of which are still shown. In the course of a few years the tribes were all united upon the spot now called Oakland, and had attained a high degree of civilization. Religious ceremonies, commencements, real estate auctions and alumni meetings were frequent. Forty-seven railroads were projected, each having both termini in their city. Some of their singular customs have been recorded with minute fidelity by the learned Bumfustian, among others the religious rite called in their elegant tongue “kfchqtlxjompootizzery,” which may be translated into English by the words “anathema maranatha.” This consisted of a weekly display by the entire community of the most extreme contempt for a barren peninsula lying to westward of their town, and which they believed to be the abode of pestilent spirits inimical to the prosperity of their city. The ceremony was too revoltingly indecent for the chaste and sober pen of the venerable Bumfustian, and we are left in ignorance as to how it was performed.

Space will not allow further description of this singular people. Suffice it to say that in the year 1349 their city was entirely destroyed by an earthquake, and only one family of the entire nation escaped. From them are descended the present inhabitants, and many speculative writers have traced in them a fanciful resemblance to the ancient and powerful nation whose history we have briefly outlined.


(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)