- Salinas, Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., 85, 1856
(includes Gioloco?, Ruslen, Soledad, Eslen, Carmel, San Antonio,
and San Miguel, cited as including Eslen). Latham, Opuscula,
As afterwards mentioned under the Salinan family, the present
family was included by Latham in the heterogeneous group called by
him Salinas. For reasons there given the term Salinan was restricted
to the San Antonio and San Miguel languages, leaving the present
family without a name. It is called Esselenian, from the name of the
Esselen, of which it is composed.
Its history is a curious and interesting one. Apparently the first
mention of the tribe and language is to be found in the Voyage de la
Pérouse, Paris, 1797, page 288, where Lamanon (1786) states that the
language of the Ecclemachs (Esselen) differs “absolutely from all
those of their neighbors.” He gives a vocabulary of twenty-two words
and by way of comparison a list of the ten numerals of the
Achastlians (Costanoan family). It was a study of the former short
vocabulary, published by Taylor in the California Farmer, October
24, 1862, that first led to the supposition of the distinctness of
A few years later the Esselen people came under the observation of
Galiano,38 who mentions
the Eslen and Runsien as two distinct nations, and notes a variety
of differences in usages and customs which are of no great weight.
It is of interest to note, however, that this author also appears to
have observed essential differences in the languages of the two
peoples, concerning which he says: “The same difference as in usage
and custom is observed in the languages of the two nations, as will
be perceived from the following comparison with which we will
conclude this chapter.”
Galiano supplies Esselen and Runsien vocabularies of thirty-one
words, most of which agree with the earlier vocabulary of Lamanon.
These were published by Taylor in the California Farmer under date
of April 20, 1860.
In the fall of 1888 Mr. H. W. Henshaw visited the vicinity of
Monterey with the hope of discovering survivors of these Indians.
Two women were found in the Salinas Valley to the south who claimed
to be of Esselen blood, but neither of them was able to recall any
of the language, both having learned in early life to speak the
Runsien language in place of their own. An old woman was found in
the Carmelo Valley near Monterey and an old man living near the town
of Cayucos, who, though of Runsien birth, remembered considerable of
the language of their neighbors with whom they were connected by
marriage. From them a vocabulary of one hundred and ten words and
sixty-eight phrases and short sentences were obtained. These serve
to establish the general correctness of the short lists of words
collected so long ago by Lamanon and Galiano, and they also prove
beyond reasonable doubt that the Esselen language forms a family by
itself and has no connection with any other known.
The tribe or tribes composing this family occupied a narrow strip of
the California coast from Monterey Bay south to the vicinity of the
Santa Lucia Mountain, a distance of about 50 miles.
Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891