Making History Blog

Many of these articles have been published in the Mendocino Beacon’s Kelley House Calendar.

Hard Times

Hard Times
by Tonia Hurst, Kelley House Museum volunteer According to poet Alice Walker, “hard times require furious dancing,” though the traditional idea of a Hard Times Dance is something altogether different. Similar to the Calico Balls of the mid-nineteenth century, which were started for debutantes and morphed into Civil War-era fundraisers for soldiers and wartime widows, a Hard Times Dance was part fun and part fundraiser. In lieu of expensive silks and satins, women wore dresses made of cheap cotton calico, the idea[... see full page]

Friends in Life . . . and in the Archives

Friends in Life . . . and in the Archives
by Anne Cooper, Kelley House Museum Curator How lasting are our friendships and other relationships? Will our facebook posts exist in perpetuity? Answers to these and similar questions may not be forthcoming until we are all figures of the past. The couple shown here, if couple they were, seem to have shared some sort of relationship. It isn’t merely the photograph which suggests this, but rather what was pasted to the back of the print which measures seven by three and one[... see full page]

Caspar’s Saloons

Caspar’s Saloons
by Katy Tahja, Kelley House Museum Docent While volunteering one Sunday as a docent at the Kelley House Museum, a visitor asked, “How many saloons existed in Caspar in the old days?” I didn’t know, but replied that I’d do some research and write about it. I can now share that information. Much of what I found was in the book that featured entries from the Mendocino Beacon that discussed Caspar. We forget in our busy world today how every form of[... see full page]

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost
by Tonia Hurst, Kelley House Museum volunteer Far from prying eyes on land as beautiful and forlorn as the Scottish Highlands stood the town of Wheeler. Today, less than fifty-six years later, nothing remains of this once vibrant community but the memories shared by the thirty or so families who called it home. Wheeler sat along the Coast at the mouth of Jackass Creek sixty miles north of Fort Bragg, isolated by the King Mountain Range. Once a Sinkyone fishing community, used[... see full page]

Pioneering Images: The Photography of M.M. Hazeltine

Pioneering Images: The Photography of M.M. Hazeltine
by Tonia Hurst, Kelley House Museum volunteer During his long and peripatetic life, Martin Mason Hazeltine lived in many places. Born in Vermont in 1827, he was raised with his seven siblings in St. Charles, Illinois. In 1850, he came west in search of gold, following in the footsteps of his younger brother George, but things didn’t pan out and the brothers returned to the East Coast and became daguerreotypists. Originally trained in St. Charles, as they advanced, they moved to[... see full page]

Pipe Dreams

Pipe Dreams
by Tonia Hurst, Kelley House Museum volunteer When people think of water pipes, they generally think of PVC, copper, iron, clay or concrete pipes, but one material which rarely comes to mind yet which was cheap, abundant, local, and in many respects, a manufacturer’s dream was . . . redwood. The many old water towers prominent around Mendocino attest to redwood’s durability for freshwater storage. It was equally prized for tanning vats and septic tanks, some of which are still in use[... see full page]