This past week the Kelley House Archives received an exceptional donation from the Costa-Fayal family, the wedding dress of Carrie Costa. This dress consists of a skirt and detached bodice in pale blue with a decorative border of blue and gold sequins and beads, and white lace trim. The dress is in excellent condition for being nearly 120 years old, Carrie Costa having worn this dress when she married Manuel Costa on December 25th, 1904.
Caroline “Carrie” Correia-Silva was born in the Azores Islands of Portugal on December 7th, 1887, and came to Mendocino County in 1904 when Manuel Costa decided he wanted a mail-order-bride from home. At the time of her marriage, Carrie had just turned 17 years old, and was 11 years younger than her groom. Together the couple had 12 children: Emily, Marie, Manuel, Johnnie, Herman, Adelaide, Anthony, Virginia, Elveria, Margaret, Albert, and Delphina. Unfortunately, Manuel was in an accident in 1930 and died of his injuries on January 14th, leaving Carrie to raise the children on her own.
For two years Carrie managed to care for the family with the aid of her two eldest sons who found jobs to support the family after their father died. However, in 1932 she married her brother-in-law, Antone “Tony” Fayal, who had also been a witness at her first marriage. He was reportedly an extremely kind and loving stepfather to her children and was lovingly referred to as “Uncle Tony.” They lived happily together for 36 years until Tony passed away in 1968. Carrie then continued to live in their house in Fort Bragg until she passed away on April 11th, 1977 at the age of 89. She was survived by 61 direct descendants including her 12 children, 27 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren. She was interred in Hillcrest Cemetery with her first husband, Manuel Costa.
The Kelley House is extremely grateful to be the recipient of such a lovely item that tells the story of a brave young woman who always persevered for the sake of her family. As a small nonprofit, our collections and operations rely on generous donations such as this. The Kelley House Museum strives to be a space to gather, investigate, interpret, and connect visitors to the shared histories of the Mendocino Coast. However, we cannot achieve these goals without the support of our community and the tireless efforts of our volunteers. Since today, August 17th, is National Nonprofit Day we would like to encourage you to consider a financial or material donation to the Kelley House Museum to help us continue to preserve the history of this unique place.
The Kelley House Museum is open from 11AM to 3PM Thursday through Monday. If you have a question for the curator, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. Walking tours of the historic district depart from the Kelley House regularly.