There and Back Again: The Bell of Westport’s Schoolhouse

Like many of the objects from the nineteenth century, the Westport bell was made to last. There are some gaps in its history, but according to a Kelley House newsletter article by Teresa Jardstrom, a teacher at the Westport School from 1932 to 1952, the bell’s working life began on board a ship. Unfortunately, the name of that ship has been lost, however, the bell had found its way to Westport. It would have been installed at the schoolhouse, which learn more…

Speakeasys and Blind Pigs

The early years of the 20th century were a time of innovations. The automobile had come to stay. People enjoyed the new fashions brought about in the wake of the First World War. With the vote, women had reason to hope that their social status would change for the better. It was also the decade during which national prohibition, or “The Great Experiment”, was underway. In the town of Mendocino, the voting population, meaning men only, had decided to do learn more…

What’s on Your Shopping List?

Both Aileen Gomes and her husband, Joseph, came from Portuguese families. Joseph Antone Gomes was born on the island of Flores on April 19, 1893. He left the Azores and immigrated to the United States in 1911. When the First World War came along, he registered for the draft and by 1920 his papers for naturalization had been submitted. Aileen Victoria Francis was born in California January 7, 1897, but both her parents were from the Azores. Joseph and Aileen learn more…

Inheritors of Resource Extraction

As someone who has always embraced the past, particularly that belonging to California and the other western states, it is now almost painful to look at a photograph such as this. We see the mill of the Mendocino Lumber Company, sited on the flats of Big River, going full tilt. Plumes of steam and presumably smoke as well, enter the atmosphere as countless numbers of trees were converted into lumber and shipped away. Of course, the town would not be learn more…

Smelt’s Up!

Everett Racine took this photograph which documents surf fishing. After doing a little research, it appears that these fishermen are after Surf smelt. These fish represent a critical link in the food chain and have many predators, including seabirds, sea bass and humans. Long ago, Native Americans observed that these fish, spawning in the shallow waters and moving with the tides, could be caught in nets. The A-frame shaped nets visible in the photograph were modeled after those they developed. learn more…

Fair-Haired Mystery

This photograph from our archives of a young woman wearing a plain blouse and looking at the camera with what seems to be unabashed honesty is one of our Kelley House Museum “history mysteries.”  Something about the style of the blouse, the way her hair has been pulled back and the clarity of the photograph made us think that it might be of sufficiently recent vintage that someone would be able to tell us who she was. The only clue learn more…

Wreck of the Coastal Steamer ‘Samoa’

Falling apart at the seams? That’s what happened a little over a century ago to a coastal steamer belonging to the Caspar Lumber Company. The Samoa carried a crew of 21 men and 380,000 feet of lumber on the morning of January 28, 1913. She was making her usual run from Caspar to San Francisco through a thick blanket of fog. No GPS or even radar in those days. The Samoa hit the beach known as Ten-Mile, not far from learn more…

Manchester School Steps – a History Mystery

[Note:  this mystery has been solved.  See this article.] We’re all familiar with the grade school photographs our parents have tucked away, and which sometimes come out for reunions. Our latest history mystery involves seven children, photographed on the steps of Manchester Union School, probably during the 1940s.  There are five boys, two girls; those in the second row are flanking their principal/teacher, Mrs. Alma Jacobs Mendosa.  The students appear to be of about the same age, perhaps having just learn more…