A Vanished Landmark at Little River

Take a look at any panoramic photo of early Little River and you’ll notice that where once stood many structures – houses, the mill, hotels – there are now a lot of trees and bushes. Of the several vanished landmarks of long ago, there is one that wasn’t readily seen even when it existed: the shipyard of Thomas Petersen.  A native of Denmark, his name remains on a little street at the top of the Highway 1 curve, just south learn more…

Diary Dilemma

For genealogists and researchers, diaries can be very enlightening sources for family history and insightful of the character and personality of the diarist. One of the problems, however, is that not many who kept a diary were particularly insightful, often relating too much about the weather or letters they wrote, and very few details of interesting events. Perhaps the main problem with diaries is that there aren’t very many of them. The Kelley House Museum archives, for instance, has only learn more…

Something in the Air

In the last half of the 19th century, most of Little River was cultivated farmland, from acres of field crops and grazing land for livestock, to family vegetable gardens. Even in early Mendocino vegetable gardens were grown between houses, with some of the produce to feed the cows and horses, like sugar beets; other crops fed families and the mill workers at the cookhouse. Katie Ford (1857-1944), daughter of Jerome and Martha Ford, wrote about her childhood garden memories: “We learn more…

Simple Pleasures

In its earliest days, social activities in Little River were not much different from the way folks have fun today. There were bars and saloons, card games and gambling for those who liked that sort of pleasure. There were parties, dances, family gatherings for holidays, birthdays and such, often with singing, sometimes with a musical instrument or two. The 74th birthday of Isaiah Stevens, as recorded in the newspaper, was celebrated with his three daughters, their husbands and children, plus learn more…

Tidbits of Local Life

Genealogists and history researchers love the discovery of another facet of their search and knowing that there has to be more information out there somewhere fuels their relentless pursuit of more discoveries. Kelley House is a treasure trove of sources for discoveries, particularly in the hundreds of files about Mendocino’s people called Family Files. Most contain newspaper clippings, letters, memoirs, genealogy charts, funeral records, and occasionally a few original documents like marriage licenses or immigration papers, just the kind of learn more…

Three Vanished Landmarks

Take a look at any panoramic photo of early Little River and you’ll notice that where once stood many structures — houses, the mill, and hotels — are now a lot of trees and bushes. Of the several vanished landmarks of long ago, there is one that wasn’t readily seen even when it existed: the shipyard of Thomas Petersen. A native of Denmark, hence the “sen”, his name remains on a little street at the top of the Highway 1 learn more…

A Little History of the Little River Improvement Club and Museum

It’s such a small, plain little white building, set back from the road, you probably don’t even notice it when you drive by. Besides, you’re keeping your eye on the road, which is a good thing, because it’s at the top of the curvy part of Highway 1. On March 11, 1885, Etta Pullen wrote in her diary, “Wilder off early to commence work on “Good Temples Hall”, the land father gave at Little River, that he has the contract learn more…

Mendocino: First There Was A Shipwreck…

There are many ways that a town can come into existence. In the case of Mendocino, how that happened is a very interesting story. The Gold Rush changed everything. Thousands of people, mostly men, came to California. For most, the Gold Rush was a flop and many went back home. Many stayed. Four who stayed were partners in a sawmill in Bodega on the Sonoma coast. One day in the summer of 1850, several men arrived at the mill and learn more…

A Little History of Little River: Where to Get a Drink

When Little River was starting to hum with a mill, mill workers, and more folks settling in the area in the mid-1860s, the Pioneer Hotel would have been the only place to get a drink. The owner, August Frederick Mahlman, who had been working in the mills, realized that the growing community needed lodging and libations, so he built his hotel, which had rooms for his family, a large hall for community events, a saloon and restaurant, and in the learn more…