Brown & Gray

Pentecost Parade in Mendocino, 1898. The Pentecost Parade or the “Celebration of the Holy Ghost” coming down Lansing and turning onto Main Street in Mendocino in 1898. The group is marching past the Brown & Gray General Merchandise Store, formerly the place of business for William H. Kelley’s general merchandise store. Note the wooden sidewalk on both Main and Lansing Streets. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

September 10, 1907 – The Brown & Gray general merchandise store began their Close-Out sale. After 22 years in business together, partners H. H. Brown and P. W. Gray announced their plans to retire. This store was located in William Kelley’s old store building on the northwest corner of Lansing and Main Streets.

Gray was born in Maine in 1844 and had come to California with his father via the Isthmus in the early 1860s. For a while he worked in the timber industry at Russian Gulch and Big River, but soon he went into the lumber-shipping business between the Mendocino Coast and San Francisco with his uncle, James LeBallister. He later took command of the schooner Mendocino and then the S. M. Coombs. After his marriage, he gave up his sea-faring life and became interested in the lumber and tie business at Salmon Creek.

Brown was the son of Anderson Valley pioneer and physician, John Treble Brown. He had first worked on the coast at the Navarro Mill before attending a San Francisco business college. Returning to Mendocino County, he took a position at a store in Whitesboro. Later, Brown became the head bookkeeper and manager in the store of J. E. Johnson at Salmon Creek. Johnson sold that store, and in 1884, Brown became the manager of Johnson’s new general merchandise store on the north side of central Main Street in Mendocino.

On August 24, 1885, Brown and Gray went into business together, buying out Johnson’s stock and operating out of the same Main Street building. Six years later, they leased the old Kelley store building and moved their business to the northwest corner of Lansing and Main Streets. In the article announcing their retirement, the Beacon noted, “Brown & Gray have been very successful in their business and have ever held the esteem of the people for fair and square dealing.”

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