Death Claims Daisy MacCallum

Studio portrait of Daisy Kelley MacCallum, c. 1879-1885. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

August 13, 1953 – Daisy MacCallum died. She was the oldest of Eliza and William H. Kelley’s four children. Born in Mendocino on August 2, 1859, Daisy spent her childhood in the Kelley House on Albion Street. She was an adventurous child, and in later years, she often told of an early escapade which frightened her parents. During Mendocino’s Great Fire of 1870, she rushed into a burning hotel to awaken the sleeping guests and help save their belongings. She would then laugh and add that she had had many exciting adventures that her parents knew nothing about.

Daisy spent most of her teenage years visiting her relatives in San Francisco, traveling throughout Europe, and attending a school for girls in Benicia. She spoke six languages, including French and Spanish. In 1879, she married Alexander MacCallum, who was the bookkeeper and later a partner in her father’s businesses. In the early years of their marriage, Daisy and Alexander lived with her parents and three siblings at the Kelley House, where her son Donald was born. In 1882 she and her family moved across the street into the beautiful house her father had built for them. The MacCallum home on Albion Street is now the MacCallum House Inn.

Daisy and Alexander left Mendocino to live for several years at Glen Blair north of Fort Bragg, where Alexander was the Superintendent of the mill and lumber interests owned by Daisy’s uncle, Captain Samuel Blair. Their daughter Jean was born there. Later, the family moved to San Francisco, and Daisy witnessed the great earthquake of 1906 that damaged much of the City. As a member of the Red Cross, she helped to distribute food and clothing, reunite families, and organize the recovery efforts.

After Alexander’s death in 1908, Daisy returned to her home in Mendocino to be near her mother, Eliza, and manage the family’s real estate interests here. She continued her travels following her mother’s death, visiting European countries she had toured as a teenager and attending the opening of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt in 1923. Daisy was known for her philanthropic efforts to help the Mendocino community and her interests in children (she offered sewing classes at her home to the girls of Mendocino), flowers (especially roses), and books (she owned thousands and was a guiding force in starting the Study Club’s Community Library).

Meet the quilt artists behind our summer exhibit at our Sunday Afternoon with the Ocean Wave Quilters event on Sunday, August 15 at 4 PM. If you are interested in owning one of these one-of-a-kind quilt squares as part of a Kelley House fundraiser, please contact info@kelleyhousemuseum.org for more information.