Two men standing in a store full of merchandise and shelves

Interior photograph of the Jarvis & Nichols General Store, c. 1900. Henry Jarvis stands on the left. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

January 25, 1937 – Henry Jarvis, one of the coast’s pioneer merchants and a leading Mendocino businessman died in Oakland at the age of 88. Henry, the eldest of 7 brothers, was born on the Jarvis farm near Surry, Maine in 1849 to Henry Augustus and Nancy Austin Joy Jarvis. The Jarvis family had lived on this farm since before the American Revolution, and there are Jarvis ancestors buried in the family plot who were born before 1700.

After a short seafaring experience, Henry came to Mendocino at a very early day, and for a time he worked with Joshua Grindle and John Clark, guiding log rafts from the boom to the mill. Henry left the employ of the Mendocino Lumber Company, and in June 1877, Henry and his partner, Thomas Dollard, started the Jarvis & Dollard General Merchandise Store located on the northeast corner of Main and Kasten streets, where Gallery Bookshop is today. In October 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Henry to be Mendocino’s postmaster, and he operated the post office inside his store until 1885.

In 1878, Henry married Ardelle Maxwell, daughter of local builder Albert Maxwell, who constructed a home for the family on Little Lake Street shortly after their marriage. Henry and Ardelle had two daughters, Mabel and Grace.

Henry’s partner, Thomas Dollard, was killed during the shootout with the Mendocino outlaws on October 15, 1879. James Nichols, who was wounded in the same gunfight, later became Henry’s partner in the business, renamed Jarvis & Nichols. The Beacon claimed, “The firm of Jarvis and Nichols was known from one end of the coast to the other for its business integrity and fair dealing.”

In addition to their mercantile business, they operated a sawmill at Cleone for a time and also owned an extensive railroad tie business. They sold their store to Burtt Elliot and retired in 1916.

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.