A small wooden schoolhouse with trees in the background

East Mendocino Schoolhouse, 1930. (Gift of Jeanette Hansen, Jeanette Mendosa Hansen Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

February 4, 1912 – 25-year-old George Reinke was fatally injured when he was struck by a falling flagpole at the new East Mendocino school house, located at the intersection of Little Lake and Big Hill roads. A crowd had gathered to watch the installation of the 86-foot-tall pole, which Frank Bean, a local orchard owner, had gotten from the woods. One of the guy ropes being used to raise the flagstaff slipped and the pole fell, striking George across the shoulders. A doctor was sent for, but George died from internal bleeding shortly afterwards.

His brothers, Gus and Oscar, were summoned from Caspar Woods, and George was buried in Fort Bragg. The Beacon reported, “The deceased was well thought of and liked by all who knew him. He has been here for about six weeks, working for Jarvis and Nichols. He was jolly and good natured, and on his way to the school-house that afternoon, he jokingly told the children that he had to go and help raise the flag pole, as they could not do it without him.”

The previous August, families in East Mendocino had petitioned the County Board of Supervisors to have a schoolhouse of their own. The petition signers had 18 school-aged children. “Some of the children in this section now have to walk four miles to school. This is a long jaunt in summer and in winter it is altogether too much.” Auggie Heeser donated land for the school grounds, and local residents, supervised by builder Ray Valentine, constructed the school building.

This was a one room schoolhouse, painted red. The school was also used as the community center, and families gathered there for the school Christmas and graduation programs.

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.