Standing couple, facing camera

Photograph of Nannie and John Escola, c. 1905. (Gift of Jean Rice)

Continuing the celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting one of the most influential historians of Mendocino, Nannie Flood Escola. Nannie’s memories and knowledge of early Mendocino were always shared freely with the newly formed Mendocino Historical Research, Inc, now known as the Kelley House Museum. 

As a young woman, Nannie earned her living as a teacher. After her retirement, she became one of the women responsible for creating historical archives for Mendocino City. Wanting them to be organized and accessible to the public, she created her own index of Beacon articles, focusing on the lumber company, chronologically from 1877 to 1938. This was long before computers and keyword searches. 

In longhand Nannie wrote out 32 pages of her own index to the Beacon. The first entry was for October 6, 1877: “Mill to erect house at the point [shipping point] to keep lumber dry.” Last entry, December 10, 1938: “Mill closed after having completed sawing the log raft towed into Big River Bay.” She would note “long item” to direct readers back to the actual paper for topics like the 1906 earthquake.

Here are some items that captured her attention:

12/15/1877 “Mendocino Lumber Company (MLC) is going to put in a locomotive to haul cars from the point to the mill, instead of using horses.” 

1/25/1879 “The south side of the mill shut down as most of the men on that side had been selected for jury duty.”

The Beacon on 7/31/1888 reported “The men at Two-Log Camp have struck for wages of $5.00 per month. The company refused to pay so the men quit.” On 9/9/1882 a forest fire ran from logging camps on the south side of Big River to Burke’s tie camp near the Ukiah road and burned 13,000 ties. Not all news was about logging. On 10/6/1883 it was noted “Hops were planted on Big River about six miles up.” [This would have aided local beer breweries.]

The 12/7/1889 paper noted the mill was shut down until a means of sawdust disposal was found. “The Fish Commissioners will not allow any more sawdust to be dumped in the river as it interferes with fish reproduction.” A month later it was noted a sawdust burner had been built. On 2/16/1895 it collapsed.

Researchers will always bless Nannie for this index she left us, and her reputation went far beyond her home town. She was consulted by writers, photographers, publishers: Time-Life Books for The Loggers, and National Geographic Magazine for its September 1977 issue, in which Nannie’s picture was included in the article about Mendocino. In book after book and article upon article her name appears in the credits for historic photographs she so generously provided.

The Kelley House Museum is open from 11AM to 3PM Thursday through Monday. If you have a question for the curator, reach out to to make an appointment. Walking tours of the historic district depart from the Kelley House regularly.