November 25, 1924 – Frank J. Mendosa passed away at his home on Little Lake Road at the age of 73. Born on the island of Flores in the Azores, Frank left Portugal at a young age, joining the crew of a whaling vessel and making several trips around Cape Horn. In his early twenties, he landed in Boston, where he worked for a short time as a longshoreman, before deciding to go to California.

Arriving on the Mendocino Coast, he worked in the Caspar woods, and then took a position in the Mendocino Mill. Once he had earned some money, he bought passage to California for his father and three sisters. In 1887, Frank married Isabel Jacinto Lopes, who had recently arrived from the Azores.

Men facing camera

Mendocino Mill Crew, 1897. Front row, left to right: William (Bill) Hines, George Knudsen, Frank Brown, Ernest Knudsen, Will Brown, Albert Gregory, John Salvador. Second row: Henry Kleinschmidt, Joe King, Sr., John Ramus, Fred Halling (Mill boss), Albert Peterson, Frank Clement, Theodore Hansen, Sam Bever (planing mill foreman). Third row: George Jarvis, Frank Mendosa, Tom Knudsen, John Larsen, George Marshal (sawyer), Unidentified, Isaac Silvia, Tom Richards. Fourth row: Percy Daniels, Joe “Junior” Ramus, Steady Boy, Old Man MacDonald, Allie Grindle, Little River Smith, Charles Nystrom (engineer), Mike Vaughn, Gus Kontag, Charles Peterson.

On June 13, 1902, Frank lost his arm in a tragic accident at the Mendocino lumber mill. Limited in what he could do to support his wife and eight children, he decided to open a saloon in a small building on the east side of Lansing Street across from Little Lake Street with the help of his eldest son, Antone. According to Frank’s son, William, “The first day in the business he sold one glass of beer for 5 cents.”

In time business improved, and Frank opened a restaurant where his daughter Mary cooked. The restaurant served chowder and later oysters and tamales. Frank was also assisted by his wife and the children who were old enough to help out. From this meager beginning grew a substantial merchandising business in Mendocino.

In 1909, alcohol sales were banned in Mendocino, and Frank converted his restaurant and saloon on Lansing Street into a grocery store which also carried some dry goods. In 1916, the store was considerably enlarged to carry a full stock of general merchandise, including groceries, hardware, enamel, tinware, and Sherman-Williams paint.

In the summer of 1920, Frank had a whole new store building put up, with 40 feet of frontage on Lansing Street, large plate glass windows, and a broad cement walk in front of the building. The stock of the old store was moved into the new building in September, 1920. Sadly, Frank’s health began to fail in 1921, requiring medical treatment in San Francisco.

Frank was survived by his wife Isabel; daughter Mary “Mamie” Lewis; sons Antone, Frank, John, Joe, Will, August, and Alex; and sister, Anna Gonsalves of Oakland. Funeral services were held at the Mendocino Catholic Church, with Rev. Father Kennedy officiating, and interment was in Hillcrest Cemetery.

Visit Santa at the Kelley House Museum! Bring your family and your holiday good cheer to snap a perfect picture with Santa outside on the Kelley House Museum porch. Cookies and cider provided. Bring your camera! Suggested donation: $5. 45007 Albion Street, Mendocino. Saturday, December 2, 3:30PM – 4:30PM.