Nannie Escola, one of the first chroniclers of Mendocino coast lore, left the Kelley House notebooks full of newspaper clippings and her handwritten notes about local happenings. What follows are some tidbits of interest about Comptche, 12 miles inland, gleaned from those three-ring binders.

In the fall of 1884, Newman E. Hoak showed off a gloria mundi apple weighing 29 oz. and a pippin weighing 18 oz. Jense C. Ottoson had two bell flowers weighing 14 and 15 oz.

In 1941, a 256-acre ranch was sold by Miss Marian Battey to Eaton Grimes. The original owner, Newman E. Hoak, had claimed the land in 1862 and logged it for the Albion Lumber Company. The logs were hauled to the Albion River and, in the spring of the year under freshet conditions, the logs would float all the way to the Albion Mill. Hoak created a fine ranch of 320 acres and had the store and town post office there. The post office was established in 1879 with Hoak as the postmaster.

In September, 1884, it was reported the San Francisco and North Pacific Railway had completed a preliminary railroad survey to build up from Ackerman Creek in the Ukiah Valley to Low Gap, thence to Comptche and on to Mendocino City. It was hoped grade stakes would hit the ground and a corps of engineers would be forthcoming. It never happened, but it would have been grand if it had.

Crowd inside a large building

The first dance at Comptche Hall on May 17, 1913.

Dances in the town hall were a big event. The new hall was dedicated with a grand ball on May 17, 1913. As reported in the Beacon on May 24th, 350 people attended from Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Greenwood, Caspar, Little River, and Ten Mile. And Comptche, of course. An excursion train was run from Albion for the afternoon picnic and evening dance. The following day, Mrs. Charles Oppenlander’s large cake in the shape of the hall was awarded to Lew Tyson, the winner of the Saturday night raffle.

In January, 1919 it was reported that, despite severe weather, ten people came from the coast to take in a dance at the hall. All present had an enjoyable time as probably half the population of Comptche attended. A fine supper was served and dancing continued to 6:30 in the morning.

In November, 1919, John Ottoson [son of Jense Ottoson newly returned from infantry service in WWI, and a hunter and trapper of some local renown], killed a large wildcat. They are serious pests and take young pigs, lambs and kids [baby goats]. The cats have become bold and take fowl near the Ottoson home.

In March of 1932 an event long anticipated took place: Mr. Lawson of Fort Bragg brought his motion picture machine to the school, and teachers and students were treated to a program of motion pictures.

In September, 1958 a vote showed 70% of the people in Comptche gave County Sheriff Bartholomie a negative response on locating a prison camp in the area. The Board of Supervisors abandoned talks with Masonite, a local timber land owner, about the idea.

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.