Making History Blog

Many of these articles have been published in the Mendocino Beacon’s Kelley House Calendar.

How We Remember

How We Remember
While enjoying a barbecue with friends, it might be of interest to consider that a place as remote from the battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania as is the Mendocino Coast has ties to the Civil War. The holiday we observe this Memorial Day has its origins in the sadness and losses resulting from the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Initially known as “Decoration Day,” it was widely observed on Saturday, May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of[... see full page]

Skeins of History

Skeins of History
Think of a cat or kitten playing with a ball of yarn as you read this story. It is the perfect metaphor for what happens when a historical question surfaces. It is a story of the Ladies Aid Society, organized by women of the Presbyterian Church in Mendocino. In the Kelley House Museum’s archives are receipts from the Jarvis and Nichols store which provide some hints as to what the Society purchased. Beginning in 1884 and stretching into 1893, the[... see full page]

“M” is for the Many Kids She Gave Him

“M” is for the Many Kids She Gave Him
by Sarah Nathe, Kelley House Museum Board Secretary What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than by looking at this interesting four-generation photograph of women who, among them, brought 21 children into the world and look none the worse for wear. The photo, from the Kelley House Museum archives, was taken in Fort Bragg in 1921, when little Florence Amelia Goldsam was just over one year old. Her mother was 31, her grandmother 51, and her great-grandmother 71. Her great-grandmother was born[... see full page]

Who Was Smoking These Pipes?

Who Was Smoking These Pipes?
Native Americans introduced the joys of smoking to Europeans and shortly thereafter pipes and their use came into fashion. The clay pipes from the Kelley House collection were essentially disposable. Their stems broke easily. At the time when the fashion was to have stems as long as a yard, if the stem broke, one could continue to use the pipe until another break or two occurred. Pipes were used by women and even children in the earliest decades of their[... see full page]

Alecandocs? Babinyas!

Alecandocs? Babinyas!
By Carolyn Zeitler Boontling is a local nickname for a fabricated language that developed in the Anderson Valley between 1880 and 1920. It started out as a game by children who wanted to talk freely without the adults being able to understand what they were saying.  Based on English, it featured abbreviated words and sentences, a “lingo,” (Boonville and lingo becoming Boontling), of more than a thousand words and expressions. As more and more locals became interested, the lingo became very[... see full page]

Lumberjack Lingo

Lumberjack Lingo
by Katy Tahja, Kelley House Museum docent Browsing the shelves of the library in the Kelley House Museum Research Office, I found "Lumberjack Lingo" by L.G. Sorden written in 1969. While it's focused on how vocabulary was adapted to walking around the Great Lakes states, many of those walkers moved west and brought their terms with them. The cookhouse in a logging camp provided many unique terms. If a logger asked for cackleberries, slush, sow bosom, doorknobs and skid grease, he was[... see full page]