Making History Blog

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

Coastal Libraries, Part Two

Coastal Libraries, Part Two

Libraries Arrive on the Coast

Looking at how libraries arrived on the Mendocino Coast is part of an on-going series exploring the growth of libraries. This week’s story is part two and is a peek into the importance of fraternal organizations and a bookmobile. Mendocino County’s popular bookmobile, c. 1950. (Courtesy David Frick) Fraternal organizations gave a sense of “family” to newcomers arriving on the coast. They could be based on religion, language, politics, educational goals, military service, social views and more. Many[... see full page]

Coastal Libraries, Part One

Coastal Libraries, Part One
Today when coastal residents want to read a new best seller, or find a Book-On-CD to listen to while commuting, or search for a good books on bugs for a six year old, they can turn to the libraries in their local communities. (We’re pretending there is not a pandemic going on that limits access to library services and buildings.)  Group photograph of the Kalevala Lodge #3, gathering in front of the remodeled Lodge in Fort Bragg, c. 1920. Impi Huhtala[... see full page]

Coastal Place Names Part 2

Coastal Place Names Part 2
A recent column explored the sources of names on the land from Needle Rock south to Caspar on the Mendocino Coast. This week’s column tells the story of place names from Pine Grove south to Gualala. Plan a road trip and find these interesting places. Detail from Mendocino County map showing he southern coast and the small towns and landings found there in 1902. (Map by J. N. Lentell) Pine Grove probably had a pine tree grove and Russian Gulch was supposed[... see full page]

Coastal Place Names Part 1

Coastal Place Names Part 1
Maps are a time trap for historians…just ask the folks at the Kelley House Museum. A map inspection can turn from a quick glance to an hour or more of in-depth inspection, often with the assistance of a magnifying lens. And what captures this author is the names on the land. For whom, and what, was a placed named, and what work took place there.  Detail of the area around the town of Cleone from the 1909 Coast & Geodetic Survey,[... see full page]

Grindle's Neighborhood

Grindle's Neighborhood
This last month, the Kelley House received an interesting request from innkeeper Ken Taylor for an historic map that would show the grounds of the Joshua Grindle House. Our go-to vintage maps are the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, but the northeast part of Mendocino, where the Grindle House is located, showed only a portion of his property. Mendocino City. Detail from the 1909 U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey, Stillwell Point to Point Cabrillo. (Kelley House Museum archives) So, we turned to[... see full page]

Defensible Space in a 1931 Wildfire

Defensible Space in a 1931 Wildfire
For any readers unclear about the concept of defensible space please read about the massive 1931 Comptche Fire and how people survived in the middle of a firestorm. It’s a good lesson on what saves lives. Mendocino County - Comptche fire - 1:30 p.m. September 22, 1931. (Charles R Clar, Fritz-Metcalf Collection, Bioscience & Natural Resources Library, UC Berkeley) On September 22, 1931, the easterly and southeasterly portions of the Comptche settlement were swept by the worst fires in the history of[... see full page]