Making History Blog

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

Painting Mendocino's Maritime History

Painting Mendocino's Maritime History
Lumber Schooner Maxim, one of painter David Thimgan’s artistic subjects, on Caspar beach in 1884. The Coast Road can be seen winding down the hill on the right, and circling around the base of the hill behind the beached schooner. (Kelley House Museum, Emery Escola Collection #1995-001-27) Sometimes a researcher can find a link to Mendocino coastal history when you least expect it. Sorting archive materials at the Kelley House Museum I discovered artist David Thimgan. In a 1994-95 winter issue of[... see full page]

Talking With . . . Lennard Peterson in 2000

Talking With . . . Lennard Peterson in 2000
Back in 2000, students of Ryan Olson Day’s Options Class at the Mendocino Middle School created an oral history project with the help of Steve Jordan and a grant obtained by Deena Zarlin. They made audio recordings of their interviews with twelve “Old Timers,” who told these children what it was like back in the day. Two decades later, the transcripts of these stories have been pulled from the Kelley House Museum vault, excerpted, and published now for the first[... see full page]

Traveling by Coach

Traveling by Coach
Coach belonging to the North Coast Stage Line, which ran between Willits and Fort Bragg. Bench seats were very basic and the canvas sides could be rolled down if there was inclement weather. (Kelley House Museum Collection) Many docents here at the Kelley House Museum love stagecoaches. Whether traveling in them or robbing them, this form of early transportation produced many adventurous stories that were published in the Mendocino Beacon. Stages arrived via the primitive roads to Mendocino from the southeast[... see full page]

Trick or Treat? Halloween in Mendocino County

Trick or Treat?  Halloween in Mendocino County
This vintage Halloween postcard by the Whitney Company illustrates the popularity of gate theft. From the personal collection of Tonia Hurst. Halloween came to America in the 1840s with Irish immigrants whose ancestors knew it by its Celtic name, Samhain. A time to light bonfires, wear costumes, and drive away evil spirits, the holiday captured popular imagination.  Jack-o'-lantern, already an American novelty, replaced the carved turnips of yore while fortune-telling games decreed that a girl might discover the name of her[... see full page]

Introducing Wine Bricks!

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While working on the history of Mendocino County, which I just finished writing, I was trying to establish if any wineries in this county tried producing what were called wine bricks or grape bricks. It does not seem so, but they were made in Sonoma and Napa counties and their story is fascinating. After 1920 Prohibition laws in the USA said you could not sell, produce or transport alcoholic beverages, but you could make 200 gallons of wine for[... see full page]

Roof Matters

Roof Matters
A dilapidated Kelley House when it was acquired in 1975. Collecting, preserving, protecting and sharing. This is the mission of the Kelley House Museum. Kelley House has been around long enough for three generations to have experienced it, enjoyed its history-themed events, or dug into its archives to research family stories and photos. Some have called it Mendocino’s most important cultural institution It all began with Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins, now gone, who had come to Mendocino in the late 1960s[... see full page]