Making History Blog

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

Fire in Your Backyard

Fire in Your Backyard
Northern California Fires from space, July 6, 2008 NASA image Someone recently contacted the Kelley House Museum to ask if there had been any major wildfires right along the Mendocino Coast. Docents checked resources and talked to old-timers and all we could come up with was the 1931 Comptche Fire, about 15 miles inland, and the 2008 Mendocino Lightning Complex Fire that burnt from the Elk Coast to Covelo, starting 129 fires that consumed 54,817 acres countywide. Native peoples used controlled burning to[... see full page]

Talking About the Weather

Talking About the Weather
The Preston house and property with snow. The small building to the right ofthe unidentified man is the Preston carriage house, which became the ArtCenter gallery. 1932 Everyone likes to talk about the weather and the archives of the Kelley House include a fat folder labeled "Weather."  Here we look at storms and rain, though there is enough material to write a whole article JUST on the 1964 floods.  A huge storm in 1865 produced the following news. "Old Boreas, with his[... see full page]

Love, Not War

Love, Not War
One hundred years ago today, on February 14, 1919, the Mendocino Study Club held a special evening meeting to celebrate both the triumph of Cupid and the end of World War I. The armistice with Germany had been signed November 11, 1918, and the Paris Peace Conference had begun on January 18, 1919, so the Study Club event was timely. Almost three million American men had served in World War I -- including a number from little Mendocino -- and[... see full page]

A “Lasting” Legacy - Shoemakers of Mendocino

A “Lasting” Legacy - Shoemakers of Mendocino
Ad for "The Trilby Shoe", circa 1900 Putting together the clothing exhibit “Form & Function of Fashion: The Way We Wore,” now showing at the Kelley House Museum through March 18th, I was able to learn a lot about things I typically don’t think too much about. For instance, our lovely women’s hats, gloves and fans were once viewed as absolutely essential if you were to be considered fully dressed. None of these items are found in my closet. One item that hasn’t dropped off the “must-have” list is[... see full page]

Diary Dilemma

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For genealogists and researchers, diaries can be very enlightening sources for family history and insightful of the character and personality of the diarist. One of the problems, however, is that not many who kept a diary were particularly insightful, often relating too much about the weather or letters they wrote, and very few details of interesting events. Perhaps the main problem with diaries is that there aren’t very many of them. The Kelley House Museum archives, for instance, has only[... see full page]

Vince Johnson's Gift

Vince Johnson's Gift
1867 Survey Map of Mendocino It’s always interesting to go back to the beginning. We like to know where it all started, what it was like before, how it was different from today. Perhaps that’s why books and movies with historical settings are popular. Authors and screenwriters provide us with wonderfully detailed pictures of an earlier world with compelling drama, interesting plot twists and intriguing characters we want to know more about. Without a time machine to physically transport us back, those[... see full page]