Making History Blog

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

Culinary Chaos

Culinary Chaos
A Headline in the November 23, 1918 issue of the Mendocino Beacon read: “Drunken Woodsmen Wreck Cookhouse – Raise Hades at Little Valley Camp”  Head Cook Wah Bow with his crew at the cookhouse door of Caspar Lumber Company's Camp #1 in 1900-1920. Lee Sing John cooked there in the early years and Wah Bow worked there later. Many other Chinese men worked in the Mill Cookhouse and in those at the Company's outlying camps. (Source: Harry Wakerley Collection, Kelley House[... see full page]

Mendocino’s Tailor William H. White

Mendocino’s Tailor William H. White
Tailor sitting in traditional cross-legged sartorial posture on platform in front of a window. (National Library of Wales) In today’s world of readymade clothes, we may not think much about where clothing came from in the late 1800’s on the coast. Depending on the wealth of the family, your clothing was made at home from what were called dry goods, or you used the services of a tailor or dressmaker. One such service provider was William H. White (1817-1896), a native of[... see full page]

Historic Calla Lilies

Historic Calla Lilies
One of the most attractive spots in town at present is the little lake on the grounds of Mr. W. H. Kelly’s residence on Main Street. It is full to overflowing of clear water, while around its banks the calla lilies are blooming in all their beauty. A miniature sailboat gracefully skimming over the water adds to the picturesque scene. --Mendocino Beacon, 16 January 1886 This short description, penned 134 year ago, reminds us that late winter and spring is the[... see full page]

Main Street Cinderella

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It’s not every house in Mendocino that can have a complicated evolution and been occupied by a genuine town “character,” but 44771 Main St. deserves note. Today it’s an old yellow house east of Alegria Inn, next to a realty office and across the street from Evergreen Cemetery on the east end of town. In the Kelley House Museum records, it’s called the Ferrill House. It’s a vacation house being worked on. It’s got the name Rueckert, Wallace, Ferrill and more[... see full page]

Big River Enumerators

Big River Enumerators
Last week I did my citizen’s duty and completed my response to the 2020 Census using just my phone, while sitting on the sofa. So easy. It took less than 10 minutes. I enumerated myself. This got me thinking about how counting everybody correctly used to be a really hard thing to do. And who, I wondered, did the enumeration back then? Whoever they were, the people who agreed to spend a month or two riding on horses all over[... see full page]

The Great Flu of 1918 in Mendocino County

The Great Flu of 1918 in Mendocino County
[first published in May 2015] Postcard photograph of the Domestic Steam Laundry’s delivery automobile piled high with bags of laundry, c. 1918 in Fort Bragg. An unidentified man stands next to the car. The laundry offered free washes during the influenza epidemic in 1918 for those who were too sick to do it. (Jeanette Mendosa Hansen Collection, Kelley House Museum) For fascinating reading or listening there is “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. It’s available from the County Library and provides hours[... see full page]