Many of these articles have been published in the Mendocino Beacon’s Kelley House Calendar.
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
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 Serafina Thomasdottir in northern Finland in 1850.[... see full page]
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]
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]
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]
Rail Lines and Damp April Mornings
The scene is Mendocino’s Shipping Point. The characters are unnamed crew members of the steamer Noyo, longshoremen and a railroad crew of three. The time is 90 years ago this week, April 11, 1928 to be exact. According to the Mendocino Beacon, at approximately 7:30 in the morning of that day, an accident occurred involving eight railcars and 33,000 board feet of lumber. Oh, yes, there was also gravity, and the physics involved in wet rail lines. It must have[... see full page]