Making History Blog

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

Something in the Air

Something in the Air
by Bette Duke, Kelley House Museum History Researcher In the last half of the 19th century, most of Little River was cultivated farmland, from acres of field crops and grazing land for livestock, to family vegetable gardens. Even in early Mendocino vegetable gardens were grown between houses, with some of the produce to feed the cows and horses, like sugar beets; other crops fed families and the mill workers at the cookhouse. Katie Ford (1857-1944), daughter of Jerome and Martha Ford,[... see full page]

An American Venus

An American Venus
by Sarah Nathe, Kelley House Museum Board Secretary As the Miss America pageant prepares for its annual show this Sunday in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is trying to remake itself. Among its changes, Miss America 2.0, as it calls itself, has gotten rid of the swimsuit competition! That made me think back to 1925, when the pageant didn’t pretend to be anything but a beauty contest (notwithstanding those ugly gabardine swimming suits), when a woman was a woman[... see full page]

Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures
by Bette Duke, Kelley House Museum History Researcher In its earliest days, social activities in Little River were not much different from the way folks have fun today. There were bars and saloons, card games and gambling for those who liked that sort of pleasure. There were parties, dances, family gatherings for holidays, birthdays and such, often with singing, sometimes with a musical instrument or two. The 74th birthday of Isaiah Stevens, as recorded in the newspaper, was celebrated with his three[... see full page]

Inheritors of Resource Extraction

Inheritors of Resource Extraction
by Anne Cooper, Kelley House Museum Curator As someone who has always embraced the past, particularly that belonging to California and the other western states, it is now almost painful to look at a photograph such as this. We see the mill of the Mendocino Lumber Company, sited on the flats of Big River, going full tilt. Plumes of steam and presumably smoke as well, enter the atmosphere as countless numbers of trees were converted into lumber and shipped away. Of[... see full page]

Smelt's Up!

Smelt's Up!
by Anne Cooper, Kelley House Museum curator Everett Racine took this photograph which documents surf fishing. After doing a little research, it appears that these fishermen are after Surf smelt. These fish represent a critical link in the food chain and have many predators, including seabirds, sea bass and humans. Long ago, Native Americans observed that these fish, spawning in the shallow waters and moving with the tides, could be caught in nets. The A-frame shaped nets visible in the photograph[... see full page]

A Green Thumb and a Red-Hot Trigger Finger

A Green Thumb and a Red-Hot Trigger Finger
by Sarah Nathe, Kelley House Museum volunteer I celebrated National Lighthouse Day on Tuesday by reading through the memoirs of Cora Isabel Owens, the wife of William Owens, the last civilian light keeper at the Point Cabrillo Light Station who served from 1952 to 1963. After her husband died in 1984, Cora and her daughters wrote down their recollections of life at four California lighthouses, and a copy of their manuscript is in the Kelley House archives. By the time the[... see full page]