Making History Blog

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

All Headdress and No Ponies

All Headdress and No Ponies
by Sarah Nathe, Kelley House Museum Board secretary While visions of Pilgrims and Wampanoags, and turkeys, danced in my head last week, my thoughts just naturally turned to the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization very big in these parts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Photographs in the Kelley House archives show groups of Red Men, tricked out in what can best be described as Indian drag, posing at their initiation ceremonies or riding on floats[... see full page]

Sharing History and Thanksgiving

Sharing History and Thanksgiving
It is going to be a difficult Thanksgiving for many residents of Mendocino County and those neighboring areas hit hardest by the recent fires. As an organization dealing in history, it might be instructive to look at one aspect of why the Kelley House Museum is here: keeping Mendocino’s past alive for today and its present alive for the future. This photograph of the Ford family, who originally lived on Mendocino’s Main Street in what is now the office of the[... see full page]

The Pool Room at Kelliowen Hall

The Pool Room at Kelliowen Hall
There used to be a pretty exciting center of entertainment in Mendocino. The establishment, located on the corner of Ukiah and Lansing Streets at Kelliowen Hall, was owned by Joseph H. Nichols. Candy could be purchased, movies viewed and patrons could practice their skating skills. There was also a pool room for the men of the town. On November 20, 1909, the Beacon reported that Mr. Nichols had been granted a concession within the large building by the trustees of the[... see full page]

Boys on the Bridge

Boys on the Bridge
It is a privilege to work with the collections at the Kelley House Museum. Once in a while we run across a photograph which resonates on multiple levels. Such was the case with this image. Five young boys are gathered on a bridge, with a mill (probably that of the Albion Lumber Company) in the background. Three out of the five boys have reading material in their hands, and all but one, the tallest, are looking at the camera. The[... see full page]

An Owner, a Schooner and a Governor

An Owner, a Schooner and a Governor
One of the men who arrived in Mendocino and helped establish it was John Edward Chalfant. Like so many others, he came to California during the heady days of the Gold Rush. He wasn’t successful as a miner, but he happened to run into Jerome B. Ford in San Francisco. Mr. Chalfant married Martha Hayes Ford’s sister, Susan. They settled in to a life on the Mendocino headlands, in a house very like that of the Fords. The Chalfant house[... see full page]

The Ugly Face of Racism

The Ugly Face of Racism
We don’t know who took the picture, but we know when and where it was taken. On Halloween 1954, a trio of teenage boys got together at the Westport Store wearing hats, scarves and blackface. The photograph is important because it shows an era when the use of blackface was nothing out of the ordinary. The young men in the photograph were identified, but it seems more important to note the nature of the choice they made that Halloween, rather than[... see full page]