Making History Blog

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

Mapping Mendocino

Mapping Mendocino
Maps are one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication. Before humans were writing, they drew maps. Early maps may have only been a diagram in the dirt to show where to find food. As far as historians and geographers can determine, every culture in every part of the world uses and makes maps. The Kelley House has been collecting maps since 1973. In all shapes and sizes, these maps tell a story or solve a problem. There are maps[... see full page]

Jean MacCallum: A Maiden Fond of Flowers

Jean MacCallum:  A Maiden Fond of Flowers
Among the surviving papers describing Jean MacCallum is a letter she wrote as a child. It’s typed, addressed to her grandmother, Eliza Kelley, and charming. It was written after the MacCallums moved from Glen Blair, just north of Fort Bragg, to San Francisco. Jean was born in Glen Blair when her parents, Daisy and Alexander, left their celebrated Mendocino mansion to oversee a logging enterprise purchased by Samuel Blair. For those trying to piece together the family tree, Blair married into[... see full page]

Tourism 123 Years Ago

Tourism 123 Years Ago
In a box of historic resources I was recently given, I found a reprint of a feature story about Mendocino County. It appears to be a magazine piece, extolling the virtues of life in this area, 123 years ago. The article promised: “A region worthy of the closest attention of the traveler on a pleasure bent, the capitalist in search of opportunities with the certainty of royal return, and the agriculturist or stock grower.” The main excitement of the time seemed[... see full page]

Ethel Nelson, Pioneering the Profession of Pharmacy for Women

Ethel Nelson, Pioneering the Profession of Pharmacy for Women
Out of the Kelley House Archives comes the story of Miss Ethel Nelson, born in Mendocino 1883, daughter of Elizabeth May (Bessie) Carlson and Captain Henry Nelson, owner of the Wilson Hotel on Main Street in Mendocino, as well as ship captain for the barkentine, Servia. Henry and Bessie married in Mendocino on January 18, 1882. She was the granddaughter of a pioneer who brought a complete sawmill around the Horn in a sailing vessel. Ethel never married, instead pursuing a career[... see full page]

More of Mendocino's Dark Side

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Fury Town was not the only enclave where mill workers congregated in the olden days along Mendocino’s coast. Up north, the town of Fort Bragg prospered. As the name implies, Fort Bragg began as a military outpost. Built in 1857, it was named after Confederate general, Braxton Bragg, and established to police local Pomo tribes. The native people had been forced onto a 25,000-acre reservation stretching from Noyo Harbor to MacKerricher. The unpleasant enterprise was short-lived; by 1867, both garrison[... see full page]

Comptche Hippie Kid Returns as Anthropologist

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Growing up in Comptche as a hippie kid during the Seventies is part of my identity. It was a tumultuous time. Declining regional timber jobs during the Sixties caused many families to leave Comptche, creating vacancies for newcomers. Who showed up? Back-to-the-land hippies, lots of us—my family arrived in a purple school bus. The influx of immigrants caused instantaneous polarization between old-timers and newcomers. Conflict included issues of land use, the introduction of marijuana, superficial appearances, nudity, and smell. Interestingly,[... see full page]