Making History Blog

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

Big Timber, Big Party, and Too Many Pigeons

Big Timber, Big Party, and Too Many Pigeons
By Katy Tahja To make a historian’s heart go “pitty-pat” hand her a 104-year-old book called “History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, California with Biographical Sketches.” Written by A.O. Carpenter and P.H. Millberry, it comprises 156 pages of history and 887 pages of biographies of 600 citizens who paid to have their stories included. While every man, and a few women, thought they were the most important citizens of their county, the bios today seem rather ho-hum unless one or two of[... see full page]

Was 1914 an El Nino Winter?

Was 1914 an El Nino Winter?
By Anne Cooper, curator According to the website “weather-warehouse.com” which provides historic weather data, the total precipitation for 1914 in Fort Bragg was 17.91 inches. During that year, the maximum precipitation in a single 24 hour period was 2.51 inches. The weather station from which these data were derived is noted as “Fort Bragg 5 N”. That information seems odd, however, because according to a very reliable local historian, Denise Stanley Stenberg, that would mean half of the total rainfall that year[... see full page]

Greeting of a Bygone New Year

Greeting of a Bygone New Year
By Anne Cooper, Curator As someone new to the archives of the Kelley House, it has been great fun making discoveries. These are not made idly, I hasten to add, but as a result of the wish to share with our community through the pages of the Beacon. In so doing, this rather timely ‘Greeting Card’ of old surfaced. Its small size makes one think of the practice of leaving ‘Calling Cards,’ a form of communication used by well-to-do folks of[... see full page]

Wreck of the Coastal Steamer 'Samoa'

Wreck of the Coastal Steamer 'Samoa'
Falling apart at the seams? That’s what happened a little over a century ago to a coastal steamer belonging to the Caspar Lumber Company. The Samoa carried a crew of 21 men and 380,000 feet of lumber on the morning of January 28, 1913. She was making her usual run from Caspar to San Francisco through a thick blanket of fog. No GPS or even radar in those days. The Samoa hit the beach known as Ten-Mile, not far from[... see full page]

“It is a Dangerous Looking Place: Shipwrecks on the Mendocino Coast”

“It is a Dangerous Looking Place: Shipwrecks on the Mendocino Coast”
Since 1850, more than 160 vessels have met their fate along Mendocino’s rugged coastline while the shouts of drowning sailors and passengers have been heard above the roar of the surf. The most famous shipwreck was the Frolic, a Baltimore clipper ship bound for California from China. A former opium runner between Bombay and Hong Kong, the bulk of the Frolic’s cargo now consisted of silks, ceramics, lacquered ware and even a fabricated house that it loaded in Canton and[... see full page]

Rex Smith, Docent, Cab Driver & Historian

Rex Smith, Docent, Cab Driver & Historian
Rex Smith, our Kelley House docent and local taxi driver, was 'discovered' by Dr. Bunny Vreeland, a talk show host at Mercury Broadcasting. Listen to the interview here.[... see full page]