Making History Blog

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

There and Back Again: The Bell of Westport's Schoolhouse

There and Back Again: The Bell of Westport's Schoolhouse
The Westport Bell Like many of the objects from the nineteenth century, the Westport bell was made to last. There are some gaps in its history, but according to a Kelley House newsletter article by Teresa Jardstrom, a teacher at the Westport School from 1932 to 1952, the bell’s working life began on board a ship. Unfortunately, the name of that ship has been lost, however, the bell had found its way to Westport. It would have[... see full page]

Get You a Copper Kettle

Get You a Copper Kettle
  Sign for Jack Peters Creek Bridge on Highway 1. The bridge was completed in 1939, one of the Works Progress Administration projects of the New Deal. Get you a copper kettle, get you a copper coil. Fill it with new made corn mash and never more you'll toil. (Folksong written by Frank A Beddoe in the 1950s) This summer, I stopped by the Kelley House Research Office to look at the birth and death record books, searching for information on[... see full page]

Speakeasys and Blind Pigs

Speakeasys and Blind Pigs
The early years of the 20th century were a time of innovations. The automobile had come to stay. People enjoyed the new fashions brought about in the wake of the First World War. With the vote, women had reason to hope that their social status would change for the better. It was also the decade during which national prohibition, or “The Great Experiment”, was underway. In the town of Mendocino, the voting population, meaning men only, had decided to do away[... see full page]

What’s on Your Shopping List?

What’s on Your Shopping List?
Both Aileen Gomes and her husband, Joseph, came from Portuguese families. Joseph Antone Gomes was born on the island of Flores on April 19, 1893. He left the Azores and immigrated to the United States in 1911. When the First World War came along, he registered for the draft and by 1920 his papers for naturalization had been submitted. Aileen Victoria Francis was born in California January 7, 1897, but both her parents were from the Azores. Joseph and Aileen[... see full page]

Something in the Air

Something in the Air
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, wrote about her childhood garden memories: “We[... see full page]

An American Venus

An American Venus
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 and a good cigar was a smoke,[... see full page]