Making History Blog

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

Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures
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 daughters, their husbands and children, plus his[... see full page]

Inheritors of Resource Extraction

Inheritors of Resource Extraction
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 course, the town would not be[... see full page]

Smelt's Up!

Smelt's Up!
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 were modeled after those they developed. There[... see full page]

A Green Thumb and a Red-Hot Trigger Finger

A Green Thumb and a Red-Hot Trigger Finger
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 Owenses arrived at Point Cabrillo in[... see full page]

How Tall to Be “Paul?”

How Tall to Be “Paul?”
If you spend any time in our redwood forests, particularly the few remaining groves of old growth trees, you may find yourself with face upturned in an attempt to ascertain the height of these beloved giants. Ninety-nine years ago today, there was an item in an unspecified local newspaper concerning the heights attainable by humans. Mentioned in the story was Charles Alfred Buck, youngest child of Charles M. Buck and Anna R. Anderson, who was born in Little River on[... see full page]

Some Truly “EPIC” Ephemera

Some Truly “EPIC” Ephemera
We were reminded at the Kelley House this past week that a political campaign without rancor would be a rare thing indeed. The 1934 race for the office of California’s governor provides one example. The Republican candidate was Frank Merriam. The Democratic candidate had been a member of the Socialist Party and was nationally known as the author of “The Jungle” -- the horrific 1906 expose of the Chicago meat packing industry -- Upton Sinclair. A year before the election[... see full page]