Making History Blog

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

Traveling by Coach

Traveling by Coach
Coach belonging to the North Coast Stage Line, which ran between Willits and Fort Bragg. Bench seats were very basic and the canvas sides could be rolled down if there was inclement weather. (Kelley House Museum Collection) Many docents here at the Kelley House Museum love stagecoaches. Whether traveling in them or robbing them, this form of early transportation produced many adventurous stories that were published in the Mendocino Beacon. Stages arrived via the primitive roads to Mendocino from the southeast[... see full page]

Trick or Treat? Halloween in Mendocino County

Trick or Treat?  Halloween in Mendocino County
This vintage Halloween postcard by the Whitney Company illustrates the popularity of gate theft. From the personal collection of Tonia Hurst. Halloween came to America in the 1840s with Irish immigrants whose ancestors knew it by its Celtic name, Samhain. A time to light bonfires, wear costumes, and drive away evil spirits, the holiday captured popular imagination.  Jack-o'-lantern, already an American novelty, replaced the carved turnips of yore while fortune-telling games decreed that a girl might discover the name of her[... see full page]

Introducing Wine Bricks!

No thumbnail available
While working on the history of Mendocino County, which I just finished writing, I was trying to establish if any wineries in this county tried producing what were called wine bricks or grape bricks. It does not seem so, but they were made in Sonoma and Napa counties and their story is fascinating. After 1920 Prohibition laws in the USA said you could not sell, produce or transport alcoholic beverages, but you could make 200 gallons of wine for[... see full page]

Roof Matters

Roof Matters
A dilapidated Kelley House when it was acquired in 1975. Collecting, preserving, protecting and sharing. This is the mission of the Kelley House Museum. Kelley House has been around long enough for three generations to have experienced it, enjoyed its history-themed events, or dug into its archives to research family stories and photos. Some have called it Mendocino’s most important cultural institution It all began with Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins, now gone, who had come to Mendocino in the late 1960s[... see full page]

Barn-Storming

Barn-Storming

Cattle Invade Garage

This odd headline appeared on the front page of the Oct 13, 1928 edition of the Mendocino Beacon. The story goes on to say, “A band of some 60 head of dairy cows being driven up the coast were going through Mendocino and when passing the S. & E. Garage, spied the big open doors, and evidently taking it for a barn, they rushed in, in a body. They crowded into the show room, back out in the[... see full page]

The View from the Shingle Mill

The View from the Shingle Mill
1920 topographic map showing the area of Siewers ranch on the south side of Mendocino Bay. Naming places is something people do to orient themselves and connect with their environment. In our homes, we have “Grandma’s chair” or the “back forty.” Moving outwards, our neighborhoods have local designations, too. These hyper-local labels often commemorate events, such as “Two-Buck Turn” on Little Lake Road east of Mendocino. It was given that peculiar name because Witherle Atwood, who was not an experienced deer[... see full page]