Making History Blog

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

Mendocino: First There Was A Shipwreck…

Mendocino: First There Was A Shipwreck…
There are many ways that a town can come into existence. In the case of Mendocino, how that happened is a very interesting story. The Gold Rush changed everything. Thousands of people, mostly men, came to California. For most, the Gold Rush was a flop and many went back home. Many stayed. Four who stayed were partners in a sawmill in Bodega on the Sonoma coast. One day in the summer of 1850, several men arrived at the mill and told their[... see full page]

“Dear Mr. Zacha,”

“Dear Mr. Zacha,”
Zacha’s Bay Window Gallery, owned by Lucia Zacha, closes today. This marks the end of a historic era in the life of Mendocino. Walking through the final exhibit, one sees the works of the Mendocino Heritage Artists:  Dorr Bothwell (1902-2000), Sasha Makovkin (1928-2003), Fran Moyer (1922-2006), Hilda Pertha (1911-2011), Charles Marchant Stevenson (1927-2004), Toshida Yoshida (1911-1995) and William Zacha (1920-1998). The history of what Bill and Jennie Zacha meant to this town and how their dedication in bringing artists here[... see full page]

How We Remember

How We Remember
While enjoying a barbecue with friends, it might be of interest to consider that a place as remote from the battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania as is the Mendocino Coast has ties to the Civil War. The holiday we observe this Memorial Day has its origins in the sadness and losses resulting from the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Initially known as “Decoration Day,” it was widely observed on Saturday, May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of[... see full page]

Skeins of History

Skeins of History
Think of a cat or kitten playing with a ball of yarn as you read this story. It is the perfect metaphor for what happens when a historical question surfaces. It is a story of the Ladies Aid Society, organized by women of the Presbyterian Church in Mendocino. In the Kelley House Museum’s archives are receipts from the Jarvis and Nichols store which provide some hints as to what the Society purchased. Beginning in 1884 and stretching into 1893, the[... see full page]

“M” is for the Many Kids She Gave Him

“M” is for the Many Kids She Gave Him
What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than by looking at this interesting four-generation photograph of women who, among them, brought 21 children into the world and look none the worse for wear. The photo, from the Kelley House Museum archives, was taken in Fort Bragg in 1921, when little Florence Amelia Goldsam was just over one year old. Her mother was 31, her grandmother 51, and her great-grandmother 71. Her great-grandmother was born Serafina Thomasdottir in northern Finland in 1850.[... see full page]

Who Was Smoking These Pipes?

Who Was Smoking These Pipes?
Native Americans introduced the joys of smoking to Europeans and shortly thereafter pipes and their use came into fashion. The clay pipes from the Kelley House collection were essentially disposable. Their stems broke easily. At the time when the fashion was to have stems as long as a yard, if the stem broke, one could continue to use the pipe until another break or two occurred. Pipes were used by women and even children in the earliest decades of their[... see full page]