Making History Blog

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

Talking With . . . Dave Sverko in 2000

Talking With . . . Dave Sverko in 2000
Dave Sverko (seated) with middle school students Adam Channel, Sadie Pepper and Morgan Matthews in 2000. Back in 2000, students of Ryan Olson Day’s Options Class at the Mendocino Middle School created an oral history project with the help of Steve Jordan and a grant obtained by Deena Zarlin. They made audio recordings of their interviews with twelve “Old Timers” who told these children what it was like back in the day. Two decades later, the transcripts of these stories have[... see full page]

Cemeteries: Headstones convey messages

Cemeteries: Headstones convey messages
Photograph of the marble grave monument of Mary F. Freathy, located in Evergreen Cemetery. The stone has a bas relief of clasped hands at the top and is crowned by an arch of ivy leaves, supported by scrolled brackets. Down in the archives of the Kelley House, I was working on a research project tracing a local family’s name through graveyard records when I found something that answered questions I’d long had about the images on gravestones. The Victorians were engravers[... see full page]

The Voyage of the Sailing Vessel FRI Began with a Dream

The Voyage of the Sailing Vessel FRI Began with a Dream
Norman de Vall’s sailing cargo ship, Fri, as she enters San Francisco Bay on her ocean voyage from Denmark in 1967. In the late 1800s, schooners like these carried goods to ports all over the world, including the Mendocino Coast. This season’s exhibit at the Kelley House Museum, “Wind & Water: the Nautical Collection of Norman de Vall” showcases antique charts, old navigational instruments and other sea-going items gathered over the years by one of our coastal residents. However, Norman is not[... see full page]

Schooners, Cargoes and Adventures

Schooners, Cargoes and Adventures
The Bobolink c. 1880, in full sail and fully loaded with lumber. She was a two-masted schooner built in 1868 in Oakland, California by L. S. Allen, with her home port being San Francisco. In 1884, she was sold to Jerome B. Ford of the Mendocino Lumber Company. After a 30-year sailing career, Bobolink wrecked on March 24, 1898, at Kent's Point, south of Mendocino Bay. (Photograph from the Emery Escola Collection, Kelley House Museum archives) “Schooners were small vessels always sailing at the mercy[... see full page]

A Collector’s Tale

A Collector’s Tale
Norman de Vall aboard the WAPAMA while working on the Beaches and Parks Historic Ships Project in 1959-1961. Ferry in background would be either the EUREKA, BERKELEY or SAN LEANDRO. As soon as I got my first boat at age12 or 13, I found in the back waters of Los Angeles Harbor a scrapped steam schooner that had been reduced to a hollow shell stripped of anything metal or polished wood. I was fascinated thinking of the lives of the men[... see full page]

The Fiery Story of the Schooner J. C. Ford

The Fiery Story of the Schooner J. C. Ford
The Schooner J. C. Ford loading lumber under the chute in Mendocino Harbor, c. 1985. Photo from the Alice Earl Wilder Collection, courtesy Kelley House Museum. If there is only one vessel the Kelley House can feature during its current nautical exhibit, the Schooner J. C. Ford is a good choice. In the May 20, 1882 issue of the “Mendocino Beacon” newspaper, it was reported the new three-masted schooner J. C. Ford had arrived. Messrs. Samuel B. Blair, Jerome C. Ford, and Edwards C.[... see full page]