Making History Blog

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

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]

One Story in a Town of Many

One Story in a Town of Many
New characters in the panoply of history come to light at the Kelley House on a regular basis, often due to generous donations of time and materials to the archives and museum. A case in point involves items received as part of a large collection of photographs and other keepsakes from Mae Johnson, who died in August 2016. Mae had been raised in Caspar and knew everyone from its early days. Receiving a box of mementoes is only the first[... see full page]

Tidbits of Local Life

Tidbits of Local Life
Genealogists and history researchers love the discovery of another facet of their search and knowing that there has to be more information out there somewhere fuels their relentless pursuit of more discoveries. Kelley House is a treasure trove of sources for discoveries, particularly in the hundreds of files about Mendocino’s people called Family Files. Most contain newspaper clippings, letters, memoirs, genealogy charts, funeral records, and occasionally a few original documents like marriage licenses or immigration papers, just the kind of information[... see full page]