Making History Blog

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

Alecandocs? Babinyas!

Alecandocs? Babinyas!
By Carolyn Zeitler Boontling is a local nickname for a fabricated language that developed in the Anderson Valley between 1880 and 1920. It started out as a game by children who wanted to talk freely without the adults being able to understand what they were saying.  Based on English, it featured abbreviated words and sentences, a “lingo,” (Boonville and lingo becoming Boontling), of more than a thousand words and expressions. As more and more locals became interested, the lingo became very[... see full page]

Lumberjack Lingo

Lumberjack Lingo
by Katy Tahja, Kelley House Museum docent Browsing the shelves of the library in the Kelley House Museum Research Office, I found "Lumberjack Lingo" by L.G. Sorden written in 1969. While it's focused on how vocabulary was adapted to walking around the Great Lakes states, many of those walkers moved west and brought their terms with them. The cookhouse in a logging camp provided many unique terms. If a logger asked for cackleberries, slush, sow bosom, doorknobs and skid grease, he was[... see full page]

Rail Lines and Damp April Mornings

Rail Lines and Damp April Mornings
The scene is Mendocino’s Shipping Point. The characters are unnamed crew members of the steamer Noyo, longshoremen and a railroad crew of three. The time is 90 years ago this week, April 11, 1928 to be exact. According to the Mendocino Beacon, at approximately 7:30 in the morning of that day, an accident occurred involving eight railcars and 33,000 board feet of lumber. Oh, yes, there was also gravity, and the physics involved in wet rail lines. It must have[... see full page]

Happy Birthday, Hazel

Happy Birthday, Hazel
A little girl in a wicker chair holds a parrot. She is gazing down at the toy and dressed in a white, ruffled gown. Meet Hazel Packard Dennison, born on this day in 1897. She was the youngest of eight children who, along with her parents Charles Oscar and Hannah Cline Packard, made up one of the better known families of historic Mendocino. The original photograph, one of a series of three cut into a strip not unlike those that came[... see full page]

What's in an Archive?

What's in an Archive?
Do you have a box or two in the back of your closet or a file drawer filled with “stuff” that you may or may not go through before passing to the next world? That must have been what happened to Augie Heeser. Some of the things from his lifetime have found a home in the Kelley House Museum and archives. August Alfred Heeser, son of William and Laura Heeser, was a person of some means and a man of business[... see full page]

Dancing ‘Till Dawn

Dancing ‘Till Dawn
What is the appeal of a dance? Especially to the folks living and working around here in the old days, did they really need more exercise? No, it wasn’t about the exercise; it was about being amongst people, particularly people from outside one’s immediate environs. It was about getting cleaned up, putting on some nice clothes, being on one’s best behavior and maybe meeting someone new. Even if you didn’t meet that special someone, you could at least say you’d[... see full page]