The 1868 May Day celebration was held at Ford’s Orchard, also known as the Company Orchard, which was located on the south side of Little Lake Road near Clark Street in the eastern area of Mendocino. Jerome B. Ford lived in the small cabin he built here until the Ford House on Main Street was completed in 1854, following his marriage to Martha Hayes. Their daughter Catherine “Katie” Ford was May Queen in 1868, and her sister Ella was a member of her court.

Audience watching a celebration on a stage

Image from a stereograph showing Mendocino’s May Day celebration in 1868. Jerome B. Ford is sitting on the stage. (Gift of Alice Earl Wilder)

Katie described the property in her booklet, “Childhood Memories of Catherine Ford Rea” – “We had a fine croquet ground in the woods over beyond the cemetery where we played frequently and an orchard not far away, with considerable fruit coming on, and cherry tomatoes – the first I ever saw. A small Damson plum bearing the first year had to be propped up it bore so heavily. The place was sheltered, surrounded by woods on three sides and a stream of water ran through where we found lady slipper orchid and hounds tongue and mosses, wild violets and many choice flowers. Next to the orchard was an opening in the trees where we had a May Day Celebration when I was Queen, and at the croquet ground, another secluded spot, Ella was Queen one year.”

Join us for a special tribute to the beloved actress, Angela Lansbury on Friday, May 5, 5pm-8pm. The evening begins with a hosted reception at the Blair House Inn, followed by a screening of clips from Angela Lansbury’s career at the Matheson Theater. $60 Members, $70 for General Public.