The Kelleys were in the town of Mendocino at its founding in 1852. And over these last many years, we thought we had come to know a lot about them. 

Army portrait of a young man in a button-down shirt and hat

A compelling image of Lloyd Drexler Kelley, William and Eliza Kelley’s grandson, recently received by the Kelley House Museum from  family descendants. This was Lloyd’s official Army portrait taken when he was about 22 years old. The inscription on the back reads, “617 Lloyd Kelley Bat. (Battalion) B. Send to Mrs. O. W. Kelley 2 Sixth Ave San Francisco.” Lloyd enlisted on June 5, 1917. At that time, he was single and working as a farmer in California’s San Joaquin County. He was described as being tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair. Lloyd joined the military a second time in 1942, at the age of 47. (Gift of Rosemary Kelley Maulbetsch Collection, Kelley House Museum Archives)

However, new research has shed more light on the interesting lives of this pioneer family. Using internet search capabilities not available to earlier scholars, coupled with fresh materials recently brought to the Kelley House Museum from family descendants, volunteer Carol Dominy and curator Karen McGrath have assembled information that expands our understanding. 

To share these stories, the Museum has redone an entire corner of its Escola Exhibit Room to showcase the family. The new permanent exhibit is anchored by a vintage secretary-desk donated by Eileen Robblee and will feature Kelley photos as well as display personal items and other interesting objects.

Exhibits and program manager Eva Laflamme has brought out from the archives some fine fashions worn by the San Francisco branch of the clan, as well as one of Daisy MacCallum’s Christian Dior hats.

On the large exhibit screen, visitors can enjoy a new slide show of historic family portraits and stories put together by volunteer Kimmie Shuck.

A one-of-a-kind scrapbook, designed and crafted by local artists Leona Walden and Ed O’Brien, invites people to page though the lives of the Kelleys using postcards, clippings, snap shots, and other memorabilia. 

Topping it off, Leona’s three-foot wide, hand-embellished family tree (framed by Prentice Galleries) presents all these family players and helps us understand their relationships to each other. 

“With this new material and research, the members of the original Kelley family become even more recognizable to us today,” says Museum curator Karen McGrath. 

“They were a close group, who loved to travel together all over the world. But Mendocino was home base, the place they returned to visit frequently, even those that lived in San Francisco.”

The new exhibit is a permanent addition to the other educational displays found throughout the two-story, 160-year-old Victorian-era house museum. Special fashion items, such as the Parisian gown worn by cousin Jennie Blair at the Court of Saint James’, will be on view until the end of January. 

More information at Museum Hours: Thursdays through Sundays 11 am to 3 pm. Research Office: Fridays through Sundays 11 am to 3 pm, or by appointment