Three elderly women and an elderly man pose in front of trees

Coombs Siblings, c. 1905. Group photograph of the Coombs family siblings, pioneer settlers of Little River, taken in their later years. Standing: Elizabeth Coombs Pullen and Richard Coombs Seated: Ann Coombs Stickney and Caroline Coombs Rice

July 16, 1910 – Richard G. Coombs of Little River passed away at the Fort Bragg hospital where he had been recuperating from injuries sustained in a  stage coach accident. Three weeks earlier, the stage between Willits and Irmulco was “going down the incline to Irmulco and when near the Soda spring the brake gave way and the horses began to ran away. The driver, Neil Stockholm, was unable to manage the frightened team, but kept them in the road as best he could. He finally ran the horses in the bank and the stage turned over and rolled down the hill.”

One passenger was killed in the accident, and four others, including Richard, were “scratched up but not very seriously injured. They were taken to Fort Bragg on the train and their bruises attended to at the hospital there. Guy Redwine telephoned his folks [in Ukiah] that he had a fractured rib and a number of bruises but would soon be all right. Len Barnard who is the owner of the stage line was at Orr’s springs sick, but when he heard of the distressing accident he immediately went to Willits to give his personal attention to the matter.”

Unfortunately, Richard’s injuries were more serious than originally thought. “A weak heart prevented an operation on his wounded leg and this injury and the shock to his system suffered from the accident were more than his enfeebled system could overcome.”

Born in Whitefield, Maine in 1835, Richard first came to California in 1857, arriving in Little River in 1861, ”where he contracted logs for some of the large coast mill companies. He split the first redwood ties that were shipped from this county and also built the wharf at Littleriver. He was a man of much mechanical ability, and many structures stand along the coast today as monuments to his skill. As a man, he was loved and respected by all who came in contact with him for his kindly, gentle nature and his uprightness and worth.”

Richard was survived by his widow, Narcisse Evans Coombs; two children, Richard and Callie; and two sisters, Ann Stickney and Elizabeth Pullen.

Don’t miss our current exhibit! The Kelley House pays tribute to legendary local ‘70s band Cat Mother with a collection of ephemera, albums, and artwork. Cat Mother was an eclectic rock band formed in Greenwich Village, New York in 1967. By 1970, Cat Mother was living on the Mendocino Coast inspiring locals with outdoor “Boogies” and sparking creativity and community on the coast. Museum Hours: Thurs – Sun, 11 AM – 3 PM.