March 25, 1845 – S. J. “Jesse” Chalfant was born in Maryland, the son of well-known carpenter and builder William Chalfant and Elizabeth (Edwards) Chalfant. When Jesse was just 19 years old, he set out for California to join his older brothers, John and Aaron, who had settled on the Mendocino Coast in the 1850s.

Jesse’s early years in California were spent in the lumber industry, working for the Mendocino Lumber Company. His honesty and integrity soon caught the attention of the community, leading to his election as Sheriff of Mendocino County in 1871 at the young age of 26. On Christmas Day 1872, Jesse married Elizabeth W. Cunningham, the only daughter of Ukiah merchant W. W. Cunningham. Between 1873 and 1882, the couple had three children: Fred, Charles, and Alice.

Historic House with fence in front

Undated photo looking northwest at the Chalfant-Dietz-Madera House, located at 45080 Calpella Street in Mendocino. This home was originally the S. J. Chalfant house. Jesse and his wife sold this home to Byron Clark in 1886. Almost a century later, Dr. Jeffrey Berenson and his wife, Mina Cohen, purchased the property and renovated the house and barn. The carriage house fronting Little Lake Street was restored to become Dr. Berenson’s medical office.

After serving as Sheriff for five years, Jesse and his growing family returned to Mendocino where he first held the position of Mendocino County Deputy Assessor. Between 1879 and 1880, he continued his public service as one of two constables for Big River Township.

From 1880 to 1884, Jesse once again ventured into the lumber business, as Superintendent of the Albion Mill. It was during this period that he patented a saw tooth swage, highlighting his expertise in the industry.

In 1885, Jesse and his family returned to Ukiah, where he purchased his father-in-law’s furniture store. Sadly, tragedy struck in 1890 when Jesse became ill with tuberculosis. On October 19, 1891, Jesse passed away at his home in Ukiah at the age of 46. His funeral procession, a testament to the profound respect and affection held for him, was one of the largest in Ukiah’s history. He is buried in Ukiah Cemetery.

Haunted Mendocino Walking Tour – Wear your sweater since you’re bound to get goosebumps listening to the ghostly tales of some of Mendocino’s more infamous residents. We’ll stop at the homes, hideouts, and hangouts of all the well-known specters, and learn a little of the town’s history along the way. Gaze into a mirror where people have seen a woman in Victorian dress looking back at them. Peer into the waves in search of a stallion and the rider who took it into the sea. Did you know not all hauntings are about scary visions or terrifying noises, but that some ghosts haunt with scents? What is that thing that goes bump in the night, followed by sounds of a taut rope swinging from the rafters? Why can guests hear the pitter patter of pets in a building where pets aren’t allowed? What is the area’s oldest known ghost story? And how many spooks haunt the streets of Mendocino? All questions will be answered on this hour and a half long tour through Haunted Mendocino. Join us… if you’re not too scared. April 9 @ 5PM. $25.