Group of women and children posing outside a home

Gathering of the Presbyterian Missionary Society held at the home of Mrs. Evangeline Reep, June 1923. Pictured left to right: Mrs. Reep, Mrs. Stella West, Mrs. Kate Morgan, Mrs. Eliza Grindle, Olive Brown, Nellie Hitchen, Mrs. Lizzie Law, Vernie Jamison Brown. Children: Harold Reep, Merna Brown, Allen Law, Grace Maxwell, Bertha Reep. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

January 14, 1920 – Stella West and Hattie Gauthier made the record catch of the season when they hooked a 20-pound salmon near the Boom, playing him for nearly half an hour before the big fish exhausted himself and could be drawn into the boat. It was a rare thing to capture a fish of this size in Big River, although salmon weighing as much as 25 pounds were frequently caught in Mendocino Bay.

Twelve years earlier, Stella had made a more noteworthy contribution to the community. She was one of several women who met two or three mornings a week to play tennis. Feeling that physical activity needed the balance of mental stimulation, Stella decided that the members of the group should also exercise their minds by study.

On October 30, 1908, Stella West, Olive Brown, Grace Fisher, Emma Coombs, Nellie Murray, Laura Lammers, and Edith Peirsol organized the Mendocino Study Club for “the highest intellectual and spiritual development of its members through avenues of study or works that seemed profitable.” Stella was elected to be the club’s first president. The ladies group met every 2 weeks at the homes of its members to discuss the Bay View Reading Course, a study guide by a Michigan lawyer to benefit adults who could not avail themselves of a college education.

The first year’s study was on the history and art of Italy. Details of several meetings were reported in the Beacon. Daisy Kelley McCallum told of her visit to Rome and of her audience with Pope Pius IX. Club members sang selections from Donizetti’s opera, “Lucrezia Borgia,” and read the story of the opera “Il Trovatore” with musical selections played on the graphophone.

Over the years, the Mendocino Study Club evolved into a community service organization and is now the oldest civic organization on the Mendocino Coast.

Ladies of the Afternoon by Jean Droz and Janet Barnes – This Kelley House Museum Review covers the history of the Mendocino Study Club over its 100 years of club activities and community projects. 20 pages. $12.