The Robert Law family, 1913. Robert and Elizabeth Freathy Law driving in a one-horse buggy from Little River to Mendocino on their way to church with their children, Edward and Jean. The horse was named “Susie.” The road is bordered by a split rail fence. (Gift of Jean Rice)

Robert Law was born in Lachute, Canada in 1868. He immigrated to the US around 1889 and came to California about 1899. For a while, he lived in Caspar where he was employed by Alexander Jefferson. On Christmas Eve, 1902, Robert married Elizabeth Freathy, who was born in Mendocino in 1878. Rev. J. S. Ross performed the ceremony at the Caspar home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Freathy.

The Law family first lived in Caspar but moved to Mendocino sometime after 1904, where they rented rooms at the Carlson Hotel. During this time, Robert conducted farming operations for Boyd & Daniels in both Mendocino and Little River. The Law family next rented the Stevens Ranch in Little River, where they operated a farm. In 1914, Robert Law bought the Hills Ranch from Joshua Grindle. This property consisted of about 200 acres of land north of Little Lake Road, which included the Hill House Inn property, the current Hills Ranch Subdivision, and the Spencer Hills House, where the Law family lived.

Robert and Elizabeth established a very successful dairy farm on this property and operated the “Law Dairy” until Robert’s death in 1925. Elizabeth continued to operate the business, changing the name to “Mendocino Dairy” in 1935, following her marriage to George Soeth in 1934. In 1946, the Soeths sold their milk business and dairy herd (about 40 cows) due to George’s failing health. George passed away the following year.

In 1962, Elizabeth became ill while in Santa Rosa visiting at the home of her daughter Jean and died at the hospital there.

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.