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Archive for the ‘Basic MVHS Documents’ Category

Although cartography is a real science and an immense amount of information about mapmaking exists, much of it online for the Googling, i want to make it easy for you to locate properties on the historical maps of the Mattole Valley i am going to put up, in a few easy steps. Nothing new here for history, real estate, or map enthusiasts.

If you have either the legal description of a certain parcel, or if you can locate it on a recent USGS topo map, you will be able to find the same spot on these maps once you understand a couple of basic things.

First, know that 36 single-square-mile Sections (each 640 acres) are lined up within squares or blocks designated Township (relating to north-south location) and Range (east-west location). The 36 Sections are counted up from the upper right of the Township-Range squares and loop back and forth to the lower right in an unusual configuration, like this:

(You are looking at the bare graph of a 36-square-mile area.) Now, each of these squares is located as Township (T) and Range (R) as in, i live in Section 25 of T2S,R2W– read that Township 2 South, Range 2 West. In the case of our Mattole squares, we happen to be south of the Humboldt Baseline which runs east-west through Mt. Pierce– the Monument– up near Rio Dell. Our west or east is in reference to the Humboldt Meridian which runs vertically on the map through Mt. Pierce and Honeydew. Thus, most Lower Valley locations are Range_(whatever)_West, and Wilder Ridge or Bull Creek are Range_East; and all are Township_South.

Then, the 640-acre square-mile Sections are further broken down into (4) 160-acre quarter-sections: the NE, SE, SW, and NW. Next, quarters of quarters, which are 40-acre or 1/16th sections– though parts of Sections can be described in halves, also. Here is an example of A.W. Way County Park, easy to recognize inside the east hoop of the “W” in the river about 5 miles upstream from Petrolia. The bulk of its location might be described as:
The south 1/2 of the NW qtr. of Sec. 30, T2S, R1W (sometimes you see “HB & HM” after this, to locate the Township and Range relative to Humboldt Baseline and Humboldt Meridian– but i generally don’t bother, once we know where we are in the lower Mattole Valley).

From the 1898 Lentell map. Notice that since Sec. 30 is on the west end of the T2S, R1W block, there is a harder line delineating its west edge, because another block-- T2S, R2W (Sec. 25 thereof) is next west.

(Actually, A.W. Way Park probably extends into the north 1/2 of the NW qtr. of Sec. 30– it’s hard to say with much accuracy on the older maps.)

On most maps, you will find the number (1-36) of the square-mile Section smack in the middle of the square. It’s an easy-to-use system once you have the basics.

Have fun!

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I found this synopsis of events leading to the beginning of Cabaret culture at the Community Center in my computer archives. It was put together about five years ago; i think i did it to help someone write an article that was part of a push to get funding. The renovation and expansion of the MRC offices upstairs, and the kitchen and bathrooms downstairs, was Phase One of a plan that should soon start taking the next step– pushing out the north wall to make room for a stage and dressing room, creating an even more entertainment-friendly venue. More than one lovely article could be written– this is only the outline of the earlier years.

So much has happened in this building, both as a school and in its many functions as the Community Center; important things in our lives (besides the obvious schooling and graduations) like friendship, play, drama and sports, parties and dinners, graduations, and now birthdays, memorials, baby blessingways and women’s circles, classes, workshops, breakfasts, and the ongoing work of the Mattole Restoration Council. At the MVHS’s Grange office we have a couple of binders of articles and pictures of the Community Center’s formation, and of the moving of the building across the street to its present location.

Brief history of Mattole Union School
and Mattole Valley Community Center connection

1859—Mattole School District established
1860—First building destroyed by falling tree (Humboldt Times, August 4, 1860)
1861—New school building completed (“according to county records,” says Book of Petrolia, p.56) on northwest side of North Fork creek
1862—Schoolbuilding burned down by vandals (Book of Petrolia)
1862—New two-storey wooden clapboard structure built about 100 yards east of the North Fork and north of the county road—near present Yellow Rose restaurant (Book of Petrolia)
1869—Mattole District counts 83 students, compared to Eureka’s 282 and Ferndale’s 54 (Humboldt Times, August 29, 1869)
1871—Or perhaps this is when the two-storey white clapboard school was built. Humboldt Times of August 26, 1871, states that “Trustees of the Mattole School District invite proposals for the building of a schoolhouse near Petrolia.” Also, some county records (according to History of Humboldt County Schools) date a “Petrolia School District” to 1871
1877—120 students in Mattole District; 57 at Upper Mattole (Humboldt Times, August 31, 1877)
1880s-90s—Ninety or more students in two classrooms (one upstairs and one down) covering twelve grades (Book of Petrolia)
1906—Schoolbuilding seriously damaged by April 18 earthquake. School held temporarily in Community Church (now Seventh-Day Adventist). Plans made by District Trustees to raise a tax and build a fine new school (Ferndale Enterprise, April 19, 1907)
1907—Contractor P.T. Petersen building new schoolhouse. (Ferndale Enterprise, April 19, 1907). Frank Adams and Jack Wright hired; some of the lumber from local mill run by Frank Etter. (Local newspaper clipping by Laura Stansberry Hunter Smith, 1962). Other wood is fine lightweight redwood hauled from Ferndale to Petrolia at 3000 feet per load by John Titus (Enterprise)
1907 or ‘08—Bell and its cast-iron frame salvaged from old school and placed in belfry atop new schoolbuilding, located on southeast crest of Crane Hill, in present grassy playfield just east of paved area. West end of building was main entry with a porch-wide flight of steps and eventually two separate doors. School begins here in fall of year (Book of Petrolia vs. memories of oldtimers at Petrolia Day—see Now… and Then, v1, n4)
1920s—Additional building (present office building) constructed separately, north of original building on site, as high school. Grades 1 through 11 taught through 1948, when students are sent to Ferndale on boarding-out basis, through agreement with their district (Book of Petrolia)
1924–Mattole Union District formed when Union Mattole School (located near Squaw Creek) is closed and the Petrolia “Mattole” School absorbs its students. (History of Humboldt County Schools, Vol. III)
1926—Mattole enrollment at low of about 10 (County records)
1950-51—Mattole average daily attendance is 15. One teacher (Directory of Public Schools, 1951)
1954-55—Larger population due to logging boom. Two teachers at Mattole School: 1-4 and 5-8 grades (Directory)
1956—Belfry torn down and bell taken to County Fairgrounds (Book of Petrolia)

Student body of Mattole Union School, 1955-56. Teacher for the upper grades was Mr. William Johnston, and for the lower, Mrs. Inez Johnson. Photo courtesy Tom Fisher


1962—Bell returned to school grounds (is now atop water tower on northwest end of school property). Map of Mattole Valley painted on inside west wall by students for Petrolia Day (Book of Petrolia)
Mid-1960s—Last graduation ceremonies held in old Mattole Union School building; henceforth held at Mattole Grange, as they had often been previously (1940s) (Memory of Ray Azevedo, 1960s school principal)
Early 1970s—Replacement classrooms set up at Mattole Union School site (Ray Azevedo); old schoolbuilding condemned as unsafe for use under Field Act for Earthquake Safety (MVCC archives)
1975—First meeting of the Mattole Valley Community Action Planning Committee in June (MVCC archives)
1977—Mattole Valley Community Center with more than 70 members negotiates with School Board for purchase of old school building. Sold for $100 (MVCC archives)
1978—Mattole School Song written by Dorothy Short
1978, August—Building pulled across street by volunteers to present location on west side of county road. Keeps old east-west orientation so that entries are reversed: the old back door now fronts the county road
1979, January—New front porch added, woodstove installed, electrical wiring completed. By March, building ready for use. By fall, Mattole Valley Preschool begins operation in old building; new office space upstairs, later to be the Mattole Restoration Council office, opened as library (Now… and Then, v1, n4)
1979, fall—First Cabaret held at Mattole Valley Community Center (MVCC archives)

The Mattole Valley Community Center in 2006, after first expansion

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(recent history, that is…) This will be old news to anyone who has studied Mattole history much, but not to everyone. The chronology is a basic MVHS document. If you dispute any of these happenings or interpretations, please comment. (George Roscoe told me he disagreed with the idea of markets being a factor in the downfall of the sheep industry, for instance; he believed if it weren’t for the coyotes, the Mattole would still be known for its lamb, and ranchers could make an honest living with them. I kept both reasons in there because other ranchers have told me there’s no way local lamb can provide a living with the prices as they have been for the past few decades.)

Chronological Mattole History Sketch

6,000-15,000 years ago: Native Mattole, an Athapaskan-language-speaking people, arrived here from north. Sedentary (permanent villages) but not agricultural with likely exception of tobacco cultivation. Acorns and salmon dietary mainstays. Culture assumed to be similar to that of Sinkyone, group to the south, and Bear River Natives, just to the north.
A.D. 1500s to 1800s: Exploration by sea of coastal area by hopeful colonial powers–French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Russians, Americans. Likely Native awareness of some of these explorers and traders.
1848-9: First claim of white settler, A.A. Hadley, to have travelled Mattole Valley.
1854: First published account of Mattole Valley’s attractions by Mr. Hill. Excellent rangeland, climate, soil, and plentiful fish and game attract white settlers. Conflict with Natives inevitable and rapid.
1859: School district, third in Humboldt County, established. District and town called “Mattole,” a Native word for this place and themselves, meaning “clear water.”
1861: Discovery of oil in the Valley first publicized.
1864: All but a dozen or two of the least troublesome Natives killed or captured. Indian troubles considered over. In 1868 measles kills most survivors.
1865: First oil shipped out by Union Mattole Co. Principal town established and named “Petrolia.” Oil boom short-lived, though experimental drilling and subsequent oil excitement recur periodically.
1869: Road to Ferndale well-established, including beach stretch south of Centerville.
1871: Regular stage service to town (Ferndale).
1880s: Wildcat Road completed with Chinese labor. Transportation still major impediment to commerce. Mattole Valley quite self-sufficient with three grain mills in lower valley, much fish (supporting locals and vacationers) and game, feral pigs, turkeys, successful vegetable gardens, and a thriving cattle industry. Many services and businesses in town of Petrolia; Upper Mattole also home to post office and schools. Sheep introduced at unclear date.
1890: About 90 students in Mattole district.
1880s-1910s: Tanbark harvesting begun, reaching peak with Calvin Stewart’s Mattole Lumber Co.
1900 (about): Telephone service to Valley.
1908-1913: Mattole Lumber Co. wharf at mouth of Mattole River, served by short railroad stretch on north side of river. Tanbark, also nuts and fruit, esp. apples, shipped out in quantity. Rough storms and high maintenance costs destroy wharf.
1920-22: Good roads with bridges out of Valley in three directions. Last gristmill closed.
1930s: Depression weathered fairly well here. “Nobody went hungry.”
1940s: Electrical service to most of Valley floor. Previously a few hydroelectric systems. Livestock trucks replace cattle drives. War-stimulated economy creates Cats capable of logging steep hillsides. Chemical processes replace tanbark leather processing.
1940s-60s: Standing timber tax, new machines, and market demands create logging boom. Douglas-fir now profitable. Population and businesses flourish.
1955 and 1964: Huge floods take down much unstable landscape. Late summer, 1964, fires consume over 28,000 acres.
Mid-1960s: Timber mostly taken; salmon fisheries nearly dead.
1970s: Sheep industry gone down; many blame coyotes but markets also a factor.
Late 1960s-70s: First hippie-style “back-to-the-landers.”
1980s: Marijuana economy functional; C.A.M.P. (marijuana control) program created, causing high prices for product. Mattole Restoration Council, Mattole Salmon Group, Petrolia School begun. Mattole Valley Community Center (formed in 1976) integral part of community of newcomers.
1992: Late April earthquakes (largest 7.1 Richter reading) rock Mattole Valley. Petrolia’s Store and P.O. burn down in resultant fire, but are soon replaced.
Lately: More retirees, dot-commers, urban refugees looking for suburban lifestyle with rural views. Less polarity, more mainstreaming. Tourism looked to by many as economic hope, usually with “ecotourist” angle. Restoration of forest and stream ecosystems also a significant business and volunteer orientation. Ranching continued by many families, often with creative, fresh approach.

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