Archive for the ‘Buildings’ Category

Note: i don’t have a category for “Photos” alone, since so many of these posts have a few. However, if you put “photos” in the Search bar above, you will see the blog entries that are basically just pictures– such as this one!

From an album given to us by Dayton Titus. This is only the second picture i’ve ever seen of the John A. Mackey store. It burned in 1903, so this is a very early photograph. Since the original was only about 2 inches in diameter, even this much detail in it (when blown up; to make it bigger, click on it, and click again…) is gratifying. The store was opposite the southwest corner of the Petrolia square.

Here’s another from the same page, same Titus album. I didn’t clean it up or Photoshop the scan in any way but to enhance the contrast… it was quite washed-out. But it’s a treasure, in that we only have two or three other views of this hotel, which was the one on the square. The structure must have been enlarged many times; i think this was the north wing, seen from the west; that is, it’s directly across from the present Petrolia Store. The main and original part of the hotel is to the right, on the southwest corner of the square.

A double exposure, probably accidental as nobody’s trying to look like they’re astride a horse; still, it does look like that one guy’s on a ghost horse, no? From the Titus album.

View northwest toward the hill at the end of Chambers Rd., which is the cliff above the narrow part of Conklin Creek Rd. There are a couple other pictures we have of this same view, from different times. This one shows a little more of the grazing area, perhaps giving more of a clue to the exact location of this enclosure. I believe it was between the curves of the road going down Shenanigan Ridge toward Petrolia, two turns below the present dump… land marked Mike Shallard on some of the very old maps. But i am not sure.

Old bridge not necessarily in the Mattole area (some of the pictures in Dayton Titus’s album are from Ferndale, maybe other places), but it could well be any of at least four in the lower Mattole (Honeydew and downstream) that cross between steeper, treed banks.

This picture was sent by Doris Long, the lady who knew the John W. and Florence Mackeys as a child. A nice view of the mouth of the river in 1941- ’42.

The story Doris Geib Long told, and several great pictures she sent, are here.

Lisa (Mrs. Laurence) Hindley sent these next few pictures. This is Joseph N.D. Hindley with a tamed fawn.

I can’t get my orientation right for this picture… are we looking upstream?

Another Hindley photo, of the structure for a straw barn at the family ranch in Honeydew.

Wind or lightning? Something felled this lone tree, but its regrowth is vigorous and beautiful. Thanks to Lisa Hindley for sending this and other photos.

Speaking of Hindleys, something tells me there might be some Hindley children in this group. Perhaps it’s a group of Honeydew schoolmates. The photo was in the Mary Rackliff Etter collection. I see some Native faces, and a few of the people strongly resemble those in other Honeydew group photos.

Jerry Rohde sent me this photo a couple of months ago. It is by A.A. Burgess, a Petrolia-area photographer, and it was filed with the Bear River-Petrolia pictures at the Humboldt Co. Historical Society. We are wondering if anybody knows where this apparently beachfront bachelor’s cabin was located. I sent it to John McAbery, wondering if he had any ideas about whether it might have been a previous structure on the location of his home at Four Mile Creek, but he said No. Anybody?

Well, many more photos upcoming when i find the time.

Read Full Post »

(Edit/update on July 12, 2012: i am filling in the names of Doris’s parents: Ethel and Milt Geib. I hadn’t asked before, which was very remiss of me.)

Over the past quarter century, i have gone several times out to the coast, a bit north of Cooskie Creek, to the site of the old Mackey cabin. It was always an adventure to head out into the wind and sunshine, around the north side of Cooskie Mtn. and out Johnny Jack Ridge to where the jeep road falls so steeply that i never dared continue on the ATV. From this top-of-the-world point, you can look seemingly straight down to the tiny sight of the cabin just above the sea, and can also locate, in the middle of a sizable fenced corral some distance south and inland of the cabin, what we called the Mackey Barn. The barn was up on a flat several hundred feet above the cabin level, close to Cooskie Creek, and it was still a walk of about a mile seaward to the cabin. (In consulting maps as far back as the 1865 Doolittle, i see that the site of the Mackey Ranch was probably that of the old John Segrist place.)

But the cabin always drew me. It was awesomely dilapidated, the windows empty of glass, the floorboards rotted out, surfaces powdery with dust, mouse chewings, and droppings from various small creatures. But there was a large window opening in the kitchen, looking directly out to the ocean. I wondered what it would be like to work in that kitchen, hearing the relentless wind howling outside while gazing at the infinite horizon from the snugness of this minimal space.

Outside were the remains of several outbuildings, rotten fence posts, old wheel and horse-path ruts; but the thing that intrigued me was the patch of Red-Hot Poker flowers near the cabin, and a bit further north up the beach, on the brink of a craggy cliff, a single agave cactus. I felt sure a woman had lived here, and planted those exotics. I think there were daffodils, too, in the Spring. Who was this woman—and what was it like to live in a place as wild and beautiful, but lonely, as this?

ImageThe Mackey Ranch, early 20th century. Photo from the Mary Rackliff Etter Collection.

The latter question was posed to present-day beach dweller John McAbery by a San Francisco Chronicle writer earlier this summer. The article described the life of a diligent artistic couple, woodcarver John and his partner Gretchen Bunker, in their own hand-built cabin at the mouth of Four-Mile Creek. (The comments section after the main article was as gratifying to me as any part of it, because nearly every one of about 100 writers expressed envy and admiration, and several conveyed eye-rolling wonder that anybody could handle such a lonely life so far from the comforts of civilization.) Well, a lady named Doris Long, of Alameda, caught the article and was moved to send a letter and some old photos to John and Gretchen. She had been friends with the Mackeys and visited the cliffside cabin in the early 1940s, when she was about six years old. Another visit brought her back to Petrolia in 1949, and there are photographs from that trip as well. John and Gretchen forwarded the pictures to the MVHS, i contacted Doris, and here we have her tales of John W. and Florence Mackey.

Doris Geib, born in 1935 and growing up in the east Bay Area, knew the Mackeys from the time she was small. Florence was her father’s secretary at the Don Lee auto dealership in San Francisco… apparently, at that time, she and John lived in the city but maintained the ranch remotely, spending time there in the summers or whenever possible. Of all the people her parents entertained, Doris says “The Mackeys were just my favorite people. They were the only ones I willingly gave up my bedroom for… they paid attention to us. They were fun people! They came and stayed with us in Burlingame a few times and then after John died, Florence came more often. Of course, as a little kid I didn’t ask them any questions about their lives.”

But her childhood memories of them paint a warm picture. Let me begin by quoting from the letter Doris sent the McAberys: “I read the article about you in the SF Chronicle last Sunday and it brought back many memories of my trip to the area where you live. Our family friends, John and Florence Mackey, owned a ranch on the coast. The enclosed pictures were taken on our trip over 70 years ago!! The Mackeys had a home in Petrolia, right on the river, and Florence spent most of her time there. John ran cattle on the ranch and spent most of his time out there. When Florence needed to get a message to him she called the Punta Gorda lighthouse and they raised the message flag that John could see from his house [down the coast a couple of miles; binoculars helped]. They had no children but I am sure if there are any really oldtimers around they would remember the Mackeys.

“There were no roads out to the ranch so we had to get there by horseback. They would watch the tides and at low tide we would get out and go along the water. Sometimes we would get caught in a cove and have to wait for the 7th wave to get around the point of land. Many years later John put in a Jeep road overland. Of course, their ranch house was really kind of primitive. I remember the outhouse was facing the water and it had no door on it because when you were in there it was the farthest point west… and no one was going to be passing by!

“One of the things I remember most was when we were staying in Petrolia, every morning Florence sent my brother and I out to catch trout for everyone’s breakfast. I could catch them but was a little squeamish about baiting the hook so my brother did it for me. We would catch a bunch of trout and Florence would
clean them and fry them up, they were delicious!! Also, John brought in some abalone and it was the first time I had ever tasted it and have been a fan ever since. Too bad I can’t afford to eat it these days! (Doris later mentioned that ‘One other memory I have is when John brought home abalone. Florence said the only way to fix it was to beat it with an empty beer bottle. My nephews used to go abalone diving and my Mom always beat the abalone with a beer bottle!! Although she never drank so she had to make the effort to find the right bottle.’)

“Enjoy your life in what the Mackeys used to call ‘God’s Country’.”


John and Florence Mackey in front of their Petrolia house, 1941 or ’42; Eddie, Doris, and their mother Ethel Geib.


The nice borrowed car and Doris, her brother Ed, and mother on the bridge crossing the Mattole on the way to the beach.


Doris’s dad Milt Geib crossing on the bridge, which was replaced in 1957 by the present span near the old Hideaway.


Not sure which creek this crossed; maybe East Mill Creek?

Beginning the trip: on the beach perhaps at the Punta Gorda Light Station gate? From left, Florence Mackey, young Doris, John Mackey the cowboy, Doris’s mom Ethel, and big brother Ed.


Watering the horses at a springbox.


Doris and dad relaxing at the mouth of a creek, heading down to the Mackey ranch and cabin.


Out on the ranch, in a section accessible by truck.


Eddie in somebody’s hat, Doris, and don’t miss the little fawn!

Doris and i spoke on the phone and she filled in some of the details. Her family made the trip up to Petrolia in 1941 or ‘42, when she was about 6 and her brother Ed, who recently passed away, about 10. Doris noted that now that Ed is gone, she is the only one in her family with any memories of the Mackeys left. Since her dad worked for Don Lee, who specialized in Cadillacs, the car they drove up (and pictured here) was a very comfortable and luxurious vehicle borrowed from the dealership. We couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the Mackeys’ Petrolia house was, though i’m pretty sure it was either just downstream of the end of what’s now called Old Coast Wagon Rd., or on Conklin Creek Rd. at the mouth of East Mill Creek; perhaps these pictures or somebody’s property title will give a clue. Florence didn’t go out to the cabin much, but she did make this trip with the Geibs. John went down the beach by horseback in those early days. Doris’s mother would not get onto a horse, and she walked the whole distance to the cabin via the mouth of the river, a journey of several miles and over varying terrain. (That excursion, and a visit to Yosemite, were the only two times Doris remembers her mother wearing jeans.) When they got to a steep part of the trail, Flo told Mother, “Hold on to the horse’s tail!” for a little lift.

Doris’s family had quite a collection of Japanese glass floats, which they got from John and Florence. Eventually they were all given away by Doris’s father, though.

One of the strongest memories Doris and her brother held was of the fawns that Florence raised out at the cabin. John would find them out on the range and bring them to Flo, who’d raise them, then release them when they were big enough to return to the wild. The cabin, Doris remembers, was small but did have that window where you could stand in the kitchen and look out at the ocean. There were no interior doors. One time, Doris’s mom took a nap in the bedroom with the doorway blocked by a chair and some boxes; one of the fawns backed up, took a run, and leapt into the bedroom. Mother immediately woke up and cried, “It’s not house-trained; why is it in here?”


This and the following shot are of Florence with her pet deer. The photos were taken in 1939, and given to Doris’s family.


Doris remembers the Mackeys joking with her about shyness in using the doorless outhouse: “Who’s going to look at you, the Chinamen?” However, a steer or bull did come and stare at her during her usually solitary operation.

John W. Mackey was a big, lanky man, tall and thin. Of course, Doris says, she was impressed that he was actually a cowboy! He loved to joke and tease. Both he and Florence loved to drink. In fact, Doris believes he died of cirrhosis of the liver. He was lying in a hospital, dying, and he asked for a bottle; Flo passed it in through a window then came around to visit and drink with him. He said, “Be careful not to let the nurses see it,” but by then, everybody knew that it really didn’t matter anymore.

Flo drank boilermakers; she would drink all day and never seem to get drunk, never slur her speech or in any way dismay the kids. She’d get a beer and put in a shot of her own liquor, which she always brought when she visited Doris’s parents. “You don’t need to buy my booze!” she told them.

About eight years after the first trip to Petrolia, when they all went to the cabin, the family returned to Petrolia; but this time, Doris’s father went to the ranch accompanied only by his sister-in-law Vera and John, while Doris, 14, Eddie, 18, their mother, and Flo stayed at the Mackeys’ Petrolia place. Aunt Vera from Virginia was visiting California to see Doris’s grammar-school and Ed’s high-school graduations. When the men were about to depart for the cabin, Flo tucked a bottle of booze into Dad’s vest pocket. As the group was rounding a rock on the beach, a surprise wave knocked him up against the cliff. The others yelled, “You didn’t break the bottle, did you?”


The return trip in 1949: back row, father Milt and brother Ed; front, Aunt Vera, Florence Mackey, mother Ethel, and Doris. There was another shot, not quite as clear, showing Doris’s pantlegs; she wrote, “I had to laugh when i saw that I’d rolled up my jeans just like Florence wore hers!”

Well, my original idea of a woman living a lonely life by the sea was not in the least accurate; Flo was a warm-hearted, fun-loving gal who wouldn’t have chosen that kind of isolation. I don’t know, but still imagine, that she must have planted the flowers though.

Many thanks to Doris Geib Long for these pictures and precious stories; and to John McAbery and Gretchen Bunker for passing them on.


A little Mackey family history: There were three John Mackeys in Petrolia history. The first was John A. Mackey, brother of Patrick Mackey, who emigrated here from Nova Scotia and Ireland, respectively. John A., born in 1938, married Honorah O’Leary, sister of Patrick and Cornelius O’Leary. Together, John and Honorah had at least nine children, of whom four died in 1880’s Scarlet Fever epidemic. One of the survivors was John Joseph Mackey, born in 1878. He married Nellie Kathryn Funge, born in Utah in 1875 of an Irish father and genteel mother from Ohio. The senior John and his son John J. ran the Mackey Store across the street, south, from the end of Sherman St. (which runs in front of the present Petrolia Store). The Mackey Store burned in 1903.

Nellie K. and John J. Mackey had three children: Nell K., later Mrs. Wyllis Young, 1907 or ’08 -1991; Mildred Margaret, aka Molly*, 1905 or ’06-sometime in the 1960s; and John William Mackey, born 1903 and died in the 1950s.

This John W. Mackey married Florence Lenora Anton in the 1920s. Florence’s father was Scottish-born James Anton, and her mother Florence Lenora Crain, from Missouri. Flo was born in Fresno in 1907. By 1930, John and Florence were married and living in Alameda; John was a paper salesman. They never had any children of their own.

(Doris remembers Florence as essentially a city girl, though she loved Petrolia. She used to come down to San Francisco a lot, even after the couple was living here in the Mattole. However, she did like to wear boots, which was unusual for women in those days.)

Florence died in San Francisco of lung cancer in 1968. She returned to Humboldt County to be buried in St. Bernard’s Cemetery, Eureka.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

* Note that Molly, or Mildred Margaret Mackey, later became Mrs. Don Roberts, and lost her husband and son in a drowning accident; then she became Molly West through a later marriage. One of her loves, i was told, was the Clark man who died in a Jeep rollover out in the Cooskie range. I have a few pictures of her, and several people have asked me about her. If anyone has any stories to share about Molly West, please let me know. I heard that she, like her brother and sister-in-law, loved the bottle. She kept herself pretty soused until the end, which came of a pill overdose in a Eureka motel room. Who could blame her, though, with the trouble she’d seen.


Read Full Post »

Here are some more pictures i like, from various sources as credited.

The J.A. Dudley place, two miles upstream from Petrolia. From the Hum. Co. Dept. of Public Works, possibly donated by Lyn Chambers

Jacob Allen Dudley, a son of James Newton Dudley (who had the sawmill at the mouth of East Mill Creek) owned land in the SE quarter of Section 11, T2S, R2W… that is, across the river, roughly, from where Alex Cockburn now lives and perhaps on the spot once called “the Raiches place” where Sterling now has a trailer. George Cummings had the land by 1911, and later it was marked Sam Adams. Probably this was Samuel F., or Frank, Adams, who was married to Addie Maud Burgess. Her brother was the photographer who took this photo. It’s a good one to zoom in on. I love the detail… how very tidy the buildings are, and how much work must’ve gone into felling those trees.

The Petrolia Hotel after the 1906 earthquake. Photo, by Eakle, from the online Bancroft Museum collection

There were other pictures of a “Petrolia Hotel” on the Bancroft site, but it turns out they were taken down south, not in a town named Petrolia, but maybe in the Coalinga area. However, i am pretty sure this is our hotel, the one that was on the path south from the square toward the cemetery. This back (west) wing is an addition since some of the earlier photos, but must have been rebuilt after the earthquake damage, for in the photo below, eight years later, it is a full-on two-story extension.

Downtown Petrolia looking south-southwest, 1914. Courtesy Dave Stockton

You can see the Reynolds place (later the Maude and Gib Langdon place, up near Mary Etter’s/now Jim Groeling’s), the bright white hotel with its back “ell” off toward the west (right), the corner saloon, the old Rudolph, then Hunter, store; the Hart and Johnson store, which burned down in the 1992 earthquake; and the livery stable on the site of today’s Fire Department.

Honeydew School in 1915, courtesy Tom Slack, son of Janice Peers Slack

Another beautiful old building that went down. Janice Peers’ mother, Verna Hawley Peers, was a teacher there in 1915 (see previous post about Shinn house). It was on what’s Alex Moore’s place now, the old Shinn home… or at least, the schoolbuilding’s ashes are. I heard that when he learned that we knew it was there, Mr. Moore torched it immediately lest the Preservation Police came and took away his rights. Pretty unlikely considering it was already just a pile of rotten wood…

And speaking of schools:

Mattole Union School Chorus, 1934, courtesy Velma Hunter Childs Titus

Front row: Bernardine Hunter, Gwen Fox, Dora Mae Clark, Carmen Davis (Gill), Velma Hunter.
Back row: Barbara Albee, Doris Johnston (Clark Loudermilk), Ellen Reynolds, Elaine Albee, Virginia Hunter.
I would like not just a picture, but a recording of their voices raised in song!

Cape Mendocino, from an old postcard print. Courtesy Hum. Co. Dept. of Public Works

An oldie but goodie. Note the wooden fences following the winding road up “the Wall.”

Read Full Post »

This is Heinie Senn. Probably a self-portrait. He was the official photographer of the Mattole Union School around 1940 (and also the busdriver). His brothers were Carl, Rudy, and Bill Senn, and his daughter is Mary Bacchetti, who contributed this photo.

Here is Johnny Chambers in 1926. His brother was Russell, his sisters Lois Gillespie and Dorothy, and his parents Irving and Emily Chambers.

Carol Adams a.k.a. Gypsy, who later became Mrs. John Evenden, with her father Louis Adams in the late 1930s. Gypsy was one of the MVHS's most interested and active members.

George "Buck" Miner and his sheep on his land with part of Cooskie Mtn. in the background. Photo was taken by Bruce Durbin in preparation for the 1996 publication of Buck's book, Origin of the Mattole.

Doris Johnston, later Clark then Loudermilk, feeding the chickens; 1930s i would guess.

The Chester Gardner home at Union Mattole (New Jerusalem), on the property where Don and Lorene Etter recently lived. Now owned by George Short. 1935 shot of structure built in 1920, in a style popular in towns but unusual out in the sticks. Later occupied by Mrs. Frank (Dora) Etter, and at some point horribly renovated to look like an automotive shop.

Molly West with a young Patty Langer, from 1955 or '56. I would like to know more about Molly (or Mildred Mackey Roberts West...) and write an article about her someday. Photo courtesy Patty Langer.

Read Full Post »

In my March 3, 2011, post called “More old buildings… ” i mentioned the story of the Mackey house that ended up on the site of the present Mattole Valley Community Center in Petrolia. (The photo is at the bottom of that article, too.) Martha Beer Roscoe had written an article in the Humboldt Historian, v. XVII, no. 4, about that house’s unique history. Please excuse the copy’s quality. You can read it if you click on it to enlarge. To clarify one point, across the street from it was what was called the Cavy Miner home. It was originally built by Cavy’s husband, Jacob Miner, but occupied by her and her brother-in-law, Cyrus Miner, for decades after. (It was Mrs. Alden Boots’s place in the late 1960s; she was Bill Selby’s mother.)

Thanks to the Humboldt County Historical Society, and to the late great
Martha B. (Mrs. Stanley) Roscoe.

Read Full Post »

In a recent post, “Treasures upon Earth,” i didn’t say much about the E.J. Etter place in Honeydew (i also mistakenly typed “Hunter” instead of “Etter,” but that’s fixed). However, i recently spoke with Miss Mary Etter, whose grandfather, Emil J. Etter, built that impressive house (he was the father of her and Mike Etter’s dad Charles). She told me that it stood very close to the house she lives in now, near the confluence of the Upper North Fork and mainstem Mattole, just north of the Honeydew bridge on the northeast side of the river. The building was so severely damaged in the 1992 earthquakes that she reluctantly had it dismantled. Miss Mary was surprised at what good shape it was still in (after about a century of earthquakes, winter rains, floods, and Honeydew heat).

E.J. Etter also, it turns out, built the Shinn home for his daughter, who became Mrs. Mary Shinn.

The Shinn Place, an inn located on what's now Alex Moore's property-- just a bit up Wilder Ridge Rd., southwest of the present school, near the site of the original Honeydew School. Photo courtesy Janice Peers Slack.

Miss Mary said this large building, close to the main road southward out of the Valley, was intended to help the Shinn family make a living. Janice Slack, whose mother, Verna Hawley Peers, taught at Honeydew in 1914-15, wrote that “Verna lived with the Shinn family in their large roadside inn where travelers would stay. There was a large stove on the first floor where men would congregate to talk and enjoy the warmth. When she wanted to take a bath, she would have to heat the water in a bucket on the kitchen stove and carry it upstairs to the bathroom, unavoidably passing the group. They would whisper and snicker, ‘The teacher’s taking a bath,’ which she tried to ignore as best she could. Returning to school after Christmas vacation, because of road conditions, she had to ride horseback from Ferndale to Honeydew.”


Coming back down the river, we find the old Frank X. Etter home still standing near Squaw Creek until quite recently:

Frank and Dora Hill Etter home, built on Squaw Creek-- about a mile up from its meeting with the Mattole-- in 1917. Photo from 1945.

This 1971 photo of the Squaw Creek home is from Brian Doyle, grandson of
Mr. and Mrs. F.X. Etter.

Francis X. Etter, born 1879, had married Dora Hill (daughter of Bertha Roscoe and George Russell Hill) and had four children already (Alma; Don, who just passed away in 2008 at almost 100 years old; Keith; and Edgar) when he built this house. Frances M., the youngest, was born in 1917, just as the house was finished. She married Brian Doyle, and our present MVHS member of the same name is their son.

In downtown Petrolia:

The hotel in Petrolia on the southwest corner of the square. Probably taken around 1900. From the Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

Charles A. Doe first ran a hotel here in 1869; various owners, managers, and renovations over the years kept it vital until the fire of April, 1903, destroyed it.

View east-southeast from the Lower North Fork to the Selby-Clemenza home on left, and the old Mackey place, later Maude Goff and Gib Langdon's, on the right.

This photo is cropped from a fantastically huge picture (17 megabyte jpeg file) from the Mary Rackliff Etter collection. The large white house on the right is the back of the building once sitting where the Community Center is today. I recently read an article by Martha Roscoe about the history of the house; i will copy it and post it in its entirety soon. The gist of it was that the structure was actually moved from the John Mackey property down near Mill Creek on Chambers Road to its Crane Hill location, where the Etter family bought it and leased it out to many families over the years. Gib Langdon and Maude Goff lived here, and newcomers Bill and Judy Johnston– he a 1950s Mattole schoolteacher and later telephone system owner and repairman, and she a charming and sexy lady, apparently, who caused more than a few wrinkles of anxiety in this staid Valley– occupied it when it burned down in the late 1960s.

One more note on the homes of the Petrolia area: Cindy Lyman commented on the “Treasures upon Earth” post that the Charles Johnston home strongly resembled the Selby house, visible to the left in the picture above, and one of the few nineteenth-century houses still standing in the Valley. I read an article today from the May 12, 1966, Ferndale Enterprise, by Mary Rackliff Etter, that explains the mystery: “The old home [the Lanini place, originally the Patrick Mackey home, which was just then being torn down] was erected some 80 years ago [1880s] by one of Humboldt County’s best known carpenters during that period of time. It was Charles Rackliff, who married Mary Clark, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Clark, on Nov. 12, 1876. Other homes he so capably built in Petrolia were Mrs. (Aunt Cavie) Miner’s, later the Wm. Lytel home [Selby’s], and the Charlie Doe place up the North Fork, later the Rackliff home [pictured also in the “Treasures” post], which was located close to the present location of the Chambers home. Charlie Johnston’s home was also built by him plus five other homes which were built in a row just north of the Catholic Church, which included Mrs. Mary Dudley, Barney McDonna and the Goff home.”

I will have to look into that last-mentioned row of houses.

Charles Rackliff was Mary Rackliff Etter’s paternal grandfather; her mother Minnie Wright Rackliff’s brother C.E. (Jack) Wright was another well-known builder of the Petrolia area. Perhaps Jack learned much of his trade from his sister’s father-in-law.

Read Full Post »

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
~Matthew 6:19-20, King James Version

Some words of wisdom there. Of course, there are a few beautiful old houses from a hundred thirty years ago or more still standing in the Mattole Valley; but every time i get frustrated at my failures in getting my place together into an earthly paradise, i remember these old places, and how much time, sweat, and money went into building them, and how much living and loving went on in them. All gone. I hope they brought their people great joy– they were beautiful works.

Charles A. and Evaline Langdon Johnston home, built c. 1870, on site of present Cogswell home on Conklin Creek Rd. From the Humboldt Historian.

In center of photo, John Rudolph home, downtown Petrolia. Roughly on the site of present Gail and Phil Franklin home. 1888 photo from Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

The two images above are both of the Charles A. Doe home, on the Lower North Fork, a short distance above the present Mattole Road bridge. Charles and Mary Jane Clark Rackliff lived there after the Doe family moved to Ferndale. Top view is a pencil sketch from Elliott's 1882 History of Humboldt County; photograph is from Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

View showing location of Charles A. Doe home, on the lower reaches of the lower North Fork. If i’m not mistaken, Fourth of July parties used to occur here or nearby, in this curve of the river. See Kalin’s comment below for more ideas. The house in the background–one of those square, Italianate structures similar to the hotel that was once south of the Petrolia Square– is the Giacomini place, later the site of the Geo. Cook, more recently Johnny/June Chambers homes.

Minnie Shallard Etter and Emil J. Etter in front of their Honeydew home. Photo from Mary Rackliff Etter.

Jesse Walker home, called "Sunset View Ranch." Up on the hills near present Scientology place. Sorry about the tilt. Photo courtesy Ben Walker.

William and Dora Hunter Clark home, lower North Fork. Location was down Clark Road toward the river, on the right. Courtesy Ben Walker.

Read Full Post »