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May these words of love endure

With great gratitude to the late Mary Rackliff Etter and her family, who entrusted her historical collection to the MVHS, I am pleased to share a humble little autograph book i found buried away, moldy and falling apart, in the depths of some heavy and confused box full of all manner of paperwork.

As i perused this tiny volume, one of the questions persistent in my mind was how it could be that in one and a quarter centuries, childhood friendships could go from being remembered like this… to the kinds of rhymes and raps you might see in a youngster’s autographed yearbook nowadays.

I am just grateful to be able to feel the warmth of those people (often lifelong friends, if not family, of Allie’s) all these years later; and i hope some of that feeling is transmitted to you when you see and read these pages.

The book was from Mary Clark Rackliff to her daughter, Alice (Allie) Rackliff, who grew up to marry Mr. Kistner and move to Ferndale. Allie, who was Mary Rackliff Etter’s aunt, was born in 1880.

Opening page:

Opening page: “Miss Allie Rackliff, A Christmas present from Mamma. Petrolia. Humboldt Co. California. Dec. 25, 1888.”

“To Allie. May he who clothes the lilies And marks the sparrow’s fall, Protect and save you, Allie, And guide you safe through all. Your Sister, Jennie M. Rackliff. Petrolia, Jan. 23, 1889.” Jennie was Allie’s elder sister, ten years old when she wrote this.

“To Allie. May Future, with her kindest smile, Wreathe laurels for thy brow; May loving angels guard and keep thee Ever pure as though art now. Sincerely, Emma Giacomini. Petrolia, June 20th, 1890.”

“Dear Allie: Perhaps at some time we must part, and oh! ’tis with an earnest heart That I ask thee, while in glee Or in sorrow, to ‘Remember me.’ From your cousin, Addie Johnston. March 30th, 1889.” Addie was the daughter of Sarah Clark, sister of Mary Clark Rackliff and wife of Charles A. Johnston. Sarah  died young, and Addie and brother William were adopted by their aunt Cavy Johnston Miner.

“To Allie– May your life be blest; With the joys thou lovest best; Is the wish of your teacher; G.A. Cummings. Petrolia, May 26, 1889.” George was Miss Katie Cummings’ father and was one of two teachers at the Petrolia School, located on the spot where the Yellow Rose sits today.

Here’s another angle: a picture of Allie’s schoolmates, with her sitting right near the middle, to our left of the one girl wearing white in the middle of the photograph. With her hair pulled back, she looks a bit like a little boy. Her sister and several others who sign her book are also in this picture, which many of you have seen in the Petrolia Pioneer Cemetery Guide.

1890 student body with teacher George Swain, Petrolia (Mattole Union) School.

1890 student body with teacher George Swain, Petrolia (Mattole Union) School.

Front row, l-r (9 boys): Tommy McDonough, Alvin Johnston, Ben Walch, Jesse King, Charlie Boots, Jim Hunter, Fred Crippen, Frank Wright, Malcolm Cady.

2nd row (10 girls & 2 boys): Alta Dudley, Sarah Johnston, Nora Mackey, Mertie Cady, Della Walch, Allie Rackliff, Lena O’Leary, Daisy O’Leary, Jennie Rackliff, Addie Giacomini, Jim Newland, Arthur Lindley.

3rd row (6 girls & 3 boys): (starts with the girl with round white collar and distinct center hair part) Mary Burris, Nettie Boots, Carrie Giacomini, Joanna Walch, Addie Johnston, Louise Walch, Ellis Hunter, Morgan Wright, Gilbert Crippen.

Back row (after Mr. George Swain, 3 girls & 8 boys): Christa Dudley, Mary Smith, Grace O’Leary, Arthur O’Leary, Albert Boots, William Johnston, Smith Dudley, John O’Leary, John Giacomini, Tom Newland, Joe Mackey.

So, next up in the autograph book, we find teacher Mr. Swain.

” ‘He liveth long who liveth well: All else is life but flung away. He liveth longest who can tell Of true things truly done each day. Then fill each day with what will last; Buy up the moments as they go; The life above when this is past Is the ripe fruit of life below.’ You are now learning the lessons of school; the lessons of life may prove harder, but patience, courage, and perseverance will solve both. Your friend, Geo. R. Swain, Lake Village, N.H. Petrolia, Cal., Apr. 19, ’90.”

“May your joys be as deep as the ocean. And your sorrows as light as the foam. From your Brother, Clark Rackliff. Sep. 19 1892.” Charles Clark Rackliff, father of Mary Rackliff Etter, was born in 1882.

“Cousin Allie, May he, who clothes the lilies And marks the sparrow’s fall, Protect and save you, Allie, and guide you safe through all. Wm. Johnston. Petrolia, Cal., March, 19, 1890.” Yes, he wrote just what his cousin Jennie wrote to her sister!

“Dear Allie, When rocks and rills divide us, And me no more you see, Just take your pen and paper, and write a few lines to me. Your friend, Lou Meng. Ferndale, June 9th, 1891.” The words “truth,” “faith,” “Love,” and maybe “Pray” fill the four corners of the page.

“Dear Allie–Love for those who love you For those whose hearts are true For the Heaven that smiles above you. And the good that you may do. Your Friend, Emma Edmonston. Island, July 16, 89.” (Island meant that area southwest of Fernbridge that used to bounded by the Eel and the Salt River.)

“The virtues of modesty candor and truth In woman exceeds all the beauty of youth. Your friend Joseph Collins. July 29th, 1889” Mr. Collins was a bachelor, born in England, 47 years old at the time of this writing.

“Let not our friendship be like the rose to sever. But like the evergreen may it last forever. Your Loving Friend, Joanna E. Walch. July 21, 1889.”

“In the golden chain of friendship Regard me as a link. From a friend, Clara Miner. June 10th, 1891 Ferndale.”

“May you walk the path of duty, Whether strewn with thorns or flowers. Till you reach the land of beauty, Where there are no storms or showers. From your sincere friend, Grace O’Leary. Petrolia, Cal., April 9, 1890.”

“Dear Allie, May your cares all fly away, Like dew before the sun, And when you’ve nothing else to [do], Just think of me for fun. Your friend and Schoolmate Nettie Boots. Petrolia, April 21st 1890.” Nettie was the daughter of Flora Hadley and Martin Boots, and first cousin of Jim Boots. She grew up to marry Peter Hansen; their daughter was Hattie Hansen Titus, the lady who befriended the Coast Guardsmen in the 1940s.

“Dear Allie, May your path be strewn through life with roses. Your Sincere Friend, Stella Benjamin. Ferndale Cal. June 7th 1891.”

Although the public school was obviously not a Christian school per se, you can certainly see that the Rackliffs and their close friends and relatives were strongly influenced by the teachings of the Bible. But not all the entries are that way:

“Dear Allie, As sure as comes your wedding day, A broom to you I’ll send; In sunshine use the brushy part, In storms the other end. Your friend, Louise Walch. May 30, 1889.”

But let’s end this on a more sublime note. These lines were penned a hundred and twenty-four years ago:

“Dear Allie–When the name that I write here is dim on the page, And the leaves of your Album are yellow with age, Still think of me kindly, and do not forget, That where I am I remember you yet. Your friend Jennie Atkinson. June 10th 1891, Ferndale Cal.”

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I’m happy to be putting up more of the pictures that Phillip Nicklas, great-great-grandson of Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow, gave us. Now we are up to the 1920s, so let’s get right to it… i will try to fill in the information as the pictures come. (The earlier pictures are here.)

Except for this brief reminder of who’s who! Jim was the son of Mary Ellen “Ella” Vandecarr and Aaron Boots–Aaron was one of five Boots siblings who stayed around Southern Humboldt for most of their lives. They, and two or more others who lived in Washington, were the offspring of Upper Mattole pioneers “Granny” (Sarah) and Elijah Boots. Jim’s wife, Adeline “Birdie” Harrow Boots, was the child of Katherine “Kate” Titus (daughter of GMG Titus, and sister of LaFayette Titus) and Joel Fletcher “Fletch” Harrow (son of Asa Harrow).

Jim Boots (1883-1963) and Birdie (1889-1980) were the parents of four girls: Mabel, or “Babe,” Phillip’s gt-grandmother; Viola, called “Vie,” who married Mike Stefanini; Clara, who married John William Lundberg and had a son, Jimmy–this family was the connection to the Arcata property where Phillip and his wife now live; and Arlene, also known as “Birdie” or “Bootsie,” the baby, who married a Mr. Harvey and had a son Ted and daughter Judy.

Babe Boots married twice, to Harold Hash and to a Mr. Hengen; her daughter was Barbara Hash Smith, born in 1927, who had a daughter Cynthia–Phillip’s mother. We start these pictures when Babe, born in 1908, is a young teen girl.

(Click on the photos for enlargement and better detail.)

Top, left-right, Viola, Mabel "Babe," & Clara, with Bootsie in front.

Top, left-right, Clara, Mabel “Babe,” & Vie, with Bootsie in front.

Jim Boots with his bus and daughters, near Carlotta, 1922.

Jim Boots with his bus and daughters, near Carlotta, 1922.

Jim Boots, his mother Ella, and his four girls. (Unless that's mother Birdie on the right, and we are only seeing three of the daughters.) I am not sure where some of these photos were taken, as the family moved around to several Humboldt locations over the years.

Jim Boots, his mother Ella, and his four girls. (Unless that’s mother Birdie on the right, and we are only seeing three of the daughters.) I am not sure where some of these photos were taken, as the family moved around to several Humboldt locations over the years.

Here are Birdie (far left) and Jim with Mabel, Clara, Bootsie, and Vie; the three people in the right rear are unknown. I'm curious about the man on the far right; he shows up in several of our pictures of tanbarking crews.

Here are Birdie (far left) and Jim with Mabel, Clara, Bootsie, and Vie; the three people in the right rear are unknown. I’m curious about the man on the far right; he shows up in several of our pictures of tanbarking crews.

Babe hamming it up.

Babe hamming it up.

Here is Babe in her first true glamour shot. She resembles a certain Hollywood actress who was recently in Humboldt County, we think.

Here is Babe in her first true glamour shot. She resembles a certain Hollywood actress who was recently in Humboldt County, we think.

A gathering of the Boots and Harrow families in Arcata, 1928. I will let you have fun figuring out who everyone is!

A gathering of the Boots and Harrow families in Arcata, 1928. I will let you have fun figuring out who everyone is!

Harold Hash makes his appearance, standing next to Babe. Her mother Ella has got her hat on and is looking fancy. Is the baby in front an infant Barbara (born 1927)?

Harold Hash makes his appearance, standing next to Babe. Her mother Ella has got her hat on and is looking fancy, next to her late-life daughter Bertha Boots, and her husband Aaron. Is the baby in front an infant Barbara Hash (born 1927), held up by her aunts?

John W. "Bill" Lundberg and Clara Boots, dating in 1929. By the looks of the hills, they're in the Mattole Valley. She and Bill married in 1934, and stayed together until he passed away in1978.

John W. “Bill” Lundberg and Clara Boots, dating in 1929. By the looks of the hills, they’re in the Mattole Valley. She and Bill married in 1934, and stayed together until he passed away in1978.

y-30s,Clara's swimsuit

Here is Clara a few years later in a classic 1930s swimsuit.

Harold Hash, wife Mabel "Babe" Boots, and daughter with the ringlets, Barbara Jean Hash.

Harold Hash, wife Mabel “Babe” Boots, and daughter with fancy ringlets, Barbara Hash.

Young Barbara, born 1927.

Young Barbara, born 1927.

Four generations, gt-grandmother Kate Titus Harrow on right; grandmother Birdie Harrow Boots center, and mother Mabel "Babe" Boots Hash, with Barbara in Sacramento.

Four generations: gt-grandmother Kate Titus Harrow on right; grandmother Birdie Harrow Boots center, and mother Mabel “Babe” Boots Hash, with Barbara in San Jose.

Barbara Hash and friend with bicycles, 1930s.

Barbara Hash and friend with bicycles, 1930s.

Barbara Jean Hash.

Barbara Jean Hash.

This is Birdie, mother of the four sisters, at the gas station on the northeast corner of 5th and G Streets, Arcata. Clara and her husband, Bill Lundberg, owned the gas station.

This is Birdie Harrow Boots, at the gas station on the northeast corner of 5th and G Streets, Arcata. Her daughter Clara and husband, Bill Lundberg, owned the gas station. The building is still there.

y-30s,Reunion-Jim,Birdie,&3 girls

A reunion. Birdie Harrow and Jim Boots with Mabel in the middle; not sure if that is Clara or Vie on the left, but it looks like the baby, Bootsie or Birdie, on the right.

y-30s,Aaron and Ellie Boots and children

Here’s the earlier generation reunited: Seated in front, Mary Ellen (Ella) Vandecarr and William (Aaron) Boots. Behind them, their seven children: Bertha Ida, born 1904; John (Elbert or Albert), born 1909; probably Adeline Susan (Addie), born 1898; Sarah, who had married a Mr. Conger, born 1885; Jim Boots; and twins William A. and Lillian, born 1896. (Note–i am not positive of all these identities; I may have put the wrong names on the wrong faces, except where i’m sure of Ella and Aaron, and of course Jim; and that is certainly Bertha on the far left.) An aside: Addie Boots Reynolds was shot by her love-crazed cousin Walter Boots–son of Aaron’s brother Martin– in 1934. She survived, but he turned the gun on himself and died.

y-Jim Boots 1930s

Jim Boots in the 1930s.

Another picture of four generations: Jim Boots, his mother Ella, daughter Birdie (Bootsie) Harvey, and grandson Ted Harvey.

Another picture of four generations: Jim Boots, his mother Ella, daughter Birdie (Bootsie) Harvey, and grandson Ted Harvey.

Mabel Babe Boots Hengen. Mother-Daughter day at the studio?

Mabel Babe Boots Hengen. Mother-Daughter day at the studio?

z-portrait,barbara smith

And here is the beautiful grown-up daughter, Barbara Hash.

Once again, I would like to thank Phillip Nicklas for letting us have copies of all these wonderful photos. They, and the family they represent, are beautiful, interesting, and… very Mattolian!

Now, one more old picture I want to add… this one goes back to the 1910s or earlier. Ivan Harrow, born in 1885 and dead in 1918, was the brother of Birdie Harrow Boots, they both being children of Kate Titus and Fletcher Harrow. This photo was labelled something like “Ivan Harrow and loggers.” The Harrow- Boots family, or at least some branches of it, retained its workingman-in-the-woods reality even as photographic studios and fashionable women created an uptown impression.

z-Loggers,wIvanHarrow

I am not sure which man is Ivan Harrow, but with five brothers, it’s likely there’s more than one Harrow here. Be sure to click on this one for detail. (Oh–! when you do, you’ll find some blue ink naming Ivan.)

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Elijah and Sarah “Granny” Boots were Mattole pioneers hailing from the Midwest. They arrived in the Mattole Valley in 1866, and found a “a tract of land on the north side of the Mattole River about eight and one-half miles from Petrolia. The land suited Boots’ ideas. It was an ideal place for hog-raising, cattle-raising, poultry-raising, and bee culture. Such being the case, Boots filed his homestead right on the land and acquired title to it, and held it until his death in 1901.” So says W.W. Roscoe in his History of the Mattole Valley. The land is now part of Francis Scarpulla’s Lost Coast Farms, and Francis has generously offered to show the place and its old Boots apple orchards to people interested in this  history. (Contact me so that we can communicate with him and make a plan, if you are interested in a tour; it’s been some time since he extended this offer.)

Elijah generally claimed to have been born in Ohio in 1814, though on some censuses he says Indiana; and Sarah Rebecca Jones Boots was born in 1816 in Indiana, according to most censuses, and Ohio or Tennessee on others. She lived until 1909. In about the year 1836, the two were married in Randolph Co., Indiana. As part of the great westward migration, they lived briefly in Missouri, then, in the 1850s, in Washington Territory, just north of the Columbia. In 1865 they decided to move to Humboldt County with their four younger children (Aaron, Mary Etta, Thomas, and John). I often wonder why a place is lit upon like that–did the Bootses know someone who was already here? If nothing else, they would have heard of the oil prospects of the area, and that the Indians had been thoroughly defeated. Well, they didn’t figure prominently in the oil boom–they were more like self-sufficient, community-minded small farmers. W.W. Roscoe goes on to relate that “It was often said that with ‘Granddaddy’ Boots’ simple tastes, he was, in effect, a wealthier man than Rockefeller. He is remembered as one of the most successful hog and bee raisers of the Mattole Valley. He was also a splendid rifle shot, and many a deer or panther (he called a panther a ‘painter’) went down before his well-aimed muzzle-loading rifle.”

Local history buffs have read a respectable amount about the Boots family (there are Boots stories from W.W. Roscoe and Ken and Neb Roscoe; in the Humboldt Historian; and in several other local books, family trees, or scrapbooks). But we didn’t have many photographs until recently meeting Elijah’s great-great-great-great grandson, Phillip Nicklas of Arcata. Phillip’s great-great grandfather was Jim Boots, who lived until 1963. And the sisters of his gt-grandmother–four beautiful daughters of Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow–produced distant cousins who passed on many of the old family photos to Phillip, who has a keen love of history. He also has the generosity to have shared with us a disc full of these old pictures, organized by decade. Today we will look at some of the pictures from the 1870s until the 1910s.

For handy reference, here is a rough sketch i worked up of the family’s genealogy:

Please click on this chart to enlarge it.

Please click on this chart to enlarge it.

And to make this a little more clear, how about a simple lineage:

7 generations back: Sarah and Elijah Boots, and Sarah and Asa Harrow.

6 generations: Their respective children, Aaron Boots (who married Mary Ellen Vandecarr) and Fletch Harrow (who married Kate Titus).

5 generations: Their respective children, Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow.

4 generations: Mabel “Babe” Boots.

3 generations: Barbara Hash Smith.

2 generations: Cynthia Nicklas.

Present: Phillip Nicklas.

GrannyBoots,finalPSfrBestScan,lo-res

Granddaddy and Granny Elijah and Sarah Boots, seated, with unknown descendants.

Here is Granny, in typical dress and hairstyle for the 1860s or '70s. This one photo was from our Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

Here is Granny, in typical dress and hairstyle for the 1860s or ’70s. This photo was from our Mary Rackliff Etter collection.

Johnny, a son of Granny and Elijah. He was a blacksmith who never married, but lived in the Mattole nearly all his life, until his death of cancer in 1908.

Johnny, a son of Granny and Elijah. He was a blacksmith who never married, but lived in the Mattole nearly all his life, until his death of cancer in 1908. Another photo from Mary Rackliff Etter.

I don’t know who the parents of Mary Ellen Vandecarr were, but can say that her genes made a strong stamp on the features of future generations, as you will see in photos below. Here is her image on an old tin-type photograph:

Mary Ellen (Ella) Vandecarr (Mrs. Aaron) Boots, at the age of 14.

Mary Ellen (Ella) Vandecarr (Mrs. Aaron) Boots, in the late 1870s at the age of 14.

William Aaron Boots, known as Aaron, on the left. Unknown on right.

William Aaron Boots, known as Aaron, on the left. The young man on the right is unidentified, but the paternal hand suggests it is Jim, who was 23 years younger. Perhaps.

Ivan and Delbert Harrow, with their sister Birdie, future bride of Aaron Boots, in the middle. From about

Ivan and Delbert Harrow, with their sister Birdie, future bride of Jim Boots, in the middle. From the early 1890s.

James E. Boots as a youth.

James E. Boots as a youth.

Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow, before their marriage in 1907. Hauling tanbark.

Jim Boots and Birdie Harrow, before their marriage in 1907. Hauling tanbark.

Photo taken in 1908, with Mabel

Photo taken in 1908, with Mabel “Babe” Boots as the baby in the center; her grandfather Aaron holds her, and grandmother Ella Vandecarr Boots is in the upper left. Her parents Jim and Birdie are on the right of the picture. I am not sure of the identities of the other children, those who so resemble Babe and her father and grandmother–possibly her aunt Bertha (born 1904) is one of them, and the others perhaps Addie or Lily and Bill, a few more of Jim’s much younger siblings.

Birdie (Adeline) Harrow Boots and daughter Mabel (Babe).

Birdie (Adeline) Harrow Boots and daughter Mabel (Babe).

Three generations: Birdie and Mabel Boots, Katherine Harrow and Les--her youngest, born 1909, and Mabel's little uncle--and Allie Harrow Carr, Birdie and Les's sister, with her baby Charlie.

Three generations: Birdie and her little Mabel Boots; Birdie’s mother Katherine Harrow holding Les–her youngest, born 1909, and Mabel’s uncle; and Allie Harrow Carr, Birdie and Les’s sister, with her baby Charlie.

Recreation on the Mattole: Fletch Harrow with his daughter Birdie and Jim Boots, and baby Mabel.

Recreation on the Mattole: Fletch Harrow with his daughter Birdie and Jim Boots, and baby Mabel in front of him.

Left to right, Vie or Viola, Birdie Boots, baby Bootsie, sometimes called Birdie, Jim Boots, Clara, and Mabel

Left to right: Vie or Viola, Birdie Boots, baby Bootsie, sometimes called Birdie, Jim Boots, Clara, and Mabel “Babe”.

Mabel

Mabel “Babe” Boots at age 8, with her dog. 1916.

Aunt Lily (Jim's sister) in a 1917 Dodge, with Aaron and Mary Ellen (Grandma to the girls), Jim Boots next to Vie and holding Bootsie, Clara, Babe, and their mother Birdie.

Aunt Lily (Jim’s sister) in a 1917 Dodge, with Aaron and Mary Ellen (Grandma to the girls), Jim Boots next to Vie and holding Bootsie, Clara, Babe, and their mother Birdie.

Briceland Saloon. Possibly well-known cowboy Jim O'Dell in the front, with the wooden leg.

Briceland Saloon. Probably “Bogus” Bill Frazier in the front, with the wooden leg. Click on this one; there’s lots of great detail.

Both of these Briceland photos were marked with the studio tag “Hazeltine, Mendocino.” Martin Mason Hazeltine was a photographer who practiced in Mendocino from 1866 or ’67 until at least 1883, then off and on until his death in Oregon in 1903. You can see a photo of his Mendocino studio, which i assume carried on under his name for some time after his 1880s departure, at this link.

The old Briceland Store. It looks as if a baseball game is noted on the blackboard behind these people. Notice the blue cross next to Jim Boots, and the Native man beneath it. There were many mixed-blood families in Briceland around the turn of the last century.

The old Briceland Store. It looks as if a baseball game line-up is noted on the blackboard behind these people. Notice the blue cross next to Jim Boots, and the Native man beneath it. There were many mixed-blood families in Briceland around the turn of the last century.

Mabel at the Garberville Hotel.

Mabel and friends in front of the Redwood Inn, south end of Garberville.

Jim Boots at the wheel of old Wagner Leather Co. truck. They were the Briceland tanbark company.

Jim Boots at the wheel of old Wagner Leather Co. truck. They were the Stockton-based leather tanning company who had an extraction plant in Briceland. 

Jim hauling tanbark.

Jim hauling tanbark.

Jim Boots tell his story in the slim volume, Golden Adventures from THE HUMBOLDT HISTORIAN. His selection is titled, “The Life of an Old Stage Coach Driver and Mule Skinner (1883)”–that being the year of his birth. Jim describes his first job driving a six-horse team from Fruitland to Elinore (Camp Five); getting a job driving an overland stage from Dyerville to Harris; working a six-mule team with two wagons hauling tanbark, ties, and lumber on the Mendocino Coast, then driving team for the Wagner Leather Company from Briceland to Shelter Cove. Around that time, Jim met and married his beautiful Birdie Harrow, and spent the last of his teaming days working for Lewis Roscoe, bringing tanbark from Upper Mattole to the wharf at the mouth of the river, which was owned by Calvin Stewart and the Mattole Lumber Co. Eventually, he was driving a truck for the Wagner Leather Co., then he became a bus driver, working for a conglomerate that became the West Coast Transit Company, eventually supplanted by Greyhound. He finishes his story, “For many years I hauled for hire, logs and lumber. I sold my equipment in 1951 and have been retired ever since. My hobby was driving team and riding broncs–most of my life has been put in on this hobby.” (Read the whole story by finding it at your local library, or asking me at the MVHS office.)

This is Shelter Cove. Someone fill me in on what's going on here. Unloading hay from the loco-mobile, or barrels of tanbark extract?

This is Shelter Cove. Someone fill me in on what’s going on here. Unloading hay from the loco-mobile, or readying barrels of tanbark extract for shipment? And is “loco-mobile” another way of saying “trailer truck”–a locomotive pulling trailers, on wheels?

Before leaving this post, i would like to thank Phillip Nicklas very much for giving us these images. Please do not repost the pictures without asking permission, and giving due credit to Phillip! There will be more put up here soon, photographs from around 1920 until the ’40s. I hope you have enjoyed these!

Back to the older generation. Here are Katherine, better known as Kate, Titus, and her husband Joel Fletcher

The older generation again. Here are Katherine, better known as Kate, Titus, and her husband Joel Fletcher “Fletch” Harrow, parents of Birdie Harrow Boots. And below, a more formal portrait of the pair, probably from around their 1884 wedding:

Fletch and Kate Harrow, lo-res

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Was i ever glad i saw the announcement in the Ferndale Enterprise for a 90th birthday party for Bear River’s Jim Cook! The public event was held today, April 30, at the Ferndale Town Hall. I drove up just to see Jim, who was raised in the Mattole Valley, and his partner Margot Wells.

Jim, the birthday boy, and Margot, his dedicated sweetheart

I saw a few of my favorite people from MVHS gatherings (we haven’t had one for some time): Marilyn Wright Forsell, Donell McCanless, Francis and Lorena Sweet, Laurence Hindley (whom i didn’t have a chance to talk with at all), Dayton Titus, and many others.

Part of the party for Jim. There was definitely a good crowd present.

I also met a few great people: Kurt McCanless (Donell’s son), and Albert “Darky” Lockwood and his wife Geneva. I had seen pictures of Albert from the time of the Antlers yearbooks from Mattole Union School, which were published in the early 1940s. I didn’t think i would ever get to meet him. Well, he had some stories. One is about the establishment of the Petrolia Fire Department, when he went down to a state auction of firefighting equipment (he was a mechanic and had a shop on the site of the present fire station) and brought back our first fire truck. I am going to call Darky soon and get the whole story!

His wife, Geneva, was charming and full of stories, as well.

Tim Cook, Donell McCanless's back, Albert Lockwood, Francis Sweet, Geneva Lockwood, Patty Houx in background

Donell, Geneva, Jim, and Albert

I am sorry i missed the opportunity to get a photo of the brothers Jim and Francie Cook; or of Francis’s three sons, who were all there. Tim, Terry, and Tom, our Mattole mailman. It was great to connect with them, though, and i hope to take a drive while doing an interview with the elder brothers soon.

(Jim and Francis, who is 2 months shy of 87 and lives in Rio Dell, had a third brother, Joe, who was 2 years older than Jim. The three brothers were the sons of George Walker Cook and second wife Daisy O’Leary. George was the son of Petrolia pioneer Charles Sage Cook and his wife Anne Elizabeth Walker, sister of Jesse Walker of Sunset View Ranch. They lived at the “old home place”– the Cook place on the left of the road as you head west toward McNutt Gulch, now known as Villeggiatura.The Cooks we know in Petrolia now, Chompers and Toady and Leta, etc., are great-great grandchildren of the Charles S. Cooks through son Levant, George’s brother. So Jim and Francie are cousins twice removed of these current Petrolia Cooks. Original Mattole pioneer Charles Sage Cook also had a brother, Isaac Cook, who lived at Upper Mattole on the site of Gui [formerly Buzz] Lindley’s place; some of his descendants live in Ferndale today.)

Jim’s a great guy. Straight up! Honorable and hardworking, straightforward yet kind. Truly old-school. I am privileged to know him and to be somewhat acquainted with his appreciative family!

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