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Here is a continuation of Grace Hunter’s memoirs, which i first posted on September 5, 2011–click on this link to read the introduction. Grace, daughter of George Walker Hunter and Ida Ellingwood Hunter, was born in 1895, so would’ve begun school around 1900 or 1901. At the end of that first post, she had just been writing about starting classes at the old Petrolia School, located near the site of the recent (and soon to be again) Yellow Rose Restaurant.

 

In each classroom was seated about 60 pupils. The teachers were very efficient and helpful, but very strict when it came to behavior—they each had a large whip they were forced to crack at times, but I’ve never known them to have to use it because the parents in those days knew the teachers to be fair and they cooperated.

The exams at the end of the year came sealed from the Superintendent’s Office in Eureka, so we had to be thorough in all lessons or else it wouldn’t only look bad for the child but for the teacher as well. If a pupil needed help, it was generally demonstrated on the blackboard which ran the length of the room behind the teacher’s desk, either by a pupil or the teacher. I remember three of the older girls had taken a large shoe box and made a doll house with cardboard and colored tissue paper. We could each have a look inside for one straight pin or three looks for a safety pin.

There were children from the following families in attendance: The George, Elias, and Johnny Hunters; Lucian and Marshall Wrights; William Clarks; Charles Johnstons; Jacob Dudleys; Fayette Titus’s; Martin and Albert Boots; Patrick O’Learys; Weaver Denmans; Charles Goffs; William Rudolphs; Fidel Guglielmini’s; William Belloni’s; ____ Saunders; Henry Duffs; James Harts; Frank Gouthiers; Levant Cooks and nephew and niece—the Fruits—who made their home with the Cooks. The families were large, mostly ranging from 8 to 12 children.

What a wonderful time they all had to gather on Fourth of July picnics, dances, parties, and midnight suppers in the Petrolia Knights of Pythian Hall. Mothers stayed up to finish making pretty tucked and ruffled dresses the evening before these occasions sometimes until two o’clock a.m. Dress goods at that time ranged from 10 cents to 25 cents per yard, stockings from 5 cents to 15 cents per pair depending on the size, shoes from 25 cents to $1.50.  Dress shoes, if you could afford them, were slightly more, hats were from 15 cents to 50 cents. Children’s underwear for most families were home-made from bleached flour and sugar sacks as were some curtains and pillowcases.

Most of the furniture was homemade—the chair seats laced with rawhide strips that our fathers had tanned from hides. The mattresses were made of strong ticking and filled each year with fresh straw and laid on hand-split boards. Feathers were always saved for pillows.

Long benches were placed on each side of a long table with a chair at each end.

The women’s blouses had long sleeves and high collars and were worn inside the skirt band—the long flared skirts stirred dust on the bare floors as the women walked. Petticoats were heavily ruffled at the bottom—their shoes were high-laced.

Because of the food my father George Hunter raised and the wild game and fish, it cost but $100 per year for flour, sugar, kerosene, coffee, and a few other necessities. Meat and fish they smoked, dried, salted, and canned. Two-quart jars with old-fashioned lids and rubber rings held the winter supply of food including jelly, jam, preserves, and fruit butters.

The Mattole Valley was beautiful in those days with the large painted farm houses with locust trees, moss and tea roses—including many old-fashioned shrubs and climbing vines. The heavenly aromas that came from the kitchens tickled the noses of anyone who chanced to be around. And the large orchards were beautiful and enchanting as we watched the blossoms and the baby birds in their nests among the branches—with their mouths wide open waiting for a worm from their mother. The songs of the many different birds were enchanting especially the meadow larks with their loud distinctive warble.

The barn was large and boasted a blacksmith shop at one end where us kids at times would work the billows to liven up the fire for our Dad so it would soften the metal he wished to hammer out and shape. The barn was our playground during winter weather—the rest of the year, we did what was needed to be done whether it was pulling mustard from the large oat field, picking wild berries, or cutting and stacking wood.

I remember distinctly my mother tying a large wooden dry goods box to a sled that my brothers Ray and Ira had hitched to a gentle mule and horse, and with my younger brother Donald and the twins, Russell and Blanche—who were then around one year old—placed in the box with our lunch and a bundle of diapers; and we were off for the day, the boys to cut and stack willow wood up the north fork and I to care for Donald and the twins while Mother, Levina, and Dora—the eldest—baked and cleaned house at home.

We learned responsibility young in those days for the families were large and there was much to be done and money was hard to come by. If we had holes in our shoes and patches on our clothes, we knew that many of our school mates had the same problem. Most of the boys went barefoot and the soles of their feet were as tough as leather. Our fathers had what it took to half sole and mend shoes and our mothers taught us early in life to darn stockings and socks and mend our clothes. We were always grateful for what they taught us. It gave us self-reliance for we were an ambitious bunch—when my two older brothers and I weren’t helping with those younger than ourselves or doing chores of some sort, we were making stilts, bows and arrows, sling shots, toy wagons, sleds and boats. Having no sisters close to my age, I became a real tomboy—I even learned to whistle fluently—which my mother didn’t approve of and she told me that “whistling girls and crowing hens always come to some bad ends” which in plain words meant unladylike.

When I was eight years of age, I contracted typhoid fever and pneumonia at the same time. Our local doctor stayed beside my bed for three days and nights while my life hung at a balance. After I passed the crisis the two school teachers and neighbor ladies took turns with mother for a short time. My sisters gave me rag dolls they had made and dressed, my brothers—with eager and happy smiles—gave me a whistle they had made from a willow branch. They said “Now Tis (my brother just younger than me couldn’t say Grace so Tis became my nickname for many years)… if you want something just blow the whistle.”

It was nothing to see from twenty to forty deer in one place and quail, robins, and blackbirds were so plentiful all you had to do was aim the shotgun at a bunch and you had enough meat for a family meal. Many times Dad found baby wild animals on the range that had lost their mothers, perhaps to a hungry wild animal, which he brought home and we fed, cared for and loved until they were old enough to fend for themselves. Then Dad insisted that their rightful place was with the other animals and we let them go. It didn’t take long to catch thirty trout in those days either.

Then there came an epidemic of diphtheria and a few people died. Two were Charles Goff’s daughters, Grace and Agnes. [1902- ed.] We saw Halley’s Comet with its long tail a few evenings and we thought it was really something to see. [1910-ed.]

There were times when we would all go with Dad in the spring wagon. Mother would make a large potato salad and sandwiches, put in a fry pan for trout and a bowl for wild strawberries. The boys would fish and the girls pick berries and a tasty lunch was served at one o’clock which was the time when Dad rode back on his saddle horse which he always tied behind the wagon when he had to ride the range and see that all was well with the stock and fences, whether it was near the mouth of the Mattole River or at Davis Creek near the beach farther north. Always our black trained Shepherd stock dog followed him. It was a sad day for us all when the dog was missing for a while and then we saw him laboring hard—blood was staining the water from his hindquarters and floating downstream. He had not only been a stock and watch dog, but our staunch friend and protector. He had been shot with a shotgun so badly that our father had to kill him to stop his misery. We all felt bitter toward a person who could do that to a dog that would hurt no one unless they hurt him or one of us.

It wasn’t long from that time that we moved from the large stock ranch to a small place across from the church where we lived for a few months until Mother and Dad bought Grandma Ellingwood’s 160-acre parcel called Shenanigan, four miles southeast of Petrolia, for around one thousand dollars. [This is now the John and Glenda Short place—ed.] My youngest brother, Lewis, was born there April 5th, 1906. Five days later we experienced a very hard earthquake. [This must have been the great San Francisco quake, which occurred on April 18, 1906. –ed.] It was early morning and daylight was showing outside. Mother had left the kerosene lamp burning low all night so that she could see to care for the baby. It crashed to the floor breaking the chimney. Dad jumped out of bed and grabbed the lamp fearing it might start a fire. He cut his bare feet on the broken glass in the struggle to keep his footing. After he reached the outside door and threw the lamp outside, he looked up and saw the large fir trees swing and their tops hit the ground first on one side and then the other. The beds with casters rolled over the bare floor with us in them, which tickled us afterward at the thought of it. In the old-fashioned narrow pantry, there were broken dishes, sugar, butter, bread and other things that happened to be on the shelves, all on the floor with milk and cream from six pans spilled over them.

The Petrolia school and a few other buildings tipped backwards so we had classes in the church until a new school house was built. The earth shook so hard the dirt from a cliff slid down and made a dam across the river and there were slides the width of the road.

 

There is more to come from Grace.

           

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Dan Huddleston gave us the memoirs of Grace Hunter Christensen from which I draw today. His grandmother, Fran Graves, was given them by Grace (although Fran’s mother, Hazel Kelsey Flowers’, name is handwritten on the typed document).

Grace Ellen Hunter was born in 1895 in Petrolia to George Walker Hunter and Mae Maud Ellingwood. Her siblings included Levina, Dora (Mrs. Oscar Smith), Ray, Ira, twins Russell and Blanche, Clara, Myrtle, Lewis, and Madge. Her father, George, was the son of Walker S. Hunter, who for a time owned the business center of Petrolia, and Nancy Bellamy. Grace passed away in 1985.

I have omitted some of the earliest descriptions of Petrolia’s history from this entry, as they are Grace’s retelling of stories she heard secondhand and not, in my opinion, reliable. You may read the entire document if you ask me for a copy to borrow. Here I begin with, mainly, Grace’s memories of her own family’s tales, and the start of what she titles the story of her life. [My notes are in brackets.]

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Grace's great-grandmother, Eliza Ann Martin Hunter (1804-1894), mother of Walker Sanders Hunter.

Walker Hunter’s mother [Eliza], whose husband was killed in the Civil War, lived with her son and his family. Walker and Nancy Hunter’s children were Ann, Elvira, Maggie, Angie, Sarah, Pascal, Elias, George [Walker], Thomas and Edward. [Hunter family genealogists: I am not sure about Sarah. Grace also doesn’t mention Melissa, who died at the age of 15, either through drowning or from a fever.]

Before Grandma [Nancy] bought a spinning wheel and small sewing machine on which the wheel was turned by hand, she made the boys pants and jackets of buckskin. When they thought the buckskins had become too dirty and stiff from being wet, they’d ask their mother to make new ones and she’d answer that they’d last for some time yet. So, the boys would take turns lightly sitting on the grind stone while another turned the wheel until a hole appeared—so of course new ones must be made.

Later there came the grist and small sawmills. They had wheat and corn ground for their own use and bought lumber for new homes. Nancy Hunter had the first wood stove that was shipped in. Her first cookies were made of very short baking powder biscuit dough, rolled thin and sprinkled with sugar. Each year there was a beef stock round-up. The cattle were driven by trail over the hills to Sacramento where buyers were waiting. The Indians liked the white man’s bread and if a few along the way saw the herd, they would gather white worms from the bark of trees, ask for two slices of bread, place the worms between, and to them it was a delicious sandwich.

In 1863, because of the killings and atrocities done by some of the boldest Indian warriors there was a massacre at Squaw Creek. They killed every Indian they could find in the encampment including women and children. The Indians’ cruelest warrior, called Snagle Tooth, was also killed at the time.

The Mountaineers gathered and captured many and took them to Round Valley Reservation, but there was quite an encampment left at the mouth of the Mattole.

Trust was something unknown between them for some time. One day when my father was walking home with his sisters and brothers, three Indians came riding by—one of them swooped him up and placed him in front of him as he rode. His father and some hired hands saw it as they were riding the range not too far away, they took chase and got him back before the Indians reached their encampment.

Most of the Indians living there died when an epidemic of measles hit their tribe. Most of the ones left were taken to a reservation. Those left built cabins, the men worked when it was available, the women dug willow roots, dyed them with solution they made from certain weeds and flowers and sold them to anyone wishing to buy.

Grandpa Hunter [Walker Sanders Hunter] was the first to start a dairy in Mattole—he bought wooden kegs from my Grandfather Giles Ellingwood who owned a cooper shop in Port Kenyon to put his butter in for market—the milk he fed to the calves and hogs. One day when he had the kegs of butter packed on horses and was taking them by trail to Ferndale, some Indians suddenly appeared. They took his horses, broke the kegs, and wiped butter all over the trees—he was lucky to get away with his life.

Walker S. Hunter, father of George Walker Hunter; Grace's grandfather.

In the mid-1890s, Grandma Hunter died of cancer. Grandpa had saved his money and wanted to extend his holdings, so he bought the business part of the small town of Petrolia which consisted of the stable, general store, saloon, and barber shop. Times had been hard and many couldn’t pay their bills. The former owners had lied about their heavy indebtedness which Grandpa found out when he took over the businesses. In those days a new owner was responsible for past indebtedness—this was Grandpa’s downfall. Rather than lose everything he turned two of his large ranches over to his foreman, Mr. Zanoni, who was supposed to return them as soon as business was straightened out and things cooled off. But when the time came, Zanoni would have no part in returning them nor would he with a Mr. Wright who had trusted him with his large ranch the same way. There was nothing they could do about it. They didn’t know the laws until they were confronted with them.

[Walker Sanders Hunter was in a partnership with Charles Gill at the Petrolia Store in the early-mid-1880s… the partnership did dissolve, and I never saw his name associated with the store after that. Don’t know if the order of things is mixed up in Grace’s memory, or if we are missing written information re: the mid-1990s. Nancy Bellamy Hunter did indeed die in 1893–very close to the time of her mother-in-law, Eliza’s, death.]

Grandpa was downhearted and disgusted about the whole thing—he sold all he had—salvaged enough to return to Missouri where he married a widow with a family and bought a ranch. Times were hard and after a few years his ranch was gone, his wife and family didn’t want to support an old man, so he came back to Mattole. He spent the end of his days in Tehama County with a daughter. Times were hard too for the land owners in Eel River Valley. Incomes were low and taxes extremely high. The only one my mother knew who was able to keep his ranch was Mr. Chapin. One traded his ranch for a team of horses. He could get fair wages for himself and his team.

Some Danish men and their families came to Eel River Valley, cleared land of brush and trees, sold the wood and trees to help build their houses and barns. Everything they did themselves with hand tools. Their children went to Port Kenyon school at the same time as my mother. She shuddered at the sight of their eating lard on their bread instead of butter which they couldn’t afford. Ingvard told me after we were married that they cooked onion in the fat and added a touch of salt. Professor Inskip was their teacher.

My Grandfather Ellingswood was born in England. He didn’t like his home life so when in his early teens, he stowed away on a ship headed from Maine, which perhaps stopped at New Brunswick Island [?] for it was there he lived until he married Alice Guptil at Portland, Maine. From there they came to California. He was a cooper at Santa Cruz for a few years before they and family settled at Port Kenyon.

Mother told of how the Chinese worked so cheap in the fish [business] that it took work away from the people living in the valley. They finally got tired of it—they rounded up all the Chinese except one man named Moon who had married an Indian girl, and because the people liked him, they let him stay. The others they took to the beach and told them to swim to China—they all drowned in the ocean. People made many of their own laws in those days. [That is not the way the deportation of the Chinese from Humboldt County happened… at least I hope it was not some incident that occurred apart from the well-known story of the roundup in Eureka!]

There wasn’t any road between Petrolia and Ferndale and my dad [born 1866] as a young man almost lost his life and that of his saddle horse in the heavy surf on the beach just south of Centerville on his way to Ferndale. Even after a road was built, they still travelled the beach from the Ocean House, where the Russ home stands, [south] to the foot of Domingo Hill, the old road to Petrolia [now Zanones’ corrals, at the foot of the road up to their and the Scientology places].

One day a Mattole man accidentally cut his leg with an axe. Two men helped the best they knew, and made him a bed in the back of a spring wagon and headed for Ferndale and a doctor. On the way, a hungry cougar smelled the blood and they had a hard time keeping him out of the wagon.

THE STORY OF MY LIFE—GRACE E. CHRISTENSEN

The first thing I distinctly remember of my life was my first day at Grammar School—I walked about a mile with my two older sisters, Levina and Dora, and two brothers, Ray and Ira. The large two-storey school house had two class rooms. First to fourth grade taught by Laura Cuddeback; the upper floor, the fifth to eighth, by Nelly McSweeney. A high board fence surrounded the large play yard on three sides and one down the center which divided the boys from the girls—sometimes the teachers would sit cross-legged on the ground and correct papers while the boys and girls played together in the front part of the yard. It was interesting to play with the pollywogs and minnows that nestled near the edge of the north fork of the Mattole River which wasn’t far away. [This was the school building on the east side of the lower North Fork, just west of downtown Petrolia, which was deemed unsafe after the 1906 earthquake.]

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Photos here are lifted from ancestry.com. The one of Walker Sanders was put up there by Carl Christensen. More next time, folks!
See Part 2 by clicking this

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Today we return to the 1880 journal of George Hindley of Honeydew. See my post from Feb. 4, 2011, for full introduction and an 1886 map of Hindley’s home territory. Please note, again, that items in italics are Bob Stansberry’s notes; anything in brackets [like this] is mine; and parentheses are usually the mark of the original transcriber.
On Feb. 5, 1880, Mr. Hindley had been injured when his horse fell over and hurt him.
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FEB. 6—Clear all day and cloudy in the eavning, some indication of a storm. Millsap is still plowing. I sent George over to Dan’s, and Dan and Rodia came over to pack up my seed oats. I staid in the house pretty sore. [Dan is probably Daniel Merrifield; Rhoda or Rudeth is his daughter, and Truman his son.]

FEB.7—Cloudy all day with wind from south. I staid in the house all day, too sore to get out. Millsap is still plowing. Dan went with Georgie down to Singleys’ and brought up 1106 lbs. of oats. Rodia is still heare.

FEB. 8—Clear all day with a few clouds from south. Millsap finished plowing and went home with 200 of flour and an order for ($3) worth in store. Dan sowed grain all day, Georgie harrowed in grain. C. Frost came today. I done nothing today.

FEB. 9—Cloudy all day, looks like rain this eavning. I am pretty useless. Stayed in the house most of the day. Frost went home today. Dan and Rodia went home. I let Dan have 100 lbs. of flour, alsow Gillespie (—-?)

FEB. 10—Cloudy all day with snow. Stayed in the house all day. I Amens came over and went home with Fits’s males [mails? Or nails?.] Gillespie and wife and Minnie Hunter came from Bull Creek. [?] Pillewink had a lamb.
Was Pillewink the name of a sheep?

FEB. 11—Clear all day with a cold wind and a few flying clouds. I stayed in the house all day, still lame. Gillespie and wife and Minnie Hunter went to Mattole after dinner. Georgie went round the sheep, no lambs.

FEB. 12—Clear all day with a few flying clouds from north. Stayd in house all day. Margaret had tooth ache. I wrote letters to Standard [?] and Sloss, mother, and one to sister Becca. Truman Merfield came over tonight.

FEB. 13—Clear all day and pleasant. I potterd round at difernt [things]. Truman brought over a sack of barley. He went home today. Gillespie and wife came from Mattole. I. Amens came over and they all stay tonight. I got 25 lbs. nales from Gillespie.

FEB. 14—Slight rain in morning and commenced raining in eavning. Time is up for R. Shearer [Rob Shearer—see Jan. 25 entry.] Gillespie and wife went home. Thos. Hunter and wife came up today. C. Young brought home dogs and in to take of chang(—?) I pottered round fixing fence.
Thomas Hunter was a brother to John Hunter, Sr., and also to Paschal.

FEB. 15—Stormy all day and coald with snow. C. Young is still with us. Paschal Hunter and wife is still on a visit with us. I stayed in the house all day and done nothing.
Paschal or Pass Hunter had a home located just southeast of Windy Nip below the county road? Was his wife Amanda? Was their son named Thomas also?
[Bob, the 1880 Mattole census shows Paschal Hunter, 40, with wife Amanda, 35, and children Ida, 17, Thomas, 15, Basio-?-14, Moses, 12, Ardina, 9, Angie, 7, Bessie, 5, and Charles, 3.]

FEB. 16—Snowing most all day, by spells quite squally. C. Young went off for home this morning. Thos. Hunter and wife went home. I went out and kiled a deer. Counted 14 lambs.

FEB. 17—Cold and blustering all day and snowing in the eavning. I went out and got a deer that I kiled yesterday and we got up the sheep and puld out lambs. Jim (?) Amens came over and staid all night.

FEB. 18—Stormy and squally all day with snow and sleat. Went and looked after the sheep and Georgie and me run off ½ mile of survey lines and corralled 14 lambs with sheep. I. Amens went to Fits’s.

FEB. 19—Cloudy all day and snowing at times. I went and tended to the sheep and trimmed our trail. A lot of Dan’s cattle came past this eavning. About 1 foot of snow.

FEB. 20—Clear all day and snow thawing off fast. A little cloudy in eavning. Georgie went to the Post office for male and will stay all night. Went and let out sheep and trimmed trail.

FEB. 21—Cloudy all day, wind. I went over to G. Hill’s [George Russell Hill’s], and got 412 cts worth of Bacon and lard. Wm. Cathey and I. Amens came and staid all night. Georgie came up with mail. I kild two deer today.
Where did G. Hill live?

FEB. 22—Cloudy all day with wind from south. I staid in the house all day and red the paper. Cathey and Amens left in the morning. John Hunter came up and to diner and then went off.

FEB. 23—Cloudy with mist and a slight rain. Stayd in the house all day and red papers and cut out a pair of gloves. Nobody came or went today. A light rain tonight, foggy.

FEB. 24—Clear all day with a slight mist at times. Georgie went to post office and brought me a pair of Boots and the male. I worked on front fence all day. Truman and Wm. Cathey past heare.

FEB. 25—Clear all day and very chilley cold. Wind from the north. I worked on fence round porch. I started to make the chicken house. Cathey and Truman came up with cattled, staid.

FEB. 26—Cloudy all day, cold wind. I worked on chicken house all day. W.H. Clark staid all night. I. Howard and (?) Pacheco came over after the stear and is staying all night.
W.H. Clark was probably T.K. Clark’s father—see T.K.’s book Regional History of Petrolia and the Mattole Valley, pp. 30-34, for information on Pacheco the Spanish cowboy and his “cabristos”. A cabristo was a gentle steer used to tow wild cattle with, perhaps the “stear” mentioned here was one of those.

FEB. 27—Clear all day with cold raw wind from the north. School teacher left this morning and Howard and Tachacoe [Pacheco?] took chain gang off. This morning I worked on porch and chicken house.
Was the “chain gang” cattle that were chained together?

FEB. 28—Clear all day, very pleasant. Georgie hauled up rails and posts. I finished the porch and worked on the corrall the rest of the day. Sold Carlo to I. Amens tonight.

FEB. 29—Clear all day. Gillespie and Amens brought over the dogs. Millsap came over today. Merifield came also. They all stay all night. Georgie and Anney went down to get mail. I stay in the house… (?) Tomy Bools [Boots?] came and went.
Tommy Boots?

MAR. 1—Cloudy, looks like rain. Gillespie went out a hunting this morning. Dan went to town. Ammens went home. Millsap went home. Got 100 lbs. flour. Fayette and I went to Singleys’ to hunt. Did not come home.

MAR. 2—Cold and snow. Fayette went home today. Still at Singleys on a hunting. We have kild nothing but a coon so far. Got a letter from Sloss. Snow by spells today.

MAR. 3—Cold and stormy with snowing by times all day. Still at Singleys’ hunting. Seen Dan pass by coming to Bull Creek. I did not kill no varment today.

MAR. 4—Still at Singleys’ hunting but no sign of aney varmint. Singley and son were out with me all day. It is cold and stormy with snow. Came home, brought (—-calf?)

MAR. 5—Cold and cloudy with strong wind—– of rain—–(?) came or went. I went out on a hunt and kild a cat, a coon, and a deer in the eavning. Georgie skinned a sheep.

MAR. 6—Clear all day with a raw wind from the north. I worked on the garden and scraped up manure round the barn. A. Amens came over this eavning. And stays all night.

MAR. 7—Clear all day with a cold wind from north. Georgie went and got old (—-? Jim?) and one cow and calf. After dinner I went and salted sheep. Amens went home, Cathey came from Dan’s.

MAR. 8—Clear all day with cold winds from the north. I worked on corrals most of the day. Gillespie came over from his place. Cathey went and got three dear he killed.

MAR. 9—Clear all day and cool. Gillespie went to the upper valley and back this eavning. Cathey chopped wood all day. I pottered round on fencing. Topsy had two lambs today.

MAR. 10—Clear all day and chilly. Gillespie went home. I [or T] Hunter came up. I and Margaret go over to Dan’s . T. Hunter went over to Gillespie’s. We stayd with Dan.
Could I. Hunter be Ida (age 17)? Was she a twin sister of Lidia’s, or her cousin?
[The “I” could be a “T” in almost all these cases. The transcriber probably saw two letters that looked very much alike in handwriting. I would like to see the original of this journal!]

MAR. 11—Clear all day. Had breakfast with Dan and then we went over to Gillespies’ to dinner and I sowed his grain. We stayed all night.

MAR. 12—Clear all day, cold wind from north. At Gillespies’ corralled the sheep and doctored them. Counted 217 old ones and 43 lambs. Then came home. I [or T] Hunter came with us, still heare all night.

[Let’s hope they get a little bit warmer in the coming month. We’ll pick up where this left off.]

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In 1999, Kenneth G. Nelson, born February 20, 1921, and raised in the Honeydew area, presented his seven grandchildren a book of his memoirs. The cover photo of Thoughts of a Boy Growing Up shows young Ken with his brother Roy, Mildred Lindley, Jack Smith, and Leland Hadley, laughing in the sunshine of a long-ago school day outside the Upper Mattole School. It’s a great photo, truly eliciting the “era of ‘boyfoot boy with cheeks of tan’,” as Ken describes that time, in the volume’s dedication.

The cover photo from "Thoughts of a Boy Growing Up," both editions

I loved the book, which has not been widely available, though i wished it contained more pictures. I can’t quite recall where i picked up my first copy, a hardback book. The first 69 pages concern Ken’s days in the Mattole, which ended when the family, due to Depression-generated financial difficulties, was forced to move to Lodi in 1930. Ken’s mother, Sue Black Nelson, had been raised there and Ken’s maternal grandparents gladly welcomed the family into their home until they got themselves set up, eventually as dairy farmers.

Ken Nelson’s paternal grandparents were Steven D. and Grace Nelson, who in the 1920s built the camp long known as Nelson’s, then as the Mattole Resort, and most recently as the Mattole Country Cabins. The scenic retreat is between Upper Mattole and Honeydew. Maud Nelson Hunter was Ken’s father Roy’s sister; she and her husband Ray Hunter took control of the Resort when Steve and Grace passed away. Maud and Ray’s daughter was Virginia Hunter Mast (also a Curzon and Tuxon in there, though i am not sure of the order), who finally sold the place out of the family, i think in the 1980s. Another daughter of Maud and Ray (and thus Kenneth G. Nelson’s first cousin) was Velma Hunter Childs Titus, who is as regular as she can be at MVHS events, and always quick with a fact, a story, or a picture whenever i’ve asked. These cousins are a pair of dynamos– you would never be able to guess their ages by their energy and sharpness of mind. I spoke with Ken on the telephone tonight, and he was, as they say, sharp as a tack, with his 90th birthday in a month. He gave me permission to reprint whatever i wished from his book.

The book! That’s the good part. He recently republished his memoirs with a great selection of photographs. Just a couple of days ago i received a signed copy in the mail, via Velma Titus. What a wonderful surprise! The book itself was already delightful reading; Ken’s is a very honest and humble voice, and he’s an enjoyable, smooth writer. But the photographs– well again, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here are a few of the photographs from the book, along with Ken’s own captions. Please excuse the funny textures… something seems to happen when my pixels interact with the book’s pixels.

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