Tom Bell’s Flat

Along the Comptche-Ukiah Road, east of the nearly forgotten town of Melburne, is a spot known to locals as Tom Bell’s Flat (or Tom Bell Flats). Tom Bell settled there in the 1860s. He made his living as a trapper and spent his years as a bachelor in a small cabin. Near his home a […]

Wayward Cattle

Here, along the Albion River, we are getting some much needed rain. A hard rain often sends our cattle uphill. Unfortunately, some of the current herd don’t have sense enough to stay close to the house half way up that hill where they get treated like babies with bales of alfalfa and grain hay not […]

“Destroy This Document”

This starts innocuously enough with an email from Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) on November 9th announcing the agenda for the November 13th meeting of the hospital’s Planning Committee. Stick with it because there will be punch lines. Emails for MCDH committee meetings go out to dozens of people. A year ago that number was […]

A Slice of Life from 1911

Here on the Macdonald ranch mid-autumn is a time to pick apples. In my youth, keeper varieties were stored in rectangular wooden bins on the kitchen porch. Rhode Island greenings were peeled and cooked into apple sauce or sliced to become part of baked goods. In 1911, when my father was four and his little […]

Miller v. Fort Bragg Unified

There are cases that wend ever so slowly through the court system. In some civil cases even preliminary results can take years. One such case in the Superior Court of Mendocino County is Miller v. Fort Bragg Unified School District. Donna Miller began work in the Fort Bragg Unified School District (FBUSD) in August 2001 […]

Of Fire & Creatures of the Deep

Nature’s ways can be a predictable or a mysterious thing. Of course, when humans toy with nature, you never know what the result might be. Some folks get all wrapped up in their dedication to nature to the point of ignoring humanity, others literally get burned. Three years after the “Great Comptche Fire of 1931” […]

Jack London & Helmuth Seefeldt

In February, 1874, blue-eyed, brown haired Helmuth Seefeldt was born in Demmin, on the West Pomeranian plain of northeastern Germany at the confluence of three rivers. Little is known about his childhood there or his reasons for leaving his birthplace behind. At twenty he set out to explore the world, sailing from Hamburg on July […]

Pig Tales

“When pigs fly,” is a centuries old adynaton, insinuating the obvious impossibility of a statement. However, pigs have flown. The first pig to fly was actually a piglet, proving once again that the youth of the world are out front when it comes to innovation. That first flying piglet situated itself in a waste basket […]

The Airship Mystery of 1896-97

William Held and Dr. Case, of Ukiah, were riding northbound in a buggy on an early December evening, destination Centerville in the Potter Valley district. Their horses shied as a light flared from the darkness. Reining the team to a standstill the two men gazed skyward to the west, where they plainly saw the outline […]

The Albion Rancho

A May 24, 2017 piece in the AVA chronicled the early history of English sailor William Richardson’s arrival at San Francisco Bay in 1822, his subsequent marriage to Maria Antonia Martinez, daughter of the presidio commandant, and his acquisition of a land grant for much of what is now southern Marin County. In 1844 Captain […]

One Family’s Travails in 1879

In 1856 William H. Norton, arrived in Mendocino City while in his early twenties. He worked as a sawyer and carpenter for the mill company on the flats just east and north of the mouth of Big River. In 1864 he married thirty-year-old Margaret Flanagan, from a family that included a dozen siblings in County […]