The Pioneer Burkes

Ever see the sign for Burke Hill south of Ukiah and wonder who Burke was? Here’s part of the answer. Alexander Burke was born in Sparta, Tennessee in the summer of 1813. At age twenty he married eighteen-year-old Susan Shelton. They moved on to Missouri, where six sons and two daughters graced their union before […]

A Gruesome Tale, 1880

A grue is a grisly, short comic poem, with a sadistic bent to it and a twist of some sort in the final line or two. Grues were often called “Little Willies” after the central figure in many of the best known examples. Robert Louis Stevenson dubbed the rhymes a “grue,” deriving the moniker from […]

Standish-Hickey & The Pandemic

What does Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area, a mile and a half north of Leggett, have to do with the Covid-19 pandemic? Nothing of a direct nature is the correct answer. However, there is a connection to the devastating pandemic of a century ago. A little history for context. Miles Standish and Henry Hickey, whose names […]

The Disappearance of Mrs. Strong (Part 3)

(The previous two installments described the imprisonment of R.G. Strong in 1873, the 1874 murder of his wife in the Sherwood area, the trial and conviction of David Geiger for that murder, as well as the acquittal of his partner, James Alexander.) Geiger spent time in state prison, but under the law of the time […]

The Disappearance of Mrs. Strong

Sherwood, or Sherwood Valley if you like, lies sheltered from both the dense fog and high wind that can bedevil the coast of Mendocino County. While it can swelter on summer afternoons, it still rests near enough to reap the benefit of cool night and morning sea breezes wending through to the interior. The first […]

Mr. Mudgett’s Murder

The year, 1896. The season, autumn. The time, murderous. A neighbor discovered the half cremated body of John Mudgett, a wealthy rancher of Usal, among the embers of his partially burned home. The passing neighbor noticed the altered appearance of the house from a distance. Riding closer he saw the Mudgett place had been at […]

Counting Crows

At its February 10th meeting, the Fort Bragg City Council unanimously approved sending a letter to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors.  The first two paragraphs: “Mendocino County’s reliance on Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC) and Redwood Community Services (RCS) for Behavioral Health and Recovery Services appears to increase each year. As the services that […]

A Cow Called Wanda

Dawn belongs to the heifers. Six of them wait every morning near the bottom of the hill. In fair weather a pickup truck brings alfalfa and sometimes meadow grass. On rainy days, the man tugs a cart full of the same down to them. They range from just under a year old to three. The […]

Hospitality House Looks the Other Way

On September 5, 2019, the night manager at the Hospitality House, on North McPherson Street in Fort Bragg, heard what sounded like a dog crying in pain. Stepping outside to a dirt area alongside the building, the night manager spotted Nathaniel Secker and his dog. Secker was beating and yelling at the animal.  The manager […]

Obstetric Cuts at Coast Hospital

At its Thursday, January 30th meeting the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District’s Board of Directors voted to transition the Labor & Delivery (OB) Department at Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) to a “stabilize and transfer” model. Board Vice-President Steve Lund made the motion “to transition from [the] existing Labor and Delivery model no later than June […]