Humboldt County Historical Society

Humboldt Historian

Summer 2014

HH Summer 2014.jpg

Volume 62, No. 2

10 - A HUMBOLDTER IN HOLLYWOOD: FRANK FERGUSON - by James Pegolotti

A life of the longtime character actor and Ferndale native.

16 - THE U. S. SANITARY COMMISSION - YOU DID HEAR IT FROM ME - by Louella Parsnips

Ms. Parsnips turns to a serious subject: caring for the Civil War wounded and dead.

20 - THOMAS E. LEAVEY: THE LIFE & LEGACIES OF A HUMBOLDT COUNTY NATIVE SON, PART II - by Jim A. Beardsley

Continuing the story of Thomas Leavey, founder of Farmers Insurance, who grew up on a family dairy farm at West End.

26 - MARINE VIEW TERRACE - by Karen Campbell Hendricks

Wartime housing for CBI workers would serve the Eureka community into the 1960s.

31 - MARY ANDERSON FLOWER TITLOW - by Stuart Cotter, Robert Titlow, and John Warren

A young woman makes a life on the Humboldt frontier.

34 - THE MIGHTY IRENE SHOWERS - by Kay McMullen, SNDdeN

Privately known to her students as “Mighty Mite,” Irene Showers was a superhero of generosity.

36 - IMMIGRATING TO AMERICA - by Robert Gill

The Macchi & Malfatti families pass through Rio Dell on their journey to a new life.


While he spent most of his adult years in Los Angeles, Thomas Leavey retained his boyhood love of the ranching life, and kept horses on his family getaway ranch in southern California. Above, in appreciation for Leavey’s support of his philanthropic work, Roy Rogers shows the fellow horseman and philanthropist two trophies—featuring his beloved palomino, Trigger—which will help inspire safety in schools. He also appears to have just placed his trademark white hat on Leavey’s head. Part two of Leavey’s life begins on page 20.

Roy Rogers actually pops up again: he is mentioned in our opening story, Jim Pegolotti’s life of Frank Ferguson, the Ferndale boy who went on to a thirty-five-year career as a popular character actor in Hollywood.

We have all heard of Chicago Bridge and Iron and its importance during the Second World War, but the housing project that went along with it may be news to many. Karen Campbell Hendricks tells the story on page 26.

At the Historical Society there is a framed photo that I have long been curious about. It shows a giant cake bearing the inscription “National Sanitary Cake.” What could this mean? I asked Louella Parsnips to research and write about it, and thus she departs from her usual form to tell a serious tale, on page 16.

Finally, with the three family stories in this issue, we will travel from Italy to the USA on an immigrant ship, cross the Oregon Trail with a mother-to-be, and meet a true “Mighty Mite.” Even the smallest heroes make a difference.
— From the Editor