Learn about the Kelsey Brothers (and more)

Main Documents

A 3-Page History of Tribes and Settlers in Big Valley, from first contact in 1830 through 1900 : - By Alan Fletcher

This is a very short outline of the main events (and relies heavily on Dr Parker's timeline in "A California Disaster" below.)

A History of Tribes and Settlers in Big Valley - By Alan Fletcher

This is a longer (8-pages + references) history, based on the same research as the short version.

Our hope is that after you have read this account you will be unable to explain how one could NOT take offense at the continuing use of the hurtful name "Kelseyville".


The Kelsey Brothers: A California Disaster - By Dr John Parker

This is a detailed history of the first settlers: Salvador Vallejo and the Kelsey Brothers

In particular, Dr Parker looks at all the evidence surrounding the execution of Andy Kelsey and Charles Stone, and of the Bloody Island Massacre.

A full version was presented at the Ely Stage Stop Museum, on Saturday October 9th, 2021. It was videotaped by Euston Productions, and can be viewed here : https://youtu.be/A6ylHq8H600 Dr Parker presented a shorter version at one of the C4H meetings.


An Act of Survival - By Kevin Engle

This covers the history of the Kelsey Brothers before and after their time in Lake County.

This was written specially for C4H, and was presented at a C4H meeting.

Various Names Given to Kelseyville - By Kevin Engle

Pioneers and settlers called it Kelsey's, Kelsey's Place, Kelsey Crick, Kelsey Creek and Kelsey Town. In documents it was Kelsey Creek Township. The new post office was created as "Uncle Sam" in 1858, but that was not used as the town name, although it did appear on maps. In 1888 it was briefly incorporated as "Kelseyville".

What's In a Name: a talk by Clovice Lewis

The text of this talk has been submitted to the BGN, and is on this site as What's In A Name (text)

Rev Lewis also submitted a related document: Environmental Injustice: The Elem Colony of Pomo Indians

Tribal Support and Testimomy

This is, of course, the most important part of our proposal. We held it back so that readers would understand the full horror of the Kelsey Brothers' attrocities before they heard from the current, living descendents of the Kelsey's victims.

A detailed page is at Tribal Support

Three tribes have, so far, submitted responses to the BGN.

I have contacted each tribe in Lake County for their approval to change the name of the town Kelseyville to the name of Konocti and the 7 tribes are unanimously in favor of the name change to Konocti.

   Ronald Montez Sr
   Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO)
   The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians
   (email 09/09/21)

In response to our proposal, three tribes have, to date, submitted formal responses to the BGN.

Letter of Support from Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake

Giving the town of Kelseyville a new name has strong support from tribal members:

The late Thomas Leon Brown, an elder of Elem Modun, attended our early meetings, and suggested the name Citizens for Healing for the group.

Habematolel and Elem hosted our meetings. Robinson Ranchera hosted a meeting of the Visioning Forum.

Ron Montez, THPO for Big Valley Band of Pomos (The Tribe nearest Kelseyville), participated in our working groups, and brought several elders from local tribes to speak at our meeting at Habematolel. They shared stories from their great-grandparents of the horrific history of Andy Kelsey and the impact it still has on their lives.

Robert Geary (THPO for Elem) assisted us by explaining the various names for Konocti (which vary according to the location from which it is viewed), and that names belong to particular tribes, whose permission must be sought before using one.

Three tribal members participate in the Lake County Visioning Forum, at which Historic Names was raised as an issue.

Media Coverage

There were several press articles on the proposed renaming of Kelsyville:

KPFZ 88.1 FM radio has had numerous shows covering the proposed renaming. For example:

  • Voice of White Plume hosted by Clayton Duncan (weekly)
  • Tribal Voices hosted by Jim and Gail Brown (weekly)
  • Wordweavers. Interview with Robert Geary
  • Audio of Dr Parker's talk at the Ely stage stop.
  • Interview with tribal member Lorens Moriarty, and (previous chairaman) Les Miller

Other Background Information

Reclamation Road Mostly about Bloody Island.

NPR : A Walk Through Time : Anderson Marsh (30 minutes)

They were some of California's most brutal slave owners: Their deaths sparked a massacre - San Francisco Chronicle.

The ACLU (Northern California) has a series on "Gold Chains - The hidden history of slavery in California". Of particular interest are:

Bloody Island Massacre As many as 200 Pomo were killed on the island and in the surrounding area. Many women and children were stabbed with bayonets. One of the few survivors was a 6-year-old girl named Niíka, later known as Lucy Moore, who hid in the bloodied waters and survived by breathing air through a reed. The seeds of this bloody conflict can be traced back to 1847 when two white settlers, Charles Stone and Andrew Kelsey, bought a cattle ranch where they kept several hundred local Pomo men as slave laborers.†

Rosa: Kidnapped, Sold, and Killed Rosa was between 10 and 12 years old and was believed to be from either the Yuki or Pomo tribe. In the winter of 1862, she was beaten and left to die in a snowstorm by a woman who had been granted legal custody of her under the law.†


Our main sources are : The Mauldin Files, Gibbs, McKee, Powers, Palmer, Barrett, Gifford, Heizer (Handbook, Collected files), McLendon (Handbook, Word List), Elliot, Parker (Archeology, California Disaster) and Engle (Act of Survival).

Table of Sources