Museum History

In the Beginning …
The Griggs …

Sidney Allen Griggs was born September 4, 1826, in Littleton, NH, seventh in line of nine children. He lived on his father’s farm with occasional work in New York City. In 1849, he caught “gold fever”, sailed down to Panama, crossed and sailed up to San Francisco, arriving August 1849. He started diggings on the American River near Coloma and had only so-so luck.

In 1854 he started in the cattle business in Colusa. He moved to Tehama in 1864. In 1875 he started a sheep ranch on Mill Creek. In 1883 he drove his sheep to Wyoming and in 1886 moved them to Idaho. All this time he had his residence in Red Bluff where “early in the ‘80s he built his ‘commodious’ residence on the corner of Washington and Ash Streets.”  (Hist. & Bio. by Prof. J. M. Guinn, 1906)

In Oakland, June 3, 1885, Mr. Sidney Allen Griggs married Mrs. Melvina Rhoda (Roundtree) Montgomery. She was born in Nashville, TN, September 14, 1840, one of ten children. Her father, Judge Andrew Roundtree, was principal of an Academy in Nashville. In 1857, he brought his family to California. He sailed, seventeen year old Melvina came overland with her brothers, driving 1000 head of cattle. They settled near Chico. Mrs. (Melvina Montgomery) Griggs married her first husband, John M. Montgomery, a native of Knoxville, TN, in Marysville. He had come overland in 1854 driving cattle with him and bought the Capay grant, south of Tehama. They had two sons John and William. Mr. Montgomery died in 1876.

Mr. and Mrs. Griggs were active in civic and social affairs. Mrs. Griggs was said to be very beautiful. Mr. Griggs died in 1906 and his wife continued to live in the home reclusive until her death on October 15, 1931.

The Kellys …

The home was purchased in 1931 by the Kelly brothers. Miss Anne Kelly (the last of the eleven Kelly children) sold the house to the Kelly-Griggs House Museum Association in 1966.

The Kelly parents of Irish decent were born in Australia. James Kelly of Albury married Catherine Harrington of Melbourne. They came to California in 1870 with two children, Richard and Mary. While farming near Madera, a son Tom was born and died.

The Kellys came north to Tehama County in the ‘70s. James, John, Margaret, Catherine, Anne, Michael, Ellen and Emma joined Richard and Mary. The men were all ranchers and cattlemen and owned various properties. They owned a summer resort, “Kelly’s Place” in Warner Valley (now a part of Lassen National Park). The girls attended the Convent in Red Bluff and later Anne, Ellen and Emma attended Chico Normal now CSU Chico and became teachers. Anne taught school where Vista now stands.

James Kelly (the father) died in 1899. Some of the girls had married and the brothers (all bachelors) and the other girls lived with the mother on a ranch until she died. Then they moved to town and bought the house on Washington Street in 1931. 

In 1956, Ellen Kelly McMann and brother, Michael, died leaving just Anne Kelly and Emma Kelly Neely in the house. In 1964, Emma died and Miss Anne lived there alone.

The Association …

After selling the house to the Kelly-Griggs House Museum Association in February, 1966, Miss Anne eventually moved to a nursing home near Sacramento where she died in April of 1988 at the age of 108. She’ll be fondly remembered as long as the Kelly-Griggs House stands.

— From Kelly-Griggs House Museum Association Records