Five families will be featured at St. Helena Historical Society’s “Museum For a Day,” which will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Native Sons Hall, 1313 Spring St.
The families are MacDonald, Lincoln, McCormick, Money and Bedolla. Members of the families will share their stories, photos and various ephemera. The St. Helena Historical Society will also have a few wonderful old vehicles outside for added interest.
These events are held every few years (at whatever venue can be found) because the St. Helena Historical Society is currently without a home, but its members still want the Historical Society’s treasures to be available to the community. This is one way to do that. Each family will have tables and easels for display, and most will have several members attending.
Susan M. Veresh, a SHHS board member, has interviewed the families and compiled each of the interviews that will be printed in the next few weeks.
Harry Latham Lincoln was born in New York on Jan. 21, 1830 and was one of 13 children comprising the family of Nathan and Phebe (Hayes) Lincoln. He belonged to a family whose distant kindred was President Abraham Lincoln.
Harry and his wife Ann Fennell had seven children. When the Mississippi Valley was undergoing its initial development, the Lincoln family, with by then, four children in tow, became pioneers of Madison County in Illinois where Harry operated a flouring mill for three years.
Leaving Illinois for California in 1859, they traveled to New York and boarded a ship with 1,200 passengers. The ship crossed through the isthmus of Panama, proceeded up the West Coast, and after 24 days, landed in Benicia in Solano County.
Harry’s brother was already living in Suisun Valley and helped Harry locate and buy a quarter section claim with a small cabin, but shortly, Harry was to find the property was already owned by Nathan Coombs, who sent his foreman to remove the settlers. Finding another property in Vacaville, he closed a deal to break and train wild horses and cultivate the land. He bought a grain header machine and was soon making a large profit.
After four years, and three more children, he moved the family to Capay Valley in Yolo County and purchased 200 acres of land which he then farmed for six years. Next, he moved the family to San Jose so the children could go to city schools.
They arrived in Napa Valley in 1877, settling in Calistoga. Harry’s sons, George Fennel and Edward Fletcher Lincoln, both farmed in Monticello for several years before Edward came to Oakville in 1898 and purchased the ranch just north of the Yountville Hills. The Lincoln family ranch at that time was 100-plus acres and extended from the Napa River to Highway 29 and from Yountville road to the present Cardinale Winery. Farming included cattle, hogs, barley, hay, apples, prunes, grapes and other crops.
Edward Fletcher Lincoln, born Oct. 2, 1858 and his wife Mary Haeckl, a native of Melbourne, Australia, had six children: Lloyd, Alva, Clement, George, Edna and Eva.
In the early ’20s, in addition to farming the home ranch, two brothers, George Audrey and Alva Louis started Lincoln Brothers Blacksmith and Tractor in Oakville at the present-day parking lot of the Oakville Grocery. The company was purchased in the ’50s by a son-in-law and later moved to Rutherford and renamed Wilcox Tractor.
Edward’s son Alva had two children, William and Alita.
William (Bill) was raised in Oakville, and he and his friends got treats through the back door from the owner of Oakville Grocery. They used to ride their bikes up Oakville Grade, which was a dirt road. They loved watching the planes land on an airstrip in Oakville. When he was 16, Bill and a friend built their own plane! He obtained his pilot license and attended Cal Poly for his formal aeronautical mechanical training.
On one eventful day, he and his buddies decided to see if a chicken could fly (Bill had made the original bet), so they took off, and at about 3,000 feet dropped the poor bird over the side. The chicken flew in graceful circles until landing safely in the grass, and was later returned to the coop. Bill’s daughter Dee (McFarland), says Dad laughed about that every time he told the story!
Bill was an aeronautical engineer and a flight engineer for Pan American World Airways on Clipper Ships at Treasure Island in the late 1930s. Barbara, soon to be his wife, worked for Pan Am owner Juan Trippe in scheduling and administration. Hired by Pan Am four days after graduating from college, Bill became head plane mechanic.
As World War II broke out and the Navy took over Pan Am, he became an officer in the Navy and was sent to Guam and Midway Islands. He and his crew maintained the aircraft on the bases. On one occasion, during an attack, they retreated to the trenches they had dug for protection from Japanese bombers and one brave crew member ran back to the house for beer for everyone and made it back to the trench just as the attack began.
The Lincoln Ranch property was divided among the six children in 1938 and several sold their parcels immediately. William Wayne Lincoln purchased the home parcel from his uncle, Edward Lloyd Lincoln in 1964. While still flying, he farmed it as permanent pasture for cattle until the early ’70s when it was planted in vines during that planting boom.
Bill and Barbara had 10 children, including twins and triplets: Ann, Bill, Beth, Dee, Mary, Barby (died at age 21 in an auto accident), John, Jim, David, and Lynn. Nine of the 10 graduated from St. Helena High School. The eldest daughter, Ann, had graduated and was attending college when they moved to Oakville.
The children were not allowed to ride their bikes to Yountville, because Mom thought it was “too rough” a town! However, Gene, the owner of Tonascia’s would hand out cookies when Mom would stop by for a few groceries with all the kids.
After graduating from high school, all the children left the area to “see the world,” but all have since returned! Siblings’ occupations include vineyard management, agricultural engineering, nursing, teaching, a chef, machine operator, computer programming and entrepreneurs. There are now 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Please join them at the Museum for a Day!