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. This information is from Lydia Marten Money.
If you have ever sat in the Cameo Cinema, 1340 Main St. in St. Helena, now the longest-running single family owned movie theater in the United States, the story behind it involves the Davis family who marked their 150th year in the Napa Valley and whose founder, Cornelius Elting Davis, arrived in St. Helena in 1868.
Cornelius Elting Davis’ family was originally from Ireland and Scotland. After emigrating to America through Nova Scotia, Cornelius, a medical doctor, took the opportunity to travel west in 1854 with his sister Eleanor Bassett and her husband and three children to California’s Tahoe region of the Sierras, where he worked as a traveling medical doctor in the gold camps. The Bassetts went on to found their ranch at Glenbrook, California, which became a major resort.
Later, Dr. Davis went to Petaluma where he met Roxanna Martin, a school teacher, and they were married on Feb. 13, 1859 and moved to Grass Valley. They had two children, Ella Nancy Davis and Emma Roxanna Davis. Ella Nancy was born Feb. 12, 1865 and died 20 months later, on Sept. 9, 1866. Grandmother Emma Roxanna Davis was born Sept. 23, 1866.
On Dec. 10, 1866, Roxanna Martin Davis died. She and her little daughter Ella are laid to rest in plot 353 in Liberty Cemetery in Petaluma.
Dr. Davis left his daughter Emma with the Martin family in Petaluma, and returned by horseback to Philadelphia for additional training as a dentist as he found that to be more necessary. Upon returning he picked up his daughter Emma and moved to San Francisco where he founded the San Francisco Dental Society. He found the climate too cold in San Francisco, and moved to St. Helena in 1868, set up a dental office where he was one of the first dentists to use anesthesia in his practice. My grandmother Emma was his dental assistant.
He married Frances Hall on June 1, 1871 and they had four children, two of whom died in infancy. Frances Hall Davis died Sept. 11, 1878 and later Dr. Davis met and married Lydia Ann Taylor in 1885.
Cornelius Elting Davis died at the age of 82 on July 10, 1915 and is laid to rest in the St. Helena Cemetery in the Odd Fellows Lot. A large monument bears the name of Hall and Davis and the Cemetery is part of the Historical sites of California.
At the age of 23, Emma Roxanna Davis married Frederick Thomas Mooney on May 14, 1883. Mooney built the movie theater building now known as the Cameo Cinema and worked with his father-in-law, Cornelius, to build up all the properties.
Frederick Mooney died June 26, 1918. After his death, Emma married John Noble, the local scoutmaster, but he died Jan. 16, 1923 about 10 months later. Her name was now Emma Roxanna Davis Noble and the business “Noble Properties” is named in her honor.
Theodore Davis Mooney (later changed to Money to correct misspelling in 1928) was born March 13, 1903 in St. Helena, graduated from St. Helena High School in 1920, married Mary Phillips and they had a daughter, Patricia Davis Money. He attended Stanford University and became a structural engineer. The marriage did not last.
After moving to Boston, Massachusetts, he went to MIT and got his training as a civil, structural and mechanical engineer and specialized in aeronautical design. He met and married my mother, Barbara Snowden Mayor, a classical pianist and artist on Aug. 1, 1933, and his daughter, Lydia Marten Money was born Nov. 6, 1942 in New York City, N.Y.
During the war years, he managed two aircraft factories making the “Bearcat” folding wing aircraft for the Pacific Theater and was a civilian advisor to the Marine Air Corps.
In 1949, the family moved to St. Helena and took over managing Noble Properties to help his mother, Emma Noble.
Lydia Marten Money worked in the family business and not only became a horticulturist specializing in garden design and construction studying at Merritt School of Horticulture in Oakland, but went on to become a professional photographer after having studied under Ansel Adams in 1963, and working outside the family business as an Architectural Secretary in Public Construction for more than 24 years.
Lydia Marten Money married Prachan Pimpan, a cinematographer in Santa Barbara, and her son, Daniel Prachan Pimpan was born Feb. 20, 1967. Prachan Pimpan left when her son Daniel was only 6 weeks old and Lydia returned to Berkeley and worked in the family business as a trustee and managed “Gardens By Lydia,” a full-service garden design and maintenance business.
Emma Roxanna Davis Noble died at the age of 103 and 8 months on May 27, 1970 in Berkeley.
Theodore Davis Money died at the age of 91 on May 1, 1994 and Barbara Mayor Money died Sept. 27, 1998 in Berkeley at the age of 88. The business is now run by the surviving members of the family as a trust.
Daniel Prachan Pimpan married Kathryn Ann Briedes and they had a son, Caspian Jasper John Pimpan, born Sept. 12, 2001. Caspian will turn 18 in September and will be graduating from St. Helena High School this year.
On April 16, two descendants of Emma Davis and May Davis met for the first time at St. Helena Public Library. Emma Davis’s descendant Lydia Money of St. Helena met May Davis’s descendant Laurie Banks of Sacramento. The two had never met and found each other on Ancestry.com. Both are family historians, each having large amounts of information to share with the other.