Marin County Genealogy

Marin Oral Histories - M

Hosted by permission of Cathy Gowdy of the Marin County Genealogical Society.

NOTE: Oral Histories for underlined names have been transcribed and are available on the net - click on the name to go to the Civic Center Branch of the Marin County Free Library page where they can be accessed.
MacNear Imogen San Rafael Early Resident   Discusses what life was like in San Rafael and nearby areas in the late 1800's, during the Great Depression, and after World War II. She tells of how the trees on the now bare hillsides were cut to build the houses in San Francisco. She gives lists of rules for teachers and pupils in the State of California at the turn of the Century. She talks about the one room schoolhouse near MacNear's Quarry and its Steinway grand piano and signed picture of Abraham Lincoln (now gone). 15 January 1964
MacPhail John, Jr. San Rafael Pioneer Family   Grandson of Neil MacPhail, a Scot born on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Tells the story of his family & the family business (MacPhail's Inc.), in business since 1884 with a payroll of 125 persons & 10,000 customers. His grandfather came to San Rafael and opened a Livery Stable, with 90 horses & misc. rigs (including a "Tally Ho") & branched out to selling wood, coal, heating oil, stoves and appliances, building materials, etc. Until now it is the largest company in Northern California (exception Sears, Wards, etc.) A family of great pride and integrity.
Mailliard Ernest Interview #1 - Descendent of Adolph and Annie Ward Mailliard, owners of 10,000 acre Rancho San Geronimo. Recounts the history of his famous family. Wife, Caroline, joins in the reminiscences.

Interview #2 - Relates the history of his mother's family, the Tompkins. His grandfather was a Gold Bullion dealer on the Sacramento River boats. He describes especially his Aunt Ethel Tompkins (1876-1969) who founded in 1907 "The Marin County Humane Society." She had the distinction of being the granddaughter of Daniel E. Tompkins, Vice President of the United States under President James Monroe (1817-1825). Ernest was born in the "Tompkins Home" on Sequoia Road in san Anselmo.

Interview #3 - Narration covers his maternal line: i.e., Minthorne M. Tompkins, was his grandfather and built in 1869 one of the first substantial homes in San Anselmo - Sequoia Park, a 54 acre estate. Ernest's great grandfather was Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York and later Vice President of the United States under President James Monroe (1817-1925). Outlines family tree and describes this home and gardens where he was born in 1887.

20 March 1977 

Martinelli Genevieve Cochrane San Rafael Early Resident, Civic Volunteer b. 2 April 1899

d. 22 Aug 1996

Widow of the late Superior Court Judge, Jordan L. Martinelli; born in San Rafael; daughter of Patrick Henry Cochrane (County Assessor in the early 1900's) who was born (1869) in San Rafael. Relates her family history; her school days; amusements; marriage to Jordan Martinelli and her family; involvement in civic and charitable organizations; etc. Describes her father and Cochrane family and those happy early days in San Rafael and Marin County. A most gracious and beloved lady.
Martinelli Judge Jordan San Rafael Judge, Pioneer Family b. 23 Aug 1897

d. Oct 1975

#1 Retired Superior Court Judge. Born in 1897 in San Rafael. Early history of his family and Marin. # 2 Retired Superior Court Judge of Marin for 13 years; City Attorney of San Rafael; Ross, Larkspur, Fairfax and Sausalito for 28 years. Recounts history of his family. Grandfather, Don Lorenzo Martinelli arrived in Marin in 1848. Discusses also some of the famous cases he had jurisdiction over. 6 July 1974 - 23 October 1975 
Mason De Witt Sausalito Banker, Early Resident   Sausalito born banker reminiscences with Dr. Jack Gazzola over boyhood days in Sausalito where his grandfather owned the Mason Distillery, home of Malt Whiskey. The two friends, who grew up together, share life in a small Southern Marin town in the 1920's and 1930's. Mr. Mason also tells of his 44 year career with the Bank of America where he started as a 17 year old Bank Messenger at $65.00 per month and rose through the ranks to become Manager of the San Anselmo Branch.
Mazzini Elsie Andrews Novato Pioneer Family, 1st President, Marin County Historical Society b. 12 June 1903

d. Sep 1983

#1 Elsie is President of the Marin County Historical Society. She is a descendent of Domingo Sais who received the land grant "Rancho Canada de Herrera." Tells of her Society and of early Marin. #2 Born 12 June 1903 in Stockton, CA; great granddaughter of two of the first Spanish families to settle in Marin. Her great grandfathers were: Domingo Sais, grantee of "Rancho Canada de Herrera" and Don Fernando Feliz, grantee of "Rancho Novato." Mrs. Mazzini outlines the family tree and brings the narrative from the 1770's up to the present. Describes her early impressions of San Rafael and tells of her work with the Marin County Historical Society as President. A remarkable woman who has done much to preserve Marin History. 6 July 1974 - 19 January 1976
McCormick Virginia Dollar (Mrs. Alexander) San Rafael Pioneer Family b. 23 May 1922

d. 30 May 1991

Granddaughter of Captain Robert Dollar, founder of Dollar Steamship Co., tells the story of the Dollar family and life at "Falkirk," the family home in San Rafael. Capt. Dollar was dean of American shipping & a well-known philanthropist. The San Francisco Theological Seminary and "Sunnyhills" were just two of the recipients of his generous gifts. Raised in Shanghai, China (her father was head of the China Office), Virginia was educated at Dominican & resided at "Falkirk" for many years. Capt. Dollar's ships named after presidents of the U.S. were the first to sail around the world. 9 May 1983
McDonald Lois (Mrs. Perry) Marshall Early Resident 2 March 1907

d. 20 July 1987

Daughter of Jennie Dawson (age 98) who is deaf and could not be interviewed. Her daughter, Mrs. McDonald, did the interview. Mrs. McDonald, born 2 March 1907 and taught school at Marshall when Indians still lived in the area. Describes early Corte Madera; May Day in Kentfield and life in West Marin raising Arabian Horses. 5 April 1976
McIsaac Nellie Codoni Tocolomo Early Resident b. 31 Aug 1882

d. Aug 1978

Early West Marin resident. Born 1882 at Tocolomo. Her mother and father were Swiss and settled in the 1860's. Had a Dairy Ranch. Initially, Mr. Codoni worked for the Shafters. Went back to Switzerland to fulfill his military obligations & met his future wife. Married her there and returned to Tocolomo where Nellie was born. She describes her early life on the ranch; her school at Jewel; rides to San Rafael on buckboard; fellow schoolmates and neighbors; early Hotels at Olema, Camp Taylor and Tocolomo. Describes average day on a ranch. Married her neighbor's son, who lived only six miles away. Describes courtship and all the sweet things of the simple life.
McLellan Keith Mill Valley Early Resident b. 3 May 1893

d. Aug 1974

Born in San Francisco 3 May 1893. He has lived in Mill Valley since 1906. Keith McLellan was a member of the original freshman class at Tamalpais High School in the fall of 1908. In 1912 there was a fire in which everything in his home was lost except for his mother's rosewood piano. Mr. McLellan relates the story of how it was saved. He also tells about early businesses in Mill Valley and their locations. He discusses his childhood and the things children did to amuse themselves at that time. Only a small part of his home burned in the 1929 fire. Talks about the mountain railroad; and what life was like in Mill Valley during World War II. 8 May 1972 
McNear John Erskine, Jr. San Rafael Pioneer Family   See interview of Lucretia McNear Thomas
McNeil Ellen Redding Nicasio Pioneer Family   Ellen Redding McNeil (age 81) who was born in Nicasio (as was her mother Ellen Murray Redding) tells the story of the 560 acre "Redding Ranch." Describes the town and its square; locates & identifies the old stores, the hotel, houses; her early schooling and classmates; life on a dairy ranch, etc. Her daughter Martha joins in the reminiscences. Ellen was a school teacher and taught (after attending Normal School in San Francisco) at the One Room School House on the Burdell Ranch where she rode to work each day by horseback. 
Menzies Colin, Jr. Mill Valley Landscape Gardener, Early Resident b. 21 April 1911

d. 19 Dec 1987

A lifelong resident of Mill Valley, born 21 April 1911. His father came to Mill Valley from San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake. After the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 his father had several of the large trees from the grounds brought over and planted on the property that is still owned by the family. Colin Menzies, Jr. has worked in landscape gardening all his life. In the interview he talks about the changes in Mill Valley since he's lived there, the fire in 1929, joining the volunteer firemen in 1939, and boyhood activities (pranks). His mother raised the money for the first fire siren in Mill Valley. August 1970
Mereen Edith Amanda San Francisco Teacher, Educator b. 9 April 1895

d. 13 Oct 1987

Teacher, Educator and Head Mistress of a Girl's Private School (Miss Sarah Dix Hamlins) in San Francisco; Trustee of the Anna Head School. Relates her experiences in teaching and in running a private secondary school. Explains her theory about the education and the importance of maintaining ( and also deepening) the traditions that made her school outstanding. Graduate of U. C. Berkeley, intelligent, warm reminiscences of an extraordinary life. 24 May 1977
Meyer Beverly Bastion     b. 14 April 1926

d. July 1986

Saving the Setting - Old St. Hilary Church
Miller III William James Bolinas Pioneer Family b. 16 May 1909

d. 29 June 1996

Great grandson of James Miller who led "The Miller - Murphy Party," 1st emigrants train to California over the Sierras in 1844. Millers settled one part of Don Timeteo Murphy's Rancho Las Gallinas (680 acre parcel). James Miller built "Miller Hall," a showplace of its day. His son William built three story Nicasio Hotel. William Miller III reminiscences about his family, their vast 8,000 acres and other ranches and his life in Bolinas, old Bourne Ranch, Louis Bates, etc.
Minto  Thomas Kentfield Realtor b. 25 Aug 1889

d. Jan 1979

Age 85. In Marin since 1908. Prominent Realtor. Describes early years with the railroad in San Rafael, Corte Madera and Ignacio; partnership with Mr. Thomas Kent; development of the Traxler Ranch and history of the Meadow Club Property. Describes the acquiring of the Butler Property (10 acres) in Kentfield, for the present College of Marin. 21 January 1975
Moya del Pino Helen Ross Creator Moya Library   Mrs. Jose Moya Del Pino who created the Moya Library at the Marin Art & Garden Center in memory of her husband. Lives in Ross. 6 July 1974
Murray William Paul, Jr. San Rafael Banker   President of the Bank of Marin & Chairman of the Board "Independent Bank Shares Corp." (a group of six independent banks located in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake Sierra, Solano, Nevada and Placer Counties). He is the son of William P. Murray who founded the Bank of Marin in the 1920's. Both father and son were born in San Rafael. A dedicated member of the community - active in Rotary, Boy Scouts, Historical Society, Community Chest, Park Commission, etc. Explains the growth in banking - the many changes i.e., drive -up windows (his father's idea) and explains the function of a banker in the community. 13 December 1982
Murray  Eleanor (Mrs. F.W.) San Rafael Teacher, Early Resident   Age 89. Retired teacher of Latin in San Rafael. Describes her teaching techniques and early memories of Marin i.e., schooners up the Canal, horseback riding, swimming, etc. Recorded at her home; 1018 Grand Avenue. 17 October 1974

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