Sutter County









      Edward E. Benham has been an active and well known figure in the motion picture business of the Sacramento Valley for a number of years and is now associated with Smith’s Theater in Yuba City, one of the leading picture houses of this section of the state.  Mr. Benham was born in Yolo County, California, on the 16th of August, 1890, and is a son of Robert S. and Nancy (Nelk) Benham.  His father, who was a butcher by trade, was born at Woodland, California, and the mother at Elk Grove, Sacramento County, this state.  The maternal grandfather, Nicholas Nelk, a pioneer wheelwright, is now deceased.  His widow, Amelia Nelk, lives on Oakland, California, at the advanced age of eighty-five years.

      Edward E. Benham lived with his parents at Rumsey, in the Coast range, until seven years of age, after which they lived in Shasta County for three years. In 1900 they located in Marysville, in the public schools of which city Mr. Benham acquired his early education, and after graduation from high school he took the L. L. Cook correspondence course in electricity, in which he was graduated.  He is largely self educated, but has always been a close student, and is regarded as a well informed man.  After finishing his educational work, he entered the employ of the Sacramento Northern Railroad as a baggage man.  Later he became a telegraph operator, from which he was promoted to cashier of the Marysville office, where he served under Senator Roy Jones, who was then at the head of the office.

      In 1913 Mr. Benham started to work as a projectionist in the Lyric Theater, in Marysville, and was later promoted to the management of that house, which he ran until 1920.  In the following year he was persuaded to go to Fresno County, this state, and take the management of a health and accident insurance business.  Soon afterward, however, the lure of the motion picture business again attracted him and he became manager of the theater at Selma.  From that place he went to Susanville, where he ran the Livery Theater, and later he also managed theaters at Reno and Oakland, and then became associated with F. E. and Clara S. Smith in the operation of Smith’s theater, at 401 Plumas Street, Yuba City.  This well known house shows every evening, with Saturday and Sunday matinees, displaying Paramount, Fox, Universal, Pathe and Warner pictures.  Mr. Benham, being an expert electrician, personally installed the talking apparatus, and is an important factor in the success of this well known house, which enjoys a large and representative patronage.

      In 1913, at Yuba City, Mr. Benham was united in marriage to Miss Frances Smith, the youngest daughter of F. E. and Clara S. Smith, of Yuba City, who are represented in a biographical sketch on other pages of this work.  Mr. and Mrs. Benham are the parents of three children, Boyd, aged sixteen years, Edward E., Jr., age ten years, and Clara Sheldon, aged six years.  Mr. Benham has long shown a live interest in matters affecting the welfare of the community and in April, 1930, was elected a member of the Yuba City council, in which he is chairman of the sewer and light and power committees.  He is greatly interested in boys’ welfare work and is rendering excellent service as scout master of the Yuba City troop of Boy Scouts of America.  He is a member and secretary of the Kiwanis Club, and he and his wife are members of the Baptist Church, in which he is superintendent of the Sunday school.  He exemplifies a high type of citizenship and wherever known commands respect and confidence because of his consistent and earnest life and his kindly and affable manner.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3, Pages 21-22. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.

 © 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.



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