21 May Davis, Jennie E. (1863-1935)
Jennie E. Roberts Davis was a noted Redlands club and civic leader. She was born on November 19, 1863 in Cambria, Wisconsin. She graduated from the Wisconsin Female Seminary (later known as Milwaukee Downer College). On September 4, 1883 she married John W. Davis. To them were born four daughters and one son.
In the late 1880’s the Davis’s moved to Colton where her husband started the First National Bank. Upon John’s death in 1893, Mrs. Davis became a director. In 1898 she and her daughters moved to Redlands. Her son, Ira, had died in infancy. They moved to the “Alders” home located at 1096 Brookside Avenue where a branch of the Zanja followed through the lush gardens.
Mrs. Davis was a pioneer citrus grower and served as a director of the Redlands Cooperative Fruit Association. She also served on the boards of the San Bernardino National Bank and the San Bernardino County Savings Bank.
Her interest in gardening lead her to be a charter member of the Horticultural Society of Redlands. She was also a founding member of the Redlands Spinet Club, Contemporary Club and Presbyterian church. She also became a leader in the Indian Affairs Association and took an active part in the restoration of the Asistencia of the San Gabriel Mission in Redlands.
Jennie Davis died suddenly of a heart attack in September 1928 while on a trip with her daughter Gwen Prendergast to visit her other daughters in the east.
In recognition of her interest and achievements, nearly two decades after her death the park at Park Avenue, New York Street and Redlands Boulevard was named the Jennie E. Davis Botanical Garden which had been a city dump. The site had been given to the city by Arthur Gregory with the stipulation that it be used for park purposes.
[Source: Obituary in the Redlands Daily Facts, September 12, 1928 and Monk, Bobbe article “Jennie Davis helped beautify Redlands”, Redlands Daily Facts, September 6, 2009.]