What about Belle Mooney Road?
QUESTION: You did so well on the Greenley Road question so I thought I'd try one on. I always heard that the correct spelling of Bell Mooney Road is Belle Mooney Road after a famous "Madam" who had an establishment out our way. Any truth? And how do we get the sign corrected?
ANSWER: As it turns out, this is quite an interesting tale. Most historians in the area say you are correct that it is Belle, not Bell. But there are instances in voter roles, where Miss Mooney was listed as Bell. Her obit and other writings about her, though, call her Belle.
None of our sources believe she was a madam, but instead a reclusive spinster who lived her life in a home near what is now Bell Mooney Road.
She was born on Sept. 16, 1857, and died Dec. 7, 1939.
Duke York, a Sonora native who is in charge of county roads, said he has heard she was the beloved daughter of a mine manager and his wife. York didn't know for sure if it was the Harvard Mine or the Dutch App mine, but online mining resources show a Mooney claim at the Harvard Mine.
Dan Mooney came from Ireland, Doris Fletcher-Mills wrote in her book “Growing Up In Jamestown.”
Fletcher-Mills said Belle Mooney never married and never left her home, although she carefully tended her property despite having osteoporosis. Fletcher-Mills quoted Albert Uvelli, a longtime Jamestown resident, as saying that Belle once shooed some boys away from shooting frogs in the creek by burnishing a .22.
Her obituary says she died of a paralytic stroke in the Tuolumne County Hospital. Burden Chapel handled the funeral services and her body was taken to Stockton for cremation.
Several road signs commemorate Belle Mooney’s life, including one that says Bell Money.
Historian Sharon Marovich said some years ago she pressed the county to correct the spelling of the road signs.
York said, “I explained that it would be a terrible hardship for all the property owners that live along that road to change all their business/personal information (driver’s license, insurance, credit cards, etc.). There would also be a fee required, for street name change and the public would comment on that request. I suggested to her that it should just remain a quaint misspelling that so often appears in our historic Mother “load” like Columbia State Historic Park’s Eagle Cotage.”
Looks like this time, the miner's not going to be able to right this wrong.
The miner, whose picture for many years graced the masthead of The Union Democrat, wants to hear from you. Anything you're curious about? Wondering whatever happened to something or someone? Want more information on a certain subject? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
This article has been edited to take out information about Mooney's mother. She was not a member of the Donner party.