Although many people assume that Mrs.Lora Josephine Knight was of Scandinavian
ancestry because of her decision to build Vikingsholm in the Scandinavian tradition,
she was actually of English decent. She was born Lora Josephine Small in Galena,
Illinois, in 1864 - one of a family of four daughters and one son. Her father,
Edward A. Small, was a corporation lawyer. In the practice of his profession,
he accepted two brothers into his law firm - William Herbert and James Hobart
Moore. These young men eventually gained controlling interest in a number of
large companies, including National Biscuit, Continental Can, Diamond Match,
Union Pacific, and Rock Island Railroad. In the 1880s, Lora Josephine married
James Moore, and her sister, Ada, married William.
Lora and James Moore had one son, Nathaniel, who married Helen Fargo of the
family of Wells Fargo fame in 1910. Nathaniel died at the age of 25. During
most of their married life, Lora and James Moore lived in Evanston, Illinois,
and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. They also traveled extensively, making many trips
to California as well as abroad. In 1916, they purchased a home in Montecito,
a suburb of Santa Barbara, but had little time to enjoy it together since Mr.
Moore died shortly thereafter.
In the early 1920s, Lora Small Moore married Harry
French Knight, a stockbroker from St. Louis. This marriage was not successful,
and they were divorced prior to the building of Vikingsholm. Mrs. Knight is
probably known best for the building of Vikingsholm. But many still remember
her because of her generous contribution to youth groups in California and Nevada,
and provision of educational opportunities for innumerable young people who
otherwise could not have afforded them. She was a major benefactor to the Christian
Science churches in Santa Barbara, Reno, and South Lake Tahoe. She and Mr. Knight
were prime financial backers of Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic.
Lora Josephine Knight
Knight and guests at Eagle