Inside SCV History
The Story of our Valley - Part I
February, 2006 - Issue #16
Henry Mayo Newhall
Henry Mayo Newhall
Besides a gold discovery here and an oil drilling there, there is more to Santa Clarita than a collection of historical locations.

Over the next several months, I'll be recounting some of the people and events that have shaped this valley.

It can be argued that the Newhall family, particularly patriarch Henry Mayo Newhall, had the most influence over how Santa Clarita is viewed today. It's fitting, then, to begin the story of the SCV with him.

Henry Mayo Newhall moved from Saugus, Massachusetts to San Francisco in 1850. After a brief and unsuccessful attempt in gold mining, a discouraged Newhall sold all of his possessions for a pittance of what the journey westward had cost him. Not wanting to head home to his wife with empty pockets, Newhall began the first of his many careers in California as an auctioneer.

In his first night on the job, Henry's skill put the auction house into the spotlight of San Francisco. His plans to return home were shelved as the money began to pour in. (Newhall had a history in the auction business on the East Coast, having worked in one as a young boy. He worked for several firms before starting his own in Nashville, where he resided with his new young wife, before selling the business and heading West.)

After two fires destroyed the auction house, the managers sold it to Newhall who, well-adapted to the auction environment, proceeded to make the company very profitable. Filling the vast void of goods and supplies in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, Newhall created a business that acknowledged the local highlife. Quite scrupulous with his funds, Henry saved enough to build a home overlooking San Francisco Bay. Two years after leaving Nashville, Newhall returned home, anxious to see his waiting wife.

Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society / SCVHISTORY.COM
Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society / SCVHISTORY.COM
As it turns out, she had grown weary of waiting and decided to head West on her own to meet her husband. Their paths crossed in Panama. It would be over a year until they both headed back to San Francisco to live in their beautiful new home by the bay.

Business continued to boom, but trouble at home caused more problems for Newhall. His wife and their newborn son died during delivery, dealing a huge blow to Henry. Distraught from the loss and left to care for their three young children alone, things took a turn for the worse for Newhall.

After difficult times for both the Newhall family and our nation (now on the brink of Civil War), Henry remarried and had two more children, completing his family.


Much of the research from this article came from "A California Legend: The Newhall Land and Farming Company," by Ruth Waldo Newhall. The book proves to be an interesting find, and is strongly suggested.
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