Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Wells Fargo Letter & Envelope From Newhall, 1888.
Newhall, California




Wells Fargo letter and envelope sent by Anne M. Sproul and addressed to Miss Hattie M. Sproul, Norwalk, Cali. Letter dated and envelope postmarked Newhall, June 7, 1888.

Wells Fargo is an iconic name associated with a vast empire of stagecoaches and mail delivery in the Old West. This letter and envelope show us that Wells Fargo indeed had a presence in Newhall, California in the 1880's. The discovery of these Wells Fargo items conjures up romantic visions of Wells Fargo stages crossing over Beale's Cut to deliver mail to the town of Newhall. We can only speculate on this however, as we have not come across any photographs of Wells Fargo stagecoaches in the Santa Clarita Valley of the 19th century.

Wells, Fargo & Company was founded on March 18, 1852, and opened its first office in San Francisco in July, 1852. After the financial Panic of 1855, the company expanded rapidly and by 1866 was the West's leading agent for business, communications, and transportation. They operated the Overland mail route from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and ran most of the stagecoach lines in the West. Wells Fargo was the banker and primary lender for John Butterfield's Overland Mail route which ran stagecoaches between St. Louis and California (with several stations in the Santa Clarita Valley) from 1858 until the beginning of the Civil War. Wells Fargo took over and operated the western portion of the Pony Express from Salt Lake City to San Francisco when the original operators Russell, Majors, and Waddell ran into financial trouble in 1861. Ben Holladay subsequently acquired Russell, Majors, and Waddell and became a major competitor with Wells Fargo, establishing stagecoach lines in eight western states. In 1866, Wells Fargo bought out Holladay's operations to become the leading stagecoach empire in the Western United States. However with the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May, 1869, the stagecoach business was greatly diminished. In spite of the railroad competition, Wells Fargo survived and greatly expanded its banking and express offices, which numbered 3500 by the turn of the century. The last Wells Fargo stagecoach ran between Tonopah and Manhattan, Nevada, in 1909. Wells Fargo remains to this day a major banking operation in 21st century America.

Anne M. Sproul turns out to be the wife of Gilbert Sproul, the founder of the city of Norwalk, California. She is writing this letter from Newhall presumably to her daughter Hattie M. Sproul in Norwalk. Gilbert and Atwood Sproul, brothers from Oregon, purchased in 1869, 463 acres of land in Southern California in an area called Corazon de los Valles, or "Heart of the Valleys." When railroads reached the area in 1873, Gilbert surveyed a town site which was officially recorded as Norwalk in 1874.

Text of the letter follows:

EXPRESS
AND BANKING
COMPANY
OFFICE OF
WELLS, FARGO & CO'S EXPRESS.

.........................................188

Newhall June 7 1888

Dear Hattie

    Here I am safe at Newhall - I came up Tuesday after-noon - found all well and pleased to see me - Mabel goes to school and they are all well - the air is cool and clear - and I am feeling first-rate - - I staid all night - with Mrs. Sutton - Monday - it is very pleasant there - I hope everything is going on well and pleasant - and no trouble from Flo
Cora is not coming out Friday she [sic] - with me coming out - and she said that she had a good cry over it - I think I will be at home - Sunday - evening - I am enjoying my visit very much - save the Tribunes for me as I havent seen a daily since I came here - tell Bertie and Frankie to be good boys - Mabel is a nice girl now plays and sings nicely - and behaves like a little lady - she sends love - I went in to see the Tribune men and they made it - all right - about the paper -
    I hope the Relief Ladies will come out - all right - with the supper Mrs. and Mr. Hallet - came out on the train with me and Mr. Hallett did not approve of the way that Brooker and Mason done
    Don't make hard work of cooking for them - I don't think of any more to say - so goodbye dear children for this time - many kisses - your loving mother

Annie M Sproul


AL1888: 9600 dpi jpeg from 300 dpi jpg of original letter and envelope.
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