Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Pearl Oil Company Stock Certificate
Henry Clay Needham

Pearl Oil Company Stock Certificate issued to Henry Clay Needham and signed by Henry Clay Needham as President, November 29, 1901.

From "Notes on My Grandfather, H. Clay Needham" by Marjorie L. (Segerstrom) Coffill, November 2000:

H. Clay became an outstanding member of the Newhall community. He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, helped build the Good Templar Hall, and owned the Newhall Water Co. Later he also owned a restaurant and one of the earliest gas stations in the area. He was also active in oil development on his own and adjoining lands, and organized the Pearl Oil Co. and the Neil Oil Co., named for two of his children. At one time during the Depression he constructed a free picnic area and campground on his property for use by the traveling public.

From the "what was he thinking" file ... Henry Clay Needham arrived with his family in Newhall in early 1888. Newhall at the time was a two block long wild west town with 4 saloons and few churches. Into this picture came Needham, a rabid prohibitionist, who came to town with the intention of setting up an alcohol-free colony in the middle of Newhall.

Needham was born near Percival Mills, Hardin County, Kentucky in June, 1851. He received his education at Hamilton College in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He eventually migrated to Illinois and Girard, Kansas, where he got work as a schoolteacher. In Kansas in 1878, he married Lillie F. Taylor of Warren County, Kentucky. They eventually had 5 children, Nellie May, Blanche Pearle, Russell, Neal, and Henry Parke. After getting married, he tried a variety of jobs in Kansas including running a general store, real estate agent, notary public, and farmer. Then he developed an intense interest in the alcohol prohibition movement and became the Mayor of Arcadia, Kansas. He joined a temperance organization, the International Lodge of Good Templars, and was responsible at one of their state conventions for writing "dry laws" that were eventually adopted by the Kansas State Legislature.

Needham was friends with Kansas Governor John St. John and became a prolific speech maker, eloquently extolling the virtues of prohibition. In 1887, former Governor St. John, along with George B. Katzenstein of Sacramento and James Yarnell of Los Angeles hatched a wild idea to purchase 10000 acres of land in the young town of Newhall, California, from the Newhall Land and Farming Company with the intention of establishing a "dry" alcohol-free colony. They sent Needham out to California in 1888 to supervise the new St. John Subdivision. The land extended from the present day intersection of Lyons Avenue and Main Street (formerly San Fernando Road) up to Soledad Canyon. As further "enticement" to potential settlers, they wrote a provision into the grant deeds of any property sales which subjected the property to foreclosure in the event that any alcohol was found on the premises. What they failed to anticipate was the lack of teetotalers in Newhall in those days...there were few if any people interested in joining the new colony. Needham was eventually forced to give up this grand scheme, but that did not stop him from his crusade against alcohol.

Henry Clay Needham continued on his bully pulpit throughout the 1890ís. A skilled orator, he built in 1890 a meeting place for the International Lodge of Good Templars on Pine Street. In 1893, after all hope was lost in the venture, this building was moved to the corner of Market and Walnut Streets (the current site of the Veteranís Memorial) where it became the home of oilman, constable, and livery stable owner Ed Pardee. Over the years this building went through several incarnations as a "Mixville" for actor Tom Mix, a telephone exchange for the Pacific Telephone Company in 1946, the Santa Clarita Valley Boys Club from 1969 to 1977, and the Newhall-Saugus Chamber of Commerce from 1977-1987. This building can now be seen at Heritage Junction where it was moved in August, 1992.

A prominent member of Newhall society, Needham financed the rebuilding of the first Newhall Schoolhouse when it burned down in 1890. After the collapse of the St. John Subdivision he supported his family by opening a lumber yard and hardware store. He also made a living as a rancher and oil industrialist. In 1891 he helped found the First Presbyterian Church on Newhall Avenue. He and M. W. Atwood of Pasadena were the original developers of the Happy Valley neighborhood in Newhall in the early 1900ís. He also ran the Newhall Water Company and one of the first gas stations in the valley.

Although he maintained a residence in Los Angeles, Needham also established a ranch on 770 acres extending to the south from the current Eternal Valley Cemetery on the land between Sierra Highway and Interstate 5. His ranch house and cabin, unfortunately burned down in the devastating fires of 1962 along with Gene Autryís Melody Ranch.

Needham, to his last days, never gave up on his prohibitionist dreams. He became active in local politics, serving on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and becoming chairman of the California Prohibition Party. To keep the Prohibition cause alive, he ran for every state office that he could, including U.S. Senator. In 1931 he went to the Prohibitionist National Convention in Cincinnati as a possible nominee for President of the United States under the Prohibition Party ticket. Hopes for the presidency faded when he developed phlebitis and was unable to accept the nomination. Called "Daddy Mo" by his family and a prohibitionist to the end, Henry Clay Needham died in 1936 at the age of 84. An obituary on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1936 stated "Uncompromising in his views, he insisted on complete abstinence and would not join the light wines and beer movement."

AL1901 (a/b): 9600 dpi jpeg from 300 dpi jpg of original stock certificate.

• Needham Ranch


Wild Turkey Story by Needham ~1900


Pearl Oil Co. Stock 1901


Oil Field Notes 1900/1901


Needham & Family (3) ~1930

Times Obituary

Signal Obituary


Granddaughter's Story 2000


Needham Piano & Organ Donated 2001

Worden Story 2006

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