Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Henry Clay Needham and Family Members

Needham Ranch | Newhall, California

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Namesake of the Needham Ranch development south of the town of Newhall, prohibitionist Henry Clay Needham (1851-1936) is seen with family members around 1930. The date and location are unidentified, although it is most likely the Needham Ranch — especially considering these little 2x3-inch snapshots come to us from the collection of lifelong Newhall resident Gladys Laney (who was not kin to the Needham family).

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Top photo (GL3001), from left: Henry Clay Needham; daughter Nellie May Needham Miller (1880-1969); wife Lillie Florence Taylor Needham (1861-1949); son Russell Everet Needham (1884-1955), a civil engineer in the oil industry; and son Neil C. Needham (1888-1959), a vice president of General Petroleum and manager of his father's oil holdings following the latter's death.

Second photo (GL3001b), from left: Neil C. Needham; Henry Clay Needham; Ralph Miller (Nellie's husband); Russell Needham.

Inset photo (GL3001c): Henry Clay Needham and wife Lillie Florence Taylor Needham.

(Persons identified in handwriting on the back of the prints.)

Henry Clay Needham, originally from Kentucky, came to town from Kansas in 1888 to set up the St. John Subdivision, consisting of 10,000 acres of land in and around Newhall, purchased from The Newhall Land and Farming Co. by Kansas Gov. John St. John and two partners. The goal was to create a "dry" (alcohol-free) colony. It didn't take. But Needham did succeed in subdividing the land. Even today, "St. John Subdivision" appears on County Assessor maps and deeds of trust.

Needham also established a lumber company, explored for oil, owned the Newhall Water Company, built a ranch house and cabin for his family, and would have been the Prohibition Party's nominee for president of the United States in 1932 if he hadn't fallen ill.

Further reading:

Notes on My Grandfather, H. Clay Needham, by Marjorie L. (Segerstrom) Coffill.

Henry Clay Needham: A Different Vision for Newhall.


GL3001: 9600 dpi jpeg from original 2x3-inch photographs courtesy of Gladys Laney.
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