Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Charles Fletcher Lummis
Historian, Preservationist, Indian Rights Activist

Click image to enlarge

Charles Fletcher Lummis, March 1917, by Mojonnier. Card, 4.5x8 inches (photograph is 4x6", printed on card stock). Like a cabinet card, but not as thick (and newer and larger).

Handwritten caption reads:

Chas. F. Lummis

Born in Lynn, Mass. Mar. 1, 1859

Died Nov. 25, 1928.

He was the inspiration of the Museum of the Southwest in L.A. and founder of the Landmarks Club.

Another copy of this card can be found in the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe.

Charles Lummis didn't live in the Santa Clarita Valley — he built and lived at El Alisal, aka the Lummis Home, now a house museum run by the Historical Soceity of Southern California in the Arroyo Seco section of Los Angeles, on 43rd Street between the 101 Freeway and Figueroa Street. But no history of the SCV or Southern California would be complete without him.

From the time he "tramped across the continent" and took a job at the L.A. Times in the 1880s, he knew how to win the imagination of the public and collect and influence friends in high places. Through his widely read magazines, "The Land of Sunshine" in the 1890s followed by "Out West" in the early 1900s, he not only chronicled the history of Southern California and the Arizona and New Mexico Territories, but also championed the cause of their native inhabitants at a time when the U.S. government was determined to divorce Indian children from their cultural identity. Lummis didn't like that, and he said so. Loudly. And he got action.

Lummis accomplished much, and not just from the bully pulpit of his editor's office — too much to exhaust here. The details can be found in any one of several books that have been written about him. As L.A. City librarian, he set up the modern library system in that city; he founded the Southwest Musuem of the American Indian (now part of the Autry National Center); and it would not be an overstatement to credit him with resurrecting California's Spanish missions, which had crumbled into dust.

For an ultra-local connection, Lummis was a frequent visitor from the late 1880s onward to the Del Valle family's Rancho Camulos, where he courted the Del Valles' teenage daughter, Susanita.

Further reading:

The Land of Sunshine / Out West magazine;

About the Mission San Fernando;

The Home of Ramona: Photographs of Camulos by C.F. Lummmis.

LW2488: 19200 dpi jpeg from original card purchased 2013 by Leon Worden.

Harris Newmark
1834 – 1916

Charles F. Lummis
1859 – 1928

Arthur B. Perkins
1891 – 1977

Jerry Reynolds
1937 – 1996

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