Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Envelope from R.F. del Valle to Ysabel del Valle

Rancho Camulos

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Printed envelope, 3⅛x5¼ inches, mailed from Reginaldo del Valle to his mother, Sra. Da. (Señora Doña) Ysabel del Valle. 3-cent green George Washington stamp canceled "July 6" at Los Angeles, no year, but likely 1877-1883. No contents. Back is blank except for an accession number hand-written by an unknown collector.

The eldest son of Ysabel (Varela) and Ygnacio del Valle, Reginaldo (1854-1938) became the family patriarch upon his father's death in 1880. (Reginaldo had an older half-brother, Juventino, but Reginaldo was the most successful and prominent family member.) The Del Valles once owned more than 48,000 acres of the Santa Clarita Valley including, among others, the present areas of Newhall, Saugus and Valencia. In the 1860s the family was reduced locally to the (Rancho) Camulos section at the western edge of their old Mexican land grant.

Envelope reads:

After ......... Days, return to
38 Temple Block
P.O. Box 944. Los Angeles, Cal.

Sra. Da. Ysabel del Valle
Newhall Station
Los Angeles Co., Cal.

To establish the date of this envelope, we must follow the clues.

It's no earlier than 1877, when Reginaldo passed the bar, left Rancho Camulos in Juventino's hands [Source: Del Castillo 1980] and established his law practice at 38 Temple Block, not far from the Del Valle family home on the Plaza de Los Angeles where Reginaldo was born.

It's probably no later than October 1, 1883, when U.S. postage rates were reduced to 2 cents for a half-ounce letter [Source: U.S. Postal Service]. The rate had been 3 cents since 1863 and would not hit 3 cents again until the war years of 1917-1918, well after the death of Ysabel (1837-1905). This variety of George Washington postage stamp was first issued in 1870.

Reginaldo may have been serving in the California Legislature at the time this letter was mailed; he held office in the state Assembly and Senate from 1880-1885. State lawmakers didn't live in Sacramento most of the time.

The "Newhall Station" address is unusual. It probably means the U.S. post office that was established inside George Campton's general store along the Southern Pacific Railroad line that was completed in 1876. If the envelope was mailed before February 1878, Campton's store was in Newhall's original location at Bouquet Junction; if after February 1878, it was located in "New" Newhall, which is the present Old Town Newhall.

(Sanford Lyon had been appointed postmaster at his stagecoach station at Petropolis, today's Eternal Valley Cemetery, in 1869, but it was never called "Newhall." Not until 1875 did Henry Newhall first arrive on scene and buy up the former Del Valle rancho.)

Newhall was the closest post office (and rail stop) to Rancho Camulos; there was no rail service to Camulos prior to 1887 when the Southern Pacific put in a spur line from Saugus to Ventura.

About Reginaldo F. del Valle.

Reginaldo Francisco del Valle, son of second-generation SCV landowner Ygnacio del Valle, spent his formative years in the Santa Clarita Valley, chiefly at the Del Valles' Rancho Camulos. He represented Los Angeles County in the state Assembly and Senate, and served for two decades as a member of the commission responsible for bringing Owens Valley water to Los Angeles. Among his legislative successes was his work to help establish the institution that became UCLA. Among his failures was his unsuccessful effort to split the state in two, at a time when state politics were heavily dominated by northern influences — explaining both the rationale behind his effort and the reason for its defeat.

Reginaldo, aka Reginald, was born December 15, 1854, to Ygnacio (1808-1880) and Ysabel Varela (1837-1905) del Valle, in their home on the Plaza de Los Angeles. Ygnacio was heavily engaged in Los Angeles politics at the time; after serving in the state Legislature at statehood in 1850 he was elected to the L.A. City Council in 1852 (terms were 1 year back then) and held several other official city positions through 1859. Around that time, circa 1859-61, the family repaired to its property north of Los Angeles, which Ygnacio's father Antonio had been granted in 1839 — the 48,829-acre Rancho San Francisco, which stretched from the Piru area on the west to what is now western Canyon Country on the east.

Here, Reginaldo was raised — in the most trying of times for the family. The three-year drought of 1862-64 decimated the Del Valles' livestock and they lost the farm, literally, to the bank in 1865. Gone was their Rancho San Francisco; all that remained were the westernmost 1,000 acres known as Camulos (which wouldn't be "discovered" and celebrated as the mythical "Home of Ramona" for another 20 years).

In 1867, Reginaldo went off to high school in Los Angeles at St. Vincent's College, which later became Loyola Marimount University. After graduating from high school with honors in 1871 he went north to Santa Clara University, a Jesuit institution. He graduated in 1873 and studied law apparently while clerking in a San Francisco law office. He passed the bar in 1877 and was admitted to practice before the state Supreme Court at that time.

A short while later he was elected to the California Assembly. (It is unclear whether he was first elected in 1879 and reelected in 1880; in any case he was elected in 1880). In 1881 he was nominated for the speakership and lost by four votes. That same year, he introduced legislation to establish a normal school (a college) in Los Angeles. Ultimately someone else's bill came to the floor for a vote, but the result was the estabishment of a normal school that eventually turned into the University of California, Los Angeles. It was widely understood to be Reginaldo's idea.

The next year, 1882, he was elected to the state Senate from Los Angeles County. Just a freshman senator, he was elected president of the Senate — at 27, the youngest ever. He served until 1886.

Meanwhile he was active in Democratic Party politics. In 1880 he was an elector for W.S. Hancock (who lost his presidential bid to Republican James Garfield), and Reginaldo ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1884. In 1888 he chaired California's Democratic Party convention and in 1890 was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. (He lost to Republican John B. Reddick.)

In San Francisco on Sept. 2 of that year (1890) he took a bride, Helen M. Caystile. She was the widow of T.J. Caystile, co-owner of the Mirror Co., a printing plant in Los Angeles. Back in 1881, Caystile's Mirror had essentially foreclosed on one of L.A.'s many little newspapers, the Los Angeles Daily Times. Caystile's partners insisted on keeping it going, and they brought in a Santa Barbaran named Harrison Gray Otis to edit it. They eventually removed "Daily" from its name.

With the marriage, Reginaldo adopted the Caystiles' daughter (also named Helen). Reginaldo and (his wife) Helen had another daughter together, Lucretia del Valle.

Turn up the clock to 1908 and the Los Angeles Times principals are heavily involved in the importation of water from the Owens Valley. In that year Reginaldo, now an L.A. lawyer with an office in the Lankershim Building on Broadway, began 21 years of service on the city of L.A.'s Public Services Commission, aka Water and Power Commission. His most enduring achievement in that capacity was to mollify outraged Owens Valley farmers who didn't want to see their historic water supply siphoned away.

The Los Angeles Times said of Reginaldo: "To him, as much as to anyone, Los Angeles owes the mighty aqueduct that was built to tap the water of the Sierra."

For all the civic improvements that commanded his attention across a lifetime that stretched from the old rancho days to the development of a bustling metropolis with streetcars and multi-story buildings, Reginaldo had a hankering for history. He well knew journalist and historian Charles Lummis (what L.A. mucky-muck didn't?) and was a founding member of Lummis' Landmarks Club, which goal was to salvage the crumbling Spanish missions. Reginaldo was also one of the 40 founding members of the Southern California Historical Society, and it was Reginaldo's idea to install lookalike mission bells along El Camino Real.

Reginaldo died September 20, 1938, and was buried in Calvary Cemetery at 4201 Whittier Blvd. in East Los Angeles, where his parents were laid to rest — eventually. Ygnacio was buried at Camulos, but when Ysabel was close to death in 1905 she had his remains moved to Calvary Cemetery. On her instructions, she was buried in the same coffin.

— Leon Worden 2013

LW3768: 9600 dpi jpeg from original envelope purchased 2021 by Leon Worden.
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