By Marjorie Segerstrom Coffill, Fall 1977
Henry Clay Needham, author of "My First Wild Turkey," was born on June 8, 1851, at Percival Mills (Hardin County), Kentucky, the fourth son of Parkman Smith and Rebecca South Needham. When he was still a small child the family moved back to "The Old Brick," the home of Parkman's parents, Timothy and Ruth Smith Needham, to run the mill there and to help care for the parents. The house was located on Linder's Creek in Hardin County and is the scene of this story. From his reference to the "Companion" Henry Clay probably intended to submit his story to the leading children's magazine of that day, "The Youth's Companion."
Henry Clay studied at home until he moved to Elizabethtown in 1871 to attend college there. He then taught school, worked in Missouri, and finally went to Kansas where he became interested in coal mining. He also worked actively with the Prohibition Party. He and Governor St. John authored the Kansas Dry Law, which is still in effect in 1977.
It was also in Kansas that he married Lillie Florence Taylor, the daughter of Samuel Dawson and Elizabeth Raymer Taylor. They were married at the Taylor home in Arcadia on April 17, 1879. In 1888 the family moved to California, settling in Newhall where Henry Clay was superintendent of St. John's Subdivision, a prohibition colony.
In his years in Los Angeles County, Henry Clay Needham became well known as a leading Prohibitionist, serving as state party chairman a number of times. The California delegation to the national convention carried him as their candidate for president in 1920. He was a rancher, a real estate developer, an oil operator. For some time he owned the Newhall Water Company.
He died February 21, 1936 in Newhall, leaving his widow and five children: Nellie Needham Miller, Pearl Needham Segerstrom, Russell, Neil and Henry Parke Needham. The only surviving son in 1977 is Parke, Commodore, U. S. Navy (Retired).
The Albert Needham mentioned in "My First Wild Turkey," was the youngest brother of Parkman, born in Kentucky on August 31, 1823, and died February 8, 1889. Marion, Albert's eldest son, was born in 1845 and died in 1912.
Henry Clay's sisters were Louise Melvina, "Mellie," born in 1847; Martha, "Mattie," born in 1849; Letitia, "Tish or Tishie," born in 1854; and Margaret, "Maggie," born in 1857.
Download individual pages here