The Santa Clarita Valley is extremely rich in history, dating as far back as
450 A.D. when the Tataviam Indians first arrived. Several years and many
monumental events have taken place since then, and combined; have ultimately
provided the wonderful existence of our valley.
As the first local water purveyor here in the Santa Clarita Valley, NCWD
naturally plays an important role in our history. Upon the acceptance of
the General Manager position for the "Newhall Water System" in 1919 by
Arthur B. "Perk" Perkins, records indicate that Mr. Perkins actually
purchased the rookie water company shortly following his arrival from Mr.
Henry Clay Needham in 1920 with approximately 125 services. Prior to Perk's
move out west, he and his brothers formed a very lucrative marble company
and owned a hotel in the Nevada desert. A.B. Perkins fell in love and
married the daughter of the most respected mining assayer in the region.
Marble competition from another state eventually lead to the demise of their
company, and ultimately the entire town. Prior to "Perk's" acquisition of
the Newhall Water System, Mr. H. Clay Needham and Mr. M.W. Atwood shared
"partnership" of the then mostly agricultural water system. According to
documents, the Newhall Water System was actually established in 1913,
although according to Mr. Perkins, "no intelligible records existed at the
time of acquisition."
Mr. Needham's involvement in the Newhall Water System continued for many
years following the change in ownership clear up until his death in 1936.
Mr. Needham was also the only primary source of financial support, being the
only documented contributor in 1920, when he invested/loaned $20,000 at 8%
interest payable over 5 years. It wasn't until the end of 1924 that Mr.
Perkins received additional financial support when he enlisted his mother and
father-in-law, Mr. & Mrs. J.D. O'Brien of Nevada, to purchase half of his
vested interest. Included in this partnership was their daughter and Perk's
lovely wife, Marguerite. It was obvious that Mr. Needham's continued
support went hand-in-hand with Mr. & Mrs. Perkins involvement in the
community. In fact, in 1923, when the Newhall Chamber of Commerce was
created, Mr. Perkins was nominated, along with Mr. Albert C. Swall, for President
of the newly created organization. He was also nominated for
Treasurer-Secretary, but Mr. Perkins withdrew both of his nominations.
Marguerite was equally as involved, as Mr. Swall appointed her along with 4
other community members to serve on a committee to identify and outline a
six-month "system of action" for the organization. Obviously pleased with
the positive influence that Mr. & Mrs. Perkins had on local community
members, he continued to financially support the Newhall Water System.
1930 was an important year for Mr. & Mrs. Perkins and the Newhall Water
System! On June 1, 1930, the small company became an official "corporation"
when Mr. & Mrs. Perkins and Mr. & Mrs. O'Brien sold their entire interest to
the newly created "Newhall Water Company," complete with 17 stockholders, a
President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Attorney and an assigned
General Superintendent all with around 300 services.
The first group of
stockholders was a colorful one. It was clear that Perk continued to be
supported by the most influential people in this valley with the help of William
S. Hart, Charles E. Mack, Mr. & Mrs. Albert Swall, The Frew's and many
others. In 1931 Perk's hard work was beginning to pay off with a hefty
salary increase to approximately $150 per month! Finally, after nearly
30 years, Perk stepped down as General Manager in 1948 when Mr. H.W. Dreher
assumed the position, but continued his position as a Principal Officer.
By the early 1950s it became apparent that the creation of a community
water district was necessary to continue to support the growing population.
After a formal voting process, A.B. Perkins signed the documents in
September 1953 finalizing the sale of the Newhall Water Company to Newhall
County Water District for $130,000.
It is obvious that Mr. A.B. Perkins not only documented the
Santa Clarita Valley's history by acting as the first-known historian in our
valley, but also actually created much of the history ... having tremendous
impact on our future by devoting most of his life to "Newhall Water"! All
of us at NCWD are honored that an incredibly bright man relentlessly
contributed to the ever-changing needs of our community ... and we're proud to
be associated with the name A.B. Perkins.
Nancy Jordan is the administrative assistant for the
Newhall County Water District.