Born May 13, 1825 in the industrial town of Saugus, Massachusetts, Henry Mayo Newhall sought his
fortune in the California Gold Rush of 1849. He failed as a miner but succeeded as an auctioneer in brawling
San Francisco. A keen businessman and shrewd investor, Newhall parlayed his auctioneering fortune
into an even greater fortune in railroads, ultimately becoming one of the founders of the Southern
Pacific Railroad Company.
Between 1872 and 1875, Newhall purchased five of the old Mexican land grant ranchos throughout
California, including 46,460 acres of the 48,000-acre Rancho San Francisco, covering the western half of the Santa Clarita Valley
and eastern Ventura County. He sold a railroad right-of-way to Southern Pacific for a dollar and a plot of land for
another dollar, and a town sprang up bearing his name. Two miles to the north, a second town bore the name
of his birthplace.
The Rancho San Francisco was used for farming and ranching during Newhall's lifetime. Newhall experimented
with a wide variety of crops, from corn and alfalfa to sugar cane and citrus fruits. The staple, however, was wheat,
which was harvested with great success until the early 1880s, when the climate changed for the worse.
Newhall split his time between San Francisco, where he tended to the business of his H.M. Newhall & Co. auction
house, and the Rancho San Francisco, where he planned to focus his attention after 1880. In the summer of 1880, however, he
fell ill with food poisoning and was never quite the same again. In March of 1882, he was thrown from his horse
while riding on the Rancho. He was taken by train to San Francisco, where he died on March 13 at the age of 56.
On June 1, 1883, H.M. Newhall's five sons incorporated the family-owned Newhall Land and Farming Company. Agriculture and
cattle ranching, and vineyards in Central California, remained the company's focus well into the 20th Century, even after oil was discovered on the
Rancho San Francisco (by now called the Newhall Ranch) in December of 1936. In the mid-1950s, however, change came very rapidly as the company went public and its directors took
note of America's great westward migration. The New Town of Valencia — designed as a self-contained community where home, employment,
schools, recreation, shopping and the outdoors interrelate — was born in 1965 and was still growing thirty years later.
Citrus orchards and vineyards continue to produce revenue for the company, but housing is by far its biggest concern today
as The Newhall Land and Farming Company develops New Towns in California and Arizona.
Information from "A California Legend: The Newhall Land and Farming Company" by Ruth Waldo