Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Frances Phillips and Her Cadillac
In Placerita Canyon

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Twice-widowed Newhall innkeeper Frances Phillips — remembered as the SCV's first motorcar owner — with the Cadillac she purchased in 1908. Seen here in Placerita Canyon in either 1909 or 1910, depending on the source.

Reynolds (1992) writes about this photograph:

Frances Delano Phillips, a widow who operated a rooming house cafe as well as serving on the school board and PTA, was the first person in the Santa Clarita Valley to own an automobile. Phillips purchased her Cadillac in 1908 and is shown driving in Placerita Canyon the following year.

Reynolds adds (1992:88) that Frances Phillips opened the rooming house after her (second) husband Harry died.

Scorza & Wright (SCV 1876-1926) add the following:

Mrs. Francis [sic] Phillips was a most interesting person. She was a woman, struggling in business, at a time when mostly men succeeded. She was married to Charles Delano, who lived in Newhall in the 1890s. They owned almost a whole block of real estate on Spruce Street [aka Main Street after 2007]. Delano died, and she married Harry Phillips, an oil field worker. At one time, she leased some farming acreage from the Newhall Ranch, becoming a fairly successful farmer. Mrs. Phillips bought the old Stewart and Hardison warehouse on Railroad Avenue, moving it to Spruce Street. She remodeled it into a lunch-counter restaurant on the first floor, and a boarding house on the second floor. It is said she was the first automobile buyer in the settlement. She even posed with her vehicle in Beale's Cut. Francis Phillips served successfully on the Newhall School Board, as well as the PTA. Mrs. Francis Phillips made her mark on the community of Newhall.

Update: Frances married Delano after the death of her first husband, Sam Smith, the town blacksmith, who died in 1900.

AP1912: 19200 dpi jpeg from copy print.
Newhall Innkeeper

Automobile 1910

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