Scope and Content of Collection
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Title: Papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman
Collection Number: 2018_03
Sherman, Moses Hazeltine (1853-1932)
Extent: 59 linear feet; 141 archives boxes.
Sherman Library and Gardens
Corona del Mar, California 92625
Abstract: The papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman include materials he
retained dating from 1869 school until his death in 1932. The earliest papers
include materials from Sherman's schooling at the Oswego Normal School in New
York. For the period 1874 to 1890, when Sherman resided in the Arizona Territory,
the collection includes papers relating to teaching in Prescott, his government
appointments and his business concerns including real estate, mining and stock
raising. After 1890, when Sherman moved to Los Angeles, the collection includes a
variety of business and personal subjects including the development of the Los
Angeles Pacific Railway, the subdivision of the San Fernando Valley, management of
the Tejon Ranch and the Colorado River Land Company, the development of
Hollywoodland, and the Los Angeles Steamship Company.
Language of Material: English
Materials are open.
Property rights to the physical object belong to the Sherman Library. Literary
rights, including copyright are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the
responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the
copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The Sherman
Library do not hold the copyright.
Papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman. Sherman Library and Gardens
Arnold D. Haskell. Haskell donated the papers of M. H. Sherman to Sherman Library.
Haskell was the executor of the M. H. Sherman estate, and with M. H. Sherman's
daughters Lucy Roberson and Hazeltine Keever, founded the Sherman Foundation.
Early Life, 1853-1873
Moses Hazeltine Sherman was born in West Rupert, Vermont on December 3, 1853. He
spent his early years divided between the family farm in West Rupert and living with
relatives in Salem, New York, six miles away. His father sometimes taught school, in
addition to farming, so Sherman was following his father's lead when in 1869 he
entered the Oswego Normal School to train as a teacher.
Sherman left Oswego before completing his studies, in 1871, to take his first
teaching job in Wisconsin, but by 1873 returned to complete his course of study at
Oswego. From 1873 and 1874, he served as the principal of Hamilton (New York) Union
Grade School. However, he became ill in 1874, with what doctors thought was
tuberculosis. A standard treatment at the time was to move to a warmer climate, so
when the city of Prescott in the Arizona Territory needed a teacher, Sherman
Arizona Period, 1874-1890
When Sherman arrived in 1875, Prescott was a frontier town of 2,000 people, dependent
on nearby Fort Whipple for security. Sherman threw himself into the job of creating
a first-class school. In little more than a year, he was able to convince Prescott
voters to support a bond issue to replace the single-room schoolhouse with the
Prescott Free Academy, a two-story brick building that included space for the
Territorial government. Sherman’s success was such that the governor appointed him
Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Territory in 1879. Sherman was
subsequently elected to the office and served as Superintendent until 1883. In that
same year, the Governor appointed him Adjutant General of Arizona, a position
responsible for the state militia. The post came with the honorary title “General,”
a moniker Sherman would use for the rest of his life.
Sherman’s political career in Arizona ended with his term as Adjutant General in
1887. Even as he served in government, he pursued a career in business, investing in
mining and real estate at first. By 1883, he became one of the founders of the
Valley National Bank, initially serving as its president. He built and operated the
Phoenix Street Railway and gained a controlling interest in the Phoenix Water Works.
Sherman was also a major real estate developer, subdividing land in the Phoenix.
When the capital moved to Phoenix, Sherman donated the land for the new capital
building, which not coincidentally adjoined land he owned and hoped to sell. By the
late 1880s, Sherman boasted that he paid more taxes than anybody else did in the
Territory. By 1890, he decided to move to Los Angeles, to further his business
Sherman arrived in Los Angeles in 1890 having already developed a street railway in
Phoenix. Los Angeles had many small street railways, mostly horse-drawn cars.
Sherman began acquiring these railways to create the first electrified street
railway, the Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway. He built an extensive rail
network in the heart of Los Angeles. Sherman faced determined competition from the
Los Angeles Cable Railway. He ultimately forced the Cable Railway to merge with his
company, but the fight was costly. By 1895, the Los Angeles Consolidated Electric
could not meet its obligation to the company’s bondholders. In 1897, a group of
bondholders, led by Henry Huntington, acquired the company. Sherman was undeterred,
abandoning the street railway to develop intercity lines stretching east to Pasadena
and west to the ocean.
In 1895, Sherman began work on the first interurban rail line in Southern California
– the Pasadena Pacific Railway. This railway was the first step in a plan to lay
rails west, through what is now Hollywood and on to Santa Monica and the south along
the coast. The culmination of this work was the Los Angeles Pacific Railway (LAP).
The Los Angeles Pacific was more than just a means of moving people and goods.
Sherman recognized the value of the railway in promoting the region in general and
in selling land that he owned in particular. Sherman and his brother-in-law E. P.
Clark were partners in both the Los Angeles Pacific and in land development. The two
men had significant land holdings in Hollywood, what is now the west side of Los
Angeles and Playa del Rey – all accessible from the LAP.
In 1908, Sherman struck a deal with the Southern Pacific Railroad to sell a majority
stake in his company. He and E. P. Clark remained in charge of day-to-day
management. Then in 1911, the Southern Pacific forced the Great Merger, buying
outright the Los Angeles Pacific and Henry Huntington’s interurban lines to form the
Pacific Electric “Red Car” system. From 1911 onward, Sherman began to focus on the
development of land holdings, including the subdivision of the San Fernando Valley,
the development of a vast ranch in the Mexicali Valley and the Tejon Ranch.
Board of Water Commissioners
Sherman served on the Board of Water Commissioners for the City of Los Angeles from
1903-1910. During those years, he and his fellow commissioners worked with William
Mulholland to bring water to the city from the Owens Valley via the 200-mile Los
Angeles Aqueduct. In 1910, Sherman was forced to resign from the Commission when his
political opponents charged him with conflict of interest because he was a partial
owner of the building in which the Commission rented space.
Real Estate Enterprises
In 1910, Sherman, Harrison Gray Otis, Harry Chandler, Otto F. Brant, and Hobart J.
Whitley bought 47,500 acres of the San Fernando Valley for $2.5 million from Isaac
Van Nuys. The group formed the Los Angeles Suburban Homes Company, selling 30 shares
to fellow investors, but retaining leadership of the company as the Board of
Control. Over the next several years, the Company created three new communities: Van
Nuys, Owensmouth (now Canoga Park) and Marion (now Reseda). The company sold other
sections of the huge tract of land to shareholders at a discounted price. One such
tract of 1,000 acres became “Sherman’s Ranch.” In 1927, Sherman entered an agreement
with real estate promotors Thomas Bundy and Charles Albright to create a new
community, named Sherman Oaks.
Even as Sherman, Chandler and Otis were subdividing the southern half of the San
Fernando Valley, they sought additional land holdings. In 1912, the group purchased
the 275,000-acre Tejon Ranch for $3 million. Sherman and his partners raised cattle
and sheep on the ranch, leased land to farmers and benefited from the discovery of
oil on the ranch. In 1936, the ranch incorporated as the Tejon Ranch Company. Tejón
Ranch remains the largest single privately held property in California.
In 1903, Harrison Gray Otis and a group of investors began buying land in Imperial
Valley and northern Mexico to form the Colorado River Land Company (CRLC). While
Sherman was not an initial investor, by the 1920s was one of the principle investors
in CRLC. The Company owned over 840,000 acres of land in the Imperial and Mexicali
Valleys including much of the delta of the Colorado River. Irrigation canals
operated by the Company controlled water entering Northern Mexico and the Imperial
Valley in the United States. While the Company initially focused on raising cattle,
eventually growing cotton became the Company’s principle business. The company also
leased land to farmers.
In 1922, Sherman organized the Hollywoodland syndicate to subdivide a section of the
Hollywood hills, which he and his brother-in-law E. P. Clark owned. Sherman and
Clark joined with Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and developers
Tracey Shoults and Sydney H. Woodruff to create the Hollywoodland subdivision. While
the business venture had limited success, it resulted in one of the world’s iconic
symbols – the Hollywood sign.
During his time in Arizona, Sherman married Henrietta “Hattie” Pratt and the couple
had two daughters, Hazeltine and Lucy. When Sherman moved to Los Angeles in 1890, he
and his wife separated. Hattie, Hazeltine and Lucy eventually moved to a home in San
Francisco. Sherman lived for many years in the Westminster Hotel in downtown Los
Angeles. The couple divorced in 1907. Sherman remained close to his daughters,
establishing trusts to support them after his death. He never remarried.
Sherman’s circle of friends were his business associates and their families. He was
particularly close with Harry Chandler, whom he often addressed as “HC.” The two
would often play dominoes on Sunday evenings. He was also close to his
brother-in-law E. P. Clark and developer R. C. Gillis. These men and other friends
would retreat to Tejon Ranch or into Mexico for extended camping trips to escape the
pressures of business. Sherman also regularly attended the Bohemian Grove “jinks,” a
gathering of influential men in the Northern California sequoias.
In the final years of his life, Sherman suffered a growing number of health problems.
Arnold Haskell took over most of the day-to-day management of Sherman’s businesses
by the mid-1920s. In failing health, Sherman moved to a home on Bay Island, in
Newport Harbor. On September 9, 1932, “The General” passed away at the age of
|December 3, 1853
||Born in West Rupert, Vermont.
||Enters Oswego State Normal and Training School in New York.
||Left school to teach in the Salem (New York) district school.
||Mother passes away.
||Takes a teaching job in Wisconsin. While in route, on October 8, 1871
he is forced to flee from his hotel room by the outbreak of the great
||Completes his course of study at the Oswego Normal School in New York. It
is unclear when he returned from Wisconsin.
||Serves as principal of Hamilton (New York) Union Grade School.
||Moves to Prescott, Arizona Territory to teach school at the request of
the governor, A. P. Safford.
||A new brick school is built – Prescott Free Academy.
||Sherman’s sister Lucy hired as a teacher and he becomes
||Travels east to attend the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and the
National Teachers Convention in Baltimore.
||Appointed first regular Superintendent of Public Instruction by Gov. John
C. Freemont. He will service in this position until 1883.
||Legislature makes Superintendent of Public Instruction an elected office.
Sherman wins the election, the only Republican to be elected to statewide
||Appointed Adjutant General of Arizona, the administrator of the state
||Co-founder of Valley National Bank.
||Sherman and Harriot Pratt, the daughter of a Southern Pacific Railroad
executive, are married. Harriot has a son, Robert, from previous
||Term as Adjutant General of Arizona ends.
||Begins building street railroad in Phoenix.
||Acquires competing street railroads to form the Valley Street Railway
Company, later named the Phoenix Railway Company of Arizona.
||The Phoenix Water Works founded. Sherman eventually becomes the
||Moves to Los Angeles.
||Begins to acquire street railroads to form the Los Angeles
Consolidated Electric Railway.
||Completes the Pasadena & Los Angeles Electric Railway, the first
interurban line in Southern California.
||Loses control of the Los Angeles Consolidated Railway the Pasadena
& Los Angeles Electric Railway to the bondholders.
||Sherman and E. P. Clark begin the Los Angeles Pacific Railway, which runs
the “Balloon” route to the sea.
||With Eli P. Clark buys parts of what is now Hollywood and West
||Sherman’s private car Mermaid used to take President McKinley to the
Disabled Veterans Home in Sawtelle.
||Appointed to the Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners.
||Acquires a stake in the Colorado River Land Company.
||Sherman charters a private train to find family following the San
Francisco Earthquake. Justices of the California State Supreme Court
||Sherman and Clark sell a controlling interest in the Los Angeles
Pacific Railway to E. H. Harriman, President of the Southern Pacific
||Phoenix creates a municipal water agency and purchases the Phoenix
Water Works for $150,000.
||Sherman and his wife Harriot divorce.
||Visits New Orleans and Cuba.
||Sherman is removed from the Los Angeles Board of Water
||Takes a trip to southern Mexico.
||Southern Pacific Railroad buys the Los Angeles Pacific Railway and
the Pacific Electric. The new company retained the Pacific Electric
||Is a member of the Board of Control for the Los Angeles Suburban
Homes Company, which acquires land from the Lankershim Family in the San
Fernando Valley. The Los Angeles Suburban Home Company subdivided the
land, creating the cities of Van Nuys and Owens
||Sherman and Harry Chandler lead a group of businessmen who purchase
||Takes a around the World trip, visiting Asia and Europe.
||Helps to form the Los Angeles Steamship Company.
||Partners with Harry Chandler and S. H. Woodruff in the Hollywoodland
development. Hollywoodland sign is constructed to advertise the
||Subdivides Sherman Oaks property.
|September 9, 1932
||Dies at his home on Bay Island in Newport Beach at the age of 79.
Scope and Content of Collection
The papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman include materials he retained dating from 1869
school until his death in 1932. The earliest papers include a personal journal and
materials from Sherman's schooling at the Oswego Normal School in New York. For
the period 1874 to 1890, when Sherman resided in the Arizona Territory, the
collection includes papers relating to teaching in Prescott, his appointments as
Superintendent of Public Instruction and Adjutant General, and his business
concerns, including real estate, mining and stock raising. After 1890, when Sherman
moved to Los Angeles, the collection covers a variety of business and personal
subjects include the development of the Los Angeles Pacific Railway, the subdivision
of the San Fernando Valley, management of the Tejon Ranch and the Colorado River
Land Company, the development of Hollywoodland, and the Los Angeles Steamship
Company. The collection includes extensive correspondence, including substantial
exchanges with Harry Chandler, Robert C. Gillis, and Otto F. Brant.
- Journals, 1869 - ca. 1875 (Box 1)
- Oswego Normal and Training School Papers, 1871-1876 (Boxes 1-2)
- Hamilton Union Graded School Papers, 1873-1874(Box 2)
- Prescott Free Academy Papers, 1875-1877 (Box 2)
- National Teachers Conference and Philadelphia Exposition Files, 1876
- Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1879-1883 (Box 3)
- Adjutant General, Arizona Territory, 1883(Box 141)
- Business Activities, Arizona Territory
- General Files, 1880-1896(Box 4)
- Real Estate Files, 1875-1884 (Box 4)
- Mining Claims and Investments (Box 4)
- Ranches and Stock Raising, 1880-1900 (Box 4)
- Sherman House, 1882-1884 (Box 5)
- Los Angeles Pacific Railway Files, 1899-1906 (Box 5)
- General Subject Files, 1887-1931 (Boxes 6-11)
- Leisure Travel, 1909-1929 (Box 12)
- Death and Funeral, 1932 (Boxes 13, 141)
- Letters Received, 1874-1890 (Boxes 14-15)
- Letters Sent
- Letter Books, 1888-1929 (Boxes 16-27)
- Arizona Correspondent Files (photcopies), 1888-1890 (Box
- Correspondent Files (photocopies), 1890-1929 (Boxes
- Carbon Copies of Letters Sent, 1916-1917 (Boxes 60-62)
- Correspondence with Key Business Associates, 1914-1932 (Boxes
- Corresondence with Family (boxes 80-90)
- Fiscal Records
- Income Tax Records, 1916-1934 (Boxes 91-93)
- Stock and Bond Certificates, 1888-1909 (Box 94)
- Bank Account Books, 1903-1932 (Box 94)
- Cancelled Checks, 1879-1932 (Boxes 95-115, 130)
- Receipts (Boxes 116-118)
- Ledger Books, 1913-1932 (Boxes 119-129)
- Address Files (Boxes 131-132)
- Photographs (Boxes 133-141)
- Photographs of Business Associates (Box 141)
- Ephemera (Box 140)
Because of the wide-ranging nature of M.H. Sherman’s business activities, other
archival collections at the Sherman Library which may have related materials
include: California-Mexico Land and Cattle Company Records, C-M Ranch Company
Records, Colorado River Land Company Records, M. H. Sherman Company Records,
Sherman-Chandler Corporation Records, Title Insurance & Trust Company and the
O.F. Brant Papers. Of these, the O.F. Brant Papers has a finding aid (dated 1967),
and the Colorado River Land Company Papers has a preliminary inventory (2009).
Education - Arizona - 19th Century
Real Estate Subdivision
Sherman, Moses Hazeltine
Allison, J. Chester
Armstrong, R. B.
Brant, Otto F.
Brewer, W. H.
Calvin, E. E.
Chandler, Ralph J.
Clark, Eli P.
Clark, H. H.
Davie, R. P.
Edmunds, J. M.
Fleming, Arthur H.
Gillett, James N.
Graves, Alpheus Jackson
Haskell, Arnold D.
Jones, Elmer Ray
Lyon, Eldrige M.
Mitchell, Samuel H.
Otis, Harrison Gray
Platt, H. V.
Scott, George W.
Seger, Charles B.
Sheldon, Mark L.
Gillis, Robert C.
Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway
Los Angeles Pacific Railway
Los Angeles Steamship Company
Oswego Normal and Training School
California-Mexico Land and Cattle Company
Colorado River Land Company
Compañía Industrial Jabonera del Pacifico
Southern Pacific Railroad
Bank of Owensmouth
Bond Great West Clothing Co.
Clark and Sherman Land Company
First Central National Bank of Calexico
Ocean Park and Santa Monica Railway
Los Angeles Pacific Navigation Company
Phoenix Railway Company
Sherman Oil Company
Rowland Land Company
Signal Mountain Land and Cattle Company
South Elsinore Development Company
La Hacienda Company
Imperial Valley Farm Lands Association
California - Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles Calif.)
California - Los Angeles County
Arizona - Yavapai County - Prescott
Arizona - Maricopa County - Phoenix
California - Imperial County
Mexico - Baja California
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