Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman
    Dates: 1869-1934
    Collection Number: 2018_03
    Creator/Collector: Sherman, Moses Hazeltine (1853-1932)
    Extent: 59 linear feet; 141 archives boxes.
    Repository: 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.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    Papers of Moses Hazeltine Sherman. Sherman Library and Gardens

    Acquisition Information

    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.

    Biography/Administrative History

    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 responded.
    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 empire.
    California, 1890-1932
    Railroad Enterprises
    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.
    Personal Life
    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 78.
    December 3, 1853 Born in West Rupert, Vermont.
    1869 Enters Oswego State Normal and Training School in New York.
    Ca. 1870 Left school to teach in the Salem (New York) district school.
    1871 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 Chicago fire.
    July 1873 Completes his course of study at the Oswego Normal School in New York. It is unclear when he returned from Wisconsin.
    1873-1874 Serves as principal of Hamilton (New York) Union Grade School.
    1874 Moves to Prescott, Arizona Territory to teach school at the request of the governor, A. P. Safford.
    1876 A new brick school is built – Prescott Free Academy.
      Sherman’s sister Lucy hired as a teacher and he becomes principal.
    1876 Travels east to attend the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and the National Teachers Convention in Baltimore.
    1879 Appointed first regular Superintendent of Public Instruction by Gov. John C. Freemont. He will service in this position until 1883.
    1880 Legislature makes Superintendent of Public Instruction an elected office. Sherman wins the election, the only Republican to be elected to statewide office.
    1883 Appointed Adjutant General of Arizona, the administrator of the state militia.
      Co-founder of Valley National Bank.
    1885 Sherman and Harriot Pratt, the daughter of a Southern Pacific Railroad executive, are married. Harriot has a son, Robert, from previous marriage.
    1887 Term as Adjutant General of Arizona ends.
      Begins building street railroad in Phoenix.
    1889 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 principle shareholder.
    1890 Moves to Los Angeles.
      Begins to acquire street railroads to form the Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway.
    1895 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.
    1896 Sherman and E. P. Clark begin the Los Angeles Pacific Railway, which runs the “Balloon” route to the sea.
    Ca 1900 With Eli P. Clark buys parts of what is now Hollywood and West Hollywood.
    1901 Sherman’s private car Mermaid used to take President McKinley to the Disabled Veterans Home in Sawtelle.
    1903 Appointed to the Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners.
    1904 Acquires a stake in the Colorado River Land Company.
    1906 Sherman charters a private train to find family following the San Francisco Earthquake. Justices of the California State Supreme Court accompany him.
      Sherman and Clark sell a controlling interest in the Los Angeles Pacific Railway to E. H. Harriman, President of the Southern Pacific Railway.
    1907 Phoenix creates a municipal water agency and purchases the Phoenix Water Works for $150,000.
      Sherman and his wife Harriot divorce.
    1909 Visits New Orleans and Cuba.
    1910 Sherman is removed from the Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners.
      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 name.
    1911 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
      Visits Alaska.
    1912 Sherman and Harry Chandler lead a group of businessmen who purchase Tejon Ranch.
      Takes a around the World trip, visiting Asia and Europe.
      Helps to form the Los Angeles Steamship Company.
    1923 Partners with Harry Chandler and S. H. Woodruff in the Hollywoodland development. Hollywoodland sign is constructed to advertise the development.
    1927 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.


    1. Journals, 1869 - ca. 1875 (Box 1)
    2. Oswego Normal and Training School Papers, 1871-1876 (Boxes 1-2)
    3. Teaching
      1. Hamilton Union Graded School Papers, 1873-1874(Box 2)
      2. Prescott Free Academy Papers, 1875-1877 (Box 2)
      1. National Teachers Conference and Philadelphia Exposition Files, 1876 (Box 3)
    4. Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1879-1883 (Box 3)
    5. Adjutant General, Arizona Territory, 1883(Box 141)
    6. Business Activities, Arizona Territory
      1. General Files, 1880-1896(Box 4)
      2. Real Estate Files, 1875-1884 (Box 4)
      3. Mining Claims and Investments (Box 4)
      4. Ranches and Stock Raising, 1880-1900 (Box 4)
      5. Sherman House, 1882-1884 (Box 5)
    7. Los Angeles Pacific Railway Files, 1899-1906 (Box 5)
    8. General Subject Files, 1887-1931 (Boxes 6-11)
    9. Leisure Travel, 1909-1929 (Box 12)
    10. Death and Funeral, 1932 (Boxes 13, 141)
    11. Correspondence
      1. Letters Received, 1874-1890 (Boxes 14-15)
      2. Letters Sent
        1. Letter Books, 1888-1929 (Boxes 16-27)
        2. Arizona Correspondent Files (photcopies), 1888-1890 (Box 28)
        3. Correspondent Files (photocopies), 1890-1929 (Boxes 29-59)
        4. Carbon Copies of Letters Sent, 1916-1917 (Boxes 60-62)
      3. Correspondence with Key Business Associates, 1914-1932 (Boxes 63-79)
      4. Corresondence with Family (boxes 80-90)
    12. Fiscal Records
      1. Income Tax Records, 1916-1934 (Boxes 91-93)
      2. Stock and Bond Certificates, 1888-1909 (Box 94)
      3. Bank Account Books, 1903-1932 (Box 94)
      4. Cancelled Checks, 1879-1932 (Boxes 95-115, 130)
      5. Receipts (Boxes 116-118)
      6. Ledger Books, 1913-1932 (Boxes 119-129)
    13. Address Files (Boxes 131-132)
    14. Photographs (Boxes 133-141)
      1. Photographs of Business Associates (Box 141)
    15. Ephemera (Box 140)

    Related Material

    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).

    Indexing Terms

    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, Harry
    Chandler, Ralph J.
    Clark, Eli P.
    Clark, H. H.
    Cochran, George
    Davie, R. P.
    Dillingham, Walter
    Edmunds, J. M.
    Fleming, Arthur H.
    Gillett, James N.
    Graves, Alpheus Jackson
    Haskell, Arnold D.
    Jones, Elmer Ray
    Leonard, Daniel
    Lyon, Eldrige M.
    Miller, Frank
    Mitchell, Samuel H.
    Otis, Harrison Gray
    Platt, H. V.
    Randolph, Epes
    Scott, George W.
    Seger, Charles B.
    Sheldon, Mark L.
    Shoup, Paul
    Sutro, Charles
    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

    Additional collection guides