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Guide to the Naglee Family Collection, 1846-1959
BANC MSS C-B 796  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Naglee Family Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1846-1959
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 796
    Creator: Nagel family
    Extent: Number of containers: 33 boxes, 6 volumes, 2 oversize folders
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Naglee family collection, BANC MSS C-B 796, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    Portraits have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.


    Henry Morris Naglee, born of a prominent Philadelphia family in 1815, graduated from West Point in 1835. He resigned his commission in 1836 to become a civil engineer in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. With the advent of the Mexican War he enlisted in 1846 in the New York Volunteers, Stevenson's Brigade, where he held the rank of Captain. He came to California, around the Horn, on the Susan Drew, arriving in San Francisco in March 1847. General Kearney then gave him a detached mounted command, joining a company of Californians to his company of volunteers, with orders to clear the country of Indians. This was accomplished after several expeditions. He was also ordered to help Padre Real eject squatters in and around the San Jose Mission. Naglee's base of operations was in Monterey. Here he made friends with several of the local families and participated in the town's social life. Under Colonel Mason's command he was sent to Baja California to reinforce Burton's troops besieged by the Mexicans and the Yaqui Indians at La Paz. He led a victorious battle at Todos Santos, March 30, 1848, and cleared the Peninsula. He was about to be court-martialled for the shooting of two Yaqui Indians when the war ended and the matter was dropped.
    Naglee then went into business with Richard H. Sinton, former Army paymaster, and organized the first bank in San Francisco under the name Naglee & Sinton in 1849. Sinton soon left the bank. The firm, then known as Naglee & Co., closed in September 1850. But Naglee remained in San Francisco, buying gold dust, banking, selling frame houses. He also dealt in real estate. In 1855 he was a receiver for Adams & Co.. Very successful in his ventures, he owned the American Theatre in San Francisco for a few years, took a trip to Europe in 1880, combining business with pleasure, sending home pedigreed livestock, grape cuttings, porcelain, statuary, paintings and various objets d'art. He also purchased property in San Jose at this time.
    When the Civil War broke out, Naglee volunteered his services. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 16th U.S. Infantry which consisted of 400 recruits in Ohio. He requested active service, resigned and was reappointed Brigadier-General early in 1862. He was first ordered to Hoover's Division on the Potomac, and subsequently was stationed with the Army of the Potomac before Yorktown until April 1862. Naglee was then ordered to Casey's division, took Lee's Mills, crossed the Chickahominy, and was wounded in the battle of Seven Pines, also known as the battle of Fair Oaks, while valiantly leading his men. He later was stationed in North Carolina and in Norfolk, Virginia. After mustering out in April 1864, he actively campaigned in the election of General McClellan for the Democratic Party.
    Upon his return to California, Naglee devoted his energies to the cultivation of grapes on his San Jose property, to the beautification of San Jose, and to flood control and reclamation on his San Joaquin property. In 1865 he married Marie Antoinette Ringgold, the young daughter of his former friend George Hays Ringgold who worked in the U.S. Mint at San Francisco before her marriage. From this marriage were born two daughters, Marie, in 1866, and Antoinette, in 1869. Mrs. Naglee died in 1869 and Naglee never remarried.
    The production of the first Naglee brandy took place in 1868. It was reputed to be of a superior quality and won various awards. Its production was discontinued after Naglee's death in 1886.
    Please refer to the paper copy of the finding aid for the Naglee family genealogy.

    Scope and Content

    The Naglee family collection, the gift of Mrs. Marie R. Robins, Naglee's daughter, and Mrs. Antoinette N. Spruyt, his grand-daughter, in December 1960 and August 22, 1961, contains originals, some photocopy and a partial typed transcript of correspondence and papers of the Naglee and Ringgold families. There is personal and official correspondence to and from Naglee from 1845 until 1885 shortly before his death; a diary of the trip on the Susan Drew around the Horn to San Francisco; field notes of excursions in California during the Mexican War; military orders, sketch maps, clippings, some printed items, a few photographs; material concerning the General's activities in the Civil War; deeds for property in California, especially relating to Rancho El Pescadero and Rancho Los Coches; correspondence and papers pertaining to the Naglee Brandy and its sales in the East. Later correspondence and papers, 1907-1923, relate to the disposal of the Naglee Estate. There is also a file of correspondence of Mrs. Spruyt aided by her research assistant, William Tyler Arms, with various persons and institutions requesting information pertinent to the collection; a file of notes and a partial card index.
    One volume, entitled "To Gen. Henry M. Naglee, from his friends", Oct. 26, 1864, upon the presentation of a medal for gallantry at Fair Oaks, was given to the Bancroft Library by Warren Howell, July 1962.