Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Death Calls Valley Pioneer Anna Marie Bercaw

Mrs. Anna Marie Bercaw, born Anna Marie Laricy in Chicago December 22, 1882, died Thursday, the 26th of November, 1964.

Rosary was held at 7:30 p.m., Sunday evening, at Hilburn's Funeral Chapel.

Requiem Mass was said Monday, at 10 a.m., followed by Interment at Calvary Cemetery.

She was survived by a daughter, Mrs. Margaret Seltzer, of San Fernando, one son, Ora William Bercaw, of Saugus, and seven grand-children. Also by three sisters, Miss Nellie Laricy, with whom she had lived in Saugus, Miss Beautrice Laricy, of Indiana, and Mrs. Catherine Kelly, of Chicago.

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Original caption as published with this story: The first "Bercaw Store" — or do you want to call it "Saugus 1907?" The Dick Wood development was down by the Y and is not in view. From A.B. Perkins Collection. (Click image for more.)

Back in 1906, O.W. Bercaw successfully "bid in" the Saugus Depot job.[1] It wasn't particularly "hot" at the moment, but there was a very active mining Boom in progress in southern Nevada. From here to there there wasn't any railroad — but the shortest road (if you want to choose nice words) to the mining country was right through Saugus Junction, where the traveler had a choice of 60 miles of sand and rocks well punctuated with fordings of the Santa Clara River to the ocean, or a collection of chuckholes, deep wheel ruts set with razorsharp rock edges to slit your tire, desert sands and mountain grades to the Desert and Nevada.

Of even more importance, might have been the rumors of the Los Angeles Aqueduct construction job, which would have headquarters office in Saugus.

Bercaw "took over" on his arrival in Saugus in late December, accompanied by his bride of a very few days, a Chicago girl who was quite startled by the Saugus locals, high booted, with guns on their hips, and Compton's Store[2], where gold scales took the place of a cash register.

When you left the San Fernando Valley those days, you had traded town life for the Desert.

Ora W. Bercaw's World War I draft card. Click to enlarge.

There wasn't any social life loose in the neighborhood, very shortly the Bercaw's [sic] rented a little piece of ground across the tracks and opened a very small store. They were living, of course in the Agents quarters upstairs in the Depot. The down stairs was split up between the Railroad eatinghouse, the freight room, the ticket and telegraph office and, so space wouldn't be wasted, the Post office. That latter shortly moved over to the new Bercaw store. The Station Agent was sort of automatically the Postmaster.

The business kept growing. There wasn't any local school, so Bercaw, Osborne and Wood[3] chipped in $100 apiece for a small shack utilized until the "Saugus School District" could get on the Taxroll.

Expansion was slow but steady. More ground was acquired. "Saugus" was just a little [sic] of land between the tracks and the bed of the Newhall creek, owned by only two families, Bercaw to the south, Wood to the north. Any local problems could be answered "Would Wood? Or[e] Bercaw would. Bercaw could, or Wood would." Bercaws ran their store for 57 years.

In 1914, local Catholic Ladies successfully promoted "Our Lady of Perpetual Help" Church. The first subscription was from Bercaw, $100. That was money in those days.

Among other civil interests, Mrs. Bercaw was a Charter Member of the Newhall Womans Club, the Saugus Community Club, the Saugus P.T.A., and an active worker in all the activities of her Church.

Somewhere around 1923, educational facilities for the children led Mrs. Bercaw to establish a home in Glendale, Two or three years ago se returned to Saugus.

Mrs. Bercaw will be missed by those fortunate enough to have known her.


1. This refers to Ora Bercaw's employment as the Southern Pacific Railroad's station agent at Saugus.

2. The merchant's name was George Campton, but his store was often remembered as "Compton's."

3. Martin Wood ran the Saugus Café. We don't know who Osborne was.

The Santa Clarita Sentinel was a short-lived newspaper first published in October 1963 by Mint Canyon leader Arthur W. "Art" Evans, who coined the term "Canyon Country" and founded the annual Frontier Days celebration that same year. A.B. Perkins penned a local history series for the Sentinel in 1964 and 1965.



Anna Marie Bercaw


E.H. Bercaw Note 1903


Timmy Bercaw 1967


Ann L. Bercaw Obituary 1962/1981


Bercaw Desk

Margaret Seltzer Obituary 2004

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