Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

About Matthew McCormick, Mentry's Assistant.

Like his boss Alex Mentry, Matthew McCormick came to sunny Southern California from the original oil country of Pennsylvania. Exactly when, we don't know, but it was probably in 1882 or 1883 when other Pennsylvania transplants arrived to work in the Pico Oil Field (Youle 1929:24), which was still the most lucrative oil operation on the West Coast (ibid.:34).

Born about 1860, McCormick is identified in voter rolls for the Newhall precinct as a driller in 1884 and 1886. In the latter year his birthday party of June 6 (probably his 26th) made the L.A. papers (see below). He was still unmarried at the time and apparently had his own office.

Voter rolls indentify McCormick as an oil well borer in 1888. By 1892 he is the assitant superintendent of the oil field. The promotion probably came in June 1888. That is when his pay increased from $100 monthly to $125 monthly.

Other than Mentry, McCormick is the only Pico oil worker to receive a monthly salary, payroll records show, at least between 1887 and 1889 (only known records). Everyone else was paid an hourly wage.

— Research by Tricia Lemon Putnam

1892 Voter registration, Newhall precinct. Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

A Lively Surprise Party.

Pico, June 6th, 1886.

Editor Los Angeles Herald: — I transmit to you by this mail a brief allusion to a very enjoyable affair which took place at the "Pico Oil Wells" on last evening.

While Matt McCormick, assistant foreman of the oil works, was at Newhall, little did he think or mistrust what was in store for him on his return, at about ten o'clock. But on entering his office with the intention of leaving the cares of the day aside and repose in the quiet innocent slumber of the mountains, he was confronted by about twenty ladies and a corresponding number of gentlemen, who expressed by their smiling faces and busy hands that something was up, and the realization that his birth had arrived was only made more impressive by a stroke from each lady for each and every year of his life, making him almost wish be was never born. Yet the pain somewhat subsided when he was led "almost helpless" to a table and there presented by the ladies with one of Webster's finest dictionaries, a gold ink stand and pen, and a very beautiful chair tidy.

The happily surprised victim imagined the embarrassing ceremonies were about ended, but when on gaining strength sufficient to glance around, be found his bachelor compartments being speedily transformed by the busy hands of the ladies into dining apartments, where a beautiful lunch of every variety of good things was spread, which, together with music, mirth and dancing, brought quite rapidly the small hours of another day.

Below is a complete list of those present: Mr. and Mrs. Skelton and daughter, C.D. Reynolds and wife, Mrs. Bowermaster, Mrs. Mentry, W.N. Forker and wife, W.E. Pardee and wife, P.S. Mathers and wife, Geo. Mendenhall and wife, A.B. Gates and wife, L.P. Hanscom and wife, D.A. Connell and wife, Henry Miller and wife; the Misses May Grable, Lillie Miller, Annie Bowermaster, Lillie Wall, Carrie Lyon, Ella Skelton, Maude Hanscom, Carrie Lininger; Messrs. M.R. Craig, M.A. Craig, R. Miller, Wm. Miller, Ed. Mathers, H.B. Proudfit, C.D. Hanscom, Col. Hopkins.

To those who are unaware of the extent of the oil business at Pico, I might add that the above names constitute only a partial list of the men employed here by the Pacific Coast Oil Company.

— M.

News story courtesy of Tricia Lemon Putnam.



Alex Mentry


W.E. Youle


Lyman Stewart


Dr. Vincent Gelcich x2


Matt McCormick, Pico


Christopher Leaming

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