Isaac Newton Van Nuys
|Isaac Van Nuys|
November 20, 1836|
West Sparta, New York
|Died||February 12, 1912
Los Angeles, California
|Occupation||Land Developer, Agriculture, Banker|
|Spouse(s)||Susanna H. Lankershim|
Isaac Newton Van Nuys (November 20, 1836 – February 12, 1912) was an American businessman, real estate developer, banker, and agricultural entrepreneur. He founded the community of Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California in 1911. As a major figure in regional history and development, there are schools, streets, libraries, and a Liberty Ship with the name of Van Nuys.
Isaac Van Nuys was born in West Sparta, New York, the son of Peter Van Nuys and Harriet Kerr. His father was born in Millstone, New Jersey, on February 7, 1808. He moved to West Sparta, in 1822, where he became a farmer and eventually owned 500 acres (2.0 km2). He also served as a town supervisor and justice of the peace. He died January 2, 1875. The mother of Isaac Van Nuys was born in Cayuga County, New York, on April 13, 1809. Peter and Harriet were married on November 19, 1829. They had seven children, Caroline M. Van Nuys (born June 4, 1833); Isaac N.; A. Vinton Van Nuys (born June 8, 1840); Ella L. Van Nuys (November 22, 1842-July 22, 1843); Harriett E. Van Nuys (January 9, 1844-August 9, 1871); Webster B. Van Nuys (born February 8, 1847); and Herbert K. Van Nuys (born April 22, 1852).
In 1865 at age 30, Van Nuys moved to California, the first Van Nuys to actually do so. He first lived in Napa and later Monticello, where he owned a country store. In 1871, he moved to Los Angeles, where he bought in with Isaac Lankershim's corporation, the San Fernando Homestead Association, that in 1869 had bought the southern half of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando totaling sixty thousand acres (240 km2) and engaged in the raising of stock, principally sheep. In 1873, Van Nuys, and future brother-in-law Isaac Lankershim's son, James Boon Lankershim, moved to the San Fernando Valley and took over management of the property. In 1874, they began raising grain, introducing dryland farming. In 1876 they filled two ships with Valley wheat at the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro. It was both the first grain cargo ever shipped from the L.A. Harbor, and the first grain ever shipped to Europe from the United States.
In 1880, Van Nuys and James Boon Lankershim formed the The Los Angeles Farming and Milling Company from the San Fernando Homestead Association. Isaac Van Nuys was its president and manager. The company had a four-story building for milling to produce flour, meals, cracked wheat, hominy and all kinds of feed. Van Nuys also served as vice-president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, a director in the Union Bank of Savings, a director in the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, and owner of the Van Nuys Hotel, which was erected in 1896 in Downtown Los Angeles.
As the City of Los Angeles authorized building William Mulholland's Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley to the city and valley, land speculation plans for the Los Angeles Farming and Milling Company property in the San Fernando Valley were developed. Construction began in 1905. Dryland farming could now be turned into crops, orchards and residential towns. In the "biggest land transaction ever recorded in Los Angeles County", a syndicate led by Harry Chandler, business manager of the Los Angeles Times, with Isaac Van Nuys, Hobart Johnstone Whitley, and James Boone Lankershim acquired "Tract 1000", the remaining 47,500 acres (192 km2) of the southern half of the former Mission lands—everything west of the Lankershim town limits and south of the old furrow (present day Roscoe Boulevard) excluding Rancho Los Encinos and Rancho El Escorpión. As the Los Angeles Suburban Homes company, they laid out plans for the towns of Van Nuys, Marion (now Reseda) and Owensmouth (now Canoga Park and West Hills), a system of highways, and incorporation by the city of Los Angeles to get the Owens River water. In the "Sale of the Century" in November 1910 they sold the remaining livestock and non-land assets of the Lankershim Farming and Milling Company at auction. The Los Angeles Times called the auction "the beginning of a new empire and a new era in the Southland". On February 22, 1911, lot sales begin at the new town of Van Nuys, California.
In 1880, he married Susanna H. Lankershim of Los Angeles, a daughter and sister of his business associates Isaac and James Boone Lankershim. They had three children: Annis H.; James Benton; and Kate. He was a member of the Masonic order, connected with Pentalpha Blue Lodge, Signet Chapter, Los Angeles Commandery and Al Malaikah Shrine Temple. He was a Republican and member of the Baptist church. He also founded Hollywood Cemetery.
- Roderick, Kevin, The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb, Los Angeles Times Books, 2001, ISBN 1-883792-55-X, p. 48
- Link, Tom: Universal City - North Hollywood, a Centenniel Portrait, Windsor Publications, 1991, ISBN 0-89781-393-6, p. 40
- The Valley Observed. (Nov. 24, 2005). San Fernando Valley history and sense of place. Obtained Nov. 22, 2006.
- Find a grave.
History of Livingston County, New York by James H. Smith, published by D. Mason & Co, Syracuse, NY