Saloma E. Newland,
Telegraph Operator and Lady Prospector
Buried in City/Loosley Cemetery,
exact location unknown.
There is no grave marker.
(Stock image courtesy of Broderbund Clip Art)
Saloma first appears in the public record in 1864, when she was listed as Mrs. J. B. Larcombe, an agent of the Florence Sewing Machine Company. It looks as though she was living in Virginia City, Nevada Territory—a raw, frontier town at the time.
Her name appears next in the notice of her 1870 divorce from Joseph Blount Larcombe, published in the San Francisco Examiner. The decree was granted based on the grounds that the plaintiff had not provided the defendant with the common necessities of life for two years. Evidently, Saloma had been supporting herself for several years prior to her divorce as an agent for the Florence Sewing Machine Company, which had a factory in San Francisco.
Between 1866 to 1877, Saloma had also been employed by the Western Union Telegraph Company, working her way up to manager of the telegraph office in San Francisco’s newly-opened Palace Hotel.
Joseph’s and Saloma’s daughter, Flora, had been born about 1858 in Ohio. Saloma had income sufficient to send her to the Young Ladies Seminary in Benicia, California, the predecessor of Mills College in Oakland. It was a smart move. On March 6, 1875, Flora married Barry Baldwin in Martinez, California.
In 1877, Saloma left California for Tucson, Arizona, to learn about geology and prospecting. Less than a year later, she was recorded as buying and selling shares in the Little Amicus mine and the Saloma mine. A newspaper reporter caught up with her about this time and found her operating a hotel in Watsonville. Shortly thereafter, she married a miner named Thomas Jefferson Newland.
Newland had a chronic respiratory condition, so Saloma did the actual prospecting and brought the ores to him so he could judge whether her find looked promising. Together, they filed on several mining claims in Yavapai and Gila Counties.
Thomas Newland died on December 12, 1896, but Saloma, having developed a fondness for the Arizona wilderness, carried on by herself, living in a little camp near the Model mine in Yavapai County. In 1897, a reporter from the The San Francisco Call interviewed her and was surprised to find her well educated, well mannered and the mother-in-law of United States Marshal Barry Baldwin (Flora’s husband).
Saloma Larcombe Newland died of cancer December 31, 1898, at Sister’s Hospital in Phoenix. She was buried in City/Loosley Cemetery in Phoenix, possibly near her husband.
© 2020 by Val Wilson. Last revised 3 May 2020.
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