Darius Towsley


"DARIUS TOUSLEY, CO E, 4th CAL INF". This is the weathered headstone of the man I believe is the Towsley of Towsley Canyon. His gravesite is at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Los Angeles, California (Section 5, Row D, Site 20).


Who is Darius Towsley of Towsley Canyon? There is no doubt that there was a Towsley. The Caswell, Ellis, Wiley claim of 1876 says that the claim was commonly known as the Towsley Petroleum Claim. Towsley is spelled as Tousley so it's hard to say what his real last name was. His tombstone (if I have the right man) shows Tousley. Interestingly, the Twelfth Report of the State Mineralogist for 1894 repeatedly uses Tousley, not Towsley, Canyon. The Reno Evening Gazette of July, 7, 1882, says "The three old Temple wells in Tousley Canyon still have oil oozing out."

Tracking Towsley (or Tousley) was no easy task. I could not find a Darius Towsley living in California on any US Census. The Leon Warden story about Towsley is only speculation. I have seen no documentation that mentions anything about what Towsley did in the canyon.



On the 1860 census, 21-year old Ohio born D. Tousley is a miner living in Table Rock, Oregon.



This California Civil War roster page lists a Darius Towsley as a private in Company E of the 4th Regiment of the California Infantry. He joined in 1861 from Weaverville, California, and was discharged in 1864 at Drum Barracks, California (see below). Drum Barracks (originally called Fort Drum) is located in Wilmington, California, and today is a Civil War Museum operated by the city of Los Angeles. This Towsley certainly could have traveled south from Oregon after the 1860 census. After being discharged, he could have stayed in Los Angeles Country and filed a claim around 1865. Since he was a miner on the 1860 census, filing a claim would make sense. He evidently sold or abandoned his claim by 1866 (based on Peckham's visit of 1866). He probably headed north to do more mining since, in the documents below, he is mentioned as being in the mining towns of Randsburg and Ballarat.



On December 11, 1896, Darius Towsley filed this form claiming to be an invalid.



The following form show that on June 30, 1900, Darius Tousley dies. He is buried at the National Military House in Los Angeles County, California, which is today's Los Angeles National Cemetery. He evidently didn't get a headstone until 1903.



The following form gives us even more data for Tousley, alias Towsley. He died of exhaustion on June (or January) 30, 1900, at the age of 60 making his date of birth around 1840 in Ohio. He was in Ballarat and Randsburg, California. In 1897, in Randsburg, he was diagnosed with chronic gastritis. He was single. He has a brother named Loren. I found only one Loren Tousley on a US Census. He was born in 1848 in Ohio to Nelson and Sally Tousley. Unfortunately, they don't appear to have a son named Darius born around 1840.



Of course, I am just making an educated guess that this is the Darius Towsley of Towsley Canyon. However, here is a Towsley at the right place (Los Angeles) at the right time (1864). Civil War veteran Tousley was evidently a miner most of his adult life, so filing a claim would certainly be believable.


View of the cemetery with Wilshire Boulevard out of view straight ahead in the distance. Sepulveda Boulevard is out of sight on the right. The cemetery is on the southwest corner of Wilshire and Sepulveda Boulevards. Tousley's tombstone is in the lower right foreground. The cemetery road on the right is San Juan Hill Avenue.


Another view of the Tousley stone looking more toward Sepulveda Boulevard