Henry Clay Wiley


Henry Clay Wiley

Copyright Note: This image is NOT in the public domain and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States.
Used by permission of Gail Adams (A relative of H.C. Wiley)


Henry Clay Wiley was born on April 8, 1829 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His parents were Alexander Wiley (b.1791 Delaware) and Susan (b.1802 Maryland).

In about 1847 he joined the army and served in the Mexican War. Leaving the army after the war, he traveled in Mexico and finally settled down in San Diego, California, in 1852. He served as sheriff for multiple terms. In 1858, he moved north to Los Angeles Country.

He married an adapted daughter of Andres Pico. Pico (1810-1876) never married, but adapted several children. A.B. Perkins (in Mining Camps of the Soledad) says that Wiley was the husband of Mrs. Vincent Gelcich's sister, who was also an adapted daughter of Pico. (Note: Some sources, for example see the Pio Pico Genealogy Database, say that Pico married Catalina Moreno around 1852. Newmark, in "Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853-1913", also mentions in his 1876 section that Mrs. Wiley was a daughter of Andres Pico. However, see this information, which should settle the marriage issue.)

For a while, Wiley was in charge of the Pico ranch in San Fernando. The July 21, 1860 United States Census for the Los Angeles Township of Los Angeles County (see below) shows the Wiley family listed right after the Andres Pico family. 30-year old H. C. is listed as a farmer married to 24-year old Anita. They have a 6-year old son Jose and a 1-year old daughter named Catalina. Wiley has real estate valued at $5000 and a personal estate value of $7000, so he seemed to be quite well off. However, note how well off Pico is.


On the 1870 United States Census of the Los Angeles Township (see below), his wife's name was Anna (also Anita) M. and they had a 16 year old son named Joseph (Jose from 1860). Jesus Martinez is 12 could be a servant. Did Catalina die? Wiley's occupation is Under Sheriff. His wealth had remained about the same since 1860.


In the 1860's and 70's Wiley was involved with oil. In 1865 he was granted a claim in a canyon that became known as Wiley Canyon. He also became involved with oil in Towsley Canyon.

From 1868 to 1872, he served as deputy sheriff (undersheriff) to Sheriff J. F. Burns in Los Angeles County (James Frank Burns was sheriff from 1868-1871). Newmark (in "Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853-1913) reports that in 1869, Sheriff Burns and deputy Wiley pursued and captured four highwaymen who had robbed a stagecoach of nearly $2000.

In 1872, Wiley and Daniel M. Berry formed a partnership as real estate agents mainly concerned with the Indiana Colony, which would later become Pasadena.

In January of 1879, Wiley, Joseph Wiley (his son), Samuel B Caswell, and Mary Ellis sold their Wiley oil claim to Charles Felton for $1000 (From the LA Herald 1/16/1879). In the same month, Wiley also sold his part of the Towsley oil claim to Sam Caswell for $1 (LA Herald, 1/22/1879).

Soon after the 1880, Gail Adams (personal communication) says that "Henry and his wife divorced. Family legends states that she had a temper, and threw a knife at him. He remarried, this time to Nellie Beardsley, a widow with five sons." In 1881, Henry and Nellie had non-identical twin daughters, May and Belle.

In June of 1882, Wiley conveyed part of lot 10, blk 4, Ord's survey, and property in San Diego county for $1 to ex-wife Anita M Wiley (from the LA Daily Herald 6/9/1882).

In December of 1891, Wiley transfered the Wiley block on Broadway between Fifth and Sixth streets to W H Perry for $35,000 (LA Daily Herald 12/22/1891).

On June 1, Wiley was robbed while walking on the street by George W. Carpenter (see articles below).

On September 25, 1898, the Los Angeles Herald reported that Henry C Wiley was seriously ill at his home.

Wiley died on October 25, 1898, in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Herald of October 26, 1898 (see below) reported that the cause of death was a stomach tumor. He is buried at the Rosedale (now the Angelus-Rosedale) Cemetery in Los Angeles.

From the Los Angeles Herald of October 26, 1898:
Death Notice: Wiley - In this city, October 25, 1898, Henry C. Wiley, aged 69 years. Funeral from the family residence, 309 S. Hill Street, Thursday, October 27th, at 2 o-clock p.m. Intermant, Rosedale Cemetery.
From the Los Angeles Herald of October 27, 1898:
Attention Pioneers: The Pioneers of Los Angeles County are requested to attend the funeral of our deceased brother, Henry C. Wiley from his late residence, 309 South Hill street, at 2 p.m., today, October 29. The members will assemble at the residence. Conveyances will be provided to the cemetery. W.H. Workman, President, J.M. Guinn, Secretary.


Wiley and Lyon's Station

In 1992, "Santa Clarita: Valley of the Golden Dream" by Jerry Reynolds was published (using information first published between 1976 and 1994 in the "History of the Santa Clarita Valley" Daily Signal newspaper articles by Reynolds). In the book he states that Wiley (with his partner Ignacio del Valle) built a hotel-restaurant at the northern end of the San Fernando Pass in 1852. Reynolds also says that Wiley built a large windlass (a structure used to raise and lower wagons) on the top of the steep pass where he would charge a fee. This windlass would become obsolete when Beale's cut was completed in 1863. Reynolds finally states that in September of 1855, Wiley sold the station to the Lyon brothers (and it becomes Lyon's Station). Unfortunately, this goes against contemporary accounts of Wiley not arriving in Los Angeles until 1858 (see LA Herald article below). Where did Reynolds get his information? None of the sources for his book that I could locate contain this story.

Knowing that Reynolds often gets his material from A.B. Perkins, I checked Perkins. In "The Story of Our Valley" article from the Signal newspaper of 6/17/1954, Arthur B. Perkins does not mention Wiley but mentions "Lyon Station, our first settlement at this end of the valley."

In June 1957, in his Rancho San Francisco story in the Quarterly of the Southern California Historical Society, Perkins says for 1854 - "somewhere about this time the stage station, later to be called Lyons Station, came into existence." He had a footnote for that statement: "The late Mrs. J. T. Gifford once told writer that the stage station was opened by Henry Wiley, son-in-law of Andres Pico, and Jose Ygnacio del Valle, a younger step-brother of Ygnacia del Valle, in very early Fiftys." This appears to be the first, and only, mention of Wiley as being involved with the station until Jerry Reynolds.

In The Signal of 8/10/1961, Perkins writes "Lyon Station came into being on the north side of said pass in 1854." Here he ignores what Mrs. Gifford had previously told him.

In the "The San Fernando Pass and the Pioneer Traffic That Went Over It", a four-part series by Vernette Snyder Ripley in the Quarterly of the Southern California Historical Society in 1947 and 1948, there is no mention of Wiley. In the Pacific Railroad Survey of Lt. Robert S. Williamson there is no mention of Wiley although Williamson's party went over the pass in 1853 (and even used a windlass). In "Reminiscences of a Ranger" by Horace Bell, Wiley is not mentioned when Bell describes Phineas Bannings's stagecoach ride over the pass in 1854. Ripley reports that on October 9, 1855, Bishop Kip crossed over the pass from the south side but made no mention of the station. Ripley also reports that the first mention of Lyon Station Was in a 1856 reference by Harris Newmark (in "Sixty Years in Southern California", 1916). Therefore, it appears to me that that Lyon's Station wasn't actually constructed until late 1855 or 1856. It is possible that the Lyon brothers were ranchers in the area during this period and after the pass was first improved in 1854, they either converted their home or constructed a new building to use as a station for travelers. I can find no contemporary references to Wiley being involved with the station.

It appears to me that Reynolds took what Perkins wrote in 1957 and, besides assuming it was true, added some very questionable details. As I found out with Elsmere Canyon, Reynolds seems to have had a tendency of creating his own history. Unfortunately, the story, using Reynolds as the source, has been repeated in later works. For example, in "Gateways to Southern California" by John W. Robinson, published in 2005, Wiley gets credit for the station with Reynolds as the source.

However, it does appear that Wiley lived at the location of the eventual Lyon's Station in at least 1866. A February 10, 1866, article from the Wilmington Journal (shown on the Wiley Canyon Oil webpage) has Gelcich traveling from the San Fernando Mission to Wiley's house where Lyon's Station should be. Wiley then takes Gelcich to his claim in Wiley Canyon. There is also a letter from Christopher Leaming to E.F. Beale that mentions that a refinery was considered near the Wiley house on the Tejon Road. The refinery would later be built near Lyon's Station. There is also an old map at the Huntington Museum that shows (an erased) "Wiley's house" at the location of Lyon's Station north of the Beale's Cut toll gate (also erased). So I think we can safely place Wiley at the future location of Lyon's Station in 1866. Lyon must have bought out Wiley between 1866 and 1869, 1869 being the first year we have documented evidence that Lyon was there (he became the postmaster of Petroleopolis in 1869).



Wiley applies for a patent. From the Los Angeles Daily Herald of January 14, 1889. Odd that the patent application was in 1878 while the newspaper article was in 1889. Wiley sold his claims to both mines in 1879.



Los Angeles Herald June 3, 1893

Los Angeles Herald June 6, 1893



The above article (and the picture of Wiley) is from the "Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California and Pioneer Register, Los Angeles, 1898", Part II, Vol. IV, pp. 186-187, published by the Society in 1899.



From the LA Times of October 26, 1898. Note one of the pallbearers is Romulo Pico, the nephew of Andres Pico.


From the Los Angeles Herald of 10/26/1898


Description of May Wiley's marriage from the Los Angeles Herald of May 26, 1904


Announcement of Belle Wiley's wedding from the Los Angeles Herald of May 11, 1907