Sorting Saturday: Harley Rupert Wiley

Harley Rupert Wiley, or Harlen R. Wiley, in the 1914 "The Graduate" yearbook of the University of California Medical Center, page 12. HathiTrust, public domain.
Harley Rupert Wiley, or Harlen R. Wiley, in the 1914 “The Graduate” yearbook of the University of California Medical Center, page 12. HathiTrust, public domain.

Sorting your research is a daunting project but necessary to tell the stories. I have been deep into sorting and compiling- all to culminate in an exciting event, which is why the blog has been so quiet lately. But I digress… and will share soon.

A good review and sort will help one to see patterns, aid in putting two and two together now that you know more, and help you to find where there is conflicting information. One tip that I find really helpful is to title my files in a standard way. (See my previous posts Tuesday’s Tip- Let your computer create a timeline! and Tuesday’s Tip-Organizing Computer Files.)

Looking through my files lately has helped me realized that some dates were inconsistent, or just couldn’t be correct- very easy to see when they are side by side. It also made me realize as I sorted through that some things that needed to be together weren’t, and others that should have been were not, so I corrected that. More lightbulbs went on as I saw these new files ‘automagically’ sorted together.

While working on my exciting project and trying to identify people in a wedding party picture, I realized that I had never seen a picture of Harley R. Wiley, though I had a hunch he might be in the photo. Harley was a professor of pharmaceutical (sometimes called ‘pharmacal’ in those days) jurisprudence at the University of California. He lectured at both the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses, and had an office in San Francisco while residing in Berkeley.

Harley R. Wiley listed as Faculty in "The Graduate" yearbook of the University of California Medical Center, page 93. Hathi Trust, public domain.
Harley R. Wiley listed as Faculty in “The Graduate” yearbook of the University of California Medical Center, page 93. Hathi Trust, public domain.

He wrote a book called, “A Treatise on Pharmacal Jurisprudence with a thesis on the law in general,” The Hicks-Judd Company, San Francisco, 1904. The book was self-published, as he was a pioneer in the field and there were, at that time, no textbooks on pharmacy and the law.

Harley also wrote numerous poems, many published in the literary magazines of the day, or as fillers in other publications. He wrote with the idea of nature as spirit. Some of his poems include, “The Soul of a City,” “Star of Bethlehem,” “The Desert,” and “Dust and Flame.” Harley’s California Biographical Index card lists Appleton’s Booklovers Magazine, The Overland Monthly and Out West magazine, and The Raven-Western Field as periodicals for which he had written.

Harley spoke to many groups, with the historian James Redpath commenting, after an address by Wiley, that he had “eloquence and good sense in rare combination.”

In early California, land speculation was popular. At one time, Harley owned 2,000 acres.

Although one would think that being a published poet, lecturer, professor, land speculator, and lawyer would be enough, Harley had another claim to fame- he was the brother of Ninetta (Wiley) Eames Payne (Springer), who raised Charmian Kittredge; Charmian would later marry Jack London, the author. Ninetta worked with Jack London closely, managing many of his business affairs. Ninetta, like Harley, traveled in California literary circles as she too was a writer and host of many summer camps for (adult) intellectuals. Edward B. Payne, a writer, minister, lecturer, and philosopher, was Ninetta’s second husband, and he was very close to his in-laws Harley and Villa. Harley participated in many of these same gatherings, whether they were just family or for the intellectuals of the Bay Area or Sonoma County; many of the events included Jack London.

Learning more about Harley corroborated a story that Ninetta told of the family’s 1865 migration to Utah and then California, in which their wagon train was attacked. The party was split and the other  group was massacred by the Indians, with the Wiley family barely escaping. Ninetta was sometimes ‘flowery’ in her descriptions, so some researchers had wondered how much of the story was true. Reading about it in Harley’s biography- collateral kin research- makes us realize that the horrors of the story were real, not imagined nor exaggerated.

A bit of the Harlen Rupert Wiley vitals-

– He was born 5 Apr 1855 in on a farm 14 miles outside Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Jacob Scott Wiley and Catherine Growall, the youngest of seven children.

– Harley lived in Santa Barbara, Monticello, Redding, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, California. There are censuses and city directories that seem to have conflicting information for a certain date, but that is because he had offices in other cites at times.

– Graduating from Christian College at Santa Rosa, California, in 1877 with an A.B. degree after just three years of study, he had also taught bookkeeping, arithmetic, and algebra while himself a student.

– Harley also graduated from the University of California, Class of 1897, L.L.B. Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco.

– Becoming a Christian  while at Christian College, Harley was ordained a minister around 1877 when he graduated.

– Harley married first Sarah Prudy ___ by 1878- maiden name unknown. They had two children together: Lucille, one year old in the 2 Jun 1880 census (although 1900 census states she was born Sep 1878), and a son born in Dec 1879, who was 6/12 yrs per same census, but had not yet been named. In 1900 Sarah is listed as Prudy Wiley in the census, listed as a widow and living with her daughter. Her son was still alive, and their daughter Lucille was a bookkeeper, a skill that Harley probably taught her. Harley had remarried by 1900 so apparently the couple had actually divorced.

– His second marriage was to Villa Chappell 26 Dec 1885 in Redding, California. They had two children- Villa Elizabeth Wiley, born Nov 1888, and Esmond F. Wiley (or Don Esmond Wiley), born 1890.

– An excellent description of Harley’s early life may be found in the  “Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California,” pages 535-6, 1891- see below for links.

– Harley died 17 Sep 1921 in Alta Bates Sanitorium in Berkeley after a protracted illness, at the age of 65. We have been unable to find where he was buried. (Many of those in this social group were cremated, so that may be the case with Harley as well.)

Harley R. Wiley obituary, Oakland Tribune, 17 Sep 1921.
Harley R. Wiley obituary, Oakland Tribune, 17 Sep 1921.

The ‘Wiley House’ and cottages that were owned by Harley and Villa Wiley at 2545 Benvenue Avenue until 1921 are listed as Historic Landmark #199 in Berkeley, California.


PS- I really can’t tell if it is Harley Wiley in the wedding photo that started all this. But it was great to learn more about him and have an opportunity to tell his story.


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) “A Treatise on Pharmacal Jurisprudence with a thesis on the law in general”  may be read online at Accessed 05/31/2014.

2) Harley R. Wiley biography in “Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California,” page 535-6,  Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1891. See Accessed 05/31/2014.

3) 7) California Biographical Index Card for Harley R. Wiley, 1906, through California State Library, now on Accessed 5/31/14.

4) “The Graduate” yearbook of the University of California Medical Center, 1914:;view=1up;seq=1. Accessed 05/30/2014.

5) Berkeley Landmarks by Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny, Berkeley [California] Architectural Heritage Association, 2001. Accessed on 5/31/14:



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