Harvey Henderson Wilcox, who was born in 1832, owned a ranch west of Los Angeles that he and his wife Daeida named Hollywood and co-founded in 1887. In the early 1910s, Hollywood became the epicenter of the American film industry.
Harvey Henderson Wilcox, the son of Aaron and Azubah (Mark) Wilcox, was born in New York State, most likely in Monroe or Ontario County. Harvey was raised on his parents’ farm in Ogden Township, Lenawee County, Michigan after the family relocated to Michigan in the 1830s. He acquired poliomyelitis when he was about 13 years old and spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair. In a history written after his death, he is described as a Kansas Prohibitionist.
In early 1883, Harvey and Ida relocated from Topeka to Los Angeles, and legend has it that Harvey rode in the baggage car with two of his favorite horses. Harvey founded Wilcox and Shaw, a real estate firm in Los Angeles. Harvey and Ida only had one child, a son named Harry, who died when he was 18 months old in 1886. Harvey and Ida, according to family legend, would take buggy trips to the lovely canyons west of Los Angeles to console themselves after their baby died. Harvey paid $150 per acre for one of their favorite spots.
It was amid a fig and apricot orchard-filled rural area. Harvey attempted to grow fruit but failed, so he decided to partition the area and sell lots for $1,000 each. His tract was dubbed “Hollywood” by his wife. Harvey submitted a plat of the subdivision with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s office on February 1, 1887. In 1887, he would also create “The University Tract,” a residential area surrounding the newly built University of Southern California.
Harvey was around fifty-nine years old when he died at the home of his sister-in-law Sylvia Connell, to whom he had traveled two weeks previously to be closer to medical care in Los Angeles. He left behind a 28-year-old widow. His funeral was held at Hollywood’s First Methodist Church, where he was a member.