Posted: Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 by Gaelyn Whitley Keith

Over the years I have been speaking to audiances around the world on televison, radio talk shows, newspaper interview and at Hollywood Academy Award functions. Many times I have been asked, "How did Hollywood got its name?"  To start with I am going to share with you the way my great-grandmother wrote it in her handwriten memoirs.  While on their honeymoon in 1886 they rode horses out to the foothills of the Cahuega Valley. They dismounted near the top of the hill to look at the view of the entire valley.  Along came a Chinese man riding in a wagon.  He stopped, got out of the wagon and politely bowed.  HJ Whitley asked him what he had been doing.  The man said in broken English, “Up early. Work hard. Hauly wood.”  The man’s was hauling wood.  With that HJ had an epiphany.  He decided to name the new town he planned to build there Hollywood.  Holly would represent his British roots and Wood his Scottish ancestry.

Gigi Whtiley handwriten diary.
The next day he road back to Hollywood (Cahuenga) and obtained a verbal contract to buy the four hundred eighty (480) acres from Mr. Hurd.  A handshake was used to finalize the deal.  A picture of the tract of land (subdivision map) that was purchase is below.  The center of the land is Highland and Hollywood Boulevard.  The square on the bottom right is where the Whitley Estate was located and the location where the first Hollywood Studio filmed on October 26, 1911.



Whitley's house on Prospect Blvd. (Hollywood Blvd)
 

After securing the land HJ visited with a friend Ivar Weid.  He told Ivar of his plans to build a town named Hollywood. Ivar Weid then told his neighbors Daeida and Harvey Wilcox of Whitley’s plan. 

Harvey Wilcox purchased his land February 1, 1887.  Below is a copy of the deed recorded with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office.  As you can see at that time there was no mention of the name Hollywood.
Los Angeles County Recorder  Wilcox Deed 1887

Many people have been confused by an advertisement printed by the Los Angeles Litho Company which was produced at a later date and not filed with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office.  It was added to a pamphlet given away by the bank that Daeida Wilcox second husband owned. It is not what a deed or subdivision map looks like. You can see the deed above or check it out for yourself at the Los Angeles County Recorders Office. 

Over the years I have heard a variety of stories of how Daeida Wilcox named the town.  I would like to share them with you. 

Here is a story I received in an email from one of Harvey Henderson’s relatives:

From:                              RICHARD WARREN WELCH

Sent:                               Friday, February 08, 2013 2:53 PM    

Subject:                          Founding of Hollywood 

Hi. Sorry for not getting back to you, but this has been a crazy week and I fear that things will get crazier next week, so I'll try to answer a couple of your questions now before I get buried. The story is that Daieida was on a train either returning home to Hicksville, Ohio or coming back to California after visiting relatives and she supposedly met a woman from Scotland who mentioned the name "Hollywood" as her supposed home. That's doubtful because the Scottish name would not be Hollywood, but Holywood, which is a village in Dumfriesshires and even if it was the name of a home, even that would probably have been called Holywood. Holly grows wild in Scotland, but I have serious doubts that holly wood would be considered the proper name for a home or a village.  

Daieida Wilcox naming Hollywood

Above is another story that comes from a book named Hollywood from 1936. That might be why the Hollywood Bowl had a sign with holly berries on it.
 

Another claim is that Daeida happened to meet a stranger on a train who lived in an Illinois estate called ‘Hollywood,’ and that was where she got the idea for the name.
The Hollywood subdivision dates back to 1893.  Samuel Gross, who marketed lots to Columbian Exposition visitors, developed it. 
The
original subdivision was in the area south of Washington Avenue.  It appears that the date from this encounter was a little late for Daeida to have used in 1887.The tract north of Washington was owned by Edith Rockefeller McCormick, a gift from her father, John D. Rockefeller, upon her marriage to Harold F. McCormick. 

A new story has come to light. It was the name given by the wife of founder Horace H. Wilcox who named it after the "Mass of the Holy Wood of the Cross" said by Father Junipero Serra near the site.  Los Angeles County Place Names Meanings & Origins

Below is a disclaimer written in the front of the book "Hollywood History" by Edwin O Palmer, Edwin O Palmer Publisher 1936. Unfornately much of his misinformation was counted as a reliable source by authors who published in the 1950's onward.

PEdwin O. Palmer Disclaimer

The following letter addresses issues that HJ Whitley had with Doctor Palmer an employee of Mrs. Wilcox. He was concerned that history was being incorrectly recorded.

The truth is, H J Whitley named Hollywood in 1886.  

Comments (8)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hobart really named Hollywood AND DEVELOPED THE CITY. He really is the Father of Hollywood.

Tom
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hope for the best

Rogers Komagum
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the article was compelling and had the right information. as a student of film in Uganda, Kampala i had hoped though to get the information about how Hollywood got to be formed from my learning in the Nickelodeon era.

Rogers Komagum
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Love the stories, love your book! And you love Hollywood History! I can't imagine how long it took for you to gather up this much information and then put it into proper order. I am a tour guide in Las Vegas, and one of our most popular tours is...

Love the stories, love your book! And you love Hollywood History! I can't imagine how long it took for you to gather up this much information and then put it into proper order. I am a tour guide in Las Vegas, and one of our most popular tours is a day trip from Las Vegas to Hollywood. As you already know, people from all over the world want to see Hollywood, and it fun for me, too - I get to see Hollywood through THEIR eyes. Great history in your book, thanks for taking all the time to put it together!

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Martin
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It is so interesting to learn how Hollywood was named. Guess that is why Hollywood is so big in China.

Rosie
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It was so interesting to learn how Hollywood got its name. I was so inspired that I look all around your website. It has some amazing historical information.

Rose Peters
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The Whitely Family is glad that so many people have enjoyed learning the true story of how Hollywood received its name. We hope you will share it with your friends and family. We think they will enjoy the story too.

Randy Whitley Keith
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Wonder why people always want to rewrite history? Isn't it odd how many different stories were give by the Wilcox family.

Harry Lane
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