Family:Widney, Robert McClay (1838-1929)

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Robert McClay3 Widney (Wilson2, John1, JamesA), son of Wilson2 and Arabella (MacClay) Widney, was born 23 Dec 1838, Washington, OH, and died 14 Nov 1929.

He married, 11 Nov 1868, San Francisco, CA, Mary D. Barnes, daughter of Alexander West and Sarah Stone (Johnston) Barnes. She was born May 1843, IL, and died 12 Jan 1924, Los Angeles, CA.

His obituary, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov 1929, p. A1:

"Council Expresses Regret for Pioneer's Death; Funeral to be This Afternoon.
"Final rites for Judge R. M. Widney will be conducted this afternoon from the Bresee Brothers chapel with pallbearers chosen from the immediate family and with the simple funeral service read by a brother of the aged pioneer, Dr. J. P. Widney. Judge Widney, who was 91 years of age, died Saturday after a month's illness.
"The pallbearers at the service will be J. H. Scarborough, Jr., Forrest Bower, Erwin Widney, Wilson Widny, S. R. McClay and James Neikle.
"Yesterday the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution honoring the memory of Judge Widney, upon the montion of Councilman Randell. The resolution said:
"'Whereas teh City Council learns with much regret of the passing of Judge Robert M. Widney, a pioneer who was responsible for the organization of many of the outstanding institutions of Southern California, notably, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the University of California, the First Methodist Episcopal Church of the city of Los Angeles and others.
"'Therefore, be it resolved. That the City Council of Los Angeles extend the deepest sympathy to the family of Judge Widney and that the clerk of the Council be instructed to present an engrossed copy of this resolution to the family of Judge Widney.'
"Judge Widney was admitted to the bar of California in 1868, and shortly after, came to Los Anglese where he was a practicing attorney until the time of his illness, and was credited with taking a leading part in many of the important civic enterprises in the early days of the city."

Sixty Years in Southern California, 1853-1913, containing the reminiscences of Harris Newmark.

CHAPTER XXV, page 370:

"Both Judge Robert Maclay Widney and Dr. Joseph P. Widney, the surgeon, took up their residence in Los Angeles in 1868. R. M. Widney set out from Ohio about 1855 and, having spent two years in exploring the Rockies, worked for a while in the Sacramento Valley, where he chopped wood for a living, and finally reached Los Angeles with a small trunk and about a hundred dollars in cash. Here he opened a law and real-estate office and started printing the Real Estate Advertiser. Dr. Widney crossed the Continent in 1862, spent two years as surgeon in the United States Army in Arizona, after which he proceeded to Los Angeles and soon became one of the charter members of the Los Angeles Medical Society, exerting himself in particular to extend Southern California's climatic fame.
"Robert Maclay Widney, second son, born 23rd December 1838 in Miami Co, Ohio. He studied in the public schools of his native town, and at the age of sixteen left Ohio and for two years, with axe, knapsack and rifle, led an adventurous life in the Rocky mountains and Great Plains.
"In 1857 he crossed over the mountains to Santa Clara, California where, in 1858, he entered the University of the Pacific, graduating from that institution in 1862 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, the degree of Master of Arts being conferred upon him a few years later. Immediately upon graduation he was elected Professor of Mathematics in the University of the Pacific.
"[We have a Catalog/Directory for University of the Pacific that lists Robert Widney's Master of Arts degree as being conferred "at last commencement, June 7, 1883."]
"In 1865 he was admitted to the practice of law. Two years later he moved to Los Angeles, Southern California, then a small town with but little communication with the outside world. Perceiving the great natural beauty and advantages of the place, Mr. Widney settled there and bent his energies to the development of that which is now conceded to be the "Garden Spot" of America.
"He immediately became associated with schemes for improvement, being elected the President of the first Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. He called the first meeting for the establishment of the Methodist Episcopal Church in that place, and ever since has been closely associated with its growth.
"He contributed largely to the endowment of the University of Southern California, and was elected President of the Board of Directors, also President of the annual Council. In 1871 he was appointed Judge of the 17th Judicial District, and in 1876 he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States.
"In 1888 Judge Widney visited Alaska, and in the same year his Alma Mater conferred upon him the degree of LL.D.
"At this writing [1889] he is President of the University Bank of Los Angeles, and has the management of the endowment of the University of Southern California with its numerous branches, a fund reaching to four million dollars.
"Besides being the leading mover in other enterprises, Judge Widney is president of the Hesperia Land and Water Company, of the largest corporations in Southern California. In 1889 he was appointed by the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, on the Commission of the Fourteen, to frame the constitution for the Quadrennial Conference of the church.
"In 1881 Mr. Widney published a book of 280 pages on the Plan of Creation, besides which he has constantly written articles for leading periodicals on the resources and future of Southern California, also on the social and political issues of the day.
"On the 11th of November, 1868, Judge Widney married Mary Barnes, of Carthage, Illinois. They have children:
Mary Helen born 1869
Robert Johnson born 1871
Martha Frances born 1874
Joseph Wilson born 1879 died 1884
Arthur Barnes born 1884"

Children of Robert McClay3 and Mary (Barnes) Widney:

i. Mary Helen Louise4 Widney, b. 13 Sep 1869, Los Angeles, CA; d. 1926; m. ca. 1893, Harry Walcott Watson.
ii. Robert Johnston Widney, b. 12 Dec 1871, Los Angeles, CA; d. 2 Jun 1917, NY; m.(1) 28 Oct 1891, Los Angeles, CA, Clara Louise Carran; m.(2) ca. 1901, Elizabeth "Bessie" Hupp; m.(3) before 1914, Frances Vannon Lyons.
iii. Martha Frances Widney, b. 17 Jan 1874, Los Angeles, CA; d. 3 Jul 1971, Los Angeles, CA; m. 17 Nov 1895, Los Angeles, CA, Andrew Boyle Workman.
iv. Joseph Wilson Widney, b. 25 Mar 1879, Los Angeles, CA; d. 24 Nov 1884, Los Angeles, CA.
v. Arthur Barnes Widney, b. 16 Jan 1884, Los Angeles, CA; d. 1931, Pomona, CA; m.(1) Dora G. -----; m.(2) ca. 1923, Thekla Huntington Mertens.
Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov 1913; p. 119:
"Arthur Widney is Convicted.
"Court Sets Friday to Sentence Him.
"Los Angeles Judge, Father of the Young Man and Who Had Appeared as One of His Cousel, GivesNotice of Motion for New Trial.
"SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 18. -- Arthur B. Widney, a married man and son of Judge Robert Whitney of Los Angeles, was found guilty of having accepted the earnings of a fallen woman by a jury in the Superior Court here this afternoon. Widney, who had been out on bail, was ordered into custody, and Friday was set for his sentence. Notice of a motion for a new trial was given by Judge Widney, who had defended his son.
"Noel Murphy, a San Francisco woman was the complaining witness against Widney. She testified that she had given him more than $400 in one month here, and that she had paid four visits to him last winter in Los Angeles, each time giving him money. Telegrams were introduced to show that Widney had wired the woman from Los Angeles for money, which had been sent him by telegraph."


See his biography at, and another at West Adams Heritage Association.


702 718 Widney, Robert M. 31 M W Lawyer $4000 $2000 Ohio Male citizen over 21 -----, Mary D. 27 F W Keeps House Illinois -----, Mary H. 9/12 F W At Home California b. in Sep

Robert M. WIDNEY 41 Self M M W OH Attorney At Law PA PA Mary B. WIDNEY 37 Wife F M W IL Keeping House NC VA Mary H. WIDNEY 10 Dau F S W CA At School OH IL Robert J. WIDNEY 8 Son M S W CA At School OH IL Martha F. WIDNEY 5 Dau F S W CA OH IL Joseph W. WIDNEY 1 Son M S W CA OH IL

197 Widney, Robert M. Head W M Dec 1838 61 mar 32 Ohio Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Farmer -----, Mary D. Wife W F 57 mar 32 5ch 4liv Illinois North Caolina Virginia -----, Arthur D. Son W M Jan 1884 16 sgl California Ohio Illinois Anderson, William P. Srvt W M May 1875 25 Iowa Kentucky Kentucky Farm Labor -----, Lettie J. Srvt W F Jul 1876 23 Iowa Iowa Illinois Cook -----, Preston Brdr W M Dec 1897 2 Iowa

  • 1910, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., CA:

Mary L. Williams 59 Mary A. Williams 36 Jessie L. Fisher 27 Williamson C. Fisher 31 Robert M. Widney 70 Mary B. Widney 68 Fred Wernigk 19

  • 1910, Portland, Multnomah, OR; 16 Apr 1910, Roll T624_1288; Pg 3A; ED 187; Fam 46

Head: Robert M Widner age 70, M, Md 44 yrs, birth Ohio, Parents birth Penn, Lawyer Wife: Mary B Widner age 66, F, 5/4 Children, birth Illinois, Father NC, Mother Va Son: Arthur B Widner age 26, M, birth California, Contractor

  • 1920, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; 14 Jan 1920, Roll T625_105; Pg 7B; ED 127, Fam 181

Head: Robert M Widney age 81, M, birth Ohio, Father Ohio, Mother Pennsylvania, Farmer Wife: Mary B Widney age 76, F, birth Illinois, Father NC, Mother Illinois Son: Arthur B Widney age 35, M, birth California, Real Estate Agent Daughter-in-law: Dora G Widney age 42, F, birth New York, Father NY, Mother Mass

  • 1930, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; 10 Apr 1930, Roll 156; Pg 45A; ED 607; Family 189

Head: Arthur B Widney age 46, M, 28 at 1st Mar, birth California, Parents birth Ohio, Real Estate Wife: Thekla M Widney age 44, F, 38 at 1st Mar, birth Germany, Father Germany, Mother Alabama Son: Robert Widney age 6, M, birth California Son: Huntington Widney age 4 2/12, M, birth California Servant: Edna B Craig age 30, F, birth Illinois, Parents birth Illinois, House servant


  • Census records.

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