Wallace Libby Hardison was born Aug. 25, 1852, in Caribou, Aroostook, Maine. He'd been a successful oil man in Pennsylvania when in 1883 he came to Newhall to join his partner Lyman Stewart in the hunt for oil in Pico Canyon. They hit dusters in Pico but had great success a decade later in Ventura County — so great that their venture became the Union Oil Co. of California.
The community of Roscoe was renamed Sun Valley in 1949.
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Engine Crashes Into Auto, Kills W.L. Hardison.
Los Angeles Herald | Sunday, April 11, 1909, pg 1.
While driving his automobile across the railroad tracks at the Monte Vista road crossing, a quarter of a mile north of Roscoe station, yesterday, Wallace L. Hardison, vice president of the Columbia Oil Producing company, with offices in the Tajo building, and formerly a newspaper publisher, was struck by a Southern Pacific light engine, No. 2708, in charge of Engineer J.F. Taylor and Fireman Purcell, and killed almost instantly. The body was mangled and the motor car was reduced to a mass of twisted metal and splinters.
The two men composing the crew of the engine were the only witnesses to the accident. According to their report to the chief dispatcher for that division, the engine was running twenty miles an hour and was south bound. Because of the dense underbrush near the crossing, the crew did not see Mr. Hardison until he had driven his motor car nearly on the track. The engine was about twenty-five feet away at the time. Mr. Hardison evidently was unaware of the approach of the engine and did not realize his danger until he was directly on the track. He then attempted to swerve to one side and clear the rails but before he could do so he was struck. The engineer said he made every possible effort to stop the engine by applying the emergency brakes, but the distance was too short, and he succeeded only in diminishing the speed of the engine before the collision occurred.
The automobile was tossed to one side of the track a distance of about twenty feet. Mr. Hardison was not thrown from the car, but was found in the wreckage when the engine was backed to the scene of the accident.
When Taylor and Purcell reached the victim, Mr. Hardison was still breathing, but died within a few seconds after the arrival of the crew. The body was so tangled in the wreckage that only with the utmost difficulty was it extricated.
The glass wind shield of the automobile had been shattered and a jagged piece of glass had cut a deep gash in the forehead of the victim. The skull was fractured and both legs were crushed.
The body was left at Roscoe and the engine proceeded to Burbank, from which point the coroner was notified. The latter after ordering Pierce Bros., undertakers, to send attendants to take charge of the body, sent a deputy to the scene of the accident.
Mr. Hardison left his home in South Pasadena yesterday morning to drive to his ranch at Monte Vista. He asked Mrs. Hardison to accompany him, but owing to another engagement she could not do so. Later, Mrs. Hardison said yesterday, he telephoned to her from the garage in Pasadena and asked her if she could not arrange to make the trip, but she decided she could not. A few moments afterward she changed her plans for the day and telephoned to the garage to tell Mr. Hardison she would go with him, but he had already started.
He arrived at the ranch shortly after 9 o'clock, and after remaining there an hour entered his motor car to drive to San Fernando for some supplies for the ranch.
The brush at the intersection of the road and the railroad track is dense, and it is not possible to get a clear view of the road or track until directly on the right of way.
It is thought that because of the engine running light and not making any noise Mr. Hardison was not aware of its approach until he had driven on the track directly in front of it.
Mr. Hardison was one of the best known men in the oil industry of Southern California. He was 55 years of age and had lived in this state for nearly twenty years. His early life was passed in Pennsylvania, where after he grew to manhood, he became prominent in the business and political world, and for some time was a member of the legislature of Pennsylvania.
After coming to Los Angeles he engaged extensively in citrus fruit culture and in the oil business. He soon became wealthy and about ten years ago purchased the Los Angeles Herald, which he controlled for four years.
Mr. Hardison is survived by his wife and by one son and two daughters, children of a former marriage. The son is Guy Hardison and the daughters are Mrs. Augusta Lemon of Palo Alto and Miss Hope Hardison, who is a student at Stanford. Two brothers and three sisters are living. They are Al [sic, should be Ai] Hardison of Whittier, J. H. Hardison of Geneva, Ind., Mrs. F. W. Collins of Maine, mother of Mrs. Florence Porter of this city; Mrs. Ida Brown of Santa Paula and Mrs. James Bishop of Santa Paula. Mrs. Hardison is a talented musician, and both she and Mr. Hardison have been prominent socially.
The funeral has not been arranged, but relatives said last night the services probably would be held Wednesday or Thursday. An inquest will be held tomorrow at the undertaking establishment of Bresee Brothers.
News story courtesy of Tricia Lemon Putnam.
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Hardison Dies in Collision.
Los Angeles Times | Sunday, April 11, 1909, pg 5.
Wallace L. Hardison of South Pasadena, vice-president of the Columbia Oil Producing Company, with offices in the Tajo building, and former owner of the Los Angeles Herald, was instantly killed yesterday morning, while going in his automobile across the Southern Pacific tracks at Monte Vista road, near Roscoe, a station a few miles this side of San Fernando.
Hardison was on his way from his ranch at Monte Vista to San Fernando to purchase supplies. He was driving at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, and as he approached the tracks, did not take the precaution to reduce speed, according to the statements of the trainmen.
Heavy brush on both sides of the road prevented the engineer of a rapidly-moving light locomotive from seeing the approaching automobile, and Hardison did not see the engine. As the machine ran on the tracks the engineer applied the emergency brake, but it was too late.
Hardison, when he realized his danger, tried to turn his car to one side, but failed. The engine struck the auto squarely, and it was scattered along the track for fifty feet. The driver was carried a short distance and thrown to one side, and was dead when the engine crew reached him. His face was cut by flying glass, and his body terribly bruised. He also sustained a fracture of the skull and both legs were broken and crushed.
The engine proceeded to Burbank, where the crew notified the Coroner, who sent a deputy to Roscoe station. Bresee Bros. sent out a wagon to bring in the remains.
According to the statements of relatives, Hardison divided his time between his home in South Pasadena and his ranch at Monte Vista. Yesterday morning, he left home early and reached the ranch-house at 9 o'clock. He made up a list of supplies needed and started for San Fernando. He knew there is no regular train on the line at that hour.
The engineer stated yesterday that the locomotive was going about twenty miles an hour at the time of the accident. "The brush hid the road from view and I did not see the automobile until it was not more than twenty-five feet ahead," said he. "I should say it was going at fifteen miles an hour. I jammed on the emergency brakes and the engine came to a stop within 100 feet. The automobile was lifted on the cowcatcher and splintered. Mr. Hardison was tossed to one side and tangled up in the wreckage of the machine. When we reached him, he was dead. When he saw the engine, he made a desperate effort to avoid the collision."
Mr. Hardison was 58 years old. He made a fortune in the oil fields of Pennsylvania, and then came to Southern California. He was one of the pioneers in the oil industry in this section. He tried for oil in the Santa Paula fields and spent over $100,000 in experimenting before finding what he sought.
He became interested in a number of oil companies throughout the Southwest, and made money. He bought the Los Angeles Herald in 1900 and kept it for four years, losing most of his money in the venture. When he left the newspaper business he again took to the oil fields, and had met with some success.
Hardison had resided in South Pasadena for five years. He had remodeled his adobe house and made it a modern residence. In addition to this property his estate includes realty in Los Angeles, oil interests, a lemon ranch in Ventura county and the Monte Vista ranch.
His Peruvian mining properties were disposed of years ago, as were other mining and oil interests.
He leaves a widow, and a son, Guy L. Hardison, by a former marriage. An inquest will be held at the Bresee morgue tomorrow afternoon at which the engineer and fireman, the only witnesses of the accident, will be present.
News story courtesy of Tricia Lemon Putnam.