The Photographic Legacy of DeLos D. Wilbur

by Mike McDaniel and Wes Clark

In Summer 2011 Mike McDaniel came across an interesting and important collection of early Burbank photographic history, loose pages from the scrapbook of DeLos D. Wilbur, an early resident. The pages are in the possession of Bob Reichelderfer, a collector friend of Mike's.

Bob told Mike that he had some early Burbank images which he purchased at a militaria show in Bellflower, CA. Bob was kind enough to lend the material to Mike for scanning and inclusion here in Burbankia.

DeLos Dickson Wilbur was born on March 31, 1893 in Illinois, the son of Andrew L. and Hattie C. Wilbur. He had a younger brother named DeWitt Wilbur, born in 1896. In 1900 the family was still in Warren, Lake Co., Illinois, but sometime between then and 1910 they moved to Burbank and took up residence in a house at 810 East Angeleno Street.

DeLos graduated from Burbank High School on June 16, 1911. (He appears in a BHS grouping from 1911 here.) At some point he became a rural mail route carrier in town; it is unclear what his route was, but it appeared to have taken him out of town.

He registered for the draft in 1917 and went to Washington state for training. He was assigned to the 185th Aero Squadron in France, working as an aeroplane mechanic. He returned to Burbank after the war (he is named in the 1944 Burbank Community Book as a World War I veteran), and resumed work as a mail carrier in Burbank.

At some point he seems to have struck a friendship with members of the Luttge family, a prominent family in Burbank who owned a grocery store on San Fernando Road. In DeLos' photos they are shown in front of their store in Burbank and at some beach.

He appears to have married around 1921; he and his wife Lucile subsequently had three kids, Doris (b. 1919), Wesley (b. 1921) and Lynn (b. 1926). The Wilbur family moved to Oceanside, CA between 1938 and 1940 (he and his wife living with their daughter Doris), where he is listed on the voter registry. Little is known past that. He died in August 1978, aged 85. He was mentioned in an Oceanside, CA paper as being a member of a local photo club and gave a slide presentation in 1956.

The following is from Linda Mustion (thanks!): Delos Dickson Wilbur (March 31, 1893, Illinois - Aug 6 1978, San Bernardino Co., CA) and spouse Lucile Mamie Hall Wilbur (Jan 8 1893 - Mar 28, 1945), buried in the Hillside Memorial Park, Redlands, San Bernardino Co., CA. Daughter Doris E. Wilbur Wells (Oct 5, 1918 - Oct 12 2005), same cemetery. Married to Denver Lowell Wells (Sep 22 1913, OH - Aug 27 1981). More information about the Wilbur family here.

While some of these images are marked and described, sadly, not all of them are, and there are people who appear in these images whom we do not know. (This is a common thing in old scrapbooks - always caption your work!) Also, it appears that the collection of loose pages is just a small part of the original scrapbook; perhaps there are more pages with photos out there somewhere!

I think you'll agree with us that these photographs by this enthusiastic amateur capture a charmingly rural Burbank that has long since vanished and been replaced by the thoroughly modern city we know now. Some of the photos of San Fernando Road show buildings and locations that are, to our knowledge, shown in no other known existing photographs. The great majority of the images are from early 1917, an era when the motorcar was beginning to replace the horse and buggy.

We are especially pleased to be able to present these images on the centennial of the incorporation of Burbank!

(Related to DeLos Wilbur? Drop us a line...)

The Burbank Photographs

DeLos Wilbur's Burbank High School Diploma
DeLos Wilbur's registration card, 1917
Andrew L. Wilbur in buggy on 6th St., 1914
"A Serious Occasion" (DeLos Wilbur self-portrait)
DeLos Wilbur portrait detail
236 E. Grinnell (We don't know why this address is significant to DeLos Wilbur, home no longer there)
Another shot of 236 E. Grinnell
825 Santa Anita in 1917. (DeLos Wilbur home in 1926, according to a voter registry.)
825 Santa Anita now
Andrew L. Wilbur and friend, March 1917
Andrew and Hattie Wilbur
Andrew L. and Hattie Wilbur, January 17, 1917
Angeleno and San Fernando Road
"A Picture of Our Valley" (1917)
Nice car on what is probably Verdugo, (150 E. Verdugo now - note same house with distinctive roof)
"Dinner time on the Route"
DeLos Wilbur
The Wilbur Home at 810 E. Angeleno
The Wilbur Home at 810 E. Angeleno, now
In front of the Real Estate Office, San Fernando Rd.
San Fernando Rd, showing Farmers and Merchants Bank
Detail showing the Rose Theatre
San Fernando Rd. looking in the other direction
Home with interesting roofing
"Honeysuckle climbs"
Luther Burbank grammar school (Magnolia and 3rd), Jan 17, 1917
Swimming with the Luttges (DeLos on right)
Luttges swimming
Luttge Brothers - 1
Luttge Brothers - 2
Luttge Brothers - 3
"Millionaire Row" (Angeleno and 9th)
"Millionaire Row" now
San Fernando Road, Moreland is coming!
Providencia Methodist Episcopal Church (Angeleno Ave. and San Fernando Rd.)
Olive Ave. from Sunset Canyon
"Panorama of Our Town"
Peaches - detail
Post Office on San Fernando Rd.
Presbyterian Church, Jan. 7 1917, 8:30 AM
Shooting from the Verdugo mountainside
Shot from the Verdugos (Burbank High at left)
Street sweeper on San Fernando Road
Threesome and a car (Father Andrew and Mother Hattie, perhaps?)
Threesome and a car
Burbank Farm House - 1
Burbank Farm House - 2
Unknown Burbank home with people
Unknown woman (DeLos' wife Lucile?)
Wilbur's WWI Dog Tag
DeLos Wilbur's Army Pass
Panorama, 1920
Picnic in the Burbank hills (Lucile, Doris and Wesley, perhaps?)
John Muir Junior High School program, 1933 - 1
John Muir Junior High School program, 1933 - 2 (Note class song by Doris Wilbur)
John Muir Junior High School program, 1933 - 3
John Muir Junior High School program, 1933 - 4
Whole scrapbook page

Photographs From Places Other Than Burbank

"A Sunny Spot in Tuna Canyon"
"A Tuna Canyon Scene"
"Chas. Saddler's Wreck at Roscoe"
Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena
Corner grocery, Hansen Heights
Hansen Heights from Tom Shaw's
"Hitting the Trail in Tuna Canyon"
Mission San Fernando
"The Sunland Road"

Update: In 2014 Mike and I received an email from Carolyn Erickson, a granddaughter of DeLos Wilbur! Here's what she has to add:

Hello Mike and Wes:

I can help correct a bit of the information you have: 

First of all, Grandpa DeLos (pronounced "DeeLoss") was married to Lucile Hall in 1917 -  and then got drafted.  He worked as a mechanic on the planes in France; he was not a flyer.  He was still in France when Doris was born in 1918.  Wesley was born in 1920 and Lynn in 1925.  The family moved from Burbank to Oceanside about 1932 and then moved to Redlands in 1942.  DeLos lived in Yucaipa from approximately 1950 - 1965 and then moved back to Redlands where he died in 1978.  He never lived in Salinas.  

The house with the funny (fake thatch) roof belonged to the Halls.  My father believes it was on Lime Street in Monrovia.

The photo with a car, woman and two children are, indeed, Lucile Hall Wilbur with Doris and Wesley.  It must have been taken in 1923 or 1924.

Many thanks for preserving grandpa's photos.  He took many pictures throughout his lifetime, and lately we have been working to put them in a format where we can preserve them. Apparently he did much of the film developing himself back in the early days, but now those old glass slides are hard to work with!  Grandpa was a dear, sweet man.

Again, thank you for your help.
Carolyn Erickson

The sad story of DeLos' brother DeWitt is here.

Return to Burbankia