Biographical / Historical
William I. (W.I.) Foley was born in San Francisco in 1861, son of 49er Francis Foley. He attended Saint Ignatius Jesuit College
in San Francisco, and then earned his law degree from Columbia University in New York. He practiced law first in San Francisco,
then Seattle, and eventually opened his first Southern California office in Pomona in 1884. In 1887 he opened an office in
Los Angeles, and there met future Governor Henry Tifft Gage. When Gage was elected Governor in 1899, Foley accompanied him
to Sacramento as his private secretary. Gage offered him a judgeship on the state Supreme Court, which he declined, but he
did eventually serve as Attorney for the State Board of Health, in which position he drafted many acts which would be included
in the state's health laws. Foley and Gage would later open a law practice together in Los Angeles, with offices in the Central
In 1889, Foley married Sara Dolores Sepulveda, daughter of Jose Dolores de Jesus Sepulveda and Maria Antonia Lugo. The couple
had four children, Zoraya Filema, Rupert, Elsa Zelinda, and Viola. In 1908, Foley built a family home at 751 South Catalina
Street, designed by architect B. Cooper Corbett.
Foley was also an amateur poet, and collaborated on an opera with Mario Hediger (a copy of the libretto can be found in the
collection). The two also composed some patriotic songs during World War I. Foley's daughter Elsa Zelinda, who made her career
in music as a coloratura soprano, also collaborated with Hediger on a patriotic World War I song.
Sara died tragically in a street car accident in 1906; Foley died in Los Angeles in 1921.
Scope and Contents
This series contains correspondence, photographs, clippings, manuscripts, and legal documents. Of particular note are the
letters from Foley to his future wife, Sara Dolores Sepulveda, which are in Spanish; Foley's manuscripts of poetry; deeds
to various mining claims in which he was involved; and letters to Commodore James Barry, who was a personal friend.
The series is arranged chronologically.