The Wiley Homestead in South Wellfleet

South of the Barker/Arey homestead in South Wellfleet, the David Wileys established their home.  Some current Barker family members have knowledge of this area, and there are a number of deeds that describe the land that the Wiley family assembled during the nineteenth century.

The original David Wiley who settled there was born in 1777. Unfortunately, the genealogical records for Wellfleet do not note his parents – at least, those I have found so far. Someone else was looking for this same information when he or she posted an inquiry in the Cape Cod Genealogical Society’s publication in the 1970s. I wonder if they found out.

There were Wileys in Wellfleet from its earliest days. In 1724, Moses Wiley was one of a group of Wellfleet citizens who objected to the local minister when Wellfleet was having its ecclesiastical difficulties. Another Moses Wiley served on the Wellfleet Committee of Correspondence in 1777.

On January 19, 1797, David Wiley married Ruth Arey, daughter of the “first” Reuben Arey. Ruth was born in 1780. There is no known record that determines if her father gave the young Wiley couple the land they settled on – as her father had for his son, Reuben, and as the second Reuben did for his son Asa Packard Arey, which became the Barker homestead. I’ve already written about Ruth Arey– her second husband was Major John Witherell who lived just to the north. Ruth and David Wiley’s children were:

  • Samuel Arey Wiley (1798)
  • Temperance Lewis Wiley (1799) who married Lemuel Newcomb
  • Lydia Wiley (1800) who married Ezra Goodspeed and settled on what became “Old Wharf Road”
  • David Wiley (1804) whose life is discussed below
  • Ruth Wiley (1807) who married Elisha Ward Smith whose mother was a Stubbs
  • Phebe Wiley (1809) who married Richard Stubbs and lived in South Wellfleet.

There is a document in the Barnstable County deeds database detailing a legal suit David Wiley’s neighbor, Whitfield Witherell, brought against him in 1811. Whitfield Witherell was John Witherell’s brother. Mr. Wiley owed Mr. Witherell $70.32. A committee was appointed to determine the value of Mr. Wiley’s property, and then the debt was satisfied. Wellfleet residents Benjamin Brown, Moses Wiley and Isaac Smith served on the committee. Reuben Arey signed a separate part of the document to indicate he has no claim on this property – which led me to believe he once did have an interest, and may have transferred it when the Wileys married.

David Wiley (Senior) died sometime before 1822, just as his son David was reaching maturity. We do not have a specific date for his death, but we do have a record of Ruth Arey Wiley‘s marriage to Major John WItherell in 1822. David Wiley, Jr. married Thankful Ward Young in 1826, and lived a long life in South Wellfleet as one of its leading citizens.

The younger David Wiley was one of the founders of the Second Congregational Church, and was still living when the church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1883. In 1861, he served on a Wellfleet Committee that surveyed for the coming of the Cape Cod Railroad. In 1870 he served on another committee that determined how Wellfleet would implement a new state regulation on truancy.

David Wiley and Thankful Young had eight children:

  • Henrietta (1829) — married Jesse Higgins Wiley
  • Harriet (1831) – married and settled in Vermont
  • Lorietta (1833) – married Dean Bangs Nickerson
  • Warren Franklin — whom I write about further
  • Levi (1838) – died in New Orleans in 1863
  • Daniel (1841) – married Abigail Higgins
  • Russell Davis (1843) – lived until 1920
  • Phebe (1845) – never married; lived until 1936.

David Wiley lived his entire life in South Wellfleet at the family homestead, just south of the Barker’s. I found him listed in the 1860 Federal Agricultural census with details about his farm’s production, a topic I will write about separately. He expanded his land holdings in the 1830s when he purchased land from John Witherell and from Ruth Witherell, David’s mother, as she settled Major John Witherell’s estate. The Barker family called a small point of land pushing out into Loagy Bay “Wiley Point.”

In 1862, David Wiley and Ephraim Stubbs purchased from Robert Y. Paine one half of Mill-Hill – the small island in Loagy Bay which had a water mill at one point. Remnants of the cartway bridge, made of stone, are still there. This was located adjacent to Mr. Wiley’s farm.

Thankful Wiley died in 1867. In 1868, when he was 64, David Wiley remarried to Mary Foster Newcomb.

In 1879, David Wiley was one of four Wellfleet men who were supposed to decide where the South Wellfleet school would be located in the south district. The group could not agree; one account mentions that Wiley could not decide to close the local school and upset his neighbors. As a result, the Pond Hill School was closed for some time. Eventually, a second committee decided to move the schoolhouse to the north side of Blackfish Creek. Of course, all of this disruption was the result of the mackerel fishing diminishing, and of South Wellfleet’s population moving away.

One of David Wiley’s sons, Daniel, was a veteran of the Civil War and well-known as a tug boat commander. He participated in the effort to raise the Battleship Maine. His obituary mentions his “towering physique” and that he went off to sea at age 17, as his father had before him.

Warren Wiley was also a sea captain, commanding steamers that brought tropical fruit to Boston. One Barnstable Patriot article mentions “the new steamer Lorenzo D. Baker” and Captain Wiley who brought the then largest cargo of tropical fruit to Boston: 88 boxes of oranges and 14,000 bunches of bananas.

Warren Wiley married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Paine on January 1, 1861. She was the daughter of Isaac Paine and Catherine Rider, and a sister to Alvin Paine, who became the proprietor of the South Wellfleet General Store, handing it down to his son, Isaac Paine (see my blog posting of August 2012).

Warren and Lizzie’s daughter, Lillian (Lily) Grey Wiley, later married Charles F. Cole, whose memory piece has been so useful to me in working on South Wellfleet history. In that document, I learned about the movement of the Wiley house to the other side of Blackfish Creek. Much to my delight, when I joined a walking tour of Paine Hollow Houses in June 2013, there was the Wiley house! I’m posting a photo here — see below.

There are two references to the Wiley homestead area as “Monkey Neck” in South Wellfleet. One is in the Cole memory piece; Charles Cole refers to the South Wellfleet school location as Monkey Neck. On the walking tour, the guide referred to the area from which the Wiley house was moved as Monkey Neck. As late as 1939, when the South Wellfleet Neighborhood Association prepared their descriptive booklet of South Wellfleet, the area was designated as Monkey Neck on their map.

The family notes that the house was moved in 1866 when Lily was three years old. We don’t know how it was moved across the Creek — on the mudflats? Or would they have used the road? Today’s Barker family members have identified the site, since there are one or two cellar holes, and lilacs growing nearby, a sure sign of an old house.

It’s interesting that the Barkers note that there may be two cellar-holes.  David Wiley died in 1887. In 1888, Warren F. Wiley, who was the executor of his father’s estate, ran an advertisement in the Barnstable Patriot for “the estate of Captain David Wiley, comprising Garden, Meadow, Pasturage, Cranberry Land, House, Barn, Carriage house, etc.”  With one house moved, there must have been another one remaining that David Wiley and his second wife lived in.

The Wiley house that was moved across Blackfish Creek

The Wiley house that was moved across Blackfish Creek

While the Wiley home may be confusing, the Wiley land disposition is much clearer. In 1890, David Wiley’s youngest children, Russell D. Wiley and Phebe Wiley, sold all of his land holdings – the farm, the one half of Mill Hill, a piece of the cedar swamp, and more – to George Baker who was accumulating Wellfleet property during this time. Shortly thereafter, in 1891, Mr. Baker sold the land now called “the estate of David Wiley” – about eleven acres – to Miles Merrill, who had a cottage lots plan drawn up, adding this” Old Wharf area” to the other two cottage-lots plans on the Old Wharf Point and Prospect Hill.


U.S. Federal Census collection at

David Kew’s Cape Cod History site:

Barnstable Patriot (various) online  archive:

Barnstable County Deeds available at

Barker Family interview.



Family history researcher living in New York City.
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