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TILLEY, WESLEY HOPE (1885–1972). Wesley Hope Tilley, musician and early filmmaker, was born in Springfield, Illinois, on December 23, 1885, the son of Joseph Edgar and Millee (Davis) Tilley. After graduation from high school in Springfield, he studied music privately in St. Louis, Missouri. He and his brother Paul were among the pioneers of filmmaking in Texas. In 1910 they were producing silent movies in Houston, and in 1911 they moved to San Antonio, where they formed the Satex Film Company. They made one-reel silent films and showed them on a screen at night in front of the Alamo.

Though their attempt at filmmaking in San Antonio was successful enough, the Tilleys moved to Austin in 1913. With assets of $25,000 they reestablished the Satex Film Company and added a finishing plant for processing motion-picture film. The Satex Company was the only company manufacturing silent films south of St. Louis at that time and the first film company in the United States to make three-reel movies. But that same year the company folded because of financial difficulties, even though it had made six movies and released them nationally. Tilley later joined the Hagenbeck Circus band and toured with them for two years in Germany, after which he returned to Austin and taught music. During World War I he taught code, construction, and radio electronics for the United States Army Air Corps in Austin.

On January 31, 1920, Tilley married Helen Grist of Austin. They had one son. Tilley was director of the Ben Hur Shrine band in Austin for thirty-eight years and served as secretary-treasurer for the Federation of Musicians Local 433 in Austin from 1943 to 1964. He died on June 24, 1972, in Austin. See also FILM INDUSTRY.


Austin American-Statesman, May 25, 1941. James R. Buchanan, "A Look at the Texas Film Industry," Texas Business Review 46 (January 1972).

James R. Buchanan


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

James R. Buchanan, "TILLEY, WESLEY HOPE," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.