Happy Mother’s Day with Antonia Margarita Workman de Temple and children, ca. 1870

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

With best wishes to all of you moms out there on your day, here is a great circa 1870 photo of Antonia Margarita Workman de Temple (1830-1892) with her children and others.

In twenty-six years. from 1846 to 1872, Doña Margarita, who sits at the center surrounded by the others, gave birth to eleven children, eight of whom lived beyond childhood.  Most of them appear in this photograph, so let’s identify who is who.

temples 1869
This circa 1870 photograph shows Antonia Margarita Workman de Temple, five of her children, and others (including perhaps her brother Joseph at the top right).


The eldest, Thomas Workman Temple (1846-1892), sits to the left of his mother.  He was groomed to be a banker with the family’s bank, but, after its collapse, he farmed near El Monte, had a newspaper and real estate business in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, and then ran a Spanish-language paper, La Cronica (The Chronicle) in Los Angeles, before his death at 45 when a flu epidemic claimed his mother and grandmother Workman.

Francis Workman Temple (1848-1888) is to Doña Margarita’s right.  He was his grandfather Workman’s winemaker at the Homestead and, after the Temple and Workman bank failure and his grandfather’s suicide, Francis stayed at the Homestead and made wine during the three years before a foreclosure was instituted by “Lucky” Baldwin.  Francis then arranged to buy the ranch in 1880 and remained owner until his death, just three days shy of his 40th birthday, from tuberculosis.

Just behind his mother is John Harrison Temple (1856-1926), who went to high school and business college in Massachusetts until the bank failure.  After returning home, he owned a 130-acre walnut ranch where today’s Whittier Narrows Nature Center is in South El Monte.  After Francis’s death, and with his brother William Workman Temple (1851-1917), who is absent from the photo, out of the state, John took over the Homestead until it was lost to foreclosure in 1899.  He lived in Los Angeles with his family until younger brother Walter bought the Homestead in 1917 and John briefly served as the foreman until worsening health led him to return to Los Angeles until his death.

Over Thomas’ right shoulder and standing at the far left of the back row is Lucinda Amada Temple (1860-1928), who went to local school and Holy Names College in Oakland.  Her first marriage to Manuel Arnaz, who was from a prominent family in Ventura, ended in divorce and she married Manuel Zuñiga, who grew up near the Temples in the Old Mission area of what is now the South El Monte/Montebello area.  She and her husband lived there, where he owned a store, and for years in eastern Arizona, before returning to live with Walter, after he made his money from oil.  She lived in her own home at the western edge of the Homestead for several years until her death.

Sitting in her mother’s lap is Margarita Antonia Temple (1866-1953).  Not quite ten years old when the family bank collapsed, she was educated in Los Angeles and then married Samuel P. Rowland, a grandson of John Rowland, co-owner of Rancho La Puente.  The Rowlands lived on the ranch and in Los Angeles until Samuel’s death in 1916.  Margarita moved to the Homestead about 1923 and had a home next to her sister Lucinda.  Even though her brother Walter lost the ranch in 1932, Margarita was able to stay in her house until the Homestead was bought in 1940 by the Brown family for their El Encanto Sanitarium.  She then lived with some of her children until she died in Temple City.  She is the only Temple child, incidentally, not buried at El Campo Santo at the Homestead.

The two youngest children were Walter Paul Temple (1869-1938), who might have been in utero at the time of the photo, and Charles Parker Temple (1872-1918).  But, there are at least two or three other persons here who lived with the Temples as if they were in the family.

Seated at the far left is Julia Davis (1851-1917), who appears in several formal portraits with Mrs. Temple and with some of the children.  Julia’s father, Joseph Davis, was born to an American father and Latina mother in New Mexico, and married Venancia Peña, who was a Luiseño Indian from northern San Diego County.  Joe Davis was a Temple family employee and he is buried at El Campo Santo.  While an obituary referred to Julia was a “nurse” for Temple family and it is likely she helped take care of the younger Temples, she was clearly closer than that—otherwise she wouldn’t have been in this and other family photos.

Standing second to the left is a young woman who appears in at least two other known family photos, though she is not identified.  Because it was a common practice for some Latino families to take in others as something like members of the family and children, she was likely similar to Julia Davis in her relationship to the Temples.  Hopefully, we’ll someday find out who she was.

The man seated at the right appears to have had some form of disability, as he appears to be much shorter, while older, than the other males in the photo, but he is not identified.

The couple standing at the right in the back row are also not identified, but looking at his nose and thin even lips and then comparing these to Doña Margarita, as well as his broad forehead and straight eyebrow line, and comparing these to photos of William Workman, it is very tempting to believe this is Joseph M. Workman (1833-1901), brother of Margarita and son of William and Nicolasa.

However, there are no other known photos of Joseph, so it can’t be corroborated.  We also don’t know who the woman next to him is, though it might be Josephine Belt, who Joseph married in 1870.  Interestingly, the woman wears a veil, which could be suggestive of a wedding photo, but, then, if this was the case, why would the couple be in the back and Mrs. Temple front and center?

Another query that comes to mind is: where is F.P.F. Temple, husband and father of most of the people in the photo?  In summer 1870, F.P.F. took his only trip back east to his hometown of Reading, Massachusetts and it may be that he and his son, William, who went to Harvard Law School (and then the Inns of Court in London) to prepare to be a lawyer, were on that trip and, therefore, absent from the photo.


Then, there is the other obvious question: why was this photo taken?  Was there a special occasion, such as a birthday or was it an opportunity, with so many other family members around, to capture a rare reunion of, say, brother and sister with Margarita and Joseph (if that’s who the man at the upper right is!)


With old photographs, this is what often happens–there are more questions than answers and we can only hope that some of the latter will someday be answered.

Again, may all of you mothers out there enjoy your day!

4 thoughts

  1. We are so fortunate to have you as the museum’s director. One photo and with is comes their stories.

  2. Thank you, Ruth Ann. It’s fun putting these artifacts and their stories out there and glad that you are enjoying the posts.

  3. We were told that Julia Davis in the picture was a niece or great niece of Juan Matias Sanchez (of the Sanchez Adobe in Montebello). Sanchez’s sister Maria Josefa married a Davis and came to the Mission Vieja area with her brother. At the Adobe, we have a photo of Julia in a pink (tinted photo) dress and we have a “chocolate” cup (the type Mexican’s use for hot chocolate) that is attributed to her. I would have to check, she might be listed in the 1860 census in the Sanchez household.
    Another sister of Sanchez married a Basye, so both sisters inhabited the Mission Vieja area, as both names appear on land maps and names of Adobe’s.
    Kathleen, Docent at the Juan Matias Adobe Museum

  4. Hi Kathleen, yes, that is our understanding. Joseph Davis’ mother was a sister of Sanchez and he was married to Venancia Peña, who was a Luiseño Indian. She (shown as a servant), “Hula Ann” and two boys are shown in the Sanchez household in 1860 and they are listed as Indians (the younger boy, listed as “Alvino” was described as blind from 3 days old from a poultice (mud) applied by an Indian woman!) And, yes, Rafael Basye (listed as “Vasa” in that household on that census) was the son of a Sanchez sister, as well, and built the adobe house that Walter and Laura Temple lived in during the 1910s before oil was struck on their land.

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