In Memoriam: Betty Temple Miner (1926-2018)

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

A descendant of the Workman and Temple families and a major supporter of the Homestead, Betty Temple Miner died recently at age 92.  Her great-grand uncle, Jonathan Temple was the second American or European to live in Los Angeles, arriving in the sparsely populated Mexican pueblo in 1828.  His half-brother and Betty’s great-grandfather, F.P.F. Temple came to the region in 1841 and worked with Jonathan in the latter’s store, the first in the town.

F.P.F. Temple married Antonia Margarita Workman in September 1845 and their fifth child was John H. Temple, Betty’s grandfather.  John was educated at the private school established by his grandfather William Workman at the Workman House and went on to complete high school and attended a business college in Massachusetts, from where the Temples hailed.

In 1886, John married Anita Davoust, whose father was from France and whose mother was from the well-known Dominguez family locally.  The couple had a large family, including Betty’s father Robert, and owned the Homestead from 1888 to 1899.  Though John H. Temple lost the Homestead to foreclosure and moved with his family to Los Angeles, he returned to the ranch when his brother Walter bought the property in late 1917 and served as caretaker, residing in the Workman House for a period before ill health led him back to Los Angeles.

This circa 1880s settee, originally covered in green velvet, was used in the Workman House by John H. Temple and his wife Anita Davoust when they owned the Homestead from 1888 to 1899.  It was donated to the museum by their granddaughter Betty Temple Miner in 1987.

John H. Temple died in 1926, the year that Betty was born in Los Angeles.  She was raised near U.S.C. and Exposition Park and later lived in the San Gabriel Valley where she raised her family.  She was in Arcadia, a couple of blocks from Temple City, founded by her great-uncle Walter, when the Homestead opened.  In recent years, Betty lived in St. George, Utah, but continued to support the museum and donate artifacts to it from time to time.

Over the years, Betty gave several objects to the Homestead, including an ornately decorated settee that was owned by her grandparents and used in the Workman House during the late 1880s and 1890s.  This piece of furniture is frequently exhibited in the house, especially during the Christmas holidays when it is a major part of a display highlighting late 19th century holiday celebrations.

Another notable artifact donated by Betty is an original cattle brand belonging to her great-grandfather, F.P.F. Temple.  This is a rare mid-19th century object dealing with the cattle ranching era of our region. The brand is often displayed as part of our interpretation of that period, the heyday of which was through the mid-1860s before the dual devastation of flood and drought curtailed the cattle industry.

This is an original mid-19th century cattle brand of F.P.F. Temple’s donated by Mrs. Miner in 2005.

A third object of interest is a Masonic ring, also from F.P.F. Temple, who was a major figure in local fraternal circles, including the Free and Accepted Masons, the Royal Arch Masons, the Knights Templar, and the Knights of Pythias.  After F.P.F.’s death in 1880, the ring was cut from his finger and, as was traditionally, presented to his widow, Antonia Margarita Workman.  An inscription on the inside in Latin reads “VIRTUS JUNXIT MORS NON SEPARABIT” which translates as “WHOM VIRTUE UNITES, DEATH WILL NOT SEPARATE.”

All of these artifacts passed down to John H. Temple, who was also the first historian of the family.  After his death, these and other pieces remained in the family’s home in the Florence district of south Los Angeles until Betty’s aunt Edith Temple Stanton died in the early 1980s.  She and her lone cousin, F.P.F. Temple III, inherited the home and much of its contents and both donated furniture and other objects to the Homestead over the years.

A view of the brand’s letter “P” standing from F.P.F.’s given name of Pliny.

A couple of years ago, her daughter Marilyn Gillespie brought to the Homestead a large trove of artifacts that Betty inherited, including the wedding dress of Anita Davoust Temple, which had been torn by her into many pieces and later painstakingly reassembled and recreated by Betty.  There were also many other clothing items, household artifacts and others in that donation, which was covered here in a post.

These donations not only after of great interest to us because they are directly associated with the Temple family, the Workman House and the Homestead, but because they can represent broader topics in our region’s history, including the ranching period, fraternal orders and social life, and interior decoration and furnishings from the late Victorian period.

This 2010 donation by Mrs. Miner is a Masonic ring owned by F.P.F. Temple.

We are grateful to Betty for all that she had done in her support for the Homestead, including the donation of historic Temple family artifacts that will help us interpret the history of the family, the site and the region for many years to come.

Leave a Reply