by Paul R. Spitzzeri
The second of three Homestead artifacts I took with me to last week’s ABC7 early-morning segment “In the Neighborhood” focusing on La Puente and hosted by area native Sid Garcia is a remarkable hand-colored map by assistant county surveyor Lothar Seebold of the “Puente Valley” from June 1870.
This seemed a good tie-in with the first artifact, discussed in yesterday’s post, which was an 1842 amendment to the grant to the Rancho La Puente and giving William Workman all the rights to the ranch as if he was an official owner. That document reflects the beginning of the Workman family’s tenure at La Puente, while this map was drawn to make provisions for what would was to come after.
Notably, the amendment document made reference to dividing the ranch with John Rowland, the official grantee, and the two men presumably had an informal way of determining which portions of La Puente they were controlling. We can assume they looked at the content of the hilly sections as well as the flat portions based on what value each had for grazing animals or for agriculture.
In fall 1852, as required by an act of Congress from the spring of the prior year, Rowland and Workman filed a land claim for La Puente. Posts this fall will detail the process, but it took the two men fifteen years to get their patent, two years sooner than average for the more than 800 claims filed in California.
Patent in hand, the pair immediately hired a surveyor to draw up La Puente with a formal division. This work was done later in 1867 and completed the following spring. Rowland was 77 years old and Workman 68 when the partition of the ranch was made and they were, naturally, also thinking of their heirs when they divided La Puente.
Yet, Workman went a step further two years later, in 1870, when he had this map of “Puente Valley” created, covering a portion of his half-share comprising 24,395 acres. The reason appears to have been for the provision of bequests of land to members of his family and to his long-time ranch foreman and tutor at the private school Workman had at his home.
This latter was Frederick Lambourn (1837-1914), a native of England who migrated with his family to Illinois when he was in his early teens. Lambourn came to Los Angeles in 1859 and settled in El Monte. The next year he was hired to teach at the Workman House school and later became foreman of Workman’s half of La Puente.
By 1874, he and William Turner, operator of the Workman Mill, teamed up to open a general store at the mill, where, that June, a robbery turned violent with Turner badly hurt and his wife shot and injured, leading to the miscarriage of a child she was carrying. Lambourn played a crucial role in the lynching of the suspect, Jesús Romo, and the following year was elected to the California Assembly (name recognition and an implicit approval of his role, perhaps?)
Turner and Lambourn went on to open a wholesale grocery business in Los Angeles that proved to be very successful for many years. Notably, Lambourn was married to Georgia Morrison in the late 1870s and the couple had a few children, but, a recent visitor to the Homestead revealed that Lambourn had a previous relationship and children with María Claudia Duarte, a woman from the La Puente area. There’ll be a post on that later, but, not surprisingly, his 40-acre plot, as shown on this map and also depicted on the recorded deed in the county archives, was located where Duarte and her children by Lambourn later lived as he left this property to them.
Two 500-acre parcels were set aside, north of Valley Boulevard, and a short distance northwest of the Workman Homestead, for two of Workman’s grandsons through his daughter Antonia Margarita Workman and her husband, F.P.F. Temple, Workman’s business partner in banking and other endeavors.
The eldest grandchild, Thomas W. Temple (1846-1892), was being groomed to be a businessman to assist his father. Not quite 24 when the map was made, Thomas was a partner at a Los Angeles tin manufacturing firm, but would soon be hired as a cashier at the bank owned by his father and grandfather (who, when the map was made, were partners with Los Angeles merchant, Isaias W. Hellman, but, early in 1871, he bought them out, forming Farmers and Merchants Bank, while Temple and Workman opened their own institution later that year.)
A fascinating detail on the lower right corner of Thomas’ tract is the word “Ruin,” which refers to remnants of adobe buildings from the Mission San Gabriel granary, used before Rowland and Workman received the rancho in 1842. This would be just north of Valley Boulevard and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks just north of the Homestead, probably very close to today’s Industry Sheriff’s Station.
The third grandchild, William W. Temple (1851-1917) was only 19 years old, but was attending Santa Clara College near San Jose, after which he went to Harvard Law School and then studied at the Inns of Court in London. William was preparing to assist his father in a legal capacity, much as Thomas was being readied for a business association.
Finally, there was a 500-acre tract established for Workman’s son, José Manuel (1833-1901). In fact, the creation of the map may have largely been for this purpose, because José, commonly called Joseph or Joe, had just returned to the area after years away from home. Although Joseph came to Los Angeles with his family in late 1841, he was soon sent to Baltimore to live with his father’s sister, Agnes Workman Vickers, presumably for the opportunity for a better education.
Joseph was in Baltimore for only a few years (during which time he ran away at least once, according to an ad taken out by his aunt for his return) when Agnes Vickers died in 1848. It appears he then went to Missouri to live with his uncle David Workman and family. In 1854, when David brought his wife and three sons to California and, specifically, La Puente, it seems that Joseph came with them. At 21, however, Joseph was sent to work on ranches in and near the San Joaquin Valley where his father had cattle as part of Gold Rush-era trade.
After more than 15 years, Joseph married Josephine Belt of Stockton and the couple came south and took up residence on the tract set aside by William Workman. The first of their seven children was born in 1870 and Joseph engaged in farming and sheep raising on what later was expanded from 500 to over 800 acres. The family lived on the ranch until 1881 when they moved to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, developed by Joseph’s cousin, William H. Workman (the two lived next door to one another.)
Joseph’s tract is situated along the east bank of the San Gabriel River and the south bank of Walnut Creek as the latter empties into the former. His home is shown on the north-center portion of the tract near where portions of City of Industry and the unincorporated community of Bassett are situated. The latter name is from O. T. Bassett, an El Paso businessman who acquired Joseph Workman’s ranch from a bank that foreclosed on the property in 1895.
Meanwhile, neither of the Temple grandsons ever took possession of their 500-acre parcels. Within five years of the completion of the map, an economic panic erupted in California in late August 1875 due to the collapse of a bubble involving silver mine stocks in companies operating at Virginia City, Nevada, near modern Reno. The news hit Los Angeles and sent depositors of the Temple and Workman bank rushing to withdraw money from their accounts, but the bank could not sustain the run.
A loan from Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin, whose sale of massive amounts of Virginia City silver mine stocks helped precipitate the disaster and who was investing in greater Los Angeles real estate starting in spring 1875 with his purchase of Rancho Santa Anita, did not stabilize the situation. The Temple and Workman bank failed early in 1876 with Thomas and William Temple’s tracts pledged as collateral for the Baldwin loan.
Joseph Workman’s land was not part of the Baldwin deal, though it took him three years and some plotting to get his father to release the deed to the 814-acre tract so he could record it. That story will be told another time, but Joseph was able to retain ownership of his land for not quite twenty more years.
A last item of note on the map is the indication of the Workman House, which even has the H-shape of the recently remodeled structure. In fact, it appears that it was in 1870 that the renovation of the house, with new brick corners and a second floor added to the early 1840s adobe core, was completed. Nearby is a very small marking that appears to be a cross atop a square—this is probably an indicator of St. Nicholas’ Chapel, a Gothic Revival brick structure in El Campo Santo cemetery, east of the Workman House, and which was about a decade old by the time the map was made.
This great map is a rare original document from the Workman family and Rancho La Puente and came at a turning point for the family and greater Los Angeles. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the third artifact taken to the “In the Neighborhood” interview, though it did not “make the cut” for inclusion in the lightning fast interview!