by Paul R. Spitzzeri
After having six sons, Antonia Margarita Workman and F.P.F. Temple welcomed their seventh child and first daughter, Lucinda, on this day in 1860. Named for her father’s mother, Lucinda was so welcomed, family lore has it, that the Lady Banks rose bush that looms large over the front of the Workman House was planted in honor of her birth.
In 1860, the Temple and Workman families were prosperous ranchers and farmers, with extensive herds of cattle, sheep and horses on their properties in the San Gabriel Valley, though serious challenges soon followed.
Record flooding in the winter of 1861-62, with some estimates of 50 inches of rain that season, wreaked havoc in greater Los Angeles. This was followed by two years of drought, with approximately 4 inches of rain each season, and this combination was devastating to the cattle industry which was the backbone of the regional economy.
While many ranchers were ruined during these dire years, the Temple and Workman families survived and then transitioned to a largely agricultural use of their lands. By the time Lucinda was ten years old, the region was in its first significant and sustained period of growth, lasting from the late 1860s through the mid 1870s.
She received her early education at the private school opened by her grandparents, William and Nicolasa Workman, at their home. This was followed by attendance at the Sisters of Charity School in Los Angeles and, briefly, at Holy Names College in Oakland. When Lucinda was fifteen, her father and grandfather were among the wealthiest people in the area and their Temple and Workman bank was apparently a thriving institution servicing much of the boom period activity.
Suddenly, as an economic panic emanating from a burst stock bubble in San Francisco centered on silver mines at Virginia City, Nevada was relayed by telegraph to Los Angeles. The Temple and Workman bank sustained a run by depositors, suspended business for the month of September 1875 and desperately sought financial assistance.
A loan from San Francisco capitalist (whose selling of silver stock reaped a fortune while stoking fears of the bursting bubble) Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin was designed to be virtually impossible to repay, but Lucinda’s father and grandfather agreed to it anyway. Within several weeks, the bank failed and the consequences were frightful for the family.
William Workman took his life in May 1876 and F.P.F. Temple, who took office as Los Angeles County Treasurer about two months after the bank’s closure and was still allowed to serve his two-year term (albeit with a deputy doing the day-to-day work), suffered a series of strokes and died in April 1880.
Amid the turmoil, Lucinda fell in love and, at age 18, married Manuel F. Arnaz, whose Spanish-born father José, was a prominent landowner in Ventura and Los Angeles. The two wedded at the end of 1878 and Arnaz settled with his bride at Misión Vieja, the community at Whittier Narrows where the original Mission San Gabriel was briefly situated in its infancy and where the Temples lived since the early 1850s.
The marriage, however, lasted less than ten years. The reasons are not known, but early in 1888, on the second try, Lucinda was granted a divorce, a rare occurrence, especially for a Roman Catholic (divorces were forbidden by church doctrine). It was only said that Arnaz could not be located, it being possible he decamped to Arizona, so Lucinda received a ruling on the ground of desertion and was legally allowed to revert to her maiden name.
Not long after, she married Manuel M. Zuñiga (1854-1928), who was born and raised on the Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo, just a short distance from the Temple home, and was widowed. His first wife was the daughter of Joseph Davis, an employee of the Temple family, and there were three children (two daughters and a son) from that marriage.
When Zuñiga married Lucinda, he was the proprietor of a store and saloon in the Basye Adobe, a structure built in 1869, on San Gabriel Boulevard, not far west of the Temple home. There were no children born to the marriage, but the union remained for nearly four decades.
For some years, Lucinda and Manuel resided in eastern Arizona, where mining was booming in the early part of the 20th century, and lived in Clifton, ironically the name of the English town where William Workman spent most of his childhood. They were joined there for a period by Lucinda’s youngest sibling, Charles, who sold his interest in the Temple family homestead to his brother, Walter, after Charles killed his former brother-in-law in a saloon he ran in one of the Temple houses.
While Lucinda and Manuel were in Arizona, a stunning turn of events occurred back home at Misión Vieja. Walter P. Temple sold the Temple homestead in 1912 and acquired 60 acres to the west, including the Basye Adobe where the Zuñiga store and saloon were formerly housed, and a portion of the adjacent Montebello Hills. Walter moved with his wife, Laura Gonzalez, and four surviving of five children into the adobe and bestowed the grandiose term of Temple Heights on his hill property.
In spring 1914, Walter and Laura’s eldest child, Thomas, was playing with friends on “Temple Heights” when he breathlessly ran home to tell his parents that he found oil in a pool of water that had formed after some rainfall. The following year, a lease was made with Standard Oil Company of California, which arranged a similar deal for the much larger remainder of the Montebello Hills. This was owned by the two daughters of “Lucky” Baldwin, who’d foreclosed on the Temple and Workman bank loan and assumed ownership of the land formerly owned by Lucinda’s father.
After a successful test well was drilled on the Baldwin side in late 1916, Temple oil well #1 was started not long after very close to the Baldwin well. At the end of June 1917, the Temple well was brought into production, the first of some two dozen wells, many of which were successful and some of which were gushers. Within several months, Walter Temple bought the Workman Homestead and a large Craftsman house in Alhambra, where he and his family moved.
Lucinda and Manuel soon followed, taking up residence in a detached building at the Alhambra residence and Manuel listed in city directories and the 1920 census as the gardener for his brother-in-law. They continued to live there until 1923, not long after the death of Laura Gonzalez Temple and a decision by Walter to sell the Alhambra house and move full-time to the Homestead, which was previously used as a weekend retreat and “gentleman’s ranch.”
While Walter Temple was engaged in a five-year project building La Casa Nueva, the large Spanish Colonial Revival home that was finally completed late in 1927, he built two wood frame houses at the west end of the 92-acre Homestead for Lucinda and Manuel and for his other sister, Margarita A. Rowland, who’d been a widow for some years. Manuel Zuñiga continued to have a paid position at the ranch, as well.
Lucinda died in January 1928 at the age of 67 and her widow followed later that year at age 74. Both were interred in the mausoleum that Walter built in El Campo Santo Cemetery and which was where St. Nicholas’ Chapel, which was finished about the time Lucinda was born, stood until it was razed around the turn of the century.
Just two years after Lucinda died, the Homestead was lost by Walter, the third such occurrence in family history. In her lifetime, there were not only remarkable ups and downs in the fortunes of the Temple family, but she lived through a period of nearly seven decades that included the onset of the telephone, electricity, the automobile, the airplane, the radio, film and many other transformative elements. She has been little mentioned in the Homestead’s interpretation, perhaps only mentioned, if at all, in connection with the Lady Banks rose bush mentioned above, but today’s anniversary of her birth affords an opportunity to remember Lucinda Temple.