by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Having realized a significant fortune from royalties flowing from oil wells drilled by Standard Oil Company of California, now Chevron, on his Montebello-area ranch, Walter P. Temple, a keen student of history, decided he wanted to the story of his family told in book form. To carry out the project, he hired Johnstone Jones (1848-1922), a Los Angeles attorney with an avid interest in regional history, to write a manuscript and a contract, which is tonight’s highlighted object from the Homestead’s holdings, was executed on 15 June 1920 to that end.
A previous post in this blog noted that a month prior, Temple’s attorney George H. Woodruff advised his client about a book proposal contemplated with Luther A. Ingersoll, who edited local history works and also amassed a collection of photographs and documents that bore his name at the Los Angeles Public Library. Obviously, there was a shift in thinking, though, as we’ll see Ingersoll was still connected to the project in the new arrangement.
As for Jones, he was born in North Carolina in 1848 where his father, Cadwallader, was a lawyer who also served in the state’s Assembly (1840-1842 and 1848-1850). When Johnstone was about nine years old, the family moved to South Carolina and a 5,000-acre cotton plantation worked by a large population of slaves and which was purchased by his grandfather in 1810.
When South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union as the Civil War erupted in 1861, Cadwallader Jones, the grandson of Revolutionary War General Allen Jones, became captain of a volunteer force for the Confederate Army and led troops in major battles, such as Mechanicsville, Second Manassas, and the Seven Days Campaign before Richmond. He earned a promotion to colonel, but poor health led him to yield his commission, but he had four sons who served for the Confederate cause.
This included Johnstone, who was a military school cadet when, at fifteen, he enlisted with a cadet corps out of Columbia and remained in the fight until war’s end in 1865. Cadwallader returned to politics that year as he took a seat in the South Carolina State Senate, which worked on a new constitution and the freeing of slaves, including those who labored on the Jones plantation, which was sold off in pieces as the family’s fortunes faltered.
Meanwhile, young Johnstone, not long after he returned home with the South in ruins, followed his father’s footsteps into law and practiced in Baltimore for a brief period before returning to his home state, where he ran a Charlotte newspaper, during which time he married Elizabeth Miller in 1873. After returning to his home state, he was appointed secretary of the state senate, serving in that capacity for a couple of years, during which he was also secretary of a convention drafting a new state constitution.
This was followed by two more years as the managing editor of a Raleigh newspaper before returning to the law. Following his war service with involvement with the National Guard, he secured an appointment as an adjutant general, being the senior officer for the Tar Heel State. He remained in that position for a dozen years and served as president of the National Guard Association. In the mid-Eighties, her represented his county in the state legislature, but, in 1889, he and his wife, who were childless, relocated to San Diego.
Jones opened a law practice in that city and then was elected to be the county district attorney, serving a single two-year term. He then hung his shingle in Los Angeles, arriving in the Angel City at the end of 1893. Even though that metropolis went through a major boom and bust cycle in the mid to late 1880s and a national depression broke out the year he moved north, Jones was able to build a successful practice as a criminal defense attorney.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, Jones led the organization of a volunteer cavalry corps from southern California, securing a commission as a colonel. When Europe was engulfed in the First World War, he was a primary figure in establishing the local chaper of the National Security League, which called for the buildup of American defenses in the expecation that the country could get pulled into the conflict, which it did in 1917.
Jones, being a polished courtroom attorney, was also a highly regarded orator and frequently spoke at public events, before community groups, at political campaign rallies and in other settings. Despite being a Southerner and an ex-Confederate, he spoke at Civil War commemorations, praising those who fought on both sides of that horrific conflict. Surprisingly, he was a frequent speaker at Mexican Independence Day celebrations, making one appearance with former mayor William H. Workman, nephew of Homestead founders William and Nicolasa Workman.
A long-time Democrat, it appears that Jones, sometime in the first decade of the 20th century switched parties and became a Republican. An appointed assistant district attorney for Los Angeles County from 1899-1903, he sought office a few times, including campaigns for Los Angeles police chief (1905), the state assembly (1906), and district attorney (1914,) though he was not successful in any of these endeavors.
Jones had a number of business endeavors, including mining companies, such as one established in Big Tujunga Canyon in 1907, during which time he was also part of the Tujunga Land and Water Company. In San Luis Obispo County, he joined the Oceano Beach Land and Improvement Company at the location just south of Pismo Beach. After Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin’s death in 1909, Jones was one of three appraisers of his large estate, valued at some $11 million and which included former Workman and Temple holdings on the ranchos La Puente, La Merced, Potrero Chico, Potrero de Felipe Lugo, Potrero Grande, and San Francisquito.
Finally, Jones, who was playwright of a stage version of Helen Hunt Jackson’s famed novel, Ramona, that was performed at Mason Opera House (in which building Jones kept his law office), gained recognition through a series of articles he wrote, mostly for the Los Angeles Times, on battles fought before and during the Mexican-American War and this is most likely what attracted Walter Temple’s attention as he pursued his family history book project. Jones, however, also did legal work for Temple, most notably in a suit filed against Homestead owner Lafayette F. Lewis concerning the latter’s desecration and destruction of El Campo Santo cemetery at the Homestead.
By the time he was hired, the attorney, a member of the Archaelogical Institute of America and the Southwest Society, formed by Charles Lummis, who established the Southwest Museum, was in his early seventies, but was apparently spry enough to take on the enterprise.
The agreement called for him
to furnish in a manuscript form a complete story of the family . . . from the first known Temple in England, those of New England; their migration to California; and subsequent acts and careers; a true story of Los Angeles; a narrative of the founding of the Missions and their secularization; prominent contemporaries of the family and other incidents which are needful for a graphic and authentic, as well as a desirable reference work of local history.
The agreement stipulated that the finished product was to be 6″x9″, roughly 500 pages (each having about 300 words), and divided into thirty chapters or some five thousand words each. For this, Jones was to receive $2,400 (more than $32,000 in today’s dollars) Jones had already written and submitted chapters, and been compensated, on the Temples in England and New England and sketched of Jonathan (Don Juan) and his half-brother and Walter’s father, F.P.F. Temple, as well as William Workman and Antonio María Lugo. This meant that there were two dozen chapters to go.
This subsequent work involved Jones receiving $100 in advance of a chapter of Benjamin D. Wilson, who came to Los Angeles from New Mexico with the Workmans in late 1841. For the remaining segments, the lawyer was to beaid $50 for each chapter submitted to Woodruff and approved by him and Temple. Once all these were so handled, Jones was to receive the balance due of $1,150.
As to “all data, references and materials of every kind and nature pertaining to the Temple Family and its history,” this was to become Temple’s property and “kept in a safe deposit box” unless Jones required these for his work. Also stipulated was the author could rearrange the contents “as he may deem advisable in furtherance of the historical and literary merit” of the book, provided that Temple agreed.
With respect to Ingersoll, Jones was empowered to secure “the loan . . . [of] at least fifty (50) illustrations in the form of photographs, maps and drawings” from the Los Angeles Public Library collection amassed by Ingersoll. With these materials, it was agreed that Temple could published the book during or after Ingersoll’s death, but that the items were to “at all times be kept in said Los Angeles Public Library at the disposal” of Temple for publication.
When published, the copyright was to be held by Temple and, if books were sold to the public, Jones was not entitled to any of the revenues generated from sales. The attorney was to submit two typescript copies of the completed manuscript to Wooduff’s office, which he shared with Clyde Shoemaker, in Los Angeles within eight months. If it was not delivered by then, Temple had the option to cancel the contract and avoid any further obligations. with Jones agreeing that any funds expended to him to date were to be considered full payment.
Interestingly, the document added that “time is and shall be of the essence,” though exactly why was not stipulated, and Jones was not to assign or delegate any of the project except in that Ingersoll “shall collaborate . . . in the preparation of the said book to such extent and in such manner” as required by the author, “particularly in collecting and furnishing the illustrations . . . and in gathering and supplying . . . such data, facts, references and materials of historical, biographical, family and local narrative as may be required.”
A full list of the thirty chapers was then provided and, aside from those mentioned above, some of these included as subjects William Workman; the Rowland family; such contemporaries as Juan Bandini; Abel Stearns; Pío Pico and his brother Andrés; Hugo Reid; “women of the early days;” incidents from the Mexican-American War in California; “Pastoral Days;” Lucky Baldwin; the Montebello Oil Fields; Walter’s siblings and, finally, Walter himself.
With the eight-month timeframe, Jones’ health deteriorated rapidly and he was not able to continue work on the Temple family history. He remained at his home in Los Angeles, where Interstate 10 and Interstate 110 meet, and died there in July 1922 at age 73. Walter Temple continued corresponding with and occasionally sending money to Bettie Jones until her passing four years later.
A new historian was found in James Perry Worden, under whom the scope was expanded to include more about the Workman family and, though he remained under retainer for the rest of the 1920s, Worden, too, did not complete the project. His many surviving letters, however, some of which have been shared on this blog, are entertaining and instructive as he fulfilled other roles for the Temples.