by Paul R. Spitzzeri
With Hispanic Heritage Month beginning today, we take this opportunity to take a look at the mixed ethnicity of the eight surviving of eleven children born to Antonia Margarita Workman (1830-1892) and F.P.F. Temple (1822-1880), who were married in Los Angeles in September 1845 at the end of the Mexican era of California and had their children between 1846 (just as the American military was seizing the area) and 1872 (when a slight American and European majority was found in Los Angeles County.)
Their maternal grandfather, William Workman (1799-1876), hailed from the hamlet of Temple Sowerby in the northern reaches of England close to the border with Scotland and migrated to the United States in his early twenties, joining his brother David in central Missouri which was the western frontier of the growing country. After a few years, William took a relatively new trail called the Santa Fe to New Mexico, which was the northern frontier of the newly independent nation of México, and settled in Taos, where there was an ancient Indian pueblo as well as a newer settlement of Spanish and sprinkling of Americans and Europeans, most of these fur trappers.
There, William established a common-law marriage with Nicolasa Urioste (1802-1892), whose origins are not known, though it is possible, if not likely, that she was of mixed indigenous and Spanish ancestry. The couple, who were not married in the Catholic Church until they were in this area in the mid-1840s, had a son, José Manuel (1833-1901) in addition to Antonia Margarita. William, who did some fur trapping in his early years in Taos, was a store owner and, in partnership with John Rowland, an American of Welsh background, distilling the potent Taos Lightning whisky.
After Americans seized the government of Texas and then plotted to extend its borders west to the Río Grande, making the situation in New Mexico tenuous, it was decided to leave for Los Angeles in the last few months of 1841 with the family making the 1,200-mile trip by mule and foot. Earlier that year, Pliny F. Temple came to the Angel City after a six-month sea journey from Boston, which was near his hometown of Reading, Massachusetts. His purpose included meeting, for the first time, his half-brother, Jonathan, who was twenty-six years older. Pliny’s one-year stay turned permanent however, as he became the clerk in Jonathan’s store.
One wonders if it was perhaps in the store that Margarita and Pliny met, but, however it was that they got acquainted, their marriage was the first in the region in which both people had English-language surnames—showing how few Americans and Europeans then resided in greater Los Angeles. The couple welcomed their first child, Thomas Workman Temple (1846-1892), as the Mexican-American War was underway, and Californios took back Los Angeles from the Americans before the latter mounted another invasion and recaptured the pueblo the following January.
Five more sons followed in the next dozen years, including Francis Workman (1848-1888), William Workman (1851-1917), David Harrison (1853-1856), John Harrison (1856-1926), and a second David Harrison (1858-1859), during which time the Temples moved on to the Rancho La Merced in the Whittier Narrows/Montebello area, amid a predominantly Latino populated community known as Misión Vieja, or Old Mission, because the original site of the Mission San Gabriel was there.
The ranch, acquired by Margarita’s father by foreclosure on a loan he made to its first owner, Casilda Soto de Lobo, was divided between the Temples and Juan Matias Sánchez, Workman’s foreman at Rancho La Puente, and it proved to be a highly productive property for raising cattle and horses and growing a wide variety of crops on fertile lands watered by the Río Hondo and, later, the San Gabriel River.
In the dozen years between 1860 and 1872, four more children were born to the couple, including their daughters Lucinda (1860-1928) and Margarita (1866-1953) and sons Walter (1869-1938) and Charles (1872-1918.) During that era, there were the extremes of floods and drought in the first half of the Sixties that devastated the area’s ranching-based economy, followed by the first sustained and significant period of growth after the Civil War that included an emerging business community to which F.P.F. Temple gravitated.
While maintaining a busy farm and ranch at La Merced, Temple took on a wide variety of business endeavors in Los Angeles from real estate to railroads to oil and other endeavors, much of it funded from banking, first with William Workman and the prominent merchant Isaias W. Hellman and then, when the latter dissolved the partnership, the former went on their own.
The eldest Temple son, Thomas, was born in the Workman House and, like many of his siblings, educated for at least part of his youth at the private school established at the Workman House at the Homestead by his grandparents and whose teacher for many years was Frederick Lambourn, later the foreman for William Workman on the Rancho La Puente. Later, Thomas was groomed to work with his father in business, but his first foray was in the tinware business of John Hicks and Ozro W. Childs, where Thomas was made a partner in 1868.
When the Temple and Workman bank opened three years later, he went to work there as a cashier, but also developed real estate and other business interests, while his involvement in the Angel City’s growing social world led to him being called “Lord Chesterfield” for his impeccable dress and manners. He was a founding trustee of the Los Angeles Public Library in 1872 among other social interests.
In 1866, Thomas married María Refugia Martinez, whose family came from New Mexico and who was a niece of Juan Matias Sánchez. She, however, died in childbirth, with the infant also passing away, in 1869. In early 1866, Thomas had a daughter, Zoraida (Soraida) out of wedlock with María Petra Bermudez, an Old Mission resident whose mother was María Ventura Alvitre, though the girl was raised in obscurity, and nothing could be found about her until her 1889 marriage to José Pérez of Pomona, whose mother was from the prominent Vejar family in that vicinity.
When the Temple and Workman bank failed, Thomas was in significant debt to the institution, raising questions about the obvious ethics involved because he was a cashier, and, while he turned to farming on some land near the family’s La Merced home that was owned by his mother and, shortly after the institution’s collapsed, married Jeanette (Nettie) Friend, the couple left the area in the early 1880s and made their way to México.
For some years, Thomas pursued real estate and other business ventures in Hermosillo, the capital of the state of Sonora. While he and Jeanette had a son, the child died young, and the couple had no other children. It appears that they stayed in México for a few years before returning to Los Angeles, where Thomas joined Reginaldo F. del Valle, of that prominent local family, in launching the California and Mexican Land Company and also became the manager and then owner of La Crónica, the longtime Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles, which he ran until his death.
While carrying the very “Anglo”-sounding name of Thomas Temple, he was raised to speak Spanish fluently and maintain cultural ties to the Latino community, reflected in his first marriage, the bearing of a child with Petra Bermudez, the move to México and his activities in real estate and journalism in Los Angeles at the end of his life.
The second Temple child, Francis, was born at the Workman House and known to family and friends as Pancho, a common nickname for Francisco, and he received at least a significant part of his education at the Workman private school. He then attended Santa Clara College during the late 1860s and spent a couple of years early in the following decade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), where he, apparently, studied because of his growing involvement as superintendent of the winemaking operations of William Workman.
Francis was so valued by his grandfather that, when the bank failure occurred, Workman changed his power of attorney, reassigning it from F.P.F. Temple to his son. After Workman’s May 1876 suicide, Francis remained at the ranch, taking care of his grandmother Nicolasa and tending to the farming and winemaking operations until a foreclosure by Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin on a loan he made to the bank was finalized three years later. In 1880, Baldwin sold the Workman House, El Campo Santo Cemetery, outbuildings, vineyards and fields comprising 75 acres to Francis.
For the next several years, Francis appears to have made good use of what was called the La Puente, or Workman, Homestead, especially with his winemaking, but the tuberculosis from which he long suffered worsened, despite frequent trips to Arizona and other hot, dry places, and he died from the malady in August 1888, just a few days short of this 40th birthday. Pancho appears to have been as much imbued in the Latino culture as his brother.
The third Temple child, William Workman, was the first of his family to be born at Rancho La Merced, where his parents had just moved when he was born in May 1851. After attending the Workman private school, he went to Santa Clara College, where he appears to have earned a bachelor’s degree and was also quite a baseball player, as well as a militia member, judging from an 1869 photo of him taken in San Jose.
His academic skills being quite advanced, William then went east, with Francis to Massachusetts and enrolled in the three-year program at Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the nation. After he received his juris doctorate degree in 1874, William was then sent to London, where he took post-graduate courses at the famed Inns of Court. He was in his second year of study when news of the financial crisis with the Temple and Workman bank forced a hurried recall.
The young attorney worked very hard for his father and grandfather, representing them in complex bankruptcy and civil proceedings for several years, and the toll on him must have been terribly taxing. By 1880, with most of the legal matters settled, he abruptly joined the Army by enlisting at the Presidio in San Francisco and remained with the military for most of the subsequent decade. When he mustered out at Newport, Rhode Island, however, William did not return to Los Angeles, but spent some time at Albuquerque, New Mexico, where, following Francis’ death, he sold his half-interest in the Homestead to their brother, John.
William then spent close to two decades in México, perhaps working in law, though he also long had interests in mining. It appears most of his years there were spent in Mexico City, but he returned just before the ouster of longtime dictator Porfirio Díaz, who counted among his major advisors former Los Angeles lawyer and judge Ygnacio Sepúlveda. William wrote a published essay about conditions in Mexico in 1911, shortly after his return and which will be featured in an upcoming post this month.
Suffering from significant health problems, William spent most of the remaining years of his life in state and county hospitals but had an avid interest in his younger brother Walter’s ownership of oil-bearing lands, once held by their father before the bank collapse, advising Walter on how to handle affairs there. When William died in 1917, the first well on the lease was being drilled.
The fifth son (after the death, the same year, of the first David Harrison) was John Harrison, born in 1856 at La Merced, educated at the Workman school and then sent to his father’s hometown of Reading, Massachusetts to attend high school. After graduating in 1874, he took a two-year commercial course at the Bryant and Stratton school in Boston, completing the program just several months after the failure of the family bank in Los Angeles. Despite the calamity, he went to the American centennial celebration in Philadelphia in summer 1876 before returning home.
John took up farming on a tract owned by his mother, a short distance from the family homestead, which, as with the Workman place, was sold to his mother by Baldwin, though the transaction occurred in 1881, not long after F.P.F. Temple’s death. John raised walnuts on about 130 acres where the Whittier Narrows Nature Center is located today and, in 1886, married Anita Davoust, whose mother was from the prominent Dominguez family.
Two years later, after Francis Temple died and William decided to sell his half-interest for $3,000, John, Anita, and their first child moved to the Workman Homestead. For over a decade, he farmed, though a disease killed the grapevines and the 1890s included several years of drought and a debilitating national depression that burst forth in 1893. After borrowing money from a Los Angeles bank and being unable to repay the loan, John was foreclosed upon and lost the ranch in 1899.
He lived in Los Angeles for most of the next two decades, but, when Walter hit it big with oil at his lease, John took residence there once Walter and his family moved to Monterey Park and then Alhambra and ran a service station his brother built. Once Walter took possession of the Workman Homestead in 1919, he had John serve as foreman of the ranch, but ill health forced him to give up this responsibility and he moved back to Los Angeles, where he died in 1926. Late in life, John became an avid family historian, collecting family papers and writing accounts of the Workmans and Temples used, in some cases, for publication and he, too, was fluent in Spanish and well-versed in the local Latino culture.
After a second David Harrison Temple died in 1859, the seventh child in the family was the first daughter, Lucinda, born in 1860. She may have begun her education (something her mother, by the way, did not get to pursue) at the Workman school and then attended the Sisters of Charity school for girls in Los Angeles. At age 18, Lucinda married Manuel Arnaz, whose Spanish-born father was a prominent figure in Ventura, but who also had Los Angeles real estate interests. Unfortunately, Manuel appears to have been something of a wastrel (there’s a word not often used these days!) and Lucinda secured a divorce after just a few years of marriage.
After returning to the family household at Misión Vieja, Lucinda married Manuel M. Zuñiga, who’d been born in the area and was previously married to Carmel Davis, whose father formerly worked for the Temples and who is buried at El Campo Santo Cemetery at the Homestead. Zuñiga had three children from his first marriage, so Lucinda was a stepmother to them, and he ran a saloon, billiard parlor and store in an adobe house built in 1869 by Rafael Basye, a nephew of Sánchez.
By 1900, the Zuñigas relocated to the copper mining town of Clifton, Arizona, and remained there for most of the next couple of decades. When Lucinda’s brother made his oil fortune, she and Manuel came back to this area and lived with Walter and his family at Alhambra and then, when the recently widowed Walter and his children moved to the Homestead full-time, the couple followed, residing in a house built for them at the west end of the property adjacent to Turnbull Canyon Road. Lucinda died early in 1928 and Manuel followed several months later, and she appears to have been the most conversant in Spanish of all the Temple children, preferring to write in that language and apparently, also speaking it a great deal of the time.
After another daughter, Agnes, died in 1865 at two years of age, another girl, Margarita Antonia (a reversal of her mother’s names) was born the following year. It does not appear the Workman school was in operation, the house having been remodeled significantly, before she attained school age, but Margarita also went to the Sisters of Charity school in Los Angeles and then Holy Names College, a girls’ school in Oakland.
In 1889, she married Samuel P. Rowland, of the family which long owned the other half of Rancho La Puente with the Workmans. Margarita raised several children with Sam and the couple lived in Los Angeles for some years, where he was a druggist, before moving to the La Puente area after he became a real estate agent for land, just west of the Homestead and once owned by the Workmans and subdivided after Baldwin’s death in 1909.
Sam Rowland died in 1916 and, once Walter began to occupy the Homestead a few years later, Margarita and some of her children moved into a house built next to the one in which her sister Lucinda lived. Even after Walter lost the Homestead in 1932, though, Margarita was allowed to remain in her house until the ranch was sold in fall 1940 to Harry and Lois Brown for their El Encanto Sanitarium. She moved in with family in Temple City, founded by her late brother in 1923, and stayed there until her death in 1953, she outliving Walter by fifteen years.
Because so much of his life has been covered in many posts on this blog, we’ll limit comment on Walter to several aspects of his early life. He was educated at the La Puente School, started by his father and others in the early Sixties and, in 1921, renamed in Walter’s honor as the Temple School. During the 1880s, he went to St. Vincent’s College, the Roman Catholic boys’ school that educated youngsters from elementary school up to college men, and then attended Woodbury University for some business courses. Walter inherited, with his younger brother Charles, the Temple Homestead at Old Mission upon their mother’s death in 1892 (during which her mother, Nicolasa Workman, and eldest child Thomas also contracted the flu and died in close proximity of time.)
Walter, however, was keenly interested in Californio life and history, wrote and spoke Spanish frequently and fluently was an excellent guitarist, and traveled in México extensively in the mid-Nineties (he must’ve visited his brother William during that sojourn.) After a teenage romance with former Misión Vieja neighbor Laura González, while she was employed for his brother Francis at the Workman House in the mid-1880s, the two married in 1903 and raised their four surviving children at the Temple Homestead and then, from 1912 to 1917, at the aforementioned Basye Adobe until the oil bonanza was realized. Walter and Laura raised their children to be fluent in Spanish and immersed in their Latino heritage, as will be further discussed in a post coming up soon. Walter enjoyed maintaining the image of a “Spanish” don while owning the Homestead, which we’ll also make reference to in that post.
Finally, the youngest Temple child was Charles Parker, born at Rancho La Merced in 1872. Like Walter, he went to the La Puente School and St. Vincent’s College and was the co-owner of the family homestead with Walter after their mother died. Like his brother, Charles was active in social and political circles involving Californios and Mexicans in Misión Vieja. In 1898, Charles married Rafaela Basye, whose father built the adobe mentioned earlier, but she died within months and her brothers became convinced that Charles instigated her passing, leading to a drunken duel between him and James Basye that left Temple wounded.
Though it appeared that the matter was resolved, Charles, who ran a saloon in one of the Temple houses at Old Mission, got into an argument in 1902 with another Basye brother, Tomás, and when the latter would not leave when told to, the former pulled out a gun and shot and killed his adversary. A sensational trial in Los Angeles led to an acquittal on the grounds of self-defense, but Charles, who remarried and had a namesake son (news accounts once claimed he killed the child in a drunken fit, but it was a terrible rumor), joined his sister Lucinda and brother-in-law Manuel Zuñiga, in Clifton, Arizona, where he remained for several years. He later lived with his wife and son in Santa Monica and died in 1918, just as his brother was reaping the rewards of his oil lease.
These eight surviving children, to varying degrees, maintained close ties to the Californio and Latino culture in which they were raised, and it appears that this was mostly due to the efforts of their mother. All were fluent in Spanish, most married full or part-Latinos, some spent significant time in México, and there were also connections that many of them maintained in social and political circles, activities and events over the course of the last decades of the 19th and first ones of the 20th centuries.
Yet, many of them were also fully connected to the increasingly dominant Anglo population through education, work, and social and political elements, so it can be said, as we mark Hispanic Heritage Month, that the Temple siblings were truly niños de dos mundos, or children of two worlds, something we will explore soon with the next generation and the children of Walter and Laura Temple.