All Over the Map: John Rowland’s Copy of the Rancho La Puente Partition Map of 1867-1868

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

It is fairly rare that a post on this blog isn’t based on an artifact from the Homestead’s collection and so tonight’s entry is something of an unusual one, but, if the map featured here was in the Museum’s holdings, it would truly be a crown jewel! The object is John Rowland’s copy of the partition map of Rancho La Puente made in 1867-1868 by Los Angeles County Surveyor George Hansen, who was helped by William Moore and Lothar Seebold.

The trio began their work in November 1867 and then, likely because of the heavy rains that fell in the winter and, for example, altered the course of the San Gabriel River, they returned a half-year later to complete the project in May 1868. It was at this latter time, as notes on the map indicate, that lines of partition were devised by Rowland and William Workman.

This was vital because, having finally, on 19 April 1867, secured the patent from the federal government for the rancho under the conditions of the land claims act passed by Congress sixteen years earlier in March 1851 and gone through land commission and federal district court proceedings and contemplation by the feds of taking the matter to the United States Supreme Court, the aging rancheros—Rowland was about 77 and Workman turned 69 that year—were more than ready to divide the massive ranch of nearly 49,000 acres for their future use as well as for what to leave for their heirs.

The map looks to have passed from Rowland to his heirs, probably his much-younger second wife and widow Charlotte and then to her children with him, Albert and Victoria (wonder who the namesakes for them were?) and then it wound up in the hands of Henry J. Stevenson, who was a local and federal surveyor, perhaps best known for his very detailed 1884 map of Los Angeles.

In the early 20th century, the document ended up in the collection of Dr. Percy A. Foster, who was known for his book and manuscript collection with an obituary stating that he was one of the “foremost authorities” on southern California history.” It remained in Foster’s family for well over a half-century until it was acquired in 2021 by the prominent map dealer, Barry Lawrence Ruderman, who recently sold it.

Fortunately, Ruderman offers a high-resolution image of the map on his website and that is what is highlighted in this post, although only in details because the whole map is too large to upload! In fact, the resolution is so good that several details are provided here, so we can really see some of the excellent original and subsequent notations. This is important because the Homestead has only had access to copies that are at least a few generations old, but, beyond this, this original has information that copy that we’ve had did not possess.

Ruderman also provided in this listing a great deal of information on the map, Rowland, Workman, other residents (mainly from New Mexico and mostly connected to Rowland and his first wife, Encarnación Martinez) of the ranch, and Stevenson (who, the dealer noted, was involved in a land fraud scheme during the Boom of the 1880s in which he created maps for tracts in inaccessible or inhospitable and, therefore, unusable or unbuildable locales). It is notable that Ruderman called the document “extremely important” and “a foundational cartographic document for the region.”

An obvious detail on which to focus is the portion showing the homesteads of the aging rancheros, with the “dwelling of John Rowland sen” shown north of a dotted line signifying a road, this being today’s Gale Avenue as the 1855 residence sits off that thoroughfare at the back of the headquarters of the Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District.

A short distance to the northwest is the “Dwelling of W. Workman” where William and his wife Nicolasa Urioste resided, with a road coming in from the west, this one being somewhat in line with what known, when his grandson Walter P. Temple owned the 92-acre Workman Homestead, as Evergreen Lane, though the road extends much further west on the map. Also of note is a portion of another road to the north that is almost certainly today’s Valley Boulevard, known in the early 20th century as Pomona Boulevard and, as far back as 1851, the Colorado Road, as the thoroughfare went to the river of that name.

A further distinction is the indication of the “Chapel,” denoted as a square with a cross inside it, this being St. Nicholas’ Chapel, completed just several years before, although its location within El Campo Santo Cemetery, featured in yesterday’s post, is not identified. Vertical and horizontal hashmarks within the bounded areas surrounding the Rowland and Workman houses likely indicate groves and orchards, but dollar signs ($) on either side of San José Creek, which ran between the residences and is now a flood control channel, were clearly for vineyards—these irrigated from the watercourse.

Also utilizing the water from the creek was Rowland’s grist mill, built in 1847 within several years of Rowland’s settlement on La Puente and which likely was the source of the millstones, long though to be from Workman’s mill, that Walter P. Temple acquired from a Rowland descendant who unearthed them while doing work on his farm. The Rowland mill is shown in the southeast corner of the section around the house and just off the north side of the aforementioned road.

A little further to the east was the “Dwelling of John Reed,” who was married to Rowland’s daughter Nieves. The North Carolina native was long associated with his father-in-law, was an officer in a local battalion of the army during the American invasion of Mexican California, and died in 1874. He and Nieves built their home, which was wood frame on a brick foundation, in 1864 and the location is marked by the presence of John Reed Court in the City of Industry.

Somewhat faintly written in pencil under the Rowland House designation is “& Victoria & Albert R.,” referring, again, to his two children with Charlotte, though the absence of her name seems to indicate that she’d passed away (her death occurred in 1895.) Also of note at the upper right are the western reaches of what was long known as Puente (or simply “P”) Hill and today including the Industry Hills complex with an exposition center, hotel, golf courses and other elements.

Moving to the southwest corner of the rancho, we find west of the Workman House, the reference to the “Sheep Rancho of Temple,” this being just north of the creek in what is the unincorporated Avocado Heights community. F.P.F. Temple, husband of Antonia Margarita Workman, daughter of William and Nicolasa, owned one-half of the nearby Rancho La Merced, which was a minuscule (well, compared to La Puente) 2,363 acres, so he was able to use some of his father-in-law’s land to graze sheep—which were raised in large numbers after the cattle industry was severely hampered by floods and droughts in the first half of the 1860s. In 1869, Temple arranged for Norwegian-born Andrew Kittilson, later a rancher at Menifee in Riverside County, to manage the herds. Note the road running south of the creek that appears to be in line with the road near Rowland’s place, though it is not clear if the two actually connected.

To the southwest and also north of the creek, which passed between the low ranges of the Avocado Heights and the eminences of the Puente Hills, where the now-closed landfill awaits development as a regional park, is the Workman Mill, recently completed by Workman and operated by William Turner, whose father John ran the Rowland Mill. Another installment of the “All Over the Map” series focuses on an 1870 map, this one in the Homestead’s holdings, of the “Puente Valley” covering much of the western sections, owned by Workman, of La Puente, while a series of posts went into great detail on the terrible events leading to a lynching of robber Jesús Romo at the mill area in 1874.

The southern end of the large 10,480-acre section, the largest of any on the map, of Workman’s in the Puente Valley along with parts of 7,864 and 4,470-acre parcels held by Rowland, take in the unincorporated community of Hacienda Heights, while a 2,455- acre segment owned by Workman comprised land at the upper reaches of the Puente Hills and bordered Pío Pico’s Rancho Paso de Bartolo in modern Whittier.

More to the northwestern section of the rancho are indications of more roads, including a branch demarcated as “Road to Los Angeles” and being Valley Boulevard, though the thoroughfare is not thoroughly shown. A branch extending to the northeast is identified as being “to San Bernardino” and is very likely a cut-off road to that city built by Temple and William W. Rubottom, resident of the newly established town of Spadra in modern Pomona, just months before this map was initiated in 1867. Note the spur running north and east of that, perhaps a route into the Rancho Azusa to the north, though there is another segment of a pathway just above that, as well.

In the midst of these indications of roads is the inscription of “Joseph M. Workman / 814.10 acres.” The son of William Workman and Nicolasa Urioste, Joseph, who was, like his sister Margarita, born in New Mexico, spent most of his youth in Baltimore with his father’s sister, Agnes Vickers, and then in Missouri with William’s brother, David. When the latter came to California with his family in 1854, Joseph joined them, though he was sent to central California to oversee cattle operations for his father and brother-in-law Temple.

Joseph, recently married to Josephine Belt of Stockton, returned to La Puente in 1870 and was given the 814-acre parcel, though it was later reported that William actually gave the land for his son’s children—apparently, there was some bad blood between father and son for reasons not yet known. In any case, Joseph and his family stayed a little more than a decade and then moved to Boyle Heights in 1881, where they had a large house next to his cousin, William H. Workman, the community’s founder and a future mayor and city treasurer of Los Angeles. Financial ruin followed in the 1890s, however, much as happened to Joseph’s nephew, John H. Temple, at the Homestead. More about Joseph can be read in a post based on a photo of his Boyle Heights house.

There is, in the upper right, a 40-acre parcel, faintly written in pencil, next to the “Y” in “Puente Valley” that was deeded, in 1870, to Frederick Lambourn, Workman’s ranch foreman. Lambourn, who was one of lynchers at the Workman Mill in 1874, served in the state assembly the following two years and then, with miller William Turner who ran a store at the mill where the attack occurred that was followed by the lynching, became a very successful wholesale grocer in Los Angeles.

At the northern extremity of the rancho are two sections in which Rowland and Workman took exactly the same amount of acreage, 4,299. In fact, as tables on the map clearly show, the friends of nearly a half-century were very careful to divide the ranch evenly with respect to overall acreage (24,395 each) and to even do so with respect to how much hill and valley land was allotted to each. Workman’s tract was just above the San José Hills in what is primarily southeastern West Covina and some county area, while Rowland’s is largely with Covina, as well as unincorporated county sections, though he also provided tracts on the west end to Reed and to his son William, soon to be Los Angeles County sheriff (1871-1875 and 1880-1882.)

Also of note in this detail is the “Road to San Bernardino” that marked the northern boundary of La Puente, separating it from the Azusa rancho, and this thoroughfare is, of course, today’s San Bernardino Road; well, until it now ends and other routes take drivers eastward. Another obvious natural landmark is the watershed of Walnut Creek, emerging from the northeast corner of the rancho and moving westward. Today, there is a regional park with hiking trails in the deep gorge immediately west of the 57 Freeway, while the watercourse becomes a flood control channel wending its way to the San Gabriel River.

Continuous to Rowland’s 4,299-acre section was another of his that contained 3,699 acres and marked the northeastern corner of La Puente. Part of this tract, with 443 acres of hill land set aside for Reed, comprises some of the campus of Cal Poly Pomona. At the right edge of the map is a table showing the boundaries of parcels set aside for Rowland, including acres, stations, courses and distances in chains.

The next detail shows the southeastern corner of the ranch, with more tables to the side providing the same information for four tracts denoted as the San Jose and Azusa valleys, while a “Table of Partition” lists nine different sections in the Puente Hills, San Jose Hills, San Jose Valley, Puente Valley and Azusa Valley and identifying the hill and valley lands allotted to the two ranch owners with virtually even amounts. Note, as well, that the valley land was almost 30,000 acres, while the hill land was just north of 19,000.

Adjacent to the tables was a statement that the map was accepted by the county surveyor’s office on 27 May 1868 with Seebold, acting for his boss, Hansen, certifying the correctness of the document—this might indicate the Seebold and Moore did most, if not all, the fieldwork under Hansen’s general supervision. Below this is Rowland’s signature and an inscription that the federal patent was issued, as noted above, on 19 April 1867.

At the top left of this detail is an interesting configuration separating La Puente from the ranchos Nogales (including much of what became Diamond Bar) and Rincon de la Brea (small sections of Diamond Bar, Walnut, Rowland Heights and a large chunk of the eastern Puente Hills). Two tracts owned by Rowland totaling about 1,550 acres, half of which was deeded to his son William, included a New Mexican community of some nine identified houses with the surnames of Martinez, Valdez, Garcia and Velardez, while two others to the west are for the Martinez and Quintano families and to the southwest is the domicile of Antonio Brito.

The southern reaches of La Puente include Rowland-held parcels of 7,864, 4,470, and 2,122 acres in what is largely the unincorporated community of Rowland Heights. Much of these tracts were subdivided for the brothers John, Jr., Thomas and William Rowland, as well as John Reed. Towards the upper right is a 363-acre property owned by José Martinez, related to Rowland, Senior’s first wife. The residences of Thomas and John, Jr. are noted along San José Creek, with the Rowland family still owning the land where the latter dwelling was situated and later houses and an old barn were still there off Nogales Avenue until fairly recently.

William Rowland’s 766 acre hill land tract at the top of the Puente Hills had limited value, other than for grazing, in 1868, but a little more than 15 years later it turned out to have substantial deposits of oil. Rowland and William Lacy formed the Puente Oil Company and it was very successful for many years after and Rowland was quite wealthy until his death in 1926. Just to the west of where that field was discovered, we can see a “Road fr[om] Anaheim” alongside a stream—this is where Fullerton Road/Harbor Boulevard passes today.

Note, too, a road delineated at the summit and going east to west including in the adjacent Rancho La Habra in today’s La Habra Heights. Well within the bounds of the La Habra ranch is a “Picacho [peak] with a red bluff claimed by Mr. Rowland,” though it is wondered whether that claim had any legal force or practical application. At the left edge of this detail are “Rowland’s Pass to Anaheim,” almost certainly where Hacienda Road goes from Hacienda Heights into La Habra Heights, a corral, and a “milch,” or milk, ranch, though whether these were Rowland’s or not is unclear—why else, though, would they have been shown on the map?

Just to the west of these latter and not captured clearly on any of the details are “Workman’s Road to Anaheim Landing, perhaps where today’s Colima Road goes through the Puente Hills, with this port established by Anaheim capitalists and Workman as an investor where Seal Beach is today and where the New San Gabriel River emptied into the Pacific Ocean. Also in this area is a “Mound Claimed by Mr. Rowland,” though, again, why he would insist on ownership of something outside of the rancho boundaries is a question (one that may never be answered.)

Finally, there is a detail towards the center of the map which shows a 7,161 acre parcel set aside for Workman and taking in a substantial part of the San Jose Hills section of Walnut and West Covina, as well as what is called the South San Jose Hills unincorporated county community. In this latter is a faint inscription for a “Sheep Coral [sic],” while towards the top left of the tract is delineated the “House of Wheat Rancho of Workman.” Some sources indicate that the ranchero had 5,000 acres of the crop planted in the Puente Valley, likely in both the 4,299-acre tract to the north of that domicile and in the 10,480-acre parcel to the west. It was probably no accident, moreover, that the dwelling was situated next to a spring.

To the west are two tracts of Rowland’s, including 1,054 acres including the Puente Hill/Industry Hills area, with 356 acres given to his son Thomas, and a 1,465-acre parcel, with another 215 acres left to Thomas, west of the San Jose Hills and largely in what is the unincorporated Valinda community and likely portions of West Covina. A road between the Industry Hills property and some hills to the east is almost certainly where Azusa Avenue largely runs today.

Obviously, this map is filled with remarkable details and some may have been missed or under-discussed in this post, but, hopefully, this summary has given some good information about the amazing artifact, which, one would like to believe, will some day emerge, in some fashion, for the public to enjoy. In the meantime, it was great that Ruderman not only listed the map on his website, but made these high-resolution scans available. This post, at least, is one way for the public to see and learn from it!

4 thoughts

  1. Paul, thanks for another excellent post. I’ve always wanted to see a high resolution detail of this map, so today’s article was a nice surprise. Thanks to your notes, I can actually estimate where my current home is in the lower hills southwest of Fullerton and Colima!

  2. Hi Art, thanks for your comment and kind words. It was certainly a surprise when the map was located online several months ago; it just took some time to get this put together. It’s always great when people like you can make a connection to history like this

  3. Fascinating. It captures the moment when the land was passing from the casual surveys and borders of the Spanish/Mexican era into the well documented and highly surveyed American era.

    Is there more information about how the “roads” worked?
    This map indicates/implies that they were on the private land of the ranchos but they must have offered public access(?) Roads many times act as borders and lot lines similar to rivers and water ways but they are not as well documented as the other borders.

    Who maintained them? Was there any formal responsibility for them? Perhaps the Ranchos maintained them just enough for their own needs?

    Eventually these roads would be deeded to the government. Was that acreage given to the government by the owners? Was the land condemned and taken or was payment made for the land?

    Perhaps it was just understood that what we now know as “Gale Ave., Valley Blvd. and Hacienda road” etc. would eventually become owned and maintained by the government?

    With the effort to so evenly divide the land between the two partners (for future use, development and inheritance) one might think that planning the exact location of the road alignments would also be pretty important.

    But then again it was still the horse drawn era and without automobiles, perhaps people didn’t put the importance on roads and road access that they would 50 years later.

  4. Hi Jim, thanks for the comment and questions. The 1842 grant to Rowland for La Puente (amended three years later with more land included and Workman officially acknowledged as co-owner) provided that any existing public roads were to be kept as such—these including today’s Valley Boulevard and Ramona Boulevard/San Bernardino Road—the latter being the northern boundary of the ranch. In the Mexican era, maintenance was probably non-existent or very minimal, but who was responsible is the question. When Los Angeles County was formed, there was some oversight (including “road overseers”), but, again, likely at a very basic level. The other roads mentioned in the post were probably private, including the Temple-Rubottom cut-off from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, completed in 1867, just before the map was don. You ask a good question about the partition and the future of roads and your surmise at the end may be correct. Road planning and management definitely became more of a concern with the increasing prominence of automobiles during the first decades of the 20th century.

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