All Over the Map While Drilling for Black Gold with a “Map of the Montebello—Whittier Oil Fields,” 1918/1921, Part Two

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

This second part of a post looking into some detail at a “Map of the Montebello—Whittier Oil Fields,” issued by the Los Angeles-based publishers of The Oil Age magazine in 1918 and corrected to 5 December 1921 takes us to the right (east) side of the roughly 2-foot high and 4-foot wide representation of an area from downtown Los Angeles to just east of the San Gabriel River (west to east) and from Arcadia to Montebello (north to south). Again, while the focus on the oil regions in the title, this being at the lower portion, there is much of note with respect to outlying areas.

So, at the top right, for example, we have a large block of unadorned space denoting the city of Arcadia, but, between that and the title block as well as under it, there are sections identified as parts of the Rancho San Francisquito, including the western two-thirds of it, this latter owned by William Workman, F.P.F. Temple and Lewis (Luis) Wolfskill until the tract was sold to Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin in October 1875 as the Temple and Workman bank was suspended during an economic panic and cash badly needed to reopen the stricken institution. Wolfskill was the son-in-law of Henry Dalton, who was granted the nearly 9,000-acre ranch by Governor Pío Pico in 1845 and then deeded most of it to Wolfskill who, in turn, sold interests to Temple and Workman who were close friends of his late father, William.

Close to a half-century later, we see references to Baldwin’s Addition Number 1 to the Santa Anita Colony, south of the Azusa/Dalton Road (under the City of Arcadia block), this thoroughfare now being Live Oak Avenue as it moves northeast from Encinita (misspelled “Encenita” here) Avenue out towards a “Subdivision of the Rancho Azusa” at upper right corner—this is actually a portion of the Rancho Azusa de Duarte, embracing unincorporated county sections and parts of the cities of Duarte and Irwindale.

One area that is easily identifiable is where Live Oak meets Peck Road coming on a northeast angle from El Monte and terminating at the intersection. An undulating line of small dots running from the upper right corner to above and through the “RANCHO SAN FRANCISQUITO” identifier and then towards the center, and key portion, of the map is the Rio Hondo, or old course of the San Gabriel River, with the new course at the far right—though, curiously, more faintly identified.

Among the property owners in this corner of the map is the estate of Lewis Bradbury, builder of the famed downtown Los Angeles office building highlighted in the film Blade Runner and namesake of the exclusive gated residential enclave north of the map’s upper limits; the heirs of John D. Bicknell (who owned land west of Montebello as the map shows), several owners in the Arcadia Acreage Tract (in unincorporated county land with an Arcadia zip code); and the J.R. Loftus Tract.

Other parcels include the Chicago Park subdivision and Coffin & Armstrong Tract, which is north of Lower Azusa Road, shown as moving in irregular routes east of Rosemead Avenue and tied to Los Angeles Street, which is now sporting that name only within Baldwin Park city limits, rather than a stretch in a now discontinuous island of Arcadia. The Norwood Village section of northeast El Monte and that small Arcadia portion embrace these tracts today, but only Hemlock Street in the Coffin and Armstrong parcel has retained the name, while none of the Chicago Park streets, within Arcadia, bear their names any longer.

Another Baldwin subdivision is west of Peck and south of Lower Azusa in El Monte, while an area northwest of that intersection and below the Río Hondo includes Arroyo High School within its domain. North of the watercourse, again denoted as the western two-thirds of San Francisquito, and east of El Monte Avenue are tracts with the names of Samantha Snoddy, W.H. Freer, J.D. Cleminson and others. Much of this is in that unincorporated Arcadia with tracts (including some of the Bicknell one) on either side of Peck south of Live Oak being in an odd shoestring of Monrovia, while the west end adjoining El Monte Avenue constitutes the southeast corner of Temple City.

Speaking of that latter community, we move west of El Monte, east of Baldwin Avenue and between Live Oak on the north and Lower Azusa on the south with that Baldwin Addition Number 1 of the Santa Anita Colony and more of the southeast spur, if that is the right way to put it, of Temple City. Moving west of Baldwin as far as Rosemead, which isn’t shown as going north of Broadway and up to Longden Avenue, which is a long thoroughfare now from San Gabriel near San Marino all the way until it ends at Live Oak in Irwindale (where the upper right corner of the map is), we cover most of Temple City’s existing limits, though there are some slight sections outside the map.

At the top near the edge of the title box is “Sunny Slope Vineyard,” named for the well-known 19th century owned by Leonard J. Rose, namesake of Rosemead. The street names Sultan (now Sultana) Avenue and Emperor Avenue may refer to Rose’s breeding of racehorses and these are still existing. To the right of that is the large Santa Anita Land Company Tract where the north-south streets of Oak, Sunset and Golden West still exist, although the middle one is now Temple City Boulevard. San Gabriel Avenue is now Las Tunas Drive, Garibaldi Avenue (that name is also misspelled on the map) retains its name, San Joaquin Avenue is the extension of Longden, and Lemon Avenue also continues with that appellation and is also the northerly limit of Temple City.

Also within the city’s limits is The Sunny View Tract is north of Broadway and mostly south of Las Tunas (San Gabriel Avenue) from south to north and between Encinita and Rosemead east to west, but Manzanita Avenue is now the continuation of Sultana Avenue. South of Live Oak, which then ended at Encinita and extending south of Olive and crossing east of Temple City Boulevard) is the Mission View Acres Tract, while a Baldwin Addition No. 2 to the Santa Anita Colony goes from Live Oak to Olive west of Baldwin Avenue. A few other tracts, number 1098 and 1238 and some parcels that are not identified as to owner, but where the words “Western Two Thirds” are situated constitute most of the southwestern corner of Temple City.

We’ve paid some significant attention to this part of the map because Temple City is commemorating its centennial next year with Walter P. Temple announcing the creation of what he called the Town of Temple (the name change happened in 1928) after he purchased the Burkhard Investment Company’s property earmarked for the town of Sunny Slope Acres. The Burkhard project was launched in 1921 and so doesn’t reflect on the map, these sections likely being from 1918, but after some promotion of Sunny Slope Acres during 1922, Temple picked up nearly 300 acres of what was the Santa Anita land Company Tract on this map and began his townsite project. We’ll share more of that story during 2023 for the reasons stated above!

The bounds of the city of El Monte are noted with detailing of lots and parcels north of Valley Boulevard (shown as Pomona Boulevard) and south of Bryant Road between Tyler Street and Peck Road. The Southern Pacific Railroad line bisects this portion as does the Pacific Electric Railway streetcar line which crosses the SP track at Central Avenue—this latter appears to be today’s Cypress Avenue. Shortly after this map was created, a downtown developed along Valley Boulevard, along a section now known as Main Street, and on the south side of this, Walter Temple built a post office and movie theater, the Rialto, the buildings of which still stand between Lexington and Monterey avenues.

To the east and northeast of the city limits are the Champion and Cogswell tracts and Maxson’s Subdivision, while to the north is the smaller Basye Subdivision along with another of several examples of City of Pasadena ownership of lands not contiguous to its borders. Some of these names, including Basye (associated, though in controversy, with the Temples), Maxson and Cogswell, are of old families in the area and Prescott Cogswell was a county supervisor during this era from 1918 to 1926, having previously served in the state Assembly and Senate. To the west, there is the Guess Tract (another early family) and Rosemead.

Moving across the San Gabriel River to the right (east) edge of the map, there are some parcels north of the Pacific Electric line, such as the nearly 400 acres identified as owned by John H. Coolman, Trustee. Below the streetcar track, we get into land owned by Baldwin’s daughters Clara Baldwin Stocker and Anita M. Baldwin, through which the river is shown as passing, while Tract 718 includes Frazier Street and Covina Boulevard, this latter now Baldwin Park Boulevard, in the city of Baldwin Park. Below this is O.T. Bassett’s Subdivision, formerly the 825-acre ranch of Joseph Workman, son of Homestead founders William Workman and Nicolasa Urioste, and which is the unincorporated community of Bassett.

Crossing the Southern Pacific rail line and Pomona (Valley) Boulevard and north of the Los Angeles, San Pedro and Salt Lake railroad line (absorbed in 1924 by the Union Pacific), we come to a large subdivision with “Shell Company” spanning it, but this is also recorded on the map as Tract 1343. The parcels here were part of the Workman portion, along with the Bassett area and Tract 718, of Rancho La Puente and included a sheep ranch maintained by F.P.F. Temple prior to the loss of almost all of the Workman holdings on the ranch to Baldwin in the late 1870s. Today, this area, much of which was subdivided in the 1910s as La Fortuna Farms, is largely known as Avocado Heights, an unincorporated neighborhood with an equestrian designation.

To the northwest and southwest of Tract 1343 and then south across the Salt Lake track, where the west end of the Puente Hills is situated, including the closed landfill, are parcels owned by Jay M. Danziger, an oil executive who was born in New York but came to Los Angeles in 1884 at a year old and, after studying law at the University of Southern California, became a well-known corporate attorney, including for the oil magnates Dr. Norman Bridge, Edward L. Doheny and Charles Canfield. He joined these men in investing in oil enterprises and married Canfield’s daughter Daisy, though she divorced him to marry film star Antonio Moreno. Daisy and her sisters, as mentioned in part one of this post, established a girls’ training home in a corner of the Rancho La Merced in Monterey Park in honor of their mother, murdered by a former family employee in 1906.

Other large tracts in the Puente Hills section show the names of Anita M. Baldwin, the Shell Company, Francis F. Pellissier, owner of extensive dairy interests in the region, including along a section off Workman Mill Road near Interstate 605 and the 60 Freeway and Francisca A. Jesurun, daughter of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino owner Isaac Williams and María Jesús Lugo and widow of the colorful Robert Carlisle and former Los Angeles mayor Frederick MacDougall. Parts of tracts 1953 and 2421 are in North Whittier Heights, laid out on former Rancho La Puente land owned by Workman and then Baldwin in 1911 and now known as the unincorporated community of Hacienda Heights, directly south of the Homestead.

Speaking of Pellissier and Danziger, they are shown as one of several owners of tracts within the La Puente Mill Property, which comprised more than 600 acres of Rancho La Puente deeded by William Workman, after he built his grist mill there about 1868, to his daughter Antonia Margarita Workman de Temple and saved from the foreclosure by Lucky Baldwin of the rest of the Workman section of the ranch. The Temples, however, gradually sold off their interests in the tract, where William Workman, about where the name “L. Pelanconi” (that’s a well-known name on Olvera Street off the Los Angeles Plaza where the Pelanconi Building, where La Golondrina Restaurant long operated, still stands.) Also of note are the names of the Piuma and Briano, who were brothers-in-law and the former long renting the old Temple family adobe on Rancho La Merced for his winery. With the pair, Pelanconi, John Patritti (whose family still resides in this area) and John Ravera all having interests in the Mill tract, the use of it for winemaking by these Italians is an interesting, if little known, part of our local history.

We will return tomorrow with the third and final part of this post, getting into the focus area of this map, which, while it indicates the Whittier Oil Field as key, doesn’t include much of that section, though there may be a clear reason why (more tomorrow), really is most valuable for its coverage of the Montebello field, where the Temple family story is an important one.

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