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Workman-Temple family facts for kids

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The Workman-Temple family relates to the pioneer interconnected Workman and Temple families that were prominent in: the history of colonial Pueblo de Los Angeles and American Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Basin and San Gabriel Valley regions; and Southern California — from 1830 to 1930 in Mexican Alta California and the subsequent state of California, United States.

William Workman


William ('Don Julian') Workman (January 15, 1802–May 17, 1876) was born in Temple Sowerby, Westmorland, now Cumbria, England, to Thomas Workman (1763–1843) and Nancy Hook (1771–1830). When William was eleven years old, his father inherited a substantial home and property in nearby Clifton from a childless aunt and uncle and relocated his family there. In 1814, the Workmans issued cash bequests upon their three sons, with the eldest, David Workman, using half his money to migrate to America in 1817. David settled in the new town of Franklin, Missouri, the virtual western end of the country, in 1819, opened a saddlery and returned to England three years later to retrieve the remainder of his bequest. In the process, David convinced William to join him and the two brothers sailed from Liverpool and landed at Philadelphia in September 1822.

New Mexico

William stayed in Franklin for three years, working for his brother, before joining an early caravan on the Santa Fe Trail, which opened in Franklin, Missouri in 1821, to Santa Fe de Nuevo México-New Spain in the spring of 1825. He then settled in Taos where he did some fur trapping, opened a store, and, in partnership with American John A. Rowland, manufactured liquor.

Workman family

William Workman had a common-law marriage with Maria Nicolasa Urioste de Valencia (April 19, 1802–February 4, 1892), a Taos Native American, for more than a decade, having a church marriage at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel near the Pueblo de Los Angeles in 1844. He and Nicolasa had two children, Antonia Margarita (1830–1892) and Joseph Manuel Workman (ca. 1833-1901.)

While a success as a merchant and distiller, Workman was embroiled in the difficult local politics of the period in Nuevo México, having been forced to swear loyalty to rebels in the Taos Revolt who assassinated the departmental Mexican governor in 1837. After a counter-revolt squashed the Taoseño rebellion, Workman and his partner Rowland were arrested for smuggling. A few years later, when the independent Republic of Texas and its president, Mirabeau B. Lamar, sought to extend its boundary to the Rio Grande, thereby annexing the principal towns of New Mexico, Workman and Rowland were named agents of the Texans in New Mexico. Although it is unclear whether they sought the position and were soon replaced, they decided to leave for Alta California early in 1841.

Southern California

In September of that year, a group of up to sixty-five or so members, including Americans, Europeans and New Mexicans left New Mexico and took the Old Spanish Trail to the Los Angeles pueblo. The 1,200-mile (1,900 km) journey was completed by late fall and John Rowland presented a letter of recommendation from New Mexico's American consul and a list of expedition members to the authorities in Los Angeles.

The Workman-Rowland Party was long considered the "first wagon train of Americans to travel overland to Los Angeles," but the party could not use wagons because of the difficult Old Spanish Trail route, nor were they solely Americans., Workman commemorated his arrival in Southern California with a glass plaque (still in family hands) that dated his landfall as November 5, 1841, which was a British national holiday called Guy Fawkes' Day.

Rancho La Puente

Early in 1842, John A. Rowland obtained a Mexican land grant to the Rancho La Puente, at that time 18,000 acres (73 km2), from Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado in the San Gabriel Valley about twenty miles (32 km) from Los Angeles. William Workman was not officially an owner at that time (possibly because he had not yet been naturalized as a Mexican citizen), though he received an official document allowing him the privileges of an owner in settling on the rancho. In July 1845, Governor Pío Pico amended the La Puente grant, adding Workman's name officially as owner and expanding the rancho to the maximum allowable under Mexican land law, eleven square leagues, or almost 49,000 (48,790.55) acres, 48,790-acre (197 km2) Rancho La Puente, a portion of which later became the city of La Puente. Workman occupied the western portions of the rancho and built an adobe home on the property in 1842 that was subsequently expanded by 1856 and then significantly remodeled by 1870.

Mexican American War

The mid 1840s become somewhat confusing because there are two very closely timed military actions occurring: the struggle between the Californios and Mexican appointed leaders not of California and the occupation and annexation of California into the US. In early 1845, William Workman was appointed captain of a cadre of Americans and Europeans serving with Governor Pío Pico in his standoff with appointed Governor Manuel Micheltorena at the battle at Cahuenga Pass of the Mexican–American War, northwest of Los Angeles. Although the battle that ensued was limited to minimal gunfire and no casualties, Workman, his lieutenant John Rowland, Benjamin Davis Wilson, and James McKinley from the Pico side worked out a surrender option with Americans and Europeans on the Micheltorena side and the governor was allowed to leave California by ship. Pico assumed the governorship, but his relocating of the Alta California capital to Los Angeles from Monterey and his plan to move the customs house to San Pedro Bay, among other issues, led northerner José Castro to mount a challenge to Pico's authority. Workman was appointed to lead the defense of Los Angeles against an incursion by Castro's forces, when news came that the American army was ready to invade the department of Alta California for other actions in the Mexican War.

William Workman played an important role in subsequent events during the Mexican–American War. After a group of Americans, including Wilson and Rowland, were seized in late summer 1846 at the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino house of Isaac Williams, Workman and neighboring ranchero Ignacio Palomares worked to free the prisoners, who were held at Paredon Blanco (later Boyle Heights.) After the native Californios, in the Siege of Los Angeles, were successful in expelling the American force left to guard the town after the initial conquest by U.S. forces and another American invasion was being led by Commodore Robert F. Stockton, Workman met Stockton at Mission San Juan Capistrano just after New Year's Day 1847 and arranged an amnesty for all Californios who would resist the American retaking of Los Angeles.

When the last battle of the war on California soil was fought in the San Fernando Valley in Cahuenga Pass on 9 January 1845, Workman and two others brought out the flag of truce the following morning at Campo de Cahuenga. Notably, Pío Pico had been ordered by the legislature of Alta California to go to Mexico and request assistance. When Pico returned to Los Angeles in 1848, he spent some time at Workman's residence. When the ex-governor refused to present himself to the military commander at Los Angeles, Jonathan D. Stevenson, Stevenson raged that Workman was complicit in this defiance, angrily stating that Workman was "ever hostile to the American cause." Suspicion by the US military was also cast toward the motives of Hugo Reid, the latter originally from Scotland.

Nine days before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified by the Mexican Congress, James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill on 24 January 1848. The resulting California Gold Rush brought a huge economic windfall to Workman, whose hide-and-tallow trade activities with his cattle ranching paled to the need for fresh beef in the gold regions. The wealth generated allowed Workman to expand his ranching enterprises, enlarge his house, build a cemetery and chapel on his grounds, and acquire real estate.

Expansion and agriculture

One such acquisition came in 1850 when William Workman, who had loaned money to grantee Casilda Soto de Lobo, foreclosed on the Rancho La Merced and then gave it to his ranch foreman, Juan Matias Sanchez, and his daughter, Margarita, and her husband, P. F. Temple, Francisco P. Temple - F.P.T. Subsequently, with his son-in-law F.P.Temple and with Juan Sanchez, Workman acquired neighboring ranchos, including Rancho Potrero Grande, Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo, and Rancho Potrero Chico, in the area generally known as Misión Vieja or Old Mission, around the first site of Mission San Gabriel at Whittier Narrows. Workman later had interests in today's Beverly Hills and Glendale and also had a claim to the Lytle Canyon area near Rancho Cucamonga and Cajon Pass.

By 1861 Workman was engaged predominantly in livestock raising with 3,000 head of cattle and 600 horses. He had about ten acre vineyard and fruit trees (apple, fig, peach, pear and pomegranate) and an ornamental garden of about 90 square feet at the back of the house with tropical fruit and flowers. The chapel that was being built was with brick made on site. Workman provided horses to the US government during the Civil War. Although the cattle industry was buffeted by the decline of the Gold Rush and battered by the importation of better breeds of cattle from Texas, the death knell of the industry as the backbone of the regional economy was the dual disaster of flood in 1861-62 and drought from 1862-65. Fortunately for Workman, a friend, William Wolfskill, found water and grass in, of all places, the Mojave Desert in today's Apple Valley area and invited Workman and John Rowland to send their herds there. With only a 25% loss in his cattle herd population, Workman still maintained an inventory of thousands of head into the 1870s.

Still, he moved quickly into expanding his agricultural production after 1865. A raiser of wine grapes since the 1840s, Workman built three wine-making and storing structures of brick and had some 60,000 vines on about 100 acres (0.40 km2) of vineyards. He also had 5,000 acres (20 km2) of wheat on the "Wheatfield Ranch" north of his home and built a grist mill near the San Gabriel River. He even experimented successfully with cotton during the Civil War when the southern states were losing crops and market share, but transport proved to be too difficult and the crop was abandoned.

Later generations

The tenth child of F. P.F. Temple and Margarita Workman, Walter P. Temple (June 7, 1869–November 13, 1938) brought a resurgence of his family in regional affairs through oil, real estate, construction, and philanthropy in the 1920s. In 1903, Walter Temple married Laurenza Gonzalez, a member of an early Californio family, who was born and raised just a stone's throw away from Temple in the Misión Vieja (Old Mission) community in present Whittier Narrows. The two had five children, four living to adulthood, and the family lived on a 50-acre (200,000 m2) parcel inherited from Walter's mother after her death in 1892. With longtime friend, Milton Kauffman, however, Temple acquired 60 acres (240,000 m2) to the west at the corner of the Montebello Hills that had belonged to his father before the 1876 failure of the bank of Temple and Workman and sold the former Temple Homestead. Living in an 1869 adobe built by Rafael Basye, the Temples ranched and farmed on their new holdings when their eldest child, Thomas, discovered oil in Spring 1914. After leasing the tract to Standard Oil Company of California, which brought in the first producing well in June 1917, the Temples were the beneficiaries of some two dozen wells drilled over the next several years, including a few major gushers.

William Workman's son José Manuel Workman (February 10, 1833–March 13, 1901) married Josephine Belt (December 19, 1851 – July 1, 1937), a native of Stockton in January 1870 in San Francisco. José and his wife had seven children. Their daughter Josephine Workman became silent movie actress Mona Darkfeather (January 13, 1883–September 3, 1977), who portrayed American Indian women in films.


The historic "Workman House", the original adobe from 1842, with brick additions and a thorough remodel by 1870; "La Casa Nueva," the 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture residence of Walter Temple and Laura Gonzalez,; the 1850s "El Campo Santo Cemetery" Cemetery, a private family burial ground. All are at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum.

Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum

The historic Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, city owned and funded, is located in the City of Industry, a mile north of the Pomona Freeway — SR-60 at 15415 East Don Julian Road, just west of Hacienda Boulevard.

It has:

Free public guided tours are given Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. There are large festivals, weekend living history tours, and other public events year-round: Info & events and Museum history Blog.

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