The Works Progress Administration

Biography of Walter P. Temple of El Monte California

An inheritance of ability, courage and enterprise served to make Walter P. Temple one of the esteemed citizens of the vicinity of El Monte, where he engaged as a horticulturist and rancher. The pioneer of the family, Francis Pliny Fisk Temple, was one of the men who led the advance guard of the mighty hosts who brought American civilization to this sunny land.

He was born in Reading, Massachusetts, February 13, 1822, and in that section was reared and educated. He was possessed of that sturdy independence of thought and self-reliant spirit that led his English ancestors to leave the well trodden paths of their native land and see among the broad opportunities of the western world, and advancement of both self and nation. His education completed, Mr. Temple set for California by way of Cape Horn, arriving in Los Angeles in the summer of 1841. With his brother Jonathan, who had preceded him to California, he became associated in business for several years, and upon severing their connections, Francis began to deal in real estate, purchasing property in both town and country. He became largely interested in various ranches surrounding El Monte.

September 30, 1845, Francis P.F. Temple was united in marriage with Antonia Margarita Workman, only daughter of William and Nicolasa Workman, the latter born of an old Spanish family of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1802. Mrs. Temple was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1831, and after her marriage made her home on the Merced Ranch. Mr. Temple had built and adobe house after the old Spanish style and made other improvements, which increased the value of his property. He engaged for a time in breeding stock and the selling of cattle, in which enterprise he was uniformly successful. In 1851 he set out a vineyard of fifty thousand vines and twenty acres of miscellaneous fruits, and countless other improvements; a lover of fine horses he spent a fortune of blooded stock. In 1868 he engaged in the banking business in Los Angeles with I. W. Hellman and his father-in-law, the late William Workman; three years later the partnership was dissolved and the firm was thereafter known as Temple and Workman, their business being carried on in the Temple block, which Mr. Temple had erected. In 1875 the firm failed and the greater part of the vast fortune of Mr. Temple was voluntarily given up to meet all demands, but the financial disaster made such an impression upon him that he never recovered his health and spirits, his entire afterlife saddened and perhaps shortened by it. His death occurred April 27, 1880, on the home place and his interment took place in La Puente. He had always been a potent factor in public enterprises of all descriptions, and many a landmark recalls the worth of his citizenship. He was survived by his wife, who died in 1892.

They were the parents of eleven children, of whom eight attained maturity, and only two are still living: Thomas, Francis W; William W.; John H; Charles P; Walter P.; David; Agnes; David Harrison; Marguerite and Lucinda. The two who are still living are Walter P., the subject of this review, who resides in Los Angeles, and Marguerite (Mrs. Samuel P. Rowland) living in Puente.

Walter P. Temple was born on the Merced Ranch in the region known as the old Mission, June 7, 1870, and was reared in his native county. After receiving a preliminary education in the common schools, he attended St. Vincent’s College of Los Angeles, and also took a commercial course in the Woodbury College, also of that city. After completing his education he returned home and remained with his mother until her death.

The old homestead has undergone changes since the early days of the state, the adobe house characteristic of the early days, as well as the later built brick residence, are both gone, but there still stands as a landmark one of the most magnificent palms in Southern California. This was planted by Don Juan Ramirez, a leading horticulturist of Los Angeles, seventy-five years ago; the seed was brought from Mexico, Don Juan making Mr. Temple a present of it at the birth of his first daughter about 1865. Mr. Temple’s property consisted of fifty acres of land located three and a half miles south of El Monte; forty-five acres were planted to walnuts and five acres to apples. Energy and ability resulted in financial returns, which made Mr. Temple independent.

Mr. Temple was united in marriage in 1903 with Miss Laura Gonzales, who was born at the San Gabriel Mission. Five children were born to bless them, namely: Thomas W., Walter P., and john, all of Los Angeles, J.R., of Puente, and Agnes, (Mrs. Fatjo) of San Francisco.

In his political affiliations Mr. Temple was a Republican; he took a deep interest in educational development, serving as school trustee of La Puente district, and for a time, officiating as clerk of the board. Mrs. Temple died in 1923, while Mr. Temple resides in Los Angeles.

Source: C. D. Mayon, F. Brow, L. Stoddard, and C. Mudd; El Monte from the Pioneer Days. WPA Project No. N-5740, 1936. In record 19-187072. (California Historical Landmark No. 765: El Monte). On file at the SCCIC, CSU Fullerton.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top