Creating advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles.
by Steven Dugan
While answering questions for this Volunteer Spotlight article, Homestead volunteer and Temple family descendant Gary Temple said that the museum is special to him because, “not many people can say their family has a historical site.” Gary’s connection to the Workman and Temple families runs through John Harrison Temple, Gary’s great-grandfather, who was the fifth child of Antonia Margarita Workman and Francis Pliny Fisk Temple. John, his wife Anita, and their children lived in the Workman House and owned the Homestead from 1888 to 1899. Understandably, Gary is proud that his family history is collected and shared with the public, and he isn’t shy about sharing his knowledge of family history with visitors during events.
Aside from helping with special events, Gary works with the Collections Care Group, which meets the second and fourth Mondays of every month to help take care of the museum’s collection and exhibits. We are delighted to have Gary as a member of our volunteer staff.
1. When did you first visit the Homestead and what do you remember about that visit?
My first time here must have been 1982 [the year after the museum opened]. I had my oldest son in a baby carrier on my back—he’s 34 now!
2. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about your family from the museum staff that you didn’t know before?
The fact that is most interesting to me is that I learned exactly where my grandfather was born. At first, I had always thought it was at the Homestead [Rancho La Puente]. Then, I got information that he was born at Rancho La Merced, and finally, I learned the correct place was Rancho Potrero de Felipe Lugo [present day South El Monte]. That’s a great example of how families can get their own history wrong.
3. You’ve generously loaned and donated many family treasures to the museum. Tell us about one item that holds special significance to you.
That item would be William Workman’s boot pistols. Some time ago they had been stolen and my brother was able to locate them. They were recovered and we were able to return them to our dad. He was so surprised; he thought they were gone forever. Later, we loaned them to the museum for safe keeping.
4. When you’re not giving your time at the Homestead, what are some of your other hobbies as a recent retiree?
Retiring gave me the opportunity to volunteer at the Homestead. I also have time now to organize my vinyl record collection. And, of course, my wife Cheryl has quite the extensive “honey-do list.”