by Paul R. Spitzzeri
In late 1875, the shuttered Temple and Workman bank received loans from Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin totaling over $340,000 so that its owners, William Workman and F.P.F. Temple, could reopen the institution and weather financial problems including a depressed state and national economy and its own speculations in business projects during Los Angeles’ first growth and development boom. As collateral for the loan, Temple and Workman put down their immense landholdings in the San Gabriel Valley and in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the attempt to salvage the bank failed and a subsequent inventory revealed poor management of the institution. Baldwin, however, waited over three years before filing for foreclosure, allowing the interest to accumulate to such a degree that the balance of over $550,000 was simply not payable by anyone. Once a judge approved the foreclosure action, Baldwin took ownership of the land mortgaged for the loan.
This included some 18,000 acres of Rancho La Puente that was left of the over 24,000 William Workman had long owned. Aside from some occasional sales, leases and renting of land on the property, Baldwin kept most of that intact until his death in 1909. Once the estate was settled, the land was quickly sold. Some of this has been detailed in this blog, including the purchasing by El Monte merchant and future business manager of Temple’s son, Walter, of much of what became Baldwin Park and the development of North Whittier (Hacienda) Heights by Edwin G. Hart. Another was a tract of about 2,000 acres, once known as Hillview and as La Fortuna Acres and sold in 1911.
A circa 1910s map of what is officially known as Tract 1343 that has been in the Homestead’s collection for over twenty-five years is the focus of this post. It takes in an area that is largely within the City of Industry, as well as portions in the unincorporated county areas of Hacienda (North Whittier) Heights, Avocado Heights and sections of Bassett.
The purchaser of the land from the Baldwin estate, which was represented by his nephew Henry A. Unruh (there is an Unruh Street in Industry and La Puente), was a syndicate of investors headed by Los Angeles banker Marco Hellman. Hellman, born in 1871, was the son of Herman W. Hellman, who migrated to Gold Rush-era Los Angeles with his brother Isaias, later a partner in the second bank in Los Angeles with F.P.F. Temple and William Workman before the partnership ended. While the latter formed their short-lived namesake bank, Isaias W. Hellman opened Farmers and Merchants Bank, a highly successful institution for decades.
Herman Hellman, like his older brother, was a successful merchant and then joined Isaias in Farmers and Merchants, becoming vice-president and general manager when Isaias moved to San Francisco to take control of the state’s largest bank, the Nevada-California. However, Herman’s loaning practices were too liberal for his conservative-minded brother, who replaced Herman with his son.
Though Herman remained with the bank for some years, he resigned in 1903 to become president of The Merchants National Bank in Los Angeles. That year, he built an 8-story building in the city that still stands (the museum has, in its collection, a pamphlet issued for the completion of the structure.) Just a few years later, in 1906, Herman died of complications from diabetes.
Marco and his brother Irving were principals in the Cross Land Company, along with Louis M. Cole, S.N. Clark, and J. Fred Gale, but the purchase was made for these men by a stock and bond house in Los Angeles called Purcell, Gray and Gale, which became the general agent when the Cross Land Company subdivided and sold the property. As recently covered here, Samuel P. Rowland was a special agent for Purcell, Gray and Gale and it is ironic that his wife, Margarita A. Temple, was the granddaughter of William Workman, who’d owned the land before his bank’s collapse and the daughter of F.P.F. Temple, who ran sheep on the Cross Land Company tract.
Local residents will recognize Gale’s surname, because a major west to east thoroughfare through the City of Industry is Gale Avenue. Parallel to the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake railroad track, now owned by Union Pacific, is Clark Avenue, which runs between Turnbull Canyon Road and Sixth Avenue. Clark was the general manager of the tract for the land company–it has been assumed here previously that the street was named for San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake founder William A. Clark.
The map shows the area embraced by the tract with the western boundary being what is now Workman Mill Road (First Avenue on the artifact), the east line being Turnbull Canyon (shown as Tenth Avenue), with the north boundary being Valley Boulevard (given as Puente Road), and the south largely being the railroad track, though a section of the tract falls to the south of that in a portion of Hacienda Heights that is on both sides of Seventh Avenue.
The City of Industry portion is mainly the eastern side of the tract from Sixth Street to Turnbull Canyon, while the western portion falls within Avocado Heights and a bit of the Bassett community. Notably, the Homestead is at the far right where two angled lines meet to the right of Tenth Avenue (Turnbull Canyon).
In 1911, the 75-acre Homestead was owned by Eugene Bassett, no relation to the O.T. Bassett, whose subdivision he purchased from a bank which foreclosed on William Workman’s son Joseph in the 1890s, and Eugene’s son-in-law, Thomas H. Pratt. The men were leasing the Homestead and a slaughterhouse and meat-packing business was operating at the time of the Cross Land Company purchase.
At the other end of the map, at its lower left, is the wording “La Puente Mill Property.” This referred to a section of Rancho La Puente, including the Workman grist mill, that was given by Workman to his daughter, Antonia Margarita Workman de Temple. She, in turn, left it to several of her children, who then sold it off during the 1890s and 1900s.
The sections surrounding the portion of the Cross Land Company tract flanking Seventh Avenue south of the railroad track, were sold to Edwin Hart when he subdivided North Whittier Heights and he, at one time, referred to these areas, north of Gale Avenue, as “Hartville.”
The map does have purple stamps marking property as sold and these are mainly along Valley Boulevard, the southern section along Seventh Avenue, the far west portion near Workman Mill Road, and areas at the southeastern part of the tract along the railroad line and San Jose Creek, which had year-round flow as a natural stream. One of the purchasers of major acreage in this latter area was dairy owner Bernard V. Handorf, whose home still stands just west of the Homestead at the corner of Turnbull Canyon and Don Julian Road (listed as Central Avenue on the map.)
Next Tuesday, we’ll take a look at one of the principals in the creation of the Cross Land Company tract and the namesake of one of the busiest streets in the City of Industry: John Frederick Gale.