“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Temecula in Riverside County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

First National Bank

First National Bank Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dana Law, December 30, 2009
1. First National Bank Marker
Inscription.  Built in 1912 by Eli Barnett. Completed in 1914, the Temecula bank was locally owned and known as the "Pawn Shop" by its rancher directors. The bank was robbed on August 13th, 1930. The robber was promptly captured by townspeople and the loot was recovered in full. The bank's doors remained open during the depression and was eventually closed in 1941. For many years the second floor served as the community center and dance hall.
Erected 1978 by Temecula Historical Society. (Marker Number 3.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1912.
Location. 33° 29.607′ N, 117° 8.947′ W. Marker is in Temecula, California, in Riverside County. Marker is at the intersection of Old Town Front Street and Main Street, on the left when traveling north on Old Town Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 28645 Old Town Front Street, Temecula CA 92590, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Heart o' the Hills (approx. 2½ miles away); The Wolf Store (approx. 3.1
First National Bank Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dana Law, December 30, 2009
2. First National Bank Marker
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miles away); Treaty of Temecula (approx. 3.1 miles away); Patricia H. Birdsall (approx. 4.2 miles away); The Great Oak (approx. 4.8 miles away); Santa Rosa Rancho (approx. 7.1 miles away); Dripping Springs Watering Hole (approx. 9.3 miles away); Mission San Antonio de Pala (approx. 9.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Temecula.
Regarding First National Bank. Construction of "The Bank" building began June 27, 1913 and took about a year to complete. The thick cement walls were poured by laborers pushing wheelbarrows up ramps and along scaffolding under the direction of the Remington Co. of Los Angeles. Long tie rods, threaded on each end with washer steel plates, were run through the building between the 2 stories and the nuts tightened for safety on the second story. The walls of the building and the vault measure 18 inches thick. On March 27, 1914, the project was completed.

The committee who planned the construction and management of The First National Bank of Temecula was Eli Barnett C.P. Shumate, Hugo Guenther, George Burnham, Frank Fernald, Alex and Peter Escallier and Joe
First National Bank Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dana Law, December 30, 2009
3. First National Bank Marker
Winkles. Referred to it as the "hock shop", loans were limited to $2,500 regardless of the applicant and/or his collateral.

The Holdup
The first bank robbery in the history of Riverside County that anyone can remember occurred on August 14, 1930 at the Temecula First National Bank. On that fateful day Miguel "Jerry" Diaz entered the bank at nine o'clock in the morning and walked to the teller's window. Miss Agnes Freeman, the young teller, appeared to be alone because the bank cashier, John W. Chisholm, was in the back room at the time.
"As Diaz approached, I greeted him. He did not reply and became agitated when he recognized me," said Miss Freeman. "I knew him from the Pauba Ranch where he was one of the hands that worked for my Dad. He put a paper bag on the counter, drew a revolver, and ordered me to put up my hands. When Mr. Chisholm entered the room Diaz had already crawled over the counter and put the gun to my back. He told us that he would shoot us both if we caused trouble. He tossed the paper bag to Mr. Chisholm and ordered him to fill it with money. He then forced us into the vault, where he attempted to lock us in, but Mr. Chisholm pushed a screwdriver into the jamb as the door was closing. Diaz couldn't get the locking mechanism to work, but escaped with about $2,000. As Diaz drove away in a yellow Model A Ford coupe, Mr. Chisholm grabbed a Luger
The Bank Gets a New Sign image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Puma, April 12, 2009
4. The Bank Gets a New Sign
The new sign was designed and built by Bob Morris. Bob has built several buildings in Old Town as well as the arches that welcome visitors from the North and South.
pistol he kept in his desk and ran into the street calling for help. John McSweeney, a local rancher, was in the barber shop across the street getting a shave at the time. He jumped out of the chair; towel, lather, and all; and, he and Mr. Chisholm took off after Diaz in Mr. McSweeney's Buick. They caught him about two miles up Winchester Road. When Mr. Chisholm fired two shots through his windshield Diaz stopped and surrendered. He was later tried and found guilty of first degree robbery, and served three years in prison before being paroled."

The Bank's insurance company rewarded Miss Freeman with a diamond broach, and Chisholm with a nickel-plated .45 caliber automatic pistol for their bravery.

Source: Roger Francis Honberger (Son of Agnes Freeman)
October 24, 1992
Credits. This page was last revised on June 30, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 4, 2010, by Dana Law of El Cajon, California. This page has been viewed 1,973 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on January 4, 2010, by Dana Law of El Cajon, California.   4. submitted on July 6, 2010, by Craig Puma of Temecula, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 20, 2023