Local Family Histories
'Working to preserve the rich heritage of the Temecula Valley'
Biography of Eli Esla Barnett
Research compiled by Malcolm Barnett
   Eli Esla Barnett was born in Illinois, June 14, 1852. Eli's father, Adrain Davis Barnett, was born July, 28, 1814 in Russellsville, Logan Co. KY. Adrain D. Barnett died on Jan. 13, 1882 and was buried in Ventura CA. Eli's mother was Sarah Walker born in 1815 in either Pennsylvania or Maryland. When Eli was a very small child he was in a run away horse and buggy accident in which his mother, Sarah, was killed. The year was 1853/54.

    Adrain and Sarah had 5 children. Adrain came to California in the late 1860's with 4 of his children by wagon train through the North Platte River in Nebraska. The trip took about 7 months. They arrived in No. California near Yuba City. Around 1870 they settled in Ventura County, California.

    Eli E. Barnett located in Sutter County, near Yuba City, where he worked for $1.00 a day and by frugal hoarding of his small wages he accumulated a working capitol for future use.

    His next location was Ventura County where Eli was one of the first farmers to farm in the Simi Valley. This was about 1871. He remained in the area for about 14 years.

    During this period he married Alice Stevens, a native of Iowa. They were married May, 15 1875. Seven of their 9 children were born in this area.

    He lost this farm to gambling and then moved to Los Angeles in 1884 to farm and stayed there for 7 years.

    Eli and Jonathan, his brother, owned 4200 acres of land on the Carson River in Nevada.

    They raised cattle on this land.

    Eli had become interested in investments in Riverside County, which impressed him because of the climate and soil advantages, and having purchased 40 acres near Temecula, he moved there in November 1894. He increased his holdings to a total of 1300 acres (which is a part of the old historical Juan Murrieta Ranch). Most of the land was used for grain. He also developed water by sinking wells for irrigation purposes for growing alfalfa.

    The Barnett Ranch was primarily devoted to the growing of barley and wheat, and raising Thoroughbred horses and Hereford bulls. Also pear, prunes, plums, apples, apricots and other fruits are raised for family consumption and all bear prolifically. Eli's income for the year from the sale of horses alone was $5,000.00 and his revenue from the various products of the ranch was a princely one.

    When Eli located on this property it was void of any improvements. He built several out buildings. With the purchased of the lumber and materials from the vacant Linda Rosa Hotel, he built a 13 room home for his wife and 9 children. The house was located 2 miles north of Temecula. With the fences, trees and water developed by wells, made it one of the most productive farms in this part of Riverside County.

    In 1913 plans for the Citizens Bank of Temecula began coming together. The major promoters were Eli E. Barnett, a successful rancher with money to invest, and C. P. Shumate, who seems to have had the banking know-how. Other investors include Hugo Guenther, George Burnham, Frank Fernald, Alex and Peter Escallier and Joe Winkles. Eli Barnett was president until he sold most of his stock to Malhon Vail in 1917.

    In 1917, Eli sent to the State of Georgia for a large granite stone to be placed on the Barnett plot in the Temecula Cemetery. This is the year his wife Alice died. Eli, Alice, and 5 of their children are also buried in the Temecula Cemetery.

    Eli was an ambitious and determined man and had many set backs in his life. But with each downfall he made a successful comeback.

    In fraternal relations, Mr. Barnett has been connected with the blue lodge of Masonry and at one time held a membership in the Odd Fellows.

    Eli and Alice raised a large family of 4 boys and 5 girls who were prominent in the valley's business and social life.
Portrait of Malcolm Barnett
by Roy Morrissey