Vail Ranch Restoration Association
Louis Wolf


The oldest existing building in the Temecula Valley is the Wolf store. It is located in a shopping center on the southeast corner of Temecula and Redhawk Parkways, just east of Kohl's.

Louis Wolf came to California in the 1850s, reportedly from the Alsace area in France. The first indication of Wolf in Temecula was in the spring of 1859 when in a lawsuit unrelated to Wolf, there was mention of a Prager-Wolf Store. It is most likely that Louis Wolf was running the store with the backing of Samuel Prager, a wealthy businessman in the Los Angeles. The Prager-Wolf Store was located on the north side of Temecula Creek, east of where the historic Wolf Store would be built about eight years later.

Within a year, Louis Wolf had moved away from Temecula to an area east of Pauma Valley and west of Warner's Ranch. When Wolf registered to vote in 1867, he reported that he was naturalized in September 1860 in the District Court in San Diego. In July 1861 he was appointed postmaster at Warner's Ranch. The Butterfield Overland Mail was discontinued later in 1861 due to the Civil War. Like other post offices along the Overland Mail route, the post office at Warner's Ranch was discontinued. Wolf remained in Warner's Ranch area and partnered with Thomas Brady in 1867 at a store along the old trail. When the Warner's Ranch post office was reestablished in September 1867, Louis Wolf was the postmaster.

Meanwhile in 1867, Julius Szubinski built a store in Temecula on the Little Temecula Rancho that he had purchased in December 1866. This is the store that would later be known as Wolf Store. In October 1867, a band of outlaws raided the store. Szubinski passed away two months later, leaving the store and the rancho to his son. About that same time, late in 1867, Louis Wolf left Warner's Ranch and returned to Temecula to run Szubinski's store. By the next spring, Wolf apparently owned the store business, but he did not own the building or the Little Temecula Rancho where his store was located.

In the summer of 1868, Louis Wolf bought the Little Temecula Rancho and all the improvements on it. And the name of the store became the Wolf Store. Although the Butterfield Overland Mail had ceased in 1861, other stages often stopped at the Wolf Store and the small village of Temecula continued to grow. In 1870 Wolf became the postmaster at the Temecula Post Office at the Wolf Store.

The 2233-acre Little Temecula Rancho that Louis Wolf purchased in 1868 was originally granted to a Native American Pablo Apis in the 1840's. Prior to that time, Temecula had been one of Mission San Luis Rey's rancherias since the early1800s. This rancho had a long and interesting history even before Louis Wolf first arrived in 1859.

While Louis Wolf was still in the Warner's Ranch area in 1865, he married Ramona Place who was from Santa Barbara. Louis and Ramona's first two children were born while they were in the Warner's Ranch area. Their first-born Albert died while they lived there. Six more children would be born to Louis and Ramona while they lived in Temecula.

In early January 1883, the Temecula Post Office that had been at Wolf Store for 13 years, moved to a new location. The new location was at Temecula Railroad Station that was located near the intersection of today's Winchester and Diaz roads, not far from where Juan Murrieta lived. This new location was the site of a previous Pujol Post Office (1882-83). Later that year Louis Wolf bought some lots in a new area that is known today as Old Town Temecula. That same year, he also became partners with Macedonio Machado in both the original Wolf Store as well as a new store in Old Town.

Louis Wolf died in 1887 in Temecula leaving his wife Ramona and five children. Wolf had become a very successful businessman and was well respected in the area. He is buried in a gravesite off of Loma Linda Road that is reached from Pechanga Parkway Road.

Ramona Place Wolf died in 1894. She is reportedly buried in the cemetery at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside.

    5 May 2015   by Anne J. Miller, Ph.D.