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Welcome to the Murrieta Valley Historical Society's

History Marker Project

The Tarwater


Urban Tarwater was the son of Benjamin Tarwater, owner of the Tarwater Store.
Urban married Rose Coleman in September 1916. They had two children: Rose Marie,
and Benjamin Wiley Tarwater.

In 1918, he built this home. He was a short man, so the ceiling is unusually low.
He was worried about house fires, so his home was built out of cement blocks.

Urban and Rose Tarwater were active civic leaders in the community. Rose
Tarwater served as postmistress from 1936 to 1961. She served as secretary for the
Murrieta Cemetery Board for twenty years. She was president of the Riverside County
Postmasters Association and served as secretary for a number of years.

Urban Tarwater was a farmer and a real estate agent. He was the unofficial
mayor of Murrieta for many years. If there were issues that needed to be brought before
the County, Urban went as the representative for Murrieta. He ran for County
Supervisor in 1948, but lost the election.

He was not a lawyer, but he had a large collection of law books. People would
come to him often for legal advice. Most matters were dealing with land transactions.
His most famous arguments were the Santa Margarita Watershed dispute between
residents of Southwest Riverside County and Camp Pendleton.


He argued that the residents’ water rights were protected under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Which ended the Mexican-American War). Under the treaty, the American Government could not take away their resources. Eventually the ruling was in favor of the residents andnot the government.

Benjamin Wylie Tarwater attended the Murrieta Grammar School. He earned the
name, Smiley Wylie. When America entered World War II, Wylie flew a B-17 bomber
over Europe. He successfully completed 30 missions during this time. After the war he
served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

In the 1960s, he served on the Joint Chief of Staffs and Defense Intelligence
Agency at the Pentagon until he retired in 1973 as a colonel. He died in 2005 and is laid
to rest in the Laurel Cemetery.

The Urban Tarwater House stands as a tribute to a family that served their
community and their country. Their contributions to the development of Murrieta
should not be forgotten.

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