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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Very few of the old settlers still living in Sacramento county can claim an identification therewith covering a longer period than marks the useful citizenship of John Lawton, one of the honored pioneers of Folsom and still a resident of the locality which he saw in 1851 for the first time. Many have been the changes witnessed during his long association with the west. He has seen the then young state develop into one of the greatest commonwealths of which the Union may boast. He has seen towns spring up with incredible rapidity and ranches bring of their increase for the support of the people and the prosperity of the country. The wilderness he has seen to bloom as a rose and the desert made fertile by the modern developments of irrigation. Nor has he only seen this, but, more important still, he has borne his quota in all the task of advancement and with other public-spirited pioneers be may say "All of which I saw and part of which I was."

The early memories of John Lawton cluster around scenes far different from those of his later years. Born in Dover, Me., December 9, 1827, he was familiar from infancy with the woods and lakes of Piscataquis county and often wandered along the stream of that name, finding in forest and river many a lesson of great import never learned in the public schools. He was thus a learner both in school from printed text-books and out-of-doors from that great teacher. Nature, whose lessons may be early learned and always appreciated. As a teacher for one term he found an early use for his wide fund of information, while as a farmer he became familiar with the agri- cultural conditions of Maine, the right care of the soil, the most profitable crops and the general mode of correct cultivation of lands. However, he was not satisfied to remain in that state, and during young manhood joined the throng of emigrants to the west, coming via New York City and Panama and then on the steamer Gold Hunter, landing in San Francisco in June, 1851. Thence he came to the vicinity of Folsom, where he engaged in mining for six years with fair success.

The village of Ashland on the north side of the American river, opposite the present town of Folsom, was the scene of an important business enterprise on the part of Mr. Lawton, who in 1859 opened a grocery at that point. For a long period he carried on general merchandising, and it was not until 1900 that he eventually retired from such activities. The old store building is still standing intact. Since he gave up his business he has devoted his time to the care of his properties, he and his wife now owning more than seven hundred acres in Sacramento and Placer counties, some of which is well improved, while a part is yet in the raw state of nature. When he married in San Francisco, May 16, 1868, it is worthy of note that he and his bride, who was Mary A. Kittredge, began housekeeping at the same location where they now reside. Mrs. Lawton was a native of Waterville, Me., and had engaged in teaching for a time prior to her marriage, while since coming to Sacramento county she has been an active force for good, a contributor to local movements and especially warm in her allegiance to educational progress.

In politics Mr. Lawton always has been a loyal Republican, progressive in his tendencies, optimistic in his faith in the future of our country and well informed regarding public affairs, yet never willing to hold office or to accept political responsibilities. For years lie has been prominent in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, belonging to Folsom Lodge No. 62, in which he has served through the chairs and is past grand, besides having represented the lodge in the office of district deputy and in the encampment, where he is past chief patriarch. His long and useful life has been given to the upbuilding of his town and county and he and his wife have a wide circle of friends, not only among the old settlers, but among those of the younger generation who appreciate the extent of our indebtedness to the pioneers for the present general well-being and the growing prosperity. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011