California Genealogy and History Archives
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."
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
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.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011