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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



A self-made man in every sense of the word was John H. Sawyer, whose death occurred January 6, 1901, at his home in Gait, Cal., depriving the community of one of its most dependable and best loved citizens. In the face of the many trials which beset his career, he clung to his ideals and ambitions with an intensity of purpose well worthy of the emulation of many members of our present generation, who decline to maintain the patience and fortitude so essential to true success in life and, amid advantages far greater than those presented to our forefathers, slip through existence without understanding the meaning of altruism or appreciating the blessed privilege of labor.

A native of Tuffinboro, Vt., Mr. Sawyer's birth occurred February 5, 1828, and during the first fourteen years of his life he remained with his parents, Joseph and Abagail (Hall) Sawyer, natives of Vermont. At the age of ten he abandoned his studies through necessity and became an apprentice to a carpenter, leaving home four years later to take up his trade in Boston, Mass. Until 1850 he remained in that city, fairly successful in his work, and during the same year he settled in Wisconsin; after remaining there for two years, in 1852 he came to Galt, Sacramento county, Cal., crossing the plains with 05 teams. Until 1856 he worked at his trade, establishing himself in the community as a man of high principles and unfailing industry. When he was able to establish domestic ties he returned to Wisconsin, to claim the girl he had loved and waited for throughout his residence in the west, their marriage occurring November 4, 1856. The bride, Miss Jennie Newcomb, was born near Albany, N. Y., the daughter of Samuel E., who settled in Wisconsin, and later on located in Sacramento county. Mrs. Sawyer received her education in New York state and was widely known as a woman of exceptional culture and generous sympathies. After locating in Gait, Cal., Mr. Sawyer again took up his work, satisfied and happy in the thought of the great purpose which actuated his every effort. In connection with his building pursuits he carried on ranching, meeting with fair success.

To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer seven children were born: Frank M., whose birth occurred April 5, 1858, in Wisconsin, and who is now a practicing veterinary surgeon in Bakersfield, Cal.; Millie, who died in San Francisco; Silvia, who was born in 1864 and who died at the age of nineteen; John, who died in infancy; Wallace, born in Gait, January 8, 1868; Jean, who died at the age of .twenty-nine years ; and Tom J., whose birth, June 7, 1879, occurred in Gait, where he is now engaged in the general mercantile business with his brother Wallace, under the firm name of Sawyer Brothers.

Mr. Sawyer was an active member of Phoenix Lodge No. 239, I. O. O. F., and the Ancient Order United Workmen for many years. He was a Republican of strong and progressive principles and endeavored to lend all aid in his power to the advancement of his party and to the general welfare of his fellowmen. His wife, who died in 1906, shared both his joys and his sorrows with a true heart and a calm, sweet mind, her companionship proving all and more than in his youth he had anticipated. 

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