Colusa County Biographies - S

Biographies and photos source:

  1. Colusa County: Its History Traced from a State of Nature through the Early Period of Settlement and Development, to the Present Day with a Description of its Resources, Statistical Tables, Etc., Justus H. Rogers

  2. Biographical Sketches of Pioneers and Prominent Residents, Orland, California, 1891.

A digitized version of the book can be found on Google Books.

Please note: many of the names in this index were abbreviated with initials. The full names of those individuals has been added {in braces} when possible.

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Scearce, Hon. Laban (p. 392)
Laban Scearce, who has the same name as his father had, was born on February 24, 1826, in Woodford County, Kentucky. His father was a farmer, and he spent his early life on his father's farm. He received as good an education as the common schools in that locality at that time afforded. In his twenty-second year he left his old home for the West, going to Missouri. At that date Missouri was thinly populated back from the river and was on the frontier. He remained in Missouri a few months only, when he started with a wagon train of ox-teams across the plains to California, in company with Hon. John Boggs. In 1849 he arrived in Placerville, which was then called Hangtown, owing to the way two criminals summarily met justice at the hands of a mob, and for two years sought fortune in the mines. At that day food was worth more than gold almost, and beef was a rarity. Mr. Scearce abandoned the mines in ‘51 to buy cattle in the southern part of the State and drive them to Placerville and other mining camps, where they met with a ready sale at high prices. In 1853 he went to Missouri and returned, driving a large herd of cattle. He experienced the usual ups and downs of those pioneer days, and met with the many hardships in crossing the plains. In the spring of 1856 he prospected the Sacramento Valley for a place to pitch his tent, and he located on Stony Creek, his present home, six miles northwest of Orland. It was on government land he settled, where he raised cattle, sheep, horses and farm crops. From time to time he purchased land near his of those who saw civilization approaching and desired to flee from it. In this way he has secured some four thousand six hundred acres of excellent land at the base of the foot-hills and extending to the creek.

In 1868 he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Josephine Thompson, and four children have blessed their union. Their names are: William Edgar, Ollie, Alice and Mabel. Mr. Scearce is an inveterate reader and is well posted on the topics of the day, and in 1868 the people called on him to represent Colusa and Tehama Counties in the Assembly of the State Legislature, which he did during the years 1869-70, serving his constituency faithfully. In 1887 he was a prime mover in the incorporation of the Bank of Orland, of which he is a director and president. Mr. Scearce calls himself a plain farmer, but he is an enterprising citizen, whom the people hold in high esteem.
Photo of Laban Scearce

Hon. Laban Scearce

Scribner, B. N. (p. 394)
Butler Noles Scribner was born on September 8, 1825, in Maury County, Tennessee, and was a son of John Scribner, a farmer of that locality. His early life was spent on his father's farm, and his education received at the public school was very limited, but in later years has been largely added, to in the practical walks of life. At the age of twenty-three years he left the farm, going to St. Louis, Missouri, where he secured employment on a river steamboat. This life did not suit Mr. Scribner, and a year later he went to Quincy, Illinois, where he worked three years on a farm. In 1852, having heard the many tales of the fabulous wealth to be had in the mines of California, he followed the rush to this State, and engaged in mining in El Dorado and Placer Counties. He found that fortune did not smile on all who followed mining, and in 1854 laid aside the pick and shovel to haul freight out of Sacramento and Marysville.

In 1856 he was married to Miss Mary D. Scott, and lived in Sacramento the first year of their married life, at the end of which he sold his freighting outfit and moved to Tehama County, where he located near Newville. He engaged in farming and stock- raising, and in 1866-67 served the people of Tehama County as County Assessor. In 1874 he engaged in merchandising at Newville, still retaining his farm, which he owns yet. As a merchant and farmer he has been very successful, now being interested in three stores, at Newville, Paskenta and Orland, and owning two farms, one near Newville and the other northwest of Orland. He is the father of ten children, seven of whom are married. Their names are: Mrs. Nancy Sebring, of Orland, a widow; Tennessee Josephine, wife of Thomas Morgan, of Newville; Susie Williams, wife of John Williams, near Newville; John A. T. Scribner, near Newville; Henry Alvin Scribner, of Newville; Charles C. Scribner, near Orland; Elizabeth, wife of Harvey McClain, of Newville; and Emma, James and Nettie, who live at home and are not married. In 1887 Mr. Scribner purchased the merchandise business of O. Raphael & Co., of Orland, and in the spring of 1888 he purchased the business of A. Beerman, uniting the two stores, when he moved his family from Newville to Orland, where he expects to spend the remainder of his days. Mr. Scribner is a good citizen, well posted on the questions of the day, and is a thorough business man.
Sehorn, Dr. W. A. (p. 433)
William A. Sehorn, a resident of Willows, is a native of old Virginia, born September 1, 1855. At the age of seventeen years he chose dentistry as his profession and went to Knoxville, Tennessee, to take a course of study therein. In December, 1875, he came to California to practice his profession. For a time he lived in Red Bluff, but later moved to Colusa County. In 1886 he took up his residence in Willows. In May, 1889, he leased the Willows Journal, which paper he conducted in addition to his professional work, editing it in an able manner, until September 1, 1890. He enjoys domestic life in his comfortable residence, on the outskirts of Willows, with his accomplished wife, to whom he was married February 1, 1881, at Oroville. He has one son. Dr. Sehorn takes an active interest in politics, is a Democrat, and holds an appointment as Deputy Sheriff. He is one of the positive men in the assertion of a principle, in championing a cause, or in his adherence to friends, and is personally most companionable.
Photo of William Sehorn

Dr. William A. Sehorn

Shelton, James A. (p. 429)
Mr. Shelton is a native of Adams County, Ohio, born December 9, 1833. He lived in Adams and Brown Counties till the age of thirteen, when he went to Des Moines, Iowa, where he labored on a farm and attended school when it was possible, in that then new country. In 1850 he crossed the plains by way of Sublett's Cut-off, and reached Sacramento City in the following August. He thought there was untold wealth for him in the mines, and hence followed that pursuit in Jackson County for one year, with fair success. He tried the stock business for nearly eight years and prospered. Mr. Shelton came to Newville, in Colusa County, in 1859, and settled there permanently, turning his attention to the breeding and training of fast-blooded horses, in which he acquired reputation for judgment and skill. Five years later he engaged in farming on an extensive scale and still continues to conduct that industry. In 1880 he engaged in merchandising at Paskenta, carrying it on for four years. Mr. Shelton has made life a success, and is entitled to the contentment and comforts which make his hospitable home a model of domestic happiness. He was married, June 28, 1860, to Miss Jennie James, and is the father of four children, all of whom are living.
Sites, John (p. 457)
This gentleman is a native of Hesse, Germany, and was born October 4, 1832. He came to America in 1834, accompanying his father, Henry Sites, and located in St. Charles County, Missouri, where he assisted his father on the farm, and hired out among the neighbors. On April 16, 1850, he left Missouri with a Mr. Fisher, on his way to California, he having previously agreed that in consideration of Fisher's bringing him to this State, he would work for him nine months after his arrival. They arrived at Placerville on August 4. Having worked for Mr. Fisher as agreed, he began working on his account at Downieville, but being taken ill of typhoid fever, he was obliged to relinquish employment. He next went to Cache Creek, in Yolo County, and took up one hundred and sixty acres adjoining his old friend Fisher. In 1853 he sold this place, bought some cattle, and after a year or more was enabled to go in company with Fisher and buy cattle on a large scale. These were brought to Antelope Valley, Colusa County. He continued in the cattle business till 1858, when he purchased his present home place, adding to it occasionally. His farm embraces nearly six thousand acres of land on the county road west of Stony Creek Valley, twenty-three miles northwest of the county seat, and on the place is located the village of Sites, the present terminus of the Colusa and Lake Railroad.

Mr. Sites was married to Miss Laura E. Aycoke, of Colusa County, on October 3, 1867. The ceremony was performed by Major Stephen Cooper, then a justice of the peace. Two children were born to them, John Henry and Martha L. Sites.
Smith, Joshua C. (p. 460)
This gentleman is a native of Michigan, and was born March 29, 1843. After receiving a good common-school education, he learned the trade of blacksmithing, and worked at it for many years. He came to Carson City, Nevada, in 1865, and served in the employ of the telegraph company, and also in the quartz-mills around that place. In 1866-67 he worked at his trade in Dixon, Cal. He left there and came to Williams in the fall of 1871, and worked for a time at his trade, when he moved to Ashton, on Stony Creek, at that time the center of a great copper-mining excitement. Here he secured' four hundred and eighty acres of land, and farmed it for nine years, at the same time conducting a blacksmithing business. He was also afterwards employed in the same handicraft at Leesville, and at Williams. Mr. Smith was married, in the spring of 1871, to Miss Barbara G. Leek, of Ralls County, Missouri, by whom he had five children, of whom three are still living. Mr. Smith has served two terms as school trustee of the Ashton district and six years as road-master. He now resides at Williams.
Spect, Jonas J. (p. 370)
The subject of this brief biography is a native of Berks County, Pennsylvania, born March 21, 1817. His grandfather on the father's side was a soldier of the Revolution and participated in the battles of Trenton, Brandywine, Princeton, and in the siege of Yorktown. When young Jonas was but ten years old, his family removed to Pickaway County, Ohio, then a wilderness. After maturity, he carried on farming, till 1846, when he concluded to visit Missouri, which was then the extreme frontier of settlement. On arriving in the State, he heard much of the advantages of distant Oregon and some meager accounts of California, and, resolving to see these new countries for himself, he left the Missouri line in a company of forty persons, men, women, and children, driving an ox-team for Isaac Bailey.

Travel was necessarily slow, too slow for the impetuous Jonas, and on arriving at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, a halt being called for a long delay, owing to the depth of the snow, Spect left the train, alone and on foot, after the first crossing of Snake River, and traveled safely to the Willamette, a distance of over six hundred miles, a feat never before performed by white man. He only remained in Oregon a couple of months, when he found his way to San Francisco. During his stay here, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mills, but it then created no excitement. Spect was so delighted with the country that he had actually set out to return to the States and bring back his family, but, on account of the mining excitement, he could find no companions for the journey, and was thus forced to fall in with the others and go prospecting.

On June 2, 1848, he discovered gold in paying quantities on the Yuba, it being the first discovery of gold north of the American River. Shortly afterwards he established a trading post on this river and dealt largely with the Indians, who paid for their purchases in gold-dust.

He left the mines in November, 1848, and opened a store in Sacramento City. Five months later he settled opposite the mouth of Feather River. Here he opened a general-store business, laid out the town of Fremont, and established the first public ferry in California. At the same time he was conducting a store business on Rose Bar. In visiting this place in April, 1849, he found the miners disputing about claims. A meeting was called and a committee selected to draft rules for this government. Spect was one of the committee, and drafted the first mining laws, as far as then known, in California. These laws were afterwards legalized by statute.

In the summer of 1849 Spect was elected a delegate to the first Constitutional Convention, but did not attend, owing to a pressure of business. He was elected to the State Senate of the first Legislature from Sonoma County and took his seat in 1850. Shortly after the session opened, returns came from the Trinity mines which gave the seat to General Vallejo. It was afterward discovered that no election had been held on the Trinity River, the returns having been manufactured at Benicia.

In the summer of 1850 Spect traveled in what is now Colusa County, and was so well pleased with the county that he determined some day in the future to make his home there. It was not, however, till 1868 that circumstances so shaped his movements as to permit him to locate there. He located in Colusa and began erecting tenement houses. Previously he had been harassed by conflicting titles and lost much by the confirmation of Spanish grants. He determined to steer clear of trouble. He accordingly bought three lots from Colonel Hagan. Everybody was buying them and his title seemed perfect. But he was destined to disappointment, and the result was that Spect was embroiled for many years in the meshes of lawsuits over the title to property as well as of other investments.

He died July 3, 1883, leaving a wife and four children. Mr. Spect was a man of firm intrepidity of character. He was of the earnest, rugged type of our best pioneers. He took a lively interest in public affairs, in which his pen displayed a facility and grace of expression which must have been a natural gift to one who had had little or no opportunities for education in his youth.
Spect, N. K. (p. 456)
{Nebraska Kansas Spect} N. K. Spect was born in San Francisco, February 15, 1855. He is the son of Jonas Spect, who was among the earliest pioneers of the State. His early boyhood was spent in Sutter County, moving to Colusa in 1872. He received excellent educational advantages, having attended school at Circleville, Ohio, Lincoln Grammar School, of San Francisco, and the State University, in which latter place he completed his education. Returning to Colusa, he entered the store of J. Furth, where he remained six years, when he opened a grocery store under the firm name of Spect & Nathan. He conducted this business for two years, when he began operating in the grain commission business both at Colusa and Chico. In 1886 he came to Orland to engage in the real-estate business, where he now lives, and where he has made a number of large sales of property.
St. Louis, F. X. (p. 438)
Francis Xavier St. Louis is a native of St. Charles County, Missouri, born December 3, 1849. At the age of three years his parents crossed the plains for California, located at Cacheville, in Yolo County. Young St. Louis spent his boyhood upon his father's farm, and was afforded an education at the district school. In 1876 he was married to Miss Wilhelmine Lalonde, and settled down happily to a farmer's life in Yolo County. In April, 1884, he moved to Colusa County, where he was enabled, by reason of cheap lands, to secure a home of his own. He purchased land six miles southwest of Willows, where he still lives, in contentment and plenty, with his wife and five children. He was among the first on the plains to engage in fruit-growing and has several acres of orchard and vineyard, which pay him a handsome return each year. Upon the organization of the Central Irrigation District, he was elected a director and has held the position ever since, taking an active interest in pushing forward to completion the district works.
St. Louis, H. B. (p. 427)
Henry B. St. Louis is a native son, born in Yolo County, September 2, 1853. His father was Colby St. Louis. Mr. St. Louis was raised on a farm six miles north of Woodland, where he worked industriously and at the same time acquired a good common-school education. In 1870 he moved to Colusa County and took up his permanent residence where he now owns three thousand acres of land, eleven miles southwest of Maxwell. Mr. St. Louis was married, October 8, 1878, to Miss Laura C. Stanton, daughter of H. C. Stanton, by whom he has two children. He was elected a director of the Central Irrigation District on its first organization, and still holds that position.
Photo of Henry St. Louis

Henry B. St. Louis

Stanton, J. B. (p. 400)
Joseph Byron Stanton is a native of the Buckeye State, born there March 2 , 836. When he was two years of age, his - parents moved to Hancock County, Illinois, where he lived till he was nineteen years of age, leading the laborious and industrious life of a farmer's boy. He now concluded to seek a new field for such labor as his hands could find, and for this purpose he set out for California, driving an ox-team across the plains. After months of toil, which served to inure him to danger and exposure in after life, he arrived at Oroville in October, 1855.

In these days the men who had come so far to find homes or mend their fortunes were nowise dainty in accepting any kind of employment. They took hold with a will of the first job that presented itself, as did young Stanton, who first worked as a laborer, then in the mines, or driving team for a few months. In January, 1856, he took up his home at Grand Island, in this county, and began farming for himself, which pursuit he followed for a number of years, and with success. He was married, in 1858, to Miss Margaret N. Tull, but her health failing after a short period of their married life, Mr. Stanton sold his farm, and, taking with him a wagon and team, he journeyed with his wife to the Mendocino County coast, where Mrs. Stanton's parents resided. Her illness becoming aggravated, her husband sought medical skill in San Francisco, where he was advised to return with her to the Sacramento Valley, its climate being regarded as most conducive to her restoration to health He now returned to Colusa County, but the desired object of his journey was not realized, Mrs. Stanton dying of consumption a few weeks after her return, leaving him three children.

In the fall of 1866 Mr. Stanton was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Colusa County under I. N. Cain, which position he held until 1870, when he was elected Sheriff. He was re-elected in 1872 by a large and increased majority, evincing by his popular support how acceptable his conduct of the office had been to his fellow-citizens.

After his retirement from office, he became connected with an enterprise to establish telegraphic communication between this place and Calistoga, Napa County, and to other towns in Colusa County. While attending to business in this enterprise, he had occasion to cross Lake County, and became very much attracted by a magnificent strip of, country known as Indian Valley. The telegraph line soon got into other hands, and “he, in company with a partner, bought a relinquishment from the claimant then settled in Indian Valley, of two thousand four hundred acres. This, after the government survey, they acquired title to, and divided, and Mr. Stanton, to married his second- wife, Miss. Mary Green, previous to his first election to the position of Sheriff, moved with his family on the land, and engaged in sheep-raising at a profit for nearly four years.

At the end of that time Mr. ,Stanton was again appointed Under-sheriff by D. H. Arnold and remained with him until the expiration of his term. After that he secured the contract to provision the county hospital, at which occupation he spent seven years. He was then re-appointed to the office of Under-sheriff by his former subordinate, W. T. Beville, and, in this office he is engaged at present writing. On account of his, extended experience in the sheriff's office, J. B Stanton is an almost invaluable man, and hence it was but natural that he should be regarded as a suitable incumbent for that office. He was again nominated, in the spring of 1890, for the position of Sheriff; and elected.

Besides owning a residence in Colusa, Mr. Stanton is the owner of other property in the county. As the fruits of his two marriages, Mr. Stanton is the father of fourteen children, nine of whom are living.
Photo of Joseph Stanton

Joseph Byron Stanton

Stovall, Jesse C. (p. 380)
This enterprising gentleman was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, January 19, 1822. He spent his early life on his father's farm working laboriously and picking up such an education as the schools of the time or locality could afford, supplemented by the reading of books which a keen desire for self instruction could lay hold of. At the age of thirteen years, young Stovall removed, with his father's family, to Missouri. Here he remained nearly fifteen years, pursuing the labors of the farm. On April 16, 1850, he bade adieu to his old home and set out for California, crossing the plains by way of Sublett's Cut-off, driving an ox-team. He arrived at Sacramento on August 29 of the same year. For the first seven years of his life he worked at various jobs, sometimes at mining, at other times on a ranch or herding stock in the ranges of the Sacramento Valley. In the fall of 1858 he came to Colusa County, and located one hundred and sixty acres where his present home now stands, six miles west of Williams. Here he engaged in grain-farming and stock-raising, and whenever his means would allow and the opportunity proved favorable, he kept adding to and enlarging the territory of the home ranch.

Mr. Stovall had now become quite prosperous, a felicity which his industry and sagacity well merited, and over which his neighbors and friends were never slow in congratulating him. It was now determined to consolidate his large holdings with those of the Messrs. Wilcoxson for the purposes of incorporation, and out of this was formed the Stovall-Wilcoxson Company, incorporated January 15, 1890. This company owns thirty-two thousand acres of land in the county, which is cultivated to grain or utilized for stock-raising. Besides they own warehouses for the storage of grain, at Williams, buy and sell grain and live-stock and conduct banking business in the same town. J. C. Stovall is president, and George H. Wilcoxson vice-president, of this company.

Mr. Stovall was married, March 3, 1869, to Miss Mary L. Moore, in Sonoma County, by whom he was the father of five sons and three daughters, of whom one daughter and four sons are living. Though frequently solicited to permit his name to be used as a candidate for a representative office, in a county where his party (Democratic) is always strongly dominant, and where his popularity would cause him to lead his ticket, Mr. Stovall has invariably declined. He prefers the quiet and contentment of the home circle, or the administration of his vast business, to the allurements of office, while his careful business habits and wise counsels are not entirely devoted to his own private affairs, seeing that in every matter of moment to the community they are freely given and highly appreciated. No single individual in his section is more progressive or more fully alive to its interests.
Photo of Jesse Stovall

Jesse C. Stovall

Sullivan, T. (p. 454)
Timothy Sullivan is a native of Ireland, born in 1840. He came to America in 1860, sojourning for a year in Toronto, Canada. He next went to LaPorte, Indiana, where he remained for eight years, coming to California in 1868. On arriving at Colusa he hired out for one month in the livery stable of Patterson & Rust, but worked there sixteen years. In 1883 he entered the livery stable business for himself, but met with a reverse in the destruction of his stables fire, in the fall of 1886. But “Tim,” as he is usually called, had friends and a fine run of custom, and averse to leaving these, he immediately started in to rebuild a large fire-proof stable, and has continued therein ever since.

Mr. Sullivan was married to Miss B. Coily, and is the father of seven children.
Swinford, Edwin (p. 437)
Edwin Swinford was born in Platte County, Missouri, August 20, 1855. He is a son of William C. Swinford, a native of Kentucky. When young Swinford was six years of age, his parents moved to Santa Clara County, this State. In 1871 he came with his parents to Colusa, where he has since resided. Edwin received a good common-school education and then entered the Pacific Methodist College at Santa Rosa. In 1877, one year before completing his college course, he left school and entered the office of Ex-Attorney-General A. L. Hart, where he took up the study of law. The following year he entered the Hastings Law School, and in December, 1879, was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of this State. He began practice in Colusa, and in 1882 was elected District Attorney of Colusa County, and in 1884 was re-elected. In 1890 he was again a candidate for the office and was elected by a large majority. Both as a defending or prosecuting attorney, Mr. Swinford enjoys the reputation of being vigorous and effective.