Butte County, California




JUDGE W. S. SHERWOOD died at Alleghany, Sierra county, June 26, 1870. He was a pioneer of the state, and an early resident of Butte County, being here in 1849. Butte county was his home till 1854, when he removed to San Francisco. He was a member of the constitutional convention at Monterey, and was elected the first judge of this judicial district by the legislature, when it was known and designated as the ninth. He was an able and generous-hearted man, whose usefulness may have been somewhat impaired by his active participation in partisan politics. He was the democratic nominee for senator from this county at the election of 1853, and was beaten by Peck, the whig nominee, who be came somewhat famous during his senatorial term as the senator who had been offered a bribe to vote in favor of bringing on the senatorial election. In San Francisco he practiced law for a time, and in 1868 removed to Sierra County. There he ran for state senator, and was beaten.


JUDGE WARREN T. Sexton.—The death of this man, who has been prominently connected with the affairs of Butte county from the date of its organization, which occurred on the eleventh of April, 1878, called forth from all sides the highest eulogiums upon his character, both public and private. He was universally esteemed and respected. The bar of Butte county unanimously adopted these resolu­tions as the spontaneous and heartfelt expression of its regard for him, and its deep sorrow for his removal from its circle :‑


"Resolved—That the members of the bar of the second judicial district of the state of California received the intelligence of the death of Warren T. Sexton with feelings of profound sadness and sorrow. By his long and honorable service at the bar and upon the bench, distinguished by uniform courtesy and kindness of demeanor, as well as by eminent ability and profound learning, he endeared himself to all his professional brethren ; and now, at the close of his earthly career, they find a melancholy pleasure in giving to his memory this public expression of their respect and regard.


" Resolved—That in the death of Judge Sexton the state has been bereaved of a just and upright citizen. Of mild and unassuming manners, he was firm and unfaltering in noble purposes. In his pro­fession he was among the foremost and ablest of his associates. And upon the bench his sterling integrity gave additional dignity to the court, while his pre-eminent talents and unrivaled learning shed new lustre upon the already brilliant pages of our law ; and while we, the members of his own judicial district, feel most keenly his loss, we can point with pride at the record of a life well spent in the labors of a profession to which he has left the priceless legacy of a spotless name and the example of what may be achieved by patient industry and persistent labor."


Concerning his early life, prior to his coming to California, he left but little record. He was seldom heard to speak of his boyhood days. He was born in Warren county, New Jersey, in 1823. While still a young boy, his father moved with his family to Michigan, and there engaged in building railroads by contract. While still at an early age, he fitted and entered Ann Arbor College. While there, he imbibed a strong penchant for the classics, which led him, during his later years, to study the works of the ancient authors for his recreation. The failure of his father in business, before he had finished his course, compelled him to leave college and engage in the active pursuits of life. In 1849, he crossed the plains with the Wolverine Rangers, and in October of that year came to Butte County. His first and only mining was done at Long's bar. He was elected county clerk in June, 1850, and held the position until 1853, when he become district attorney, serving as such for two years. He resided at the old town of Hamilton during its period of county-seatship, and when Bidwell's bar became the favored spot, he followed its fortunes until they waned, and then took up his permanent abode in Oroville. The early records of the courts of this county are all in his well-known handwriting. Care and neatness pervade all the work of his life. While at Bidwell's bar, he formed a law-partnership with Judge C. F. Lott, who still survives him. During this partnership, he rarely appeared in court to argue either questions of law or fact. Being naturally timid and diffident, he had no desire to speak in public. He has often remarked that he thought he had left the imprint of his fingers on the table in the old court-room at Bidwell, as he nervously grasped it when addressing court or jury. While Judge Lott did the talking, Judge Sexton gave his attention to the preparation of the case, and it was prepared with the skill of a master hand. In 1857, he was elected district judge, beating Judge Lewis by a large vote. He was re­elected in 1863, and again in 1875. In 1869, he was defeated for the same position by Judge Lott. It will be seen that he has held the position of district judge for fourteen years and three months. The last time he appeared in court, he was hardly able to walk up the stairs leading to the court-room, but, when on the bench, he sat as erect as ever, listening to the argument of counsel.

Judge Sexton was married at Rough and Ready, in this state, November 14, 1855, to Miss Z; Stevens, who still survives him. There were born to them two children, Warren Sexton, Jr., and a daughter, both of whom are at present residing in Oroville. The former edited the Oroville Merevry for some time, was admitted to the bar, and is now practicing law in partnership with Hon. John C. Gray.


The memory of the eminent virtues and abilities possessed by Judge Sexton, will long be kept alive in the minds of the people, and it will be long ere another can rise to usurp the place he holds in the hearts of his fellow men.


JUDGE CHARLES FAYETTE LOTT was born July 1, 1824, at the village of Pemberton, Burlington county, New Jersey. His father was Dr. Charles Francis Lott, medical director and assistant adjutant-general in the war of 1812. When a very small boy, he went with his parents to Trenton, and remained there till 1836. In the spring of that year they emigrated to Quincy, Illinois. In a short time, in company with his father, a brother and a sister, he went to St. Louis, where he went to school to Elihu H. Shepherd, the great educator of boys in that city. After a long time, the boys were sent to St. Charles College. In 1840, young Charles entered the St. Louis University, from which he grad­uated in December, 1845. His health being poor, he went on a tour to Washington. Upon his return, he went to Quincy and studied law with Judge Archibald Williams, and was admitted to the supreme court of Illinois on the fifth day of June, 1848. His brother, Peter Lott, afterwards succeeded Judge Stephen A. Douglas on the bench of that district.


After practicing law a year, Mr. Lott started overland with a company of young men, being six months on the road, and reached California in September. He came directly to Butte county, by the Lassen route, and settled at Long's bar, engaging actively in mining. He assisted in the organization of the county, and has been prominently concerned in the legal proceedings before the courts, without intermission, to the present time. In 1851, he was elected senator from Butte, and served in the third and fourth sessions of the legislature. He received his nomination for the office from the first democratic convention held in Butte County, at Spanish ranch, on the first day of July. He has resided at the county-seat continually, moving with it when it changed.


He ran for county judge, in 1867, and was elected, but, as the supervisors counted out the Cherokee vote, he was unable to take his seat. In 1869, Mr. Lott was nominated by the democrats for district judge, and though the district was republican, he was elected over Judge Sexton and served one term. Since that time he has been an active practitioner of law, and is also extensively engaged in mining and farming, in all of which he has had remarkable success. He is a man of high culture and broad intellectuality, having a vast fund of information. Many of the most important cases tried in the county have been participated in by him. He was married in May, 1856, to Miss Susan F. Hyer, and has had three children, two of whom are still living. He belongs to Table Mountain lodge at Cherokee, to the Oroville commandery, No. 5, and is at present grand deputy of the state commandery.


JUDGE MOSES BEAN, the first county judge of Butte county, was a native of the state of Maryland, having been born in the month of November, 1800. He lived for a number of years in that state, but before coming of age resided, for short periods, in North Carolina and Tennessee, and, at the age of twenty, went with his father to Missouri, settling at Farmington, at the foot of Iron mountain. The western states were then in their earliest infancy, and the settlers of 1820 had to contend with all the trials and tribulations of a pioneer existence. In 1823, he was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Cunningham, also of Maryland, whose family had emigrated to the west at the same time the Beans had settled there. While at this place, Mr. Bean was actively engaged in lumbering and farming. In 1823, he also began the study of law, and, after a few years, was admitted to practice in the supreme court of Missouri. He afterward moved to south-western Missouri, settling at what is now the flourishing village of Lebanon—there being no sign of a town at that time. He resided there until 1849, when, on the twenty-sixth of April, he started overland with his second son, John, for California, arriving at Long's bar, in Butte county, on the first day of November. They mined at Long's bar for some time. At the first county election held in Butte, on the tenth of June, 1850, Moses Bean was elected to the office of county judge, receiving the largest vote of any officer. In 1852, he resigned the office, the governor appointing George W. Schults k,o fill the unexpired term. He remained in the county, engaged in min­ing pursuits, until 1857, when he left, June 20, from San Francisco, on his return to Missouri. He died at Lebanon, September 20, 1866. Five children were born to Judge Bean, three of whom are now living. John Bean still resides in Oroville.


Judge Bean was a large, fine-looking man, standing over six feet in height, and having a counte­nance full of pleasantry and kindness. His judgment was generally correct on legal matters, and he had a peculiar confidence in the soundness of his opinions. An incident of this kind is related in the history of the county court. He was one of those great-hearted men, honored and respected by all. On one occasion he criticised, in rather severe terms, Judge Lott, who was trying a case in his court. The latter became angry, and with language more forcible than respectful, came back at his honor in good style. An officer of the court suggested that Lott he fined, but with a merry twinkle in his eye, he replied, " No, no ! I can't think of fining him, for he only gave me as good as he got."


JUDGE JOSEPH E. N. Lewis.—Judge Lewis was born in Jefferson County, Virginia, in 1826, and received his education at William and Mary's College. He studied law with B. F. Washington, after­wards of the San Francisco Examiner, and was admitted to the bar of Virginia, but did not practice in that state. He came to California in 1849, in company with Mr. Washington, and settled in Butte county, where he continued to reside until his death. He was present and took part in the organization of Butte county. In 1851, Mr. Lewis was elected to fill the unexpired term of Adams as state senator for Butte and Shasta counties. In 1853, he was elected county judge, serving with great credit to himself and his party—the democratic. On the twenty-fourth of June, 1869, he was nominated by the democrats of the district for district judge, and that same evening died of heart disease. He was sitting on the front porch of Peter Freer's residence, talking with Mrs. Freer, when she, noticing that he was silent for a few moments, touched him and found that he was dead.


Judge Sexton, in his article on the " Past and Present of Butte County," speaks of him as follows: " Mr. Lewis was a large man, mentally and physically, and of high intellectual culture, of strong, positive powers of mind. He did not love study for its own sake, but when it was necessary to take hold of any question, and especially in his profession, he did not and would not give it up, though it required weeks and months of hard work, until he felt he had mastered it. He was a slow thinker, but a logical and correct one. At his death, he was justly considered one of the ablest jurists in the northern part of the state."

Pages 191-193





In 1850, Mr. M. Pence, in company with William Lyon, Robert Bounds, Alfred Kagy, and John Slocum, located what was then known as the Lyon ranch, in the Messila valley (an arm of the Sacra­mento valley), so named by Mrs. Burnham. Here they opened a store and eating-place in a tent. The bar was kept on a small board taken from the broken wagon-box. The interests of his partners changed hands frequently, but Mr. Pence retained his, and in 1866 bought out Thomas Harrison and became sole owner of the property. A blacksmith-shop and post-office are kept by Mr. Pence. The latter was established in 1864, with M. Pence as post-master. The department spells it Pentz. At first the mail brought to the office could be placed in a cigar-box ; now the different publications taken at the office number a hundred. It is on the old emigrant road, twelve miles from Oroville, and has a daily mail.


The ranch consists of four hundred acres, and is one of the most valuable as well as beautifully-located ranches in the county. All kinds of fruit trees and shrubs grow and bear abundantly. The vineyard contains about 12,000 vines. In the orchard are about sixty orange and lemon-trees, together with a good collection of peaches, apples, pears, nectarines, apricots, and both black and California wal­nuts. The grapes are grown without irrigation, and command the highest price in the market.


Manoah Pence, the proprietor of the ranch, was born in Perry county, Ohio, on the sixth day of April, 1819. He was the son of Isaac and Catherine (Heck) Pence. Manoah was the second son of seven children. His boyhood days were spent in labor on the farm, mingled with a limited attend­ance at public school, so that his facilities for an education were not large. When twenty-one years of age he left the parental roof, and for eight years resided in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. On the second day of April, 1849, he started for California, and came overland via the Sublette cut-off, landing on the Lassen ranch October 2, 1849. His party being out of supplies, Mr. Pence and Dr. Chandler were selected to go to Sacramento for them. On their return, while at a point near Hamilton, the storms set in, and they could proceed no further. The other members of the party were sent for, and they all began mining on the river. Mr. Pence took out with pick and pan thirty-seven dollars daily. He afterwards mined on the west branch at Ohio bar, and at Rich gulch, near Yankee Hill. In 1850, he abandoned mining and settled on his ranch. On December 16, 1857, Mr. Pence was married to Mrs. Sophia (Chase) Finn, a native of Maine, and widow of the late Nemiah Finn. By her first marriage she had two children : Laura Helen, born September 20, 1848, and died April 11, 1849 ; Charles E., born Sep­tember 20, 1850, and died August 12, 1851. Mr. and Mrs. Pence have also had two children : Watt M., born September 10, 1858 ; Layton, born October 16, 1860, and died January 5, 1863. Mr. Pence is a member of Table Mountain Lodge, F. & A. M., at Cherokee. He is widely known throughout Butte county, and highly esteemed by all.


Near Pence's ranch is the lumber-dump of the Oroville Lumber Company's flume. The Sugar Pine Lumber, Flume and Mining Company was incorporated in 1874. In 1875-6 the flume was built. It heads in Concow township at Flea valley, where are two large saw-mills. Two thousand inches of water are conveyed in the flume a distance of twenty-five miles to the dump, in the course of which there is a fall of 3,500 feet. On the nineteenth of February, 1879, a new company, called the Oroville Lumber Company, was formed, with a capital stock of $200,000. Mr. Daniel Hilton was the first superintendent, and still holds the position. At the dump there is a large planing-mill, where lumber is made to suit the trade. Three million feet of lumber are cut annually by this company, and the amount will be greatly increased hereafter, because of projected improvements to be made the coming year. Near the dump is a good store, kept by J. R. Buffington.

Pages 251-252




The Boston ranch consists of one hundred and sixty acres, twenty of which are bottom land. It contains a fine orchard, vineyard and garden. The location of the hotel is as picturesque and pretty as can well be imagined. Beautiful shade-trees surround the place, and the walls of the house are embowered in rose-bushes and many other flowering shrubs. Twenty years ago, the place was a popular resort for pleasure-seekers, its nearness to Oroville making a trip from that place delightful. A view of it is given in this book.

Smith H. Hurles, proprietor of the Boston ranch and hotel, is of Irish ancestry, and was born in the town of Enniskillen, May 1, 1827. He was educated in Portora Royal College, Ireland ; and when twenty years of age came to the United States and located in Boston, where he remained for seven years. He was there married to Miss Hattie Herring, a native of Portland, Maine, and shortly of ter they came to California. In 1857, Mr. Hurles settled on the Boston ranch, and opened a public house, which has, from that time to the present, sustained its high reputation of treating guests to the best of everything. It is situated on a sunny slope on Honcut creek, twelve miles from Oroville, and has an altitude above the sea level of 1,350 feet. The postoffice was established in May, 1880, and received the name of Hurlton. It has tri-weekly mails, and Mr. Hurles is postmaster. His family consists of his wife and four children, all of whom have a musical bent. Fannie, the eldest daughter, has been educated in the East. Richard W., Daniel F. and Annie H., are attending school at home. Pages

 267 – 268


History of Butte County, California : “In Two Volumes, Harry L Wells & Frank T Gilbert

Published by: Harry L Wells, San Francisco, 1882

Transcribed by: Martha A Crosley Graham 10 October 2006


Page Updated: 16 January 2016

Elizabeth Bullard

Rights Reserved – 2017