Biography of Judge Richard B. Eaton
(from Remembering Judge Eaton by Dottie Smith and Trudy Vaughan, Nov. 2003)

Judge Eaton was descended of four great-grandparents who settled in Shasta County between 1852 and 1855. His parents were Walter McCrum Eaton and Edna Behrens Eaton. Mrs. Eaton's paternal and maternal grandparents were early pio-neers in Shasta County. Her maternal grandparents, Frank Kountz and Susanna Kruger Kountz, were natives of Bavaria. In 1853, they left New Orleans for California, crossing the Isthmus of Panama and settling at Shasta in 1854. Their daughter Mary Kountz was born in Shasta in 1862.

Mrs. Eaton's paternal grandparents, Ludwig Behrens and Louisa Bahrdt Behrens, were natives of Germany. Formerly a ship captain, Ludwig Behrens settled in Whiskeytown in 1852 where he became a merchant for 20 years. Their son Charles H. Behrens was born at Whiskeytown in 1859.

Charles H. Behrens and Mary Kountz were married at Shasta in 1882, and their eldest daughter Edna Mabel Behrens was born in Shasta in 1883. Charles Behrens was a hay and grain merchant in Shasta, and then keeper of the Empire Hotel, postmaster, Wells Fargo agent, and constable. In 1899, Behrens became Sheriff of Shasta County, and that same year, he purchased the residence at 1520 West Street, a house built by John Scott about 1895.

Edna Behrens was a rural school teacher for ten years before she married Walter Eaton in 1913. Walter Eaton was a graduate of the University of Oregon and a native Oregonian; he met his future bride while working as chief chemist at the Coram smelter. After their marriage, the couple lived in Oregon, where Walter Eaton worked as a land surveyor and a civil engineer; Richard Eaton was born in Albany, Oregon in 1914. Walter Eaton served in the Chemical Warfare Service in World I and died in the service in 1918. Edna Behrens Eaton, with her four-year-old son Richard, then returned to their family home in Redding, where they both lived for the remainder of their lives.

The family home on West Street has been identified as being the Classical Revival style. Judge Eaton’s will mandates that this two-story residence and all its antique contents become a public museum to be known as The Behrens-Eaton House. His will also establishes a non-profit group that will repair the house from monies pro-vided from a trust fund, and money from this same trust will maintain the house and operate the museum. Plans are underway to make the Judge’s dream a reality.

Judge Eaton was always a student of history. He wrote many articles for the Covered Wagon, the annual publication of the Shasta Historical Society, and he lectured on Shasta County history to countless classes of students from elementary to college age.

In addition to his love for history, the Judge’s other primary interests were his church, the Boy Scouts, and the Masons. Since 1946, he served as Lay Reader of the Episcopal Church, and he administered the chalice of Holy Communion since 1969. He was active in Boy Scout affairs since 1927, and he was a member of the Executive Board of the Mt. Lassen Area Council between 1954 and 1977. He has also received the Silver Beaver award which recognizes his contributions to scouting on the national level. It the highest award a volunteer can receive. Judge Eaton was a Master Mason since 1940, Chaplain of the Royal Arch Masons since 1958, and a member of the Jurisprudence Committee of the Grand Lodge of Masons since 1979. The Judge has also been a member of the Executive Commit-tee of the Shasta College Museum and Research Center since the museum’s inception in 1972.

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Timeline for Judge Richard B. Eaton
1914 December 22, born in Albany, Oregon.
1918 Father died in the military service. Mrs. Eaton returned to Shasta County with son Richard, where she had been born and where she had taught school for 10 years before her marriage.
1926 Graduated from Redding Elementary School.
1930 Graduated from Shasta Union High School.
1934 Graduated from Stanford Law School.
1938 Earned his law degree from Stanford University and spent the next two years working as a law clerk, as an associate in a law firm, and in private practice.
1940 Served in the U. S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant in East Africa, North Africa, Italy, and Sicily. Returned with a decoration and three battle stars.
1946 Re-opened his Redding law office.
1948 Named a United States Commissioner, with the primary responsibility for holding pre-trial hearings for people suspected of committing crimes on federal land.
1950 Appointed as Redding Justice of the Peace and City Judge.
1951 October 1, appointed a Superior Court Judge by Governor Earl Warren. Was re-elected four times without opposition.
1974 Retired from the U. S. Army Reserve as a Lt. Colonel.
1976 December 31, retired as a judge after serving 25 years. During that time, he served not only in Shasta County, but under assignment in 13 other counties and on the 3rd District Court of Appeal.
2003 July 29, died at age 89 at his home on West Street in Redding.

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