John Varner Scott is one of the old representative Californians who came to this State in the early days of its history. Since that time he has been identified with the interests of Shasta County as a miner, a hotel-keeper, and, lastly, receiver at the United States Land Office, now located at Redding. He is a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, born December 27, 1821. His parents were Hugh and Margaret (Moore) Scott, natives of the Emerald Isle. To them were born nine children, some in Ireland, some in England and some in the United States, as they removed to England and from there to Pennsylvania, settling in the latter place in 1833. Five of the family survive.

The subject of this sketch left his home in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1851, and came via the Isthmus route to California, arriving in San Francisco in 1852. The Atlantic voyage was made in the United States steamer Atlantic, and the journey was finished in the Clarissa Andrews. Upon his arrival at this coast he came direct to Shasta, where he engaged in mining and was fairly successful. He has seen two ounces of gold taken from a single pan of dirt. He says the largest piece ever mined in Shasta County was taken out by Rochon and his partner at Spring Creek, three and a half miles from Shasta. It weighed sixteen pounds and was worth about $4,000.

In 1854 Mr. Scott purchased an interest in the Franklin Hotel, and conducted it until 1868. In the mean time he bought out his partners, Alfred Walton and James W. Tull. In 1868 he purchased the Empire Hotel, which he ran until 1889. During his career as a hotel-keeper in Shasta he entertained large numbers of people who were attracted to the town by the rich mines in its vicinity. Among his frequent guests were such men as Leland Stanford, David Gwinn, Joaquin Miller, Governor Haight, John P. Jones, Governor Bigler, Major Bidwell, George C. Gorham and hosts of others. For several years Shasta was the end of the wagon road, and from there supplies were packed on mules. In this way the machinery for mills was taken, 400 to 450 pounds being an ordinary load for a mule. Mr. Scott says he knew one mule to carry 1,000 pounds of flour twenty rods, most of the way up grade; another packed an iron safe, weighing 650 pounds, to Yreka, a distance of 120 miles, was not unloaded until it reached its destination and did not lie down while on the journey. Mr. Scott is interested in the Bunker Hill quartz mine, and also in some gold and silver mines. The Empire Hotel still belongs to him. He is one of the nineteen voters of Shasta County who cast their ballot for General John C. Fremont in 1856, and he has since voted with the Republican party. September 1, 1889, he was commissioned receiver in the United States Land Office, in which position he now serves, and to which he gives his close attention. He is one of the prominent members of Western Star Lodge, No. 2, the first instituted Masonic lodge in the State of California, and has filled all its offices. He is also a member of the Council and Chapter, and is a member of the Legion of Honor.

Mr. Scott was married in 1863, to Miss Kate Linch, a native of Ireland. Since that time she has been his faithful companion, the sharer of his joys and sorrows. They live in a cozy home on one of the picturesque hills of the old mining town of Shasta.

Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891

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