Wednesday, March 20, 2019


John Varner Scott was born to Hugh Scott and Margaret (Moore) Scott on December 27, 1821 in Tyrone County, Ireland. He was one of nine children born to them during their union. His parents emigrated their family from Ireland to England and then to the United States of America. The Scott family settled in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1833. Then on, September 25, 1844 John was naturalized as a full-fledged American citizen in the Superior Court of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Then in 1851, John Varner Scott departed Allegheny County, Pennsylvania for California when he crossed the Isthmus of Panama this route was the shortest route to California. John became a passenger on the ship the Atlantic, and the Atlantic took him safely to California where the voyage on the ocean was completed. John disembarked the Atlantic at the Port of San Francisco in 1852, and from there the reports of the placer mines of northern California seduced him to venture further north. Scott took a stage from San Francisco which made several changes along the route to Shasta, where he settled. In Shasta County, John V. Scott originally engaged himself as a miner mining the placer mines.

John was highly successful as a miner and he made his fortune by panning for gold and sluicing the grounds of his placer mines with his sluice box and long tom. During 1854, he associated himself with Alfred Walton and James W. Tull when John purchased an interest to their establishment in Shasta called the Franklin hotel. This hotel was located on Main Street. John became a co-owner of this business, and he eventually purchased the Franklin hotel from Walton & Tull, which made him the sole owner of that hostelry.

In April of 1857, a new luxurious three-story fire-proof brick hotel called the Empire was completed at a cost of $30,000, on Main Street at Shasta. The first Empire hotel was destroyed by fire in 1853. The new building was paid in full by its owners Donalson & Company which also included a Mr. Chapman. The Empire hotel competed in business with the Franklin hotel which was a smaller hostelry in town.

The Empire hotel advertised as having the following: private rooms for rent, large and commodious rooms for the accommodation of private families, a dining room, a bar with the best stocked liquors and cigars. In addition to the hotel there were also a corral and stable attached to the building. The Empire hotel changed ownership many times since Donalson & Company owned it.

The 1860 U.S. Census records John Varner Scott living with three other boarders. Their names were given as Charles Anderson, H. Long, and S. Sampson. John was listed as a hotel keeper. It's possible that the boarders were employed by Scott in his Franklin hotel. Anderson and Sampson were laborers while Long was employed as a cook. John claimed an initial value of real estate at $8,000 on the above census record.

He began courting an esteemed young lady from Shasta by the name of Catherine Lynch, a native of Ireland. Her name is sometimes found under the spelling of Katherine, as well. She was the daughter of Daniel Lynch and Bridgett (Callaghan) Lynch, her father was a local merchant at Shasta. The happy couple were married on December 29, 1863, in Shasta County. Catherine was twenty years younger than her husband.

ABOVE: an advertisement for the grand opening ball at the Empire hotel on January 1, 1868, the hotel was now owned by John Varner Scott. From the Shasta Courier newspaper of December 7, 1867.

In 1867, John V. Scott was still operating the Franklin hotel and he continued to own and operate it until 1868, and during the interim he acquired the Empire hotel which was located on Main Street at Shasta. John's only competition in town was the Charter Oak hotel, a two-story hotel which conducted a thriving business.

According to the 1870 U.S. Census, it records John and his wife Catherine living with five additional boarders inside their home at Shasta. John's occupation was listed as a hotel keeper and Catherine's occupation was listed as a land lady. Among the boarders were the following men: Charles Anderson, Charles Grotefend, Chris Gordenier, Michael Hansel, and James S. McDonald. Charles Anderson had been living with John V. Scott for the past ten years. Anderson was now employed as a hotel waiter, while Grotefend and Gordenier were employed as cooks, Hansel was employed as a laborer, and McDonald was employed as a hostler. 

ABOVE: A view of Main Street at Shasta. This post card shows the three-story Empire hotel, owned by John Varner Scott, on the left side of the image. The Shasta County Court house is also visible. Circa 1870. Courtesy of Shasta Historical Society.

Ten years later, the 1880 U.S. Census, documents John and Catherine living on Main Street at Shasta inside the Empire hotel. Catherine is listed as "Kate" and she is noted as a house keeper on this census record. John's sister-in-law Clara Lynch is also documented as living with them at the age of nineteen. Aside from the first three names on the above census record there are an additional thirty-two boarders living with them. Among the notable local names in this household living inside the Empire hotel are the following: Richard Ripley, Shasta County treasurer, Charles H. Behrens, hotel steward, Jerry Culverhouse, mail contractor and the second mayor of Redding, and Mary (Cloud) Culverhouse (wife of Jerry), the first female passenger on the train into the brand new town of Redding (then spelled Reading) departing from Red Bluff and arriving at the Redding Depot on September 1, 1872.

ABOVE: This became the regular advertisement continuously used by John Varner Scott for the Empire hotel on Main Street at Shasta. From the Shasta Courier newspaper Saturday, June 19, 1869.

Then on, September 1, 1889 John Varner Scott was commissioned as the receiver in the United States Land Office at Shasta. Scott still maintained an interest in mining and he actively worked a number of placer claims and quartz mines in the area. One of the more notable mines he owned was the lucrative Bunker Hill mine in the Middle Creek mining district of Shasta County. John V. Scott may have purchased shares of the Bunker Hill mine prior to 1891, which had additional owners. John still owned the Empire hotel in Shasta, but the pioneer would later lease the property to Charles H. Behrens.

One account from a local newspaper in 1895 about the life of John Varner Scott contained the following information: "Among our citizens, are a few who well remember witnessing lively times in the neighborhood of the new smelter site, near the mouth of Dog Creek, among whom is our townsman, John V. Scott, who early in the 50's, kept a hotel, store and saloon where Mr. Jones and family reside, and still known as the Stump Ranch." (SIC)

John V. Scott hired a local carpenter by the name of James Scamman to construct a stylish Queen Anne residential building on the west side of West Street near Tehama Street in downtown Redding on a piece of property he had purchased there. When the building was completed by Scamman in 1895 it had a registered address of 1520 West Street. The Shasta Courier newspaper reported the following about John and his wife Catherine on Saturday, December 28, 1895: 

"Mr. and Mrs. John V. Scott spent Christmas in Shasta. Their residence is now in Redding, but they have a warm place in their hearts for old Shasta, where they spent many happy years of their life." (SIC)

John Varner Scott continued to mine the Bunker Hill mine, and in 1896, the Bunker Hill mine was owned by Scott with a co-ownership consisting of:  Mrs. Carmichael of Oakland, and Mrs. Emily Loag of New York (the widow of James T. Loag.) A man named William Albert Pryor was an overseer of Mrs. Loag’s shares of the Bunker Hill mine. Pryor's position granted him access to the mining property and mining rights.

Later on, the Scott's began to contemplate a move south to San Francisco which persuaded them to sell their new residence to Charles H. Behrens, a longtime friend and employee of John's. Then on Tuesday, June 13, 1899, the Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding reported the following account:

"Mr. And Mrs. Charles Behrens and family have moved into the Scott residence on West Street, which Mr. and Mrs. Scott have gone to Shasta, where they will visit before leaving for their future home in San Francisco." (SIC)

After the Behrens family moved into 1520 West Street, John and his wife Catherine were invited that June to stay a couple of nights as the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester Hull in Redding upon their return from Shasta, and by June 24, 1899 the Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding reported that they have removed to San Francisco by that date.

Later, Charles Henry Behrens became the Sheriff of Shasta County and he served that position honorably from 1898 to 1902. This residential building in Redding is important to document here because it remains one of the historic Redding Victorian era structures which is still standing.

ABOVE: Today, 1520 West Street in Redding plays host to the Behrens-Eaton House Museum. This house was built for John Varner Scott. In the above image there is snow on the ground and building. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on February 13, 2019.

Many generations of the Behrens-Eaton family lived at 1520 West Street in Redding, the last descendent of Charles Henry Behrens died there in 2003. The last descendant of Charles H. Behrens was his grandson the late Superior Court Judge, Richard Behrens Eaton. It was the late Judge Richard B. Eaton who bequeathed instructions to his estate at the time of his death for his residence to be turned into historical museum for the citizens of Redding to enjoy. Presently, this building is now the Behrens-Eaton House Museum.

According to a 1900 California Voters Registration for John Varner Scott he lived in San Francisco at age of seventy-four. His street address was 1615 Laguna Street. On June 15, 1900, when the Assembly District 40 of San Francisco was enumerated for that district John Varner Scott appears on that census living at the above address with his wife Catherine who is noted at the age of fifty-eight and his sister-in-law Clara Lynch who is noted at the age of thirty-four. John was retired, after a life-long career as a hostelry man. John and Catherine often visited Shasta during the summer months as they grew older together, to visit his wife's family and their old friends who were still in the area.

Four years later, the pioneer died on December 28, 1904, in San Francisco and his remains were transferred to Redding where he was buried in the Redding Cemetery (now Redding Memorial Park.) At the end of his life Scott was partially blind, but he had a very reliable memory. John Varner Scott was one of the prominent members of Western Star Lodge, No. 2, the first instituted Masonic lodge in the State of California, and Scott has filled all its offices. He was also a member of the Council and Chapter, and he is a member of the Legion of Honor.

ABOVE: In 1898, John Varner Scott served as president of the Stockholders of the Millville and Burney Valley Wagon Road Company. From the Shasta Courier newspaper, December 3, 1898.

ABOVE: The headstone of John Varner Scott who died in San Francisco on December 28, 1904 at Redding Memorial Park. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on March 6, 2019.

ABOVE: Left to right is the headstones of Katherine (Lynch) Scott and her husband John Varner Scott. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on March 6, 2019 at Redding Memorial Park. 

ABOVE: this is the headstone of Katherine (Lynch) Scott who survived her husband by twenty years. Katherine died on July 2, 1924, in San Francisco, at the age of eighty-three from a stroke of paralysis which were caused by injuries that she received in San Francisco when she was hit by an automobile two years before her death. This photograph was taken by Jeremy Tuggle on March 6, 2019 at Redding Memorial Park.

As a hostelry man John Varner Scott had the pleasure of hosting some of the most notable people in California history at the Franklin hotel and the Empire hotel. Some of the people were: Governor John Bigler, Major John Bidwell, Governor Henry P. Haight, Senator John P. Jones, author and poet Joaquin Miller, Republican politician and newspaper editor, George C. Gorham with a host of other notable names.


Empire Hotel - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, January 31, 1857

Empire Hotel - The Shasta Republican newspaper of Shasta, April 4, 1857

The Empire Bar - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, January 30, 1858

1860 U.S. Census

1866 California Voters Registration

1867 - Pacific Coast Directory, available on

1870 U.S. Census

1880 U.S. Census

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

Among Our Citizens - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, August 24, 1895.

Daniel Lynch Obituary - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, February 2, 1895

Mr. And Mrs. John V. Scott - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, December 28, 1895

John V. Scott - The Shasta Courier newspaper of Shasta, June 17, 1899

Pioneer Residents. - The Daily Free Press newspaper of Redding, June 24, 1899
1900 California Voters Registration

1900 U.S. Census

John V. Scott Has Gone To Long Rest - The Free Press newspaper of Redding, December 28, 1904

Mrs. John V. Scott Pioneer Shastain Is Called Beyond - The Courier-Free Press newspaper of Redding, July 3, 1924

BP - 024 Behrens, Ludwig pioneer plaque file on file at Shasta Historical Society (Charles Henry Behrens & Mary (Kountz) Behrens article.)

SP - 007 Scott, John Varner pioneer plaque file on file at Shasta Historical Society

Shasta Historical Society Pioneer Record - John Varner Scott, dated March 18, 1943

Shasta County, California Marriages, 1852-1904

The Behrens-Eaton House Museum by Shasta Historical Society

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