HIRAM SCOTT PROFILE
BY JILLIAN K. DUGGAN
SCOTTS VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Hiram Scott, the founder of Scotts Valley, died in 1887 in Arizona territory. I would have thought that a community founder would be buried in a grassy, shady, and peaceful grave site. Hiram Scott was buried in the floor boards of a saloon that he owned. He passed on in the back of that saloon, but no one alive knows how he died or why he's buried in such a bizarre place. However, here in Scotts Valley, a few residents and several books do tell about Hiram Scott's accomplishments.
Before Hiram was born, his father, Daniel Scott, was married to Ruth Cummins. I don't know how the two got separated but during their marriage. They had a couple of children one of whom was little Hiram. Hiram Scott was born 1822 in Pittston, Maine, at the end of his father's first marriage. Hiram didn't know his real mother very well but he did know his step-mother, whom he admired very much. Daniel Scott married again to Nancy Darcher and they also had several children.
Daniel had many children. To say the least, they were not the wealthiest people in Maine. So, for money, Daniel was a sailor and would ship goods from the East of the United States to the West Indies. This would take himself away from his family for a week to two weeks at a time. Daniel would ship many things such as cattle, barley, and other American-made goods.
When Hiram was between the ages of fifteen to eighteen, he left home and like his father he wanted to be a sailor. After a ton of honest hard work, Hiram Scott became second mate of the ship J.C. Whiting. Hiram sailed all the way to Monterey in 1846. When he got there he liked the look of the land, so he jumped ship and made his way to Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz he started in a business of shipbuilding. The first ship he built was a 50 foot schooner. During this project he got wind of the Gold Rush. As soon as he heard about it he left his project behind and went up somewhere in North California to strike a fortune.
During the Gold Rush, Hiram struck it rich and went to Stockton. There he joined a corporation called Scott, Bonsal, and Doaks. Bonsal and Doaks were just business partners, nothing else. This corporation supplied the money for Stockton's first hotel and ferry system. The ferry rates were $1.00 for a man on horseback, .50 a head for live cattle, and $2.00 for a wagon. The ferry crossed the San Joaquin River just east of Tracy. The main street along the Harbor in Stockton was Scott Boulevard or Avenue, but now it has been wiped out.
When Hiram was in Stockton he met a family of Piute Indians who accompanied him to Santa Cruz. When he got here he bought the San Augustin Ranch (which is now Scotts Valley) from a man named Majors, who later became one of the first supervisors of Santa Cruz County. In 1854 Hiram went back to Pittston, Maine, to move his family to his ranch in California. He brought some step-sisters, step-brothers, his step-mother, and his father back with him.
After Hiram came back to the ranch he met a woman in San Jose named Agnes Cummings who he married in about 1857. Agnes and Hiram had some children and then he sold the ranch and a team of ten horses over to his father for about $10.00. After that, he took off with his family to Silver Mountain in Alpine County to search for gold. After 4-5 years the expedition never paid off. Then they finally came back to Scotts Valley and they began to divide the ranch up, selling it to different people.
After the division of the ranch, Hiram went to Rio Grande, Arizona to mine gold. Although the story in the family said that he was successful in mining in Arizona, he really was not successful. Hiram died in 1887 in Arizona territory.
On Wednesday, December 31, 1997, everybody is getting ready for the new year with parties, resolutions, and reunions. At 1:00 o'clock I got a ride from my dad to the Scott House where I waited for my interviewee. I didn't know there was a back door to the Scott House until I took a walk, and there as I looked inside was a man sitting on a rocker reading a World War II book. The person I interviewed was Charlie, short for Charles Graham. We did the interview in the kitchen of the Scott House. I had never met Charlie before, but he seemed like a very sweet and knowledgable man.
Charlie was not born when Hiram was alive, of course, but he knows almost everything about him. Daniel Scott was a sailor and, like his father, Hiram wanted to be a sailor because he was interested in the sea. Charlie thought it was funny that Daniel shipped Jamaican Rum because he thought there wouldn't be any left by the time they got to the West Indies.
When Hiram was on the J.C. Whiting he had to go around South America. It usually took 90 to 100 days before they got to the West coast and then on to Monterey.
In Stockton Hiram met a Piute Indian family, and their chief was named Captain Truckee, who was a scout for John Fremont. They accompanied Hiram to the San Augustin Ranch which he bought from Majors. Captain Truckee and his family worked on the ranch. When Captain Truckee died he left his two children in the care of Hiram. Sara, Captain Truckee's daughter, was put in a Catholic school by Hiram, but she wasn't there very long because they were prejudiced against Indians. Later on she became very famous and she wrote a book called "Life Amongst the Piutes." Her brother, Nachase, became Chief of the Piute Nations in Nevada.
This is how Majors got the land grant in 1841. Majors was a naturalized Mexican citizen who lost his wife. Earlier she had received a land grant of 12,000 acres known as Rancho Refugio. The San Augustin portion was only a small portion of the Rancho Refugio. Majors sold it to Hiram for $20,000. During the first years that Hiram had the Ranch, they grew wheat and barley. One time they harvested 10,000 bushels and then sent it to San Francisco to sell to the gold miners.
After Daniel moved to California, Hiram and his father both became supervisors for Santa Cruz County. Around this time, George Scott, one of Hirams' brothers, and Daniel Scott operated a livery stable in Santa Cruz. They were involved in the first stage coach line that ran from Santa Cruz to Los Gatos (Mt. Charlie Road). The first stage coach stop was the Scott House (in its original location), and there they would change horses. Residents of Scotts Valley think that people might have been staying over night from the stage coach, because there are two rooms upstairs in the Scott House. Hiram Scott helped build the toll road that runs from Glenwood up to the summit.
Charlie Graham, my interviewee, worked at Silver Mountain (northern California near Alpine area) in the late 1940's. To get to the mountain in the 1940's they had to use pack horses, and that's the same thing they used when Hiram Scott went mining at Silver Mountain. Then Mr. Scott went down to Rio Grande, Arizona where he died.
Supposedly the Scott House, which Hiram Scott built, is the second house ever built in Scotts Valley. The first was an adobe house that was built down by the airport. There is no record of it, but there was an Indian fight and the house was used as a fort or hideout. Charlie, who works on the Scott House frequently, says that the house is made out of all redwood except for a few of the doors. The architecture is like a ship because Hiram was a ship builder and that was the only way he knew how to build. This was one of the more fancy houses in the 1800's.
In conclusion this essay has taught me to understand how my home town of Scotts Valley was established. Hiram Scott has done what so many people think is impossible, establishing a whole town. While doing this project I got to meet one of the most interesting people that I have ever met. I am glad to have had the chance to meet him.
Scotts Valley Historical Society Civic Center Drive; Scotts Valley, CA 95066