William M. Guthrie
1830 - 1888
William M. Guthrie was born in 1830 in Covington, Kentucky, then known as "The Point"- a
popular rendezvous spot for explorers and pioneers. His father was born in Virginia but eventually
settled near Mt. Vernon, Missouri. William kept on going west. At age 19 he joined the California
Gold Rush and left Missouri with a few friends. They drove a herd of cattle to Salt Lake City, sold
them, reprovisioned for the trip over the mountain passes and headed up the Oregon Trail. William
staked his mining claim on Canyon Creek, near Weaverville, California, where he built a homestead
and a sawmill. He was known as the "Strongman of Canyon Creek" because of his physical
strength. Family legend says that he could pick up and throw a large anvil. He was one of the earlier
settlers to the area. In 1856 he was elected a Constable and Justice of the Peace for Canyon Creek
Township. William later served as a Trinity County Supervisor from 1872 until his death in 1888. He
joined the Trinity County Masonic Lodge #27 in 1873 and remained a member until he died.
Guthrie Homestead and Sawmill
(
no longer in existence)
Guthrie Town House - Weaverville
William Guthrie's town house is listed on the
Weaverville Historical Society's walking tour:
"The house at 924 Mill Street was built about 1880 by Mr.
Guthrie, the operator of a sawmill on Canyon Creek... this
house is the only combination Greek Revival /Gothic style
structure on Mill Street...and is basically unaltered...".
William M. Guthrie married Susanna Harris from Missouri and together they had nine children. All
survived except the eldest son Willie who drowned in the creek at age two. William died in 1888 as a
result of a severe attack of meningitis. He left Susanna with eight children, the youngest a newborn.
Susanna was unable to run the sawmill and mine while caring for her family and after some years, sold
them for very little money. About 1895, the family left Weaverville for San Francisco, hoping for more
opportunities in the big city.
Guthrie Family about 1876
William, Susanna, eldest child
Capitola, second child Flora
Guthrie Family after William's death about 1894
Susanna with James, Violet and Leroy - the youngest
children
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