Family of William Wyatt and Irena Scott

       William Wyatt Scott (182?-1864), a native of Virginia migrated to Missouri, it was there that he met Miss Irena "Rena" Branson1 (1823-1908) who was born at Davidson, Tennessee. The couple were married in Missouri on June 30, 1844. They continued to reside in Missouri. The family grew with the birth of several children: Martha (aka Mattie), Elijah, Julia, Mary, Sadie, Hiram, Charlotte, and two whose names are unknown.

        William was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil war. Because of the unrest in Missouri during the war, William obtained an extended leave from the military to move his family to the relative safety of California. He and his in-laws, the Bransons, disposed of their holdings in Missouri and headed west in a wagon train.

        The journey was not without problems, there were Indian raids and numerous privations that confronted the travelers. A couple of the children died during the trip. A major tragedy occurred on June 18, 1864, William and his pregnant wife Irena were tending to the livestock during a storm, a lightning bolt struck and killed2 William. Irena was injured. This occurred on the Buckeye Ranch, near the South Platt river in Nebraska. He was buried, dressed in his Army uniform, near the site of the fatal accident. He was 38 years old.

        The wagon train resumed it trek to the Golden State, within in a few days a member of the Scott or Branson families realized that some important papers had inadvertently been left in a pocket of Williams army uniform. The family insisted on returning to the grave to exhume the remains to obtain the papers. The wagon master of the train refused to wait, but the family had decided to return to the grave site. They never found the grave, they speculated it was washed away by the rising river. Fortunately the Scotts and Bransons came upon wagon train heading to Oregon. It was safer to travel with that train than to attempt continue to California alone.

        Shortly after arriving in Oregon, Irena gave birth to a son, who she named after his father, William Wyatt.

        After a short stay in Oregon the families continue to California. They stayed Sonoma county for a brief period before moving to the Quartzburg area of Mariposa county. Irena had not yet fully recovered from her injures, so the family lived with a friend for some time. Extrapolating from the 1870 census of the only four of the nine children survived the trip across the great plains. With the birth of William II, there remained five youngsters. Martha, nicknamed Mattie, was the most senior and apparently was the "mother" to the others.

        As for the surviving Scott youngsters, Mattie married Thomas Reynolds in 1876 and they later moved to Nevada City. Elijah married Amy Adams in 1883, the marriage ended in divorce, he lived in Hornitos until his death in 1893. Julia wed Albert Petty, they made their home in Chowchilla. Charlotte3 married Thomas E. Marshall at the Washington mine, they had several children, unfortunately she died at age 25. William Wyatt survived into his mid twenties. In 1878, Mary, grandmother of the author, also married at the Washington mine to John William Guest II. The union produced nine offsprings, all of whom lived well into adulthood. John and Mary remained in Mariposa county on their ranch until 1921.

        Irena eventually recovered from her injuries, she was rather successful with her involvement in ranching and farming near Hornitos. Irena remained a widow until her death in February of 1908 at the home of her daughter Mattie, in Nevada City. She was laid to rest in the Odd Fellows cemetery near Hornitos next to her offsprings, Elijah, Charlotte and William, who preceeded her in death. Her headstone simply states "Mother Scott." In adjacent plots her cousin, John S. Branson and his wife Martha are buried.

1. There is a question regarding her forename, Irena, Irene, or Arena, I elect to use Irena because her signature indicates Irena on letters that are in my possession. Also, the 1900 U.S. Census shows her as Irena.
2. A letter from his daughter Mary Scott-Guest is source of date and place.
3.Charlotta died on June 15, 1887 of tuberculosis.

February 2005; Revised March 2006
Submitted by Clayton John Guest, great grandson of William Wyatt Scott and Irena Branson-Scott. ( )