Biography of Captain James W. Sayward

Captain James W. Sayward, one of Riverside’s well-known and respected citizens, has for nearly forty years been identified with the interests of California and the Pacific Coast. The main incidents of his eventful life, herewith briefly given, are of interest.

Captain Sayward is a descendant from an old colonial family of New England. His forefather, Henry Sayward, immigrated to the Massachusetts colonies in 1637. His father, William Sayward, was a native of Maine, and a resident of Thomaston. Captain Sayward was born in that town, October 1, 1815. His mother, Mary Elizabeth (Robinson) Sayward, was the daughter of Captain Moses Robinson, a veteran of the Revolutionary war. The subject of this sketch was reared and schooled in his native place, and early in life commenced battling for himself. At seventeen years of age his school days were over, and he worked as a ship carpenter in the summer seasons, and followed a seafaring life in the winter months. Reared in such a school of labor, he in early life became the self-reliant and energetic man that he has been throughout his subsequent career. The Captain became a master in his profession in his young manhood, and engaged in seafaring life on the Atlantic until 1850. In that year he came to California and engaged in mining until 1852, when he returned East and built the bark W. T. Sayward, and in 1854 brought the vessel around Cape Horn to San Francisco, as her owner and master. Soon after his arrival in San Francisco he sold his vessel and embarked in the lumber business at Port Ludlow, on Puget’s Sound. He was engaged in that enterprise for about two years and then returned to San Francisco.

Captain Sayward was a resident of that city in 1856, and was a member of the vigilance police, No. 505, that established law and order, and made life and property safe. He was then appointed on the police force of that city with the rank of Captain of the force. In 1857 he accepted employment under the lighthouse board of the United States, and superintended the construction of the lighthouse at Cape Flattery. Upon the completion of that work he returned to San Francisco and was immediately re-enlisted as a captain on the police force, a position he held until he resigned in 1860, that he might resume his seafaring life. In that year he took command of the brig Sheet Anchor, and was engaged in the coasting trade until 1866, when he commanded the ship Aquila, on a voyage to Liverpool. This proved a disastrous voyage for the Captain. After discharging his cargo in Liverpool, he loaded his vessel with pig iron for New York. He was compelled to put back to the port of Glasgow Scotland, for repairs, and restow the cargo, and many delays occurred; and it was not until December that he was fairly on his way across the stormy Atlantic. His vessel was destined never to reach her port. In January 1867, she encountered a three days’ fearful gale on the Atlantic. The Captain and his crew battled with the elements for days; their vessel was dismasted, boats swept away, and she was in a sinking condition. Amidst this the Captain was so unfortunate as to receive a fracture of his leg. As hope was nearly abandoned, the bark Victoria, Captain S. Hews, finally hove in sight and eventually succeeded in rescuing the crew from the ill-fated vessel, and landing them at Baltimore.

The Captain then decided to abandon his seafaring life and returned to California. Upon his return he located at St. Helena, Napa County, and was for many years engaged in horticultural and viticulture pursuits. In 1881 he came to San Bernardino County, and located at Temescal, where he engaged in ranching until 1887; in that year he purchased from O. T. Dyer a ten-acre orange orchard, on the north side of Bandini Avenue, one and one-half miles south of Riverside, and has since been engaged in orange-growing. His grove was planted in 1878, by T. R. Gundiff, and is now in good bearing. About three-fourths of his trees are budded to Washington Navels and Mediterranean sweets, the remainder in seedlings. The Captain is a thorough horticulturist and his grove shows marked care and cultivation. A neat cottage residence surrounded by floral productions afford him a pleasant home.

Captain Sayward takes an interest in all matters that affect the welfare of his chosen section. He is a Republican in politics, voted the Harrison ticket three different times, and has always been a worker in the ranks of that party as a member of county conventions and the county central committee. He has for years been a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, and has for nearly forty years been a life member of Aurora Lodge, No. 50, of Rockland, Maine, and is also a member of Riverside Chapter, No. 67, R. A. M., and Riverside Commandery, No. 28, Knight Templars. He has been a member of the Calvinistic Baptist Church for over fifty years.

In 1841 Captain Sayward married Miss Mary E. Butler, a native of Rockland, Maine. She died in 1887, No children were born by that marriage; but he has reared and educated two adopted children that bear his name, viz.: Lizzie, formerly Margaret Livingston, of Scotland, who is now Mrs. Joseph A. Sayward, of Victoria, British Columbia, and Louisa Dickinson, now a member of his family.



The Lewis Publishing Company. An Illustrated History of Southern California embracing the counties of San Diego San Bernardino Los Angeles and Orange and the peninsula of lower California. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois. 1890.

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