Judge Richard Behrens Eaton

Judge Richard Behrens Eaton, local historian and Shasta County Superior County Superior Court Judge, died in 2003. To fulfill his dream of sharing family history and collection of historical memorabilia with his community, and to enrich the educational and cultural experience of both children and adults, Judge Eaton established The Berhens-Eaton Trust. The trust stipulates that his family home and its contents, along with the grounds surrounding the home, be opened as a historical museum free to the public, depicting the life and times of the Victorian and Gold Rush Era in Northern California.

Behrens- Eaton History

Ludwig Behrens & Louise Marie Bardt
(1825-1880) — (1822-1884)

Charles Henry Behrens & Mary Kountz
(1859-1917) — (1862-1949)

Edna, Ella, Earl

  • Ludwig Behrens

    Ludwig Behrens, a German, was sailing in the waters near Hawaii when he heard about “Gold in California.” He jumped ship and ended up at Whiskeytown. He soon discovered more money could be made in the retail business so he established a store. After 3 (three) years he sent for his wife and child, who had remained in Germany.

  • Charles Behrens

    While at Whiskeytown, the Behrens had six more children. One of their 3 (three) sons, Charles, born in 1859, was to become the grandfather of Richard Eaton. Charles, at the age of 23, in 1882 married Mary Kountz, whose parents had also arrived from Germany.

  • Business and Family

    They established a successful grain and general merchandise business and remained in this business untill 1889 when Charles sold the store and became proprietor of the Empire Hotel. Thus, he also became the Wells Fargo Agent, constable, and post master. Three children were born to their union. Edna, Ella, and Earl.

  • The House

    In 1899, Charles was elected Sheriff of Shasta County which necessitated the families move to the new county seat of Redding. They purchased the home on West Street which has housed the Behrens-Eaton family until the death of Judge Richard Eaton in 2003.

  • Later Years

    Charles served as Sheriff for 5 years and then as undersheriff. During his lifetime he also engaged in quartz gold mining, investing in the Mt. Shasta Mine and later was owner of the Oro Fino group of mines in Clear Creek Valley. He also sold life insurance and was involved in the first oil drilling in Shasta County. He died of Bright’s disease at the age of 58.

The Judge’s Mother

Edna Mabel Behrens

Edna with Richard Behrens Eaton

  • Early Beginnings

    Edna was born January 30, 1883 in Old Shasta. Her father and mother, Charles and Mary, were living in her grandmother, Mary Kountz’s home.

  • Education

    Edna was just starting high school when the family moved to Redding. She would have been in Shasta High School’s first graduating class however, after her junior year she took the Teachers Exam and taught at the Mountain Union School.  She taught at several other schools throughout the next 10 years.  She finished high school in 1904 and then continued to teach – She also attended the University of California and Stanford.

  • Family

    Walter and Edna met in Coram and wed in 1913 in Redding and moved to Albany, Oregon where their only son Richard Behrens Eaton was born December 22, 1914. During the war Walter succumbed to the great flu pandemic of 1918. After his death Richard and Edna returned to Redding from their home in Jefferson County, Oregon

  • Accomplishments

    Being a single mother and industrious like her father she worked in the post office, the Red Cross and as a teacher, and was elected treasurer of Shasta County in 1922, serving 16 years. Edna accomplished much and contributed to Shasta County during her life as the last surviving founding member of the Shasta County Historical Society among other clubs and organizations.

Mother’s Siblings

Ella Genevieve Behrens

Ella Genevieve Behrens

Ella was one of the first women bank tellers in California.  She started at the Bank of Italy, which later became the Bank of America.  After that she had a second career as clerk for the Right-of-way Department in the Division of Highways.
Ella Genevieve Behrens

Ella Genevieve Behrens

Earl Charles Behrens

Earl Charles Behrens

Earl Charles, their only son attended Stanford, served in the Army in the Phillipines & Siberia in WWI. After that he began a distinguished 51 year political editor for the San Francisco Chonical. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom during the Nixon presidency.