The Guthries

Though he is not generally considered one of Cambria’s pioneers, Samuel Guthrie played an important part in the town’s early history. Guthrie was born in Scotland in 1840. At the age of fourteen he went to Australia, where, for seventeen years, he was engaged in the mercantile business in Melbourne. In 1871 he traveled from Melbourne to San Francisco, and remained in California for the rest of his life.

During 1875 he was employed at the Grant, Lull and Co. store on the southeast corner of Bridge and Main Streets as a general bookkeeper. Two years later he was promoted to manager and, in 1883, he became a partner in the firm. The partnership was dissolved in 1887 and, during the next two years, he was employed in a wholesale dry-goods house in San Francisco. He returned to Cambria in 1889, right after the great fire of that year, at which time the firm of Lull, Guthrie and Co. came into existence.  The store became the largest in Cambria and had in stock a general line of merchandise valued at between $l5,000 and $20,000. In addition to the ownership of the store, the firm also owned large tracts of land in San Luis Obispo County where they raised stock for the markets.

Samuel Guthrie

Samuel Guthrie

Guthrie was one of the organizers of the Cambria Fire Company and was its foreman for many years. During the years that mercury mining was at its peak, he was employed as accountant for the Oceanic Quicksilver Mining Co. He was a member of San Simeon Lodge of the Masons becoming master and secretary.

On March 23, 1879, Samuel married Sarah Emma Woods at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in San Luis Obispo. At the time, he was 38 and she was 23. Sarah was born in Waldo, Oregon in March, 1856 and was the second oldest of eight children born to James M. Woods and Anna L. Jones, also known as Emma, Almira or Ann. James Woods was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania in 1821 and Anna Jones was born in Pennsylvania on August 12, 1833. They crossed the plains to Oregon in 1849 reaching Tulare County by 1860 and Cambria soon after.

Sarah Woods grew up in Cambria. Her parents were early farmers on Santa Rosa Creek Road and her four younger siblings were all born in California. Samuel and Sarah apparently had no children.

Sarah Guthrie

Sarah Guthrie

On April 18, 1883, Benjamin H. Franklin sold the house that is currently the Cambria Historical Museum to Mrs. Sarah E. Guthrie for $1,000. The fact that her name is the only one on the deed is exceptional for that period of time.

In addition to the house on the corner of Center Street and Burton Drive, she also owned a house at 4286 Bridge Street which was purchased by Margaret Thorndyke on April 11, 1914.  Margaret was the third wife of Captain Loren V. Thorndyke who was head keeper of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse from 1879 to 1906.

Samuel Guthrie retired in 1903. He died two years later at the age of 64 after a sudden illness.

Sarah Woods and her second husband, Al Lissak

Sarah Woods and her second husband, Al Lissak

In 1918, Sarah Guthrie had a second marriage to Adolphus Frederick Lissak. Lissack was born in Australia and this was his second marriage, too.  By 1920, Sarah and Adolphus had moved to Richmond in Contra Costa County. Sarah died in 1926 and is buried in the Cambria Cemetery District next to her first husband, Samuel.  Adolphus Lissak died in 1931.

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