By the euphonious name of Marlette is one of the county's most historic ranches and brick mansions known. It lies among other venerable ranchos in lone valley, fast upon the fertile southern bank of Sutter Creek, westerly of lone city.
Take, in fact, Marlette street westerly out of town a couple of miles and it deadends at a crossroad and the ranch. Its 130 acres or so are richly fertile; Eons of rainfall on slopes above have brought down topsoil. Overflowings of Sutter, Dry and Mule creeks have spread the bounty valley wide. Upon the land stands the mansion, two-story brick, as if plucked, perhaps, off some napping Southern plantation. Though it has no pillared portico, the structure seems to spring from generations of antebellum, Southern estates.
Logan thinks its builder was a Virginian, James P. Martin. He thus surmises that Martin bad those far-off mansions in mind when "Marlette" was conceived and built.
Five years short of a century has "Marlette" been owned by the Scullys, proud pioneer name in Jackson and lone Valleys since the 1850s. Of brothers Scully, it was William (with wife Josephine) who bought the place from Martin in 1882. Tradition tells us Martin needed cash.
He had land enough. The old ranch in the Dry Creek "bottom" originally spread 900 acres. And Martin had a house and lot in Sutter Creek, too. Over the years the old mansion deteriorated. Its decline wasn't arrested until a few years ago when grandson Bob and helpmate Etta gained ownership. Since then, with much labor, expense and love, they have restored Marlette to its original proud state on the (old)... ranch.
On a recent night Logan and historical society members were hosted by the Scullys for a meeting and tour. The writer shared speaking honors with sprightly Nina Winters, who came to the valley as a bride almost 65 years ago! Nina talked of agriculture and the (land) grant; Logan remarked about Marlette, Martin and civil war vignettes.
Regrettably, we know little about this old lone valley rancho. We don't know why the Scullys called (a still call) it Marlette, Nor do we know for certain whom and when this stately mansion was built.
Another tradition dates its construction in 1852. Until facts appear to support the claim, Logan will guess three years either way from 1860. It was that decade here in brickwork when the arch appeared. Marlette's entrance and second-story balcony door both are topped with brick arches.
Though uncertain about the home's vintage, Logan can trace the ranch's ownership from 1850, the year Calaveras (and other counties) were organized and the state born.
Valley pioneer William Hicks sold his first 160-acre place between the creeks in 1850 and claimed and surveyed Marlette. In a few years, Hicks sold to Kirby a his tenant, H.C. Swain. Swain sold in 1857 to Martin who held it for a quarter century until selling to Scully.
Did Swain build the brick? Or Martin? Whence its name Marlette? There was a prominent surveyor a civil engineer in those days named Seneca H. Marlette, He was Calaveras county surveyor in 1852 and '53. '55 he had his shingle out at the news depot in Jackson where the Wells Fargo restaurant is now.