John Crittenden was born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, on April 18, 1832. The Crittenden family joined the migration west in 1849 and settled in the heart of the gold rush in Placerville, where the future sheriff sought to make his fortune mining. He worked mines in the area around Volcano (near Jackson) and actually did quite well.
In 1872, he married Miss Annie Greenough and, in November of that year, the newlyweds bought a 320 acre farm in the Cottonwood area, southwest of Gustine. The couple had two boys, both of whom died in infancy. Hall M. died in December of 1877 at the age of five months and Roy, who lived only 14 days, passed in June of 1879. Crittenden became a prominent farmer and civic leader on the westside and was elected Sheriff in 1884. There appears to be no detailed information regarding the Sheriff’s activities or even a likness of him and there is no indication that he moved to the county seat to discharge his duties as Sheriff. Crittenden died in the second year of his term in May of 1886 “at his residence in this place” according to the San Joaquin Valley Argus.
Sheriff Crittenden left behind Annie and two adopted children. He was buried in a family plot in the Cottonwood Cemetery. His widow moved to the nearby town of Newman and had her late husband’s remains moved to what is now known as the Hills Ferry District Cemetery at the intersection of Draper and Sthur Roads, northwest of Newman. Mrs. Crittenden lived in a small house on the southwest corner of Fresno and P Streets and rented out cottages on her property until her death in December of 1914. The house still stands, but appears uninhabitable. The adjacent cottages are still occupied. Annie was buried with her husband and two infant sons.