John Givens was born on October 15, 1838, in Union County, Kentucky, the eighth of 10 children. The Givens moved west and settled in Mariposa County, founding the “Texas Ranch”, which the family still owns.
Givens married Miss Louisa Lampson, of Stockton, in December of 1878 and produced one daughter.
Givens became Sheriff in 1886 and served a single two-year term. Records indicate that he moved to the San Francisco bay area and became a guard at San Quentin Prison, working there in the 1890s and early 1900s. He then relocated to his wife’s hometown of Stockton and took a custodian job at the Methodist Church. In December of 1912, he went to the church to prepare it for an evening service and suffered a heart attack. He was discovered by his wife and daughter, clinging to life. Two city police officers were summoned and took the old Sheriff to the local hospital, where he expired later that evening. He was buried at the Stockton Rural Cemetery. His wife, Louisa, died in March of 1933, in Berkeley, California, at the age of 86.