History Pages: 15 - Around the New County

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While the business of the brand new County of Santa Cruz was getting underway in the early 1850s, there were still no incorporated towns or other government structure. The Villa de Branciforte had never become more than a long straight road with a few houses. Roads were still so few that they didn’t need official names. As we have seen, however, it was during these years that many persons arrived whose names can now be found on signs. Here are three more of them.

Scott House in Scotts Valley

Maine native Hiram Scott was another of those sailors who jumped ship in Monterey and ended up here. Scott arrived in 1846, ten or so years later than the three mentioned in an earlier post. He left for the gold mines in 1848 and apparently found some of the shiny stuff, for he came back to buy Rancho San Agustin from Joseph Majors in 1850. Scott immediately began building a home for himself and his family, who followed him to California in 1853. The 1853 Scott House still stands as a museum in the city of Scotts Valley, one of the oldest wood-frame structures in the county.

William Waddell was a Kentuckian who arrived in the county in 1851. In the succeeding years, Waddell built four sawmills in four different lumbering areas. The last of these was built in 1861, along with a wharf, near what is today the northern boundary of the County, on the creek that commemorates his name. At one time there was a community along the creek named Waddell, but it disappeared with the decline of the timber industry, as did so many other small timber-related settlements. Today we know Waddell Creek as a good place for wind-surfing, bird-watching and hiking. Part of Waddell's land became the "Rancho del Oso", owned by Theodore Hoover, elder brother of President Herbert Hoover. The land was annexed to Big Basin State Park in 1977.

Porter Memorial Library in Soquel

Porter is a prominent mid-county name dating from the same years. Benjamin F. Porter and several brothers/cousins (writers disagree about the relationships) arrived from Vermont in 1853-54. Ben Porter was a tanner by trade and, with George Porter, built a tannery operation on the creek in what is now called Porter Gulch (near Cabrillo College). Edward “Ned” Porter opened the first mercantile store in Soquel village, just as the timber/lumber industry was taking off. John T. Porter became a prominent landowner and developer. The main street of Soquel today is Porter Street, and the local library is named Porter Memorial. Descendants of the first Santa Cruz County Porters became prominent philanthropists, especially supportive of education. Because of that, there’s now a Porter College at UCSC and a Porter-Sesnon House at Cabrillo College.

In 1853-54, the U.S. Coastal Survey made a map of Monterey Bay, with detail extending a short way in from the coast - as far as Mission Santa Cruz (labeled). Later additions were made to the map, including the 1855 Gharky wharf, and the snaky 1856 Davis and Jordan wharf. None of the few roads existing at that time are labeled, but we can find parts of today's Bay Street, West Cliff Drive, Pacific Avenue, Front Street, Cooper Street, Lincoln/Walnut, Chestnut/Rincon Street, Mission Street, King Street, upper Union and Locust Streets, Soquel Avenue, Water Street, Ocean Street, N. Branciforte Avenue (exiting a triangular plaza), and several on Beach Hill can be seen. Even rarer on this map are buildings. Only the Mission quadrangle is labeled, and the only other building of any size is the Davis and Jordan lime warehouse at the top of the wharf. There are two long narrow commercial buildings at today's corner of Pacific and Mission, and another around the corner on Mission. A scattering of unidentified residences can also be found. Hatching with parallel solid-dashed-solid lines indicates areas that were under cultivation. Below is a detail from the map: 1853 Santa Cruz detail 1500px.jpg

Next: History Pages: 15 - Uptown and Downtown