Meder, Moses A.

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Moses-Meder from-Elliott 600px.jpg

Moses Avery Meder (1802-1890) was a native of New Hampshire. He arrived in Yerba Buena (renamed San Francisco in 1848) on the ship Brooklyn in 1846 as part of the first group of Mormon settlers in California. Instead of staying with the group, however, Meder struck out on his own, ending up in Santa Cruz in 1847. He worked at Isaac Graham’s Zayante Creek sawmill for a while, and then built a new mill for Graham nearby on the San Lorenzo River. He profited enough from these labors to buy some land from Bolcoff, adjoining Moore’s ranch. Today’s Meder Street runs through the area. Appropriately, one entrance to the Moore Creek Preserve is from the west end of Meder Street.

Meder was apparently a man of honesty and integrity. One story tells how the first County Treasurer, Joseph Majors, faced a dilemma because the new county had no bank or other safe place to keep county funds. Majors’ solution was to ask his friend Meder to keep the money in a trunk under his bed. Meder also served as one of the first county supervisors. Like many other early residents, however, his name was often misspelled. It's "Meeder" on his wife's gravestone, and "Meader" on the 1866 town map.

Another interesting part of Meder’s story is that he donated land for a Jewish cemetery, on the condition that his family be given a burial plot in it (Meder himself is not buried there). Neither Meder nor his wife were Jewish, so this act of generosity is curious. The family plot is in the rear, separated from the Jewish cemetery, and the grave of wife Sarah Meder (1804-1872), who died twelve years before her husband, can be found there. Perhaps he simply wanted his wife's grave to be near his home, and only the Jewish group showed interest in that location.

Meder’s earlier desertion of the Mormon settler party seems to indicate a falling-out, so his later religious affiliations remain a mystery. As far as we know, there was no Mormon congregation in Santa Cruz during Meder's lifetime. According to Meder's "Find a Grave" page: "The Meders became disaffected with the LDS Church due to polygamy, and became members of the Reorganized LDS Church in 1868 (which had rejected polygamy)."

Meder and second wife Olive (Sinnett) were Soc. of Pioneers members.