Resources For Learning About Local History

In 2013-14 the Local History Club was formed.  We read works of historical fiction that relate to our local history and  were overwhelmed with our historical findings and the resources in our community for learning about them.  We  plan to share them here so check back often for updates.  The main topic is followed by a related book.  Other books and resources are listed under each topic.  

The Ohlone People 

Field Trips:

Ohlone Day At Henry Cowell State Park  (Usually a Saturday in  early September)

This event features hands-on experiences to relate Ohlone cultural, social, and everyday life.  Celebrate the Ohlone People of the past with those of the present on Ohlone Day.  You will see traditional dancers and Ohlone demonstrators will share traditional basketry, songs, stories, tools, musical instruments, language and history. During this family-friendly event, visitors can throw an atlatl, play Ohlone games and find out how rocks, cook meals and bay trees cure headaches as Ohlone people share traditional basketry, songs and musical instruments, stories, dances, tools, language, and history.

For thousands of years, the native tribes we now collectively call the Ohlone thrived in this abundant region. They had plentiful sources of food and enjoyed a life rich in culture. Descendants of the Ohlone people present this event each year so that visitors make connections to Ohlone culture in a meaningful way.

More information can be found at or or by calling (831) 335-7077 or (831) 335-3174.

Located in Downtown Santa Cruz, the adobe structure is constructed from bricks, made primarily of mud and straw, and stands as a reminder of the past. The Santa Cruz Mission established in 1791 was built between the years of 1822 and 1824, mostly by the hard work of Native Americans in what was then known as “Alta California.” These Native Americans were the main residents in what is now Santa Cruz County’s oldest building. The lovely, single-story adobe has been restored to its original appearance.  Historical programs with hands on activities are presented at the park most Saturdays and on weekdays in the summer. Homeschoolers can also book field trips.  See their events page or call 831-425-5849.  

Scotts Valley City Hall
The Scotts Valley City Hall is built upon a prehistoric Indian site.  Some artifacts from the site are displayed.  Check the City of Scotts Valley website for current hours before going.   The Scotts Valley City Hall is small, so it is best to go as an individual family.   There is an interesting article about the site at this link.

Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History 
The museum has a small exhibit with some artifacts.  Kids can try grinding acorns with a mortar and pestle.  Sign up for their newsletter and watch for special events relate to the Ohlone People.

Ohlone lived on the site of the park.  Check their website for information and classes.  They sometimes offer an Ohlone Artifact Class.  

Indian Canyon is the only land continuously held by the Ohlone people, the first inhabitants of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas. Indian Canyon is the only federally recognized "Indian Country" along coastal Northern California From Santa Barbara to Sonoma.  Indian Canyon is open to the public during their annual Story Telling Festival  usually held in July.

Tule Gathering
We were able to gather tule at Neary Lagoon.  We called the City of Santa Cruz Volunteer Center (CitySERVE program) for permission.

This park has a Tuibun Ohlone Village Site (previously Native American Archaeological Sites)  Open houses, guided tours, and school programs are offered at a more than 2,000-year-old Tuibun Ohlone Village site.  During these programs, visitors can enter an Ohlone-style family house, sweat house, and shade shelter. Public access to the site is by reservation only. Call the visitor center at (510) 544-3220 for information.  The park also hosts an annual Ohlone Gathering in early October of each year. 

This beautiful and culturally significant 4.3-acre park site is located just minutes from the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill. The park features the beautiful Uvas Creek and a wealth of cultural artifacts including bedrock mortars and petroglyphs left  by the Ohlone Indians. The park includes a self-guided interpretive walk and an interpretive shelter focusing on Ohlone Indian culture and the Adams schoolhouse which was sited on this property  from the 1850s until 1956.

Internet Resources:

Primitive Ways  Comprehensive site for learning about primitive technology, including starting fires and weaving baskets. 

Suggested Books:

When The World Ended, How Hummingbird Got Fire, How People Were Made Rumsien Ohlone Stories  told by Linda Yamane
The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in The San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area by Malcom Margolin

Santa Cruz in the Early 1900's: People Maps, Trains and Earthquakes 

Agriculture,  Migrant Workers, Immigration
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child  (Francisco Jiménez)

Pioneers: The Reed-Lewis Family, Early Business in Santa Cruz (Tourism, Chocolate and Lime) 

Local History Connections:  After making it to California, the Reed Family settled in San Jose.  Patty married James Frazier Lewis and moved to Santa Cruz.   Patty's father, James Frazier Reed and her husband operated a lime kiln in what is now Pogonip.  After becoming a widow, Patti managed boarding houses,  including the Capitola Hotel.  Her son, James Frazier Lewis operated a local candy business.   

Field Trips:

The Frazier Lewis store was on this block.  Look for the cement squares which say Frazier Lewis  Victoria Creams.  They are near the back door to Marini's Candies. 

Patti Reeds Doll is on exhibit. 

Internet Resources:
East Side, West Side, All Around The Town
East meets West. The Donner Party meets Chinatown.  Novelist James D. Houston examines the moment when two immigrant cultures came together on East Cliff Drive

One-eyed Charley, Stage Coaches, Gold Rush, Women's Rights

Local History Connections:  The main character in the book, Charlotte Parkhurst, is based on Charley Parkhurst, legendary       stage driver, who came to California during the Gold Rush and eventually settled in the Aptos/Soquel area.  At death Charley was discovered to be a woman.   She drove stages over the mountains from Los Gatos, San Jose and San Juan Bautista.  She also ran a stage stop, lived, voted and logged in the Aptos/Soquel area. 

Field Trips:

Pajaro Valley Historical Association -- The museum archives have a collection (spanning over 100 years) of books, newspaper articles, documents and photos about Charley Parkhurst.   

Charley Parkhurst Grave -- Charley was buried near downtown Watsonville.  Her grave can be found in the Pajaro Valley Public Cemetery District  at the intersection of Freedom Blvd and Marin Street.   Enter at 66 Marin Street.   After you enter take the first driveway to the right and then the first driveway to the left. Park along this driveway near the third path that turns off to the right. Take the third path. Her grave site will be along the second row that turns off of this path to the left. It is the only site in that part of the cemetery with grass around it.

Seven Mile House
Charlie operated a stage stop known as Seven Mile House (7 miles from downtown Watsonville) near the intersection of Freedom Blvd and Day Valley Rd.    There is a house at this location.  Some people think that the first story of the house was her original stage stop.  You can read about it in these news articles filmavailable at the Reference Desk of the Downtown Library.

Soquel Fire House
The Soquel Fire Station (on Soquel,  near the corner of Porter Street) stands on the spot where Charley voted.  There is a plaque on the front of the building.  

Old Stage Coach Road
You can hike or drive parts of the Old Stage Coach Road between San Juan Bautista and Salinas.  A map is here

Related Books In The Santa Cruz Library

Highway 17: The Road To Santa Cruz (Richard A. Beal) (see Ch. 3--Early Transportation Routes) 

Articles on Microfilm (California Room of The Downtown Library) 

Charley's Obituary--"Charley Parkhurst a Woman" Santa Cruz Sentinel 1880-01-03 (3:5)
Charley's Estate--"The Parkhurst Estate" Santa Cruz Daily Surf (1886-04-07) (3:5)                                                 

Local History Articles on the Santa Cruz County Library Website

140 Years of Railroading in Santa Cruz County (Rick Hamman)
Stagecoach Days in the Mountains (Stephen Michael Payne)