Santa Cruz County History - Government



Santa Cruz County Seal

No County seal in use in 1954:

According to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, dated July 18, 1954, the County Clerk Harry E. Miller said that he had no knowledge of an official county seal. In use at that time was an official seal for the Board of Supervisors. According to Emma Rodhouse, the deputy county clerk in 1954, that seal had been in place since 1883.

The adoption of the Board of Supervisor's seal is recorded in their minutes. On June 4, 1883, the Supervisors' minutes show that "E. Martin is appointed a committee of one to procure a seal for the use of the board."

The minutes on July 2, 1883 read, "E. Martin, having been heretofore appointed to procure a seal for the use of this board, and now presenting board a seal procured by him in pursuance to said appointment, on motion said seal is hereby adopted as the seal of this board."

Had there ever been a County seal?

The whole question of the existence of a county seal was brought up when the members of the Cowell Big Trees park dedication committee discovered what looked like the county seal, in the basement of the old courthouse. (That seal was used to emboss 100 invitations for the dedication of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park on August 15, 1954.)

The seal of the Board of Supervisors and the seal found in the courthouse basement area match except for one place--the wording in the border surrounding the crest. One says "Board of Supervisors of the County of Santa Cruz" while the other reads "The Great Seal of the County of Santa Cruz".

The seal depicts the redwoods and a grizzly bear, the official state tree and state animal respectively. The grizzly bear has since disappeared from the area but thrived in the great valleys and low mountains of California until the late 1800's. The motto at the base of the crest is "Sine Praejudicio" which translated from Latin means "without prejudice."

Whether this seal was ever used by the County is unanswered. The history of the seal found in the basement was not discovered.

Photograph of the Santa Cruz County Seal
Santa Cruz County Seal

The current county seal:

The seal found in the basement, with one change, is now the official seal. The words in the border surrounding the crest were changed to "County of Santa Cruz 1850".

The office of the county clerk was not able to verify when the seal was legally adopted. However, their records show that in 1978 an ordinance was passed concerning the proper usage of the seal.

Sources:

  • Santa Cruz Sentinel, 7/18/54.
  • Telephone call to County Clerk Office 10/18/99.

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