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Santa Cruz County History - People
Eulogized as a man "who handled many millions of dollars without ever losing a cent," William "Uncle Billy" Bias was elected by Santa Cruz residents as County Treasurer for 25 consecutive years. The trust and respect citizens had for Bias was a reflection of his devotion to his job and loyalty to his people.
Born in Waukesha County, Wisconsin in 1841, Bias left home at 16, and came west to California in the wake of the gold rush. In 1857, Bias settled in Santa Cruz and eventually purchased the Santa Cruz and Pescadero Stage Lines, which offered plenty of opportunities for danger and adventure.
During that time, the coastal trail (now Highway 1), was notoriously unstable and fraught with landslides and washouts -- Bias lost several coaches and horses. The Pescadero run also passed through some desolate and lonely country, making the driver an easy target for bandits. Bias survived several ambushes including an attack by "Chesano" Jose Rodriguez, who had vowed revenge on Bias after Bias served as a jury foreman and sent him to San Quentin Prison. Rodriquez fired two shots from a rifle while Bias was guiding a team through the mountains above Waddell Creek, one missing and the other hitting a driver in the shoulder.
In addition to serving as County Treasurer, Bias was also elected to other offices including clerk and assessor. Bias died on November 11, 1914.
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