Santa Cruz County History - People



A Walk Through Time: Leah and Joseph Baker
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Within Santa Cruz Memorial Park's beautiful grounds rests a majestic Oak tree which offers hikers an ideal spot to pause for a short rest. Under this tree rests a splendid examble of a wooden, hand carved burial monument that was common during the 19th century. The monument marks the final resting place of Leah Baker.

Photograph of the monument for Leah Baker
The Wooden Monument for Leah Baker

Baker, together with her husband Jospeh, whose headstone can be seen directly behind the tree, were natives of Pennsylvania that crossed the plains by oxcart during the 1850s. They were sturdy farming folk who tilled the soil in quiet anonymity while raising their children.

In the 1890s they quit their farm and moved to a small house on Broadway Avenue in east Santa Cruz. The old couple became favorites of the area residents, and one night at the Soquel Avenue saloon, the "somewhat drunken" local populace, in a unanimous vote, amid great pomp and ceremony, declared Joseph Baker to be "Mayor, Council, Justice of the Peace, and Lord High executioner of east Santa Cruz!"

His honor died December 1, 1894, and Leah Baker followed him on August 10, 1904.

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