Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson


Santa Cruz Surf (July 9, 1909)

Tribute to Washington Rhoads Santa Cruz, July 8, 1909

Editor SURF: Washington Rhoads, an old and respected citizen of Santa Cruz, passed away July 8, having lived here 24 years July 4. He came to California first in 1854. When the war broke out, he went to Pennsylvania his native state and enlisted in Co H, 105 Pennsylvania Volunteers. He served three years, and was badly wounded at Gettysburg. He was discharged at Philadelphia Hospital, and came back to California after the war, following prospecting, mining and farming in different parts of the state. July 3, 1885, he camped seven miles out from Capitola, where two inches of snow fell during the night. On July 4 he came here, where he has lived ever since, 24 years the 4th of this July at 145 Ocean View avenue, better known as the Big Hedge. He was also known as the man with three white mules.

He has lived a retired life, respected by all who knew him. His niece, Mrs. Hughes, and her husband of Washington, D.C. were with him during his last illness. D.B. Hughes

Notes and Research from Robert Hufnagel, Great Grand Nephew

Notes from "History of Jefferson County, PA" and "Pottsville Town History" by Kate M. Scott

Franklin Rhodes wrote that the Rhodes family were hard coal miners from Pottsville. Originally in Berks county (until the early 1800's) but now part of Schuylkill county PA, Pottsville was said to have been founded in 1816 by John Pott, whose grandfather, Wilhelm Pott, came from Germany to America in 1734. In 1822 John kept the White Horse Tavern.

In 1812 Col. George Shoemaker, a local saloonkeeper, hauled nine wagons of hard coal to Philadelphia to establish a market for it. He could sell only two, and was called a swindler for trying to sell "black rocks." The remaining seven loads he gave away to those who would try it out. His scheme worked. By 1830 a canal was operating to haul the coal to Philadelphia, and the town of Pottsville had grown from only a few houses in 1824 to a population of 4345 in 1840.
Reference: Pennsylvania Place Names, Abraham Howry Espenshade

GEORGE RHOADS (elder) probably born 1780-1790 A search for George Rhoads in Pottsville PA yielded two George’s, who were probably father and son. The younger George was the father of Henry Rhoads. George the elder was born in Pennsylvania about 1780-1800. He is listed in the 1830 and 1840 PA census records for Pottsville, Schuylkill county. Those records do not list children by name, but the data listed is consistent with children George, G. Washington, and William. Two or three girls are also possible but some of these may have died. George's wife was Christian _________ born in 1797. His occupation was "mining." ref:1840 Schuylkill census p178. The 1830 census for Pottsville/Norwegian (page 144) lists a George Road with a wife 30-40, 1 boy under 5, two boys 10-15, 2 males 20-30, 1 girl under 5, and two girls 5-10. The two oldest males were ages 30-40 and 40-50. Which of these is George (the elder) is not clear. The youngest boy could have been Washington Rhoads, and the two next oldest could have been George (younger) and William. We note here that Adam Yohe and Henry Yohe and their families also lived in Pottsville 1830-1840, the period when George Rhoads Jr. married Elizabeth Yohe. The 1820 census for Schuylkill county lists no Rhoads families, presumably because Pottsville had only a few families in it then, and coal mining had not yet become a major industry there. A search of the 1820 PA census shows five George Rhoads (or similar spellings.) The most likely candidate lived in Lancaster county (#228), age 26-44, a wife 16-44, a boy 0-10, two boys 10-16, three girls under 10 and two girls 10-16. Another George is also listed (#241) with fewer children but no wife indicated.

GEORGE WASHINGTON RHOADS: born Nov 1827, possibly near Pottsville PA (Schuylkill county). Father: George Rhoads (the elder.) mother: Christian __________. Brothers: GEORGE RHOADS, born 1813-1814, and WILLIAM RHOADS.

Notes from "History of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-1865"

The 105th was called the "Wild Cat Regiment" for the name of the congressional district. It was organized at Pittsburgh in Sept 9, 1861, under the command of General Charles K. Graham. Company A was recruited from the southern part of Jefferson County (Punxsutawney, Perry and Oliver townships.) Company H was recruited from Winslow, Washington, and Snyder Townships. In March 17, 1862 the regiment embarked on the steamer CATSKILL for Fort Monroe, arriving on the 19th in a heavy rain storm. They camped in the vicinity of Yorktown until May 5th. From May 9th to May 31 They marched to Williamsburg. On the 31st they fought in the battle of Fair Oaks (9 miles east of Richmond VA). It was said of them "Napoleon's veterans never stood firmer under a devastating fire." On August 29 at the battle of Manassas Junction (28 miles WSW of Washington DC) they supported the battery on the left of Gen Hooker's line. After the battle of Bull Run on Aug 29th, General Kearney wrote "The One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers was not wanting. They are Pennsylvania's Mountain Men." Sept 1st; battle of Chantilly (23 miles West of Washington DC). April 28, 1863 the battle of Chancellorsville. Then the battles of Emmitsberg, Gettysburg and White Sulphur Springs VA.

A letter by Henrietta Hoak (8/26/57) says "He went to California as a prospector at the time of the Great Gold Rush. He made a large fortune but never married. He sent a picture to mother and he was a nice looking man. He later established a large Bee Ranch in Yosemite Valley. He shipped his honey by the car load. When he died his estate was divided between his nephews and nieces. Out of it all, my mother got five hundred dollars. His body was cremated and his ashes were sent back to Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania and buried on his mother's grave. When my mother speaks of him she always called him uncle Wash." A letter from L. Franklin Rhoads (8/15/57) says "George Washington Rhoads never married. Everybody called him Wash. He was at our place on visits several times and I remember him. He was with the United States Engineers in Oregon when Oregon was all about wilderness. He also was in the Army. He went to California in 1849. He was in the gold rush at that time. He died in Santa Cruz in California. I think he was quite wealthy for dad got some money from his estate and all dad's sisters and his brother Bill got the same. Some of William's (his brother's) children went to California and took care of him in his old age so I think they got the most of the estate which they deserved. He had written dad and wanted him to come and stay with him."

Notes from California Census Data

The 1870 California census for Contra County (East of Oakland CA), Township two, page 378 lists Washington Rhoads age 43, farmer, (born in PA), with assets of $4000. He also had living with him: Francis Matteson age 51 and his wife Agnes age 37. Was Agnes a daughter of William Rhoads? Washington Rhoads was in company H of the 105th PA Volunteers. He died in 1909, and has a tombstone in section G, row 2 of the Central Cemetery of Reynoldsville. It reads "1827 - 1909 Co H 105 PVT." Next to it is his mother's stone, which reads "Christian 1797-1864."

The 1900 CA census (Vol 42 ED 81 sheet 6 line 59) lists Washington Rhoads, age 72, "living alone" at 145 Ocean View (St?) in Branciforte Township, (now part of Santa Cruz CA.) [On May 12, 1797, Spanish colonists from the schooner Conceptión landed and founded the VILLA de BRACCIFORTE, named in honor of the viceroy of New Spain, the Marquis de Branciforte. This area later became known as a den for pirates and thieves.] We searched the 1900 census index for possible nephews named Rhoads, born in PA and living in Contra Costa county or near Santa Cruz. We found none.

It is worth noting here that there were several George Washington Rhoads' living in PA records. Care must be taken to identify correctly. for example, the 1860 census for Jefferson County, Winslow township #108 lists Washington Rhodes, age 29, merchant and Elisabeth Rhodes, 65, widow.

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