Santa Cruz County History - People

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


Santa Cruz Evening News (September 5, 1919)

Veterans Gather For Fine Feed
Old Timer Present, Joseph Rodriguez, 82, Tells of Early Santa Cruz Days; Served with Cavalry in War

Starting today at noon, an all afternoon picnic dinner is being served by the Women’s Relief Corps at the city lunch quarters on the beach, the members of the local Grand Army, visiting old soldiers and friends being the guests of the women. And, by the way, it is some spread- one that the ladies can well feel proud of. Hot coffee is also served.

Col. W.V. Lucas will deliver an address during the afternoon, and there will be patriotic songs and music, as well as a good supply of humorous stories.

Among those present with the Grand Army members is Joseph Rodriguez of this city, who has attained the age of 82, and who is the only member living in Santa Cruz who served with the Third California cavalry during the civil war. Mr. Rodriguez was born in this city on the site now occupied by the Catholic church, this tract of land being an old Spanish grant and owned by his father. The Rodriguez family also owned the San Vicente grant, where the Santa Cruz Portland Cement company now has its plant located. This tract of land was four miles long and three miles wide, but when General Castro took charge of the lands of Santa Cruz the titles of the Rodriguez property were declared invalid, and this valuable property was taken from the family, according to the old soldier’s statement to a News man today at the beach dinner.

As Rodriguez cast is eyes over the beach today he said: "Why, I can recall when only one little house, owned by old man Bennett, who operated a lime kiln at Felton, was the only building on Beach hill, and nothing but the stretches of sand and a little shrubbery were on the beach.

"In 1861 I hauled lime for Henry Cowell, driving ox teams out onto the old Cowell wharf, which was in great use in those days. I received $85 per month from the Cowell company."

This old Santa Cruzan is a bachelor, and has a brother, Frank, residing at Felton. He attended the Santa Cruz schools with Duncan McPherson.

Charles T. Smith and D.F. Harris, G.A. members from Fresno, enjoyed the dinner today.

Many of those present, both men and women, are over 80 years of age and in good health. The local Relief corps has a membership of 127.

Editor's Note: Duncan McPherson was the Publisher of the Sentinel.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (July 14, 1922)

Leaves Entire Estate to G.A.R.

Thomas Hornbrook has petitioned for letters testamentary in the estate of Joseph Rodriguez, deceased, who died on June 13th at the soldiers home.

That the estate is valued at $500 and is bequeathed to Wallace Reynolds Post G.A.R.

The holographic will was executed on May 23, and in a few words he left his entire estate to the organization of which he was a member and which meeting he always attended.

He named Thomas Hornbrook as executor, who is represented in his petition by L.F. Smith and Stanford Smith.

A brother, Frank Rodriguez of Santa Cruz is next of kin.

Rodriguez was a native of Santa Cruz of one of the old time families and during the Civil War was one of the California volunteers.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 12,1924)

Residue to Go the Grand Army

Thomas Hambrook, through his attorney Stanford Smith, has filed his first and final account and petition for final distribution in the estate of Joseph Rodriguez, deceased. The residue, $250 goes to Wallace Reynolds post, G.A.R.

Joseph Rodriguez was a native Calif-... [Remainder of paragraph completely obliterated by smudge mark.]

Notes from David Jackson, Researcher (July 27, 2000)

At muster in he was 21, 5' 5 3/4" in height with dark complexion, dark eyes and black hair. He was born in California in approx 1842 and at the time of his occupation he was a ranchero. He was mustered in on May 12, 1863 at Santa Cruz by the commander of Company A, Native Cavalry, Captain José Romero Pico. He was discharged at Drum Barracks California on March 20 1866.

His address was listed as Yountville California and the name and address of his nearest relative was that of Henry Jackson (brother-in-law), Watsonville. Joseph M. Rodriquez was first admitted to the Soldiers Home on July 11, 1898 suffering from chronic bronchitis. At that time he listed is religion as Roman Catholic, his occupation as waiter, and his residence as Yountville, California. He also noted that he was single. On March 28, 1908 he was released at his own request. In 1912 he was living in Santa Cruz and had become affiliated with the GAR and served as Sgt. of the Guard during that year. On May 5, 1922 he was readmitted to the Soldiers Home at Sawtelle where he died June 13, 1922 of valvular heart disease and is buried in Section 32, Row A, No. 11 at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

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