Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: "Uncle" Dave Boffman
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Dave Boffman was born in a slave's cabin located on a large cotton plantation in Lincoln County, Kentucky. As a young man, he was married to a fellow slave known only as Matilda and they had six children together.

Boffman's master, Newt Boughman, got wind of gold fever in 1851 and decided to try his luck in California. As with Boffman's entire life, the trip west was an eventful journey during which he became separated from his master, chased by slave hunters, and captured by Indians. Eventually, after walking barefoot for two thousand miles across prairies and mountains, Boffman reached the gold fields.

Photograph of Dave Boffman's grave site
Grave site of "Uncle" Dave Boffman

After a short sting in the mines, Boffman was able to unearth enough gold to buy his freedom, and migrated to Santa Cruz. Boffman planned to make enough money milling timber to send for his wife and children, but his dream quickly disappeared when the ship hauling his lumber sank off Pigeon Point in 1853. Never easily discouraged, Boffman hired himself out as a day laborer until he was able to purchase a small farm in Rodeo Gulch. Misfortune was quick to follow when a crooked sheriff stole Boffman's land.

Several years later, with the help of his friend Elihu Anthony, Boffman took out a homestead claim on twenty acres of land in Vine Hill where he remained the rest of his life. As time passed, this much-loved local character was given the nickname "Uncle Dave" out of respect. He died on September 23, 1893 and is buried in the Anthony family plot.

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African Americans, cemeteries


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