Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: The Rountree Family
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

The men of the Rountree family served as peace officers for nearly a century in Santa Cruz County.

The Rountree lawman dynasty began in 1869 when Almus L. Rountree was elected sheriff -- a tenure that officially marked the advent of law and order in Santa Cruz County. The tough-minded Tennessean wore the badge during the most turbulent period in Santa Cruz history, featuring the likes of bandito Tiburcio Vasquez and Irishman Matt Tarpy. After retiring from office, Rountree opened a butcher shop on Pacific Avenue and later hotels in both Davenport and Felton, where he was elected justice of the peace. He died in 1891.

Two of Rountree's sons followed in his footsteps. Young Tom Rountree was a lawman during the wild 1870s, and deputy-sheriff Richard "Dick" Rountree was killed in the line of duty on September 5, 1925. Dick was a popular figure around town and a trusted lieutenant of Sheriff Howard Tafton when the two were called out to Seacliff to serve an eviction notice on Paul Woodside. In the gunfight that followed, all three died in a hail of bullets.

Other members of the Rountree family who saw action as peace officers include Lowell Rountree, known through the community as "Pappy," who served 43 years with the sheriff's department and Fred Rountree , longtime city policeman.

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