Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: Duncan McPherson
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Duncan McPherson, longtime publisher and editor of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, is another member of an elite group of pioneers who oversaw the growth of Santa Cruz.

Born of Scottish ancestry on April 13, 1839 at Rigo, New York, McPherson crossed the plains with his parents in 1852 and engaged in mining in Placerville.

By 1856, the McPherson family was in Santa Cruz, where Duncan enrolled in local schools. At the age of 16, he entered the University of the Pacific, but dropped out of school four years later to join the work force as a self-employed teamster. With his earnings he purchased a half interest in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and began his career as a newspaperman.

Photograph of Duncan McPherson's Memorial
Duncan McPherson's Memorial

Between 1871 and 1876, young McPherson left Santa Cruz for San Mateo County, where, together with his brother, he published the San Mateo Gazette. Upon his return to the area, Duncan streamlined the Sentinel and expanded it to a daily.

McPherson married Amelia Hinds, the daughter of another Santa Cruz County pioneer. Together, they raised a large family while involving themselves in a number of civic affairs.

When McPherson died on February 16, 1921, the Sentinel was deluged with dozens of cards and letters from citizens paying tribute to the man who was, in many ways, the voice of Santa Cruz.

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