Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: Cornelius Cappelmann
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Cornelius Cappelmann, born in Spandau, Prussia, in 1830, was orphaned while still an infant, and spent his early years being shifted from one relative to another. At 16, he came to America, where a brother was a New York businessman, but left when word of the California Gold Rush hit the east coast. Arriving in San Francisco on Christmas Day, 1850, he had just departed the ship when it was entirely consumed by flames. It sank quickly and took all of Cappelmann's meager possessions.

Photograph of Cornelius Capplemann's Memorial
Cornelius Capplemann's Memorial

During his first decade in California, he worked as a miner, stage driver, butcher, teamster, and river boat captain -- all with but little prosperity. In 1868 "Captain" Cappelmann moved his family to Santa Cruz and opened a saloon on Pacific Avenue. Cappelmann was an unqualified success as a saloon owner, running the most popular establishment on the Avenue.

When he died on August 27, 1888, his family and friends pooled their resources and constructed a towering, handsome monument to honor the captain's memory.

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