Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: Henry P. Rice and Sheriff Elmer Dakan
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

Henry P. Rice was a Hollander, and genuine Dutchman, who enjoyed the distinction of being the first native of Holland to reside in Santa Cruz County. His habits were sober, industrious, and economical, and this pioneer carried within him the noble traits of honesty and integrity. He was well known throughout the area and was a very successful businessman.

Rice arrived from Holland in the early 1850s almost penniless, however, his great work ethic built him quite a fortune. Rice set himself up as a money lender, but he could hardly be called greedy as the amount of interest he charged was always modest. Later in life, Rice retired to his home and became a recluse. When he did find it necessary to go into town, he did so clad in wooden shoes that was the custom in his native land. Henry Rice was an eccentric person indeed, but the townspeople always held him in high esteem.

Photograph of the Memorial for Henry P. Rice
The Memorial for Henry P. Rice

As death approached, he bought a plot at Santa Cruz Memorial Park and designed his own monument. He passed away on September 14, 1904 and his many friends followed along behind the horse-drawn hearse as it brought his remains to their final resting place. When the grave was opened, found within was a bottle containing precise instructions how Rice wanted to be buried.

Buried next to Henry P. Rice is his son-in-law, Sheriff Elmer Dakan. The sheriff was born in Ohio, but came to California at an early age and spent the greater part of his life in Santa Cruz County. He was a farmer in Soquel, and afterward a butcher, being the longtime proprietor of the Central Market on Pacific Avenue.

Dakan, however, is best remembered as one of the sheriffs who brought law and order to Santa Cruz. He ascended to that office in 1879 and held it for a total of ten years. During his tenure, most of the old time banditos, who plagued the countryside, were run into the ground and either killed or sent to state prison. Dakan was a tough, resolute man, who never allowed himself to back down from a fight. After retiring from office, Dakan bought a farm near Soquel, where he died on December 2, 1899, the result of being thrown from a horse.

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