Santa Cruz County History - People

A Walk Through Time: "Judge" Edgar Spalsbury
by Janet Krassow and
by Randy Krassow

The Place on Laurel Street is one of the most popular books written on historical subjects in Santa Cruz County. It is the reproduction of a diary kept by Edgar Spalsbury during the years of 1876-77. It relates the daily life of one of the most picturesque characters to set his heels in the direction of our city.

Spalsbury, a man of education and culture, was born at his parent's farm in 1835, located along the Black River in Jefferson County, New York. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1856 at the age of 20 years. Law was in Spalsbury's blood and he flourished as a lawyer, quickly establishing a large and lucrative practice.

Photograph of
"Judge" Edgar Spalsbury's Memorial

With the onset of the Civil War, Spalsbury quickly enlisted as a captain in Company C, 35th New York Infantry Volunteers, and saw his first action at Bull Run. As a member of the Army of the Potomac, he also participated in numerous other campaigns in Northern Virginia. But the war took a toll on his already fragile health and brought about a lifelong addiction to various drugs. After the war, Spalsbury drifted west in search of a healthier climate. He established himself in Chicago for a time before arriving in California in 1875, and Santa Cruz County in 1876, where he established another practice.

Spalsbury quickly became a favorite of the citizens in his newly adopted city. He was elected Justice of the Peace by popular acclaim and dubbed "Judge" by his many friends. In the mid-1890s, his health took a turn for the worse, and he passed away on August 16, 1897. He is buried in a private family mausoleum that proudly displays his name, and his stately mansion can still be seen on Laurel Street, near the intersection of Pacific Avenue.

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