top of page

Soquel El History and Traditions

SGS 1941.jpg
First Grad class.jpg

Federal census, 1850

Henry Heddam, 30, a native of England, is listed as a schoolmaster residing in the household of Jose Ignacio (Ygnasio) Castro, 27, a silversmith, and his family. The nearest neighbor is Ignacio’s brother Jose de Guadelupe Castro, a farmer of 2700 acres. The next household is that of their sister, Maria Josefa Martina Castro Lodge Depeaux, the grantee of the Rancho Soquel. Heddam is the only schoolmaster to appear in the 1850 census for the area between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. (The site may have been in the San Andreas Rancho.)

Santa Cruz Sentinel

October 28, 1859

An election is ordered to be held tomorrow, by the School Trustees of Soquel District, at the School House, to vote on the question of authorizing a tax for the purpose of building a new schoolhouse. The sum of nine hundred dollars will be required to construct the building and the rate of taxation necessary to be levied will be seventy cents on the one hundred dollars of valuation of taxable property in said District. At the same time the location of the building will be voted for. The polls will be opened at 2 o’clock, and remain open until sunset.

Federal census, 1860

Two schoolmasters are listed as residing in the Soquel area: Augustus Moore, 29, a native of England, and Benjamin Bayley, 28, a native of Vermont.

According to articles in Soquel Journal, published in the 1930s, both of Soquel’s pioneer founders, John Hames and John Daubenbiss, built schools for community children. Martha Hames, (b. 1854) daughter of John, remembered the Hames school was located on Porter Street just before it goes around a curve to become Old San Jose Road, near Old Paper Mill Road. Said it was barely broad enough for a door and two windows and had a false front.

Frank Daubenbiss, son of John (b. 1858), said his father had built a one-room school near “the amphitheater of the present school grounds” on the west side of the creek.  (c1937) In another account, the early school location was placed down the hill from the Daubenbiss house.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

June 29, 1860

A meeting was held at Bryant’s saloon to discuss plans for the July 4th celebration. Citizens are to form procession in front of Town Hall, march to Daubenbiss’s grove, then to schoolhouse for public dinner.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

September 23, 1869

The new schoolhouse, on the west side of the road near the tannery, is almost completed (enclosed and under one roof,) and is a fine building. The cost of the main room was more than the amount raised and it was resolved to borrow the money to complete it. There was a school in session, taught by a lady in the old house, but we had no time even to make a brief visit.

Santa Cruz Sentinel


“Soquel is noted for more children than any town of its size in the State, requiring three first-class school teachers to instruct its rising generation, and strange to say, all its business men are bachelors.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel


“In Soquel may be found first-class schools. W.H. Hobbs, the Superintendent, informs us that there are three schools, with an average attendance as follows: Primary, Miss Julia Treat, teacher, 55; Intermediate, M.E. baker, teacher, 50; Grammar, W.H. Hobbs, teacher, 40; a progressing finely and the pupils rapidly advancing in their studies. There is some talk of building a new two-story schoolhouse. During the past year Santa Cruz County had to import seven new teachers from the State Normal School, at San Jose. They are paid $55 to $90 per month, and no more can be had at $55 per month, so great is the demand for competent teachers. We are pleased to note this good report.”


Fred Linscott, Matilda Baker, and Mary Humphrey were teachers of Soquel’s three-room schoolhouse.

Santa Cruz Surf


Soquel’s New School House

A Large Meeting of Citizens in Favor of its Erection

Pursuant to the announcement in Saturday morning’s SURF, a large meeting of the citizens of Soquel was held at the schoolhouse in that place on Saturday evening, to consult upon ways and means for securing a new school house, the need of which has been for some time apparent.

Henry Daubenbis called the meeting to order and W.P. Chase was chosen chairman.

Supervisor Daubenbis, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, gave some facts regarded the crowded state of the present school accommodations. There are about 180 pupils in attendance and all the departments are inadequately provided for. The plan discussed by the Trustees is to issue bonds to the amount of $6,000, or thereabouts, and erect a substantial building on the piece of ground about two acres owned by the district, the old building to be sold with our without the lot on which its stands. The meeting had been called to elicit the opinion of the principal taxpayers of the district on the subject.

Numerous citizens present spoke upon the subject and the opinion was generally expressed that the need of a new schoolhouse was urgent, and that the expense need not necessarily be burdensome.

County Superintendent J.W. Linscott was present and spoke in his usual stirring and enthusiastic manner, declaring that the interests of pupils and property holders alike demanded the new building.

Principal Fred Linscott gave a vivid description of the crowded state of the rooms.

On motion of Mr. Wilson it was unanimously resolved that it was the sense of the meeting that a new schoolhouse be built. One motion of John Lynam, seconded by Angell, it was unanimously resolved that the district should issue bonds in the sum of $8,000 for the erection of a new school building. It was also moved and carried that the Trustees call an election to decide the matter by vote.”

Santa Cruz Surf

September 21, 1889

The Soquel School – A Pleasant and Commodious Building Well Under Way

Work is progressing on the Soquel schoolhouse. The building contract was let to R.R. Bixby for $7,250. Damkroeger & Saunders are the architects. The elevations show a building of pleasing exterior and proportions, giving the effect of a main front with wings of a corresponding height. The schoolhouse is two stories high with an eight-foot basement. Its outside dimensions are 60 X 80 feet over all.

The front and rear projections of each measure 22 X 32 feet, and in these are place the staircases, cloakrooms, teachers’ rooms, library, etc. The front projection rises into a power, which is surmounted by an open belfry and spire. A bold and broad flight of steps leads to the main entrance. These lead into a vestibule from which are entrances into the schoolrooms. There are nine windows double and single in the front, and all are surmounted with transom lights.  The side projections are fourteen feet from the main line of the building. There are two triple windows in each story, besides eight other windows. Upon each floor are two schoolrooms, 30 X 36 feet in dimensions, each furnished with a teachers’ platform. The two rooms on the upper floor are so arranged that they can be thrown into one commodious assembly hall. This is arranged by double sliding doors—two sliding into each pocket, one past the other, making an opening twenty-two feet wide.

There are two cloakrooms to each schoolroom, and the rear projection is furnished with entrances to the building, so that the entrances for the boys and girls are entirely separate. The staircase, ascending to the rooms on the second floor, is very easy and is supplied with landings. It is finished in natural redwood, with a Spanish cedar handrail, etc. The other woodwork is finished with parti-colored paint. Ample blackboard room is furnished, nearly all the walls being utilized for that purpose.

Special attention has been given by the architects to the scientific ventilation of the whole building, a feature so necessary to the health of the pupils. The principle that foul air falls and that vented air rises has governed the arrangement. There are three ventilators and three fresh air inlets to each room. The heated air rises through the proper apertures into the roof space, where it escapes by an opening in the opposite gables, creating a draft, which purifies the air of the whole building while it is not felt in the schoolrooms. The eight-foot basement is utilized as a fine wet-weather playroom, and as a place for storage for fuel, etc. The building stands in a lot of two acres giving playgrounds for the boys and girls.

Santa Cruz Surf

April 19, 1890

“John Lynam bought the former school building and had it moved to his lot on the opposite side of the street.”

Santa Cruz Surf

July 23, 1897

Article on the early Capitola School, quoted from Capitola Sunset newspaper:

Spasmodic efforts have been made for several years to establish this branch school, but it remained for the Hihn Co. to dispose of all obstacles by the generous gift of lot and lumber.

About 30 or 35 pupils that are now compelled to walk to Soquel will be accommodated at the new school. It will be about six weeks before arrangements can be completed, but it is promised that the building will be completed in time for the school to open at the middle of the coming term.

Pupils will be taken to the ninth year, so you see there will be plenty of opportunities for the young idea to shoot skyward.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

November 10, 1912

A most distressing accident occurred here yesterday when Ike Ripley, driving a five horse team belonging to the Daniels Transfer Company of Santa Cruz, went plunging through the Bowman bridge spanning Soquel Creek, with a heavy wagon loaded with apple parings. H. B. Scott, principal of the Soquel School, was the first man on the scene and spread the alarm, sending his pupils hither and thither for help. Luckily all the horses were not instantly killed, the driver also. As it was, one of the leaders’ neck was broken and Ripley escaping with a terrific shaking up and possible internal injuries. Today the wreckage is being rapidly cleared away and the excitement about over.

Note: Built in the 1860s, the Bowman Bridge at Walnut Street was one of three east-west bridges in Soquel. When Ike Ripley crashed through with his team of horses that autumn day in 1912, the children in school never forgot the banging noise and shrieks of the horses. Ripley broke six ribs and one horse had to be destroyed. A pedestrian bridge was constructed on the same site 1980s, connecting Soquel School to a park on South Main Street.

Santa Cruz News

May 26, 1934

Old Soquel School Flagpole

The flagpole that stood for years at old school is soon to be erected in a new location at Frank Daubenbiss home in Capitola. When the H.R. Lord Company took over job of razing the old building the flagpole was removed and taken to the company’s yards in Santa Cruz. Daubenbiss, for sentimental reasons, wanted the pole, and Lord returned it to him. When the pole was first erected, Daubenbiss’s father was the first to run the stars and stripes to its top and as the years have passed by three generations of the Daubenbiss family have attended school beneath the flag.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

August 8, 1950

Capitola Council went on record August 7, 1950 in opposition to closing of the Southern Pacific Depot… Councilman S. Clair Ellis of the education committee announced a meeting August 17 to discuss building new school in Soquel/Capitola area. (Capitola Elementary School.)

bottom of page