Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy
Guide to Santa Cruz County, California ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
|Santa Cruz County, California|
Location in the state of California
Location of California in the U.S.
|Founded||February 18, 1850|
|County Seat||Santa Cruz|
|Address||701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA, 95060 Telephone: (831) 454-2800; email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
- 1 County Information
- 2 Historical Facts
- 3 Parent County
- 4 Places/Localities
- 5 Resources
- 5.1 Bible Records
- 5.2 Biography
- 5.3 Cemeteries
- 5.4 Census
- 5.5 Court Records
- 5.6 Crime and Criminals
- 5.7 Directories
- 5.8 Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups
- 5.9 Gazetteers
- 5.10 Genealogy
- 5.11 History
- 5.12 Land and Property
- 5.13 Maps
- 5.14 Migration
- 5.15 Military History and Records
- 5.16 Naturalization and Citizenship
- 5.17 Newspapers
- 5.18 Obituaries
- 5.19 Periodicals
- 5.20 Probate Records
- 5.21 Repositories
- 5.22 Societies
- 5.23 Taxation
- 5.24 Vital Records
- 5.25 Voting Registers
- 6 Genealogy Societies, Archives and Libraries
- 7 Websites
- 8 References
Santa Cruz County, California Record Dates
The first European settlements in Santa Cruz County began with the founding of a Franciscan mission in 1791 near the San Lorenzo River in what is now the city of Santa Cruz. In 1797, a proprietary Spanish colony was founded near the mission church and named Branciforte. When California became part of the United States in 1850, Branciforte County was one of the original counties but the name was quickly changed to Santa Cruz County.
Geographically, the coastline gives way to coastal mountains which often come right down to the sea. Two significant rivers played a role in settlement, the San Lorenzo (Santa Cruz city) and the Pajaro River (Watsonville). California hightway route 1 passes through the county along the coast and route 17 provides a connection over the coastal mountains to the San Jose/Silicon Valley area. A railroad also came to the area in the late 1800s providing a shipping outlet for agricultural products of the coastal farmlands.
Earthquakes have affected the area destroying much of the mission church in 1857 and another doing major damage to the city of Santa Cruz in 1989 but they did not cause any significant loss of records.
18 February 1850: Originally as Branciforte County. County seat: Santa Cruz 
19 April 1850: Renamed Santa Cruz County.
No significant changes.
For animated maps illustrating California county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation California County Boundary Maps" (1850-1925) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
Other populated places:
Aptos Hills-Larkin Valley
La Selva Beach
Rio del Mar
- Index to Santa Cruz County Biographies (Genealogy Trails)
- Index to Santa Cruz County Biographies (USGenWeb Archives)
The following web sites may have additional information on Santa Cruz County cemeteries.
- Interment.net California cemetery records by County.
For tips on accessing Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy census records online, see: California Census.
- 1850 - Federal Census, Santa Cruz County, California (USGenWeb Archives)
Crime and Criminals
Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups
Local histories are available for Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section California Local Histories.
- Santa Cruz County History (USGenWeb Archives)
Land and Property
Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.
See California Land and Property for additional information about early California land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.
- Index to Federal Land Records, Santa Cruz County, California (USGenWeb Archives)
Military History and Records
- 1883 - Santa Cruz County – List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883 (Genealogy Trails)
Regiments. Service men in Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy:
- - 1st Battalion, California Native Cavalry (Union), Company A
- - 7th Regiment, California Infantry (Union), Company K
- - 8th Regiment, California Infantry (Union), Company A
- 1886 - Index to Civil War Veterans Rosters, G.A.R. Posts, Santa Cruz County, California] (USGenWeb Archives)
World War II
- Index to World War II Army Enlistees, Santa Cruz County, California (USGenWeb Archives)
- Santa Cruz County, World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel (Genealogy Trails)
Naturalization and Citizenship
Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz 1866-present 2011)
Santa Cruz Surfer (Santa Cruz 1889-1919)
Mountain Echo (Boulder Creek 1896-1916)
Register Pajaronian (Watsonville, 1868-present)
Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:
- Index to Santa Cruz County Obituaries (Genealogy Trails)
- Index to Santa Cruz County Obituaries (USGenWeb Archives)
The county clerk is usually the custodian of probate records. The records include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets.
Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.
You can obtain copies of the original probate records (such as wills and estate files) by writing to the county clerk at the county courthouse.
The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for California - Santa Cruz - Probate records.
Online Probate Records
- 1782 – 1999 California Wills and Probate Records 1782-1999 at Ancestry.com — index and images $
- 1833 – 1991 California Probate Estate Files 1833-1991 at FamilySearch — images
Archives, Libraries and Museums
- Santa Cruz Central Library
224 Church Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
- Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County library
(housed in the Central Branch Library, significant collection of genealogies)
Santa Cruz County
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz CA 95060
Family History Centers
Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.
Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown.
California tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page California Taxation.
Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. See the CDC Where to Write website for information on acquiring copies of these records. The State office has records since July 1905. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder. See also How to order California Vital Records
- Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Public Health Department Birth Certificates
- 1812 - 1988 - California Births and Christenings, 1812-1988 at FamilySearch — index
- 1905 - 1995 - California Birth Index, 1905-1995 at FamilySearch — index
- 1850 - 1945 - California Marriages, 1850-1945 at FamilySearch — index
- 1850 - 1952 - California, County Marriages, 1850-1952 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1854 - 1885 - Western States Marriage Index.
- 1960 - 1985 - California Marriage Index, 1960-1985 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1905 - 1939 - California Death Index, 1905-1939 at FamilySearch — index
- 1940 - 1997 - California Death Index, 1940-1997 at FamilySearch — index
- Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Public Health Department Death Certificates
- Santa Cruz County, California Obituary and Death Notice Collection Free from GenealogyBuff.com. Obits and death notices from Various Funeral Homes in the Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Scotts Valley, Capitola, Pajaro, Royal Oaks, Bonny Doon, Aptos and Freedom areas.
- Santa Cruz County Recorder
701 Ocean Street, Room 230
Santa Cruz CA 95060
For records generated since 2009
Santa Cruz County Office of Vital Records
1430 Freedom Boulevard, Suite 101
Santa Cruz CA 95076
Genealogy Societies, Archives and Libraries
Santa Cruz County, Genealogical Society Of
P.O. Box 72
Santa Cruz 95063
Phone:861-427-7707 ext 5794
Santa Cruz Historical Society
P.O. Box 246
Santa Cruz 9506
- Santa Cruz County, CA History, Records, Facts and Genealogy
- California Genealogy Network Community on Google+
- California Genealogy Network Group on Facebook
- Santa Cruz County CAGenWeb
- Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County
- USGenWeb Archives
- FamilySearch Catalog
- Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy Trails
- Santa Cruz County CA Genealogy (LDS Genealogy)
- Alice Eichholz, Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, Revised ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992), 62-75. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27rb 1992
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Genealogy Trails History Group, “Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy and History”, http://genealogytrails.com/cal/scruz/#.WRDYz-UrKM8 05/08/2017.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Santa Cruz County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cruz_County,_California 05/08/2017.