Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy

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Guide to Santa Cruz County California genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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Online Records

Santa Cruz County, California
Map of California highlighting Santa Cruz County
Location in the state of California
Map of the U.S. highlighting 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:

Historical Facts

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Santa Cruz County, California
 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.

Parent County

18 February 1850: Originally as Branciforte County. County seat: Santa Cruz [1]

19 April 1850: Renamed Santa Cruz County.

Boundary Changes

No significant changes.

Record Loss


Populated Places

Incorporated Cities (2000): CapitolaSanta CruzScotts ValleyWatsonville

Other populated places:

Aptos Hills-Larkin Valley
Ben Lomond
Bonny Doon
Boulder Creek
Day Valley
La Selva Beach
Live Oak
Mount Hermon
Opal Cliffs
Rio del Mar
Twin Lakes

Neighboring Counties


Bible Records



Cemeteries of Santa Cruz County, California at Find A Grave

  • Day Valley Cemetery in Aptos CA
  • Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz CA at BillionGraves
  • Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz CA at Find A Grave
  • Felton Cemetery in Felton CA
  • Home of Peace Cemetery (Jewish) in Santa Cruz CA
  • Holy Cross Cemetery (2 locations, Catholic) in Soquel CA
  • Oakwood Cemetery in Soquel CA
  • Pajaro Valley Memorial Park in Watsonville CA
  • Pioneer Cemetery in Watsonville CA
  • St Francis Cemetery in Watsonville CA
  • Santa Cruz Cemetery in Santa Cruz CA
  • Soquel Cemetery in Soquel CA

Church History and Records

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • San Lorenzo Valley
  • Santa Cruz
  • Watsonville


For tips on accessing Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy census records online, see: California Census.

Court Records

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.

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.




Military History and Records

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:



Probate Records

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.


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)

County Courthouse

Santa Cruz County
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz CA 95060

Family History Centers



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

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.





  • 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

Voting Registers



  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).