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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
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:

County InformationEdit

Santa Cruz County, California Record DatesEdit

Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1905 1850 1905 1850 1847 1850 1850
Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1905. General compliance by 1920.

Historical FactsEdit

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 CountyEdit

18 February 1850: Originally as Branciforte County. County seat: Santa Cruz [2]

19 April 1850: Renamed Santa Cruz County.


The county was named for "Santa Cruz" ("Holy Cross"). The county seat Santa Cruz and the county was created 1850. [3]The County is located in the west central area of the state.[4]

Boundary ChangesEdit

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 website.

Records LossEdit

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.


Populated PlacesEdit

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[5]

Unincorporated communities
  • Branciforte
  • Felton Grove
Census-designated places

Neighboring CountiesEdit


Bible RecordsEdit



Cemeteries of Santa Cruz, California online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
TombstoneTranscriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See California Cemeteries for more information

The following web sites may have additional information on Santa Cruz County cemeteries.

Church RecordsEdit

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about California denominations, view the California Church Records wiki page.

List of Churches and Church Parishes


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 643
1860 4,944 668.9%
1870 8,743 76.8%
1880 12,802 46.4%
1890 19,270 50.5%
1900 21,512 11.6%
1910 26,140 21.5%
1920 26,269 0.5%
1930 37,433 42.5%
1940 45,057 20.4%
1950 66,534 47.7%
1960 84,219 26.6%
1970 123,790 47.0%
1980 188,141 52.0%
1990 229,734 22.1%
2000 255,602 11.3%
2010 262,382 2.7%
Source: "".

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

Court RecordsEdit

Crime and CriminalsEdit


Ethnic, Political, or Religious GroupsEdit





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 PropertyEdit

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.


San Mateo CountySanta Clara CountySan Benito CountyMonterey CountyCA SANTA CRUZ.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Online Records

Military History and RecordsEdit

Civil WarEdit

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 IEdit
World War IIEdit

Naturalization and CitizenshipEdit


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 RecordsEdit

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


Archives, Libraries and MuseumsEdit
  • 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 CourthouseEdit

Santa Cruz County
701 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz CA 95060

Family History CentersEdit

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.


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 RecordsEdit

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


Online Records

  • 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 RegistersEdit

Genealogy Societies, Archives and LibrariesEdit

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



  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Santa Cruz County, California. Page 84-88 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 81-83.
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. Genealogy Trails History Group, “Santa Cruz County, California Genealogy and History”, 05/08/2017.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Santa Cruz County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_California 05/08/2017.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Santa Cruz County, California," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_California, accessed 23 September 2019.