There was a good local history article in the Sept. 23 Sentinel, written by our local expert on everything about the North Coast, Gary Griggs. Part of his series titled "Gary Griggs, Our Ocean Backyard", this article is called "Captain Davenport's Landing".
The Griggs article provides a good excuse to update this blog entry, originally posted on February 29, 2012. The Davenport area has an interesting history, and deserves more than the brief mention in last year's post. Another reason for the update is to restore some links and photo captions lost when Patch changed blog platforms earlier this year.
In addition to a history of Captain Davenport himself (including a photo showing what a handsome devil he was), Griggs adds the story of George Liddell, namesake of Liddell Creek (south of Davenport). Also mentioned is "the cement king" William Dingee, prime mover behind the Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company and construction of the cement plant at Davenport that opened in 1907. We'll talk some more here about Dingee when we get to the 1900s.
Gary Griggs has written many interesting and authoritative articles about the North Coast and other subjects. You can find an archive of past Griggs articles at the Seymour Marine Lab site.
What follows is a repaired version of this blog's post from last year:
Names on the Signs in Santa Cruz: Names became Places
Rapid growth in our area during the late 1860s was not limited to the new town of Santa Cruz. Surrounding areas of Santa Cruz County were also seeing changes. Up on Rancho Zayante, the old frontiersman Isaac Graham passed on in 1863. His remaining Rancho Zayante lands were acquired by his lawyer, Edward Stanly.
This was a familiar story for many of the original rancho grantees, who tended to be land-rich but cash-poor. During his tumultuous life, Graham made and lost fortunes several times, and was likely in debt when he died. Especially costly for the rancho owners were the lawyer fees and other costs associated with pursuing validation of the Mexican grant claims in American courts. The process took as long as twenty-five years in some cases, and many of the rancho lawyers ended up being paid for their services in land.
In 1868, new ranchero Stanly laid out a town on the west side of the San Lorenzo River, opposite the spot where Zayante Creek flows in from the east. For reasons unknown, Stanly decided to name the new town Felton, after John Brooks Felton (1827-1877), a philanthropist, UC Regent, and soon-to-be Mayor of Oakland. In 1884, Felton incorporated as a town, but was disincorporated only two years later. From that time on, Felton was, as it remains today, an unincorporated community.
Another county town got its start during this period, at the mouth of Soquel Creek. Frederick Hihn, whom we first met in 1851, was rapidly becoming the preeminent developer in the County. Hihn invested in many early infrastructure and industrial projects – mines, roads, water systems, sawmills and - later on - railroads. In 1869, he decided to try his hand at tourism. Camp Capitola was originally, as the name implies, a campground - a summer vacation destination for families. The origin of the name Capitola is still a mystery. Some local historians believe it was derived from the word “capitol”. Another, more colorful theory, is that the Camp was named after "Capitola the Madcap", heroine of two popular novels of the 1850s.
To the north of Santa Cruz, Captain John Davenport, a mariner from Rhode Island who settled in Monterey in 1849, later moved north to establish a business (which may or may not have involved whaling) at what is still known as Davenport Landing. In the 1860s, Davenport and his partner John King built a wharf and other facilities at the little North Coast cove. In addition to Davenport's own activities, the wharf was used by local lime manufacturers, lumber producers and other exporters. A small town grew up around the wharf and associated businesses. The town that later grew up around the cement plant, a couple of miles to the south, adopted the name Davenport. The original town of Davenport Landing was destroyed by fire in 1915 and never rebuilt.