Though generally a peaceful coastal city, the dark stains from Santa Cruz's past still linger. A former Spanish Mission, Holy Cross Catholic Church harbors a dark history of a brutal revolt of native Ohlone Indians that killed the cruel Father Andres Quintana. Frequented by mobsters and celebrities in its heyday, the famous Brookdale Lodge's most talked-about guest is the ghost of a little girl who died nearby in 1892 after nearly drowning. Terrorized by three different serial killers during the 1970s, the city earned the nickname of "the Murder Capital of the World." Local resident Alfred Hitchcock derived inspiration for his iconic film Psycho from the haunted mid-nineteenth-century Hotel McRay. Tracing the city's eeriest incidents back to their roots, historical researcher and paranormal investigator Maryanne Porter details these and many more stories of local legend and lore.
About the Author
Maryanne Porter is a native of Santa Cruz, California, and a lover of history, urban legends, myths and the paranormal. She is the founder of Santa Cruz Ghost Hunters, a history and paranormal research team, and owner of Santa Cruz Haunted Tours, which will be taking its tours on location at the haunted "World Famous Brookdale Lodge" in its next venture. She is excited to share the ghostly stories of her hometown in her first book, Haunted Santa Cruz, California.
Read an Excerpt
LEGENDS OF HOLY CROSS
The wire-tipped whip struck down the young child's back for a third time. The sobbing neophyte women huddled in a corner and watched helplessly as the priest relentlessly whipped the innocent Ohlone boy again and again while he wailed in terror and begged for forgiveness. The child's mother knelt before the priest with her arms extended out, her hands folded in prayer, begging for mercy. "Take me padre — please take me!" she cried out in Spanish, but her screams fell on deaf ears.
Blood poured down the young boy's back as his flesh was ripped apart with each vicious lash. His dark-brown eyes filled with panic, and tears fell down his cheeks as pain soared through his little body with every strike. His blood-curdling screams echoed through the moonlit night. The child stood helpless, with his arms stretched out on either side of him, wrists bound by rope. The young boy frantically tried to free himself, but it was no use. With one final swoop, the priest struck the last mutilating blow, knocking the young Native American boy unconscious. His cries were silenced; the neophyte women held their breath in fear that the boy was dead. Consumed by rage, the neophyte men yelled furiously in their native tongue as they were detained by Spanish soldiers. The friars who were observing the punishment grew fearful for their safety and armed themselves with wooden pitchforks aimed at the bellies of the enraged natives. The child's mother knelt nearby sobbing uncontrollably, holding her hands over her mouth to muffle her cries for fear of angering the priest any further. The punishment was finally over.
In 1790, nearly three hundred years after Christopher Columbus claimed to have discovered the Americas, Spanish ships lined the littoral seas of the Monterey Bay area in a joint effort to colonize its coastal banks. Its native inhabitants — peaceful villagers known for hunting, fishing and basketmaking skills — looked on the newcomers with a welcoming curiosity. Little did they know that life would soon be changed forever.
The Franciscans gathered on the shores of the prospective new land, and after much survey, they chose a location off what they named the San Lorenzo River, or St. Lawrence, to build the twelfth of twenty-one Catholic missions, dubbed Santa Cruz, Spanish for "Holy Cross." The river was the very lifeline and essence of the Ohlone people, as it fed tribes from the mountainous ranges to the foothills and the coastal beaches and was filled with fish and was surrounded by fertile land. It was a gift to the Ohlone people from the great spirits.
Soon after their arrival, the Franciscan priests and friars befriended the indigenous people and hired them to build their mission in exchange for food and boarding. The friars began to educate the native inhabitants, teaching them Spanish and converting them to Catholicism. Many of the tribe's people entered the mission life of their own free will. They believed that these newcomers from across the vast sea were sent by the great spirits to teach them an important message. Meanwhile, others feared both the friars as well as the priests and stayed close to their native villages.
On August 28, 1791, Father Fermín Lasuén, founder of the Santa Cruz Mission and successor to Junipero Serra, oversaw the creation of the mission and sanctified the soil where the mission would soon be built. Showering the earth with holy water and chanting a religious prayer up toward the heavens loudly enough for God himself to hear, the Catholic priest blessed the ground; a giant wooden cross was erected for all to see. Within a few months, the Santa Cruz mission on the San Lorenzo River was flourishing. Nearby missions from Monterey and San Jaun Bautista furnished the endeavor with supplies such as seeds, horses, cattle and more native workers. Framing began, and the mission's future looked bright.
In October 1791, the first baptism to Christianity occurred, evoking a great celebration that encouraged religious conversion. Once Ohlone natives were baptized and converted to Christianity, they became known as "neophytes," or "new to learn, new to Christianity." Neophytes were not allowed to practice their indigenous cultural religious beliefs and were expected to refrain from speaking in their native tongue, encouraged to only speak Spanish.
As more natives converted to Christianity, it seemed as though a dark, sinister cloud began to loom over Santa Cruz. The skies grew dim, and rainfall began to ravish the earth. As the San Lorenzo River rose to great heights, the wheat fields and fruit crops began to flood and desecrate the farmlands as far as the eye could see. Because the flooding river waters continued to grow higher and higher, threatening the safety of the mission and its inhabitants, the friars chose to abandon further efforts at the site and move the Santa Cruz Mission to higher grounds. Although the Franciscans chalked it up to poor decision-making by building the mission so close to a river, many of the indigenous people saw this as a warning sign sent by angry spirits. Nevertheless, by 1793, the second Santa Cruz Mission had been built, and it stood high on what was known as Mission Hill, away from potential floodwaters.
It did not take long after the second mission church was built for its troubles to continue. On the night of December 14, 1793, the mission was attacked and partly set ablaze by members of the Quiroste tribe, a powerful coastal tribe primarily based between Monterey and San Francisco. The Quiroste tribe's attack was one of the first and only resistance attacks to be documented in the history of the missions along the Monterey and San Francisco Bay area. According to historical records, the attack was in retaliation for transferring Native American Christians from one mission to the other and separating a Native American woman from her mate. Father Fermín Lasuén, of the Santa Cruz Mission, reported the following:
I have found out for certain that on the night of the fourteenth of last December the pagan Indians, and some Christian Indians, from the rancherías to the northwest of that mission made an assault on the guard, wounded the corporal in the hand, and another soldier in the shoulder, and set fire to the roof of the corral for the lambs, and the old guard house. The corporal fired a few shots, and with that they withdrew without serious injury to either side. The motive they have given is this, that the soldiers had taken away to San Francisco various Christian Indians belonging to that place who had been fugitives from there for some time, and that they had taken a Christian Indian woman away from a pagan man, and it was he who was the principal instigator and leader of the disorder.
After recovering from the attack, the native population of the Santa Cruz Mission finally reached a peak in 1796 with a recorded population of 523, which was still the lowest in all of the twenty-one missions. However, conditions for the mission's native population were progressively getting worse. Many of the neophyte inhabitants were contracting sicknesses brought over by the Spaniards and, in turn, plaguing the surrounding indigenous villages with diseases to which the native people had no resistance. Children born to neophytes at the mission typically did not survive past the age of three. Likewise, many of the women became barren as a result of illness. It has also been suggested that mission friars were known to sexually abuse young neophyte women, along with inflicting severe psychological abuse. It is said that women at the mission who were unable to bear children were forced to carry a wooden doll everywhere they went. Perhaps the friars thought this would appease a woman's yearning for a child, or perhaps the motivation was much more sinister and this was just another form of psychological torment and humiliation these proud people were forced to endure. All of these conditions helped fuel credence among natives that the Franciscans were sent by evil spirits, or maybe even conjured up by their enemies to cause their people harm.
By 1797, nearly 140 neophytes were said to have escaped, and nearly 100 of those were hunted down by Spanish soldiers and forced to return to the mission. Punishment for their betrayal was fierce, and many natives were subjected to severe abuse. As the native mission population began to dwindle due to illness, death and desertion, the mission began falling into disarray. Livestock began dying, crops failed and upkeep of the mission dwindled. It became clear to the indigenous people that they were nothing more than slaves to the mission. A year later, in 1798, after the population steadily declined, an estimated 190 more neophytes escaped, leaving an estimated 40 remaining at the mission.
The Spaniards were devout Catholics who believed that only through Christianity would they find the heavens after death, unlike the indigenous population of the Ohlones, whose faith whispered in the winds of every spirit that encircled them, from the smallest creature to the tallest tree, the swiftest river to even the dirt beneath their feet. The Ohlones believed that all things have great spirits and, if not respected, could bestow great consequences, whether good or bad. Even the dead had their place in the afterlife. The Catholics memorialized the life and death of their loved ones by archiving their history, bestowing their belongings on friends and family and placing a marker above their grave so their name would never be forgotten. Native Ohlone tribes held different beliefs. Death wasn't taken lightly, and the whole tribe would mourn a loss together. Tribesman chanted and danced throughout the night singing to the spirits, while the deceased's belongings were broken and burned. Hunting tools, clothes, skins and even the hut of the deceased were removed from the world as a signal to the dead that they need not return to this realm of the living for these material things.
The deceased's body would either be burned or buried and placed in an unmarked grave, and it was forbidden to speak their name out loud unless a child born was named alike. The Ohlones believed that calling on the dead or keeping their belongings would prevent their spirits from crossing over to the afterlife. Instead, they'd remain among the living, where they no longer belonged.
The young boy's mother crawled to her son's lifeless body as the Spanish soldiers cut the ropes that bound his wrists. Falling into his mother's arms, she breathed a sigh of relief to hear his muttered breath as she prayed to the spirits that his soul was still of this world. Daring not to touch the boy's horrendous wounds, two neophyte tribesmen moved his motionless body into the women's adobe, where he was laid on his belly. The women prepared herbs and medicines for his wounds, quietly chanting prayers for the spirits to heal the boy, while his mother wiped cool water over his face in a silent vigil of her own.
After the beating, Father Andres Quintana retired to his dwelling, satisfied that the boy had learned his lesson for not working in the fields and comforted that the rest of the neophytes would learn by example. He calmly drank a flagon of wine and bedded down for the night. Meanwhile, the neophyte men gathered in their adobe dwelling, consumed by anger at the excessive cruelty imposed by Father Quintana, who was the most despised among the Franciscans and known for his vindictiveness. Calling on their traditional ancestral beliefs, the Ohlones stopped believing that the Spaniards were sent by the spirits to teach and help them through their journey in life. They began to view the men as possessed by wickedness, an enemy to inflict pain and suffering on their people.
As time passed, the boy's horrific wounds gradually began to heal, leaving ghastly scars for all to question. However, the resentment among native neophytes did not heal so easily. In fact, their anger merely festered. Fausta — a handsome, dark-haired, wide-eyed, middle-aged neophyte woman — was married to Julian, a thinly built neophyte, whose job at the mission was that of gardener. Fausta was well respected among the tribesmen of the neophyte missionaries and looked on as a spiritual healer. She began to lead her fellow tribesmen in a conspiracy of retribution that would forever stain the history of Holy Cross for generations to come. Together with the male tribesmen, Fausta devised a foolproof plan to lure Father Quintana away from the safety of his confines, where they could put an end to his brutality once and for all. Fausta's husband would fake a terminal illness, while she would stay by his side to nurse him for several days to contribute to the ruse. Finally, on October 12, 1812, they hatched their plan.
As the skies grew black and the midnight hour began to encroach, Fausta silently made her way from her adobe to the mission and quietly woke Father Quintana from his slumber. "Padre, padre please, forgive me for waking you," she cried. "It's Julian, my husband, death approaches, please come quickly padre." Father Quintana quickly but quietly reached for his Bible, his cross and anointing oil and followed Fausta out to the courtyard toward the adobe hut near the fields and away from the mission to administer last rites to Julian.
When the padre was far enough away from the mission and out of earshot from the Spanish guards, the native men surprised him, wrapping a rope around his neck to choke him from behind. The friar was no match against his assailants, and the men waited until the padre breathed his last breath. His evil wrath was over. While Father Quintana lay motionless on the ground, several men kicked at him to ensure that he would not rise. They spat on him while cursing him in their native tongue and crushed his genitalia with rocks. Castrating him ensured that his male virility would not spawn further demons in the spirit world.
Fausta reached for a knife and carefully cut a lock of hair from the padre's head before the neophyte men discreetly carried the body back to the mission, into his quarters, tucking his body back into his bed as if he had passed away in his slumber, undetected by neither the Franciscans nor the Spanish monastery guards. The daring deed was a success. Once back in the safety of their confines, the assassins proceeded to unlock the adobe dwellings of both the single men and women, providing a coverup for the conspirators.
Afterward, Fausta and a few of the others who devised the scheme wandered down to the banks of the San Lorenzo River; together they chanted in their native tongue to the spirit world and the waters that they knelt before. They bathed their hands and faces in the river's flowing stream, and they burned a mixture of tobacco leaves, sage and other herbs to purify themselves. Then Fausta asked the great spirits of the flowing San Lorenzo River and the spirits of the land, the wind, the skies and all of Mother Earth to curse these hills and all its nonnative dwellers as a penance for all the pain and suffering bestowed on her people. As long as the river would flow, so shall the curse — a curse of affliction that would affect Santa Cruz for generations to come. As the herbs began to smoke and the wind carried it toward the heavens, Fausta continued to recite her incantation. Burning the lock of the padre's hair, she blew the ash into the waters of the San Lorenzo River. The curse of Santa Cruz was now complete.
The following morning, the friars discovered Father Quintana deceased in his bed, and as planned, they surmised that he died in his sleep and buried his body. However, within a few days, his remains were exhumed by the Monterey Diocese, and the first reported autopsy in California history was performed.
Quintana's death was yet again ruled to be from natural causes, but perhaps this was to discourage further retribution by the native populace. Although Father Lausen requested Quintana's remains be buried under the Holy Cross church to prevent desecration, the exact final resting place of the infamous padre is unknown.
One year later, nine neophytes were arrested for the murder of Father Quintana; however, only two were actually imprisoned, enduring two hundred lashes and a sentence of two to ten years of hard labor. One of the men, by the name of Lino, died in prison, the other served two years and was released. Fausta and Julian were never convicted.
The mission woes of Holy Cross did not end with the murder of Father Quintana. In 1818, a feared pirate named Hippolyte de Bouchard raided the Monterey Presidio, looting and burning buildings. Santa Cruz Mission was sent word of the attack, as well as that the feared pirate was heading toward the mission. The priests decided to immediately move the people at the mission to Santa Clara for safety. Father Ramon Olbes asked the Branciforte officials if they would pack up all the valuables at the mission while he and the mission inhabitants fled to safety. The nearby townspeople of Branciforte agreed, but when they arrived at the mission, they did no such thing. Instead, they looted the mission. The Branciforte people burned some of the buildings, ruined the food and wine supply and stole the very artifacts they were supposed to protect from the pirates. In fact, the feared pirate Bouchard never arrived at Santa Cruz. But the townspeople damaged the mission just as much as he was expected to have done. Father Olbes was so upset and discouraged that he wanted to abandon the mission, but Father Lasuén ordered that mission operations continue.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Haunted Santa Cruz, California"
Copyright © 2016 Maryanne Porter.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Legend of Holy Cross,
Lynching Over the San Lorenzo River,
Ghosts of Golden Gate Villa,
Phantoms of Paradise Park,
The Curse of Rispin Mansion,
Tuttle Mansion Madness,
Legends of Mount Madonna,
The Beating Heart of Brookdale Lodge,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wow! Fantastic Book! I had not known all of the dark history of my home town of Santa Cruz. The author went above and beyond with her research in this greatly historically detailed book and frankly quite scary! With actual news paper articles dating back to the late 1800's which capture the belief of ghosts even back in the old days! A great fun read, which will educate and frighten at the same time. A must read!!
Great Read! Couldnt put it down! Two thumbs up! Both chilling and informative who knew Santa Cruz was at one time the Murder Capital of the World!
Great Book! Talk about a talented writer! Looking forward for more from this author. I have friends who don't live in Santa Cruz who read this book , she loves Alfred Hitchcock and information on him, needless to say she got chills with these great tales, then they planned on a vacation there! 5 Stars!
Well written! Excellent research! Porter did a great job, and some deep digging finding answers to questions about local lore, and legends that have not been answered until now! Not only did she discover the true identity to our White Lady, but she also discovered the actual cause of her death. This is NOT a book of plagiarism that is strictly "copy/paste" material gotten off the internet. It is extensively researched and cited! WELL DONE!