Guide to the Hopcroft Postcard and Jack Lane Manuscript Collection (1892 – 1928)

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Collection Number

No Collection Number


This collection was likely created by William Walter Hopcroft and his wife Cornelia Hopcroft of England, Oakland, and Santa Cruz, CA. Jack (John) Lane of the Bijou Theatre, San Francisco provided the manuscript this collection is assembled in.

Number of Containers:

One (1) Box
Linear Feet: 1.5 Linear Feet


Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Archives
705 Front Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


This collection consists of one (1) approx. 8” (length) x 13” (width) book with the name “John D. Lane Esq.” and the words “Manuscript Book” and ‘Never Despair” pasted to the cover on notepaper and then crossed out. Inside the book are approx. one hundred seventy-eight pages containing postcards from places such as England, San Francisco, Los Angeles, The Santa Cruz Boardwalk Casino and much more. These postcards comprise approx. fifty-three pages of the book and are posted over a manuscript of the play “Never Despair” performed at the Bijou Theatre in 1892, of whom Jack Lane (likely the John Lane whose name is on the book’s cover) was proprietor of. The play appears to have been about an estranged son who flees from an accusation of murder. The remaining pages of the book are free of postcards and contain acts from the play as well as lists of purchases made by an unnamed person in 1923. Also in this book are three or four pages of photographs of unidentified men, women, and children, and photos of England, as well as a business with “W.W. Hopcroft proprietor” on the wall. It is believed that William Walter Hopcroft and Cornelia Hopcroft are the owners of this book, photos, and postcards; they may have acquired they manuscript during their travels to San Francisco though this is uncertain. Date range: 1892-1928


The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Preferred Citation

The Hopcroft Postcard and Jack Lane Manuscript Collection, The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz, CA

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the head of Archives at MAH. Researchers may be responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use material not produced by museum personnel.

Process By

Renata McRee

Date Completed


History +

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William Walter Hopcroft, a native of England, was born in Old Windsor, Berkshire, England. He lived with his family at Windsor Castle in England where his father worked and eventually re-located to California in the 1870’s, settling down in Bakersfield and Oakland (S.C. Sentinel 11/26/1978 and 1900 Oakland census) . In 1900, William ran a saloon and restaurant at 1300 Fruitvale Ave. in the Cedar Brook Hotel, Oakland (S.C. Sentinel 11/24/1910). Eventually Hopcrft moved to Santa Cruz around 1920 with his first wife, Ada, and became proprietor of the Owl Taxi Company. He lived there for many years after, at his home on Highland Ave. with Ada and later with his second wife Cornelia. William gave tours of scenic views such as Big Basin, Big Trees, and 17-Mile Drive in Monterey with his Taxi service (1920 Santa Cruz Census, S.C. Sentinel 8/4/1927). William Hopcroft was also a member of the Santa Cruz Odd Fellows and received a fifty year membership jewel in honor of his participation (S.C. Evening News 11/23/1932). William Walter passed away in 1936 at the age of seventy-eight. He was survived by three sisters living in San Jose, Detroit, and England, and two brothers in England and Hollister. He was also survived by his second wife Cornelia Hopcroft (S.C. Evening News 7/14/1937). William was interred at I.O.O.F. crematory (S.C. Sentinel 7/171937).

William W. Hopcroft’s second wife Cornelia Hopcroft (1878-1983) was a native of San Bernadino and traveled to Santa Cruz County by horse and buggy. Orphaned at the age of eleven, she would became a foster daughter of the Rodriguez family, living with them at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe ( S.C. Sentinel 7/8/1983). Cornelia was taken in by the Rodriguez family in 1890, as a companion to Eloise Rodriguez and lived with her and her brothers Roman Rodriguez (Jr.) and Ismael who treated Cornelia like a sister (S.C. Sentinel 11/26/1978). Cornelia was the last member of the family to live in the historic Santa Cruz Mission Adobe which Roman Rodriguez (Sr.) took residence in with his family in 1838. Various members of the family had lived there for approximately one-hundred twenty-five years (S.C. Sentinel 10/27/1963). After marrying William Hopcroft of the Owl Taxi Company around 1929, Cornelia lived with him at a house on Highland Ave. until his death in 1936 (S.C. census and S.C. Sentinel 7/8/1983). After her husband’s death Cornelia eventually took up residence in the adobe. The year 1945 sees Cornelia throwing a birthday party for Ernest Otto, author of the Santa Cruz Sentinel column “Old Santa Cruz” and by 1957, Cornelia was residing at the adobe (S.C. Sentinel 7/10/1945). In 1957 the adobe became a State Monument and Cornelia was awarded the privilege of being a tenant for life. Cornelia resided at the adobe until her death in 1983 at the age of one hundred and five years old. Memorial and services were held at Holy Cross Church and Old Holy Cross Cemetery (S.C. Sentinel 7/8/1983).

Jack (John) Lane, the author of the manuscript book that serves as a “scrapbook” used by the Hopcroft’s in this collection, was proprietor and general manager for the Bijou Theatre of San Francisco in the 1890’s. His play “Never Despair” was produced at the Bijou on May 30th, 1892. The play appears to have centered on a story of Jack, a man estranged from his family due to an unapproved marriage, and must flee murder accusation he may be falsely accused of. Although the play was well-received and appreciated by audiences, the actors’ performances were ill received by critics who stated that the play had some merit, but “the cast was wretched” (San Francisco Call 5/31/1892). The Bijou Theatre was located on Market Street in San Francisco and was formally known as The Casino. Under its new name, The Bijou became a vaudeville and burlesque theatre, yet despite productions the Bijou prided itself on discouraging performances on stage that were “grotesque” or coarse in character, and prided itself on giving performances that were of the “highest character of excellence” and engaging the “best artists” (qtd. From San Francisco Call 5/15/1891). Playbills and the script for Jack Lane’s play “Never Despair” appear in this collection, serving as a scrapbook for postcards belonging to the Hopcrofts of Oakland and Santa Cruz. It is uncertain how they came by Jack Lane’s manuscript.

Contents +

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One (1) Book, One (1) Box

Series Scope and Content Summary:

This collection consists of one (1) approx. 8” (l) x 13” (w) book featuring a red, yellow, and blue design resembling marbled paper. On the front cover written on a scrap of notepaper is the name “John D. Lane, Esq.” and the words “Manuscript Book Never Despair”. Inside this one-hundred and seventy-eight (178) page scrapbook are approx. fifty-three (53) pages of postcards dating from the early 1900’s to the mid-1920’s which have been pasted over Jack (also known as John ) Lane’s 1892 script of the play “Never Despair”. Pasted to the back and front cover of this book are a fragment and a whole playbill from the performance of this play which premiered at the Bijou Theatre, San Francisco in 1892. From page 54 onward, fully visible pages can be seen of the play’s script, along with accounts and notes on purchases that an unknown person made in 1923. The color postcards are in good condition, and are from places such as Windsor Castle, England; Glenwood Springs, Colorado; London England; Detroit, Michigan; Mexico; San Francisco, CA; and much more, including three of Santa Cruz on pg. 36 of the book which is of Natural Bridge at Redwood Park, California State Highway and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Casino. Some of these postcards are addressed to Eloise Rodriguez, Cornelia Hopcroft’s foster sister. Other items in this book include four or five pages of photographs of unidentified men, women, and infants posing outdoors, in studios, or near redwood trees; and of Eton College, England. About six (6) of these photos depict a man who may be William Walter Hopcroft standing in front of a sign believed to say “Tacoma Beer”, in front of the words “W.W. Hopcroft Prop.”, and inside a business that looks like a saloon. It is believed these photos may depict W.W. Hopcroft at his saloon in Oakland, CA. This collection is in good to fair condition and appears to have belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Hopcroft. It is not known for certain how they acquired Jack Lane’s manuscript. The postcards and black and white photos are in intact yet the manuscript of the play is cracking and peeling, and some pages are coming loose from the binding, though the ink is fairly readable despite its age. Handle with care. Date range: 1892-1928


Box 1