Guide to the Jessie Gourley Scrapbooks of Ernest Otto Articles Collection (1930s – 1950s) – History

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Ernest Otto was born in 1871 in his parents’ home at the corner of Cedar and Church streets in Santa Cruz. His father, George, had a checkered past and even spent five years in San Quentin prison for embezzling $25,000 of county funds in 1879. By the time he was eighteen Ernest was a reporter for the Santa Cruz Surf. Otto wrote the story in the Surf that detailed the first instance of surfing on the mainland. This article proved vitally important to the story of the three Hawaiian Princes who visited Santa Cruz and introduced surfing to the U.S. in 1885. Along with the Santa Cruz Surf, Ernest Otto served as a reporter for both the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Associated Press for almost seventy years. When he passed in 1955, “Mr. Santa Cruz” was the most senior newspaperman in California. The prolific writer was loved by the people of Santa Cruz, upon his passing Ernest McPherson Jr (publisher of the Sentinel News) stated that “loyalty was the keynote to Ernest Otto’s character. He was loyal not only to the Sentinel News, but to everybody who came in contact with him… It can be truthfully said that Ernest never wrote anything detrimental to anybody. It was his wish to help his friends and beautify this world.”

Jessie H. Gourley was a descendent of two pioneer families. The Anthony and Hinton families came to Santa Cruz early on in its history. Her mother Sarah Gourley was born in Indiana and came to California on the second train around 1847. The family attended the First Methodist Church, and were related to its founder Elihu Anthony. Jessie Gourley was a teacher at Gault School for thirty years. She died at age 86 in February of 1962.