Guide to the Koehle Twins Collection (1890s – 1990s) – History

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George Mitchell, Manager of Capitola Wharf [1870-195os?]
Captain George Mitchell’s journey to California began in 1893. Journeying from Kansas, he arrived in San Jose when he was twenty-three years of age. Having never set eyes on a large body of water before, he was excited by the prospect of getting a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean while in California. Although he was not very impressed with his first sight of the San Francisco Bay, George’s time near the bay would greatly influence his life. There he was enchanted by the naptha engine (a combustion engine powered by naptha rather than gasoline) powered boat “Virginia”, which was a frequent cruise boat in Capitola. This idea must have inspired Mitchell, as he acquired two boats like the “Virginia”. Mitchell eventually found his way to Capitola, CA where he became a wharfinger in 1894. He rented skiffs, as well as renting two launches, the “Bessie” and the “Capitola”. The “Bessie” he would rent for cruises; later he owned and operated a commercial fishing boat named “Bessie” as well. George Mitchell wed Kathryn Mitchell and they took up residence at 221 San Jose Avenue in Capitola (Source: “Fisning From the Decks of Capt’n Mitchell’s Old Naptha Launch” newspaper article, unknown date and source. From SC MAH Koehle Twins Collection). For more than thirty-nine years, George Mitchell managed the Capitola Wharf, and was lauded for his management; state inspector’s visiting the wharf during Mitchell’s management called it the cleanest wharf on the Pacific Coast (Source: “Capitola Pier ‘Cleanest on Pacific Coast’” S.C. Evening News, 9/10/1933). In 1941, Mitchell remodeled the Capitola wharf and maintained it for many years (“Capitola Wharf Being Remodeled…”S.C. Evening News 8/29/1941). George Mitchell led an eventful life leading cruises in Capitola, witnessing boat accidents, and rescuing youths in danger of drowning while swimming on Capitola beaches (Sources: “ Body of Victim of Boat Upset Found Yesterday” S.C. Sentinel 5/21/1933; “San Jose Boy Rescued From Surf Drowning” S.C. Sentinel 9/10/1933). In 1960, Mitchell’s wife Kathryn passed away. Mitchell preceded her in death though his exact date of passing is unknown at this time (“Kathryn Mitchell Dies in Hospital” S.C. Sentinel 9/6/1960).

The Koehle Twins-Ruth Koehle and Naomi Koehle
Ruth and Naomi Koehle, the nieces of George Mitchell and Kathryn Mitchell often visited Capitola during the summertime in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Natives of Santa Clara, CA, they were faculty members at Santa Clara and Alvorada in 1933. They also attended Swope Summer School during their visits to Capitola (S.C. Sentinel 7/6/1933 pg.9). Naomi and Ruth Koehle were daughters of Ignatius and Emma Koehle. They had several siblings—Josephine Schwartz of Campbell, and George and Lillie Koehle. In 1975 Naomi passed away at age sixty-six. She was interred in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery (Source: S.C. Sentinel 11/20/1975 pg. 32). Ruth Koehle (later Ruth Davis) became a teacher at Santa Clara Unified School District. She taught elementary school there for many years before retiring; she was a resident of Santa Cruz since 1963. Ruth passed away in 2001 at the age of ninety-one, funeral services were held at Villa Maria in East Cliff (Source: “Ruth K. Davis” S.C. Sentinel 3/29/2001).