Guide to the Melissa Gertrude Huntoon and Proctor Collection (1900s – 1960) – History

View the full guide to this collection

Melissa Gertrude Huntoon (maiden name Rickey) was born in Plymouth, Amador County, CA. She was part of a legacy of pioneers, her father and mother having traveled across the plains to California via covered wagon in 1862. When Melissa G. Huntoon (known as Gertrude) was ten years old, she herself would become part of this legacy when her family journeyed out of Plymouth by horse and wagon. As a child Gertrude lived in Pleasant Valley on a ranch known as the Judge Story Ranch. She attended school in Pleasant Valley and after graduating from the ninth grade there she later went on to graduate from Santa Cruz High in 1898. After graduation, Gertrude worked in the offices of McKinney and Dake, local record-searchers on Cooper Street and later at the Hall of Records. Gertrude learned many skills such as typing and shorthand, skills which would earn her recognition as “one of the early career women” of her time [S.C. Sentinel, “Rites Fri. For Gertrude Huntoon”4/20/1928, pg.20]. Gertrude was a very popular woman in the community, as evidenced by her active work with the First Methodist Church and her winning of a popularity contest sponsored by the Morning Sentinel in 1909 which earned her a trip to the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle (S.C. Sentinel 4/20/1978). Gertrude could be found on the committees of many local clubs such as the Philathea Class of First Methodist Church where she was assistant-teacher (S.C. Sentinel 5/17/41), and the Women’s Society for Christian Service in which she organized musical and theatrical programs (S.C. Sentinel 6/6/41). Gertrude was also a member of the Garfield Park Improvement Club acting as club reporter. The club was instrumental in securing barbecue grills, benches, tables, a foundation for a tennis court, and plans for the playground at the park. The club also assisted the nearby Garfield Park district by advocating for fire protection improvements in the district and in securing the extension of gas service through the district, and the installation of a sprinkling system in the Garfield Park library (S.C.Sentinel 7/20/1944).

In 1918 Gertrude wed George Huntoon who was manager of the Pacific Telephone Co. in Santa Cruz and they resided at 15 Surfside Ave. Gertrude lived there until 1959, even after the death of George in 1938 (S.C. Sentinel 9/2/1938). In ’59, Gertrude moved to Oakland where she lived in the Methodist sponsored Beulah Home, until moving to Portland to live with her daughter, Vera M. Tarelton during her senior years. Gertrude Huntoon passed away April 18, 1978 in Portland, Ore. She was one-hundred years old. Services were held at Beulah Home Chapel in Oakland and she was interned at IOOF Cemetery in Santa Cruz, CA (S.C. Sentinel 4/20/1978).