The Frapwells of Scotts Valley, 1911-1945
Memoirs of Elvis Frapwell
See Also: The Frapwell Dairy Barn (more recent) frapwellsheet

Frapwell House Monograph In June of 1911, three brothers, George, John, and Edward Frapwell, bought two large ranches in Scotts Valley, totaling 750 acres. The purchase price for this land was $40,000. The three boys, born in England, had immigrated with their parents and two brothers, William and Henry, to Ohio in 1872. Eventually, the family took up residency in Santa Cruz County, owning various parcels of land in the Soquel and Corralitos areas.

The Scotts Valley ranch was purchased from the widows of two Scotts Valley pioneers. A four hundred acre ranch was bought from Ellen Thomson, widow of William J. Thomson. It was Thomson, a contractor, who had built the 1892 Eastlake Victorian that was a well-known former landmark in Scotts Valley. The site of the house was marked by a pair of palm trees that stood on the west side of Scotts Valley Drive until the recent construction of a recreational vehicle sales business. The Thomsons had bought their property in 1879 from Frank Scott, youngest brother of Hiram Scott. The parcel had been part of the 485 acres adjoining the Scott House. The other half of the Frapwell Ranch was bought from Grace Errington Hicks, widow of Joseph Errington who had died in 1869 and A.S. Hicks whom she had married in 1874. The Erringtons had bought 1100 acres from Hiram Scott in 1865.

Even though the ranch was owned by the three Frapwell brothers -- George owning one half, John owning one fourth, and Edward owning one fourth -- it was Edward, his wife Eva, and their four children, Elvis, Ethel, Ruth, and Elda, that lived in the large Victorian farmhouse. The three-story house had nineteen rooms with two carved redwood burl and tile fireplaces, huge bay windows with stained glass panes, and beautiful walnut paneling. An apple orchard surrounded the house.

The Scotts Valley ranch produced fruit, corn, beans, potatoes, hay, alfalfa, pork, and from the 250 acres of forest land, wood and lumber. The most important operation was the Live Oak Dairy with its herd of 100 Holstein cows. About 1914 a dairy barn and silo was built near the corner of present day Highway 17 and Granite Creek Road.

Besides the big house, several other residences were located on the property. A small cabin, many times remodeled and added on to, is still located on Granite Creek Road and is said to have been built by Hiram Scott. Near this site on South Navarra, was the home built by A.S. Hicks after his marriage to Grace Errington. This house was demolished by an accidental explosion shortly after the Frapwells took ownership. Another home that predated the Frapwells was located on the east side of Scotts Valley Drive, south of the big house. This house is commonly known as the Singletary Home. About 1918, a large house was built across the road from the Victorian and was lived in by one of the Frapwell children. The house, currently owned by Les Long, was at one time used as a private school. Another small residence, located south of the barn near Granite Creek, was lived in by ranch workers.

In 1945, after the deaths of George and John, the Frapwell Ranch began to be divided and sold. The breaking up of this large ranch did much to encourage the growth and development of the City of Scotts Valley as we know it today.

The Live Oak Dairy barn itself has had a colorful history. In the early 1950s it was remodeled by the citizens of Scotts Valley into a community center. In the mid 1960s it was operated as a club by Big Daddy Nord, featuring rock music and sound and light shows, and frequently made the headlines. In the 1970s it was thoroughly remodeled by the owners into a meeting place and was the home of the Community Covenant Church. The downstairs was converted into a restaurant, now occupied by Chuck's Barn Kitchen. The current owner is the Holiday Host Trailer Park. The Barn is an excellent example of a heritage structure continuing to serve the community in a functional and profitable capacity. [The barn was torn down in the early 1990s and is presently the site of the Borland parking lot.]

Researched and written by Charlene Detlefs and Elvis Frapwell.


Frapwell, Elvis. The Frapwell Family. Unpublished manuscript.

Santa Cruz County. Deeds, Official Records, and Death Records.

Long, Mrs. Les. Interview 1978.

Matthews, Chuck. Interview 1978.

Strong, Mrs. Ruby. Interviews 1976 and 1978.

Memoirs of Elvis Frapwell

There was great excitement in the family when a contract for sale of milk was made at the unheard of price of eight cents a gallon. At the same time, the potato crop was sold for $120.00 per ton. However, the entire bean crop was stolen, and not recovered, even though the sheriff followed the trail of white beans leaking out of the untied burlap sacks thirty miles over the mountains to San Jose.

Edward loved horses, buying as many as twenty wild range ponies at a time to train them to the harness. He enjoyed the work even though he had his leg broken once and his muscles wee always sore. One horse bit him on the upper arm so severely it was feared the arm would have to be amputated. But the cows had to be milked on schedule and Edward insisted on doing it. The doctor attributed the healing of the wound to the fact that Edward continued to exercise the arm as much as he could.

The original state highway through the ranch was a crooked, unpaved farm road. When it was straightened and paved after World War I, a wagon and team were leased by the contractor for the use of his surveyors. The team was freighted when left unattended and ran away, down the railroad tracks and over a trestle above the San Lorenzo River. One of the horses plunged down fifty feet, into the river and was killed. The driver, they say, was in a nearby saloon.

The white farm house was a landmark for all who passed through the valley. The itinerants son learned that for chopping some wood for the farm house stove, an excellent meal could be had. The wood pile was ready for those who wished to spend an hour cutting wood.

In the rainy season, men often came to the ranch searching for work. One winter two hungry, inexperienced, East Coast men came by and wanted to cut down a large redwood tree. Assigned a redwood about four feet in diameter and 200 feet tall to fall and cut into firewood, Edward instructed them how and where to cut through the trunk with the proper undercut, then resumed his work in another part of the ranch. Later, the men came to him to report the tree wouldn't fall. They had made a saw cut straight through the trunk of the tree, and the tree stood like an upright pencil on a desk top, ready to fall over with the first breeze. Very hazardous to approach and work around!

Another time the woodcutters were too experienced for Edward. They piled the stovewood neatly in a rectangular form which Edward measured, paying them by the square footage. Months later, when the wood had dried and was ready for market, he discovered the center of the rectangular pile was hollow!

Perhaps Edward's most impressive account was of the time an exploding can of kerosene ignited the clothing of the hired man and Edward had to chase him, throw him to the ground, and tear the burning clothes off the man with his bare hands. Too late!

An adequate supply of water for house, gardens, and barns came from a series of three natural springs about the ranch. One of the springs, a favorite picnic spot, was in a redwood grove in the canyon behind the big house. However, alfalfa was irrigated from a dam on the Carbonero Creek, whose water was diverted through an eight inch pipe stuffed tightly with grass. He pulled it out handful after handful until he was surprised to find the wrong end of a black and white adult skunk in his hand. Close behind followed the rest of the irate family. They hustled off into the brushy creek leaving their pungent odor behind!

Excerpt from The Frapwell Family by Elvis Frapwell.