An historical year for Watsonville

© 2018-Register-Pajaronian

City planning 150th anniversary

WATSONVILLE — On March 30, 1868, the California State Legislature approved a request to incorporate Rancho Bolsa del Pajaro into the Town of Watsonville.

The town derived its name from John Watson, a retired judge from San Jose who had designed its layout in 1852. Watson filed a claim against the rancho’s proprietor Sebastian Rodriguez over ownership, but lost in 1857.

Now, nearly 150 years after its incorporation, Watsonville leaders are planning out how the sesquicentennial will be celebrated in 2018.

City officials and community leaders have been meeting monthly to discuss the celebration.

City Councilwoman Trina Coffman-Gomez, who is a member of the committee, said the city is looking to coordinate with community groups as it prepares to “roll out our sesquicentennial for 2018.”

“Now is the time to have our community come together to celebrate all the history and cultures that have created the fabric of our community,” she said.

During the first meeting of the committee in June, the group began compiling a list of annual events that take place in Watsonville. Rather than have one large event celebrating the 150th, the plan is to incorporate Watsonville history into a number of events throughout the year.

“A master calendar of events is being put together and we are inviting the community to contribute towards our celebration,” Coffman-Gomez said.

The group is now looking to form subcommittees that will be tasked with various projects, such as a downtown gateway sign, event planning, promotion and more.

Not only will the City of Watsonville be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2018, but two businesses within the city will also be celebrating 150 years.

On March 5, 1868, J.A. Cottle published the first issue of the Weekly Pajaronian newspaper. The paper merged with the Register in 1937, and is now the Register-Pajaronian.

After years of helping his brother grow apples on his farm, Stephen Martinelli introduced fermented apple cider in 1868. That was the beginning of S. Martinelli & Company, a now internationally-known apple cider company that is based in Watsonville.

The Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture will recognize the significance of 2018 in Watsonville with its annual awards dinner in January. While details are still being worked out, the theme of the dinner will be “The Pajaro Valley: History in the Making,” honoring long-standing businesses in the area.


Those interested in helping contribute to the City of Watsonville’s 150th celebration can contact Coffman-Gomez at [email protected] or 722-1558.

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