Frederick was born in Rheinpfalz, Germany on May 5th, 1832 to John and Mary (Henke) Thϋrwachter.
At the age of 17, Fred moved with his parents to Syracuse, NY. While “investigating” farming, Fred pursued cabinet making. Finding both cabinet making and Syracuse not of his liking, Fred found his way to Soquel, via the Isthmus of Panama, on Oct 16, 1854.
Fred soon left Soquel for gold at Robinson’s Ferry in Calaveras County, returning to the still unincorporated village of Watsonville, and farming, July of 1858.
Fred began his farming career by renting and living on the property of ND Kidder at the mouth of the Pajaro River. During this time, Fred met Catherine Sweeney. Catherine was born in Cork, Ireland in 1840. Arriving in San Francisco in 1859, she moved to Watsonville in 1861. Catherine and Fred were married Oct 13, 1862. The Thϋrwachters were described as very generous to friends and transients alike.
When the Kidder property flooded, Fred rode upriver to higher, dry ground and, in 1866, purchased 113.5 acres for about $25/acre. Fred’s crops included sugar beets, potatoes, bellflower apples and barley. The family was growing rapidly when, in 1867 – 72 (defer to Betty Lewis, 1871), Fred contracted with Mr. (Robert?) Allen to build this 3000 sq. ft. replica of Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield home. By 1875 Fred and Catherine had completed their family with the addition of a sixth daughter and second son.
We understand the house’s floor-plan was similar to what it is today. It had four upstairs bedrooms. Today’s downstairs bedroom was either the formal or informal parlor, our great-room was divided into a parlor and library. The back portion of the house was a single storied kitchen and mudroom and our office was the dining room. The house’s appointments included needle-point furniture, tasseled curtains and a grand piano.
Though considered to be one of the areas more successful farmers, the time came when Fred began talking about selling the farm (both his sons had died). Upon hearing this, his daughter Ella gave up her desire to be a dress maker and took over the farm.
At the time of their deaths, Fred and Catherine were survived by just three of their seven children. Catherine, well known in the valley as a women of integrity and high character, died Jan 13, 1914 after a lingering illness. Fred died March 15, 1914 of “a complication of ailments incidental to his advanced age”. His Pajaronion obituary continues: “Mr. Thϋrwachter’s demise was undoubtedly hastened by a severe fall he experienced about a month ago, during the big flood… His passing will bring a pang of regret to all the old timers of this valley, for he was one of the earliest settlers, and his many friends and acquaintances will grieve deeply, for he was a fine man, upright and just – of many characteristics, and enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all who knew him.”
Ownership passed to Ella upon her parents deaths. Ella was a successful farmer in her own right. Her crops included navy beans, lettuce and she was the first farmer to grow blue pod beans in the Pajaro Valley. Ella was a dynamo. She worked alongside the field hands and could drive a six-horse team as well as any. A staunch booster of Pajaro Valley, friends & acquaintances knew her as “Regular” and a “Good guy”.
Since 1929, the house was known for its trimmed cypress trees. Unfortunately the name of the gardener who began trimming the trees is not known. His fist sculpture was in honor of Lindbergh’s 1927 Atlantic crossing. Townspeople maintained/added sculptures through the 1980s.
Ella died in 1963. The house was then occupied by Roy Folger (married into Thϋrwachter family). Roy was an acquaintance of photographer Ansel Adams who, in 1977, spent a day photographing the house. Roy’s son Tim occupied the house before selling to an agricultural company in 1979.
Old-growth redwood construction, on a foundation of redwood rounds, made the house nearly indestructible. But, vacant since 1979, the house had fallen into disrepair and was destined for demolition. In the early 1990’s, Darrell Darling (Darling House Bed & Breakfast) won the $1 lottery (about 12 others) to own the house with intentions of opening a second Bed & Breakfast. Darrell said he bid $2 to ensure winning.
In March of 1997, Fresno movers of Felton were contracted to relocate the house to its current location. The house was cut into three or four pieces for the 4.5 hour, 5 miles move at a cost of $25,000. Via Construction of Mountain View renovated the house at a cost of $100,000 and the Inn at Manresa Beach (renamed Aptos Beach Inn in 2003) opened. Because of the extent of the renovations, the house is historically listed, locally, as NR-5.
Unfortunately, the full balcony and two three-story, brick fireplaces built by Kingsley King did not survive the move. But, one can still see the original floor boards, banister, front door and meat hook hanging in the mud room (currently our kitchen). Close your eyes; with a little imagination, one can hear the laughter of eight children, smell the pies fresh out of the wood stove and see Ella sliding down the banister on her 80th birthday.
Frances Louise (1871-1934)
Charlotte (Lottie) (1874-1886)