Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


"Anybody can keep chickens," says Enoch Crews, the enterprising proprietor of the Seabright Pioneer Hatchery, at Seabright, in Santa Cruz county, "but if you buy Santa Cruz chickens, they will keep you," and this is the keynote of the slogan our friend sounded, long ago, in the great campaign he has been waging, to point the way to thousands for assuring to themselves a more independent and a more certain source of support.

Mr. Crews is a native of Missouri, born in Howard county, April 24, 1864, but he was reared in Johnson county, by his parents, Cabel and Narcissa (Parker) Crews. The father set out across the great, unmapped plains in the days when so many were leaving Missouri for California, and such were the hard conditions then, that it took a year to make the trip. The party suffered greatly. Later Mr. Crews returned to the east. Both parents are now dead, having rounded out their relatively short careers with a record of more hard work than leisure, more privation than comfort, but more accomplished, for the benefit of humanity than failed in. One of the priceless inheritances, therefore, of our subject is this memory of his parents, of whom he may well be proud.

Enoch Crews received his early school training in Missouri, when also pioneer conditions there were very primitive indeed. It was in 1890 that he came to the western coast and on Washington's birthday came to Gilroy, California. He probably will long remember the "snow, beautiful snow," for he had the rather dubious experience of being stalled on the way in a dense snow storm. For ten years he traveled through California as a commercial salesman, taking orders for the enlarging of portraits, and in 1902 engaged in newspaper work in Santa Cruz, when he became circulation manager for the Surf. He afterward spent three years with the Santa Cruz News. Whether because the newspaper business permitted of so much leisure or required so much additional income, while thus engaged he started in a modest way to see what he could do with the hatching incubator. He found an old dwelling house and installed an incubating outfit, but soon the business increased too fast for him, and after many efforts to care for would-be patrons, he decided to build a complete hatchery. He chose Seabright as the best possible location, and in 1921 he put up one of the finest establishments of the kind to be seen in the Golden state. Some idea of just what he has attempted to do and how far Mr. Crews has succeeded, may be gathered from the fact that his hatchery, during the busy season, turns out about thirteen thousand chicks a week. He has now one hundred machines and turns out over one-fourth of a million chicks a year. Running at full capacity for about ten months in the year, he is able to send his chicks everywhere throughout the western states.

Mr. Crews was married to Mrs. Mabel Stewart, who has proven of great help to him in the conduct of this enterprise, and no little credit for the success attained by the Seabright Pioneer Hatchery should be given to her.

A curious thing happened in Santa Cruz that attested significantly to Mr. Crews' importance in the community. He again realized the necessity of enlarging his plant, but as soon as he sought to do so, the city council of Santa Cruz threatened him with arrest, a dark dungeon, bread and water and religious tracts at lunch, three times a day. It was declared that an old ordinance existed setting a limit to the number of chicks one might sport in or out of an incubator, but no sooner was the issue raised than many citizens and the press came to Mr. Crews' support and pointed out the absurdity of such a law, and the great service he had rendered, through his enterprise and his advertisements, both town and county in assisting to place and to keep them on the map.

An impressive amount of literature has grown up about Enoch Crews and his incubators, and the supply on hand up to date would set a clipping bureau up in business. Among the mass, none is more interesting than an article from the Santa Cruz News, of October 26, 1921: "Mr. Crews kept track of the little chicks that he raised and sent through the mails, and he found that they became great layers of eggs. Only the other day a boy at Spreckels won a scholarship at the university farm at Davis through the high quality of his chickens, which he received as mere babies through the mails from the Crews incubators. From a half dozen states, editors of papers sent requests to Mr. Crews for a story about his novel business. Mr. Crews responded with articles in which he always said a good word for Santa Cruz, and sent with the articles his picture, ready to print."

"Everywhere Mr. Crews carries the message of Santa Cruz, the beautiful residence town, the chicken center. Visitors to his plant come from all over the west, he has a register equalling in size, almost, the register of the Chamber of Commerce. And he is prosperous, and has big plans for the future. The fact is, that you cannot tell Enoch Crews that there are not business opportunities in Santa Cruz."

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.