4747 Soquel Drive
A plaque at this location honors the memory of Charlotte “Charley” Parkhurst (1812-1879), a passing woman. As a young girl, Charlotte escaped from an orphanage in the East by donning boys’ clothing and learning how to drive a six-horse team. Heading west, Parkhurst made a living as a stagecoach driver (see the painting above, from the Soquel post office), beginning in the early years of the California gold rush. On November 3, 1868, Parkhurst reputedly marched into this firehouse, the local polling place, and cast a vote in the presidential election, fifty years before women were granted suffrage. The plaque notes that Parkhurst “shot and killed at least one bandit.” Like so many other passing women, Parkhurst’s birth sex was discovered only after death. Parkhurst is buried in Watsonville.