The spirit of enterprise and business discernment finds expression in George P. Butler, grower and shipper of fancy hothouse cucumbers, of 562 Ocean street, Santa Cruz. He was born in Surrey, England, April 24, 1877, a son of George and Eliza (Smith) Butler, the former a native of Rye, England, now deceased, while the latter was born in the world’s metropolis, London, and is still living. George Butler, Sr., was a grower of cucumbers under glass in England, where as a boy of ten years George P. Butler of this review started to experiment with some planted seed in a small bed covered with window-pane glass. In 1886, he came to the United States, crossed the continent to California, and located at Florim, Sacramento county, where he engaged for eight years in growing cucumbers and fruit. In 1904 he came to Santa Cruz and here on a small scale, he resumed the growing of cucumbers under glass on the Major property, later moving to Ocean street acreage.
This interesting unique business which was thus started in a small way, and with little capital, some twenty years ago, has grown to be one of the largest enterprises in Santa Cruz. Mr. Butler now has a plant worth seventy-five thousand dollars, and under his able management the trade has steadily developed. Cucumbers known as the “Evergreen Brand” are grown under glass from the first of November to the end of July, and nearly all of the money derived from the sale of the products comes from outside of Santa Cruz, thus bringing to the city a substantial financial asset. The hot houses cover two and one-half acres of land, and the business is the largest cucumber-growing enterprise in the state. Concrete beds are used and manure is used as fertilizer. Hot water, piped throughout all the houses, is used for heat, as a temperature of seventy-five degrees is necessary for the growth of the vegetables. Four boilers and oil burners are used, and there are ventilators in the roof, to temper the heat and give cold air, which is necessary in the growing. The cucumbers are picked every other day, and are of uniform size. They are packed in pine-boxes, two and one-half dozen to the box, which is standard size, and the boxes are lined with paper. The shooks for making the boxes are bought in carload lots, and the boxes are put together here. Cucumbers will keep their color and freshness three weeks after picking and this enables Mr. Butler to ship his products all over the coast and as far north as Alaska. From six to seven thousand dozen are grown by Mr. Butler each season, so that the business is now one of large volume.
He also grows Kentucky Wonder string beans under glass for winter consumption, the shipments starting in January; these are a great luxury, and are sold at retail in San Francisco stores at one dollar and twenty-five cents per pound. He has recently begun the growing of cultured mushrooms and thus his business is becoming more and more varied and important.
At San Francisco, in the year of 1921, Mr. Butler and Miss Mary Nugent were married, the bride being a favorite in the social circles of Vallejo, where she was born. One daughter, Geraldine, has blessed this union.
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.