by Janet Koed
When I read the article in the Santa Barbara Independent, “Black History Started Here in Santa Barbara”, I was impressed by the historical documentation of Eric Hvolbol. It wasn’t the first time Gaviota Coast Conservancy learned new Gaviota history lessons from Eric. This time, he was able to trace his family history to one of the first two Black men in California.
Because so much of my own family history had been lost in my great grandfather’s immigration from Poland, I wanted to ask Guner Tautrim, who is included in the article, how his cousin, Eric Hvolbol, and the family have managed to archive such detailed history. Eric and Guner both live on historic Gaviota Coast ranches passed down through several generations.
This was Guner’s response: “My family has always been good about saving stuff. Photos, documents and articles have managed to survive the test of time. My grandmother’s sister, Elizabeth Hvolboll, was an incredible historian. Her children Eric and Janet (my second cousins) have continued that tradition. History is a fascinating thing. There is so much we don’t know yet today, like no other time in history, we have so much available at our fingertips. The digital age lets us explore a lot of that history yet there is nothing as special as history handed down through the generations of family members.”