Every year, the Santa Rosa newspapers yielded new insights regarding the Great Earthquake. Here are the nuggets from 1910 and 1911:
HOW THE INSURANCE WARS WERE WON Much has already been written here about the earthquake insurance wars (introduction and wrap-up), but in brief: Immediately following the disaster, there was considerable anxiety as to how much and how soon the insurance companies would pay for losses. A few small insurers declared bankruptcy and did not pay at all, but most eventually offered settlement, although usually for less than the value insured. The worst case was the Connecticut Fire Insurance Company, which flatly refused to pay its handful of Santa Rosa customers because they said the earthquake voided the fire insurance policies.
One of the strange angles to the story is that Connecticut Fire paid every single claim without fuss in San Francisco, and was praised by the SF Chamber of Commerce in November, 1906 as being one of the very few "dollar-for-dollar" companies. What was not mentioned at the time was that the Santa Rosa Chamber went to war over the double standards. As described in a 1910 Press Democrat article:
|...the Connecticut advertised broadcast that it was "one of the few companies that settled all losses growing out of the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906." The facts being exactly to the contrary, several thousand circulars were sent out by the local Chamber of Commerce calling attention to the false claims being made by the Connecticut, and showing that of all the companies doing business here at the time of the fire the Connecticut was the only one that had failed to settle on some basis or another. These circulars were sent to nearly every important commercial organization in the United States.|
The 1910 Santa Rosa papers also printed the appellate court decisions against the insurance company, which revealed further bits of lost history.
As explained in the series' introduction, the legal fight was over the "fallen-building" clause in the insurance policies: If the contents of the building were on fire before the structure collapsed, the insurance company had to pay up (the Santa Rosa policies were all coverage of store inventories, not the buildings). To win, the insurance company lawyers only had to convince a jury that any part of the building fell down before fire destroyed the goods.
(RIGHT: Fourth street and Mendocino intersection after the 1906 earthquake. Image courtesy Larry Lapeere)
Given that eyewitnesses encountered a scene on Fourth street of such absolute destruction that they often could not identify particular buildings, it seems like the insurance company should have won every one of these suits with ease. But while it was always safe to presume some trial witnesses perjured themselves to help their fellow Santa Rosans triumph over the insurance company, the appellate decisions show serious mistakes were made in the conduct of the trial and the suits were ultimately won by the Santa Rosa shopkeepers via legal hairsplitting, not the merits of any evidence.
The appeals court likewise showed bias towards the Santa Rosa plaintiffs. In the Moodey shoe store case, they refused the request for a new trial although they found the trial judge had completely misinformed the jury about the fallen-building clause. Superior Court Judge Denny told jurors it meant that "some functional portion of the building, the falling of which would destroy its distinctive character," and it didn't apply as long as more than three-fourths of the building was intact, even if the roof had collapsed along with the front falling away. All of these ifs, ands, or buts apparently tumbled out of the good judge's vivid imagination, but, hey, the appeals court ruled that didn't matter because the jury ended up deciding that no substantial parts of the building fell before the fire.
Bias was even more obvious in the appeal for the Davis pharmacy case. The insurance company lawyer wanted a mistrial because there was an objection to asking Fire Chief Muther and J. D. Ward, material witnesses on the scene, "do you know whether it fell by fire or otherwise?" The appeal was denied - although the justices had to twist logic into a pretzel to provide reasons why.
First, the Court of Appeals didn't like how that question was phrased: It implied Muther and Ward had "actual knowledge" of what happened. Since they weren't there when the building fell down, any answers would be merely opinion, which "could have added nothing to the probative force of their testimony." Note the point that their opinions didn't matter.
The Court also disagreed with the insurance company's argument that "the very issue in the case" was whether the building fell down because of fire or earthquake. The cause of the structure's collapse, said the Court, didn't matter at all - unless it fell down before the stuff was burned. Thus "why" and "when" were disconnected into separate issues, unless perhaps they weren't.
But even while the Appellate Court ruled opinions didn't matter and the sequence of events probably didn't matter, they wrote, "...from the facts to which the said witnesses testified only one inference could be drawn and that is that the earthquake virtually destroyed the building..." Ward had described that section of Fourth street as being "all a mass of debris tumbled down[,] I couldn't exactly distinguish where the Davis drug store was, but they all looked the same." Muther had also testified the earthquake had caused the damage to the drug store building.
In other words, despite (non-opinionated) testimony that the building's collapse was caused by the earthquake before the fire started, it wasn't important that the jury ignored this key fact in deciding their verdict.
Reading that decision, one gets the impression that the Appellate Court really enjoyed slapping the insurance company around (not that's necessarily a bad thing), making the point they lost the case despite having all evidence in their favor and the Davis lawyer making a stupid mistake. It was testified that Davis wanted to enter the wreckage to rescue his prescription book, but was prevented by two policemen who feared an aftershock could trap him in the debris. The trial should have ended at that moment; there could be no further debate as to the condition of the building before the fire. But Davis had died before the trial began, so the story was hearsay; the trial judge would have excluded it if the Davis lawyer was awake at the time and had objected. As the jury was apparently determined to ignore evidence in the insurance company's favor, this little anecdote had no bearing on the trial, and was not part of the appeal. The only reason for the Appellate Court to mention this at all was to simply rub the insurance company's nose in it.
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE TRAGEDY Local history buffs still are heard to claim (boast, actually) that the 1906 earthquake had a relatively greater impact on Santa Rosa than San Francisco. That dubious honor is certainly not true and is based on skewed interpretations. The amount of property damage is routinely exaggerated; much of Santa Rosa's business district was flattened or burned but not all of it, and only a handful of homes were seriously damaged. By contrast to the fourteen commercial and municipal blocks here with buildings lost to fire or collapse, nearly 500 city blocks were destroyed in San Francisco and a quarter of a million people were left homeless.
It's also said there were proportionately more casualties in Santa Rosa, which is discussed on the 1906 earthquake FAQ page. That might be true if you play with the numbers - namely, that you select the highest estimates of those killed here and compare it to a low count of the population. The key part of that equation is knowing how many people lived in Santa Rosa at the time and that's no easy thing. Not only was 1906 between the decennial years of the national census, there was ongoing debate as to what constituted "Santa Rosa." The city was physically so small that anyone could bicycle from one end to the other in ten minutes, yet additional thousands lived just outside the city limits. The newspapers groused that Santa Rosa needed to expand its borders, but it was never seriously discussed in that era. (I suspect that they wanted to keep the town looking small but affluent as to attract investors to buy any municipal bonds.)
Finally in the 1910 census, a better picture emerges: There were 13,560 people in the entire Santa Rosa township that year with 42 percent of them living outside of city limits. It is fairer to use the overall township count when comparing the earthquake outcome because San Francisco included its entire footprint on the peninsula.
Working backwards from those numbers, it would place the earthquake population in the high 11,000s, which is also the figure that emerges from estimates by the company that published the city directories (see FAQ).
Bottom line: The best estimate we can probably ever make is that about 0.7 percent of the overall Santa Rosa population was killed in the 1906 earthquake, slightly less than half the percentage of fatalities in San Francisco.
POPULATION OF SANTA ROSA AND PETALUMA TOWNSHIPS
Washington, March 10--The population of Santa Rosa township, including Santa Rosa city, is 13,560, according to the thirteenth census. The population of Santa Rosa township outside of the city is 5,743.
The population of the city by wards is...7,817.
The population of Petaluma township, including Petaluma city, is 8,787.
The population of Petaluma township outside of the city is 2,907.
The population of the city by precincts is...5,880.
- Press Democrat, March 11, 1911POPULATION BASED ON SCHOOL CENSUS
The population of Santa Rosa is 10,851 as shown by the school census of 1910 just recently completed, based upon the estimate used by Job Wood, Jr., who is probably the leading expert of the state on school census figures and their relation to population. For fourteen years Wood has been connected with the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, being assigned to the census department. He has made a special study of the matter, and has arrived at his knowledge by comparing the school census with other computations of the population of the bay cities for many years. The last federal census and the various other computations such as the post office directories, city directories, school censuses, which included the whole population, etc., have all been used by him in determining the percentage.
The school census as reported to County Superintendent of Schools DeWitt Montgomery by the Census Marshals, reached a total of 1,973, or 63 more than a year ago. Mr. Wood declares that the population averages five and a half persons per census child which makes a total for Court House School district of 10,851. The usual average of computation, taking the state as a whole has alway been five, which would make the total 8,865.
- Press Democrat, May 24, 1910
MUST PAY SANTA ROSA CLAIMANTAppellate Court Decides Against the Welching Connecticut Fire Insurance Company in the Fountain Case
Sacramento, March 3--In the case of O. Fountain vs. the Connecticut Fire Insurance Company the Third District Court of Appeal this morning affirmed the decision of the Superior Court of Sonoma county ordering the insurance company to pay Fountain for losses on merchandise in Santa Rosa caused by the earthquake and fire of 1906.
The course pursued by the Connecticut Fire Insurance Company in regard to its Santa Rosa claims aroused much hostile criticism, and resulted in its being dubbed "the welching company," a name that it will be apt to retain for a long time. Immediately after the fire, Manager Smith curtly notified his Santa Rosa policyholders that he would not pay, and he stuck to it. Later, the Connecticut advertised broadcast that it was "one of the few companies that settled all losses growing out of the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906." The facts being exactly to the contrary, several thousand circulars were sent out by the local Chamber of Commerce calling attention to the false claims being made by the Connecticut, and showing that of all the companies doing business here at the time of the fire the Connecticut was the only one that had failed to settle on some basis or another. These circulars were sent to nearly every important commercial organization in the United States.
- Press Democrat, March 10, 1910
SANTA ROSA INSURANCE SUIT WON IN THE HIGHER COURTThe Full Text of Judge Burnett's Opinion Given Here
A copy of the opinion in the suit of Naomi E. Davis (now Mrs. H. H. Moke) against the Connecticut Fire Insurance Company to recover the sum of $1,000, a policy the late Henry S. Davis had on the stock in his drug store on Fourth street at the time of the earthquake and fire disaster on April 18, 1906, which opinion affirmed Judge Denny's decision in favor of the plaintiff, has been received here. It was written by Judge Albert G. Burnett, and concurred in by the other justices of the Appellate Court, and is as follows...
- Press Democrat, April 2, 1910
CHIPMAN'S DECISION IN MOODEY INSURANCE SUITFull Text of Opinion Interests Many Santa Rosans
Presiding Justice N. P. Chipman of the Appellate Court, wrote the decision affirming the judgement of Judge Denny in the suit of R. C. Moodey against the Connecticut Fire Insurance Company which was in favor of Mr. Moodey...the jury rendered a verdict for $500.00...
- Press Democrat, April 21, 1910
Happy 140th birthday, Santa Rosa High School! Or maybe it's really the 137th, as the high school was discontinued between 1880-1882, but hey, when you've got that many candles on the cake, it's okay to be a little fuzzy on the particulars.
The current high school is the town's third; the original was the Fourth street public school that taught children of all grades (it was at the current location of Fremont Park to Brookwood Avenue). When that became too crowded in 1895 they built a school just for high school students on Humboldt street, the same location as today's Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts. It took Santa Rosa only fifteen years to outgrow that place.
(RIGHT: Santa Rosa High School Annex, 1941. Image courtesy Sonoma County Library)
There was nothing wrong with the Humboldt street high school - it rode out the 1906 earthquake with no reported damage - but it was just too small.
"Visit, if you will, the present High School building and see for yourself the crowded condition of the classrooms," Probation Officer John Plover was quoted in the Santa Rosa Republican. "You will find there two classes stuffed in one corner of the basement in a place never intended for class rooms, where there would be small chance of escape in case of fire or quake."
Plover was speaking at a 1911 alumni meeting seeking to drum up support for a municipal bond to buy the land next door to the south and build an annex. Mention "school annex" today and it probably calls to mind temporary buildings, trailers, and similar cheap-but-quick solutions. What Santa Rosa wanted to build was a state-of-the-art education center that would serve all schools in local districts for decades. It would have a gymnasium/auditorium that could seat 1,000, a stage, shower rooms for both boys and girls, even classrooms dedicated to teaching typewriting and "household sciences." A large playground with a quarter-mile track would lend a campus atmosphere to the grounds. The drawback: All this would cost the eye-popping sum of $80,000, about one-fifth of what was spent on the sprawling and palatial county courthouse a few years earlier. That was a LOT of money to ask voters to approve for a mere annex to an existing school.
Amazingly, the bond measure passed with apparently no squawk. By contrast, the 1923 bond to build our current high school faced a citizen's lawsuit that threw the town into uproar, and that was to pay for a new school which was urgently needed because the Humboldt street high school had burned down - more about that in a following article.
The Santa Rosa High School Annex was designed by architect W. H. Weeks (William Henry Weeks), who created hundreds of similar nice, sturdy buildings around Northern California, including our beloved Mendocino Ave. high school about a decade later. His drawing, shown below, appeared in both local newspapers in advance of the bond vote, and amusingly shows the building at the intersection of two great boulevards. The actual Humboldt street that we all know and love is so narrow that bicyclists could be imperiled if drivers try to pass (or so say bicyclists).
The Annex remained part of the high school even after the new building was opened at the present location. In 1942 it was christened the Santa Rosa Junior High School, which it remained until it was demolished c. 1970. A neighbor who still lives across the street watched bemused as crews of workmen struggled to tear it down; it was so well built, he says, the demolition contractor lost a bundle on the project. Should the city ever decide "progress" demands we get rid of the current high school - still going strong despite 90 years of continuous use - bring a sturdy lawn chair and a mountain of popcorn. It's gonna be a loooong show.
DESCRIPTION OF THE NEW ANNEXFeatures of Proposed New Structure to Be Added to Santa Rosa's School EquipmentThe plans for the proposed new high school annex to be erected on the lots on Humboldt street adjoining the high school on the south, call for a very artistic structure, which gives promise of providing many of the necessities which the high school has been in need of for some years past.
The new structure is to face west...and will have a basement and two stories. The exterior will be rather plain but the interior will be fittingly for the various purposes for which it is intended.
The basement will have girls' dressing and sanitary rooms with showers and all other conveniences on the north front and the duplicate for boys on the south front. On the east will be the household science department with dining room, pantry, lockers, sewing room, fitting room, drying room, janitor's quarters, lumber and storerooms, heaters, motor for circulation, teachers' room, lockers, etc.
The main floor, or first floor above the basement, will include a commodious gymnasium or auditorium with vaulted ceiling through the second floor surrounded on the second floor with balconies for use in seating spectators during exercises of various kinds and various indoor sports. This will be one of the features of the building and will provide the long-desired quarters for all kinds of gatherings in connection with the schools of the city.
There will also be three commodious class rooms on the first floor with an apparatus room, girls' and boys' cloak rooms, corridors, and a suitable stage with all modern conveniences for presenting dramatic plays, etc.
In addition to the balconies on the second floor for the auditorium or gymnasium there will be four class rooms, teacher's room and typing room, in addition to corridors, cloak rooms, and necessary closets, etc.
The exterior of the building will be of concrete plaster with terra cotta cornice and trimmings for doors and windows. There will be a double entrance in front--one on each end of the building--while other entrances are provided for the north and south sides of the structure.
- Press Democrat, November 19, 1911
Forget Democrat and Republican, even liberal and conservative rivalry; the 1910 California elections were all about the Regulars vs. Insurgents.
Sonoma County politics shifted leftward for the first time, marking an end to the era when our ancestors voted as if we were some West Coast outpost of the Solid South, yearning for a return of the good ol' days of Dixie. But first, some background:
The "insurgents" (and yes, candidates proudly called themselves "insurgents") were progressives who wanted political reform - more direct participation in government by voters, an end to "bosses" controlling cities and a stop to the state legislature being controlled by the Southern Pacific railroad. They wanted conservation of land and water. They wanted women's suffrage, better schools and prison reform, and more. Most people with such sympathies were Republicans in the vein of ex-President Teddy Roosevelt and loosely organized around the state into chapters of the Lincoln–Roosevelt League, which promoted candidates wanting to reform the state Republican party. One wee problem: The Republican party liked the status quo and thought themselves to be fine fellows in no need of reform. This difference of opinion led to many quiet discussions, such as the incident (transcribed below) when a Leaguer tried to participate in the Central Committee meeting in Santa Rosa and was invited to choose between leaving or being promptly thrown out.
The "regulars" were...not insurgents. Examples can be found of newspapers using the term to precisely describe "machine" Republicans as those who voted as ordered by party leaders or Southern Pacific's lobbyist, but other examples can be found where it was used to describe any politicians not in the League, including Democrats. The Press Democrat sometimes appeared to use "regulars" to mean something like "the public at large."
It's important to understand that insurgents were not viewed as bomb-throwing radicals or even a new player on the political scene. Some of their ideas had already become state law, such as political parties choosing candidates by open primaries instead of backroom deals (although Santa Rosa probably violated the law in its municipal elections earlier that year). Even the conservative Press Democrat, which had viciously attacked reformers in past years, published no snarky editorials about the insurgents and even taunted an incumbent for voting against reform legislation.
And although Santa Rosa was usually a forlorn rural outpost on the political map, in 1910 it was a crossroads for election year activity. Two controversial "machine" Republicans came from Santa Rosa and the Democratic candidate for governor, Theodore Bell, was treated like the town's favorite son (although he really hailed from Napa). The Republican opposing Bell was one of the founders of the Lincoln–Roosevelt League, Hiram Johnson, and he had a Santa Rosa link as well; as a top San Francisco criminal lawyer, he was originally expected to defend Dr. Burke at his trial for attempted murder and remained on the defense team even as he campaigned for governor.
Bell is an interesting politician to study: He was a feckless Democrat who always seemed out of step with the parade. We first met him in 1904, for example, when he was running for reelection to the House of Representatives and hoping to appeal to Democratic party reactionaries by touting his endorsement from Morris Estee, who had been associated with some of the most racist legislation in state history. When Bell ran for governor two years later, he was transformed into an ultra-progressive reformer; when he tried again for governor in 1918, he was an anti-Woodrow Wilson independent. He switched to the Republican party after that but died before he could roll the dice under their banner.
The Press Democrat - which always supported Bell, no matter what he was running for (and losing at) - relentlessly promised readers his 1910 victory was assured; one editorial item blurted, "by the time Theodore Bell gets through with Hiram Johnson there will not be enough left of the latter gentleman to make even a political grease spot." Sonoma County was one of the few counties Bell won in 1910 - although his victory here was by only a couple of hundred votes - and Johnson easily won by six points statewide (the Socialist party candidate captured over 12 percent of the vote).
It was a year when voters favored fresh faces: insurgents good, incumbents bad. And although Bell hadn't held public office since 1904 and talked like an insurgent himself, he had chaired the Democratic convention in 1908 and his name was so often in the Bay Area newspapers that Average Joe Voter probably believed he was some sort of elected official. He was a sharp contrast to State Senator Walter Price (R-Santa Rosa), who seemed to fade into the woodwork after each election was over.
Price, who was profiled here earlier, was a flunky for Southern Pacific (it was even said by some newspapers that he was spying on his party's caucus for the company). He was apparently one of Santa Rosa's real estate wheeler-dealers, which is probably the main reason he kept getting reelected. But in 1910 the Press Democrat ripped Price for his anti-democracy voting pattern, where he opposed more oversight of the railroads, opposed open primary voting for party candidates, opposed the election of United States senators by direct vote of the people, and opposed women's right to vote. The PD instead endorsed Louis Julliard, a civic leader who was instrumental in forming the local National Guard Company E (and was, incidentally, another attorney who read law under James Wyatt Oates). The PD - which had never seemed to care before about Price's connections to the railroad and had laughed at the 1908 notions that Santa Rosa had its own cabal of bosses running the show - was suddenly interested in linking him to machine politics. Although Julliard didn't run as a reform candidate, Price was defeated, 41 to 52 percent.
A word should be said here about Louis Julliard, along with another freshman to the state legislature that year: Herbert Slater, the former City Editor for the Press Democrat, who would serve in office until his death, 37 years later. Slater was mentioned earlier for his memorable speech on the 1906 Santa Rosa earthquake, which remains the most important first-hand account of what really happened. He and Julliard will probably never be mentioned again in this journal because their years in public service were untainted by corruption or scandal. The next time you pass Herbert Slater Middle School or Julliard Park - which was the old Julliard family homestead and donated to the city by Louis' brother - salute Herb and Louis for jobs well done and for being remarkably un-newsworthy. You will appreciate their integrity even more after reading the story below.
The insurgents hated Southern Pacific, and not far behind in their scorn was President Taft, whom many believed was undoing the conservation legacy of Teddy Roosevelt. In a series of muckraking articles published in Collier's Weekly, it was charged that Taft's administration was about to hand over the vast coal deposits on federally-protected land in the Alaskan Territory - worth an estimated $3.5 billion, or about one-tenth of the entire national GDP for 1910 - to a private syndicate controlled by J. P. Morgan and the Guggenheim brothers. The vision was that with an almost unlimited supply of cheap coal, San Francisco could be transformed into a new Pittsburgh. Take a moment and picture the Bay Area with great iron works shoulder-to-shoulder churning out heavy black smoke from blast furnaces.
With fortunes at stake, even owning a tiny, tiny, piece of the coal field action would make one filthy, filthy rich, and a man named Harry White held several claims. White was also the player with the political connections to make the enormous project happen. He had organized the "Taft Clubs" in California before the president's election and was rumored to have been responsible for the appointment of the Secretary of the Interior, who was the key to pushing the deal through. White had also sold shares in his syndicate at the giveaway price of $10 to several West Coast politicians, including California Governor Gillett - and three-term Rep. Duncan McKinlay (R-Santa Rosa).
Since his election to Congress in 1904, McKinlay had been known for three things: His hatred for Japanese and Korean immigrants, his allegiance to Taft, and for burying constituents in the district under a mountain of bulletins, newsletters, and government documents mailed from his Congressional office. He became a personal friend of the president when he was part of the delegation that visited Japan in 1905 with Taft (then Secretary of War) and on returning he joined another Congressman in beating the drum for legislation to exclude the Japanese and Koreans - while he didn't invent the racist slur "yellow peril," he damn near wore it out. (MORE on the anti-Japanese hysteria.)
Being associated with the biggest scandal of the day just before an election is never a good thing, and McKinlay tried to change the subject; while investigations were underway into the controversy over the Interior Secretary and the Alaskan coal fields, McKinlay was fearmongering that America was threatened by an "Asiatic industrial invasion" in the form of cheap imported cotton. It didn't work. McKinlay failed to even make it to the general election, losing by 17 percentage points in the Republican primary to William Kent, one of the leaders of the Lincoln–Roosevelt League and a Marin County philanthropist who had recently donated some of his property for the creation of Muir Woods.
McKinlay was one of four Congressmen closely allied to President Taft who lost, and his foes were quick to gloat: The Los Angeles Herald editorialized, "Among the first to fall victims to the insurgent simoon ["poison wind"], Duncan McKinlay proposes to be one of the last to become reconciled. He is bitter in his thoughts of ingrate California, for which he secured so much pork." Even the Santa Rosa Republican - the paper of record for his own political party - offered a takedown written by Tom Gregory with the subhed, "Duncan E. McKinlay Clinging to His Fetich--the Discredited Standpatism" ("fetich" here means, "irrational devotion to some activity").
After his defeat McKinlay proved his party loyalty by campaigning for other Taft allies on the East Coast, ending the summer with several days as Taft's guest at the summer White House. He was rewarded by being offered the choice of two patronage jobs that paid $5,000/yr for doing nothing: Assistant postmaster general or surveyor of the port of San Francisco. He chose the latter, and spent the remaining four years of his life giving the occasional bitter speech and writing a small book about the Panama Canal. Naturally, he dedicated it to Taft and warned that the Canal will be essential if the Navy ever needs to defend the West Coast from an Asian invasion.
The final political item for 1910 is certainly the oddest, and comes close to "Believe it or Not!" territory. It also shows that although the insurgents beat up the regulars that year, the non-progressives still had spunk.
It seems that one seat in the state assembly was certain to go to the winner of the Republican primary, as no one had stepped forward to run as a Democrat. On the Republican ballot was James Hamilton, an insurgent, and Dr. F. H. Phillips, a dentist from Petaluma. Hamilton won easily but while they were counting votes, county officials discovered a strange thing: There were 25 write-in votes for Phillips - on Democratic ballots.
Phillips seemed genuinely shocked that he had been drafted into the Democratic party, and declined the nomination. In the weeks remaining before the general election, both Santa Rosa papers were peppered with items about the issue: Was his ad hoc nomination legal? Will he serve, if elected? Can his name be prevented from appearing on the ballot? The state Attorney General was asked to rule on the matter and yes, Dr. Phillips was a genuine candidate for office.
Dr. Phillips apparently had a subsequent change of heart, and decided he wouldn't be so upset at having a "D" after his name as long as it came with "Assemblyman" in front of it. The Press Democrat jumped on board and declared Phillips was "a thoroughly 'live wire'" and intended to make a "vigorous fight for election." He told the PD, "I do not consider that I was defeated for the nomination by the Republicans, but by Insurgents-- the Lincoln-Roosevelters," and "Should the people by any unforeseen reason see fit to elect me to act as their representative, I will consider myself in duty bound to accept that office..."
In the end the insurgent won, 51 to 40 percent. But it was no small feat that the reluctant Democrat still pulled in almost 1,800 votes, which surely was every voter who viewed the League with anathema. That makes that race kind of a referendum on political sentiments in 1910 Santa Rosa, and the 51:40 result shows the town was finally joining mainstream America in the progressive era. Barely.
NO LINCOLN-ROOSEVELTERS WANTED BY REPUBLICANSRolfe L. Thompson Is Ordered to Leave the MeetingRepresentatives of Regular Organization, in Meeting Assembled, Read Supporters of Hiram Johnson Out of the Party--Both Sides Give Their Version of Sensational Incident
Rolfe L. Thompson, chairman of the Lincoln-Roosevelt League organization in Sonoma county, attempted to break in at the meeting of the Republican County Central Committee held in Germania hall in this city yesterday as the holder of a proxy for a member of the committee. He was plainly told that a "Lincoln-Roosevelter is not a Republican," and therefore had no business at a Republican meeting any more than a member of any other party in direct opposition to Republicanism.
Thompson went to the committee meeting holding the proxy of W. L. Cunningham of Bodega, a member of the Central Committee. He went there seeking a seat in the conference as a Republican, he said, and a lifelong one at tht. He was given to understand that his presence was not desired, and he was given the preference by Chairman S. S. Bogle, either to retire gracefully or else with assistance. He retired quietly from the hall, and left with the words of the chairman ringing in his ears: "This is not a Lincoln-Roosevelt meeting, this is a Republican meeting."
The news of the throwing down of the gauntlet spread quickly outside the hall and throughout the afternoon and evening the rebuke administered to the Lincoln-Roosevelt committeeman was freely discussed.
When seen after he had left the meeting of the Central Committee at Germania Hall, Mr. Thompson had this to say of what had transpired:
"W. J. Cunningham, Republican County Central Committeeman from Bodega, sent me his proxy, together with a letter, saying: "You represent the Republican principles which this precinct endorses, and I wish you would accept this proxy and vote it for us." He also added that it seemed queer that the Committee should have asked all who could not attend to make their proxy out in blank and return it for the use of the Committee... [after] I quietly retired, Dr. Bogle immediately proceeded to make a speech endorsing the Southern Pacific in glowing terms, and declaring that Hiram Johnson was not a Republican.
"I construe the manner of enforcing the rule as an exhibition of the strongest antipathy on the part of the chairman and a majority of the committee toward insurgent Republicanism, and an evidence of loyalty to the old machine method of doing politics, with an evident submission on the part of many of the Southern Pacific dominance in politics..."
- Press Democrat, July 2, 1910
"HELP WALTER PRICE OUT"
Under the suggestive heading above quoted, the Analy Standard calls upon all progressive Republicans to rally to the support of the Hon. Walter F. Price, recognized representative of the machine element in this county and paid field captain of the organization at large. "He certainly has a hard fight," says our Sebastopol exchange, "and Republicans should lay aside personal feelings, if they have any, and see that Price is elected."
Walter Price will be "helped out" all right, but not in the way the Standard means. He will be helped out of office by the votes of a good many hundred citizens who do not approve of the course he has followed while in office, and who resent his present effort to pose as a reformer, now that he has seen the way the wind is listing.
Walter is a political purist who has merely been "off his feed," we are assured by the Standard, but he is now all right and can be depended upon to settle down and pull his full share of the load of political enlightenment.
Wouldn't it jar you?
For years Walter Price has been the man to whom practically all the detail work of the machine in this county has been entrusted. And his vote could always be depended upon when it came to putting a machine measure through. During the last session he fought the direct primary, voted against the removal of the party circle, flatly opposed the election of United States senators by direct vote of the people, fought and voted against the initiative, referendum and recall, was against the Stetson law making the Railroad Commission effective, and dodged the vote on the measure ordering a continuance of the investigation into freight and express charges as now prevailing in this state.
Such a valuable man has been Senator Price to the Republican machine, that for years he has been provided with a steady position, first in the county, then in the district, and next in the state, which would enable him to travel about at public expense and keep track of what was going on, at the same time attending to any little details in the work of the organization that happened to require attention.
He recently went far out of his way to write a fullsome letter to the voters of Alameda county and with tears dripping off his typewriter told them Senator Leavitt was the greatest statesman of his time, and if they failed to re-elect that worthy the county of Alameda would never recover from the effects of its short-sightedness. Senator Leavitt is the recognized head and front of the machine, and Price is his ardent supporter. But the voters of Alameda failed to heed the kindly advice of Sonoma county's Senator, and repudiated Leavitt at the primaries.
And the voters of Sonoma county will render a similar verdict at the polls regarding Senator Price next month.
They will "help Walter Price out" on or about the 8th prox.
- Press Democrat editorial, October 23, 1910
PHILLIPS NOT DISQUALIFIED AND HE WILL MAKE THE RUNLincoln-Roosevelters Try to Have His Name Kept off the BallotCandidate for Assemblyman in the Thirteenth District Issues Statement Defining His Position and Says He Was Not Defeated by "Republicans" But by "Insurgents"
The news that Dr. F. H. Phillips of Petaluma had decided to make the race for the Assembly in the Thirteenth District, as first published in yesterday morning's Press Democrat, stirred the local representatives of the Lincoln-Roosevelt League to prompt activity.
In an effort to find some way to prevent Dr. Phillips from qualifying as a candidate, Rolfe L. Thompson and other held an informal conference yesterday morning, and later in the day called at the office of County Clerk Fred L. Wright and argued the matter of the latter's right to place the name of Dr. Phillips on the official ballot, peremptorily demanding that the name be taken off.
A display of the certification received from the Secretary of State's office which practically amounts to an order to print the names of the various nominees for state offices in on the ballot, soon put an end to this discussion, and then the contention was raised that, having filed no expense account, Dr. Phillips would not be eligible to receive a certificate of nomination.
Thompson wanted to know if the Clerk's Office would take an informal opinion from one of the Superior Judges as authority for leaving the name off the ballot, but the reply was that such an opinion would not be sufficient authority for stopping the printing presses and taking any chances on the ballots not being ready in time. Thompson then reiterated his demand that Phillips' name be left off the ballot, and the County Clerk appealed to the office of District Attorney Clarence F. Lea for advice. Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle ruled that there was nothing in Thompson's contention, and then communicated with Attorney General U. S. Webb by telephone, who promptly ruled that as Dr. Phillips had not been a candidate for the Democratic nomination, he did not have to file an expense account. The gist of Attorney General Webb's opinion is as follows:
"The fact that Dr. Phillips did not file an expense account as a Republican candidate cuts no figure, under the existing circumstances, because he was defeated for the nomination and did not become the Republican nominee. He could not receive a certificate of nomination as a Republican, anyway. And as he was not an aspirant for the Democratic nomination, but became the nominee of the Democratic party involuntarily, he could not be required to file an expense account as a Democratic candidate..."
- Press Democrat, October 26, 1910
A STANDPATTER AND HE IS PROUD OF ITDuncan E. McKinlay Clinging to His Fetich--the Discredited Standpatism
Editor Petaluma Courier: I take my typewriter in hand (both hands) to let you knox--(this machine doesn't seem to be a good speller) know we are having good weather, and also a number of other things. I assume you have cuts from the same brand of weather, also similar other things, as a difference of sixteen minutes of latitude between Petaluma and Santa Rosa cannon perceptibly vary their two barometer readings. Chief among the "other things" is the lively anticipation of employing a new man for the Second Congressional District's work in Washington for the next two years. Workman Duncan E. McKinlay during his terms of service there has done--oh, wel-l-l-l, "purty well;" but we fear he has failed to fit himself for and into the changes that have taken place around him. We don't accuse Mr. McKinlay of Ripvanwinkling our time away--he could not have been profoundly asleep while the momentous events were thundering by, especially when the Special Interests Overlords were loudly celebrating the passage of the Tariff Bill, and the heretofore fulminating Cannon was beginning to shrink in sound to a popgun and in size to the caliber of a derringer. It must be that Mr. McKinlay stood immutable in his dark little niche hugging his fetich of a pastday standpatism to his breast, and to him--pale devotee of a discredited faith--there came no conception of change. Whatever mighty spell was laid upon Mr. McKinlay, numbing his faculties and leaving him reactionary and dreaming, he has not awakened to a true appreciation of his place in the rear column of the world's great onward movement. In his speech here Saturday evening he burst out exultingly--"I'm a standpatter and proud of it." He certainly is still asleep and talking in it.
The standpatter as Mr. McKinlay views him and pictures him forth, also smacks of the somnolent, as Mr. McKinlay makes him beautiful as a dream. As the speaker described the 'patters and their marches and countermarches through the lobbies and chambers of the capitol during the last session of Congress, a puissant host of Trust defenders, one is reminded of the etheralized squadron of archangels in Dore's Paradise Lost. In his word delineation of an insurgent Mr. McKinlay does not continue closely along the Miltonic line and give us "a goblin damned," or "archangel ruined," but he throws on the canvas a composite creature of treachery, vindictiveness, and selfishness, shading down to ingratitude, presumptiousness and mole-blindness. Blending these elements will produce the standpatter's ideal insurgent, viz: "A fellow who won't agree with us, therefore, a fellow accursed."
He dates the birth of the insurgent. A new thing. Sprung full-armed with weapon of unholy warfare suddenly unto being when Mr. McKinlay, Mr. Aldrich, Mr. Payne and others were busy revising the tariff. Says: "Within the great Republican party thus grew the rebellion that would seek to destroy it." It is difficult to tell which is less accurate, McKinlay's conception of the standpatter or his version of an insurgent.
Duncan E. McKinlay's imagination needs repair. When the great corporate interests protected by the almost limitless power of their almost limitless wealth, and further protected by a protective tariff, banded themselves into trusts for the pirating and the plundering and the destroying of weaker competitors in the heretofore free fields of commerce, insurgency reappeared. That was not the day of its birth. It was born far down the centuries. The hut of the insurgent was always close to the tyrant's palace. Greece would lay aside her classics, leave her academies to insurge till again she was free...Insurgency is older than Mr. McKinlay.
Mr. Editor, this evening in Petaluma you will hear Mr. McKinlay make the peculiar statements he has been making over this Congressional District. He will read detached sentences from the published utterances of Mr. William Kent, his opponent, and from a false premise will argue to a conclusion utterly foreign to Kent's meaning. He will continue to say that Kent is a freetrader and is desirous of destroying the tariff, and this in the face of the fact that Kent is saying in his travels over the district, "I desire, as does President Taft, to put on the books a tariff law, that is gotten up for the welfare of the WHOLE NATION by DISINTERESTED and expert men."
Kent meant, NOT BY A BAND OF TARIFF TINKERS IN THE INTEREST OF SPECIAL INTERESTS. What's the matter with that? Kent is further saying: "I believe in a heavy tariff on luxuries, wines, liquors and tobacco, and I believe in a tariff that will put new industries on their feet, provided they can ultimately stand on their feet."
Mr. McKinlay says Kent is a dreamer. From the foregoing anybody may see that he dreams bully dreams. He also claims that Kent has not been in California long enough to change his shirt. Mr. Kent came to this state from his native Illinois in 1871, and was changing his shirt twelve years in California before Mr. McKinlay left his native Canada. He persists in giving an incorrect version of Mr. Kent's repeatedly expressed views on Single Tax, Conservation and "log rolling." He complains of Pinchot coming out to California to make speeches, forgetting how many weeks he himself was absent from his seat in the House of Representatives making speeches in Missouri and other states of the Middle West. He intimates that conservation is not vital in California just now as one-fourth of her forest area is conserved...Speaking in one of his House speeches (franked by mail to this state for campaign uses) of the economical and business methods practiced in the conduct of the postoffice delartment, he does not refer to the 1909 postal deficit of $17,500,000 nor to Wells-Fargo's net profit that year of $24,800,000 and to the fact that Uncle Sam pays the railroads three times as much rent for a car than does the express company...Mr. McKinlay bitterly complains of the withdrawal of public lands from entry by actual settlers, but he does not explain that this was a measure taken by the government (the Taft government) to block the wholesale grabbing of vast tracts of land by power-site, timber, coal, oil and other corporations through the usual fraudulent methods. He also complains of the government selling the timber in the National forests, but he does not explain that the purchasers generally are private mill owners and are in competition with the great Lumber Trust--and no Trust can abide competition, but surely Mr. McKinlay is not stumping his district for the Lumber Trust. His observations on State management of State Forests are wholly misleading, and do not arise to the merit of notice. Even the chipmunks in the California trees know that William Kent, the man who purchased and presented the notable Muir Woods to the people as theirs forever, will not advocate a measure that will not be for the true conservation of the forests and natural resources of this State....
...Mr. McKinlay points self-congratulatory to the many public buildings and other appropriations he had extracted from a reluctant national treasury. Certainly a servant, be he porter or president, may hope to receive and may receive the gratitude and even a gratuity over and above his regular remuneration, but he is hardly hustified in demanding either or both donations, or holding up to view the gifts from the United States Treasury to the Second Congressional District of California, as the direct result of his overtime labor in the service of said District. Where does a Congressman's duty absolute end and his volunteer work begin? But Mr. McKinlay's requisition for ultra-appreciation might be forgiven him if he had not stepped aside to sneer at a fellow citizen whose only offense is exercising the prerogative of seeking election to an office which is desired by Mr. McKinlay. He says Mr. Kent has "lily-white hands," consequently will not get postoffice buildings and such. Bill Kent's "lily-white hands" have been soiled in the honorable toil of turning rascals out of high places and turning those places to the possession of the people again. Mr. McKinlay is very unfortunate in his choice of terms. The cry of "party pork barrel" comes from a growing belief that a man in Washington may sidestep Duty and People and then ride home with a suitcase of appropriations--pork-and all will be well. Kent promises faithful service to this district, to the State, and to the Republic, but he is not making his fight on promises of "pork."
Mr. McKinlay's sins of omission committed while making speeches are many.
- Santa Rosa Republican, August 11, 1910
For a flagpole to merit its own postcard, it had better be a darn special flagpole. And the old pole at the Sonoma plaza - which in 1846 first flew the Bear Flag of the California Republic, then a few months later, the first U.S. flag over the new state - was such an important historical artifact that there were (at least) two postcards of it, one without even any kind of flag waving from the top. For more than sixty years after statehood, every Admission Day (September 9 - mark your calendar!) brought out a grizzled veteran of the Bear Flag Revolt to solemnly raise the stars and stripes once again up that venerated old stick.
Yes sir, the Bear Flag flagpole was really something special - until it fell over and everyone discovered it wasn't the fabled relic after all.
(RIGHT: 1907 postcard. Image courtesy Sonoma County Library)
The winds that blasted through the Sonoma Valley in the spring of 1910 caused enormous destruction, blowing down barns and tearing off roofs. But most lamented by the Press Democrat was the lost flagpole: "One feature of the damage done that is most regretted perhaps is the demolition of the old flag pole upon which the Bear Flag was raised, familiarly known as the 'Bear Flag Pole' so interesting to visitors." Then a few days later, a letter from William Boggs arrived on the desk of PD editor Finley.
William M. Boggs was one of the most memorable "pioneers" in Sonoma County, and not only because he seemed to know everyone significant in early California; Boggs also liked to write, particularly about historical errors. We met him earlier when he wrote to the Press Democrat and corrected mistaken ideas about the Petaluma Adobe. Now he was clearing up facts about the flagpole - and because he was William Boggs, it was natural that he was also a participant in the story.
The flagpole that fell down, Boggs wrote, was a replacement made by the Americans. The real "Bear Flag Pole" was smaller and stood about fifty feet away from the current location. Nor did anyone regard it as important at the time; "It was finally taken down and cast aside and some boys cut it up for fire wood," Boggs wrote.
Boggs stated the new pole was erected by George Stoneman, then a lieutenant, while Sonoma was still being used as a U.S. Army presidio. (Stoneman was posted to Sonoma 1849‑1851.) It was near Boggs' house where Stoneman's men dressed a redwood log to become the new flagpole, but that's not why Boggs remembered it so well.
It seems that one day while the log was still lying on blocks he went for a buggy ride with a lady. While they were returning to the plaza, he heard pounding hoofbeats; the soldiers who had been drilling outside of town had decided to race back to their barracks, and in the lead was Major General Philip Kearney holding the bridle reins in his iron hook, his left arm having been amputated during the War with Mexico. "His horse leaped a wide mud-hole in the middle of the street and passed me at a break-neck speed," Boggs wrote. The mule pulling his buggy panicked and Boggs lost control. It ran into the plaza with Boggs and his lady friend bouncing along behind. The mule headed for the log and jumped over it.
|The leap was a high one, carrying the buggy over the top of the big log, the step of the buggy plowing through the bark. The sudden shock broke the top off of the buggy and the lady went over the back of the seat into the top of the buggy.|
No one was hurt (surprisingly enough) and Boggs concluded, "...and that is why I remember the flag staff." Well, I should say so.
Boggs was a soldier during the Mexican-American War, so he wasn't around during the Bear Flag Revolt. But a participant in the uprising shared Boggs' interest in historical accuracy, and wrote the Press Democrat to clarify another disputed point: When was the Bear Flag actually raised?
It's well established that the key event was when the Bear Flaggers took prisoners of General Mariano Vallejo and other Mexican officers in Sonoma, and that indisputably happened June 14, 1846. But was the "California Republic" actually flying by the end of that day? Writing in his 1886 History of California series, Hubert Howe Bancroft thought it doubtful:
|The balance of testimony is therefore in a sense in favor of the 14th; but the evidence is very slight indeed; and it must be regarded as doubtful whether the insurgents had time on that Sunday afternoon to devise, manufacture, and hoist their new banner; especially if, as some say, the halyards were broken, so that the flag-staff in the plaza had to be lowered and raised again.|
The Americans were really, really interested in what was taking place over in Sonoma and the commander of the sloop of war "Portsmouth," anchored in Sausalito, sent a small party of soldiers to find out what was going on. The report written June 17 had the first mention of the flag: "The insurgent party has hoisted a flag with a white field, with a border or stripe of red on its lower part, and having a star and bear upon it." So we know the flag went up sometime between June 14-17.
(RIGHT: 1910 postcard. Image courtesy Sonoma County Library)
Bear Flagger Henry Beeson, however, wrote the PD to state the flag was indeed raised the first day. (His letter, transcribed below, only also appeared in a small regional magazine and may be of interest to genealogists and local historians.) Beeson died in 1914, making him the last survivor of the Bear Flag Party. He made his final public appearance in 1908, raising a facsimile of the Bear Flag from the facsimile flag pole, and yes, there was a postcard of the occasion.
The flagpole bonafides and flag-raising date are not the only bits of misinformation about the Bear Flag Revolt. Aside from the 1906 Santa Rosa earthquake, I have not explored another story where every book, article, and web page seems to have so many mistakes. (An accurate, but basic history of the Bear Flag Revolt can be found at the bearflagmuseum.org web site.) For example, the artist who painted the original flag, William L. Todd, is always mentioned as being a relative to Mary Todd (Mrs. Abraham) Lincoln, but he's identified as a nephew in some places and others as a cousin (he was a first cousin and her same age). In the semi-official "Story of the Bear Flag" written in 1911 when it was designated as the official state flag, our own hometown historian Tom Gregory went further and claimed Mr. Todd's middle name was "Lincoln," which would have shown his parents to be prescient - the future president was only nine years old when little William L. was born.
Gregory's entire account is enjoyable reading as long as you keep in mind that it is roughly equal parts well-known fact and humorous bullshit. While it's true later commentators said that Todd's original flag included a poor silhouette painting of a Grizzly Bear that more resembled a Brown Bear or a pig, Tom Gregory took that many steps further and made up comic dialog he placed during the event: "...the curious town-people who looked, laughed and said it was 'el porcino' and an English sailor present voiced in his natal vernacular that idea when he said that it was 'nothing so like a bloomin' red 'og.'"
Boggs also wrote in his letter to the Press Democrat that the original pole additionally served as a "whipping post for those who committed petty offenses," and thank the lord Tom Gregory didn't know about that detail; the mind reels to think of the lurid embellishments he could have added to the story.
BEAR FLAG POLE IS DEMOLISHED
Sonoma, May 16--A wind storm, more terrific than has ever been known in the history of this place, swept over the Sonoma Valley from seven o'clock Sunday night until noon today when it subsided, leaving in its path a big amount of damage.
Bear Flag Pole Demolished
One feature of the damage done that is most regretted perhaps is the demolition of the old flag pole upon which the Bear Flag was raised, familiarly known as the "Bear Flag Pole" so interesting to visitors.
- Press Democrat, May 17, 1910
PIONEER BOGGS WRITES OF OLD "BEAR FLAG POLE"Memorable Race In the Old Town of Sonoma
Editor Press Democrat--Will you please do me the favor by correcting a historical error that the press and even the citizens of the historic old town of Sonoma are making in perpetuating the old "Bear Flag Pole" on which the original Bear Flag was hoisted.
The flag staff with a cross tree that has stood at the northeast corner of the plaza in Sonoma, and reported as recently blown down, is not the original Bear Flag pole or Mexican Flag staff on which the Bear Flag party hoisted the original Bear Flag. The staff alluded to as having fallen down was built and erected by Lieutenant Stoneman, afterwards General Stoneman, and later Governor of California, was made from a large tree, and hauled from the redwoods in the Sonoma mountains. It was set up near the northeast corner of the plaza of Sonoma town and a moss tree, like a ship's mast, spliced to it to lengthen it out. The original tree before it was dressed off was mounted on blocks and being from two to three feet in diameter, with the bark on, was near my residence while being prepared by Lieutenant Stoneman's men, and when finished was raised and set in the ground about fifty feet from where the old Mexican pole or flag staff that the Bear Flag party utilized to hoist the Bear Flag. The latter described pole or original Mexican flag staff stood immediately in front of the quarters or barracks just the width of the street in front of the main entrance to the barracks, whereas the Stoneman flag staff was set up about fifty feet east or nearer the corner of the plaza. The old Bear Flag pole was made of a single small tree and only about from six to eight inches in diameter. It stood in its place for a number of years, and was used by the authorities of the town as a whipping post for those who committed petty offenses. It was finally taken down and cast aside and some boys cut it up for fire wood.
I have a good reason to remember the flag staff erected by Lieutenant Stoneman. While it was mounted on blocks or pins of small pieces of wood prior to being dressed off, and during the headquarters of the army at Sonoma, when Colonel Joe Hooker, Stoneman and many other officers of the regular army were stationed there, Major-General Phil Kearney was there as a guest of the staff of General Persiper Smith. He was better known as "One Armed" Phil Kearney, one of the bravest and best officers in the United States army. A daring and reckless rider, he lost his arm in charging at the gates of the City of Mexico. He wore an iron hook by which he held the reins of his steed. He had taken a company of Dragoons out west of town while at Sonoma, to put them through some cavalry drills, and after the exercise proposed to race back to the barracks. It happened that I was out in that direction with a lady in a single buggy, with a top, driving a fine, large American mule, and as I was returning toward the plaza I heard the rattle of the soldiers in their race back to the barracks, with General Kearney far in the lead. He passed me on his fiery black horse with his iron-hook arm holding the bridle reins and his saber in the other hand. His horse leaped a wide mud-hole in the middle of the street and passed me at a break-neck speed. My mule took fright at the approach of the company and the rattle of the sabers and ran into the plaza, and up the street in front of the barracks, where all the men left in the barracks had turned out to see the race between General Kearney and his men. They scared my mule, already frightened, so that I could not hold it and it left the street and leaped over this large tree that was mounted on blocks, two or three feet off the ground. The leap was a high one, carrying the buggy over the top of the big log, the step of the buggy plowing through the bark. The sudden shock broke the top off of the buggy and the lady went over the back of the seat into the top of the buggy. I ran the mule up against the adobe building nearest to me. The lady escaped unhurt and no damage was done to the buggy, except the bending of the iron step which caught in the bark of the undressed flag staff. The mule's leap over the top of the log must have been about five feet. And that is why I remember the flag staff that has stood so many years at the northeast corner of the Sonoma plaza, and erroneously called the "Old Bear Flag Pole."
My wife saw some boys cut up the original Bear Flag pole that had been taken down and thrown on the ground near where it had stood.
I resided in Sonoma about seventeen years, from 1846, and am quite familiar with the early settlement and occupation by our people of that historic old town, and I am sorry to see so many mistakes made in our press about the early events of our Golden State.
W. M. BOGGS
Napa, May 21, 1910.
- Press Democrat, May 21, 1910
PIONEER BENSON WRITES OF THE BEAR FLAG PARTY
Henry Beeson, an aged survivor of the famous "Bear Flag Party" at Sonoma, has written a short, but intensely interesting sketch of the events of that occasion with a few details of the incidents leading up to the "raising" for the Cloverdale Reveille which is well worth preserving. Mr. Beeson says:
"I wish to correct some erroneous impressions that have been made by some journals and other publications regarding the raising of the "Bear Flag" in old Sonoma, on June 14th, 1846, the month and day being anniversary of the adoption of the American flag by the Continental Congress in 1777. Standard historians have not agreed as to the exact date of that occurrence, one placing it as June 12, and another June 15, but I can clearly recollect the day as being Sunday, June 14. The publications referred to were of the last celebration of Admission Day, September 9, at Santa Rosa. It had been long and universally known that I happened to be one of that once famous party of thirty three who raised the "Bear Flag" and I am now the sole survivor.
"The latter incident was omitted in the celebration proceeding of those publications referred to. We selected Ezekial Merritt, one of the oldest of the party as our captain, and our acquaintance with each other, one and all, became lasting. I have attended many celebrations of Admission Day in Sonoma and several of them in company with two of my life-long friends, the late Ben Duell and Harvey Porterfield, then survivors of the flag-raising, but now long since dead. The last I attended was in 1908. when I raised the facsimile of the flag we first flung to the breeze on June 14, 1846, the original having been destroyed by the earthquake and fire of San Francisco in 1906. I have preserved as a valued souvenir, a likeness of the last three survivors of the party, together with a list of names of entire thirty-three.
"Another esteemed and old time friend, Jas. McChristian, was one of Fremont's famous battalion that entered the town of Sonoma next day to that of raising the flag. Mr. McChristian and I had been in close touch with each other during a trip of six months, having in 1845 crossed the plains together in the train of about 100 wagons from Indian Nation to what is now Sacramento, when it fell to my lot to drive an ox team all the way, about 3000 miles, and to travel most of that distance afoot.
"Next year to the close of the Mexican war in 1848 our family circle, consisting of the Anderson and Beeson families, emigrated to Lake county, where we remained until a threatened uprising of the local Indians there, and the death of Andy Kelsey at their hands when we took our hurried departure and journey by slow stages via Cloverdale, until we reached the site of Boonville, in good old Anderson Valley on May 3, 1852. I am now of the age of 82, making my house with my daughter, Mrs. H. Newton Ornbaun of Ornbaun Valley, Anderson township, Mendocino county, surrounded by loving children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. My mother Mrs. Walter Anderson, who was the first white person who died in Anderson Valley from natural causes."
- Press Democrat, November 4, 1911
Murder was almost unheard of in early 20th century Santa Rosa and West County, but in the late summer of 1910 there were two that happened within weeks. And because both killers were Japanese men, the coverage of the deeds in the Santa Rosa newspapers give us a snapshot of media attitudes on race.
Events began with the July murder of Enoch Kendall, his wife and adult son at the Lion's Head Ranch near Cazadero. Their bodies had been dismembered and parts burned in the cookstove, with their remains of charred bones and ashes piled in the yard. The body of Mrs. Kendall, sans head and both legs, was found in the woods. The Press Democrat's headline proclaimed it the "Most Atrocious Crime in History of Sonoma County."
(RIGHT: Kendalls and Yamaguchi, illustration from the Oakland Tribune, August 5, 1910
Suspicion immediately fell on Henry Yamaguchi, a young Japanese laborer who knew the owner of the ranch. The Kendalls were leasing the property from Mrs. Margaret Starbuck of Oakland, who had been trying to evict them for some time; she had filed four lawsuits against the family in Sonoma County, accusing them of stealing and selling some of her cattle. Yamaguchi, who had previously performed a few odd jobs for Mrs. Starbuck at the ranch and at her Oakland home, now worked at the Cazadero Hotel and volunteered to keep an eye on the Kendalls for her.
When the bodies were found the police contacted Mrs. Starbuck. She told them that Yamaguchi had appeared at her Oakland residence unexpectedly around the day of the murders. He appeared to have been beaten up and told her that the younger Kendall had shot at him. He had fought "all three of them," according to Mrs. Starbuck, and he told her, "I do 'em all up; I put 'em away. They no bother you no more." She was alarmed by his remarks, but as the murders had not yet been discovered, Yamaguchi was allowed to leave.
But once the crime was revealed, Yamaguchi could not be found. The local Japanese association immediately called a meeting in Santa Rosa and vowed to help search for him statewide, even raising money for a reward.
At the inquest Mrs. Starbuck told a more incriminating story, with Yamaguchi yelling, "I shot him! I shot him! I shot him!" before saying, "I kill myself; I must kill myself." The coroner's jury charged Yamaguchi with murder.
Exactly a month after Yamaguchi's indictment, the second killing happened in Sebastopol. During the performance of a Japanese play by a touring company in Lincoln Hall (McKinley Street, near the movie theater) Y. Yasuda shot another a man twice from the back. He was immediately arrested, as was another Japanese man who took money from the dead man's pockets. Yasuda says he acted in self defense and was held over for trial.
Meanwhile, the Sonoma County Grand Jury was investigating the Kendall murder case. Testimony was raising questions about the truthfulness of Mrs. Starbuck. At the earlier inquest she had already contradicted her original story that Yamaguchi appeared to have been beaten; she told the coroner he did not appear to have any injuries aside from a possible bruise on a cheek. It also came out at the inquest that she was the only person who heard Yamaguchi's confession. Mr. Starbuck testified he came home later and found his wife quite agitated and Yamaguichi sobbing that he would kill himself. The husband said he considered the story "too preposterous" to believe and "if Yamaguichi had fought all three of the Kendalls he could not have hurt them much." As Yamaguichi was just five feet three and weighed 120 pounds, the crime would have been quite the job for him, what with all the butchery required.
Witnesses told the Grand Jury she remained determine to evict the Kendalls despite losing the four lawsuits against them. She instructed a man named Cox to find her a new tenant. Cox asked how she would get the Kendalls to leave, she allegedly told him, "there are more ways than one to get them off." She also tried to sell the ranch, which she had denied in earlier testimony:
W. B. Quigley flatly contradicted Mrs. Starbuck regarding the proposed sale or transfer of the ranch to Japanese for colonization or other purposes. He testified that he had about completed negotiations for the sale of the ranch when a hitch occurred and the deal was declared off. Mrs. Starbuck later denied any such deal as that first above mentioned, had ever been contemplated.
While none of this incriminated Mrs. Starbuck in an actual crime, it certainly called into question her other testimony. At the end of the story the Press Democrat commented, "It is declared by those who know that there was sufficient shifting of both the testimony of Mrs. Starbuck and her husband to have considerable effect if the case ever comes to trial. There are those who believe she is still keeping secret more than she is telling in the case."
Yamaguchi was indicted by the Grand Jury, despite the only thread of evidence against him being an alleged confession to a woman who apparently had a deep and irrational hatred for the Kendalls. Let me repeat that: A man was indicted for murder only on the word of a person who wanted the victims out of her hair. Such an outrageous abuse of justice makes it impossible to imagine racism was not a major factor in the Grand Jury's indictment.
But the topic here is media racism: Did the 1910 and 1911 newspapers report this story - and the one about the Sebastopol murder - with prejudice? The answer is mixed.
Cheer that the racial slur "little brown men" didn't once appear in either paper, although both used it the year before in almost every story about local Japanese. In 1910, "Jap" and "Nipponese" were as nasty as the name-calling got. Not that there wasn't racist news reported that year; there was also a lecture on Japanese exclusion in Santa Rosa, ending with a resolution calling for boycotts against Japanese labor and businesses as well as anyone else who engaged with anyone Japanese.
The downside was that the papers made the two Japanese men into cardboard villains. Readers learned nothing about Yamaguchi, although the police description mentioned he was a member of a Methodist Church in Oakland and "was well known in Fruitvale." The Press Democrat ran at least a dozen stories on the Kendall murders, several with front page headlines; couldn't they have spared a reporter for an afternoon to interview people who knew him best? For the Yasuda shooting, we never learned about a motive, aside from hints such as, "the trouble that led to the shooting grew out of some gambling deals."
There was no interest in reporting on the trial proceedings of a Japanese-upon-Japanese crime, so coverage of the Sebastopol killing instead relentlessly focused on any white people involved in the story, particularly Frank Harrington, the ticket taker at Lincoln Hall and only non-Japanese person in attendance. Harrington disarmed Yasuda after the incident; according to the Santa Rosa Republican, it was an act of heroism straight from a dime novel:
Mr. Harrison the doorkeeper of the theater, showed remarkable coolness and presence of mind in the turbulent scenes which followed. As the Jap with the smoking pistol came toward him at the door he struck the man in the face, grasped the pistol from him and held him there until he was taken into custody. Had the Japanese escaped from the theater and mingled in the crowd, it would have given the officers difficulty to apprehend him.
Note the soft racism that officers would not be able to identify Yasuda if he was in a crowd of other Japanese. (Note also that the Republican was too busy turning the incident into a ripping yarn to spell the Harrington's name correctly.) When the trial was held coverage in both papers was perfunctory, the main point of interest being that the Japanese translator was a white man. "The way he handled the questions and answers was a revelation to those in the courts who had rarely heard a Caucasian speak the language."
Both stories had unsatisfying endings.
Yasuda was found not guilty by the jury, which must have come as a shock to Santa Rosans, as there had been no mention of evidence showing he could have acted in self defense.
Yamaguchi's picture appeared prominently in newspapers in Santa Rosa and San Francisco and elsewhere, and a $1,000 reward was offered - half from the Governor and half from William Randolph Hearst's Examiner. Despite false sightings in Oakland, Vacaville and a train bound for Mexico, he was never found.
Mrs. Starbuck and her husband divorced not long after the Kendall murders. History has come to judge her harshly; mentions of the incident found on the Internet today claim she was "implicated" in the crime, and sometimes it's claimed that she sent Yamaguchi to the Kendalls with orders to "give 'em hell." Neither were true.
WOULD EXCLUDE THE JAPANESE
At the meeting held in Trembley hall on Sunday night at which an address was delivered on Japanese exclusion, the following resolutions were adopted:
"Whereas, The petitions of the people of California and other Pacific Coast states demanding relief from Japanese and other Asiatic immigration are unheeded and ignored by Congress, and
"Whereas, the situation is growing more grave and inimical to the welfare of the white race, be it
Resolved, That a boycott be instituted against Japanese and other Asiatics.
1. A boycott against all articles grown or manufactured by Japanese
2. A boycott against all Japanese engaged in business of any kind
3. A boycott against all white persons engaged in business, manufacture or agriculture who employ or patronize Japanese
4. A political boycott irrespective of party against all candidates who employ or patronize Japanese, or who hold stock in any corporation employing Japanese, or who are not avowedly and openly opposed to further Japanese immigration.
"It is further resolved to enforce and encourage said boycott by every legitimate and legal means to the end that coolie or servile labor may no longer menace the free institutions of this republic.
- Press Democrat, February 8, 1910
MURDER DONE AS PLAY PROCEEDSJapanese Slain by Fellow Countryman in Lincoln Hall at Sebastopol Sunday Night
From comedy to tragedy the scene was quickly changed in Lincoln hall at Sebastopol on Sunday night. Mimicry suddenly gave way to realism and real murder was done before the eyes of 250 persons, who, at the time were in the hall witnessing a production by a Japanese theatrical company, the play was one of the features of entertainment the Japanese had arranged. The actors were before the footlights and the Nipponese were applauding their offerings of mirth when all of a sudden and without warning, a pistol shot rang out, followed in quick succession by others. Instantly there was wild confusion, and a babel of tongues. Chairs were upset and men and women scrambled to nearby cover. As described by Frank Harrington, who chanced to be the only spectator at the play and the subsequent slaying, it was certainly a time of terror for the Japanese. When the smoke cleared away Hisayama lay dead upon the floor, shot through the heart and chest. His assailant, Yasuda, still held the smoking weapon threateningly.
Harrington took in the situation in an instant. He rushed to the side of the slayer and grabbed the hand that held the gun. A struggle ensued but Harrington wrenched the revolver from Yasuda and turned the weapon upon him, subduing any further onslaught upon anyone, and then kept the crowd at bay while he placed the murderer under arrest.
City Marshall Fisher Arrives
Yasuda was jailed by City Marshal Fisher and a message telling of the killing was sent to District Attorney Clarence Lea. That official jumped from his bed, rang up Court Reporter Harry Scott, and in a very short time they were starting for Sebastopol in an automobile, stopping to pick up Deputy Sheriff Donald McIntosh. At Sebastopol the District Attorney took a number of statements and Deputy Sheriff McIntosh took another Jap into custody on suspicion that he might have taken some coin from Hisayama's pocket after the latter had been killed. The officials returned to this city at an early hour on Monday morning. District Attorney Lea, Sheriff Smith and Court Reporter Scott returned again to Sebastopol later in the morning and secured additional details. Coroner Blackburn was also notified.
Said to Be Gambler
The dead Japanese is said to have been a gambler and that the trouble that led to the shooting grew out of some gambling deals. Yasuda says he acted in self defense.
Coroner Blackburn will hold an inquest at Sebastopol this evening at seven o'clock.
- Press Democrat, September 27, 1910
JAP MURDERED AT SEBASTOPOLGambling Quarrel Between Japs Result in Death
Hisayame, A Santa Rosa Japanese, was murdered in the Japanese theater at Sebastopol Sunday evening by Y. Yasede, a Japanese from Asti. The murder was committed about 11 o'clock and was the result of an old gambling quarrel the two had had. The murderer was caught immediately after taking the life of his countryman. Frank Harrington, the ticket taker at the Japanese theater, apprehending him. Yasede was held in the city jail at Sebastopol over Sunday night.
Coroner Frank L. Blackburn came over from Monte Rio Monday morning...
...The murdered man was shot twice from the rear, and either of the wounds wound have been sufficient to have produced death. One of the bullets entered the man's back near the spinal column and came out near the nipple of the left breast, evidently having passed through the heart. The other shot entered back of the right ear and came out at the right side of the man's nose. He dropped in his tracks and expired instantly.
Mr. Harrison the doorkeeper of the theater, showed remarkable coolness and presence of mind in the turbulent scenes which followed. As the Jap with the smoking pistol came toward him at the door he struck the man in the face, grasped the pistol from him and held him there until he was taken into custody. Had the Japanese escaped from the theater and mingled in the crowd, it would have given the officers difficulty to apprehend him.
Coroner Frank L. Blackburn was over at Sebastopol Monday and looking over the matter...
- Santa Rosa Republican, September 27, 1910
JAPANESE IS HELD FOR THE MURDER OF COUNTRYMAN
The Coroner's jury at Sebastopol last night formally charged Y. Yasuda with the murder of Y. Hisayama in Lincoln hall in that town last Sunday night during the performance of a Japanese play. He is in jail here to await the holding of the preliminary examination.
Several witnesses were called at the inquest held by Coroner Frank L. Blackburn...The testimony was sufficient to warrant the formal charge of murder in the minds of the jurymen, and they did not hesitate in returning a verdict.
Medical evidence given showed that Hisayama's death must have been instantaneous. One bullet severed the jugular vein and the other passed through the heart. The location of the shots indicated the deadly and murderous aim of the accused.
One of the principal witnesses was Frank Harrington, the only white man present at the Japanese play at which the murder was committed and whose evidence is very material. Mr. Harrington grabbed the pistol from Yasuda's hands after the shooting to prevent further trouble.
Another Japanese has been arrested. He was arrested for having removed coin from the dead Japanese's pockets. He was a close friend of the murdered man, and half of the money he took belonged to him, so he says.
- Press Democrat, September 28, 1910
TESTIMONY IN JAPANESE MURDER TRIAL BEGUN
At the trial of Y. Yasuda before Judge Emmet Seawell on Wednesday afternoon, F. W. Harrington and J. F. Ames were the witnesses examined. Yasuda is charged with the murder of O. Hisayama in Sebastopol.
Harrington is the man who wrested the revolver from Yasuda after he had killed Hisayama, and as he was trying to escape from Lincoln hall, where the murder was committed during the presentation of a Japanese drama. Harrington told the jury of the events prior to and at the time of the killing so far as they lay in his knowledge. Mr. Ames' testimony was along similar lines.
At the morning session Thursday Ed F. O'Leary testified to the bullet holes in the clothing of the deceased, and the clothes were introduced in evidence and inspected by the jury.
Dr. J. E. Maddux gave the jury information relative to the course pursued by the bullet that had entered the body of Hisayama.
Fred R. Mathews told the court and jury of the arrest of the defendant, and of his detention awaiting trial.
G. Oka and F. Morseiya, Japanese, were witnesses also. They gave their testimony through an official interpreter.
At the afternoon session of the murder trial, the proceedings were quite brief. Y. Maruyama testified for the defendant, and another witness was recalled for further examination.
Attorney George W. Hoyle made the opening address for the prosecution and was followed by Attorney Thomas J. Butts. The closing argument was made by Attorney Hoyle.
Charles H. Gaffney, official interpreter of the Japanese language in the San Francisco courts, was the interpreter at the trial. The way he handled the questions and answers was a revelation to those in the courts who had rarely heard a Caucasian speak the language.
- Santa Rosa Republican, March 23, 1911
JURY ACQUITS A JAPANESE QUICKLYY. Yasuda, Charged With Murder of O. Hisayama in Sebastopol, is Found Not Guilty
Y. Yasuda, the Japanese charged with the murder of O. Hisayama, in Lincoln Hall, Sebastopol, last fall, during the Oriental theatrical performance, was acquitted Thursday evening by a jury after less than half an Hour's deliberation.
The taking of testimony was completed shortly after the opening of the afternoon session. Assistant District Attorney G. W. Hoyle, who conducted the prosecution argued the case, reviewing the points of the trial as they had been brought out in the testimony and asked for a conviction.
Attorney T. J. Butts, who represented the defendant, made a strong plea for an acquittal, on the ground of self-defense, after which Hoyle closed the case and it was submitted to the jury. On the first ballot the jury stood 11 to 1 for acquittal, and after a few minutes argument and explanation, the one went over and the next ballot was unanimous for acquittal.
The verdict came as a complete surprise to some, while others who had watched the case expected no other action. Yasuda left the courtroom with his countrymen after he had shook hands and thanked each of the jurors.
- Press Democrat, March 24, 1911
Here are the 1910-1911 updates on what happened to some of the more interesting characters we've met in prior years:
| TENNESSEE BILL Of all the drunken hobos who passed through Santa Rosa around the turn of the century, "Tennessee Bill" was clearly the Press Democrat's favorite. He always announced his arrival in town with a window-rattling yell from the courthouse steps and ended his visit with a night or three in jail, where he would sometimes tear off his clothes and set them on fire, all the better for the city to provide him with a new set of duds. |
His real name was Charles Cornelius Tennessee Goforth - apparently he felt the extra syllable in "Tennessee Charlie" was more work than it was worth - and other newspaper editors also thought of him as their pet hobo, so it's not too hard to track his doings over the years. He boasted of having been in every jail in California and claimed he became a vagabond after his mother died, or maybe it was his wife. He sometimes said he had rich relations and was a nephew of famed statesman and politician Walter Q. Gresham, but although his mother was a Grisham she had to be a relation far many times removed, according to family trees.
In truth, he was born in February, 1840 to a Tennessee farmer, one of at least seven children. He first entered the record books in the federal census a decade later under the name, "Tennessee." Ten years after then the census-takers found him as a blacksmith in Bodega, which at the time could have been anywhere between modern Sebastopol and the coast. In 1863 he registered for the draft as a farmer in Bloomfield.
Between the ages of about 25 to 50, he appears to have been a solid citizen. He registered to vote in 1867 as a farmer in San Jose and years later, a man in Ukiah claimed to have known him shortly after the Civil War when he was "a well-to-do and highly respected citizen of San Jose...[and] the husband of an estimable young lady," so maybe there was some truth to the tragic tale he told. Certainly his fortunes turned; we find him next as a laborer in Fresno (1881) and Bakersfield (1890). Apparently sometime along there he was reborn as Tennessee Bill.
The first Tennessee Bill sighting comes from the Sacramento Daily Record Union in 1891, and finds Mr. Goforth already in full flower, infamous for shouting and claiming to have been in every jail. A correspondent from Ventura County wrote:
For the next twenty years, Tennessee Bill pops up everywhere in California. He's said to be making his 43rd tour of the state in 1898, the same year he's in Salinas shouting "Hooray for Admiral Dewey!" to celebrate the Spanish-American War. It was widely reported he died in 1897 and was buried in the Marysville potter's field; shortly thereafter a reporter almost collapsed in shock to find him sitting in an Oakland jail cell. The 1900 census captured him, like a beetle trapped in ambergris, at age sixty in Cloverdale. His job was listed as a day laborer.
Tennessee Bill's last recorded visit to Santa Rosa was in 1910, when the PD reported, "He has got somewhat feeble of late. Wednesday he was very quiet during his stay in town." Still he kept moving: A year later, he was in Ukiah: "Yesterday was bath day for the renowned Charles Cornelius Tennessee Goforth. Tennessee Bill takes a bath every time he has to and after considerable compulsion yesterday was induced to enter the tub and perform the ceremony according to the rules governing such affairs at the Byrnes hotel" (Byrnes was Mendocino County's sheriff).
He finally died January 31, 1912, and a sort-of obituary appeared in the Woodland newspaper: "...nobody who has ever seen him or heard his foghorn voice will forget him. He died a few days ago in the Santa Cruz hospital at the age of 76 [sic]. The wonder of it all is, that, leading such a vagabond life, he did not die many years ago."
He was buried as "Chas. C.T. Goforth" in the Evergreen Cemetery, Santa Cruz.
| "RAMMI" Aside from Tennessee Bill, the only person to earn a nickname from the Press Democrat in this era was Italio Ramacciotti, a traveling salesman better known as "Rammi." The PD loved to quote his tall tales, and in the 1910 item below it's reported that he had received his nomination for the office of "Inspector of Lonesome Places."|
"My duties," he told the paper, "will be to inspect all lonesome places. I shall put up my cards in places where people cannot see them and they will be lonesome, too."
This was Rammi's last visit to Santa Rosa; he died in 1911. On this occasion he was here to liquidate the stock of pianos at a music store on B Street.
| JAKE LUPPOLD
You can bet that no one else in the history of Santa Rosa ever had a "15 minutes of fame" experience that outmatched Jake Luppold's roller coaster ride of 1908. That autumn Luppold, an affable saloon owner who called himself "the mayor of Main street," announced his automobile was cursed and he was planning to set it on fire. As cars were still somewhat a novelty and out of the price range of most people, it caused a nationwide commotion. People wrote to him begging him to donate it to charity or sell it them, denouncing him as a superstitious fool, and asking for his hand in marriage. It's a riotous story told here earlier in "Bonfire of the Hoodoos."|
But only a few months afterwards, Luppold announced he was turning "The Senate" over to his longtime employee. "Mr. Luppold has not been in good health for some time past," reported the Republican paper, and was planning to rest up at Boyes' Hot Springs and travel. Then shortly before Thanksgiving, it was learned he had ended his retirement and purchased a saloon just outside of Santa Rosa at Gwinn's Corners. (According to the 1900 county map, it appears Gwinn's Corners was the modern-day intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Ursuline Road.)
It seemed like gregarious ol' Jake was back in his harness. In 1910 he threw two "bull's head dinners" and around five hundred people attended each. This was quite a big deal; these types of banquets were a great deal of work and never open to the public - usually they were held for members of men's lodges or political parties. He certainly would have engendered great good will among the Santa Rosa citizenry for these swell shindigs.
Then in 1911...nothing. If any mention of Mr. Luppold appeared in either local paper, it was small and easy to overlook. Without giving away too much, we know Luppold again sets up shop in Santa Rosa a couple of years later, giving him a third (fourth?) act in the local drama. But what happened in 1911? Was he away or sick? Even then, there should have been some word of his doings in the social columns.
SO WHAT'S A BULL'S HEAD DINNER? A hundred and more years ago, the Santa Rosa papers would regularly announce a group was planning a "bull's head dinner." But aside from an occasional mention that barbecue was served, there was never a description of the food. It was never clear: Was "bull's head" a little joke that the diners were bullheaded men, or did it mean they were literally eating the head of a cow? It was the latter, as it turns out (but that doesn't mean the former wasn't true as well).
This was a traditional Mexican dish known as barbacoa de cabeza - be forewarned that if you Google for "barbacoa de cabeza" you'll encounter some images not for the squeamish - which requires wrapping the entire head in something and baking it over low heat. It's still popular on Tex-Mex menus, but the modern method of cooking differs greatly from the traditional way it was prepared here a hundred years ago.
Today the objective is to mainly cook in place the fist-sized hunks of meat from the cheeks from a completely cleaned head: horns, eyeballs, brains, skin, tongue, ears and lips are usually removed by the butcher. The head is wrapped in banana leaves or softened cactus, even simple aluminum foil before it is baked in a regular kitchen oven or over coals in an outdoor barbacoa y horno (brick and clay oven).
The traditional version was a fiesta dish from the days of the Californios that involved baking the head in a pit barbecue lined with maguey (century plant) leaves. Little, if anything, was removed from the head aside from the horns - even the skin, complete with hair, was left on. The heads were packed in clay before being placed on the coals and buried for up to 24 hours. The skin would have been pulled off with the clay before serving.
Our modern barbacoa is more Tex than Mex; beef cheek is a lean gourmet meat, similar to brisket. The rest of the edible parts of a cow's head, however, is cartilage and offal, and norteamericanos don't particularly like eating organ meat or textures that might seem "gristly" or "greasy." The old method of cooking would have left a large variety of lean and fatty bits and the result was said to be extremely flavorful. A miner during the Gold Rush described it as " ...the finest thing that mortal [sic] ever put between his teeth...its sweetness can only be dimly guessed at by people who have never eaten it."
| HORACE ROBINSON
One of the great con men to visit Santa Rosa in the early 20th century was Horace Greeley Robinson, who claimed to be a representative of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company and spent four days here in 1908, lecturing to packed audiences about the futuristic world where telegraph messages soon would zip through the air, sans wires. He sold shares in company stock to several locals at $20 a pop. One did a little followup sleuthing and found the stock was phony. He managed to have Robinson arrested and had his money returned; few, if any of the other |
The Press Democrat ran a 1910 update (transcribed below) that recapped the story with the added detail that despite his lengthy list of pending charges, New York police in 1909 had released him from custody (!) and he promptly disappeared, not to be recaptured for almost a year. That was certainly newsworthy, but the PD overlooked the far bigger story - that federal prosecutors had figured out that Robinson was just a salesman and frontman for the infamous Munroe brothers.
Five years earlier, George and Alexander Munroe had been caught running a "stock washing" scheme. They had made an arrangement with a junior officer at a bank so they could borrow $60,000 in the morning and return the $60k to the bank before closing, with no one the wiser. They used that interest-free money to create a complicated scam where they ultimately bought millions of shares of a particular mining stock at a steep discount, then sold it "on the curb" (meaning literally on the street in front of the stock brokerage) at two or three times their purchase price. The brothers were living like Gilded Age tycoons when the bubble collapsed on them in 1904, forcing their company, Munroe & Munroe, into bankruptcy.
Widespread newspaper coverage of their doings followed. The illustration at right was part of a 1905 wire service story that appeared in many mid-sized papers, and mentioned they had a side business peddling stock in the Marconi Wireless Telegraphy company. No one apparently realized at the time that this was another scam.
With Robinson as their loquacious traveling lecturer and nominal partner, the Munroe brothers made another fortune selling phony Marconi stock. But this time, regulators were somewhat paying attention and they found themselves under investigation for mail fraud in 1907. The brothers fled to their homeland of Canada; Munroe & Munroe suddenly closed and was immediately replaced at the same 80 Wall St. address by Robinson & Robinson (the other Robinson was Horace's dad, Louis, later arrested on the lesser charge of aiding and abetting grand larceny).
The most culpable brother, George, was arrested and brought to trial in the U.S. in 1911. He was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison, but not for cheating people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Marconi stock scam. He was convicted on charges that he and his brother, now going under the name of Hill, were selling stock in New York for the "United Shoe Shining Company" - they were actually convincing people to give them money because they promised they would soon have a monopoly on shoeshine stands. Their business would succeed, they told investors, because each stand would have a "manicure girl" available.
| S. T. DAKEN
There was considerable buzz in 1909 when a landscape painter announced plans to build an art school in Santa Rosa; the proposed building was even featured in the "Illustrated Portfolio of Santa Rosa and Vicinity," a book put together by the Chamber of Commerce and the Press Democrat to promote the town. Alas, nothing came of it, but the papers didn't seem to hold a grudge against Samuel Tilden Daken for having big dreams. Three articles about his paintings appeared in 1910 and 1911, but these were his last years in Santa Rosa; by 1912 he was |
"TENNESSEE BILL" FAR FROM DEAD, HE SAYS
"Why Bill, everybody thought you were dead and buried long ago."
The Bill addressed was none other than William Cornelius Tennessee Goforth, known to all the peace officers and thousands of people by the familiar name of "Tennessee Bill." He never fails to get a writeup in all the towns through which he passes, and is about as notorious in his meanderings and experiences as the notorious tramp "A No.-1." On and off Bill has been coming to Santa Rosa for a score of years. He has seen the inside of both the city and county jails. He formerly introduced himself to the town by emitting some heart rending shrieks, especially when he had previously intercepted Mr. John Barleycorn. He has got somewhat feeble of late. Wednesday he was very quiet during his stay in town, and left on the evening train for Ukiah, at least he said he was going there.
- Press Democrat, June 2, 1910
"RAMMI" BOUND TO RUN FOR SOMETHING
ttalio Francesco Ramacciotti, the well known piano man, who is closing out the Baldwin piano stock in this city, is a great politician and feels that he must be up and doing something for his country. Yesterday he says he received his nomination for the office of "Inspector of Lonesome Places." Directly upon the arrival of the notification he immediately called at the Press Democrat office to leave an order for cards.
"My duties," said "Rammi," with a chest expansion that was remarkable, "will be to inspect all lonesome places. I shall put up my cards in places where people cannot see them and they will be lonesome, too."
- Press Democrat, September 21, 1910
GREAT CROWDS AT THE LUPPOLD BARBECUE
It is estimated that between four and five hundred persons enjoyed the barbecue given at Gwinn's Corners on Sunday by J. J. Luppold. The meat was done to a turn and pronounced by many of those present as the finest barbecued meat they have ever eaten. Chef George Zuhart was in charge and he was much complimented. He was assisted by Assistant Chef Marble, Walter Farley, Marvin Robinson and J. Kelly. As usual "Mayor" Luppold's hospitality was dispensed with a liberal hand. The feasting began about 11:30 o'clock in the morning and continued until nearly 6 o'clock in the evening, people arriving and departing all the time. The barbecue was served on long tables under the shade trees.
- Press Democrat, June 14, 1910
LUPPOLD GIVES AN ELEGANT SPREAD
Jake Luppold again demonstrated on Sunday that he is a price of entertainers. At his resort at Gwinn's Corners he spread a feast of more than the usual excellence for his friends, the "natives." It was a bull's head dinner, and proved one of the most attractive feasts that have ever been given in this vicinity.
Hundreds from Santa Rosa went out to the spread, making the trip by vehicles of all sorts, automobiles, motor cycles and bicycles. They were extended the utmost hospitality by Mr. Luppold, and bidden to partake of the excellent dinner which he had prepared. Chef Phil Varner had carte blanc orders from Mr. Luppold to give the "natives" the best that could be procured, and the chef exerted himself to carry out these orders and please those who came to partake of the viands.
The menu was one that would tickle the palate of the most exacting and would compare favorably with the dinners of the best hotels of the metropolis. With an abundance of good things to eat and drink, the assemblage at Luppold's had a happy time.
- Santa Rosa Republican, September 19, 1910
"WIRELESS" MAN AGAIN IN TROUBLEHorace Robinson, First Arrested in Santa Rosa on Complaint of J. S. Rhodes, Once More in Captivity
Horace G. Robinson, said to be the king of swindlers, who is alleged to have operated extensively in San Francisco and San Jose, is again in jail in New York, having been arrested there yesterday as a fugitive from this state. A number of Santa Rosans remember this man and his "wireless" very well.
In two years Robinson has seen the interior of many jails on this continent and in Europe. Somehow he has always managed to regain the fresh air and after his last escape a world-wide search was instituted, resulting yesterday in his apprehension in New York.
Robinson's specialty, according to complaints filed against him, is dealing in spurious wireless Marconi stock. He took advantage of the growing importance of the wireless telegraph and it is alleged before detection left a trail of spurious wireless stock extending from coast to coast and over Europe.
He first got into trouble in California with J. S. Rhodes of Santa Rosa, who caused Robinson's arrest and detention in the St. Francis Hotel. About the same time J. L. Glenn sued the promoter for $50,000, alleging that he had alienated the affections of Glenn's wife.
In Santa Rosa it will be remembered Robinson got clear by the skin of his teeth. Rhodes not desiring to prosecute him after he had refunded the money.
Shortly after he was taken to Santa Rosa H. S. Beck of San Jose discovered that Robinson had sold him stock in a wireless telegraph corporation that existed only on paper. The Santa Clara grand jury indicted Robinson. He was arrested in New York July 31, 1909, but pending extradition proceedings was released. He did not return to New York.
Long before his arrest out here Robinson had been in trouble in New York several times. On April 30, 1905, he was arrested in New York after he had attempted to hide in a heap of discarded clothing. Little was heard of him until September, 1908, when he disappeared from Paris.
He cut a wide swath in the French capital. He was known as a man of vast fortune and on the oaken door of his richly furnished apartment hung the brass sign, "Banker, Foreign Securities, Marconi Wireless." He was continually being arrested on charges similar to those filed against him by H. S. Beck of San Jose. The charge has generally been that of obtaining money under false pretenses.
Robinson is said to be the son of a minister. His manner is suave and his hospitality unstinted. He made friends quickly and easily gained confidences.
- Press Democrat, August 25, 1910
DAKEN RETURNS FROM TRIP TO PAINT MINE
S. T. Daken, the artist, has returned from San Diego, where he visited the Premier Investment paint mine. Says Mr. Daken:
"The Premier Investor paint mine is much greater than I expected to see. The work that is done on the mine consists of three cross-cuts on the ledge. There is one cross-out on the claim known as the White Hawk. This cross-cut os very high on the ledge, and was not started from the foot wall, but is run to the hanging wall. This shows up 75 feet of paint ore of several different colors with no waste...
"...Quantity and quality are there. This mine only lacks 80 feet of being one mile long, so I guess that is quantity. This paint ore can be mined for a very small cost, not to exceed 25 cents per ton; the milling is very simple and not expensive. There are a large number of colors which are lime proof which will drive the troubles away from the tinter and frescoer. There has been no end to this trouble of colors burning out, especially in new plastered buildings. I have had seven years experience in the frescoe business and know what these troubles are."
- Press Democrat, October 19, 1910
S. T. DAKEN HAS RETURNEDBrings Back Beautiful Views of Lake Tahoe
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel T. Daken and family returned Tuesday evening from Lake Tahoe where they spent the summer. They have been gone over three months and while away Mr. Daken has combined business with pleasure, and has brought back with him many beautiful views of Lake Tahoe and the various other lakes and scenes about this famous summer resort.
In Mr. Daken's collection of paintings are Donner, Webber, Watson, Cascade and Fallen Leaf lakes, Emerald Bay, Truckee river, Lofty Peak, Idle Wilde, the Walls of Mt. Tallac, Peak of Mt. Tallac, Moonlight on Tahoe, Devil's Peak, The Five Lakes, and Redskin Point. The largest painting is of the walls of Mt. Tallac. Emerald Bay and Tahoe Turned to Gold in the Early Morning are most exquisite, and Mr. Daken prizes these above all the others. The latter was painted at 4 o'clock in the morning and the tints are most beautiful.
Mr. Daken made some thirty pencil sketches about the lakes and there is some excellent scenery shown. One wall of his studio will be devoted to his paintings made at the lake and they will soon be on exhibition. A number of his paintings are left at Tahoe Inn and all his pictures were greatly admired by people at the resorts.
The Walls of Mt. Tallac will be placed in the Flood Building in the Southern Pacific office in San Francisco on exhibition, and Russian River from Guernewood Heights, which is now being displayed here, will be removed to the Oakland office.
- Santa Rosa Republican, September 21, 1910
ARTIST DAKEN DISPOSES OF HANDSOME PAINTINGS
Artist Samuel T. Daken has recently disposed of a number of his splendid paintings. He has sold the one entitled "The Geyser Region" to a Los Angeles resident, and two handsome scenes from the Armstrong redwood grove to Senator Wright of San Diego. These pictures have been delivered to Senator Wright at Sacramento. In the near future Mr. Daken will make an exhibition of his paintings in Pasadena and at Los Angeles.
- Santa Rosa Republican, March 24, 1911
DAKEN RECEIVES TWO GOLD MEDALS AT EXHIBIT
Artist Samuel Daken has returned from San Jose, where he recently made an exhibit of his splendid pictures. These were shown at the San Jose Pure Food and Industrial Exposition and Mr. Daken was awarded two gold medals for his splendid display. One of these medals was for the best general display and the other was for the splendid picture "Russian River From Guernewood Heights." This is the Daken masterpiece and has never failed to attract much attention and win prizes wherever it has been shown.
- Santa Rosa Republican, October 3, 1911