You had to be really gullible to believe in 1906 you could still get nearly-free homestead land in California -- yet crowds jammed the tiny Mendocino County town of Covelo, waiting for the land rush to begin.
"Round Valley Reservation Will be Open to Settlement" read the headline in the Press Democrat (the article was actually from AP), but had the would-be homesteaders done some research, they would have known that yes, this technically was part of an Indian reservation, but ranchers had grabbed all the good grazing land in Round Valley decades before, and any leftover parcels had to be absolutely worthless.
My first thought was that the 1906 land rush story might be a hoax; it wasn't mentioned in any books on Round Valley I knew, including the classic history "Genocide and Vendetta" (although that book is skimpy on developments after the 1890s) and only a few old newspapers picked up this wire service story. But sure enough, here was an almost-forgotten chapter in the disgraceful history of Round Valley.
For those not familiar, Round Valley was the main Northern California Indian reservation in the 19th century, and there is no deeper stain on the history of Sonoma County than its connections to that place. As I wrote in a 1995 history essay, The Dark Legacy of Nome Cult, local militia or vigilantes forced residents of entire Pomo villages to walk to the Mendocino reservation, a torturous passage remembered as "The Death March." After three Indians were lynched near Fort Ross in 1857, about twenty Natives from somewhere in West County passed through town on their way north, the Sonoma Democrat (predecessor to the PD) noting approvingly that "it is much better for them, inasmuch as they are totally incapable of sustaining themselves when left to combat with the more sagacious white men...the hardship [of leaving their homeland] exists only in the imagination." Many thousands of Indians died in these early years; without hyperbole, it was genocide.
The Round Valley reservation was nothing less than an American gulag. Although the U.S. government had designated the entire valley as reservation land in 1870, Native people were confined to an undesirable corner of the valley because the White ranchers refused to leave, even though they held no legal rights to be there. Entirely dependent upon the government, the Indians once went two years without being given any clothing; a congressman who visited Round Valley in the mid-1870s found they were treated no better than slaves. Indians were forced to work for the ranchers, who in turn sold cattle to government agents to feed the Indians. The Methodist missionary in charge of the place did little to protect them from raiders who stole their children to sell them into servitude, or cowboys who raped their women.
Adding to the injury and insult, an 1890 act of Congress declared that more than half of the reservation land should be sold off, thus legitimizing the rancher's land grab. But only about a thousand of the 66,000+ acres that were "relinquished" from the reservation were sold at the time. It wasn't until 1905 that another Congressional act sweetened the deal enough for the ranchers to actually buy the stolen land.
Author of the 1905 bill was the Press Democrat's favorite perennial political candidate in that era, one-term Rep. Theodore Bell, who did little else in Congress other than add his name to bills authored by others. Bell positioned his resolution as "An act to open to homestead settlement" any unused lands in Round Valley -- although he was more honest in his House speech, admitting that this really was for the benefit of the existing ranchers: "A few men have gone in and settled upon the lands...This bill is for the purpose of giving these men the right to perfect title by paying whatever the land shall be appraised for." (Good background on both the 1890 and 1905 laws, by the way, can be found in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals discussions of a case in 1980.)
Once that was passed, the only question that remained was assessing the price for the land that was to be sold to these "homesteaders," and articles appeared in other California papers quoting the Surveyor General as saying a new survey would take at least two years. But miracles of miracles, the U.S. Indian Inspector declared in August, 1905, that he had appraised every inch of the 66,111 acres and declared that it all should be sold at "a substantial reduction" from prices estimated way back in 1893. It is a mystery why the "Indian Inspector" was considered an expert in appraising land value, or allowed to have any say whatsoever about land that was "relinquished" from the reservation fifteen years earlier.
RUSH FOR LANDS
Round Valley Reservation Will be Open to Settlement
Special Dispatch to Press Democrat Covelo, Jan. 10 -- The lands of the relinquished Round Valley Indian Reservation will be thrown open to settlement Monday, January 15. Already the rush of prospective settlers has assumed the proportions of a stampede and the town is full to overflow. The regular stage facilities do not begin to accomodate those who are rushing in here and many are coming in their own conveyances while others are coming afoot. Many of the would-be settlers are city bred and unaccustomed to roughing it, and it would be ludicrous if it as not so serious a matter. The land is all mountainous and only fit for grazing stock.- Press Democrat, January 11, 1906
Here are a few followups to posts based on articles from the 1905 and 1906 Santa Rosa newspapers:
| One of the oddest stories I've encountered was about a local man caught shipping a crate of dead robins to San Francisco. Robins, I learned, were considered a delicacy in 19th century America, and some still had a taste for robin pot-pie, even though trafficking in wild birds became a federal crime in 1900. In this update, the songbird smuggler tells the judge he was misled about the contents of the box, believing that it was only dried fruit.|
| Healdsburg Dr. H. P. Crocker didn't even have a |
| Archeologists would have a field day digging up the intersection of Sebastopol Road and the railway tracks. Here was a La Brea-like mud hole that famously sank vehicles up to their axles during the winter of 1904, the winter of 1905, and soon, the winter of 1906. God knows what manner of treasures fell into the muck as the autos and buggies were dragged out; there may even be a classic car down there. Maybe a fleet of 'em.|
Why they couldn't fix the Pothole From Hell is unclear. Apparently it was right at the railroad crossing and the land was owned by California Northwestern, which had a standing court order blocking the city from any work on their property (which was somewhat understandable in the wake of "The Battle of Sebastopol Avenue"). At the same time, the railroad was also demanding that Santa Rosa fix the hazard in the street. This report of a late 1906 city council meeting finds the mayor griping that not enough city business gets done at these meetings because city leaders spend an hour or more of each session wringing hands over the mud hole crisis.
| We last encountered Petaluma dentist Walter Hall in the summer of 1905, after he was arrested for beating up a vaudeville hypnotist. A few months later, we learn why Walter was so irritable: His wife of less than two years was about to ask for a divorce. Surprising details appear in the early 1906 stories about their split up, namely that she charged him with desertion (was she counting his night in jail?) and that he vowed to fight for his marriage. When they finally did divorce in 1908, the grounds were reversed; the dentist charged her with desertion. Painful though the divorce was, Dr. Hall still got off lucky; her previous husband committed suicide by shooting himself twice -- both in his heart and head -- before leaving her a considerable estate.|
Shipped Birds For Japanese
D. Casassa, who is charged with having shipped a box of birds to San Francisco from Sebastopol marked "dried fruit," was in Justice Atchinson's court Thursday. He claimed that he shipped the birds for a Japanese who told him it was dried fruit, which he intended to send to his parents in Japan. The box was addressed to a poultry and game commission firm, and Casassa was instructed to get the Japanese to appear in Court next week to which time the case was postponed.- Press Democrat, January 19, 1906
PAYS FINE FOR A CHUG-CHUG RIDE
Dr. Crocker of Healdsburg Enriches County Treasury to the Extend of Fine Imposed Months Ago
Dr. H. B. Crocker, the well known owner of the sanitarium at Healdsburg, who was some time ago fined $250 for a violation of the ordinance regulating the speed of automobiles on the county road, on last Friday paid the coin into Justice Hugh N. Latimer's court in Windsor, and the incident is ended.
Dr. Crocker took the suit to the higher court and there the decision of the lower court was affirmed. Dr. Crocker thought of applying for a writ of review but evidently decided not to carry the litigation any further, and from Justice Latimer it was learned by a reported that the money had been paid.- Press Democrat, August 13, 1906
MUD HOLE CAUSES MUCH DISCUSSION
At the meeting of the council Tuesday evening the matter of fixing up the mud hole at Sebastopol avenue and the railroad tracks was again discussed. The council is tied by an injuction and cannot proceed and it was reported that the property owners intended to force them to make repairs there if they were not done at once. The members of the council do not see how they can be forced to violate an order of the court and are awaiting developments.
Chairman Press Hall, who has tired at attempts to fix the street, declared that W. L. Call should be sent down to the mud hole to drive some piling and that a bridge be built across the disputed spot.
Mayor Overton declared that every time the council met an hour or more was spent discussing that particular mud hole and he would prefer to discuss something that could be done for the city's interest than this location, where an injunction prevented needed street work being done...If the order of the court could be modified the council would willingly put the street in proper condition and it should be done before the winter rains set in.- Santa Rosa Republican, November 28, 1906
HAS FOUND THE YOKE TOO HEAVY
Mrs. Abbie M. Hall Sues Dr. Walter C. Hall of Petaluma for Divorce
Some surprise was occasioned here yesterday, and when the news is known in Petaluma it will result in a sensation there also by the commencement of a suit for divorce in the Superior Court by Mrs. Abbie M. Hall against her husband, Dr. Walter C. Hall, the young dentist of Petaluma. The couple are prominent in social circles in the southern town and both are members of well known and old families of southern Sonoma.
Prior to her marriage to Dr. Hall about two years ago, Mrs. Hall was Mrs. James Treadwell, a scion of the wealthy Treadwell family and a man possessed of great wealth. The marriage savored of the romantic and came as a great surprise. While there had been hints that some dissensions had arisen in the Hall household, nevertheless the filing of divorce papers here yesterday occasioned a surprise. Frank A. Meyer is the attorney for the fair plaintiff. Her marriage to Dr. Hall was her third matrimonial venture.- Press Democrat, February 14, 1906
DR. HALL IS TO FIGHT THE SUIT
Says He Did Not Willfully Desert His Wife as She Is Claiming
Dr. Walter C. Hall, the young Petaluma dentist, whose wife recently sued him for divorce in the Superior Court of this county, will contest his wife's suit. She alleges that he, without cause, deserted her last year, and on the grounds of wilful [sic] desertion she asks the court to grant her a legal separation and a severing of the martial ties.
On Monday Dr. Hall's demurrer to his wife's complaint was argued in Judge Seawell's department of the Superior Court. The ground urged most was that the complaint did not state a cause of action. Dr. Hall was represented by Attorney Thomas Denny, Attorney Frank A. Meyer representing Mrs. Hall, the plaintiff, resisted the demurrer.
Judge Seawell overruled the demurrer and gave the defendant ten days to answer. It is understood that Dr. Hall will fight his wife's suit on the ground that he did not wilfully desert her as alleged. At the present time it looks as if there will be a lively contest over the granting of the divorce.
Mrs. Hall, as is well known, was formerly Mrs. Abbie Treadwell, the wife of James Treadwell, the young millionaire, who shot himself sometime prior to her marriage with Dr. Hall in Los Angeles. Prior to becoming Mrs. Treadwell she was Mrs. Leon Drive, wife of Professor Driver, a well known instructor in music. She obtained a divorce from him in the Superior Court of this county and Attorney Meyer, who represents her now, also represented her then.- Press Democrat, March 13, 1906
There were very few African-Americans in 1906 Santa Rosa, and none have been mentioned yet in this journal because they were almost never mentioned in either local newspaper (more about that in a later post). But when a local bricklaying contractor misled Black workers from Los Angeles into coming here to break a strike, they were no longer quite as invisible.
Another incident that same week reveals even more about race relations in 1906 Santa Rosa. Newspaper coverage of a 10AM fight in a Fourth street saloon agreed on little else except Paul Anderson, a Black man, beat up a White man.
According to the Press Democrat, Anderson elbowed his way into a conversation at the bar before punching one of the guys in the face, with no reason given. In this version, Anderson was arrested and paid a $30 fine. Later that night, according to the PD, "Anderson again started out looking for trouble" and threatened a man who chased him into a drug store before others intervened.
The Republican printed Anderson's account of events, which were quite different. Here Anderson, who apparently had recently moved here from San Francisco, was mistaken for one of the out-of-town bricklayers and the men in the bar demanded to know "whether he was going to stay here or not." When Anderson said he wasn't leaving town, one of the group took a swing at him and ended up bruised and bleeding after Anderson fought back. According to the Republican, a crowd of bricklayers stalked Anderson along Fourth street for the rest of the morning, the Black man carrying a length of pipe for self-defense in case they attacked. In this telling, Anderson swears out a warrant the next day against local bricklayer Fred Forgett, accusing him of being part of a group threatening him later that evening.
The scenario presented by the Republican is more detailed and plausible, even though their first article also reported that Anderson went to jail rather than pay the $30, which had to be an error. The Press Democrat's short article reveals plenty of bias both in language (Anderson "ran amuck" and threatened a "small man") and failure to mention any connection to tensions over the labor conflict. Anderson is a troublemaker. Period.
Yet the PD version gains some credibility by naming the cop who ordered Anderson to go home after the drug store confrontation, making it clear something else happened that evening -- although we'll never know exactly what. (My personal guess: Anderson probably sought refuge in the store after being chased again by a mob, which likely included Fred Forgett's drug-crazed, cleaver-wielding brother.)
FIRST FIGHT IN LOCAL TROUBLES
Paul Anderson and William Rodger Have Encounter--Former Goes to Jail
The first trouble of a physical nature in the local labor controversy occurred this morning, when Paul Anderson, a gentleman of color, and a white bricklayer named William Rodger, had an altercation in a saloon on lower Fourth street. The white man got much the worse of the engagement, receiving a bad lick in the eye, which cut the flesh under that member, and another blow alongside the ear which nearly knocked the organ of hearing from the side of his head. Later Rodger appeared before Justice Atchinson and swore to a complaint charging Anderson with battery.
As usual, there are two sides to the story. Rodger declares he went into the saloon, and there heard Anderson making remarks that were disparaging to union men, and that some things were said to which he took exception. It was then that Anderson struck him, he claims, and his condition showed it to be true that something had collided with his features.
Anderson's side of the story this morning was that the man, who was a stranger to him, being a San Franciscan, had accosted him, believing he was one of the quartet of colored men who came here from Los Angeles to work for Contractor Nagel, and takes the work that the union men had formerly been doing. Anderson declares that in answer to a question as to whether he was going to stay here or not, he replied in the affirmative, and that the white man made a pass at him. He acknowledges that he struck the man, but declares it was in response to an attempt by the white man to strike him.
Later Anderson appeared on the streets armed with a piece of pipe, with which he declared he proposed to protect himself. A crowd of the bricklayers were in the vicinity of where Anderson was all during the forenoon, and when the colored man wandered down Fourth street they moved in that direction also.
Chief of Police Severson, Officer Donald McIntosh and Constable Boswell were kept on the lookout during the morning and just before the noon hour told the union men to go away and let Anderson alone.
Justice Atchinson heard the testimony against Anderson, and sentenced him to pay a fine of thirty dollars or spend thirty days in jail. Owing to the low condition of his finances, Anderson elected to take his board at the county hotel.
The union bricklayers are much incensed at the treatment one of their number received at the hands of a colored man. It is probable that other troubles may ensue as the result of the importation of these colored men.- Santa Rosa Republican, March 22, 1906
Anderson in Trouble Again
Paul Anderson, a well-known colored man who has often been in trouble with the police, ran amuck again Thursday. Entering a saloon on lower Fourth street about ten o'clock he injected himself into a conversation that was going on and ended up by striking William Rogers in the face. Anderson was arrested and taken before Justice Atchinson, who gave him "thirty days or thirty dollars." The prisoner paid the fine and was released.
Thursday evening, Anderson again started out looking for trouble. One of the men he ran into was David Lynch, to whom he boasted of what he was going to do and made personal threats. Lynch, who is a small man, took after Anderson and ran him into Dignan's drug store, "soaking" him with a bar of soap he picked up at the door. Friends interceded, and no arrests were made. Anderson finally going home upon being ordered to do so by Officer Hankle.- Press Democrat, March 23, 1906
Had the 1906 earthquake not hit Santa Rosa, another crisis was likely to shake the town later that year -- a paralyzing general strike.
Troubles started early in January. Lee Brothers, the largest drayage (hauling) company in Santa Rosa, was the linchpin of the construction industry in town, their drivers responsible for everything from carting away debris and garbage to handling raw and finished materials to and from the lumber yards. It was also a non-union "open shop," meaning that that the company supposedly granted both union and non-union workers the same benefits and working conditions. To pressure Lee Brothers, the local Labor Council voted that all union workers were to take no new jobs until the lumber yards were completely unionized, including the drivers.
Property development -- then, as now, Santa Rosa's true primary industry -- screeched to a halt. As the Republican newspaper editorialized, while carpenters were still busy on projects elsewhere around the county, "...inside of Santa Rosa [real estate] sales have been practically nil." A stream of skilled craftsmen were also reportedly leaving the city seeking work elsewhere. After a week of negotiations, a deal was struck in January that maintained the open-shop status quo while giving the unions six months to organize the entire labor force. But while the Press Democrat crowed that labor troubles were settled, the Republican more accurately observed that the showdown was merely postponed until somewhere around August.
As the clock was ticking, tensions rose higher as another employer antagonized union workers by bringing in scab labor.
In brief: During construction of the Burbank School on Ellis Street (which is now the stretch of Sonoma Avenue west of Santa Rosa Ave), union bricklayers walked off the job in a wildcat strike because the contractor refused to hire union hodcarriers. Out-of-town bricklayers were brought in. Local tempers ran hot, and after a few days the scabs quietly left Santa Rosa without laying a single brick.
It was a tense three days in Santa Rosa, and the blame lies entirely with local contractor W. L. Nagel, who misled the out-of-towners that Santa Rosa was a tiny country town with no union presence. When scourged for hiring them, Nagel's defense was that he couldn't hire locals because there was only a single bricklayer in town, which was easily refuted as another lie. And, of course, along the way he blamed the problems he caused upon unnamed "outsiders."
But what made this confrontation so potentially explosive was that all of the non-union, out-of-town workers were African-American.
To the Press Democrat, which always represented the town's Southern Democrat old guard, the race of the men was the predominant issue, followed closely by the urgency for these Black men to get out of town ASAP. The rival Republican newspaper took the PD to task for hypocrisy, suggesting that the paper didn't object to other scab laborers who apparently were White: "...the morning paper exploded yesterday over the presence in Santa Rosa of the four negroes, why does it not urge the employment of union men in a certain establishment in which the aforesaid establishment is operated, raised a great howl about imported negro labor in order to divert attention from the main issue and pose--pose, we say--as a dear friend of the union man[?]"
If the situation wasn't already sticky enough, a scuffle between a local Black man and a group of Whites threatened to expand the conflict beyond a labor dispute. What exactly happened at ten o'clock that morning in a Fourth St. saloon and the hours that followed is uncertain; accounts in the two Santa Rosa newspapers are too different to be reconciled. Details continue in the following post.
IMPORT NEGROES TO BUILD SCHOOL
Colored Contractor With Six Assistants Arrives Here From Los Angeles
Seven colored brick layers have arrived here from Los Angeles prepared to go to work on the new school building being erected on Ellis street, and their arrival has occasioned a great deal of discussion among the representatives of the local labor unions, as well as among a good many other people.
According to F. D. Grant, the colored contractor who brought the men here, representations were made to him that Santa Rosa was a small town and that there were no labor unions here. These representations, he says, were made by a man named Calimene, acting for Contractor W. L. Nagle, who has the contract to do the brick work on the new building. Grant is said to have expressed himself as being considerably surprised to learn the conditions of affairs here, but says he is ready to go to work whenever the weather permits.
Fred Forgett, a well-known local union brick layer, says that he offered to procure all the union men needed, but that Contractor Nagle said he did not want them. He says that the negro bricklayers have agreed to work for $5 pr day, while the union schedule is $6. The union bricklayers employed on the job walked out a short time ago because the hod-carriers were non-union men. There is no local bricklayer's union here, but the men are affiliated with the San Francisco union, and also with the hodcarriers.
All the colored bricklayers imported from Los Angeles are non-union men, and it is believed by many that their employment will mean trouble, as they claim local men will not be apt to stand by and see the negro bricklayers doing the work without making some effort to prevent it. It is also not unlikely that allowing non-union men to lay the brick may result in a further tying up of the job when it comes time to do the carpenter and plumbing work, as union men will probably refuse to take hold of it when the brick work is finished.
Considerable indignation was expressed on the streets yesterday regarding the matter, and this was voiced by non-union men as well as by union men. The matter appears to be entirely out of the hands of the school board, as that body has let the contract for the constriction of the building and accepted a bond for its completion. Entirely aside from the question of unionism or color, it is pointed out that the work is of a public nature and if it is done by men living here the money paid out in the form of wages will remain in Santa Rosa, while if it is paid to outsiders it will be carried away with them when they return to their homes, and a good many people have expressed themselves as being of the opinion that for these reasons if for no other some way should be found to adjust the situation without having to call in the assistance of the outsiders.- Press Democrat, March 21, 1906
COLORED BRICKLAYERS SAY WILL REMAIN
Will Continue to Work as Long as Contractor Nagel Is Satisfied
The four colored men who were imported from Los Angeles to this city by Contractor W. L. Nagel were reported today to have consented to return to their homes, providing their fares were paid by the local members of the Bricklayers Union...[who] have been raising money today for that purpose.
It is understood that some of the contractors believe that Contractor Nagel displayed poor judgment in importing colored men here when he had white men, for the negro issue further complicates the labor situation, and makes it even more difficult of solution.
Contractor Nagel paid a visit to the Republican office this afternoon and ashed that space be given him for the following statement: "There are not seven colored men; there are only four; these men thoroughly understood the local conditions before coming here. I have worked my men for the past two years paying $6 a day and allowing them union hours, and when I accepted the work on the school building I undertook to employ union men, and gave them the first chance; they saw fit fo quit after a day and a half of work. I gave them two other opportunities and waited two weeks but they still refused. There are no resident bricklayers here except Fred Forgett. The outsiders on the ice plant are creating this trouble. I had six other bricklayers here ten days ago. They were intimidated so they left. On the second day two were turned out of a local hotel without breakfast. These colored men are mechanics and will work for me on this building and on other work. I have seven other white bricklayers here besides who will also work for me. Three of the four colored men have families."- Santa Rosa Republican, March 21, 1906
WANTED TO SEND MEN BACK HOME
Fred Forgett, Contractor Nagle and Foreman Grant Discuss Bricklayers' Trouble
Several conferences took place yesterday between the colored bricklayers recently imported from Los Angeles to work on the new Ellis street school and representatives of the local union bricklayers relative to quiet arranging for the return of the former to their homes, but nothing came of it.
The negroes appeared willing to go if their fares were paid, and the sum of $85 was finally agreed upon as a proper sum, but before the time agreed on for the second meeting word reached here that four more non-union bricklayers were on the way from Sacramento, so the local men decided that to send the colored men away would be an unnecessary waste of money.
The above information was furnished a Press Democrat representative last night by Fred Forgett of this city, who also took issue with a statement made by Contractor W. L. Nagel to the effect that he (Forgett) is the only local resident bricklayer in town. Forgett stated that Ed Pow, Joe Griffin, Obe Snow, Harry Snow, Ed Bennett and Harry Bennett, in addition to himself, all of whom live in Sonoma County, had been working for Nagel for the past year or more, some of them for a number of years. Forgett also stated that the only action he had taken in connection with the present difficulty had been in response to orders from union headquarters in San Francisco, and exhibited several telegrams to back up his claims. "We are not trying to make trouble," said Forgett, "and we do not want to see any trouble here; but we belong to the union, and as long as we do we have to live up to the rules."
F. D. Grant, foreman of the colored crew, stated yesterday afternoon that he and his men were here to work and expected to remain as long as Contractor Nagel wanted them to. "When he says go, we will start," said Grant. It appears that Nagel paid the men's fare to Santa Rosa. Grant also said that as far as he knew no misrepresentations had been made to his men regarding union conditions in this city. He said they had been told that there was no bricklayer's union here, which is the case, although the local bricklayers are affiliated with the San Francisco union. He claimed that his men were to receive $6 per day and not $5 as has been reported, and also stated that while they did not belong to any union they had worked on some of the best buildings in Los Angeles alongside of union men without having any trouble.
Contractor Nagel called at this office last night and made the following statement: "It is not true that I have brought in seven colored bricklayers. There are only four of them. They are going to remain here and do my work, because it has to be finished. I held off some two weeks trying to get my old men to come back to work, and gave them several chances, but they [illegible microfilm] half a dozen non-union men, all white. They were intimidated and in other ways [illegible microfilm] working only a day or so. Then I got another white crew and the same thing happened again. No misrepresentations were made to get these colored bricklayers to come here. They will be paid the regular scale of $6 a day, and do not come to cut down prices. Fred Forgett never offered to 'get all the non-union men I wanted.' What he did was to call my men off, and then help get the others to quit. I am under contract and have given bonds to complete my buildings and must do it. These colored bricklayers are good workmen and with other men I have got are going to go ahead and do my work. The report that they agreed to return home if their fare was paid is not correct."- Press Democrat, March 22, 1906
UNIONISM AND DEMOCRATIC POLITICS.
The importation of the four colored bricklayers to assist in the work upon the Ellis street school house has caused a great deal of stir in union circles, for it has served to accentuate the efforts being made to break down labor unionism in Santa Rosa.
In the present conflict our contemporary grows red in the face over "black men" being imported and orders them to pack their kits and go. Yes, but if it were true to its pretended faith, why didn't it say that to all imported men?
Why doesn't the mayor's organ urge the cause of union men generally, instead of lambasting a quartet of good-natured negroes brought here under apparent misrepresentation?
For instance, and speaking politically, for it was certainly in that sense that the morning paper exploded yesterday over the presence in Santa Rosa of the four negroes, why does it not urge the employment of union men in a certain establishment in which the aforesaid establishment is operated, raised a great howl about imported negro labor in order to divert attention from the main issue and pose--pose, we say--as a dear friend of the union man.
Unless we are greatly mistaken, people will see through this campaign bluff in the shape of a roast on the four negroes who don't amount to a drop in the bucket compared with the other situation alluded to...- Santa Rosa Republican, March 22, 1906
COLORED MEN HAVE DEPARTED
Return to Their Homes in Los Angeles Without Having Done Any Workin This City
The quartette of colored men who were imported to this city from Los Angeles by Contractor Nagel, to work on the Ellis street school building, departed for their homes on the Southern Pacific train this morning. They purchased tickets straight through to Los Angeles, and will probably remain there indefinitely. Two days ago it was reported they had agreed to leave, but this was denied by the men at that time, they declaring they had come here at the expense of Mr. Nagel, and expected to got to work for him just as soon as the weather would permit.
Before leaving the city the men declared to city officials who called upon them that they were brought here through misrepresentations, that they had no idea they were coming to take work that any others had been engaged on or had refused to do. Contractor Grant made these statements for himself and his men to a city official who had absolutely no interest in the controversy between Nagel and his men who had left his employ, Grant further stated that he was informed that Santa Rosa was a little country town, not exceeding a couple of thousand in population, that the work he was to do was absolutely "fair" from a union standpoint, and that there were no unions in the city. Grant felt that he and his men had been imposed upon, and they were greatly surprised when they arrived here and learned the true conditions.
Grant was chagrined that it should have been reported that he and his men intended to work for five dollars per day while here. They were hired, he said, at a wage of six dollars per day. They are not cheap laborers, but insist on getting the highest wages paid to men in their calling.
The fact that these men have returned to their homes is a source of gratification to others who do not concern themselves with affairs of labor difficulties. It is believed to have been an unfortunate episode that these colored men were brought here for the purpose of taking work that should have been done by mechanics of this city and vicinity, men who pay taxes here regularly every year.
Four men have arrived here fom Los Angeles to work for Contractor Nagel, and they are declared by the union men to be "unfair," and some are said to be notorious strike breakers. Efforts will be made by the union men to have them leave Santa Rosa in preference to going to work on the building, and in this they may or may not be successful. [This paragraph was obviously part of a rejected draft from the first story written two days earlier, and was included here by mistake. Of interest is that the labor-friendly Republican paper was first preparing to label the Black workers as "notorious strike breakers." - je]
As the result of an altercation which occurred Thursday night, Paul Anderson swore to a warrant charging Fred Forgett, a local bricklayer, with making threats. Anderson had trouble with another man, recently from San Francisco, and alleged that Forgett assisted the other man in an attempt to batter him. Forgett has a number of witnesses to prove that he was trying to hold the man with whom Anderson was having trouble, and prevent if possible a personal encounter. Forgett is striving hard to maintain the most harmonious and peaceable relations between the men, and it was while thus engaged that Anderson believed he was assisting the other man, whose name is unknown.- Santa Rosa Republican, March 23, 1906
The 1906 earthquake destroyed much of Santa Rosa's 19th century heritage -- and also its chances for a remarkable architectural future.
Santa Rosa was not a town that welcomed architects; many of the fine pre-earthquake houses that still can be seen around town were built sans architectural plans by local contractor Frank Sullivan, and before him, T.J. Ludwig. Even architect Brainerd Jones from nearby Petaluma found little work here; besides Comstock House, he designed only four other Santa Rosa homes and three public buildings during his nearly half-century career. When locals did realize that they needed the services of an architect to build something nice, they went to prestigious big city firms. San Francisco architects drew up plans for the lodge halls, post-quake courthouse, city hall, and high school. It wasn't until the later 1920s and construction of the Junior College that a hometown architect, William Herbert, was able to establish an architect's beach head.
But in the months before the quake, Santa Rosa had a resident world-class architect who seemed itching to transform Santa Rosa, and the town seemed willing to let him do it. His name was William H. Willcox.
It's unknown exactly when Willcox arrived in Santa Rosa, but the early 1906 newspapers were full of him. Once he unveiled his plans for a convention auditorium that could host more people than any other building ever built in the town, he was the darling of Santa Rosa's business elite. At a Feb. 1 city hall meeting, $2,800 was pledged on the spot; by a month later, $8,000 had been promised towards construction, and in just a few more weeks -- say, by mid-April -- the subscription goal of 10 thousand dollars surely would have been reached.
But his Mission Style pavilion, seen at right in a Press Democrat illustration, was not his greatest ambition. Willcox proposed to redesign Santa Rosa itself; he wanted to dam Santa Rosa Creek and turn it into an urban lake that would be the centerpiece of the town. Gone would be the blighted red-light district along First Street. From the E St. bridge (for which he also proposed a new boulevard design) to beyond Santa Rosa Avenue, the inviting waterpark would have electric lights, paths and benches, a swimming pool, a section between the bridges over one hundred feet wide for water sports, and a kiosk jutting over the water for bands to entertain. But like his pavilion, his waterpark plans were forgotten after the earthquake.
Willcox is a cipher. As far as I can tell, there's no scholarly overview of his career or even a reasonably complete catalog of his work. He knocked around the country for more than thirty years, picking up commissions for churches, libraries, mansion-like homes, and state buildings. Besides Santa Rosa, he had offices in New York, Chicago, St. Paul, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and probably other places unknown.
Today William Willcox is identified as a progressive architect who helped define the American "Queen Anne" style in the 1880s. (He was also famous as the Civil War mapmaker whose pen portrayed the famous battlefield of Antietam.) Several Willcox buildings are on the National Historic Register, and his work in St. Paul is particularly well known -- see pictures of the Kellogg House and the Driscoll House. His grandest project was the Nebraska State House, which took three years to build and cost over $1.25 million in the early 1880s. Not that he designed only extravagant; in an 1883 house pattern book he presented a novel design for an octagonal cottage, arguing that it was a superior value.
The 1906 earthquake destroyed his vision for the Santa Rosa that might have been; the momentum in town now was for reconstruction, not radical redesign. He was appointed Building Inspector in the days immediately after the quake, and at least
Although Willcox was 73 when the earthquake tore apart Santa Rosa, his career was still not over. In 1911, he was given a commission by Murray H. Durst. (Obl. Believe-it-or-not sidenote: Murray was one of the brothers behind the infamous Durst hops ranch in Wheatland, where a 1913 protest by agricultural workers ended with four dead and helped launch the nationwide labor movement.)
The millionaire Durst asked Willcox to design a "dream hotel" in Oakland that would occupy an entire city block. It was to cost $2.5 million, be ten stories high, and have a subway station in the basement with an airplane landing strip on the roof (this during the early biplane era, remember). Willcox was paid $1,157 on account. But Durst passed away and his widow claimed she knew nothing of the plans. Willcox sued the estate, arguing that he was still due one percent of the projected building cost. According to coverage in a trade magazine, Durst's lawyers claimed that the deceased had "permitted Willcox to draw the elaborate plans just to humor the aged architect, and with no idea that the hotel would ever be built." Years later the courts ruled for Willcox, and the estate was ordered to pay over $23 thousand. But was the design really the scribble of a deluded old man? Not as reported in the Feb. 11, 1919 Oakland Tribune: "on the [courtroom] wall is pinned a picture of it and all those interested in the case admit that it is a thing of beauty..."
Willcox lived a decade more, dying at age 96 the Veteran's Home in Yountville, where he is buried. In local history, he has only a small footnote as being the guy who decided whether a quake damaged building was safe. Had he arrived a year earlier, or the quake struck a year later, his name might have been immortalized as the architect who transformed Santa Rosa into something of wonder.
NEW PAVILION TO BE USEFUL
Like One at Eureka It Would Be in Demand for Many Affairs After the Conventions
The proposal before the meeting held at the City Hall last evening when the plans were being considered, for the coming of the great party conventions this summer, for the erection of a pavilion suitable for the use of the conventions while in session, prompted the Republican to interview P. H. Quinn relative to some of the facts about the large pavilion which was erected in Eureka some several years ago. The building is just such a structure as it is proposed to have here, and is such that after the conventions have been held, it would be of real benefit to the community, and would be in demand for many gatherings during all seasons.
Mr. Quinn states that the Eureka Pavilion is built very much on the plan of the State Fair building at Sacramento, and that it is merely a shell well covered on the outside with good weather boarding and a good roof, while on the inside it is ceiled, and has a very fine floor so that it could be serviceable for fairs, dances, or skating--in fact anything in the amusement line. He states that the building there has always been in demand and rents for a good sum--the amount of which he has forgotten--and that it has been a paying proposition from the start.
When the plan was first broached, it was decided to build it as a joint stock concern, and the Occidental Mill Company, which is a large firm in Eureka, was interviewed and agreed to furnish the lumber for the structure and take stock in the company for the same. He suggested that some good reliable party could go from here to some of the great milling companies in the north and interest them in the move here, to furnish the material at a very nominal cost, and thus get a good building at a much less price.
The Eureka building is so constructed that there are two wings and they can be thrown into the main building thus enlarging the auditorium, and beside, there are galleries all around the room and these afford an immense seating capacity. Mr. Quinn is very much interest [sic] in the movement that has been started here, and is of the impression that the erection of such a pavilion as is proposed will be of inestimable value to Santa Rosa, and would be in demand all the time.
- Santa Rosa Republican, February 2, 1906
ARCHITECT WILLCOX PREPARES PLAN FOR BEAUTIFYING THE CREEK BANKS
Would Make Pretty Park Along First Street and, in So Doing, Remove Many Objectionable Features There
As in all probability we shall soon have a noble new stone bridge spanning Santa Rosa Creek at E street, let us consider what shall be done toward the betterment of the creek, in at least the portion that meanders through the city.
For years the condition of this stream and its bed has been a menace to the health of our city, and inexcusably, I think, for the opportunities which exist toward raising it to a sanitary condition and making it an exceedingly beautiful body of water has been lost sight of in a perfectly lackadaisical spirit.
The people of Santa Rosa have really a great opportunity within their precincts, in this hitherto neglected stream. Tracts of ground that are too rough and precipitous to be conveniently built upon are quite suitable for parkage and may generally be devoted to such purposes with excellent results. Our city has all the topographical character that it deserves, and it may easily and economically emphasize and dignify the great value of its stream. The ground on either side is difficult to utilize for any other purpose than that of parking, and conversion into a pleasure ground will eliminate its present unsightly and unhygenic character.
Indeed all the elements of what may be termed natural beauty, that is, a landscape characterized by simple and flowing lines, exist; the raw material of forest trees, running water, undulating surface and meandering shore, may be readily appropriated with great effect and so little cost that picturesqueness may be easily obtained. The banks and shelving reaches are now encircles [sic] by many find specimens of foliage, which only need a little cleaning out and trimming. The shrubs and trees are there. With the spell of wildness unbroken the landscape is brimming with natural beauty.
Now let us consider how we may improve this long neglected and despised spot.
Nothing is more delightful than pure clean running water: it is the life of a landscape; the delightful and captivating effect of water in scenery of any description are universally conceded. Its effect is almost magical, and with the blue of a Santa Rosa sky, and its silvery clouds, and the deep verdure of the foliage reflected upon it bosom, which feature could be more delightful or responsive.
Now by damming the lower part of the stream at some convenient point just east of the gas company's plant with a head of water of greater or less height, the water may be thrown back as desired, and as it is always running clear and pure from the mountains, a constant level will result, sufficient in quantity to maintain at all times an overflow, thus, the stream may partake of the character of a river instead of a creek, developing into an [sic] dignified expanse of water.
Owing to its varied contours and meanders, the shore at some places will steal gently and gradually away from the level of the water, while at others it will rise suddenly and abruptly into banks more or less steep, irregular and rugged. Upon portions of its banks various kinds of wild ferns may be so planted as partially to conceal and overrun and hide rip-rap work or rocks and stumps of trees, while trailing plants will still farther increase the intricacy and richness of such portions. The Virginia creeper, Woodbine or Honeysuckle and other beautiful vines may be planted at the roots of the trees and left to clamber up their branches; and the wild clamatis so placed that its luxuriant festoons shall hang gracefully from the projecting boughs of some of the overarching trees, diffusing a delicious breath and making the walk beneath doubly delightful; while lovely wild flowers, peeping in and out, would yield gaiety and brightness to the parkage which the trees alone could not impart.
Leading from D street and either end of E street bridge, let us maintain walks through the more pleasing portions of the grounds, commanding now and again charming ranges of water scenery, and exhibiting at every portion some new feature, some changed aspect on which one's thoughts dwell with delight. Let us conduct the pathways, through portions varied in character, and in graceful and pleasing lines, every advantage being taken of the natural contour of the ground. The winding walks, open bits of grassy levels or slopes, shrubs grouped naturally on turf, shady bowers and rustic seats, all agreeably combined, would render these grounds very interesting, instructive, and attractive. Some of these walks might terminate at neatly thatched structures of rustic work with seats for repose and views of the landscape beyond; along the margins of the pathways, where they would be appropriate and in harmony with the scene, might be laced rustic seats.
Other embellishments of interest, such as arbors, vases and plant baskets of different forms, but in keeping with the spirit of the scenery, might be introduced.
The boundaries, on all sides, should be irregularly planted, so that formality will be scarcely perceived, except within. The view from the E street bridge would include a view of all of the principal features.
At the foot of D street and on its axial line, and observable from the present postoffice on Fourth street. I would suggest the construction of a neat and simple kiosk; in properly riprapping at the base of the kiosk and on the line of First street, a concourse may be provided to accommodate a great number of people. This kiosk could be used for orchestral purposes, and the rip-rap work, falling away toward the stream, its surface covered with the garniture of ivy, Cherokee rose or other charming creeper, luxuriant and spendid would be the result.
At both approaches to the E street bridge, along the lines of First street from D to Main streets, and along the approach to Main street bridge, commodious esplanades might be maintained affording uninterrupted water and park views, very agreeable in character.
A convenient place for a dam is to be found just east of the gas works. This dam need not be constructed higher than nine feet, and as the fall is a trifle in excess of five feet from the E street bridge to the bridge at Main street, nearly four feet of water would be constant under the E street structure, and at that place expanding to a width of over one hundred feet, large enough to play water polo and important enough for Venetian sports.
East of the dam a public swimming pool of large dimensions, enclosed along simple and economical lines, but unroofed, could be constructed, with a pleasing entrance way bordered with shrubs, from Main street near the bridge. The water in the pool would be always clear because always [sic] running.
At a point just east of the turn which the river makes before it mixes with the water of Matanzas Creek, and running eastward to the turn of the water west of the railroad bridge, in a gently curving channel line, a stretch of just one half mile is obtained, that would be available for boat racing and other aquatic sports. At some convenient place undoubtedly a boat house would be build and the people of Santa Rosa could amuse themselves in rowing upon the face of a beautiful and healthful river, that is now given over to the deposition of old tinware, offal, and all sorts of baneful deposits and nuisances that at times render the air fetid and dangerous to health by diffusing its deleterious and poisonous gases through the city.
But also you will find on this water front a condition and opportunity so to construct public work that the attractiveness of our city shall be enhanced. You will not only free a neighborhood from nuisances, but preserve the natural character of the locality, and secure the humanizing influences of beautiful environment--all obtained at a minimum care and expense. Let us individualize our city. It is easily done, nature is helping us; let us make it lovely and give it distinction, and by so doing invite visitation and renown, which now obtains in so many towns of our state that only a few years ago were pronounced sage brush plains or chaparral hillsides. Santa Rosa, with possess, is hardly known outside of her own perliews. [sic]
WILLIAM H. WILLCOX
- Santa Rosa Republican, February 10, 1906
Did you hear about the Ohio voting machine scandal? Either the devices were unreliable or someone tampered with them to rig the election -- a machine was discovered that awarded every single vote to one candidate. "The discrepancy was so marked, in this case that an error was apparent at a glance," reported the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. But the allegations weren't about the much-discussed electronic voting problems in 2004 Ohio (which still scores about 182,000 Google hits); it was about problems with mechanical voting machines in Ohio more than a century ago. And, like skeptics today, Press Democrat editor Ernest L. Finley argued in March, 1906, that the machines were fatally flawed because there was no paper ballot trail for recounts.
The reliability of voting machines was a hot topic that month in Santa Rosa -- a real estate company even used the theme for an ad, seen at right -- because the U.S. Standard Voting Machine company was trying to convince the City of Roses to buy them. The issue came to climax at a March 6th City Council meeting. One public speaker complained that the machines were too hard to use: "Many people have tried the machines of late and it has been proven that as a rule they are ignorant of the workings of the machine, and unless there could be a lesson given every day between now and the time of the election, it will be the means of disfranchising a large number of the voters of the city."
But the most compelling speaker that evening was Democratic Party mover-and-shaker Thomas J. Geary, who argued that the "voting machine is an instrument of bossism" and intended to deprive the people of their rights. As reported in the Republican newspaper, Geary created "considerable amusement" as he "...read from the instructions printed on each of the machines, where in order to vote a straight ticket the voter is instructed to 'pull back the lever until the bell rings.' He made considerable sport of the fact that the voter must ring a bell when he goes to vote, and stated that he was not particular about having his vote announced by the ringing of a bell."
Geary preyed upon a common fear with his remark that the machines encouraged "bossism." Everyone in that audience knew that San Francisco was under the thumb of corrupt political boss Abe Reuf, whose Union Labor party had won re-election just a few months earlier. Reformers had forged a Republican-Democrat "fusion" ticket that had wide support, but contributing to its failure was that voters had to pick out those candidates individually on the ballot. And the new voting machines probably did make such split-ticket voting more difficult; imagine yourself as Mr. 1905 San Francisco Voter (no vote for California women until 1912, remember) who has never seen a voting machine before. You enter the booth and the curtain automatically shuts behind your back. In front of you is a bewildering wall of brass switches. With only a couple of minutes to vote, searching for the reform candidates was daunting; the path of least resistance was to pull a single lever and vote along straight party lines. *
Adding to the distrust of the machines were sensationalist articles in some of the San Francisco pro-reform papers, warning that Reuf could have rigged them. "MACHINE CAN BE FIXED AND VOTERS MUST BE ALERT," screamed a headline in the October 31, 1905 San Francisco Call. "GRAVE DANGER LIES IN MACHINE DEFECT." The Bulletin newspaper also joined in warning that corrupt city bosses might rig the machines with rubber bands attached to the counters for opposition candidates, which would snap the counters back into the neutral position; when the voter pulled the lever to record his ballot, there would be no vote entered for the rubber-banded reformers. (Articles and graphics from out-of-town papers don't really belong here, but the layout from the Call, seen at right, is remarkable.)
Geary's gripe about the bell was another exaggerated "danger." Yes, a bell rang when the voter pulled a lever, but the purpose was to let know that he was now free to leave the voting booth, if desired; a curtain had closed behind him when he entered the booth, and it could not be opened until at least one vote had been recorded, notified by the bell.
Geary's speech settled the matter; the Santa Rosa City Council voted unanimously to stick with the "Australian ballot system" (what we'd call today a hand-counted paper ballot; candidates and their party affiliations are printed on paper and the voter makes a mark next to the names).
As for the reliability of these early voting machines and the possibility of mischief, it appears that the gizmos received a bad rap. No rubber-band tampering was ever found in San Francisco, and an article about voting machines in a 1905 technical magazine noted that such tampering is "possible but stupid" because the rubber band would be visible to the voter. A scan of 1905-1906 newspaper stories nationwide finds no complaints except in New Jersey, where political bosses placed the machines just in districts inclined to split-ticket voting, thus creating the same obstacles that voters faced in San Francisco. And as for the Ohio machine where all the votes suspiciously went to one candidate, no mention can be found. Either the incident had happened years before, or the Press Democrat was spinning tales.
* Geary's "bossism" speech marked the second time in a few months that Democrats in Santa Rosa had interjected 1905 San Francisco election politics into local issues. The previous September, PD editor Finley had compared a Santa Rosa reform group to the Citizen's Alliance, a despised organization of anti-labor thugs. In the San Francisco election, Boss Reuf primarily won by dishonestly linking the reformers with the group.
THE VOTING MACHINE
The agent for one of the various voting machines now on the market has tendered the city free use of his machines at the approaching municipal election, with the idea that their purchase will probably follow, together with that of sufficient others to equip the county.
So much has been heard regarding the wonders of the voting machine that one almost hates to admit, even to himself, that the only real argument in their favor is that they satisfy public curiosity as to the result of the election a little sooner than can be done under the present system.
Opposed to this are many disadvantages [sic].
We have yet to hear of a case where anyone has been injured by having to wait until the following morning to ascertain the result of an election; in fact the uncertainty of the few hours first following the closing of the polls is what adds most to the interest of such affairs.
The first argument against the voting machine is that it is a machine and as such is of course apt to get out of order at any time and without warning, either electing the wrong man or invalidating the entire election.
The second, and perhaps the most serious objection, is that the machines now on the market are constructed upon an incorrect principle. They are all built with the idea of encouraging "straight voting," where the safety and very existence of our present form of government depends upon encouraging the independent voter. Public sentiment is running strong against the "straight ticket" idea, and it is highly probably that before long our laws will be so amended as to do away with the present form of ballot entirely, compelling every voter to exercise his choice for or against each individual candidate, as was the case under the old Australian ballot system. When this is done the voting machines now in use will become worthless, and others built upon the new principal will have to be purchased to take their place. It therefore follows that this is not a very good time to buy voting machines, whether one is in favor of or opposed to them.
The voting machine is different from any other machine in that its mistakes cannot be corrected. The work of the adding machine, the typewriter and the Linotype can be done over again in cases where errors are discovered, but no such rectifying of mistakes is possible with the voting machine. The voter records his wish and goes his way, no one knows where, and he leaves no record of his action save that contained in the inner mechanism of the machine. When later in the day, the machine is found to be out of order, it is impossible to round up all the voters the second time, and so the entire day's work is lost.
In case the disarrangement is not discovered, somebody is "counted out."
According to a report telegraphed from Ohio not long ago, when a voting machine was opened at the close of the day's run it was found that one candidate had received two or three thousand votes and his opponent none at all. The discrepancy was so marked, in this case that an error was apparent at a glance, but if it had been less so it might have never been noticed.
A very strong argument against the voting machine is that it leaves no record of its procedure, and in case a dispute arises as to the correctness of its figures, there is no possible way of settling it. Under the present system it is always possible to rectify mistakes, even after the result has been announced by referring to the returns or recounting the ballots, or both.
The first cost of the voting machine is very heavy; and the money paid for them goes to manufacturers residing in the east. Between elections the machines must be stored, and a thorough overhauling at the hands of an expert is necessary each time before they can be placed in commission. In addition to the heavy expenditure required in their purchase and maintenance, about the same amount must be paid out for assistance as under the present system. Although it is claimed that such is not the case, it is very probable that no real saving is effected by the introduction of the voting machine. Figuring interest on the cost of the investment, wear and tear, etc., and considering the likelihood of having to throw the machine out of commission after a few years' use, the cost of conducting elections is in all probability considerably greater where the machine is used than under the hand system.
And the entire amount paid out for conducting elections under the present system goes to the citizens and taxpayers of the county.
It may be that some people will contend that voting machines should be introduced here at once, but we are inclined to believe that if such is the case, it is only because they have failed to consider the matter in all its aspects.
As we see it, there is nothing to be gained by the introduction of machines within the city or the county at the present time. The forty or fifty thousand dollars that it would cost can be expended to far better advantage in other directions.
- March 6, 1906 Press Democrat editorial
VOTING MACHINES WILL NOT BE USED AT CITY ELECTION
Council Rescind Former Resolution
Petition Presented and Considerable Oratory Feature of Proceedings
By unanimous vote the members of the City Council at their meeting last night rescinded a resolution passed at a previous meeting providing for the use of voting machines at the coming municipal election. Many citizens were present at the meeting, and when Mayor Overton declared the motion carried, the hall rang with applause.
A petition very numerously signed was first read. It asked that the resolution heretofore passed providing for the use of voting machines should be allowed to stand, and called attention to the use of machines elsewhere, etc. The petition was placed on fine.
Then Attorney L. W. Julliard, representing Frank C. Jordan, agent for the voting machine, stepped to the front. He stated that he had received a telephone message a short time before asking him to appear and stating that owing to a failure to make train connections Mr. Jordan found himself left over night at Stockton and unable to reach Santa Rosa in time for the meeting. Jordan asked that the machine matter be delayed until Wednesday night when he could be present.
Councilman Wallace moved that the former resolution passed by the City Council allowing the use of voting machines be rescinded. Councilman Donahue seconded the motion. Then the debate on the question began, and Mayor Overton gave anyone who desired to speak an opportunity to do so.
John Robinson, the well known proprietor of the Eagle hotel, was not slow in accepting the Mayor's invitation for an expression of views. Mr. Robinson said there was no doubt but that the agent of the voting machine had fully explained his wares to the council, and he could not be blamed for endeavoring to get business for his company. He thought, however, that possibly the passing of the resolution two weeks ago was a little hasty, and he mentioned Mayor Overton's desire as expressed at the time to have the matter considered further. The speaker called attention to the complications of the mechanism he had seen men contend with when they attempted to practice voting on a machine, and he did not mince language when he declared with some emphasis that the use of machines here on election day would practically disfanchise a great many good people. He though that if the resolution was not rescinded it would be a very serious mistake.
Attorney Julliard in behalf of Mr. Jordan took the floor to extol the virtues of the machine and if he had been speaking for himself and also was the agent, his argument could hardly have been more persuasive. He said that the arguments against the use of the machines could almost as well be applicable to the Australian ballot. He cited elections in other cities and towns where machines had worked, presumably like a charm.
Before Colonel Julliard spoke, Councilman King said he would like to hear what the Hon. T. J. Geary had to say, Mr. Geary being an interested but silent looking-on at the proceedings. Colonel Julliard had his inning first, and during the course of his remarks he (Colonel Julliard) called attention to the incorrect statement published in an evening paper stating that Mr. Geary was in favor of the machines.
Mr. Geary spoke forcibly and eloquently in opposing the introduction of voting machines here at the present time. He said it was no stroke of economy to use the machines because there would have to be the usual election officers and other matters to provide for. He said he was opposed to voting machines as at present constructed which were in direct opposition to the tendency of the people in their use of the ballot. Voting machines, he declared, with much emphasis, were made for the benefit of the bosses and for the depriving of the people of their rights. They were made, he said, to permit the bosses' coercing the people and were used as a means to get them to do their bidding. Things had come to such a pass he declared that it was often a choice between two sets of bosses nowadays, and people under the pretense of freedom had become abject slaves of bosses and of bossism. The tendency of the times, he said, was to destroy the bosses and there was also a strong tendency against party tickets, and a growth of an intelligent sentiment which demands that people thing and vote for themselves. Amid applause the speaker declared the "voting machine is an instrument of bossism." He went on to say that he believed the present ballot law would be changed within two years.
Colonel Julliard replied to some of the things the previous speaker had touched on, and said that out of courtesy to Mr. Jordan the matter might be laid over until Wednesday night when that gentleman could be here.
Mr. Robinson said he had learned through the public press of the city and in other ways to show that the people generally did not want the voting machine.
J. L. Jordan said he preferred and he thought the majority preferred that the coming election should be voted in the old way.
In further proof of his statements Mr. Geary brought in a minature voting machine which had been place in the anteroom for inspection, and his reading of the directions and the explanations afforded considerable merriment and drove home to a clinch some of the claims he had made.
The vote on the question was then called for and Councilmen Reynolds, Donahue, Brown, Wallace, King and McDonough all voted a hearty "Aye," and the spectre of the voting machine at the coming city election vanished. The city will pay the cost of the freight in bringing the voting machines here as agreed.
- March 7, 1906 Press Democrat
Humor goes rotten faster than eggs, as Will Rogers (or someone, might possibly have) said (or not), but nothing ages with the speed of editorial cartoons. Yesteryear's op/ed jabs are now oblique. Why is the President showing a diplomat his pocket watch? Why is that Asian man drinking from a teacup? Why is that ear of corn angry? I'm sure these cartoons brought readers of the day a wry smile or a sage nod of the head, but now they might as well be hieroglyphs.
But history doth repeat, and the themes in the cartoon below, from the October 6, 1906 Press Democrat, need only to be slightly updated to be timely today. The original context was the run-up to the Bank Panic of 1907, when major banks were at risk of failure unless the government provided bailout money. Oh, and there was also a wave of high-profile bankruptcies, a credit crisis, a real estate bubble, and greedy Wall St. speculators. Does any of this sound familiar?