Here are two stories about women being assaulted from the same paper, same day, even the very same page. In one case, the attacks are taken very seriously; in the other, the woman is ridiculed for making the charge. And both stories leave the reader wondering if there was more to the incidents than told in the newspaper.

The first tale could have been lifted from a generic B-movie western: A drunken gang terrorizes women in a rural community, even threatening the shutdown of a post office until Johnny Law shows up. As told in the September 24, 1906 Santa Rosa Republican, policemen from Santa Rosa spent two days rushing back and forth on country roads to crack down on "rowdies."

But why were our local cops churning up the dust between here and a farm near Occidental? Why wasn't the sheriff called? Likely because he was away at the time, and the situation was serious enough to warrant immediate attention. Besides the attacks upon women, postal service was threatened and that, as the newspaper warned ominously, could get the drunks "entangled with the federal law."

Reading closely, however, it appears that these troublemakers were conducting a reign of terror over a broad swath of West County. The Mount Olivet post office was at the current intersection of River Road and Olivet Road (three miles west of Fulton), and according to the 1900 county map, that hop yard was about eight miles further west in the hills above Occidental, which would mean that anyone along modern-day River Road or any of the other coastward roads might be attacked by these aggressive yahoos.

The other story is far more a mystery. On the same Sunday evening that Santa Rosa's finest were chasing down hop field drunks, a woman ran up Fourth street screaming. She told the crowd that gathered that she was on Third when a man tried to drag her into a vacant lot. A search for the attacker was fruitless.

Yet the real assault on the woman came not from a man grabbing at her in the dark but from the newspaper, who ridiculed her story of the attack. "It is believed to be an attempt to gain notoriety," the news item concluded, with a sneering tone. Why such skepticism - and particularly why such disrespect, unprecedented for an article about a woman during that era? Was Alice a prostitute, or otherwise a person of such basement-like stature that she could be openly humiliated in the paper by being called a liar? Was the reporter a jilted lover, or someone who otherwise had a vendetta against her?


A number of drunken rowdies who have been employed in the hop fields near Mr. Olivet have kept up a reign of terror there for a couple of days past. Women have been badly frightened, the inebriates have attempted to take hold of several of the women, and the woman who carries the mail from the train to the postoffice has been so badly frightened that she will not carry the mail any longer. If these men should continue to interfere with the mails they may feel themselves entangled with the federal law.

Constable Sam J. Gilliam was called to the Purrington hop yard Saturday afternoon and remained until 2 o'clock Sunday morning. He and Constable Boswell were both there again Sunday and on Monday morning a hurried call for these officers was again made. Constable Gilliam was at the time enroute for the scene. Every year these drunken orgies are enacted and it is hoped that the officers have now quelled the disturbance so that it will not break out again.

Probably Attempt to Gain Notoriety

A woman who is said to be Alice Rodgers, or Alice Sawyer, and who stops at a hotel on lower Fourth street, claims to have had an exciting encounter with a bold, bad man Sunday evening. She had been out walking with another woman who was stopping temporarily at the hotel, and her companion had returned twenty minutes previously to the time when the woman came screaming toward the hostelry.

Guests at the hotel listened hurriedly to her story, and then started over to Third street, where she said a man had grabbed her and attempted to drag her into a vacant lot. The woman said had been severely choked, but those who examined her throat and neck failed to see any marks thereon. A search was made for the alleged assailant of the woman, and although parties were hurriedly on the scene after the woman set up a lusty screaming, no one could be seen running away.

The matter was not reported to the police officially and no further attempt was made to capture the alleged assailant of the woman. It is believed to be an attempt to gain notoriety on the part of the fair guest at the hostelry. Monday she denied herself to callers and refused to discuss the matter. Although the woman has been a guest at the hotel for many days, her name was never placed on the register.

- Santa Rosa Republican, September 24, 1906


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