Hallowe'en in 1907 Santa Rosa passed without event, or at least nothing as serious as two years earlier, when a mob of little heathens ended up in jail.

(RIGHT: Detail of cartoon from The Salt Lake Tribune, November 1, 1907)

Nationally the prank d'jour was still stealing front yard gates, but it seems that in 1907 there was also a larger than usual number of Hallowe'en fatalities chronicled in the newspapers. Some examples:

*In Tucson, 20 year-old Ramon Lavota and his buddies stretched a wire across the sidewalk to trip a Chinese man who fell, then drew a handgun and shot Ramon dead

*Jarvis Willett of Fox Lake Wisc. died of a heart attack on the discovery that pranksters had hidden his wagon

*Newton Reddinger's head was blown off when a boy in Oak Ridge Penn. fired into a crowd that was taunting him

*Nine year-old Carl Appel of New Haven was pinging his pals with his little pea-shooter when he ran into a brick wall, fatally driving the pipe into his throat

*Joseph Berbeno (14) of Harlem blew out the brains of his 12 year-old friend in a game

*Annie Osgood of Ashland, Kentucky, was on a suicide watch after she wrapped herself in a sheet and frightened her sister so much that she leaped from the bedroom window, breaking her neck

*Mrs. Sadie Stiver of Logansport died of shock on hearing her daughter scream at the sight of trick-or-treaters

Festivities Keep Alive an Old Custom Which Many Participated Thursday Evening

Thursday night (Hallowe'en) was joyously celebrated in Santa Rosa, when many of the old-time customs were revived, the mellow gleam of the Jack O'Lanterns was seen and "spooks" were about in the land. In many Santa Rosa homes there were a number of little parties, at which there were Hallowe'en festivities and several public entertainments.

There were prank players abroad, too, and it will not be surprising if a number of householders awake this morning to find front gates missing or tied up, and other mischievous tricks perpetrated while men slept. If they do they must charge it up to the old-time excuse "boys will be boys."

- Press Democrat, November 1, 1907

Indians suffered a perplexing form of racism in the old Santa Rosa newspapers. As with other minorities, the racism was mostly passive: They were simply ignored, except when a serious crime was committed or there was a demeaning incident that the editor viewed as entertaining (even better if it could be written up in comic dialect).

Yet at the same time, editors resisted dipping the pen into the inkwell of snark when it came to writing about Indians as a race, as shown in the sympathetic 1907 articles below on the desperate conditions of Native people in Northern California. This was also an expression of racism - a domestic version of "The White Man's Burden," suggesting that Indian welfare had to be managed by missionaries and federal agents. These presumptions go back to the origins of Frontier America, and were probably best summarized in the "Lo! the Poor Indian!" chapter from Horace Greeley's 1860 book, "An Overland Journey:"

But the Indians are children...they are utterly incompetent to cope in any way with the European or Caucasian race. Any band of schoolboys, from ten to fifteen years of age, are quite as capable of ruling their appetites, devising and upholding a public policy, constituting and conducting a state or community, as an average Indian tribe. And, unless they shall be treated as a truly Christian community would treat a band of orphan children providentially thrown on its hands, the aborigines of this country will be practically extinct within the next fifty years.

These benevolent services could best be rendered, of course, if the Indians were restricted and isolated on distant reservations. If the Indians were viewed as "children" they were treated as unwanted ones, whom the Americans wanted to neither see nor hear.

A third kind of media racism can be found in articles that touched upon the "pioneer" years. Here the Indians were treated as a caveman-like race who lived here 'way back in antiquity. Sometimes they weren't mentioned at all, leaving the impression that the Anglo and Hispanic whites discovered an empty Eden. In another story below, Thomas Hopper recalls the days when he saw great herds of elk roamed "everywhere about this section." Hopper - an illiterate man who became a successful banker because of his knack for numbers - first came to Sonoma county in 1849, when there was still an Indian presence in the area (the round up and death march to Round Valley started around 1857), and hunting wild elk would have been one of the few sources of meat still available to them.

Below are also a pair of 1907 reports describing workmen coming across an Indian grave in Sebastopol. In both local papers, it's presented as a curiosity; "It is generally believed the spot was once a Indian burial ground," the Republican noted. What both papers failed to reveal was that the remains were found on the perimeter of the Indian cemetery on the Walker ranch, which was still active at the time, with the last known burial in 1912. (MORE on the Indian community in Sebastopol.)

To be fair, we can only make benign assumptions as to why both papers omitted any link in those stories to Indian culture. Whether or not old Tom Hopper was one of the few living people who might have witnessed a Pomo or Coast Miwok elk hunt probably didn't seem interesting. It's doubtful the editors saw any hypocrisy in their respectful and lengthy obituaries of any old "pioneer" who died and their offhand description of ditch-diggers handling someone's old bones. Intentional or no, the Indians disappeared a little bit more with each column-inch of print, and their legitimate right to be here a little further diminished.

Want Better Conditions for the Tribesman

Edward Posh and William Benson, two prominent Indians of this county and Mendocino county respectively, have returned from the conference recently held at Mount Hermon, where matters for the betterment of the Indians were discussed. There were nineteen Indians present at the conference and they petitioned the great white father at Washington to supply the needs. In the memorial sent to the nation's capital, the first thing the Indians request is that lands and homes be provided for twelve thousand out of the seventeen thousand Indians in this state. Five thousand are provided for in the Round Valley reservation. Mr. Posh estimates that there are between three and four hundred Indians scattered through Sonoma county.

The second request is that the Indians be provided with common schools that they may learn to read and write and that industrial schools be established for the young people that they may learn some useful occupation. They also ask that the laws be enforced relative to the selling of liquor to Indians and suggest that the laws be amended so that no person with Indian blood in his veins shall be able to secure liquor. They ask that the party selling and the party purchasing liquor both be punished. Among the other suggestions made for the Indians is that they be provided with a field physician appointed by the government to attend sick tribesmen, and that they be provided with legal protection that they may secure justice in all the courts when involved in litigation.

- Santa Rosa Republican, July 22, 1907

Efforts to Be Made to Secure Allotment of Lands for Redmen of This County

Twenty Indians - nineteen men and one woman, all members of the Sonoma county Indian tribes - returned on Sunday from Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz county, where the Northern California Indian Missionary Society has been meeting last week. One of the Indian leaders is Edward Posh, an intelligent man with some education, who told a reporter Monday that he and his people believe some good will result from the efforts of this society to better the condition of the native tribes of northern California, who have suffered much at the hands of the white men, and who are now for the most part destitute.

"My home, I have none," he said when he was asked where his home was. "None of us have homes. That's the trouble with us. That's what the Indian Association is trying to get for us."

"Five objects are sought by the Association," said Edward Posh. The first of these is homes for the homeless Indians. The second is education - common school education for the Indian children and industrial education for those who are grown. The third thing sought is protection from the drink evil. It is well known that the use of liquor by Indians brings results much worse than the use of liquor by white men. The Indians themselves ask further protection from this evil by asking that the government impose heavier penalties upon those white men who supply intoxicants to members of the tribes; and they ask, also, that the law punish Indians who buy liquor as well as white men who sell to them.

"The fifth thing asked by the Association is that the government provide us with doctors. When an Indian gets sick, he generally suffers and dies or suffers and gets well with no medical attendance. Few of us have any money; none of us have much; and there are few doctors anywhere near us. And of those who are near, not many will attend us, for there is poor prospect for a fee."

J. A. Gilchrist is the manager of the Indian missions. The Rev. J. A. Johnson of Berkeley, is one of those leading the movement for the betterment of the tribes. They say that the difficulty of the Indian problem is not due to any stubbornness of the Indians themselves, nor to any improvidence or to unfitness to be civilized. They declare that the government itself has repeatedly broken faith with the natives despoiled them of their lands on promise to give them others and neglected or refused to keep the promise. They term the last 100 years of United States history "A Century of Dishonor" in its reference to dealings with the aborigines, and they seek to make amends for it in all possible ways.

- Press Democrat, July 13, 1907

Well Known Pioneer Recalls Early Days When Antlered Herd Roamed at Will Here

"I saw elk in droves when I first came to this country, and shot quite a number of them. I remember not only seeing them wandering here and there on the site where Santa Rosa stands today, but everywhere about this section," said Thomas Hopper, the well known pioneer and capitalist as he surveyed the big stuffed elk in the Press Democrat building on Thursday.

"I remember seeing one of the largest drove of elks I ever saw over near Bloomfield, and one time saw two fine ones down on the Cotati. I tell you they were big fellows."

Mr. Hopper, despite his eighty-seven years, walked down town briskly on Thursday morning from his McDonald avenue residence. He has just returned from an outing on Wesley Hopper's ranch near town, and while there took a little exercise at splitting stove wood with an axe. The exercise he says drove away the rheumatism from his shoulder.

- Press Democrat, October 12, 1907


Workmen for the Petaluma and Santa Rosa electric railroad in digging a trench at Sebastopol recently, came across many human bones in the earth they threw from the trench. The bones were examined to ascertain if they were really from human beings. In the same spot the workmen discovered some flint arrow heads and some beads, indicating that the bones were those of Indians. Whether the men had been killed or died a peaceful death will never be known. It is generally believed the spot was once a Indian burial ground.

- Santa Rosa Republican, July 19, 1907


While engaged in widening the electric company's roadbed on Petaluma avenue this week workmen uncovered a skeleton surrounded by a stone mortar and pestle and numerous flint arrow heads. It is believed to be the remains of an Indian buried in the years long past. The bones were almost dust and many of them crumbled when handled. An old Indian burying ground is supposed to have been opened and if the excavations are carried on other finds may be reported.

- Press Democrat, July 19, 1907

About a year after the 1906 earthquake, Santa Rosa's beer baron decided it was time to build a house unlike any other in town.

Joseph T. Grace was the managing partner in the renowned Grace Brother's Brewery (brother Frank was county sheriff, but about to retire) and owned a choice location at the southern foot of McDonald Avenue. Next door was a park that was arguably the true soul of the town, dating back to before the Civil War. The brother's owned that, too. (MORE)

Although the article in the Press Democrat announced that Grace would be building a "modern home," a "twentieth century structure," the result was a heavy, Federalist-style design that wouldn't have been out of place in Washington D.C, circa 1800. Call it mausoleum-modern.

The house at 1116 Fourth Street was demolished mid-century to make way for a Safeway store, and is currently a Grocery Outlet.

(RIGHT: Photo above from 1913 and below from 1910. The landscaping suggests that the turn-of-the-century fad for palm trees began to wane about this time. Both images courtesy the Sonoma County Library. CLICK to enlarge. )

Brick Dwelling House on the Grace Property is Being Demolished to Make Way For a Modern Home

The brick dwelling house on the Grace property at Fourth street and McDonald avenue is being torn down, and when that has been done a new house will be built there, which will be the family residence of Joseph T. Grace.

The dwelling now being demolished was built in the early '70's by H. T. Hewitt, an old-time builder and capitalist, whose son, Dr. H. A. Hewitt, is now a Healdsburg dentist. The Hewitt home was one of the handsomest and most costly dwellings in the Santa Rosa [area] of those early days. Later, it was the home of Phillip Kroncke, and then it passed to Grace Brothers, together with the park adjoining, which was laid out by Mr. Kroncke.

The building was damaged by the earthquake last year, and being regarded as unsafe, has since been tenantless. Still, there is good, tough mortar there, as hard as the bricks themselves, and the bricks are hard to separate. When the house was [illegible microfilm] work upon it completely covering the brick walls.

The house was burned on the Fourth of July, 1876, and nothing but the brick walls remained. The partitions as well as the outer walls were bricks of heavy construction. When the building was restored, there was less woodwork. The brick walls were not covered, and there were not the heavy, ornate wooden cornices of the original dwelling. Still it was a handsome house, and a comfortable residence withal.

Mr. Grace's new residence will begin to rise as soon as the site is cleared. It will be a twentieth century structure, and as much of an ornament to the new Santa Rosa as the Hewitt home was to the Santa Rosa of the '70's.

- Press Democrat, July 13, 1907

It was a story that O'Henry might have written, and the widow Higginson could have been a character from one of his tales. And not to give too much away, O'Henry's short stories always ended with a twist. Read on.

It was just after the Fourth of July in 1907 when Gertrude met her husband-to-be, Tom. He was the chef-owner of a successful restaurant in Healdsburg that served French-American food; that summer the San Francisco Call even ran an item praising his restaurant, and particularly his way with a beefsteak. He was taking a camping vacation on the coast when he happened to meet Gertrude at a summer resort. Over tea, sparks flew. He cut his vacation short and returned to Healdsburg, where she soon joined him. Ten days later, she was sporting a diamond engagement ring and they were planning to be married as soon as possible.

Gertrude was already a widow at age thirty, and was five years younger than Tom. She was quite pretty, dressed nicely, and had some talent at piano playing. She also was well off, thanks to a savvy investment in gold mine stocks. One more thing to know about Tom and Gertrude: She was white, he was Chinese.

It was illegal for them to marry in California; the state's anti-miscegenation law dated back to 1880, forbidding weddings between a white person and "a Negro, mulatto, or Mongolian." Not all states had such a racist law, however, so Gertrude and Tom were soon on the train to Seattle, where they were wed. Their interracial marriage and out-of-state flight was unusual enough to make the newspapers in San Francisco and Reno.

Coverage of the events by the Santa Rosa papers was fairly predictable. The Santa Rosa Republican called him a "Celestial" and a "son of Confucius," regrettable stereotypes that were old-timey but still commonly used by even progressive newspapers in that era. But at least the Republican gave him some measure of the respect he deserved; the Press Democrat's coverage ended with a dismissive, you'll-never-be-as-good-as-us swipe that while he was successful, "he is a Mongolian, just the same."

Tom Chun was certainly a man of accomplishment. Born about 1870, he emigrated at age eleven and settled in Healdsburg while still in his teens. He acclimated into American culture, spoke and wrote fluent English, and was adept at the card games that were the primary social activity of Americans in that day. That he was in turn embraced by the community is shown in the description of his wedding reception in Healdsburg, where "a large company of doctors, lawyer and others were there with their wives."

But here's the next twist in the story: Within three months of their marriage, Gertrude disappeared.

A notice appeared in the Healdsburg newspaper: "Gertrude May Chun (formerly Mrs. Higginson) having left my bed and board, I will not be responsible for any debts contracted by her after this date, November 13, 1907. TOM CHUN." Tom also swore out a warrant against her, charging that she had stolen his gold watch and chain.

Was Gertrude a con artist who only married Tom with the intent of theft? This is reminiscent of the 1904 two-week marriage of wealthy hop-grower Ah Quay to a woman of Hispanic and Indian ancestry, who disappeared after having expensive dental work that included gold fillings. Maybe it's a coincidence that there were two such similar incidents in little Sonoma County within a few years, or perhaps prosperous Chinese immigrant men were not infrequently tricked into sham marriages. Scholars. sharpen your pencils.

What happened to Gertrude is not known, except that it's likely that she didn't return to Tom; he's again single in the 1910 census, and the 1920 census shows he has a new wife named Sena. But we do know this: Her name when they met was not really Gertrude May Higginson.

As it turns out, "Gertrude Higginson" happened to be a very unusual name in the U.S. at that time. There was only one Mrs. Gertrude Higginson, and she apparently spent her entire life in Rhode Island and Connecticut, married to a steam fitter. Gertrude May Higginson is absolutely unique; this was the maiden name of a woman wed to a Kansas farmer. Both women were about the same age as the woman who married Tom Chun. While it can't be proven that one of the Gertrudes didn't leave her husband and child, travel across the country to become a bigamist and roll the poor guy for his jewelry, then return home and spend the rest of her life in the bosom of her family, it's, um, unlikely. The woman in question probably made all or part of the name up, or happened to know one of the real Gertrudes at some time in her life.

There are some clues, however, about this mystery woman's past. "She hails from Goldfield, Nevada," the Republican reported, "where she states that she has relatives and that others of her family are living at Coronado, in southern California." Goldfield was one of the last great boomtowns in the West, and in that year it was the largest city in Nevada, boasting a 195-room hotel (which still stands), three newspapers, and a saloon with 80 bartenders on duty. Coronado is a small island just offshore from San Diego that had (and still has) a luxury resort frequented by royalty and presidents and others world famous. What they had in common was that both areas would have been well known to prostitutes in that day.

Aside from the wealthy who stayed at the resort there were few who lived on the island, most of them workers at the hotel. But about 2,000 feet across the water from Coronado Island was San Diego's infamous Stingaree District, which at the time was a booming tenderloin near the U.S. Naval base. An excellent study found that the number of prostitutes in the area approximately tripled between 1900 and that year while the number of saloons doubled.

Anyone who lived in San Diego knew of Coronado, just as anyone who lived in Goldfield would know the supposed source of her fortune, the Mohawk mine, which produced about $5 million of gold in less than four months. The red-light district in Goldfield was even larger than San Diego's; one contemporary source estimated that there were 500 women working there at one time, making the district virtually a "city onto itself." A Nevada history web site offers photos of the prostitution cribs, with the names of the women painted on signs by the shack doors.

(RIGHT: "Dance hall girls" at Goldfield's Jumbo Club. Photo: uncredited from Life, May 11, 1959)

Goldfield and Stingaree were two of the three largest prostitution districts in the western U.S. The last of the trio was San Francisco's Barbary Coast, which was a short hop from the north county summer resort where Tom happened to meet "Gertrude."

All this is conjecture, of course. Perhaps nothing was amiss; maybe they just didn't get along. Maybe Tom Chun misplaced his valuable watch, and "Gertrude" somehow evaded mention in all official records, just as she oddly happened to be associated with every hot spot for prostitution in the West. Maybe it's a coincidence that she said she was a waitress in Goldfield, and that San Diego study found that "waitress" was the most common profession claimed by prostitutes. Maybe it's also irrelevant that "Gertrude" speedily married Tom at a time when the women working in the San Diego brothels were almost all younger than her, even though she still had her good looks.

We'll probably never know if she really was one of the "soiled doves," but even if she was, pity is in order; it's doubtful that she ended her days living in a nice cottage in a nice little town with a nice, prosperous husband. Her fate was probably as far from all that niceness as you can imagine.


From Healdsburg, Monday, came a story of romance, love and betrothal. The peace and quietude of the fair city of Sotoyome vale is sadly disrupted by the proclamation of the coming event. Cupid has played a queer prank, and woven with his ribbons of love a heart of the Orient with that of the Occident.

Tom Chun, a celestial, who has lived in Healdsburg for over twenty years, is the party of the Orient, and he is to wed Mrs. Gertrude Higginson, an American by birth, and a comely widow of perhaps thirty years of this world's life.

Tom Chun keeps a restaurant in the northery [sic] city, and during his thirty-five years of life has accumulated a goodly store of American gold. About two weeks ago, growing weary of the griddle and the flapjack, he held himself to a hunters' camp on the coast ranges. While passing a summer resort by the way he stopped for a cup of good tea to quench his dusty throat. It was there he met his fate. It was there the comely widow became a reality in the life of this son of Confucius. He was in need of a waitress in his chowchow house and she was in search of just such a position.

Over the tea cups she promised to assist him, on his return to Healdsburg, in dispensing rice to the hungry. Right then he forgot his camping trip, forgot his cue, forgot his joss. He returned the same day to his restaurant and sent for the widow waitress. That was but ten days ago. Today on East street in Healdsburg is a cottage all new with tables of oak and chairs of cherry. Oriental rugs are on the floor and an upright piano stands ready for the touch of the bride's deft fingers, for she is an accomplished musician.

Monday the couple left on the afternoon train for Seattle, Washington. The laws of this state forbid their marriage here, so they will travel to the northern city to become man and wife.

Personally the bride-to-be is quite a pretty widow and of seeming ordinary intelligence. She is neat and attractive in appearance. She hails from Goldfield, Nevada, where she states that she has relatives and that others of her family are living at Coronado, in southern California. She was a waitress in Goldfield and made considerable money in Mohawk stock. She now wears a brilliant diamond ring, the engagement token from the groom. On her wrist an ivory bracelet of the royal house of Tom Chun rattles.

Tom Chun is an Americanized Celestial. He speaks English fluently and can read and write with ease. At the gaming table he plays pedro with the boys and is an all around sport in games of chance.

They expect to return from the north during the later part of the week, when they will go to housekeeping in their newly furnished cottage. A wedding feast has been promised and "at home" cards will be sent out by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Chun.

- Santa Rosa Republican, August 5, 1907

White Woman Infatuated With a Healdsburg Chinaman Goes With Him to Washington to be Married

Mrs. Gertrude Higginson, a white woman who recently came from the mining town of Goldfield, Nevada, and Tom Chun, a Chinaman, started Monday together from Healdsburg to go to the State of Washington to be married.

The laws of Washington provide no such penalties for the crime of miscegenation as do those of California. There neither the parties to the contract nor the clergyman who performs the marriage rites may feel the hand of the law. After Mrs. Higginson has become Mrs. Tom Chun, she and her Mongolian spouse could return to Healdsburg to reside.

Tom Chun has lived in Healdsburg twenty years and runs a restaurant. He long ago cut off his pigtail, and he wears American clothes. But he is a Mongolian, just the same.

- Press Democrat, August 7, 1907

Tom Chun Marries Mrs. Gertrude Higginson

A telegram from Seeattle announces that Tom Chun, the Healdsburg Celestial, and Mrs. Gertrude Higginson, also of that city, were married Wednesday by Justice of the Peace R. R. George. The Rev. J. P. Lloyd, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, refused to marry the couple, declaring the laws of the state did not permit the ceremony between the white woman and the Celestial. The bride broken [sic] down and cried at the refusal of the minister, but was smiling and happy when the justice spoke the words which made the couple husband and wife. The bride declared she was a music teacher and missionary.

- Santa Rosa Republican, August 8, 1907


Tom Chun, the Healdsburg Chinaman, who recently went to Seattle to marry a Caucasian woman, Gertrude Higginson, after only a three weeks' acquaintance, arrived home from the north a few nights ago. The bridal party stopped off of the evening train in Santa Rosa and from here took a carriage to Healdsburg. A reception was tendered them and a large company of doctors, lawyer and others were there with their wives. "Jim," as the Celestial is familiarly known, has furnished a neat cottage in Healdsburg for the home of himself and bride.

- Santa Rosa Republican, August 16, 1907


Tom Yun [sic], the Healdsburg Chinese restaurant man, who a few months ago went to Washington in order to marry Mrs. Gertrude May Higginson, is now looking for his fair white wife. After living with her Celestial husband for a short time, the woman has wearied of her spouse and "flew the coop." Yun is now after her with a warrant, claiming that she took his gold watch and chain and that this was his separate property.

Soon after Mrs. Yun left her husband and home the man advertised in the Healdsburg papers that he would not be responsible for any debts contracted by her, and that she had "left his bed and board." It is thought that should the officers find the woman and she agree[s] to return the watch, that would be the end of her prosecution.

- Santa Rosa Republican, November 19, 1907

Was there ever a fire chief more vigilant than Santa Rosa's Frank Muther? Sometimes it seemed that more was accomplished at the Fire Commissioners' meeting than City Council. Just a few months after he ordered his men to keep a sharp lookout for lawn-watering scofflaws that could endanger the city, here he was, urging town fathers to finally take action on the "temporary structures" that quickly popped up following the 1906 earthquake. Now almost a year-and-a-half later, many "shacks" apparently remained.

Frank Muther died in 1927 and is buried in the old Odd Fellows' Cemetery (lot 21), just on the other side of the fence from the Fulkerson crypt in the Rural Cemetery. But today his grave is completely unmarked, likely because he had a wooden tombstone that was destroyed by a mid-century burn at the Rural Cemetery to control weeds. Oh, irony.

Also below is a letter to the editor complaining of high fire risk conditions (in the fiscal year that ended the day before this letter appeared, there had been 23 fire alarms, 9 of them false). Between the ramshackle shacks and the weed-choked backyards, Frank needed to stay on his toes.

Important Recommendation Made at Last Night's Meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners

At the meeting of the Fire Commissioners last night Fire Chief Frank Muther recommended that all temporary buildings that remain untenanted for thirty days should be torn down as a matter of precaution against fire.

The Fire Chief reported two fires during the month; that at the Yandle foundry, entailing a total loss of $3,572.20 upon which insurance was paid thereon to the amount of $1,272.20.

The Fire Chief at the conclusion of the reading of the report said that there area a lot of old shacks that were built temporarily that should be removed.

The Chief also reported that owing to the removal of Charles Connolly from the city he had appointed Chas. Bowman to fill the vacancy as a call member of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.

The hook and ladder wagon of the department has been painted and returned spick and span to the fire station.

The Chief also presented some correspondence regarding the repairs of the old La France engine, providing of a new boiler, etc.

- Press Democrat, September 18, 1907

Editor Republican:
I do not sign my name to this, but all the same I am a bona fide citizen of this hamlet, and what I say is the truth, and also, what I say will be understood.

I think this is a disorderly, untidy, and unkept town. Not only are the business thoroughfares in need of attention in the way of repairs, but the residence streets are also neglected. Notwithstanding the request of the street department that the sidewalks be cleaned, grass and weeds removed therefrom, hardly any attention was paid to that notice. In many places the back yards have gone to waste and the high, dry grass growing there has made the places fire traps. Day after tomorrow fire crackers and other explosives will be burning all over town, and how many dry grass lots will be ablaze? Cannot the powers that be in this city be awakened to some of the simple needs of the place? I am afraid to go out into the country for even a day for fear that I may return and find my home in ruins. With the water supply sometimes in the air, would it not be a practical thing to remove all cause of fire, especially during the next few days?

- Santa Rosa Republican, July 2, 1907

Another glimpse of old Santa Rosa; meat was delivered from the butcher to your door, just as other purveyors brought milk and eggs and blocks of ice to keep everything chilled. All sensible services to offer in the early 20th century, before personal cars became commonplace and electric refrigerators became available.

And this certainly was a meat-lovin' town; for a few days In January 1909, Santa Rosa was cut off from the outside world when 100-year-flood conditions washed out the Southern Pacific railroad bridge, leaving the stockyards unstocked for want of cattle on the cattle cars. Both papers had front-page scare stories about a looming "meat famine," but luckily the flood waters receded before Fluffy and Fido got 'et by meat-crazed Santa Rosans.

Will Dispense with One Wagon and Deliver by Routes

The butchers of Santa Rosa are arranging for a change in their schedule of delivery and of taking orders and the same will be put into effect on December 1st. It is the plan of the firm to dispense with one delivery wagon and have the town routed in such a manner as to make the delivery systematical. Another feature of the change will be the dispensing of the order wagon and patrons will either be compelled to make their orders the day before with the delivery boy, or phone the order into the shop. This latter, however, will carry with it the risk of not getting the meat to the house in time for cooking, as the wagon may be on some other route, or just started on that route at the time the order is received.

It is expected that the new system will be a great help to the butchers, in matter of work and also of expense and maintaining an extra wagon and driver. After becoming accustomed to it there may not find it of benefit to them in securing early delivery of orders.

- Santa Rosa Republican, November 21, 1907

In 1908 there were no Blue Angels to rattle windows during Fleet Week, but Teddy Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" was on hand to rattle sabers, in advance of its round-the-world trip to showcase America's military might. The sixteen Navy battleships, manned with 14,000 sailors, sailed into San Francisco Bay on May 6, 1908.

Santa Rosa all but shut down for the celebration, according to the Press Democrat, as 3,500 people - roughly one-third of the population - bought a special $1.70 round-trip train ticket for the festivities. A photograph of the ships steaming through the Golden Gate (sans bridge, of course) can be seen here.

Immense Crowd of People Go From Here to Different Places About the Bay

There was a general suspension of business Wednesday in Santa Rosa, when nearly 3,500 people visited San Francisco, Sausalito, Fort Baker and Lime Point to watch the arrival of the Atlantic battleship fleet in San Francisco bay.

Thee were over 1,200 tickets sold here Tuesday and about 1,000 people went to the bay counties that day, while Wednesday over 2,000 more tickets were sold and as many persons went to the bay district. Most of those from the coast counties viewed the arrival from the Marin County shore.

Fort Baker and Lime Point were the objective points of most of the crowd from Santa Rosa. A magnificent view of the ocean and movement of the fleet as t approached the Golden Gate, and thence through the bay almost to anchorage was afforded from the Marin shore. A sharp damp fog closed down just after the fleet passed for a short time, but otherwise the day was very pleasant.

As far as known not an accident marred the day on this side of the bay, although it is estimated that fully 200,000 people were lined up throughout the government reservation. The Northwestern Pacific handled the great volume of traffic in a most satisfactory manner. There were none of those usual delays where great crowds are handled. General Superintendent William J. Hunter gave the excursion train handling his personal attention.

- Press Democrat, May 8, 1908

Emotions ran hot in 1907 Santa Rosa over three topics: Prostitution, the near-collapse of the entire economic system, and sidewalks.

The first issue is easy to understand; the City Council legalized prostitution that year without public discussion, and the churches were up in arms. People were also upset about the bank panic, of which much will be written about later. But...sidewalks?

Every month or so during this era, the newspapers reported that angry citizens, sometimes entire neighborhoods, were appearing at Council meetings to protest the laying of concrete sidewalks. One of the early entries on this blog was about the sidewalk-haters on Benton Street, who turned out in 1904 to speak out and also present petitions. But the articles never explained why seemingly everyone was so upset; all coverage just ended by noting that the issue was "referred to the street committee." Arrggghhh!

Finally, a pair of little items printed in 1907 were the Rosetta Stones. As was already guessed, sidewalks were being added to Santa Rosa slowly, and on a street-by-street basis. This makes eminent sense; the entire city couldn't be sidewalked all at the exact same time because there just weren't enough cement contractors (and the workforce was one short that year, due to dope fiend Joseph N. Forgett being in the slammer). But the reason everyone was so mad was because the property owner was held responsible for doing the work. If the sidewalks weren't in by deadline, the town could hire a contractor - who just might be a high-priced friend of a city official, perhaps? - and put a lien upon the property for the amount of the bill. Now the widespread public outrage is understandable; the sidewalk ordinance mandated both giving away a portion of your property in a kind-of eminent domain, and that you paid for the privilege. Or else.

Still, some people bucked the law. Later that year, a contractor appeared before the Council and asked for the city to crack down on his neighbors on Carrillo Street. "The poor had laid their walks and the rich had not," he complained. Can't we all just get paved?

The matter was referred to the street committee.


From many sections of Santa Rosa property owners are calling on the city council to order cement sidewalks constructed on the thoroughfares. At the present time cement is cheaper than it has been for many months past, and it has been suggested that now is the time for the property owners to make their contracts and save money. Many miles of these splendid sidewalks have already been laid in the City of Roses, but there are numerous streets that should be completed with these walks at once.

- Santa Rosa Republican, July 17, 1907


Residents on Carrillo street between Ripley and Morgan streets are losing no time in getting cement walks laid after the adoption of the resolution of intention a week ago by the City Council. Most all the lots on both sides of Carrillo street in that block now have gravel on the ground for the walks. As yet there is no sign of action between Morgan and Glenn streets. Property owners all over the city where walks have been ordered laid will find it much cheaper to do the work by private contract than to allow the city advertise and let contracts and place a lien upon the property.

- Press Democrat, August 22, 1907



Property Owners Protest
A protest, numerously signed, was read from property owners of Morgan street against the laying of cement walks on that street between Ninth street and Berry Lane. At the last meeting a petition was presented asking the council to order the laying of the walks. Those protesting urged that there were sidewalks needed on other streets between Morgan street and the court house, which should be laid first. Referred to the street committee.


Nichols Makes a Speech
W. E. Nichols, the contractor, adressed the council. He said he wanted to see rich and poor join hands when it came to laying cement sidewalks. Up on Carrillo street on his block, he said, "the poor had laid their walks and the rich had not." He asked the council to order the city attorney to proceed against those who had failed to do their portion of sidewalk construction. The matter went to the street committee. The street commissioner is preparing a list of property owners who have not complied with the council's order regarding the laying of walks on a number of streets. When that is handed in there may something doing.

The matter of new walk laying City Attorney Geary stated that in view of the present stringency of the money market he would not advise the council to impose more taxes on the people than at present.

- Press Democrat, November 13, 1907

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