Everyone's endured a few bad houseguests, but none so horrible I considered attacking them with an iron pipe or hog-tying them with bailing wire. Well, not many.

Both of these odd stories from 1907 leave the reader hungry for additional details. In one tale, a stranger appears at a ranch near Cotati, where he's welcomed to supper. Some time later, he "acted like a crazy man" and it was decided he must be tied up. The incident would be unusual enough if it just ended there, but the guest then "gnawed the rope in two as a rat would have done" and instead of quietly running away like a sensible maniac, he draws attention to his lack of bondage and is again tied up, this time with wire.

The other vignette has Mr. William Miller at the home of his sister in Guerneville. Allegedly caught peeping through a keyhole, sister Bertha "struck Miller across the head with a piece of iron and laid open his scalp." Her husband then joined in and "finished the job she had auspiciously begun," leaving Miller badly injured. Left unanswered is what Miller saw that drove the pair to beat him so brutally. Was he peeping at his sister, her husband, or the pair of them, behind that closed door?


Constable Samuel J. Gilliam went over to Guerneville Saturday to arrest Clyde and Bertha Ayers, husband and wife, on the charge of assault on the person of one William Miller. According to the story as related here, Miller is accused of peeping through a keyhole and this is alleged to have been the trouble. He is related to the persons who beat him, being a brother of Mrs. Ayers. When the Peeping Tom tactics were divulged Mrs. Ayers is said to have struck Miller across the head with a piece of iron and laid open his scalp, after which the husband of the woman finished the job she had auspiciously begun. Miller was in a bad state as the result of his beating. He denies the peeping portion of the story.

- Santa Rosa Republican, July 6, 1907

Raised Rough House at Nesbit Ranch on Cotati

H. Canevascini made a rough house at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Nesbit on the Cotati rancho Sunday evening and was with difficulty restrained from doing harm to the people there. He acted like a demented man and for a time Mr. and Mrs. Nesbit and others had a tussle to prevent being injured by the man. Canevascini jumped over the fence of the county jail Satuday while he was supposed to be sawing wood there and made his way under cover of darkness out of town. He was a trusty [sic].

When the man appeared at the Nesbit ranch he was recognized at once as a Petaluma man, and was given his supper and a hearty welcome. Later when he acted like a crazy man the men folks at the ranch had a hard time to subdue him. The cook at the ranch knocked him down with a chair and then his hands and feet were tied with bailing rope. The man gnawed the rope in two as a rat would have done, and it was found necessary to bind his hands with bailing wire which he could not gnaw.

Early Monday morning he was taken to Petaluma jail in this bound condition and was alleged to be insane. He will be returned to the county jail.

- Santa Rosa Republican, November 18, 1907


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