Inside the heart of every teenager lies the Melodrama Bomb, poised to explode unexpectedly and elevate any bad situation into high tragedy. Was ever thus; if anyone tries to tell you that young people were more respectable and mature back in the Good Ol' Days, consider it hooey. Beneath those worsted tweeds and stiff boned corsets the same emotions seethed.

(RIGHT: Natty and ready to blow at any time. Section from an ad in the 1908 Santa Rosa Republican)

Like "The Abductions of Geneva Eagleson," this story seems ripped from the libretto of a good opera buffa, which is to say that it also could be an episode from a very bad sitcom. In brief: Mr. and Mrs. Weaver were at home in Santa Rosa when they were notified that their new son-in-law was in the local jail for intoxication. Emphasis on "new" - the marriage had taken place earlier that weekend in San Francisco. So what was young Charles doing up here, alone and drunk on the day after his wedding?

Newlywed Mabel wanted to celebrate with her brother who lived in the East Bay, and had written that she and Charles would meet him at the ferry terminal the day after the ceremony. But off the boat stepped instead her old boyfriend. "Browney" - who, it seems, was her brother's roommate. In the tradition of a true cad, he had intercepted Mabel's letter.

Mabel and Browney apparently spoke privately for a few moments. Charles and Mabel left the dock together, but she asked for some time with Browney to "see if she could not pacify him," for he "felt very badly over her marriage." The trusting Charles agreed. Five hours later, she returned. They quarreled (about what I cannot possibly guess) and she packed her bags and left.

Charles headed for Santa Rosa, apparently believing she was returning to her parents. On the ferry across the Golden Gate, "he took a drink to steady his nerves and then he found he needed another drink. So when he arrived in Santa Rosa he needed the police and a doctor," the Santa Rosa Republican noted wryly.

When Charles and his in-laws appeared in court the following morning, her mother denounced Browney as a "villain" who supposedly once threatened to kill Mabel, and besides, was said to be already married. The Assistant District Attorney advised the family to file charges in San Francisco - if any crime actually was committed.

We do not know how the love triangle was immediately resolved, but all seems to have turned out well, at least for many years; through the 1920 census, Charles and Mabel can be traced to his hometown of Seattle, where they lived with their son, Clarence, along with her young nephew.

Husband Arrives in Santa Rosa in Search

Police Officers Skaggs and Lindley took in a young man, neatly dressed and well appearing, Monday night, who was under the influence of liquor. After Dr. Jackson Temple had been called to see him and he had revived somewhat, he gave the name of Chas. Brelle and related a strange story. He had been married only since Saturday and before the day was over his bride had disappeared with a former lover.

The bride was formerly Miss Mabel Weaver, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Weaver of this city, and is about 19 years of age. She left here Thursday for San Francisco to be married to Mr. Brelle. The young man says they were superstitious about marrying on Friday, so were wedded on Saturday. The bride had written to her brother at Point Richmond to meet her Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, but instead of the brother getting the letter, his room mate and a former lover of the young lady named Browney received it. He came over and met the bride of a day and since then all trace of them has been lost.

The husband started for Santa Rosa to see the wife's parents, but on the boat he took a drink to steady his nerves and then he found he needed another drink. So when he arrived in Santa Rosa he needed the police and a doctor.

Upon being informed of their son-in-law's plight, Mr. and Mrs. Weaver hurried to the police station and did everything they could for the young man and then took him to their home. Mrs. Weaver spoke of Browney as a "villain," and said she would have him arrested. He threatened to kill her daughter not long ago. He is said to have a wife already.

It is said that Mr. Breele is of a very respectable family and that he feels keenly the disgraceful plight he was in when he reached Santa Rosa.

Breele appeared before Recorder Bagley Monday morning and was fined five dollars. He then repaired with his wife's relatives to the court of Justice A. J. Atchison, where he requested a warrant for the arrest of Browney on a charge of abducting his wife. After listening to the story District Attorney Hoyle advised against the issuance of the warrant here, as the crime, if any had been committed, occurred in San Francisco county.

Breele related a peculiar story to the court, showing considerable stupidity on his part and a quarrel that caused his bride of a few hours to leave him hurriedly. When Mrs. Breele wrote to he brother to meet her and the husband, Browney intercepted the letter and he came instead of the brother and met the couple at the ferry in San Francisco. Later Mrs. Breele told her husband that Browney had declared he felt very badly over her marriage to him, and she suggested she had better go and have a talk with Browney and see if she could not pacify him. To this the husband acquiesced, saying he could trust his wife. She remained with Browney from noon until nearly 5 o'clock, and then when she returned to the husband there was a slight quarrel. This resulted in the wife packing her belongings in a grip and departing. The husband walked with her for several blocks on Market street and they parted. He is now seeking her industriously.

- Santa Rosa Republican, March 31, 1908

Yes, he's a thief who posed as a doctor during the 1906 Santa Rosa earthquake, but he's also soooo charming that he had local penpals while he was serving a year in San Quentin. I wonder how his admirers felt when they learned in 1908 that he was swindling his merry way through Tacoma, Wash. shortly after his release from prison.

"Dr. C. C. Crandall" popped up at the Santa Rosa Hospital after the quake, where he apparently stole hearts - along with cash and other valuables. When dragged back from Oregon by our sheriff, it was reported that his name was actually Hugh W. Dunn, but he really did have medical training in the Philippines. Nabbed nearly two years later for forging checks in Washington state, he now posed as the son of an army paymaster in the Philippines and a government lawyer. He claimed to be a member of the Elks, and had used that connection to "borrow" money from the local lodge for a cross-country trip. He also married a local woman whom he used as a dupe in his banking fraud.

While in custody, he confessed about his colorful life of crime: After graduating from Columbia University in 1900, he fell in with Edward Mason, the rogue son of a New York millionaire. The pair first lived off handouts from their parents, then began passing forged checks for money and thrills. A "sensational scandal" with some chorus girls led them to drift around the Philippines and Europe for a time.

Alas, nothing in this exciting confabulation is probably true (except the check forgeries). Columbia University happens to keep very good records, and no one who could have been Crandall/Dunn graduated around the turn of the century. Military records do show there was a man named Hugh W. Dunn around the same 30-ish age who had hospital experience, but he spent his entire adult life in the Army. (There was a John W. Dunn of the same age convicted in 1933 for counterfeiting in Los Angeles, so maybe that was our fake doctor's real name.) But no trail at all can be found for his supposed wealthy and scandalous partner in crime - quite a juicy detail that surely would have been mentioned in more papers, if true.

Crandall probably went to the clink again for this, but no followup in any newspapers can be found. Presumably the Santa Rosa papers continued to report on the doings of the town's adopted scoundrel when he again went prowling.

Created Flurry Here Among Hearts of Feminines

"Dr." Clarence Collier Crandall, who posed as a physician here following the earthquake, played havoc with the hearts of some of the local girls, and finally went to the penitentiary from this city, is in trouble again at Tacoma, Washington. He gained his liberty some time since and lost no time in practicing his wiles on femininity. It will be remembered here that he "borrowed" the watch, money and some surgical instruments of a pretty nurse, and finally sold them to obtain money. When he was arrested, some of the articles were found in his possession, and these were returned to the owner. For the crime he was tried and convicted and sent to the penitentiary.

A telegram from Tacoma has the following concerning the dashing "medico":

"Divorce proceedings begun this morning by Mrs. Clarence Collier Crandall, nee Sybil Anderson, a pretty woman 25 years of age, brought to light the work of an expert bunco artist, who duped and married the girl and worked prominent Tacomans and Elks for car fare to New York and part of the distance across the Atlantic.

"Crandall is 26 years old, handsome, genteel and educated. This won the heart of Miss Anderson, cashier of a Seattle restaurant. Crandall represented himself to be the son of an army paymaster in the Philippines, and also posed as a government attorney and a member of the San Francisco lodge of Elks. On January 20th he and Miss Anderson were married here by Rev. J. P. Marlatt, pastor of the First Methodist Church. He left with the Donnely Hotel clerk a package said to contain $1,700, told his wife he was transferring $10,000 from a San Francisco bank to a local bank, had her expenses and had the hotel cash his check for $134.

"By February 10th the hotel books showed he owed $165. His checks came back unpaid. He was missing. Mrs. Crandall returned $70 of the $100 she drew from the hotel and returned to Seattle.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 18, 1908

Tacoma Rejoices Over Arrest of "Dr." Crandall

"Dr." Clarence Collier Crandall, the alleged medico who cut quite a swath in local society following the strenuous days of the earthquake here, and who was arrested recently in San Francisco, is to be taken back to Tacoma, to answer to numerous offenses. While here "Dr." Crandall ingratiated himself into the good graces of many people, and was a decided favorite with the fair sex. For "borrowing" a watch and purse from a lady friend here he was sentenced to the penitentiary and when released sought new pastures to perform his old tricks.

The following telegram from Tacoma will be read with interest by those who knew "Dr." Crandall here:

"Several hotels and numerous Elks are glad of the arrest at San Francisco of Clarence Collier Crandall, alias Dr. Charles Hudson, alias Hugh Duffy, ex-convict, embezzler, forger and the man who married Miss Sybil Anderson, a beautiful Seattle young woman, in this city January 29th, deserting her a week later. Detective Smith, now in San Francisco, sent Crandall's photo, obtained from the rogue's gallery of the San Francisco department to Chief Maloney here. Today it was identified by John Donnelly; by the stenographer who wrote "bunko" letters for the smooth Crandall, and by "Pop" Sawyer, Carl D. Eshelman and other Elks, who "fell" for the fake brother Elk's smooth talk.

"A warrant has been issued by the county attorney's office and an officer of the police department went to Olympia to ask Governor Meade to issue requisition papers. These papers will be forwarded to Detectives Smith and Raymond at San Francisco, and a strong effort made to bring Crandall back for trial. The complaint was sworn to by Manager Berkshire, who lost $165 on Crandall's bad checks.

Mrs. Sybil Anderson Crandall sued Crandall for divorce, alleging that since his desertion she has learned he is a forger; that he is not an underwriter's agent and not a son of the paymaster general of the Philippines, as he claimed."

In Tacoma Crandall posed as a government official.

- Santa Rosa Republican, March 9, 1908

Tells Some Chapters of His Past Life

"Dr." Clarence Collier Crandall, who was arrested in San Francisco and taken back to Tacoma on the charge of forgery, has confessed his guilt. He lays the blame to great extend on Edward Mason, son of a New York millionaire, and declares he began his career of crime just after he graduated from Columbia University in 1900.

The man declares that after meeting Mason they led a life of ease until they became entangled with some chorus girls, and following a sensational scandal they went to the Philippines and then to Europe.

Whenever they needed money they wrote home. But there was not enough excitement and Mason, being a clever penman, began forging checks, and they divided the proceeds, Crandall says.

While Crandall was living at the Donnelly Hotel in Tacoma with his bride, Mason was living at the Tacoma Hotel under an assumed name, writing checks that Crandall cashed, the prisoner declares. Leaving Tacoma the pair went to Denver and then to San Francisco to collect a debt of $3000 from a bookmaker at the Oakland race track.

Crandall said he wanted to send back home for money to square his debts and enough for his bride to live on, but Mason influenced him not to. Crandall has written to his father for money to defend his case. He will be arraigned next week and desires to have a speedy trial.

- Santa Rosa Republican, March 16, 1908

In 1908, they thought mail-order catalogs would kill off downtown; little did they know that doom awaited via parking meters a full century later.

Here's another in a series of public service "booster" ads that appeared in the Santa Rosa Republican between 1907 and 1909. (CLICK to enlarge image.) This gem appeared April 21, 1908, a few days after the second anniversary of the Great Earthquake, when a Press Democrat editorial called on Santa Rosans to shout down critics: "Now as never before the croaker, if he insists upon croaking, and the knocker, if he persists in knocking, must be shoved to the rear..."

We know far less about the 1906 Santa Rosa Earthquake than the simultaneous shake in San Francisco, for reasons discussed at depth in an earlier essay. Several of the problems touch on contemporary newspaper coverage - or more accurately, the lack thereof.

Both the Press Democrat and Santa Rosa Republican wanted to tell the world that the city was roaring back from the earthquake's blow. Even in the days immediately following the disaster, the seriously injured were reported to be recovering "nicely," and great progress was to be found everywhere. This relentless boosterism continued in the following years, even when there were opportunities to reflect.

On the first anniversary of the quake, the PD offered two pages describing all the construction finished or underway; on the second anniversary, the PD was beating the same drum: "Two years of effort, the like of which has seldom before been seen, have come and gone, and today the newer and greater Santa Rosa is here to greet the eye of the visitor and raise the hopes and aspirations of our own people. No better city of its size is to be found today anywhere in the west..." Did anyone find this interesting reading even in 1908?

The only point of note in Ernest Finley's editorial was the admission that "many more are believed to have gone to their death" than were officially known. Curiously, Finley claimed the old death toll of 69, although PD city editor Herb Slater had used the up-to-date count of 77 in a speech delivered a few days earlier.


Two years ago today Santa Rosa suffered one of the worst calamities that has befallen any city in modern times. Just as the dawn was breaking a mighty earthquake occurred, as a result of which not a brick or stone building was left intact. Fire immediately broke out and swept over the stricken area, burning what the earthquake had not destroyed. Many of Santa Rosa's best known residents lost their lives in the disaster, the official death list numbering sixty-nine, besides which many more are believed to have gone to their death. The entire business section of the city was wiped completely out of existence, the work of fifty years being destroyed almost instantly and without warning of any kind.

Such an experience as befell Santa Rosa Two years ago today would have broken the spirit and taken the heart completely out of many a community, but not so with the energetic and splendidly-situated city that has risen so proudly and so quickly from its own ashes. Scarcely had the dead been buried and the living provided with the necessary comforts of life before the work of rehabilitation began. Two years of effort, the like of which has seldom before been seen, have come and gone, and today the newer and greater Santa Rosa is here to greet the eye of the visitor and raise the hopes and aspirations of our own people. No better city of its size is to be found today anywhere in the west. In fact, it is doubtful if its equal exists in the entire country. It is a noble monument to the enterprise and dauntless spirit of our people and one of which all are rightfully and naturally proud.

Two things have contributed to the making of the New and Greater Santa Rosa. The first is the commendable spirit of enterprise and progressiveness that permeates our people, and the second is the splendid manner in which they have all stood together for the accomplishment of the Herculean task which confronted them. But while the work is well under way, it is not yet completed. Much more remains to be done. Let the spirit that has dominated here and the co-operation that has meant so much continue! Now as never before the croaker, if he insists upon croaking, and the knocker, if he persists in knocking, must be shoved to the rear, and his discordant note drowned in the chorus of progress that shall be sung. Every citizen, no matter what his walk of life, owes it to himself and to the community at large to do his full share in making the results of the coming two years equal and if possible surpass the two years that have just passed, and which are now gone forever. Let us all stand together, and work shoulder to shoulder for two years more of advancement, progress and prosperity!

- Press Democrat editorial, April 18, 1908

Many victims of the 1906 Santa Rosa earthquake had lingering health problems, but none probably suffered more than Hattie Runyon, who apparently went mad.

Today she'd be diagnosed with an extreme case of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder); washing her hands up to fifteen times in a row and repeatedly bathing the children would be giveaway symptoms. But at the time, the post-Victorian doctors and courts were most concerned by her refusal to stop breast feeding her 2 year-old child, born around the time of the earthquake.

Hattie wasn't the only one to lose her mind because of the disaster, and some died as a result. About ten weeks after the quake, America Thomas died from "general disability following general neurosis caused by shock" according to his death certificate, and Elwin Hutchinson, a 15 year-old schoolboy who died at the end of 1906, suffered from "partial paralysis and nervous prostration."

Runyon Insanity Matter is Under Observation

The examination of Mrs. Hattie Runyon, charged with insanity, held before Judge Thomas C. Denny Wednesday morning, was attended by a number of ladies, who were summoned to tell what they had seen of Mrs. Runyon's actions which indicated her mental unsoundness. These ladies told of the frequent bathings of the children of the woman at late hours, of her taking them up town at midnight, when they should be sleeping and resting, and other things.

Their presence of these ladies and their brilliant millinery gave the sombre court room the aspect of a social function, with Judge Denny as host. Dr. J. W. Cline and Dr. J. W. Jesse were the medical inquisitors.

Mrs. Runyon stoutly denied some of the accusation made against her, admitted that she was on the streets late at night, but declared she was compelled to go up town at unusual hours to get food for herself and babies. It developed during the examination that the woman had a child more than two years of age which she had refused to wean. The woman was told months ago by her physician that if the child was not weaned it would drive her insane, but she had refused to wean the little one. Her predicament in the present time is undoubtedly due to this.

The husband of the woman broke down and wept as he told the court and doctors of how his wife had changed since the earthquake. He said she was continually at the water faucets and that she would wash her hands and dry them and then return immediately to the faucets and wash them again, doing this as often as fifteen consecutive times.

Judge Denny continued the further hearing of the matter until November 24, and the woman will be kept under observation during that time. She was ordered by the court to wean her child and to keep off the streets at night. Unless these orders are obeyed she will be arrested again and placed under restraint.

- Santa Rosa Republican, October 28, 1908

Two years after the 1906 earthquake, Santa Rosa wasn't quite ready to declare the city reborn - yet it wasn't averse to throwing a party to celebrate a job being well done.

The occasion was the April 9th laying of the cornerstone for the new courthouse. Hundreds turned out for the ceremony to watch the Grand Lodge of Masons march solemnly to the square as Parks' band played the "New Creation March" (a ditty apparently so forgettable that it was never recorded after a 1909 Edison cylinder, which you can't even steal via the Internet). A time capsule was sealed in the stone containing newspapers of the day, photographs, business cards, membership lists from the Masons and other lodges, coins, and similar bric-a-brac. Only one thing of true value was encased in the box: A copy of Herb Slater's speech.

Three judges and other notables spoke that day about local history, the resilience of Santa Rosans, and the utter swellness of Masonry. Judging from the excerpts published in the papers, everything said was self-congratulatory and forgettable until the reading of Slater's essay, which interrupted the stream of happy pap with a replay of the audience's worst nightmares. It was apparently as unwelcome as ants at a picnic. The Press Democrat mentioned only in passing that his remarks were read by the County Clerk; the Santa Rosa Republican didn't mention his contribution at all.

Recounting the disaster, Slater did not flinch from the most awful details: "Men, women, and children bleeding and crushed hardly recognizable for blood and dust were borne away to hospital or home. Some lived only long enough after rescue to smile thanks to rescuer, relative or friend, while others passed out after their vision had taken just a fleeting glance at the awful scene around about them..."

But Slater's "historic sketch of the earthquake and fire disaster" (PDF) is as close as we come to having a true history of what happened in Santa Rosa on April 18, 1906. Not only is it the single most detailed eyewitness account (second place goes to the Jessie Loranger letters), Slater was an experienced newspaperman and then city editor for the PD. Although his essay was written in a more florid style than might be acceptable for a modern history book, his writing captured the moment vividly: "No one hesitated. With senses beclouded with the horror of the situation, men realized there was no time for delay. Delay meant death; death from the smothering dust; death from the cruel weight of beams, planks and stone; and worse than all, death from the cruel flames which were already bursting forth from piles of debris from fallen and partially fallen buildings. The belching smoke served to intensify the horror."

(LEFT: The courthouse as it appeared around the time of the corner store dedication of April 9, 1908. Image courtesy Sonoma County Museum)

The only known copy of the speech can be found in the LeBaron history collection at Sonoma State University, and is transcribed below. That version appears to be a carbon copy on onion skin paper, and is in deteriorated condition. Spellings and typos appear as they did on the original.

Aside from his brush with death by earthquake and/or fire, Herbert W. Slater was a remarkable fellow; in 1976, Gaye LeBaron penned quite a nice profile, reminding us that he was a state senator for 36 years, while at the same time writing a daily political column for the PD. LeBaron documented that he was a populist with no allegiance to party politics, being registered while in office as a Republican twice, a Democrat three times, and once as a Progressive Socialist. But it was journalism that framed his life; he was credited as the writer who "invented" Luther Burbank because of an 1895 story for Hearst's San Francisco Examiner, and in 1947 he died at the corner of Fourth and E streets, heading towards the Press Democrat office to write his daily column. And as appropriate for a long-time Santa Rosan, his life has an obl. Believe-it-or-Not twist: Herbert Slater was blind since 1919, dictating his columns and his state legislative work. "For reasons of his own," LeBaron also added, "his blindness was a secret he kept from his sisters in England until the time of his death."

by Herbert W. Slater
(Courtesy Sonoma State University)

Pen was never dipped in ink to record a sadder, more disasterous page in history than that which tells the story of the awful results of the giant tread of the earthquake and the after ravages of fire on the morning of April 18, 1906, which left Santa Rosa --- the fair "City of Roses" --- in ruins, and wrought havoc and death on all hands.

It was at 5:15 o'clock in the morning, when all Nature was at rest, with the air balmy and conditions least suggestive of the sudden approach of a catastrophe, the likes of which the world had not known in modern times, that the hidden forces of Nature sprang into activity. Then buildings swayed, tottered, fell, people were hurled from their beds, chimneys crashed through roofs, beams were twisted and bent. There were two distinct shocks and the second finished the work of destruction, undoing in the brief space of fifty-eight seconds the work of man for half a century, entailing a loss of millions of dollars and far more important the loss of many human lives.

Following the earthquake there was a stillness, - a stillness as of the tomb. A calm which to some people was almost as appalling as had been the mighty upheaval a few seconds previously.

A hasty glance down town from the residences portion told what had happened. The eye failed to rest on unfamiliar landmarks. One notable monument which for nearly twenty-two years had risen majestically, a centrepiece towering above the other buildings in Santa Rosa -- the Courthouse dome -- was no longer visible. Other familiar objects were no more. Those dense white and red dust clouds told in many instances the tale of destruction.

Then there was a general rallying of assistance. No one hesitated. With senses beclouded with the horror of the situation, men realized there was no time for delay. Delay meant death; death from the smothering dust; death from the cruel weight of beams, planks and stone; and worse than all, death from the cruel flames which were already bursting forth from piles of debris from fallen and partially fallen buildings. The belching smoke served to intensify the horror. in those moments human strength seemingly became superhuman. It was a battle for life. Spurred on by the cries for help from the ruins of wrecked buildings, every effort on the part of the rescuers was called into play. God alone knows how many thrilling snatches from death he permitted men to make that morning. Men, women, and children bleeding and crushed hardly recognizable for blood and dust were borne away to hospital or home. Some lived only long enough after rescue to smile thanks to rescuer, relative or friend, while others passed out after their vision had taken just a fleeting glance at the awful scene around about them. Many of the rescuers bore their precious burdens to the plaza and deposited them on the green lawns not covered with the debris of the wrecked Courthouse.

Words cannot depict in all their realism the scene of that memorable day. The heart-breaking shrieks of those who mourned the loss of loved ones, the groans of the wounded and dying, the terror betrayed on every countenance, the fight of the rescuers, the onsweeping flames and the thousand and one things, each asserting a particular phase of sadness and distress -- all stand out prominently and memorably in the earthquake and fire disaster of April 18, 1906. And yet with it all there was no complaint. People who were spared, no matter if the holocaust had meant the loss of their all as far as worldly possessions went, were glad they were alive and could be of assistance to others.

While the heroism of the men is commended, the heroic efforts of the women must not go unnoticed in this brief review. They moved about as ministering angels, unflinchingly assisting physicians and nurses in binding up the wounds of injured. Ofttimes prayer, uttered or unexpressed from the heart of mother, wife or sister, mingled with that of priest or minister in supporting some passing soul through the dark valley into the other and brighter world.

Throughout the day and night the work of wrecking buildings and the rescuing of the dead and wounded went nobly on. Assistance came from Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, and other towns more fortunate than Santa Rosa, the County Seat of Sonoma. The work of rescuing and the care of things generally was aided very materially by the calling out of the members of Company E, N.G.C. of Santa Rosa, and Company C, N.G.C. of Petaluma. The city was also put under military rule and thus life and property was protected. When it was evident that the unfortunates whose lives had probably been spared in hotels, or apartment houses, had been rescued, other relays of men went to work to take out the bodies of those who had perished. The Sunday School room of the First Christian Church on Ross Street was turned into a morgue and there is long rows the remains of those who had perished --- sometimes only a small handfull of bones or ashes --- were placed. The scenes attendant upon the identification of bodies were sad as such scenes must necessarily be. I will refer to just one, that of a mother and her two fair-haired children, the latter little more that babies. They lay sleeping in death side by side on a rude table in the morgue room. They had been caught in a falling building and killed. The total number of bodies recovered, or those known to have perished in the Santa Rosa fire and earthquake was seventy-seven. Purchance there may have been many a poor human, who was a stranger within the gates of Santa Rosa, on the morning of the earthquake, whose life went out and whose remains were obliterated by the flames, of which no earthly record is known.

Through the strenuous efforts of the fire fighters, the fortunate saving of the fire engines and the fire fighting apparatus and the Merciful Providence that spared the wrecking of water mains and furnished a magnificent supply of water, and, more fortunate still, a tempering of the wind, the fire did not cross from the business section of the city. Consequently additional horror that would have attended the destruction of homes was spared. The section destroyed embraced both sides of Fourth Street from D Street to "A" Street, with the exception of a few one story buildings on the north side of Fourth Street. Hinton and Exchange Avenues; Third Street from Hinton to "B" Street; Main Street between Second and Third Streets; Mendocino Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets; and sections of "A" and "B" Streets. Among the notable buildings destroyed might be mentioned, Sonoma County Courthouse, (the corner stone of which is being laid by the Grand Lodge of Masons of California, this April 9, 1908,) the Santa Rosa City Hall; The Armory; the Occidental; The Grand; St. Rose, and Eagle Hotels, the Western Hotel; the Santa Rosa Bank; the Elks' Hall; the old and new Masonic Temples, -- the new Temple having just been completed and about ready for occupancy; the Athenaeum building, which was the big theater of the city capable of seating nearly two thousand people; the Eagles Hall; Redmen's Hall; Ridgway Hall; Sonoma County Hall of Records; the Santa Rosa Fire Department and Station; the Santa Rosa National Bank; the Piedmont Apartment House; Hahman's Hall; The Sunset Telephone Building; The hall of Santa Rosa Lodge of Oddfellows; the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Republican plants and buildings; the Exchange Bank building and many blocks of business buildings, apartment houses, offices, stores, etc.

The destruction of the Courthouse and the Hall of Records temporarily put the Supervisors and the county officials out of doors with nothing but the blue canopy of heaven as a roof tree. As soon as possible, tents were pitched around the ruins of the Courthouse on the plaza and one of them was set apart for each branch of the administration. The Supervisors met within a few hours after the earthquake in the open air of the plaza and made arrangements for the erection of temporary buildings and the rescue of the county books and documents from the Courthouse. A temporary galvanized building was erected for the Hall of Records and wooden shacks were built on one side of the plaza, and later, when the construction of the new Courthouse was commenced, the offices and courts were moved into another temporary wooden building on Hinton Avenue. Fortunately none of the county buildings were reached by the fire. Hence, there was no destruction of records.

Barely two years have passed since the terrible disaster and today, the occasion of the laying of the corner stone of the new Courthouse, April 9, 1908, the city has risen Phoenix-like from her ashes and is practically rebuilt. Magnificent structures have arisen, better and more substantial than over. Notable among the new structures in the greater Santa Rosa can be mentioned the hotels Occidental and Overton and La Rosa; the Elks Hall Building; the new Masonic Temple; the Santa Rosa Bank; Union Trust Bank and Exchange Bank; buildings and business houses extending throughout the whole of the district destroyed. In less than two years, thanks to the splendid spirit displayed, Santa Rosa has been built up better than ever before.

But for the great catastrophe in San Francisco, earthquake and fire, the disaster in Santa Rosa would have been on the lips of the world. The overshadowing magnitude of the destruction of San Francisco turned general attention for the time being from Santa Rosa. Other places in the state suffered extensively, but San Francisco and Santa Rosa can be said to have felt the effects of fire and earthquake in all its severity.

And this brief sketch of things that transpired at the time and since the earthquake would lack its most important detail if mention was not made of the great assistance, financial and otherwise, that poured in from outside sources for relief work particularly from California cities that escaped the disaster, and from all parts of the east. Relief headquarters were opened up in church edifices and other places, and clothing and eatables were distributed with a free hand. Money sent in was used for the relief of suffering, particularly among the fatherless and the widows and others who were desolute and oppressed. Those who lost their all and some of them their limbs were not forgotten. Human sympathy roused to its highest ideal at this time. The love of men and women came neared to the perfect ideal of Him whose mission was to care for the sick and afflicted than ever before in the history of the world. This may be said to be one of the silver linings to the cloud of despair that lay low over Santa Rosa and California at the time of the earthquake.


For Santa Rosa and San Francisco, the 1906 earthquake was a painful family tragedy they couldn't let outsiders forget. The locals wanted to celebrate the hustle of new construction everywhere - the shining city that was rising on foggy hills and the fine little metropolis being assembled on the Santa Rosa Plain. Trouble was, there can be no phoenix without ashes first; to boast of their truly remarkable progress, they had to also dredge up all the horrors that forced them to nearly start from scratch. It was a conundrum they didn't escape until the great 1915 Exposition put San Francisco and the the rest of the Bay Area on center stage.

Santa Rosa allowed the quake's first anniversary to pass virtually unnoticed, and it was almost time for the 2-year mark before the city created any sort of memorial for the dead. Even then, the tribute was unremarkable; an average-sized headstone for the seventeen people who were buried quickly in a mass grave. The monument cost the city $375.

(This is the first of four postings on the 1908 anniversary of the Santa Rosa earthquake.)

"To the Memory of Those Who Died in the Disaster of April, 1906"--A Neat Tribute

"In memory of those who died in the disaster of April, 1906."

Such is the inscription cut into imperishable granite, marking the last resting place of many of the fire and earthquake victims in that big grave out on the hillside in Santa Rosa cemetery.

The monument, a big granite tablet, resting on a solid base, has been completed by Kinslow Brothers. Around the big plot a neat stone coping has been constructed and the entire surface of the grave has been cemented over so that for an eternity the weeds cannot destroy the neatness of the memorial. The monument stands in the center. On either side smaller headstones, erected by relatives, mark the graves of Joe Woods and the Bluth boys, George and Willie, two of the Press Democrat carriers, who lost their lives on the morning of the earthquake.

A raised block marks off the respective graves and tells the name of him or her who rests beneath, with the exception of four. The latter are designated "No. 1," "No. 4," "No. 6," "No. 7"--they are the graves of the unknown dead, poor humans whose remains were never identified.

The names of the identified dead who were buried on the memorable April afternoon when the hearse made so many trips to the silent city bearing the mute evidences of the awful catastrophe: Mrs. C. Heath, Josephine Ely, Marshall Ely, George and Willie Bluth, John Murphy, Charles W. Palm, C. A. Trudgeon, Frank Downing, Nicholas Stampfli, Joe Woods, and John Murphy (two men of the same name being among the dead).

On the recommendation of the relief commission the City Council set aside a certain sum for the erection of a monument and coping and the work was entrusted to Kinslow Brothers who have just completed their contract very creditably.

It is a simple, but effective tribute to the dead. On each recurring anniversary, April 18, perchance some fragrant blossoms will be dropped on that chilly block of stone, indicating that some in the number who rest beneath, though lost to sight, are to memory very dear. They are sleeping. Even the giant tread of an earthquake cannot disturb them now.

- Press Democrat, February 11, 1908

Dear Abby: I'm a county game commissioner and my son was "acting out" by allegedly blowing up fish with dynamite in Austin Creek. Boys will be boys you know, but that would be pretty durn illegal if he done it! A policeman showed up at my door to arrest Fred, but I told 'em it was good enough that I ordered the boy to stay in his room. They took him away anyway, and it cost me $250 to bail him out after he confessed to the crime, although I says he didn't. So while he's waiting for trial, should I restrict his access to the family dynamite? Signed, Concerned in Cazadero

Commissioner's Son Charged With Dynamiting Fish

Game Warden John C. Ingalls and Constable Ben H. Barnes arrested Fred Quigley at Cazadero Tuesday and landed him at the county jail Tuesday evening. The young man is charged with having used dynamite in Austin Creek, near Cazadero, to kill fish. The case is an interesting one, and promises to develop other things equally as interesting.

Quigley is the son of a deputy game commissioner, and his offense was against the very laws his father is endeavoring to uphold. The father told the arresting officers Tuesday that he had arrested his son for the offense, had taken him before Justice E. E. Trosper at Cazadero, and the latter had informed the father that there was insufficient evidence against the boy. Quigley, Sr., said that since that time he had had his son under detention at Cazadero.

When Ingalls and Barnes attempted to take young Quigley and bring him to the county jail, the father interfered. He charges that Ingalls knocked him down when he sought to prevent the arrest of his son, and he threatened to have Ingalls arrested as soon as he reached home. He proposed to swear out the warrant before Justice Trosper. Ingalls admitted that he had pushed Quigley out of the way, but denies having struck him.

It is claimed here that after Fred Quigley was landed in the county jail he confessed to dynamiting the stream. The father claimed that his son had not confessed.

The examination of the young man was set for February 18, and he was released on two hundred and fifty dollars.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 12, 1908

There were two nearly identical hate crimes in 1908, where a Chinese man was attacked without cause by a white man. Were the assaults connected? As these are the only similar incidents I've encountered in studying 5+ years of the Santa Rosa newspapers in that era, chances of a coincidence are low. Yet the attackers were in different towns and probably did not know one another; one was a "brawny iron worker," and the other was apparently a farmhand. Look instead for a link in what they read; the newspapers that month were salted with anti-Chinese rhetoric that invited ridicule and hate and fear.

The first unprovoked attack happened in a Sebastopol restaurant. Johnny Poggie (who we know through the census was then a 25 year-old farm worker) and Tom Mason were arrested for smashing a brick into the head of Gee Chung. The next day, the Santa Rosa Republican turned it into a humor item, starting with the racist headline, "Men Hit Chink With Brick." After noting the injury "may be serious," what followed was in the colorful writing style usually reserved for describing the comical mishaps of drunks. "When the Celestial opened his purse to pay for the dainties he had consumed, Mason is alleged to have struck him on the head with a brick. Chung sank to the floor, and 'subsequent proceedings interested him no more.'" Would the newspaper have treated this unprovoked attack so flippantly if the victim had been white? Of course not (read update here).

Then less than two weeks later, the scene of Chinese restaurant violence was in Santa Rosa. This time, a "most brutal beating" by an unknown construction worker was reported by the Republican newspaper with far more restraint (although the writer slipped in that the victim's black eyes were the color of "a deep mourning"). Did the more straightforward tone on this story reflect editorial remorse that the paper might have had some role in inciting the earlier violence?

The Santa Rosa attack could have been a copycat inspired by the Sebastopol assault, but left hanging is the larger question of why Chinese men were now suddenly at risk of being beaten - even killed - while eating at a restaurant. For that answer, you only have to read the fearmongering that was appearing in the big city papers about the tong wars.

That month saw another flareup in the seven year feud between the Hop Sing and Ping Kung gangs. Before the first restaurant attack, two men had been gunned down in Oakland's Chinatown; another pair were killed in San Francisco's Chinatown before the second assault at a local restaurant. All four victims died while the gangs were supposedly under a truce, a violation of honor surely not lost on Chinese-hating bigots.

The frequent newspaper stories about Chinatown murders was enough to make anyone nervous about visiting those neighborhoods, but a lurid feature article in the January 5, 1908 San Francisco Sunday Call Magazine went further to warn that no place on the West Coast was safe from the "indiscriminate shooting" of the murderous gangs. "It looks now as if every tong on the coast will take a hand...they are all flocking back. The war is on. They struck at Los Angeles the other day and where they will be next is a mystery."

(RIGHT: The sensationalist SF Call Magazine article, "The Bloodiest Tong War Ever Waged," was widely reprinted, including in the Washington Post)

The greatest tong war ever witnessed on the continent, a war holding sway from the rain soaked josshouses of Vancouver, B. C., to the sunlit alleys of Los Angeles, and which already includes four tongs, is in full blast. Oakland felt its effects a few days ago, when the felted feet ran silently into the street and the flash from revolver barrels lit up the darkened Chinese quarter. The dying Chinese found on Webster street a short time previously was another victim to the war, which seems to have no ending, and the crack of the highbinder's pistol is now disturbing the police of Los Angeles. From city to city along the coast has the word gone. From the south and the east, the gunmen of the contesting tongs are flocking to Chinatown of San Francisco. All Chinatown is agog with war and rumors of war, and though the hot blood of feud times is hidden behind the calm, placid exterior of the oriental, the red, red war is on again.

The Hop Sing-Ping Kung feud, which had caused scores of deaths, actually ended a few days later, just before the start of the Chinese New Year (a celebration that the Press Democrat described with condescension and mocking humor). Key to the settlement was the threat by San Francisco's Chief of Police, W. J. Biggy, to prohibit New Year festivities and "turn loose" a special police squad on Chinatown to expel from the city anyone considered suspicious.

Although the tong wars sometimes reached into Sonoma county, there were no reports of violence upon local Chinese people in this period. Except for the two restaurant attacks by whites, of course.


Tom Mason and Johnny Poggie, residents of Sebastopol, were landed in the county jail here Wednesday afternoon by City Marshal Fred R. Mathews of that city. The men are charged with an assault on Gee Chung, a Celestial of Sebastopol. The alleged offense occurred in a Chinese noodle joint in the Gold Ridge city on Tuesday evening and as a result Chung is laid up with a badly battered head. His injuries may be serious.

The two men under arrest are alleged to have gone into the restaurant to partake of noodles, and the Chinese were also feasting on the same dish. When the Celestial opened his purse to pay for the dainties he had consumed, Mason is alleged to have struck him on the head with a brick. Chung sank to the floor, and "subsequent proceedings interested him no more."

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 15, 1908

Tom Ling Assaulted by Burly Iron Worker

Tom Ling, a Chinese, was badly beaten Sunday evening by one of the iron workers employed on the construction of the new court house in this city. The assault occurred in a Chinese noodle joint, and the Celestial was given a most brutal beating by the brawny iron worker.

Ling swore to a warrant Monday morning for the arrest of his assailant whose name is unknown. Justice Atchinson issued a John Doe warrant for the arrest.

The Chinese had both eyes blackened, the color of each being a deep mourning, his head was severely cut and a large knot was raised on his forehead. The assault is declared to have been an unprovoked one.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 27, 1908

Take "Mandarin Punch" for that Tired Feeling, and You'll Forget All Your Other Troubles

Chinatown was busy yesterday, and later on there was a sound of revelry by night. The percussion band rendered a long list of the compositions of the Chinese Wagner, completely drowning the customary melody of Mr. Thomas Cat, who does solo work on the housetops of Chinatown.

It was the beginning of the New Year celebration; for this is New Year's Day. The Chinaman begins his celebration the day before, and sometimes he makes it last a week. He has good reason; for it is the only holiday time he has. There is no Chinese Fourth of July; no Christmas; no Memorial Day; no Thanksgiving; no Admission Day--not even April Fool. So for several days the tintintabulation of the brass gong and the wooden drums will smite the ears, and the smell of gunpowder and punk-sticks will assail the nostrils of those who visit the Mongolian quarter.

If you have nothing to do today and time hands heavy, you might go down to Second street and see the celebration. The punch, "Manderin's Delight," has been brewed already, and you'll be invited to drink. That will give you something to do and something to thing about for a long time. One man who went there and had some punch last New Year's day sat up in a drug store all night, eating quinine with a tablespoon, trying to get the taste of the punch out of his mouth.

- Press Democrat, February 1, 1908

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