Credit our last century ancestors with this: When they fought, they fought with conviction, and in 1909 there were more dust-ups reported than in preceeding years. Not that those tangles were unusually violent; it would be hard to compete with the year 1907, when there was a point blank shootout that wounded only bystanders, or 1908, when a brawl ended with one contestant trapped in a barber's chair where a variety of bones were broken.
Some of the 1909 tangles could have ended in fatalities, certainly. James Maloney was lucky to survive when his fellow woodcutter attacked him with an axe in the kitchen of their cabin (although that 9-inch gash in his chest must have hurt a bit). And then there were the two Sebastopol lawyers whose fight ended up in court, one claiming that he punched the other because he was just about to be bashed in the head with a hammer. Attorney L. G. Scott conceded to the judge that yes, he was indeed carrying a tack hammer at the time, but had no intent of wielding it as a weapon against the party of the second part. Ah, lawyers.
Also in court that year was Mrs. Emma Fetters, charged with "flourishing a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner" and disturbing the peace. The plaintiff was her husband's mother, who lost some of her hair in a battle between the two. The paper didn't identify the dangerous weapon - unless it was presumed to be Mrs. Fetters' disturbingly firm grip and tugging skills - but did note she was fined for disturbing the peace because the woman was "accustomed to use a great deal of profane language." Some of the cussing may have been because Emma and husband George had recently opened their Fetters Hot Springs resort and starting any new business is stressful, even without the helpful presence of moms-in-law.
But probably the strangest fight of 1909 started over a family breakfast on West Third Street in Santa Rosa, when a father chided his 22 year-old son for using too much sugar in his coffee. Son Harry spitefully dumped half the sugar bowl into his cup, then began pitching chunks of bread at his father and brother. Papa John followed suit by swearing out an arrest warrant against his kid for disturbing the peace. Your obl. believe-it-or-not twist: The feuding family members were the father and brother of Blaine G. Selvage, who has been honored here as one of the very first U.S. aviators, having made his maiden flight a few months earlier.
USES SUGAR TO EXCESSDisturber Escapes Before Serving of Warrant
Harry Selvage, a warrant for whose arrest had been sworn to Friday, by John Selvage, his father, before Justice Atchinson, on the charge of disturbing the peace, had quietly left town. In some way he got wind of the fact that he was scheduled for arrest and when Constable Boswell came upon the scene with the warrant, Selvage had gone hence. The latter does not bear the best of repute, having been given a "floater" in the justice court some time ago.
The present trouble all began over a few morsels of sugar. Harry Selvage had been reprimanded at the family table for putting several spoonfuls of sugar in his coffee. To show how cheerfully he received the admonition and reproof, he dumped half of the contents of the bowl into his beverage receptacle. He then started throwing pieces of bread at the heads of his various kinsmen. Whereupon the warrant referred to above was issued.
- Santa Rosa Republican, August 5, 1909
HAIR PULLING MATCH HELDYoung Woman Lost Hair; Old Lady Lost Natural Hair
Mrs. Emma Fetters, of Fetters' resort near Agua Caliente, appeared before the justice court at Glen Ellen Wednesday and was fined ten dollars in each of two cases for which warrants had been sworn out against her. One of the charges was that of flourishing a dangerous weapon in a threatening manner last Sunday and the other charge was that of disturbing the peace, which arose from a quarrel resulting in the committing of the first offense. The testimony in the two cases showed that Mrs. Fetters, Jr., in a quarrel with her husband's mother, got into a hair-pulling match in which the elder woman lost some of her natural hair and the younger woman had her artificial coiffure severely handled. From the testimony induced it appeared that the woman fined is accustomed to use a great deal of profane language. District Attorney Clarence F. Lea attended the session of the court for the county.
- Santa Rosa Republican, August 19, 1909
USED AXE ON BREASTJohn Riley Chops Anatomy of James Maloney
For cutting James Maloney on the breast with an axe, John Riley has been held to answer to the Superior Court on the charge of assault with a deadly weapon, with intent to commit murder. The men were wood choppers employed on the J. K. Bigelow ranch, near Sonoma, and after a quarrel in the cabin had apparently patched up their differences.
Maloney subsequently went into the kitchen of the cabin, and there Riley is alleged to have followed and made the assault with the axe. A gaping wound nine inches in length was made on the breast of Maloney. Tbe wonder is that the man was not killed by the blow from the axe.
Riley fled, but was captured later in the night in a box car at El Verano. He was asleep when Constable Joe Ryan found him, but made no denial of his guilt.
Before Justice J. B. Small of Sonoma the preliminary examination of Riley was held Wednesday afternoon. District Attorney Clarence F. Lea and Court Reporter Harry A. Scott were present from this city.
- Santa Rosa Republican, January 28, 1909
LAWYERS FALL OUT AND HAVE A FIGHT
Attorneys L. G. Scott and Joseph Rafael, exponents of the law of Sebastopol, having been mixed up in a manner decidedly contrary to law. Rafael struck Scott, and the latter alleges it was without cause or excuse. Rafael paid the sum of ten dollars in Justice Harry B. Morris' court having been arrested on a charge of battery, which was later raised to a higher misdemeanor, Rafael alleged that Scott had attempted to strike him with a hammer, but this is indignantly denied by Scott. The latter admits having had in his possession a small tack hammer, but denies he ever thought of using it on Rafael's cranium or any other portion of his anatomy.
- Santa Rosa Republican, July 22, 1909