"It was easily the most stirring day so far in the unfolding of this famous case," began the Press Democrat coverage of the third day of Dr. Willard Burke's jury trial for attempted murder. "But we are promised more sensations, and therefore there are likely to be other even more eventful days."
Yes, there were sensations aplenty at the Sonoma County courthouse that December, 1910, as the PD reminded us constantly in the headlines. "DAY OF SENSATIONS IN THE TRIAL OF DR. W. P. BURKE," was at the top of the front page one day. "SENSATIONAL EVIDENCE GIVEN AT TRIAL OF DR. BURKE" read another headline, and buckets of ink were used to announce "EACH DAY UNFOLDS NEW SENSATIONS IN THE TRIAL OF DR. W. P. BURKE." The articles found under these hyperventilated headlines weren't quite as twitchy, but they certainly offered more colorful writing than previous trial coverage in the Press Democrat, which had been a model for restrained and impartial court reporting.
(RIGHT: Illustration from the February 26, 1910 Oakland Tribune)
This was also the third day of Lu Etta's Smith testimony, and the article subhead teased, "Letters from Lu Smith to 'Father Doctor' Are Read." Our new reporter - neither this person or the earlier one received a byline - commented, " After listening to that weird 5,000 word document written to Lu Smith by Burke, introduced in evidence last Friday, people were naturally curious to have a sample of her style of letter writing." (For more on "that weird document" and background on the case, see the previous article in this series.)
Every seat in the courtroom was filled within seconds after the door opening. "There were more women present, apparently deeply interested in the proceedings. Some of them smiled profusely when possibly some of the saddest secrets of the life of the woman on the witness stand were being laid bare." Presiding Superior Court Judge Seawell opened the session by ordering the bailiff to block minors from the proceedings. "His Honor wisely ruled that the trial was not one conductive to the uplift of boys and girls not yet out of their teens."
Dr. Burke's Defense Attorney Rollo Leppo continued his cross-examination of Lu Etta. She denied threatening suicide or to kill her baby. She conceded she may have once said, "I wish I was dead," but denied she added, "If I had the means I would soon make it a fact." She denied "illicit relations with other men" and Leppo pressed hard to introduce questions that would suggest she was promiscuous. Judge Seawell shot down his attempts to ask about her "love imaginations," including that supposedly she said she was "violently in love" with a professor at UC/Berkeley "whom she was communicating with via telepathy." Lu Etta did testify that she had written several times to Wilson Fritch, "a lecturer on a 'new thought' said to incline to the teaching of Dr. Burke's philosophy of love," and arranged for him to speak at Burke's Sanitarium.
Leppo also failed to coax her into saying that she had a father-daughter relationship with Burke, and the letter below was read aloud. The Press Democrat reported, "While they were being read one could almost have 'heard a pin drop' in the courtroom."
October 29th, 1909.
Dear Doctor Father:--
You dear old doctor, and so you have not been practicing deception on me that is only negative all this time. You have not loved me in that way at all. You have been your kind old self and I have misunderstood.
Well, now let us understand each other if we can, or I can. It is all right and I thank you very much. Of course you are old enough to be my father and that is what you have been and I am very grateful. But it is time I was going my way now and leaving you in peace.
It will be all right. Mr. Fritch wanted to marry me last summer, but on account of the child I thought I ought not to do it. But I see you care nothing for the child and so goodbye. I shall go to the city the coming week.
Goodbye more than father as ever.
Leppo also read another letter from Smith written a couple of months after explosion. This note to Burke read, in part: "...I would like to go to Japan and if you can and want to raise the amount necessary, it seems to me it would be the best thing to do under the circumstances for all concerned. You intimated once that you might at some time give me twenty thousand dollars. If you will do that--a part now and the rest later--that will satisfy me and I will go my way and you go yours, and forget...Will meet you anywhere you desire to make a settlement."
The sensational highlight of the day, however, was this exchange:
"Did you ever tell anybody that your child was born of immaculate conception?" asked Leppo.
"I did not," said the witness warmly.
"Did you tell Miss Waldron that Dr. Burke was the father of your child but that it was immaculately conceived?"
"I told her that Dr. Burke was the father of my child but I did not tell her it was born of immaculate conception."
"Did you not tell Miss Waldron that your child would be called the 'New Christ?'"
The witness did not remember all this. She was questioned again concerning the conception of her child, and replied, qualifying previous answers:
"According to the general acceptance it was born of immaculate conception." [I] do not think my child was immaculately conceived. In the East India Hindu religion, I do. I did not tell any one that I knew nothing about what happened at the time my child was conceived for twenty-four hours, and that I had been either drugged or hypnotized."
"I have never said that my child was of immaculate conception in the generally accepted sense. I wish that understood."
"I am sure," said the witness, "that Dr. Burke wrote me a letter, saying that my child was of immaculate conception."
"Where is that letter?" asked Leppo.
"It is destroyed."
"Who destroyed that letter?" demanded Leppo.
"I did not," quietly replied the woman.
The witness was asked to explain the Hindu idea of "immaculate conception, which denies the spiritual fatherhood and maintains there was a physical conception on a higher plane."
"Dr. Burke said he believed that way," insisted Miss Smith. "He said the child had been born on a higher plane and I believed what he said. I doubt it now."
Leppo did not press for further explanation of what she believed (or what she thought Dr. Burke believed), for which the courtroom was probably deeply grateful. The Press Democrat tried to make some sense of her notions in a special sidebar, but ended up leaving Gentle Reader lost farther out in the weeds: "...Christ was the son of Joseph and Mary and the conception was both physical and immaculate, the latter on account of its spirituality. She at first believed the conception of her own child to have been immaculate, in the sense that it was upon this 'higher plane,' but later when Dr. Burke declined to properly care for the child she changed her mind..." Thanks, PD editor Ernest Finley, that was oh, so helpful.
(RIGHT: Illustration from the December 6, 1910 Oakland Tribune)
Lu Etta Smith returned to the stand the next day for her fourth and last day of testimony - and this time, brought her toddler to court and held him in her lap through most of the proceedings. "The youngster made many friendly overtures to those around him," the Press Democrat reported. "...The baby smiled and chattered and waved its little hands at the crowd in the courtroom. The spectators smiled back at the baby, who seemed rather to like the attention being showered upon it."
Much of her testimony that day concerned her trip to Japan and connections to the mysterious Mrs. Marian Derrigg, who gave Lu Etta money for the boat passage and had her sign several sheets of blank paper, onto which confessions of Smith's guilt in the explosion were typed and mailed the District Attorney. (Mrs. Derrigg was highly sought as a witness but could not be found until the trial was over.)
Although evidence suggests Derrigg consistently acted as a bagman in Dr. Burke's efforts to implicate Lu Etta in the explosion, Smith testified she considered Derrig a good friend and a confidant who even "once offered me money with which to sue Dr. Burke." Amazingly, there were apparently no followup questions to that remarkable assertion.
Lu Etta said she wanted to go to Japan to avoid the trial, Derrigg gave her $750 total, including $500 on the day she sailed. Derrigg insisted she give the fake name of "Mrs. E. L. Long" for the steamer's passenger manifest.
Once in Japan, Lu Etta testified she wrote three letters to Derrigg asking for money to support her and the baby, but received no reply. She also sent a cablegram to Dr. Burke, who also did not answer. Out of money, she willingly returned to the U.S. "She was asked whether she would have stayed in Japan had money been sent her. 'I should have stayed,' was the quiet reply."
Thus ended Lu Etta Smith's testimony, but there were other witnesses that day. Nurse Lois Clausen told the court that Dr. Burke spoke to her the morning after the explosion, saying: "It is too bad it did not kill her. She would be better off dead. The child would be better off with another mother."
Mrs. Anna Macey took the stand and stated Lu Etta was at her boarding house in San Francisco for several months around the time Smith became pregnant. Dr. Burke was a weekly visitor, she said. The doctor's visits were always about an hour long. "I know that he paid for her room and board while she was at my house. She had no income and I know she kept company with no other men while there. On the occasions of Dr. Burke's visits he always went into her room." She knew Lu was "in a delicate condition" when she left in Feb. 1909.
The landlady had also testified before the grand jury, and said she was surprised her observation of Lu Etta's pregnancy weren't mentioned in their report. She also told District Attorney Lea in court that Dr. Burke's investigator showed up at her door soon after the explosion and misrepresented himself as working for the Sonoma County DA:
Mrs. Macey testified that Frank Golden, a lawyer of San Francisco, and a relative of Dr. Burke, called at her house after the explosion with Mrs. Golden, who is a stenographer, and represented to her that he was "from the District Attorney's office." Later when the conversation was half over, Mrs. Macey testified that Golden told her who he was.
Mrs. Macey further testified that when other people called subsequently and stated that they were "from the District Attorney's office" she slammed the door in their faces, not caring for any further deception.
As the first week of the trial ended, most of Santa Rosa was probably wondering: Are both of them crazy?
Dr. Willard Burke was on trial for the attempted murder of Lu Etta Smith, the mother of an infant she claimed Burke had fathered. The courtroom at the Sonoma County courtroom was packed that December of 1910 because the District Attorney had brought charges that Burke had tried to murder the woman and child in their sleep by using dynamite. There's much more background to this story that can be found in the previous article, which has hyperlinks to further pre-trial coverage of the matter. This is the sixth article on the Burke case.
(RIGHT: Dr. Burke portrait in the Illustrated Atlas of Sonoma County, 1898)
Burke's lawyer wanted to prove three things: That there was reasonable doubt that Burke had committed the crime; that Burke was held in high esteem (Luther Burbank was one of many prominent locals who testified as a character witness, and his original defense lawyer, Hiram Johnson, had to resign because he had just been elected governor of California); and most of all, they wanted to prove Smith was a gold-digger and as mad as a hatter. No, strike that: Madder than.
Even in the first hours after the explosion, Burke and his supporters were furiously spinning that Smith was insane. She was suicidal, they said, and had threatened to drown the baby. During the trial Burke's lawyer offered hours of hearsay testimony that portrayed Smith as loopy and likely clinically schizophrenic. Much was made over her muddled philosophy, which whipped together everything from astral travel to palm reading to bits of Hinduism to Blavatskyan Theosophy. But there was a big risk with using that as part of Burke's defense: He had some pretty screwy ideas, too.
After the first day of the trial, the District Attorney made public a 5,000 word letter he wrote to Lu Etta. "It dealt with the evolution of the race, the duties of mankind, the relation of the sexes, a wonderful grouping of ideas," reported the Press Democrat, and the next day the paper printed excerpts, transcribed below. Boy, is it ever a "grouping of ideas," but I'd use the adjective "incoherent" instead of "wonderful." A few excerpts:
|Sometimes the compulsory maintenance of an unhappy marriage is defended on the ground of moral interest of society. Those who make the claim have no clear idea of the matter.|
|The Recording Angel issues no marriage certificates. Betrothals in Heaven are authorized by instinctive affinity, sanctioned by Love, consummated by Abandon and witnessed by Silence. Such a ceremony is lawless, wordless, thoughtless.|
|Where there is affinity here is the opportunity for obedience. Where there is repulsion it, too, must be obeyed. Affinities come together; repulsions do not.|
|Love is more than passion, but it lives not without passion. It cannot live on passion alone. Passion born of Affinity is divine.|
|Love is affinity one for another, but on planes or grades. You and I are absolute abandon of Love if we would allow it so.|
It's possible (but very, very unlikely) that the PD cherry-picked to garble his writings and make him look eccentric - if not downright nuts. But even if that were the case, the crux of his message comes across clear: Adultery is perfectly okay when two people are deeply in love.
As shocking as that assertion was, it also imperiled Burke's defense, given that the District Attorney was trying to prove the baby was the doctor's love-child. Apparently realizing that the writings could be damning, the next day the Press Democrat published an "epitome of the Burke creed, written by a friend of Dr. Burke." If this wasn't written by Burke himself, the author had studied well at the same school of word-salad composition. An excerpt:
The whole creation, from star-mist to man is a manifested or executed thought of Life-God.
Everything has its place in the economy of the whole, and at every instant of time all things are at their logical, hence their right level, according to the laws of growth, the evolutionary process, and the balancing of cause and effect, which stands as the equilibrating force in all development, or action...
...One cannot exist without food and drink, yet the means to satisfy these absolute needs can be so abused as to destroy life instead of sustaining it, and the same is true of this highest nature of man--the sexual nature--if the conditions for its expression are not in line with the highest good, it brings deepest misery in its train.
None of the natural functions of the body should be condemned in themselves; it is only in the abuse of the function or the organ that evil exists. And it is through the equilibrating action of the law of cause and effect, that we learn where the line of use diverges into that of abuse.
After reading that stuff, you can bet that tongues were clucking all over Santa Rosa; the good doctor's ideas about sex and the Divine sound not unlike the sexual mysticism of Thomas Lake Harris, the controversial founder of the Fountaingrove community. And it is possible that Burke actually knew Harris, who came here in 1875; before he studied medicine, Burke was a Bachelor Valley (Lake County) farmer in the 1870s.
This frothy mix of ideas that declared the "Life-God" had created "various organs and functions of which we may come consciously in close touch with the Divine thought" was clearly over the line to Santa Rosa's clerics. That Sunday the rector of the Episcopal Church denounced "the underlying falsity of the philosophy of free love," without mentioning Burke by name. These notions "are not only un-Christian but anti-Christian," said the rector, who closed by asking, "I beg you to instruct your children so that they shall share our feeling."
BURKE ON "MARRIAGE"
Marriage is a discipline of character when its basis is a sincere love, and the concessions that daily life demands are gladly made in the spirit of love.
All human experience shows us that a socially enforced marriage cannot be an education in anything but spiritual bitterness, the gentle are of nagging, and all uncharitableness.
Sometimes the compulsory maintenance of an unhappy marriage is defended on the ground of moral interest of society. These who make the claim have no clear idea of the matter. The world-old fallacy is the notion that to change one's mind is to undermine one's character, and that when a person has made his bed, society in the pursuit of its own moral interest, should make him lie on it.
When the marriage relation has for any reason become a state of wretchedness, rather than of mutual happiness and helpfulness, it is no longer rightfully performing the function or perfecting individual life.
THE NOBLE WOMAN
The "noble woman" is she who has faith in the Divine and courage enough to live Nature's ways, no matter what the results, no matter what the popular standard of morals that are contrary to the dictates of divine Nature. The noble are not among those who teach and practice contrary to the Nature that gave them existence.
Where there is affinity here is the opportunity for obedience. Where there is repulsion it, too, must be obeyed. Affinities come together; repulsions do not. It is Divinity (in these) manifesting.
When any one condemns anything in the universe that is natural, as is done by many in condemnation of Divine ways, Nature is Good [sic] speaking to us.
The Recording Angel issues no marriage certificates. Betrothals in Heaven are authorized by instinctive affinity, sanctioned by Love, consummated by Abandon and witnessed by Silence. Such a ceremony is lawless, wordless, thoughtless.
Love is more than passion, but it lives not without passion. It cannot live on passion alone. Passion born of Affinity is divine. Passion born of the brain or the body is abortive--humanly abortive. Nature says: "Be utterly passionate where there is Affinity and then it will be pure." Human morality says: "You should not be passionate or you cannot be pure."
Love is affinity one for another, but on planes or grades. You and I are absolute abandon of Love if we would allow it so.
THE VOLUNTARY FAMILY
Society must accept the fact of a sincere love between a man and a woman who would live together, as the only workable and decent foundation of the marriage relation. It is a natural marriage, but may not be legal, but the legal is not as high an authority as the natural.
The family of expediency is fast disappearing because the household has ceased to be a necessary economic group. The only family that can take place IS THE VOLUNTARY FAMILY, held together not by expediency, but by choice.
THE MARRIAGE RELATION
Sometimes the compulsory maintenance of an unhappy marriage is defended on the ground of moral interest of society. Those who make the claim have no clear idea of the matter. The world-old fallacy is the notion that to change one's mind is to undermine one's character, and that when a person has made his bed, society in the pursuit of its own moral interest, should make him lie on it.
When the marriage relation has for any reason become a state of wretchedness, rather than of mutual happiness and helpfulness, it is no longer rightly performing the function of perfecting individual life.
Marriage entered into from economical or social consideration have in the past been accepted as entirely proper and reputable, and while for some time to come they will still be made under the influence of ideas and forces that are destined to disappear, they can no longer be regarded as the best marriages.
- Press Democrat, December 10, 1910
DR. BURKE'S PHILOSOPHY OF LOVE IS EPITOMIZED
On Saturday there was given out an epitome of the Burke creed, written by a friend of Dr. Burke. It is the construction the defense at the trial will put upon the remarkable document dealing with love, marriages, and "voluntary families," and therefore it is of considerable interest. It is printed [here] and will doubtless be read with much interest. It is entitled, "An Epitome of the Teachings of Dr. Burke."
An Epitome of the Teachings of Dr. Burke
The whole creation, from star-mist to man is a manifested or executed thought of Life-God.
Everything has its place in the economy of the whole, and at every instant of time all things are at their logical, hence their right level, according to the laws of growth, the evolutionary process, and the balancing of cause and effect, which stands as the equilibrating force in all development, or action.
Life-God is spirit, finer in substance than physical vision or perception can see or feel, but the power of Spirits is according to the agent or wheel used in its distribution.
All the way up the line of creation since the first nebuicus [sic] segregation. Life has been giving progressively fuller and fuller expression of itself, until in Man we find the highest form through which physical manifestation can be made.
In Man, we find the perfected mechanism--a most marvelous mysterious, live machine through the various organs and functions of which we may come consciously in close touch with the Divine thought.
Of all the offices of the physical being, that of procreation stands at the highest point of honor--as in that is direct co-operation between the human and the Divine in the effect of promoting human life. One cannot exist without food and drink, yet the means to satisfy these absolute needs can be so abused as to destroy life instead of sustaining it, and the same is true of this highest nature of man--the sexual nature--if the conditions for its expression are not in line with the highest good, it brings deepest misery in its train.
None of the natural functions of the body should be condemned in themselves; it is only in the abuse of the function or the organ that evil exists. And it is through the equilibrating action of the law of cause and effect, that we learn where the line of use diverges into that of abuse.
To recognize the Divine thought in all the workings of nature is the true spirit of worship. It is this recognition which stays the hand of the surgeon here--making him look deeply for a possible solution of physical difficulties which will leave inviolate the sacredness of the human physical temple.
All of our woes, mental as well as well [sic] as physical, we bring upon ourselves--usually through ignorance--in our journeyings up the highway of evolution into the perfected human beings which our great Exemplar has shown us is the goal toward which human life tends.
We cannot force this recognition upon anyone, each for himself stands upon his own plane of enfoldment, and through his voice of Life as it speaks to him in the only language which he can understand--his physical sensations.
- Press Democrat, December 11, 1910
RECTOR DISCUSSES BURKE PHILOSOPHY
As a prelude to his morning service at the Episcopal Church on Sunday the rector, the Rev. George E. Swan, without mentioning Dr. Burke's name, alluded to the teachings of the Burke philosophy on love. Among other things the rector said:
"It is not difficult to find the underlying falsity of the philosophy of free love. It lies close to the surface--an absorbing, individualistic selfishness which is the antithesis and contradiction of true love.
"Love loses all thought of self in seeking to bless its object and finds its happiness not in its own well being, but in that of another.
"Veneer of Religionism"
"A thin veneer of false religionism is sought in order to add respectability to that which rightly deserves the reprobation of all decent people.
"God is good and all is God, and therefore nothing is bad or wicked' this is a religionism that contains as much untruth as can be well crowded into one.
"It is self-evident that in spite of this logic, evil and wickedness are ever-present factors in life, which cannot well be ignored or denied, but must be reckoned with.
"It might seem unquestionable that there are some things and some persons that are not God and therefore 'all is not God,' bit that on the contrary, people are able to set themselves up in opposition to God, to deny his truth and disobey his commandments.
"Most of the views upon this subject which we deplore are based upon a fatalistic and materialistic view of the universe and of life, and are not only un-Christian but anti-Christian.
"While we must have charity for individuals, we can have none towards these erroneous teachings.
"I beg you to instruct your children so that they shall share our feeling."
- Press Democrat, December 13, 1910
You can be certain the new Sonoma County Courthouse had never been so crowded: It was the first day of the trial of Dr. Willard Burke for the attempted murder of his mistress.
Our basic story so far: In February of 1910, 59 year-old Dr. Burke, who owned and operated a sanitarium/health resort on Mark West Creek, was arrested for allegedly trying to kill Lu Etta Smith and her infant son by blowing them up. Investigators discovered Burke, who also owned a gold mine in the Sierras, had obtained sticks of dynamite there along with directions on how to use explosives. Smith testified to the Grand Jury she was Burke's mistress and he was the father of her child. Burke was indicted. Shortly afterwards, Lu Etta and her son disappeared. She was found to be in Japan and returned willingly, telling authorities that it was promised that she would be paid to stay there, but no support payments ever arrived. The Japan trip was paid for by Mrs. Marian Derrig, a friend of the Burke family, who had also asked Lu Etta to sign several sheets of blank paper before leaving. Two weeks after Lu Etta departed, the District Attorney received a signed confession stating she alone was responsible for the explosion. Aside from the signature, the confession was typed. More background is available in the previous article, which contains hyperlinks to the earlier pre-trial coverage.
The trial received day-to-day coverage throughout the West and was reported in some Eastern papers. Interest was boosted probably because the press and public were still lathered up over the Crippen murder trial, which ended just a few weeks before the Burke trial began. Considered the most sensational story since the Jack the Ripper slayings, American physician Dr. Hawley Crippen was accused of killing his wife and burying parts of her dismembered body in their London cellar. Crippen was en route to Canada when the ship's captain recognized him and alerted Scotland Yard via radio, making history as the first time the technology was used in the capture of a criminal. Every twist in the trial made front page headlines in U.S. newspapers, from grisly details such as the doctor allegedly disposing of her head in the English Channel to Dr. Crippen supposedly making Masonic hand gestures to the presiding judge. (Crippen was convicted and promptly executed but questions about his guilt lingered, and only a few years ago a DNA test seemed to prove the body parts were not from his wife after all - Believe It Or Not!)
Some of of the Burke trial reporting was stained purple; the San Francisco Call, clearly biased to Dr. Burke, covered the first day of the trial by breathlessly introducing the testimony as, "Warped love, lost love and loose love, mingling with a tale of crime abhorrent, with horrible plottings to kill..." But as with the investigation and Grand Jury hearings, the Press Democrat coverage was remarkable, particularly for the day: Unbiased, apparently complete, and concise, a tribute to both the unnamed reporter and the skillful editing of Ernest L. Finley. And as with earlier offerings, the PD coverage is transcribed below almost completely.
This article covers only the first couple of days, with opening statements and the start of Lu Etta Smith's testimony. Mentioned below are letters from Dr. Burke - some will be discussed in the following piece about his philosophy, but most transcribed by the Press Democrat were mundane cover letters showing only that Burke was giving her money. One letter, however, stood out for its incriminating postscript:
Oakland, May 25, '06
My Dear Lu,
Your present favor in mind. Things are picking up a little at the Sanitarium...
...The quake and fire did us all much damage, but a better day is coming. I forgot to say Mrs. Derrig went east last Tuesday.
I hope you are getting a little fatter, if not fat, than you were.
Do not hesitate to let me know if you need money, the banks are opening and I will be so I can send you some meet any time now.
With best wishes. Yours sincerely, Dr. Burke.
Address me here. My letters are all opened at the Sanitarium by Alfred and Aggie, and it is non of their business what is going on between us, no, nor no one else.
Such a letter and Lu Etta's testimony were what the public came to hear: "Stillness that was almost felt came over the crowded courtroom Thursday when District Attorney Lea approached the front of the jury box for the purpose of making his opening statement to the jury as to what the prosecution expected to prove during the progress of the evidence in the trial of Dr. Burke. The spectators had expected to hear something of a startling nature and they were not disappointed."
LU ETTA SMITH TELLS THE STORY OF HER RELATIONS WITH DR. BURKEDistrict Attorney Lea Makes Opening StatementBURKE'S LETTERS ARE IN EVIDENCESensational Features Mark the Trial of Dr. Burke in the Superior Court on Thursday
Lu Etta Smith, the woman whose tenthouse on the grounds of Burke's Sanitarium was dynamited on the night of February 5 last, thereby imperiling her life and that of her baby boy, for which alleged crime Dr. Willard P. Burke, head of the well known institution that bears his name, was indicted by the Sonoma County Grand Jury, told her story, or rather a portion of it, Thursday afternoon to the twelve men who are soon to pass upon the guilt or innocence of the man accused.
She told it while men and women crowding Judge Seawell's courtroom craned their necks and listened intently to every word that fell from her lips. It was natural that the interest should be intense after all that has been written and said about this woman who has figured and does figure so prominently in the famous case. It was a story simply and quietly told.
Shortly before three o'clock, after Deputy Surveyor Tom McNamara and L. A. Wann had been excused from the witness stand. District Attorney Lea turned at the order of Judge Seawell: "Call your next witness," to Bailiff Donald McIntosh and said:
"Call Lu Etta Smith."
There was a ripple of subdued excitement in the crowded courtroom which was a few minutes later suppressed when Bailiff McIntosh opened the door near the jury box and ushered in the witness. Miss Smith was sworn to tell the truth by Deputy Clerk Casey Feldmeyer, and at once took her seat and faced the attorneys, jurymen and spectators.
The woman was attired simply, but neatly, and her veil was thrown back over her shoulders, her face being in plain view. She manifested no nervousness while testifying. Several times she displayed emotion when telling some of the unfortunate details of her alleged relationship with the accused physician.
Replying to the preliminary questions by District Attorney Lea Miss Smith testified that she had been acquainted with Dr. Burke for about ten years, although her closest relationship might be said to have dated from the year 1906. She said she was at the Sanitarium, employed in various capacities in that year. Her last employment in 1906, she said, was in the capacity of stenographer for Dr. Burke. She related other details of her whereabouts and her employment before District Attorney asked quietly:
"Miss Smith, have you ever had a child?"
Attorneys Leppo and Cowan objected to the inquiry, and after a short discussion, Judge Seawell overruled the objection. Miss Smith replied in the affirmative, and added:
"My child was born March 12, 1909."
"Who was the father of that child?" inquired the District Attorney.
Attorney Leppo jumped to his feet with a vigorous objection. "It is not addressed to any issue in this case. It can never enlighten the Court as to whether Dr. Burke exploded the dynamite which he is charged with doing," he urged. Attorney Cowan joined in the objections. Judge Seawell overruled the objections.
"Who was the father of that child?" asked Lea again.
"Dr. W. P. Burke," was the answer.
The eyes of the spectators flitted for several moments between the accuser on the witness stand and the accused. Dr. Burke was at the time quietly making some notations in a little book he held in his hand.
This line of questioning ceased and Miss Smith was next interrogated as to where she had been from 1906 to 1909 when she again went to Dr. Burke's Sanitarium, where her child was born in March, 1909. She told of having been in Capitola, Berkeley, Carmel, and San Francisco. At the home of Mrs. Macey on Laguna street, San Francisco, she said she lived for some time, and was visited there by Dr. Burke. He had contributed to her support while she was there, she testified. She said the doctor began furnishing her money in 1907, and from then on.
District Attorney Lea then showed the witness a number of letters she had received from Dr. Burke, which she identified and which were admitted in evidence and read by Lea, Attorneys Cowan and Leppo objecting to the introduction of the correspondence. Elsewhere in this story some of these letters are reproduced.
From the interrogation as to the letters District Attorney Lea's questioning turned to Miss Smith's coming to the Sanitarium, some time prior to the birth of her child. At the time of her arrival, she said, Dr. Burke told her to sign the register as "Mrs. Smith." She objected at first, but later was prevailed upon to sign her name as Dr. Burke desired.
When the child was born, the witness testified, Dr. Burke attended her. She then told of her removing from the hotel and the annex at the Sanitarium to the tenthouse.
One night in June, 1909, the witness testified, the baby was sick and she was greatly worried. She said she was greatly worried. She said she sent twice for Dr. Burke to come and see the child. He did not come. Next morning, she said, she asked him why he had failed to come at her request to see the baby. He replied that he had been told that the sickness was not of a serious nature.
"I told him that he had time to see everyone else expecting your own child," said the witness.
She detailed a later discussion which ended in her saying to Dr. Burke:
"You are a coward and you must face the consequences of your own acts."
Then she told of her desires to leave the Sanitarium and her need of money and her requests of Dr. Burke for the necessary coin.
"I wanted him to provide for my child and that I might go away and live my life in my own way." This happened just before the dynamiting she said.
The witness related how she had on one occasion packed her trunks and had everything ready to depart, even to the dressing of her baby. She had asked the stage driver to come to the tent and get her trunks, she have determined, she said, to go away without money this time. The stage did not come. When she next saw Dr. Burke she asked him why he had interfered with her order to have the stage call for her. She said he replied:
"My dear girl, you haven't paid your bill."
Her response to this sally was, so she replied, "Who should pay my bills?"
A number of these incidents, according to the witness, were in very close proximity to the night of the explosion.
The witness was next interrogated as to the dynamiting of her tent. She testified that she and her baby had retired as usual and she was awakened apparently by a sort of "a sizzling noise," which she likened unto the sputtering that preceded the setting off of a firecracker. She remembered no more, she said, until she discovered the tent afire and that she was stifling. She said she managed to get to the tent door and then became unconscious.
She detailed other details concerning the explosion which have already been told. Dr. Dessau attended to her injuries on the first occasion that they were dressed, she said, but afterwards Dr. Burke attended her regularly. She testified as to District Attorney Lea having taken a sample of the boracic acid that had been used on her wounds. After he did this Dr. Burke did not use from the box from which the sample had been taken by Mr. Lea, she said. With the change of prescription the witness said the healing process on her left arm was more pronounced.
Then the questioning turned to personal matters again.
Miss Smith denied that Dr. Burke had ever asked her if she was a married woman, and she said she had never introduced any man to him as her husband.
"I never threatened to blow myself up with dynamite," she further said.
Miss Smith testified that during the year 1909 she had no other gentleman friend than Dr. Burke.
She recalled that on one occasion when Dr. Burke and herself had been arguing matters, he told her: "You'll end in an asylum."
She said she once told Dr. Burke:
"You are just as responsible in the sight of God for the birth of the child as I am. You are not doing your part."
On another occasion when she contemplated going away, he remarked:
"'You will do as I say,' and I replied, 'I will not: I am going away and I'll sue you.'"
The witness mentioned that she had taken steps to get legal aid by telephoning to an attorney in San Francisco, using the telephone in the Sanitarium office. This occurred just prior to the dynamiting, she said.
At this juncture Court took an adjournment to Friday morning...
Lea's Opening Statement
Stillness that was almost felt came over the crowded courtroom Thursday when District Attorney Lea approached the front of the jury box for the purpose of making his opening statement to the jury as to what the prosecution expected to prove during the progress of the evidence in the trial of Dr. Burke. The spectators had expected to hear something of a startling nature and they were not disappointed. Lea said he did not propose in his opening statement to include all the details and circumstances with which the prosecution were possessed, but would make the course they expected to pursue as intelligible as possible so that the jurors might grasp the situation as fact after fact was unfolded in the testimony that would be introduced.
The prosecutor detailed that the prosecution expected to show that the acquaintance of Lu Smith and Dr. Burke dated back over a period of seven years. About six years ago she had come to the Sanitarium as a sick woman to be treated by Dr. Burke and that he gave her oestopathic treatment. It was during this treatment, counsel said, that the prosecution would attempt to show that their relations became of an intimate and illicit nature and shortly afterwards Burke wrote Lu Etta Smith a letter of considerable length, in which he said that "a woman should live in defiance of the present code of morals"--"obedience to nature," Dr. Burke called it, "without reference to our present standard of morals, which are superstitious." Lea also referred to the portion of the Burke letter in which the writer upheld the right of the existence of affinities. The prosecution would show, Lea said, that the intimacy of Dr. Burke and Lu Smith continued at intervals and after she had taken up her residence with Mrs. Macey in San Francisco, Dr. Burke was a frequent visitor there, and furnished money to pay the board bills.
The District Attorney said the prosecution expected to prove Dr. Burke's relationship to the child who was afterwards born to Lu Smith. Mr. Lea detailed Miss Smith's appearance at the sanitarium just prior to the birth of her child and Dr. Burke's introduction of her as Mrs. Smith, accompanying it with the statement that $150 had been furnished by her husband for her care during her illness. They expected to show, he said, that Dr. Burke paid the money for the woman's care into the institution treasury out of his own pocket.
Continuing, Lea detailed how Lu Smith had publicly proclaimed Dr. Burke at the sanitarium as being the father of her child, and that the knowledge became common property at the sanitarium. "Then," the prosecutor stated, "We expect to show that Dr. Burke wrote Lu Smith another letter, in which he told her that what had transpired was in accordance with Divine law. After this, according to the information in the possession of the prosecution. Dr. Burke adopted other tactics and explained that Lu Smith's claims regarding the parentage of the child was a peculiar form of insanity from which she suffered. Lea portrayed Lu Smith in the role of outcast at the sanitarium following the birth of her child. He depicted her change of disposition in consequence, irritability being prominent.
Lea told that the prosecution expected to prove that Lu Smith wanted to leave the sanitarium on a number of occasions and that Dr. Burke had stopped her and had met her demands for money with promises of returns from his mines that would enable him to pay her. He said they would show how she had endeavored to obtain the services of a lawyer in San Francisco. The District Attorney said the prosecution expected to show Dr. Burke had on a number of occasions predicted that "Lu Smith will blow herself up." He said the state would endeavor to show how Dr. Burke had visited his mine in Butte county where it had been explained to him at his request how to attach a fuse and explode dynamite, how that he had taken several sticks of dynamite away with him, carrying it carefully in a satchel, for the asserted purpose of blowing up a rock in a ditch in the Sanitarium grounds; how that upon a subsequent visit to the mine he had told of the success of the explosion in the removal of the rock.
"We also expect to show," said Lea, "that at the time of the investigation of this case that Dr. Burke denied that there had been any explosives on the place."
Dr. Burke's upbraiding of Clerk Dillard for having informed the officers of the explosion, the doctor's statement that Lu Smith was so seriously injured that she could not live, when in reality her injuries were not of a serious nature, the ointment used upon her wounds contained a dangerous poison mixed therewith, and other evidence whereby the prosecution expected to prove its case, were outlined by Lea.
Then the prosecutor told of the expectancy of the prosecution to prove the visits of Mrs. Marian Derrigg to Lu Smith in Berkeley, the promise of money if she would go away, arrangements therefor being made with Dr. Burke, the stipulation being that she must sign a letter exonerating Dr. Burke from any connection with the dynamiting. Lu Smith's refusal to write such a letter, and the final payment by Marian Derrigg to her of $700 or $800. Lea stated that the prosecution expected to prove that prior to her departure on the steamer China for the Orient, Marian Derrigg met Lu Smith in the ferry building in San Francisco and had her sign several blank pages of paper, just affixing her signature, Mrs. Derrigg explaining that these signatures would be necessary for her identification in Japan. Lea said that he would show that he received a typewritten letter, signed by Lu Etta Smith, two weeks after her departure for Japan, in which Dr. Burke was exonerated from connection with the dynamiting. He would also show that Dr. Burke displayed a similar letter, claiming exoneration by Lu Smith.
- Press Democrat, December 9, 1910
"I NEVER SIGNED ANY STATEMENT EXONERATING DOCTOR BURKE!"Declaration Made by Lu Smith at Trial YesterdayDID HE LOVE GOLD MORE THAN BABY?Dr. Burke's Long Letter on Love, Marriages and Families Read in Court--Lu Smith Under Cross-Examination--Theories of the Defense
On the witness stand in Judge Seawell's department of the Superior Court yesterday at the trial of the case against Dr. W. P. Burke, Lu Etta Smith, the woman whose tenthouse he is accused of dynamiting, told more of her life story, accentuating a number of details that were brought out on the previous day, and adding more.
All day the woman occupied the witness stand answering question after question hurled at her by Dr. Burke's lawyers. Her answers fell upon the eager, waiting ears of a courtroom full of men and women, many of whom stood all day long to hear her recount incidents of her life prior and subsequent to her acquaintance with Dr. Burke. She unfolded much of her family history, going into details that were both sad and strange.
But for a brief interval during which District Attorney Lea propounded a few more questions, and a longer interval in which Assistant District Attorney Hoyle read the lengthy letter sent Lu Smith by Dr. Burke, setting forth his ideas of love, marriage, families, etc, the witness was in the hands of the defense and was quizzed by Attorney Rollo Leppo.
Some of the pointed expressions of Dr. Burke in the manuscript referred to are printed elsewhere.
If Lu Etta Smith was sure that Dr. Burke had nothing to do with the dynamiting of her tenthouse on that fateful night of February 5, she would still love him. She said as much on the witness stand yesterday. But as things are she does not know whether she likes him or not, in fact she says she does not. She testified that prior to the birth of her child she loved him, but his subsequent actions had robbed her of much of her previous regard for him.
Irrational and irresponsible periods when imagination runs rife and fancy suggests much were charged up to Lu Smith by the defense and will be made one of the contentions throughout the case. This was evident from the proceedings yesterday. Much stress is also laid on the numerous occasions that Dr. Burke gave the woman money, either at her request or hint.
Never Signed Letter
At the outset of the proceedings yesterday morning Miss Smith was again called to the witness stand and District Attorney Lea continued the direct examination. The first question asked was:
"Did you ever sign any letter exonerating Dr. Burke from all connection with the dynamiting and blaming yourself for it?"
The witness replied: "I did not; I never signed any letter or statement."
"Have you a baby-buggy" queried the District Attorney.
"I have," replied Miss Smith.
"Who bought that baby-buggy?" she was asked.
Counsels Cowan and Leppo interposed an objection to the question but the Court overruled it and Miss Smith replied:
"Did you at any time introduce anyone at the Sanitarium as your husband?" she was asked.
"No, I never did," was the reply. Miss Smith spoke with some feeling. It was a reiteration of what she had stated on the stand on the previous day.
Read Lengthy Document
Overnight the District Attorney had submitted to Lawyers Leppo and Cowan a copy of a lengthy dissertation written by Dr. Burke to Lu Etta Smith, containing some 5,000 words.
It dealt with the evolution of the race, the duties of mankind, the relation of the sexes, a wonderful grouping of ideas.
The District Attorney yesterday morning renewed his offer of the communication in evidence. Counsel for the defense at first renewed their objection to the admitting of the document in evidence, but later withdrew it and asked that it be read to the jury.
Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle began the reading, which occupied nearly an hour. The courtroom spectators listened intently to the code of ethics as propounded by Dr. Burke. The doctor himself was one of the closest listeners, once in a while engaging in whispered conversation with counsel.
With her head reasting in her hand, Lu Smith sat and listened to the communication addressed to her by Dr. Burke a long time ago.
At the conclusion of the communication Dr. Burke had added: "Miss Smith, read carefully and return to Dr. Burke."
Directly Hoyle concluded the reading District Attorney Lea said:
"That is all."
Attorney Leppo began his cross-examination by asking the witness whether she was known as "Miss" or Mrs." Smith.
She is Miss Smith
The witness replied that she was "Miss" Smith and had been such ever since she was born.
At the Sanitarium she said she had been known as Mrs. Smith, and it was understood that she was a married woman there.
Forty Years Old
"How old are you?" ashed Leppo.
"Forty," was the quiet response.
"I left home when I was eighteen years old. There were eleven children in the family."
Leppo proceeded with inquiries from the witness as to the members of the family. The witness gave their ages, names and family history.
Miss Smith testified that one of her sisters, Lizzie, is an imbecile being cared for by her brother, Edgar, at the family home in Upper Lake. Another sister, May, died in the Napa insane asylum. She was committed there from Lake county when she was eighteen years old, and she died at the age of twenty-five. Miss Smith detailed the deaths of several of her sisters.
Once the witness was aroused over Counsel Leppo's interrogation, whether another of her sisters had been weakminded, and replied to one query:
"She was about as near an asylum as I have been."
Leppo pressed the witness for an explanation as to what she meant by her being "near an asylum," and she replied that "some people had wanted to send her there."
Miss Smith stated that one of her sisters had died in Korea, where she had been engaged in missionary work. She recalled in response to question more of the family history.
Counsel Leppo's persistent inquiry rather irritated the witness and finaly she refused point-blank to answer a question the second time.
"Would you refuse to answer the question if the Court asked you to do so?"
"No, I would not, but I won't answer you."
"Why won't you answer me?" asked Leppo.
"Because I think you are impudent," was the sharp reply.
There was danger of some warm repartee, but at this state Judge Seawell interfered and mildly suggested that there was no occasion for any excitement. He told the witness that she need not be perturbed by the interrogation and had better answer the questions propounded.
"we will take an adjournment for ten minutes," said the Court, with a smile, thus affording an opportunity for the atmosphere to clear.
When court again resumed Counsel Leppo still further pursued the questioning of Miss Smith as to the employment she pursued after she went to Oregon when she was eighteen years old, to be with her sister. She said she attended a business college and when she became proficient in stenography she said she was employed by various law firms in Pendleton, Oregon.
Miss Smith's father's illness recalled her from Oregon to Upper Lake, she testified, and she remained with her father for some time. Then she returned again to be with her sister and other relatives in Oregon and she again took up her stenography.
When the witness mentioned that she had been employed on one occasion in a lawyer's office, Leppo interrogated her:
"What was the name of that lawyer?"
The witness hesitated and then replied:
"I don't remember the name."
"Was that the lawyer whose wife criticized him for your relations with him?"
District Attorney Lea objected to the question and Judge Seawell sustained the objection.
Had No Trouble
"Did you have any trouble while employed there?" asked Leppo.
"I did not," replied the witness.
The line of inquiry pursued dated back over the witness' life over twenty years.
Following her employment in the Portland lawyer's office, Miss Smith said she entered a nurse's training school to train as a nurse.
Objections were made as to persistence of details, but Leppo argued that the inquiry was permissible in view of the remarkable story the witness had told and in view of the relationship she had claimed with Dr. Burke.
In Portland Miss Smith nursed at the Portland Hospital and later on she went to the Fabiola Hospital.
She then told of her having gone to the Sanitarium of Dr. Burke as a patient. She went there on January 5 and remained there until April 4. She did not remember the year, but the months, she said. For the attention given her during that period the witness said she paid in money and work. This was about ten years ago. This was her first acquaintance with Dr. Burke. In April she said Dr. Burke told her she could remain and work when an opening occurred. One presented itself and she went to work at a salary of $25 per month. She remained at the Sanitarium for something like five years and then she went to the State University for a time.
Courthouse Fills Rapidly
When the doors of the courtroom were unlocked at a quarter to two o'clock for the afternoon session all the seats were taken in about a minute. Men and women jostled with each other in the scramble for seats. There was considerable merriment. Not only were the seats taken but the standing space at the back of the room was also taken.
Attended the University
Miss Smith was again called to the stand and was at once questions as to when she attended the State University, and she replied that it was in 1905. She attended one school year.
In response to a question as to whether she had maintained illicit relations with Dr. Burke prior to 1906, the witness replied she had not.
"When did you first had illicit intercourse with Dr. Burke," asked Leppo.
"In June, 1906," was the reply.
"Where did that take place?" was the next query.
"In Oakland," answered the witness.
"Not at the Sanitarium?" queried counsel.
"No," she replied.
"Where did that intimacy occur in Oakland?"
"At the Golden Rule Hotel," replied Miss Smith.
The witness testified that on the day in question she telephoned to Dr. Burke to come and see her. He was in Oakland at the time, and he called upon her in response to her message.
Did Not Try Suicide
She was asked concerning a visit at the home of Attorney Thomas in Woodland in June, 1906.
"While at the home of Attorney Thomas in Woodland, did you attempt suicide?"
"No, I did not," replied the witness.
"Is it not a fact that Mr. and Mrs. Thomas observed you druring your visit at their home down on the floor bumping you hear against the floor?"
"If they say I did that, they lie," snapped the witness.
"They lie, do they?" said Leppo.
"They do," was the quick reply.
The witness testified that she suddenly lost consciousness and fell on the floor.
"I was suffering from a palpitation of the heart then and had experienced similar attacks." She detailed them.
An objection was made to the line of questioning by the District Attorney. Leppo replied that the defense desired to examine into the credibility of the witness. He characterized some of her alleged recitals of facts as being unreal.
"Why, your Honor, we expect to show that the woman was discovered pounding her head on the floor at a time when she did not know what was transpiring," said Leppo.
"Why," said Leppo, "We expect to show that her relations with Dr. Burke were imaginary. We also expect to show that at one time she imagined she had relations and loved another man, an eminent man in this State."
Attorney Cowan interposed a further statement. He said the "fainting spells" referred to by the witness was merely her way of putting it. He termed it "mental irresponsibility."
"We may show by this woman, by her own word of mouth that Dr. Burke was not the father of her child."
Judge Seawell permitted questioning as to any further spells of faintness or heart palpitation. The witness only recalled two attacks, one of them at home and the other at the Sanitarium.
The questioning was next directed to her whereabouts and the incident at the Golden Rule Hotel. On that occasion she said she made arrangements to go back to the Sanitarium.
"Is it not a fact that Dr. Burke gave you the money with which to pay your father's funeral expenses?" Leppo asked.
"He certainly did not," was the reply.
The witness was asked as to any gifts Dr. Burke had given her but she had received none prior to June, 1906. Since then she had.
Miss Smith testified that in June, 1906 she might have told Dr. Burke that she would like to return to her old position at the Sanitarium. At any rate, she said, Dr. Burke made arrangements for her to return. At the time her health was not very good, she remarked.
The witness testified as to a gift of money to her by Dr. Burke. She had not requested the donation, she said, and she could not remember whether she had told him that she was out of funds. Dr. Issac Burke was at the office at the time.
Miss Smith testified as to her having been a guest for some time at Pine Inn, Carmel-b-y-the-Sea, and Dr. Burke paid the bill.
Miss Smith told of her stay at the home of the Rev. and Mrs. File in Berkeley. She went from there, she said, to the residence of Mrs. Macey on Laguna street, San Francisco. While she was at the File home in Berkeley, Dr. Burke furnished her with money. After she left the File residence, she said she did not write a letter to any member of the File family. She said she may have written a note.
"I did not at any time write to any member of the File family telling them that I was married," asserted the witness.
"I did not see Dr. Burke at the File residence while I was there. I did see him at his office on Sutter street, San Francisco. Dr. Isaac Burke was in the office with him there. So was Miss Lennox, the nurse. I always visited him there, when I did visit in the day time."
"Why did you go there to see him?" asked Leppo.
"I went there to see him," replied the witness.
"Why," persisted Leppo.
I went there to see him," persisted the witness.
Finmally the witness admitted the reason:
"I loved him," she said.
"Do you still entertain that feeling for him," asked Leppo.
"I don't know," replied the witness.
"What do you mean by 'I don't know?'" counsel asked. "Do you mean that if you knew Dr. Burke had nothing to do with the dynamiting that you would still love him?"
"Yes," replied the witness quietly.
"Is it not a fact that you have at different times since the dynamiting stated that others were responsible?" asked Dr. Burke's lawyer.
District Attorney Lea objected to the question and after argument Judge Seawell reversed his ruling and told Leppo that on another day he might renew his question and in the meantime he would look into it.
"Did you within two or three days after the birth of your child tell the nurse in attendance that the father of your child was a mining man and that he lived in Nevada?" asked Leppo.
"I may have said that his father was a mining man; I don't remember," was her reply.
"Did you say to the nurse in attendance that within one year you would give birth to another child? This was within a few days of the birth of your first child."
Counsel was not in possession of the name of the nurse and for the time-being withdrew his question.
The witness was next asked whether she remembered Dr. Burke having exhibited samples of gold--"a great lot of very attractive samples taken from Dr. Burke's mine?" counsel said.
Miss Smith remembered having seen one sample of gold in Dr. Burke's hand.
"I had my baby in my arms at the time and I put the baby in Dr. Burke's lap and asked him 'is not your baby more valuable than all that gold?' He walked away without answering my question and I followed him and repeated it."
"At the time Mr. Watterson and other of Dr. Burke's friends were sitting with him on the porch, did you not made [sic] the declaration that Dr. Burke was the father of your child in a loud and vehement manner in the presence of Dr. Burke's friends?" was Leppo's next question.
Judge Seawell sustained the objection.
Attorney Leppo suggested that the defense wanted to show that at the time Lu Smith made these statements regarding the parentage of her child it was supposed that she was irrational.
"We wish," said counsel, "To lay bare before the Court and jury the whole story, and the story has not been told."
"I have sustained the objection," said Judge Seawell.
"Is it not a fact," persisted Leppo, "That your first public declaration that Dr. Burke was the father of your child was when you saw the glitter of the gold from his mine?"
An objection was sustained.
"I did not grasp the doctor's whiskers and hold on until he had to repel me with force," said the witness. "I did not touch him. He grabbed me by the threat. I said to him again, "Which to you consider the most valuable, the gold or your child? Why don't you answer me?"
She was asked whether she used profane language to Dr. Burke at the time.
An objection was sustained.
"Did you not threaten at that time that you would blow yourself up?" asked Leppo.
"I did not," was the sharp reply.
"Did you not say something about destroying yourself then?"
"I did not," was the woman's reply.
The witness said the first time she publicly accused Dr. Burke of being the father of her child was in the diningroom at the Sanitarium, when he had failed to come to see the baby when it was sick. On that occasion she rebuked him with "Coward! Coward! Coward!"
Continuing she admitted that she had made frequent declarations to people in the effect that Dr. Burke was the father of her child. On several occasions she took the child up to the doctor's private residence when Mrs. Burke was present.
The witness testified to Dr. Burke's having visited her at the Macey residence in San Francisco. He remained there something less than an hour on that occasion. Their intimate relations were renewed there, she said. Leppo endeavored to show that Dr. Burke simply called to give her money, for her support. The witness denied that was the import of the visit.
She testified that Dr. Burke sometimes gave her money in coin or in currency.
Miss Smith testified that when she went to the Sanitarium the last time she was in a delicate condition, she felt somewhat apprehensive as to the manner in which she would be received there. She did not explain what she meant.
She was next asked whether she knew a man named Fritsch. Professor Wilson Fritsch, and she replied that she knew him. She admitted that one time she invited him to come to Burke's Sanitarium while she was there to deliver a lecture on "The New Thought," as she expressed it. That what his peculiar beliefs are or the teachings of this "new thought," were not brought out. It is understood from Dr. Burke's counsel that Professor Fritsch's ideas lean towards those expressed by Dr. Burke in his long letter, from which quotations are made elsewhere in this morning's paper.
Attorney Leppo ventured to as Miss Smith this question:
"Did Mr. Fritsch want to marry you?"
An objection interposed by Assistant District Attorney Hoyle to the question was sustained by Judge Seawell. Attorney Leppo stated that the matter would be called up again later on in the trial.
Counsel Leppo stated that some very important cross-examination of the witness is yet to come and he anticipated that it would take several hours more to finish the cross-examination. At this juncture court adjourned, with the usual admonition to the jurymen by Judge Seawell.
- Press Democrat, December 10, 1910
"Children don't appreciate traditional toys anymore; all they want are the latest expensive gadgets," parents were probably grousing...in 1910.
Take a close look at the advertisement to the right (click or tap to enlarge). It's presumably Christmas morn' and the wee ones have just ripped into their gifts. But is Junior playing with his toy soldiers, alphabet blocks or bugle? Is li'l sister caring for her new dolly? Nope; they're both ignoring their toys and are instead mesmerized by whatever's playing on their state-of-the-art Edison phonograph (the "Fireside" model shown here was cutting edge technology because it could play two-minute and four-minute cylinders). The kids were possibly even listening to a recording of that new trashy pop music with suggestive lyrics such as, "By the Light of the Silvery Moon."
And look at the ad directly below that one: The electrical store was promoting "Christmas Tree Electric Lighting Outfits For Rent or Sale." This appears to be the first time electric Christmas tree lights were available for Santa Rosa homes. While illuminated trees were famously on display as far as the 1880s, they were only available to a wealthy few. Light bulbs of any kind were handmade, ridiculously expensive and often burned out quickly. A simple string of lights might have cost the equivalent of hundreds of dollars today - impractical to buy, but something our Santa Rosans of a century ago might have considered renting. Newspapers in other towns promoted the safety factor as well, considering that candlelit trees sometimes caught fire (along with the cotton beards of ersatz Santas).
Both the new phonograph and availability of electric tree lights were advances in technology that would have been recognized as sure signs of progress in 1910, but are so incremental as to be barely noticeable today. Reading the old papers from a distance of more than a century, however, one thing jumps out: This was the first Christmas that felt truly modern.
Other advances in the 1910 Santa Rosa papers were discussed in an earlier article. There were suddenly more ads aimed at women, including new businesses offering women-oriented services. Advertising in both papers became more stylish, with appealing artwork and graphic design. There were still fusty Victorian-era illustrations to be found on every page - some running unchanged for years, their engravings now blurry with accumulated ink - but every edition usually had a few hints that Santa Rosa was finally tiptoeing into the 20th Century.
Nowhere is this more apparent than comparing the December, 1910 papers to Christmases past. That ad for the phonograph records showing children in an unposed setting was the sort of thing never seen in earlier years. The images of Santa Claus in other 1910 ads are easily recognizable today, with St. Nick inviting readers to come to the downtown stores and enjoy gift shopping. Contrast that to the odd ad seen at right, which Mr. Potter's plumbing supply store ran for a couple of years prior. The figure in the cartoon looks less like jolly ol' Santa than an aggrieved garden gnome, perhaps demanding something be done about your dog tinkling on him and his fellow lawn ornaments.
Before 1910 Christmas ads always emphasized the stores had "practical" things to place under the tree, and old ways die hard. "Handkerchiefs - The Gift Popular", read an ad from The White House department store, and Moodey's Shoe Store promised slippers would be considered an "adequate present." But the ad below from Mailer Hardware shows that pitch had slacking appeal. While the store still promised to sell you "sensible, useful Christmas Gifts," it emphasized "things for the children" and "presents for all."
This and the other 1910 ads from J.C. Mailer Hardware may be the best example of the way newspaper advertising had changed that year. All used cartoonist Richard F Outcault's popular "Yellow Kid" in whimsical situations to sell plows, building supplies and most often, firearms and ammunition ("You Cant Miss It" his nightshirt read in one gun ad, as The Kid unsafely propped a shotgun on his shoulder while waving a revolver in the other hand). Yes, it's a hardware store and you'd be walking through the door to buy a hammer, a shovel, a box of rat poison; but the Yellow Kid hinted there also could be a bit of fun in giving them your money. That attitude is indeed part of the secret sauce in modern advertising, and what makes the Christmas ads from 1910 still so recognizable today.