This is the first report of local domestic violence that I've yet encountered in any 1904 or 1905 Santa Rosa newspaper.

Had a Legal and Moral Right to Beat Mrs. J. Thompson When He Pleased

John Thompson holds that he has a right, legal and moral, to whip his wife. This is a pet theory of John Thompson's, especially when he is drunk, and as that is quite often, it may be said to be a ruling passion jointly with his passion for whisky. His latest outbreak along the lines occurred today, when Officer Herman Hankel was called down to the Johnson home, west of the California Northwestern railroad yard to rescue Mrs. Thompson from becoming a victim of her husband's theoretical faith and incidentally to quell Mr. Thompson.

The officer succeeded in doing both in a prompt and effective manner, though he had to apply some of Thompson's theory to that person. The wife-beater was busily beating the woman when checked by the stalwart man of peace. Thompson told Hankel he had a lawful right to whip her. He was then transferred to the city prison and a charge of battery lodged against the name he gave, but is probably incorrect.

Last night he visited the ante-room of the Eagles and with a "hard luck" story, worked on the feelings of a number of the brotherhood, getting a donation of $7.50. This he evidently used to theorize with on the person of his abused wife.

- Santa Rosa Republican, April 26, 1905

Westerns always have a slightly out of tune piano tinkling away in the background of saloon scenes, no matter how rough or remote the locale. But one of those old barroom pye-annas would have been a big improvement over the sad instrument at Santa Rosa's main vaudeville theater, where fully 36 of the 88 keys didn't work. This must have sounded beyond-belief terrible. Especially pity the poor singers who had to make do with random notes missing from their accompaniment.

The reference to "jack straps" here is an error; the writer confused the jack portion of the mechanism with the "bridle straps," which are braided fabric ribbons connecting each key to the hammer. If a strap is missing, the key won't return to position after being played, or will return so slowly as to make the note unplayable in all but the most mournfully slow music; even then, the pianist must sometimes need to lift up the key before playing it again.


The piano in the Novelty theatre is back at its old pitch and is strictly in tune. For some time the piano, prior to last week, did not yield up as much music as it was warranted to produce. It had been acting "kind of strange" [as a] music producer for several weeks. Last week "Dr." S. L. Parks was called in and he performed an operation on the theatre piano. He removed certain portions of the musical "anatomy" and anatomy that was not musical [sic].

The trouble, the autopsy showed was caused by mice having nibbled through thirty-six "jack straps" that have something to do with the mechanism of the key board. A more critical examination of the interior of the the piano revealed a nest of mice and in all seven were killed. The repairs made have increased the volume and quality of the music from the piano at the Novelty. Morris Zoberbier supplied the straps needed to replace those the mice had eaten.

- Press Democrat, April 13, 1905

This sounds more like a bike kidnapping than outright theft, but then again, maybe there was a bicycle chop-shop in 1905 Santa Rosa, stealing "wheels" and busting them down for parts. The "Carrie" referred to in the note is, of course, Carrie Nation, the hatchet-wielding prohibitionist, who was much in the national news at the time.

Here PD editor Ernest Finley took on his "stern schoolmarm" persona to warn that judges and cops were itching to make an example of wayward youths, much as he did in reporting the city's orange peel menace.

Young Lady's Bicycle Taken From the Porch of a College Avenue Residence - Police Are Investigating

"I will leave your wheel at P. O. at about 3 p. m. and if you holler I will smash it with an axe -- Carrie."

This is the note written on a piece of a cardboard box that Professor Van der Linden found left at his residence on College avenue in the place where he had left his bicycle on Monday, and the thief had failed to return the property even to the "P. O." mentioned in the note. The owner has reported his loss to the police and Chief of Police Severson has the cardboard writing in his possession.

Last Saturday night some one wandered to the rear of the Porter residence on College avenue and when they or she, as the case may be, departed, they took Miss Bess Porter's bicycle, which she had left on the porch away. The wheel is also among the list of "missing" at the police station. The officers are endeavoring to recover the property. A few days ago a bicycle thief was given three years in the State's prison by Judge Burnett, and the practice goes on.

- Press Democrat, February 22, 1905

Luther Burbank may as well have been Luther Rolex, so often were shoddy knockoffs apparently passed off using his name.

That both local newspapers produced long stories on the same theme within a few days of each other suggests that Burbank's secretary, the euphonically named May Maye, had dispatched some sort of press release about the fakes. The followup story in the Press Democrat confirms that there was indeed a problem a few weeks earlier with counterfeit carnations in San Francisco on St. Patrick's Day, but the other incidents below are described only as have happened "recently," and some probably came from Burbank's copious scrapbooks to underscore the seriousness of this type of threat to his business.

Plants and Flowers That Eminent Scientist Never Saw Are Being Sold as His Creations

When Dr. J. J. Summerfield of this city was in Birmingham, England, recently he chanced to pass a florist's establishment and his eye rested on a sign in the window which told in attractive lettering that "Burbank's Thornless Cactus" were for sale there.

Naturally the Santa Rosan entered the store and asked to see the Burbank creations. He was shown some insignificant flowers and plants and was told emphatically that they were the genuine, "obtained direct from Burbank."

Summerfield looked at flower and plant for a moment and then startled the proprietor by saying:

"I am one of Burbank's nearest neighbors in Santa Rosa, California, and I know positively that Mr. Burbank has not sent out any of his never fading flowers or thornless cacti. I will give you just half an hour to remove those signs from your window or else I will have it done for you."

A half hour later Dr. Summerfield passed the place and the signs had disappeared and the proprietor of the store promised that they should not be displayed again.

But it is not only abroad that frauds are being practiced upon the public and injustice done the creator of so many new fruits, plants and flowers. Even in San Francisco and other cities, it has come to Mr. Burbank's notice that a "Burbank Green Carnation" is being sold. The truth is Mr. Burbank has not yet attempted to produce a "green carnation."

One of the cheekiest of the impositions is published in the Las Vegas, N. M., Optic. This is what it said:

"W. S. Burke, editor of the Albuquerque Journel [sic], is trying some interesting experiments with thornless cacti on this ranch near the city. While in California, recently, his old-time friend, Luther Burbank made him a present of some choice specimens of the thornless variety of cactus, with which he had been experimenting for a long time with the object of securing a species that would grow in the most pronounced desert. If he has succeeded, the barren tracts of California and Arizona and New Mexico will soon become the feeding ground of hundreds of thousands of cattle. The thornless cactus is nourishing and palatable to stock of all kinds."

The Mr. Burke referred to Mr. Burbank has never seen, and does not know, so that the "old-time friend" idea is a false one. Again, Mr. Burbank has never sent out a single plant of the thornless cactus to anyone.

The Modesto News recently gave an account of one G. W. Elsey, who has a "tree of the Burbank plumcot." The fruit is described at some length. There are none of the Burbank creation of plumcots on the market, therefore the plumcot Mr. Elsey has is not a product of the eminent scientist at all.

In Mexico, Arizona, and other places the supposed Burbank thornless cactus is being offered and the whole thing is a fake for, as stated, Mr. Burbank has not put any plants on the market. In London and New York the "never fading" flower is being offered and there are none of the genuine flowers to be had in either place at present.

- Press Democrat, April 6, 1905

A Florist Dyes Carnations Green and Declares Them Wizard's Creation

An enterprising florist has created another endless chain of trouble and inquiry for Luther Burbank, whose home in this city is besieged early and late with visitors anxious to see and talk with the creator of new fruits and flowers.

In the celebration of St. Patricks Day recently the enterprising florist referred to dyed some beautiful white carnations a pretty green on the tip ends, and palmed them off on unsuspecting customers as the latest creation of the Burbank genius. Their success was instantaneous and many patriotic sons of Erin purchased the dyed carnations at fabulous prices.

Already the persons who saw and purchased the so-called green carnations supposed to have been designed by Mr. Burbank have begun writing letters regarding it. This morning's mail brought several inquiries about the price of plants and other questions for Mr. Burbank to answer. One letter from Bakersfield enclosed the faded petals of the carnation to Mr. Burbank and this was the first time he had seen the alleged creation of his genius. It is apparent at first glance that the populace has been sadly imposed upon by the florist.

The story of the alleged green carnation brings to mind one of Mr. Burbank's prettiest and most wonderful creations, the last plants of which were devoured by voracious gophers last season. This was a carnation which was pure white on the first day it blossomed, a beautiful pink on the second day, and a deep red on the third day. This color was maintained until the flower withered and died, but the succession of colors on the three days was a remarkable feat. At the time of its creation no one seemed to appreciate it and now that it is obsolete there is a great demand for it. Mr. Burbank knows the exact steps by which this was produced and intends to reproduce it. Mr. Pierson, a carnation expert of Cromwell, Mass., is very desirous of obtaining this novelty. He has two million feet of glass in his nurseries, most of which are devoted to the cultivation of carnations.

- Santa Rosa Republican, April 14, 1905


Twice recently the Press Democrat has called attention to the fraud being perpetrated upon people in San Francisco by flower dealers selling "green" carnations, claiming that they are Burbank creations, when in reality they are white carnations dyed green by the use of chemicals.

According to a metropolitan newspaper the Board of Health of San Francisco have received a communication from F. Shibely, a florist, complaining that certain flower dealers were exhibiting and selling green carnations which were really nothing but the ordinary white blossoms colored green by the use of dye which he thought poisonous. While not ordering an official inquiry into the matter the Board directed that the Health Officer take such means as might be found available to give the flower buying public notice of the statement made.

- Press Democrat, April 22, 1905

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