Followups to some articles from the 1905-1906 Santa Rosa newspapers discussed in earlier posts:

* 1906 EARTHQUAKE: THE LONG CLEANUP The 1906 earthquake flattened much of downtown Santa Rosa, and it took an army of workers six weeks to clear just the worst of it. What happened to that mountain of rubble? Most of it was hauled away by train, as shown in many photographs of men with shovels standing next to flatcars (perhaps they would have done more shoveling and less standing around if the town had paid them more than $2/day, which was 50¢ below the prevailing wage for manual labor). But not all the debris left town; some was apparently used as riprap on the creeks, and hundreds of loads were used by Santa Rosa as fill for the approaches to the new E street bridge. As a result, the banks of Santa Rosa Creek were squeezed together by over one hundred feet, the first in a century of abuses to a waterway that had salmon runs so plentiful that fish could be caught barehanded.

* THE MAN WHO WOULD BE SIDEWALK KING There couldn't have been a more dolorous figure in early 20th c. Santa Rosa than Joseph Forgett, whose love for opium led him further and further down unlovely paths. In 1905 he was charged with carrying a meat cleaver under his coat and stealing an opium pipe; nearly two years later he was the ringleader in a jail break. The items below from early 1907 document what he was doing inbetween, including fraud and petty theft.

* THE STREET KNEE-DEEP IN MUD Enough with the complaints about potholes on Santa Rosa streets; a little over a hundred years ago, there was a crater on Sebastopol Ave. that regularly sank buggies up to their axles - and considering that a buggy axle was between 16-26 inches off the ground, this was a Pothole From Hell, indeed. And even worse, it took the town over three years to patch it. The problem was apparently a feud between the town and the owners of a property at the corner of Boyd street, who refused to sell their 14-foot frontage to allow the street to be widened and drainage added. Until it was resolved in 1907, it was a frequent topic of hand-wringing at City Council meetings, with it even proposed that a bridge should be built over the hole.

* ANY ROBIN ON THE MENU? It may sound Henry VIII-ish today, but at the turn of the 20th century, songbirds baked in a pie, particularly robins, were considered good eatin' by many. The group that came to Sonoma County in 1907 for robin hunting soon would face a change to the law that made it a felony to harm or deal in robins, meadowlarks and "any wild bird" (except for sparrows, bluejays, pigeons, and other birds considered pests). The crime was later downgraded to a misdemeanor.

New Structure a Complete Change to the Old One--The Approaches Are Filled In

Few people who have not visited the E street bridge know of the extensive improvements that are being made in connection with the erection of the new bridge. In a few days the bridge will be opened for traffic.

The bridge is a pile bridge with one span of forty-six feet. The approaches of the old bridge have been cut down so that the main bridge and approaches together are only a little over ninety feet. Before they were over two hundred feet. Hundreds of loads of old brick and debris--have been used in filling in the approaches so that the bridge will be on a level with the grade of the street.


- Press Democrat, January 13, 1907

Constable Boswell Locates Man He Wanted

Joseph Forgett was arrested Saturday morning by Constable Boswell, charged with having embezzled a sum of money from a physician. He is alleged to have represented to the physician that he was in the employ of Henry Von Grafen, and that he had a large sum of money due him. On the strength of this statement he secured some coin. Later it was learned that he had not been in the employ of Von Grafen at all.

Constable Boswell has been searching for the man for several days, and made two trips to the tent occupied by Forgett. Both times the officer was informed by Forgett's wife that he was not at home. Saturday morning when he called Constable Boswell demanded that the door be opened under penalty of breaking it down and gained an entrance, and then he heard a whispered conversation inside. Divining that his man was in hiding, Boswell insisted on the door being opened and there he found Forgett on a bed with numerous quilts and comforts piled on him to hide him from view. He was ordered to arise and feigned sleep, but was rudely shaken and finally said, "Hello."

Forgett at first tried to put the officer off by saying he would come down town later, but Boswell would not stand for that, and brought his man to the court.

Justice of the Peace Atchinson released Forgett on his own recognizance to give him an opportunity to raise money.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 17, 1907

Prisoner Essays Insanity When Deprived of his "Dope"

Joseph Forgett, a man sent over to the county jail yesterday for thirty days by Justice Atchinson found himself deprived of his "dope" at the jail last night, and he set up a howl and evinced insanity. His shouts were echoed by those of other prisoners and iron cell doors were rattled. The noise was heard for blocks and people hurried to see what had happened. The noise was soon silenced, however. Forgett's wife also came to the jail stating that she had nothing to eat and nowhere to exist in warmth.

- Press Democrat, January 23, 1907


Joseph Forgett is again in the toils of the law. This time he is alleged to have stolen a sack of dried apples weighing more than fifty pounds, and when the warrant was sworn to for his arrest he was charged with a prior conviction. The officers claim to have information as to where Forgett sold the apples and feel certain of convicting him. Justice Atchinson set the case for hearing Friday and fixed the man's bond at $300 cash, or $500 personal bonds. Forgett is unable to give bonds and is in custody of Sheriff Jack Smith pending his examination.

- Santa Rosa Republican, March 27, 1907


Joseph Forgett will spend the coming eleven months in the county jail. This was the judgment pronounced by Justice Atchinson Friday afternoon. It was understood that Forgett wanted a sentence of sufficient duration to enable him to break off the morphine habit. During this time he will be kept away from the drug and it is his intention when given his liberty next year to refrain from its use. He entered a plea of guilty to charges of petty larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses.

- Santa Rosa Republican, March 29, 1907


The unsightly mud hole on Sebastopol avenue near the California Northwestern depot is soon to be a thing of the past. At the council meeting Tuesday evening the matter was taken up and decided upon a proposition made by Messrs. L. B. Henry and Cummings, who have secured an injunction against the city to prevent certain street work being done on Sebastopol avenue.

In consultation with Street Commissioner Decker recently Messrs. Henry and Cummings proposed that if the [illegible microfilm] grade Boyd street from Sebastopol avenue to the slough, a distance of 260 feet, they would give the city fourteen feet in front of their property. This will permit of the widening [sic] of Sebastopol avenue and the construction of a new sidewalk on the south side of that thoroughfare.

When the work has been completed and the street widened there will be ample room for teams to pass when electric cars are being operated. This will be good news to the people of that section of the city and to all who had to traverse that section. For some time past Sebastopol avenue has been almost impassable because of the mud holes there and under this proposal this will be remedied.

The council agreed to accept the suggestion and City Attorney Geary and Street Commissioner Decker were authorized to accept the proposed agreement, and when a deed has been given to the fourteen feet a resolution to grade and gravel Boyd street will be passed by the council. The hearing of the injunction suit brought against the city will be called Thursday and this will settle the matter without the necessity of the courts.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 23, 1907


The mud hole on Sebastopol Avenue has been causing all kinds of trouble lately. Thursday a wagon heavily laden with eggs was en route to the cold storage plant of the National Ice Company, and became stuck in the mud hole. The efforts of the team were unavailing, and the wagon could not be moved. Another express wagon was drawn up alongside the mire and two-thirds of the load transferred, and the team was then able to move the load of eggs. Recently an automobile became stuck in the mud there and other vehicles have mired down.

- Santa Rosa Republican, March 8, 1907

Disgraceful Condition of Highway on Sebastopol Avenue Can Now Be Remedied

The disgraceful condition of the roadway on Sebastopol avenue, near the railroad crossing, is at last going to be remedied. The injunction suit which has held back the repair of the road for many months will be dismissed and at once and the property owners, Messrs. Cummings and Henry, have given deeds to the city to a strip of land in front of their property, in return for which the city will repair the street, grade and put down sidewalks, etc., and grade Boyd street so that a proper drainage for surface water will be provided. An agreement to this effect was reached and a resolution adopted at last night's council meeting. Colonel L. W. Julliard, representing the Henry and Cummings interest, told City Attorney that he would dismiss the suit today.
- Press Democrat, April 3, 1907


Last Sunday a party of four members of the French colony in San Francisco came up to Sonoma to spend the day and do a little hunting. They killed a number of robins and one of their number in addition broke the ordinance regarding the discharging of firearms on the county road. The men were arrested and haled before Justice J. B. Small. They paid fines that aggregated sixty dollars and went on their way home to San Francisco hardly feeling as if the sport they had enjoyed had been worth the while.

- Press Democrat, January 24, 1907

New Game Bill Has Passed Senate And Will be Law

A bill has passed the Senate and is now before the Assembly for the protection of the medow lark and robin. It makes the killing of these or the robbing of their nests a felony. The entire section to cover this question is as follows:

637a. Every person who, in the state of California, shall at any time, hurt, hoot, shoot at, pursue, take, kill, or destroy, buy, sell, give away or have in his possession...

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 22, 1907

Santa Rosa should use the creations of Luther Burbank to landscape the new courthouse and every single front yard, suggested San Francisco's city engineer a few months after the Great 1906 Earthquake. And yes, Burbank promised seed packets, bulbs, and plants when asked by a civic group seeking to beautify Santa Rosa a few weeks hence. You can probably see a descendant or two from Burbank's greenhouse in many of the old gardens around town: agapanthus, walnut and plum trees, bottlebrush, daisies, and lilies are just some of the possible heritage plants from that era (Burbank's most prolific years came later.)

If the name of letter-writer Marsden Manson is familiar to anyone today, it's because of his shameful role in five-year campaign by San Francisco to flood the Hetch Hetchy Valley for use as the city's reservoir. Starting the following year, Manson would become the point man attacking John Muir and what he called the "short-haired women and long-haired men" in the Sierra Club, whom he ridiculed as sentimentalists standing in the way of San Francisco's glorious future.

A Letter From The Eminent Civil Engineer Suggests Laying Out of New Courthouse Grounds and Gardens Everywhere With Flowers and Trees of Luther Burbank's Creations

Marsden Manson, the well known civil engineer of San Francisco, who is at present doing so much in planning and designing the new and greater San Francisco, has found time to interest himself in the beautifying of the new and greater Santa Rosa.

Mr. Manson's pertinent suggestions are contained in the following letter which will be read with much interest from a man who has given the subject much thought:

San Francisco, Jan. 11, 1907-- The Editor of the Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Cal.: Santa Rosa is the point towards which the agricultural scientists of the world look with great interest. From this far away town have gone forth to the world plantforms new to nature; and. which have added millions to the wealth of those who till the soil.

Rare flowers, delicious fruits, trees of unusual growth and beauty, vegetables and grasses of higher food values, even desert growths changed into valuable forage plants--all the product of the skillful scientific work of one man. No catalogue of trees, fruits, vegetables, etc., is complete unless its lists contain some at least of the creations from Santa Rosa. The work has just begun. Yet Santa Rosa does not realize her possibilities and advantages. I therefore make the following suggestions:

In rehabilitating the grounds around your new court house let the grass, flowers and trees be those developed and improved by Luther Burbank.

Let every front yard present one or more of the flowers he has given the world, and let that world know that some of the choicest products of his work greet the stranger, who visit your town, at every gate with the beauty and odor of some flower which has made Santa Rosa the mecca of the scientific horticulturalist and florist.
Sincerely yours, Marsden Manson.

- Press Democrat, January 13, 1907

Flower Planting In Santa Rosa Much Favored

Luther Burbank has promised to aid the movement started by the Women's Improvement Club and endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations for the beautifying of the City of Roses.

At a joint meeting of the committed of the Improvement Club...Mr. Burbank willingly promised a generous gift of flower seeds and later of bulbs and plants and to aid in every way the movement to make the gardens of the city blossom as the rose by the time of the rose carnival in May. The promised gift from Mr. Burbank fired the committee with enthusiasm and he was heartily thanked.


- Press Democrat, March 22, 1907

>The most enjoyable part of writing this journal is finding stories in the old papers that reveal (mostly) forgotten bits of our mutual past. Sometimes these are entertaining glimpses of great-grandpa's life, such as the bottom of the barrel vaudeville acts that played in Santa Rosa during the earliest part of the 20th century; othertimes, these stories in the local papers cast light on important - and sometimes shocking - chapters of American history. And "shocking" best describes the newspaper's accounts of the angry 1907 City Council confrontations between anti-liquor advocates and their "wet" opponents, which found both sides hinting they would destroy the town via boycotts or blacklists if they did not get their way.

In early 20th c. Santa Rosa, the temperance movement was little noticed until this showdown over the future of downtown Santa Rosa. Before the 1906 earthquake, bar room doors opened at five in the morning and closed at midnight. Saloons were ordered closed for about a month after the disaster, and then allowed to reopen between 8AM to 6PM. By midsummer those times were stretched two hours in each direction, and now in March, 1907, the Council was debating a new liquor ordinance that would keep the bars open until ten at night. The forces of temperance wanted to keep the 8PM closing time plus adding complete shutdown on Sundays. And although it's not stated in the articles transcribed below, another grave concern of the teetotalers had to be the speedy return of the saloon scene in post-quake Santa Rosa; while most merchants and public services were struggling to regain footholds at the end of 1906, there were about three dozen saloons downtown, most of them along Fourth St. between Railroad Square and Courthouse Square.

The showdown began cordially at a late February 1907 Council meeting that had the audience packed with temperance advocates. Local brewer Joseph Grace and Rev. William Martin debated the Sunday closing issue, shook hands at the end, and everyone went home well pleased.

The next City Council meeting again had a big audience because of suspicion there might be "something doing" on the saloon matter. A church elder told a reporter they had to "watch as well as pray." A W. C. T. U. petition was also presented "...on behalf of the 2,000 boys and girls of this city, who are now exposed to the vile language often heard in front of the saloons."

At the following Council meeting, the tone turned darker. Rumors had been floating that week that the ministers were keeping a list of people who didn't want to sign their latest petition. The Brewers' Association now told the Council that there would be a boycott of Sonoma county's entire hop industry if a Sunday closing law passed. Former Judge Barham presented a counter-petition asking for extended saloon hours, and noted that restrictions were "a step towards prohibition and that prohibition hurts towns." At the same meeting, a PD reporter spotted two of the ministers were making a list of everyone present, but the paper was told it was "merely a question of getting keep a record of the names of the people we saw" and not to create a blacklist.

In the four days until the next meeting, tempers must have been roiling in Santa Rosa; when the Council met again, even the aisles were filled and the faces of latecomers pressed against the windows.

The May 12 meeting began with yet another petition presented urging saloon restrictions. As to the threat by the hop industry, the speaker insisted limiting saloon hours would most benefit "the boys and girls of Santa Rosa" and the town must "put children above money."

Two other ministers spoke against the saloons, as did two church leaders. The dramatic moment came when the Congregational Church pastor rose to speak. "It is a fight to the death!" he cried. "The saloon must die! State after State has prohibition, and others will vote for it!" He continued with an attack on Judge Barham, who had presented that counter-petition at the previous meeting. Barham's son, the preacher sneered, "...was now in an insane asylum, sent there by drink." The Press Democrat reported:

As the last words were uttered, one could have heard a pin drop, so tense was the feeling. The silvered head of courteous, kindly Judge Barham dropped as from a sudden blow, his bowed frame shook with suppressed emotion, and after a moment he quietly arose and with tears in his eyes slowly and hesitatingly passed from the room and out into the night.

The anti-temperance PD - which gave the story unusual front page treatment, complete with sidebar on the attack, transcribed below - added that the minister later "expressed his regret at having indulged in any personalities during the course of his remarks, explaining that in the intensity of his feelings he had forgotten himself and been carried further than he had intended to go."
Whether it was the attack on Barham or the influence of business interests (or both) we don't know, but at the following Council meeting, the saloonkeepers were given everything they wanted: No Sunday closing, longer hours.

(RIGHT: Liquor ad from the 1907 Press Democrat)

I confess that the virulence of the anti-liquor forces surprised me; ax-wielding Carrie Nation tactics aside, I had presumed that the temperance movement hugged the rational, moral superiority of sobriety. Not so at all, according to the excellent book on the pre-20th century temperance movement, "The Alcoholic Republic" (and which I cannot recommend highly enough). The anti-liquor war was an often hysterically-emotional crusade by 19th century American evangelicals, some of whom thought booze a greater evil than even slavery. "Temperance advocates did not comprehend their own arrogance in attempting to impose their views upon segments of the populace that were hostile...the cry of abstinence was an attempt to cement the broken fragments of American society, but the leaders of the temperance movement could never gain the kind of unanimous consent that would have been necessary for the success of the cause," the author explains.

And foreshadowing the "Noble Experiment" of Prohibition that would begin a little more than a decade later, the movement was ultimately fanatical, and ready - even eager - to burn every single bridge behind itself: "Anti-liquor crusaders never understood these contradictions. Instead, they emerged from each bitter clash with their enemies determined to escalate the war against alcohol in order to achieve final success."

Speeches For and Against Closing of Saloons Here On Sunday

The city council played to a crowded house at its adjourned meeting on Wednesday evening. Standing room was at a premium and there were probably more than a hundred people crowded into the little basement room which is being used as a council chamber. There was plenty of interest in the matters to come before the council, the consideration of the proposed liquor ordinance [sic]. Speeches were made for and against the Sunday closing of the saloons, the bright particular speech being made by Rev. William Martin. His remarks provoked the entire assemblage to laughter at the witty manner in which he turned the tide of the previous speaker and the mayor and councilmen laughed heartily at his witty sallies.


Joseph T. Grace took up the cudgels for the saloon and said that he was not aware what had caused the people to believe Santa Rosa was such a wicked city. He said he disliked to see a drunken man as much as anyone and remarked that it was not the use of liquor that did the harm, but the abuse of it. He declared the saloons were being blamed for something if which they were not guilty, and asked that some speaker point out a single occurrence within five years that could be traced directly to the fault of the saloon. The speaker concluded by saying that anything which [illegible microfilm] the saloons would have the opposite to the desired effect and cause a greater demand for liquor than now existed.

Rev. William Martin took up Mr. Grace's thought, and cleverly turned the statements of Mr. Grace. He referred to the restrictions causing a greater desire for liquor, as stated by Mr. Grace, and said that from that standpoint he thought evidently that Mr. Grace would join the petitioners in asking for Sunday closing, as according to the previous speaker, it would create a greater demand for his manufactures. The speaker continued by calling attention to a recent occurrence in which there was a fight on Saturday evening in which the entire police force was called to quell a disturbance and dryly remarked that the parties who had caused the disturbance were not attending a meeting being held that evening at the Christian church but had been visiting the saloons. He called attention to the fact that while the saloons paid more than any other business to the government, it also cost the government more to deal with the saloons and handle them.

At the conclusion of the meeting Mr. Grace and Rev. Martin shook hands and had a merry little chat over their forensic passage. The best of feeling prevailed throughout the meeting among the contending forces, and there was nothing acrimonious in the entire debate.

The council went into executive session to consider the matter and the large audience slowly filed out into the night.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 28, 1907

License Matter Not Considered on Wednesday Night--Two Resolutions Are Read

Again anticipating that there might be "something doing" in the matter of the saloon license there was a "full house" at the Council meeting Wednesday night, representing both sides of the controversy, but the consideration of the ordinance went over to Friday night and this particular ordinance may not be brought up then as there are many others.

Among those present were the Revs. William Martin, M. H. Alexander and Leander Turney. Prayer meetings were adjourned earlier than usual and the pastors and some of their flocks were present. One church elder stated they had deemed it necessary to "watch as well as pray."

The W. C. T. U. resolution was read and filed as follows:

"On behalf of the 2,000 boys and girls of this city, who are now exposed to the vile language often heard in front of the saloons, we earnestly and prayerfully petition your honorable body to close all saloons at 8 o'clock p. m. on week days, and all day on Sundays so that some of the temptations of youth may be moved.

"Yours for the children, Woman's Christian Temperance Union, by Mrs. J. W. Warboys, president."


- Press Democrat, March 7, 1907

Sunday Closing Will Not Prevail In Santa Rosa
Several Petitions Presented and Addresses Made Followed by an Executive Session at Which Vote is Taken

Oratory, mingling repartee with matter of more serious vein, entertained a large audience at the meeting of the City Council last night, at which time the Sunday closing of saloons formed the chief topic. Several petitions dealing with the question pro and con were first disposed of, and then the oratory began. The audience included people of all classes. The ministerial union was represented by the Revs. Lelander Turney, M. H. Alexander, Peter Colvin, and Arthur B. Patten.

After the transaction of the preliminary business Mayor Overton called for the reading of petitions and communications. Clerk C. D. Clawson read a communication from the Brewers' Association of San Francisco, threatening to place a boycott on Sonoma county hops if the proposed Sunday closing law was adopted. This communication will be found in another column.

The use of the term "boycott" aroused many of those present. Mayor Overton did not like the term at all...


Mayor Overton invited anybody who desired to do so to speak and Frank W. Brown, representing the saloon-keepers, arose and stated that all they asked was to be allowed the same conditions in their business existing before the earthquake, leaving the matter of the license fee optional with the City Council. He referred to the fact that they had suffered losses at the time of the earthquake like everybody else.

The Hon. John A. Barham was the next speaker. He said he spoke for the heavy property owners who represented three million dollars worth of property and who were doing their best to build up the city. He handed to the clerk the following communication from them: "To the Honorable Mayor and City Council of Santa Rosa: We, the undersigned taxpayers and property owners of Santa Rosa, are in favor of granting the saloons the privilege of resuming business under the same conditions as were in force previous to April 18th, 1906, or at time of the earthquake."

After the reading of the communication Mr. Barham said he wished to impress upon the minds of the councilmen that prior to the earthquake of last April Santa Rosa was equal as regards peace, quiet, and sobriety to any city of its size anywhere. He called attention to the fact that that night in the jail of Sonoma county, from all the cities and towns and hamlets, there were just seven men charged with crimes. He asked why at this time, when the city was being rebuilt, and things were going along well, a pattern to all the world in the energy being displayed, and agitation such as this should be started.

Referring to the communication of the Brewers' Association Judge Barham said it was an unfortunate thing hat the word "boycott" had been used and people did not like the word. He asserted that the Association meant what it said and he instanced the boycott put upon Lake county hops, where local option had been brought about by the imposition of an exorbitant license.

Judge Barham called attention to the importance of the hop and grape industry in Sonoma county, each of which yielded over a million dollars of revenue and a vast proportion of it being paid out for labor. A plan suggested by the speaker for the proper policing of the saloons was to have each saloon man, so to speak, a policeman, and hold him personally responsible for the conduct and orderliness of his place of business. Let saloon men know that the saloons must obey the laws and let the officers know also that the strict letter of the law must be obeyed all the time, he said. He suggested further that the license must be raised to $240 a year.

The speaker said the Sunday closing suggested was a step towards prohibition and that prohibition hurts towns. He asked the council to consider the interests of the owners of three million dollars worth of property and also the immense hop and grape industries of the county before they took a definite stand. After some more argument along the same lines Judge Barham referred to the ease with which signatures to petitions were often secured.

Mayor Overton smilingly asked Judge Barham if his petition was included in the coterie of petitions mentioned. This was followed by some good natured repartee and an exchange of laughter in which all joined.

Rolfe L. Thompson stepped into the arena and said that he was prompted to speak by some of the remarks of Judge Barham. He said he felt and the people generally felt that in their representatives on the council they had men in whom they had every confidence and who would do what they considered best for the community. He realized that they represented the liquor interests as well as the church element. He then proceeded to analyse some of the statements of the speaker who had preceeded him. He alluded to the petition signed by the 134 residents and business men and said it was certainly worthy of full and careful consideration. Mr. Thompson called attention to the club held over the head of the council by the Brewer's Association, and said that he did not think anything would come of it. San Francisco should not be allowed to dictate the policy of Santa Rosa's government, he contended. Comparing the hop and grape industry with the poultry industry, he instanced the great revenues now being derived from the latter, and said that in view of the unlimited possibilities he did not thing much need be feared even if the hop and grape industry should be attacked. He also called attention to the fact that our hops are sold largely in the east and in Europe, and not in San Francisco. Mr. Thompson concluded with an earnest plea for carrying out the wishes of the 134 citizens and business men who had signed the petition in favor of the Sunday closing law. He said they must certainly have thought hat Sunday closing was a good thing. It was a question of prohibition, he said, but simply the reasonable suggestion of men who thought the course asked for was the best for the city.


There had been rumors afloat for several days that the ministers and others circulating the petitions favoring Sunday closing were keeping a list of those who refused to sign the same and considerable feeling had been expressed in consequence. A Press Democrat representative interviewed the Revs. Leander Turney and A. B. Patten after the meeting last night and learned from them that nothing in the nature of a "blacklist" had been kept. It was true, they said, that a list had been kept of all persons they had seen, but there was no particular reason for so doing--at least they knew of none. "It was merely a question of getting statistics," said the Rev. Mr. Patton, "and we all started out to keep a record of the names of the people we saw."

- Press Democrat, March 9, 1907

Petition Signed by 906 Women Is Presented
Intense Feeling Aroused by Remarks of the Rev. A. B. Patten During Course of His Speech on Sunday Closing

The Rev. Arthur B. Patten, pastor of the First Congregational Church, brought his address to a highly dramatic close when he said:

"I was certainly surprised the other night when Judge Barham, the tall, courty old gentleman with the silvery locks, stood before this Council asking for an open town and to have the saloons kept open on Sundays, when his son, part of his own life, is now in an insane asylum, sent there by drink. I could scarcely believe my senses." Then, with greater force, he added, "And I see he is her again tonight!"

As the last words were uttered, one could have heard a pin drop, so tense was the feeling.

The silvered head of courteous, kindly Judge Barham dropped as from a sudden blow, his bowed frame shook with suppressed emotion, and after a moment he quietly arose and with tears in his eyes slowly and hesitatingly passed from the room and out into the night.

As he made his way out through the crowd that pressed about him, eager to shake his hand and anxious to extend a word of sympathy, he sobbed brokenly again and again, "It is not true, it is not true."

When the hearing had come to a close and the petitioners and spectators took their departure, Mr. Patten went to his home. Later he returned to the council chambers, where the Council was still in session, and expressed his regret at having indulged in any personalities during the course of his remarks, explaining that in the intensity of his feelings he had forgotten himself and been carried further than he had intended to go.

But save for the Mayor, the members of the Council, a few of the other city officials and the newspaper men, at that late hour the council hall was well-nigh deserted.

And dignified, courteous, kindly John A. Barham was not there to hear.
A petition signed by 906 women was presented to the City Council last night when a further hearing was given the promoters of Sunday closing in Santa Rosa...Mrs. George J. Reading arose and addressed the meeting.

Mrs. Reading in the course of a well worded and earnest appeal in behalf of Sunday closing and closing of saloons at eight o'clock at night, iudged the Council to act in the interest of the boys and girls of Santa Rosa and heed the petition of the mothers. In referring to the assertion put forth that Sunday closing would be harmful to the hop industry she said, almost dramatically:

"Put children above money."

She called attention to the temptations put in the path of the youth by the saloon, and after mentioning cities such as Redlands, that had flourished under prohibition, then handed the petition to Acting Clerk Mobley with a request that he read it, and the names of the women subscribing to it.


The Rev. Leander Turney, pastor of the Baptist Church. then spoke at some length...Mrs. M. H. Reeves, president of the district Christian Endeavor organization, and an earnest Christian worker, made a few telling remarks in behalf of the boys and girls...Miss Kate Kinley, clerk of Mr. Patten's church, spoke as the sister of four brothers, and of the women and girls opposed to liquor...A brief but telling address was that by the Rev. Peter Colvin...

The Rev. Arthur B. Patten began by excusing himself for speaking at all, saying that he had not intended to address the council. He explained that they had come there that night to add just a little more persuasion to what had already been done. He said he wanted the Council to realize the power of Christian conscience. "It is a fight to the death!" he cried. "The saloon must die! State after State has prohibition, and others will vote for it!"

The minister then reiterated his statement of last Sunday relative to the course taken while circulating the petition for Sunday closing among the local business men, and denied that anything like a "blacklist" had been kept by the Ministerial Union. They were simply out for the facts and statistics, he said, It might be mentioned here that the statement referred to was that when a business man had declined to sign upon the ground that it might cost him some trade, he (the speaker) had only made the local reply, which was to ask him if he did not also think that he might lose some trade if he did not sign.

Mr. Patten's speech was an earnest, well worded, strong presentation up to the time when he indulged in a very unfortunate personality [attack] against Judge Barham, who it will be remembered appeared at a previous meeting of the City Council as the attorney for a number of property owners, and asked that in view of the rebuilding of the city that things as affecting the saloons be allowed to remain as they were prior to the earthquake. To this personality, which aroused much strong comment and feeling, reference is made elsewhere in this report.

When he went to leave the building the minister faced a crowd of men who protested against what he had said to Judge Barham. On being taken to task and questioned as to his informant, the minister mentioned the name of a well known professional man. Mr. Patten said if what he had said was not true he would be one of the first to apologize to Judge Barham.

Later, after the Council had taken up the consideration of other matters, Mr. Patten appeared and apologized, excusing himself on the ground that he was spurred on to say what he had by his feelings at the time, and said he hoped the council would not allow what he had said to effect their action in the saloon matter or to weigh against the cause, but would let it go against him personally. With this the incident closed.

The city hall was crowded to its utmost capacity. Many ladies were present. The entrance to the hall was blocked, and at all the windows on the outside were faces peering from without. Great interest was manifested in the proceedings.

- Press Democrat, March 13, 1907

Some of the New Provisions of the Law
Saloons Open at 6 a. m. and Close at 10 p. m. - No Card Playing in Cigar Stores - License is Increased in Most Instances

The City Council last night finally passed the new license ordinance which includes among other things the increase of the saloon license to sixty dollars per quarter, and allows saloons to remain open daily from six o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock at night.


Prior to the adoption of the ordinance Councilman Reynolds called attention to the fact that the new ordinance provided for the hearing of remonstrances against the opening of saloons on Sundays, etc, and asked that the petitions, one signed by business men, and the other by property owners, the former asking for Sunday closing, and the latter, whom Mr. Reynolds addressed as "millionaires," asking that the saloons be allowed to run with similar restrictions as before the earthquake, he read. Under the law laid down in the ordinance he said he thought the petitions should be considered. He also mentioned that the Council were asked to submit the question of Sunday closing of saloons to a vote of the people. The petitions were read. Its was suggested that the matter had been pretty well threshed out heretofore, and the question was finally called for and the vote recorded as stated. At the conclusion of the meeting the ordinance was signed by Mayor Overton and will be officially published in the Press Democrat tomorrow morning.

One of the provisions of the new ordinance relates to the powers of remonstrance regarding the opening of saloons in locations where they are not desired, the setting of a time and place of hearing remonstrances, etc., and of complaints regarding infractions of the laws, in conducting saloons.

The ordinance also abolishes all card playing and other games heretofore conducted in some cigar stores. Gambling is also prohibited.

The restaurant license, allowing the serving of wine or beer at meals is increased by the new ordinance of twenty dollars per quarter. Slot machines are licensed five dollars per quarter.

The license for all circuses will be fifty dollars. Skating rinks will be twenty-five dollars a quarter. Drug stores where liquors are sold will be twenty dollars a quarter. Traveling merchants or peddlers must pay a license of ten dollars a month, or two dollars per day when they peddle for loss than a month, and two dollars a day additional if they have a horse and vehicle. This excepts the peddling of fruit or vegetables, products raised by the person offering the same for sale.


- Press Democrat, March 23, 1907

It was the most ridiculous of ideas, it was the best of ideas, it was another exercise of male privilege, it was an innovative approach to a social problem. It was certainly a fine example of why historical context is so important for modern readers to understand.

At issue was the 1907 proposal to turn a room at the Santa Rosa public library into a "club room for men, where they can spend a quiet hour after supper when their day's work is done, read the papers and periodicals and, if they are so inclined, enjoy a smoke." On the face of it, the proposal sounded outrageous - there were no shortage of places around town where "sons of toil [could] go after supper, enjoy a smoke, and read the papers." The problem was that the men also drank beer in those establishments.

This was the year that the temperance movement first began to exercise its muscle in Sonoma County (see following post) and although none of the articles or letters-to-the-editor mention drinking or gambling, the only possible reason for surrendering part of the library to a men's lounge - with smoking allowed, no less - was to offer gents an alternative dry hangout.

Nothing came of the idea, but a correspondent to the Republican suggested library room should instead become a woman's lounge: "Before the awful 18th there was always a waiting room in some livery stable, but now even that comfort is very limited." The point was apt: Women were not allowed to enter saloons, and until the Overton and Occidental Hotels were opened at the end of the year, there was nothing like a "Little Tiny Petit Pheasant Feather Tea Shoppe" in Santa Rosa that was inviting to ladies to sit awhile and freshen up. And so the library basement became the "Rest Room," which was furnished with "low rocking chairs to which women are partial," couches, and tables "stocked with feminine literature."

(RIGHT: A postcard showing the damage to Santa Rosa's library after the 1906 earthquake. Library repairs were funded by Andrew Carnegie, who had paid for the construction of the building two years before. The building was at the same location as the current Sonoma County Library main building, at the corner of E and Third Streets. Image courtesy Larry Lapeere)

Place Where Sons of Toil Can Go After Supper, Enjoy a Smoke and Read the Papers

A club room for men, where they can spend a quiet hour after supper when their day's work is done, read the papers and periodicals and, if they are so inclined, enjoy a smoke. Such is the idea the Public Library Trustees have in mind at the present time, and it will be carried out in all probability.

The matter was informally discussed at the meeting of the library board on Thursday night. It is proposed to partition off the large room in the basement of the library building, not occupied for city hall purposes, and to fit it up as a reading room for men. In this way the trustees believe the evenings can be made pleasant for the men.

- Press Democrat, January 4, 1907


To the Editor of the Republican: We would like to express sour opinion regarding the smoking room to be opened up in the public library building. Every good citizen in Santa Rosa ought to send in a loud protest against opening up a room for any such purpose.

We would like to express our opin [sic] to make the use of tobacco popular. I have no need to state the evil resulting from its use. Every one knows, or ought to, for it is conceded by nearly every one. Its tendencies are to gradually demoralize and draw the unsuspecting young man into something worse. Who ever knew of a drinking man that did not use tobacco? I never did. I have been a soldier and sailor for nearly twenty years before the mast and as first officer, and during all these years and since never had any use for the stuff, and will say I have not stood alone on this question. I have known a great many whose principles were the same. I have found men wherever I have been that were abstainers and who were able to put such foolishness behind them.

If a man will and must smoke, there are plenty of places already without setting apart a room in the public library or any other public building. Everything objectionable should be entirely eliminated where our wives and daughters and young men go.

Libraries, as well as schools and churches, are educational and we hope the library trustees will see what a mistake they are making and reconsider their smoking room proposition by annulling it altogether. Would like to hear from others through these columns, especially the ladies, if they are for or against the smoking room.
Yours truly, GRAND ARMY MAN.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 2, 1907


The plan to convert a portion of the basement of the library building into a men's department, where they could smoke while enjoying literary pursuits, has been abandoned for the present. The basement is occupied by many hundreds of volumes of government reports, which in the near future will be classified and those of value placed on the library book racks. The remainder will be destroyed.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 7, 1907


The Grand Army Man who raises his voice in protest against the idea of a smoking room in our public library, must have touched a sympathetic chord in the hearts of all right thinking people. He must have had (being a Grand Army Man) the best experience for an advocate of the right on this question.

Our library stands for influences the most elevating for the youth of our town. Who could want such a model set before them as a smoking room?

What parent wants his children to learn to smoke? Even if they are themselves handicapped by use of the pernicious weed.

Did Andrew Carnegie intend his noble gift to Santa Rosa to represent a smoking room?

Forbid it, all ye Christian citizens!

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 8, 1907


Editor Republican: The communication in the Republican of February 2d concerning the proposed smoking room in the library by the Grand Army Man interests me.

Has the city of Santa Rosa any public waiting room for women? If it has, please let us know where it is located. If it has not, there should be such a room.

Santa Rosa is more or less indebted to the country round about for a somewhat extensive trade. When a country woman has arrived in Santa Rosa after riding for several miles over the roads of Imperial Sonoma, through the mud or dust, in the rain, wind or glaring sunshine, as the case may be, she is usually in a somewhat disheveled condition; she does not like to go about her shopping with her hair stringing about her face or neck and with mud or dust clinging to her dress, yet what is she to do? Before the awful 18th there was always a waiting room in some livery stable, but now even that comfort is very limited.

If the public library has a room to spare, let it be fitted as a woman's waiting room. Until there is some such room to benefit the women, surely we do not need another smoking rom for the men, and certainly not in the public library.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 8, 1907

The "Children's Hour," and the Children's Room--Also the Rest Room For Women--The Winged Victory

When Miss Barnett, the librarian, returns from her attendance upon the summer school in Berkeley, "The Children's Story Hour" will be made a regular event for Saturday afternoons at the public library. The boys and girls will be invited to meet there on Saturday afternoon each week to hear Miss Barnett and Miss McMeans read and explain the stories that have been written for children by the world's best authors of juvenile literature...


Other new features have given the library an added degree of comfort for the women as well as for the children. The "Rest Room" has been furnished by the Women's Improvement Club. There are low rocking chairs to which women are partial; there are comfortable couches; the tables are stocked with feminine literature, and there is the privacy which the general reading room does not afford. No man may invade the "Rest Room," which is sacred to femininity.

The trustees have procured a proper pedestal for the statue of the "Winged Victory" of Samothrace, presented to the library two months ago by the Saturday Afternoon Club...those who otherwise glance unheeding at its graceful lines, and its significant attitude, and who might in ignorance look only at the stumps of its broken arms, and think of it--if they thought of it at all--as merely a pitiful ruin. Grown-up people sometimes ask the librarian if the statue was broken in the earthquake; and the little ones have often turned to her with the wondering query, "Haint the lady got no arms?"

- Press Democrat, July 20, 1907

Although this item claims it was "evident from their actions that they had been imbibing freely," it sounds more like horseplay.


Two young girls and two young men created a great disturbance and were arrested by Officer Skaggs. They entered pleas of guilty before Judge Bagley and were fined five dollars each. The quartette were arrested as Jane Does and John Does, and their names will not be divulged. It was evident from their actions that they had been imbibing freely, and on Fourth street their unseemly behavior and boisterous language caused pedestrians to stop and wonder. They were laughing and making a loud noise and jerking and pulling each other around in a furious manner. When the blue uniform of Officer Skaggs loomed up in the distance they made a semblance of quieting down.

- Santa Rosa Republican, February 12, 1907

Remember when they struck oil in Forestville? Be thankful that great-grandpa spent nearly a week's salary to buy a single $10 share of stock back in 1907. No oil wells pumping crude in the village today? Gee, I guess it was a scam.

This ad appeared briefly in the February, 1907 Press Democrat.

Trouble, ya got trouble right here in River City Santa Rosa with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool.'

...And all week long, your River City youth'll be fritterin' away
I say, your young men'll be fritterin'
Fritterin' away their noontime, suppertime, choretime, too
Hit the ball in the pocket
Never mind gettin' dandelions pulled or the screen door patched or the beefsteak pounded
Never mind pumpin' any water 'til your parents are caught with a cistern empty on a Saturday night and that's trouble
Oh, ya got lots and lots o' trouble

I'm thinkin' of the kids in the knickerbockers shirttails, young ones peekin' in the pool hall window after school
Ya got trouble, folks, right here in River City
with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool'

Now I know all you folks are the right kind of parents
I'm gonna be perfectly frank
Would you like to know what kind of conversation goes on
while they're loafin' around that hall
They'll be tryin' out Bevo, tryin' out Cubebs, tryin' out tailor-mades like cigarette fiends
And braggin' all about how they're gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen
Now one fine night they leave the pool hall headin' for the dance at the Armory
Libertine men and scarlet women and ragtime
Shameless music that'll grab your son, your daughter into the arms of a jungle animal instinct- massteria!
Friends, the idle brain is the devil's playground, trouble!

- The Music Man, Meredith Wilson © Frank Music Corp. and Meredith Wilson Music

And just like in the famous lyrics from The Music Man, billiards were blamed for young people cussin' and thievin'. Never mind that boys were welcomed at the gambling tables in Fourth St. saloon back rooms during horse racing season, or that kids were sometimes caught in opium joints on Second street. No, the pool hall is the problem, for sure. Won't someone (partially) save the children?

Chief of Police Rushmore Suggests Ordinance Barring Lads From Entering Pool Room

Chief of Police Fred Rushmore attributes a number of cases of petty thieving in which boys have figured in this city recently to the fact that they are allowed to lounge around billiard and pool rooms.

He suggested at last night's Council meeting that an ordinance should be passed forbidding boys under eighteen years of age entrance into pool rooms. Boys twelve and thirteen years of age are frequently found, he said, about such places, particularly, a room on Fourth street, near the corner of Fourth and Davis streets, and at times their language is objectionable.

Mayor Overton and other members of the Council suggested that the matter receive the attention asked and an ordinance will undoubtedly be drafted. Chief Rushmore, when seen after the meeting, said there was no doubt but that the young boys hanging around the places mentioned could not learn anything that would benefit them.

- Press Democrat, January 23, 1907

Why were people on Wright Street so durned upset in 1907? For all the fuss they were making about their sidewalks and lawns, you'd think that cowboys were driving herds of cattle through their front yards. Oh, wait - they were.

Santa Rosa's stockyard and slaughterhouse was at the corner of College and Cleveland Avenues, but the cattle, pigs, and sheep arrived via train stock cars at the Southern Pacific terminal on North Street, and by a new ordinance passed in 1906, the herds could be wrangled down College Ave. Why in the world they were driving the animals towards College Avenue using narrow, residential Wright Street, which runs parallel to wider North Street, is a mystery.

Defending himself again before the City Council, stockyard owner P. H. Noonan repeated his 1906 quip that he was still looking for a breed of cow that could avoid the streets altogether by flying to the slaughterhouse (huh-yuk).


...Chairman Reynolds of the street committee declared the streets were in a soft and mellow condition, whereat his conferes [sic] and the spectators smiled. The matter of driving stock through the street was brought up by Street Commissioner Decker on behalf of P. H. Noonan. It was declared the stock was being taken through Wright Street, and that they were ruining sidewalks and lawns of residents in that vicinity, who had entered a vigorous protest. It was pointed out that Mr. Noonan was strictly "up against it" in getting his stock to the slaughter house, and that he had been seeking a brand of cattle that could fly in order to obviate driving them through the streets. He had offered to make repairs to the sidewalks at his own expense and showed every disposition to be more than fair in the matter. Mr. Noonan and Street Commissioner Decker will take up with the officials of that company the matter of removing the unloading corrals of the Southern Pacific outside the city limits.

City Attorney Geary and Chairman Reynolds declared that the people in that vicinity should be protected in their property, and that cattle could not be driven through the streets without doing damage. It was suggested that as the Southern Pacific now controls the California Northwestern, the trains of cattle should be shipped around that road and taken to the Noonan side track at College avenue. This would avoid all the trouble.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 3, 1907

Only luck and a lack of wind kept all Santa Rosa from burning down in the 1906 earthquake, so it's a bit of a surprise that just eight months later, downtown property owners told the Fire Chief to shut his yap about fire safety.

On the agenda at that January, 1907 City Council meeting was yet another debate on the "back porch" problem, which had become one of those issues that the Council slogged through at every session with no end in sight.

In one corner of the ring was respected Fire Chief Frank Muther, who had witnessed fires spreading through the alley behind Fourth Street on the morning of April 18, 1906, and wanted the new buildings at those locations to have porches made of fireproof materials instead of the rough wood construction that might be found on a back porch. The Builders' Exchange supported him by endorsing a solid concrete porch floor. In the opposite corner were some of the wealthiest property owners in town, who said that would be too expensive - and that the Fire Chief had too much influence in the matter.

The Council clearly took the fire danger seriously; at the same meeting, they gave Muther powers to order any rubbish removed and impose a fine if he was ignored. But money talks loudly, and once again, they listened to the sound of rich men pinching pennies. One of them suggested that the problem could be solved if they could just line porches with asbestos.

The City Council was in an awful pickle. There was no building code in Santa Rosa before the earthquake, and since then, the Council had created new rules and regs on an ad hoc basis. Since there was not yet an ordinance prohibiting the use of wood in the rear of the same properties that had earlier spread the fires, the landlords were well within their rights to build their porches out of rice paper, if so desired. And so much for the authority of the Fire Chief to make the town safe.

To break the stalemate, Mayor Overton called on architect Victor Dunkerly (also spelled, "Dunkerley"), who had designed the newly-built Overton Hotel. His solution showed political skill; use less of the expensive concrete, but build the porch out of iron, which cost about the same as wood. After a little more chew-over the following week, peace was finally declared in the back porch war.


The mooted question of back porches to business blocks on Fourth street and other business streets bobbed up serenely at the meeting of the city council Tuesday evening. After considerable discussion, in which there were some lively call down for various speakers. Architect Dunkerly hit the matter a solar plexus blow in a few words, practically settled the question to the satisfaction of all and gave the council the best advice that they had received on the subject.

The Builders' Exchange prepared an ordinance for the council for a fire proof back porch and specified that it should have a concrete floor five inches thick. This was objected to by property owners as being too expensive and they wanted something more moderate and at the same time fire proof. They did not desire to take any chances on having their structures burned through inflammable rear porches.

John F. Kinslow addressed the council, advocating a floor dressed with asphaltum, while Albert Jacobs, another property owner, was wedded to the theory of asbestos, which experience has shown cannot be burned. Contractor Kobes was worried to know why the council insisted on having a fire proof porch and still permitted the use of wooden stairways leading to the porch and said the stairs would require more lumber than the remainder of the porch. Fire Chief Muther injected a few remarks into the discussion at intervals, and to this there was strenuous objection on the part of Kinslow, ably seconded by Jacobs, when Kinslow declared the chief "tried to be the whole thing." Contractor Rushing spoke in favor of asbestos lining for porches.

Matters were waxing exceedingly warm when Mayor Overton thrust himself into the breach in the sake of peace and harmony and asked belligerents to confine themselves to the question before the council and to refrain from indulging in personalities.

Briefly stated, Architect Dunkerly suggested that the proposed ordinance was severe on the property owners. He said that a porch could be constructed of two inch galvanized iron pipe, thoroughly put together, with slabs of concrete two or three inches in thickness, and that it would sustain almost any weight which would be put upon it. He also suggested iron stairways and in comparison with ngures [sic] for wooden stairs submitted by Mr. Kobes, it was found the iron stairs would be no more expensive than the wooden ones. The features of the mayor and council relaxed when the suggestion was made, for they saw a method of construction that would be superior to the one under consideration and they felt relieved. The matter went over one week to give the ordinance committee time to prepare an ordinance covering the architect's suggestions. Chairman Johnston voted against postponing the matter further, saying it had been before the council for months and he believed it should be disposed of at once that builders might erect porches for their tenants.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 16, 1907

Kids in Sonoma County rarely had the opportunity for a snowball fight, so the little heathens (and a few adults) had a grand time after the January, 1907 snowstorm. Except when the guy tried to kill them with an ax.

If the "Jap" references in one of the items below seems offensive, see the previous post for a discussion of what was appearing in other California newspapers at this time.

The house in the postcard image below is the Belden House built in 1902, and which still stands at the corner of Cherry Street and Humboldt Avenue. (Courtesy the Larry Lapeere Collection)

Orange Trees Broken but the Golden Fruit Is Uninjured

Santa Rosa and Sonoma county were treated to a genuine eastern snow storm Sunday. The fall of the beautiful began shortly after 8 o'clock and continued for about two hours. It brought joy to the native Californians, who seldom see anything of that kind, and memories of home to the people from the east who have located here.

The small boy was in his element throwing snow balls while the snow lasted and was joined heartily by his elders. The exhilarating sport was indulged in by all, and many hard knocks were given and taken with the pellets of snow. Not even the policemen were exempt and Officer Ed Skaggs took his share with the rest, being compelled to seek his helmet several times after it had been knocked from his head.

Many windows were broken in this city by being struck with the balls and the fall of snow made business for the glazier.

Chinese and Japs who essayed to walk the streets were given a rousing reception, but the sport was by no means confined to these races. Everybody who ventured out got his full share of snow balls and even more. Many venturesome youths got on top of buildings and there rolled up huge balls of snow which they dropped from the roof onto unsuspecting passers by. An inebriated individual who chanced to go down the street was pelted for several blocks and furnished rare sport for the small boys and men. Women were not exempt from the general bombardment and they were pelted fully as much as were the men.

Two Japs who were trying to board the California Northwestern train were rescued with difficulty by Roadmaster J. W. Barrows. They had been caught by a crowd, who were determined to bury the little brown men beneath the white pall. The Japs did not become angry, but entered into the spirit of the occasion. They were permitted to depart in a volley of snow balls.


Snow falls so seldom in Santa Rosa or Sonoma county that it is a genuine surprise to see it here. About five years ago a slight fall of the beautiful occurred, but it vanished in a couple of hours under the warm rays of the sun. Previous to that it had been many years since any snow was seen here, and there have been few falls of snow within the memory of the oldest inhabitant.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 7, 1907

Hotheaded Frenchman Seeks Revenge Upon Lads Who Snowballed Him in Petaluma Sunday

Swinging an ax above his head in a threatening manner Victor Bogue, a baker, lately of France, and altogether ignorant of the playfulness of the American youth when it snows in Petaluma and in Sonoma county where it is a novelty, got his French blood up on Sunday morning and charged some of the snowballers. Each time the ax went wide of its mark, and its edge was dulled by contact with the cement sidewalk. When things were at a pitch of wild excitement Constable James Sullivan took the situation in hand. It was not until he had managed to avoid the swinging ax and poke his revolver under the Frenchman's nose that the latter dropped his wood cleaver.

It seems that the dough-mixer's wrath had been kindled just before the snowballs were thrown by seeing two companions roughly handled by other men. A Petaluma man in town Monday gave a very realistic description of the encounter to some friends here. Bogue was taken to jail and detained for a short time until his wrath had subsided and the snowballs were no more.

- Press Democrat, January 8, 1907


Victor Bogue, a Frenchman, swung an axe at a crowd of Petalmans on Sunday when the crowd attempted to snow ball him. He had previously seen two of his countrymen pretty roughly handled and determined that he would not suffer similarly. Ignorant of the ways of the people here and having recently come from France and being unable to understand the language, he is not to be blamed for his display of wrath. The man was permitted to plead guilty to a simple assault and Recorder Lyman Green fined him ten dollars. He attempted to chop some one with the weapon, but only chopped a hole in the cement sidewalk.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 8, 1907

So how bad were relationships between Japan and the U.S. in the early 20th century? Let's put it this way: Anyone wouldn't have been surprised if the two countries went to war someday.

International politics isn't usually on the radar of this journal, but the long-running thread of anti-Japanese fervor can even be found in the Santa Rosa newspapers, and some context helps to interpret where the line was drawn before WWI between geo-political opinions and overt racism.

Unlike many other places in California, Sonoma County had little enmity towards Japanese immigrants. Part of the reason was the respect given Fountain Grove wine maker Kanaye Nagasawa, who came to America via Scotland (where he picked up English with a distinctive burrrrrrr) and was portrayed in the papers as an innovator in the manner of Luther Burbank. Locals apparently also viewed Japanese laborers as kindred spirits, seeking to scratch together enough money for a family homestead. Santa Rosa even had a Japanese employment office because immigrants were sought out as hard-working domestics, farm workers, and general labor.

By contrast, Chinese immigrants were isolated and the target of bigotry in Santa Rosa, usually described in the local newspapers of the day as criminal or foolish "Chinks" or "Celestials" who could barely speak English (which sometimes might have been a feint to play the game of diminished expectations). When they were mentioned in the Press Democrat of that era, it was typically an arrest or something that was an opportunity to write a "humorous" racist vignette (usually with pidgin dialog), often concerning a broken marriage or other personal humiliations of Chinese residents.

Before 1904, most Santa Rosans probably couldn't find Japan on a map on a bet. But once the Russo-Japanese War began, Japan and its military were in the headlines for much of the year. Many Japanese youths in Sonoma County returned home to fight the Czar, and there was a parade and train station sendoff for the boys.

As the war was underway, a movement began to demote Japanese immigrants to the same dismal legal status as the Chinese. In 1905, San Francisco labor unions created the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League, seeking to expand the ban on Chinese "coolie" labor to include other Asian workers. (If you're wondering where our elected officials stood on these race-tinged issues, Santa Rosa's own Rep. McKinlay was among the most anti-immigrant hardliners in Congress, leading California House Republicans who helped defeat Teddy Roosevelt's attempt to make exceptions in the Chinese Exclusion policy for "officials, teachers, students, merchants, or travelers for curiosity or pleasure.")

Japan's victory over Russia in the autumn of 1905 only fed American anxieties. Now it wasn't only hordes of farm laborers to fear, but the possibility that Japan had a robust industrial base that could undercut U.S. exports to Asia, along with a navy capable of challenging the United States militarily.

(RIGHT: "If Japan Should Attack Us" Sunday feature in the San Francisco Call, Sept. 23, 1906)

Fearmongering became a common theme in the early 1906 newspapers. When the British launched a Dreadnought warship, the Feb. 12 NY Tribune used the news in an op/ed to point out that Japan was building two warships of this type, but U.S. ships were years away. An editorial in the Feb. 11 LA Herald warned, "...little Japan, grown 'cockey' by its recent victories, is nudging the sleeping giant and whispering to it to 'go in and win.' But recently the Japanese government had the nerve to twist the lion's tail by criticizing the army formations of Great Britain. And reports come that Japan is working day and night on its naval armament..." An adjacent article by "Captain A. W. Best" warns that the "real aim and aspiration of the yellow races...[is] to win first the Pacific slope of North and South America (and Northern Australia) and having established themselves, like weeds there and choked out the white race in those areas to gradually extend the process to the rest of the world..." There was also a Panama Canal angle: Canal-bashers in Congress implied that if it was completed, Japanese warships could use it to attack the U.S. East Coast.

In short order, the situation became a replay of the anti-Chinese hysteria of the 1880s. Champion of the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League was a San Jose Congressman who delivered a Japanese exclusion speech. The San Francisco school board issued an order to segregate "pupils of the Mongolian race" from public schools, charging that classrooms were overcrowded with Asians (in reality, the order only applied to 93 Japanese kids, since Chinese schoolchildren were already forced to go to the "Oriental School"). Following the 1906 Earthquake, Japanese scientists visiting San Francisco were pelted with rocks, perhaps because one of the Exclusion League's statements claimed the Japanese liked earthquakes: "Do not for a moment think that the Japanese will keep away on account of the earthquakes. They are raised on earthquakes in Japan, and the earthquake will only make the Nepponese [sic] coolies feel more at home in California. "

The view from Sonoma County can be found by sampling the local papers from January, 1907. Teddy Roosevelt had just ordered the San Francisco Board of Education to keep Japanese students in the public schools, and on the seventh the Santa Rosa Republican printed wire stories about the Governor and an Oregon Senator denouncing the order. The next day, the Republican reprinted an Oakland Enquirer editorial on the "commercial menace of Japan," warning that the Japanese could horn in on lucrative flour exports if they started grinding wheat grown in Asia. On Jan. 24, the Press Democrat published the editorial cartoon seen at right, powerful in its imagery if rather vague in message (click to enlarge).

Most significant is that both Santa Rosa papers never, as far as I can find, reprinted items from the Bay Area press that suggested that the Japanese were "coolies" or part of a Fifth Column, called for them to be deported or their children removed from school, or otherwise suggested that they were undeserving, lesser people. Yes, individuals were sometimes disrespectfully (in modern eyes) referred to as "Japs" or even "little brown men" in local articles, but if those editors truly intended to publish racial putdowns, they had a lexicon of hateful invective available to them from the San Francisco papers.

Santa Rosa's big event for that month was a speech by Democratic Party superstar William Jennings Bryan, and more than 3,000 packed into the skating rink on a Saturday afternoon to hear him pontificate about America's greatness and its destiny to lead the world. In the portion of his speech summarized in a Press Democrat article below, Bryan also pitched the conflicts between Asia and the United States as sort of a crusade for the "active, positive faith of Christianity." Oh, dear.

The situation only spiraled down. Japanese who had become naturalized citizens but lost their papers in the San Francisco earthquake were denied their former citizenship. 1907 also witnessed two incidents in San Francisco involving White drunks that turned into anti-Japanese riots, and similar riots followed in Berkeley (!) in 1909. The Exclusion League tripled in membership groups, and in 1910 there were an astonishing 27 anti-Japanese laws proposed in the California legislature. William Jennings Bryan, always helpful, told President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 that the problem could be solved if half the Japanese in California were relocated to other states.

Most of those woes didn't impact Japanese immigrants in Sonoma County, but the California Alien Land Law of 1913 did. They could no longer buy property, or even legally rent land for more than three years, and a 1920 ballot initiative further blocked their ability to have the actual land title held in the name of a trust, business, or their citizen children. The courts later chipped away at the restrictions somewhat, but the entire law was not overturned in California until 1952.

While trade unions and the California Grange sparked the anti-Japanese movement, it was the newspapers of the day that are most to blame for fanning the flames white hot. The pro-union San Francisco Chronicle kept the issue on the front page for much of 1905-1906, even reviving it when interest waned after the quake. It became fodder for a newspaper war with the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner's long-running "Yellow Peril" series, which most famously offered a 1907 Sunday feature titled, "Japan May Seize the Pacific Coast." The Hearst syndicate continued playing this alarmist theme for years and hit rock-bottom - which for them, was really saying something - when in 1915 they ran an article supposedly revealing secret plans for a Japanese invasion of California via Mexico. The photos were twenty years old, and the basis of the story was badly-translated fiction from a Japanese magazine.

Masterly Address Is Heard by Immense Audience
Splendid Reception Tendered the Distinguished Statesman in the City of Roses Saturday

It was an immense audience that gathered in the pavilion on A street to hear the Hon. William Jennings Bryan, the distinguished Nebraska statesman, on Saturday afternoon. They came from far and near to see and hear one of the country's foremost men. They saw and heard and went away satisfied, carrying with them the inspiration of a high resolve, and uplifted and elevated by the stirring sentiments expressed by the celebrated speaker.


Mr. Bryan dwelt at considerable length on modern China and her issue from the dormant condition of two thousand years. The negative creed of Confucius is giving place to the active, positive faith of Christianity, he said. Progressive viceroys of different provinces are organizing schools not for the teachers of the musty philosophy of the past, but the newer ideas of a nearer age placed before the earnest student. "I see the day," said the speaker, "when Christianity will illuminate the lang [sic], dark places of the Orient."

Referring to Japan the speaker said she was facing one of the most important crises in her history. She had copied western ways and now it remained to see whether she would borrow western religion, or endeavor to build up the nation without religion, and with agnosticism and infidelity.

Very interesting Mr. Bryan alluded to the religions of other races and the idolatry practiced in certain lands. He then described the visits he and Mrs. Bryan paid to some of the crowned heads of the old world, and of the ceremony attendant thereon. He was pleased beyond measure, he said, to hear President Roosevelt mentioned all over the world as a lover of peace, growing out of his mission in bringing about a cessation of hostilities between Russia and Japan...

- Press Democrat, January 27, 1907

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