"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.
Lu Smith

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."

(Extracts from a 5,000 word communication from Dr. Burke to Lu Etta Smith, as published in the Press Democrat.)


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" 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.


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.


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


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


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,
Madison, Calif.:
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."

District Attorney Lea Makes Opening Statement
Sensational 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

Declaration Made by Lu Smith at Trial Yesterday
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:

"Dr. Burke."

"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."

Cross-Examination Begins

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.

If you want a glimpse of old Santa Rosa, don't just cruise McDonald Avenue; stop by Wilson Street, which still looks the same as between the World Wars, when it was the heart of our "Little Italy" community. A recent column by Gaye LeBaron quoted West End chronicler Rita Carniglia Hall, who remembers "...there were shoe shops and barbers and clothing stores and, of course, restaurants and saloons. There was no call to go farther east than St. Rose Church." Italian kids often didn't even venture the few blocks to downtown until they were eight or ten, LeBaron wrote in her history of 20th century Santa Rosa. It was as if they lived in another town.

Although every one of those businesses is now gone, the buildings remain mostly as they were, having escaped the tempest in the 1960s and 1970s when Santa Rosa was bulldozing everything for the sake of "redevelopment." Here's a quick tour of this part of Wilson Street, starting on the corner of Sixth and heading north:

On the corner are two survivors of the 1906 earthquake. To the right is the Redwood Gospel Mission, which is in a heavily modified Victorian that was once both a saloon and grocery store owned by Batiste Bettini - the same man who built the La Rose Hotel a block further down after the earthquake. There were other saloons in the Italian District around Adams Street between West 6th and West 7th, but let's move on - this ain't a history of Little Italy.

On the other side of Wilson St. is a long brick building that occupies the entire block. The section near the intersection of Sixth St. is newer, as you can easily tell by looking at the brickwork. The rest of the building dates back to the 1890s and was part of the flour mill. The part of the mill closest to the railroad tracks collapsed during the Great Earthquake, but was up and running again within five months - hopefully with a more hygienic crew (see picture). Around WWI it was bought by Sperry Flour Company, whose name is still seen on the south side of the building.

Proceeding to the middle of the block, (tap or click on the Google street view "forward" arrow to follow along) the nice little building at #512 was built for Oreste Paolini in 1920 and was where he sold men's clothing until he died, sixty years later. Paolini's finally closed in 2007, the last survivor of the old Wilson St. Italian business district. The red brick building next to it was built in the late 1920s for small storefronts.

Crossing Seventh St. and Babbini's Restaurant was on the right in that Art Deco building that dates to 1929. The building next to it, finishing out the block, was originally a planing mill built in 1926 that appears to be almost completely unchanged since. On the west side of this block is a featureless warehouse, its flaking paint and mold-growing corners adding a scabby touch to the neighborhood. But this building, which apparently dates to just before the 1906 earthquake, is as historically important as anything nearby. This was the warehouse for the Lee Brothers, the largest drayage (hauling) company in Santa Rosa. Nearly everything aside from food that came into Santa Rosa from outside Sonoma County would have passed through that warehouse, unloaded from freight trains on one side and leaving for delivery on their distinctive yellow horse-drawn carts on the other. The Lee Brothers were a powerful force in town, and can be found mentioned in this journal nearly as often as Luther Burbank. (Their post-quake offices were at the Lee Brothers building in Railroad Square, which is currently Furniture Depot.)

The final block, between Seventh and Eighth Street, takes us back in time further still - the west side of the block was Frank Berka's lumber yard, which dates to 1882. It makes perfect sense that it would be next door to the Lee Brothers warehouse; they were like sister companies, handling all the materials that were used to build Santa Rosa for generations. And as lumber yards tend not to change with current fashions, the yard itself looks just like it appears turn-of-the-century maps, with long sheds for storing wood products, although all original structures were destroyed in a major 1944 fire. But don't delay taking a look; this block is slated to be demolished for a townhouse/retail development called "West End Village." (The project was approved in 2009 but no building permits have been issued, according to the city.)

The developer is preserving, however, the corner building at 701 Wilson (currently offices for Copperfield's Books), which has been deemed "historic," although it was built in 1947 and is spanking new compared to anything else on the street. This was the retail store for the lumber yard and was designed by Santa Rosa architect Cal Caulkins. Its style is "International Style Modern" which was a descendant of Art Deco, minus any charm whatsoever. You see these plain stucco boxes with rounded corners and glass brick "windows" so often in Los Angeles that I have joked the style should be renamed "Sepulveda."

Our tour ends with mention of three buildings: On the corner of Wilson and Ninth St. is a little building that currently houses "Gotta Grow Garden Supplies." Although it faces Ninth, it has a 769 Wilson St. address because there was once an Italian grocery facing Wilson on the same lot. Across from the lumber yard is a large storage barn with a sliding red door, which was also part of the lumber yard and built around 1910. And next to it, at 726 Wilson, is the neat little bungalow that was built in 1926 for grocer Albert Trombetta. There are other residences from there to the corner that also date from 1906 and the 1920s but nothing is apparently documented.

Santa Rosa's 1989 Cultural Heritage Survey called all of this the "North Railroad District" and found it might stand by itself as a candidate for the state and national Register(s) of Historic Places as a mostly untouched historic commercial-industrial district, similar to Railroad Square. Nothing was done, although it was given a classification status that meant it was supposed to be reevaluated sometime after 2003 (it wasn't). The town's Cultural Heritage Board ignored the issue and folded part of Wilson St. into the West End Neighborhood as a nod to its historic ties to the Italian community.

But apart from being the Italian district and warehouse district, this three block stretch of Wilson Street had yet another important historic identity: The homeless district.

Today Wilson Street is well known as the home to those suffering the hardest of hard luck. At any time of day at any time of year, people can be found loitering about or dragging their heels down those sidewalks. The soup kitchens are the draw; between the Redwood Gospel Mission and St. Vincent de Paul, the hungry and destitute can eat three meals a day and just maybe sleep inside for a night. And so it was, more than a century ago. The little article transcribed below shows that a "Rescue Home" was being established in 1910 at the corner of Wilson and Eighth as a companion to the "Rescue Mission" two blocks away at Sixth and Washington Streets.

That homeless missions were there 100 years ago raises questions: Why were these services located close together in this neighborhood and not somewhere else in Santa Rosa? Does it mean there was a homeless population already established in the neighborhood around Wilson Street prior to 1910? Very probably so, but it's unlikely we'll ever know for sure; rarely did historians - or local newspaper editors - care about reporting anything happening in the world of the homeless. And so it has continued into modern times. Besides the Redwood Gospel Mission (founded in 1963) and St. Vincent de Paul, we know there was also a "House of Refuge" at one of the buildings on the corner of Wilson and Ninth as recently as forty years ago - but we only know that because it was stumbled upon by researcher Diana Painter looking at Assessor data for the developer. And there must have been others, particularly during the desperate years of the Great Depression. Likely homeless charities have continually been a significant presence on Wilson Street, but the details are lost as part of this shamed and shunned page of history.

The 1910 shelter was a "Dorcas" project, and even that heritage is a little murky. In 1874, the Seventh-day Adventist Church adopted the name "Dorcas Society" for its community initiatives, but there was a long history going back to 1811 of charitable women's groups and domestic evangelicals in America that were all named after a woman in the Bible. At times it was also strongly associated with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and sometimes with ladies' auxiliaries of Masonic Lodges. During the Civil War there were Dorcas Societies that sewed uniforms and underwear for Union soldiers. Presumably the charities in Santa Rosa were Seventh-day Adventists since Mrs. Stumph below identifies herself as an evangelist, but we can't be sure.

So in the end, there are three sides to Wilson Street. On the west are a looming trio of long buildings that once were teeming with busy workers, but now only serve to keep the street shadowed from the afternoon sun. On the east side are the boisterous ghosts of Italian barbers, cobblers, green grocers and children who don't know (or care) about the world outside. And in the stray corners are found the homeless, always invisible, there always.

Misc. sources: Santa Rosa's Architectural Heritage by Geraldine and Dan Peterson (1982); Cultural Heritage Survey of the City of Santa Rosa (1989); 701/717/737/769 Wilson Street, Santa Rosa, California: determination of historic significance by Diana Painter (2008)


In connection with the Rescue Mission on Washington street we are opening a Rescue Home at 117 Eighth street, between Davis and Wilson streets. In doing this we seek to provide, not an institution, but a real home, devoted to the material welfare, the moral uplift and spiritual life of the stricken in body, victims of drink, outcast, hungry and friendless, the "down and outs."

We desire to give a temporary home, food and clothing, when needed; to point these unfortunate ones to the Christ; help them to gain employment and become honest, respectable citizens and members of society. Little children also will be received in an adjoining cottage.

We are in immediate need of a stove, beds, cots, tables, chairs, matting, bedding, towels, blinds, dishes, food supplies, groceries, fruits in jars, etc. Any new furniture or that has been used gratefully accepted. Send us a card or telephone No 669R. Evangelist and Mrs. N. Stumph.

- Press Democrat, November 11, 1910

Will Preach at Mission

This afternoon at half past two o'clock Mr. Gibson of Oakland will deliver a sermon at the Rescue Mission at Sixth and Washington streets.

- Press Democrat, December 11, 1910

Historians have said their job is trying to figure out what an image in a funhouse mirror actually looked like. True enough; time passes and our views of the past become distorted, and it's not very long before even the distortions have their own distortions. And while we're trying to untangle all that, we realize with dismay the original views weren't so cogent in the first place.

Looking back at Santa Rosa a hundred years ago and most things seem familiar at first, except for obvious changes in fashions, technology and their world being completely dominated by white men (well, more obviously so, anyway). But squint just a little harder and everyday differences begin to appear; we no longer have peddlers knocking on our kitchen door, for example, trying to sell us eyeglasses.

It was common to see peddlers going door-to-door in 1910 as shown in the two articles transcribed below, both warning readers not to buy the peddler's fraudulent or shoddy merchandise. The Santa Rosa Republican alerted that "traveling hawkers" were conning housewives into buying overpriced tablecloths and over at the Press Democrat, it was reported that investigators from the State Board of Optometry were in the county looking for peddlers selling "window pane" spectacles.

(RIGHT: Cartoon from the Jan. 9, 1898 Los Angeles Herald calling for immigration reform to limit the number of Syrian "pests" entering the country)

Peddlers were viewed with some suspicion anyway, and the newspapers only mentioned them in connection with crimes. In these stories the papers almost always specified the peddler's ethnicity, which was usually Eastern European or Middle East - maybe Polish, Jewish, Russian, or as shown here, Syrian. And while they did sell useful things, most of their income came from dubious medicines and worthless glasses. From an insightful memoir of a Russian immigrant who arrived in 1904, recalling how family members taught him the trade: "...We bought all sorts of notions, small things such as needles, thread, string, buttons --all kinds of little things needed in every home. We also took along the most important thing, eyeglasses. The whole business is built on eyeglasses. A pair of glasses that costs a few cents can be sold for several dollars..."

But back to the PD report about an investigator looking for peddlers selling eyeglasses; isn't the strangest part of that story really that the California State Board of Optometry had its own police force? And so it did; in 1907, former Los Angeles cop Nick B. Harris was hired as its Chief of Inspectors "to conduct the fight against the undesirables regardless of time or expense." Over the following three years news items can be found about him chasing eyeglass peddlers and others selling bad optics. Just a few weeks before he swooped into Sonoma County, he was in pursuit of a gang reportedly planning to sell around $30,000 in fake telescopes and binoculars at the historic Los Angeles aviation meet in January. Later that year he opened his own detective agency in LA; here's to Nick B. Harris, who truly deserved to be called a private eye.

Next in the annals of odd 1910 crimes: A counterfeit ten dollar bill was passed to Santa Rosa fish monger Bert Stump. But this wasn't the sort of U.S. Treasury note that Bert or anyone else saw every day - it was supposedly printed in 1862. Why did Bert accept "torn and tattered currency" that would have been almost fifty years old? Maybe in part because he was still unfamiliar with the concept of dollar bills. Until the 1907 Bank Panic most transactions were done using gold and silver coins, and criminals exploited the public's unfamiliarity with paper money by first printing counterfeits of the "clearing house certificates" that were temporarily used in wake of the crisis, then later altering the new $1 and $2 bills to read as $10 and $20. "Bert knows fish, and he thinks he knows silver," the Press Democrat said, "and will handle those as heretofore in the course of his business."

A few months later, the Santa Rosa and San Francisco papers reported that con men had bamboozled a local farmer out of his life savings by getting him drunk and enticing him to bet heavily on a game of bocci. On the face of it, a crime that could possibly happen today. But when the bocci cheaters were captured five days later it was revealed that they were using the ill-gotten loot to cheaply buy up much of the counterfeit money from second hand shops that had been stuck with worthless currency - apparently the gang believed they could vastly increase their criminal fortunes by passing the fake coins themselves. Yes, coins - judging by the 1910 newspaper accounts and the 1911 Attorney General report, it appears there were more bad guys with coin dies than printing presses. Quiz: Who today can identify a coin die? Extra credit: Explain how to silver plate a coin on a kitchen table using stuff easily obtained in 1910 (hint - it's much easier than you might think).

Our final disjointed look at past and present concerns the magazine thieves. "Some vicious people are stealing magazines from the rooms of the local coffee club," the Press Democrat noted grimly. I doubt anyone today would use the adjective "vicious" to describe someone who lifted a magazine from a coffeeshop, but read on: "Quit stealing them. Cease to be a thief. The man or woman who smuggles these books and carries them away deserves to be despised." Thus the article is revealed to be another of PD Editor Ernest Finley's Queeg-like obsessions with annoying misbehavior, not unlike his earlier crusade against orange peels on the sidewalks. I wonder how he'd possibly cope with today's incivilities, such as mobile phones ringing in a movie theater or people who lunch their way through a visit to the grocery store - front page headlines, I'll wager.

Thieves Who Are Engaged In Small Business

Some vicious people are stealing magazines from the rooms of the local coffee club. They have been doing this for some time. These magazines are donated to the people who like to read them. There are twenty-two of them and they are stamped at numerous places to the effect that they are not to be taken away from the room. But this admonition is not respected and these magazines are stolen and carried away. Of the twenty-two of these magazines received for the current month, fourteen have been stolen already. This is indeed contemptible business and it should be rebuked. Those magazines should be left in the club rooms where they can be ready by all who patronize the institution. Quit stealing them. Cease to be a thief. The man or woman who smuggles these books and carries them away deserves to be despised.

- Press Democrat, January 4, 1910

Woman "Stung" in Purchase of Table Cloths

...The REPUBLICAN has always advocated...spending money at home with the local merchants...In every instance where this advice has not been followed and people have purchased goods from a distance or from traveling vendors, they have been "stung" and have regretted their unwise policy.

Numerous instances of this could be cited, and they have been both of recent and remote occurrence. One of those which has come under our observation most recently is where traveling hawkers canvassed the city and sold to a number of unsuspecting women table cloths and other house-articles of the same line. After having purchased the goods some of the women who believed all that was told them of the superiority of the goods offered them made an investigation in local stores to see what price the same class of goods were sold at b the merchants of Santa Rosa. They were dismayed and chagrined to find that the "bargains" they believed they were securing from the peddlers could have been duplicated in the stores here at less money than they had paid for them.

Since this has become known there have been choruses of housewives shouting "Never again," and the lessons that have been taught them in being "stung" in this instance will probably suffice for a long time to come.

Smooth talking agents, who only expect to sell goods to a customer once, and probably never be seen again in the community, are not careful in stating the truth in regard to the articles they offer for sale. The local merchant, who is in business here permanently, expects to make satisfied customers by selling splendid goods at right prices and in this manner to cause the customer to return again and trade in the store. The traveling hawkers have no incentive beyond the selling of goods in the immediate present, and for that reason many times are reckless in their handling of the truth regarding their wares.

- Santa Rosa Republican,  November 17, 1910

State Board of Optometry Seeks Peddlers of Worthless Eyeglasses in the County

Peddlers of fake eyeglasses are going to be brought to book through the efforts of the State Board of Examiners in Optometry. Word has been received by President L. B. Lawson to this effect. There have been some of this class of people, who are not registered opticians, who have been doing business...

...Harris is going out into the country to hunt down an army of peddlers who are said to be "doing the small towns," and bunkoing the farmers with worthless glasses at exorbitant rates. It is the claim of the State Board that these fakers not only defraud the public in selling their window pane glasses, but they are a danger to the eyes of those who buy the goods.

Numerous reports have come to Secretary F. C. Chinn of the board of persons who have paid as high as $250 for glasses not worth $1. Some of these peddlers are said to have gone so far as to forge credentials and checks to give them standing in communities which they visit. Many ingenious devices for the deceit of the public have been discovered by Harris and his corps.

- Press Democrat, January 26 1910


Bert Stump, fish dealer, has discovered that all is not gold that glitters as U. S. Treasury gold notes. And on account of that discovery, he announces that he has suspended specie payment in redemption of torn and tattered currency, and will refer all such business to the banks or to a government sub-treasury. Bert knows fish, and he thinks he knows silver, and will handle those as heretofore in the course of his business. But although he has only one arm, he thinks he will risk a good swift punch to the next man who tries to pass any ragged paper money on him.

Bert took in a ten-dollar bill a few weeks ago that was in the last stages of dissolution. He received it in payment for fish, and gave proper change in return. He turned in the money at the Santa Rosa National Bank, where it was viewed with a doubtful scrutiny, and accepted on condition that Bert make good if the sub-treasury turned it down. Bert made good to the bank Monday. The treasury people said the note was counterfeit. It bore date of 1862, and looked as though it had been in active circulation ever since the date of issue. Perhaps it had, and perhaps that note was newly-printed by a green-goods gang, and had been worked up to its appearance of age to render its testing more difficult.

You might as well offer Stump a cancelled cigar-box stamp now as to hand him an old greenback. It isn't safe to do either. He's mad.

- Press Democrat, March 16, 1910

John Bianchi of This City Meets With Disaster From a Financial Standpoint

A game of bocci, in which Giovanni Bianchi, a brother of "Little Pete" Bianchi, of the Campi Restaurant, participated Monday evening with three others, cost Bianchi $1,000, according to the victim's report to the police Tuesday. Bianchi arrived in Oakland several days ago and met the three sharpers in a hotel. They scraped an acquaintance and soon afterward confided to him that they had a sterling business venture, but needed $1,000.

According to the Oakland dispatch, Bianchi was induced to become the capitalist. He returned to Santa Rosa with one of the strangers and drew his entire savings out of a bank. Then he returned to Oakland, rejoining the other two men Monday night.

The strange men took hime to a Peralta street resort, where, after a few bottles of wine, they suggested a game. Bianchi was drawn into the contest and when his money was all gone his friends disappeared. He slept over his misfortune before he decided he had been buncoed.

Tuesday afternoon he confided his mishap to Captain of Detectives Petersen, who has had several similar cases recently. The police are trying to run down a gang of bocci sharks who work in the bay cities and make thousands of dollars every few weeks.

"Little Pete" went to Oakland Monday night to try and straighten out the tangle.

- Press Democrat, September 22, 1910

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