It was Santa Rosa's Crime of the Century, Scandal of the Century, and when it became Trial of the Century, Santa Rosa was square in the national spotlight as it had never been before or has been since. Newspapers in East Coast cities and small Western mining towns alike were often publishing daily courtroom updates, sometimes with front page headlines. The crime in question was the 1910 attempted murder of a young woman and her baby - by blowing them up with dynamite.

In spite of all that newshound competition - or perhaps, because of it - the best reporting appeared in the Press Democrat. The big papers and wire services might have offered readers fancy graphics and the occasional scoop, but the PD churned out more than a hundred articles; so thorough was the coverage that during the trial entire pages were filled with court testimony.

So instead of blogging the usual modern summary about the story, I'd like to step back and let the original reporting tell the tale. Articles will be edited only for length and not everything will appear, but Gentle Reader will hopefully share the same experience people had in 1910 in following an unfolding suspenseful story.

The setting for the crime was Burke's Sanitarium near Wikiup (the address was 733 Mark West Springs Road, about 1½ miles east of Old Redwood Highway). If you lived in Santa Rosa at the time you might have known someone who worked there because it was a large operation, but it was unlikely you would have known someone who was staying there; it was fairly expensive, with a shared room costing $20-27 per week, which was about half the weekly paycheck of an average Santa Rosan.

Burke's Sanitarium was part nursing home, part resort. There were year-round accommodations to be had in the main building, which the previous owners originally intended to be a hotel - an item below mentions a retired gentleman who had lived there for six years. During warmer months guests could stay in the tent houses on the banks of Mark West Creek, which ran through the grounds. Advertisements touted their "cuisine is unrivaled" (it was decidedly not vegetarian, some ads boasting only the best quality meat was served).

On the medical side, Burke's also had a nursing staff and modern equipment, including an x-ray machine and instruments needed in obstetrics and surgery. Ads claimed they could treat diabetes and "tumors of every kind," although most of the ailments they listed were the same general complaints mentioned in patent medicine ads, such as rheumatism, nervous troubles, hemorrhoids, constipation, catarrh, obesity, insomnia and "premature old age." They did not accept drug addicts seeking rehab or anyone with psychological torments.

Unlike the sanitarium near Cloverdale operated by Madam Preston, Burke's was founded by a certified MD who was usually in residence. Dr. Willard P. Burke had a San Francisco office he visited twice a week and was shared with his brother, Isaac. Both were osteopaths, and for a few years Willard was president of the California College of Osteopathy in San Francisco. Dr. Burke also wrote most of the content for Health, a self-published monthly magazine. The sanitarium had made him a wealthy man, and he was much respected in Santa Rosa and well known in the state. As our story begins, he is 59 years old.

District Attorney and Officers Investigate Startling Affair Near Burke's Sanitarium

Tent houses at Burke's Sanitarium.
Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library
District Attorney C. F. Lea and Sheriff Smith are investigating an explosion of either dynamite or giant powder in a tent at Burke's Sanitarium on Saturday night. At the time of the explosion the tent was occupied by Luella Smith and her eleven months-old baby. The mother was hurled from her bed and was somewhat cut and bruised, but not seriously hurt. The baby, who occupied a cradle at the foot of the bed, escaped unhurt. A big hole was torn in the side of the tent and the explosion started a fire which was quickly extinguished. The report was heard in the main hotel building and in the cottages and caused some excitement.

In view of the fact that she had been apparently despondent for some time, and that a sister had died in an insane asylum, and another sister is said to be weak minded. It was thought that the woman had attempted suicide. She denies this, however.

The District Attorney and officers will continue the investigation today, and will satisfy themselves. The dynamite or giant powder was placed in the bed occupied by the woman.

- Press Democrat, February 8, 1910

Theory of the Crime Supplants That of Suicide

District Attorney Clarence Lea's investigation of the explosion of dynamite in the tent at Burke's Sanitarium occupied by Luella Smith and her baby, last Saturday night, has resulted in his arriving at the conclusion that the reasonable theory is that it was a criminal act on the part of some one. He so stated Wednesday night upon his return from the scene. Coupled with this declaration, however, he says that he will look deeper and more carefully into the past history of the woman as regards traces of insanity. He realizes that she is a woman of a very nervous temperament and as such is more susceptible to nervous disease that the ordinary woman.

Another startling development in the case Wednesday came from the mouth of the woman herself. It affected the paternity of her child, and the man upon whom she fixes the blame denies the accusation, says she has made similar charges before, and that they are an evidence of her insanity.

At half past nine o'clock last Saturday night the explosion in the tent occurred. Its force partially wrecked the tent, hurled the sleeping woman from the bed, cutting a deep gash in her arm and another on her head. The infant who occupied a cot at the foot of his mother's bed, was unharmed. A fire started but the night watchman and others who were quickly on the scene, extinguished the flame. The woman's injuries were attended to. The dynamite had been placed in the bed and was exploded by means of a fuse, which the District Attorney and officers are satisfied was lit on the outside of the tent.

The woman came to the Sanitarium on February 5, 1909, and has been there ever since, and there her baby was born. She says that she has been well cared for. Her condition at the present time, as a result of the injuries she sustained, is somewhat serious. It developed Wednesday that in the deep wound in her arm proud fresh has appeared.

As intimated District Attorney Lea will continue the investigation and there will be no let up until everything is probed in an endeavor to bare the mystery which shrouds the matter. Other developments are expected.

- Press Democrat, February 10, 1910

Developments in the Investigation Here Yesterday

Summed up at the close of the day practically the only new development Thursday in the investigation being made by District Attorney Lea into the mysterious dynamite explosion last Saturday night in the house tent occupied by Luella Smith and her baby on the grounds at Burke's Sanitarium, centered in an interview over the telephone with her brother, Edgar Smith, whose home is in Upper Lake, Lake county.

Smith was asked as to the mental condition of his sister, Luella Smith. He replied that she had never exhibited signs of insanity. It was true, he said, that another sister had died in an insane asylum, but there had never been anything the matter mentally with his sister, Luella. He denied the published assertion that another sister was weak-minded.

Mrs. Ella Force, who resides in a town some distance from Santa Rosa, was communicated with. She and Luella Smith were school girls together. Mrs. Force said that as far as she knew there was never anything wrong with Luella Smith mentally.

Considerable importance is attached to the statements made by Mr. Smith and Mrs. Force, owing to the claims that have been made that Luella Smith is insane and that her statements as to certain matters are the product of a disordered brain. The woman says that the despondency from which she has suffered at times has been due to the position she has occupied at the sanitarium, particularly as regards her social ostracism.

Sheriff Smith has been away from town looking up a clue. He was expected home Thursday night, but did not arrive. He may come today and more or less importance attaches to the success of his mission.

While District Attorney Lea has announced that the reasonable theory is that a criminal act was committed, he is proceeding very cautiously in the matter, and is carrying out his intention to look deeper and carefully into the past history of Luella Smith as regards the presence of insanity.

Inquiry on Thursday elicited the information that the injured woman is making satisfactory progress towards recovery and it is believed that she will soon be able to be up and around again.

The developments in the case are being watched with much interest here and all over the State, as Burke's Sanitarium is one of the best known institutions in northern California and yearly hundreds of people go there for medical treatment.

- Press Democrat, February 11, 1910

Newspapers All Have Special Men Here on Explosion Mystery

Dr. W. P. Burke, 1905.
Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library
The effort of the authorities to probe the mysterious dynamite explosion at Burke's Sanitarium last Saturday night, was yesterday transferred from Sonoma county to Berkeley, where District Attorney Clarence F. Lea and Court Reporter Harry Scott went to interview Dr. A. W. Hitt, a former surgeon at the is reported, among other things, that Dr. Hitt while at the Sanitarium last December, wrote to a medical friend in San Francisco, a Dr. Naylor, predicting some such an occurrence as happened at Burke's on Saturday night.

Sheriff Smith did not return from Oroville yesterday, as was expected. A dispatch from Oroville to a Sacramento paper announces the purport of Smith's visit to Butte county as follows:

Oroville, Butte Co., Feb. 11--Sheriff L. K. Smith of Sonoma county arrived here yesterday and made some investigations in regard to the recent visit here of Dr. Willard P. Burke, owner of the now famous Phoenix mine, near Hurleton, and whose connection with Miss Lou Etta Smith, a patient at his sanitarium, is being investigated on account of the recent explosion in her tent, which nearly caused her death.

This morning the Sheriff went to Hurleton. He is trying to ascertain, if possible, whether Dr. Burke took any dynamite with him from here when he returned to Santa Rosa after his recent visit.

The Phoenix mine was purchased by Dr. Burke some time ago for $1,500 and he worked it for several years with poor success, spending about $60,000 before he struck it rich last May. In that month he took out about $500,000 it is claimed and since then has been getting $1,000 a month from it, according to reports.

It is recognized that much hinges upon locating the source of the dynamite or other explosive used in blowing up Luella Smith's tent cottage. Until that point is made clear, all theories advanced must remain more or less speculative in their character. Every possible clue is being investigated and every possible source of information scrutinized, in the effort to probe the mystery to the bottom.

Outside Newspapermen Here

All the San Francisco newspapers have special men here, detailed on the case, and some of them have two or three. Frequent visits to the Sanitarium are made, and yesterday noon a hired automobile conveyed a party of visiting scribes to the scene of the explosion, most of whom remained the greater part of the day.

Injured Woman Described

While the reporters found it a difficult matter to interview anyone around the institution yesterday they saw the injured woman and are able to give a good description of her appearance. She was able to leave her bed yesterday, and take a little exercise. While she was walking through the grounds the newspaper men arrived. She had a bandage around her head and her arm was also bandaged. She is described as a woman not overly prepossessing in appearance, about five feet seven inches tall, with nose slightly upturned and prominent cheekbones. Her eyes are deep set,  and dull, while her face is almost without color and she wears a sad and worn expression. Her actions are quick, suggestive of extreme nervousness. She was dressed yesterday in a long, violet colored gown.

- Press Democrat, February 12, 1910

Woman in Hospital as Investigation Proceeds

Saturday abounded in interesting details in connection with the investigation of the dynamite explosion at Burke's Sanitarium, although no great significance is attached to what developed.

District Attorney Clarence Lea drove out to the sanitarium in the morning, accompanied by Assistant District Attorney G. W. Hoyle, Undersheriff Walter C. Lindsay and Police Officer John M. Boyes. They were soon followed by other automobiles containing the newspaper representatives and camera men. The latter were equally as interested in the unravelling of the mystery and work with zest.


Incident of the Day

The newspaper men had a conversation with Luella Smith but her remarks were in the main along the line of the story already published. She passed the lie direct to Attorney Golden of San Francisco, whom she said had visited her tent on the day previous, representing that he was a San Francisco newspaper man. She became quite angry with him and said he had tried to get something out of her. He came in for a share of criticism from the newspaper men, too. He denied the allegation.


- Press Democrat, February 13, 1910

Another Arrest Made at Sanitarium Grounds

Deputy Game Commissioners A. F. Lea and B. H. Miller made an arrest at Burke's Sanitarium Sunday afternoon. The man taken into custody is C. M. Bent, and is a guest at the sanitarium. He is charged with having trout out of season.

Bent put in part of Sunday in whipping Mark West creek in the vicinity of the Sanitarium for trout and when the sport ceased in the afternoon he had landed five nice specimens. While deputies Lea and Miller were beneath the residence of Alfred Burke searching for any clews [sic] to the dynamiting mystery, Bent came out of the creek bed with his fish.


- Santa Rosa Republican, February 14, 1910

Formally Placed Under Arrest Sunday Afternoon at Sanitarium Near This City-Released on $20,000 Bail
District Attorney Lea Makes Statement Regarding Case

Early Sunday afternoon, and shortly after Sheriff Smith's return from Oroville, where he went several days ago under instructions from District Attorney Clarence Lea to investigate certain matters in connection with the mysterious dynamite explosion at Burke's Sanitarium, Dr. W. P. Burke, the well-known head of that institution was formally placed under arrest and charged with the attempted murder of Luella Smith and her infant child.

The story of the mysterious explosion has already been told in these columns, and is well known. About half-past nine on the evening of Saturday, February 5, the residents of Burke and vicinity were startled by a tremendous detonation. Investigation soon developed the fact that the explosion had occurred in the tent-cottage occupied by Luella Smith and her child, some three hundred yards from the main building. The woman was hurled from her bed and badly shaken up and otherwise injured, but not fatally. The child, which occupied a cradle at the foot of its mother's bed, escaped unhurt.

A great hole in the tent-cottage floor, and another in the side of the flimsy structure, evidenced the force of the explosive that had been used. Later a fuse some three feet in length was found near by. The woman claimed that an attempt had been made to murder her, but this charge was met by the assertion that she had attempted suicide while suffering from despondency, the result of her social ostracism. When questioned, she made the direct charge that Dr. Burke was the father of her child, and says this is a possible reason why he or someone connected with the institution might like to see her done away with. Dr. Burke met the charge calmly, and dismissed it with the remark that it was merely a vagary, the result of a disordered mind.

Several years ago Luella Smith first came to Burke's Sanitarium as a patient. Upon regaining her health, she remained there in the capacity of assistant nurse, also performing certain other services as occasion required. She finally left the Sanitarium, and after the earthquake met Dr. Burke in Oakland, where he had established temporary offices. According to her story, their relations there became intimate. Early in February of last year she again returned to the sanitarium, where she gave birth to a child. The acquaintanceship of Dr. Burke and Luella Smith is admittedly of long standing, the Smith and Burke families having been friends years ago in Lake county. It is Dr. Burke's contention that his relations with Luella Smith have at all times been only those of friend and benefactor the result of his long-standing acquaintance with her family, which began while she was a mere child.

The Specific Charge

The specific charge contained in the complaint is "using an explosive with intent to injure a human being." The language of the complaint is copied from Section 601 of the Penal Code and Sheriff Smith swore to the complaint.

Dr. Burke Not Surprised

When the officers went to the main sanitarium building and the quarters occupied by Dr. Burke, Police Officer John M. Boyes asked the doctor to step outside. He acquiesced very willingly and as he stepped outside Deputy Sheriff C. A. Reynolds walked up to him with the warrant in his hand.

Dr. Burke smiled and remarked: "I suppose you are going to take me this time," and without apparent surprise.

"Yes," replied Reynolds.

Dr. Burke walked inside and donned his overcoat and hat and in a few seconds had taken his seat in the automobile.

Attorney Golden, a relative of the Burke family, counseled him at every step--"Don't talk, don't talk"--this said to prevent his saying anything to the crowd of newspapermen who were on hand.

Even as the automobile started up, Golden clung to the step repeating his admonition to Dr. Burke: "Don't talk, don't talk."

Brought to the Courthouse

From the sanitarium the automobile was driven rapidly to the courthouse. Quite a crowd had gathered to await the coming, a rumor having gone ahead that the arrest had been made.

The automobile pulled up in front of the Fourth street entrance to the big building, and Dr. Burke walked nimbly up the steps and went upstairs into the District Attorney's office, where he was closeted with District Attorney Lea for a short time.

Justice A. J. Atchinson, on whose court the complaint was sworn out, was on had and fixed the bail at $20,000. Cornelius Shea, the well known local capitalist, and G. T. Watterson, a retired San Francisco contractor, who has made his home at Burke's for the past six years, qualified as sureties. James W. Oates, Dr. Burke's attorney, was present to attend to the preliminaries, which were quickly arranged. Had Dr. Burke required more sureties they would have been forthcoming. P. H. Noonan, president of the Noonan Meat Company, Mr. Crane and others were present for the purpose.

Returns to Sanitarium

After his admission to bail, Dr. Burke left the courthouse, accompanied by Attorney Golden (the latter having in the meantime made a rapid trip to town), Mr. Shea, Mr. Watterson and others. He then drove home.

Search Sanitarium Premises

In the meantime orders had been given for the searching of some of the offices in the building at Burke's Sanitarium for any evidence that might be forthcoming...Nothing was found, however. A search warrant for the purpose was secured by Under Sheriff Lindsey.

A Dynamite Explosion

For some days there has been a discussion as to whether dynamite or giant powder had been used in the explosion. District Attorney Lea, when asked as to whether the investigation had settled this point, replied with assurance:

"It was a dynamite explosion."


Burke Would Not Talk

Advised by his attorney, Dr. Burke had nothing to say to the newspapermen who approached him. His attorney, Col. James W. Oates, had nothing to say, either. Colonel Oates said he deemed it ill-advised for his client to say anything at all on the matter at the present time, particularly to exploit any matters in the newspapers.

Woman Hears the News

After the arrest of Dr. Burke and its first surprise people turned their thought to Luella Smith and her baby, the occupants of the tent cottage blown up in the dynamite explosion. On Saturday afternoon the two were moved from the sanitarium to the county hospital and they now occupy a room there under the care of County Physician S. S. Bogle, Matron Miss Margaret Lindsey and the nurses attached to the hospital staff. On Sunday it was learned that Miss Smith was making satisfactory progress towards recovery and that her injuries were less painful.

When told that Dr. Burke had been arrested the woman started and inquired if it was really true. She did not seem very much surprised. There is no doubt but that she became much attached to Dr. Burke in the years she had known him. She has repeatedly said so. To a newspaper representative the woman gave quite a long interview, in which she told again the details of the rude awakening on the night of the explosion. It is not thought that Luella Smith will have to remain in the hospital more than a few days, that is if she continues to improve as she is at the present time.

Newspaper Reinforcements

Several more representatives of the San Francisco newspapers arrived here on Sunday night to look after details in connection with the Burke story. It has been years since a local matter has attracted so much attention. But Dr. Burke and his institution are widely known throughout the state.


Draws Gun on Newspaperman

Eugene Maxwell, an employee of the Sanitarium who had been temporarily left in charge of the main gate to the grounds Sunday afternoon, drew a revolver upon a Press Democrat representative, who failed to heed his orders not to enter the grounds. The reporter took the young man and his gun, and walking down the road turned him over to Sheriff Smith, who took possession of the revolver and after receiving the comment of the reporter, released him.

Naylor's Mysterious Call

Mention was made to the Press Democrat Sunday morning of the mysterious visit of Attorney Charles Naylor here Saturday night. It was for the purpose of taking Luella Smith's deposition, which will probably be used in proceedings to compel Dr. Burke to contribute to the maintenance of the child, which she avers is his.

Arrest Caused Surprise

The news of Dr. Burke's arrest caused considerable surprise here. In spite of the sensational articles that have been appearing in the San Francisco papers almost every day for the past week, it was recognized that from the evidence as given out by the authorities very little of a positive character had developed to connect Dr. Burke with the alleged crime.

It was, of course, known that an explosion had occurred in the tent-cottage of Luella Smith, and that unless she had fired the charge herself someone else had done so; but even assuming that the latter view was the correct one, this was not saying that Dr. Burke was the guilty party. In the opinion of those who had followed the case most closely, it was generally admitted up to Sunday morning that despite the efforts put forth by the authorities, no positive evidence had been brought out against the accused. It is assumed that the links missing until that time from the chain of evidence woven around the man now charged with attempted murder, have been supplied through the investigation carried on at Oroville during the past few days.

Important Institution Here

Since the establishment of Burke's Sanitarium here some ten or twelve years ago, the institution has played an important part in the business life of the town. Nearly all the supplies used at the sanitarium were procured here, and a number of persons from this city have from time to time been employed there in various capacities. Patients from all parts of the Pacific Coast have been attracted to the sanitarium through the knowledge of the many successful cures wrought there, and in addition to the business resulting from the sanitarium itself, friends and relatives of those undergoing treatment have been in almost constant attendance at the hotels and rooming houses, traveling back and forth as occasion required, and by such means as their inclination or fancy suggested. A number of these have purchased property and settled here. Dr. Burke and his associates have many friends here who will sincerely regret the fact that he has been called to face the serious charge now confronting him, and who hope that he may be able to clear himself of complicity in it.

- Press Democrat, February 14, 1910

Here's a trio of odd little stories that probably had tongues clucking for a few days in 1910 Santa Rosa:

*A farm family on Occidental Road woke up a few days before Christmas to find some of the windows open, hair scattered everywhere and their little girl nearly bald. Eight year-old Aldora Maria Souza insisted a stranger had crept inside late at night and cut off all her locks, leaving her very frightened. (The Press Democrat story mistakenly identifies her as being two years older and named "Madaline," although the census and other records show neither could be accurate. These misunderstandings might be explained by the family speaking only Portuguese, with the presumed exception of Aldora who was attending country school.) 

Authorities took the story seriously and the Deputy Sheriff in Sebastopol organized a posse to search for the deranged man. No one was found, but they heard there was a rumor she told a schoolmate that she was planning to cut off her hair, and supposedly she had once before told a similar story about an attack by a mad barber.

The PD reporter, writing rather skillfully in the tone of a parent trying to coax a child into admitting a fib, made it clear everyone believed little Aldora whacked off her own curls and made the crazy story up. Gentle Reader certainly believes the same, I'm sure. But in the next column on that page of the Press Democrat was a story about a Santa Rosa dragnet for Ray Glatfelder, a young criminal who escaped police custody the same night as Aldora's haircut. An interesting detail about Mr. Glatfelder's escape: He was wearing handcuffs at the time.

Ray Glatfelder
(RIGHT: Not long after his escape, the Press Democrat published Ray Glatfelder's picture in an unusual "wanted criminal" item. As far as can be determined, Glatfelder was never captured.)

Ray Glatfelder was certainly more enterprising than the usual dumb clucks who made up Santa Rosa's criminal class. Two years earlier, when he was 19 or 20, he had escaped from the county jail by digging through the wall of his cell and lowering himself from the second floor by means of knotted bedsheets. Captured a few weeks later, he was sent to the Preston School of Industry, the toughest reform school in the state - literally a San Quentin for children. When he escaped in handcuffs from Santa Rosa police in 1910, he had been recently discharged from Preston and was being arrested for burglary.

So it's surely a coincidence that Glatfelder escaped the same night Aldora's hair was chopped off a few hours later. It was another coincidence that there would be two simultaneous manhunts in Sonoma County the next day. (Had that ever happened before?) And it's against all odds that a guy who happened to be a burglar and needed to steal a hacksaw or file would be clever enough to use a little child as a diversion to cover up his theft. The chances were even remote that readers would find any possible connections between the two stories that appeared side by side on the same page of the Press Democrat.

*Man passes a fellow walking down the street and thinks, hey, I've got a suit just like that in my closet. Not anymore.

*It was 3 o'clock in the morning when George Forepaugh woke up the Assistant District Attorney with startling news: Herman Hankel had killed himself.

The 43 year-old Hankel was a well-known figure in Santa Rosa, serving as a policeman on the town's five man force starting around 1890 (he continued to serve at least up to 1926) and his adventures have been mentioned often in this journal. He was identified in the articles below as a "former police officer" because for reasons unknown - bad health? - he was not on the force in the years around 1910-1911, and was listed as unemployed in the 1910 census.

Forepaugh told the Assistant D. A. he was roused from sleep by his landlady. Her sister, Mrs. Julia Hankel, had phoned to say that Herman was upset about some property matter and told her he was going to commit suicide. He took his gun and went outside. She told her sister she heard a shot. Julia begged her sister for help, and she in turn woke up her tenant who in turn woke up the D. A. The men went to the Hankel home and looked about, finding no corpse in the yard. They were all gathered in the house and Forepaugh was about to telephone the police when in walked Herman, not dead at all and with a revolver in his hand. Forepaugh bolted out the door as fast as he could.

The next day, the Hankels were in fast rewind: No, there was no suicide threat and no shot fired, Julia said, effectively calling her sister a liar. No, Herman said, he had no gun (although the Asst. D. A. told the Press Democrat that Hankel was indeed armed). A followup item in the PD stated "The trouble is said to have grown out of family differences," leaving readers to scratch their collective heads, pondering if the sister-in-law might have whipped up a story because of some sort of vendetta against Herman or Julia, or maybe tensions were generally explosive in the Hankel household because of his lack of work or other issues (Julia was a respected dressmaker, so the family had some income in that period).

And what of poor Mr. Forepaugh, who apparently was dragged from his bed and thrown into act III of the turgid Hankel melodrama? Why did he quickly flee when Herman appeared? Did he have some connection with Julia or Herman that involved him in their "family differences?" The next day, Herman spotted Forepaugh on the street and tried to beat him up. Herman was restrained by a crowd and arrested for assault, taken to jail by one of his former fellow officers.

"The story was being discussed about the streets last night," the Press Democrat observed. I'll bet it was.

As a bonus oddity, to the right is one of the ads that appeared in the 1910 Santa Rosa papers for Professor Whittier, exhibition roller skater; presumably he's about to jump over those mismatched kitchen chairs instead of staring them into submission. But what's with the "coast to death?" His big trick sounds risky yet oddly nonchalant. Perhaps he was imitating another performer who had a stunt called the "roll to doom" or "glide to the grave" or something.

Girl's Story as to Attack By Man Armed With Scissors Believed to Be Fanciful

Did ten year-old Madaline Souza, daughter of a farmer residing some miles from Sebastopol on the old Occidental road take a pair of scissors and cut off her golden tresses or did some mischievous man ruthlessly despoil her flowing head of hair? Is the story she tells fanciful or real?

Madaline says a man, a stranger, who cut off a portion of her locks some time since, returned to her home on Tuesday night and completed the job, leaving her all shorn. Officers and others are inclined to believe that little Madaline, who attends the district school in her neighborhood, fancies all this.

When it comes to the fact that her hair has been cut there is realism beyond peradventure of a doubt in that ocular demonstration is sufficient to prove that part of the case.

At any rate when the girl's family arose they found some of the windows, shuttered and barred on the previous night, were open Wednesday morning. They found Madaline'a hair strewn about here and there, and were met with the girl's declaration that during the night a man, the same one who on a previous occasion had cut off a part of her hair, had returned and had broken into the house, finished the hair-cutting, and had departed, leaving her very frightened.

When the news spread through the community Wednesday morning, a posse was formed to find the alleged bad man hair-cutter, and Deputy Sheriff Fred R. Matthews of Sebastopol headed and directed the search among the Occidental hills and dales for the culprit. The search lasted all day and by nightfall the searchers had found nothing and were of the opinion, some of them at least, that Madaline had allowed her imagination, to run rampant, especially when a rumor reached their ears that another school girl had been told by the Souza girl that she intended cutting off her hair.

Things had quieted down a boit in the neighborhood Wednesday night and the earlier rumors of the daytime to the effect that an insane man had cut the girl's hair were allowed to pass. Inquiry at Sebastopol on Wednesday night elicited the information that the girl was apparently the only one who had seen the strange man with the naughty scissors.

- Press Democrat, December 22, 1910

Hunt all Day and Night By Officers Fails to Locate Self-Confessed Burglar

Up to an early hour this morning Ray Glatfelder, self-confessed burglar, who on Tuesday night made his escape with handcuffs clasped about his wrists, had not been captured, despite the silly rumors that were afloat as to his death and arrest.

The officers were on the alert all day Wednesday and at night but he could not be found anywhere. He is believed to be hiding somewhere in town.

- Press Democrat, December 22, 1910

Man Prides Himself on His Taste as Dresser When He Sees How Well Another Man Looks--Burglar

Supposing you had a natty suit of clothes hanging in your closet at home, and one day while you were out for a drive you met a stylishly dressed man wearing a suit of the same pattern and cut as your own, and after congratulating yourself on your idea of taste in the selection of clothes you were to return home several hours later to find that during your absence a burglar had ransacked the house and among other things had carried off your new suit, and knowing that you had passed that burglar and suit on the road, wouldn't it jar you?

In brief this is just what happened to E. H. Johanssen, who resides in the Sonoma Valley, near Sonoma. He recognized a suit of clothes that he could have sworn was his on the anatomy of another man and when he returned home he found that a burglar had visited the house during his absence and had carried off many articles of value including the suit of clothes he had just bought.

The burglar had a good start and though the officers were notified soon after the discovery of the burglary he had made his get-away. If Johanssen meets that suit out walking there will be something doing, though.

- Press Democrat, June 26, 1910

Assistant District Attorney Hoyle Called from Bed at Early Morn by Startled Resident

Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle was called from his slumbers about 3 o'clock Monday morning and informed that his neighbor, former Police Officer Herman Hankel had shot himself at his home nearby.

An immediate investigation was made by Mr. Hoyle and George Forepaugh, who had given the alarm, but as nothing could be found of the supposed suicide's body. Forepaugh started to summon the police. He was just in the act when the supposed dead man appeared upon the scene with a gun, and Forepaugh mad his escape with dispatch, declaring afterwards that the doorway was not nearly wide enough for him.

There are various stories regarding the affair, but from them all it would appear that Hankel had been having some trouble over property rights, and finally informed his wife that he would end it all by killing himself. Telling her farewell he took his gun and going outside the house fired the weapon into the air. As Hankel failed to return, Mrs. Hankel feared he had carried out his threat.

Mrs. Hankel called up her sister, Mrs. Georgia Redwine, and informed her of the facts as she understood them. Mrs. Redwine called Forepaugh, who rooms in her lodging house, and asked him to find the body of the suicide. Forepaugh apparently did not relish the job, and so involved the aid of Assistant District Attorney Hoyle. Not being able to find the remains they were looking for, Forepaugh went to the telephone to summon the police and was just calling the number when the supposed dead man made his appearance. This cut short the investigation.

The story was being discussed about the streets last night, but when called upon Mrs. Hankel denied that there was any truth in the report of attempted suicide, and denied that she had heard any shot fired during the night or morning.

Forepaugh, however, tells the story as related above, and Assistant District Attorney Hoyle admits being called by Forepaugh with the statement that Hankel had killed himself, admits that he assisted Forepaugh in the search for Hankel's dead body and admits he was present when Hankel came back into the house carrying a revolver in his hand.

- Press Democrat, June 22, 1910


Former Police Officer Herman Hankel assaulted George Forepaugh on the public street last night, and was arrested by Officer Yeager and taken to the police station, where he gave bail for his appearance this morning. Hankel is a large man and would make two or three of Forepaugh, but bystanders prevented any serious results. The trouble is said to have grown out of family differences.

Hankel Denies the Report

Former Police Officer Herman Hankel called at the Press Democrat office Thursday night and denied the report that he recently threatened to commit suicide. He maintains that he did not have a gun, and no gun was fired.

- Press Democrat, June 24, 1910

The North Bay's economic foundation was remarkably solid a century ago, but not thanks to grapes, hops, prunes or other agriculture; it was because we had the most asylums. In Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties the largest employers were the huge state hospitals used to warehouse the mentally ill. And while a crop might fail or market prices fall, the asylum business was always growing - California has never suffered a shortage of crazy people.

Insanity stories appeared regularly in the old Santa Rosa papers but they've been ignored here because there's rarely anything interesting reported - typically a drunk/drug addict goes bezerk or a despondent person attempts suicide. A three member "lunacy commission" is convened. The drunk vows to sober up and maybe does a little jail time; the suicidal person's fate usually isn't mentioned, but he or she is likely sent away to live with relatives.

Then there were the tales of "wild men." Newspaper editors around the turn of the century loved these stories, and would reprint accounts about some poor demented soul living in the woods even though it happened hundreds of miles away. Locally we had the "Wild Man of Mendocino" who was captured in 1909 near Cloverdale (apparently the "Wild Man of Cloverdale" didn't have the snap) just a few weeks after an escaped asylum patient was found in the same hills. A Press Democrat article about the Wild Man mentioned a woman had written to the Cloverdale police asking if he could be her long-lost son; when the PD item was picked up by a paper in Arizona, her son saw it and wrote an "I'm alright, ma" letter to her from Yuma. Let that be a lesson into the power of the press, at least when it comes to Wild Man stories.

Certifiably Insane
Being hunted down as a Wild Man pretty much assured a one-way ticket to the asylum, but otherwise being declared certifiably insane required some doing, such as Ed Bosco repeatedly shooting at police officers. Herman Welti asked the sheriff to do something about the men controlling his mind "by use of a wireless instrument." And then there was William Franklin Monahan, who went mad trying to count the stars.

When these men arrived at their particular asylum, each would have found the place bursting with erstwhile lunatics. In that era California was clocking an "insane ratio" sometimes above the state's annual growth percentage - in 1903, one out of every 260 state residents was adjudged crazy. Many asylum wards were 300 percent over capacity with patients sleeping in hallways and basements. To make room, the institutions kept expanding and the state began looking closely at the immigration status of its asylum population; under 1907 federal law, any immigrant found to be insane within the first three years of residence could be deported to their native country. Superintendents also began an early release program, which certainly wasn't good for anyone.1

Today California may have one of the largest prison populations but for fifty years starting in 1870, we were tops in the nation per capita for locking up people in asylums. And before wisecracking about California being the national nuthouse, consider that medical authorities were seriously raising that question 140 years ago. Speculation as to why relatively more Californians were committed to asylums included the nice weather, dashed hopes of striking it rich in the Gold Rush, the distance from family and friends on the East Coast and "fast living." These explanations ignored that most of those deemed insane were simple laborers and housewives, not down-on-their-luck 49ers or burned-out Barbary Coast gamblers.2

In 1875 the superintendent of the state's first asylum warned that the cities were using the place as a dumping ground for the senile or indigent elderly, incurable drunks and anyone "simply troublesome." But whatever their problems, 19th century California sought to accommodate them by building five public asylums plus the California Home for the Care and Training of Feeble-Minded Children. (There were also three private asylums, but these never housed more than a tiny percentage.) More about the institutions in a moment.

Even as the state asylums were grappling with overcrowding, the legislature required by law that medical examiners adopt a new form to determine if a patient was certifiably insane.3 While the document sensibly begins by collecting vital statistics including nationality and length of U.S. residence, it goes off the rails quickly by asking questions that seem irrelevant to mental health. A sample:

*Have any relatives been eccentric or peculiar in any way in their habits or pursuits? If so, how? Have any relatives, direct or collateral, suffered, or are suffering, from any form of chronic disease, such as consumption or tuberculosis, syphilis, rheumatism, neuralgia, hysteria, or nervousness, or had epilepsy or falling sickness?

*Which parent does alleged insane person resemble mentally? Physically? Habits (cleanly or uncleanly)?

*Has alleged insane person ever been addicted to masturbation or sexual excesses? If so, for how long?

*Age when menses appeared: Amount and character before insanity appeared: Since insanity appeared:

*Has the change of life taken place? Was it gradual or sudden? How changed from normal?

*What is the supposed cause of insanity? Predisposing or exciting?

The final example reflects the 19th century notion (or maybe older) that a mentally ill person was either "predisposed" to insanity because of heredity or "excited" into madness by drugs, events or ideas. But many of the other odd questions have more to do with interest in the new pseudoscience of eugenics.

The history of the eugenics craze is discussed in the earlier article, "Sonoma County and Eugenics," but let's summarize that it was a set of crank theories that proposed some individuals - even entire races - were genetically inferior and prone to insanity, epilepsy, "moral degeneracy" and criminal behavior. Many educated and otherwise sensible people in the first half of the 20th century bought into this nonsense to varying degrees (including Luther Burbank) but no body of government was as eager to actually pass eugenic laws as California. At the same time as the new certification form was legalized, the state authorized forced sterilization of anyone deemed incurably mentally ill. These laws were extended in 1913 and 1917, and by the time ten years had passed, California had performed 2,558 sterilizations, about 4 in 5 of all such operations in the United States in the 1910s.4

Most superintendents of the asylums and the Sonoma State Home embraced the new asexualization law with gusto. Soon after it became law the Press Democrat ran an item that the director of Napa State Hospital "thought there were a number of patients in the Napa Hospital upon whom the operation should be performed" and it wasn't long before they were doing an average of a procedure a week. The asylums at Stockton and Los Angeles were sterilizing every person being released of child-bearing age.

Since each asylum had its own policy on sterilization, it mattered a great deal where a patient was committed, but it appears it was fairly random and probably based simply on which hospital had an available bed. Someone found insane in San Francisco could end up in Stockton where a vasectomy was guaranteed. (A few early newspaper accounts mention castration although it is likely reporters didn't understand the difference, and the law did not specify what "asexualization" technically meant.)  At Mendocino, the patient would probably escape the operation; that asylum and the one in San Jose were singled out in the 1918 state review for their "poor record" of sterilizing less than five percent of their inmates. But odds were always that anyone committed in the northern part of California would end up in the North Bay simply because we had the majority of asylums, plus the home for "feeble-minded children" in Glen Ellen.

The Napa State Asylum for the Insane was built to handle the overflow from the state's premiere asylum in Stockton. Admitting its first patients in 1875, it started as a 500-bed institution and was the first building in the West following guidelines of the Kirkbride Plan, an early Victorian design for massive hospitals. Its architecture was viewed at the time as a form of treatment itself, offering patients humane lodging along with an infrastructure to support thousands of people - there was even a railway in the basement for transporting food, bedlinen, and whatnot. They were also gothic monstrosities that looked like the setting for a Stephen King horror novel, and the open floor plan made it easy for one screaming patient to upset hundreds of others. And then there was the problem of them falling down; the unreinforced Kirkbride-design asylum in San Jose collapsed in the 1906 earthquake killing 100, including a Santa Rosa woman. Napa's "castle" was demolished in 1949, but the grounds still serve as a psychiatric hospital. Your obl. believe-it-or-not factoid: under 1874 state law, no alcohol could be sold within one mile of the hospital's location - maybe the Napa tourist board should check to see if that's still on the books.

The Sonoma State Home was discussed in the longer article about eugenics. It may have been called the hospital for "feeble-minded children" when its doors opened in 1891, but about one in five was epileptic. Its mission shifted after Dr. Fred O. Butler became superintendent in 1918 and it became an outright factory for asexualization surgery in California. By the mid-1920s, half of the women patients there were classified as "sexually delinquent," and male patients were often "masturbators" or "passive sodomists." Recall that "masturbation or sexual excesses" was a prominent question on the state form, and masturbation was the third most commonly reported behavior "indicating insanity."5

Opened around the same time in 1893 was the Mendocino State Asylum for the Insane at Talmage, near Ukiah. The facility was intended to be the new overflow mental hospital for the state system, but records from the early 1900s show the great majority of patients came directly from San Francisco, for reasons not clear. Like the other hospitals it ballooned as its inmate population and staff grew to the size of a small town over the first half of the 20th century. But the story of the Mendocino Home takes several odd twists that Ripley might not have believed; for 25 years starting in 1929 it housed the criminally insane (a must-read story can be found here), then became an alcohol and drug rehab center during the 1950s and 1960s. In this era there were psychiatric residency and research programs that experimented with giving alcoholics massive doses of LSD. As the hospital was shutting down in 1972 because of a directive by Governor Reagan, cult leader Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple reaped a financial bonanza by setting up nursing homes to care for the former inmates. (It is also alleged that cult members who worked at the hospital before closing had stolen a stash of psychotherapeutic drugs like Thorazine and Lithium that would later be used to control dissenters at Jonestown.) Today the site is a Buddhist monastery that's supposedly the largest Buddhist temple in North America.


1So Far Disordered in Mind: Insanity in California, 1870-1930, Volume 1, Richard Wightman Fox
2 ibid pg. 123
3 Certificate of Medical Examiners, Feb. 26, 1909
4 op. cit. pg. 27
5 ibid pg. 141


State Authorities Will Try Vasectomy on Insane Patients

Napa, March 22--A number of patients in the Napa State Hospital for the Insane will shortly undergo the operation of vasectomy for the purpose of their sterilization, as provided in the new asexualization law, applicable to certain patients and certain inmates of State Prisons.

A few days ago Dr. F. W. Hatch, Superintendent of State Hospitals, came here from Sacramento, and held a conference with Dr. Elmer Stone regarding the new law, the constitutionality of which has not been doubted by the Attorney General. Superintendent Stone of the hospital told Dr. Hatch he thought there were a number of patients in the Napa Hospital upon whom the operation should be performed. Dr. Hatch directed Dr. Stone to segregate these patients and get them ready for examination. When these arrangements have been made the patients will be examined by Dr. Hatch and Dr. W. E. Snow of the State Board of Health, and if the operation is deemed necessary will be ordered performed.

- Press Democrat, March 23, 1910


William Franklin Monahan was brought down from Fulton Friday afternoon by Sheriff Smith and County Physician S. S. Bogle and examined before an insanity inquisition. The man has become a star gazer and has attempted the impossible task of counting the stars in the heavens. Each evening he goes out and steadfastly gazes into the heavens. He was tried before Judge Thomas C. Denny and Dr. S. S. Bogle and Dr. P. A. Meneray and ordered committed to Mendocino hospital. He will be taken to that place on the evening train Friday.

- Santa Rosa Republican, April 9, 1909


William Smith, an aged man who was arrested several days ago near Penngrove, at an early morning hour by Deputy Sheriff Rasmussen of Petaluma, and was to have been taken before a lunacy commission on Thursday to have the state of his mind inquired into, was put over for a day or two longer. Smith, who says he is a carpenter by trade, is apparently sans now. He blames his condition the other morning, when he was armed with an axe with which he had prepared for battle with an imaginary foe, to the mixing of beer and wine, and the imbibing of too copious doses. He told the Sheriff and Rasmussen Thursday morning that he honestly believes that he was suffering from the "d. t's" at the time. He must have been, he said, for he firmly believed then that he was being pursued. The feeling then was a terrible one, but now it has disappeared. Sheriff Smith will have County Physician S. S. Bogle take a look at the man and if he passes inspection then he will be turned loose with his kit of carpenter tools. He says he can get a job.

In the corridor of the court house, in the presence of the officers and a newspaper representative, the man raised his right hand and swore that he had taken his last drink. "I will never touch a drink of wine, beer, or whiskey," he said, "as long as I live."

- Press Democrat, June 18, 1909

Escaped Inmate of Stockton Asylum

William J. Wash, an escaped inmate of the Stockton Insane asylum, was found on Monday night wandering in the hills, near Cloverdale. He was brought to Cloverdale, and detained there over night and Constable W. J. Orr took charge of him and accompanied him to the county jail here yesterday morning. Stockton asylum was communicated with and an officer was set to take Wash back there.

Wash is said to have escaped from Stockton about three weeks ago. He was wearing some of the clothes provided by the institution when Orr took him in charge. It is probable that he had been wandering in the hills ever since he made his getaway.

- Press Democrat, November 10, 1909

Cloverdale Constable Captures "Wild Man" After Search Lasting for Several Miles

Constable William J. Orr of Cloverdale headed a posse on Thursday who captured Amelio Regoni, who for some time past has been described as the "wild man of Mendocino county."

Since last May there has been a lookout for the man who was run to earth seven miles from Cloverdale on Thanksgiving day. Numerous robberies of cabins and farm houses in the wooded hills of Mendocino county have been charged up to the "wild man." He has been near capture on a number of occasions, but always managed to get out of the way and into hiding before his pursuers came up with him.

Constable Orr got word that a man had been seen dodging in and out among the hills near Cloverdale. He got a posse together and they tracked the man and he was captured in the fissure of a large rock. He was taken by surprise and covered with guns before he had time to reach for his rifle even if he had determined to resist capture. Thursday night Constable Orr landed his man in the Mendocino county jail at Ukiah. He is wanted in that county, as stated.

- Press Democrat, November 27, 1909

Victor Green Reads Story in This Paper and Writes to His Mother in Her Far Away Home

Two or three weeks ago when the Press Democrat mentioned the letter Constable Orr of Cloverdale had received from Mrs. Green of Pennsylvania, anxiously inquiring if her son, Victor Green, who had left home several years [ago] to come west, was the "wild man" Orr had captured in Mendocino county, a strong appeal was made if the item met the eyes of the boy that he at once write to his mother, and let her know of his whereabouts. The Press Democrat asked other papers to copy the story it published.

A Santa Rosan received a copy of the Press Democrat in Arizona and passed it along to a newspaper there. The story was published and it was read by the missing son, who at once wrote home from Yuma, telling his mother of his whereabouts. In turn Constable Orr and the Press Democrat have received the cordial thanks of Mrs. Green.

- Press Democrat, February 2, 1910

Herman Wells Placed Under Arrest--Has Threatened Residents of the Bloomfield Section

Deputy Sheriff William Coret of San Rafael has arrested Herman Welti at Tomales, charged with insanity. Welti is a frog catcher by trade and for many years has made his home in and around Bloomfield, but a short time ago removed to the Tomales section. He has been in the habit of spending his money mostly for liquor and at times would stay intoxicated for weeks at a time. It is thought that this is the cause of his present demented condition.

A few weeks ago he made threats to injure Wm. Minck the post master at Bloomfield, who is also a general merchant. Mr. Minck had had some trouble at times with Welti, owing to the fact of his coming into the Post Office intoxicated and using improper language before patrons and children, but Mr. Minck, having been previously warned through the mails to look out Welti, had managed to avoid any trouble. About the 2nd of December Welti wrote a long letter from Fallon's to Sheriff Smith of this county and sent it by registered mail, wherein Dr. Cockrill and others were charged with holding a hypnotic spell over him, by use of a wireless instrument and claiming that they had followed him through ten or twelve counties of this state, trying to unbalance his mind. Sheriff Smith immediately remailed this letter from Dr. Cockrill at Bloomfield. The doctor was inclined  to treat the matter as a josh, but his son, W. A. Cockrill, reflecting what serious consequences might result from such persons being allowed their liberty, forwarded and the letter to Sheriff Taylor of San Rafael and requested him to get Welti and have him examined as to his sanity. Deputy Sheriff Coret made the arrest as stated before, but on arriving in the jail at San Rafael, Welti drew a pocket knife and attempted to stab Coret, and only for the deputy's presence of mind probably would have succeeded.

Coret while parleying with the prisoner, made an offer to trade knives and in that way get possession of the knife which Welti had, after which he succeeded in locking him up without any further trouble. Welti will undoubtedly be adjudged insane and committed to an asylum when he comes up for examination.

- Press Democrat, December 15, 1909

Wandering About Barefooted and Without Hat

Ernest Bassanessi, formerly an employee of the Santa Rosa tannery, was arrested near Melitta Tuesday by Deputy Sheriff C. A. Reynolds and brought to the county jail. During the latter part of the morning of that day word was received over the telephone from Melitta that a man, supposed to be crazy, was in the neighborhood. The message stated further that the man was bareheaded and barefooted and that he carried a revolver. When the deputy sheriff took him into custody Bassanessi had no revolver, but was carrying a rock with which to protect himself from imaginary enemies which he believed were trying to kill him. An insanity commission will likely look into his case Wednesday.

- Santa Rosa Republican, May 24, 1910


Ernest Bassanessi, the man who was found wandering around Melitta on Tuesday, is a man of good family and was born in Venice, where he taught school for some time. His wife was a native of Rome, and also a school teacher before her marriage. Mr. Bassanessi is a sensitive man and took the joking of his fellow workmen as an insult and their talk bothered him and preyed on his mind.

When he and his wife landed in this country from Italy, they had a sum of money with them, which they had saved, and immediately they were robbed. This was the first of their misfortunes and this and other things worried the man and he finally went insane.

- Santa Rosa Republican, May 25, 1910

Former Resident of the Vicinity of Healdsburg Adjudged Insane and Not Sent to Penitentiary

Ed Bosco, an aged man charged with an assault with intent to commit murder, was examined on a charge of insanity in the Superior Court in Napa yesterday afternoon. He was declared insane by Judge Gesford and was ordered committed to the Napa State Hospital.

Bosco attempted to shoot Officer Ed Powers at Calistoga when Powers arrested him on a minor charge. Bosco, who formerly resided in Sonoma county, imagines that people have taken his land away from him. The officers in Healdsburg and in this city have had experiences with Bosco.

- Press Democrat, January 22, 1910

Pity Santa Rosa; hardly anyone wanted to move here in the early 20th Century. While some communities in the state were doubling in population every decade, our numbers were as stagnant as swampy backwater, with the city growing a pathetic average of only about a hundred people a year between 1900 and 1920. Or so sayeth the U.S. Census.

The numbers might have been technically accurate, but in an editorial about the 1910 count, Press Democrat editor Ernest Finley railed the city was being cheated because the real total had to be double the 7,817 officially tallied. Finley should have counted his lucky stars; according to the census reports, the towns of Sonoma and Cloverdale would supposedly lose more than a hundred people in the following decade, with San Rafael reportedly losing 400.

Were any of these census counts reasonably correct or no? Academic discussions of census problems concerning that era focus on undercounts of minorities, the poor living in dense big city slums, migrant workers, and so on. But looking at summaries for all California towns between 1900 and 1920, it seems that urban areas steadily marched forward while agricultural towns often curiously wobbled.

Part of the reason could be because those three census enumerations were taken in different parts of the growing season. The 1900 census was in June; the 1910 count came in April, and the 1920 census happened in January. Anyone connected to farming might understandably be elsewhere in January when the land was fallow and fruit trees dormant, which could explain the apparent anemic growth (or even lack thereof) in the North Bay between 1910-1920. As a specific example of seasonal tilt, I knew there were lots of people living in Sebastopol's Chinatown(s) at the turn of the century, yet the 1900 census reported almost no one was around - but census takers found Chinese ag workers all over West County that June, working in the orchards and hop fields. Thus at best, more than a few footnotes are demanded whenever any scholar uses any of these census reports to draw overreaching conclusions about Sonoma County development during the early 20th century. Pleaseandthankyou.

Both the Press Democrat and the Santa Rosa Republican commented Santa Rosa's census numbers were too low because the city limits were overdue for a greatly needed expansion. A letter-writer to the Republican commented Santa Rosa needed to be more inclusive of the west side and Roseland specifically should be annexed to the city:

Ten years ago the Roseland tract was field of grain and an orchard. Today it is a thickly populated district, not only composed of small farms, but many people reside there who enjoy all benefits of a city, and who come daily to the shopping district of Santa Rosa and traverse the streets, utilizing the rights of the taxpaying citizens...there are in the neighborhood of 3000 to 3500 people residing within a radius of a quarter of a mile west of the present boundary of the city of Santa Rosa.

One wonders what our ancestor would think to learn that more than a century later, Roseland still would not be welcome in the city.

PD editor Finley also complained that the city was unfortunate in having the census taken soon after huge factory fires, which threw many out of work:

The town's largest three factories were burned but a short time before the census enumerators began their work--the Levin tannery, the shoe factory, and the woolen mill...the fact that the census was taken just after those great fires cost Santa Rosa at least 1,000 population in the census figures.

None of that was true, however; the census was in April. The tannery/shoe factory fire happened in late May, and the woolen mill was destroyed in August. And the consequential unemployment estimates that appeared in the PD at the time were a fraction of the number he now claimed. Seeing as these events had occurred only a few months before his editorial was written in January 1911, it's hard to understand how Ernest Finley could have honestly turned the sequence of events upside down.

And although the PD editorial ended with a drum-thumping call to expand city borders ("We must have a Greater Santa Rosa!") it worked to the advantage of the town's ruling elite at the time to maintain the town's status quo, with its borders hemmed to the older and more affluent core neighborhoods. The newer subdivisions to the west and south offered modest homes for laborers, and voters from those new districts potentially could shake up municipal elections by electing men who were not players in Santa Rosa's political machine.

The history lesson takeaway is that the problems of 1910 continue to reach forward into today. Roseland remains an unincorporated island within Santa Rosa, certainly in part because of the same fear that its voters could have a sizable impact on city elections, which are still under the sway of a political bloc. Even the questionable census numbers linger as a problem, particularly in overstating the impacts of the 1906 Santa Rosa Earthquake; lower census counts create the misleading picture that the destruction and death toll were comparatively much worse here than in San Francisco (see discussion).

As a bonus, there is also transcribed below a lengthy letter from the census enumerator of Salt Point and Fort Ross, filled with humor and many interesting descriptions of his encounters.


Santa Rosa's neglect to make its boundary lines cover the whole city has put the town back into the same class with towns of only 7,000 or 8,000 population. The new census gives us but 7,817 inhabitants.

If Santa Rosa had done as it should and taken all the city into the city limits, the census would have given us the fourteen thousand or fifteen thousand to which we are rightfully entitled. But we failed to do it, and so for ten years every atlas and every geography and every gazetteer will hold misleading figures about Santa Rosa's population. There is no help for it now, and the fact is regrettable, for in many respects a town's importance is gauged by its census figures.

We have none but ourselves to blame--we and our suburban neighbors, who are denied the privilege of the city's free postal service by carrier twice a day, and who have the poor substitute of a rural mail service once a day that reaches some of them in the evening with the morning mail. Also they are denied the advantage of the city's fire and police protection, the city's free water system, the sewer system, express delivery, and the privileges of the municipal library. They are also denied the privilege of pointing to Santa Rosa on the census rolls with [illegible microfilm] which it certainly has but for which it gets no credit because the whole city is not incorporated.

The people of Santa Rosa must wait another ten years before the error in the census can be corrected; but the evil may be mitigated by the prompt action in extending the city lines to where they belong. In all reason, they should be coterminous with the lines of the school district. And again, in all reason, the name of the school district should be changed to Santa Rosa school district instead of Court House school district. There is a little district near town that bears the name of Santa Rosa district. At one time there was talk of putting those names right, but the fact that one of the districts had outstanding bonds called a halt in the proceedings. There certainly is a way to give Santa Rosa school district its right name to give Santa Rosa city credit for the population it actually possesses, and to make the geographical limits of the two identical.

There is another point that has counted against Santa Rosa in the census. The town's largest three factories were burned but a short time before the census enumerators began their work--the Levin tannery, the shoe factory, and the woolen mill. These disasters threw out of employment more than 400 people, most of whom were heads of families, and most of whom soon afterward left town with their families to seek employment elsewhere in the callings of their crafts. The tannery has since been rebuilt on a larger scale and has recalled its quota of the population and added more; the shoe factory has done the same; the woolen mill will doubtless follow later on, and a new shirt factory is about to open its doors here. But the fact that the census was taken just after those great fires cost Santa Rosa at least 1,000 population in the census figures.

Santa Rosa's city limits should be extended so that they will include all of Santa Rosa; and it is unfortunate that another enumeration cannot be made at the present time, when conditions are so much more favorable than they were when the count was made. It is probable that a more careful enumeration would have helped matters at that time. The future is what we must now consider, however, and not the past. We must have a Greater Santa Rosa!

- Press Democrat editorial, January 5, 1911

Why and Where Santa Rosa Should Have Increased

Editor of the REPUBLICAN:
It is with interest that many of the citizens of this community read the census figures just announced by the officials at Washington and published in your paper...

...Santa Rosa's population showed an increase of 1144 people over the enumeration of ten years ago, or a percent of 17. This does not seem quite as great in comparison with other towns as could have been possible. Many of the residents have been guessing at the amount the figures would show, but in many instances their imaginations outnumbered their real thoughts. These people did not calculate upon the number of people taken from this city by the great fire and earthquake of some years ago, and furthermore, that the incorporated limits of Santa Rosa were filed many years ago, and at that time the men framing the charts of the city did not figure upon the great increase that would, and was bound to come, to this fertile spot. When they bounded the city on the west by Santa Rosa creek, little did they expect that in time to come enough people would move to that section to start another city larger than the one of which they were laying the limits.

But nevertheless, such has been the fact, and today the corporated limits of the beautiful city of Santa Rosa do not include what they should and many acres of land and taxes and benefits to the people are being lost by not including this tract in the limits of Santa Rosa.

Ten years ago the Roseland tract was field of grain and an orchard. Today it is a thickly populated district, not only composed of small farms, but many people reside there who enjoy all benefits of a city, and who come daily to the shopping district of Santa Rosa and traverse the streets, utilizing the rights of the taxpaying citizens.

This seems unfair, inasmuch as they in some instances, conduct business in this city and derive their source of living from these stores. Santa Rosa is incorporated on other sides of the city for many rods more than on the west, but to that side have the greater number of people bought homes to settle upon. A very jagged outline was formed when the city limits were made, and many people who have had occasion to visit that section and see the great numbers of homes and the people who made that their abode, wonder at the men composing the body of people who framed the city's boundary, and why a more regular line was not made.

Now I come with an earnest appeal as to why this section of land, with its many people have not been added to the city of Santa Rosa? Is Santa Rosa ashamed of the country? Or is it afraid to undertake such a task? We have a body of men who are able to cope with the situation and it is certain that the law making body of this city would do something that would bring applause to the multitude and something that would make them a body of people not to leave office and become forever unknown, without some showing for betterment for the city.

The census just shown proves that Santa Rosa has not grown as she should and one of the reasons is that, with rough calculation of people who have made a study of numbers, and calculated upon many bodies of people and homes that there are in the neighborhood of 3000 to 35000 people residing within a radius of a quarter of a mile west of the present boundary of the city of Santa Rosa. Now this is one of the rasons our census enumeration has not increased as great as should have been, and it is earnestly urged that some steps be taken to ascertain the reasons why that section of land should not be added to the city.

In these districts lying on the borders of the town are two schools which are supervised and under the direction of the city superintendent, receiving all the benefits derived from the city taxpayers and being attended by the children of people who do not aid the city's treasury in any manner. Again of all the 3500 people they are without any modern facilities, such as sewers, free water, fire protection and improved streets. All these reasons are placed before the people and the question is asked why do not the city fathers make the addition. These people, in almost every case, are willing to become part of the city and derive the city advantages, but they cannot rise up in arms and demand to be admitted to the folds of the city.

Many other California towns have changed their city limits in the recent years, owing to the rapid growth of population, and it is now time that something was being done toward the advancement of the city of Santa Rosa.

- Santa Rosa Republican, January 6, 1911


According to promise, I make good to your worthy army of brightest, tip-top newsboys. From top to bottom, I am deeply in love with news paperdom. Kill off the newspapers and we would be in midnight darkness. Encourage them, and we save and glorify mankind.

My experience as a census enumerator interested myself, and I hope it will interest the newsboys and the many readers of the REPUBLICAN. So here we go.

It required some months to prepare to take the test, and when it finally came, the cart seemed to be hitched up before the horse, and I felt like a cock of hay going to the press. I told Mr. Emmett Phillips, our up-to-date supervisor of census, that I expected to get left, but little tons of instruction kept on arriving until I felt as weary as Mr. Ballinger. Then I received my commission, with the promise of four-fifty per day. Uncle Sam told me to be a good little boy, or I would be fined five hundred dollars, and maybe go to the calaboose. I was to gather no news for the papers, nor talk politics, and leave all rag-chewing to the goats. And boys, I swear I have kept the faith. I did not write down a single item, but the news gathered itself to me; and somehow or other, stuck all over me, inside and out, so I am not goung to give you the forbidden fruit, only just everyday facts.

On the 15th day of April, at 7:00 a. m., I cammenced [sic] work on my own family (by the way, the largest in Salt Point township), then I loaded up like a little Boer from South Africa and started to enumerate the greatest township on earth. Afoot, with the mighty wealth of a single one cent stamp, I started on my mission. However, as I closed the gate, there at the window stood my mountain of strength and success. It was the sweet, little watching, loving eyes of my baby boy, and his mother, saying, "Jack, be good and come back." The people from the first showed a willingness to answer all the questions, only, "Oh, mister," or "that is a sticker," was occasionally brought out. Away up here in the redwoods, I soon found the sound of the political pot. "I am not allowed to talk upon these matters," I said. "But you cannot prevent us," was fired back. In every walk of life men who can vote are brim full of politics. Some are for Debs, some are for Hearst, others for Taft. "Teddy will be out next president," "Bryan is the best of them all," and so on. For Governor Hiram Johnson leads with the Republicans, but Charles Curry is hanging up his picture in every home. Theodore Bell hold his own to the end.

Tie making is in full blast, bark peeling is well along, haying has commenced, the fruit crop is good, excepting prunes, the dairymen are in luck; thus from one end of the township to the other everybody is busy, not an idle man to be found. It is true I found five silent saw mills, but that is because lumber is cheap and so it is more profitable to make split stuff. I had found out in a  day or two that I must have a horse, or I would not make it in time. By now my one cent stamp had grown to be twice its value. Yes, every day proved beyond doubt that Salt Point township is the banner township for generosity. "What is my bill?" I asked at every house at which I ate, but there was no charge. "Glad to have you, old man; come again," was the reply. Back and forth I went through some of the finest forest to find tie makers in mountain and canyons. Just one thought I was the assessor and said, "I am only twenty," but he was soon able to say "I am twenty-three." Chinamen spoke in the inquisitive way. One young fellow ran away from the line number thirteen, but he came back, as I told him it was the luckiest number on earth. A few foreign born chaps took me to be a detective and thought I had come for them. I gave them my hand and their nerves were soon easy. Indians thought I was the Great Father's son all the way from Washington to give them a piece of land. Good old John Linderman at Salt Point told me to send him a dollar if I ever got my pay, but he doubted if I ever would. Still on I went, for I was charmed by seeing the country in all its glory. I arrived at night in Fort Ross, yet my welcome was so sincere and kind. All is well at the fort. By this time my letter day came and I explained to my good friend, William Morgan, the postmaster, that I did want so much to send a letter to Annapolis, but I only had a one cent stamp. Mr. Morgan furnished the other cent and I was so grateful, but I was broke. I received five dollars from my wife and you know pin money is the very best, and I felt like a lark and went singing over the divide, viewing the sleek flocks and herds of a a contented people. I found many happy children, but not enough of them. Happier would be the homes with them. Bachelors swarm in the township, but there will be less of them in the fall, as quite a number of them are moving from the danger zone to married life.

I only met one typical old maid in the district, and she could be heard to talk over two city blocks away. By now, I find Salt Point township as big as a county, and great as a kingdom, yet there is no doctor, no preacher, and no tinker living herein. There are eight schools and more teachers. There are four saloons and one church. Drunkenness is decreasing, as I only met two so far gone, no more than six with about seven fingers in the washtub. Only two desired to treat. I only saw three men play cards for money, and they had more gold and silver than there is in the bank of Annapolis. One young lady was uncertain as to just what class of breadwinners she belonged. After giving in the household I asked her occupation. She blushed, so I thought I would suggest she could take her choice. "Then," said she, "I would like to be a Gypsy." "Well," said I, "just become a census enumerator and you are it." You should have seen her beautiful pearly teeth, boys! They seemed as inviting as the gates of "The Holy City." I was afraid she was about to take up her bed and walk. Then I saw my wife and baby and said, "I must not talk." I found only two weak-minded children, and if they can be given the sun light and company, they are saved. I met one locked gate and just one wicked crank that threatened to blow up a family of sweet little children. Two people remembered seeing Halley's comet 75 years ago, Mrs. Rachel Throop and A. J. Lancaster. By the by, "Jack" Lancaster, with his crown of 80 and more years, is a very interesting person. "Jack" should have been a lawyer, and he once came very nearly being it. Mr. Lancaster had business in court at Santa Rosa over horses, and a bridle was produced to prove that it would not shut off a horse's wind, "and now if Mr. ----- will come forward, we will shut off his wind." "Jack" must be the only man in history that ever had such a chance in court.

I found no one in the township that kept a complete record of their business. Generally those who owned the most were the quickest to answer questions. I only went twice without my dinner, and slept twice like a rabbit, once my horse was sick, but I felt strong enough to carry him....

...During my travels through the district I was very anxious to get up in the morning to see the comet, and once I tried every door in the house, and I would have been trying yet if I had not been taken for a lock picker. I worked twelve hours a day and traveled almost 250 miles to do the work. At the end of twenty-five days I folded my portfolio and made for home, hoping and praying that the day will come soon when the electric railway will come to glorious old Salt Point so that I might take all the newsboys of Santa Rosa through the beautiful township by the sea.

I slipped up to the window, took hold of my wife's hand without her seeing me, as she was sewing, and she screamed, thinking she was being held up by a tramp, and so she was.

- Santa Rosa Republican, June 21, 1910

Even though his brother was 76 year-old, James Wyatt Oates was shocked to learn the old man had died that afternoon in 1910. He had always seemed invincible; countless times he cheated death during the Civil War, despite being on the front lines of some of the bloodiest battles - the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, Chickamauga, Gettysburg. He was wounded six times, the last injury costing him his right arm. Still, it was nothing short of a miracle that he survived his last bout of combat at all; when that lead minie ball destroyed his arm he was facing a hail of enemy gunfire, waving his sword and urging his troops to fight even though the battle was clearly already lost. Confederate Colonel William C. Oates always fought hardest when he was on the losing side.

William and James Wyatt grew close, but not until after the Civil War. William was 17 years older, more like a father or uncle than a sibling. He was hardly around at all while Wyatt was a child, and was approaching middle age before he apparently developed any kind of bond with his youngest brother. William had already lived a full life to that point, having spent his youth brawling and gambling before settling down to be a successful Alabama lawyer, then Civil War warrior, then lawyer again. He was unmarried until he was 48 (although he was the father of two boys, one of them born to a slave who was his domestic servant), but there always was one constant in his life - his brother, John.

There was only two years difference in age between John and William. They were inseparable as children, each other's best friend. They even looked alike, although John was always a few inches shorter. John also read for the law and joined William's practice in Abbeville and when the war came they both were patriots in the Confederate vein. John was quick to enlist and became a private; William delayed a few months to raise a company from among the local men, with himself as captain. They were apart only a few months in different regiments before John was posted to his brother's company and promoted to 2nd lieutenant.

The 15th Alabama Regiment saw action in the following year of 1862, but luck followed them; even at the Battle of Antietam - the bloodiest day of the entire war - fewer than ten of them were killed. Morale remained high. John's health was beginning to deteriorate, however. Sleeping on frozen ground during the winter of 1862-1863 had caused him to develop acute rheumatism in his right hip and leg that was getting worse by the week. In the spring of 1863 he even requested a desk job as it had become painful to simply take a step.

By the time they arrived at Gettysburg on July 2nd, he was in particularly bad shape. They had just marched all night, making 28 miles in eleven hours; John fell behind and William sent back his spare horse for his brother to ride. Besides his constant pain and exhaustion, John had a high fever, yet still defied William's order that he report to sick leave. "I will go in with my company though I know it may cost me my life," he said, according to William's history. It would be the last time the brothers' spoke.

William had been given command of the 15th Alabama Regiment only about two months earlier, and this would be his first time leading them into battle. He was respected by his troops for always being in the front of the fighting, but his habit of not faithfully following and/or understanding orders along with his lack of any military education repeatedly led them into trouble that day. While under an artillery barrage, Oates sent 22 men off in search of water, leaving the regiment short-handed (and without canteens) when the order to advance came. He disobeyed direct orders to advance towards a position on the Confederate line, instead fruitlessly chasing Union sharpshooters up a steep hill covered with boulders, both further exhausting his men and wasting valuable time. When an officer caught up with his regiment and found them on the wrong hill, Oates tried to argue he thought there was a strategic advantage in staying put. Oates' regiment was ordered to follow orders, now greatly delayed with the afternoon shadows were growing longer. Meanwhile, Union troops had beaten Oates in taking command over the nearby hill called Little Round Top. (The battle for Little Round Top was introduced in an earlier essay about William's 1905 visit to Santa Rosa, and can be explored in great depth at many Civil War history websites, such as this one.)

RIGHT: Artist's rendering of Col. Oates and the 15th Alabama at Little Round Top. Image courtesy U.S. Army CECOM Historical Office (artist credit not given)

For purposes here, let's summarize that Oates' many delays resulted in his regiment fighting uphill on Little Round Top, another rocky slope. The combat was bloody and continued for over an hour. On word that Union troops were also approaching from the rear, Oates ordered a retreat and his men began withdrawing for the night. Suddenly the Yankees locked bayonets and made a screaming charge down the hill, causing the Rebels to panic - "we ran like a herd of wild cattle," Oates later wrote with remarkable candor. Left behind were their dead and wounded, including John Oates. William did not know if his beloved brother was captured or dying or dead.

It was nearly two full months before William learned that John had been wounded by no less than six bullets. He survived for 23 days in a Union field hospital near the battleground before dying of blood poisoning. He was buried in his own casket in his own grave on the site, with a wooden headstone. By the time William revisited Gettysburg after the war, the marker was gone.

Through all the accomplishments that followed - four terms as a Congressman and two years as governor of Alabama, appointment as a brigadier general in the Spanish-American War - William Oates was haunted by Gettysburg and the fate of his brother. Biographer Glenn W. LaFantasie wrote in Gettysburg Requiem:

...[H]e was tougher than most men his age. What weighed on him, though, and sapped his strength...were his memories of Gettysburg, of the death of his young brother, of the ghost-like images of his comrades falling on Little Round Top, and of the lost opportunity that the battle represented for the Confederacy and for him personally. Oates could not escape the vise grip Gettysburg had on him, a grip that prevented him from ever gaining any real peace in his old soldier's soul.

He hungered to know every detail of what happened to John after Little Round Top and what happened to his remains. After much sleuthing, he found the Union doctor who treated John and was heartened to learn that the doctor's family was drawn to John and his last words were, "Tell my folks at home that I died in the arms of friends."

William became morose every July 2 and December 24, the latter being John's birthday. On Christmas Eve, 1900, he wrote a letter to his 17 year-old son attending West Point. "The night recalls to me the fact that one whom you never saw but who was dear to me was born on Christmas Eve night." On these anniversaries, he wrote to Willie, the memories of their last conversation flooded back, and how he had failed to convince John to stay out of the battle. That John had died a prisoner of war sickened him. "He was a noble young man and died for his country and in a just cause as he and I both saw it."

For the last fifteen years of his life, William fought to have a monument built on Little Round Top commemorating the 15th Alabama regiment. "[W]hen I am dead and gone, I want to leave a little stone on the spot where my brother and others were killed," he wrote in his application. He wanted the marker to include a wordy plaque that mentioned John twice:

To the memory of Lt. John A. Oates
and his gallant Comrades who fell here
July 2nd, 1863.  The 15th Ala. Regt.,
over 400 strong reached this spot, but
for lack of support had to retire.

Lt. Col. Feagin lost a leg.
Capts. Brainard and Ellison,
Lts. Oates and Cody and
33 men were killed, 76 wounded
and 84 captured.

Erect 39th Anniversary of battle,
by Gen. Wm. C. Oates who was
Colonel of the Regiment.

In early 1909, he happened to discover John's body had been exhumed in 1872 and sent with the remains of eleven other Confederates to Virginia for reburial. Excited that he was at last about to find a grave where he could place a marker he sought more details, only to find that John's general burial spot was again unmarked and lost somewhere amid a large section designated only as "Gettysburg Hill" in a Richmond cemetery.

Hearing that news, "Oates became seriously ill and bedridden," according to biographer LaFantasie, not specifying what his ailment was. His doctor suggested the cool mountain air in North Carolina might make him feel better, but he soon turned back home and returned to bed. Exactly two months after learning that John's grave had forever disappeared, William Oates passed away quietly.

You could say he simply lost his will to live, and surely that would be hard to dispute.

Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates by Glenn W. LaFantasie, 2006
The War Between the Union and the Confederacy and its Lost Opportunities by William C. Oates, 1905
John A. Oates: No Brothers Loved Each Other Better by Rosemary Pardoe
The Inimitable William C. Oates by Glenn W. LaFantasie

Was One of Most Beloved Men of the Entire South

General William C. Oates, a brother of Judge James W. Oates of this city, died at his home in Montgomery, Alabama, on Friday. Not only did the news cause great sorrow in the Oates household here, but it will cause sorrow and genuine regret to many Santa Rosans who had met the courtly southerner in his several visits to Santa Rosa, where he was the guest of his relatives, Judge and Mrs. Oates.

The deceased was a born leader of men, and all of his life has been in the forefront of progressive movements for his beloved south. He served from the start to the finish of the civil war, first under General Stonewall Jackson and after his death under General Longstreet. At the close of the war he had gained the title of colonel and was in command of a brigade of cavalry.

General Oates was probably the most beloved man of Montgomery, and one of the most prominent men of the entire south. Early in his eventful and energetic life he became a great favorite with the people there, and the close of his life found him receiving the admiration of all the people among whom he had lived so many years. Judge Thomas C. Denny of this city spent some days with General Oates and his estimable family during July, and he remarked when he returned to this city that he had never seen a people so united in the love and veneration of a man as were the residents of the southern city in their love and veneration of General Oates.

Thirteen times was General Oates wounded in the civil war, and in that eventful struggle he lost his right arm. As soon as he could recover from this wound, he was back at the front again, and the close of the great struggle found him fighting as aggressively as he did at the commencement of hostilities. General Oates enlisted with the Fifteenth Alabama Infantry Volunteers of the Confederate army, taking up arms early in 1861, and remaining with the army until the final close. He was in every fight in which the Confederate army of northern Virginia engaged from and including the first battle of Bull Run. In his thirteen wounds General Oates was twice severely wounded, one of these being the loss of the arm. Wounds had no effect on his valor and he would again go to the front as rapidly as he could recover and and fight aggressively. He was always a leader, and in every movement looking to the restoration and upbuilding of the south following the war, he was in the Vanguard. General Oates lost his arm in front of Petersburg in the fall of 1864, Death claimed him at the age of seventy-eight years that were crowned with many successes. Prior to becoming a resident of Montgomery, he resided in Eufala, Alabama, where he was born.

General Oates had many times been honored by the people of his native state with public office. In 1870 and the two years following he was a member of the state legislature; in 1875 he was chosen a member of the state constitutional convention; in 1880 he was elected to represent his district in Congress, and remained in the national legislature for the following fifteen years; at the end of that time he resigned to accept an election as governor of his state. He served as governor for two years, and then declined re-election. In 1897 he was again chosen a member of the state constitutional convention.

At the beginning of the Spanish-American hostilities the war spirit in the southerner again arose and he was appointed a brigadier general in the army, and he served until the close of the war.

Five years ago General Oates was given an appointment by President Roosevelt that was a fitting close to his activities of his earlier life. He was made a United States commissioner to locate and mark the graves of Confederate dead, who had died in Union prisons. He was busily engaged in this task almost up to the time of his death and to him it was a pleasant duty to seek out the graves of former comrades in a great struggle and see that they were given proper recognition.

For some time past it had been realized that the health of General Oates had been failing, but it was not believed the dread end was near. A short time ago he went to the springs at Asheville, North Carolina, but no change for the betterment taking place in his condition, he returned to his beloved Alabama to pass his remaining days. The news of his death was a great shock to Judge and Mrs. Oates here, for they had believed that their beloved relative was improving. They had intended making a journey to Alabama early in the coming spring to visit with General Oates and his family.

Four times General Oates and his wife and only son William C. Oates, Jr., crossed the continent to this city. They met many residents of this city and all of the people here who met them formed close friendships for the visitors.

Judge Oates is an only brother of the deceased, but three sisters survive, Mrs. M. J. Long of Abbeville, Ala.; Mrs. A. E. Linton of Galveston, Texas; and Mrs. L. Hickman of Jacksonville, Fla., In addition to these the devoted widow and son mentioned above also survive.

- Santa Rosa Republican,  September 10, 1910

The news of the death of General Oates, former Governor of Alabama, came as a shock to Colonel James Wyatt Oates, the Governor's brother. Governor Oates is very pleasantly remembered by many Santa Rosa friends who had the pleasure of meeting him here when he visited his brother. He was a fine man, possessing all the qualifications of the courteous, hospitable Southern gentleman. He was an eminent scholar and a distinguished soldier. Many sympathetic messages will be forwarded to the family from Santa Rosa.

- "Society Gossip," Press Democrat, September 11, 1910

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