This article gets a prize for cluelessness (let’s call it the “Aside From That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Did You Like The Play?” award). It telescopes together three news items: a summer wildfire, a gunshot injury to a local man, and that someone booby-trapped a door with intent to kill or maim anyone who entered. By this account, the incident that caused the wound is little more than an unfortunate firearm accident, but um, isn’t having a gun rigged to a door the most newsworthy event, here? Shouldn’t the newspaper name the potential murderer? Report if the county sheriff and prosecutor will do anything about it? No followup either, apparently. After tossing off the revelation that the cabin owner set the deadly trap to specifically blast someone else, the closing about fire damage is the award winning touch.

Great Devastation Wrought by the Recent Forest Fires Over on the Coast Section

“Doc” Chambers, a man well known about town, returned here Wednesday afternoon from the Stewart’s Point county, where he had been at work on the tanbark. He brought home a gunshot wound in the groin, and says that several doctors told him that he would die as the result of the injury, but he seemed pretty much alive after his arrival in Santa Rosa.

According to his version of the accident which gave him the injury he says that he had left the camp on the Richardson place at Stewart’s Point to summon assistance to combat with the forest fires that had broken out. In going through the woods, he says that he came to a cabin where the teamsters and others are accustomed to call and get a drink. He called to the man who occupied the cabin to see if he was in, and then opened the door of the place for the purpose of getting a drink of water. He had no sooner pushed open the door when an explosion occurred and he felt the effect of having a deep hole torn in his limb. He ascertained that a “set gun” had caused the trouble and the charge with which it was loaded he had received full blast. He walked back some distance, he says, to another house and there his wound was dressed. Later he was given medical assistance in Guerneville. He says that the owner of the cabin had set the gun for another man. Chambers says that four of the trestles of the Richardson railway and much lumber, ties and pasturage were destroyed.

– Press Democrat, September 15, 1904

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Cars were rare things in 1904 Santa Rosa, and collisions were unheard of — this was the first mention I’ve found in the Press Democrat. Note that although the “Chaeffeur” was driving too fast to stop in time, the newspaper doesn’t chide the driver for recklessness, as it did a horse rider a few months earlier. Also: why that reference to a “noiseless machine?”

Enough was enough, however, and on Dec. 7, the City Council took up “the speed at which autos are run through the streets of the city and around corners,” and set the speed limit at 6MPH within city limits, despite the protest of auto drivers who said it was too slow.

Noiseless Machine Bumps Into Wagon on Fourth Street Yesterday

Mrs. B.S. Kennedy of Sebastopol was thrown from her wagon yesterday morning in front of Seibel’s store on Fourth street by reason of an automobile colliding with her rig, and the mules she was driving scaring at the automobile. She escaped with a sprained tendon and slight nervous shock.

The accident occurred while Mrs. Kennedy was about to turn her team around. The street was completely blocked by teams when Chaeffeur [sic] Shirley Burris came around the corner in his automobile. The mules becoming frightened, stopped and began to back and before young Burris could bring his machine to a stop it collided with the wagon. The sudden cramping of the wagon threw Mrs. Kennedy out. She was picked up and taken in the auto to Dr. McLeod’s office, where an examination was made and the bruises she had sustained were treated.

Mrs. Kennedy’s team ran around on Hinton avenue and were stopped by F. Marion Cooper. The only injury to the vehicles was the breaking of the auto’s lamps.

– Press Democrat, September 28, 1904

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A charming and unusually exuberant item from the editorial page. (Lou Dillon was a harness race horse that had set the world’s record by trotting a mile in two minutes the year earlier. James Jeffries was the heavyweight boxing champion at the time.)

For more, see this later post.

We have our Burbank, nothing can touch our hops. Lou Dillon was born and raised in this city, and now a Sonoma county boy wants to go against Jim Jeffries.

Oh, this is the greatest all-round county on earth!

– Press Democrat, September 15, 1904

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