Okay, it’s 1904 and you’re told that your daughter has committed suicide in San Francisco. Even if there was no easy telephone connectivity at the time, couldn’t a message be sent via telegraph, or even messenger via train and ferry, to verify that she was actually, you know, dead, before buying a coffin and publishing the obit? ‘Guess not. Mabel surely ended up with an anecdote of legendary proportions, as well as a nifty coffee table. Also note that her name turned into “Bertha” in the headline.

Miss Bertha Wilson Appears in the Flesh to Check Grief Over Her Suicide

Miss Mabel Wilson, a very much alive young lady of Petaluma, whose parents reside in Ukiah, has the distinction of having had a casket made and all funeral preliminaries prepared for her. Just whether she is intending to keep the casket as a souvenir or not she has not informed her friends.

A certain Miss Mabel Wilson committed suicide in San Francisco. As Miss Wilson of Petaluma was at that time visiting in the metropolis, it was feared that she might have been the despondent one who committed the rash deed. From circumstances surrounding the case the Petaluma Miss Wilson’s sister was quite sure that it was she and the fact was published in a Petaluma paper. Heart broken Wilson pere purchased a casket in Ukiah and sent a Ukiah officer to San Francisco to procure the remains and bring them to that city.

In the meantime the missing Miss Wilson materialized and whether she was more surprised at being dead or her friends and relatives were more surprised at her being alive is a mooted question.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 30, 1904

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