There were very few African-Americans in 1906 Santa Rosa, and none have been mentioned yet in this journal because they were almost never mentioned in either local newspaper (more about that in a later post). But when a local bricklaying contractor misled Black workers from Los Angeles into coming here to break a strike, they were no longer quite as invisible.
Another incident that same week reveals even more about race relations in 1906 Santa Rosa. Newspaper coverage of a 10AM fight in a Fourth street saloon agreed on little else except Paul Anderson, a Black man, beat up a White man.
According to the Press Democrat, Anderson elbowed his way into a conversation at the bar before punching one of the guys in the face, with no reason given. In this version, Anderson was arrested and paid a $30 fine. Later that night, according to the PD, “Anderson again started out looking for trouble” and threatened a man who chased him into a drug store before others intervened.
The Republican printed Anderson’s account of events, which were quite different. Here Anderson, who apparently had recently moved here from San Francisco, was mistaken for one of the out-of-town bricklayers and the men in the bar demanded to know “whether he was going to stay here or not.” When Anderson said he wasn’t leaving town, one of the group took a swing at him and ended up bruised and bleeding after Anderson fought back. According to the Republican, a crowd of bricklayers stalked Anderson along Fourth street for the rest of the morning, the Black man carrying a length of pipe for self-defense in case they attacked. In this telling, Anderson swears out a warrant the next day against local bricklayer Fred Forgett, accusing him of being part of a group threatening him later that evening.
The scenario presented by the Republican is more detailed and plausible, even though their first article also reported that Anderson went to jail rather than pay the $30, which had to be an error. The Press Democrat’s short article reveals plenty of bias both in language (Anderson “ran amuck” and threatened a “small man”) and failure to mention any connection to tensions over the labor conflict. Anderson is a troublemaker. Period.
Yet the PD version gains some credibility by naming the cop who ordered Anderson to go home after the drug store confrontation, making it clear something else happened that evening — although we’ll never know exactly what. (My personal guess: Anderson probably sought refuge in the store after being chased again by a mob, which likely included Fred Forgett’s drug-crazed, cleaver-wielding brother.)
FIRST FIGHT IN LOCAL TROUBLES
Paul Anderson and William Rodger Have Encounter–Former Goes to Jail
The first trouble of a physical nature in the local labor controversy occurred this morning, when Paul Anderson, a gentleman of color, and a white bricklayer named William Rodger, had an altercation in a saloon on lower Fourth street. The white man got much the worse of the engagement, receiving a bad lick in the eye, which cut the flesh under that member, and another blow alongside the ear which nearly knocked the organ of hearing from the side of his head. Later Rodger appeared before Justice Atchinson and swore to a complaint charging Anderson with battery.
As usual, there are two sides to the story. Rodger declares he went into the saloon, and there heard Anderson making remarks that were disparaging to union men, and that some things were said to which he took exception. It was then that Anderson struck him, he claims, and his condition showed it to be true that something had collided with his features.
Anderson’s side of the story this morning was that the man, who was a stranger to him, being a San Franciscan, had accosted him, believing he was one of the quartet of colored men who came here from Los Angeles to work for Contractor Nagel, and takes the work that the union men had formerly been doing. Anderson declares that in answer to a question as to whether he was going to stay here or not, he replied in the affirmative, and that the white man made a pass at him. He acknowledges that he struck the man, but declares it was in response to an attempt by the white man to strike him.
Later Anderson appeared on the streets armed with a piece of pipe, with which he declared he proposed to protect himself. A crowd of the bricklayers were in the vicinity of where Anderson was all during the forenoon, and when the colored man wandered down Fourth street they moved in that direction also.
Chief of Police Severson, Officer Donald McIntosh and Constable Boswell were kept on the lookout during the morning and just before the noon hour told the union men to go away and let Anderson alone.
Justice Atchinson heard the testimony against Anderson, and sentenced him to pay a fine of thirty dollars or spend thirty days in jail. Owing to the low condition of his finances, Anderson elected to take his board at the county hotel.
The union bricklayers are much incensed at the treatment one of their number received at the hands of a colored man. It is probable that other troubles may ensue as the result of the importation of these colored men.– Santa Rosa Republican, March 22, 1906
Anderson in Trouble Again
Paul Anderson, a well-known colored man who has often been in trouble with the police, ran amuck again Thursday. Entering a saloon on lower Fourth street about ten o’clock he injected himself into a conversation that was going on and ended up by striking William Rogers in the face. Anderson was arrested and taken before Justice Atchinson, who gave him “thirty days or thirty dollars.” The prisoner paid the fine and was released.
Thursday evening, Anderson again started out looking for trouble. One of the men he ran into was David Lynch, to whom he boasted of what he was going to do and made personal threats. Lynch, who is a small man, took after Anderson and ran him into Dignan’s drug store, “soaking” him with a bar of soap he picked up at the door. Friends interceded, and no arrests were made. Anderson finally going home upon being ordered to do so by Officer Hankle.– Press Democrat, March 23, 1906