Admit it: There have been times you’d like to chop your car to pieces – although Winnie Davidson clearly has more problems in early 1906 than just his inability to drive.
The euphonious word, “mahout” mentioned in the second story was slang for automobile driver at this time (lifted from India’s traditional name for an elephant handler), but maybe the writer was trying to convey that poor, mad Win was imitating the raspy “a-oOOgah” sound of early car horns.
DEPRIVED OF HIS LIBERTY ON A CHARGE OF INSANITY
Winnie Davidson of Occidental Alleged to Have Chopped Auto with Axe to Discover Why It Refused to Run
Winnie Davidson of Occidental, a young man who has recently been spending some time in this city, is being detained at the County Jail on a charge of insanity. He was brought over from Occidental this morning by Constable James O’Brien at the instance of Sheriff Frank P. Grace.
Davidson has been posing as a man of means, and spent his money with a free hand. He seemed plentifully supplied with coin, and among his purchases were an automobile and a piano. The auto was paid for outright, but the instrument was bought on the installment plan. It was the auto that probably led to his downfall and dethronement of his reason.
According to the story told by one of the unfortunate young man’s friends he purchased a horse last Sunday in Sebastopol, paying $125 for the animal. He was thrown from the horse, and concluded that electric cars would be safer. When he tendered a check to the conductor of an electric car and it was refused, he declared his independence of that mode of travel and purchased a horseless vehicle.
Last night the young man started for his home in the auto, and had some difficulty in keeping the auto going. He was assisted, it is claimed, to climb one of the hills en route to that place, and in descending another hill is said to have placed his feet over the dashboard, and letting go of the steering gear coasted down the hill. Then when the machine refused to go, it is declared that Davidson borrowed an axe and began chopping away at the sides of the machine to see if he could locate the trouble. According to the story he had chopped one side almost completely away and had begun to chop on the seat when he was restrained. Confirmation of the chopping portion of the story is lacking, but it is declared to be a fact by those who claim to be conversant with the case.
At a late hour this afternoon the young man was reported considerably improved.– Santa Rosa Republican, February 7, 1906
IMAGINES HE IS DRIVING AUTO
Win Davidson Sets Fire To Bedding In Jail at San Rafael
While in the jail in San Rafael on Thursday night, Win Davidson, the San Rafael youth who formerly resided at Occidental in this county and who was arrested near Occidental and on Thursday morning turned over to relatives from the Marin county town, set fire to his bed and when rescued from the flame and smoke he was taking a seeming ride in an automobile. It was stated in this paper the day before yesterday that Davidson had gone insane on the subject of automobiles. A dispatch from San Rafael describe his actions in the jail there:
“San Rafael, February 8. At 6 o’clock this evening the county jail under the court house looked like a volcano in working order. Dense clouds of smoke curled through the doors and windows, and a series of shrieks, toots, and whistles flew outward with the smoke. Win Davidson, an insane patient awaiting the morning train for the Ukiah asylum was responsible for the smoke and the noise. When found by Under Sheriff Liehtenberg, Davidson was sitting on a blazing mattress on top of his cot, where, oblivious to his surroundings, he was enjoying an automobile ride.
“Toot, toot, mahout, mahout,” would be followed with “Chug, chug, mahout, mahout,” all screamed at the top of the man’s voice. The fire raging in the mattress had no [concern] for him. The smoke only added to the realism of the scene. He would spring his body up and down on the mattress which, bellows-like, would pump forth the choking, blinding smoke. Through it all Davidson drove his imaginary devil-car as reckless of life and limb as any real mahout.
“The man was rescued and dragged from the burning mattress to the fresh air. The fire was stamped out and a double guard was established at the cell door. Davidson is a young man well known here, where up to a few weeks ago, he drove a local grocery wagon. About two weeks ago he went to Santa Rosa and Occidental to pay some bills for his mother. While there he was stricken insane and the first intimation his family had of his affliction was when a local contractor received a dispatch from Davidson telling him to bring a few shingles and come to Occidental. After this they heard that the young man had turned automobilist and was “mahouting” around Santa Rosa, where he got an axe and was industriously hacking his automobile to pieces when stopped by the officers. Davidson has always been a sober and industrious young man.”– Press Democrat, February 10, 1906