It took months for the Santa Rosa social scene to resume after the 1906 earthquake, and it came, in part, thanks to the Oates and the clockwork-like appearance of Anna May Bell.

When the quake struck, Mattie Oates was preparing for a big party that would have marked the first year in their fine home. As it turned out, the event rescheduled for August marked instead her 25th wedding anniversary with Wyatt.

Anna May Bell, something of a godchild to Mattie and Wyatt, was now 29 and an English teacher at the Los Angeles Polytechnic High School. She arrived around July 1 and stayed for about fifteen weeks, as usual; and per the norm, a gala party was held in her honor. It was a step down from the three parties held for her in 1905, but still remarkable, given the situation in town.


The elegant home of Colonel and Mrs. James W. Oates was the scene of a merry card party Wednesday evening when the Married Ladies’ Card Club was entertained. The apartments had been prettily decorated for the occasion and hydrangeas and sunflowers were effectively used in the decorative scheme, making a beautiful decoration with the blending of the many lights.

Miss Rena Edwards and Miss Irma Woodward took the ladies’ first and second prizes respectively, while to Mrs. C. C. Belden fell the honors for the lone hand. Ernest L. Finley and Attorney J. T. Campbell took first and second gentlemen’s prizes. During the evening delicious refreshments were served.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 9, 1906

The beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Oates was a brilliant scene last Wednesday evening when the Married Ladies’ Card Club were entertained there. The decorations were very simple. The interior furnishing of the house are sufficiently decorative in themselves, and Mrs. Oates showed her artistic taste in not overburdening the house with flowers. Mr. and Mrs. Oates, although the fact was unknown to their guests, on that occasion celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. But for this fact, Mrs. Oates would have waited until later in the season to entertain the club, when more of the members would have been at home…

– Press Democrat, August 12, 1906

Mrs. Blitz W. Paxton has the distinction of giving the first big party since the quake, and certainly no more clever society woman could have been found to set the example for the many parties that will no doubt follows hers now. On Friday afternoon Mrs. Paxton was the hostess at a card party given in honor of Miss Anna May Bell of Visalia, who is a guest of Mrs. James W. Oates. The beautiful Paxton home was artistically decorated for the occasion. Sunflowers and Amaryllis lilies with greenery being used in charming effect in the large rooms. The game was “500” and was played at twelve tables by a crowd of ladies who certainly presented a pretty picture in their dainty, cool gowns, each animated and playing the game with an interest and skill that brought about sharp competition for the beautiful prizes…Mrs. Paxton proved herself a very charming and thoughtful hostess. She was assisted in receiving by Mrs. J. W. Oates, Mrs. Bell of Visalia, mother of Miss Bell, the guest of honor, who was also present and received her share of attention.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 18, 1906

The departure of Miss Anna May Bell for her home in Visalia has caused sincere regret among the many friends and admirers she has in the City of Roses. Miss Bell has been a welcome guest in the Oates home for some time, and was, as Mrs. Oates expressed it, “like a ray of sunshine” to them, and the entire household feels her absence now.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 16, 1906

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