Followups to some articles from the 1905-1906 Santa Rosa newspapers discussed in earlier posts:

* 1906 EARTHQUAKE: THE LONG CLEANUP The 1906 earthquake flattened much of downtown Santa Rosa, and it took an army of workers six weeks to clear just the worst of it. What happened to that mountain of rubble? Most of it was hauled away by train, as shown in many photographs of men with shovels standing next to flatcars (perhaps they would have done more shoveling and less standing around if the town had paid them more than $2/day, which was 50ยข below the prevailing wage for manual labor). But not all the debris left town; some was apparently used as riprap on the creeks, and hundreds of loads were used by Santa Rosa as fill for the approaches to the new E street bridge. As a result, the banks of Santa Rosa Creek were squeezed together by over one hundred feet, the first in a century of abuses to a waterway that had salmon runs so plentiful that fish could be caught barehanded.

* THE MAN WHO WOULD BE SIDEWALK KING There couldn’t have been a more dolorous figure in early 20th c. Santa Rosa than Joseph Forgett, whose love for opium led him further and further down unlovely paths. In 1905 he was charged with carrying a meat cleaver under his coat and stealing an opium pipe; nearly two years later he was the ringleader in a jail break. The items below from early 1907 document what he was doing inbetween, including fraud and petty theft.

* THE STREET KNEE-DEEP IN MUD Enough with the complaints about potholes on Santa Rosa streets; a little over a hundred years ago, there was a crater on Sebastopol Ave. that regularly sank buggies up to their axles – and considering that a buggy axle was between 16-26 inches off the ground, this was a Pothole From Hell, indeed. And even worse, it took the town over three years to patch it. The problem was apparently a feud between the town and the owners of a property at the corner of Boyd street, who refused to sell their 14-foot frontage to allow the street to be widened and drainage added. Until it was resolved in 1907, it was a frequent topic of hand-wringing at City Council meetings, with it even proposed that a bridge should be built over the hole.

* ANY ROBIN ON THE MENU? It may sound Henry VIII-ish today, but at the turn of the 20th century, songbirds baked in a pie, particularly robins, were considered good eatin’ by many. The group that came to Sonoma County in 1907 for robin hunting soon would face a change to the law that made it a felony to harm or deal in robins, meadowlarks and “any wild bird” (except for sparrows, bluejays, pigeons, and other birds considered pests). The crime was later downgraded to a misdemeanor.
New Structure a Complete Change to the Old One–The Approaches Are Filled In

Few people who have not visited the E street bridge know of the extensive improvements that are being made in connection with the erection of the new bridge. In a few days the bridge will be opened for traffic.

The bridge is a pile bridge with one span of forty-six feet. The approaches of the old bridge have been cut down so that the main bridge and approaches together are only a little over ninety feet. Before they were over two hundred feet. Hundreds of loads of old brick and debris–have been used in filling in the approaches so that the bridge will be on a level with the grade of the street.


– Press Democrat, January 13, 1907
Constable Boswell Locates Man He Wanted

Joseph Forgett was arrested Saturday morning by Constable Boswell, charged with having embezzled a sum of money from a physician. He is alleged to have represented to the physician that he was in the employ of Henry Von Grafen, and that he had a large sum of money due him. On the strength of this statement he secured some coin. Later it was learned that he had not been in the employ of Von Grafen at all.

Constable Boswell has been searching for the man for several days, and made two trips to the tent occupied by Forgett. Both times the officer was informed by Forgett’s wife that he was not at home. Saturday morning when he called Constable Boswell demanded that the door be opened under penalty of breaking it down and gained an entrance, and then he heard a whispered conversation inside. Divining that his man was in hiding, Boswell insisted on the door being opened and there he found Forgett on a bed with numerous quilts and comforts piled on him to hide him from view. He was ordered to arise and feigned sleep, but was rudely shaken and finally said, “Hello.”

Forgett at first tried to put the officer off by saying he would come down town later, but Boswell would not stand for that, and brought his man to the court.

Justice of the Peace Atchinson released Forgett on his own recognizance to give him an opportunity to raise money.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 17, 1907

Prisoner Essays Insanity When Deprived of his “Dope”

Joseph Forgett, a man sent over to the county jail yesterday for thirty days by Justice Atchinson found himself deprived of his “dope” at the jail last night, and he set up a howl and evinced insanity. His shouts were echoed by those of other prisoners and iron cell doors were rattled. The noise was heard for blocks and people hurried to see what had happened. The noise was soon silenced, however. Forgett’s wife also came to the jail stating that she had nothing to eat and nowhere to exist in warmth.

– Press Democrat, January 23, 1907


Joseph Forgett is again in the toils of the law. This time he is alleged to have stolen a sack of dried apples weighing more than fifty pounds, and when the warrant was sworn to for his arrest he was charged with a prior conviction. The officers claim to have information as to where Forgett sold the apples and feel certain of convicting him. Justice Atchinson set the case for hearing Friday and fixed the man’s bond at $300 cash, or $500 personal bonds. Forgett is unable to give bonds and is in custody of Sheriff Jack Smith pending his examination.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 27, 1907


Joseph Forgett will spend the coming eleven months in the county jail. This was the judgment pronounced by Justice Atchinson Friday afternoon. It was understood that Forgett wanted a sentence of sufficient duration to enable him to break off the morphine habit. During this time he will be kept away from the drug and it is his intention when given his liberty next year to refrain from its use. He entered a plea of guilty to charges of petty larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 29, 1907

The unsightly mud hole on Sebastopol avenue near the California Northwestern depot is soon to be a thing of the past. At the council meeting Tuesday evening the matter was taken up and decided upon a proposition made by Messrs. L. B. Henry and Cummings, who have secured an injunction against the city to prevent certain street work being done on Sebastopol avenue.

In consultation with Street Commissioner Decker recently Messrs. Henry and Cummings proposed that if the [illegible microfilm] grade Boyd street from Sebastopol avenue to the slough, a distance of 260 feet, they would give the city fourteen feet in front of their property. This will permit of the widening [sic] of Sebastopol avenue and the construction of a new sidewalk on the south side of that thoroughfare.

When the work has been completed and the street widened there will be ample room for teams to pass when electric cars are being operated. This will be good news to the people of that section of the city and to all who had to traverse that section. For some time past Sebastopol avenue has been almost impassable because of the mud holes there and under this proposal this will be remedied.

The council agreed to accept the suggestion and City Attorney Geary and Street Commissioner Decker were authorized to accept the proposed agreement, and when a deed has been given to the fourteen feet a resolution to grade and gravel Boyd street will be passed by the council. The hearing of the injunction suit brought against the city will be called Thursday and this will settle the matter without the necessity of the courts.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 23, 1907

The mud hole on Sebastopol Avenue has been causing all kinds of trouble lately. Thursday a wagon heavily laden with eggs was en route to the cold storage plant of the National Ice Company, and became stuck in the mud hole. The efforts of the team were unavailing, and the wagon could not be moved. Another express wagon was drawn up alongside the mire and two-thirds of the load transferred, and the team was then able to move the load of eggs. Recently an automobile became stuck in the mud there and other vehicles have mired down.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 8, 1907

Disgraceful Condition of Highway on Sebastopol Avenue Can Now Be Remedied

The disgraceful condition of the roadway on Sebastopol avenue, near the railroad crossing, is at last going to be remedied. The injunction suit which has held back the repair of the road for many months will be dismissed and at once and the property owners, Messrs. Cummings and Henry, have given deeds to the city to a strip of land in front of their property, in return for which the city will repair the street, grade and put down sidewalks, etc., and grade Boyd street so that a proper drainage for surface water will be provided. An agreement to this effect was reached and a resolution adopted at last night’s council meeting. Colonel L. W. Julliard, representing the Henry and Cummings interest, told City Attorney that he would dismiss the suit today.

– Press Democrat, April 3, 1907


Last Sunday a party of four members of the French colony in San Francisco came up to Sonoma to spend the day and do a little hunting. They killed a number of robins and one of their number in addition broke the ordinance regarding the discharging of firearms on the county road. The men were arrested and haled before Justice J. B. Small. They paid fines that aggregated sixty dollars and went on their way home to San Francisco hardly feeling as if the sport they had enjoyed had been worth the while.

– Press Democrat, January 24, 1907
New Game Bill Has Passed Senate And Will be Law

A bill has passed the Senate and is now before the Assembly for the protection of the medow lark and robin. It makes the killing of these or the robbing of their nests a felony. The entire section to cover this question is as follows:

637a. Every person who, in the state of California, shall at any time, hurt, hoot, shoot at, pursue, take, kill, or destroy, buy, sell, give away or have in his possession…

– Santa Rosa Republican, February 22, 1907

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