The old Santa Rosa papers apparently reported every incident of juvenile crime on the police blotter (and 1907 was a banner year for our hometown hoodlums), but articles about domestic abuse were few, and rarer still were accounts of child neglect. For both newspapers to write about the tragic Cline family was unprecedented.

Although the four little Clines were allegedly reduced to begging for food, it’s interesting that the most serious charge made against the parents was using “profane and vulgar language in the presence of children.” And given the seriousness of the neglect, it’s absolutely amazing that the court released the parents on just thirty days probation.


Officers Boyes and Lindley were called to Madison street Wednesday night to quell a family disturbance. They found a man and woman drunk, with several children, living in filth and poverty seldom seen in this city. There was nothing but bread and wine on the table for supper and the neighbors declare that the children have had to beg food to keep from starvation. Both husband and wife were using the coarsest and most vulgar language toward one another in the presence of the young children. The man was given a stern rebuke and warning that unless he provided for the children and maintained a more respectable place both he and his wife would be locked up as common vagrants.

– Press Democrat, June 13, 1907
She And Husband Used Too Much Intoxicants

Mrs. Frances Cline was arrested by Officer John M. Boyes and Deputy Sheriff Don McIntosh Friday afternoon. She and her husband are jointly charged with being drunk and using profane and vulgar language in the presence of children under their control. The husband was not captured and the woman and her daughter made an ineffectual attempt to hide from the officers.

The parents were given a warning by the police several nights since, when they were carousing and there was nothing for their four children to eat except dry bread, while an abundance of wine was being consumed by the parents. The neighbors complain bitterly of the treatment accorded the children. The family live down on Boyce street.

When the officers called Friday they were not given admission, and Officer Boyes finally crawled in through a window and then admitted McIntosh. A search of the premises failed to reveal them until McIntosh struck a match and looked beneath a rude bed standing on boxes. There he saw a piece of a calico wrapper and called Boyes’ attention to the same. Boyes took hold of the woman and shook her, commanding her to come from beneath the bed, which she did. Following her was her daughter, who was taken in charge by a neighbor, while the mother was carted off to jail in the patrol wagon. The woman shed bitter tears en route to the jail and after her arrival there. She showed she had been imbibing. When the husband is taken into custody the pair will be given a hearing before Justice A. J. Atchinson.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 21, 1907
Pleas Of Children Save Them From The Jail

Mr. and Mrs. Cline, who reside in the northwestern portion of the city. and who were arrested Friday for neglecting their children and using profane language in their presence, entered please of guilty to the charge before Justice Atchinson. The pleas of the children saved the parents from incarceration and the sentence was suspended for thirty days and they were permitted to go on probation.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 22, 1907

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Early 20th century Santa Rosa had plenty of rules and regs on water use, and gave city workers broad powers to enforce them. As noted earlier, a policeman who heard water running overnight could wake up homeowners and require them to shut off the faucet; a city inspector could come into your home and write a $2.50 citation for every leaky fixture, and as shown below, firemen could enforce a city ordinance requiring all lawn and garden watering to cease when the fire bell rang. The “irrigation hours” mentioned here was another water regulation holdover from the last century; depending upon your address, homeowners could only water at certain hours in either the afternoon or evening, the starting and ending times announced by the tooting of the town’s steam whistle, not to be confused with the fire bell, which signaled that all water should be shut off . It wasn’t the Edwardian Era in America – it was the Pavlovian Era.

Ordinance Will Be Strictly Enforced–Meeting of the Fire Commissioners Last Night

There is a city ordinance that provided when a fire alarm is sounded persons who are irrigating their lawns shall immediately shut off the water.

At a meeting of the Fire Commissioners last night, Fire Chief Muther in ____ [illegible microfilm] to have his his men keep a sharp lookout to see that the ordinance is strictly obeyed.

There were four alarms of fire during the month. The most serious conflagration being at the old Ladies’ College building on McDonald avenue. The Chief called attention to the lack of water to combat this fire, explaining that the hydrant is on a “dead end” and the fire occurring during “irrigation hours” sufficient water could only be obtained for one stream.

– Press Democrat, May 22, 1907

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