Here’s an exercise in journalism ethics: Take a small farm town (say, Santa Rosa in 1907, with a population of about 10,000 people) and imagine there was a serious incident of food poisoning. At least ten people were sick enough that a doctor was called, one so seriously ill that “a hypodermic injection was necessary to restore life.” The source of the “Ptomaine poisoning” was immediately determined to be the shrimp salad sold by a popular downtown market.

So here’s the problem: Does a newspaper have a responsibility to identify the place that sold the contaminated food? If that shop was an exclusive advertiser in your newspaper, should the editor avoid mentioning the name of the business when reporting the story?

(RIGHT: Portion of Press Democrat advertising section, March 16, 1907)
Numbers of Persons Rendered Seriously Ill

Shrimp salad from Apostolides’ California Grill and Oyster Market was responsible for wholesale ptomaine poisoning in this city Friday night. Calls for doctors came from several directions and some of the poisoned persons writhed in agony all night long. Saturday afternoon they are all reported out of danger, thanks to prompt medical attendance, but are still suffering from the effects of the salad.

Mrs. M. E. Carithers was probably one of the most seriously poisoned, and anxious watchers remained with her all night long. When William R. Carithers was called to the bedside of his mother he found her almost pulseless and she was as cold as she will ever be in death. Medical attendance was hastily summoned and a hypodermic injection was necessary to restore life to Mrs. Carithers.

Mrs. Henry C. Cline also partook of the salad and was rendered violently ill. She suffered all through the night and was in intense agony. Her sister, Miss Mattie Stewart, was likewise afflicted from having partaken of the salad, and her suffering did not begin until after she had left the home of Mrs. Cline to go to her own home on Mendocino avenue. She had gone to drive to the depot to meet her parents who were returning from the Geysers, but the sudden illness prevented her moving at all.

Miss Hyer, the well known artist, was another of the residents who partook of the salad and suffered the baneful consequences. She was ill all night, but like the rest is now resting comfortably. She was treated my Mrs. Cummings, who reports that the patient had an awful bad night.

All of those who partook of the salad were seized with retchings and vomiting and suffered excruciating pains.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 3, 1907
Physicians Are Kept Busy Night and Day With Sudden and Serious Cases of Poisoning

About a dozen cases of ptomaine poisoning set the doctors’ telephones a jingle with emergency calls Friday evening, and kept about a dozen doctors busy all night long. There were more on Saturday. Shrimp and crab salads were the mediums of the poison. Among the sufferers were Mrs. M. E. Carithers, Mrs. Henry C. Cline and her sister, Miss Mattie Stewart, Miss Hyer the artist, Miss Cecile C. Septrion, William S. Hunter, and Jack Matthews. Mr. Matthews was the last one to suffer. He ate crab salad Saturday afternoon and his illness soon followed.

Mrs. Carithers was one of those most painfully and most dangerously affected…most heroic treatment was necessary to restore her to animation. Mrs. Cline and Miss Stewart suffered all night, as did Miss Hyer.

Miss Septrion and Mr. Hunter were also seriously affected. It was not until Saturday noon that their physicians declared them out of danger. Both are deaf mutes. Miss Septrion is supervisor and Mr. Hunter a teacher in the school for the deaf at Vancouver, and are here visiting Miss Septrion’s brother-in-law and sister, Prof. and Mrs. J. D. Martin.

– Press Democrat, August 4, 1907

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A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, particularly when a skulker tries to conk him with a bottle, or a pair of drunks engage in tag-team wrestling with the officer to prevent themselves from being dragged off to the pokey. And then there was the young chicken rancher who required four strong men to restrain him, crazed from his addiction to “fifty cigarettes a day, smoking day and night, with a little morphine thrown in.”

Officer Yeager Arrests Obstreperous Prisoners

Monday night was a night of fights for Officer N. G. Yeager. Every person he attempted to arrest put up a stiff fight and he was compelled to use force to land them in the jail, where they became sadder and wiser people.

The first fight occurred when Officer Yeager attempted to arrest Stella Dixon, a woman of the under world. She had been drinking and was roaming about aimlessly. When the officer took her into custody her friend, Jim Campion, attempted to prevent her being arrested. He took a strenuous hand in the affair and as a result he was placed under arrest also, charged with drunkenness. Officer Yeager was game, but he had the time of his life landing his prisoners, because both offered such stubborn resistance. The Dixon woman came here on a hop picking special during the summer and has since remained.

Later in the night Officer Yeager undertook to arrest George Woods, who was on a rampage from drink. Woods, who is considered somewhat of a scrapper, put up a fight the minute Yeager undertook to arrest him. It was a merry time the officer had in attempting to get the handcuffs on the prisoner. He finally landed his man, however. The patrol wagon was needed for the Dixon-Campion pair.

Officer Yeager believes it was the dampness of the weather that caused the fighting spirit to be aroused in these persons.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 10, 1907

Fifty Cigarettes Daily and Morphine Part of Diet That Drove Henry Anderson Insane

In lucid moments, after he had almost torn his cell in the county jail to pieces and made his escape by wrenching boards and tin from the walls. Henry Concord Anderson, a young chicken rancher from down Sonoma way, told a Press Democrat reporter that fifty cigarettes a day, smoking day and night, with a little morphine thrown in, were responsible for his condition.

Anderson for a time on Wednesday was one of the most wildly insane men that has ever occupied the padded cell in the grim building on Third street. It took Sheriff Smith and Deputies McIntosh, Reynolds and La Point to handle him, and finally strap him hand and foot to a stretcher. Then he became tranquil for a time. In order to secure him without using much force a little strategy was used. He was induced to thrust his hand through the peephole in the door and did so, and then the wicket was opened and the straps were put on him. Judge Denny and the Lunacy Commission convened at the county jail in the afternoon and Anderson was adjudged a fit subject for the asylum at Ukiah.

– Press Democrat, May 2, 1907
Coward Under Cover Hurls Bottles at Policeman Who is Patrolling a Tenderloin Beat at Night

Shortly after nine o’clock on Wednesday night a dastardly attempted assault was made upon Police Officer P. L. Wilson while he was patrolling his beat on First street, between D and E streets. Four beer bottles were hurled with considerable force at him by unknown cowards hiding in the darkness. Two of the bottles fell at his feet and smashed. One of them almost grazed his helmet. If it had hit him on the head the chances are it would have killed him.

The officer was walking along the center of the street. The first he knew that something was happening was when one of the missiles whizzed by his head. The next moment a bottle smashed at his feet and the splinters of glass showered over him. Two more bottles were thrown. He pulled his gun and speaking in the direction from which the bottles were thrown, said: “Whoever you are you can’t run fast enough for me.” There was no move. If there had been the officer was ready. An investigation was immediately made, but the bottle thrower were not to be found, undoubtedly having sneaked away down the creek bank under shelter of the darkness. The officer has two of the empty bottles that were not broken and the necks of the two that were broken.

The bottles were not hurled at Policeman Wilson in jest. He says they were thrown with too much vehemence for that. The aim was deliberate. The bottles were not thrown from any house. The throwers were in hiding near a big tree. The policeman has no idea as to their identity. Inquiry was made at houses on the street, and the people denied that they kept the brand of beer the labels indicated.

– Press Democrat, September 12, 1907

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Before the Internet got the blame, it was Sears & Roebuck that was accused of destroying our local economy. Even though downtown was still a dangerous construction zone, don’t you feel perfectly lousy for ordering those washrags from a mail-order catalog instead of risking your neck to buy them from The White House Department Store?

This is the first in a series of public service “booster” ads that appeared in the Santa Rosa Republican between 1907-1909. (CLICK to enlarge image.)

Proposes Some Things for Improvement of Santa Rosa


The matter of the relaying of the streets in places where trenches have been dug for sewer and water pipe work was considered and the council was requested to enforce the ordinance compelling the repair of the same. Also the secretary was requested to call the attention of the city governing body to the habit of displaying of buggies, wagons, and farming implements on the sidewalks in front of sale places, stores, or blacksmith shops.

The hiding of unsightly piles of brick or rubbish was discussed and the building of high board fences was suggested. It was also suggested that parties might be secured to erect the same if allowed to use them for billboards.


– Press Democrat, December 21, 1907

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