Mattie and James Wyatt Oates surely expected the autumn of 1908 would be a season for farewells. The woman who was like a godchild to them, Anna May Bell, was to be married that October in Southern California, which would mean the end of her long summer visits with the Oates and the grand Santa Rosa parties always held in her honor. Before the wedding, however, the Oates were to have other visitors: former congressman and governor William C. Oates and family. The old general was now 72, unlikely to be able to make any future treks from Alabama to visit his baby brother Wyatt. And, in fact, he died exactly two years following his Santa Rosa trip.
Unlike the fuss over his 1905 visit, there was little mention this time of the family’s presence in town. Apparently there were no parties for them, no newspaper interviews. They arrived quietly, stayed about two weeks, and left, with Mattie and Wyatt following them as far as San Francisco. Mattie’s mother went along to their train departure, making her first visit to the city since the earthquake.
It might be worth noting that William’s son, “Willie,” arrived in Santa Rosa only a few days before his parents would leave, having spent most of his western vacation hunting in Colorado. In the original draft of his will, James Wyatt Oates left almost everything to his nephew; but three weeks before he died, he wrote a codicil that completely disinherited Willie, for reasons unknown. Perhaps if Willie had spent a little more face time with his notoriously mercurial uncle, Santa Rosa today would have an Oates House and not a Comstock House.
Former Governor and Mrs. W. C. Oates of Alabama, who are visiting at the James Wyatt Oates home on Mendocino avenue, are enjoying their stay in the City of Roses very much. A number of old friends have called to see them.– “Society Gossip”, Press Democrat, September 6, 1908
William C. Oates, Jr., is expected here either tonight or tomorrow to join his parents, General and Mrs. William C. Oates, who are here for a visit with Colonel and Mrs. J. W. Oates. The young man has been enjoying a hunt in the mountains of Colorado.– “Society Gossip”, Press Democrat, September 13, 1908
GENERAL OATES LEFT FOR EASTERN HOME
General and Mrs. Oates left here on Friday morning for the metropolis, and from there will start for their home in Montgomery Alabama. They expect to make several stops en route east, and will reach home about October 1. They were accompanied as far as the metropolis by Mr. and Mrs. James W. Oates and Mrs. Solomon. This is the first time Mrs. Solomon has been in San Francisco since the great fire. Many years of her life were spent there, and up to this time she has refused to go and see the ruins.– Santa Rosa Republican, September 18, 1908