It was racism so barbarous that it’s difficult to believe: An adopted child was taken from her mother and loving family because authorities deemed the child didn’t belong with a “lesser race.”

Such was the tragic story of Mah Lo, a nine year-old girl who was living in San Francisco’s Chinatown with her mother in 1909. Her Chinese parents had the paperwork to show they had legally adopted the child in 1904, but that didn’t matter once it was discovered that Mah Lo was really partly Italian (or maybe Syrian) and not Chinese at all. Probably.

(This is the first of two essays on 1909 media racism.)

The news surfaced during the sleepy dog days of midsummer when desperate editors seek any scrap of news, and this story had a sensational angle sure to sell plenty of papers. The San Francisco Call’s headline, “WHITE CHILD IN AN OPIUM DEN” began:

“Mah Ho, 9 years old, with great brown eyes round as the walnut rather than like the almond, and distinctly European features, was taken yesterday morning from a basement opium and gambling den at 54 Spofford alley, Chinatown, and is now in the juvenile detention home…the fact that she was facing the shame and degradation of oriental woman slavery aroused the police and mission authorities.”

Readers of The Call were also told the girl was “kept in close confinement in her prison basement, her only playmate being a puppy, and scarcely it seems, did she ever see the sunlight.” The Call’s version, however, was the very model of restraint compared to what appeared in the San Francisco Daily News: Their version claimed the child was “Secluded for years in a basement where no sunlight can enter, when removed to the street the child covered her eyes with her hands and cried out in pain.” Leaving no lurid description unmilked, her dog was also a “half-starved” mongrel and a “flickering gas light threw fantastic shadows on the blackened walls” as her rescuers descended into the “ill-smelling basement.” As the San Francisco outlet for the UP newswire, the Daily News’ version went out to newspapers nationwide, some using an obviously retouched photograph supposedly showing Mah Ho with eyes large enough and round enough to outbulge some of the goggle-eyed waifs painted by Keane in the 1960s.

In following days reporters continued trying to write about a child abuse/crime story (the girl was described as living in a “hop joint,” a “Chinese brothel” or “discovered during a raid on an opium den”), but the details couldn’t be twisted to fit the usual yellow journalism narratives. For starters, Mah Ho and her adopted mother, Tun See, deeply loved each other; the headline in the next day’s Call was “Little White Girl Longs to Return to Her Chinese ‘Mother.'” Mah Ho could speak only Chinese and was completely accepted as a family member; through an interpreter she told authorities she had “a Chinese papa and mama” and “before the fire [1906 earthquake] we lived in a basement with my papa and mamma and uncles and aunts and cousins.” Even the captivity angle fizzled out; the woman who took Mah Ho from her family admitted she knew about Mah Ho because “she had seen the child in the street.”

From court testimony reported in the papers and an article that appeared only in the Santa Rosa Republican, we can puzzle out some of Mah Ho’s backstory. She was apparently born in Geyserville in 1900 and named Alice. The correspondent to the Republican wrote that the mother’s name was Mabel Bell, and the census that year indeed shows a 16 year-old with that name living in the Russian River area. When her birth mother married a man named William Minto three years later, the toddler was then called Alice Minto. The marriage failed quickly and the mother disappeared. Little Alice was put up for adoption, and later told the court that she had no memories of her birth mother or pre-Chinese life.

Meanwhile, her soon-to-adopt father (called both Mah Juy Lin and Mah Lin Kee in the newspapers) began seeking a child to adopt. His wife Tun See was apparently unable to bear children; he later told the court that she had previously lost two children and was “delicate.”

The adoption process was far more lax than today – see an earlier writeup about the Salvation Army giving away a baby as an attraction for their religious service in Santa Rosa. Thus in early 1904 when two anonymous women showed up at the Children’s Home Finding Society in Berkeley with little Alice in tow, superintendent Rev. Henry Brayton knew he could place her in a good Chinese home.

Brayton later told the Call that he absolutely believed she was Chinese “on account of her dark skin and oriental features. In this belief I placed her with a Chinese family in San Francisco. I would not think of placing a white girl among Chinese.” Others weren’t so sure they could ethnically pigeonhole the girl. Even the woman who took custody of her wasn’t sure she was a “white child,” telling the Call, “I have seen many half whites, but never one that looked as she does. I would say that the child is an Italian Jew.” The Salvation Army captain who delivered her to Tun See thought she was Middle Eastern, probably Syrian.

The girl’s unusual looks led her adoptive parents to fear that Mah Ho/Alice Minto would draw attention from intrusive whites, as happened in an incident described by father Mah Juy Lin. A worker on Central Valley farms, he told the Call they were apparently detained and questioned about the girl, which led them to keep the child away from prying eyes as much as possible: “Once the child and my wife went to the country to see me and the child was arrested, and after that I never sent the child out very much.” In one of the newspaper’s more sympathetic followups, the Call reported “Tun See always said that if they saw her they would carry her away.”

And, of course, that’s what happened on July 28, 1909 in San Francisco’s Chinatown. A police officer, accompanied by an interpreter and Donaldina (!) Cameron of the Presbyterian Mission House along with a reporter or three, seized 9 year-old Mah Ho and took her away. Tun See showed them the adoption papers to no avail; she was told to bring the documents to the court hearing the following week.

One wonders what Miss Cameron thought when she and the other “rescuers” pushed through the door. The Mission had received letters (anonymously written, of course) claiming that Mah Ho was being “whipped, triced up by the thumbs and made to work at late hours of the night” – in short, it was expected to be the situation that Cameron often encountered. Now 40, Donaldina had dedicated her life to rescuing Chinese girls and young women from prostitution and slavery, personally leading the sometimes-dangerous raids. (Good profile here.) But instead of finding a victim needing to be saved, there was a frightened little girl with a puppy hiding behind her mother’s skirt.

Mah Juy Lin, then working on a potato farm near Stockton, returned home immediately and contacted the Six Companies (the umbrella Chinese benevolent society) for legal aid. Before the first court hearing, it was mentioned that he would be petitioning for guardianship of his adopted daughter.

But what of their adoption papers? Weren’t they legal?

Cameron told the Call that she saw a document from the Children’s Home Finding Society. “It purported that the society had investigated and found to the satisfaction of the officers that a certain Lin Juy was a fit person to have the custody of the child.” A Salvation Army worker confirmed “Brayton had investigated the Mah home and himself decided it to be a proper place for the child,” according to the Daily News.

Yet there was a problem with the document, Cameron said: “The name Lin Juy was written over another name, which had been erased, but which was, I believe, a Chinese name.” What this meant is anyone’s guess. Not Cameron, nor anyone else, alleged fraud – that in 1904 the girl was really entrusted to someone else. After all, Rev. Brayton had documented his home visit, and the Salvation Army captain delivered the child to Tun See. More likely the clerk screwed up the pinyin for Mah Juy Lin’s name and corrected it. What impact this had on the outcome of the case is unknown.

Before the next court date, another party announced they wanted guardianship. The new claimant was a Mrs. Ritchie of Healdsburg, who said she was the long-lost Mrs. Minto. Only now she said she wasn’t the mother of little Alice, but actually her first foster mother; she had adopted the child from the Home Finding Society, then forced to return her when the Mintos divorced. She was planning a third marriage to Louis Witschey of San Francisco, whose mother appeared in court on behalf of her future daughter-in-law. “Only God knows how  much I love the child” she sobbed over the girl she had never met. According to the Republican correspondent, they were all liars. Minto-Ritchie was indeed the mom, and this woman claiming to be Mrs. Witschey was actually the true maternal grandmother – and by the way, Mrs. Ritchie was a San Francisco dance hall floozy until recently. (Six gold stars if you followed half of that.)

The last hearing came exactly two weeks after Mah Ho had been taken from her parents. No Witscheys or Mintos were present. After a long conversation with Miss Cameron, Mah Juy Lin and Tun See agreed to drop their application for guardianship.

The only noteworthy events at the hearing was an outburst by one Mrs. Claudia Schad, who told the court she was a missionary among the Chinese. Schad demanded the girl be immediately be taken away from Cameron’s Mission House as no white child should be associating with other Chinese children living at the Mission. Cameron told the court it would be an “unkindness to the child to place her in a white family just now,” as she knew few words of English and was accustomed to only Chinese food. The judge said he would make a decision in two weeks.

The Call reporter at the hearing wrote, “The most pathetic feature of the case is the deep grief of the Chinese pair. When the child was brought to them she clung to the Chinese woman with every demonstration of affection.”

The curtain fell on the tragedy at the end of August. A wire service filler item circulated: “Judge Murasky orders that little Alice Minto, who was taken away from Chinese foster-parents in Chinatown underground den, be placed permanently in care of a white family.”

NOTES ON SOURCES: Articles from the Santa Rosa newspapers and other local journals are transcribed here when they are not available via the Internet. All six of the San Francisco Call articles can be read via the California Digital Newspaper Collection, and the San Francisco Daily News/United Press wire service stories can be found via the Library of Congress.

White Girl Has Lived With Chinese Family

Little Mah Ho, the Italian child who for six years was kept in a dark room in the home of her adopted father, a Chinaman in San Francisco, has been found to have been born at Geyserville in 1900. William Baker, a teamster residing on Cypress Alley, in the metropolis, has made a statement of what he knows about the child’s early life, and his knowledge of the child’s mother.

Baker declares that little Alice Minto is the daughter of Mrs. Mabel Minto who Tuesday secured a marriage license to wed Louis Witschey, of San Francisco and who was until 3 months ago employed as a dancer in the O. K. dance hall on Pacific street.

Since that time she has been living as Mrs. Mabel Ritchie in Healdsburg.

According to Baker’s story Alice Minto was born in Geyserville in 1900, and the woman who called upon Miss Cameron of the Presbyterian Mission and represented herself to be the first foster mother of the child, is really its own mother, and the woman who wrote to Judge Van Nostrand is the real grandmother.

“Alice Minto was named for her aunt, who was a girl of thirteen years of age when the child was born,” declared Baker.

“I have heard that the child was sold for $15. Mrs. Minto’s maiden name was Mabel Bell and in 1903 she was married to William Minto, an employee of the Chutes, and took the child to live with its grandmother at San Jose. She later disappeared and the person who probably knows most about what became of her is Mrs. Laura Thomas, afterward of the Salvation Army. Mrs. Thomas was engaged to be married to a cousin of Alice Minto’s mother and the mother asked her to dispose of the child. I do not believe the adoption story and know that at the time the child is claimed to have been adopted. Mabel and Alice Minto and their mother were destitute and in no position to care for another.”

H. W. Brayton of the Home Finding Society, admits that he knew the child was placed in a Chinese family and that it was done at the request of Captain Williams. He says that until the time of the fire he kept track of the child, and believed she was in good hands, but since then he had no knowledge of her whereabouts.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 5, 1909

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The problem wasn’t just that more inexperienced drivers were on the roads; there were also more drivers on the sidewalks.

Santa Rosa in 1909 was more car-centric than ever before. Streets connecting to the downtown core were the latest to be paved, and the Sonoma County Automobile Association, with James Wyatt Oates behind the wheel as president, was pushing for more and better roads. The town hosted the first California Grand Prize Race which was won by local boy Ben Noonan, driving a car from the local Houts dealership. Ads for the latest models began appearing regularly in the papers, and the Press Democrat began publishing a regular auto feature, which was really a gossip column strictly about cars and drivers.

While the main automotive issue of 1908 was enforcing the 10MPH speed limit, the challenge of the following year was avoiding reckless drivers. A head-on crash with a horse and buggy was narrowly avoided at a blind corner; not so lucky was bicyclist George Luce, who was struck by an auto making a U-turn. He was bruised and cut up, but his injuries were not as serious as first thought.

(RIGHT: This odd advertisement in the August 8, 1909 Press Democrat appeared a few weeks before a rash of reckless driving incidents) 

But the worst was the month of September, when it was apparently open season on pedestrians. One driver was arrested for using the sidewalk between Fourth and Fifth streets as his own private traffic lane, and another kept jumping the curb on Fourth street until his axle was bent. Asked why he repeatedly lost control of his car, the driver replied, “I don’t know the first blamed thing about a machine.”

Also: Should motorcycles be required to have headlights? Santa Rosa’s District Attorney wasn’t sure, although he thought they technically were “motor vehicles.”


From the looks of the police docket Friday morning, the impression might be got that the streets of this city are falling into desuetude and that the sidewalks are bearing the brunt of the traffic. It is not merely the fact that a man had been booked by the redoubtable Samuels for cycling on the pavement. It was that an automobilist had been arrested for running his machine thereon. While plowing up the cement walk between Fourth and Fifth streets, he was arrested by Officer Lindley.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 2, 1909

Many people of this city are of the opinion that motor cycles should be compelled to carry lights when being run after dark on the streets of this city. While the vehicles make considerable noise and warn pedestrians of their approach in this manner, it is argued that the light would prove to be an additional safeguard for the people. District Attorney Lea is of the opinion, without looking into the matter, that motor cycles are within the meaning of the law which provides that “motor vehicles” shall be equipped with lights after nightfall. It is probable that the city council will take the matter up and settle the mooted point.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 4, 1909
Machine Twice Runs on Sidewalk and Two Store Fronts Have Narrow Escape from Destruction

Some diversion was caused yesterday afternoon on Fourth street when an automobile suddenly swerved from the middle of the street and dashed up on the sidewalk in an apparent endeavor to go into Bower & Mercier’s cigar store. The driver, a stranger, backed off the sidewalk and got his auto on the broader path, and the next instant it was headed at full speed for the sidewalk again and the doorway of Charles Jacobs’ ice cream parlor. The machine seemed bound to take in a store or two. The last run against the sidewalk bent the front axle and the machine had to be taken to a garage.

When questioned as to whether the steering gear had gone wrong, the driver shook his head and replied: “I’m the man that got stuck. I don’t know the first blamed thing about a machine.”

He had better learn a few things or he may have to pay for a few plate glass show windows. Fortunately no glass was broken yesterday.

– Press Democrat, September 19, 1909
Complaint Being Lodged Against Auto Drivers–Some are Exceeding Speed Limit

Considerable complaint is being made regarding the carelessness of automobile drivers in failing to give warnings as the approach corners and to turning a corner where it is impossible to see anyone approaching from the opposite direction. In many cases also the speed limit is violated at such times, making it extremely dangerous for people, vehicles, and horses.

There was a narrow escape from a bad accident at College and Mendocino avenues about 6:30 Sunday night when an automobile driver tore up Mendocino avenue and swung onto College without slowing down or giving any warning with his horn. by his quick action as well as that of the driver of a horse and buggy both were brought to an abrupt stop just before they crashed together head on. The autoist had no tail light, another violation of the law.

– Press Democrat, October 19, 1909
George Luce Has a Very Fortunate Escape from Serious Injury Under Wheels of Automobile

What was at first feared to have been a very serious accident occurred on Fourth street at Mendocino avenue last night when Mervin Forsyth in an automobile ran down George Luce who was riding along the street on his bicycle about 8 o’clock.

According to the details learned of the accident Mr. Forsyth was coming on Mendocino avenue and started to turn down Fourth street towards the depot, but after getting partially out on Fourth street, changed his mind and swung around up the street. There was a wagon on the crossing and Mr. Luce, who was coming from the postoffice, seeing the machine turning west, swung around on the outside of the wagon, just in time to be struck by the auto. He was thrown to the ground and his wheel badly damaged, while he received numerous lacerations and bruises. At first it was feared he had suffered serious internal injuries, but he was picked up and appeared not to be seriously hurt. He was taken home and Dr. Jesse was summoned. Mr. Luce had a remarkable escape.

– Press Democrat, October 27, 1909

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Readers of 1909 Santa Rosa newspapers had cause to lament: The funniest man in town finally landed a real job.

For about a decade, Tom Gregory had contributed humor columns and wry news items to both the Press Democrat and Santa Rosa Republican. The editors here recognized him for the treasure he was – a fabulist in the style of Ambrose Bierce, a story-teller like Mark Twain, a satirical political commentator like Finley Peter Dunne – and allowed him a byline, which was a sure sign of his readership popularity. (A bio and full appreciation of Gregory appeared in an earlier essay.) Alas, newspapering pays beans even for the most talented writers, so at age 56, Tom Gregory accepted a position as editor and author of North Bay county history books. Rarely did his name appear in the local papers after that.

A couple of his 1909 articles have appeared here earlier: A colorful news item about a visiting circus and a (mostly) straight-forward account of a visit by state legislators to Armstrong Grove. A pair of other offerings are transcribed below, and are Gregory classics. One is the sort of tall tale sometimes called a “quaint” in old-time newspaper lingo, and tells about a boy who secretly makes a batch of taffy in defiance of his “health faddist” parents. The lad tries to hide the evidence of his crime and soon Dostoevskian complications ensue.

The other piece is clever political satire, but parts make no sense today without background. That week Santa Rosa was in the middle of its latest skirmish of the water wars, and as discussed here before, the town had an unfair and ridiculous rate schedule that charged not just on how much water was used, but on how it was used. It cost far more to turn your hose on a vegetable garden than a flower bed; a home turned into a boarding house paid $10 a month, while a water-guzzling factory like the tannery only paid twice that. In his column, Gregory pokes fun at this hair-splitting via a (somewhat labored) analogy to Ancient Rome: “When Rome was preparing to teach her language to a conquered world she didn’t say what class of building was meant. Upstairs, downstairs, hut or palace, all the same.”

There’s also a bit about the purchase price of a pig bought from H. M. LeBaron. Also at the time a deal with the state to buy Armstrong Grove from banker Harrison LeBaron suddenly became mired in controversy. A San Francisco newspaper published a story claiming that the old-growth woods were worth only a fraction of the price LeBaron was asking, and that led to several heated letter-to-the-editor exchanges between LeBaron and his old rival lumbermen. In one of these letters, LeBaron answered Gregory that he had sold the pig below market price because “it was a China hog and I don’t like China pig-tails.” Sad to say, that little racist yuk likely went far to improve LeBaron’s image among the section of the populace unsympathetic to bankers.

Something for Pure Food Commission to Decide

“Well,” said the traveling man, “I don’t know as I’ve got anything in my head this morning that will do for a newspaper story. Yes, there’s one, only its being true might more or less disqualify it. The story was suggested to me by an account in a ‘Frisco paper telling about a comet or a meteor, or a bunch of stars falling around in Santa Rosa the other day.

“It happened to me when I was a kid in a small town near Chico. From my childhood up I had always had a great propensity for eating candy. Now both my parents were pronounced health faddists and confectionery was of all dietary things what they most abhorred. Hence, about the only candy I ever managed to have access to was what I could steal out of the barrel containing that article in the village store.

“One day when the folks were gone to attend a vegetarian district convention in a neighboring town, I conceived the desperate notion to make some taffy. Having as accessories a cook book, a hot fire, a frying pan and the necessary ingredients, I did it. If I had murdered my little brother–I didn’t have any, by the way–I could not have been more careful in hiding the evidence of my act than I was in the circumstance in question. I cleaned the frying pan and wiped the mouth of the molasses jug–and in fact I had everything as it was save for the presence of the incriminating taffy. I didn’t have time to eat it. Therefore I determined to hide the same. To make the process easier, I rolled the sweetness into a lump about the size of an ordinary cantaloupe. To reduce its volume I rolled and hammered and compressed the thing until for heaviness, hardness and impenetrability, a chunk of reinforced concrete were veritably ooze in comparison.

“Then I interred it in the back yard, which however, I soon saw wasn’t going to do at all. For the neighbor’s dog–a measly cur–promptly dug it up. A brilliant idea next struck me. There was a crevice in our chimney where a couple of bricks were lacking. Here I placed the treasure, though not without considerable risk to my neck and some damage to my trousers. And here the taffy ball remained for many hours, screened from the sight of all save that of the all seeing sun.

“Now, the chunk of candy hadn’t got any softer from its brief stay in the earth, and the smile of the head of the solar system was bringing it around to a state of petrefaction [i.e. turning into stone – J.E.] pretty fast. For in summer time around Chico it’s so hot that a whole barrelful of water has been known to evaporate in a single day, and the barrel itself fall to pieces after the liquid is out from exceeding heat and dryness.

“Somehow or other the taffy roll didn’t nestle very securely in its repository and a sudden gust of wind coming up and shaking the chimney, the thing was dislodged, slid down the roof and hit the street. Now the street ran down hill for about a hundred yards and the taffy too, gaining momentum all the time. It finally stopped in a pile of sand, half burying itself therein.

“It happened that there was a bunch of old timers standing near the place where the projectile had spent itself. An acrimonious controversy in regard to infant damnation was abruptly terminated by the arrival of the strange object. To all of them it seemed that it had dropped out of the blue sky above them. One thought that it was some anarchist bomb or infernal machine that had been shot up in the air from a distance to fall upon and destroy the city hall, which was near by. There were no airships in those days and nobody took the object for a chunk of aeroplane machinery. Sentiment was about unanimous that it was a meteor or a piece of a comet or a falling star. They examined the ball gingerly and declared that the substance was not of this world. One old miner said that he had dabbled with every metaliferous material that the earth’s bosom afforded, and he was prepared to state unqualifiedly that this was something he had never encountered. Another observed that the thing looked just like a meteor that he had seen fall in Arkansas twenty year before. An assault was made upon the mysterious business with a hammer and chisel, and even with a pickaxe, but it couldn’t be so much as dented. It was finally voted to send it to the Smithsonian Institute. This was strenuously objected to by one of the party on the ground that it was his, as he had seen the same first. And he took it and has got it to this day on his parlor table beside the family Bible. He would no more dispose of it than he would the holy sepulchre if he owned the latter.”

 – Santa Rosa Republican, September 16, 1909


“I’m afraid I’ll have to load up my old wagon and move on,” said the Up Town Citizen, as he came into the REPUBLICAN office to advertise the sale of a dog. “This part of the earth is getting fierce. I settled here fresh from Chillicothy, Mo., a-flying from a violent youth, as it were, ‘long in the fall of ’49. A friend got me to come. Said this was sort of an annex to ‘Old Missoury,’ where a quiet, peace-loving, highly-moral, church-going person could find an ideal life. My friend could sling slithers of poetry words those days, yes. But now, I donno. Of course, I havn’t [sic] any family, and am not in the age when the wild mustard and johnny-jump-ups are bloomin’ all around a fellow, but I’m not receiving bids for bunches of worry, and I’ve got a few more years to use up before I die and pass back over the bridge at Kansas City. Guess I’ll have to wander to some other fireside, where taxes stop on the ground-floor and city parks grow without irrigation.”

After a “sumptuous feast,” to use a copyrighted term of the rural writer, of his mind on the real estate ads in the Los Angeles exchanges on the editorial desk, he put a new record in his talkophone. “It set me to thinking mighty hard,” said he, “when the Appellate Court remarked by wireless that our moral consciences were asleep, and other things too fierce to mention. That message when it sizzled through the air must have scorched the edges of the clouds. (I hope the Chamber of Commerce won’t put that in its next booklet.) I never expected to hear such a hand-down in California. It makes me once more long to hear the happy hogs grunting among the autumn acorns in the Livingston county river bottoms.”

After the U. T. Cit. had gone over the legislative proceedings in the morning papers, he again turned on the current of his observations: “And now, here following the great work of the last city election voter, following the narrow escape of the hop-yards and vineyards from ruin, following the Sbarbaro recommendation of low-proof claret in place of tea, the town has gone dry. Free water for domestic use limited, haunts the water-tax consumed by day, and is the dream mare that gallops over him at night. The word domestic is the storm center of the commotion. The only authoritative decision on the matter has come from Webster, (Noah) L. L. D., who found it among the literature of the Latins in the ‘domus’ house. When Rome was preparing to teach her language to a conquered world she didn’t say what class of building was meant. Upstairs, downstairs, hut or palace, all the same. It didn’t make any difference whether the Roman citizen had an office on the Forum or inhabited a fisherman’s shack down along the Tiber. Caesar’s domus was his house, and whether he lived there, wrote his commentaries there or planned the subjection of empires there, his tongue — the mother of all tongues, saith not. The law interpreters of Santa Rosa say ‘domus’ is a place where folks feed.

“I’m afraid the higher tribunal will again balk if called upon to scrutinize the ‘special legislation’ features of our water dispute. There doesn’t seem to be enough constitutionality in free water for one water-tax paying family which inhabits a certain kind of domus… [missing microfilm]

“Mercy!” said he, after a long breath-catching pause, “what a scolding poor H. M. LeBaron is having handed out to him! First, he was scolded for trying to sell the people of the state of California some nice trees. He was scolded till the scolders learned that they are really nice trees and are truly worth every cent he wanted for them. Then they began to scold because they had not been told how much money the Armstrongs are to get out of the tree-sale. Then they scolded until it dawned on them that it is none of their business. Finally, they began to scold because they did not know whether LeBaron got control of the trees by cash, by note or by option. Wot!

About twenty-five years ago while living near H. M. LeBaron’s ranch, Valley Ford, I bought a hog from him paying him $3.50 for the porker. It was worth $4, and for a quarter of a century I have joyed in the thought that I out-financed the Dairyman’s banker four bits, and might have increased my profit by reselling the shoat instead of eating him. It would have shown practical commercial foresight on my part if I had made LeBaron tell me what he paid, if anything, for the pig. It would have shed more public light on the transaction. I would then have known whether he got it by cash, by note or by option. It may now be too late for an investigation, but I would like to known. LeBaron, how much did you pay for that hog?

 – Santa Rosa Republican, March 3, 1909

A Single Cigar Costs Tom Gregory Five Dollars

Tom Gregory, the well known newspaper writer and man about town, is fond of luxurious living. Yesterday he smoked a $5 cigar and says the smoke was worth it. It happened in this wise:

At the beginning of the new year Tom, like a good many of his acquaintances, turned over a number of new leaves, among which were the promises that he would refrain from taking his daily toddy (or toddies) and that he would henceforth eschew the seductive weed. With great chunks of virtue sticking out all over his intellectual countenance. Tom dropped into the REPUBLICAN office and, while rummaging through the exchanges, told Perry Allison, the foreman, that he had sworn off smoking and would forfeit a bright five dollar gold piece if he was caught breaking this resolve.

Now, January had thirty-one long, wet, dismal days, and as the month drew to a close it was noticed by Tom’s many friends that he had become somewhat crusty of late, and that a few more wrinkles adorned his high forehead, and a few more crows’ feet had gathered around his eyes. Still, the odor of tobacco was noticeably absent from his breath.

Wednesday the tumble came. Tom had wandered into one of his favorite haunts, a local cigar store, mechanically his hand went into his pocket, and mechanically his fingles closed over a ten cent piece lying there. Mechanically the hand placed the ten cent piece on the counter, and also mechanically the clerk placed before Tom his favorite brand of cigar. He took one, carefully removed the end and applied the match. Puff (oh, what bliss), puff, puff, puff–suddenly Tom remembered–but it was too late. There stood Perry Allison beside him with a grin on his face a mile long. Tom didn’t try to explain. He just smoked. He hasn’t paid that five dollars yet, but says he will gladly, as the smoke was worth it.

 – Santa Rosa Republican, February 4, 1909


 H. A. Preston of the Historic Record Company of Los Angeles, was in this city Monday. This publishing company is engaged in getting out the histories of the counties of the state, and Mr. Preston is in the county looking over the field in preparation to start his corps of assistants gathering data for the Sonoma county history about the first of next month. The work will be illustrated, beautifully printed and bound and will be an interesting and accurate record of imperial Sonoma from the stirring pioneer period to the present. Among those who will assist in the work will be Tom Gregory, the well known local newspaper writer, who will edit the historical portion of the volume.

 – Press Democrat, November 11, 1909

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