Here are the 1910-1911 updates on what happened to some of the more interesting characters we’ve met in prior years:
| TENNESSEE BILL Of all the drunken hobos who passed through Santa Rosa around the turn of the century, “Tennessee Bill” was clearly the Press Democrat’s favorite. He always announced his arrival in town with a window-rattling yell from the courthouse steps and ended his visit with a night or three in jail, where he would sometimes tear off his clothes and set them on fire, all the better for the city to provide him with a new set of duds.
His real name was Charles Cornelius Tennessee Goforth – apparently he felt the extra syllable in “Tennessee Charlie” was more work than it was worth – and other newspaper editors also thought of him as their pet hobo, so it’s not too hard to track his doings over the years. He boasted of having been in every jail in California and claimed he became a vagabond after his mother died, or maybe it was his wife. He sometimes said he had rich relations and was a nephew of famed statesman and politician Walter Q. Gresham, but although his mother was a Grisham she had to be a relation far many times removed, according to family trees.
In truth, he was born in February, 1840 to a Tennessee farmer, one of at least seven children. He first entered the record books in the federal census a decade later under the name, “Tennessee.” Ten years after then the census-takers found him as a blacksmith in Bodega, which at the time could have been anywhere between modern Sebastopol and the coast. In 1863 he registered for the draft as a farmer in Bloomfield.
Between the ages of about 25 to 50, he appears to have been a solid citizen. He registered to vote in 1867 as a farmer in San Jose and years later, a man in Ukiah claimed to have known him shortly after the Civil War when he was “a well-to-do and highly respected citizen of San Jose…[and] the husband of an estimable young lady,” so maybe there was some truth to the tragic tale he told. Certainly his fortunes turned; we find him next as a laborer in Fresno (1881) and Bakersfield (1890). Apparently sometime along there he was reborn as Tennessee Bill.
The first Tennessee Bill sighting comes from the Sacramento Daily Record Union in 1891, and finds Mr. Goforth already in full flower, infamous for shouting and claiming to have been in every jail. A correspondent from Ventura County wrote:
For the next twenty years, Tennessee Bill pops up everywhere in California. He’s said to be making his 43rd tour of the state in 1898, the same year he’s in Salinas shouting “Hooray for Admiral Dewey!” to celebrate the Spanish-American War. It was widely reported he died in 1897 and was buried in the Marysville potter’s field; shortly thereafter a reporter almost collapsed in shock to find him sitting in an Oakland jail cell. The 1900 census captured him, like a beetle trapped in ambergris, at age sixty in Cloverdale. His job was listed as a day laborer.
Tennessee Bill’s last recorded visit to Santa Rosa was in 1910, when the PD reported, “He has got somewhat feeble of late. Wednesday he was very quiet during his stay in town.” Still he kept moving: A year later, he was in Ukiah: “Yesterday was bath day for the renowned Charles Cornelius Tennessee Goforth. Tennessee Bill takes a bath every time he has to and after considerable compulsion yesterday was induced to enter the tub and perform the ceremony according to the rules governing such affairs at the Byrnes hotel” (Byrnes was Mendocino County’s sheriff).
He finally died January 31, 1912, and a sort-of obituary appeared in the Woodland newspaper: “…nobody who has ever seen him or heard his foghorn voice will forget him. He died a few days ago in the Santa Cruz hospital at the age of 76 [sic]. The wonder of it all is, that, leading such a vagabond life, he did not die many years ago.”
He was buried as “Chas. C.T. Goforth” in the Evergreen Cemetery, Santa Cruz.
| “RAMMI” Aside from Tennessee Bill, the only person to earn a nickname from the Press Democrat in this era was Italio Ramacciotti, a traveling salesman better known as “Rammi.” The PD loved to quote his tall tales, and in the 1910 item below it’s reported that he had received his nomination for the office of “Inspector of Lonesome Places.”
“My duties,” he told the paper, “will be to inspect all lonesome places. I shall put up my cards in places where people cannot see them and they will be lonesome, too.”
This was Rammi’s last visit to Santa Rosa; he died in 1911. On this occasion he was here to liquidate the stock of pianos at a music store on B Street.
| JAKE LUPPOLD You can bet that no one else in the history of Santa Rosa ever had a “15 minutes of fame” experience that outmatched Jake Luppold’s roller coaster ride of 1908. That autumn Luppold, an affable saloon owner who called himself “the mayor of Main street,” announced his automobile was cursed and he was planning to set it on fire. As cars were still somewhat a novelty and out of the price range of most people, it caused a nationwide commotion. People wrote to him begging him to donate it to charity or sell it them, denouncing him as a superstitious fool, and asking for his hand in marriage. It’s a riotous story told here earlier in “Bonfire of the Hoodoos.”
But only a few months afterwards, Luppold announced he was turning “The Senate” over to his longtime employee. “Mr. Luppold has not been in good health for some time past,” reported the Republican paper, and was planning to rest up at Boyes’ Hot Springs and travel. Then shortly before Thanksgiving, it was learned he had ended his retirement and purchased a saloon just outside of Santa Rosa at Gwinn’s Corners. (According to the 1900 county map, it appears Gwinn’s Corners was the modern-day intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Ursuline Road.)
It seemed like gregarious ol’ Jake was back in his harness. In 1910 he threw two “bull’s head dinners” and around five hundred people attended each. This was quite a big deal; these types of banquets were a great deal of work and never open to the public – usually they were held for members of men’s lodges or political parties. He certainly would have engendered great good will among the Santa Rosa citizenry for these swell shindigs.
Then in 1911…nothing. If any mention of Mr. Luppold appeared in either local paper, it was small and easy to overlook. Without giving away too much, we know Luppold again sets up shop in Santa Rosa a couple of years later, giving him a third (fourth?) act in the local drama. But what happened in 1911? Was he away or sick? Even then, there should have been some word of his doings in the social columns. (Update: The full story of Jake Luppold was finally told in “THE MAYOR OF MAIN STREET.”)
SO WHAT’S A BULL’S HEAD DINNER? A hundred and more years ago, the Santa Rosa papers would regularly announce a group was planning a “bull’s head dinner.” But aside from an occasional mention that barbecue was served, there was never a description of the food. It was never clear: Was “bull’s head” a little joke that the diners were bullheaded men, or did it mean they were literally eating the head of a cow? It was the latter, as it turns out (but that doesn’t mean the former wasn’t true as well).
This was a traditional Mexican dish known as barbacoa de cabeza – be forewarned that if you Google for “barbacoa de cabeza” you’ll encounter some images not for the squeamish – which requires wrapping the entire head in something and baking it over low heat. It’s still popular on Tex-Mex menus, but the modern method of cooking differs greatly from the traditional way it was prepared here a hundred years ago.
Today the objective is to mainly cook in place the fist-sized hunks of meat from the cheeks from a completely cleaned head: horns, eyeballs, brains, skin, tongue, ears and lips are usually removed by the butcher. The head is wrapped in banana leaves or softened cactus, even simple aluminum foil before it is baked in a regular kitchen oven or over coals in an outdoor barbacoa y horno (brick and clay oven).
The traditional version was a fiesta dish from the days of the Californios that involved baking the head in a pit barbecue lined with maguey (century plant) leaves. Little, if anything, was removed from the head aside from the horns – even the skin, complete with hair, was left on. The heads were packed in clay before being placed on the coals and buried for up to 24 hours. The skin would have been pulled off with the clay before serving.
Our modern barbacoa is more Tex than Mex; beef cheek is a lean gourmet meat, similar to brisket. The rest of the edible parts of a cow’s head, however, is cartilage and offal, and norteamericanos don’t particularly like eating organ meat or textures that might seem “gristly” or “greasy.” The old method of cooking would have left a large variety of lean and fatty bits and the result was said to be extremely flavorful. A miner during the Gold Rush described it as ” …the finest thing that mortal [sic] ever put between his teeth…its sweetness can only be dimly guessed at by people who have never eaten it.”
| HORACE ROBINSON One of the great con men to visit Santa Rosa in the early 20th century was Horace Greeley Robinson, who claimed to be a representative of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company and spent four days here in 1908, lecturing to packed audiences about the futuristic world where telegraph messages soon would zip through the air, sans wires. He sold shares in company stock to several locals at $20 a pop. One did a little followup sleuthing and found the stock was phony. He managed to have Robinson arrested and had his money returned; few, if any of the other investors suckers were as lucky. Robinson was found to have stolen the equivalent of a half a billion dollars today from people on three continents.
The Press Democrat ran a 1910 update (transcribed below) that recapped the story with the added detail that despite his lengthy list of pending charges, New York police in 1909 had released him from custody (!) and he promptly disappeared, not to be recaptured for almost a year. That was certainly newsworthy, but the PD overlooked the far bigger story – that federal prosecutors had figured out that Robinson was just a salesman and frontman for the infamous Munroe brothers.
Five years earlier, George and Alexander Munroe had been caught running a “stock washing” scheme. They had made an arrangement with a junior officer at a bank so they could borrow $60,000 in the morning and return the $60k to the bank before closing, with no one the wiser. They used that interest-free money to create a complicated scam where they ultimately bought millions of shares of a particular mining stock at a steep discount, then sold it “on the curb” (meaning literally on the street in front of the stock brokerage) at two or three times their purchase price. The brothers were living like Gilded Age tycoons when the bubble collapsed on them in 1904, forcing their company, Munroe & Munroe, into bankruptcy.
Widespread newspaper coverage of their doings followed. The illustration at right was part of a 1905 wire service story that appeared in many mid-sized papers, and mentioned they had a side business peddling stock in the Marconi Wireless Telegraphy company. No one apparently realized at the time that this was another scam.
With Robinson as their loquacious traveling lecturer and nominal partner, the Munroe brothers made another fortune selling phony Marconi stock. But this time, regulators were somewhat paying attention and they found themselves under investigation for mail fraud in 1907. The brothers fled to their homeland of Canada; Munroe & Munroe suddenly closed and was immediately replaced at the same 80 Wall St. address by Robinson & Robinson (the other Robinson was Horace’s dad, Louis, later arrested on the lesser charge of aiding and abetting grand larceny).
The most culpable brother, George, was arrested and brought to trial in the U.S. in 1911. He was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison, but not for cheating people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Marconi stock scam. He was convicted on charges that he and his brother, now going under the name of Hill, were selling stock in New York for the “United Shoe Shining Company” – they were actually convincing people to give them money because they promised they would soon have a monopoly on shoeshine stands. Their business would succeed, they told investors, because each stand would have a “manicure girl” available.
|S. T. DAKEN There was considerable buzz in 1909 when a landscape painter announced plans to build an art school in Santa Rosa; the proposed building was even featured in the “Illustrated Portfolio of Santa Rosa and Vicinity,” a book put together by the Chamber of Commerce and the Press Democrat to promote the town. Alas, nothing came of it, but the papers didn’t seem to hold a grudge against Samuel Tilden Daken for having big dreams. Three articles about his paintings appeared in 1910 and 1911, but these were his last years in Santa Rosa; by 1912 he was living in Sacramento apparently living in San Francisco and had an exhibit space in a Sacramento office building.|
“TENNESSEE BILL” FAR FROM DEAD, HE SAYS
“Why Bill, everybody thought you were dead and buried long ago.”
The Bill addressed was none other than William Cornelius Tennessee Goforth, known to all the peace officers and thousands of people by the familiar name of “Tennessee Bill.” He never fails to get a writeup in all the towns through which he passes, and is about as notorious in his meanderings and experiences as the notorious tramp “A No.-1.” On and off Bill has been coming to Santa Rosa for a score of years. He has seen the inside of both the city and county jails. He formerly introduced himself to the town by emitting some heart rending shrieks, especially when he had previously intercepted Mr. John Barleycorn. He has got somewhat feeble of late. Wednesday he was very quiet during his stay in town, and left on the evening train for Ukiah, at least he said he was going there.– Press Democrat, June 2, 1910“RAMMI” BOUND TO RUN FOR SOMETHING
ttalio Francesco Ramacciotti, the well known piano man, who is closing out the Baldwin piano stock in this city, is a great politician and feels that he must be up and doing something for his country. Yesterday he says he received his nomination for the office of “Inspector of Lonesome Places.” Directly upon the arrival of the notification he immediately called at the Press Democrat office to leave an order for cards.
“My duties,” said “Rammi,” with a chest expansion that was remarkable, “will be to inspect all lonesome places. I shall put up my cards in places where people cannot see them and they will be lonesome, too.”– Press Democrat, September 21, 1910GREAT CROWDS AT THE LUPPOLD BARBECUE
It is estimated that between four and five hundred persons enjoyed the barbecue given at Gwinn’s Corners on Sunday by J. J. Luppold. The meat was done to a turn and pronounced by many of those present as the finest barbecued meat they have ever eaten. Chef George Zuhart was in charge and he was much complimented. He was assisted by Assistant Chef Marble, Walter Farley, Marvin Robinson and J. Kelly. As usual “Mayor” Luppold’s hospitality was dispensed with a liberal hand. The feasting began about 11:30 o’clock in the morning and continued until nearly 6 o’clock in the evening, people arriving and departing all the time. The barbecue was served on long tables under the shade trees.– Press Democrat, June 14, 1910LUPPOLD GIVES AN ELEGANT SPREAD
Jake Luppold again demonstrated on Sunday that he is a price of entertainers. At his resort at Gwinn’s Corners he spread a feast of more than the usual excellence for his friends, the “natives.” It was a bull’s head dinner, and proved one of the most attractive feasts that have ever been given in this vicinity.
Hundreds from Santa Rosa went out to the spread, making the trip by vehicles of all sorts, automobiles, motor cycles and bicycles. They were extended the utmost hospitality by Mr. Luppold, and bidden to partake of the excellent dinner which he had prepared. Chef Phil Varner had carte blanc orders from Mr. Luppold to give the “natives” the best that could be procured, and the chef exerted himself to carry out these orders and please those who came to partake of the viands.
The menu was one that would tickle the palate of the most exacting and would compare favorably with the dinners of the best hotels of the metropolis. With an abundance of good things to eat and drink, the assemblage at Luppold’s had a happy time.– Santa Rosa Republican, September 19, 1910“WIRELESS” MAN AGAIN IN TROUBLEHorace Robinson, First Arrested in Santa Rosa on Complaint of J. S. Rhodes, Once More in Captivity
Horace G. Robinson, said to be the king of swindlers, who is alleged to have operated extensively in San Francisco and San Jose, is again in jail in New York, having been arrested there yesterday as a fugitive from this state. A number of Santa Rosans remember this man and his “wireless” very well.
In two years Robinson has seen the interior of many jails on this continent and in Europe. Somehow he has always managed to regain the fresh air and after his last escape a world-wide search was instituted, resulting yesterday in his apprehension in New York.
Robinson’s specialty, according to complaints filed against him, is dealing in spurious wireless Marconi stock. He took advantage of the growing importance of the wireless telegraph and it is alleged before detection left a trail of spurious wireless stock extending from coast to coast and over Europe.
He first got into trouble in California with J. S. Rhodes of Santa Rosa, who caused Robinson’s arrest and detention in the St. Francis Hotel. About the same time J. L. Glenn sued the promoter for $50,000, alleging that he had alienated the affections of Glenn’s wife.
In Santa Rosa it will be remembered Robinson got clear by the skin of his teeth. Rhodes not desiring to prosecute him after he had refunded the money.
Shortly after he was taken to Santa Rosa H. S. Beck of San Jose discovered that Robinson had sold him stock in a wireless telegraph corporation that existed only on paper. The Santa Clara grand jury indicted Robinson. He was arrested in New York July 31, 1909, but pending extradition proceedings was released. He did not return to New York.
Long before his arrest out here Robinson had been in trouble in New York several times. On April 30, 1905, he was arrested in New York after he had attempted to hide in a heap of discarded clothing. Little was heard of him until September, 1908, when he disappeared from Paris.
He cut a wide swath in the French capital. He was known as a man of vast fortune and on the oaken door of his richly furnished apartment hung the brass sign, “Banker, Foreign Securities, Marconi Wireless.” He was continually being arrested on charges similar to those filed against him by H. S. Beck of San Jose. The charge has generally been that of obtaining money under false pretenses.
Robinson is said to be the son of a minister. His manner is suave and his hospitality unstinted. He made friends quickly and easily gained confidences.– Press Democrat, August 25, 1910DAKEN RETURNS FROM TRIP TO PAINT MINE
S. T. Daken, the artist, has returned from San Diego, where he visited the Premier Investment paint mine. Says Mr. Daken:
“The Premier Investor paint mine is much greater than I expected to see. The work that is done on the mine consists of three cross-cuts on the ledge. There is one cross-out on the claim known as the White Hawk. This cross-cut os very high on the ledge, and was not started from the foot wall, but is run to the hanging wall. This shows up 75 feet of paint ore of several different colors with no waste…
“…Quantity and quality are there. This mine only lacks 80 feet of being one mile long, so I guess that is quantity. This paint ore can be mined for a very small cost, not to exceed 25 cents per ton; the milling is very simple and not expensive. There are a large number of colors which are lime proof which will drive the troubles away from the tinter and frescoer. There has been no end to this trouble of colors burning out, especially in new plastered buildings. I have had seven years experience in the frescoe business and know what these troubles are.”– Press Democrat, October 19, 1910S. T. DAKEN HAS RETURNEDBrings Back Beautiful Views of Lake Tahoe
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel T. Daken and family returned Tuesday evening from Lake Tahoe where they spent the summer. They have been gone over three months and while away Mr. Daken has combined business with pleasure, and has brought back with him many beautiful views of Lake Tahoe and the various other lakes and scenes about this famous summer resort.
In Mr. Daken’s collection of paintings are Donner, Webber, Watson, Cascade and Fallen Leaf lakes, Emerald Bay, Truckee river, Lofty Peak, Idle Wilde, the Walls of Mt. Tallac, Peak of Mt. Tallac, Moonlight on Tahoe, Devil’s Peak, The Five Lakes, and Redskin Point. The largest painting is of the walls of Mt. Tallac. Emerald Bay and Tahoe Turned to Gold in the Early Morning are most exquisite, and Mr. Daken prizes these above all the others. The latter was painted at 4 o’clock in the morning and the tints are most beautiful.
Mr. Daken made some thirty pencil sketches about the lakes and there is some excellent scenery shown. One wall of his studio will be devoted to his paintings made at the lake and they will soon be on exhibition. A number of his paintings are left at Tahoe Inn and all his pictures were greatly admired by people at the resorts.
The Walls of Mt. Tallac will be placed in the Flood Building in the Southern Pacific office in San Francisco on exhibition, and Russian River from Guernewood Heights, which is now being displayed here, will be removed to the Oakland office.– Santa Rosa Republican, September 21, 1910ARTIST DAKEN DISPOSES OF HANDSOME PAINTINGS
Artist Samuel T. Daken has recently disposed of a number of his splendid paintings. He has sold the one entitled “The Geyser Region” to a Los Angeles resident, and two handsome scenes from the Armstrong redwood grove to Senator Wright of San Diego. These pictures have been delivered to Senator Wright at Sacramento. In the near future Mr. Daken will make an exhibition of his paintings in Pasadena and at Los Angeles.– Santa Rosa Republican, March 24, 1911DAKEN RECEIVES TWO GOLD MEDALS AT EXHIBIT
Artist Samuel Daken has returned from San Jose, where he recently made an exhibit of his splendid pictures. These were shown at the San Jose Pure Food and Industrial Exposition and Mr. Daken was awarded two gold medals for his splendid display. One of these medals was for the best general display and the other was for the splendid picture “Russian River From Guernewood Heights.” This is the Daken masterpiece and has never failed to attract much attention and win prizes wherever it has been shown.– Santa Rosa Republican, October 3, 1911