sanantonio-sm

THE SECESSIONS OF PETALUMA

Here’s the ultimate Trivial Pursuit question, Sonoma county edition: How many times has it been proposed for Petaluma to seize the county seat from Santa Rosa and/or split off to become the seat of a new county?

Recently I conducted a scientific survey of expert historians (I asked guests at a Christmas party, a few friends, some followers on Facebook and that know-it-all cashier at Trader Joe’s) and the consensus was that it’s happened two or three times. The correct answer?

Nine…probably; I hedge because there could be yet another skirmish or three that could crawl out of the late 19th century woodwork.

A couple were like war campaigns and lasted more than a year; others apparently went little further than a committee being formed or the passing around of petitions. Some efforts are difficult to evaluate because few newspapers from that particular time still exist.

While all of the schemes end up with Petaluma becoming a county seat, they are remarkably different otherwise. Sometimes a new county is formed, borrowing a bit of northern Marin (or not). Sometimes Sonoma county is broken up into three counties – four, in one proposal – and sometimes Petaluma is annexed to be part of Marin. A common thread is that Petaluma has more in common with Marin and points south than everything north of them in Sonoma county, which is hard to dispute; until the train arrived in 1871, it was easier for the Petalumi to get to San Francisco than Santa Rosa, particularly in winter.

Here’s a summary of the various proposals:

1860 Marin annexes everything south of Cotati
1861 Move Sonoma county seat to Petaluma
1865 Marin annexes everything south of Santa Rosa
1870 Create a new county from southern Sonoma county
1872 Divide Sonoma into four with south, north, central, and river counties
1883 Move Sonoma county seat to Petaluma
1906 Create a new county from N Marin + S Sonoma + coast down to Tomales
1920 Create a new county (discussed below)
1950 Create a new county from N Marin + S Sonoma + coast down to Stinson Beach

The 1883 plan was hashed out in the preceding articles and was the most rancorous, as Petaluma and Santa Rosa had agents fanned out all over the county urging – and maybe, paying – residents to sign petitions or counter-petitions. This attempt also highlighted how difficult it was to make such a sweeping change; this petition wanted the Board of Supervisors to allow voters to weigh in on the issue, but (as I understand it) the decision still would be ultimately left to the legislature. These rules would later become increasingly byzantine.

Although the Petaluma/Santa Rosa rivalry puts a unique spin on the matters here, there was an outsized prestige in being the county seat a hundred years ago and more; other communities had no choice but revolve around it as planets circle a star. Besides a courthouse it meant having all the county offices and the best professional services – lawyers of all types, major bankers, specialist doctors, etc. It also meant busy stores, hotels, restaurants and saloons along with the higher rents paid to downtown landlords who really owned the whole place. Those are reasons why Petaluma was willing to donate $100,000 in 1883 to move the courthouse there – and hey, maybe the local nabobs would achieve a bit of immortality by slapping their names on a prestigious building or something. After all, there’s also more than a dab of vanity motivating some of these plans.

Another main incentive that year was for Petaluma to dodge paying for a new courthouse in Santa Rosa. That was also the major objective of the 1872 petition, which asked the legislature to create Russian River county as well as new northern and southern counties as afterthoughts. This petition apparently collected a number of signatures in West County but was never mentioned by the other local papers so it obviously went nowhere. It’s fun to read, tho, because the author seemed to think he was appealing to Parliament – I can only wonder if he wore a powdered wig while writing this: “…respectfully petition your Honorable Bodies to consider and pass to enactment the bill offered herewith…” At the same time, he thought it appropriate to include petty gripes: “…the County Buildings at Santa Rosa are inconvenient and insufficient (with one exception, and that accommodates but one County officer).”

It’s doubtful the 1870 separation even made it to the petition stage but it’s uncertain because its advocate was the Petaluma Crescent, a short-lived pro-Democrat paper. No copies survive so we only know about it from comments that appeared in the semi-allied Santa Rosa Democrat. This effort was oddly specific that Petaluma needed to have its own County Hospital because the county wouldn’t pay for emergency medical care away from the hospital when “a man is shot or stabbed in an affray and unable to settle his doctor’s bill”. There’s quite a story behind that, I’ll bet.

Likewise we have an incomplete picture of the 1865 Marin annexation because no Petaluma newspapers from that year are (currently) available on microfilm or digitally. That’s particularly sad because this was the most interesting effort of all: Petaluma was circulating a petition that would take away everything south of Santa Rosa Creek – essentially, half of Sonoma county. It seems clear this was intended to be a kind of war reparation; as explored here, the Civil War ended earlier that year with Sonoma county more divided than ever, with Petaluma cheering the Union victory and Santa Rosa still rabidly pro-Confederacy. Noting the overall county voted against Lincoln in 1864, the Sonoma Democrat muttered bitterly, “If the Abolition [Republican] ticket had been successful in this county, last September, nothing would have been said, at this time, about division.”

There’s little to write about the 1860 and 1861 proposals, except the latter was cut short at the start of the Civil War – there’s some discussion of both in “PETALUMA VS SANTA ROSA: ROUND ONE.” Nor is there much about the 1906 attempt, except it was the first launched under the auspices of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce. The most memorable thing about it was the San Rafael Independent’s great pun in calling it a “hen coup.”

The financial and political backers of these propositions were never identified until the Chamber appeared, but there were sometimes hints. In 1920 the Press Democrat wrote the new proposed county might be called “McNear county” with George F. McNear’s approval, although it’s possible that was intended as a joke.

Of all the various proposals, the one in 1920 first looked like a sure thing. Not only was the Petaluma Chamber behind it, but this time there was financial backing (McNear, I presume?) for a legal team and Sacramento lobbyist.

The PD claimed “certain prominent residents of Petaluma who desire to see Petaluma made a county seat and a new county” convinced State Senator Lewis L. Dennett of Modesto to introduce SB 648, which would make it much simpler for a county to divide. (In fairness, there were then up to ten other communities in California where a county split was desired, the only other in the Bay Area being recently founded Richmond, which was the anchor for the booming western end of sprawling Contra Costa county.)

Directing the 1920 campaign was Homer W. Wood, editor of the Petaluma Morning Courier, and a “Committee of Fifteen.” Since this scheme involved land in Sonoma and Marin counties, their game plan was to present to the Board of Supervisors in both counties with petitions calling for a popular vote. The Supervisors were expected to refuse to call for the elections since the laws by then made it nearly impossible for such a ballot measure to win, requiring election results to meet certain approval ratios among “new-county” and “old-county” votes, acreage and population minimums kept for the “old-county,” and so on. Once they were turned down by the Boards, the plan was to ask the state Supreme Court to throw out the complex formulas and turn the clock back to 1907, when only approval from two-thirds of the voters in the new county territory was required. Easy peasy!

First, however, they had to come up with a name and boundaries for the new county. Many names were suggested, including Marisoma, Marinoma, Novato, Tomales, Bay Coast, Northbay, American Fertile (!), Chanticleer, San Pablo, Petaluma and San Antonio. They picked San Antonio because “San Antonio is a historic name, a Spanish name, a northern Marin name, and the name of the creek…” That lasted for two months before they settled on the name Petaluma county. See above, re: vanity.

The continually shifting boundary lines were clues that their plan might not be ready for prime time. During the two month lifespan of the San Antonio version the southern border originally ended just before Olompali State Park, then was snapped back to the existing Sonoma/Marin border. In the east it first did not include Sonoma Valley, but then went all the way to the Napa county line. Later the town of Sonoma opted out, so the border didn’t include the Valley of the Moon again.

Composite map of the proposed "San Antonio county" boundaries, Jan.-Mar. 1920
Composite map of the proposed “San Antonio county” boundaries, Jan.-Mar. 1920

 

They dropped the northern Marin component because the central tenet of the deal was that tax rates would be lower in San Antonio county, but when the Committee actually crunched the numbers they discovered the former Marinite’s taxes would actually go up. That was such a fundamental mistake it probably should have killed the project.

But an even greater snafu happened in August when the northern border was shifted to Monte Rio (the borderline now dropping south just east of Occidental), absorbing most of West County – no matter that the new county seat of Petaluma would be considerably farther away than Santa Rosa. Making such a substantive change at such a late date shows more poor planning, particularly since it meant that petitions signed up to that date were now invalid – backers had to scrap five months of work gathering signatures and start all over again.

The year ended, more months passed, and the petition was presented to the Supervisors who predictably rejected it. The Committee filed the planned writ of mandate with the Supreme Court and waited some more.

Finally in November 1921 – nearly two years after the new county was proposed – the court rendered its opinion: No, the Board of Supervisors wasn’t required to put the issue on the ballot. It was the narrowest decision possible, ignoring the question of whether the laws needed to be overturned or not. “As matters now stand, we are just where we were before we inaugurated the New County movement,” moaned the Petaluma Argus.

Courier editor Wood vowed to fight on, suggesting another writ might “force the hands of the supreme court” but that was that.

The last attempt to make Petaluma a county seat was in 1950, and came as a surprise to residents of the city of eggs. A small group of disgruntled Marin ranchers, a retired sea captain, and a “frequent critic of the Board of Supervisors” descended on the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce to make their case for a N. Marin-S. Sonoma county. Their gripe was that their area hadn’t “received enough consideration from ‘resort-minded’ Southern Marin county officials,” according to a story in the Mill Valley paper.

The new county would reach down to Stinson Beach and would be named “Drake,” “Tomales” or “Petaluma.” The group was in the process of forming committees.

Petaluma chamber president Ed Fratini told the paper the group was received with “open mouths and considerable amazement, but we listened with a great deal of interest and have invited them to return at any time.” They didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

ANNEXATION. – We are told on what we believe to be reliable authority, that a very large majority of the present residents of Marin county have avowed it to be their earnest desire that at the next session of the Legislature the county line of Marin should be extended eastward so as to include all that portion of Sonoma county lying between the present county line of Marin and Sonoma and the Napa line, and as far North as may be necessary to embrace Two Rock Valley, Big Valley, &c., thence on to the mouth of the Estero Americano, and that Petaluma shall become the county seat of Marin. That such an arrangement would be greatly to the advantage and accommodation of a majority of the residents of Marin, no one at all conversant with the county will doubt. A large majority of the residents of that county, either reside along and in the immediate vicinity of the present line between Marin and Sonoma, or in the northern and western portion of the county. To these people Petaluma is of easy and speedy access, and much nearer than San Rafael. Further it is the point where they transact all their ordinary business affairs of trade. That they should, under these circumstances desire the change, no sound unbiased mind can marvel. To the inhabitants of that portion of Sonoma thus proposed to be annexed to Marin, we believe from all that we have been able to learn, that the change would be agreeable and profitable, and from a similar cause. Petaluma is likewise their point of trade, (with the exception of those of the Sonoma Valley,) and to make it the county seat of Marin county would as a sequence greatly accommodate and benefit them. From present indications this matter will be laid before the Legislature at its next sitting, and it is quite possible it may even be before the people as one of the local questions to be provided for during the approaching political canvass. It may be well therefore, for such as have not already done so, to look this matter squarely in the face, and calmly, cooly, and dispassionately, discuss its features.

– Sonoma County Journal, August 3, 1860

 

The Reorganization.

We have patiently waited to see what arguments the Argus of Petaluma or Standard of Healdsburg would offer the people in favor of a change of boundary between Sonoma and Marin counties. Our contemporaries both favor the idea of ceding to Marin the major part of the wealth, territory and population of Sonoma, and as neither of them have adduced a single reasonable argument in support of the position assumed by them, we are forced to conclude they are actuated solely by selfish motives, that they desire only to establish in their respective towns a county seat, and in order to gain this distinction they would sacrifice the best interests of tbe people at large. But one difference seems, to exist between them on the subject, and that is as to the division line, the Argus proposing to cede four-fifths of the county to Marin, while the Standard would be content with donating a little more than half.

Outside of Petaluma but little has been done or said about the matter yet. A meeting of the citizens of that city was held on Saturday last. We learn from one who was present that the attendance was very small. The following are the proceedings of the meeting; it will be observed that McNabb of the Argus was bell-wether of the flock:

Hon. J. H. McNabb called the meeting to order, and after stating the object of the meeting, O. Swetland, Esq. was elected President, and Thos. L. Carothers, Secretary of the meeting.

G. W. Reed, being called for, addressed the meeting. Hon. J. H. McNabb introduced the following resolution which was unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That the citizens of Petaluma and vicinity are in favor of changing the boundary of Marin county, so as to include all that part of county lying south and east of Santa Rosa creek, so that the northern boundary of Marin county shall be as follows: Commencing at the mouth of Russian River, and running up said river to the mouth of Santa Rosa creek, thence up said creek to its source, thence south easterly to the Napa county line.

On motion of G. W. Reed,, a committee of three consisting of H. L. Weston, A. McCune and H. Meacham was appointed to report a committee of nine to the meeting, to take the necessary steps to secure the passage of an Act by the Legislature, changing the line of Marin county as in dictated by the resolution…

– Sonoma Democrat, December 16 1865

 

THE BENEFITS OF DIVISION. — To divide the County as proposed by the Argus, running the line at Santa Rosa Creek, will leave Sonoma county with a voting population of 1,500, while it will give to Marin 3,000 voters in addition to her present population. This would entitle the county of Marin to one Senator and three Assemblymen, while Sonoma would be represented by one Assemblyman. Again, the State and county taxes of Sonoma this year amount to $2.50 on the hundred. These added to the enormous Federal taxes paid by our citizens are no inconsiderable sum. Divide the county and incur an additional expense of transcribing records, removing county seats, the construction of new buildings, etc., and we will be called upon to pay at least one dollar per hundred in addition to what we are paying now And all for what? Simply to gratify the whims and caprices of a few disappointed politicians ot the McNabb, Cassiday stripe. Tax payers will do well to consider the responsibilities they are about to assume in petitioning for this change. If it is absolutely necessary that Petaluma should be made a seat of Government it would be better to change the present county seat than to ruin the county by dividing it up…

…If the Abolition ticket had been successful in this county, last September, nothing would have been said, at this time, about division. McNabb and Cassidy may attempt to ignore politics in the matter, but they belie their consciences whenever they assert that they are not actuated by personal political considerations in advocating this measure, and the people know it.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 16 1865

 

Unwise Agitation.

Contests concerning the local interests of different parts of a county are always of a bitter and unpleasant character, and therefore should never be undertaken without the strongest and best of reasons. This is particularly true of contests relative to the division of a county and the removal of the county seat. Nothing but the most absolute and imperative necessity, looking solely to the material benefit and accommodation ot the larger portion of the people, can excuse the agitation of such a question. In the case of Sonoma county this necessity does not exist; and yet we find a correspondent of the Petaluma Crescent in its issue ot Tuesday last, stirring up this strife in a boastful, unreasonable and intemperate communication. Without advancing a tangible reason to support his position, he demands that the county shall be divided and Petaluma made a county seat. This, we are told, must be done, and that hereafter the people of our neighboring city will support no man for office who is not in favor of making Petaluma “the county seat of a new county, to be comprised of territory surrounding her.” This idea is worthy the brain of a reckless radical politician, who knows that his party, being largely in the minority, has nothing to lose by breaking down party lines; but we are astonished to see it pass unrebuked through the columns of our Democratic contemporary. However, such a threat can alarm nobody, and we do not believe that our fellow citizens of Petaluma will give it their sanction.

Chief among the reasons (?) assigned by this enlightened correspondent for dividing the county and locating the county seat at Petaluma, are that sick persons cannot be immediately taken to the County Hospital, and the Supervisors allow no pay for “outside attendance” that when a man is shot or stabbed in an affray, and unable to settle his doctor’s bill, (it strikes us there is a good deal of physic in the communication) the unfortunate medico gets nothing, but it the party is arraigned before the Court, on a criminal charge, and cannot himself employ counsel, our legislators have provided a fund to pay an attorney to defend him. It is scarcely necessary to say this is stupid nonsense, and without any bearing upon the question. Petaluma is now within thirty minutes of the county seat; every tax-payer knows it would bankrupt the county for the Supervisors to allow bills for “outside attendance” on the sick; and finally, there is no provision whatever for the payment of attorneys appointed by the Court to defend impecunious parties.

No good can result from the agitation of the question of a division of the county and relocation of the county seat. It will embitter the minds of the people; array section against section; involve the expenditure of large sums of money, and prove a positive injury to all concerned. Petaluma tried it before, under more favorable circumstances, and signally failed…

– Sonoma Democrat, December 3 1870

 

The following petition far the creation of a new county is being circulated for signatures in the northern part of this county, and is being very generally signed.

To the Honorable Senate and Assembly of the State of California:

Whereas, It is not only the privilege, but the duty of a constituency to petition the law-making power to remedy any defect or make any change where it will be for the best interests of the community, we, the undersigned citizens of Sonoma county, therefore, respectfully petition your Honorable Bodies to consider and pass to enactment the bill offered herewith, entitled, “AN ACT TO CREATE THE COUNTY OF RUSSIAN RIVER AND DEFINE THE BOUNDARIES THEREOF,” for the reasons that follow, to-wit:

1. That the great extent of the present County of Sonoma renders it exceedingly inconvenient and expensive for citizens of remote parts of the County to visit the County Seat when required to do so by business or imperative legal summons.

2. That the great distance to be traveled in reaching the different parts of the County of Sonoma, with its present boundaries, greatly increases the cost of service of all processes of law over what the cost of such processes would be in the said proposed new Counties.

3. That the towns of Healdsburg and Petaluma are geographically, as well as by established lines of travel, the centers of the proposed new Counties, and easy of access from all parts thereof.

4. That the County Buildings at Santa Rosa are inconvenient and insufficient (with one exception, and that accommodates but one County officer), and in a short time must be replaced by new buildings at large expense to the County, whereas the expense of County Buildings for the proposed new Counties would be borne in great part by the voluntary contributions of tha citizens of Healdsburg and Petaluma.

5. That, after the proposed division shall be made, the smaller of the two Counties will be more extensive in area, greater in natural resources, and richer in assessable property than any one of many other Counties of California; and in population will be greater than any of thirty-four other Counties of the State.

6. That the vast extent of the County of Sonoma, as now existing (equal to that of the State of Rhode island), the expense and inconvenience of necessary journeys to the present County Seat, and the rapid growth of the County in wealth and population, have caused the almost unanimous opinion among its citizens that sooner or later a division of the county will be an imperative necessity; and it is therefore for the best interest of the whole people of the County that the division be made before new County Buildings shall be erected at the present County Seat at a great expenditure of money.

[Note. — Many of the undersigned, through misconception of the facts, were induced to sign a “Remonstrance” against the proposed creation of a new County, long before the circulation of this or any similar Petition.]

– Russian River Flag, February 1, 1872

 

NEW COUNTY MEETING HELD

Pursuant to a call issued by J. L. Camm of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce, upon request of a number of prominent Petalumans, a meeting of local citizens was held at the city hall there Friday evening for the purpose of discussing the advisability of inaugurating a “New County” movement. The Council chambers were well filled and the meeting was called to order by Mr. Camm. who stated the object and outlined the proposed new county plan. The project, as stated, was to form a new county, with Petaluma as the county seat, by taking that portion of Sonoma county south from a point north of Sonoma, including Penngrove, Bloomfield, Valley Ford and Bodega, and by taking that portion of Marin county lying north of a straight line running westerly from San Antonio creek to the ocean including the town of Tomales…

– Petaluma Argus, June 30, 1906

 

NEW COUNTY DIVISION PLAN
PETALUMA IS TO ATTACK LEGALITY OF PRESENT LAW

Petaluma is again planning to divide the county. The scheme has been quietly working for some time, and at a meeting to be held there on Wednesday evening of next week the plans of its promoters will be formally announced.

The present plan differs from the last one in that “full publicity” is to be the watchword.

During the closing days of the last session of the state legislature. attention was directed to a mysterious bill introduced by a representative from Los Angeles county simplifying the method by which counties might be divided. Upon investigation, the real sponsors of the measure were found to be certain prominent residents of Petaluma who desire to see Petaluma made a county seat and a new county formed out of the southern part of Sonoma county and the northern part of Marin.

The strong light of publicity directed toward the measure resulted in its defeat, and it was generally believed that nothing more would be heard of county division, at least for some time to come.

But it now appears that following the defeat of the measure here referred to, advocates of the plan to divide the county soon got to work in an effort to see what else could be done.

They consulted an attorney, who is said to have advised them that, in his opinion, the present law governing the division of counties in this state is unconstitutional in that it carries no enacting clause.

The present plan, therefore, is to attack the constitutionality of the present law and if the attack results successfully the old law will prevail.

The difference is that under the old law, only those desiring to form a new county have the right to vote on the proposition, while under the law as it now stands residents of the entire territory affected are allowed a vote.

In other words, if the present law is set aside only those living in the southern portion of Sonoma county and in the northern part of Marin, will have a right to vote on the question of dividing these counties and establishing a new one. And on the other hand, if the present law be upheld all the residents of Sonoma and Marin counties will have the right to vote on the proposition.

Present plans have not yet developed to a point where a name for the proposed new county has been agreed upon. It is understood, however, that “Petaluma county” is quite generally favored.

When the matter was under discussion before, George F. McNear, at one of the meetings, is said to have asked. ”What are you going to call this county?”

“We will call it McNear county, if you say so,” some one replied. “I have lived in Sonoma county a long time,” Mr. McNear is said to have remarked, “and am not sure that I would care to live in a county known by any other name.”

Advocates of the proposed new county will base their appeal upon the argument that better and more economical government can be obtained in a small county than in a large one. They will also contend that the population of Sonoma and Marin counties is increasing rapidly, and that the establishment of a new county government will not materially increase the rate of taxation in the territory affected. They contend that a good portion of northern Marin county already does business in Petaluma and that residents of that territory find it inconvenient to transact their private business in one place and their public business somewhere else.

There seems to be no question but that a determined effort is to be made to secure a division of the county along the lines above indicated, and that the constitutionality of the present law governing county division in this state will play an important part in determining the outcome. If the entire territory affected either one way or the other is permitted to vote on the question, there is little likelihood that the proposed new county will be established. If the people of Petaluma, southern Sonoma and northern Marin counties are given the entire say, however, the result may be different.

– Press Democrat, January 17 1920

 

CITIZENS MOVE TO FORM NEW COUNTY

Is the present county division of this state unconstitutional? Will the Supreme Court so declare?

Upon the answer to the foregoing questions hangs the fate of the proposition of creating a new county by taking certain territory from Sonoma and Marin counties. If the Supreme Court shall, when the time comes, declare the county division law unconstitutional, then an election will be held to ascertain the will of the people residing in the new-county territory. If the Supreme Court decides the law IS constitutional, then some other method of acquiring a new county will have to be adopted.

The present law requires a sixty-five per cent vote in new-county territory and, in addition, a fifty percent vote in old-county territory not included in the new county. Under such a law, division of counties is ninety-nine and nine-tenths per cent impossible. Should this law be declared unconstitutional, the law of 1907 would be restored. Under that law, a sixty-five per cent vote in new-county territory would be sufficient without a vote in old-county territory.

Three local attorneys and some of the best constitutional lawyers in the state have submitted opinions to the local new-county committee, which has been in existence for over one year, that the present county division law will be held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court if the matter is presented in good faith by the people desiring to create a new county.

At a meeting of citizens interested in the formation of a new county, with Petaluma as the county seat, held at the Fraternal Brotherhood hall on Wednesday evening, the foregoing situation was fully set forth by various speakers, after which, by unanimous vote, it was decided to proceed with the new-county plans so as to present the matter, in good faith, to the Supreme Court. In order to accomplish this result, petitions for the formation of the new county, signed by fifty per cent of the voters residing in the new-county, will be presented to the boards of supervisors of Sonoma and Marin counties. The boards of supervisors cannot do otherwise than refuse to call the elections prayed for in these petitions. The petitioners will then go to the Supreme Court on mandamus proceedings to compel the boards of supervisors to call the elections under the law of 1907, which provides that if the people of any given section of the state, with certain restrictions as to population, desire to form a new county they can do so, provided sixty-five per cent of the electors vote for the formation of such new county. The matter of preparing and circulating the petitions and the general conduct of the new-county campaign was placed in the hands of a Committee of Fifteen to be named by the chair.

…Homer W. Wood, originator of the new-county movement, presided. He explained in great detail the various steps needful for the formation of new counties and what has been done in the past by the new-county committee. He also set forth the various points of law upon which the attorneys base their contention that the present county division law is unconstitutional. These points will be covered in a separate article either in this or future issues of the Argus.

Editor Wood also explained that the effort to have the present county division law declared unconstitutional, thereby restoring “self-determination of peoples” in this regard, is statewide and that a number of cities over the state have shown a willingness to lend whatever assistance is needed, both in coin and legal talent, to help the people of southern Sonoma and northern Marin counties win back their “birthright.”

The purpose of last night’s meeting was to reach a final decision as to the advisability of launching the new-county movement and taking such steps as are needful to get a decision from the Supreme Court. This matter having been disposed of favorably and unanimously, and by the unanimous adoption of the address to the voters published elsewhere in this issue of the Argus, many matters relative to the proposed new county were discussed.

Many names were suggested, among them being Petaluma, Marisoma, Marinoma, Novato, Tomales, etc. The matter of a name, which must be inserted in the petition, was left to the Committee of Fifteen.

The boundaries of the new county, which must also be set forth in the petition, were tentatively outlined as follows:

Starting at the mouth of Salmon Creek, draw a straight line one mile north of Cotati to the crest of Sonoma mountain; thence in a general southeasterly direction, following the trend of the mountain range to Sears Point and San Pablo Bay; thence follow the trend of the San Pablo Bay coastline to a point one-half mile south of Novato; thence slightly southwest via Nicasio, between Olema and Point Reyes Station to the head of Tomales Bay; thence follow the eastern shore of Tomales Bay and the coast line of the Pacific Ocean to the point of beginning.

There will be some variations of these boundaries in order to follow township, school district or election precinct lines, the final decision for the purposes of the petition being left to the Committee of Fifteen.

The estimated area is 600 square miles and the population 20,000.

The matter of taxation was discussed at great length. Editor Wood and others, who have been studying the question for over a year, were very positive in their assertions that there would be a decrease in taxation in the new county, so far as the Sonoma county portion thereof is concerned, and no increase in the annexed portion of Marin county. This is a matter that will be discussed at length in future issues of the Argus. The Committee of Fifteen will also promulgate much information along these lines.

As to the necessity of acquiring a new court house, the opinion was expressed at the meeting that the immediate needs of the new county would be provided for by the enterprising citizens of Petaluma without cost to those living outside the city.

As to the amount of the bonded indebtedness to be inherited by the new county from the old, it was explained that none of this indebtedness to be inherited by the new county from the old. It was explained that none of this indebtedness would fall upon the people of northern Marin county; that the people of southern Sonoma county would assume responsibility for that portion of the county road bond issue actually expended within the new county; that probably the Sonoma portion of the new county would not continue to pay court house bands. This matter would be adjusted by three commissioners, one to be appointed by each of the old counties and a third by the state.

Many columns of space would be required to impart to the readers of the Argus the mass of information resulting from the discussion at Wednesday night’s meeting. As the campaign for signatures to the new-county petition progresses, our readers will be fully and impartially enlightened upon all the phases of the project.

– Petaluma Argus, January 22 1920

 

TO THE VOTERS OF SOUTHERN SONOMA AND NORTHERN MARIN COUNTIES

A movement having for its purpose the formation of a new county, Petaluma as the county seat, has been under way for some time. The movement has now reached a stage where its success is reasonably assured. Therefore, we, the undersigned, respectfully urged all voters to sign, when it is presented to them, a petition for the formation of the proposed new county, said petition being the first necessary legal step in that direction. In support of this request, we respectfully represent:

1. That the proposed new county will afford its residents and taxpayers better government, better roads, and a larger measure of participation in the management and control of their affairs as a smaller cost than under present conditions.

2. That the territory proposed to be embraced in the proposed new county is now so detached from the seats of government at Santa Rosa and San Rafael that the people residing therein have not, and cannot have, that degree of intimate relationship with the conduct of their affairs so essential for true progress and proper development.

3. That experience teaches that whenever and wherever large counties have been divided and new counties created the resultant development has been many fold greater than could have occurred without such division, with no increase in taxation.

Petaluma is today the social and business center of this area proposed for a new county and should be the governmental center. There is no just reason why the people of this section should not govern themselves in a new county rather than to be a minority of two counties. Likewise, there is no just reason why this movement should be opposed by anyone.

For the foregoing and other substantial reasons which will be submitted to the voters of southern Sonoma and northern Marin counties in due season, we have hereunto attached our signatures this 21st day of January, 1920.

[56 names]

– Petaluma Argus, January 22 1920

 

SOTOYOME COUNTY WITH HEALDSBURG THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT. WHAT!

A number of Healdsburgers are watching with interest the attempt of Petaluma to have a new county out of the southern end of Sonoma county and the northern portion of Marin county. Petaluma will attack the constitutionality of the new law which says that the whole county should vote on it instead of only the within the proposed county. Should Petaluma be successful in her contention, there is every probability that a similar movement will be inaugurated in Northern Sonoma looking toward the formation of a new county in this portion of California with Healdsburg as the county seat.

Such a plan has been under consideration for a number of years by some of the large thinking people of the community who have wearied of being the tail-piece of Santa Rosa’s kite and seeing that town hog every thing In sight. The plan to be followed here will be similar to that inaugurated in Petaluma, that of getting a petition signed by at least fifty per cent of the voters in the interested districts, which petition will be presented in proper form.

The principal part of the tax monies raised go toward the building of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, a jail, if one is needed, and in the formation of a new county, road taxes are expended only on roads within the new boundaries. In other words the taxes we would pay would be utilized in our own district. At present large sums of money go into the pockets of Santa Rosa merchants for county supplies that come out of the pockets of taxpayers in and around Healdsburg. For instance a lot of taxpayers’ money is going into the well-lined pockets of the Santa Rosa printers which facts can be easily verified and mighty little of it gets into any Healdsburg print shops, as well as other business houses here.

The Petalumans held an enthusiastic meeting Wednesday night and the legal preliminaries are being carefully arranged. The list of signers to the petitions so far shows the leading citizens of southern Sonoma are taking hold with a rush. Santa Rosa is genuinely worried over the outlook and one newspaper in particular is devoting much valuable space to ridiculing the idea and hurling diatribes and anathemas in large chunks.

The boundaries of the new county in Northern Sonoma would be along a line drawn east and west through or near Windsor and would include a large and valuable territory, the tax money from which would carry the new county along in fine shape, whereas now it is scattered over a lot of poor territory in other sections. The plans are being held in abeyance until the Petaluma people are to determine their legal status.

– Healdsburg Enterprise, January 24 1920

 

COMMITTEE OF FIFTEEN MEETS

The Committee of Fifteen for the formation of a new county, met at the offices of Attorney F. A Meyer Saturday evening for the purpose of making plans for the circulation of the petition to call an election of the voters, the petition to be used for the purpose of testing the constitutionality of the present law providing for the division of counties.

Reorganization resulted in the election of the old officers, as follows: Chairman. Homer W. Wood, Secretary, F. J. Burke, Treasurer, E. E. Drees.

After an outline by the chairman of the course to he pursued, the first order of business was the choosing of a name for the new county. Many names were considered, among them being Bay Coast, Northbay, American Fertile, Chanticleer, San Pablo, Petaluma and San Antonio.

The first vote was taken on San Pablo, the committee being almost evenly divided on this name. A second vote was taken and the result was 5 to 4 against it. The next name considered was San Antonio. This name received seven votes for and three against. So without further voting this name was adopted.

San Antonio is a historic name, a Spanish name, a northern Marin name, and the name of the creek that will flow almost thru the center of the proposed new county. so it is particularly appropriate….

– Petaluma Argus, January 26 1920

 

Now Santa Rosa IS In Bad
Healdsburg Wants a County
Joins Division Agitators

Oh. gosh! Now we are in bad!

Petaluma doesn’t like us, and neither does Healdsburg.

Both of ’em have announced campaigns for new counties.

And it looks like Sonoma and Cloverdale and Sebastopol may get the same idea, and then look what we would be up against.

We’d have to take our pretty court house and our nice Ionic county jail out in our own back yard and play all by ourselves.

It would be a pretty bad situation all right, alright. If it were not for the fact that we can still retaliate. After all the rest of them get through trying to divorce themselves from us we can still do as well as they did, and try and divorce ourselves from ourselves.

This talk of county division Is all damphoolishness, anyway. According to the law it can’t he done, because Sonoma county has to be left with 1200 square miles and 25,000 population, and you simply cannot figure any combination like that without Santa Rosa in it unless you draw a nice puzzle picture line all around Santa Rosa, carefully connecting all the other towns of the county by a corridor of land. And then you’d have to steal half of Napa and Mendocino counties to get away with, and it seems like the people of those counties don’t much like the idea of breaking up their happy families.

The fact of the matter seems to be that some other parts of Sonoma county are jealous of Santa Rosa, just like Chicago is jealous of New York and Los Angeles is jealous of San Francisco. They can’t understand how Santa Rosa stays the biggest town in the county, when all we have is “boobs,” and they have all the smart and clever people residing within their borders.

Petaluma is adopting a real dignified stand in her divorce trial from Santa Rosa and Sonoma county, and it’s just as well. Santa Rosa has no particular quarrel with Petaluma people. and probably wouldn’t mind letting them go and play with their new county, if it were not for the fact that it can’t be done legally, and it seems so foolish for anyone to say that two families, or two counties, can live as cheaply as one. It ought to be made a crime to hand out “pap” like that to the voters.

But a couple of Healdsburg editors – and Gee! but it’s hard to believe they’re serious are openly advocating county division so that Santa can’t “hog everything,” and directly accusing county seat newspapers of grabbing all the county printing business (just as if we still wouldn’t have the county business if they were successful in taking their own county home to play with) and of course, (this is a secret) they never tell the world that the reason the county seat papers get certain county business. is because the county seat papers have the only equipment for the work.

And. as far as the whole of county division goes, seems like there never was a small town anywhere on the face of the globe but that thought its bigger neighbor was trying to “hog” everything in sight. Why. even right here in Santa Rosa, some of the most widely known people in town go to San Francisco to buy their shoes, stockings, furniture. etc. so why blame Healdsburg and Petaluma people if they come to Santa Rosa to buy.

– Press Democrat, January 27 1920

 

M’NEAR COUNTY BEING OPPOSED
Southern Marin County Bitterly Opposed to County Division for Giving New County to Petaluma.

SAN RAFAEL, Jan 28.- McNear county, the new county which Petaluma is proposing to slice out of Marin and Sonoma counties, will meet with bitter opposition from the entire southern section of Marin county. The opposition has been taking form of late and will cumulate in a meeting which is to be held In San Rafael within the next few days to formulate plans for an organized fight against the division of Marin county.

The plan will be to fight the declaring of the present law unconstitutional, which if accomplished, would mean that a majority vote of those within the proposed new county would he all that is necessary to make the change.

Under the law as it stands now a 65 per cent vote of those within the district of the proposed new county together with a 50 per cent vote of all electors in both counties would be necessary. San Rafael is preparing to wage its fight against a declaration that the present law is unconstitutional.

– Press Democrat, January 29 1920

 

NOW CLOVERDALE AFTER COUNTY SEAT
CITIZENS NOT WILLING TO BE TAIL TO HEALDSBURG KITE THEY SAY

The Cloverdale Reveille, in commenting on proposal of the county of Sotoyome with Healdsburg as the county seat, has this to say:

“With Petaluma working on plans to secede from Sonoma county and establishing a little county that will be very much her own comes the announcement that Healdsburgers also have ambitious plans in a similar direction. Those at the head of the Sotoyome metropolis would slash a slice off old Sonoma at Windsor and create another county out of what is now northern Sonoma. These plans, of course, are contingent upon the Petalumans succeeding in having the present law creating new counties declared unconstitutional. If our southern neighbors are successful, then the Healdsburgers declare they will go to bat.

“In sounding out some of Cloverdale’s prominent citizens, they declare themselves as not altogether satisfied with Healdsburg’s program. They decline to be the tail to Healdsburg’s kite. If old Sonoma — the best county in the golden state —- is going to be mutilated by our good friends of Petaluma and Healdsburg, they say they are not going to sit idly by and watch the surgical operation without having a say where the cuts shall be made.

“They have no objection to Petaluma being made the county seat of San Antonio but the don’t like the idea of Healdsburg being the county seat of Sotoyome. Cloverdale is going to be just as generous with Mendocino’s landscape as Petaluma is with Marin. Why not cop off a few hundred square miles from southern Mendocino’s fertile acres, taking in Hopland and Booneville? Southern Mendocino’s natural trading place is Cloverdale. It would be a distinct advantage to them to come in. This would give sufficient territory to form a county that would have ample resources to give it high standing among the counties of the state.

“And the location of the county seat? Well, Cloverdale is the logical place.”

– Healdsburg Tribune, January 30 1920

 

DIVISIONISTS CHANGE PLANS

SAN RAFAEL, Feb. 23 —County officials received word today from the committee of fifteen in charge of the Petaluma movement for a new county, that the plan of including a portion of northern Marin in the proposed district has been abandoned. The reason given is that it will be impossible to establish a tax rate as low as Marin county’s outside rate, which is $1.88. The minimum for the new county, it was stated, will be 10 cents higher than this amount…

– Press Democrat, February 24 1920

 

‘PETALUMA’ NAME OF NEW COUNTY

PETALUMA. March 6. – The “Committee of Fifteen” at a meeting held in this city Saturday evening, decided definltely that the name of the new county which they propose to slice from Sonoma county will be named “Petaluma County.”

The committee decided to drop the plan to take any portion of Marin county for the present, because of the fact that the new county cannot hope to have a tax rate as low as Marin county has, although the rate figured now will be about 80 cents on the hundred dollars below the present Sonoma county rate.

According to the present plans of the committee the line on the north will be drawn almost due east and west from a point about a mile north of Cotati, running east to the Napa line and south to the southern boundary of Sonoma county. The line will cross the Sonoma valley near the Eldrldge home and will not include Kenwood or Glen Ellen. The committee expects to start a campaign of education in the near future in the Sonoma valley and also in the Valley of the Moon.

– Press Democrat, March 9 1920

 

NEW COUNTY PLAN FOUGHT BY WOMEN

That Petaluma is going to meet with some opposition to its plan of dividing Sonoma county and especially to the plan of including Sonoma valley within its boundaries is evidenced by a resolution recently passed by the Women’s Club of Sonoma, the county’s historical city. The resolution has been forwarded to the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce and is as follows:

Whereas, there is a movement under way to divide Sonoma county, whereby Petaluma and contiguous territory is to be the nucleus of a new county,to he known as San Antonio county: and whereas, Sonoma Valley has been invited to join in said movement and to become a part of the new county of San Antonio; and

Whereas, Petaluma has expressed a desire to know something of the sentiment of Sonoma Valley toward the plan to include Sonoma Valley; now, I therefore,

Be It Resolved, that the Sonoma Valley Women’s Club, representing over 125 members in every section of the Sonoma Valley, deplores the division of Sonoma county, one of the old and majestic counties of our Golden State, and expressed most decided opposition to; any effort on the part of Petaluma to include in their plans Sonoma Valley, whose history is so interwoven with the county which bears its name that it can never he disassociated with it…

(Signed) AMELIA BATES, Chairman of Committee on Resolutions.

– Press Democrat, March 16 1920

 

SONOMA PEOPLE ESCAPE CLUTCH OF NEW COUNTY
Committee of Fifteen Abandons Designs on Resort Section; Hostile Sentiment Given as Reason for Changing Plan.

PETALUMA, May 4.—At a meeting of the Committee of Fifteen in charge of the proposed new county at the law office of F. A. Meyer on Saturday evening, a change was made in the boundary lines for the division of Sonoma county, whereby it was decided to eliminate the City of Sonoma and the resort section of Sonoma valley.

The northern line of the proposed county will go from the Pacific ocean east to the Sonoma creek in the Sonoma valley, thence southerly following the meanderings of Sonoma Creek to Napa street, thence easterly to the corporate line of the City of Sonoma, thence southerly along the city line to the south corner of the City of Sonoma, thence easterly near the boundary line of the City of Sonoma to the Napa line, thence following the Napa, Solano and Marin county lines to the point of beginning.

The change in the boundary line was made owing to the fact that the people in the City of Sonoma are desirous of remaining with the old county. The proposed county according to revised plans, will include El Verano, San Luis, Vineburg, Schellville, Wingo, Fairview, Sears Point. The boundary lines as laid out by the committee will take in practically all the ranches in Sonoma valley.

– Press Democrat, May 5 1920

 

SONOMA PEOPLE MAY FLIRT WITH COUNTY OF NAPA
Valley Residents Say They’d Rather Join Napa Than Petaluma’s Proposed County, and Good Roads Cited as Reason

VINEBURG. May 14.— At a meeting held here last night Secretary Kerrigan of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce and H. H. Wood of the Petaluma Courier were the speakers to arouse interest in the proposed county division. They told their audiences of some forty persons that the new county could take in any part or the whole of Sonoma Valley even though the valley returned 100 per cent vote against it, provided 65 per cent of the people in the proposed new county voted in favor. In such case the only way Sonoma Valley could stay out would be by securing 50 per cent of the voters of the opposing district to sign a remonstrance against being taken into the new county.

There was a strong sentiment in favor of this valley uniting with Napa county, if division is to come, on account of good highway, the nearness to a good city with all county buildings already erected and with a tax rate lower that the proposed new county advocates are offering.

Three signatures, it is understood were secured to the petition for division.

– Press Democrat, May 15 1920

 

NEW COUNTY DIVISION PLANS MADE

WILL BRING BODEGA IN NEW COUNTY LINES, START NEW PETITIONS

The Committee of Fifteen, which has charge of the work of getting up the petitions to be submitted to supervisors seeking the division of Sonoma county and the formation of the County of Petaluma from the southern portion, decided at a meeting Saturday to recast the boundary lines and commence all over again the work of securing signatures for the petition.

It was announced after the meeting Saturday that the action was taken at the earnest request of half a dozen representative citizens of Bodega township who had meet with the committee and urged, that all of Bodega township and a small fraction of Redwood township be included in the territory to become a part of the new county of Petaluma. They promised their own support to the movement and the support of others whom they had conferred with.

The men who attended the meeting of the Committee of Fifteen and presented the matter were F. A. Cunninghame, H. C. McCaughey, Attorney Walter McCaughey, A. L. Tomasi, R. P. Baker, of Bodega; C. A. LeBaron of Valley Ford, A. H. Meeker of Camp Meeker. They declared that the sentiment in Bodega township was strongly in favor or uniting with the proposed new county and that it should be included at this time for the good of all concerned.

CHANGES IN BOUNDARY

The delegation submitted a written proposal to so change the boundary line of the proposed new county as to include the towns of Bodega, Occidental, Camp Meeker and Monte Rio. The proposed new boundary which will be drawn and again submitted for signatures will commence at a point in the Pacific Ocean three miles off the mouth of Russian River and follow that stream to a point a short distance east of Monte Rio and then south or slightly southeasterly to a point about ten miles east of Bodega and then due east to the Napa county line.

This would mean that the line which runs just north of Cotati directly westward to the Pacific Ocean will be changed about six miles west of that place and turn northward to the Russian River.

TO START WORK ALL OVER

It was said at Petaluma Saturday that the original boundary petition only lacked one or two hundred names to be ready for presentation to the board of supervisors, but that with the promises made by residents of Bodega it was considered far better to drop the petition entirely and prepare a new one to take in all the new territory proposed, as if would make a larger and better county in all respects.

It is admitted in Petaluma that the proposed new county is still far in the distance, as it is known that even after the petition is submitted to the board it will be rejected and then will come a hard and bitterly contented legal battle in an effort to have declared unconstitutional the present statute on county division as well as constitutional restrictions before it can be submitted to a vote of the people.

– Press Democrat, August 1 1920

 

BLOOMFIELD OPPOSED TO SEPARATION

[…]

– Press Democrat, August 21 1920

 

PETITION FOR NEW COUNTY “OVER THE TOP”

On Monday morning the New County petition went “over the top.” The 3,000 signatures needed to make the petition valid for presentation to the Board of Supervisors had been secured at that time….

…When the petition is filed with the Board of Supervisors it will be rejected by the board as not being in compliance with the present law governing the division of counties. An appeal will then be taken to the supreme court on a writ of mandate, in an endeavor to have the present law declared unconstitutional and to have the law of 1909 restored…

– Petaluma Argus, January 3 1921

 

COMPLETING PLANS FOR NEW COUNTY PETITION

…It is not generally known that a new county division act, was introduced in the legislature prior to its recess, by Senator Dennett of Modesto, and will come up for passage at the final half of the session next month. This act will provide for the formation of new counties when the decision so to do is confirmed by the vote of the people of the territory affected…

– Petaluma Argus, February 4 1921

 

NEW COUNTY PLEA LOSES FIRST ROUND

The petition to the board of supervisors for an election to submit the question of the formation of the proposed new Petaluma County was denied by the board yesterday morning, on the grounds that the petition had not been signed by 65 per cent of the qualified electors of the county at large, also it appears upon its face to reduce the area of Sonoma county to less than 1200 square miles, and does not comply with the statutes of the state relative to the organization and classification of new counties…

…The Senate County Government committee at Sacramento has amended the new county division bill pending before it so as to make it a measure to strengthen the present laws and cure any defects it may have, according to word received in this county, and it is expected that the measure will he passed by the legislature before the supreme court can pass upon the writ of mandate from the petitioners, in which case they will not gain anything by their efforts up to this period.

– Press Democrat, April 16 1921

 

Did the New County Committee of Fifteen make a fatal mistake when it outlined the New County area by making it so large as to reduce the area remaining in Sonoma county under 1200 square miles? … The matter of area remaining in the old county is the only instance in which the New County Committee did not comply with the law of 1907 which must be restored if we are ever to get a new county. This being true, it is feared in some quarters that both laws of 1907 and 1909, will be declared unconstitutional in which event the only way in which counties could be divided would be by act of the legislature.

– Petaluma Argus, August 21 1921

 

COUNTY DIVISION GIVEN SETBACK IN SUPREME COURT DECISION

[article only says analysis to come]

– Petaluma Argus, November 12 1921

 

The decision of the supreme court in the New County case decided nothing except that the board of supervisors will not be required to call the election petition[ed] for. The legal points raised in the case are untouched by the court…As matters now stand, we are just where we were before we inaugurated the New County movement. There are still good and sufficient reasons upon which to base a new petition for a new county…the New County movement is just getting a good start. We have “all the time there is” to finish it.

– Petaluma Argus, November 16 1921

 

PETALUMA DIVISIONISTS WILL CONTINUE FIGHT TO SEPARATE SONOMA COUNTY

While checked in plans for the division of Sonoma county by reason of the decision of the supreme court announced Saturday, the Petaluma county divisionists have not given up, and will keep on fighting, it was announced yesterday.

The opinion rendered by the court has been received and is not regarded as satisfactory by Petalumans because its practical effect is to decide nothing except the bare question of denying the writ sought to compel the supervisors to call a county division election. Attorney E. J. Dole, representing the divisionists, received a copy of the opinion yesterday.

In referring to the case, the Petaluma Courier of this morning will say as follows:

“From the standpoint of the petitioner. the opinion is extreme!’ unsatisfactory, as its practical effect is to decide nothing except the bare question of denying the writ.

“The court expressly reserves all questions of the constitutionality of the various acts that were raised In the argument.

“The court merely holds that If the acts are unconstitutional that there is no law by which a new county can be created, and if not unconstitutional, then petitioners have not compiled with the law.

“The proponents of the new county and the lawyers who handled the case have been expecting a decision one way or the other as to whether the county division laws were partly or entirely unconstitutional. If entirely unconstitutional, then the legislature would be compelled to pass a good law, rather than one that would prevent county division as in the past.

While it is claimed that the supreme court studiously avoided saying whether the laws were unconstitutional or not, those who understand the matter believe that either both laws are unconstitutional or that the supreme court justices are divided in their opinion as to whether the part of the law of 1907 and all of the amendments of 1909 are unconstitutional as contended by the lawyers of Petaluma in the case.

“Why the supreme court should leave the matter in such a period of uncertainty is a mystery, unless it is that the justices were divided, which is often the case. The opinion has been expressed by different ones that the supreme court justices were divided from the fact that the dismissal of the writ of mandate was so late in forthcoming.

“The case was finally argued and submitted on the 15th day of August. Usually there is a quick decision in such proceedings, but nothing was heard from this case for three months lacking three days, and then comes what is almost no decision at all.

WILL KEEP ON FIGHTING

“While the proponents of the new county have had no conference as to what will be the next procedure, it is expected that the fight will be kept up. Perhaps another court procedure will be determined upon to force the hands of the supreme court for a decision as to whether the entire law is unconstitutional or not. It the 1909 and 1907 laws are both unconstitutional, then the legislature will be compelled to pass a good law under which we can operate and carry the formation of a new county on to a successful conclusion.

About fifteen other towns are as strongly interested in the matter as is Petaluma, and it is not thought that the fight will ever be dropped until the legal tangle is unravelled and this state has on the statute books a proper county division law, the same as is in existence in eastern states.

– Press Democrat, November 16 1921

 

North Marin Seeks to Form New County

Irked at being ignored by county officials in San Rafael, a group of dissident Northern Marin farmers and dairymen yesterday declared that they would pursue their proposal to secede from Marin and form a new county with southern Sonoma county and have Petaluma as the county seat.

“We’ll be back,” spokesmen said yesterday in referring to the invitation of the startled Petaluma chamber of commerce for them to meet with it again. A small but determined group of ranchers laid the new county proposal before the Petaluma chamber Monday.

David Rogers, publisher of the Haywood Press at Pt. Reyes and frequent critic of the board of supervisors, was one of the delegation, Also included were Capt. A. S. Oko of Inverness, a retried merchant marine skipper who carried refugees to Israel, and two others.

The new county would be named “Drake,” or possibly “Tomales” or “Petaluma.” It would include all of Northern Marin except the Novato area and would extend down the seacoast as far as Stinson Beach. Oko said that the group would continue with their plans and form committees to gather support and sound out public opinion.

As for Petaluma – the plan was received with “open mouths and considerable amazement,” according to Ed Fratini, president of the Petaluma chamber.

“But we listened with a great deal of interest and have invited them to return at any time,” he said.

Courthouse officials in San Rafael yesterday predicted that the move would be short-lived and pointed out that a similar suggestion was made about 27 years ago. Both geographically and economically, southern Sonoma and northwestern Marin areas are closer than Northern and Southern Marin. Essentially dairying, agricultural, and poultry farms, the area has long felt that it has not received enough consideration from “resort-minded” Southern Marin county officials.

Sentiment In Northern Marin in recent months has been against the acquisition of Angel Island and the construction of the Marin district hospital at Greenbrae. Chambers of commerce of southern and central Marin cities have likewise been demanding a master county highway plan because of a feeling that too much county money is being spent on little-traveled Northern Marin roads.

– Mill Valley Record, April 14 1950

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OUR VERY DIFFERENT CHRISTMASES PAST

Visit Santa Rosa 150 years ago and not much will be recognizable, as you would expect. But people are still people, and aside from their funny clothes and lamentable views on race and gender, the ways they lived and celebrated weren’t all that different. There were still cakes for birthdays, Fourth of July fireworks, a turkey with trimmings on Thanksgiving and in every parlor at Christmas there was a tree with presents underneath. Well, all that’s true except for the Christmas part.

This is a quick tour of Christmases in Santa Rosa and other Sonoma county places in the years around the Civil War. While today it’s a private occasion for families and close friends to draw close, then it was the time of the year for blowout community parties.

Between Christmas Eve and New Years there was a ball or Christmas celebration almost every night somewhere in the vicinity, each promising to be the grandest event of the year. A 50¢ admission was common (in 1876 that was the equivalent of about sixteen bucks today) with children half price. There usually was dancing and an entertainment program, party food (hope you like oysters) and eggnog, spiked or not.

(RIGHT: 1857 ads appearing in Santa Rosa’s Sonoma Democrat)

We can all probably imagine ourselves attending a “Grand Ball” back then; although the doings in Sonoma county surely weren’t as glitzy as what we’ve seen in old movies, there was still a punchbowl, live music, a dance floor and no shortage of young people flirting as if their destinies depended upon it. We would have had trouble recognizing the Christmas festivities, however – as wonderful as they seemed to be, they were unlike anything in our modern experience.

Except for small towns like Geyserville which had no real public gathering space, lodge halls and meeting halls were rented by the town’s different church groups. But it appears there was no religious component in those Christmas festivities; in reviewing 25 years of Santa Rosa and Petaluma newspapers, the only reference I found to religion was one year where the entertainment included “the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer by a number of the infant class.” Otherwise, they were so secular they would have caused Bill O’Reilly to spit nails.

It’s difficult to imagine now, but simply having a Christmas tree was a big attraction. It was always prominently mentioned in the ads and the lighting of the tree’s candles was a key part of the event. In that era, having a tree in someone’s home was so unusual there were newspaper items when it happened. The lack of private trees might have something to do with the danger of lighted candles hanging on the branches of a dead evergreen; years later there was a spate of incidents where men in Santa Claus costumes caught fire – see “The Year of Burning Santas.”

Santa Claus was often in attendance, but we wouldn’t have recognized him either; in Forestville he was seen wearing a swallow-tail coat “looking just as ancient as if he had just made his escape from the catacombs of Egypt after centuries of confinement” (what?) and gave a funny speech after throwing peanuts at the audience.

But the most unusual part from today’s perspective was probably the giving and receiving of Christmas presents in front of the whole community. The gifts which had arrived days before – the newspapers always explained where to drop them off in advance – were handed out as the name on each package was read aloud. Remember, this was not your office’s secret-santa party; all (or much) of the town was there, children and adults, and the distribution could take hours.

Heavy drinking was clearly part of the scene, although not openly at the public events organized by church ladies. At the non-church balls it was a different story; at a Healdsburg dance there were “four jugs of ready-made cocktails for the ladies, while the gentlemen were restricted to whisky straight.”

After Christmas the papers often expressed relief the drinking didn’t get out of hand. “Christmas eggnogs and toddies, we suppose, were drunk, but if there was any one the least boosy, we failed to see or hear of it; and if there were such, they kept off the streets,” it was reported one year. On another, “although the usual libations were indulged in, no rioting or rudeness were manifested.”

That was a special concern because there was always an uptick of violence (including murders and suicides) around Christmas time. In 1857 Healdsburg, a man was killed and others wounded when someone began shooting his revolver at a Christmas dance. The Santa Rosa paper was quick to emphasize “the parties most deeply concerned in the matter were entirely sober” and the real problem was “men who carry deadly weapons, frequently give as their reason for so doing, the necessity of being prepared for self-defense.”

LEFT: 1864 ad (note the spelling of “ladies'”) RIGHT: 1865 ad, both from the Sonoma Democrat

 

During the Civil War there were still balls and Christmas festivals, although sometimes admission was higher because the sponsoring church was using the events as fund-raisers for construction repairs. After the war Santa Rosa’s pro-Confederacy Democrat printed a letter from someone in Sonoma, begging locals to take whatever would be spent on gifts and Christmas dinners and donate it “for the purpose of raising money for the starving people in the South.” Without irony, the author implored us not to be hard-hearted and “blinded by prejudice.” Apparently compassion should be reserved for those “hundreds of young girls in the South-—who are as good and as beautiful as themselves.”

In the 1870s the Christmas celebrations became even more entertainment oriented. The Presbyterian Sunday Schools presented a “Mother Goose” concert one year and another time put on a play, “Waking Up Santa Claus.” Santa was too tired to deliver his gifts, the story went, until the Fairy Queen appeared to help him out. A Presbyterian youth group called the “San Greal Society” was formed to help kids socialize and put on these areligious holiday shows.

The single most unusual Christmas event was the 1876 children’s masked ball in Petaluma. The ad made it seem more like a strange Hallowe’en-Christmas hybrid, with dancing (which probably wouldn’t appeal to little kids) and a visit from Santa (which the teens up to the max age of 16 might have found cringeworthy).

Surprisingly, it seems that the masquerade went off quite well. The 75 children joined in holding up a large American flag as a band played “Hail Columbia,” there was a grand march and quadrille followed by a free-for-all with the lot of them running around the stage in costumes having a grand time. Among the girls there were two fairies, three fairy queens, several “Spanish peasant girls” and Kitty Stanley as “pink of perfection,” whatever that meant. Five of the boys were dressed as firemen, Frank Slugley was a Czar and Jake Bernhard went as a “Ku Klux,” and we all knew what that meant.

The common theme through this quarter century was how much those Christmas celebrations were focused on making children happy. Stores ran large, expensive ads promoting a variety of toys and candies and sweets sure to appeal to kids. The community party with the Christmas tree and gift exchange was memorable, even if it was the one held in a Geyserville storeroom with Santa played by a guy everybody in town saw every day.

ALL of that began changing a few years later. Christmas trees in the home became increasingly common in the 1880s (Sonoma county became San Francisco’s Christmas tree farm) and by the turn of the century we entered an Era of Scrooge, with an emphasis on buying gifts which were practical and useful or “had value” (read: were cheap). Stores advertised juvenile overcoats and flannel nightgowns, not wonderful toys and dolls. Judging from the newspaper ads it wasn’t until 1910 before we seemed to again start buying gifts simply because they were intended to bring enjoyment to children.

I won’t pretend to understand what happened, but it seems as if the generation that enjoyed the happiest Christmases as children somehow forgot how to give that experience to their own children. Maybe it’s significant that it happened when those Christmas trees were no longer such a magical sight, and the gifts were now opened in private, instead of among the community where everyone shared in their joy.

“The Christmas Party” by American artist Robert David Wilkie, 1850

HEALDSBURG, Dec. 27, 1857. The evening of the 24th passed quietly away, and the sun went down on hundreds in Sonoma County, who had matured or were maturing plans to ensure a happy Christmas, and I, in common with the rest, was meditating as to the best mode of acquiring the greatest possible amount of pleasure in a given time, the only obstacle preventing a speedy conclusion being the number of places of amusement. My friend, DAVE, proposed that we should remain in Healdsburg, but when I suggested the fact that we were too well known there to make a splurge commensurate with the occasion, he at once yielded the point. We then discussed the feasibility of hiring a buggy from Messrs. Page & Francis, and visiting Guyserdale and Cloverville, [sic, sic] but the price being eight dollars, we found on examination that our finances were a little short, not having enough by seven dollars—-so that idea was immediately abandoned.

Having heard there was to be a Ball three miles out of town, and tickets only four bits, I proposed to Dave to walk out there and save expense, in which event our funds would be amply sufficient to secure our admittance. My friend was satisfied with this proposition, and as no time was to be lost, we hastened to make our toilet; but “there’s many a slip,” &c., for just as Dave was spreading some castor-oil on his very obstinate hair, an officer stepped in and demanded his poll tax. Here was a dilemma, and when the officer picked up Dave’s coat which was lying on the bed, and declared he would sell it within an hour, my friend’s condition can better be imagined than described. With tears in his eyes, and castor-oil running slowly down his checks, he begged that the case might be postponed—-the officer was inexorable—-my unfortunate friend then offered his promissory note for double the amount with three per cent interest, and myself as security; unavailing effort-—the stern, ministerial agent of the law insisted on the cash or the coat. I knew that something must be done and that quickly, or all our hopes of happiness in the society of beautiful girls, in the enjoyment of good music, and all the solids and fluids that are usually found at a first-rate ball would soon be as the “baseless fabric of a vision.” For one minute and three-quarters I thought intensely, and Dave’s coat was saved! I remembered having seen in the Sonoma County Journal some advice as to the best mode of procedure in such cases, and having said confidentially to the officer (to put him off his guard,) that I would go out and get the money, I ran with all my might to consult with Blackstone Coke, Esq., and in ten minutes more we had served an injunction. Dave was so overjoyed that he invited me to “smile,” and when he had narrated the story to the proprietor and a crowd of admiring auditors, three cheers were given for my friend, and one individual who seemed to have been in a fight, both eyes blacked and an under-bit off his left ear, gave vent to his feelings by throwing down his hat on the floor and poetically exclaiming: “Bugger the hodds, as long as you’re ‘appy.”

We went to the ball, and what we saw and did there will, perhaps, be the subject matter of my next letter. Dave, however, is down on fifty cent balls, and although he is too gallant to express his opinion freely, I think I know the reason of his dissatisfaction. The proprietor of the ball had, very justly in my opinion, provided four jugs of ready-made cocktails for the ladies, while the gentlemen were restricted to whisky straight, and Dave is opposed bitterly to any such distinction being made in a republican, democratic country.
Yours truly, MANZANITA.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 31 1857

DEADLY WEAPONS.—The occurrence that has recently taken place at Healdsburg, in which one man was killed almost instantly, and two or three of our most esteemed citizens, were severely hurt, in a public ball room, in the presence and in fact in the midst of a throng of ladies, old and young, tender and refined, and in fact, such as make up social assemblies—is a matter for serious contemplation. It has been reported that the affray mentioned was caused or at least aggravated by intoxication. This, we are assured, is not the case, but little if any intoxicating liquor having been used by any of the assembly during the evening; and particularly, the parties most deeply concerned in the matter, were entirely sober. On the contrary, this calamity, for a calamity such an occurrence must be regarded, was the result of a practice but little if any less pernicious than that of intoxication—it is the practice of carrying deadly weapons in company. We regard the carrying of weapons about one’s person in the ordinary walks of life, while in a civilized community, as unnecessary and censurable at best; but when a man presents himself in a ball room, to mix and mingle in the society of refined ladies, armed to the teeth with deadly weapons, we think he commits a wrong of the worst kind. No matter how deadly a hatred two men may have for each other, or how much cause one may have for revenge, certainly such a place is least suitable for the consummation of such revenge, or the settling of personal feuds.

Such lamentable occurrences, in fact, have repeatedly come to our knowledge, in California society, which gives it probably the worst feature it possesses.—-Men who carry deadly weapons, frequently give as their reason for so doing, the necessity of being prepared for self-defense in ease of deadly attacks by highwaymen, or those from whom they expect assassination. Within the last two years these reasons have become too ridiculous for a reasonable man to make use of, as there is scarcely an exception to the fact, that every instance in which men have been robbed on the highway, a Colt’s revolver, ready loaded, has been a portion of the plunder, which the brave possessor dared not use when a necessity for its use presented itself. We hope the day may come soon, when the practice of carrying deadly weapons, now so common, will be abandoned, particularly the practice of taking them into assemblies composed partly of ladies.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 31 1857

The Ball. —The Ball at the Santa Rosa House, on Christmas eve, was a remarkably agreeable entertainment. There was a good attendance, and everything passed off agreeably. The supper is said to have been one of the best ever gotten up in the place, which did friend Colgan, with all his former popularity as a caterer, great credit. Colgan is celebrated for his good suppers. If you don’t believe it, just give him a trial.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 30 1858

CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES.–The Santa Rosa Sabbath School will have a Celebration and an Old Fashioned Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve next. All citizens who wish to deposit gifts upon the tree for any person will report themselves to Henry Klute, C. W. Langdon… Appropriate music, vocal and instrumental. Free for all. Tree lighted at 7½ o’clock.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 19 1861

FESTIVAL.–The third Festival, given by the Ladies, will come off at Hewitt’s Hall on Wednesday evening. The programme for that evening is more attractive than any which has been presented. The announcement of a Christmas Tree, is of itself sufficient to attract all the young people. It is the intention we believe to sell a number of toy for Christmas presents.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 19 1863

 

The Southern Poor–Letter from a Lady.

Messrs. Editors: I have been watching with a feeling of deep interest the movement, now being made, for the purpose of raising money for the starving people in the South. I have been anxiously looking for such a step to be taken ever since the close of the war. It appears to me that the good work has not been taken hold of with that feeling of enthusiasm it deserves. While we are thinking and talking about what it is best for us to do, the distressing condition of that unfortunate people is growing worse. Winter is now upon them, and if they are ever to be relieved surely now is the time.

The time is close at hand when our young folks will ho expecting new hats, dresses, toys, candies, cakes, Christmas trees and good dinners, all of which will cost a snug sum of money. Now, if we would explain to our children the condition of those poor children who are crying for bread, and the good that this money would do them, I am confident they would consent to make the sacrifice, and would be made to feel more happy by so doing. And again, if our young ladies, who are thinking that a new dress, hat, shawl, and a number of other little notions are articles indispensably necessary with them, that they may thereby be enabled to keep up with the fashions, would reflect for a moment upon the condition of the hundreds of young girls in the South-—who are as good and as beautiful as themselves-—who have neither clothes nor wood to keep them from suffering with cold and hunger this winter, I think they would content themselves with their present comfortable wardrobes and send the entire sum of money which those articles would cost to comfort some of their suffering sisters, and feel none the poorer for the sacrifice, but, on the other hand, they will feel richer on account of the happiness granted for the charitable act, our young men. and old gentlemen too, show that they can make sacrifices, in their trifling indulgences, that they may give something to the poor. Let them smoke fewer cigars, chew less tobacco, drink not so much wine and lessen the number of their fast rides, and show by their liberal contributions that they hav hearts to feel for the poor. Let the turkeys and pigs that are now being fattened for our Christmas dinners be hastened to market, that the price of them may be forwarded to the starving Southerners. If every man and woman in Sonoma county would deprive himself or herself of only one meal of victuals, and contribute its value to this movement of charity, what a blessing it might prove.

I would ask who is there with heart so hardened, or who has been so blinded by prejudice, as to turn a deaf ear to the calls for help coming from our suffering sisters and their hungry little ones? Let us hasten to their rescue, remembering that words can do good unless followed up by action—-that one good action is worth a whole volume of sympathetic gas.
S.M.N.
SONOMA, Dec 2, 1866.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 15 1866

CHURCH FESTIVAL.— The ladies of St. John’s Church, Petaluma, will hold a Christmas Festival at Hinshaw’s Hall, on Saturday and next Monday evening. An assortment of fancy books and toys suitable for Christmas presents will be offered for sale. On Monday, Christmas Eve, Santa Claus will make his appearance in character, and distribute gifts to all the children of the Sunday School.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 22 1866

CHRISTMAS IS COMING.–The ladies of the Congregational Society are making extensive preparations for the Festival which is to come off at Hinshaw’s Hall on Monday and Tuesday evenings next. If energetic effort is a fair criterion, this Fair will be a decided success. The dinner to be served at  Hinshaw’s Hall on Christmas Day, will be well worth a dollar. Go there, everybody.

CHRISTMAS PARTY.–The young men of the “Petaluma Social Club,” have issued their invitations for an assembly at McCune’s Hall on Christmas Eve. The parties of this Club are well conducted, and this one will undoubtedly surpass any of their previous gatherings, in point of pleasure and sociability.

– Petaluma Argus, December 19, 1867

CHRISTMAS.–The great holiday was duly observed in this city. On Christmas Eve, trees were had by the various Sunday Schools. On the day following, services were held at the Episcopal and Catholic churches, and a good attendance had at each. Dinner parties, the reunion of families, and assembling of friends around well spread tables…were some of the noticeable features of the day. And although egg-nog flowed freely, yet there was no special intemperance, and the day went out, leaving no disagreeable occurence behind, and nothing to remember but that which might be fondly cherished and preserved.

– Petaluma Argus, January 1, 1870

…The town remained very quiet, and although the usual libations were indulged in, no rioting or rudeness were manifested.

– Petaluma Argus, December 27, 1872

 

CHRISTMAS.

Christmas, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, passed off in a most satisfactory and pleasurable manner. A Christmas tree was erected in the elegant new store room of Messrs. Chritchfield, Sweeney & Lamb, on which was displayed a profusion of articles from a bon bon, to a silk dress. That illustrious personage known as Santa Claus, was represented by your good-natured friend, Mr. E. C. Sacry, who distributed the various gifts of fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and sweethearts to the satisfaction of all present, and sent many a little boy and girl to their homes, notwithstanding the darkness of the night and pelting rain-storm, deeply grateful for his visit to Geyserville.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 28 1872

 

Christmas Tree.

There will be a Christmas tree in the M. E. Church South on Christmas eve. Although given under the management of the Sunday School of that church, it will not be exclusive. All parents and friends of the children are cordially invited to use the tree as a medium by which to make the little folks happy.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 13 1873

 

Christmas at Santa Rosa.

Christmas was observed in this city with more than usual spirit. The general impulse of everybody to be liberal was stimulated by the fine display of holiday goods made by our merchants. There were Christmas Trees at the Presbyterian, Christian, and both Methodist churches, all of which passed off happily. On Christmas night the Santa Rosa Grange had a Christmas Tree and supper at Hood’s Hall, which was crowded with Grangers and thair invited guests. The presents were first distributed, causing much fun and merriment. The Secretary of the Grange, Mr. Obreen, a worthy and accomplished officer, was presented with a very handsome gold pen. After the distribution came a bountiful supper, of everything one could think of to tempt the appetite.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 27 1873

 

Christmas at Forestville.

Forestville, Dec. 25–Supposing that everybody wants to know just how everybody spent their Christinas I will give you a few items from this place. We had a Christmas tree at our school house last evening to begin Christmas with. Everybody was there, old and young. The house was beautifully decorated and lit. The house was filled so there was no room left. The venerable Santa Claus, with his swallow-tail coat and long white hair, looking just as ancient as if he had just made his escape from the catacombs of Egypt after centuries of confinement, made all the little folks happy by sowing peanuts broadcast through the audience, and then delivered quite an original oration to the great amusement of the crowd, who showed their appreciation by their overwhelming applause; then the fun commenced by the various presents being called off by our worthy teacher, Mr. Maxwell, and handed round by the young ladies to the lucky persons, or unlucky, as the joke might be, as somebody was bound to catch it…After the fun was over the young folks adjourned to Mr. Frank Emerson’s, to a social party, where they enjoyed themselves to their heart’s content the remainder of the evening, and to-day everybody is trying to induce his neighbor to take dinner with him and dine on roast turkey, while there still seems to be a large surplus for future eonsumption. I think it would be hard to find a jollier set of good fellows than there is here, and peace and harmony is the order of the day. Respectfully yours, Billy Sildem.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 27 1873

 

SEBASTOPOL BRIEFS
Christmas Tree.

The citizens of this place had a Christmas tree at the Presbyterian Church, on Christmas eve, which was heavily loaded from top to bottom with all the innumerable holiday trinkets invented by man. The house was filled to overflowing with old and young; all were well pleased. All this was done for the benefit of of the Sunday school children. It is proving a success will add largely to the school hereafter, and next year they will have a better time.

Christmas was a very quiet day; nothing worth noting transpired through the day except that a number of boys were playing their antics, which created some amusement, until late in the evening, when the people not forgetful of Wilson’s anniversary ball, began to pour in from all directions by the score. There were quite a number from Santa Rosa. The ball went off charmingly; the supper was, par excellence, and the whole thing was, as Harry intended it should be, a success.

– Sonoma Democrat, January 3 1874

 

Christmas at Ridgway Hall.

The Sunday School of the Methodist Church South, will hold a Christmas festival at Ridgway Hall on Christmas eve. There will be a Christmas Tree for the children, and also one for grown-up people. The presents from the children’s Tree will be distributed at 6 o’clock P. M. Those from the Tree for the grown-up people at a later hour. The ladies of the congregation will serve refreshments in the hall during the evening. A good time expected. Parties wishing to furnish presents for their friends will report to the committee at the hall during the day. Admittance free. Invitation general.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 19 1874

 

Christmas In Santa Rosa.

The weather could not have been more propitious than it was Christmas day. A very light frost was visible early in the morning, but the sun rose clear and bright, and the entire day was as pleasant as the most fastidious weathermonger could have asked. But little business was done in any of the stores, except those where Christmas presents were kept, and in the afternoon nearly every store and shop was closed. The usual Christinas eggnogs and toddles, we suppose, were drunk, but if there was any one the least boosy, we failed to see or hear of it; and if there were such, they kept off the streets. In the evening there were Christmas trees at the Baptist Church, the Pacific Methodist College Chapel, Christian College Chapel, and Third Street Methodist Church, and each was well supplied with presents, and at each were large crowds to witness the distribution of the presents. We think very few children in the city were forgotten or neglected, and a great many of the older people received a memento of love from their friends. Christmas in Santa Rosa this year may be set down as a very quiet, but a very delightful and enloyable one.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 30 1876

 

CHILDREN’S MASQUERADE.
Large Attendance–The Little Folks have a Happy Frolic–The Old Folks Look on–Names of the Maskers–The Lights go out and the Dancers go Home.

…The gallery of the Theatre was crowded at an early hour by the parents and friends of the children, while the young maskers were admitted to the stage at the rear entrance of the building. Shortly after 8 o’clock, the band struck up “Hail Columbia,” and the curtain rose upon a tableau composed of masked children, grouped together, supporting an American flag. The effect of the tableau was good, and as the curtain fell the audience testified their appreciation of the same by hearty applause. Then followed the

GRAND MARCH,

which was participated in by about seventy-five children in costume. As the little ones filed upon the floor, they presented a very pretty and pleasing appearance. The column was lead by four fairies, followed by all sorts and kinds of dress…After the grand march and a quadrille, Mr. Ross told the children to have a good time, when all restraint was withdrawn, and the children romped with all the seeming freedom of a play ground. After the unmasking, Santa Claus put in an appearance and gave every child a present. Just as the older people were admitted to the floor, the gasworks in the rear of the Theatre gave out, and everybody hurried away for fear they would be left in the dark…

– Petaluma Argus, January 5, 1877

 

CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES.
The Celebrations at the Different Churches.

The observance of the Feast of the Nativity was celebrated in fine style in four churches last Monday night.

The Baptist edifice was filled to overflowing. The exercises began at six o’clock, yet some time before that it was impossible to procure seats. The literary exercises lasted a little more than an hour, and then the distribution of the presents from two huge, well leaded trees began. Prof. Dozier and Mr. Baker distributed the gifts that loaded down the branches, making glad the hearts of the young and old. The distribution continued until nearly 10 o’clock, and although the building was crowded and many persons had been on their feet more than three hours, there was not the least sign of impatience nor the least indication of disorder.

The literary exercises at the M. E. Church were very brief. The tree presented a very fine appearance. We noticed that the candies, instead of being fastened to the tree, were attached to a frame behind it, and lighted up both the tree and presents with a flood of light. Rev. E. E. Dodge read the names of those whom the jolly saint remembered, and the presents were distributed by four fair young ladies. A good idea.

M. E. Church South had one tree well loaded. The musical and literary exercises were excellent selections and were well received. The distribution was conducted by Wesley Mock and M. M. Godman. The church was filled to overflowing. One of the most noticeable features of the evening was the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer by a number of the infant class.

The Presbyterians had no tree. The festivities consisted of a concert exercise, followed by the acting tableaux, “Waking Up Santa Claus.” The Superintendent informed the school that Santa Claus had forgotten them, and that he lived in a little bower that had been tastefully fitted up in one corner of the room, and selected three girls to go and see why the omission had occurred. The girls approached the house, and were met by two frightful looking imps, who informed them that Santa Claus was asleep, that he was tired, his reindeers turned out to pasture and all his stock of presents and refreshments were distributed; but the girls persevered until the form of the Saint himself appeared at the top of the chimney. The scene was very prettily finished by the appearance of the Fairy Queen, who, accompanied with the sweetest of music, relieved Santa Claus and the Sunday School from their dilemma.

Mass was celebrated twice by Father Conway on Christmas day. The church was well filled. The Church of the Incarnation was open during the day, and Christmas services observed.

– Sonoma Democrat, December 29 1877

…The Presbyterian Sunday School will not have a Christmas tree, but will have a “Mother Goose” Concert at Ridgway Hall on Christmas eve, under the management of the San Greal Society, an organization composed of the young people of the church and congregation, and organized for the promotion of sociability and good feeling. The concert will be full of new, unique and pleasing features, and will doubtless prove a rare treat to the children….

– Sonoma Democrat, December 21 1878

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A SHORT TRUCE IN THE (UN)CIVIL WAR

In April 1865 the Confederate Army surrendered to the Union. The Confederate newspaper in Santa Rosa did not.

Over the four horrific years of the Civil War, the Sonoma Democrat remained steadfast in its support of the South and opposed to the Union and everything it stood for, including freedom for the slaves. This article covers what happened in Sonoma county at the end of the war and mirrors the earlier story of how the Democrat reacted to Lincoln’s 1860 election (“THAT TERRIBLE MAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT“).

A devil’s advocate might defend the Democrat by arguing the paper only reflected its readership – Sonoma was the only county one of the few counties in the state which didn’t vote for either Lincoln’s election or re-election. But the Democrat went way, way beyond simply standing as the loyal opposition.

For starters, the paper consistently lied to its readers about how the war was going. Victory for the South was always just around the corner because the Union troops were in disarray, cowardly or unwilling to fight. In 1863 the Sonoma Democrat reported, “The battle of Gettysburg was, on our part, a triumphant success an overwhelming victory…General Lee had won the ground and could have held it, but he chose, for military reasons, to fall back, after he had utterly broken the backbone of the Yankee army.” That was a reprint from the Confederate paper in Richmond, Virginia – enemy propaganda, in other words, the alt-facts about the South’s critical defeat.

The Sonoma Democrat was edited and published by Thomas L. Thompson. Although there was no Civil War combat in California, of course, week after week Thompson battled Samuel Cassiday, editor of the Argus in Petaluma, the only major town in the county supporting the Union.

Each of them denounced the other as a misguided fool and hypocrite. To the Argus, the Santa Rosa paper was deceitful by insisting the Rebels were only defending their constitutional right to govern themselves, while they actually wanted to hold on to their slaves. To the Democrat, the Petaluma paper was dishonest in stating the Yankees only wanted to preserve the Union, while they actually wanted to take away the South’s slaves.

This was no temperate political debate; it was a blood feud, each editor reacting to the other’s latest outrage – and often reacting to the other’s reaction to their reaction. These guys would have loved Twitter.

Their pages are full of fightin’ words which reflect the passions of the Civil War quite clearly, and could provide enough material for a series of articles (maybe even a book) – but historians rarely discuss the feud. The reason why: Thompson’s Sonoma Democrat also quite clearly reflected the Confederacy’s racist malignancy.

I defy anyone with a measure of basic empathy to read through the 1860s Sonoma Democrat and not come away sickened. The problem goes far beyond merely the use of “the n-word,” although that appeared hundreds of times in the Santa Rosa paper (along with every other racist epithet imaginable). It’s that the Democrat smothers the reader with its unceasing and pathological hatred and loathing for the entire black population of America. Sometimes the paper published a speech or sermon trying to justify slavery on historical, legal or biblical grounds, but mostly Thompson didn’t bother and preached to his Confederate-fan choir as if it were a settled matter – everyone with any smarts just knew blacks were inferior, the abolition of slavery would never work and the South was winning the war. Today we have a term to describe such delusional thinking: The Dunning–Kruger effect, meaning the smug over-confidence of the ignorant.

Then suddenly, Thompson’s favorite soapbox was taken away when the South surrendered.

Petaluma, joined by like-minded Union patriots in Marin, held a nine-hour celebration with a marching band, fireworks and a mock battle. There were three parades, all featuring banners with the artwork of a local man “whose patriotism is only equalled by his ingenuity in caricaturing treason and traitors.” What impressed most was a float 14 feet high and nine feet wide depicting “the Goddess of Liberty, holding in her hands the Stars and Stripes, and supported on both sides, by two ‘recording angels.'”

Meanwhile, Santa Rosa sulked and the Democrat – true to form – lied to its readers, claiming the displays seen at the Petaluma parade “were devoted almost entirely to the abolition of slavery and the elevation of the black race” (none had any reference to slavery or race). Editor Thompson, who did not yet know the details of the surrender at Appomattox, held out the hope that General Grant’s terms would roll back the clock to the good ol’ days before Lincoln: “…it has always been understood that he, like George B. McClellan, is for the ‘Union as it was.’”

Petaluma did not have long to celebrate, nor Santa Rosa long to grump. Three days after the parade came news of Lincoln’s assassination. From the Argus:


…All that we could learn was that Lincoln had been shot dead, in Ford’s Theatre, and that Seward had been stabbed several times, while in his bed, and was yet alive. At length the boat arrived, and to Mr. Charles Yeomans we were indebted for a [San Francisco] Bulletin Extra, giving the details. This was read from the Journal and Argus office to the throng outside. We soon had the sad particulars in type, passing extras, to those outside clamorous for the news, at the rate of 1,200 an hour…

The Petaluma newspaper continued: “…To render still more intense the excitement, a dispatch came announcing that the people of San Francisco had literally sacked five Secession newspaper offices, and that the Military and Police force was powerless to restrain them.”

In another article on the same page, the Argus reprinted an item from a San Francisco paper reporting that the assassination news led to mobs destroying the printing presses and type cabinets of all pro-Confederacy newspapers in the city. (It’s said the De Young brothers founded the Chronicle using the lead type they swept up in the street.) Soldiers at the Presidio were called out to assist the police, and the combined armed force patrolled the streets until the next day, quelling the only Civil War-related riot in California.

The San Francisco “Lincoln Riot,” April 15, 1865, destroyed the presses of pro-Confederate newspapers and journals. Photo: Lincoln Museum, Ft. Wayne, Indiana via foundsf.org

 

You can bet Thomas L. Thompson was nervously peeking out the windows at the Democrat once word reached Sonoma county that angry patriots were busting up the offices of disloyal newspapers. And given his years of snarkily taunting Petaluma, should he also fear being tarred and Petaluma-chicken feathered?

Luckily for Thompson, nothing happened – but both Petaluma and Santa Rosa papers suggested it was a close call.

Writing of Petaluma’s reaction to news of the San Francisco “Lincoln Riot,” the Argus stated, “This deed of righteous vengeance gave birth to dark thoughts and significant murmurs which required the combined efforts, cool heads to keep in restraint. The remotest semblance of exultation, over the fall of Lincoln, either by word or act, would have called forth swift and summary vengeance…it was a critical time and we felt rejoiced when night drew its curtains about our city and the people had dispersed to their homes…”

A couple of days later, Thompson wrote that someone in Petaluma was spreading rumors: “We have heard that some worse than brute in human shape, circulated a report at Petaluma [that Santa Rosa was not in mourning] and we deem it due to our people, as well as those in other portions of the State, to denounce the originator of the slander a wilful and malicious liar.”

Of course, Thompson being Thompson, he could not write a single paragraph without including some provocative remark. He now claimed the Sonoma Democrat was always respectful to Lincoln despite everything: “…as the great head of the Nation, which we have been taught to love and respect from our infancy, we have ever been willing to accord to him that respect which is properly due to the Chief Magistrate of the country.” Maybe Thompson bumped his head and forgot the barrels of ink he had used over the previous four years denouncing Lincoln as a dishonest, incompetent, lying, cowardly, deformed, witless tyrant – and that’s not even the rough stuff, where the president was accused of being a race traitor.

The history of those days cannot be written without mentioning “The Battle of Washoe House.” For those unfamiliar, there’s a story that a mob of Petaluma men did start to ride towards Santa Rosa but got no further than the famous roadhouse, drowning their indignant anger in suds. (A variant says their wives had to fetch the drunks home the next morning.) There’s no proof the story is even partially true; it was not mentioned in any period newspaper or book that can be found and as commented above, the local papers suggest there was nothing more than grumbling in Petaluma. Should something turn up I’ll correct it here, but after a long search I’m ready to file it away as a tall tale.*

A few days later, both Santa Rosa and Petaluma had funeral obsequies for Lincoln. Petaluma went all out, as might be expected. A rifle salute was fired every thirty minutes from sunrise to sundown; a cortège, complete with hearse, traced a route through all the main streets with church bells tolling the entire time. In Santa Rosa the procession went from the Fourth street courthouse to the Methodist church a block over, then back to the Plaza. “Nearly all the business houses in town were draped in mourning,” the Democrat reported. Nearly.

There followed a brief and uneasy truce in their (un)civil war. at least in the sense Thompson temporarily dialed back his attacks on the government and black people – perhaps he feared those buckets of hot tar and sacks of chicken feathers were still sitting in the back of Petaluma wagons. The Democrat reported, without comment, about residents of other counties being arrested for rejoicing over Lincoln’s death, and meekly protested the Democrats now felt like strangers in their own country.

Cassiday, on the other hand, kept hammering away, writing that the national Democratic party, the Sonoma county Democrats and the Santa Rosa paper were all guilty of treason. He took to calling Thompson “Limberback” for reasons unknown, although apparently it was a pretty good insult.

That truce lasted only a month after the war. Thompson wrote an obnoxious (but tame, for him) op/ed stating abolition was just a Yankee social experiment that may fail. “We the whole people of the United States, who have paid the price in blood and treasure for this little experiment in New England ideas, will endeavor patiently to await the result.”

The Argus shot back angrily: “We rather think you won’t have long to wait. Have you heard from Jeff. [Davis] lately? By the way, Limberback, where was your blood and treasure expended? On which side of the line did you invest? Didn’t you lose most of your cash on the Confederacy?”

And then they were off again. Soon the Democrat was relitigating the war, insisting the South had the higher moral ground and a right to secede in order to maintain its slave economy. Thompson was back to flinging “the n-word” in nearly every issue and the newspaper’s racism was as bad as ever – no, actually worse.

I’m sure I’ll have to mention again their epic feud; any researcher looking at Sonoma county during the Civil War (and following years) can’t go very far without stumbling over their quarrels. And some of it is great fun in its own right; later in 1865 the Democrat offered a parody endorsement for “Dr. Gunny Bags’ Extract of Butternut Sap” which “cured political maladies, especially that peculiar type called fanaticism.” A fake testimonial declared, “I poured a little on the wheels of the Petaluma Journal and Argus, and it acted like magic. It immediately expelled the flatulency which had so long inflated the editorials of that paper.”

But like so much of what appeared in the Sonoma Democrat at that time, “Dr. Gunny Bags” is ruined by Thompson’s compulsive need to insert racial slurs. That shift in the article changes it from satire to white supremacist pornography, so I’ll never transcribe that item or write more about it than what appears right here. It’s enough to point out that a cesspool stinks without offering a scratch ‘n’ sniff card to prove it.

 


* “The Battle of Washoe House” first appeared in print in Adair Lara’s 1982 “History of Petaluma: A California River Town.” On pg. 50 she quoted Ed Mannion, an Argus-Courier columnist and local history buff per the fable of the “Petaluma Navy” which was poised to attack Santa Rosa once there was “an extremely high tide” (in other words, once the entire county flooded, yuk, yuk, yuk). In the next paragraph, Lara introduced the Washoe House story, stating, “…LOCAL HISTORIANS say that these guardians of the national honor got as far as the Washoe House…” (emphasis mine). Adair does not recall her source but agrees it could have been Mannion. Perhaps it was an old saloon tale or the sort of spoof which Mark Twain called a “quaint” which appeared in some non-local newspaper now lost. My personal theory is that it was either born or gained traction in 1958, the year of Petaluma’s centennial. That was also the 99th birthday for the Washoe House and members of E. Clampus Vitus mounted a plaque at the roadhouse in celebration. The Clampers were up to their usual hijinks that day, including trying to push an old fire engine into the lobby of the Hotel Petaluma. The events ended with a group dinner at the hotel (“A whole chicken for each man, and served on pitchforks” – Pet. A-C, April 14 1958) where the Clampers heard the “vigilante bell” story and other old tales.

 

Petaluma Argus, April 20, 1865
REJOICING!

From Plymouth Rock to where the Pacific’s waves lave [sic] shores of California, Oregon and Washington, the capture of the Rebel army under Lee, by the conquering hero, Lieut.-Gen. U. S. Grant, has called forth demonstrations of unbounded enthusiasm and rejoicing. The mountains echo back the shouts from the vallies, and to the outermost verge of civilization, bonfires have been kindled to herald the downfall of one of the most wicked and uncalled for rebellions that ever blotted the pages history. On Wednesday the loyal people of Sonoma and Marin counties assembled in this city, to exchange congratulations upon the encouraging prospect of a speedy restoration of our Union and termination of the further effusion of blood. Our city was filled to repletion with the inhabitants of the surrounding country. About noon the Lincoln Cavalry, Lieut. Causland, and Bloomfield Guards, Capt. C. R. Arthur, led by the Bloomfield Brass Band, entered our city with flying banners. About the same time the Washington Guards, Capt. W. A. Eliason, from Santa Rosa cheered us with their presence. At 1 1/2 o’clock, P. M. the above named Companies, with the Petaluma Guards. Emmet Rifles and City Guards, Major Jas. Armstrong, commanding, preliminary to a grand review on Union square, East Petaluma, escorted the patriotic boys of our Fire Department, comprised of Sonoma, No. 2, through several streets. The review at Union Square was witnessed by a vast concourse of ladies and gentlemen, and reflected great credit upon our citizen soldiers. A sham battle, in which the Lincoln Cavalry made repeated charges upon the Infantry drawn up in battle array, was the most exciting feature of the review. The clash and clatter of the cavalry, so they swept down upon the serried lines bristling bayonets, followed by the rattle of musketry as volley after volley of brank cartridges greeted the assailants, on a small scale, gave a fair representation of a battle scene. Nobody was hurt, however, and at 4 o’clock the Military was dismissed. At 7 1/2 o’clock in the evening a procession was formed on Main street, headed with the military, led by the Bloomfield Brass Band, and marched through the principle streets with a good display of fireworks, torches, transparencies and banners. The houses of the loyal people throughout the city were illuminated. As the procession moved along, cheer upon cheer answered the waving of handkerchiefs by the patriotic ladies along the route. God bless our mothers and sisters for the noble self-sacrificing spirit which has prompted them to buckle the armor upon sons and brothers, and bid them strike for their country, in its hour of peril! Their heart’s treasure has strewn a thousand fields; but they can today rejoice that their noble slain repose beneath their Country’s Banner. A large number of transparencies and banners, painted by Mr. Samuel Dearborn, of this city, whose patriotism is only equalled by his ingenuity in caricaturing treason and traitors, was a prominent feature of the procession. The following are a few of the inscriptions and devices:

Representation of the Goddess of Liberty, holding in her hands the Stars and Stripes, and supported on both sides, by two “recording angels.” This was a splendidly executed device, being fourteen feet high and nine wide, and was drawn on a wagon through the streets, to the admiration of everyone.

“The Angel of Peace.” (Picture of Gilmore’s ‘Swamp Angel.'”)

“The rebel Hill; the difference between his place and name is all in your ‘eye,’ (i)”

Picture of Johnny Crapeaud in Mexico. Johnny is represented as a frog, under the iron heel of Brother Johnathan [sic].

“Steel Bayonets, Yankee Shoe pegs.”

“Long may he wave.” (A picture of Jeff. Davis suspended by a rope around his neck.)

Sam’s large transparency, the one used in the last campaign, was changed to suit the occasion, and was carried on an omnibus.

“Blessed are the Peace Makers–Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas and Porter.”

“The Rebellion shipwrecked on a ‘LEE’ shore.”

“Sound the tocsin, beat the drum, the year of Jubi-‘Lee’ has come!”

At about 9 o’clock the procession was disbanded on Main street, when a platform was erected in front of the American Hotel, and the meeting organized with I. G. Wickersham, Esq., as Chairman. Prof. E. S. Lippitt addressed the vast assemblage present for over an hour, after which the Glee Club sang a patriotic song, and the Band played several spirited pieces. So ended the jubilee over the capture of Lee’s army.

– Petaluma Argus, April 13, 1865
 
Treason and Hypocrisy.

We can endure with a good deal of patience the rebels in their revolt, for although it is one of the most henious crimes known to our laws, yet it is true, the great mass of them, from habit, education, and their entire surroundings, have been honestly led to believe they are justifiable in fighting against the Government, for what they term their independence. In fact we cannot refrain from respecting an open and manly enemy. One may contend for a principle, amid many trials and through sacrifices, the principle for which he is striving may be most pernicious and dangerous in its tendencies. And while we insist that the rebels should be punished, for the good of society and the well-being of future generations, yet we deeply commiserate them and painfully regret they had not received a better and more correct education.

But there is a class of men in the North, for whom we neither can have respect or feelings of pity. They occupy a position so perfectly inexcusable, and without excuse, that patriotic men cannot help but feel that the severest penalty known to our laws would, at best, very inadequately punish them for the crimes of which they are guilty.

We refer to that hypocritical and treasonable portion of the Democratic party, which cover itself with a flimsy mantle of loyalty, just sufficiently heavy to save them from being banished beyond our lines, or from imprisonments in the cells of our military prisons–some of them, even then, only avoiding the latter by the nimbleness of their heels. Men who belie their early education, stultify their judgements, an go contrary to the clearest promptings of their consciences; who remain under the Government; claim and receive its protection, which they are constantly scheming for its overthrow; who for the sake of saving their necks will urge men to enlist, while with the next breath they proclaim that the guilt and entire responsibility for the war, in the first place, and for its further continuance, rests upon the North.

Now, in the name of all that is sacred and solemn, if the rebels are right in this struggle, and are willing to lay down their arms just as soon as they have the promise and security that they will be protected in their just and constitutional rights, but can any one believing this, aid the Government in the further prosecution of the war? If we held such views we would not stop under such a government a single day, but would join our destiny with the party battling for the right; and so would every man who is worthy of the name. Those who hold that on Mr. Lincoln rests “the odium, the blood, the guilt of a further prosecution of the war,” while at the same time they are urging men to enlist, demonstrate to the public, as clear as the noon-day sun, that they are both hypocrites and traitors, and although personally they may be very insignificant and beneath the notice of the military authorities, yet some of them occupy positions which places a lever in their hands by which they may accomplish much mischief. And the community which patronizes and sustains such persons, will be very likely ultimately to find, that they have been warming a viper into life, which will turn on them and fasten its envenomed fangs into their quivering flesh.

– Petaluma Argus, April 13, 1865

From the San Francisco Dispatch
Great outburst of Popular Feeling.

WHOLESOME DESTRUCTION OF COPPERHEAD NEWSPAPERS.

This afternoon between the hour of two and three o’clock, P. M. the loyal people of San Francisca, paid their respects to the office of the Democratic Pres, which they at once proceeded to demolish without ceremony. The types and other printing material were cast out of the windows and down the stairs, the stands and cases were smashed into fragments, the papers were distributed on the viewless wings of wind, much more expeditiously than the carrier ould have done it, the window frames were bodily torn out of the fastenings, and thrown down upon the pavement, where all the debris was gathered in a pile–the office, in fact, completely destroyed and gutted.

An immense multitude gathered in the streets and watched the proceeding with interest. Not the least attempt at resistance or rescue was made, showing that this prepeeding met with universal approbation.

After the consumation of this act of signal justice, the crowd moved off to the office of Marriot’s News Letter, which was served in a similar manner. Great enthusiasm prevailed. A number of persons secured the latest impressions. One person cried out “here’s the last issue of Marriot’s News Letter. The work of destruction was accomplished when Chief Burke accompanied by two companies of armed police, with bayonets fixed, marched round several squares and up Clay street to the News Letter, where the Chief spoke in favor of moderation, as the crowd began to move away, only, but ever, to rush up to the office of the Monitor (weekly Copperhead,) where they in a manner demolished, or in Secesh parlance, “wiped out.”

The office of the Occidental shared the fate of the Press. During its destruction, the Vox de Mejico, the loyal Mexican paper, took in its flag, but after the occurrence threw it out again amid loud cheers.

The proprietors of all the papers destroyed made good their escape, and no violence was perpetrated at that time.

This act of justice, happening upon the heels of the sad intelligence announcing the double murder in Washington seems most appropriate.

– Petaluma Argus, April 20, 1865

 

Petaluma in Mourning.

…All that we could learn was that Lincoln had been shot dead, in Ford’s Theatre, and that Seward had been stabbed several times, while in his bed, and was yet alive. At length the boat arrived, and to Mr. Charles Yeomans we were indebted for a Bulletin Extra, giving the details. This was read from the JOURNAL AND ARGUS office to the throng outside. We soon had the sad particulars in type, passing extras, to those outside clamarous [sic] for the news, at the rate of 1200, an hour. To render still more intense the excitement, a dispatch came announcing that the people of San Francisco had litterally[sic] sacked five Secession newspaper offices, and that the Military and Police force was powerless to restrain them. This deed of righteous vengeance gave birth to dark thoughts and significant murmers [sic] which required the combined efforts, cool heads to keep in restraint. The remotest semblance of exultation, over the fall of Lincoln, either by word or act, would have called forth swift and summary vengeance. Those of known secession proclivities seemed to fully realize the position of affairs, and deported themselves accordingly. It was a critical time and we felt rejoiced when night drew its curtains about our city and the people had dispersed to their homes…

– Petaluma Argus editorial, April 20, 1865
 
The Death of the President.

The announcement of the sudden and tragic death of President Lincoln reached Santa Rosa on Saturday last at about 11 o’clock. Two dispatches were received from San Francisco bearing the terrible intelligence, and the people stood aghast for a time, loth to believe that such could he true, but the announcement was soon affirmed by other dispatches. The effect upon the minds of the people of every sect, partv and denomination was the same. A truly mournful gloom was soon spread over the entire community.— Business houses were all closed, and the flags upon the public and private buildings were lowered to half mast. We have heard that some worse than brute in human shape, circulated a report at Petaluma to the contrary of what we have stated, and we deem it due to our people, as well as those in other portions of the State, to denounce the originator of the slander a wilful and malicious liar. We have never seen any gloom so generally shared in as that occasioned in our midst by the sad announcement of the brutal and fiendish assassination of the Chief Magistrate of the Nation. We have never been a supporter of Mr. Lincoln’s peculiar policy in administering the government, but as the great head of the Nation, which we have been taught to love and respect from our infancy, we have ever been willing to accord to him that respect which is properly due to the Chief Magistrate of the country. We have heard nothing but the deepest sorrow and regret expressed by all our people at the sad announcement of his death.

– Sonoma Democrat, April 22 1865

THE NEWS–AND HOW IT WAS RECEIVED. —Those who have advocated the war, and accepted and ratified every act of the administration, without hesitating a moment to consider the consequences hereafter, looking forward alone to the subjugation of the South and the liberation of the negro, have had a gay old time this week over the news which has been transmitted across the wires. The intensely loyal had a good pow-wow at Petaluma on Wednesday, and at Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, demonstrations of joy were manifested in various ways. It is not because of the prospects of peace that they celebrate, but rather the triumph of might. We are informed that the transparencies in the procession at Petaluma were devoted almost entirely to the abolition of slavery and the elevation of the black race. It may be that these sticklers for Sambo, celebrate too soon, for Grant has made the terms, and it has always been understood that he, like George B. McClellan, is for the “Union as it was.”

– Sonoma Democrat, April 22 1865

A NUMBER OF ARRESTS.–From our numerous exchanges we see that in almost every portion of the State men have been arrested for rejoicing over the assassination of President Lincoln, and have been sent to prison. Here is a chance for the great Democratic Constitutional expounder, of this city, to declaim against “unconstitutional arrests.”

– Petaluma Argus, April 27, 1865

 

Mob Violence.

San Francisco stands alone in the category of cities which, upon the arrival of the recent dreadful news from Washington, was disgraced by a resort to mob violence, in order to appease the grief and indignation of her people. It is gratifying to hear that even there those who had recourse to such dangerous and unlawful proceedings formed bnt a small portion of the inhabitants, and the outrages committed were condemned and deeply regretted by the more respectable classes of the community. Generally those who give vent to their feelings on such occasions as the present by a resort to unlawful measures are men who have nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing a community into a state of tumultuous excitement, and in such times it becomes every good citizen to raise his voice in behalf of law and older. Since 1851, San Francisco has been subject to periodical outbreaks of popular excitement, and on this occasion we find in the ranks of the mob men who at other times have sustained the law, and wo can only account for their conduct on this occasion in believing it was instigated by a desire to gratify a spirit of revenge harbored against certain loyal publication offices in that city as well as against Democratic papers. It is a well known fact that had it not been for the timely interference of the military on the 15th inst., the offices of the Alta and Bulletin and the Overland Telegraph Company would have suffered. It is positively asserted by the Flag newspaper, the organ of the disorderly, as well as by citizens of San Francisco who witnessed the proceedings that these establishments were included in the programme laid down for the mob to execute. The military commandant of the coast was appealed to for protection, and did prevent the destruction of these as well as certain Churches in the city which were also threatened, by the establishment of a military guard about them. From the best information we can gather we are fully satisfied that credit is due to Major General McDowell for the prevention of further and more disastrous, destruction of property than did occur. We regret exceedingly that we cannot record that he saved the property of Democrats as well as of other citizens, for to assume that they are not entitled to the protection of law is to ignore the rights of fully one-half the population of the loyal States.

All reports of the destruction of newspapers elsewhere in the State besides San Francisco were without foundation. In every other section the people manifested their grief by more quiet and respectful proceedings. True, in some instances, threats were made by persons who imagined it would be proper for them to imitate the example set at San Francisco, but thanks be to the cooler heads of the more orderly masses, we are spared the necessity of recording any further violation of law. It is to be hoped that every law abiding citizen, be he Democrat or Republican, Abolitionist or Copperhead, will continue to exert himself in behalf of law and order, for surely no good can come of violent demonstrations, be they of what character they may.

We append hereto some very sensible remarks upon this subject taken from the S. F. Bulletin:

“Every intelligent Unionist must perceive that no good can possibly result from lawless bursts of anger at this time. The duty of the hour is a calm adherence to the legal sanctions of order, that society may as soon as possible recover from the disturbing effects of civil war and the passions that follow in the train. Mere brutal violence is an affront to the spirit of the great dead, whose marble serenity still hushes the nation’s capital. We should go through this memorial week–about to be made sacred forever in our history his by obsequies — with dignity and decency worthy of our grief and of his character. Everv good citizen should frown upon all incitements to scenes of disorder, chief among which, and altogether the most reprehensible, are incendiary publications of the character of the American Flag, which should be discouraged and discarded by every friend of sobriety and good government. The civil and military authorities should continue their efforts to preserve the peace, and use every proper means to prevent inflammatory appeals and expressions.”

– Sonoma Democrat, April 29 1865

 

The Opponents of the Administration.

Some people place a poor estimate upon the patriotism, virtue and intelligence of the American people when they endeavor to fix the responsibility of the recent tragic occurrences in our Nation’s history upon those who, in their wisdom, have seen proper to exercise the privileges of citizenship by recording their votes against the peculiar policy of those who administer the Government. The right of freely expressing one’s views and the free exercise of the right of suffrage are privileges which have been guaranteed to the people of this country, not only by the Constitution of the United States, but by that of every individual State in the Union… At the recent Presidential election over fifteen hundred thousand American citizens entered their protest against the peculiar policy of those who were administering the Government. If it were true that these people desired the downfall of the Government or the assassination of its Chief Executive, then, indeed, are we a degenerate nation. We do not believe that the masses of the dominant party attribute any such designs or motives to those who opposed them in the last Presidential contest–but, rather, they stand with the lamented President, who himself spurned to assume such to be the case, and in his last Message administered these fanatics a withering rebuke by taking upon himself the defense of the Democratic party against this senseless cry of disloyalty and treason.

But, we regret, there are some high in authority who see proper to take a different view from Mr. Lincoln, and declare or insinuate that those whom the late President would defend from the foul invectives hurled against them are guilty, as charged by the fanatical press of the country. We have heard nothing from the East of this tirade against Democrats; it appears to be confined alone to the Pacific coast. — And feeling, as we do, that they have cause to and do as deeply mourn the loss of the lamented dead as any who set themselves up to be models of loyalty. we deeply regret that such should be the case here. In the defense of the Democracy by Mr. Lincoln we have another reason Democrats everywhere should deplore his loss; for surely we had a better friend in him than we may ever hope to find in those who rule the country now.

– Sonoma Democrat, April 29 1865

 

Military Arrests.

David James and two sons, Wm. P Durbin and son, Charles Ramsey and son, and John Stilts were arrested by military order in Green Valley, Solano county, on Monday List, lor rejoicing over the death of President Lincoln. — A company of militia were despatched from Benecia to execute the order, and met with resistance from the parties, two soldiers being wounded. After an exchange of several shots, the above named parties surrendered themselves to the militia, and are now confined at San Francisco, where they will be tried by military court for resisting the execution of the order. Four men were arrested at Colusa on Thursday of last week, by a company of soldiers from Sacramento, also charged with rejoicing over the death of the President. The names of the parties so arrested are…

– Sonoma Democrat, April 29 1865
Will Awaken Reflection.

There is scarcely a Copperhead journal in the State but that comes to us clothed in mourning, and filled with lamentations over the untimely fall of Abraham Lincoln, by the hand of an assassin. How sincere they are in their protestations of sorrow is a matter of little or no importance to us; but we are curious to see what effect it will have upon those who had been educated up to an intense degree of fanatical hatred of Lincoln by these same organs. Ignorant men and women whose minds are plastic material in the hands of unscrupulous demagogues, when once thoroughly indoctrinated with sentiments, however brutal, are hard to uneducate; and in the present instance very many of them gave utterance to their joy at the cowardly assassination of President Lincoln, little dreaming that the journals which had always held him up to them as a “monster in human form;” a “tyrant whose iron rule was insufferable,” would exhibit such an agony of grief at his removal. Even the lowest order of intellect can discern that either in the beginning or end they have been dealt falsely by; that if their leaders were sincere at the outset, they have deserted them now; and if sincere now, they willfully deceived and betrayed them into a false position in the beginning. Those who, upon hearing of the assassination of Lincoln, exclaimed, the ‘Abolitionists’ have been rejoicing over the capture of Lee’s army but now it is our turn to rejoice, little dereamed that their leaders would fail to join with them in their origies [sic] over a slain “tyrant.” How chilling must have been the effect upon the patrons of the Santa Rosa Democrat, when upon unfolding its pages expecting to find a ponderous leader under the caption, “Caesar found his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and Lincoln his Booth,” their eyes were greeted with an ostentatious display of mourning, and professions of inconsolable sorrow. However bitter the disappointment to some, it will not be wholly barren of good results. Some minds are so constituted that just such impressive lessons are the only instrumentalities that will arouse them to the perception of new truths. Party leaders, so long as they keep up a semblance of consistency and sincerity, may keep such minds in the grooves of old beaten tracks, but when, as is the case just now, those leaders stand unmasked, shrinking from the position into which they have betrayed their dupes, their misguided followers will be slow to fall into line and follow them into new and unexplored fields. The whole stock in trade of the Democratic leaders, in this county, has been vituperation of Lincoln, By falsehood and misrepresentation they kept men in their party trammels by systematic and unscrupulous appeals to the lowest instincts of brutalized humanity. Like the keeper who shrinks back powerless to command the obedience of animals whose appetites have been whetted by the blood of some hapless victim, these same leaders stand trembling in the presence of the demoniac spirit they have instilled into the hearts of their followers, and which will not down at their bidding. This condition of affairs has awakened reflection in the minds of a small minority in that party, who can lay some claims to intelligence and respectability, and they unhesitatingly renounce their allegiance to it. Oceans of hypocritical tears will not suffice to remove the stain of Lincoln’s blood from the Democratic party; it will adhere to it with the tenacity of the poisoned shirt of Nessus.

– Petaluma Argus, May 4, 1865

 

Beginning to Reap the Penalty.

So long as there was a remote possibility that the armed rebellion with which our Government was struggling, might ultimately accomplish its end, Norther traitors could hold up their heads with some assurance; but now that the cause which has commanded their entire sympathies, is hopelessly crushed, they beging to have a foretaste of the infamy in store for them and their posterity, for generations to come. Every day is rendering more legible the line of demarkation between loyal men and traitors. Where loyalty and treason have been unequally yoked together in business firs the work of severance and readjusting is rapidly going on. Aiders and abettors of treason are being made to feel that they are regarded as moral lepers who live by the sufferance of the community they infest. As well might they attempt to elude their own shadows as the disgrace which will attend them at every step throughout their lives and brood over their graves after their death.

– Petaluma Argus, May 4, 1865
 
The Day of Reckoning.

What did you with the inheritance bequeathed to you by the founders of our Government? When treason uplifted its bloody hand against the National life, what position did you assume, that of loyalty or disloyalty to your country? These are grave questions, but they are interrogatories which will meet you at every turn in life, and whether you are willing or not, answer to them will be exacted. The antecedents, associations, and records of some of the would-be prominent men of this county have branded their brows with treason, in characters so legible, that even children will recognize them, and shrinking from their path will point after them and say, “there goes a TRAITOR.”

– Petaluma Argus, May 4, 1865

“LET THE GALLED JADE WINCE.”–No wonder Limberback, of Santa Rosa, is afraid that during the coming canvass “Democrats will be denounced as sympathizers with treason and assassination.” Jeff. Davis is certainly a good Democrat. Jacob Thompson, C. C. Clay, Beverly Tucker, and Geo. N. Saunders, dictated the platform which was adopted by the Democratic National Convention at Chicago. They are good Democrats, yet they are directly implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and are supposed to be in sympathy with the  late rebellion. The plot to assassinate the President was doubtless well known in the wigwams of the Golden Circle, or Knights of the Columbian Star, and no sensible person will attempt to deny that the leaders of the Democratic Party of Sonoma County, were members of that organization. Is it strange that the people hold the Democratic Party responsible for the rebellion and the assassination of Mr. Lincoln?

– Petaluma Argus, May 11, 1865

U. S. BONDS–The Santa Rosa treason mill has been selected as one of the papers to advertise the U. S. 7-30 Loan! That is proper and right. The paper has been loyal for two weeks through fear of being destroyed by an outraged people! This brazen-faced hypocritical, teason-breeding tool of Jeff. Davis, after working four years for the Southern Confederacy, now has the impudences to advise loyal men to invest in the Government Loan! Oh, what cheek! Limberback is subjugated! He will be a howling Abolitionist in another month. Advising the people to subscribe for the National Loan! Aint, that funny! He will be advocating negro equality pretty soon. Can’t be subjugated, oh no! Where is the last ditch? Ha, ha, haw-haw!

– Petaluma Argus, May 11, 1865
New England on Trial.

New England chuckles over what she deems the complete success of her blind theories; she has obtained in the hour of national insanity, what she vainly endeavored for half a century to win from the calm judgment of our people, viz: The privilege of testing the the truth or falsity of her Abolition dogma. We the whole people of the United States, who have paid the price in blood and treasure lor this little experiment in New England ideas, will endeavor patiently to await the result. If upon a practical demonstration, Emancipation shall prove a benefit to humanity, white and black, then glory be to New England. Then who would not be an abolitionist? If the negroes and their former masters can inhabit the same soil equal in all things, and nearly equal in numbers, each happy and all things harmonious in their new relation, then New England ideas have triumphed. New England stands or falls by the result. The test of Emancipation is the test of New England, and woe to the disciple of John Brown if after a fair trial we find that we have paid so dearly for their teachings, only to be deceived in the result.

– Sonoma Democrat, May 13 1865

We the whole people of the United States who have paid the price in blood and treasure for this little experiment in New England ideas, will endeavor patiently to await the result.” – Santa Rosa Democrat.

We rather think you won’t have long to wait. Have you heard from Jeff. lately? By the way, Limberback, where was your blood and treasure expended? On which side of the line did you invest? Didn’t you loose [sic] most of your cash on the Confederacy?

– Petaluma Argus, May 18, 1865

 

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