dawndeed

DAWN OF THE DEED

You lucky, lucky soul; you just won vacation property in Sonoma county! Tell your friends and family so they can rush to buy a lot close to yours!

That was the premise of a con game that swept the nation in the early 1910s. The land existed alright and you actually did own it, as long as you gave the promoters a few bucks for paperwork, sent the county a small recording fee and paid your county taxes. The gotcha was that the property was worthless because it was on a remote, steep hillside. The map showing a neat grid of streets and building lots was a fantasy, which led people in the know to call these “paper subdivisions.” Another name used was “wildcat subdivisions” – they were on land only wildcats roamed.

Sonoma county was dotted with these imaginary little towns, mainly around the Russian River and north of Santa Rosa (outside of Cloverdale there was supposedly Cloverdale Heights, Cloverdale Terrace and Orange City, for example). Very few owners built on their property and almost all stopped paying taxes, letting it default back to the county. But a few years ago a tweak to state law allowed developers to invoke those old deeds as a means to bypass all modern rules and regulations – a crazy story explored here earlier in “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED.” This is the prequel to those events, explaining how the scam began.

Newspapers in the 1910s were virtually homestudy courses in land fraud, with hucksters selling Florida swampland as lakefront property and Montana scrub desert as homesites with exceptionally swell drainage. Much in the news was a particular swindle where conmen made today’s equivalent of $2.25 million/year before they were busted in 1909, selling lots in Boise City, Oklahoma, “the garden spot of the southwest,” promising no home was more than four blocks from the courthouse. “King Corn and King Cotton grow side by side” they boasted in mailers with photos of happy farmers. In truth, the newspapers later said it was an arid “No Man’s Land” and the men didn’t even own the property outright. Over 250 victims came forward to testify against them before they were sentenced to a couple of years in federal prison for mail fraud. The moral of the story, as viewed by other crooked “land sharks:” Better not to document the scam in printed mailers and to rip-off the suckers in person.

Summerland was the most (in)famous and probably the first of the Sonoma County scams, located in the high hills above Guerneville off of Old Cazadero Road (see map). Its origins are murky and might originally have been intended as a legit summer resort, like Rio Nido, Camp Vacation and many others where you could rent a tent-cabin for a week or buy a small parcel and build a bungalow to stay the whole season. The Summerland lots were platted out in 1910 – the year the Russian River resort scene exploded in popularity – and small ads for Summerland appeared in the “Summer Resort” section of Bay Area newspapers over the next several years. No amenities were ever specified except for “sanitary conditions,” which presumably meant outhouses and maybe a well with a handpump.

There was actually more than one Summerland: Summerland Park, Summerland Villa, Summerland Addition #2 and maybe more. Before it was over there would be thousands of lots sold, which would have given the Cazadero area the largest population north of the San Francisco – had anyone lived there.

Behind the deals were three speculators (for reference, they were: the Enright Brothers, banker I. J. Truman and the Guerneville Land Company, all based in San Francisco). We don’t know if any of them were directing the scams, but a man who worked for some/all of them as the representative for Summerland certainly started the ball rolling.

Robert Romer, a former stockbroker who was kicked out of the San Francisco Stock Exchange in 1907, was contacted by the Healdsburg Enterprise about the unusual lottery being held at the M & M movie theater in town. Romer said each night there was a drawing for a “free” lot – although the lucky ticket holder still had to pay the $6.50 county recording fee of course. He explained the goal was word-of-mouth advertising; the winners would be so enthusiastic they would tell all their friends to buy lots nearby at the regular price of $25.00, and they would tell their friends, and so on.

The obvious problem with this scheme was that Healdsburg really ain’t that far from Cazadero – if the winner didn’t know their prize property was in the middle of nowhere, one of the friends they were supposed to sucker into buying a lot probably knew it. So a few days later, an account appears in the Press Democrat about county officials being contacted by lucky ticket holders in Sacramento, wondering about the Summerland property they had just won at the movies.

As the new year of 1912 dawned, the Summerland scam spread over the nation like a flu epidemic. “Letters from other counties, from British Columbia, from Nevada, from Arizona, from Oregon and Washington are pouring in to the Recorder, the Assessor, the Tax Collector and to other officials of Sonoma, pleading for information regarding these peculiar transactions,” wrote historian Tom Gregory at the time.

There were sightings during March reported in Oregon and Washington after police there became suspicious about the movie theater lottery where every attendee apparently “won.” One of the Portland papers looked into the Summerland offering and told readers it was “said to be a mile from Cazadero, Cal., a milk station back in the hills.”

Romer probably wasn’t one of the two men who claimed to be from the “Exposition Developing Company” jumping from town to town in the Northwest making lottery deals with local theater owners. Instead, he was busy in Sonoma county, trying to sell $50,000 in stock for the “Northwestern Hotel and Water Company,” which was going to build a hotel at Summerland with hundreds of rooms plus a complete utility infrastructure suitable for a town of 20,000 residents. According to the Petaluma Courier, Romer told the Board of Control they had already sold about 5,000 lots.

The Summerland movie lottery scam was made a misdemeanor in April 1913 thanks to a bill written by Santa Rosa’s Assemblyman Herbert Slater (it’s still on the books, but was generalized and renumbered to §532c in 1935). But that was only state law, and the scam was running at full steam everywhere except California.

When two Summerland agents were arrested in Kansas City at the end of 1913, they were charged with old-fashioned mail fraud. (Although the state law didn’t apply, the county recorder and surveyor still went to Kansas to testify against them.) A wire service story stated the men had claimed to represent the “Hot Springs Heights Realty Company” of Sonoma county and had been active across the Midwest and South. It was a lucrative swindle – in Muncie Indiana alone, they pulled in up to $1,500 (over $37k today).

The movie theater bunco game fizzled out in mid-1914 – or at least, the Press Democrat reported the poor recorder’s office was no longer flooded with deed filings. That year there was also a long list of these properties on the delinquent tax list, showing many owners had wised up to the property being worthless. Lots were still being sold, however – only now it was the suckers looking for someone to scam themselves. A 1916 for-sale ad ran for quite awhile in the PD offering a lot at Summerland with a 16 x 16 structure (“sold cheap if taken at once”). In Seattle, A. L. DeLong dumped his property on Effie M. Crowley.

The latter sale didn’t involve Summerland, however – it was another of the wildcat subdivisions, called Glen Artney, which began selling bogus lots about the same time that Summerland took off. It was the phony place nearest to Santa Rosa, in the hills south of Calistoga Road (see map) about four miles as the crow flies – but three times that far by road. And that was just to the edge of the property; a man seeking directions dropped by the Press Democrat offices and was “shattered when informed that he could not reach the lot on horseback, and would have a very hard time scrambling to it on foot.”

The Glen Artney hustle is interesting to compare with Summerland. Both used the movie lottery ticket come-on, but the Summerland agents apparently “gave away” lots of lots hoping to sell a few more for about $25, plus picking up a few bucks for providing the paperwork. The Glen Artney hucksters picked just two winners each day and advertised others lots were for sale at $50.00 per – or at least that’s what their ad in a 1912 Montana newspaper stated. That Glen Artney even had print adverts is another major difference from the Summerland guys, who slipped in and out of towns without publicity.

But don’t presume the Glen Artney promoters were any more honest or virtuous; that ad from the “Russian River Resorts Development Company” read, “Glen Artney is a beautiful sloping tract 60 miles from San Francisco, reached by the Southern Pacific railroad and interurban car line. School house on property…” The train and trolley car only went to Santa Rosa, of course, As for the schoolhouse, that was the Pine Mountain district school on St. Helena Road, which was actually suspended in 1911 for lack of any students. Modern maps reveal that “beautiful sloping tract” has an average 40 percent grade.

And while the moneymen behind Summerland were the stereotype big city tycoons and land speculators, Glen Artney seems to have been a strictly local affair. There are three names on the fraudulent map that was recorded; one was John O. McIntosh, up until about then the owner of the popular Grapevine saloon in downtown Santa Rosa. John was well known and well-liked, as was his older brother, Don, a deputy sheriff often mentioned in these pages nabbing wrongdoers.

Enlarge the map below to find the other names are Manville and Frank Doyle, the famous co-founder of the Exchange Bank and his son. Although the notarized statement refers to the “map of our lands,” we cannot say for sure this meant the bank was a partner in the deal – they might have been just the escrow agents. But since the Glen Artney property was so nearby, it’s very difficult to believe anyone really thought a town about half the size of Santa Rosa was going to spring up on the side of a mountain along the twisty county road to St. Helena.

A survey made about thirty years ago suggested there were up to 424,000 lots in old paper subdivisions throughout the state (see the “Living Deed” article for more about this) with the largest percentage of them – about 75,000 – in Sonoma county. We were the highest because of the unusual number of high density fake town/resorts such as Glen Artney and Summerland, which begs the question: Why was our county Ground Zero for land fraud?

We know Summerland was backed by San Francisco money, but there was never any mention in the papers of who was behind these other scams. It came as a surprise to me that Glen Artney had a barkeep’s name on the map, but perhaps many/all of the other schemes were similarly locally grown; after all, 1911 Santa Rosa was a pretty small town and details of the Summerland fraud would’ve been well known, particularly after the out-of-towners who discovered they were cheated came staggering into Santa Rosa saloons to drown their disappointments.

It would be a fun question to dig into further: Between 1911-1914, did Sonoma county have a flourishing cottage industry in scamming outsiders who were foolish enough to buy property here sight unseen? Were our own esteemed neighbors – the bankers, Chamber of Commerce businessmen and real estate wheeler-dealers – quietly running a bunco syndicate?

“…[T]he main reason for stopping the practice was that the county was being given a black eye by reason of the misrepresentations of the lot sellers,” commented the Press Democrat in 1914, when the craze was over – not that it should have been stopped years earlier because it was, you know, unethical. But nobody was ever arrested, except for a few of the traveling movie lottery hucksters; after all, it’s not a crime to sell worthless land – even if it’s on a slope so steep a mountain goat would begin to wheeze before halfway up.

1911 Glen Artney subdivision map
To Market Guerneville Realty

The firm of Enright Brothers & Co., realty brokers of San Francisco, has bought 400 [sic – it was 40] acres of land in the vicinity of Guerneville, and will subdivide it into small holdings, and place it upon the market. There is much fine farming land in that neighborhood, and quite a demand for small farms has lately been manifest; so that Enright Bros, seem to have bought in the right place at the right time.

Press Democrat, February 2 1909

“Summerland” is the name of the newest recreation spot for Guerneville. Mesgsrs. Eright, [sic] the brothers who recently purchased the Sutherland place have surveyed it into lots and already made several sales to the tired folks about the bay who want a quiet, pretty place to spend their hard-earned vacations.

– Healdsburg Tribune, April 13 1910
SUMMERLAND LOTS AT THE M. AND M. THEATER GIVEN AWAY FREE EACH EVENING
The Most Liberal Proposition Yet Offered The Healdsburg People To Secure a Summer Outing Lot

Last Thursday night Mr. Robert Romer gave an interesting sketch on the old and new methods of land subdivision. He explained that his company had allotted Healdsburg a number of free lots in this tract by means of public drawings at the M & M Theater each evening until the allotment has been exhausted. The object in giving those lots in this manner is to create a nucleus tor attracting by means of the winners the vacation and summer home seekers from this district. These winners become agents and a live advertising medium as long as they are deed holders of record. These lots are given away free to winners but they must defray their own expenses in having the title transferred, which amounts to $6.50 which includes the search of title, attorney fees, notary fees, drawing up the deed, etc., the same as any person is forced to do when they inherit a piece of property. He went on to explain that this very feature made their proposition stronger as it eliminated those winners who would look upon the proposition as a Nickelodeon premium and who would have nothing to lose by being inactive. When they pay to have the transfer made, it makes them look into the proposition deeper and is the best sign of good faith that they will become active boosters and attract their friends as buyers and home builders. How can the owners afford to give these lots away, was answered by him in another way. The amount that is generally spent in advertising is turned over to the winners who in turn act as live unconscious agents without pay. The value of any property is determined by the actual amount of deed holders of record which is the only magnet which will draw.

By having the property made valuable by the winners, their friends are glad to pay $25.00 for which these lots are selling. And these buyers in turn attract other buyers which when once started forms an endless chain and they are the ones that actually pay for the lots that are given away. He also made another point to illustrate this which was keen as it is better understood. For instance in a suit club there are generally 25 members, one wins a suit the first month for $5.00 and the second one for $l0.00, but it is the other 23 in number that average up the difference. Some of the lucky winners this week were Mr. C. P. Miller, J. Silberstein, Mrs. H. Sacry, and Fred Boulden who is going to start to improve as soon as his deed is perfected.

– Healdsburg Enterprise, December 2 1911

 

SONOMA COUNTY LOTS WITH PICTURES

A moving picture house in Sacramento is bidding for popularity with its patrons by holding out as an allurement to ticket purchasers an opportunity to secure a “Lot at Summerland, Sonoma county, near Russian River.” When the lucky ones present their tickets, they are told that they must put up six dollars for a deed to the lot. Some of them put up the coin. Others do not. Inquiries are being made of the Sonoma county legislators as to the location of the lots, and as to their worth. But prior to their coming to Sacramento the solons had not heard of the inducements offered.

– Press Democrat, December 6 1911

The Northwestern Hotel and Water Company announces that it will soon erect a hotel large enough to accommodate several hundred summer residents at Summerland near Guerneville, in the near future. The company will also establish a water system for Summerland.

– Healdsburg Tribune, March 14 1912
PHILANTHROPISTS’ SEEK NEW FIELDS
Persons Who Were “Given” Lots in “Summerland Park” Wonder If It’s a Bilk.

Offices of the “Exposition Developing Company” in the Ellers building are closed today. The two strangers, names unknown, who acted as the concern’s representatives, have flown, and a large number of plucked citizens here who paid $6.50 for a deed to a lot in “Summerland Park No. 2,” said to be a mile from Cazadero, Cal., a milk station in the hills of Sonoma county, are wondering whether they were swindled.

The company operated through several moving picture shows here. Theatre patrons were given coupons entitling them to a “free” chance on a lot. Apparently every one won in the weekly “drawing,” as scores of persons were visited by agents of the concern, during the two weeks it operated here…

…Among the motion picture show houses that innocently aided the company were the Rainbow and Cozy theatres on First street.

“The proposition the men made looked good to me,” said G. E. Chamberlain, one of the owners of the Cozy, today. “They told us that all we had to do was to give away the coupons and that our attendance would increase when people learned we were giving away free lots.

“They furnished us with slides showing pictures of the lands they said they owned, and explained that the scheme was to advertise the park so they could later sell lots. We began to get suspicious, however, when every one seemingly drew a lot and we were getting ready to stop giving coupons when the police told us to quit. The strangers got wind of this and left Portland soon afterward…”

– Oregon Daily Journal, March 26, 1912

 

BUNCO-LOWING FOLKS WITH SUMMER FAIRYLANDS

The following is a funny yet plaintive cry of the “bungalow lot victim”–it should be called “bunco-low,” but the humor of the statement must not hide the fact that in the name of Sonoma county this small, cheap bunco game is flourishing throughout our neighboring states. Those worthless patches of real estate are not marketed to the unwary in this county, nor now in this state. The scheme has become too well known except at a distance. And yet nothing can save the investors who are caught by the plausibility of the spielers’ landscape descriptions, and the little coin demanded for such a priceless bit of domain. All these resort lots are worthless as the investor speedily learns after his money has passed. This communication is one of the many such which almost daily adds to Mr. Nagle’s amusement and perplexity, as the writers tell him their troubles after they have been bunco-lowed.

Butte, Mont., Dec. 5, 1912
Mr. F. G. Nagle, County Recorder, Santa Rosa, California.

Dear Sir–We have your not of the second inst., returning the deed from Arthur Annis to E. S. Rodds, which we had sent you in our letter of November 29th for record, and wish to thank you for the information as to the worthlessness of the property.

We are, however, returning the deed with our draft for $1.00 to cover the recording fees, and would ask that you place the same on record.

Mr. Rodda had some information concerning the non-value of this property, before he asked us to send the deed. He is already stung a little, however, and thinks it is worth one dollar more, on the chance that some time petroleum or ginger ale or some other good chase may be discovered in commercial quantities on the land, or that some one might want it for a site for a factory for the manufacture of second-hand tooth brushes. He says he came west to take chances, and he is going through with this, even if it costs him another dollar.

Yours very truly, W. E. Collins,

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 18 1912

 

Fixing It So Can’t Even Give Realty Away in This Place
Bill to Beat Moving Picture Game in Sonoma County Goes Through Assembly.

Up in Santa Rosa moving picture theater owners some time ago conceived the idea of boosting their business by advertising they would give away lots to patrons of their nickelodeons who happened to hold a winning number. This was an alluring bit of advertising, and business trebled within a short time. It was apparent from the start that the theaters were doing it up proper, for many there were who drew a winning number. The lucky person had only to deposit a filing fee to get a deed.

Many deeds were filed. In fact, so many were filed that, the Sonoma county recorder’s office was swamped. Assemblyman Slater was appealed to. He was told the lots were absolutely worthless, and that the moving picture men were getting a corner on all the money in the county. Accordingly he introduced a bill in the lower house the first part of the session making it a misdemeanor for any person to give away worthless lots and collect a fee for transferring or conveying them to the owners of persons drawing lucky numbers.

The assembly heard Slater’s explanation of conditions yesterday, and railroaded the bill through without delay. Tired clerks in the Sonoma county recorder’s office and amusement hall proprietors will probably await with interest the action of the upper house on the measure.

– Sacramento Union, March 14 1913
HERE’S THE END OF ONE SWINDLE
Assemblyman Slater’s Bill to Prevent Frauds Being Perpetrated Is Signed by Governor

The practice of giving away “free” tickets, entitling holders to lots of land, by moving picture shows and other places of entertainment, was checked Thursday when Gov. Johnson signed Assemblyman Slater’s bill, which has added a new section to the penal code. After receiving their “free” tickets, holders have found themselves compelled to pay $6.50 for deeds in addition to paying a fee for recording. Gross fraud has been perpetrated in hundreds of cases, where lots have been said to be located in some sylvan dell and in reality have been perched on some bald rock or inaccessible jungle.

Thousands of deeds have been filed in a number of counties, and, after visiting their land, the deed holders have never returned for their deeds. The measure Introduced by Slater has been indorsed all over the State and was one of his “pet” measures.

The bill is as follows:

Section 1. The penal code is hereby amended by adding a new section thereto to be numbered 532a, to read as follows; 532a. Any person who knowingly and designedly offers or gives with winning numbers at any drawing of numbers or with tickets of admission to places of public assemblage or otherwise, any lot or parcel of real property for the purpose of charging or collecting fees for transferring or conveying the same, or who, under pretense of charging or collecting fees for such conveyance, receives money, labor or property for executing such conveyance, knowing such lots or parcels of real property to be inaccessible, unavailable for the use represented for it, worthless, or without market value equal to such fees, or charges, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

– Press Democrat, April 27 1913

 

Western Lots Are Put on Market at Wholesale

Lot selling was done in a wholesale manner in room 19 of the Metropolital hotel yesterday. The lots were located in Summerland Villa, Guerneville, Sonoma county, Cal…Women folk, lean folk, fat folk of a good natured kind, sleepy folk, and a few other kind, all seemed to be in a hurry to get a piece of California real estate…

…when callers, of which there were many, presented their cards they were informed by a portly appearing gentleman in that in order to get deeds it would be necessary to pay a fee for surveying the lot, and a few minor expenses, and that $8 good cash, earned by the sweat of the face under the beneficent sky of Missouri, would be necessary to have a look-in on the California real estate.

And some paid the $8.00, and some didn’t. Some looked at $8.00 with a longing look, and after much consideration, came to the conclusion that $8.00 in the hand was worth more than a sand lot 2,000 miles away.

– Springfield MO Republican, June 27 1913

 

Alleged Land Shark Arrested.

C. E. Ditto, a reputed land shark, was placed under arrest Saturday afternoon on a charge of beating his board bill…The police, while the man is being held, are making an investigation of a certain land scheme which has been worked in Bloomington of late. The scheme is a new one, but it is thought that some real money was secured in some of the transactions.

The play has been put on at moving picture theaters, a ticket being given to each one who pays to see the show and the one at the close of the day who held the lucky number drew a card entitling him to property. The card states that they “are entitled to a lot in Summerland Villa, Guerneville, Sonoma county, Cal.” The Northwestern Dev. Co., is signed to this card. It is said that several have presented these cards to the agent and are then told that to pay for the deed and abstract, that the sum of $9.60 is necessary. It is claimed that a few, thinking that they will get rich, have paid the sum asked and then gone on their way thinking of the riches which are to come.

The police will continue to make their investigation and Ditto will be held on the other charge until the matter is cleared up. Police officers the confident that Ditto is a swindler [sic]

Bloomington IL Pantagraph, November 17 1913
UNCLE SAM TAKES HAND IN “MOVIES” LAND LOT FRAUD
The Guerneville Lots Figure in Kansas City Arrests

The last session of the Legislature passed the Slater bill which was signed by the Governor and is now the law, which put a stop to moving picture houses and other concerns giving “lucky” tickets to lots of land in Sonoma county and elsewhere In the State, It had become such a nuisance and such a fraud in Sonoma county that the introduction of the measure was framed to check it, particularly as the lots were worthless and located in out of the way places and inaccessible places and-—well, the story has been oft told.

This is by way of introduction. Uncle Sam has come to the assistance of the State of California and has swooped down upon men in Kansas City and their prosecution will doubtless check the operation in “lucky” tickets for Sonoma county lots in other States of the Union, for today County Recorder Nagle is receiving deeds for filing and countless inquiries concerning the lots in question. A dispatcn from Kansas City says:

“Kansas City. Dec. 4.—An alleged land fraud which, according to postoffice inspectors, was conducted in several States through the medium of moving picture shows and the United States mails, led to the arrest here today of W. B. Emrich and N. H. Spitzer of Louisville, Ky. The two were arraigned before a United States commissioner on a charge of misuse of the malls.

“According to the federal charge, tickets were distributed among the spectators at picture shows and the announcement made that the holders of ‘lucky’ numbers would be given a deed to a camper’s lot near Guerneville, Sonoma county, California, It is alleged that the lucky ones’ were then required to pay more for the ‘filing of papers’ than the lots were worth.

– Press Democrat, December 5 1913
CASTLE IN AIR IS CERTAINLY HIS
Man Comes Here With the Idea of Locating on His Moving Picture Ticket Lot

Joe Blakskowski of San Francisco spent $12.50 for abstract deed and filing fees for lot 16, block 17 In “Glen Ertney,” when he drew a free lot is connection with his moving picture show ticket two years ago. The land is a portion of Sec. 23, tp 8 n, r. 7 w., and is located on the mountain side about 14 miles northeast of Santa Rosa off the road to Callstoga.

Mr. Blakskowskl came here this week with the view of settling on his lot and purchasing more for relatives and friends as agents for the tract had interested them with his glowing description. When he arrived here and asked for directions to reach “Glen Ertney,” his castles in the air were shattered when informed that he could not reach the lot on horseback, and would have a very hard time scrambling to it on foot.

Despite his ill treatment in this regard, Mr. Blaks, as he is commonly known, is planning to purchase property here for himself and relatives, and move here to make his home as he has been greatly impressed with the city and its surroundings.

Under the law no more tickets to lots can be given away is this State.

– Press Democrat, January 10 1914
SCORES OF ‘MOVIE’ LOTS NOW ON DELINQUENT TAX ROLL

The evil some time since of the giving away of tickets at moving picture shows to lots in Sonoma county, so much complained of in the past, is again to the fore in the announcement of the delinquent tax list of Sonoma county, prepared by County Tax Collector Frank M. Collins.

There is column after column of delinquents on lots that were purchased by the holders of tickets won at moving picture shows in different parts of the State and in other States. Many of the lot holders, after filing their deeds, placing the property on the assessment roll, have never taken any notice of their duties as landowners in the county, hence they have gone delinquent in payment of taxes, disgusted with their purchase.

At the last session of the Legislature, in 1913, the practice of giving away these lot tickets and the fraud connected therewith was stopped by the Slater bill, which was signed by the Governor, and heartily endorsed by the State Realty boards and other organizations. Hundreds of the lots had been disposed of prior to that time and the result is now shown on the delinquent tax list. This explains the length of the delinquent tax roil in large measure.

– Press Democrat, June 5 1914
LAW HAS PROVED OF MUCH GOOD
Recording of Documents Is Up to Date in the Office of the County Recorder

The copying of instruments in the office of County Recorder Fred G. Nagle has been brought up to dale and the well known county official is pleased to have it thus. Everything has been fine for some time.

It will be remembered that prior to the last session of the Legislature the County Recorder’s office here and in other counties of the state were deluged with the recording of deeds to lots of land as the result of the giving away of tickets with moving picture shows in this state and outside. At the session of the Legislature, Assemblyman Herbert W. Slater of this county, introducing a bill which passed both houses and was signed by the governor which made the giving away of such tickets unlawful. The new law attracted much attention and was complimented in the official papers of the State Realty Board and in other papers as being one of the most useful pieces of legislation. Its effect was soon noticeable in a diminishing of the number of deeds.

Copies of the law were also forwarded by the author of the federal authorities asking for their co-operatlon and this has also proved beneficial in the punishment of persons who used the mails to make false representations concerning prarlically worthless lots in this county.

It was learned Thursday that the deeds for the lots obtained in the manner complained of, are very rare now at the county recorder’s office, there only having been one or two in the past few months, and otherwise the practice has been stopped entirely. This is why the county recorder is breathing easier and why the copying has been brought up to dale to the gratification of those who were unavoidably hindred from recording their documents on time as a result of the deluge.

With hundreds of deeds to the moving picture lots coming in weekly it was impossible to cope with the work of copying them and finally special books had to be provided for their speedy recording. But the main reason for stopping the practice was that the county was being given a black eye by reason of the misrepresentations of the lot sellers and Ihe protest was general.

– Press Democrat, September 18 1914

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LET’S GO DOWNTOWN AND SEE SOMETHING WEIRD

On any given Saturday around 1914, chances were you could pay a dime and watch performers do things on stage which demonstrated more self-delusion than discernible talent. To locals, Santa Rosa was a quiet little farmtown; to some vaudeville players it was another step towards a fantasy of theatrical glory.

That was the peak year for vaudeville in Santa Rosa with two stages downtown: The 700-seat Columbia at Third and B streets and the much smaller Rose Theater. With their big electrical marquees (lightbulbs, not neon) they were the brightest spots downtown after dark and the Rose drew particular attention with its animated lights, something never seen in town before.

Both presented shows with three or four vaudeville acts capped off with about a half hour of movies, such as a Bronco Billy western or a chapter from that wildly-popular new series with cliffhanger endings, “The Perils of Pauline.” Their playbills were also generally the same; someone sang popular songs, an acrobat or animal act performed stunts and a comedian barked out corny (and not infrequently, racist or ethnic) jokes. But there the similarity ended.

Whenever possible, the Columbia’s newspaper ad touted a performer’s popularity or that (s)he had just appeared at a San Francisco theater. All well and good until one looked closely; the acts who headlined here were usually near the bottom of a long bill when they played in the City, and “popular” was a tipoff that the act might be a Golden Oldie such as Harry Green, “the old man singer with the boy’s voice,” who had been trodding the boards for about forty years.

When they had no particular act to promote the Columbia ad would sometimes sniff, “No Amateurs Every Artist a Professional” which was a not-so-subtle dig at the Rose Theater, where nearly every evening was like an episode from The Gong Show. Mostly these were likely young people who were big hits at hometown parties where their friends told them, “oh, you should be on stage.” Well, sir, this was their shot at stardom.

One such act is seen at right: Alice Berry and Harry Wilhelm, “the doll comedienne and the Protean artist.” What the act consisted of is unclear; Alice was either a child or a little person, standing four feet tall. She sang while the tailcoatted Harry did…something. Every Friday the Press Democrat offered a little blurb about similar performers appearing at the theaters that week, and one can imagine the poor staff writer straining a muscle trying to say something nice about acts such as these:

*
Gilbert Girard, “The World’s Greatest Animal and Instrumental Mimic”, will be heard in fifteen minutes of barnyard humor.
*
The “Three Cycling Newmans”, featuring a boxing match on unicycles, will head the show.
*
Biele & Girad, “The Englishman and the Swede,” have a great comedy act. There is nothing more comical than an ignorant Swede, and when they are ignorant, like the one in this case, it causes many comical situations, making the most solemn laugh.
*
Madelyn Faye, violiniste, charmed everyone with her playing, which was much better than ordinary.
*
This afternoon at one o’clock Dixon & Elliott’s hardware store on Fourth street will become the center of attraction when a subject will be hypnotized and started out riding a bicycle. He will continue riding until eight o’clock this evening, at which time he will be removed to the stage of the Columbia Theater, after having pedaled over five hundred miles.
*
The Zimmerman Brothers, novelty whistlers, have an act that gives good variety to the bill and one that pleases the most critical.

The list of peculiarities goes on: Birdcallers, “rubber girl” contortionists, midget boxers and blackface “shouters,” plus a couple of acts which were apparently just young women doing calisthenics. A female comedy/musical sketch act called “the Seven Whitesides” made the front page of the Press Democrat not for its quality of entertainment but for the women soundly beating up their manager. Some performers had actual talent but were too unconventional for mainstream vaudeville; John C. Payne, “the double voiced man” was an African-American performing in an evening gown (“Mr. Payne’s natural voice is baritone, but he sings a beautiful soprano also and is considered a wonderful singer”).

Mainstays at the Rose were the animal acts. The theater hosted Miss Livingstone’s skating bear, Captain Webb’s seals, a steady procession of dog and bird acts plus two “goat circuses” – Ogle’s Goat Circus in January, 1913 and Sander’s Goat Circus at the end of the same year. Now, Gentle Reader is probably pondering deep questions such as, “how many damn goat circuses were there?” And, “who would pay to see a goat circus?” And, “what did the little theater smell like afterward?” Notable in the publicity photo for Ogle’s is that the name “Prof. Kershner” was inartfully scratched out – thus Ogle bought a used goat act (and of course, that’s probably not Mr. Ogle in the picture). My guess is that Sanders in turn purchased the act after Ogle had enough of traveling with a herd of stinky goats. As for why audiences would attend, the PD noted, “Before the matinee this afternoon, it is announced, Mr. Sanders will throw away ten dollars to the children in front of the theatre.” Sad!

And then there was Roy Crone and his grizzly bear. Roy is high on the list of people from those days I would have liked to meet (he was introduced here earlier) because he went to Hollywood and eventually worked with Fred Astaire and Orson Welles on their most classic films. Back in 1913, however, he was manager of the Columbia Theater and taking a few weeks off to roam the low-rent vaudeville circuit with his 780-pound pet. Trouble was, he and his bear kept getting arrested.

Crone drove between gigs with the uncaged bear sitting in the backseat of his (presumably, large and sturdy) car. At least twice he was pulled over by cops for speeding and totally not because he was driving around with a seven-foot bear. Stopped outside of Merced, Deputy Sheriff Nicewonger was walking around to the passenger side of the car to write the ticket when the bear reached out and whacked him with a paw, knocking the officer down. “Rising to his feet. Nicewonger was about to commit bloody murder when Crone quieted the angry beast and pulled the deputy out of the danger zone,” reported The Stockton Mall. “The bear actually stood on his hind feet a few moments later and roared at the deputy sheriff.” A few weeks later the pair were in trouble again, this time in Chico both for speeding and “occupying an automobile in a street exhibition,” which probably meant the sight of a bear sitting in a car was stopping traffic.

The vaudeville scene in Santa Rosa slowly faded away after 1914. The Columbia mostly dropped it the following year and by 1916 the Rose was offering vaudeville only every other week. What happened to the performers?

A search of the old newspapers finds that most of the amateur wanna-be’s who played the Rose only lasted that season. Some of the has-been professionals who were at the Columbia continued drifting around small Bay Area theaters for awhile and a few can be spotted trying to reinvent themselves far away in the frontiers of Australia or British Columbia. Otherwise, if you weren’t good enough to be booked on a traveling circuit, what probably awaited you beyond Santa Rosa was Old West music halls in backwater towns, mining and logging camps without electricity and saloons with a small raised stage. Resorts like Fetter’s Hot Springs sometimes advertised they had vaudeville without naming any acts.

What killed vaudeville was the explosive growth of celebrity motion pictures. Now all that was needed to pack a theater was showing the latest movie by Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Ethel Barrymore and other stars; miss seeing the picture and miss out on part of the shared social experience – and not only with family and friends here, but with people you knew in distant towns.

As awful as it sometimes was, vaudeville was still live theater and it’s a shame it’s completely gone; lost was the tolerance for everyday people to entertain each other for an evening without expecting perfection. After all, if the novelty whistlers weren’t to your taste all you had to do and wait a few minutes until their act was over, and then out would come the violinist whose playing was much better than ordinary. Maybe you’d like that better.

Ogle’s Goat Circus

The Seven Whitesides present an office scene play, which leads into some good singing and dancing. All of the 875 people who attended last night’s entertainment were well pleased with the high class show.

– Press Democrat, November 22 1912
CHORUS GIRLS DO UP THE MANAGER
Lively Fracas When Soubrettes Think Their Cash is Likely to Go Aglooming

The fair members of a theatrical troupe, appearing In “vodvlll” in a local theatre Saturday night, were fearful, so they said, that their manager, a man, was not going to make a cash settlement with them and suspicious that possibly he might take an earlier train from town than they, made up their minds that they would have nothing of it. In consequence they demanded their pay. When their requests were met with refusal they started to take the law into their own hands, and goodness knows what they would have done to that manager had not the commotion in a down town apartment house, and a hasty call for a policeman, sent Police Officer I. N. Lindley hurrying to the scene. And “Ike” made some dash, too. At the time the officer came upon the scene, one of the girls was making a punching bag out of the manager, where another girl had left off. The girls of the troupe took all the money he had, fourteen dollars. He should have had much more, as the girls say they had a salary roll of eighteen dollars apiece coming to them. The manager was allowed to retire to his room for the night, and at an early hour Sunday morning the chorus girls were wondering how to divide up the fourteen dollars.

– Press Democrat, November 24 1912

 

SKATING BEAR IN ROSE VAUDEVILLE TONIGHT

Miss Livingstone and her trained bear will appear in tonight’s vaudeville at the Rose. This animal act, as previous ones, will win the favor of the Santa Rosa public. This performing bear waltzed, when seen by the management, which brought many rounds of applause.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 3, 1913

 

STRONG VAUDEVILLE BILL AT THE ROSE THEATER TONIGHT

A strong vaudeville bill of high class acts will be presented to the public at the Rose theater tonight, headed by Ogle’s Goat Circus. These goats are very highly valued, partly because there are very few performing goats in the state and through the long time patient training which has made them the greatest of all goat acts. The management announces this one of the highest salaried acts that they have ever secured. The children will be invited on the stage after the matinee tomorrow, to learn something of the training of goats and have a chance to pet their favorites.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 24, 1913
SANTA ROSAN IS ON VAUDEVILLE
Ray Crone Making Tour of Circuit With Tame Bear Act Which Has Taken Well

Ray Crone, the well known manager of the Columbia Amusement Co.’s local interests, is taking a few weeks off duty and touring the vaudeville circuit with an animal act of his own. Reports from points he has visited speak of the success of his work.

Mr. Crone is one of the best known young men of Santa Rosa owing to his work in connection with the Nickelodeon moving picture show house first, and afterwards with the Columbia theater and Theaterette, which were added one after the other to the activities of the firm, of which he is a part.

The success of the young man will be pleasing to his many friends here and in the bay cities. He has a trained bear, known as “John L. Sullivan,” which does a number of remarkable feature tricks which Mr. Crone has trained him to do. Animal feature in vaudeville always proves attractive to young and old and are in great demand by the booking agents. Frank Weston is here from San Francisco looking after the Amusement Company’s interest in the absence of Mr. Crone.

– Press Democrat, April 27 1913
CRONE AND BEAR CAUSE TROUBLE
Well Known Santa Rosan and His Trained Animal Arouse Much Interest at Stockton

Roy Crone, the well known Santa Rosan who Is making a tour of the vaudeville circuit with a large trained bear, is receiving some very flattering press notices. The Stockton Mail In speaking of his first performance In that city, says:

Bear Is Almost Human

Five bright new acts greeted the large Sunday crowds at the Garrick yesterday, and the show from start to finish was excellent in every respect. A remarkable exhibition of animal intelligence was displayed by John L. Sullivan, the world-famous educated bear. This is the largest bear ever seen on the stage and one of the largest in captivity. It stands over seven feet tall and weighs 780 pounds. The bear is well trained, and his trainer has complete control over him at all times. He performs a number of clever and amusing antics, the climax coming when some small boys attempt to ride him. One little chap succeeded in riding him, but the others were politely unseated by Mr. Bruin.

In an issue several days before he opened in Stockton the papers published a good story relative to Crone and his bear. The story in the Mall was as follows:

Bear Defends Master

To be knocked down by a blow from the paw of a big black bear which was sitting in the rear seat of an automobile, is the curious accident which happened to Deputy Sheriff Nicewonger yesterday afternoon. And, as a result of the collision with the hoof of Bruin, Deputy Nicewonger narrowly escaped serious injury. The blow, which was a glancing one, caught him on the right side of the neck, and was delivered with so much force that it unceremoniously floored the county official.

J. R. Crone, who is the owner of the bear, was en route from Merced with his hairy passenger in an automobile. Crone left Merced yesterday morning. As he was speeding along the highway between Rippon and Calla, Deputy Nicewonger happened to discover that Crone was exceeding the speed limit. He immediately hailed the man and his curious cargo. Crone stopped at once. Deputy Nicewonger read the ruling of the county ordinance and informed Crone that he was under arrest. Crone was about to give his name and address when Nicewonger, in order to secure the data, chased around to the right side of the machine. Just as the county highway guard was passing the rear seat the bear, with one vicious swoop, let fly with his paw. Deputy Nicewonger heeled over instantly. Rising to his feet. Nicewonger was about to commit bloody murder when Crone quieted the angry beast and pulled the deputy out of the danger zone. The bear actually stood on his hind feet a few moments later and roared at the deputy sheriff. This morning the deputy appeared before Justice Parker and secured a warrant for the arrest of Crone for encroaching upon the speed ordinance of the county. The bear, says Crone, is tame.

– Press Democrat, May 16 1913

 

CRONE AND HIS BEAR ARRESTED ONCE MORE

Friends of Ray Crone, former manager of the Columbia Theater will read the following with much amusement. Although the dispatch does not give Crone’s name he is known to be on the circuit through Chico and his bear was dubbed “John L.” The dispatch follows:

CHICO, July 13.–John L. Sullivan, a big grizzly bear used in a local theatre, was arrested last night by Policeman Field and booked with its owner on a charge of violating the city’s traffic ordinance. In police court the owner put up $20 bail to appear with the bear tomorrow. They were occupying an automobile in a street exhibition and the machine went too fast to suit the police. When the arrest was made the grizzly tried to escape, but was induced by the owner to go along to the police judge’s court.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 15, 1913

 

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louvre_guerneville_on_russian_river

SONOMA COUNTY ROADHOUSE BLUES

For many in Sonoma County, the results of the election were unthinkable; voters had approved a county ordinance for prohibition, banning sale of alcohol anywhere outside of major towns. Of course, exceptions could be made – if you had the right connections.

At the stroke of midnight, January 1, 1913, every roadhouse in the county lost their liquor license. But anyone who presumed those 110 rural saloons would close or only serve  soft drinks were mistaken; a couple of days later the Santa Rosa Republican commented, “…in some roadhouse localities the indications were that frequently the ‘hard’ quality leaked into the ‘soft’ glasses.” Congrats, voters – you just launched the speakeasy underground culture, and with it, opened new doors for political corruption.

When the anti-roadhouse ordinance passed the previous November numerous questions were immediately raised, particularly whether a county-wide vote was legal. California had a “local option” law allowing communities to choose being “wet” or “dry,” as a portion of West County had earlier elected to ban liquor sales. While waiting for a decision from the State Supreme Court, it was unclear if the law was in force or not. The ordinance was also specific that exceptions could only be made for hotels with a dining room and at least 35 separate guest rooms. For full background see the previous article in this series, “LAST CALL FOR THE ROADHOUSE.”

In the wake of the vote some saloon owners raced to build the required number of rooms. The Argus-Courier reported George Rodd was adding 15 additional rooms to his Penngrove hotel and 25 rooms at his Cotati place. He had hired “all of the carpenters he was able to secure,” according to the paper, and they would “work overtime and Sundays and holidays in rushing the work to completion at both places so as to have the additions in readiness by the time the new roadhouse law goes into effect.”

There were also two test cases quickly filed by County District Attorney Clarence Lea. One was against a man named Ellsworth who had a nondescript roadhouse just outside Santa Rosa city limits; the other charged a man named Connolly who owned the Hotel Altamont in Occidental, which was the premiere drinking spot in West County outside of select Russian River summer resorts. Ellsworth was arrested for violating the ordinance and spent time in jail. Connolly was granted a liquor license by the Board of Supervisors because he filed an affidavit with the county clerk attesting his joint really did have 35 rooms, even though the District Attorney’s case – months away from a court decision – was based on the fact Connolly was short on the required number of beds.

District Attorney Lea told the Supervisors the new law was filled with loopholes. It simply counted how many rooms, regardless of the character of the establishment (he was presumably worried about brothels); there was no specified fine or other penalty for breaking the law; and probably most significant of all, it placed no limitation on the power of the Board to issue licenses. Already the latter was problematic; besides Connolly’s Hotel Altamont, liquor licenses were immediately issued to thirteen other places deemed to have thirty-five rooms, although it seems likely that odd number was chosen by the prohibitionists because they presumed few if any places would qualify.

It wasn’t long before violations were filling court dockets. Was selling “near beer” against the law? (Yes, then later, no.) Was a West County violator prosecuted for breaking the “local option” law or under the new ordinance, which had no punishment? Hugh McConnell of the Electric Hotel in Forestville was prosecuted under the former, fined $150 and had his booze confiscated – although it was put to good use: “The fifty-eight quarts of whiskey will be used medicinally at the county hospital for the patients needing such nourishment as prescribed by the county physician.”

Two particularly notorious roadhouses tried to sneak around the law. The Riverside, a couple miles south of Petaluma, claimed it was a “blind pig,” where customers supposedly pay to look at an odd animal or other attraction and given a free drink. The other was Jacob Koblar/Kobler’s place near River Road which was probably the main reason for the earlier West County crackdown. His lawyer now said the place was the private “Mt. Olivet Social Club,” with a 35¢ membership and organized “for the moral and intellectual” uplift of the members. Um, no, sayeth the judge. Pay the $200 fine, please.

Meanwhile, the sheriff and his deputies were kept busy hunting and busting speakeasies. Only one hotel/resort had its liquor license revoked, and it was because a deputy testified “the resort is visited by dissolute men and women with the approval ot the proprietors and that the place is conducted in an immoral manner,” which means prostitution. That was Louie Parente’s joint near El Verano, previously introduced here in “THE VILLAGE OF VICE IN THE VALLEY OF THE MOON.” A decade later his resort would be raided like clockwork by prohibition agents, and another ten years beyond that it would become infamous as a hideout for gangsters like Baby Face Nelson – but in 1913 Louie’s attorney told the Supervisors he was wrongly accused: “According to the testimony of the defense the place was the best conducted of any in the country and the employees were almost saints themselves…” reported the PD.

As 1913 wore on, the Board of Supervisors liquor license hearings were probably the best show in town, the room packed with both supporters of the applicant and teetotalers. To oppose a Freestone license, women brought a large crowd of little girls dressed in white and carrying banner and pennants marked, “We Want Dry.” At another hearing, a petition was presented asking for more licenses in the Sonoma Valley. A PD reporter commented on one meeting, “…a number participated in the arguments, and at times considerable excitement was created and feelings engendered.” In other words: Angry shouting.

Increasingly temperance advocates were voicing frustration that the Supervisors were too lenient in issuing licenses, and the Grand Jury issued a report agreeing with them. “In some instances tents were put on the premises, far away from the main building, and counted as ‘bed-rooms,'” commented the Healdsburg Tribune. “In other instances old machine shops, back rooms of furniture stores, were curtained off by cheese cloth and counted as bed rooms. The dog house, the stable and chicken roosts were put in when necessary to make up the thirty-five rooms.”

How much of that was accurate is unknown, but the application for Guerneville’s main drinking hole, the Louvre, was pretty remarkable – they claimed apparently every guest room in town as part of their own “hotel:”


…The board then took up the application of Pool & Pool, who run a saloon in Guerneville. The testimony showed that there was but one sleeping apartment in the saloon building; that there was a dining room in the rear of the building, with a summer garden between and that the sleeping apartments were located in different parts of town. One building with fourteen rooms was located across the street from the saloon and dining room; another down the street had fourteen more rooms; still another a little further on had five more rooms and across the railroad track was still another with thirteen more…

That was too much for the Supervisors to swallow, but the Pool brothers were granted a liquor license soon after they announced plans to build a 38-room hotel next to their saloon and beer garden. The only surviving photograph (see below) shows a building probably a fraction of that promised size.*

Sonoma County residents likely hadn’t been as divided over any issue since the Civil War, and the fighting was often personal. In an astonishing 2,300 word letter to the Press Democrat transcribed below, District Attorney Lea snapped, “Ever since the adoption of the initiative liquor ordinance in this county I have been subjected to unscrupulous persistent, and premeditated attacks, all emanating from a very small coterie of hypocrites.” The main target of his fury was attorney Rolfe L. Thompson, one of the founders of the Anti-Roadhouse League, who had criticized the county for being lax in prosecuting speakeasies. “There is not a man on this earth that can state a single specific fact questioning my motive in reference to the initiative law…those who have questioned my motive have done so in deceived ignorance or maliciously and corruptly, as has R. L. Thompson.”

Then there was the attempt to recall Henry Weise, Supervisor for the Sonoma Valley. The petition claimed he was “guilty of misconduct in office” for failing to oppose roadhouses with sufficient vigor. Behind the recall effort was Guy J. K. Bigelow of El Verano, apparently the loudest voice on the temperance side. Bigelow was saying Weise was a drunk and had accepted “a sack of money” from Fetters Springs to obtain a liquor license. Weise sued him for defamation of character and slander, demanding $65,000 damages.

The recall failed by three to one and when the slander suit went to court the next year, a jury found Bigelow not guilty because he claimed he was only repeating rumors. Bigelow testified he heard Weise had been given a $1,750 bribe. “I said I did not believe the report and that if it was true I would be helping put Weise in stripes.” Well then, obviously Bigelow meant no harm.

By the end of 1913 it was apparent the anti-roadhouse ordinance had accomplished little aside from picking off the smallest hole-in-the-wall places where the owner had no political clout. Instead of 110 roadhouses there were now 24 rural hotels serving drinks. At the close of 1914 there were 46 licenses, and 52 the next year.

The Board of Supervisors did pass a stricter county liquor ordinance. Now rooms had to be built of wood or permanent material and contain 500 cubic feet of air space and eight feet of window space. Liquor could not be sold within fifty feet of any dance hall while a dance was in progress, unless the hall was on different floor of the building. Anyone selling both soft drinks and liquor had to keep the booze stored at least ten feet away from the building.

Silly? Probably, but it gave the Mrs. Grundys their token legal victories – even while the Supervisors were approving more and more liquor licenses because hotels the size of a city block were supposedly springing up in places like Agua Caliente and Monte Rio. Geyservllle had two, and there was another application waiting.

LEFT: The only known photo of the “Hotel Louvre,” directly west of the Beer Garden on Railroad/Main Street. RIGHT: The entrance to the Beer Garden and the Louvre, at the corner of Armstrong Woods Road. Photos taken 1915 and 1910, courtesy Sonoma County Library

 

* The Louvre saloon was only steps away from the front of the train station on the corner of Railroad/Main Street and Armstrong Woods Road, which was then still known as Cinnabar Avenue. The building now at that 16200 Main St. location is currently home to a Community First Credit Union and is not the old saloon structure, but a complete rebuild from the 1960s following an arson fire. The Pool brothers partnership ended in 1914, when John Pool sold his interest to Charles, who continued running the Louvre with Joe Montoya. In 1916 the liquor license was transferred to Bill Nolan, owner of the Guerneville Hotel. Through the 1920s Nolan and his wife advertised the hotel was first “run in conjunction with Hotel Louvre,” then later promoted their operation as the “Guerneville Hotel and Louvre Annex.” The Guerneville Hotel was catty-cornered from the Louvre on the other side of Armstrong Woods Road. Much thanks to John Schubert for help in sorting out those locations and histories.

 

WOULD ABOLISH THE ROAD HOUSES IN SONOMA COUNTY
Matter Will Be Submitted to Voters at November Election

A number of citizens, among which were several ladies, met at the office of Rolfe L. Thompson in this city last evening, and organized for the purpose of conducting an election to abolish the road houses in Sonoma county.

An ordinance was drafted which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors under the initiative or direct legislation law. It is the purpose of those at the meeting to have the proposed ordinance presented to the board in time so that it can be submitted to the voters at the general election to be held in November.

Besides those present from Santa Rosa and vicinity, a representation was in attendance from Sonoma.

After adopting the name of “Anti-Roadhouse League,” Dr. J. W. Scamell was elected president, G. L. Reed secretary, Rolfe L. Thompson and Ross Campbell attorneys.

A committee was appointed to solicit membership, and to attend to the circulation of the petition to secure the requisite number of signatures in order that the ordinance may be submitted to a vote of the people.

The league is formed solely for the purpose of eliminating the road houses from the county, and is not dominated by any religious sect or temperance organization, and does not propose to interfere with licenses now held by hotels or summer resorts now in business or which may hereafter desire a retail license.

The proposed ordinance submitted by the league’s attorneys, and upon which the people will be asked to express an opinion for or against, is as follows:

No person, corporation, firm or association shall sell, or engage in the business of selling, offering for sale or giving away distilled, fermented, malt, vinous or other spiritous or intoxicating liquors or wines or beers in any portion of Sonoma county lying without the corporate limits of any city or town of said Sonoma county, except such person, corporation, firm or association engaged in the business of conducting a bona fide hotel, having at least thirty-five separate sleeping apartments properly furnished for the accommodation of guests, and having dining room at which meals are served at regular hours to boarders and the traveling public.

A prominent member of the league in an interview Friday said: “This is not a prohibition movement. None of those composing the membership of the league favor prohibition laws. Of course this ordinance will not affect the saloon men in the cities or towns, but will, on the contrary, help them, as it will tend to elevate the business in general and rob it of its most objectionable feature, and also relieve them of the danger of prohibition, which must come if the roadhouse stays. It will relieve the county hotels and summer resorts from being criticized along with the roadhouses, for faults which are not theirs, and will place the real estate of Sonoma county on a equal footing in the market, with that of Southern California, where this evil does not exist.”

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 30, 1912

ANTI-ROAD HOUSE ELECTION NOW HELD TO BE INVALID
The Appellate Court Opinion Said to be Decisive

The anti-roadhouse ordinance, carried at the election held in Sonoma county a week ago last Tuesday, is null and void. Such is the opinion of a number leading lawyers here, and strengthened by a decision handed down on Thursday by Presiding Justice N. P. Chipman of the Appellate Court of the Third district at Sacramento. The court’s decision is right, they say, and there is no doubt whatever but that the election in this county on the matter is invalid.

The opinion of Justice Chipman upholds the Wyllie Local Option law against interference from the initiative law, and Charles Zany, who was arrested near Modesto, Stanislaus county, charged with violating a county initiative ordinance, making it unlawful to sell liquor, was liberated from jail.

Among other things Justice Chipman said:

[..]

“…In many counties there is now ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ territory. A county wide vote on the matter would put in the power of the electors of the populous cities or towns to control the subject for the entire county, or the electors outside of the cities and towns might be strong enough to control the matter in the cities and towns.”

The Court held that the Legislature did not intend by the initiative and referendum to bring about such confusion or to destroy the operation of the local option law.

The Hon. Thomas Geary, who has been looking into the matter very thoroughly, having been requested to furnish an opinion as to the validity of the ordinance, when told of the Appellate Court decision quoted above, stated that there was no doubt in his mind but that Justice Chipman was right and that the decision bears directly upon the Sonoma county situation. So certain was he of the invalidity of the ordinance that yesterday he was considering a course to follow in testing the matter in the courts.

– Press Democrat, November 16, 1912

ROAD HOUSE ORDINANCE TO BE TESTED IN COURTS
Statement Issued by District Attorney Clarence F. Lea

There has been considerable discussion relative to the status of the anti-roadhouse ordinance in this county. It has been decided to test its validity or invalidity as the case may be in the courts. A definite statement was made on the subject Saturday by District Attorney Clarence F. Lea. Among other things the District Attorney said:

[.. no position on ordinance, but I shall proceed that it is valid until the courts rule otherwise.. ]

– Press Democrat, November 24, 1912

LICENSES? WHEN COURT DECIDES
Resolution Adopted by the Board of Supervisors at its Meeting Monday

“Whereas, The people of the county, at the recent election, voted in favor of the adoption of an ordinance limiting the issuance of liquor licenses to persons engaged in conducting bona fide hotels of not less than thirty-five rooms each, for the accommodation of guests, and the validity of which ordinance is now in question before the courts; therefore be it

“Resolved, That this Board issue no further liquor licenses, except in conformity with the provisions of said ordinance, until the courts have passed upon the validity of the same and that thereafter licenses shall be issued only in conformity with such court decision.”

The above resolution was passed at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, and will be read with considerable interest. Unless the suit now pending before the courts to determine the validity or invalidity of the anti-roadhouse ordinance by the first of January all places other than hotels with thirty-five rooms will have to close their doors, as the resolution passed by the Supervisors above quoted will preclude the issuing of the usual number of licenses which date from January 1.

– Press Democrat, December 3, 1912

 

CRIMINAL PROSECUTION TO TEST THE NEW ORDINANCE

District Attorney Clarence F. Lea filed a complaint yesterday in Justice A. J. Atchinson’s court against E. N. Ellsworth, who runs a roadhouse on the outskirts of town on the Healdsburg road, alleging that he is conducting his place in violation of the anti-roadhouse ordinance, which carried by initiative at the November election.

In this proceedings the validity of the ordinance will be tested and the means of prosecuting under it, should it be sustained by the higher courts. It will also ascertain whether the power for punishment on violation is not already provided for under the old and present existing ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors, The contention of the District Attorney is that prosecution can be sustained under the old ordinance for violation of the new.

District Attorney Lea also stated that there is nothing In the report that the civil suit filed in the antl-roadhouse matter against John D. Connolly of Occidental, will be dismissed or dropped. Mr. Connolly has not thirty-five rooms as prescribed by the ordinance in his hotel at Occidental, but at the time he filed application for the renewal of the license, which was prior to the opinion of the Appellate Court, which cast some cloud on the validity of the initiative ordinance, he was contemplating putting on the additional rooms, having them ready by January 1. Mr. Connolly’s attorney will file an answer to the complaint, and it will be admitted that there are not the thirty-five rooms as contemplated by the ordinance. The case against Mr. Connolly is also a test of the anti-roadhouse ordinance.

– Press Democrat, December 4, 1912

ARGUMENTS ON ROADHOUSE ORDINANCE IN PROGRESS

Considerable interest was manifested Wednesday in the hearing by Superior Judge Thomas C. Denny of the arguments hearing on the validity or invalidity of the anti-roadhouse ordinance which was carried in this county at the November election and which, as is well known, prents the issuing of liquor licenses to other than bona fide hotels, with thirty-five rooms.

The discussion that has arisen since the adoption by the voters of this county or the ordinance referred to has aroused attention of people all over the county, and in consequence it was not to be wondered at that the courtroom was thronged at the hearing of the matter Wednesday. The courtroom audience was composed of a number of the men vitally concerned in a business way in the outcome of the court’s decision–hotel and resort keepers and saloon men, and also some of those who were strong advocates of the crusade against the roadhouse in Sonoma county.

The law bearing on the situation involved was thoroughly presented. Many citations from authorities established in prior Supreme court, Appellate court and Superior court decisions, were read by counsel, and the powers vested by the Constitution were also called up.

The matter was brought into the Superior court judicial determination by the filing some time since of a complaint against John D. Connolly, proprietor of the Hotel Altamont at Occidental, setting forth the fact that Mr. Connolly’s hotel did not contain the required thirty-five rooms specified in the provisions of the anti-roadhouse ordinance. This was the suit being argued on Wednesday.

[..]

– Press Democrat, December 19, 1912

JUDGE DENNY UPHOLDS THE ANTI-ROADHOUSE ORDINANCE
A Decision Is Given From the Bench Thursday
An Appeal Will Now Be Taken at Once to the Appellate Court for Consideration Without Delay

The anti-roadhouse ordinance in Sonoma county, adopted by the people at the November election, was upheld by Judge T. C. Denny in the Superior Court on Thursday when he gave judgement on the pleadings and in favor of the plaintiff. The jurist decided the case immediately after the conclusion of the arguments. He stated that it was at first his intention to have taken the matter under advisement, but inasmuch as an appeal would be taken to the Supreme Court he would render a decision forthwith without going into the many authorities submitted by counsel, thus saving time.

The Court’s ruling was in the suit of the People against John D. Connolly of Occidental, proprietor of the Hotel Altamont in that town. The action was brought merely for the purpose of testing the validity of the initiative ordinance which provides that liquor licenses may not be issued outside of incorporated towns except for bona fide hotels with thirty-five sleeping apartments. After passing upon the Connelly case Judge Denny also made an order in the case of the People vs. Ellsworth, who keeps a saloon on the Healdsburg road, near this city, denying the writ of habeas corpus applied for, and remanding Ellsworth to the custody of the Sheriff. An appeal will also be taken to the highest court in this case at the same time as one decision will settle both cases.

[..]

– Press Democrat, December 20, 1912

ROAD HOUSES AND SALOONS MUST CLQSE ON WEDNESDAY
Licenses Expire and Have Not Been Renewed

District Attorney Clarence F. Lea stated Saturday that on January 1 all saloons and roadhouses in Sonoma county, outside of incorporated cities and towns, will not have licenses to run and dispense Intoxicating liquors. Their licenses expire on January 1, and as they have not been renewed the owners will be liable to prosecution if they sell liquors other than soft drinks. District Attorney Lea stated further that there are some people in the county whose licenses run on into next year. He says they must also close with the rest on January 1, or be liable to prosecution, and in case of the upholding of the antl-roadhouse ordinance their failure to do so would be a ground for revocation of their license. As is well known, pending the determination of the validity or invalidity of the anti-roadhouse ordinance by the Appellate Court, the Supervisors decided that no more licenses should be issued. The matter is now in the higher court, but as yet no date has been set for the argument. It will probably be disposed of at at an early date. But until it is Sonoma county outside of incorporated towns, will be “dry” as far as the sale of intoxicating liquors is concerned after Wednesday.

– Press Democrat, December 29, 1912

THE OUTSIDE TERRITORY WENT ‘DRY’ AT MIDNIGHT
All Licenses Are Now Aeld [sic] In Abeyance For Court
Appellate Court Denies Writ of Habeas Corpus in E. N. Ellsworth Case, Sending It at Once to Supreme Court

At midnight last night all over Sonoma county the dispensing of intoxating liquors outside of incorporated towns in saloons, roadhouses and resorts ended for the present at least until the Supreme court shall have determined the validity or invalidity of the anti-roadhouse initiated by the people at the November election. The reason for the closing of the places in the outside territory is because the licenses expired at midnight last night and no new ones have been issued by tho supervisors in accordance with their resolution to await the decision by the highest tribunal in the State on the antl-roadhouse ordinance already mentioned.

Appellate Court Upholds Case.

Attorney Thomas J. Butts, who represented E. N. Ellsworth in his habeas corpus proceedings, growing out of his arrest, charging that he was violating the anti-roadhouse ordinance, received word that the Appellate court had upheld Judge Thomas Denny of this county, who denied the writ of habeas corpus. The Appellate court does not pass upon any of the points in the case, merely denies it so that it can get to the Supreme court with as little delay as possible. The court’s order is as follows…

… The Connelly case is not disposed of, but the points urged in the Ellsworth case were practically the same as in the Ellsworth habeas corpus matter.

– Press Democrat,  January 1, 1913

 

ROAD HOUSES SELLING ONLY THE “SOFT” DRINKS

January 1, the one hundred and ten road houses and saloons out of incorporated cities in Sonoma county, for the time being, went out of existence. That is, they sold only “soft drinks.”However, in some roadhouse localities the indications were that frequently the “hard” quality leaked into the “soft” glasses.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 3, 1913

LICENSES FOR COUNTRY HOTELS
Resolution Introduced by Supervisor Weise Followed by Motion Granting Liquor Licenses to Many Sonoma County Resorts

Supervisor Henry Weise presented a lengthy resolution of the afternoon session of the Board of Supervisors on Monday setting forth the “injury being done to the legitimate business In the county” by the refusal of the old Board in declining to grant any of the hotels a liquor license, and closing with a declaration that such places as were entitled to a license under the recently adopted Initiative Ordinance should be granted it.

This was followed by a motion granting licenses to J. D. Connolly, W. L. McCray, E. E. LaFranchi, L. B. Selenger, John Lopus, F. M. Haley, Morris Levy, Boyes Hot Springs, (a corporation); H. P. Trusty, Theodore Richards, E. Forni, W. H. Wilson, P. L. Crlblet and Geo. Fetters, they having filed affidavits with the county clerk that they were bona fide proprietors of hotels with thirty-five or more rooms.

On filing sworn statements with the county clerk that they were proprietors of bona fide hotels, now under construction, which will contain thirty-five or more rooms, liquor licenses were also granted H. Hoerner, D. J. Crone, Louis Larnotte and Parenti Brothers.

– Press Democrat,  January 7, 1913

DISTRICT ATTORNEY URGES SUPERVISORS FIX PENALTY
Would Provide Means for Enforcing Initiative

District Attorney Clarence F. Lea, whose duty it is to enforce all of the laws, filed a communication with the Board of Supervisors Thursday in which he recommends the passage of an ordinance at this meeting providing in substance that any person who sells intoxicating liquors contrary to any existing ordinances of Sonoma county, whether enacted by the Board of Supervisors, or by vote of the people, be made a misdemeanor, and punishable as such.

He finds so many loopholes in the initiative law passed last fall that this step becomes necessary in order that any prosecutions may be made under it. These deficiencies and the need of a penalty are ably set forth in the following letter:

[..]

The Initiative ordinance is uncertain and defective in these particulars: First: It places no limitation on the power of the Board to issue licenses, but simply prohibits the sale of liquors, except by a person engaged in conducting a hotel of thirty-five sleeping apartments for guests. In other words, it permits the Supervisors to give a license to a man who has no right to sell liquor after the license is granted…

…Fifth: It fails to discriminate along the line of decency or indecency, morality or immorality. The question of how many rooms the dealer has does not determine this question. Much more important than the number of rooms are the question as to whether or not the liquor dealer is a fit person, or his place a fit place for a saloon.

…But the Board has power to make such additional regulations as it deems appropriate. As any ordinance you adopt can go into effect in thirty days, the adoption of the proposed ordinance would soon provide a clear and efficient method of enforcing all the ordinances relating to the liquor traffic…

– Press Democrat,  January 10, 1913

JURY FINDS GUIDI GUILTY FRIDAY
Kenwood Man is Convictad of Selling Liquor Without a License at His Hotel

A jury in Justice Atchlnson’s court found Charles Guidi guilty of selling liquor without a license in dry territory after a trial which lasted practically all day.

Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle prosecuted the case and Guidi was defended by Thomas Jefferson Butts. Lawyer Butts announced after the trial that he would take an appeal to the Superior court for a ruling on a question which he says is involved, as to whether the county ordinance is in force or what was repealed by the initiative ordinance. The question is said to he somewhat hazy.

Justice Atchlnson postponed sentence of the accused until Tuesday, and in the meantime Lawyer Butts will take his appeal.

– Press Democrat,  March 8, 1913

 

LIQUOR CASES IN SUPERIOR COURT
Bill of Exceptions for Guidi and Informations Filed Against C. J. Curtis of Graton and Hugh McConnell of Forestville

Attorney T. J. Butts filed a bill of exceptions yesterday in the case of the People against Charles Guldi of Kenwood, convicted by a jury in Justice Atchinson’s court of selling liquor in violation of the initiative dry ordinance and fined $l5O.

The attorney for the defendant will base his appeal entirely on the validity of the action of the court in accepting the conviction under the initiative ordinance and fining him under the county ordinance. It is claimed that the initiative ordinance repealed the county ordinance in its entirety, leaving the law without a penalty.

Two other cases from violation of the law for selling liquor were up in the Superior Court yesterday. These were both under the old county ordinance and the Wylie local option law in Supervisor Green’s district.

C. J. Curtis of Graton, charged with the sale of liquor In “dry” territory, had an information filed against him in open court by the district attorney before Judge Seawell and the arraignment was set for March 24, next Monday. The case of Hugh McConnell of Forestvllle, recently arrested on a similar charge, was given similar treatment. These two cases will probably be tried very shortly and will be the first to be heard under the Wylie law in Sonoma county.

– Press Democrat,  March 19, 1913

PENALTY IS CARRIED BY THE NEW INITIATIVE ORDINANCE

District Attorney Clarence F. Lea says there has been much misapprehension by the public relative to the Charles Guidi case and what the Superior Court ruling on the appeal means.

Guidi was arrested after the Initiative ordinance had been adopted at the special election and was operative under the old county ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors. He was convicted of selling liquor without a license and fined under the penalty clause of the old ordinance.

The attorneys for Guidi contended that after the initiative ordinance had been adopted it superceded all liquor license ordinances previously passed by the supervisors and left the county without any penalty for selling liquor without a license as the initiative ordinance contained no penalty. The district attorney held that the initiative was simply an amendatory ordinance to the previous liquor license ordinance of the county dealing with only one phase of the business and that all old ordinances not in direct conflict with the new law were still operative.

Judge Seawell, in passing on the appeal from the Justice’s court, sustained this view and upheld the district attorney’s position. The opinion of the court in full is as follows:

[..]

– Press Democrat, April 2, 1913

 

SUPERVISORS DEVOTE THE DAY TO LIQUOR LICENSES

The Board of Supervisors devoted practically the entire day yesterday to considering liquor licenses, saloons and roadhouses, There was a large attendance of citizens from various sections of the county brought out by hearings fixed for the day on petitions for licenses and protests against the same.

Attorneys Rolfe L. Thompson and E. W. Kilgore were present representing the protestants in several cases, while Attorney A. B. Ware appeared for several petitioners. At the morning session a number participated in the arguments, and at times considerable excitement was created and feelings engendered. The afternoon session passed off quietly.

As a result of the hearings the supervisors before adjourning for the day passed a resolution limiting the number of licenses to be Issued at Geyservllle to two and set May 8 at 10:30 for hearing the petitions of [six people]…

The applications of John Walk and Sam N. Cowan of Kenwood, and N. Bacci of Rincon Hill, to which protests had been made, were taken under advisement.

Licenses were granted to James A. Serres of Alder Glen Springs, Fred Tartter of Fulton, James E. McKenna, Plantation House, and L. Bevier of Guernevllle.

It was also Voted to grant to Morris S. Enio, at Sea View; A. W. Ellingwood, at Penngrove, and E. A. Mason, at Geyservllle, upon their furnishing good and sufficient proof that they had complied with the terms of the county initiative ordinance, in reference to having 35 furnished rooms in their hotel.

A new feature of the license question was injected into the situation with the presentation of a petition by residents of Sonoma and vicinity asking the board to rescind its resolution of February 7, limiting the number of licenses to be issued in the district between Eldridge and Shellville to 11 and asking the board to hear the petition for licenses from Paul Varmucci, Mary Farrell, H. P. Mathewson and George Garoni.

…Kenwood was represented at the hearing by a very large delegation. Among the number were [10 people]. The Guernevllle section was also well represented at the hearing of the petition from that district. Among those present were George E. Guerne [and 10 other people].

– Press Democrat, April 12, 1913

SUIT TO REVOKE LIQUOR LICENSE
Pasente Bros, of El Verano Are Charged with Running Sonoma Valley Resort in Unlawful Manner

Deputy Sheriff J. F. Ryan of Sonoma swore to a complaint Thursday against the Pasente Bros., who conduct a resort near El Verano, in an effort to revoke their liquor license. The firm also conducts a well known resort on Pacific avenue, San Francisco, and many of the patrons of the latter place are harbored at the El Verano resort, according to the officers.

The complaint will be heard by the Board of Supervisors. It is charged that the resort is visited by dissolute men and women with the approval ot the proprietors and that the place is conducted in an immoral manner. There has been much complaint regarding the resort from those residing in the neighborhood and the officers, and now it is expected that a case will be presented to the Supervisors which will warrant the revoking of their license.

– Press Democrat, April 12, 1913

THE PARENTE BROS.,LIQUOR LICENSE MEN REVOKED
Other Matters Given Consideration by Supervisors

The liquor license of Parente Bros., in the Sonoma valley near El Verano, was revoked by the Board of Supervisors yesterday afternoon after a hearing that occupied several hours. The revocation becomes effective at once…. The defendants had as their witnesses Louis Parente, one of the proprietors; Frank Carter, Harry Fini, Charles Miller, William Carr, V. J. Rooney and P. W. Paulson. According to the testimony of the defense the place was the best conducted of any in the country and the employes [sic] were almost saints themselves…

– Press Democrat, May 10, 1913

LIQUOR WILL BE DESTROYED NOW
Hugh McConnell Fined $l50 — Many Gallons of Booze Confiscated

Superior Judge Emmet Seawell made an order in the Superior court Thursday afternoon whereby fifty-eight quarts of whiskey, 420 pints of beer, and some fixings, found on the premises of Hugh McConnell at Forestville when a search warrant was made for evidence to support the charge that McConnell was violating the local option law, will be destroyed.

The court also ordered the destroying of 200 pints of “near beer,” two cases of real beer and two cases of malt found on the premises of C. J. Curtis at Graton.

McConnell entered a plea of guilty of violation of the law in the Superior court on Thursday afternoon and Judge Emmet Seawell imposed a fine of $150.

The fifty-eight quarts of whiskey will be used medicinally at the county hospital for the patients needing such nourishment as prescribed by the county physician. The other liquor has found its way down the sewer.

– Press Democrat, June 6, 1913

 

 
SUPREME COURT’S OPINION ON ROADHOUSE ORDINANCE
Full Text Given of the Decision in The Ellsworth Case
Highest Tribunal in the State Decides That Initiative Ordinance Will Stand—-Opinion Is One of Much Interest Here

The Supreme court of the State of California, in its opinion, mentioned in this paper on Sunday morning, has practically upheld the county ordinance which provides that a retail liquor license cannot be issued outside of incorporated cities and towns in Sonoma county except to bona fide hotels with thirty-five rooms,

The validity of the ordinance is practically sustained in all its details in the opinion of the highest tribunal which was rendered in the Ellsworth case.

Ellsworth, who kept a roadhouse on the Healdsburg road, just outside the city limits of Santa Rosa, was arrested for violating the ordinance and was punished. The contention was made that the new ordinance could not hold him as it did not contain any penalty clause. In passing upon this point the court was also referred to others.

The matter is one of such general interest in Sonoma county that The Press Democrat herewith presents the opinion of the Supreme court in full.

[..]

– Press Democrat, June 17, 1913

SHERIFF RAIDS TWO ROADHOUSES
Petaluma and Freestone Visited by Officers

Armed with search warrants issued by Justice of the Peace Harlow of Petaluma, Sheriff Jack Smith and Deputy Sheriffs McIntosh and Rasmussen entered the Riverside resort about two miles below Petaluma, and took possession of a quantity of beer and whiskey. H. F. Arenburg, the proprietor of the resort, was placed under arrest and taken before Justice Harlow, and was admitted to bail in the sum of $250 cash, which he furnished. His preliminary examination will be held within a few days.

Sheriff Smith found the blind pig well stocked with beer. A quantity of whiskey was also seized and loaded on a van. It was taken to Petaluma and later in the day shipped to this city, where it will be held as evidence and later confiscated.

The Riverside was a notorious resort in the days before the anti-roadhouse ordinance went into effect. It is on the San Rafael road about two miles south of Petaluma.

Leaving Petaluma, Sheriff Smith went to Freestone, where he visited a resort run by B. Shreeve…

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 17, 1913

 

 
ARE COTTAGES AND TENTS PART OF HOTEL BUILDING?
Superior Court Asked to Construe County Ordinance

The Superior Court of this county will pass upon certain conditions Imposed by the county initiative ordinance that abolished roadhouses and provided that no license could be Issued other than to bona fide hotel, outside of incorporated cities, with thirty-five separate sleeping apartments.

The Court will construe the ordinance and will decide whether tents or cottages that now in some instances make up the thirty-five rooms suggested in the ordinance, are permissible, or whether it means that all the rooms must be under one roof. A contention has been raised that either comes under and is sufficient obligation to meet the ordinance.

Tn the Superior Court on Thursday the People of the State of California is plaintiff, and P. S. Newton, proprietor of a hotel on the Russian River in western Sonoma, is made defendant in a suit commenced for the purpose of having the ordinance construed regarding the tents and cottages forming pat [sic] of the rooms of a hotel. District Attorney Clarence F. Lea and Assistant District Attorney Geo. W. Hoyle are attorneys for the people. The decision will settle a much mooted question, and the same will be awaited with interest.

– Press Democrat, June 20, 1913

 

 
KOBLAR WANTS WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

Jacob Koblar, a Mt. Olivet man, arrested again on a charge of the violation of the liquor license ordinance, applied for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court on Saturday. He was admitted to ball in the sum of $1,000, which he furnished, and Judge Denny set the hearing of the writ for Monday afternoon at two o’clock. An interesting point will be involved in the decision of the matter, Koblar claims that he is running a club.

– Press Democrat, June 13, 1913

 

 
COURT AGAIN SUSTAINS THE ROADHOUSE ORDINANCE

Notices were received here Thursday from the Clerk of the Appellate Court at Sacramento, conveying the information that the case of The People vs. Connolly had been affirmed by that court.

This was a case that recently attracted widespread interest in this county and elsewhere as it involved the right of the people to use the initiative for the purpose of enacting regulations governing the liquor traffic.

Subsequent to the initiative liquor ordinance at the election last fall, the Appellate Court in another case held in substance, that the initiative could not be used for the purpose of regulating the liquor business and that the local option law was the sole method of regulating such business by vote of the people. That decision was made in the celebrated Zany case.

Its effect was to render the Sonoma County initiative ordinance invalid, should that decision stand.

Prior to that ease a decision had been rendered in the Appellate Court of the southern district, to the opposite effect. To clear up this uncertainty. District Attorney Clarence F. Lea instituted the Connolly case, which was a suit to enjoin the defendant
from conducting a retail llpuor business without having a thirty-five room hotel. The suit was based on the contention that the Sonoma County ordinance was legal. This contention of the District Attorney has been sustained.

J. E. Pemberton was associated with the District Attorney and his assistant, G. W. Hoyle, in the case. Hon. T. J. Geary and T. J. Butts represented the defendant and R. L. Thompson and Ross Campbell appeared as amicus curiae. An injunction was granted by the lower court. Judge Thos. C. Denny presiding. The defendant appealed to the Appellate Court where the matter was again argued. The attorneys amicus curiae again appeared there and tried to secure a dismissal of the case, which the court denied.

The decision follows the habeas corpus in re Ellsworth recently decided by the Supreme Court. The effect of the decision is to hold that the initiative ordinance is valid.

The District Attorney has instituted another injunction case in the Superior Court to secure on interpretation of the doubtful language in the ordinance. As soon as judgment is secured in that case it is hoped that the uncertainties of the law will be definitely determined.

– Press Democrat, July 4, 1913

 

WRIT DENIED AND KOBLAR REMANDED TO THE SHERIFF
Court Order Explodes Claim ol “Club” Exemption

Superior Judge Denny again sustained District Attorney Clarence F. Lea in his prosecution of the violators of the roadhouse ordinance in Sonoma county, by denying Jacob Koblar a writ of habeas corpus and remanding him into the custody of the Sheriff, yesterday afternoon.

Some time since Koblar was arrested on evidence furnished by a detective the District Attorney had employed, that Koblar was again violating the ordinance and a complaint was sworn out and Koblar was arrested and taken before the justice court. He then applied for a writ of habeas corpus, and yesterday Judge Denny heard arguments. When the case was submitted he made an order as stated above.

Koblar urged that he was entitled to dispense liquor, as a club, known as “Local Mt. Olivet Social Club,” had been organized at his place, but the District Attorney maintained that he was violating the anti-roadhouse ordinance, club or no club. Judge Denny’s ruling yesterday virtually holds that such clubs as Koblar says he has organized at his place are unlawful.

 Sensational Affidavit

At the opening of the proceedings in Judge Denny’s court yesterday, Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle appeared for the People, and Koblar was represented by his counsel, H. W. A. Weske. Attorney R. L. Thompson appeared and asked to be appointed amicus cura and to be associated in the case for the prosecution. He introduced a surprising affidavit in support of his position, going so far as to allege that there had been collusion on the part of the District Attorney’s office in the preparation of the complaint and the attempt was being made, he said, to present the matter to the court in the wrong light.

There was some warmth aroused over the unexpected attack of such an affidavit, and when he got an opportunity. Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle sternly repudiated the insinuations contained in the affidavit, as did District Attorney Lea later in the day.

The court proceeded with the hearing of the matter and during the argument many citations were used and the ordinance and its language frequently cited.

The Assistant District Attorney insisted that Koblar’s supposed club was only a subterfuge and that he was plainly violating the provisions of the law and ordinance. Attorney Thompson acquiesced in the remarks of counsel. Attorney Weske, representing Koblar, took another viewpoint. Koblar will have to take his punishment now, that he has been refused the writ.

Attorney Thompson also produced affidavits yesterday from two detectives, said to be Pinkerton men, Von Appen and Ring, and who were employed recently by G. J. K. Bigelow in the Sonoma Valley, one of whom is said to have stopped at the Koblar place last Thursday night, and to whom Koblar is said to have imparted information that the liquor interests would try another move if the organization of clubs did not prove effective, and that a wholesale branch would be established for the distribution of liquors at his place, with himself acting as agent.

– Press Democrat, July 23, 1913

 

TO REOPEN ROADHOUSES
A “Frame-up” That Failed to Get Through the Superior Court

A neat frameup to allow the roadhouses to come back into the county in violation of the spirit of the law and the wishes of the people was nipped in the bud on Tuesday, by Judge Thomas C. Denny of the Superior Court of this county.

Attorney Rolfe L. Thompson filed an affidavit in Judge Denny’s Court which has proved a sensation in the charges that it makes. The matter was filed by Attorney Thompson as attorney amicus curae (friend of the court); and shows some startling things in the trial of Jacob Kobler, which was being heard before the Court that day.

Upon the result of this trial depended the existence of the roadhouse, it would tell whether the roadhouse could come back into the county despite the wishes and votes of the people or not.

There had been a complaint filed in the justice’s court charging Mr. Kobler with selling liquor without a license, this complaint had been drawn up by the District Attorney’s office, and had been sworn to by a deputy sheriff. As shown by Mr. Thompson, the complaint after charging Mr. Kobler with selling liquor without a license stated that he had done so “under the following conditions.” Then followed what was really a defense instead of a complaint. It is stated that a social club had been organized “for the moral and intellectual” uplift of the members: that incidental to the club it kept and sold liquor to its members. Mr. Kobler was the manager of this club and sold the liquor as such manager.

After the arrest, Mr. Weske, attorney for Mr. Koblar, applied to the Superior Court with Judge Denny sitting, for a writ of habeas corpus. According to law upon the hearing following the granting of a writ of habeas corpus ‘which hearing is to decide whether there are facts sufficient to hold the prisoner or not), the judge in deciding the matter can only take into consideration the facts stated in the complaint This was a peculiar situation, the judge had only a “defense” to hold the prisoner.

In the documents filed by Attorney Thompson, the district attorney’s office is charged with filing a complaint the face of which indicates that it is a portion of a frame-up for the purpose of procuring a court decision to permit road houses to resume business in Sonoma county.

Judge Thomas C. Denny stated from the bench that the pretended club of Mr. Koblar should have been proved as a matter of defense and not set up in the complaint by parties who had brought the action.

Mr. Thompson had the affidavits of two Pinkerton detectives that had been working on the case for him. The facts as shown in their affidavit, which was read in open court, was startling. It showed that the club had as members among others the Grace Brothers Brewery and the Enterprise Brewing Company of Sebastopol. The by-laws of the club showed that the only requirement for membership was the payment of thirty-five cents, and the majority vote of the “members present;” which of course could mean the members already lined up before the bar.

To Detective Ring Mr. Koblar is alleged to have unbosomed himself freely, and in his confidences set forth the coming action of the liquor interests in case the present action did not restore the road houses, and permit the sellllng of liquor. According to the affidavit filed by Ring, and presented by Thompson, should the present “club” of Poblar rove [sic, sic] to be too frail to pass muster in the courts, in the present action, he was to deed part of his property at Woolsey station over to Grace Brothers Brewing Company and the Enterprise Brewery at Sebastopol, and then he (Koblar) was to act as the agent of these corporations. Koblar said to the detective that Bigelow of Sonoma was the only man whom the liquor interests held in fear.

He also stated to Ring “that they did not fear the district attorney, for he was a good fellow and would not hurt them any more than he could help.”

Judge Denny from the bench without any hesitation dismissed the writ and remanded Koblar to the custody of the sheriff. The Judge summed up. He said:

“If this pretended social club really existed, it ought not to have been set up in the complaint; that is a matter for the petitioner’s (prisoner’s) defense. There is no question in my mind: this is another way of whipping the devil around the bush; this social club is Just a subterfuge. If I should discharge this prisoner, I have no doubt all these roadhouses, which the people here just voted out, would be back in a week.”

– Healdsburg Tribune, July 24, 1913

COUNTY LIQUOR LICENSES
Grand Jury Makes Recommendations Concerning Issuance

“We, the grand jury, recommend that the Board of Supervisors, issue no liquor licenses except to persons they have satisfactory evidence are fully qualified under the ordinances of this county;

“And we further recommend that no licenses be issued simply on the recommendation of one member of the board, in whose district the applicant seeks a license, as has been the custom, but that licenses be authorized by the board as a whole, and not otherwise.

“We further recommend that the board immediately proceed to investigate and determine what proprietors of hotels now holding licenses, are actually qualified, and that they revoke the license of those not so qualified.

“And we further recommend that the officers of this county proceed to prosecute with diligence all persons who are selling liquors contrary to the ordinances of this county.”

The above recommendation was made by the Sonoma county grand jury in its partial report to Judge Denny in the Superior Court, prior to adjournment ot the call of Foreman Robert Potter Hill, Thursday afternoon. The recommendation was ordered filed by the court.

– Healdsburg Tribune, July 24, 1913

RECALL PETITION FILED AGAINST HARRY WEISE
Bigelow and Others Want to Oust Supervisor

Guy J. K. Bigelow, of El Verano, filed the petition demanding the recall of Supervisor J. Harry Weise, in the office of County Clerk W. W. Felt, on Thursday. There were 416 names of voters on the petition, he stated, when the required percentage was 370…

…Some weeks ago the opposition to Weise met and selected E. W. Kilgore as their candidate against Weise. So that the grounds of the recall petition may be understood the following is a copy thereof:

Petition to recall J. H. Weise, Supervisor, First District of Sonoma County, California.

We, the undersigned qualified electors of the First Supervisorial District of the County of Sonoma, State of California, demand the recall of J. H. Weise, the duly elected, qualified and acting Supervisor of said district, and that his successor be elected in the manner provided by law.

For grounds of this petition we allege:

That the said J. H. Welse was elected. and qualified as such Supervisor of the First District of Sonoma County. California, on January 1, 1913, and ever since said time has been, and still is the duly elected, qualified and acting Supervisor of said district, and during said time has been and still is guilty of misconduct in office, as follows:

1. In falling to keep his pledge to confine the issuing of liquor licenses to a minimum, and to uphold the Anti-Roadhouse ordinance.

2. In advising, encouraging and issuing liquor licenses in defiance of the spirit and plain provisions of the Anti-Roadhouse ordinance, to persons not engaged in conducting a bona fide hotel with 35 sleeping apartments properly furnished for guests.

3. In advising and recindlng the resolution of the Board of Supervisors, limiting the number of licenses in a portion of said district, to eleven.

– Press Democrat, July 25, 1913

DIST. ATTY. LEA REPLIES TO R.L. THOMPSON’S ATTACK
Prosecutor Points Out Direct Effort to Besmirch Him
Judge Thomas C. Denny Authorizes Statement That by No Word or Act of His in the Case Did He Mean or Intend to Cast the Slightest Reflection Upon the District Attorney and Does Not Question His Motive or Sincerity in the Matter

District Attorney Clarence F. Lea last night gave out the following statement in reply to an attack made upon his office In the Kobler case in the Superior court by Attorney Rolfe L, Thompson, which was given wide publicity yesterday in a paper specially published for that purpose:

BY CLARENCE F. LEA
District Attorney of Sonoma County

It is commonly said that people would rather hear evil than good of their public officials. Whether this be true or false it is doubtless true of some. The credulity that is willing to believe without investigation or just cause to accept unfounded attacks on public officials, furnishes a temptation to the unscrupulous *nd disreputable.

Ever since the adoption of the initiative liquor ordinance in this county I have been subjected to unscrupulous persistent, and premeditated attacks, all emanating from a very small coterie of hypocrites. In order that the public may understand the history of this so-called roadhouse controversy and how much merit there is in these attacks, I desire to briefly recite the facts.

Shortly after the adoption of the initiative ordinance the Appellate Court of the Third District decided what is known as the Zany case. That case in effect held that the local option law furnished the only means by which liquor regulations could be established. The effect of the decision, if not reversed, was to nullify the initiative ordinance adopted by the people of Sonoma County. The decision, however, was contrary to a former decision of another district court made in the Giddlngs case. Shortly after the Zany decision R. L. Thompson visited my office and urged the institution of a suit to establish the validity of the Sonoma county ordinance, I refused to associate him in such a case, but on my own Initiation I filed the case of People vs. Connolly, which was based upon the theory that the initiative ordinance was legal and if sustained by the Appellate Courts would reverse the Zany case and establish the law for our county. That was the object which Mr. Thompson himself had claimed to desire.

After instituting the Connolly case, Mr. Thompson wrote articles in the public press of this county, alleging that the Connolly case was instituted bv me “for the benefit of the roadhouse.” And by frequent insinuations and innuendo sought to create the impression that my purpose was to defeaf the initiative law. Mr. Thompson, through the press, repeatedly informed the public in substance that the Connolly case could not be decided in favor ol the people but would be decided on a technical point.

Mr. Thompson neglected, however, to tell the people that the only party directly concerned in that suit, who was trying to evade its decision on the merits, was himself. He has never told the public that when the Connolly case came up for hearing in the Appellate court that he appeared there and tried to secure its dismissal and prevent a judgment sustaining the Sonoma county initiative law, on a purely technical point.

After the Connolly case was finally decided, sustaining the validity of the county ordinance, Mr. Thompson, inspired articles written for the benefit of the public, stating that the decision in the Connolly case is “one of the most important cases for Sonoma county that has been decided in years.” The same newspaper articles inspired by himself are full of self-praise and he attempts to appropriate the credit for the very decision which he used every means in his power to prevent.

In fact, his attitude in that case, as in the whole roadhouse controversy, has been purely selfish and hypocritical. R. L. Thompson has not been true to the anti-roadhouse cause. He has tried to juggle with the matter for his own aggrandizement, all the while sacrificing the interests of those he deceived into believing he was serving. He has been trying to serve his selfish interests and do a little dirty politics instead of really and in good faith attempting to aid in the enforcement of the law. He has never filed a complaint for a single violation of that law; he has never requested this office to file one. Practically his whole attempt has been not to fight the roadhouse but to try to besmirch and injure the district attorney. Instead of trying to aid and encourage and assist the district attorney In these cases, the public is well familiar with the fact that he has constantly hampered, attacked and obstructed the officers in trying to enforce the law.

While the Connolly case was pending Mr. Thompson told me in private that he knew that I stood for decency in public life, and had my best interests at heart. While he was trying to convince me of his faith in me he was at the same time writing articles for the newspapers, trying to convince the public of his lack of faith In me.

At the December meeting of the Board of Supervisors, in conformity to my suggestion, the Board of Supervisors refused to issue any license and deferred any motion until January. Notwithstanding the upper courts had rendered no decision on the matter, at the January meeting of the Board, I was instrumental in procuring the Board of Supervisors to adopt the resolution against issuing any license until proof was made to their satisfaction that the applicant had thirty-five rooms, as required by the ordinance.

The initiative ordinance provided no penalty for its violation and at my suggestion the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance providing a penalty and making it possible for any citizen to initiate a criminal prosecution for violation of the ordinance.

As since decided by the Supreme court, the initiative ordinance did not limit the power of the Board in issuing licenses to any person, whether hotel-keeper or not, but only made it against the law “to sell” liquor without a license. The ordinance so adopted by the Board made the initiative ordinance operative when without such ordinance and resolution, it was, from a legal standpoint, practically a dead letter.

About the first of the year Mr. Thompson was instrumental in procuring the filing of a suit against the Board of Supervisors, alleging that they threatened to issue licenses regardless of the initiative ordinance, when in truth and in fact he knew exactly the contrary to be the truth. The case was evidently intended purely for the purpose of creating distrust of the Board of Supervisors and myself. When it came to trial he absolutely failed to produce a single witness to sustain his false charge.

Judge Seawell immediately decided that the evidence was all one way and the charge groundless. Consistently with his course of duplicity and chicanery, that he has pursued during the last eight months, Mr. Thompson is again trying to convince the public of a conspiracy and collusion of the district attorney in reference to the Kobler case. This time he thinks he has found a mare’s nest.

The truth in the Kobler case is as follows:

Over a year ago I assisted in prosecuting Kobler before the Board of Supervisors in a proceeding in which his license to sell liquor was taken from him. Complaints have been made of his selling liquor illegally. I caused the evidence to be procured and a complaint was filed against him on that ground on July 23, 1912. The complaint was prepared in this office to which he pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $100.

A few weeks ago complaint was again made to this office in reference to his selling liquor illegally. I employed a detective to visit the Kobler place to procure the evidence against him. I advanced the money out of my own pocket with which to pay the detective and pay his own expenses in procuring the evidence. The detective stayed in that vicinity a few days and procured evidence which thoroughly showed that he was again violating the law.

I prepared a complaint in my office, charging him with selling liquor without a license. I also prepared search warrant papers and caused proper affidavits to be made for searching the premises and confirm the evidence we already had. This was done at my instigation.

The complaint filed in that case was prepared in the usual form, of which we have used many. After Kohler’s arrest I learned from his attorney that he had been advised by an attorney that the so-called “club” system, which he had created, was a defense to our charge. I told the attorney that in my opinion it was no defense whatever. That in my opinion the club was not a bona fide club and that even it it were, under the Sonoma county ordinance, it was a crime for him to sell intoxicating liquor without a license. We stipulated to present the matter to the Superior court on petition for a writ of habeas corpus by the defendant. I prepared another complaint in the same language as the first complaint and further setting forth the character of the so-called club, as set forth in the by-laws thereof, of which we procured a copy.

At the time this stipulation was entered into it was distinctly understood that Kobler was to be prosecuted by me for his illegal sale of liquor, even though the Superior Court should rule against us on the complaint under which the defendant petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. In other words, my contention was and is that every club, whether bona fide or not, is required to have a license before engaging in the business of selling intoxicating liquor, and in the second place, that the Kobler club was not a bona fide club.

Under these circumstances the Kobler case came up in the Superior Court, where Mr. Thompson appeared and viciously, corruptly and without the slightest foundation of fact to justify his charge, accused me of collusion with the defendant for the purpose of getting a decision to permit the illegal sale of liquor.

Mr, Thompson’s charge was absolutely false. It would be a reflection upon his intelligence to suppose that he did not know that it was false. He did not make the slightest investigation to find out whether it was true or false, because he knew it was false. His action In the matter is entirely due to his inordinate desire for the spotlight and preferment. It Is consistent with his purpose as evinced during eight months of duplicity and deception, to make the road house question a means of serving selfish ends and venting personal spleen instead of acting for the benefit of the community or the public.

The question presented on the hearing was whether or not the complaint drawn by me stated an offense against Kobler assuming that all the facts stated therein were true. That was the sole legal question that was decided or could be decided on the hearing. With that question the Judge agreed with the contention of the district attorney and absolutely sustained the position I had taken in the matter. The fact that the decision was in our favor alone explodes all the furore which Mr. Thompson attempts to create. Mr. Thompson displayed his own duplicity in the matter before he left the court room by specifically admitting that the contentions of the district attorney were correct, as a matter of law. Namely, that the complaint showed that Kobler was guilty of the offense charged.

Any attempt to use the name of Judge Denny to besmirch me about the matter is absolutely vicious and without justification. I am authorized by Judge Denny to state that by no word or act of his in the case did he mean or intend to cast the slightest reflection upon the district attorney, and that he does not question my motive or sincerity in the case.

Both the complaints filed against Kobler recently, on my initiation are still in the Justice Court, and Mr. Kobler will be prosecuted on one of these complaints and the thought of doing otherwise was never suggested to my mind until mentioned In the unscrupulous, scandulous and villianous attack of R. L. Thompson.

During the last year Mr. Thompson’s “zeal for righteousness” has prompted him to inspire more than a score of newspaper articles all aimed at questioning my motive; besmiching [sic] my reputation and creating distrust in the minds of the public. What motive is behind these attacks I will submit to the honest judgment of conscientious and intelligent people. It is sufficient to say that the motive is not honorable nor just nor right. I believe It is the duty of every man to preserve his good name for himself, for his family, for his friends and for society. It Is particularly desirable that those in public positions should preserve their good name. But more important than that, it is necessary that they should deserve it.

I have been district attorney of Sonoma county for more than six years. Regardless of what any shyster, hypocrite or knave may say, I deserve a good name. I have prosecuted alike friend and foe, rich and poor, and have tried to dispose of every case as its merits appeared to me, regardless of what might be the influence of public clamor behind them.

There is not a man on this earth that can state a single specific fact questioning my motive in reference to the initiative law. My motive has been clean and sincere. The door of my office has been open to every person who desired to make a charge and have a case investigated. And those who have questioned my motive have done so in deceived ignorance or maliciously and corruptly, as has R. L. Thompson.

I have long since learned that however sincere we may be, we are not exempt from attacks of calumny and detraction. But I want to say that R. L. Thompson, nor any other man can, on oath, charge me with any immoral collusion without committing the crime of perjury.

– Press Democrat, July 26, 1913

ATTORNEY THOMPSON MAKES REJOINDER

Editor Republican: —
In reply to the personal assault made upon me by the District Attorney, published in the morning Press Democrat, I only wish to say I believe the facts recited do not justify the conclusions of the District Attorney, nor the language in which the article is couched.

The public is perfectly familiar with the road-house litigation, and I shall not weary them by reviewing it from my standpoint. Everybody knows that Attorney Ross Campbell and myself were engaged and acted as counsel in behalf of the ordinance. Everyone knows that in every proceeding in which we appeared our contentions were upheld by the highest courts of the state. This fight was against the road-house, and not against the District Attorney.

So far as answering the personal charges made against me, it seems neither worthy nor necessary.
R. L. THOMPSON

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 26, 1913

THE ROADHOUSE PROBLEM

Nearly a year ago the people of Sonoma county voted by a large majority to close the saloons outside of incorporated towns and cities. They did this under the initiative law and not under the Wiley iocal option law. Bonafide hotels of the county possessing thirty-five or more rooms were exempt from the operation of the law.

At once a contest was begun to defeat the will of the people. The matter was held up in the courts for months, till finally the State Supreme Court passed down a decision sustaining the validity of the ordinance in every essential particular. No sooner had the law been upheld by the Superior Court of this county than the liquor interests began their work to encompass its defeat. Not fair and open opposition, but by clandestine methods, by technical flaws and by positive evasions of the law. The first evasion was the thirty-five-room hotel clause. In some instances tents were put on the premises, far away from the main building, and counted as “bed-rooms.” In other instances old machine shops, back rooms of furniture stores, were curtained off by cheese cloth and counted as bed rooms. Ihe dog house, the stable and chicken roosts were put in when necessary to make up the thirty-five rooms.

Now, the strange thing to us, is that these things were allowed and no investigation instituted. It is not sufficient for a man to go before the Board of Supervisors and swear that he has a bonafide hotel of thirty-five robms. The officers of the law should investigate thees cases and see if the applicant is telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Since the Supreme Court decision, other methods ot evasion have been resorted to. The “Club” system has come into vogue. That club system is nothing more nor less than a system to shield drunkenness and gambling. All the big cities are going after it with hammer and tongs and the next legislature should wipe it out in California.

In the Kobler case now before the courts of this county, about which so much bad blood has been brought to the surface, it is clear to all that the Kobler club is a fake; that it is backed up by wholesale liquor interests in this county; that these wholesale interests are the real offenders of the law. That there was a deep laid scheme to defeat the roadhouse law is plain on its face, whether or not there is any collusion by county officials.

Judge Denny certainly thought there was something wrong… and blocked the game. Judge Denny said from the bench:

“If this pretended social club really existed, it ought not to have been set up in the complaint; that is a matter for the petitioner’s (prisoner’s) defense. There is no question in my mind but this is another way of whipping the devil around the bush; this social club is a subterfuge. If I should discharge this prisoner, I have no doubt all these roadhouses, which the people have just voted out, would be back in a week.”

The people see it as Judge Denny saw it.

As to the bout between R. L. Thompson and District Attorney Lea, that’s to be regretted. They are both good men, but boys, and boys will scrap sometimes. Mr. Lea has made a good district attorney, and Rolfe L. Thompson has been the people’s friend in this entire roadhouse fight, and the people will stand by him, for he justly holds their fullest confidence.

– Healdsburg Tribune, July 31, 1913

JACOB KOBLAR CONVICTED AND FlNED $200 BY COURT
Another Conviction Is Secured by Dist. Attorney Lea

– Press Democrat, July 31, 1913

NO MORE DANCE HALLS IN SALOON BUILDINGS

At the meeting of the Board of Supervisors yesterday action was taken in the matter of the E. E. LaFranchi liquor license at Monte Rio, a hearing concerning which was given at last month’s session. The evidence was not deemed sufficient on which to take away the license.

The Supervisors have decided to amend the liquor license ordinance so that it will provide that dance halls cannot be located in the same building in which a saloon is conducted. It is believed that this step will put an end to future complaints.

– Press Democrat, August 6, 1913

 

 
THREE LIQUOR HEARINGS UP BEFORE SUPERVISORS
Large Delegation from Freestone Appear in Boldsdorff Case

There were three liquor license hearings before the Board of Supervisors…

…The board then took up the application of Pool & Pool, who run a saloon in Guerneville. The testimony showed that there was but one sleeping apartment in the saloon building; that there was a dining room in the rear of the building, with a summer garden between and that the sleeping apartments were located in different parts of town. One building with fourteen rooms was located across the street from the saloon and dining room; another down the street had fourteen more rooms; still another a little further on had five more rooms and across the railroad track was still another with thirteen more…

…There was no protest filed against the Pool & Pool application…

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 8, 1913

 

DENY THE APPLICATION FOR A SALOON AT FREESTONE

Men, women and children from Freestone crowded Supervisor’s Hall yesterday morning and afternoon, interest centering In the hearing of the application of George W. Stump for a retail license for a saloon in that place. The petition asking the Supervisors to grant the license was offset by a larger protest signed by over one hundred names.

There were a large number of children present, including a number of white-dressed girls. They accompanied their elders ahd same of them had temperance bannerettes. From statements made it seems that the saloon question has been a much discussed one in the Western Sonoma village, and there is apparently a determination to do away with a drink emporium for good.

After the Supervisors had listened to the evidence a vote was taken and the license petitioned for was denied. A suggestion that an election be held in Freestone precinct to determine the matter by vote was made. This was not accepted. It seems there was no objection to the man applying for the license but the protestants did not want a saloon at all.

Practically the entire population of Freestone came to town yesterday to witness and participate in the proceedings, They made the corridors of the county courthouse quite lively. Some time since the Supervisors denied the petition for a license for the Ward hotel, which had the requisite number of rooms required by the ordinance. In that case, as in that of Mr. Stump, there was a large protest against a saloon license being granted.

– Press Democrat, August 9, 1913

 

ABUSING THE RECALL

The principle of the recall is highly meritorious, for it affords a comparatively simple way of dispensing with the services of a public official who has shown himself incompetent, corrupt or otherwise unworthy of confidence. But like most other privileges, the recall is something that can easily be abused…

…The case of Supervisor Harry Weise, whose recall is how being sought by certain persons residing in that district, offers an instance fairly in point. Mr. Weise was elected last year on the Republican ticket, defeating a man who had been long in office and who had served his district well. The matter of saloon regulation came up, and Supervisor Weise offered a resolution limiting the number of saloons within a given territory. This resolution was adopted by the Board. An ordinance was also submitted to the people and duly adopted at a regular election, providing that summer resorts having not less than thirty-five rooms be allowed to procure licenses. Applications under the new law developed the fact that it and the resolution adopted by the Board were clearly in conflict, whereupon Supervisor Weise moves that the resolution be rescinded, very properly holding that a mandate from the people is more binding than a mere resolution adopted at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

And thereupon somebody immediately starts a movement for Supervisor Weise’s recall. Nobody charges that Mr. Welse has not made a good Supervisor, or that he has in any way neglected the duties of his office. On the contrary, it is freely admitted that except in regard to the one matter here noted his course since assuming office has been quite generally acceptable. No moral delinquencies of any kind are charged against Mr. Welse. He has lived his entire life in the district, and is thoroughly familiar with its needs and requirements, while his opponent in the recall election is a new man whose interests are only partially there and who spends most of his time elsewhere. The whole opposition to Mr. Welse is based upon the fact that in one single instance he failed to please certain individuals who have grown into the habit of dictating to everybody with whom they come in contact and who even seem to believe themselves privileged to interpret our laws…

– Press Democrat, August 17, 1913

TENTS BARRED BY COURT AS PART OF HOTEL ROOMS
Opinion Handed Down by Judge Seawell Yesterday
Decision at First Caused Consternation, But the Court’s Ruling Only Applied to Tents

Tents cannot be included In the “thirty-five separate sleeping apart apartments,” which hotels, outside of incorporated towns, must have in order to operate under a retail liquor license as contemplated in the provisions of the anti-roadhouse ordinance adopted by the people in Sonoma county last November.

Superior Judge Emmet Seawell so decided in an opinion handed down yesterday morning in the suit of the People vs. P. S. Newton. Newton is proprietor of Moscow hotel, on the Russian river. Most of the rooms ot his hotel are tents and when he was granted a license District Attorney Clarence F. Lea brought the action in court to settle the question as to whether a tent could be regarded as one of the hotel rooms mentioned in the ordinance. Judge Seawell’s decision yesterday sustains the contention of the district attorney.

In his opinion yesterday, Judge Seawell overruled the demurrer interposed by Newton’s attorney and the ruling made forfeits the right of Newton to run a bar in connection with his summer resort.

At first hand the opinion in the Newton case seemed to contain an intimation that Judge Seawell would also construed a “cottage” in the same light as a tent. The report that such was the case caused considerable consternation as such a ruling would have meant the closing of practically all of the prominent summer resorts in Sonoma county, many of them old established and with permanent cottages making up the required quota of rooms and more.

The question of tents was the only one passed upon by Judge Seawell, as he himself stated when interviewed last night. The question of cottages was not passed up to him for judicial determination. Anything said inferentfally in the opinion, the Judge said, must not be taken in the nature of a judicial determination as to cottages. All he passed upon was in relation to tents. The other question, he said, would involve more serious consideration.

For a time, until Judge Seawell followed up his opinion with a statement made in an interview, it appeared as if tents and cottages had been included In the decision of the Court. Judge Seawell’s decision in full is as follows;

[..]

– Press Democrat, August 30, 1913

IMPORTANT CHANGE IN THE COUNTY LIQUOR ORDINANCE
“Five Bottles” Will Now Be Done Away with

The amended county liquor ordinance prepared for passage by the Board of Supervisors makes a number of important changes.

One change specifies the kind of rooms that come into the reckoning in the “thirty-five separate sleeping apartments” a bona fide hotel, such as is contemplated by the initiative anti-roadhouse ordinance. The new ordinance provides that said rooms must be built of wood or permanent material and must contain 500 cubic feet of air space and 8 feet of window space. The use of tents, as is already known, is forbidden under the recent decision of Judge Seawell, from being included in the thirty-five rooms necessary.

 No Dance Halls Near Bars

When the new ordinance becomes effective no dance hall or platform can be located within fifty feet of a bar in a bona fide hotel, the only places that can get a retail liquor license under the initiative ordinance.

 Stringent Provision

Under the new ordinance no manufacturer of vinous or malt or other intoxicating liquors, or their agents, can sell less quantities than thirty gallons; and not less than one gallon, when sold to any person who is the holder of a retail license, or to any person who has not been a bona fide householder of less than six months in the locality in which the hotel is located. This will do away with the selling of beer or wine to transients, about which there has been considerable complaint, particularly in five-bottle draughts.

 Change In Application

There is also a change in the form of application for a license. Future applications must be signed by eight of the nearest bona fide resident householders who have been such for six months prior thereto.

– Press Democrat, September 6, 1913

NEW LIQUOR ORDINANCE IS CLEAR AND DRASTIC

With instructions to the sheriff to investigate every hotel in the county outside of incorporated cities, the Board of Supervisors Saturday morning, just before adjourning the September session, passed an amended liquor ordinance, which does not in any way conflict with the initiative ordinance, but does strengthen it by providing penalties and defining just what constitutes a hotel room and in fact what constitutes a hotel building under the suburban classification.

The ordinance is a rigid one and was passed with the intention to make it as hard as possible for any one to violate the liquor law of the county, and at the same time to deal fairly with all reputable and respectable summer resorts of the county.

[..]

Persons who sell near beer and soft drinks are forbidden to keep a stock of liquor on the premises, or within ten feet of the premises where the soft drinks are sold.

Liquor is not to be sold within 50 feet of any dance hall while a dance is in progress, unless the hall is on another floor at least nine feet above or below that upon which the dance hall is located…

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 6, 1913

BIGELOW SUED FOR DAMAGES
Supervisor Harry Weise Objects to Slander and Defamation of of Character in Speeches

Supervisor Harry Weise by his attorney, William F. Cowan, filed a suit Saturday morning In the Superior court against Guy G. K. Bigelow, seeking $65,000 damages for defamation of character and slander. The suit is the outgrowth of statements alleged to have been made by the defendant in the present recall campaign directed against the Supervisor in the First District.

The statements to which Supervisor Weise takes exceptions were said to have been uttered by Bigelow at a meeting of the Cotati Ladies’ Improvement Club last Monday night, September 8. The complaint consists of three specifications. Two relate to charges which Bigelow is said to have made in which he declared that Supervisor Weise accepted a bribe in the matter of the Fetters Springs liquor license. The complaint quotes the language Bigelow 1s said to have used on that occasion while discussing the question in which he admitted that he did not have the necessary proof to back up his allegations and innuendos.

The third specification charges Bigelow with having said that Supervisor Weise admitted to him that he was boozy, meaning he was drunk, during the sessions of the Board, and that he was thus influenced to vote for the license. The plaintiff asks $25,000 on each of the first two counts and $15,000 on the third.

Supervisor Weise, needless to say, absolutely and unqualifiedly denies every allegation and imputation in the statement as made and says every one should understand that the charges are campaign slanders, designed to blacken his character in the hope of affecting certain votes in the recall election next Tuesday.

Attorney Cowan, after filing the suit, declared that it would be pressed to an issue as early as possible and vigorously prosecuted, as it was the desire to prove that a man’s character could not be assailed without the least cause unless the assailant paid the penalty.

– Press Democrat, September 14, 1913

SUPERVISOR WEISE HAS OVERWHELMING VICTORY
Every Precinct in the District Have Him Larger Majority Than When He was Elected a Year Ago

…The petition to recall contained 405 names, which was ten more than enough to make the petition valid. There were but 485 votes for recall. This means that only 80 more people voted in addition to the petitioners…

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 17, 1913

 

 
NEW HOTEL FOR GUERNEVILLE

Guernevllle Times: The Pool Brothers, John and Charles, have started out in good earnest in building their new hotel. Bright and early last Monday morning a force of men were put to work clearing the grounds preparatory to building. The hotel is to be on the present site of the Louvre and the hotel will have a fine frontage of sixty feet on Railroad avenue. It is to be a two-story building and to contain thirty-eight rooms. The construction will be in charge of Willard Cole as foreman and the work done by day’s labor. The first carload of lumber arrived on Wednesday morning and all the local men available will be put to work on the job immediately in order to rush the work to completion as early in November as possible.

– Healdsburg Tribune, October 16, 1913

BIGELOW DENIES ALL CHARGES
Echo of the Recent Recall Election Held in the First Supervisoral District

In his answer filed in the Superior court in the $65,000 damage suit brought against him by Supervisor J. Harry Weise for slander and libel, Guy J. K. Bigelow enters denial to practically all the allegations contained in Mr. Weise’s complaint, regarding the public utterances he made ridiculing the Supervisor from the First District at meetings held during the recall campaign. Denial is also made by Mr. Bigelow regarding the “arrival of a sack of money” following the granting of a liquor license in the Sonoma Valley.

A lively fight is promised when the suit comes to trial. Both sides will have many witnesses and owing to the bitterness of the campaign which eventually returned Supervisor Weise to office, or rather prevented his being ousted, as Bigelow wanted, much interest will be taken. R. L. Thompson is the defendant’s attorney filing the answer to the complaint.

– Press Democrat, October 18, 1913

BUSINESS DONE BY SUPERVISORS
Saloon Licenses Reviewed—-Permission for Sheriff to Use City Jail–Other Matters

A number of matters of business were transacted by the Board of Supervisors at an adjourned meeting at the Court House on Saturday. Chairman C. B. Patteson and Supervisors Weise, Hutchinson, Green and King were at their desks. Clerk W. W. Felt Jr., as usual, attended to the clerical work.

There being no opposition to the following applications for renewals of retail liquor licenses for the ensuing year, the same were granted: H. A. Richardson, Stewart’s Point; Morris Levy, Glen Ellen; George. G. Freeman, Geyserville; W. L. McCray, McCray’s; John O. Mclntosh, Penngrove; M. A. Carr, Monte Rio; E. E. Lafranchi, Monte Rio; Theodor Richards, Agua Caliente Springs; Enrico Forni, Vineburg; Ben Meyer, Embarcadero; Harry Wilkins, Glen Ellen; F. E. Haynes, Duncan’s Mills; Brooks & Davie, Camp Meeker; Henry Koerner, El Verano; Mosso & Blanchini, Sonoma Grove; O. C. Benjamin, El Verano; Fetters Hot Springs Company, Fetters Springs; Louis Lamotte, El Verano; John Lopus, Cotati; J. D. Connolly, Occidental; F. M. Haley, Agua Caliente; Phil Rossi, El Verano; Boyes Hot Springs, Hot Springs; Tom W. Tull, Kawana Springs. The license for Mark West Springs was transferred to John O. Wickham.

– Press Democrat, December 28, 1913

 

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