1913cooking

COOK LIKE GREAT-GRANDMA

If you were invited to supper by your great-grandparents you might dislike their food – and probably wouldn’t recognize some of it.

We believe we know a little something about daily life in a small town such as Santa Rosa because of movies such as “The Music Man,” set in 1912. Overall it seems like a pretty nice place (and probably was, if you were white, middle-class and not too concerned about equality issues) so it’s not too hard to imagine living there. Oh, I could adjust to the uncomfortable clothes, we dream nostalgically, I could deal with a coal furnace, the lack of air conditioning and refrigeration, that both cars and phones needed to be cranked before use. But unless you’re a fan of the bland, mealtimes might be quite a struggle.

We’re fortunate to have two different sources of information about what we were eating in Santa Rosa during the early Twentieth Century. A local church cookbook showed what was actually on our plates and a 1913 week-long “cooking school” promoted by the Press Democrat took it a step further and demonstrated a few ways to prepare a meal other than boiling everything to death.

There are two versions of the cookbook: a 1900 pamphlet published by an insurance company and a lengthier 1908 hardbound booklet self-published by the Presbyterian church in Fulton. The later edition has about 25 percent more material (along with local ads, which are always fun) and is the version referred to here. Recipes were all from women of the Fulton/Mark West area whose names were familiar from the society columns in the Santa Rosa newspapers.

This was not a local cookbook like the midcentury versions found at yard sales today, which are heavy with special holiday recipes and every kind of cookie imaginable. The word “holiday” does not even appear in the old cookbook; neither does “thanksgiving” or “christmas” (although there are directions for stuffing a turkey). There are more doughnut recipes than ones for making cookies. Part of the reason it’s so hit-or-miss was because every home had an encyclopedic household management book, packed with all kinds of recipes for special occasions. If the pastor was coming over and you wanted to impress him with French veal in cream sauce and Italian sorbet for dessert, you found recipes there along with instructions on how to remove the stains from your finest tablecloth. So complete were those reference books that the one owned by Mattie Oates even had directions for embalming, which might come in handy if you forgot to ask the preacher if he had any allergies before serving that Waldorf salad with walnuts.

Another word you won’t find in the Fulton cookbook: “spicy.” The most common form of meat mentioned was boiled chicken, often diced or chopped. The recipes for chili sauce use bell peppers. Garlic is included only in five dishes, most of them labeled “Creole.” And speaking of ethnic dishes, the cookbook avoids mention of our major local minority groups. Seven times “Spanish” is in a name but never “Mexican” despite directions for making tamales; there are four “German” recipes but no “Italian,” despite two different recipes fot making ravioli and several using macaroni. There are also names which seem odd today; there are many recipes for fruitcakes which aren’t called fruitcakes and casseroles which are called meat scallops.

Here’s what you will find in that cookbook besides boiled chicken: Lots and lots of cakes but almost no pies. Butter and eggs are used nearly everywhere, including in dishes you might not expect. Nine recipes call for oysters which the author usually presumes will come from a jar. The cooks seemed obsessed with knowing the age of their poultry. “See that the chickens are not too young,” one recipe suggests. Another calls for a “chicken about a year old” and another, “young, a hen.” Directions read, “steam according to the age of the chicken.”

There are some things in that book I’d like to try. There are two recipes for grape pickles and something called oil pickles, which requires an inverse vinaigrette ratio. What I would not like to eat: Jugged pigeons and pot roast of liver. Fish chops. Pork cake.

While the cookbook represented our humdrum grub at suppertime, the Press Democrat’s “Big Free Cooking School” in 1913 aspired to help us bake, roast and sauce our way out of the doldrums.

The weeklong event was actually a touring lecture/demonstration series followed by a cooking competition. The PD loved using contests as circulation builders, which they always restricted to women only. The previous year it was selling subscriptions to vote for the “most popular baby in Santa Rosa and vicinity,” called the “Shower of Gold Contest” (oh, if only Trump were around then to watch them and pick a winner). And in 1911 the paper had a subscription drive to win a new car – a competition that turned so cut-throat it could have been the plot for a tragicomic Nathanael West novel (see “MR. CONTEST EDITOR IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU“).

The cooking demos were made by Louise Eubank (more about her below) who was a representative of Globe Milling Company of Los Angeles, which was waging war against the “Flour Trust” of Midwestern grain mills.* She had been putting on similar demos around Northern California for at least two years, appearing earlier in Santa Rosa in 1911 and in 1912 Petaluma. But those demos were strictly baking lessons in order to sell more flour; this would be the only time she prepared entire meals.

The cooking school was on the second floor of the Doyle Building – still there at the corner of Fourth and D streets, and one of the prettiest places downtown. There was seating for 500 and according to the PD, it was standing room only some days. Besides the food there was also musical entertainment, with a piano and Victrola; on some days Miss Eubank’s sister warbled a tune. People also came to gawk at the latest technology. According to the PD: “The electric stoves used by Miss Eubank and furnished by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, aroused much interest Monday, as many saw these new cooking devices in operation for the first time.”

(For those interested in Comstock House history: Mattie and James Wyatt Oates had a small gas cooking stove similar to the style shown at right, which was in keeping with their aims to have the house fitted with the best and most up-to-date tech, such as the gas electroliers which could provide gas or electric light or a combination of both. We know the size and type of their stove because it left scorch marks on the wood floor showing its footprint, as well as an adjacent plugged hole for the gas pipe.)

Each day Press Democrat society columnist “Dorothy Ann” offered a summary of the previous day’s events along with recipes and cooking tips, which ranged from hygiene basics (“trade at meat market kept the cleanest”) to the odd and maybe superstitious (“stand in front of an open window while beating eggs”). The newspaper filled out the rest of the page with many ads from grocers and other food vendors who rarely advertised daily.

Rather than transcribe everything, links are provided here to the online version of each day’s doings and recipes. The only detail that needs explaining is the reference to paper bags; at the time there was quite a fad for baking meats and fish en papillote; for more background, read this booklet published back then on paper-bag cookery. Otherwise, here are the menus and a sampling of the tips:

SATURDAY Menu: steamed pudding with creamy sauce, broiled chicken and cheese croquettes. Tips:  Only two things are boiled vigorously—rice and macaroni [while] all other vegetables are boiled slowly; The great advantage of paper-bag cooking is that it takes but one-half the fuel.
(Recipes were torn out of the online copy, but can be read on Sonoma County Library microfilm.)

MONDAY Menu: Macaroni and beef tongue casserole and a white loaf cake with icing.

TUESDAY Menu: cheese straws, quick raisin bread, egg muffins and a simple pie crust.

WEDNESDAY Menu: Plain bread, California raisin bread, Dixie biscuit, roast lamb, currant mint sauce, green peas, creamed chicken, baked onions and potato doughnuts (potato pancakes). Tips: Sour pickle put in paper bag white cooking will kill taste of mutton; mutton soaked in weakened vinegar will taste like venison.

THURSDAY  Menu: Planked Steak, Baked Bananas, Fruit Salad, Baking Powder Biscuits, Layer Cake. Tips: Scrape fiber from bananas before using; flour that makes perfect cake, perfect bread and perfect pastry is safe for family use, this the Globe “A 1” does; fat on steaks should be a yellowish color—not white; meat should hang 12 or 14 days after killing.

The last day was contest judging. All categories involved baking, as the whole event was really about selling flour – contestants had to “bring a Globe ‘A1’ sack, or the recipe for making plain bread that comes in the top of each sack of Globe ‘A1’ flour.” Grand prize was a Hoosier Cabinet (shown below) which really was something of great value; those things were like food prep workstations with all the specialized drawers, pullout breadboards and sturdy countertops for mounting meat grinders, apple peelers and such. Contest winners are listed below; note there was a doughnut category, even though they apparently were never mentioned in the class.

There was also a special division in the contest for young women from Santa Rosa High, and maybe some spent time with Louise Eubank and were inspired. She was a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Domestic Science Department, which is to say she was a protégée of Marion Talbot, a strong advocate for women having the same higher education opportunities as men. Along with teaching rigorous sanitation, a goal of her courses in household administration was to make kitchen work and other chores more efficient in order to give women more time for personal betterment (the classes were open to men, too).

Louise continued the flour demos at least through the end of 1913, and was next spotted among women doing a lecture series on home economics for the UC Extension Program. When the U.S. joined WWI she went to France to work for a YMCA program operating canteens. She apparently never married and spent most of her life as a teacher in the little farm town of Willows, close to her father and singing sister. She died in 1965 in Los Angeles at age 86 and is buried in Willows.

The “Press Democrat Cooking School” was held again in the following two years, although taught by another woman from the same flour maker. The dishes were much the same as those presented by Louise and sometimes identical; there were no introduction of new ingredients or flavors, but the PD write-ups heavily promoted the use of electric appliances, going so far in 1915 to even name the forty local homeowners who had an electric range.

The Sperry Flour Company – which established a distribution warehouse in Santa Rosa in 1912 and would later buy the local mill – offered its own cooking school one year which the PD gave little mention, but in 1916 the paper went all out for the weeklong “Pure Food and Household Exposition” held at the roller skating pavilion on A street. This was a paid admission traveling exhibit showcasing many vendors and included nightly dances to the music of its own orchestra. Featured also was “Princess Gowongo, the Food Astrologer.” (She was a carnival fortune teller who had appropriated the name of “Princess” Go-Won-Go Mohawk, a Native American woman who was famed in the 1880s and 1890s as an actress performing in Indian-themed melodramas in London, New York, and touring companies around the country.)

The Press Democrat elbowed its way into the exhibition by using it for the judging of its latest contest: The “World’s Better Baby Show.” Why the PD kept giving these infant competitions cryptic names is anyone’s guess, but thankfully this time their title didn’t seem to hint at a obscene joke.

 


* Organized by Charles Pillsbury and his pals, the Flour Trust manipulated the prices of most of the nation’s wheat crop and flour supply from the 1880s until the 1930s. Globe used West Coast wheat and built/bought its own mills in California and the Southwest, promoting its flour products strangely not by claiming they were the highest quality but by boasting they were made in the same region and then appealing to local pride – the equivalent today of saying Ghirardelli chocolate demonstrates support for Sonoma County. The Globe ‘A1’ flour brand was sold at least through the mid-1960s, never (as far as I can tell) boasting much about quality, except for it being “enriched.” In later years the bags included coupons for other products or discounts at amusement parks, and the occasional print ads sometimes still made the claim of being a strictly local product. It was usually the cheapest stuff on the supermarket shelf.
 THE PRESS DEMOCRATS FREE COOKING SCHOOL OPENS HERE SATURDAY
 Celebrated Culinary Expert Will Demonstrate Latest Methods and Ideas, Preparing a Full Meal Each Afternoon
Display of Modern Kitchen Paraphernalia lo Be Unique and Interesting Feature-See the Model Kitchen and Learn From What Part of the Beef the Various Cuts Come

Saturday afternoon at 2:30, The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School will open in the large double store room in the Doyle Building, opposite the Masonic Temple, on Fourth street. Everybody Is invited, and from the interest already manifested it is apparent that the undertaking will prove the biggest kind ot a success.

Every afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30 scientific demonstrations will be conducted by Miss L. B, Eubank, graduate of the University of Chicago, Domestic Science Department. Miss Eubank is recognized as one of the most expert women in her line in the United States. She is bright and entertaining. and knows how to make her lectures interesting from start to finish.

She prepares her dishes in full view of the audience, illustrating every detail of procedure. As the “proof of the pudding is in the eating,” she also distributes samples of each dish or article prepared among those present.

It is planned to make The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School a complete exposition of everything pertaining to the culinary art. In addition to Miss Eubank’s dally lectures and practical demonstration of the very latest and most scientific ideas in modern cookery, there will be displayed kitchen paraphernalia of all kinds, and a well-known butcher will explain the different cuts of meat, illustrating his remarks by a practical demonstration of cutting, which will be given in full view of the audience.

Model kitchens will be arranged, and displays showing all the newest ideas in gas and electric ranges, electric toasters, percolators, etc., will be shown. In her cooking demonstrations Miss Eubank will use both gas and electricity, and fireless cookers will also be employed. The entire idea is to show the very latest and most approved methods, regardless of anything but the results to be attained.

At the conclusion of the term, which is to last one week, a prize cooking contest will be held, and the cash and other prize* to be offered will cause people to sit up and take notice. The menu for each day will be published in advance, so that those interested will have notice of what is to come. Do not make any engagements for any afternoon next week, if you are interested In culinary matters. The big event is going to be The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School, and everybody will want to be there.

It will be a county affair, and every body in Sonoma County is invited to be present. It will be absolutely free, no charge of any kind being exacted. Don’t forget the date — The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School opens Saturday afternoon at 2:30, and will continue one week.

– Press Democrat, April 3 1913

 

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT’S FREE COOKING SCHOOL OPENS THIS AFTERNOON
Celebrated Culinary Expert Will Demonstrate Latest Methods and Ideas, Preparing a Full Meal Each Afternoon
Display of Modern Kitchen Paraphernalia lo Be Unique and Interesting Feature—See the Model Kitchen end Learn From What Part of the Beef the Various Cuts Come

This is the day! The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School opens this afternoon at 2:30 in the Doyle building, opposite the Masonic Temple. A huge sign, the work of Geo. W. Salisbury, stretched across the front of the building, marks the spot. You can’t miss the place, and you mustn’t forget the time, for The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School is going to be something well worth while.

Workmen were busy yesterday getting the place ready, and when Miss Eubank gives her opening demonstration this afternoon it will be in a model kitchen, equipped with electric and gas ranges, fireless cookers, electric percolators, toasters, broilers, etc., supplemented by the latest ideas in kitchen cabinets and other culinary paraphernalia.

Several hundred comfortable seats have been provided, a large stage erected, and music will be furnished before and after the lecture by a player piano and a fine victrola, provided by Manager Campbell Pomeroy of the Sonoma Valley Music Company. The various displays will be grouped around the sides of the hall.

The electric and gas ranges used in the demonstrations, as well as the heat and power required to operate the same, are being provided by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, of which Maitland G. Hall is the popular local manager.

The Great Western Power Company, through District Manager William N. P. Hall, is also co-operating to make The Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School a success.

The course will last one week, closing next Friday evening, when a grand prize cooking contest will be held. This feature will be under the auspices of the Irene Club. A partial list of the prizes to be offered appears on page one. There are a large number of other prizes, which will be announced later. The grand capital prize consists of a Hoozier [sic] Kitchen Cabinet, valued at $43, supplied by the Santa Rosa Furniture Company. This elegant piece of kitchen furniture will be exhibited on the stage during the entire week. It is something well worth working for, and the woman who gets it will be fortunate indeed. Cash prizes will be offered in addition to many useful and valuable household articles, only a few of which are mentioned in the list appearing this morning.

What housewife is not interested in the latest ideas in cookery? What woman has not some problem of the kitchen that she would not like to have solved for her by an expert such as Mlss Eubank. There is an abundance of literature published on the subject, but even if one knows where to find it the result would be far less satisfactory than seeing a practical demonstration. Miss Eubank is here to answer troublesome questions, and her helpful hints as the lessons proceed from day to day are bound to be productive of great good to the housewives of Santa Rosa and Sonoma county.

The fact that electricity as well as gas is to be in the demonstrations. has aroused much interest. Not many people know it, but a meal can be cooked entirely with electricity, and in as satisfactory a manner as by any other method. Many exports claim that in time no other fuel will be in use. The electric range used by Miss Eubank will prove a source of unfailing interest to all, because it will be something new to most of her hearers, few of whom have witnessed the process of cooking by electricity.

– Press Democrat, April 5 1913

 

HOUSEWIVES AND GIRLS GATHER AT CULINARY DEMONSTRATION
Miss L. B. Eubank Prepares a Meal Before an Interested Throng at the Press Democrat’s Free Cooking School

by Dorothy Ann

Good cooks, poor cooks, young cooks, old cooks, women cooks, men cooks and aspiring cooks of all kinds listened with tense attention while savory dishes were prepared by Miss Louise Barton Eubank, graduate of the Domestic Science Department of the University of Chicago.

The general appearance of the platform from which Miss Eubank spoke was that of a well equipped kitchen. She worked facing an auditorium with a seating capacity of five hundred or more. The auditorium was crowded with eager and enthusiastic women. The sterner sex stood in the background, secretly hoping the goodies would not give out before they had a chance to taste them.

Gas and electric ranges had been installed on the platform, a kitchen table neatly covered with white linen had been conveniently placed, and a beautiful Hoosier cabinet (which, by the way. is one of the prizes), filled with necessary cooking condiments and utensils, was nearby. Pots, pans and kettles of all shapes and sizes were within handy reach, to systematize the work. Miss Eubank was attended by a competent assistant, and both ladies wore white.

  Miss Eubank’s Little Speech

“It is our plan,” said Miss Eubank, “to make these lessons as informal as possible. You will be privileged to ask as many questions as you desire. If any one desires me to make a special dish, ask me and I shall gladly comply with any reasonable request. Our idea is to put on few frills. We shall deal with the three-meals-a-day proposition, and prepare things most suited to every-day living in every-day life. The menu will be changed dally, and we shall make it as varied as possible. I believe there will always be something to interest you.

“The Irene Club, a charity organization, as you know, will have charge of the prize contest we will institute. We shall have these lessons every afternoon at 2:30 o’clock until Friday. That day we wish you to stay at home and cook. Friday, between the hours of 2 and 6, competitive cooked articles will be received here by the ladles. Friday evening at 7:30 competent judges will select the best and award the prize. At 6:30 the cooked articles will be auctioned and the proceeds given to the Irene Club for charitable work.”

Miss Eubank prepared steamed pudding with creamy sauce, broiled chicken and cheese croquettes. The recipes for these are as follows:

– Press Democrat, April 6 1913

…The only restriction for contest is that the contestant use Globe “A1” flour. When delivering into Miss Eubank’s hands the cooked article on Friday, between the hours of 4 and 6 o’clock, bring a Globe “A1” sack, or the recipe for making plain bread that comes in the top of each sack of Globe “A1” flour…

The electric stoves used by Miss Eubank and furnished by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, aroused much interest Monday, as many saw these new cooking devices in operation for the first time. The Copeland Automatic Cookstove and the General Electric Range were used with great success. “The Reliable Gas Stove” also furnished by the same firm, was used tor the baking of the white loaf cake.

– Press Democrat, April 8 1913

 

INTEREST IN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT’S COOKING SCHOOL ON THE INCREASE
Miss Eubank Makes Her Work a Delight to All as She Demonstrates Many Dainty Dishes

Cooking became a glorified process under the skillful guidance of Miss Louise Barton Eubank Tuesday afternoon at the Press Democrat’s Free Cooking School. No sticky fingers, no mussed gown, no disagreeable odor that strikes terror to the heart because of a sure certainty that things are burned, no boiling over, and no unnecessary walking, because of adept arrangement of a model kitchen. All was easily, exactly and beautifully done. And how it was appreciated by the large audience that gathered to learn — not merely the embellishments of cookery — but the broader and deeper science of household economy!

That Miss Eubank has proved that she has more than ordinary knowledge of the art and science of cooking has been demonstrated again and again. Personally she has a sweet, attractive manner that makes friends with her audience immediately. And to demonstrate the power of mind over matter, I might add that the last two days Miss Eubank has been suffering excruciating pain with an ulcerated tooth. This did not deter her in the least from the demonstration, but did cause her yesterday to slightly change the menu.

Miss Eubank makes her cooking dainty and attractive. Those of us who occasionally dabble around in flour in the hopes of creating something, and come out looking as if we had fallen into the flour barrel, marvel at the ease and dispatch with which she works…

– Press Democrat, April 9 1913

 

THIS WILL BE THE LAST DAY OF THE PRESS DEMOCRAT’S COOKING SCHOOL
Many Interesting Features Will Be Presented by Miss Louise B. Eubank Prior to Cooking Contest

 

– Press Democrat, April 10 1913

 

CAKE BAKING CONTEST IS ON AND THE PRIZES ARE TO BE AWARDED TONIGHT
Cakes Winning Awards in The Press Democrat’s Cooking School Contest Will Be Auctioned off by the Irene Club for Charily

A large, eager crowd of townswomen gathered at the Doyle building Thursday afternoon at the Press Democrat’s Free Cooking School. The fact that it was the last lesson seemed to fill the women present with a determination to get all they could on this occasion. Miss Louise Barton Eubank graciously answered question after question, endeavoring in every way to assist those present to acquire the knowledge they so earnestly sought.

An interesting feature of the afternoon was the demonstration of meat cutting by Emil Miland of King’s Grocery and Market. A large chopping block of regulation design was brought in for his accommodation, and this was piled high with choice meats which he used to illustrate his remarks.

There will be no cooking school today, In order to give all contestants an opportunity to stay at home and cook. All entries are to he brought to the hall between the hours of 2 and 6 p. m. Miss Eubank will be there, and, assisted by her sister, Mrs, John Edwards, will receive the entries. The menu of Thursday was particularly attractive and it will be with sincere regret that the women of Santa Rosa see the Press Democrat Free Cooking School close…

Meat Cutting Demonstrated

Emil Miland of King’s grocery, explained the different cuts of meat from the fore quarters and the hind quarters of a beef and half of a lamb. Porterhouse, sirloin and round steaks were shown, as were rib roasts, short ribs of beef and breast meat for soups. Mr. Miland introduced a new name for steak to Santa Rosa women when he advised them to secure “chuck steaks” if they felt they could not always afford sirloin or porterhouse. The relative meat values were all explained at length.

 Mrs. John Edwards Sings

Mrs. John Eubank Edwards of Willows, a sister of Miss Eubank, rendered two vocal numbers during the afternoon to the delight of all. She will sing again tonight at the concert and should be greeted by a large audience.

 – Press Democrat, April 11 1913
PRIZES AWARDED IN THE PRESS DEMOCRAT’S COOKING SCHOOL CONTEST LAST NIGHT

If anyone thinks domesticity has gone with the granting of suffrage to women, let him forget it — and quickly. The splendid display of cakes, pies, bread, doughnuts and other good things shown at the Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School last night, all prepared by the women and girls of Santa Rosa, shows conclusively that the home is still the focus-point of feminine interest, as it always has been and always will be.

For the past week the Press Democrat’s big Free Cooking School has attracted the attention and interest of every homeseeker in town, and of many residing in different parts of Sonoma county. Each afternoon several hundred women have gathered to witness the scientific demonstrations of modern cookery, given by Miss Louise Barton Eubank. Yesterday everybody stayed at home and prepared their entries for the big prize contest, which marked the grand wind-up of the week’s session.

When the crowd gathered last night they found the stage beautifully decorated with flowers, the hall brilliantly lighted, all the various displays of kitchen furniture, electric appliances, etc., in apple-pie order, and — as the center of attraction, of course — long tables laden with delicious-looking cakes of every description, beautiful brown loaves of the finest looking bread you ever laid eyes on, huge piles of rich doughnuts, lucious looking pies of all kinds, besides other things too numerous to mention…

MANY PRIZES AWARDED AT PRESS DEMOCRAT’S  COOKING SCHOOL

LOAF CAKE DIVISION
1st. Mrs. C. D. Johnson – Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet, value $43 – grand prize – supplied by the Santa Rosa Furniture Co.
2d. Mrs. E. P. Gorsline – El Eggo – electric egg broiler – value $9. Supplied by Great Western Power Co.
3d. Mrs. J. Pursell Cabinet of Folger’s spices, extracts, teas and coffees.
4th. Mrs. W. A. Wallace  –  Glove order.
5th. Mrs. H. G. Hewitt – Sack Globe “A1” flour.
LAYER CAKE DIVISION
1st. Mrs. A. B. Lemmon – Fireless Cooker, value $18 – supplied by J. C. Mailer Hardware Co.
2d. Mrs. F. M. Havener – General Electric Toaster, value $4 – supplied by the Great Western Power Co.
3d. Mrs. F. G. Kellogg – Aluminum Ware.
4th. Mrs. J. W. Pemberton – Glove order.
5th. Mrs. C. D. Johnson Sack of Globe “A1” flour.
BREAD DIVISION
1st. Mrs. R. Y. Bearing Ruud Water Heater, No. 20, value $15  – supplied by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
2d. Mrs. John Schroder – $5 cash.
3d. Mrs. F. C. Pearson – Cabinet of Folger’s spices, extracts, teas and coffees.
4th. Mrs. Jennie Reed  – Electric Iron – value $3.50 – furnished by H. W. Jacobs.
5th Mrs. John Ahl – Sack of Globe “Al” Flour.
PIE DIVISION
1st. Mrs. G. H. Wymore – Cut Glass Celery Dishes – value $6.50, furnished by C A, Wright & Company.
2d. Mrs. Gus Walker, Casserole.
3d. Miss Ethel Wooley – Sack of Globe “A1” flour.
DOUGHNUT DIVISION
Ist. Mrs. H. S. Hick – General Electric Toaster, value $4 – furnished by the Great Western Power Co.
2d. Mrs. R. Y. Bearing ~ six months’ subscription to the Press Democrat, value $2.50.
3d. Mrs. G. H. Wymore – Sack of Globe “A1” flour.
SPECIAL PRIZE FOR CALIFORNIA RAISIN BREAD
1st. Mrs. J. L. Gagne – Ivory-handled Carving set – Keen Kutter – value $6.50, furnished by Dixon & Elliott.
GIRLS OF DOMESTIC SCIENCE DEPARTMENT. SANTA ROSA HIGH SCHOOL
1st. Miss Edith Balsley – Cut Glass Powder Box – Furnished by St. Rose Drug Store.
2d. Miss Ruth Overton – Parisian Ivory Manicure Set – furnished by G. M. Luttrell.
3d. Miss Vivienne Collister – Sack of Globe “A1” flour.

– Press Democrat, April 12, 1913

 

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THE 1906 QUAKE TEN YEARS AFTER

The Press Democrat is out with its 1906 earthquake anniversary item and it earns a solid D+ for historical accuracy, which is still far better than it has done in the recent past. (EDIT: The grade was originally was a C+ until I read the photo captions and found the slideshow included 1909 damage to the Sonoma mission, among other serious errors.)

There are two significant problems with the very first paragraph in the short unbylined piece, which claims “more than 100 people were killed in a community of roughly 8,700.” Exactly 77 are certain to have died in Santa Rosa and it can be said with high confidence there were at least 82 (see 1906 earthquake FAQ). While it seems very likely that a hundred or more people probably were killed or died later because of injuries there is zero evidence, so using any number higher than 77 is speculation. Also guesswork is claiming there were “roughly 8,700” in the community. At the end of 1906, the PD estimated the population then at 10,990. There is a thorough discussion concerning the size of Santa Rosa in the FAQ, but I have never seen that 8,700 figure used. As with the death count, the PD does not reveal its source of information.

The mistakes continue into the second paragraph: “Entire neighborhoods were reduced to rubble and the city struggled for years to rebuild.” Only the courthouse and surrounding commercial blocks were destroyed. About two dozen houses collapsed or were knocked off foundations and many chimneys cracked or fell. Residential damage was blamed mostly on poor construction and no neighborhoods were wiped out. Nor did the city do much struggling to rebuild. Yes, downtown was a mess and major construction zone for the first year, but before the second anniversary the business district was mostly back to normal in lovely new buildings.

I have other quibbles with the anniversary piece. It mentions city hall operated from a table on the sidewalk but that probably was only for about a week before it moved to the business and government shantytown hastily slammed together on the vacant lot at Mendocino and Fifth. The item also states the Press Democrat had its own presses rolling again by the end of the month, which is about the least interesting factoid about the disaster. If anything at all should be mentioned about the PD after the earthquake it’s that editor Ernest Finley argued vigorously that the  needy didn’t deserve aid from the relief fund.

Although the little article gets almost all facts wrong, I still give it a passing grade because of the accompanying photographs, many of which I have never before seen from the PD archives. Check them out – but mostly ignore the captions.

But enough about the PD today; how did Santa Rosa commemorate the earthquake anniversary a hundred years ago? Answer: It didn’t.

In San Francisco on April 18, 1916, an estimated 25,000 packed into the Civic Auditorium to hear a program that included a 500 voice chorus, military band and speeches by the mayor and other luminaries. Was there a public event that day in Santa Rosa?

Nope.

That ten year anniversary was also the day Santa Rosa swore in a new mayor and city council. Was there a moment of silence at the ceremony to honor the dead?

Nope.

That day in 1916 was the Tuesday before Easter and Santa Rosa churches were in high gear, with one church offering a three-hour drop-in service on Good Friday. Were any sermons announced giving thanks for parishioners having survived?

Nope.

The Santa Rosa Republican and Press Democrat both offered short, mawkish “ten years after” editorials that really said nothing; the “city has arisen phoenix like from its ashes” because energetic Santa Rosans “with a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips” rebuilt the town better than it was before, blah, blah, yada, etc.

The only point to note is the remark in the Republican that “In proportion to its size Santa Rosa suffered more than any other city in the state.” Today the claim that Santa Rosa had comparatively more damage and/or more deaths than San Francisco is another often heard myth. Over 80 percent of San Francisco was destroyed by the earthquake and fire and most of their population was homeless or displaced for up to two years. By contrast, Santa Rosa’s relief effort lasted 17 days with no refugee camps or emergency housing. Electricity was restored within a week and most downtown businesses were operating again within four days at temporary locations. There were no fires in Santa Rosa residential areas. No matter how much one squints at comparisons, it’s impossible to honestly claim Santa Rosa suffered more than elsewhere.

A quite interesting article did appear in the Republican a few days later, however, showing a tally of year-by-year building permits issued over the previous decade. It showed furious activity through the spring of 1908, then a flux following general economic trends. This data will be of great interest to local historians.

SANTA ROSA TEN YEARS AFTER
City Has Arisen Phoenix Like From Its Ashes And Anniversary Is Cause for Thankfulness

This morning ten years ago, Santa Rosa was visited by the greatest calamity in its history. The entire business part of the city was destroyed by earthquake and fire; many lives were lost, and the list of wounded was long. The property loss was estimated at nearly five million dollars. Some doubted that the town would ever be rebuilt, but most Santa Rosans were more hopeful, and some even predicted that the work of restoration would be complete in five years. But ten years was more generally regarded as the time that would probably be required.

It can be truthfully said today that the restoration is finished, and that the new city is architecturally far better than it was at the time of the disaster. Nearly every building destroyed has been replaced by a building that is larger and finer. The courthouse, the city hall, the banks and hotels are Class A structures, worth many times what the former ones were worth and a credit to the city in every way. The postoffice, the Masonic Temple, the Native Sons’ building, the high school annex, and many handsome business structures, testify to the enterprise and the energy of the people in this town that was stricken. It has been a wonderful recovery.

– Press Democrat, April 18, 1916
TEN YEARS AFTER

Ten years ago today the Pacific Coast rocked with one of the heaviest earthquakes the world has ever known. Following in its wake came a sheet of flame that completed the work of ruin and destruction. Men retired the night before secure in the belief that they were well established in business, and that the future was secure. They were awakened by the temblor to face ruin, death and misery. In proportion to its size Santa Rosa suffered more than any other city in the state. For blocks Fourth street was a mass of ruins, debris and twisted iron. For a moment the people were stunned, helpless, and it seemed, hopeless. Yet before the bricks were cold, before the streets were cleared for traffic, the work of rebuilding began. Men who had been planning their businesses on a $5000 a year basis immediately outline plans calling for a business of double that amount. Men who had owned buildings of wood, or one story structures, planned at once for modern, fireproof two story structures that would be a credit to any city. With a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips; with not a hint of giving up, they set about their titanic task and have builded a city in ten years, better than was built in course of the slow growth more than fifty years previous. And that same spirit is present today and will be present in the generations to come. The will to do, to surmount any and all obstacles, the belief in one’s ability to perform the task before one, has made possible the wonderful work of the rebuilding of the City of Roses. No greater monument was ever erected in memory of man’s achievement than the achievement itself, in this instance.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 18, 1916
City is Rebuilt In Ten Years
$2,705,000 And More Is Spent

It is a fact known to few people in Santa Rosa that approximately two and three-quarter millions of dollars have been put into permanent building improvements in Santa Rosa in the past ten years. This is one of the mighty proofs of the advancement of this city since its business district was laid low by earthquake and fire on April 18, 1906.

Included within the ten years that have elapsed since that disaster there are many other improvements, such as miles and miles of paved streets, cement sidewalks, curbs and gutters and countless other items that would swell the sum total of city improvements to an enormous figure. There are many other advancements that have been made, but that single total of improvements in permanent buildings, totaling in exact figures, $2,705,302.31, is one of the biggest arguments that Santa Rosa has to show what enormous strides have been made by the city in ten years. From almost nothing to that total in ten years is an achievement for the city which compares favorably with the total expended in San Francisco, considering the size of the two cities for that length of time.

The Republican is indebted to City Clerk Herbert B. Snyder for the actual figures covering building operations. Up to the time that he took office there were no summarized records kept of the building permits granted, and it was necessary to consult old records with the aid of the adding machine and bring them up to date.

In the two years following the earthquake and fire the building operations were especially heavy, but since that time they have maintained a high record. The permits, year by year, from June to July [sic] are as follows:

1906-1907 $894,020.00
1907-1908 684,147.00
1908-1909 119,215.00
1909-1910 123,560.00
1910-1911 115,500.00
1911-1912 93,691.50
1912-1913 231,865.35
1913-1914 214,458.00
1914-1915 145,082.45
– Santa Rosa Republican April 22, 1916

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THE DEATH OF JAMES WYATT OATES

R.I.P. James Wyatt Oates, wherever the hell you may be.

December 9, 2015 is the centenary of his death, so this is an appropriate time to write his final chapter. There’s still more to come about his life, however, particularly his difficult final three years, a mixture of melancholy and joy along with an outlash of violence that took Santa Rosa by surprise. More also has been unearthed about his life in the years around 1880, when he was a journalist and aspiring author in the mold of Bret Harte. Someday, too, I hope to be able to write the full story of the man he murdered.

(Late Portrait of James Wyatt Oates, courtesy Sonoma County Library)

Published elsewhere here is an overview of his life and his writings but for the purpose of this article, here is a thumbnail sketch of the story so far:

Called Wyatt by his family, he was born in 1850 and the brother of William C. Oates, a Confederate commander in the Civil War famous for losing the Battle of Little Round Top at Gettysburg. Wyatt adored his much older brother and followed him by becoming a lawyer in their Alabama hometown. Also like William, he was known both for his courtly Southern charm and his volatile temper as well as being famously quick to judge. Eventually Wyatt married and settled in Santa Rosa. He and wife Mattie had no children, but mentored a number of younger people who often lived with them for months at a time. The Oates’ were closest to Anna May Bell, whom they clearly regarded as a daughter, and Hilliard Comstock, who studied law under Wyatt and became his law partner. When Mattie died in 1914 Wyatt was despondent. He visited his old haunts in Alabama and bonded with his cousin’s families, returning to Santa Rosa with Pat Granberry, a 24 year-old grandniece who stayed with him for several months, sometimes joined by two of her sisters. Also living with Wyatt in his grand home on Mendocino avenue during those final months was Hilliard.

As the end of 1915 approached, Oates was finally emerging from his mourning. He spent Thanksgiving in Los Angeles with Anna May Bell – now Mrs. Samuel Carey Dunlap – and “when he returned home [he] was bubbling over with happiness over his visit,” according to the Santa Rosa Republican. On the train, however, he caught a cold he couldn’t seem to shake. A week later he called for a doctor. (For the record, it was Dr. Joseph H. Shaw, Luther Burbank’s personal physician and best friend.)

Pneumonia developed and the condition of the 65 year-old man continued growing worse. Anna rushed up from Los Angeles. She and Hilliard were there when he died in his home.

The Republican newspaper eulogized in both his obituary and funeral notice. “Amid manifestations of sincere grief the mortal remains of the late Colonel James Wyatt Oates were borne to the tomb,” moaned the reporter, larding on the jeremiad. He was “a cheery, kindly and happy nature far in excess of that of the majority of men.” There was also this sideways compliment: “He was a man of strong convictions, and never hesitated to give his opinions on the questions of the day…Those who did not measure up to this standard of being ‘square’ were not admired by the deceased in even a slight degree.” In other words, he was an opinionated hothead you didn’t want to cross.

Many years later, Ernest Finley wrote vignettes about people in that era and Oates was the only person he called out as a jerk. After Wyatt was reported to have threatened to kill him, Finley allegedly remarked, “he will never cut anybody up, because he hasn’t got the guts.” Finley might not have been as blustery if knew Oates actually had killed someone, but apparently few, if any, people in Santa Rosa knew about his darker past.

As Finley was editor and publisher of the Press Democrat, you know his paper’s obituary was not a love letter to the “cheery, kindly and happy” side of the late Mr. Oates. In the days following the funeral, the PD could scarcely conceal its schadenfreude over hearsay that the last will and testament contained shocking details which might prove James Wyatt Oates was indeed an asshole. Never before or since have I read in those century-old newspapers gossipy speculation about the contents of someone’s will.

The first rumor to emerge was the estate was worth over $100,000 (the equivalent of about $2.5 million today) much of it in stocks and cash, quite a windfall for the lucky heirs. “It is also reported that Mr. Comstock is given the right to occupy the residence on Mendocino avenue until such time as it is sold,” the PD claimed. There was actually nothing in the will concerning this but it must have been an agreement with the executors so the house did not sit unoccupied. Hilliard’s mother, Nellie, and sister Catherine immediately moved into the house as unpaid caretakers until the Comstocks were able to buy it with a $10,000 closed bid from probate the following year.

The PD also speculated Anna May Dunlap was supposed to inherit much of the estate (quite predictable, actually) and the grandnieces might “come in for a large share of the property,” which possibly surprised some, given he met them for the first time only about a year earlier. Then there was this: “There has been a persistent rumor that some time prior to his death, Mr. Oates disinherited his nephew…if this proves true it will come as a surprise, as Will Oates is the Colonel’s nearest relative.”

William C. Oates Jr. – usually called “Willie” – was the 32 year-old son of Wyatt’s beloved brother. (William Sr. had another child with a house slave.) As such the Press Democrat was correct; Willie was indeed his closest blood relative, and eyebrows would have raised around town if Wyatt truly left him nothing.

And Wyatt truly left him nothing.

When the will was officially filed the PD produced a half-page story, reprinting the entire document – another unprecedented step for the paper – and the Republican published it in full as well. As it turned out, Wyatt had added a codicil making several changes.

(Press Democrat cartoon following James Wyatt Oates’ stepping down as president of the  Sonoma County Automobile Association in 1911. Note in particular his “elevator” shoes; from the 1892 voter registration records we learn his distinguishing features were a scar on the left side of his head and that he was exactly five feet, seven and five-eights inches tall – the only voter to specify his height with such exact precision.)

Wyatt’s will, created shortly after his wife died the previous year, reflected her own bequests almost exactly (should Wyatt have died first, of course). About $30,000 was given away to friends and relatives and to his nephew, Oates left the gold watch and chain which was given to him by Willie’s father when Oates turned 21 in 1871. The will left one-third of the entire estate before taxes and any other distribution to Willie and the remainder of the estate to Anna May Bell Dunlap.

The codicil was written about two months before Wyatt’s death and following a visit by his nephew.  Willie must have said something that really pissed off his temperamental uncle during that visit because he was cut off entirely – Willie didn’t even inherit the legacy watch. That third of the estate that was once promised to him went to May, Pat and Lois Grandberry, Wyatt’s grandnieces.1

The codicil also took away a $1,000 bequest to Mattie’s uncle and another thousand dollars going to the widow of his old law partner. No reasons were given. Added was a new part giving “all coal lands and coal interests” in Arizona and mining interests in Mexico – which were “very valuable if they can ever be properly gotten at” – to his three cousins including Pocahontas (“Pokie”) Granberry, the mother of the three young women.

“There is an unconfirmed rumor that Mr. Oates plans to contest the will,” the PD speculated hopefully, but with absolutely no basis. The will was not contested.

That was not completely the end of the story, however. A month later, the papers reported Dr. Bogle – one of the executors of Wyatt’s will – had fulfilled a very odd last request.

Although the obituary stated “…the mortal remains of the late Colonel James Wyatt Oates were borne to the tomb,” that wasn’t exactly true. His coffin had been stacked inside the holding vault at the Rural Cemetery, the same little stone shed which also still held the coffins for Mattie (d. 1914) and his mother-in-law (d. 1910). None of them had been buried. Supposedly Wyatt asked Dr. Bogle to have their bodies cremated together.

Such a request was out of character, to say the least. Years before, Oates had purchased a large plot at the entranceway of the Rural Cemetery. Most likely he originally wanted all to be interred under a glorifying monolith, such as the obelisk with life-size statue that marked the Alabama grave of his Civil War brother, William. It is hard to reconcile the shift from owning the most prominent gravesite in town to wanting the most anonymous disposal of their remains.

And if that wasn’t strange enough, Wyatt also demanded the remains of Mattie’s two sisters and brother be disinterred along with his father-in-law, Perrin L. Solomon – a man who Oates could not possibly have known because he died in San Francisco when Oates was a 13 year-old boy in Alabama.2

Ordering your long-dead in-laws – people whom you never met – dug up for a mass family cremation is unfathomable, at least to me. Perhaps he developed the idea while wallowing in his deep depression following Mattie’s death; perhaps he wanted to make a dark nihilistic statement about her family; perhaps the request was a caustic joke which his friend tragically took seriously; perhaps he asked for it because he was barking mad. Whatever the reason, all of their bodies were indeed cremated together.

“The ashes will be thrown to the winds by Dr. Bogle, in conformity with another wish of Colonel Oates,” the Santa Rosa Republican reported. “The cremation of this number of bodies from the same family, all in one day, is a very unusual proceeding.”

1 The women were grandchildren of Wyatt’s aunt, which made them his first cousins once removed. Pat (also known as “Patti” or “Pattie”) was 25 at the time of Oates’ death and Lois (“Louise”) was twenty. May cannot be clearly identified through census and genealogical records among the three (possibly four) other daughters in the family but “Mae” appears in the 1920 census with the same age as Pat, so perhaps they were twins.

2 The Press Democrat article transcribed below implies the Solomons were buried in Santa Rosa, but that is very unlikely. Perrin L. Solomon died in 1863 and according to Mattie’s obituary, her siblings died as infants. Wyatt’s estate included a burial plot in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco, which presumably was where they were buried.

 
COLONEL JAMES W. OATES DIES EARLY ON THURSDAY MORNING
Bright Light in History of Santa Rosa Since 1876 Succumbs To Fatal Attack of Double Pneumonia

James Wyatt Oates, one of Santa Rosa’s most loved and revered citizens, and a resident of this city since 1876, died about 2 o’clock Thursday morning after an illness of some weeks. Toward the last of his sickness developed into double pneumonia, and every effort was made by physicians and nurses to ward off the fatal attack, but in the end his age of 65 years counted against him and he passed away.

Mr. Oates was born in Alabama. When a young man he went to Arizona, and later came to California, settling in Santa Rosa, which has been his home ever since. Soon after coming to Santa Rosa he married Miss Mattie Solomon, daughter of Mrs. M. S. Solomon of San Francisco. After his marriage Mr. Oates, who was a brilliant attorney, formed a law partnership with Barclay Henley, afterward sent to Congress from this district, and E. L. Whipple. This firm of Henley, Whipple & Oates was recognized for many years as the leading attorneys of Santa Rosa.

Mr. Oates had always taken an active interest in the political and social life of the city, and was interested in state and national politics. He was a strong and self-reliant figure through many years of political battles and earned the respect and admiration of everyone in the city.

His wife died about a year ago, after he mother had passed away previously, and Mrs. Oates never quite recovered from the shock of her loss. He made a trip to his old home in the South and returned with two nieces, but it was seen that his health was failing. A short time ago he made a trip to southern California, and was forced to return because of a bad cold contracted while away. This cold grew worse and developed into this final illness which caused his death.

The sudden death of Colonel Oates has brought a poignant grief in many households in this city and county. Early Thursday morning telephone messages from Cloverdale and other sections of the county were received at this office inquiring as to his condition, and the announcement of his death was greeted with exclamations of surprise and genuine regret. Recently Colonel Oates had been feeling better than he had at any time since the death of his beloved wife, to whom he was devotedly attached. Her death left a void in his life that could not be filled. He planned a trip to Los Angeles to spend Thanksgiving with Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Carey Dunlap, who were probably his closest personal friends on the coast. Returning home he caught a severe cold in the sleeper coming north, and was unable to keep warm. He did not feel particularly bad, but the cold kept him confined to his residence for several days. Even then he resented any one’s believing he was ill, and thought that his robust constitution would be abundantly sufficient to overcome any slight indisposition which the cold might have occasioned.

It was only last Friday afternoon that Colonel Oates really complained of feeling badly, and Dr. Joseph H. Shaw and a nurse were summoned to attend him. His bronchial tubes were affected, and even then it was believed that his condition would readily yield to treatment. The condition proved far more obstinate than at first believed and pneumonic symptoms appeared on Sunday. Tuesday morning Colonel Oates was quite low physically and serum was administered to the patient. Wednesday a chill showed the reaction from the serum, and at noon of that day Colonel Oates rallied and declared that he felt fine.

Wednesday evening the patient collapsed, and from that time on his decline was rapid, and despite the efforts of skilled physicians and trained nurses, he passed to the Great Beyond. The dread pneumonia had secured such a hold on him that its ravages could not be stayed.

Colonel Oates had thoroughly enjoyed his stay in Los Angeles with his friends, the Dunlaps, and when he returned home was bubbling over with happiness over his visit. He was never more pleased than when with the Dunlaps, and always enjoyed their company. Mrs. Dunlap was with Colonel Oates when he passed away and had done much to soothe his last moments on earth. Another happiness which had come to Colonel Oates since the death of his wife and his return from a visit to his old home in the South, was the visit of the Misses Pat and Lois Granberry and Attorney William C. Oates of Montgomery, Ala. The latter has been notified of the death of the eminent Santa Rosan, and is en route here. He will arrive Monday evening if all goes well.

Funeral Tuesday

The funeral of Colonel Oates has been set for Tuesday afternoon, and Rev. Willis G. White will be the officiating minister. The services will be conducted at the Oates residence on Mendocino avenue. The deceased was a member of Santa Rosa Lodge, No. 57, F. & A. M., and of the Santa Rosa Lodge, No. 646, B. P. O. E.

In the death of Colonel Oates Santa Rosa has lost one of her foremost citizens, a man who was alway valorously fighting for the right in civic affairs, and who always championed the cause of the oppressed and the downtrodden. He was a man of strong convictions, and never hesitated to give his opinions on the questions of the day, even though in doing so he might have disagreed with his friends. He was a man who had the courage of his convictions, and who had the temerity to follow the dictates of his own conscience. The world is better than he should have been permitted to live, and the example of his life will be a guide for many young men of this community who knew him intimately and who will revere his memory. The world can ill afford to lose such men as James Wyatt Oates, for he was one of its staunchest men, a man who measured everybody by the standard of being “square.” Those who did not measure up to this standard of being “square” were not admired by the deceased in even a slight degree.

To many in this city the death of Colonel Oates will come as a personal grief. He was a sincere friend to those who knew him well and his counsel was eagerly sought by these friends. He was a man well versed in the law, and for many years past had made a specialty of corporate law. He was looked upon as an authority in his line, and a man of superior talents. He was a brother of the late Governor Oates of Alabama, and a member of a prominent family in that favored land.

The active pallbearers will include…

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 9, 1915

 

COURT ADJOURNS OUT OF RESPECT TO THE LATE COLONEL J. W. OATES

When the Superior Court assembled Monday morning, Judges Seawell and Denny sat en banc for the purpose of receiving official intimation of the death of the late Colonel Hames W. Oates.

[..]

W. C. OATES ARRIVES FROM ALABAMA FOR FUNERAL

Will C. Oates arrived here Monday afternoon from Alabama for the funeral of the late Colonel Oates, his uncle, which takes place this afternoon. Mr. Oates’ father was Governor of Alabama. He came west immediately upon receiving the news of his uncle’s death.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 14, 1915

 

OATES FUNERAL HELD TUESDAY
Last Tribute Paid to Beloved Santa Rosa Citizen

Amid  manifestations of sincere grief the mortal remains of the late Colonel James Wyatt Oates were borne to the tomb Tuesday afternoon. Will C. Oates of Montgomery, Alabama, who had been a guest at the Oates home here during the recent fall, came hurriedly from his southern home and attended the funeral of his uncle. Mr. Oates came from Montgomery immediately on receipt of the news of his uncle’s death.

Beautiful flowers, the loving remembrances of friends, were brought in profusion to adorn the casket of the deceased, and to mark his last resting place. These flowers ran the gamut of the blossoms of the season and were in various designs, from the modest shower bouquet to the massive designs. They spoke eloquently of the love of the living for the deceased. Among the designs were those forwarded by the fraternal societies to which the deceased was attached and which he greatly loved.

Of a cheery, kindly and happy nature far in excess of that of the majority of men, accompanied by a sense of absolute honor and fairness, which makes for perpetuation of the individual in memory of his fellow men. James Wyatt Oates will be remembered for many years to come, and until long after a new generation has come to take the places of those now active in the affairs of this section. He was a man who was quick to see and appreciate the virtues and possibilites of his fellow men, and he interested himself in them in such a manner that made life-long friendships.

Throughout this section and wherever he was known, Colonel Oates was held in high esteem, and deep sorrow at his untimely demise has been expressed by these friends. He had a conspicuous and honorable career of usefulness as a good citizen and was a striking figure of the Sonoma county bar. For many years his kindly face and familiar figure were so well known in the community in which he had spent practically the best part of his life, and for such a considerable period were his wise counsels sought by his neighbors that many of his old-time friends can scarcely realize that he has gone from them forever. It was a privilege to have known Colonel Oates intimately, and many residents of this city and county rejoiced in that privilege.

The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Willis G. White, pastor of the Presbyterian church, who paid a splendid eulogy to the deceased and his many admirable traits of character.

William C. Oates, Dr. S. S. Bogle, Hilliard Comstock, Charles H. Rule, Samuel Carey Dunlap and Dr. D. C. Farnham were the active pallbearers. The honorary pallbearers included the following:

Admiral J. B. Milton, San Francisco, Blitz W. Paxton, W. E. McConnell, Charles A. Wright, Judge Emmet Seawell, Judge Thomas C. Denny, Charles C. Belden, Mark L. McDonald, Jr., A. C. McMeans, Walter W. Monroe, Herbert Whitton, Elwyn D. Seaton, Charles A. Hoffer, John Tyler Campbell, L. D. Jacks, Paul T. Hahmann, Glenn E. Murdock, Wm. E. Woolsey, J. L. Mercier, Edward M. Norton, J. Elmer Mobley, W. Fraser, Herbert Slater, Arthur K. Lee and Rev. C. C. Cragin.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 14, 1915

 

JAMES W. OATES WILL IS READ
Following Southern Custom, Document Is Opened After Funeral, But Contents Will Not Be Known Until Filed for Probate

The will of the late J. W. Oates, as is customary in the south, was opened and read yesterday afternoon following the funeral. While it has been agreed among those interested that no details relative to its contents shall be made known prior to the filing of the will for probate. It is known that Dr. S. S. Bogle and Charles H. Rule, two of the most intimate friends of the deceased, are named as executors of the instrument.

The will was opened in the office of Attorney Hilliard Comstock in the presence of Dr. Bogle, Charles Rule, Samuel C. Dunlap, Will C. Oates, and Attorney Comstock, who was associated with the deceased in the practice of law. It is expected the document will be filed for probate within a day or two by the gentlemen nominated therein as executors.

– Press Democrat, December 15, 1915

 

WOMEN RELATIVES GIVEN BULK OF OATES ESTATE
William C. Oates, Nephew of the Deceased, Reported to Have Been Disinherited–Deceased Lawyer Left Property Valued at Over One Hundred Thousand Dollars

The late James Wyatt Oates left a valuable estate. It is said that in realty and personally it will aggregate over $100,000.

In addition to the beautiful home on Mendocino avenue, Mr. Oates owned a prune orchard on Sonoma avenue and other real estate, and also considerable bank stock and other securities.

While the will of the deceased lawyer has not as yet been filed for probate, it is understood that a cousin of the late Mrs. Oates, Mrs. Samuel Carey Dunlap, formerly Miss Anna May Bell, comes in for the largest share of the estate.

Mrs. Dunlap was a great favorite of both the deceased and his wife and both prior to her marriage to Mr. Dunlap and since has visited at the Oates house here.

It is also understood that the Misses Pat and Lois Granberry, granddaughters of Mr. Oates, also come in for a large share of the property.

It will be remembered that the Misses Granberry spent a considerable portion of the summer in Santa Rosa at the Oates home.

There has been a persistent rumor that some time prior to his death, Mr. Oates disinherited his nephew, William C. Oates, who came here from his old home in Alabama to attend the funeral and will return today, and cut him off from any share in the property. If this proves true it will come as a surprise, as Will Oates is the Colonel’s nearest relative. He is a son of the late William C. Oates, former Governor and United States Senator of Alabama.

In addition to the share of the estate, which it is understod goes to Mrs. Dunlap and the Misses Granberry, Mr. Oates is understood to have made other personal bequests, among which is his law library and practice to Attorney Hilliard Comstock, who was his law partner and who, since the death of Mrs. Oates, was his constant companion. Attorney Comstock will probate the estate.

As has been stated previously, Dr. S. S. Bogle and Charles H. Rule are named in the will as executors. It is likely that the will may be filed today.

– Press Democrat, December 18, 1915

 

OATES’ LIBRARY MAY BE GIVEN TO THE PUBLIC
Deceased Lawyer Intimated to Friends Some Time Since That He Thought of Making City a Bequest of His Books

It is not unlikely that when the will of the late James W. Oates is filed for probate a provision will be found whereby the fine collection of books in his private library will be conveyed to the Free Public Library as a gift. Mr. Oates is known to have had this idea in mind for some time previous to his death, and is said to have told at least two of his friends that he had embodied such a provision in his last will and testament.

As already stated in thes columns, Mr. Oates bequeathed his law library to his partner, Hilliard Comstock, along with his legal practice. It is also reported that Mr. Comstock is given the right to occupy the residence on Mendocino avenue until such time as it is sold and the proceeds turned into the estate. For some months prior to Mr. Oates’ death, Comstock has been making his home there with him.

– Press Democrat, December 19, 1915

 

WILL OF JAMES W. OATES IS FILED FOR PROBATE
As Stated in the Press Democrat, Will C. Oates Is Cut Off From Sharing in the Estate, the Bulk of Which Goes to Mrs. S. C. Dunlap and the Misses Granberry–Santa Rosa Gets Private Library–Will and Codicil

THE WILL of the late James Wyatt Oates has been filed for probate in the Superior Court of this county, and as stated several days ago in the Press Democrat, the deceased cut off his nephew, Will C. Oates without anything, leaving the bulk of his estate to Mrs. Samuel Carey Dunlap of Los Angeles (formerly Miss Anna May Bell) and to the Misses May, Lois and Pat Granberry of Alabama, his grand-nieces.

CITY GETS LIBRARY

As was also stated in the Press Democrat on Sunday morning, Mr. Oates left his private library to the Santa Rosa Public Library, and his valuable law library and office furniture and practice to Captain Hilliard Comstock, for years his close friend companion [sic] and law partner. And, as was also stated, the deceased made a number of bequests to other relatives and intimate friends. The estate is valued at about $100,000.

PROPERTY OF ESTATE

Dr. S. S. Bogle and Charles H. Rule, the executors named in the will, filed their petition for letters testamentary in the Superior Court yesterday through Attorney Hilliard Comstock. Among the property left by Mr. Oates is the family home and grounds on Mendocino avenue; two lots on Spencer avenue and adjoining streets; a prune orchard on Sonoma avenue; a lot on Fourth street, occupied by Brown’s poultry store; $20,000 worth of mortgages and notes; much bank stock and other securities; and, as stated in the will, valuable interests in coal mines in Arizona and in gold mines in Mexico. The latter, however, are of uncertain value owing to the conditions there.

WILL AND CODICIL

In his will Mr. Oates had previously bequeathed his nephew a third of the estate, but in a codicil, olographic in nature, executed only last October, he cut him off entirely.

Mrs. May Whipple, life-long friend of the family, and widow of Mr. Oates’ former law partner, the late E. L. Whipple, is also cut off in the codicil although she was a beneficiary to the amount of $1,000 under the terms of the will as originally written.

The will and codicil, as filed in court yesterday, are as follows:

[..]

– Press Democrat, December 22, 1915

 

NEPHEW CUT OFF IN THE WILL OF THE LATE COLONEL OATES
Olographic Codicil of October, 1915, Makes Several Changes in Distribution of $100,000 Estate of Santa Rosan

The will of the late Colonel James W. Oates was filed for probate in the Superior Court Tuesday afternoon by Attorney Hilliard Comstock, former law partner of the late Colonel Oates. The estate is valued at about $100,000 and many bequests are made.

Personal articles are given to intimate friends, sums of money to other friends, and Mrs. Samuel Cary Dunlap, formerly Miss Anna May Bell, is left the bulk of the estate with his grandnieces, the Misses May, Lois and Pat Granberry.

William C. Oates, a nephew of the deceased, is completely cut off by a codicil, which was executed in October last. There is an unconfirmed rumor that Mr. Oates plans to contest the will. Thus far no authority for this state can be secured.

There is a letter referred to in the will, and this letter makes a number of personal bequests, among them being a walnut table and other pieces of furniture to Charles Rule; Miss Grace Dougherty is given Mrs. Oates gold watch; the Saturday Afternoon Club gets a large and handsome mirror for the club house, which was intended for such gifts by Mrs. Oates. The gifts practically dispose of the house furnishing, paintings, etc., following out suggestions made by Mrs. Oates as well as the deceased. The intimate friends who are remembered with keepsakes, etc., included those just mentioned, and Dr. Bogle, Mrs. Frank Doyle, Mrs. Woodward, Miss Bess Woodward, Mrs. C. H. Dwinelle, Miss Sadie Morrill, Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Paxton, Mrs. Margaret Farnham, Miss Harrell and others, and the relatives in the South and East.

The will and codicil in full are as follows:

[..]

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 22, 1915

 

BODIES OF OATES-SOLOMON FAMILIES ARE CREMATED
Dr. S. S. Bogle True to His Trust in Fulfilling the Promise Given Late James Wyatt Oates on His Dying Bed–Seven Bodies Taken from Here to Oakland

Some time prior to the death of the late James Wyatt Oates, he asked Dr. S. S. Bogle, his personal friend and one of the executors of his will, to promise him that he would see that his body and the bodies of the late Mrs. Oates, General and Mrs. Solomon, her parents, and of her brothers and sisters, were all removed from the Santa Rosa cemetery and cremated.

On Wednesday, Dr. Bogle fulfilled his trust and all seven bodies were cremated in the Oakland crematorium in a short time, als in carrying out another wish of the late Mr. Oates, the ashes will be scattered to the winds.

Undertaker Frank Welti of this city removed the caskets of Mr. and Mrs. Oates and the late Mrs. M. S. Solomon from their temporary vault and the bodies of the late General Solomon and his other children, Perrin L. Solomon, Maria S. Solomon and Ann Solomon, making seven bodies in all and took them to Oakland. Prior to the creation of the same Dr. Bogle, who was present, inspected all of them, and they were consigned to the furnace and reduced to ashes.

The creation of the mortal remains of seven members of the same family on the same day and in the same crematorium is rather unusual. Some of the bodies thus disposed of had been buried for many years, and when taken up were found to be still in a good state of preservation.

– Press Democrat, January 23, 1916

 

 
WILL C. OATES IS NOT TO CONTEST
Petition Filed in the Superior Court on Wednesday Recites That Year Has Lapsed–The Messrs. Granberry Ask for Distribution

William C. Oates, nephew of the late James W. Oates of this city, apparently has given up his intention of contesting his uncle’s will, as the year has passed by without his having done so. The law provides that a contest must be brought with a year after the issuing of the letters testamentary.

The latter was brought to mind in the Superior Court on Wednesday when a petition was filed by the Misses Pat, Lois and May Granberry asking the court to partially distribute the estate to them. The petition sets forth that each of the Misses Granberry is entitled to over $15,000, and they ask that $10,500 be distributed to them for their respective shares. Mention is also made that a year has massed since the letters testamentary were issued in the estate. Donald Geary is the attorney for the Misses Granberry. Captain Hilliard Comstock represents the estate.

– Press Democrat, February 22, 1917

 

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