1937nelliecornelia

NELLIE COMSTOCK OF SANTA ROSA

It was rare to find an obituary on the front page of the Press Democrat, but hers was stranger still – she was hardly mentioned in it.

“Nellie H. Comstock Claimed by Death,” read the 1940 headline, followed by “Friend of Elbert Hubbard, Burbank.” A good chunk of the obit was about her father and it twice mentioned Burbank (supposedly) wrote a letter inviting her to move to Santa Rosa. Other than that, the article mostly describes the accomplishments of her children – which she would have liked. “A Distinguished Mother,” read the PD kicker above the headline.

By then, most in town probably knew her only as the grandmother of Helen and Hilliard Comstock’s five Santa Rosa-born kids, or that she had lived for almost a quarter century as a recluse in the big brown house just down from the the high school. A few might have known she was probably the wealthiest person in town, controlling a trust for her children worth the equivalent of $27 million today. She was never a member of any of the town’s many women’s clubs, never active in any civic affairs. She can be found mentioned in the PD only a handful of times in the last ten years of her life, always because some of her illustrious children who lived farther away were here to visit.

(Undated portrait of Nellie Comstock.  Courtesy Carmel Library Historical Archive)

But “Nellie” Comstock was a remarkable person whose intelligence and character were reflected in the accomplishments of her seven children, all educated at home by her. And what we saw here was only the least interesting fragment of her life; if time permits to do the research, there justly should be entries for “Nellie Comstock of Carmel-by-the-Sea” and “Nellie Comstock of Evanston,” because those were the places where her star most brightly gleamed.

Thanks to a 1910 letter donated by grandson Harrison Comstock to the Carmel Library Historical Archive, for the first time we have a deeply personal letter with insight into what she thought of Santa Rosa and its residents shortly after moving here. She also wrote, “I have a lot to tell you about Burbank which will be strictly private. I will put it in a separate sheet.” Hey, can you guess which page of the letter is missing?

After she died, Hilliard donated materials to the Burbank archives including a couple of letters written to her by Oscar Binner, a promoter who around 1910 was sort of a Colonel Parker to Burbank’s Elvis. An accompanying note from Hilliard pointed out Binner had sometimes stayed with their family in Santa Rosa, and Nellie would step in to resolve his disputes with Burbank because she was “an intimate friend of both.” As Binner’s letters  defensively trumpet his opinions of Burbank’s greatness, it’s safe to assume Nellie stood with skeptics who didn’t think Burbank’s work had any scientific merit. Thus the “strictly private” details were probably nothing personal, but rather her views that Burbank didn’t deserve to be held in such high esteem. (More on Binner’s wrestling with Burbank: “SELLING LUTHER BURBANK.”)

The Burbank nod in her Press Democrat obituary was also misleading, claiming she moved her family here because of a “letter from Burbank, a warm personal friend of Mrs. Comstock’s inducing her to come to Santa Rosa was received while the family was visiting in California.” As debunked here previously, her oldest son, John, an authority on butterflies (his 1927 survey, “Butterflies of California,” remains the definitive reference) spent over a week comparing notes with Burbank in 1907. The following year Nellie bought a ten-acre ranch on the edge of town and moved here with five of her children, three of them still in their teens. John was married and had his own house on the corner of Sonoma and Brookwood avenues, the current location of the Santa Rosa police HQ.

Besides being a leading lepidopterist, John and two of his sisters were early members of the American Arts & Crafts movement, having trained at Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft Colony in New York state. The Comstock’s particular artisan skill was leatherworking, and at the time leather-making was the predominant industry in Santa Rosa. Moving here in 1908 brought them to the source of their raw materials but also made them pioneers in the West Coast version of the movement which was just taking off. From 1910-1912 they also had an art store on Fourth street selling fine objects produced by themselves and other award-winning artisans, along with items created by the women-only “Arts and Crafts Guild” they founded in Santa Rosa. So while Burbank may or may not have sent Nellie one of his “chosen spot of all this earth” PR notes, it was incidental to the family choosing to settle here.

Nellie’s 1910 letter to her friend was written about eighteen months after they moved to Santa Rosa. (Hilliard and others would later say it was on Hoen avenue, but at the time it was simply Rural Route 5 and adjacent to Matanzas Creek, somewhere around the modern Farmer’s Lane intersection.) We don’t know who the recipient was, although it was a woman in the Midwest she had met at a “sanitarium” – what we’d call a spa resort today.

“The satisfaction of my present life is that numerous strides are being taken by my children,” she wrote. “Opportunity is here – not because the here is California – but because change is here and just the material to correspond with that change was stored up in my children. Already all that immense newness has paid for itself.”

She admitted being sometimes homesick for Evanston and her late father’s mansion where she raised and educated her family, but the children would have none of it: They were already born-again Californians. “If I speak of liking the East better than the West they are amazed. They no not know that I like it from the place I see it. It is their place to see something to their special advantage in a new country – and in a new place, i. e. new to them.”

One of the things that bothered her about this area was seeing so many families trapped in a modern-day kind of serfdom, operating small chicken farms and unable to escape a hard-scrabble life. “I do not see how anyone can feel it wise to locate here for a lifetime without a substantial income to depend on…[L]iving in the midst of so much struggle for subsistence is somewhat depressing to me. I see so few people able to make a living on their small farms. It is growing as it did in the far East some time back – when the small farming died out, and homes everywhere ran down and dwindled into decay. Only large ranches make a living…”

Nor did she care much about the way our ancestors were being raised:

Generally the young people of Calif. are very rampant for pleasure and for dissipations of all sorts – bad and worse than bad. I never saw the young so generally disposed to dress, and idleness, and pleasure-seeking. It was well to have had my sons and daughters as far along as they are. They will not as easily be led. The young men are scuff. Only one or two to be found in among a large group, whom one would care to encourage as company. That is a problem for our young. And the grown men are not much better. I do declare.

Amazingly, she even complained about Santa Rosa’s temperate weather: “The extreme dry season and the extreme wet one, is against any place. It is not moderate. Nor do I think it can possible be advantageous to life in general either from a standpoint of health, or from one of prosperity.”

If all this makes Nellie sound snippy, peevish or downright ugly, join the club. “My mother-in-law was a brilliant woman, but she was tyrannical – in a very sweet way,” Helen Comstock said in her oral history. Little that Helen did while she and Hilliard lived with Nellie was to her satisfaction; she was told that she picked the wrong flowers, didn’t sweep the floor correctly, and even stirred the gravy the wrong way.

“I do not attempt any social life here,” Nellie also wrote in the 1910 letter. “What I do is toward my children’s welfare and happiness.” So if she disliked the situation in Santa Rosa so much, why the hell did she stay the thirty years until her death? Four of the children came to live in Carmel and she spent summers there; in Carmel she did have friends and a social life. Then why keep coming back to oh-so sucky Sonoma county?

One reason could be the house. When James Wyatt Oates died on December 9, 1915, his law partner Hilliard Comstock was staying with him. Less than a month later Nellie and some of the other children joined in occupying the home on Mendocino avenue. “In this way it will be given proper care and protection,” the Press Democrat said. Her winning bid of $10,000 later bought it from the Oates’ estate and established it as (what would become known as) Comstock House.

With her two daughters and eldest son immersed in the Arts & Crafts movement since at least 1903, surely she shared their appreciation for the unique home which Brainerd Jones had designed for Oates. Though she still hung on to the Victorian mansion in Evanston, she was now living in a bonafide work of art – and there she would stay.

Maybe she also found the early Carmel arts scene a bit too frenetic and exhausting to live there fulltime. Most of the later stories about Nellie mention her frailty, a tiny woman always dressed in white. As a 1934 Christmas gift to Hilliard, his sister-in-law – Hurd’s wife Dora Hagemeyer, who wrote several books of hackneyed poetry before WWII – sent a prose-poem (transcribed in full below) describing the pacific life Nellie led in Santa Rosa. One stanza:

You may see her on a day in Spring sitting under her haw-thorn tree…the beautiful wide-spreading branches bending to the ground with their trailing sprays of blossom. She sits in her chair under this pink and white bower, glad of the earth, the air, the birds that come to drink at her fountain. She loves all natural things.

“Nellie” Cornelia Hurd Comstock died quietly at her home May 31, 1940. She lived through the entire American version of the Victorian era, being four years old when the Civil War began – but was never one to look nostalgically back; she peered forward always. Like Teddy Roosevelt, she believed in an “American race” not defined by ethnicity or color but by a common willingness to work hard, fight for principles and for parents to instill those values in their children. ” Am I turning sour?” She asked her correspondent, after complaining about how “scuff” she found Santa Rosa youth. “Oh, I get an inside view. I have boys who see things. It is an open chapter that I read with horror and a dark forecast for the race – our beautiful Americans.” [emphasis hers]

“…The true family spirit seems to be dying out in America, as it died in other countries as wealth increased,” she wrote. “Money spurs the way to vast exploitation. Few are able to withstand the temptations which the removal of restrictions bring. Our real prison is the human mind and heart. Democracy seems too, as great a likeliness of failure as Christianity…the Truth is neither honored nor worshipped nor crucial as it rightly is. We need a new birth and a new death.”

For 1910 those were pretty radical views – and still are today, I’ll wager.

As dedicated as she was to her children so they remained to her, with all returning for her 80th birthday on March 8, 1937, when they were captured in the famous family photo.

 

1) Cornelia Matthew   2) Hurd Comstock   3) Catherine Seidneck   4) Dr. John Comstock   5) Judge Hilliard Comstock   6) Nellie Comstock   7) George Franklin Comstock   8) Hugh Comstock

 

Cornelia Matthew and Nellie Comstock, probably photographed during the same 1937 visit shown above. Image courtesy Martha Comstock Keegan

 

 

 MRS. NELLIE COMSTOCK OCCUPIES OATES HOME

Mrs. Nellie H. Comstock and family are moving into the Oates home on Mendocino avenue. Under the terms of the will of the late James W. Oates. His law partner, Hilliard Comstock, son of Mrs. Comstock, was given the use of the house until it was disposed of by the executors.

The family will make their home in the handsome residence pending its disposal, which may be some time. In this way it will be given proper care and protection.

– Press Democrat, January 7 1916

Route 5.
Santa Rosa, Cal.
Jan 23 – 10

My little woman – way off in the cold city of the Middle West –

I employ part of this rainy rainy rain-y day writing to you trying to satisfy your curiosity and friendship. Sunday – all Sundays – remind me of Sanitariums. The advent of our acquaintance. We met in one. I hope we won’t again. I hope both you and I will be sensible enough never to come to that pass of meeting in such a place again.

Let us think that such places are for the people who have not reached a place in life which learning, experience, and something vastly above either, will forever work imminently from.

Now I will look over your list of questions – for it is one of my failings,

I have a lot to tell you about Burbank which will be strictly private. I will put it in a separate sheet and let it follow. No Earthquake shock yet to my knowledge. Have not even thought of Earthquakes.

Now I believe this answers all your questions except the two-two’s.

Maybe you don’t think I get homesick once in a while – and wish I could still [be] in my family house. But I can never think of such a step as going back until the thing I came for is fully accomplished. Then I may be prepared to go back and remain to the end of my days. Coming here was an act inspired. I could never have done what is being done in any other place in time or manner what I have done by just this move I made and just how I made it. Surely such wisdom was not thought out – by my little brain alone. Something greater was back of it, something far seeing.

Now I am not going into all sorts of particulars at the present. I may say that if I sought out my own comfort alone I would not be doing just as I am, but the satisfaction of my present life is that numerous strides are being taken by my children. Opportunity is here – not because the here is California – but because change is here and just the material to correspond with that change was stored up in my children. Already all that immense newness has paid for itself. Already I can see why it must inevitably have been like destiny. That is a great thing to be certain of. If I were not certain of it I would be plunged into grief and remorse over my act and would set about it to return and nurture myself and belongings to their former place. There stands the old house ready at my beck and call. It is now mine by the act of division of property, and there stands my ???? at home – that too at my will. I am getting $100.00 per anno, not from that. My place here is paid for (10 acres and nice little cottage all put in the best of order since we came.) My mortgage on Wesley av house [in Evanston] is part paid – I have $2000.00 in pure cash and up in the bank – and am not living up more than 2/3 my income. I have $2000.00 in the business here. So you see I am able to say things have progressed with me, ???? I was deeply in debt about two years ago. That place I have bought here will increase in value from now on. It has already done so. What I paid $150 per acre is now on the market at $400.00 per acre – and the house has nearly doubled in value. My Wesley av property has doubled in value since I took it up – and the entire locality is now under a change for improvement still further. Thus you can see I am getting my worldly affairs in good order – and now at a time when I am desiring to extend opportunity to all my children at an age when they see values, my means are sufficient to that end.

This is my condition from a financial standpoint.

No child will ever be able to see how life looks from the standpoint of the parent. If I speak of liking the East better than the West they are amazed. They no not know that I like it from the place I see it. It is their place to see something to their special advantage in a new country – and in a new place, i. e. new to them. The extreme dry season and the extreme wet one, is against any place. It is not moderate. Nor do I think it can possible be advantageous to life in general either from a standpoint of health, or from one of prosperity. It takes a long time to train a country. Its very climate needs modifying, and what cannot be definitively changed must be offset by conditions – artificially constructed. I do not see how anyone can feel it wise to locate here for a lifetime without a substantial income to depend on in some foreign properties. I should never have dared do it. I can see things opening up in localities for the future – especially for the energetic youths.

I do not attempt any social life here. What I do is toward my children’s welfare and happiness. They get study and work and play into their daily living in very good proportions. Mainly I keep the house. I do almost all the work – cooking, scrubbing, sweeping, sewing – sometimes washing – and general ???? . I stay right at the helm. I read some and follow Hugh in his studies. We find such pleasure in the surrounding scenery and in the out-of-doors life during the pleasant weather. The fruits and flowers help to make life more attractive. But living in the midst of so much struggle for subsistence is somewhat depressing to me. I see so few people able to make a living on their small farms. It is growing as it did in the far East some time back – when the small farming died out, and homes everywhere ran down and dwindled into decay. Only large ranches make a living and even those are run at less risk having become largely speculation. This locality is full of chicken farms – small ones. That too is a struggle and tis nasty work. Many women work among the chickens. Husband and wife must both work, the children should work, but do not. The schools do not induce work in the mind and heart of the child. Generally the young people of Calif. are very rampant for pleasure and for dissipations of all sorts – bad and worse than bad. I never saw the young so generally disposed to dress, and idleness, and pleasure-seeking. It was well to have had my sons and daughters as far along as they are. They will not as easily be led. The young men are scuff. Only one or two to be found in among a large group, whom one would care to encourage as company. That is a problem for our young. And the grown men are not much better. I do declare. I do not see men nowadays I can call men. Am I turning sour? Or what is the matter and how is it from your standpoint? Oh, I get an inside view. I have boys who see things. It is an open chapter that I read with horror and a dark forecast for the race – our beautiful Americans.

I would like to talk with you – yes – a lot of things. Am glad to learn about your sister’s family. She has had many burdens. How some of those are lifted and she can begin to enjoy her growing family and their families. Marriage is such a critical act in our present age with conditions as they exist. The true family spirit seems to be dying out in America, as it died in other countries as wealth increased and brought its trials of manly struggle. As a man acquires liberty how is he to use it? That is the question. Money spurs the way to vast exploitation. Few are able to withstand the temptations which the removal of restrictions bring. Our real prison is the human mind and heart. Democracy seems too, as great a likeliness of failure as Christianity. Do I maintain that Christianity is a failure? I maintain that in this age we have not enough of it to save us. After all these centuries and all these churches and all these testimonies – the Truth is neither honored nor worshipped nor crucial as it rightly is. We need a new birth and a new death.

I am glad you tell me of Dr. C. and how noble his constancy in friendship. But I tell you he is sure to appreciate the sterling quality which abides in your soul – for he is one to know Woman and be a judge. I wish I could see him, really. He is quite an unusual man – taking him all in all – worldly enough, tis true, but very human and often tender as a woman. Skillful too in his profession. Nay – he is good enough to be remembered always by one who knew him.

As I say I will tell you more of us before long – and believe me I wrote you more than you say. I have not been so delinquent.

Do not allow yourself to get old and crabbed. Keep your nerves ??? together with a calm mind. Nerves are closely allied to character and what we term the heart.

As ever – your friend – N. Comstock

 

Portrait of your Mother

She is a little lady, frail and with the exquisite delicacy of a flower. She is always dressed in white; clean, cool, fragrant. Her hair is like snow found lying lightly where the fingers of the wind do not disturb it.

You may see her on a day in Spring sitting under her haw-thorn tree…the beautiful wide-spreading branches bending to the ground with their trailing sprays of blossom. She sits in her chair under this pink and white bower, glad of the earth, the air, the birds that come to drink at her fountain. She loves all natural things.

When you are ill or troubled, her fingers touch your brow…with a feather-weight like a bird’s wing; but through that light caress there comes a power from the spirit of her. For with all her fairy-frailty she has a source of strength that never fails. There is no one who does not feel this; even the news-boy, the gardener, the tramp who comes to her door.

What is her secret? How has she kept so close to the eternal fountain of life, and at the same time clothed herself in the lightest of earthly garments? How can she be so delicate and at the same time so strong? Her tall son and daughters stand around her. They protect her tenderly…yet they must turn to her for strength and counsel.

What is her magic? Is it the quiet poise of a flower, that gives without conscious effort to all who come within its radius of peace and beauty? Or is it the full-fathomed depth of the sea?…the salty humour of the light spray?…the power of the wind?…the healing of the sun?

Dora.
Christmas 1934.

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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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