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18¢ IS A LOT FOR A GALLON OF GAS

Bad news, auto aficionados; Standard Oil jacked up the price of gas another half cent, raising the 1912 price to around 18 cents. “Speed burners, won’t this make you slower?” the Press Democrat asked snarkily.

(ABOVE: Santa Rosa’s first gasoline price war, summer of 1914. The Grand Garage on Third st. countered by selling Red Crown gas for 14 cents.)

1911  16¢
1912  18¢
1913  22¢
1914  13¢
1915  15¢
1916  23¢
1917  N/A
1918  25¢
1919  25¢
1920  30¢
1921  26¢
1922  25¢
1923  22¢
1924  21¢
1925  22¢
1926  23¢
1927  21¢
1928  21¢
1929  21¢
1930  20¢
1931  17¢
1932  18¢
1933  18¢
1934  19¢
1935  19¢
1936  19¢
1937  20¢
1938  20¢
1939  19¢
1940  18¢
1941  19¢
1942  20¢
1943  21¢
1944  21¢
1945  21¢
1946  21¢
1947  23¢
1948  26¢
1949  27¢

True, 18¢ was no small change back then. A dime in 1912 was worth about $2.50 today, so it was actually the equivalent of $4.50 a gallon.

We don’t know precisely what they were paying in Sonoma County at the time; price bumps were mentioned in the local papers, but never the cost at the pumps, but it was most likely less than 18¢. A 1913 San Francisco Call article noted the market price in the city was then 16½ cents – 25 percent less than the national average – which meant a gallon of gas was possibly more like 14¢ locally in 1912. Prices were probably lower in the Bay Area simply because it was a major seaport; Shell did not begin operating the Martinez refinery until 1915.

While we may never know the real 1912-1913 gas prices around here, we surely know what they were in remote parts of the country. Open any auto enthusiast magazine from that period and you’re bound to find a correspondent kvetching about how much more it cost to fill ‘er up in Death Valley, Yellowstone or some other wilderness. The fellow who complained in high dudgeon about gas being 40¢ at Yosemite probably came home with snapshots of gas station signs.

(RIGHT: Average national gasoline prices, 1911-1949 rounded to the nearest penny. SOURCES: EIA.Gov, period automotive magazines)

The table at right shows average gasoline prices and was a challenge to assemble. The Energy Dept. has data going back to 1919 but is impossible to access without a Windows computer and a special plugin (I guess it’s still 1998 over at the Department of Energy) so the link provided above is to download an archived copy of the spreadsheet. The really old data had to be scratched out of magazines from the time, particularly “Automobile Topics“. So until someone replicates my work – or more likely, rips off this data – here is the most comprehensive info on early gas prices found anywhere online.

While doing this research, however, I made the most amazing discovery: Experts on the Internet don’t know what they’re talking about.

Searching for historic gasoline prices turned up all sorts of results that were wildly wrong; among the honking mistakes from popular websites such as ask.com, “Yahoo! Answers” and answers.com (among others), I was informed authoritatively a gallon cost 7¢ in 1912, 3¢ in 1916, 20¢ in 1920 and 9¢ in 1930. Sources are never given. Of course.

Try it yourself. Enter a search string into Google such as, “how much was gasoline in 19xx” or “price of gas in 19xx”. I did a little experiment with years picked at random between 1911 and 1929, choosing the top hit on the search results. Out of a dozen trials, only one was correct (thank you, inflationdata.com).

SPEED BURNERS, WON’T THIS MAKE YOU SLOWER?

J. B. Clifford, the well known travelling representative of the Standard Oil Company in this section of the State, received the following telegram while in this city last night from headquarters: “Advance gasoline, naptha [sic] and distillates half a cent.” This means that the price is half a cent a gallon greater than it was yesterday.

– Press Democrat, April 16, 1912
ANOTHER ADVANCE IN PRICE OF GASOLINE

Yesterday J. B. Clifford, the travelling representative of the Standard Oil Company in this section, received a dispatch from headquarters informing him that there had been another advance in the price of gasoline. The dispatch read:

“Effective June eleventh, advance price gasoline and naptha [sic] one half cent. Gas machine gasoline one cent. All points: all deliveries. No change engine distillate.”

– Press Democrat, June 12, 1912

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1910postcard

DRIVING LIKE A SANTA ROSAN

Driving to Santa Rosa? Be forewarned police there are enforcing unreasonable new laws, such as requiring cars to have mufflers, red tail lights, and drivers to stay on the right side of the street.

It was 1912 and cars were now seen everywhere, thanks to new inexpensive designs such as the Ford model “T” and the introduction of dealership loan financing. But California still had no motor vehicle code, aside from some basic laws such as requiring drivers to stop after an accident. Cities and counties were expected to set their own rules and regulations. In Santa Rosa drivers were required to honk the horn at intersections; in Lake County motorists had to stop and turn off their engines if a horse was approaching. Petaluma police would write a ticket for having a car without a muffler but until 1912 Santa Rosa didn’t care. Speed limits varied everywhere, leading to the birth of the speed trap as a boon for government budgets everywhere. All that and more is covered in an earlier item, “The Rules of the Road are Relative.”

Santa Rosa’s City Council passed a few new road rules in the summer of 1912, none of them seemingly controversial today. No U-turns in the middle of the street; have lights on after dark; stay to the right, pass on the left. The latter may seem like a particular no-brainer but consider the two photographs of Fourth street below, from 1910 (L) and 1911 (R), both showing a car toodling down the wrong side of the street. (Photos courtesy the Larry Lapeere Collection)

According to the local newspapers, these new laws created a terrific uproar. “[M]any persons expressed disapproval of the new law in the most expressive terms,” reported the Santa Rosa Republican. “One man even declared he would never return to Santa Rosa again. Several times during the day it seemed that trouble would ensue and that arrests would have to be made.”

Tempers flared at a big Chamber of Commerce meeting a few days later as store owners complained “many of their patrons had told them and many other merchants that rather than be held up for failing to comply with the ordinance they would trade elsewhere.” A resolution was passed to create a committee to advise City Council on what downtown wanted for traffic enforcement, and by the end of the year the part of the ordinance was repealed that made U-turns illegal in the middle of the street. The police officers, who had been “busier than bird dogs” when the new laws took effect, also backed off writing tickets.

But come the beginning of 1913, enough was enough. According to the Press Democrat, “Every effort has been made to instruct the traveling public in the new ordinance and to give them the benefit of all doubt. Recently a man has been placed on duty at Fourth and Mendocino avenue, to enforce the ordinance, and he has barely escaped being run down repeatedly himself.”

It seems Santa Rosa’s driving maniacs were keeping to the proper lane only on the straight-away, but when they made turns some were cutting the corner dangerously. “Plans are being made to place officers on duty at various corners in the city without further warning and arrest every one who fails to make proper turns…A string of fines will, it is believed, have the most effect that warnings have failed to give,” noted the PD.

Of course, this gave the city cops – who already had great discretionary power to judge who was speeding, in those days before radar guns or other tools – the ability to write tickets based on the degree to which they thought drivers strayed out of their lanes while turning. “It will also enrich the city treasury,” the PD added. You bet it would.

LOOK OUT! DON’T VIOLATE THE LAW
Traffic Ordinance Regulations Regarding Cutting of Corners, Etc., Will Be Strictly Enforced Now

Owing to the persistent ignoring of the traffic ordinance by auto and team drivers, drastic steps looking to a strict enforcement of the measure. Every effort has been made to instruct the traveling public in the new ordinance and to give them the benefit of all doubt. Recently a man has been placed on duty at Fourth and Mendocino avenue, to enforce the ordinance, and he has barely escaped being run down repeatedly himself.

Plans are being made to place officers on duty at various corners in the city without further warning and arrest every one who fails to make proper turns. The law is made for the safety of drivers as well as of those in vehicles, and when an accident occurs it is always because some one has ignored the right of road.

Monday afternoon a motorcycle was run down at the above-named corner, owing to an auto driver ignoring the law and cutting the corners. The police are determined that the practice shall be stopped. A string of fines will, it is believed, have the most effect that warnings have failed to give. It will also enrich the city treasury.

– Press Democrat, February 11, 1913

WARNING GIVEN AUTO DRIVERS
Must Carry Tail Lights as Required by Law or Arrests are Likely to Follow

The attention of the police department has been called to the fact that many of the automobilists are not observing the law in regards to carrying tail lights on their machines. Several rear end collisions have been narrowly averted of late.

Chief of Police John M. Boyes wishes automobile drivers to see to it that they carry lights as prescribed by law, and which includes a tail light. He hopes this warning will be obeyed immediately or else arrest and prosecutions will follow. A lamp in time means the saving of a fine.

– Press Democrat, January 28, 1912
AUTOS AND MOTOR CYCLES MUST ALL BE MUFFLED

There are doubtless many people who will give vent to a fervent “Amen,” or something of the sort equally as expressive when they read that at last night’s council meeting an ordinance was introduced by Chairman R. L. Johnston, and passed the first reading, which provides among other things for the use of mufflers on all automobiles, motor cars and motorcycles driven or ridden in the city limits. When this ordinance is adopted it will mean the ending of a decided nusiance.

The ordinance contemplated also provides strict regulation for the observance of the rules of the road, compelling drivers of machines, etc., upon meeting each other to go always to the right, and in overtaking to go to the left. It also provides for the proper turning of street corners and a number of other desirable changes from the old order of things, which daily causes much confusion.

It also provides that after nightfall all automobiles, motorcycles and ordinary bicycles shall carry lights. There are many other requirements in this ordinance which was referred back to the Ordinance Committee.

– Press Democrat, May 22, 1912
CITY FATHERS TRANSACT BIG VOLUME OF BUSINESS

[..]

An ordinance regulating the driving of automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles in this city was adopted. It provides that mufflers on motor vehicles be closed; that all motor vehicles pass to the right, and to take to the right side of the street. In passing vehicles of all kinds from the rear, motor vehicles must turn to the left, while the one in front must turn to the right, and that on the business streets motor vehicles must not turn around except on street corners. In turning into a street, the motor vehicles must keep to the center of the street crossing. With the exception of motorcycles all motor vehicles must maintain two white lights facing to the front and a red tail light one hour after sunset.

Bicycle and motorcycle riders must not ride without having hands on their handlebars. Vehicles must run to the edge of the curb and stop when the fire bell rings. The penalty for disobeying the ordinance is a fine from $10 to $250 for each offense.

– Press Democrat, June 5, 1912
TRAFFIC SQUAD BUSY SATURDAY
Many People Express Indignation Over Law

The Santa Rosa traffic squad, consisting of Officer I. N. Lindley and Officer George W. Mathews, had a busy day on Saturday. As one of them expressed it, they had been “busier than bird dogs,” and at nightfall they felt that they had doubly earned their stipend.

It was the duty of these officers to instruct drivers of vehicles in the new ordinance which has been adopted and to them many persons expressed disapproval of the new law in the most expressive terms. One man even declared he would never return to Santa Rosa again.

Several times during the day it seemed that trouble would ensue and that arrests would have to be made. These were avoided, however. After a certain time in instructing the people, arrests will be made for violations of the ordinance.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 15, 1912
MERCHANTS DISCUSS THE NEW TRAFFIC ORDINANCE
Many Present at the Meeting Held Last Night

The special feature of business at the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Thursday night was a discussion of the new traffic ordinance. There was the largest attendance of the members that has been noticed in some time, and the interest taken in the discussion was very marked. Many business men of the city participated and gave their view. Two resolution prevailed.

[Resolution to create three member committee to advise City Council]

A further resolution, offered by A. O. Erwin and seconded by Max Rosenberg and carried was to the effect that the present ordinance, inasmuch as it provides a regulation that traffic keep to the right, is all that should really apply to Santa Rosa at the present time, this suggestion not including, of course, those regulations regarding speeding, riding on sidewalks, lights and other essentials for the safety of the public alson in the ordinance.

Among those who spoke on the subject were…

One of the main faults found with the ordinance by the speakers at the meeting was the requirement that wagons be unloaded alongside the curb and not permitting wagons to be backed up against the curb at heretofore. It was stated by several that in large cities where similar ordinances are in force wagons are allowed fifteen minutes to unload or load while backed up against the sidewalk.

Another objection was the requirement that people drive to the corners of streets before they can turn around. An opinion was expressed that this requirement rather aggravated instead of relieved congestion.

It was suggested that people be permitted to turn in the center of the street, where it could be done without putting traffic in a hazardous condition.

Not Criticizing Council

It should be stated that the speakers made it plain that they were not speaking in a spirit of criticism of the City Council’s enactment of the traffic ordinance, but rather in the interests of the city as many of their patrons had told them and many other merchants that rather than be held up for failing to comply with the ordinance they would trade elsewhere.

[..]

– Press Democrat, June 26, 1912

 TRAFFIC ORDINANCE IS AMENDED FRIDAY EVENING
 Persons May Turn Any Place Desired From Present Time

 Mayor Jack Mercier and members of the city council passed an amendment to the traffic ordinance at a meeting of the city fathers held on Friday evening.

 Under the terms of the amendment section five was permitted so as to permit teamsters and drivers of any kind of vehicles to turn any place on the streets without the necessity of going to the intersecting corners, as was necessary under the former ordinance.

 The ordinance regarding vehicles keeping to the right side of the street is still in full force and effect and all vehicles must turn to the left in reversing their direction on the street.

 Many persons will hear with pleasure that the obnoxious section of the ordinance requiring the going to intersecting streets has been abolished and that they may turn at will wherever they find it necessary or take the notion.

 – Santa Rosa Republican, August 17, 1912

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LAWYER ARGUES AGAINST SELF IN COURT, LOSES

Congratulations, Attorney Allison Ware, the judge ruled in your favor over Attorney Allison Ware, whose pettifogging argument reveals him to be utterly incompetent.

It’s too bad Robert Ripley was still years away from starting his Believe It or Not! column; he would have loved this 1911 situation in his hometown of Santa Rosa, where the same lawyer represented the plaintiff in one case and the defendant in another, with the same legal question pivotal in both cases. No matter how the court ruled, Attorney Ware would probably win one of the cases and lose the other. And this crazy, double-edged sword of a situation didn’t happen in different places and different times – Ware was asking for a decision from a judge at the same hearing, simultaneously arguing for and against the same point. This was a man who could obviously walk and chew gum at the same time, and probably whistle as well.

One case involved the late Pincus Levin, who was a partner in the Levin Brothers Tannery, Santa Rosa’s largest employer at the time. Levin died in a spectacular Marin county train crash in August, 1910, when twelve were killed as steam locomotives collided head-on. “The two engines reared into the air and locked themselves in deadly embrace,” reported The Press Democrat luridly. The Levin family sued the railroad for $25,000, and Ware was their lawyer.

The other case was a suit over the wrongful death of a Chinese-American man named Young Chow, who was struck by an automobile and killed at “Gwynn’s Corners”, which was the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Mark West. His family filed suit against the driver of the car for $5,000 and Ware represented the driver.

Here’s the legal issue that was being asked: Could a lawsuit on behalf of a “non-resident alien” be filed in California? Young Chow’s beneficiaries were to be his wife and two children in China. Pincus Levin, an unmarried 28 year-old Russian-Pole who had emigrated to America ten years earlier, presumably named his parents or other relatives in the old country.

The question was pretty much a Constitution 101 no-brainer: All that mattered was that the wrongful deaths occurred within the United States. The 5th amendment guarantees “no person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” and the 14th Amendment further emphasizes due process is not restricted to just U.S. citizens: “Nor shall any State…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Constitution didn’t care that neither Pincus Levin and Young Chow were citizens, and didn’t care where any award for damages would be going. Even Chinese immigrants, who endured all manner of legal discrimination otherwise, were specifically guaranteed equal protection under the 14th Amendment by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886).

Thus Ware and the other lawyers went before a Superior Court judge in San Francisco and were told that no, you can’t throw out a case just because the money would be going to China or Poland or wherever. It was a victory for Ware in the railroad lawsuit and a setback for Ware in the automobile lawsuit.

Curiously, no newspaper editorialized about how damned odd it was for Ware to show up at a court hearing wearing two hats. The Press Democrat mentioned it in passing and implied Ware felt the railroad was making a Hail Mary Pass by raising the issue but appended the automobile suit to the motion because it couldn’t hurt so why the hell not:

“Attorney Ware thought at the time there was no merit in the contention and that he could easily defeat such a proposition of law. However, he brought forward the same point in the suit of the Chinese administrator against Charles Patchett of Healdsburg. This was done in order that if the point was sustained in the court by Judge Hunt that it could be taken advantage of in the court here.”

How did these lawsuits end? Nothing more about the Levin case appeared in the papers, so it was presumably settled out of court quickly after the judge’s ruling. The railroad had no other defense; the coroner’s jury had already decided the railway was guilty of gross negligence. There is a footnote to the story, however. Levin was on the train because he had just obtained $6,000 (about $150,000 today) in “negotiable paper” from a San Francisco bank and the document wasn’t among his remains. The newspapers never explained exactly what it was – most likely some sort of bonds – but press coverage invariably mentioned it “could be cashed by anyone.” Some historians have since claimed it was never found, but that’s not true; a man on the wreck clean-up crew picked it up from the ground but didn’t understand what it was, and once he realized it was valuable, promptly turned it over to the bank.

The Young Chow case went to trial, but not before Attorney Ware filed a motion claiming the victim caused the fatal accident by turning his bicycle into the path of the car. (This was not the first auto fatality in the Santa Rosa area; the previous year a nine-year old boy was run over at the corner of Third and B and the coroner’s jury found the child was at fault for dashing in front of the car without looking.)

The jury decided in favor of the plaintiff, awarding Young Chow’s heirs $2,500. (Did it help that the lawyers for Chow made sure no juror owned an automobile?) The jury also found the driver was negligent in going too fast and lied about tooting his horn as a warning. There’s a footnote to this story as well: Young Chow was killed when he was bicycling back to Santa Rosa from the ranch of Harrison Finley, the grandfather of Helen Finley Comstock. Long-time readers of this journal may recall that Mr. Finley had his own dangerous encounter with an auto in 1908, when a driver crashed into a wagon carrying him and most of his family. After this death of his employee, Harrison Finley had another reason to be distrustful of the new horseless contraptions.

The final score for Attorney Allison B. Ware was 1-1, winning the Levin case and losing the Young Chow judgement. These were among his final appearances in court; he was 64 and would live about another three years. His son Wallace later wrote an autobiography titled “The Unforgettables” that recalled his father as a jovial man with a talent for persuasion. He arrived in San Francisco in 1855 and later told his children it was then a “fecund mulching bed of frolicsome fillies and gay Lotharios.” His first job, at age 18, was running a school for incorrigible youths. He succeeded by appointing six of the toughest guys to be “captains,” ordering them to disarm their fellow hoodlums and keep them in line. In exchange he promised the boys a night off every week that would wrap up with an expenses-paid visit to “a friendly resort, where the ladies are always pliant, gracious, sweet, smiling and co-operative.”

Ware eventually became the Sonoma County District Attorney, settling down with his family of six children at 1041 College Avenue, calling their home the “Ware Hatchery.” It was one of the few residences seriously damaged in the 1906 earthquake (pictures and a story here) but they rebuilt at the same location. He loved kids, hosting neighborhood spelling bees and awarding jelly bean prizes. In 1904 the family threw a birthday party for daughter Mabel where the highlight was a guessing game with the mesmerizing question, “How old is Mr. Ware?” Only a very persuasive lawyer could pull that off as children’s party entertainment.

CHINESE IS KILLED BY AUTO
Hurled in Air by Impact and Run Over by Machine

A Chinese employed on the Harrison Finley hop ranch, on the Mark West road, just off the main Healdsburg road, was struck by an automobile on Friday afternoon. The accident occurred near Gwynn’s Corners, and the Chinese was so badly injured that he passed away in a couple of hours. The dead man was riding a bicycle at the time of the accident, and must have become confused or attempted to cross the road in front of the rapidly approaching automobile.

When the auto struck the man he was hurled some distance in the air, and fell directly in front of the machine. The heavy automobile then ran over the Chinese and mashed him considerably. The injured man was carried into a near-by residence by those in the auto and Dr. R. M. Bonar was summoned to attend him. From the first it was seen that injured man could not survive and Dr. Bonar did all he could to relieve his sufferings.

The name of the driver of the auto which struck the Chinese was not learned. On Saturday morning Undertaker Wilson C. Smith went out to the residence where the Chinese passed away and brought the remains to this city.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 22, 1911
SMALL ESTATE OF CHINAMAN
Young Chow Left Fifty Dollars for Relatives Who Reside in the Chinese Empire

The first petition in a long time in the estate of a deceased Chinaman was filed on Thursday in the matter of the estate of Young Chow. Chow did not die possessed of much of this world’s goods. He left some cash and personal property valued at fifty dollars. Young Yup is the petitioner, and the petition sets forth that the next of the kin of the deceased are Joe Shee, his wife, and two children in Pong Woo, China. Attorney R. L. Thompson is the attorney for the estate.

– Press Democrat, June 19, 1911
SUES FOR $5,000 FOR DEATH OF CHINAMAN

The predicted damage suit growing out of the killing by an automobile of Young Chow, a Chinaman, by Charles Patchett, on the Healdsburg road near Gwynn’s Corners, some two months ago, was commenced in the Superior Court yesterday by Young Yup, who has been named administrator of the Chow estate. Attorney R. L. Thompson represents the plaintiff. The dead man has a wife and two children in China and the suit in their interest. It is charged in the complaint that Patchett was driving his automobile in a fast and reckless manner at the time he struck Chow, who only loved a short time after the accident. The defendant is charged with carelessness and negligence. At the  time of the accident Chow was riding a bicycle.

At the conclusion of the testimony the Court took the matter under advisement and it stands submitted.

– Press Democrat, June 21, 1911
CAN NON-RESIDENT ALIEN PROSECUTE A SUIT HERE?
New Point Raised in Court Here on Monday

Can a non-resident alien prosecute an action in the courts of California?

This is a new question urged in Judge Seawell’s department of the Superior Court here Monday morning by Attorney Allison R. Ware in the suit for $5,000 damaged brought by Young Lup, a Chinaman as the administrator of the estate of Young Chow, also a Celestial, who was run down and killed while riding a bicycle on the Healdsburg road near Gwynn’s Corners. Charles H. Patchett, who was riding in the automobile is the defendant, and negligence is charged against him by the plaintiff.

J. M. Thompson and Rolfe L. Thompson represent the plaintiff and Allison B. Ware is counsel for the defendant. The case came up on argument Monday morning, and Mr. Ware claimed that a non-resident man cannot maintain a suit in the courts in this state. The suit is brought in behalf of Chow’s relatives in China. A similar point is being made by the Northwestern Pacific railroad in answering the suit for damages brought by the late Pincus Levin, who was killed in the railroad wreck at Ignacio where a number of persons lost their lives some time since.

Judge Seawell took the matter under advisement and his decision is awaited with considerable interest.

– Press Democrat, June 26, 1911

NON-RESIDENT CAN BRING SUIT
Attorneys Ware and Berry Win in San Francisco

Attorney Allison B. Ware and Jos. P. Berry won an important legal decision in San Francisco on Friday when they presented an elaborate argument to Judge Hunt of the superior court there, on the question as to whether a non-resident alien can bring and maintain an action in the courts.

The local attorneys represent Nate Levin, who as administrator of the estate of the late Pincus Levin, has sued the Northwestern Pacific railroad for damages. The suit grows out of the collision at Ignacio in which Levin and others were instantly killed.

Judge Hunt made the ruling direct from the bench that a non-resident could maintain an action in the courts and this establishes the standing of Mr. Levin at once.

The point was brought up by the attorneys for the railroad in this suit and Attorney Ware thought at the time there was no merit in the contention and that he could easily defeat such a proposition of law. However, he brought forward the same point in the suit of the Chinese administrator against Charles Patchett of Healdsburg. This was done in order that if the point was sustained in the court by Judge Hunt that it could be taken advantage of in the court here.

Judge Hunt has consented to hear the case of Levin against the railroad in Marin county, but the preliminary argument on the demurrer was made in the court at San Francisco on Friday. Attorneys Ware and Berry feel much elated at this victory.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 30, 1911

CLAIM CHINAMAN WAS TO BLAME FOR DEATH

In an answer filed in the office of County Clerk William W. Felt, Jr., on Monday, in the suit of Young Yup, administrator of the estate of Young Chow, against Charles Patchett. It is claimed that Young Lup [sic] was responsible for the accident that caused his death. The Chinese was killed in a collision with Patchett’s automobile near Gwynn’s Corners last summer, and the answer sets up that the negligence of the Chinese in turning to the left side of the road instead of to the right side, was responsible for the collision. Attorneys Allison B. Ware and Phil Ware represent the defendant.

– Santa Rosa Republican, October 10, 1911

AUTOMOBILISTS ARE NOT WANTED ON JURY

Owners of automobiles were not wanted on the jury now trying toe damage suit of Young Lup vs. C. H. Patchett. During the examination of talesmen in Judge Seawell’s Department of the Superior Court here yesterday, counsel for the plaintiff queried each man as to whether he was the owner of automobiles were excused. An automobile figures prominently in this case, as the plaintiff appears as representative of the heirs of Young Chow, a Chinese, who was killed by an automobile on the Healdsburg road near Gwynn’s Corners.

– Press Democrat, January 10, 1912

$2,500 DAMAGES AWARDED FOR DEATH OF CHINAMAN
Plaintiff Wins in Trial In Judge Seawell’s Court

Charles H. Patchett, the defendant was the last witness called in the suit brought against him by Young Lup, administrator of the estate of Young Chow, claiming $5,000 damages for the death of Chow by alleged carelessness of the defendant while driving his automobile on the Healdsburg road near Gwynn’s Corners.

Mr. Patchett testified, as did other witnesses on the previous day, that he was driving carefully at the time, that he sounded his horn a number of times and also shouted to the Chinaman before the accident happened. He claimed that the Chinaman, who was riding a bicycle, turned from the track in which he was riding on the road and swerved in front of the auto. Mr. Patchett claimed the accident was unavoidable. There was some conflict of testimony as to the speed at which the automobile was being driven at the time of the collision, but Patchett maintained that he had slowed down at the time he attempted to pass the Chinaman.

Attorney Allison B. Ware, with whom was associated Phil Ware for the defendant, took the witness through a very careful examination, as did Attorney Rolfe L. Thompson, for the plaintiff, when he took hold of the witness.

Before the noon adjournment Attorney Thompson had made his opening arguments to the jury, claiming that Patchett had been negligent and that the accident could have been avoided. Counsel made a strong speech.

When court resumed in the afternoon Attorney Allison B. Ware argued the case to the jury for the side of the defendant, making a powerful case of the facts and evidence adduced and denying any negligence of carelessness on the part of Mr. Patchett.

Attorney Thompson replied to the argument of counsel for the defense in another strong speech to the jury. Judge Seawell then delivered his charge to the jury.

The jury retired to consider the verdict shortly before five o’clock. At six o’clock they were taken to “Little Pete’s” restaurant for supper in charge of Deputy Sheriff Donald McIntosh and returned shortly after seven. It was nine o’clock before they had agreed upon a verdict.

The jury found for the plaintiff in the sum of $2,500 and also answered the following special interrogatories submitted:

Was the defendant riding at a rapid rate of speed at the time of the accident? –Yes.

Did the defendant operate and manage the automobile in a negligent and careless manner at the time of and immediately prior to the said accident? –Yes.

Did the defendant cause the said automobile to slow up and lessen the speed thereof? –Yes.

Did the defendant sound the automobile horn and warn Young Chow in a timely manner? –No.

Did Young Chow, by his own negligence, contribute proximately to the resulting in life death? –No.

Did Young Chow, plaintiff intestate, when the defendant was approaching on the left side of the road in the automobile, carelessly and negligently drive the bicycle on which said young Chow was riding in front of the said automobile on the left hand side of the road? –No.

Counsel for the defense have asked for a stay of execution for thirty days. It is expected that a motion for a new trial will be made.

– Press Democrat, January 12, 1912

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