curfewbell

FAREWELL, LITTLE HOODLUMS

Hey, what’s missing from the Santa Rosa newspapers? After 1911, readers no longer saw a steady stream of articles reporting children involved in armed robbery, arson, burglary,  buggy hijacking, and that old favorite, chicken snatching. I loved writing up those stories, relishing the thought of a great-great grandchild of some distinguished judge or senator stumbling across the news of his arrest for leading a gang of ten year-old chicken thieves.

This is a followup to a piece from a while back, “THE VANISHING HOOLIGAN” which described a drop off of kiddie krime stories during 1912. I presumed it was a fluke and the boys would be soon back to no good, such as shooting at men’s hats with air guns and rolling drunks for their pocket change. But their shockingly good behavior extended through 1913 – and a scan of papers in the years immediately following suggests it endured.

What went right? The Hooligan article weighs several possible reasons. There may have been less crime to report – or maybe there was just less crime being reported.

One change was the creation of the Juvenile Court (also discussed in Hooligan) which aimed to punish kids with probation rather than jail. The papers rarely mentioned the names of the wrongdoers or their crimes; one of the papers in 1916 summarized a court docket of “thieving, waywardness of other descriptions, intemperance and the like.” Even the number of cases heard was unclear – it appears there were about twenty in 1913, which is on par with the incidents reported in the bad ol’ days. The difference was that the papers were no longer calling out kids as young as ten as incorrigibles or damning an eight year-old as a “hardened little criminal.”

The most serious misdeed of 1913 was 16 year-old William Marsh trying to derail a passenger train by piling railroad ties and rocks on the tracks. A workcrew spotted and removed the obstructions so no harm was done and the boy was identified and arrested later that day, but not before there were “a number of sensational rumors about town” about the attempt to cause a crash. Still, Marsh got off with probation; in 1908, before the Juvenile Court was formed, an 11 year-old was carted off to reform school for trying the same stunt.

But if there’s a children’s theme to be found for those years it’s this: Adults increasingly refused to cut them any slack. A farmer near Guerneville “peppered” three boys with his shotgun while they were raiding his orchard, hitting one of the boys in the face (the farmer was fined $40). Another trio was caught stealing from a watermelon patch south of Santa Rosa. The owner must have roughed up the kids because the grandfather of one of the boys came over and beat him soundly, breaking his jaw in two places (gramps was sued for $10,500, paying only $682).

Even Hallowe’en, earlier tolerated even though it was all trick and no treat, faced a crackdown. The Santa Rosa Republican called for an end of “this old license for mischief” and suggested “parental floggings” were in order. Petaluma went further and declared “no noise will be tolerated” and there would be “special officers in plain clothes and bicycle police” on patrol that night. Oh, to have a “Petaluma Hallowe’en Special Officer” badge.

The greatest change, however, was strict enforcement of a 9PM curfew for anyone under 18 years of age found outdoors. Santa Rosa was fairly liberal in allowing kids out that late – Napa and some other cities had 8 o’clock ordinances – but the police here brooked no tolerance for violation. Where other youths caught afoot were ordered to go home, Santa Rosa police threw them in jail for the night.

(When the curfew was discussed back in 1908, a Santa Rosa City Council meeting dissolved into pandemonium over who would have the great honor of ringing the curfew bell, thanks to gooey memories of a sentimental Victorian-era poem they all had to apparently memorize in school. It’s always disheartening to find your elected officials acting like weepy drunks, as I wrote at the time.)

A final incident from 1913 was more cute than criminal. A fire alarm sounded and in those days the volunteer firemen were alerted to the location of the blaze by a sort-of morse code blasted out by the big whistle at the fire department. Unfortunately this happened just as the schools were getting out and you can bet every kid in town knew the codes by heart. They swarmed to the site to watch the firemen in action, so many they “literally blocked College avenue,” according to the Press Democrat. Unfortunately, that meant the hose wagon could not get through and had to go around the block.

The fire was not serious but the PD was apoplectic; parents would be responsible if the building had burned down because they did not teach their young’uns to keep out of the street. Like the “parental floggings” remark in the other paper, it was unnecessary moralizing, but probably caused a few breakfast table confrontations the next morning:

“Earl, were you out there on College avenue blocking the firemen?”

“Oh, no, maw, I’m a good boy,” he replied, tucking his legs under the table with his shoes and stockings still curiously damp despite the dry weather.

 

Cartoon from the Santa Rosa Republican, Aug. 30, 1913

 

CHIEF HUSLER GIVES WARNING

Tonight will be Hallowe’en and Chief of Police Edward A. Husler gives warning that Hallowe’en “pranks” which have heretofore been permitted almost unchecked, will not be tolerated in this city this year. The curfew hours will be enforced as usual and no youngsters below the local age will be allowed out after the curfew hour.

Special officers in plain clothes and bicycle police will patrol the residence section of the city. No noise will be tolerated as there as yet many sufferers from the recent accident who must not be disturbed, while no defacing of public or private property, stealing of gates or removal of portable property or use of paint will be allowed. Last year the usual privileges were abused so that this year they will be taken away entirely. Nobody will be excused and all violators of the ordinances or laws will be rigidly enforced. This means everybody.

– Petaluma Argus-Courier, October 31, 1912
MUST GO HOME WHEN THE LIGHTS BLINK

Napa — Henceforth the fire bell will not toll the curfew warning to the younger generation of the city. Instead the street lights of the city will blink the warning. The City Council last night perfected an agreement with the Pacific Gas & Electric Company and with the Great Western Power Company, both operating here, whereby they will “blink” the lights controlled by each at 8 o’clock as a curfew warning. It was decided that the tones of the fire bell could not be heard clearly enough over the city.
– Press Democrat, January 9 1913

RUNAWAY BOYS STOLE TWO BICYCLES

Officer Miller arrested two runaway boys Friday morning who were later turned over to the Petaluma officers. The lads gave the names of Albert De Gregorio of Richmond, and Raphael Custodlo of San Francisco.

Officer Findley found the boys on Thursday night roaming the streets, and he took them to the city jail where they were given a night’s lodging. They told a straight story, apparently, and nothing was suspected. They were released on Friday morning, and were walking away when Officer Miller noticed that one of the boys had a streak of mud spattered on his back as if he had been riding a wheel. He called the boys back and after questioning them learned that they had stolen two wheels in Petaluma.

Chief Hustler of that city was notified and he came to Santa Rosa and took the boys back. The wheels were found near the railroad crossing at Third street.

– Press Democrat, January 18 1913
PETALUMA BOYS ADMIT THEFTS
A Wagon Load of Loot Valued at $300 Recovered Which Had Been Stolen From Many Homes

The police of Petaluma arrested two boys, Andrew Anderson and Henry Ceresa. aged seventeen and fifteen years respectively, Saturday, and have put a stop to the numerous petty thefts which have been troubling the officers of the Egg City for some time past. Loot to the value of about $300 was recovered after the boys had broken down and made a full confession.

The lads are the sons of workingmen of Petaluma, and their families have always borne the best of reputations. A long list of Petaluma houses were Included in the places which the boys confessed to have robbed. The loot recovered filled a good sized wagon. The officers searched the homes of the boys while neither the lads nor the families were aware of the move.

– Press Democrat, January 19 1913

 

EXPENSIVE CURIOSITY SHOULD BE CURBED

When the fire alarm was sounded on Thursday afternoon a crowd of little children just from school rushed to the scene and literally blocked College avenue. James F. Birch, driving the hose wagon, had to go entirely around the block, thus losing valuable time, or endanger the lives of the little ones who could not get out of the way if they had been ordered to move on. Parents are directly interested in teaching their children to keep out of the streets and on the sidewalks, because such a delay might cause them personal loss any day. A delay of three or four minutes at the early stages of a fire after converts a small blaze into a conflagration. The drivers of fire apparatus have other things to look out for besides irresponsible children and even grown folks who have no excuse but their curiosity for hampering and delaying the work of the department.

If an accident occurred the blame would of course be applied to the firemen whereas the parents are the ones at fault. Grown people who get in the way of apparatuses and firemen in the discharge of their duties must stand consequences and have no redress if they are maimed or hurt.

– Santa Rosa Republican,  May 23, 1913
MISCHIEF DONE AT CLUB HOUSE
Boys Guilty of Misconduct on the Tennis Courts Here— Watch Appointed

Complaint is made of vandalism perpetrated by mischievous boys and youths in the club house at the tennis courts. It seems hard to believe that they should so far forget themselves as to commit the depredations charged. Not only have they broken all the windows in the club house but they have damaged the contents and have scattered things in every direction and have been guilty of other disgusting conduct committed after the place had been cleaned up for the opening of the tennis season next Friday.

The officers and members of the club are determined to put a stop to the conduct complained of, even if it comes to the exposure and arrest of the guilty ones. The acts complained of have been going on for some time and must be stopped. It will go hard with the boys it they are caught, and a watch will be set in the endeavor to bring this about. The club is already in the possession of information that may get someone into trouble.

– Press Democrat,  May 28 1913

 

SIXTEEN YEAR-OLD BOY IS JAILED AS TRAIN WRECKER
Ejected From Train He Attempts to Retaliate Places Ties and Rocks on the Track Near Healdsburg on Saturday Morning, But Plan Is Foiled by Section Men

Beset with a spirit of revenge and retaliation because he had been put off a train at Grants station, near Healdsburg, Saturday morning, and thus being compelled to walk twelve miles to Santa Rosa. William Marsh, a youth who recently came to this city from Ogden with his relatives, placed ties and boulders across the rails In two dangerous cuts on the railroad near Grants or “Toolhouse Crossing” and the Sotoyome district schoolhouse. The obstructions were put In as likely places as possible to cause a wreck, but the chances are the youth selected them because ho could carry out his little plan without being seen at work.

Fortunately, about three-quarters of an hour before the Ukiah express, which leaves Santa Rosa at 10:07, was due to pass, section men came along and removed the obstructions and thus prevented what might have been a most dangerous wreck attended with loss of life.

A good description was given of a youth who had been seen walking along the track In the vicinity of the attempted wreck, and word was sent to the sheriffs office here, and Deputy Sheriff C. A. Reynolds of this city and Deputy Sheriff Ben H. Barnes of Healdsburg were detailed on the case to watch both ends of the line. Saturday afternoon, Deputy Sheriff Reynolds, after his return to town, arrested Marsh in this city.

From Deputy Sheriff Reynolds It was learned that the statement given above regarding retaliation for being put off the train, as the motive for his act, was made when he arrested Marsh. Marsh bought a return ticket for Healdsburg to attend the carnival there on the Fourth. He did not come back on Friday night and was on his way home Saturday morning with the return half of the ticket as his passport, when, he says, he was put off at Grants and told the ticket was no good. Marsh told the officer he was sixteen years old and that he had no idea of the seriousness that might follow his act.

There were a number of sensational rumors about town Saturday morning and afternoon regarding the attempted wreck.

– Press Democrat, July 6 1913
Arrests Follow Attack

R. H. Shafer was arrested Sunday and put up $25 cash bail to answer a charge of battery growing out of the defense of his grandson, Frei Shafer, and two other boys, Harold Carlson and “John Doe” Johnson, whom it is alleged, robbed the watermelon patch of R. L. Lowrey. The boys were also arrested, charged with petit larceny in stealing melons from Lowrey.

Lowrey is at the Santa Rosa hospital. where he is suffering from a broken jaw and a badly cut and bruised face as the result of R. H. Shafer’s attack on him Sunday. The case will be heard in the Justice court as soon as Lowrey is able to appear in court.

– Press Democrat, September 3 1913

 

CURFEW BELL IS HEARD AT 9
All Boys and Girls Under 18 Years Are Under Provisions of New Ordinance in Effect

The new curfew ordinance went into effect Monday and the big bell rang at 9 o’clock instead of 8:30 as in past years. The change was noticed by many on the street as the bell ringing at 9 was something out of the ordinary. All boys and girls under 18 years of age are affected by the new ordinance and the police have been directed to strictly enforce its terms. Only those accompanied by parent or guardian escort who are responsible for them are entitled to be on the street after 9 o’clock.

– Press Democrat, October 14 1913

 

FIRST ARRESTS MADE UNDER THE ‘CURFEW’ ORDINANCE

The first arrest under the new “curfew” ordinance, which provides that boys and girls under eighteen years of age, unless accompanied by parent or guardian or proper escort, must leave the streets for home when the big bell of the fire department taps at nine o’clock, was made last night by Officer Raegan. He landed two boys In the new city jail and locked them up for the night. They occupied one of the new cells, equipped with new beds, there to remain until 8 o’clock this morning.

The youngsters had been cautioned on previous occasions by the officer against hanging around town after the curfew had sounded, and parental warning also apparently had no effect. Tears and protestations did not avail when the officer nabbed them and in a short time they realized that they were really in the lockup as a result of their disobedience.

Parents can assist the officers in the enforcement of the new ordinance, for it is going to be enforced. Under the provision* of the ordinance the youngsters picked up by the police must remain in the lockup until the next morning. A number of fathers and mothers have expressed themselves as being pleased with the adoption of the ordinance and have expressed a willingness that their boys or girls who are found down town or abroad in the streets anywhere without proper escort, such as parent or properly deputized guardian, after 9 o’clock, shall be taken in charge. The ordinance is for the benefit of the youngsters and similar provisions are now being enforced in other cities and towns. Both boys arrested last night were several years under the age of eighteen In the enforcement of the new law, it can also be stated, it will be no respecter of persons and applies to all alike.

Mention of the detention of these boys last night is made mainly for the purpose of calling attention to the fact that it is the purpose to enforce the ordinance.

– Press Democrat, November 15 1913

 

ANNOYING SMALL-BOY PRANKS IN THE DARK

Thursday night, during the darkness of the two “dead” lighting systems, several squads of boys, in the spirit of those small deviltries prevalent at the all Hallowe’en period, worked their silly but annoying pranks. Loose planks and other obstructions were piled on porches of residences and the iron covers of water meter boxes were removed and placed where they could mostly disturb the residenters [sic]. Handfuls of mud in some places were thrown against front windows. It is deplorable that the curfew ordinance cannot suppress this form of nuisance, and that some of the prankish brats cannot be caught and punished. A lady returning from the reception in the darkness stumbled over one of those obstructions and was thrown down, soiling her clothing and causing her no little annoyance. This childish work under the overdone practice of all Hallowe’en jokes may be an inspiration for callow cartoonists and a theme for student humorists, but it is a nuisance to the victims. This old license for mischief should be recalled and a few parental floggings–an almost lost practice and art in this country–should be applied where they will do the most good.

-Santa Rosa Republican,  October 31, 1913

 

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jakeluppold1918

THE MAYOR OF MAIN STREET

Researching interesting historical characters or events is great fun. Stumbling across disturbing questions about a beloved figure: Not so much.

This is the story of Jake Luppold, who was once the most well-known and well-liked man in town after that guy named Burbank. Between 1901 and 1922 he owned and operated “The Senate,” a saloon at the corner of Second and Main streets (next to the present transit mall) which was the unofficial political hub of Sonoma county, perhaps because it was the closest watering hole to the backdoor of the courthouse. He called himself the “mayor of Main street” which everyone thought was fitting.

(RIGHT: Jake Luppold c. 1918. Detail from photo shown below)

For some time I’ve intended to profile Jake and have written about him already; in 1908 he had fifteen minutes of national fame after announcing he was going to set fire to his unlucky automobile. That election night Main street was jammed with thousands of people roaring in delight as the car burned at the top of an immense pyre in front of his bar. If you haven’t already read “Bonfire of the Hoodoos” you might want to look at it first – that story is a pretty good intro to Jake and his times.

So popular was Jake that there were many hundreds of little items about him in the Santa Rosa newspapers during his lifetime, again only behind L. B. in those first two decades of the 20th century. But after he died in 1922, memories faded fast. By the time an old friend published a memoir in 1964 with a few pages on Jake he was reduced to a footnote in the famous legend of the hoodoo car.

In that memoir is an anecdote which I found so shocking that I felt I could never write about Luppold again. A few years passed and having forgotten about the book I thought a profile of him would be appropriate for the series covering the rise and fall of the roadhouses, as he also had a roadhouse at Gwynn’s Corners (the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Mark West) until the county cracked down. Finding that anecdote again my reaction was the same – this was one of those stories that should not be told.

But after much consideration and jawing it over I changed my mind; this story should be written and not in spite of the troubling material but because of it. It illuminates how attitudes and knowledge has evolved over the century and raises questions about how we interpret history. The complete anecdote and discussion of it can be found in the final section below, following a bio of Jake.

Jacob J. Luppold may have been born in Germany like his two older brothers, but family genealogists offer no proof of that. He always said he came from Missouri where they “pry the sun up in the morning” and was born in June, 1860 near Bridgeport, an old frontier town near the Missouri River which was already fading away as he grew up. According to the obits he came to California around 1887 and first appears in any official local record in 1890, identifying himself as a farmer near Santa Rosa.

Jake introduced himself to Santa Rosa’s Good Ol’ Boys Club by buying the cigar store adjoining the barber shop in the Grand Hotel. In the 1890s cigar shops sold more than smokes – they were the spot for gambling, from legal nickel slot machines to sports betting. It’s reasonable to assume Jake made most of his money as a bookie; years later he even advertised in the 1904 Press Democrat he had “money to bet on the presidential election and on the total vote which will be polled in New York State. Come early and avoid the rush.”

In the summer of 1900 he caught gold fever, selling his cigar store and heading to the Klondike with nine friends. His adventure lasted a little more than two months. He found only enough gold to qualify as a souvenir and told the Press Democrat many would-be prospectors were seriously ill and “it was quite a common thing to see a man murdered” when he arrived.

In short order the 40 year-old Luppold reinvented himself as a saloon man. He leased a building on Main street, where the Senate opened its doors for the first time on January 26, 1901.

At the birth of the Senate was likewise born Jake Luppold, Santa Rosa’s gregarious everyman who was every man’s friend. He lent money to hundreds of bar patrons in a pinch and many couldn’t pay him back, which is how he got stuck with the hoodoo car. He affectionately called his regular customers cheapskates using an old Missouri idiom  – when they entered his joint he welcomed them by loudly announcing, “here comes another nickel splitter.” Anyone else who said that would have gotten a punch in the nose.

Most saloons offered a free lunch of sandwiches and snacks to wash down with beer, but the Senate spread was renowned. At Thanksgiving and other occasions Jake would go farther and host a free over-the-top banquet sometimes said to include over a ton of food. His 1913 tables groaned with 20 turkeys, 12 geese, 4 suckling pigs, 20 ducks, 20 chickens, and there were always buckets of oyster dressing and other “fixins'” to make sure his guests were properly stuffed. When he shifted his base of operations to the roadhouse from 1909-1912 his tradition switched to “Bull’s Head” barbecues of equal scale, with leftovers sent to the prisoners in the county jail. Hey, they’ll be thirsty when they get out.

The interior of Senate as shown in the Santa Rosa Republican, November 20, 1913. Other photos of the Senate interior appeared in a promotional section of the Press Democrat in 1904 and 1905. It was the only saloon ever pictured by either newspaper in that era

 

He was Jake the showman. Also from the memoir discussed below: “If one of the Cook brothers killed a mountain lion on Taylor Mountain, Jake’s Senate claimed exclusive rights to exhibit the gory corpse…every championship prize fight was announced to the citizenry by a raucous voice of his selection, a voice that stood upon the rear end of his mahogany bar, megaphone in hand, and read an endless relay of telegrams.” The PD reported in 1906 nearly 3,000 were jammed into the Senate one night to hear the account of one of those boxing matches. After the burning of the hoodoo car what was left of it hung from the ceiling at the back of the saloon. When he went to San Francisco for surgery and returned with whatever was removed preserved in a jar, he kept it on display with a label marked, “GUTISM.”

Jake apparently never married, although there was a little item in a 1907 Press Democrat, “Mr. and Mrs. Jake Luppold went to Boyes’ Springs Monday for an outing,” which had to be a mistake. No wife was otherwise mentioned and he lived in a room at the back of the Senate he called “the Nest.”

He died on March 6, 1922 at a Santa Rosa hospital from pneumonia after a bout with the flu. The only family he had was a couple of elderly brothers in the Midwest and they didn’t come for his funeral. He was buried by friends and members of the Eagles lodge in the mausoleum at (what is now) Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

His obituaries were lengthy and heartfelt, nearly as effusive as the praise heaped on Burbank following his death a couple of years later. “No man had a bigger or more generous heart,” the Press Democrat stated in a rare front page obit. He had “a nature which was gentle and good,” the Republican stated, “marking a man who endeavored to make the world better for those with whom he came in contact.” Both papers mentioned the hoodoo story and his generosity in making loans which were not repaid. “They probably needed the money more than I did,” wrote the PD, quoting a common thing he said.

“There was no sham nor veneer about Luppold,” according to the Press Democrat. “He was Jake Luppold at all times.”

Except maybe not.

The memoir with the anecdotes about Jake is “The Unforgettables,” written by Wallace L. Ware and published in 1964. Ware was a prominent lawyer and Sonoma county District Attorney as well as a Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce president and general all-around mover ‘n’ shaker. (Photos of the Ware family home on College avenue are often used to show 1906 earthquake damage, as the stately home is seen propped up by stilts.) He knew Jake through his father, distinguished attorney Allison Ware who had his son drive him down to the Senate saloon in their buggy. At age sixteen Wallace was part of the Senate gang, standing on the bar reading boxing telegrams with a megaphone. As an adult he remained Luppold’s close friend and acted as his attorney.

The anecdote in question appears on page 39 and is quoted here in full:

Luppold’s generosity and kindliness never found a boundary; especially for little boys who needed a bath and clean clothes. Whenever he discovered such a gamin–and these occasions were often–he had the unfailing talent of winning the lad’s confidence and becoming his chum.With his affectionate arm on the child’s shoulder he would lead him into the haberdashery of Frank McNamara or George Henderson. (Of course, both of these institutions were on Fourth street.)

Then and there the youngster became possessed of a brand new wardrobe: Two sets of underwear, six pairs of stockings, shoes, three shirts, three neckties, ten handkerchiefs, a sweater of the boy’s choosing, a cap, and the best suit of clothes in the store. Jake’s command was: ‘NOTHING BUT THE BEST.’

But before donning any of this toggery the beneficiary was given a real hot bath, in a genuine bathtub.

The giver carried the bounty to the nearest barber shop. The youth followed eagerly.

In those days the better barber shops maintained public bathing facilities. The toll was 25 cents; time limit 30 minutes. Then a bell rang. This signal was Jake’s cue to carry the finery into the bathroom. Then the transition.

The only thing that might be compared to the change was the metamorphosis of the silkworm. This world renowned insect, being gorged on mulberry leaves, spins a silken cocoon, and is endowed by nature to emerge therefrom an exquisite, tremulous, moth.

The two pals strutted like peacocks over to the Senate Saloon where they ate all they could hold from the best free lunch counter ever known to man.

What Wallace Ware thought was a sweet little example of generosity made me recoil in shock: My impression was that it is a clear description of “grooming” behavior by a pedophile.

(RIGHT: Jake Luppold portrait as it appeared in the Press Democrat, May 8, 1915)

I am NOT suggesting history books should be rewritten to state Jake Luppold was a child molester. I’m not a psychologist and there are ethical concerns about anyone, even professionals, diagnosing someone a century later sans legal or clinical evidence. However it is reasonable, even important, to point out his behavior would raise some pretty serious red flags among social service workers today.

Complicating any analysis is that we’re looking at these events through double layers of historical dust – we’re interpreting this story through what Ware penned over fifty years ago concerning what happened fifty years before that. There was nothing I could find in the original newspapers regarding Luppold and small children – which itself seems odd if “these occasions were often” because so much else was written about his  generosity.

In his choice of words, Ware almost seems to be hinting he knew there something amiss: “He had the unfailing talent of winning the lad’s confidence and becoming his chum,” “his affectionate arm on the child’s shoulder,” descriptions of the ritual of presenting the gifts to the (presumably nude) boy and then escorting the child to the saloon – which was also his bedroom. But that possibility is counterbalanced by Ware being a great friend of Luppold’s; he certainly would not have included this story if he dreamed it could be interpreted as anything but a selfless act.

Wallace Ware was a well-educated man and familiar with criminality; as D.A. he was famous for being the prosecuting attorney in every felony case. Could it be he simply didn’t see those contacts could have been sexual in nature?

Today most of us recognize warning signs of predatory behavior, no thanks to recent painful decades of stories in the news regarding church scandals, Jerry Sandusky and the like. But when Ware was writing his memoir in the early 1960s the concept of child sexual assault was limited to “stranger danger” threats of abduction. (One of the earliest public service films on the topic was “The Stranger,” which was made in Santa Rosa by Sonoma county undersheriff Joseph S. Cozzolino. Spoiler alert: It stinks.) Never was it considered then a child molester could be a trusted and familiar figure such as a babysitting neighbor, gift-giving shopkeeper, kindly priest – or the most popular guy in town.

If it’s unfair to judge Ware for not possessing our uncomfortable modern familiarity with the trickery of child molesters, we can’t criticize the Santa Rosans of a hundred years ago for not being suspicious why Luppold was doting over young boys he found on the street. It was unthinkable in their culture that a creature such as a pedophile might exist – and it has to be noted that even if he was sexually abusing children it wasn’t a serious offense then unless there was forcible assault involved. It remained an invisible crime until fairly recent; California law didn’t even require child sexual abuse to be reported until 1963.

And finally, maybe there really is no there there – that cynicism has led me to rush to presume the worst, like those who mistakenly squinted hard to find wrongdoing in the McMartin preschool case. As unlikely as it seems now, maybe Luppold really did have a secret, personal charitable mission to aid young boys. Jake grew up in Victorian America and for every villain in Dickens like Fagin who exploited Oliver Twist, there was a nice Mr. Micawber who befriended street urchin David Copperfield.

I would still like to believe Jake Luppold was the man he was believed to be – the genial and generous “mayor of Main street.” But after long pondering what his friend Wallace Ware wrote I just can’t shake suspicions he might also have been the “monster of Main street.” We can’t forget monsters don’t just lurk in dark shadows; they could also be escorting boys to a real hot bath in a genuine bathtub on a bright sunny afternoon.


Jake Luppold outside The Senate, c. 1918. L to R: Henry Carlton, Mr. Harris, Jake Luppold, unknown, and Tom Campion.  (Photo courtesy Sonoma County Museum)

 

Was Settled By Arbitration

The details of the recent purchase of the Luppold cigar store on Main street had to be settled by arbitration. Under agreements alleged to have been made by Mr. Luppold both Ernest Viers and Jesse Bronck claimed the right to purchase the place, and Luppold left the question of priority of claim to arbitration. Charles Winters, J. H. Boswell and Dan Goodman were selected as a jury, the merits of the case were inquired into and a decision was rendered in favor of Mr. Viers. There was no question as to the price, but both Viers and Bronck claimed that Luppold had) agreed to sell to them when he got ready to dispose of the place. The price paid was $250.

– Press Democrat, March 28 1900

J. Luppold left for San Francisco Saturday afternoon en route to Cape Nome.

– Press Democrat, May 16 1900

 

More Santa Rosans for Nome

The steamer San Pedro after some delay sailed from San Francisco Thursday carrying the following named delegation of Santa Rosa ns: C. H. Burger, Clyde Burger, Charles Cook, O. R. Gale, Joe Cook, J. Luppold, J. A. Gould, G. Calderwood, John Hudeon. Attorney D. R. Gale who was in San Francisco Wednesday saw most of them and they were all in good spirits.

– Press Democrat, May 19 1900
Returned From Nome

On Saturday J. Luppold and George Calderwood returned from Cape Nome. John Hudson, the other member of the party, Is at Seattle and will he here in a day or two.

In talking over the situation at Nome Mr. Luppold, who formerly conducted a cigar store on Main street, said that he did not find Nome the place he expected to.During the time they were up there he and his companions lived in a tent about five miles from Nome. They used their rockers on the beach and the gold they obtained made their wages. That the Nome beach was very rich Mr. Luppold says there is no doubt but it was worked out last year. The reported fabulous wealth taken out from the Anvil mines he says is not true and instead of the amount of gold being $15,000,000, he says $15,000 would. be nearer the mark.

Mr. Luppold brought back with him some samples of the gold found on the beach in the Nome country and also a small phial of the sand. These he left at the Press Democrat office.

There was a great deal of sickness at Nome when he and Mr. Calderwood left, more particularly typhoid pneumonia and some smallpox. A vast number of people have left the place and many others would leave if they had the wherewithal to do so. Food is pretty reasonable at Nome now and there are provisions there to last for a long time.

Shortly after their arrival at Nome, Mr. Luppold says, it was quite a common thing to see a man murdered. Now much of the lawlessness has ended. He saw many of the Santa Rosa delegation there and brought messages back home for their relatives. Both Mr. Luppold and Mr. Calderwood are glad to be home again.

– Press Democrat, August 15 1900

 

Gwynn’s Corners in New Hands

J. J. Luppold has purchased the well known road house at Gwynn’s Corners, and will in future conduct the place as a first class resort. A number of important improvements are to be made and the place will be thoroughly renovated. Mr. Luppold will undoubtedly do well in his new venture.

– Press Democrat, October 6 1900

A new floor has been laid in the Ullrich building on Main street and a new front is being put in. The building will be neatly fitted up in readiness for J. J. Luppold to open his sample rooms. Mr. Luppold expects to open up about January 15.

– Press Democrat, January 8 1901

 

Come and Bring Your Friends

Grand opening tonight at “The Senate,” 103 Main street. All cordially Invited. J. Luppold, proprietor.

– Press Democrat ad,  January 26 1901

Opening of “The Senate”

There was a large assembly at “The Senate” on Main street last night, over which J. J. Luppold now presides. The Senate is Mr. Luppold’s new place of business and he has a very neat stand. The sample rooms were crowded with friends and patrons and there was plenty of refreshment on hand for the delectation of the inner man.

– Press Democrat,  January 27 1901

 

An Exciting Race

J. J. Luppold, the well known proprietor of “The Senate” on Main street, and John Glynn were the contestants in a highly exciting race on that street on Wednesday afternoon for a stake of four dollars. The course was over the muddy street from the comer of Third and Main streets to Colgan’s blacksmith shop. George Ullrich was stake holder and Robert Ross dropped the flag. About 160 persons witnessed the race which was won by Mr. Glynn.

– Press Democrat, February 21 1901

 

THE SENATE SALOON
J. Luppold’s Resort on Main Street Well Patronized

“The Senate,” as Jacob Luppold’s well-known Main street resort is called, enjoys a good patronage and is one of the leading places of its class in that part of town. Choice wines, liquors, steam and lager, etc., are supplied over the bar, while a reading and lounging room is also at the disposal of patrons. Mr. Luppold opened “The Senate” something like three years ago, and from the first has enjoyed a good, steady trade, and one that is growing constantly.

– Press Democrat 1904 promotional supplement

 

SOUGHT A BURGLAR ON THE HOUSETOPS
SCARE AT THIRD AND MAIN STREETS SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY
Pet ’Coon Escapes and Man in Pursuit on the Roof Was Taken For Burglar—Officers in Pursuit

Jake Luppold’s pet ’coon, which escaped from its chain and climbed onto the roof of the adjoining buildings, was the innocent cause of a burglar scare which caused policemen to scale the roofs of buildings in the rear of the Yakima apartment house at Third and Main streets about half past eleven o’clock Wednesday night. It was not so much the ‘coon that caused the burglar scare as the man employed at the “Senate,” who climbed the roof in an endeavor to recapture the ’coon.

About half past eleven a hurried police call was sent by Mrs. Label and Police Officers Hanke! and Mclntosh responded. They were informed that a man had been walking about the roof in a very suspicious manner. The officers proceeded to investigate as soon as they could gain an exit to the root by means of a window. The officers searched the premises and caught the “burglar” supposed to be. It proved to be a man as stated, but when the officer sought an explanation. the man replied somewhat jocularly that the man on the roof was him all right, but he was not a burglar, but a hunter after Jake’s ’coon. The lady of the household was not overpleased at the scare given her and the people in the apartments. She was right, however, there was a man on the roof even if he were not a burglar as supposed.

– Press Democrat, August 25 1904

 

Improvements on Main Street

J. Luppold is making some neat improvements in the Senate on Main street and is putting in some elegant fixtures. He also owns the hall overhead, and he is turning that into a nice flat in which there will be severa! rooms. When the improvements are completed the place will be a very attractive one.

– Press Democrat,  April 28 1905

 

“THE SENATE” SALOON
Handsome Resort on Main Street Conducted by Jacob Luppold.

Four years ago Jacob Luppold bought the saloon at 103 Main street, and rechristened it “The Senate.” Then he set about improving the appearance of the place in every way of which he could think. The first embellishment was a handsome new front, ornamented with panel designs by an artist in oils. Then he got the notion that the back was not in keeping with the front, so he had the old bar and sideboard torn out and replaced by the finest creations of a skilled local artisan in native woods —curly redwood and burhl. New furniture had to follow this, and cozy card rooms were partitioned off from the main room. Now it is one of the finest bars in town. The plate-glass mirror reflects the gleam of new chandeliers; there are plenty of comfortable chairs. The latest magazines and papers are always within reach, and a real good free lunch is at hand.

The appearance of the place is not all that has received the proprietor’s careful attention. He is himself a connoisseur in liquids and he knows the best. He does not claim to have all the good liquor in town, or the only good liquor in town. But he has none that is poor. In distilled liquors his specialty is straight goods, but he keeps a small line of blended whiskies as well. There is a full line of wines. He makes a leader of Grace Brothers’ beers, but If you want St. Louis beer he has the A. B. C. and Lemp’s; also he has Fredericksburg in bottles. Frank Cootes is Luppold’s head bartender. He is away up In the business, just the same as Luppold Is. Either of them can serve you to the Queen’s taste.

– Press Democrat 1905 promotional supplement

Had a Big Crowd

J. J. Luppold, the well known proprietor of the Senate, on Main street, states that by actual count 2,973 people passed through the doors of his place of business during the time the rounds from the fight at Goldfield were being received on Monday afternoon.

– Press Democrat, September 5 1906
Turkey Dinner at the “Senate”

Today, in accordance with his usual custom on Thanksgiving Day, Jake Luppold has provided a big Thanksgiving dinner for his patrons and friends at The Senate on Main street. The hours will be from twelve to two o’clock. For the feast Mr. Luppold has eight fine turkeys, four sucking pigs and the other etceteras.

– Press Democrat, November 28 1907

 

Jack Luppold’s Gift

Jack Luppold of the “Senate,” on Main street, is presenting his patrons with a neat stocking decorated with holly berries hidden in which is a bottle of the finest Kentucky bourbon. Accompany the stocking is a check for 366 days on the “Bank of Prosperity.”

– Press Democrat,  December 20 1907

 

A Bull’s Head Supper

J. Luppold will give a bull’s head supper to the public in general at the Senate 103 Main street, Wednesday night at 8 o’clock. “The Mayor of Main street” invites all to dine with him.

– Press Democrat, July 28 1908

JAKE LUPPOLD GIVES THE PRISONERS A TREAT

Following the bull’s head supper on Thanksgiving day at “The Senate” on Main street, Jake Luppold sent a fine large bull’s head and the necessary edible trimmings over to the county jail on Third street to give the prisoners a feast there. The latter thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Luppold’s hospitality, as the following signed communication received by him from the Jail on Saturday will attest:

County Jail, Santa Rosa, Cal., Nov. 28. ‘OB. — Hon. Jake Luppold, “Mayor of Main street,” city. Dear Sir:

We, the undersigned, prisoners of the county Jail of Sonoma county, Calif., wishing to show our deep appreciation, and express our thanks to you for your kind, generous and substantial remembrance of us on Thanksgiving day, have voted you the best man in Santa Rosa, and ordered this slight testimonial drafted and sent to you as the only means, at present at our disposal, of showing our gratitude.

With sincere wishes for many pleasant returns of the day for you, and the assurance that our hearty good will follows you, we are thankfully and respectfully yours, [22 names] …There are six others who cannot sign their names, but feel Just as kindly towards your honor.

 – Press Democrat, December 1 1908

 

 “Mayor” Luppold Here

Jake Luppold was here from his new road house at Gwynn’s Corners Monday greeting his many friends. Mr. Luppold is planning to give some more of his banquets for which he has been noted in the past, in the near future at his new resort. He is a royal entertainer and a liberal provider.

– Press Democrat, January 4 1910

 

GREAT CROWDS AT THE LUPPOLD BARBECTE

It is estimated that between four and five hundred persons enjoyed the barbecue given at Gwlnn’s Corners on Sunday by J. J. Luppold. The meat was done to a turn and pronounced by many of those present as the finest barbecued meat they have ever eaten. Chef George Zllhart was in charge and he was much complimented. He was assisted by Assistant Chef Marble, Walter Farley, Marvin Robinson and J, Kelly. As usual “Mayor” Luppold’s hospitality was dispensed with a liberal hand. The feasting began about 11:30 o’clock in the morning and continued until nearly 6 o’clock In the evening, people arriving and departing all the time. The barbecue was served on long tables under the shade trees.

– Press Democrat, June 14 1910
 
LUPPOLD CLOSES HIS PLACE OF BUSINESS

Jake Luppold, the well known proprietor of the Gwinn’s Corners resort has closed that place and has come to Santa Rosa. He will remain here for an indefinite time, but it is not certain as yet whether or not he will make this city his permanent home. Mr. Luppold may make up his mind to take a European trip for a year or more. For some time past, he has had an ambition to hobnob with Emperor Willie of Germany and discuss the Far Eastern war situation with that august personage, and he is likewise desirous of discussing some of the other important questions of the day with other rulers of the old world. With these ambitions he may decide to cross the pond for a stay. Mr. Luppold’s headquarters while in Santa Rosa will be at his former place of business on Main street. He is one of the best known men in the county.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 8, 1913

 

“MAYOR OF MAIN STREET TO RUN “SENATE” AGAIN

J. J. Luppold, familiarly termed the “Mayor of Main Street,” will shortly engage in business again at his old stand, “The Senate,” on that street. Mr. Luppold contemplates the outlay of considerable money in the practical rebuilding of the property, or at least the carrying out of extensive improvements. “Jake” says “there is nothing like Main street anywhere, and there are no nickel splitters there.”

– Press Democrat, July 10 1913

 

JUKE LUPPOLD BEGINS “SENATE” REBUILDING

J. Luppoid, proprietor of the ‘Senate’ on Main street, has commenced the rebuilding and improvement of the structure. Brick and other material have already been hauled and it will not be long before “Jake” says he will have a building that will be a credit to “Main.”

– Press Democrat, July 24 1913

Luppold Entertains Many Friends

Twenty turkeys, twelve geese, four suckling pigs, twenty ducks, twenty chickens and other good cheer composed the big Thanksgiving dinner Jake Luppold, “the Mayor of Main street,” served to scores of his friends at “The Senate” on Thanksgiving Day, The friends were bidden come and eat without money and without price and they did so. They took occasion to sing the praises of the generous hospitality shown by their host.

– Press Democrat,  November 29 1913

 

LUPPOLD FED HUNDREDS

At the “Senate” on Main street, the genial host, J. Luppold, fed several hundred people with plenty of turkey, suckling pig and the trimmings that accompany a Thanksgiving feast. There was plenty for everybody and all were welcome. This is a Thanksgiving habit of Mr. Luppold’s, which )s very much appreciated by the recipients of his hospitality.

– Press Democrat,  November 28 1914

 

BABY AUTO NOT BUILT FOR JACK LUPPOLD

When it comes In riding in an automobile Jack Lnppold, genial “Mayor of Main street” and proprietor of “The Senate,” cannot ride in a baby automobile, so Fred Harrell says. Luppold was spinning along the highway near Windsor last week in a little machine which almost touched the ground even though it was mounted on four wheels. Under Luppold’s weight the axle broke and he momentarily expected to see the machine broke in two. “Nothing too good for Main; no nickel spitters [sic] there,” quoth the “Mayor,” and the chances are that he will get a big Packard next.

– Press Democrat, July 7 1915

Seven roast pigs were featured in the Thanksgiving feast set by Mine Host J. J. Luppold at “The Senate” on Thanksgiving Day. “Jack” had several hundred guests and they ployed havoc with the porkers in short time. In addition to the pork, there were other good things, and it was certainly a feast fit for a king that Luppold set before the crowd that filled his place of business for a long time on Thursday.

– Press Democrat, November 27 1915

 

GENEROUS TRUSTING ‘JAKE’ LUPPOLD CALLED BY DEATH

Jake Luppold, the biggest hearted and most generous man who ever resided in this city, is dead. A rough exterior shielded a nature as gentle as a woman’s, and many in this city will shed a silent tear in memory of the man who has gone across the Great Divide into the shadowland.

Luppold had been ill for a couple of weeks past, and was being attended to in his little cabin, which occupied the rear of his property at the corner of Second and Main Streets. When he was engaged in business at this location, he erected this cabin, and always referred to it as ‘The Nest.’ He was taken from this place on Saturday to a local hospital, his condition having developed pneumonia, and it being inadvisable for him longer to remain without the skill of a trained nurse.

WHERE THEY PRIED THE SUN UP

The deceased came from the grand old state of Missouri, and he always declared that it was in Missouri that they ‘Pried the sun up in the morning’, that its bright rays might illumine the earth during the day. He had an inexhaustible fund of humor and witty sayings, and one of his chief jokes was on the ‘Natives’, and in his generous hearted way he fed all the poor that would come to his place, and then send the remainder of the feed to poor families of this city. There is absolutely no way of estimating the great good done by this splendid citizen, for he was an exemplary man in many ways.

BURNED AUTO AT STAKE

Luppold came into great prominence some years ago when he burned an automobile ‘at the stake.’ He had been victimized to the extend of many thousands of dollars by L. L. Viers, and the only thing he secured for the bogus promissory notes passed on him was an obsolete auto. This he declared had been a hoodoo, and he named a date on which the hoodoo auto would be burned. Many persons endeavored to purchase the machine from Luppold, and others sought to have him give them the machine, but to these suggestions he remained impervious, and finally the machine was burned and the cremation was witnessed by a large crowd of Santa Rosans. The remnants of the machine are still preserved in the former place of business of Luppold, as were also a photo of Viers and one of the promissory notes given Luppold by this individual who departed hurriedly from Santa Rosa many years ago. The photo and note were framed to preserve them.

Nor was Viers the only man who victimized Luppold and borrowed sums of money from him. Many prominent Santa Rosans made ‘touches’ for various amounts, and his estate holds innumerable ‘I.O.U.s’, and promissory notes. So generous was the deceased that he had never learned to say ‘No’ and all who applied for assistance got it without hesitation. Luppold’s first business venture here was when he purchased a cigar and tobacco store in the old Grand Hotel building at the corner of Third and Main Streets.

HAD A MAMMOTH HEART

Beneath his rough exterior beat a mammoth heart and a nature which was gentle and good, marking a man who endeavored to make the world better for those with whom he came in contact. He was one man who engaged in the saloon business who commanded almost universal respect, for he was honest and square, of strictest integrity, and he never lost faith in humanity, although he was badly treated at many times by his fellow human beings. Had Luppold chosen to have engaged in some mercantile line, he would have been a great success, for he drew people to him by his genial good nature and flow of wit and humor. No man in Santa Rosa possessed more genuine friends than this good man who has passed from life’s sphere.

– Santa Rosa Republican (? misidentified as the PD in The Unforgettables) March 6, 1922

 

JAKE LUPPOLD LAID TO REST BY EAGLES

The funeral of Jake Luppold was held this afternoon at 2 o’clock from funeral apartments of Lafferty & Smith. The fraternal order of Eagles, nearly all of whom were present, took charge and read the Burial Service. The Pall Bears were…all of whom were old friends of Mr. Luppold. Interment in the Odd Fellows’ cemetery mausoleum followed. William Mather offers the following tribute of a friend to the memory of Mr. Luppold…

– Santa Rosa Republican (? misidentified as the PD in The Unforgettables) March 9, 1922

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barlowmesstent

THE UNTOLD ESCAPES OF THE BARLOW BOYS

It was like clockwork: In June the Barlow boys arrived, then a few weeks later came reports of runaways. But after the 1911 season, it appeared the escape attempts stopped. What happened? Boys were still trying to get away, all right – but the Santa Rosa newspapers just stopped reporting about it.

(For those just tuning in: In the early Twentieth Century, California courts usually sentenced boys who committed minor crimes or were deemed incorrigible to spend the rest of their youth at institutions not unlike a modern prison halfway house. One of these places, the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society of San Francisco, struck a deal with the Barlow family of Sebastopol; during summers the boys would camp on the ranch and pick berries and fruit for low pay. Soon other farmers were asking for orphans and it wasn’t long before the Aid Society and similar institutions were sending up hundreds of boys – some as young as seven – to work in West County fields and canneries every year. For more background, see “SEBASTOPOL’S CHILD LABOR CAMPS“.)

We know the escapes continued thanks to the archives of the Petaluma Argus-Courier, which just came online this week via newspapers.com. It’s a huuuuge deal that this trove is simply available, but that it’s also searchable with great accuracy is enough to make genealogists and historians purr and mew.

There are a few possible reasons why the Petaluma paper informed their readers about the runaways while the Santa Rosa papers blacked out the news. Rarely were escapees nabbed around Santa Rosa; usually they were caught in the countryside or en route to San Francisco, so it was more likely the boys would be seen close to Petaluma or Marin. There also might have been editorial bias in keeping quiet about bad news; the use of child labor was a fast-growing part of the West County economy – in 1912 the boys picked 407 tons of berries and fruit, up from 125 tons just five years earlier, showing farmers were lining up to get in on this sweet deal for ultra-cheap juvenile labor. And to be fair, it must be noted that in 1913 the Press Democrat did offer a paragraph on seven runaways being captured and even mentioned the Barlow ranch by name.


(RIGHT: Mess tent for boys working on the Barlow ranch, date unknown. Photograph courtesy Western Sonoma County Historical Society)

But there was one related story which the local press couldn’t ignore because it made all the Bay Area papers: The 1913 theft of summer earnings by the boys of the Armitage Orphanage – and that the robber was the orphanage’s superintendent.

While it was was rarely mentioned which orphanages and charities were shoving their kids down the Sebastopol berry picking pipeline every June, it comes as a shock to find this outfit was among them. The [Episcopal] Bishop Armitage Orphanage was a pet charity of the San Francisco swells who funded it via lawn parties, balls, country club polo matches and other high society soirees (“Tableaux Vivants to Show Masterpieces – Famous Art Works Will be Staged by Members of the Board” – San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 1910).

That orphanage certainly didn’t need any income from the boys; the stolen $3,000 was petty change to its society matron directors and to their credit, they promised to reimburse the children. Well-funded does not mean well-run, however. While the 150 boys were working in the orchards and fields, the orphanage was being closed and their buildings sold, so at the end of summer the Armitage inmates were split up other institutions. The superintendent who disappeared with their money was known as Robert Ellis, although that was not his real name for some reason – and the directors were aware of that. He had been superintendent for a couple of years, the board having raced through four managers in six months before him. There seems to be a quite the scandal unreported there, although the society sections did not speak of such unpleasantries.

On related news, the Press Democrat recently presented a couple of items about the orphanage at Lytton Springs operated by the Salvation Army. The property near Healdsburg is now on the market with an asking price of $24 million.

One PD article nostalgically waxes about Lytton success stories – a pair of brothers who built a successful contracting business and a man who became an important Santa Rosa lawyer. Healdsburg High School welcomed the Lytton kids, according to the PD writer, because the Salvation Army encouraged them to play band instruments and the boys were strong and scrappy from all their farm work.

That’s a very rosy view. The situation may have changed later but in their earlier days  Lytton youths were allowed to attend Healdsburg High only if supervisors ruled the child had “capacity for high school training;” per a 1909 article about Lytton, only about 5 percent of their residents were permitted to continue schooling beyond 8th grade. Otherwise, the kid had no choice but to work on the Salvation Army’s commercial farm. As I wrote earlier in “THE CHILDREN OF LYTTON:” The cruelest aspect of the “orphanages” was that wards of the system lost nearly all chance of an education beyond readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. While Santa Rosa High School was then offering typewriting classes and teaching other office skills which were in growing demand, Lytton and other Aid Homes were preparing kids for a 19th century future.

While the institutions could have done more to keep their kids in classrooms, a century ago state law didn’t require it. The Jones-Hughes Act of 1903 made it compulsory for every child in California to attend school between ages 8 and 15, but offered a grabbag of loopholes allowing families to opt out of schooling altogether – children who lived over two miles by road from the nearest school could be claimed as exempt, for example. Those exemptions were removed in 1919 and the compulsory age raised to 16, but that still didn’t mean a child would make it to high school. According to a report that year from the state’s Dept. of Education, most of the students who were to be added to the attendance rosters hadn’t yet finished elementary school by age sixteen.

There were many institutions far, far worse than Lytton, but it wasn’t free of controversy. In November, 1913 the Oakland Enquirer published a series of investigative articles “berating the management of the institution for alleged cruel treatment of children at the institution,” according to a mention of the articles in the Santa Rosa Republican. Unfortunately, not much more can be said about that reporting because the paper is not online and the only known surviving editions from that year are at UC/Berkeley. The Republican added the main incident was “punishment meted out to two boys who stole horses and got away from the institution.”

Sonoma County District Attorney Clarence Lea thought the charges were credible enough to have the grand jury investigate. Oakland Enquirer reporter Fred Williams was summoned, and the mother of the boys also testified, which suggests the pair were at Lytton not for being orphans but having been sentenced there by a court for delinquency.

Jurors visited Lytton and found it was overcrowded, but the children were well cared for and no “unmerited punishments were inflicted.” The grand jury report concluded with praise for the institution, which deserved “support and commendation.” The jury foreman wrote, “in view of the splendid work that is being accomplished at the institution we feel that minor criticisms which might be made would be uncalled for.”

Not so fast, there, mee bucko. Their report did not mention the jury interviewed the boys making the charges although it’s implied (“we investigated all cases called to our attention”). Nor did it explain what the Oakland Enquirer reporter had to say; that was a significant newspaper with a reputation for muckraking – it’s doubtful they would run a series based only on wild yarns from a pair of malcontent kids who apparently had been in trouble with the law.

More interesting is a mention at the end of the jury report that the superintendent and his wife together earned only $14 a week, and no one there was paid more than $400 a year. Those earnings are on the low side for unskilled labor at the time, but not unreasonable. But from a Press Democrat article the previous year, we know that Lytton annually spent about $3,400 on salaries. Now project the numbers: Lytton must have operated with only eight paid staffers, twelve max – to run a 400+ acre commercial farm AND care for about 250 kids full time.

“Mother Bourne,” the beloved figurehead of Lytton may indeed have been worthy of sainthood, but the institution was clearly dependent upon the children to keep the wheels turning. And barely supervising so many kids – most there because they were deemed to be “unmanageable” – is surely an invitation to bullying or even worse forms of abuse.

But as the Santa Rosa papers seemed wanting to tell readers only good news about the Barlow boys, the grand jury wanted to see Lytton as a shining example of noble work. Look how well we are treating these troubled and troublesome youths, our ancestors seemed determined to boast. We have plucked them from nothing and given them something.

 

TWO BOYS MADE ESCAPE

Two boys whose names are given as Butts and Landingan by Superintendent Turner, escaped from the Barlow berry fields above Sebastopol on Monday afternoon at an early hour and later Deputy Sheriff R. L. Rasmussen was notified.

He kept a close watch on all departing trains and the steamer Petaluma but the youngsters have not yet come to this city.

A watchman was in this city on Monday evening investigating. Both the lads are wearing blue overalls. They are from the Boys and Girls Aid Society which is now at Barlow’s picking berries.

They have only been there two days and during that time the two boys have been trying to get away. They are thought to be in this county yet.

– Petaluma Argus-Courier, June 18, 1912
TWO MORE BOYS MAKE ESCAPE

The local police were notified on Wednesday night that two boys had escaped from the berry pickers’ camp at the Barlow ranch near Sebastopol and the officers are keeping a watch for them and examined the outgoing trains and steamers Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The boys are Harry Herman, aged 18, and Chas. Sargent, age 17, both of San Francisco. The former is 5 feet four inches in height and the latter slightly shorter. Both wore straw hats, blue overalls and dark coats. The former wore a yellow khaki shirt and the latter a light colored soft shirt. Herman is slightly stooped and walks with swinging gait and has dark brown hair and dark eyes.

Sargent is of dark complexion with light brown hair. Both wore heavy shoes. For some reason the custodians of the boys, are unusually anxious to capture these escapes, so it is probably that they are detained fore [sic] more than the ordinary wrong doing.

– Petaluma Argus-Courier, July 11, 1912
THREE BOYS RAN AWAY

Several officers of the Boys and Girls Aid Society were in this city on Sunday morning looking for three runaway boys who made their escape on Saturday evening from Barlow’s station where the girls and boys were picking berries. The officers remained here for a short time and then went to Sausalito where they captured the three runaways who were taken to Barlow’s on the next train.

– Petaluma Argus-Courier, June 23, 1913

 

HERE AFTER RUNAWAYS

Special Police Officer T. Connolly of San Francisco who is connected with the Boys and Girls Aid Society was in this city on Wednesday seeking Allen Luhra, Joe Fahey, Abe Bernard, Sam Telaxney and Charles Griffin, who escaped from Barlow’s station during the present week. The last four named left on Tuesday afternoon, while younger Luhra left on Monday.

Chief of Police Flohr has been notified of the disappearance of the boys and has been given a good description of them so if they are in this city they are likely to be captured in a short time.

– Petaluma Argus-Courier, July 16, 1913

 

 MANY OF THE BERRY BOYS ARE FOUND AND RETURNED

The Sheriff’s office received word on Thursday that four of the boys who escaped from the berry picking camp on the Barlow ranch had been captured by the Aid Society’s officers, and had been returned to camp. Four boys were found in Forestville, and three in Green Valley. Thursday Mrs. Dick Isaacs telephoned the Sheriff’s office that four of the boys were on a place back of their ranch. Superintendent Turner was notified and went after the boys.

– Press Democrat, July 18, 1913
DECAMPS WITH COIN OF BERRY PICKERS

Thirteen days before the Armitage Orphanage was to pass out of existence and his term of office expire, the superintendent, known in San Mateo as Robert Ellis, disappeared, and is accused of having taken with him about $3,000 belonging to the boys in the institution. Detectives are searching for the former superintendent, but have found no substantial clews.

The orphanage will pass out of existence on October 23, when the property will be taken over by Antoine Borel and Ellis’ employment would have expired on that date. He disappeared last Friday, but the loss of the money was not discovered until yesterday by Mrs. William G. Hitchcock, treasurer of the orphanage.

The money represents the earnings of 114 boys who picked berries at Sebastopol last summer, and was given to the superintendent for keeping. It is said that the boys will not lose by the theft, as the directors will make good the deficit.

Ellis has been superintendent of the orphanage for two years. He went to San Mateo well recommended, and although it was known that Robert Ellis was not his true name the directors made no objection to the masquerading. He is the son of an Episcopal minister in Philadelphia and is married, but separated from his wife.

– Santa Rosa Republican, October 16, 1913

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