Here’s a shocking discovery: Ernest Finley sometimes loosened his tie and became quite the fun guy.

The Press Democrat’s editor and publisher hardly had a reputation as Good Times Ernie; aside from occasional mention in the papers about card game parties or Elks Lodge shindigs, he didn’t appear to have any social life at all. And when did he have the time? He was Santa Rosa’s constant champion, tireless Chamber of Commerce booster and unapologetic defender of the status quo, sometimes locked in mudslinging combat with critics and reformers (see “The Many Wars of Ernest Finley“).

(RIGHT: Ernest L. Finley portrait in History of Sonoma County, California: Its People and its Resources, 1937)

All this makes it quite the surprise to read about the silly wager he made in 1911. After several years of depressed prices, the hops market rebounded that year. At the public auction Finley joked he wished he everyone in audience could get in on the boom, and the widow of a late friend offered to give him a bale of hops – but only if he would personally wheelbarrow it the ten miles from the farm to Santa Rosa. Finley accepted the deal.

Thus a couple of hours after sunset on November 6, Ernest Latimer Finley was prepared to start his trek with a customized newspaper handcart. “Mayor James R. Edwards and Hilliard Comstock had placed the bale on the cart and firmly lashed it in place,” the Press Democrat later reported, in the first of two stories on the event. “A number of friends motored out to the Woodward ranch Monday evening to witness the outcome. The start was made at 6:30 and an an elaborate picnic was served by the roadside about half-way in. A large party of young people walked the entire distance cheering the man with the cart on his way.” The headline from another paper read, “SOCIETY GIRLS WALK UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON FREAK BET”.

Finley and his society girls reached the Press Democrat office shortly after midnight. “Don’t say anything about this in the paper,” Finley ordered his city editor. But an article appeared over his objection because the paper’s staff “thought the story too good to be kept out.” An item about the “freak bet” was picked up by the wire service and some newspapers nationwide ran it as a kind of believe-it-or-not item, the number of society girls sometimes growing to the size of a mob and the hop bale becoming as heavy as bricks.

The following day a special auction was held for Finley’s bale. Milton Wasserman, the top hops buyer in town, bought it at the record price of $125 – but with the requirement that Finley continue his travails and personally cart the hops from downtown to the warehouse.

With his windfall Finley treated his youthful entourage to a weekend in San Francisco, including tickets to the Stanford-Cal football game.* Enjoying two nights of theater and suppers at his expense were a dozen twenty-something young people, nine of them women, along with two of their mothers. Among the party were Hilliard Comstock and Ruth Woolsey, whom Finley would marry about a year later.

Since the doings offer a rare personal glimpse of Mr. Santa Rosa, it’s tempting to wonder what it reveals about him. For example, Finley was still a bachelor at age 41 and slightly more than twice Ruth’s age; was he simply trying to woo his future wife with the machismo handcart stunt and treating her gang to a swell time? And were there other evenings, occupied with less savory events, when Finley staggered into the Press Democrat office late and ordered staff “Don’t say anything about this in the paper”?

But the striking part of the hops story was the crowd of young people who thought it would be fun to follow him as he plodded along the country roads with the cart. Does that sort of thing sound familiar? It should, because it still occurs all over America today; now it usually just happens in school settings. A principal challenges kids to achieve some goal with the promise to do something silly or demeaning as a reward – maybe shaving off hair or singing from the rooftop if the students read a certain number of books or collect enough cans for a food drive. Google for “school principal bets students” and you’ll find hundreds of recent examples. Let’s revel in an intimidating authority figure playing the clown for us.

Actually, regarding Ernest Finley as Santa Rosa’s self-appointed Town Principal works surprisingly well. In his editorials he often came off like a rigid fuddy-duddy demanding miscreants and rebels toe the line. He could be a disagreeable bully, raging when authority was not respected – criticism of the town or its leadership was a serious offense and the Press Democrat had a pattern of defaming anyone who crossed him (or the Democratic party, for that matter). Childish misbehavior was inflated by the PD in par with serious crimes, from stealing eggs to dropping orange and banana peels on the sidewalk. In his official portraits he even looked like a stern school principal; he attempted a smile in a later photograph, but it was more like the surprised expression of someone who had just sat on a tack. You didn’t want to be called down to his office and hear the speech about how much he was disappointed in your monkey business and threatening suspension If You Do That Just One More Time.

Whatever conclusions one draws (or presumes to draw) from the hop cart episode, it’s still a cute story in its own right. It is also one that was almost lost; if not for transcriptions in Ann M. Connor’s self-published 1970 book, “McDonald Avenue: A Century of Elegance,” I would never have noticed the articles – the related microfilm at the Sonoma County Library is illegible. As seen to the right, the emulsion is almost completely wiped off on the image of this page from November 8, and what remains is badly scratched. Normally damaged film can be read by later use of heavy image processing but in this case there was almost nothing to work with. Sadly, much of the 1911 Press Democrat microfilm at the library is in equally terrible condition. I am certain there were many interesting stories from that year I also overlooked.

Alas, the Connor book does not list sources; the auction story was only identified to be the same as in the the damaged Press Democrat microfilm by its bold headline. Two of the other articles she transcribed were not from either Santa Rosa paper, so it’s unknown where they first appeared.

* The “Big Game” was actually rugby between 1906-1914, a period when many schools dropped football because of concerns over game violence and player injuries. Cal won that year, 21-3.

Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library

Trudge Dusty Roads to Cheer on Clubman Wheeling Bale of Hops

For eleven miles along the dusty roads from the county home of the late surveyor of the Port of San Francisco, Edward F. Woodward of Mt. Olivet, and Ernest L. Finley, editor of the Santa Rosa Press and well known clubman, wheeled a cart containing a 192 lb. bale of hops, winning a wager whereby a party of young society people will attend the Stanford-Berkeley football game and enjoy a banquet in San Francisco.

The start was made about 7 p.m. last night and Finley completed his task shortly after midnight. He came into town with his cart of hops, to be sold and the proceeds devoted to paying the expenses of a trip to the football game and a dinner for a party of his friends if he would wheel the gift to Santa Rosa.

The wager was taken up and tonight when the bale was auctioned off in the presence of a large crowd of speculators, it realized over $100. Some of Santa Rosa’s popular society girls and several men walked the entire distance with Mr. Finley. Halfway to town the entire company enjoyed a picnic in the moonlight.

– Source unknown, November 7, 1911; from Connor book, pg. 70 (see text)
E. L. Finley Wheels Hand Cart Along Dusty Road for Over Ten Miles Monday Night

As the result of a wager, E. L. Finley  on Monday evening wheeled a handcart containing a bale of hops from the Woodward ranch near Mt. Olivet to Santa Rosa, arriving at the Press Democrat office a few minutes after midnight. The distance covered was something over ten miles. The hops weighed 132 pounds.

Under the terms of the agreement Mrs. E. F. Woodward and Miss Bess Woodward were to make Mr. Finley a present of a bale of hops provided he got them to market unassisted, the hops to be sold and the proceeds devoted to taking a party of friends to the Stanford-Berkeley football game on Saturday.

A number of friends motored out to the Woodward ranch Monday evening to witness the outcome. The start was made at 6:30 and an an elaborate picnic was served by the roadside about half-way in. A large party of young people walked the entire distance cheering the man with the cart on his way.

Several taxicabs and automobile loads of people drove out and met the man with the load of hops and the party accompanying him several miles from this city. It was a very merry salutation given, too. Cheers stirred the midnight air when the hops were landed at the Press Democrat office.

The bale of hops will be auctioned off today and they will fetch the top notch figure. Considerable lively bidding is expected, too. Those hops should be worth at least one hundred dollars.

“Don’t say anything about this in the paper,” said Editor Finley as he started for home at an early hour this morning, still walking by the way. But the city editor and staff thought the story too good to be kept out, and would not heed the request of the man who won the wager.

– Press Democrat, November 7, 1911
Unique Transaction is Completed Here Last Night

Milton L. Wasserman, the well-known representative for the William Ullman Co. of New York, established a new price for hops last night at the Press Democrat office, when, at a spirited contest, he purchased at auction the bale of hops wheeled in the night before by Ernest Finley from “Pinecrest”, Mrs. E. F. Woodward’s fine ranch near Mt. Olivet.

The price at which the bale was finally knocked down to Mr. Wasserman was $125, and it was made part of the agreement that Mr. Finley was to personally deliver the hops to the warehouse, starting from the courthouse at noon today.

John P. Overton actioned as auctioneer…

…Just as the hammer was descending for the last time, and as Mr. Overton lingered over the words “going, going…!”, Wasserman made his final bid, coupled with the stipulation that Mr. Finley should wheel the bale down Fourth Street today at noon. Mr. Finley nodded his acceptance of the proposition, the auctioneer from his exalted position on the office counter made a few more passes with his hammer, called upon Mr. Finley to bear him out in his assertion that the hops about to be sold were “extra heavy for the weight” and assured prospective purchasers that the goods were being sold “F.O.B. Santa Rosa, which is very different from having to bring them in from Mr. Olivet,” ending by finally knocking them down to Mr. W. at the price stated. The result was greeted with hearty cheers from the large crowd present, as was each successive bid, for that matter.

A huge bonfire was then lighted in the street outside, and after another round of cheers and an exchange of felicitations, the crowd dispersed. (Referenced as first in Tuesday’s paper of the wager.) Mr. Finley jokingly remarked that if he had 600 or 700 bales of hops unsold at the present prices, he would give the crowd one and tell them to go and see the fun. Mrs. Woodward replied that she would furnish the hops if Mr. Finley would wheel them to Santa Rosa.

The proposition was immediately accepted, and the following evening finally agreed upon as the time for making the attempt. An ordinary newspaper cart to which shaft handles had been temporarily attached by C. R. Sund, a local blacksmith, was used for transporting the bale selected, which weighted 192 lbs., and the distance covered was something more than 10 miles.

The start was made at 7:30 Monday evening, after Mayor James R. Edwards and Hilliard Comstock had placed the bale on the cart and firmly lashed it in place, and the event was made the occasion for a moonlight picnic party, a number of friends accompanying Mr. Finley the entire distance on foot, while others followed or proceeded in automobiles. At the top of the Mr. Olivet hill an elaborate picnic was spread and a stop of more than an hour was made. Refreshments were also served from the automobiles enroute.

The party arrived in town shortly after midnight, after a delightful evening, and Mr. Finley suffered no inconvenience whatever from the trip. Among those making up the party were Mayor & Mrs. Jas. Edwards…and Hilliard Comstock.

– Press Democrat, November 8, 1911
(At least, going on proceeds of bale that plucky editor wheeled 11 miles.)

A party of Santa Rosa society girls arrived at the Hotel Stewart last night on their way to attend the football game at Stanford U. today as the guests of Ernest Finley, editor of the Santa Rosa Press, who is paying, etc…

Later – Friday evening the entire party took dinner at Coppa’s restaurant and then attended the Orpheum, where they occupied loges during the performance, a supper at the Portola following. Saturday they proceeded to Stanford U. and were entertained at the Kappa Alpha fraternity for luncheon, after which the game was attended.

Coming back into San Francisco, a dinner at Taite’s was followed by the party attending the Cort Theater and enjoying the performance of Sam Barnard, the noted Dutch comedian. Techau’s completed the pleasure of Saturday. The party included Mrs. E. F. Woodward, Mrs Frank Woolsey, Miss Bess Woodward, Miss Helen Wright, Miss Jean Geary, the Misses Ruth, Louise and Helen Woolsey, Janet Noble, Dora and Marian Pierson, Hilliard Comstock, Arthur Wright, E. W. Scott and Ernest Finley. They were joined Saturday evening by the Jas. Edwards and the Vernon Goodwins of Los Angeles.

– Source unknown, November 11, 1911; from Connor book, pg. 71-72 (see text)

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Before there was a “Redwood Highway” there was a proposal for a grand boulevard running the length of Sonoma County, both sides of the road lined with those damned palm trees.

(RIGHT: Undated postcard, probably c. 1905-1910. Courtesy Larry Lepeere collection)

Such a plan was offered to the Board of Supervisors in 1911, and the Press Democrat reported the Supes were “charmed with [the] suggestion.” No surprise, really; landscapers all over California in that era loved palm trees, despite the drawbacks of them sucking up enormous amounts of water and that they made swell homes for rats (try a Google search for “palm tree rats:” About 1,170,000 results). Like many places, Santa Rosa lined some streets with them, as seen here, and homeowners in the early 20th century often planted one or a few in their yards. You can still spot a survivor or three on probably every block in the older parts of town.

It takes some doing to imagine driving the route we now call Old Redwood Highway from Marin to Mendocino and seeing shoulder-to-shoulder palm trees in the countryside. Combined with the “grand boulevard” mention in the article it sounds like they expected the highways would simply replace the old farm roads with something more like paved city streets, but no one really knew – no state had yet created a highway system for automobiles.*

These years around 1910 witnessed a swift and amazing leap into the modern world for Sonoma County. There were opportunities to watch hometown aviator Fred J. Wiseman and his associates fling themselves into the air, risking death in frequent crashes. Downtown Santa Rosa suddenly came alive with three (sometimes four) movie theaters and vaudeville houses. The Russian River resorts became the Bay Area hotspot after electricity came to the region and new trains made it easier to reach from San Francisco. And with one of those newly-affordable automobiles, anyone anywhere in the county could participate in these new adventures.

Autos themselves were both familiar and foreign; for example, there was still no convention on what to call the owner of the machine. Prior to 1908  anyone behind the steering wheel was called a “chauffeur” in the Press Democrat but in the 1911 article transcribed below the paper can be found experimenting with “automobilists” and “autoists.” While the state was preparing to spend an empire’s fortune building those highway-things there was no driver’s license exam to show an automobilist knew how to operate the vehicles using it. In a hilarious item below, the PD reported on its front page that 20 year-old Hilliard Comstock had purchased one of the finest handmade cars available in 1911 and drove it all the way back to Santa Rosa from Sausalito in high gear, apparently not knowing how to use a gearshift. “Although Mr. Comstock had had no previous experience in handling an automobile, he brought his new car up from San Francisco without difficulty and without assistance,” the paper noted kindly, “as the machine can be throttled down to four or five miles an hour without shifting the gears.”

It was also nice that the Sonoma County Automobile Association that year officially disapproved of running down pedestrians, even though some autoists apparently felt anyone on the streets was fair game:

…The Association placed itself squarely on record in the matter urging respect for all law and letting it be clearly understood that it does not stand for protecting the auto owner any more than for the protection of other people walking or driving along the highways, recognizing that each have equal rights. While many autoists do recognize these rights there are others who bring odium on the whole body by their disregard of the laws.

This was the final Association meeting with James Wyatt Oates as president, ending his two years of leadership. His retirement was announced with a cartoon in the Press Democrat shown here. In his hand is the ever-present cigar; his beady eyes glinted with the piercing gaze seen in all three known portraits. The cartoon is decorated with stock thumbnails of fishing and recreational motoring (both actual passions of Oates) but note in particular his “elevator” shoes. From the 1892 voter registration records we learn his distinguishing features were a scar on the left side of his head and that he was exactly five feet, seven and five-eights inches tall – the only voter to specify his height with such exact precision. As his shaving mirror in Comstock House seems designed for a person of somewhat shorter stature, we can presume he reached that particular altitude only with the boost of those remarkable heels.

*Voters in 1910 approved the State Highways Act with blind faith that a highway system could be built and would bring progress (and maybe palm trees). They also believed those roads would be coming, pronto. Alas, much to the frustration of Sonoma County boosters and dreamers of boulevards, it would be 1913 before Sonoma County saw its first few miles of highway construction and it would be over a dozen years more before the North Coast’s patchwork of old stagecoach turnpikes were improved and linked to become the Redwood Highway (“Redwood Empire” was coined in 1925, both springing from a regional civic association).

Supervisors Charmed With Suggestion That Road Through Sonoma County Be Beautified

An endeavor was made Wednesday to interest members of the Board of Supervisors in a scheme to make the ride through Sonoma county, from the Marin to the Mendocino line, additionally attractive by the planting of date palms on either side of the county road at proper distances apart.

Mr. Lawrence, a landscape gardener, talked over the matter with individual members of the board, and his description of the pleasure such a boulevard would be quite fascinating. In other sections of the state Arbor Leagues have been formed and are being formed to plant shade trees along the county roads and something very picturesque has resulted.

It is understood that the palms and the planting, etc., would probably cost $5,000, if the Supervisors should carry out the suggestions made by Mr. Lawrence.

– Press Democrat, April 6, 1911

Hillyard [sic] Comstock has purchased a handsome 1911 fore-door [sic] Kine touring car, similar to the one on exhibition at the Press Democrat office. It is a classy machine, and attracts much attention.

In every respect Mr. Comstock’s beautiful car is a duplicate of the one to be given away by the Press Democrat on May 20 to the most popular lady contestant, and he is a beauty and runs like a top. Although Mr. Comstock had had no previous experience in handling an automobile, he brought his new car up from San Francisco without difficulty and without assistance. He did not find it necessary to shift his gears once on the trip, but made the entire distance from Sausalito to this city on the “high.” The construction and ease of control make this entirely feasible with the Kline, as the machine can be throttled down to four or five miles an hour without shifting the gears.

– Press Democrat, March 25, 1911


Colonel James W. Oates and Shirley D. Burris went to San Francisco on the morning train Friday, and they returned to this city in a pretty Hupmobile, which has been purchased by Colonel Oates from the Santa Rosa garage. Colonel Oates will use this machine for short trips and personal pleasure for himself and Mrs. Oates, and with his large machine will entertain their friends with delightful trips about the country. The Hup is a royal blue, for two passengers only, is fully equipped and has twenty horse power engines. It is capable of splendid speed and will make a nice roadster for Colonel Oates.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March, 17, 1911
Annual Outing Held in Knights Valley on Sunday

In the beautiful sunshine of a June day over two hundred people members of the Sonoma County Automobile Association and friends and many others gathered amid all the picturesqueness of the Knights Valley Ranch formerly owned by the late Calvin H. Holmes and now the property of his heirs, the site most favored for the location of the new State Trades and Training School, to enjoy the annual outing and picnic of the Association on Sunday. The day was ideal for such an event, and into its pleasures all entered with zest.

The shady trees, the waterfalls, the vineyards, the valley and mountain scenery and the other delights of the open air at this time of the year, lent much attraction to the outing. Well filled luncheon baskets were brought by the automobilists, and the contents enjoyed at noon in one of the loveliest spots imaginable. An additional attraction was the presence and music by the Healdsburg band, accompanying the large delegation from that city and sections. All part of Sonoma county were represented and the entire outing, unmarred by any accident, was voted a splendid success.

His Excellency Governor Hiram W. Johnson was invited to be present, but many engagements following his southern trip prevented his acceptance of the courtesy. He sent a neat acknowledgement of the invitation.

Following the luncheon the business meeting was called to order by the President Colonel James W. Oates of this city. Colonel Oates Spoke of the work of the past year, and of the great help the automobilists represented in such organizations the Sonoma County Automobile Association could be the campaign for good roads. He welcomed everybody to the gathering on Sunday…

…The by-laws were amended so as to make women eligible for membership in the Association. This was a wise move as there are scores of enthusiastic women automobilists in Sonoma County who are deeply interesting in the aims of such an organization…The Association also passed resolutions upholding the laws and ordinances against “speed burning…”

…The Association placed itself squarely on record in the matter urging respect for all law and letting it be clearly understood that it does not stand for protecting the auto owner any more than for the protection of other people walking or driving along the highways, recognizing that each have equal rights. While many autoists do recognize these rights there are others who bring odium on the whole body by their disregard of the laws. It is the latter type that The Association does not uphold. At the same time a gentle reminder is also given to drivers or vehicles who sometimes pre-empt more of the highway than they require to be more generous and aid in bringing about a better feeling all the way around…

– Press Democrat, June 6, 1911

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Two years since their arrival in Santa Rosa, it was clear the Comstocks had settled in to stay. Well, most of them, anyway.

Starting in 1910, members of the family adopted the custom of alerting the local papers when they were away from town. Someone made a day trip to San Francisco; was visiting in Oakland; enjoying a vacation at Lake Tahoe – all mundane bits of news, but nonetheless events their friends and business associates might find good to know (the operative part of that sentence being that they had local friends and business associates).  Hilliard was 19 years old and studying law with James Wyatt Oates, but he was best known around town for being a top-notch tennis player whose matches were covered on the sports page. At a social club, eldest brother John gave a lecture on bees and a song written by his wife was performed. Despite all odds that the aristocratic, highly educated Comstocks wouldn’t fit in with provincial Santa Rosa, they were fitting in just swell.

Around the end of the year John moved to southern California to study medicine. It was primarily John who brought the family here in 1908; he and sisters Catherine and Cornelia were award-winning leather workers who had been part of Elbert Hubbard’s legendary Roycroft Colony, which was the foundation for the Arts & Crafts movement in America. Calling themselves The Companeros, the Comstocks opened “The Gift Shop” in downtown Santa Rosa, where they sold their own work as well as artwork from many pioneers of the emerging Arts & Crafts style. As John was the shop’s manager and as probably little of their artisan work was sold locally, it would be natural to expect the storefront to close once he stepped aside. Except the opposite happened.

In May, the Press Democrat announced The Gift Shop would move to a larger and more prominent location at 626 Fourth street (which is still currently a gift shop, appropriately enough) where it would be run by Catherine Comstock and Bess Woodward. At the same time, the PD continued, they were forming an “Arts and Crafts Guild” in Santa Rosa to teach apprentices to make works of art that would be sold through the store. All members of the Guild were women.

All of this was a bit radical for 1910 Santa Rosa. Women usually didn’t own businesses, unless they sold ladies’ goods or services – hats or hairstyling, for ex. Outside of training for a profession such as teacher, nurse, or librarian, job opportunities for women were limited to unskilled labor, such as working at a laundry or operating a cash register (we know this because of 1911 complaints over new laws regarding female employees). Nor was downtown particularly friendly to women workers; as they could be arrested if they entered a bar or cigar shop, there were 30+ places off-limits to Guild members. (Matters had actually improved by then, however – for more than a year after the Great Earthquake, there were few, if any, public restrooms available for women.)

The Press Democrat noted John Comstock “still retains control of the wholesale end” which assured readers the business remained properly on a paternalistic even keel, and the Guild was “composed of a number of popular girls of the younger set… who are all personal friends and interested in each other’s welfare…” Although the PD’s condescending article makes them sound like ingenues (if not small children), they were in their twenties and the best and brightest of their generation. A couple of them we have already met: Pauline Olson, who ran Luther Burbank’s “Bureau of Information” and hosted a 1905 Goth-like “Ghost Party” that had people buzzing about it for months, and Hazel Farmer, who along with her mother Dorothy (of Farmer’s Lane fame) went to Los Angeles in 1908 to purchase a car which they drove all the way back to Santa Rosa on horse-worn wagon trails.

The Gift Shop was around at least through 1912, presumably still selling works created by the Arts and Crafts Guild of Santa Rosa. Over the next several years other Comstocks would begin drifting away from Santa Rosa, leaving mother Nellie and brothers George (“Frank”) and Hilliard. Later in the 1910s Hilliard would begin making a name for himself, and it took as long as that for the newspapers to learn how to spell it correctly.


The lecture on “Bees” by John Comstock at a meeting of the Starr King Club Thursday evening was one of the most instructive and interesting that has been given before the Club for some time, owing to its practical side. The speaker showed a familiarity with his subject which made it easy for him to handle it.

The meeting was conducted by Geo. F. King, the president, and there was an instrumental solo by Mrs. John Comstock, vocal solo by Miss Alice Bambaugh, the music of which was written by Mrs. Comstock. The evening proved a very pleasant one, and a large audience was present.

– Press Democrat, May 13, 1910


A very interesting announcement is that which tells of the forming of a partnership by two of Santa Rosa’s popular and very talented girls, whereby they take over the business of “The Companeros,[“] or the “Gift Shop”, which has been so successfully conducted by John Comstock. They are Miss Catherine Comstock and Miss Bess Woodward.

Miss Comstock’s art work is considered among the finest in the country and both she and her brother are members of art associations in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities, in which membership is only gained by proficiency. Miss Woodward has been studying, carefully and untiringly with Mr. Comstock as a teacher for a long time and her work has earned compliments that have come from sources that make them very valuable. She is considered highly proficient.

It is the purpose of the new firm of Comstock & Woodward to move early next month from the Masonic building into a vacant store in the Union Trust Savings Bank building, a few doors further down the street from the present “Gift Shop” and there they will open what is planned to be one of the most artistic gift shops to be found anywhere and one that is bound to attract a great deal of attention and at the same time, do what all the many friends of the proprietors hope will be, a very lucrative business. They expect to open the shop around June 15.

Another important feature in connection with the formation of the partnership and the conducting of the gift shop already mentioned is the organization of an “Arts and Crafts Guild” in Santa Rosa, composed of a number of popular girls of the younger set. The members of the Guild will study among other things carving in leather, the modeling and tinting of plaster, and hand-wrought jewelry. Their workshop will be right in the gift shop and they will study under the personal direction and instruction of Miss Comstock and Miss Woodward. When they have attained proficiency the products of their skill will be placed on sale and thus they will participate in a financial way in the great business that will be inaugurated by the “Arts and Crafts Guild.”

A particularly pleasing feature of the whole affair, aside from the association of girls who are all personal friends and interested in each other’s welfare, and the pleasure of the work along such useful lines, is John Comstock’s assurance that there will never be an over production of the goods manufactured. He still retains control of the wholesale end and says he will find market for every article evolved by the skill of the Arts and Crafts Guild of Santa Rosa in the sale places of the world. The new firm and the
Guild is certainly wished much success.

– Press Democrat, May 21, 1910

Santa Rosa’s latest acquisition for the study of art and subsequent development into the practical is the Arts and Crafts Guild, mention of which was made in the news column of this paper on Saturday in connection with the formation of the business partnership by Miss Catherine Comstock and Miss Bess Woodward, to conduct the “Gift Shop.” The Arts and Crafts Guild is composed of a bevy of popular and clever girls, who are thoroughly interested in leather carving, modeling and tinting in plaster and in hand-wrought jewelry. They are Miss Jean Geary, Miss Dora Pierson, Miss Marian Pierson, Miss Cornelia Comstock, Miss Pauline Olson, Miss May McMeans, Miss Hazel Farmer, Miss Helen Woolsey and Miss Ester Scott. The instructors of the Guild will be Miss Catherine Comstock and Miss Woodward. As has already been outlined, when the members of the Guild become proficient in their work their products will be placed on the market and then will come the development of the practical. The work is bound to be interesting and everybody will, I am sure, wish the girls all kinds of success in their venture. In their stride towards what I feel like calling happy independence.

– “Society Gossip” column, Press Democrat, May 22, 1910


Miss Bess Woodward and Miss Catherine Comstock announce the formal opening of the “Gift Shop” of the Companeros in its new quarters, 626 Fourth street, Union Trust Bank building, on June 10. Mention was made in this paper some time since of the formation of the partnership between these young ladies and the organization of the Arts & Crafts League of Santa Rosa to which a bevy of popular girls belong.

– Press Democrat, June 9, 1910

The formal opening of their art store and gift shop last Friday afternoon by Miss Bess Woodward and Miss Catherine Comstock partook of the nature of a social gathering. It was a large and admiring crowd that thronged the place. The popular girls, who with Miss Woodward and Miss Comstock form thee Arts & Crafts League were all present. Everybody was extending felicitations and wishing the girls success.

– “Society Gossip” column, Press Democrat, June 12, 1910

With a sunburn that is the envy of many of the less fortunate ones who are still in town, Miss Marian Pierson, Miss Catherine Comstock and Miss Cornelia Comstock and Miss Helen Woolsey have returned home after a very delightful time in camp near Lake Tahoe. They report having had an outing of unalloyed pleasure and they certainly look the picture of health and are “strictly in it” in these days when tan is the correct color to be acquired during summer vacations. The Messrs. Comstock have also returned from Tahoe.

– “Society Gossip” column, Press Democrat, July 10, 1910


Hillyard [sic] Comstock, of Santa Rosa’s best tennis players, will participate in the state tournament that is to be held at Berkeley. He will be entered in the championship and the handicap events and hopes to do pretty well in the latter. He went to Berkeley Monday morning to be at the courts when his matches are called. James R. Edwards and W. H. Pyburn Jr. will play in the Del Monte tournament when that contest is begun in the near future.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 22, 1910

“The Crafters,” an eastern publication, devotes considerable space in its current issue to a writeup of “the Companeros” of this city, devoting considerable space to the well known attainments of John Comstock. It also prints an excellent portrait of Mr. Comstock and pictures of some of his art work and also of his sister. The article also mentions in a very complimentary manner the artistic work done by Miss Comstock and Miss Bess Woodward and the Arts and Crafts Club of this city, composed of a number of our talented girls. As the “Crafter” only devotes its columns to the doers of arts and crafts that count the publication just mentioned is particularly pleasing.

– “Society Gossip” column, Press Democrat, December 4, 1910

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