bogleheader

KILLER DOCTOR

The eyewitness heard the first shot and turned to look up the side street. He saw the doctor standing on the sidewalk and pointing his pistol at a man across a backyard fence as more shots were fired in rapid succession. The victim slumped to the ground while the doctor pocketed the gun and headed downtown. Someone who passed him thought he was whistling.

This unfortunate event happened on a cool April evening in 1900, near the corner of (modern day) Seventh and Mendocino. The shooter was Dr. Samuel S. Bogle, a 32 year-old physician who had been in Santa Rosa less than two years. The victim was James M. Miller, a Civil War veteran aged 60 who owned a paint and wallpaper store across from the courthouse.

Neighbors who heard the shots rushed to help Miller, carrying him into his house. “I’m done for, I’m done for,” Miller said. “Why should a man treat me like that after what I’ve done for him? If I get up out of this I’ll fix him.”

By this time, the eyewitness had reached the office of Dr. Jesse a couple of blocks away. When the doctor was told the shooting involved Bogle and Miller he presumed it was Bogle who had been shot – Miller had blabbing all over town that he was going to “fix” Bogle for not paying a bill.

(RIGHT: Dr. S. S. Bogle c. 1908)bogle1908

Meanwhile, Bogle had arrived at the sheriff’s office, where he went to surrender and turn over his gun. No deputies were present at the time so he gave himself up to the county jail’s cook. He also visited his lawyer (a former state senator) and by the end of the evening was arraigned and freed on $10,000 bail.

On the advice of his attorney Bogle didn’t speak to reporters, but the Press Democrat still cobbled together a story which was summarized by the San Francisco papers and wire services.

The PD wrote that Bogle passed Miller’s sideyard as he was walking downtown after supper. (Bogle and Miller were next door neighbors, a coincidence which had nothing to do with the bad blood between them.) Miller was outside and saw him. Insults were passed and Miller rushed toward the gate with a knife in his hand. Bogle pulled his gun and fired, striking Miller twice.

Dr. Jesse told the paper Miller was expected to survive. He had a flesh wound on a forearm and the other bullet hit the middle of his left hip, passing between the tail bone and top of the femur before exiting the other side above his groin.

But Dr. Jesse was wrong. Miller died three days later of peritonitis, the bullet having punctured his intestines. Bogle was rearrested and charged with murder.

miller1900(RIGHT: James M. Miller. San Francisco Call, April 29, 1900)

The dispute between Bogle and Miller began a week or more earlier. Before buying the paint store, Miller was the owner of the Santa Rosa Stables where Dr. Bogle frequently rented a horse and buggy to visit patients. Bogle had a charge account there, and Miller did not close the accounting book promptly after selling the business; by the time he got around to it, Dr. Bogle had treated the wife of one of Miller’s paint store employees. As the livery bill was about $20 and the medical bill was about $20, they agreed to call it even-stevens – Miller would just take the twenty out of the painter’s salary.

But before that happened the painter “lost his position,” which presumably meant Miller fired him. In Miller’s view, this meant Bogle now owed him the money, and he demanded it be paid at once.

Gentle Reader’s eyeballs are now probably rolled so far back that they risk being permanently stuck. “All of this was over a lousy TWENTY BUCKS?” Yes, but remember it was 1900 – the average worker’s paycheck was less than $13 a week, and the modern relative wage of that works out to about $2,200 today (see discussion).

When the case came to trial there was particular attention to confrontations and threats that took place before the shooting. Miller had said that there was someone he “would fill with lead if he did not pay his bill,” and he “would cut his —- — — —- heart out.” Miller also confessed the paint store wasn’t doing so well, which probably explained why he had to fire the painter and needed the $20 so badly.

A couple of days earlier, the two men bumped into each other at the corner of Fourth and Mendocino. Several witnesses overheard or saw the showdown. Miller, who everyone agreed cussed like a preacher’s son, called Dr. Bogle a “thieving —- — — ——” the PD reported in its trial coverage, the paper thoughtfully using lines of varying width so you could try to puzzle out the censored words. Another witness said Dr. Bogle replied: “If you say I am a —- — — —- you are a —- —- —- — — —-.” (Contest: Submit your best guesses!) Miller flashed a jack knife. Bogle whipped out a pen knife. They parted ways after a couple of minutes.

As they lived next to each other, Bogle later testified he hung back as Miller walked towards their neighborhood. He was watching as Miller turned the corner, apparently to enter his house via the side gate. A few minutes later, he said Miller was back out on Mendocino and heading downtown. Bogle told the court he assumed Miller had gone home to arm himself.

The next morning (now a day before the shooting) Miller was overheard to say, “if he does not pay it I will kill the G—d d-—n —- — — —.” Later in the day that person told Bogle what he had heard and the doctor replied, “All right, I’ll keep an eye open.”

Miller already had intimidated Bogle earlier that day, when he saw the doctor go into his old business, the Santa Rosa Stables, to rent a horse and buggy. Miller followed him in and began stalking back and forth at the front of the stable, looking angry and nervous. “I wish you would hurry,” Bogle urged the hostler. One of the owners came out from the back because he “thought there might be trouble.” When Bogle drove off in the buggy Miller also left.

The owners of the stable were old friends of Miller, and later in the day both had separate conversations with him. Miller – who was drinking heavily that day – wandered back to the barn, where one of them told Miller he was glad there wasn’t a confrontation with Bogle. Miller admitted he had followed the doctor “for the purpose of having trouble,” but didn’t want to cause a problem for the owners. Besides, he planned to “see Bogle later” and “hurt him.”

The other owner saw Miller coming out of a saloon and followed him. In a joking manner he asked Miller, “Are you fixed?” and frisked him. To his surprise, he felt a knife in Miller’s coat pocket. The friend told Miller he was a fool and should go home.

That night there was a final incident when Bogle passed Miller’s place. Bogle’s two year-old daughter ran down the sidewalk to greet him; taking her hand, they were walking up their steps when Miller came out of his house, screaming “I’ll fix you yet, you G—d d—-n —- — — —-. I’ll fix you yet.”

“Illustrated Portfolio of Santa Rosa and Vicinity,” 1909
“Illustrated Portfolio of Santa Rosa and Vicinity,” 1909

The Press Democrat’s coverage of Bogle’s trial was excellent – as was typical of the newspaper’s court reporting in that era – but the San Francisco papers lost interest and only ran terse summaries. After the initial report about the knife-wielding lunatic charging at the good doctor, it seemed obvious Bogle would be found innocent on account of self defense.

And yes, the jury found him not guilty – but only after deliberating over three hours and taking nine votes. One or more jurors held out for a manslaughter conviction until it was past midnight. But if the case really was so cut-and-dried, why was there any doubt?

Because there was no evidence that Miller had actually done anything to harm Bogle, including attempted assault. Yes, he was foul-mouthed, had frequently made colorful threats and physically tried to intimidate the doctor, but there were no acts of violence.

Ah (you pipe up), what about the attack that led to him being shot? In the initial PD story, the paper stated: “…Brandishing a knife which he either already had in his hand or else hurriedly took from his pocket, Miller made a rapid step forward…”

During the trial it was shown that none of that was true. Miller was not holding a knife and was 10+ feet away, next to his back stairs. Either the reporter made this up or (more likely) the story was the fabricated consensus of the “knots of men gathered on the streets discussing the matter” who actually hadn’t witnessed anything.

When Miller was carried inside after the shooting his wife and others removed his clothes to examine his wounds. In his pocket was found some money, keys, and a small pocketknife. At the coroner’s inquest witnesses testified they saw no knife in Miller’s hand, although one believed “he saw the handle end of a knife.” The first neighbor on the scene testified he saw no weapon but Miller had a toothpick in his mouth, which the neighbor removed. It was solemnly entered as “People’s Exhibit, No. 1.”

Bogle himself never claimed there was a knife, but thought Miller had a gun behind his back. In his trial testimony, he said Miller came down his back stairs with his right hand in his pocket. Continuing his testimony, as reported in the PD:


As he reached the bottom of the steps he took his hand from his pocket and put both hands behind him. Continuing to advance he cried, “I’m going to fix you, you G—d d—-n — — — —, I’m going to fix you, and don’t you think I won’t!”

Bogle testified he told Miller to stay back.


“I don’t want to have any trouble with you,” he continued. Miller continued to advance, both hands still held behind his back. At that moment, witness testified, he heard two sharp, distinct clicks, resembling the cocking of a revolver. Hurriedly drawing his own pistol he fired four shots at Miller in rapid succession. At the fourth shot Miller sunk to the ground. As he fell, witness heard some metallic substance strike the stone pavement upon which he had been standing.

Looking up the street Bogle saw that the shots had drawn attention and he walked away, “knowing that assistance for Miller was therefore close at hand.”

There are several problems with this story, starting with Bogle’s view of whatever Miller was doing with his right hand, since Miller’s left side would have been facing the street. The nut of his defense was that he believed Miller palmed a gun in his completely unseen right hand, then hid that hand behind his back while deftly pivoting toward Bogle to completely conceal what he was holding. There’s some choreography to doing that, particularly while crazily screaming “God damn dash dash dash dash.”

Now we come to the shooting, and note Bogle said he fired four times, not three – although that doesn’t really matter. If Miller was advancing on him with both hands behind his back, how on earth could a bullet graze his forearm?

Mentioned only briefly at the trial was the course of the fatal bullet. The autopsy found it “ranged upward and forward” from the entry point of his left hip. In other words, Miller was either above Bogle (as he would have been if he were near the top of his steps), or below Bogle, having already fallen and lying on his side. Bogle was asked to explain the evidence and said he could not, but he had a “theory” which was not shared with the court.

Nor could Miller have begun advancing towards him, as he was found crumpled at the base of his steps.

And finally, Miller was lying on his side, with one of the stray bullets lodged in the stairs while a mark on the concrete sidewalk showed it was struck by another bullet. All of this suggests Bogle was firing downward – that Miller was already on the ground and slightly turned the other way when the fatal shot was fired into his hip. It was Bogle’s great good luck that no one happened to be close enough to witness that he shot an unarmed man in cold blood.

The Samuel S. Bogle story has both an epilogue and a personal postscript.

Dr. Bogle became quite a big cheese in Santa Rosa – this is the 20th article here that has mentioned him in some manner. He was county physician for ten years and head of the county hospital for 25 overall. “Sammy” was also a president of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and was long on their board of directors.

The obl. Believe-it-or-Not! angle for this story is that he was also a well trained surgeon, and was probably the only physician in Santa Rosa who might have been able to save James M. Miller’s life.

It’s also worth considering that instead of self-defense, a more honest plea might have been temporary insanity. Bogle – who did not usually carry a gun and had brought his revolver home from his office the night before – was surely stressed out by the escalating threats and convinced Miller really would attack him. When Miller charged out the back door screaming murderously, Bogle might have felt empowered by the weapon in his pocket and blasted away in a panic.

As it turns out, the antihero of this journal, James Wyatt Oates, was a pioneer in the temporary insanity legal defense, having published an analysis, “Homicide and the Defense of Insanity.” He argued that courts should accept that the accused might irrationally (but honestly) believe circumstances forced him to kill – which fits the Bogle/Miller case like a glove. Oates’ paper was a significant intellectual work and can be found cited in law journals up to the 1940s. Oates, who lived on Tenth street at the time also saw the post-shooting commotion as he was walking home on Mendocino and joined in the effort to aid Miller. Oates was hired as co-counsel defending Bogle and was vigorous in cross-examinations. The two men became quite close and Dr. Bogle was one of the executors of Oates’ estate.

This tale of Miller’s 1900 killing is obscure stuff. Except for a few days of interest right after the shooting, little was mentioned in any newspaper until Bogle’s trial, and that was only well covered in the Santa Rosa papers for a couple of days. The story has never been written up by any other historian (as far as I can tell) even though I think Gentle Reader will agree that it’s a pretty interesting episode in Santa Rosa’s history.

I would not have learned about it if not for the late Neil Blazey, a fellow history spelunker who stumbled across an item on the killing while researching something else on microfilm and recognized it was a helluva unusual story.

Over the years Neil tipped me off to other gems, particularly the sad tale of the bigamist’s second widow. He had a strong science background and we debated far-flung topics such as whether it might be possible for “Historical Human Remains Detection Dogs” to find bodies buried for 170 years, how many gold coins could be realistically transported in a 22.5 horsepower runabout, and whether the post-earthquake fire in 1906 was hot enough to break down lime-based mortar into fragile quicklime. He will always be greatly missed.

Dr. Samuel Saffell Bogle (1867-1941) Image courtesy Sonoma County L:ibrary
Dr. Samuel Saffell Bogle (1867-1941) Image courtesy Sonoma County L:ibrary

 

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STARTLING AFFAIR
J. M. Miller Shot By Dr. S. S. Bogle
WOUNDS NOT FATAL
The Result of a Disagreement Over Money Matters
Three Shots Fired at Close Range Two of Which Took Effect – Trouble Had Been Brewing for Several Days

Last night shortly before 7 o’clock residents in the neighborhood of Mendocino and Johnson streets were startled by the loud report of three pistol shots which suddenly rang out upon the cool evening air.

A crowd hurriedly congregated and it was ascertained that as the result of trouble growing out of a discussion concerning money matters Dr. S. S. Bogle, the well known local physician, had shot and badly wounded J. M. Miller, the paint and oil dealer, whose place of business is situated on Hinton avenue a few doors south of the express office.

The shooting occurred near the corner of Johnson and Mendocino streets, not far from the Presbyterian church, Miller being at the time in his back yard and tho physician standing on the sidewalk outside. The two gentlemen occupy residences adjoining but while Dr. Bogle’s residence fronts on Johnson street the Miller house faces Mendocino street and sides on Johnson.

Dr. Bogle had just finished his supper and was on his way down town. As he passed out of his front gate and started down Johnson street towards Mendocino Mr. Miller was standing on the narrow walk leading from the side gate to the house. Dr. Bogle made some remark, to which Miller replied in, a highly acrimonious manner, and referring to a topic which had been before under discussion he embellished his remarks with an insulting epithet. A few words back and forth followed the result which was according to Mr. Miller’s statement made later in the evening, a remark from Dr. Bogle to the effect that the matter might just as well be settled then as any time.

Brandishing a knife which he either already had in his hand or else hurriedly took from his pocket, Miller made a rapid step forward, whereupon the doctor quickly whipped a revolver from his pocket and fired three shots, two of which took effect, the third finding lodgment in the back steps of the Miller residence.

Attorney John T. Campbell, who lives three doors east of the scene of the affair, Colonel James W. Oates, who was passing down Mendocino street at the time, and J. L. Durivage were among the first on the scene. Carrying the injured man into the house. Dr. Jesse, whose office was only two blocks away, was hurriedly summoned, as was also Dr. Neal, and the wounds were given careful attention.

Dr. Bogle in the meantime had proceeded quietly to the sheriff’s office where he gave himself up. His attorney, Senator James C. Sims, being summoned a consultation followed, the result of which was that the doctor was later in the evening admitted to bail by Judge Brown in the sum of ten thousand dollars with Frank Koenig, Dr. J. W. Jesse, F. H. Newman and A. B. Lemmon as sureties.

While Dr. Bogle, acting upon the advice of his attorney, refused to be interviewed, and while a statement from Mr. Miller was necessarily difficult to obtain, it was ascertained that the cause of the trouble was about as follows: Up until a few months ago, when the place was purchased by Vanderhoof & Koenig, Mr. Miller conducted the Santa Rosa Stables. At tho time he sold out, Dr. Bogle owed him a bill amounting to about twenty dollars. The bill was not presented for some time, and in the meantime Miller had engaged in the paint and oil business. A man working for Miller at that time owed the doctor for professional services, and it was proposed and agreed that Miller should collect the amount from his man and thus square both accounts. A short time afterwards and before the matter had been adjusted, the painter lost his position. Miller thereupon came back on the doctor for the original bill. From this situation the discussion arose.

Miller is said to have been quite vindictive in his actions regarding the matter. The two men met a day or so ago on Fourth street and it is claimed that both drew their knives, but trouble was averted for the time being at least. The next time they met was last night, and while the misunderstanding as outlined is said to have been the starting point of the trouble, the real cause for the sensational outcome was of course the feeling engendered by the discussion.

George Felix, an employee of the California Northwestern railway, was an eye witness to the shooting. He was riding down Mendocino street on his wheel and was just in front of the Miller residence when the first shot was fired. Turning down Johnson street from whence the sound of the shooting proceeded, he says, he saw two more shots fired in rapid succession. At the time the second and third shots were fired the two men were about twelve or fifteen feet apart. One of the bullets was picked up later close to the gate where the two men first came together.

One ball struck Miller in the forearm, inflicting a flesh wound. The other ball entered midway between a line drawn from the articulatum of the sacrum and coccyx bones and the great trochanter of the femur, ranged upward and forward and passed out in the opposite groin.

At midnight it was learned at the Miller residence that the sufferer was resting easily at that time. Dr. Jesse had just called and Dr. Neal had left shortly before. Dr. Jesse said that he did not consider that Mr. Miller was in a dangerous condition. He had no fever then and gave evidence that his constitution was good.

The affair naturally created a great sensation. Ail evening knots of men gathered on the streets discussing the matter. The time of Dr. Bogle’s examination has not yet been set but he will probably be arraigned today, Assistant District Attorney Berry and Court Reporter H. A. Scott took Miller’s examination at a late hour last night as he lay in his bed.

Dr. Bogle came to Santa Rosa about a year and a half ago from Monterey where he enjoyed a large and remunerative practice. Since taking up his residence in this city he has made many friends. A number were early on hand last night with offers of assistance. Mr. Miler has resided here a number of years. For some time he was engaged in the carpet business, later he became the proprietor of the Santa Rosa stables, and several months ago he purchased the paint and oil store formerly conducted by J. E. Gannon on Hinton avenue.

– Press Democrat, April 28 1900

 

MILLER DIES AS THE RESULT OF HIS WOUND
Dr. Bogle, the Santa Rosa Physician, Held for Murder Without Bail.

SANTA ROSA. April 28.— James M. Miller, the Hinton avenue paint and wallpaper dealer who as the result of a misunderstanding over money matters was shot by Dr. S. S. Bogle in the back yard of his residence on Mendocino street Wednesday evening died this morning shortly after 11 o’clock of his wounds…

– San Francisco Call, April 29 1900

 

Coroner’s Jury Charges Dr. Bogle With Murder.
The Latter Was Rearrested and is Now Awaiting Trial on a Murder Charge – The Inquest.

The remains of J. M. Miller who was shot at Santa Rosa by Dr. S. S. Bogle, will be taken to San Francisco Tuesday morning to be cremated. Miller’s last request was that his body might be cremated. At 4 o’clock Monday afternoon funeral services were held at the Miller home, Rev. Wm. Martin and Rev. S. P. Whiting officiating.

The deceased was a Grand Army man and as soon aa his death was known Commander W. A. Dougherty of Ellsworth post ordered a guard of honor to stand watch at the Miller home. The body will be escorted to the train Tuesday morning by a Grand Army escort…

…Dr. Bogle, who shot Miller, is in jail charged with murder. As soon as Miller died the doctor, who was out on bonds of $10,000, was rearrested. He was charged by the coroner’s jury with having caused Miller’s death…

…The evidence at the coroner’s inquest indicated that Miller was shot while standing about ten feet from Bogle.

One witness who helped to carry the wounded man into his house testified that Miller said, “I’m done for, I’m done for. Why should a man treat me like that after what I’ve done for him. If I get up out of this I’ll fix him.”

Dr. Neal testified that from the manner of the wound Miller must have been in a stooping position when he was shot.

Several witnesses testified that they saw no knife in Miller’s hand but J. L. Durivage said that he saw the handle end of a knife in Miller’s right hand. When help came Miller was lying at the foot of the back stairs.

– Petaluma Argus-Courier, April 30, 1900

 

THE BOGLE TRIAL
Many Witnesses Were Examined on Thursday
Incidents of the Trial Before Judge Carroll Cook — Mrs. Miller One of the Witnesses

The case of the people of the State of California against Dr. S. S. Bogle came to trial in department two of the Superior Court Wednesday morning before Judge Carroll Cook of San Francisco, sitting for Judge Burnett.

[…jury selection…Oates calls for dismissal of charges…a map of the scene is presented by surveyor Smyth…]

…When he was excused D. B. Hart was the next witness called. Witness Hart stated that on the night of the shooting he came at the beckoning of Mrs. Miller to her residence, where he saw Mr. Miller lying on the ground near the back steps. He was moaning at the time. About the same time that he arrived Dr. Neal and Will R. Carithers, also came. The witness stated that he saw no deadly weapon on Miller, in fact he made no examination anyway. The witness produced a toothpick In court, which he testified he took from Miller’s mouth after the shooting.

The Hon. John Tyler Campbell who resides near the Miller residence, testified that he was dining on the night in question when he heard either three or four shots. He came to the front of the house and then J. L. Durivage called to him that some one had been hurt. He saw Mr. Miller being carried to the house. The witness was also asked questions concerning the location of place of the shooting and the view thereof from the place where he was standing.

Eugene Fisher, who now resides at San Rafael and who was formerly employed as cook at the county jail, testified that after the shooting Dr. Bogle came to the jail to give himself up to the officers. He left a pistol (produced by the district attorney) with the witness. The pistol was then admitted in evidence and was marked “People’s Exhibit, No. 2,” the toothpick produced by the witness Hart having been marked “People’s Exhibit, No. 1.” Court then adjourned for the noon recess.

The first witness called at the afternoon session was Dr. J. W. Jesse. Being summoned a few moments after the shooting, he found Mr. Miller lying upon the couch to which he had been carried. Investigation developed the fact that he was suffering from the effect of two gunshot wounds. One was in the right arm, the bullet having entered at a point about half way between the wrist and the elbow, coming out just behind the elbow joint. The other bullet had entered about the middle of the left hip, penetrated the intestines, and came out on the other side of the stomach just above the groin. Death resulted, in the opinion of the witness, from peritonitis. caused by the wound last mentioned. After further testimony of a professional nature, the witness was excused.

Dr. William Finlaw was the next witness. Together with Dr. Jesse be had performed the autopsy held a short time after Mr. Miller’s death. He examined the wound made by the bullet entering the hip, but not the other one. In his opinion death resulted from peritonitis, caused by inflammation resulting from the wound described.

W. R. Carithers was then called. While on his way home on the evening of the shooting he had been attracted by people running towards the Miller house. Witness was then just [a]cross from the Miller residence, on Mendocino street. Hurrying across the street he found Mrs. Miller [s]tanding at her front gate. She told him to go to the rear of the house. There he found Mr. Miller lying with his head on the lower back step. He assisted in carrying the injured man into the house and in removing his clothing. He did not know what the pockets of his clothing contained. He had heard either three or four shots fired, hut was not certain which.

Mrs. J. H. Barrickio was called and sworn. She resides next door to the Bogle residence on Johnson street. On the evening of April 25 she heard four shots fired. Rushing to the window and looking in the direction from which the sound came she saw Dr. Bogle standing on the sidewalk at a point about opposite the fence dividing the Miller and Bogle lots. She illustrated the time elapsing between the different shots and after [s]ome further testimony was excused.

Clinton Demmer, being called, took the stand. On the evening of the shooting he was standing in front of his father’s store on Mendocino street, about a block from the Miller residence. Hearing four pistol shots he started in their direction. In front of the Riley residence he passed Dr. Bogle on his way toward the courthouse, also another man going in the opposite direction. Arriving at Mr. Millers side gate he found several persons assembled there. Mr. Hart, who lives opposite, was just entering the house by the rear door. Witness described but not very minutely, several bullet marks he noticed in the neighborhood of the steps. When he passed Dr. Bogle some one was whistling, but witness was not sure whether it was Dr. Bogle or the other gentleman referred to.

Thomas Bonner was sworn and gave the result of certain investigations made yesterday as to the positions on Mendocino street from which two men standing in the rear of the Miller residence on Johnson street could be seen.

Mrs. J. M. Miller, wife of the deceased, next took the stand. After identifying a map showing the relative location of the Miller and the Bogle residences she testified that on the evening of April 25 she and her husband had supper about 6 o’clock. Mr. Miller started down town, going out the back door and down the back steps. A few moments later witness heard four shots fired. Rushing out the back door she found her husband lying on his side on the lower steps. She did not see Dr. Bogle. Running around the house the other way she made her way to the front gate. She saw Dr. Neal passing and motioned to him to come in. Mr. Miller was carried into the house and his clothes were removed. From the pockets of his clothing she took a note book. $15 in gold, three dollars and some cents in silver, a knife and some keys. The knife, a small pocket affair, was identified and placed in evidence. In response to a question from the district attorney, Mrs. Miller testified that at the time of the shooting her husband did not have a pistol upon his person.

Newton V. V. Smyth, the surveyor, was next called. He had at the request of the defense examined the location of the Miller and Bogle residences and told the jury of the height of the buildings, steps, etc.

Clinton Demmer, being recalled, told of having found a bullet mark on the cement walk leading from Miller’s side gate to the back steps. He was not sure as to the exact location of the mark.

At the conclusion of young Demmer’s testimony court adjourned until Friday morning at 10 o’clock.

 

MUCH EVIDENCE IN
Very Strong Testimony At Dr. Bogle’s Trial
The Court and Jury Taken to View the Scene of the Shooting on Johnson Street

At the opening of the proceedings of the case yesterday Mrs. J. M. Miller, the widow, was recalled by the prosecution to the witness stand. The main purpose of her additional testimony was to identify her deceased husband’s clothes.

C. D. McDuffy was the next witness called. On the night of the shooting he was sitting in his buggy on Johnson street near the Durivage home. He heard the shots fired and so far as he knew there were three. If there was a fourth shot fired he did not hear it. He did not see the shooting.

The witness saw a man standing on or near the sidewalk outside the Miller residence near the gate. He afterwards learned that the man he saw was Dr. Bogle. The Doctor was standing with his face turned partly towards the Miller residence. The witness staled that he took no interest in the shots until he learned that some one had been hurt and did not get out of his buggy for several minutes.

George Felix, who is employed on the California Northwestern, was the next witness called. He was probably the only eye-witness to the shooting. He testified that on the night in question he was riding his bicycle on Mendocino street and that he got off near the corner on Johnson street. He looked up Johnson street and saw Dr. Bogle standing on the sidewalk outside of the Miller residence and also saw Mr. Miller standing at the corner of his residence near the back stairs. He saw Dr. Bogle put his hand in his pocket for his pistol which he raised and fired at Mr. Miller. Miller had his hands down at the time, as far as he could see, and after the third shot he fell, the witness testified. After the occurrence he (the witness) jumped on his wheel and went for Dr. Jesse.

During the cross-examination of the witness Felix by Attorney Ware, he was asked a number of questions to make certain the statement he made on direct examination that he was off his wheel when the first shot was fired and was looking up Johnson street at the two men. The witness’ testimony at the preliminary examination was read to him. At the preliminary hearing he testified that it was hard for a person to measure distances while on a bicycle. The witness yesterday claimed while he was on the stand that he was pretty certain that he was off his bicycle when the first shot was fired.

Upon further cross-examination by Mr. Ware the witness testified that he did not see either of Mr. Miller’s hands when the first shot was fired. He further testified that when Mr. Miller staggered back Dr. Bogle ceased firing and put the revolver in his back pocket. The witness was asked many more questions as to distances and as to his testimony given at the hearing before the magistrate. His answers differed from his previous testimony in some points. When the witness was excused, District Attorney Webber announced that the case for the people was rested.

Attorney Ware then made the opening statement for the defense. He told the jury that they proposed to lift the curtain over Dr. Bogle’s life and would show his record and that they expected to show by the best men in Monterey and Sonoma counties and other places that his character for peace and quietude had been irreproachable. Counsel proceeded to point out that the defense would show that trouble over a bill was what led up to the unfortunate affair and he detailed some of the circumstances in connection therewith.

The defense expected to show. Mr. Ware said, that Miller had openly stated that if Dr. Bogle did not pay the bill that he would kill him. Further they would show that this threat had been communicated to Dr. Bogle by a gentleman who would be called as a witness. Counsel stated that the defense would show that similar threats had been made by Miller at different times and that Dr. Bogle had been warned of them. They would show that Miller had followed Dr. Bogle around and that the Doctor had tried to avoid him. They would show that a few days before the unfortunate occurrence the two men met on the public street and that after Mr. Miller had used some harsh words in talking with Dr. Bogle that he drew a knife upon him.

After outlining the course to be pursued by the defense. Attorney Ware turned to the events of the night of the shooting. He said the defense expected to show that Miller directed an epithet at Bogle and threatened to kill him and that he (Miller) reached for his pistol pocket and advanced towards Bogle and that Dr. Bogle, mindful of the threats made upon his life, shot Mr. Miller.

R. W. Moore was the first witness called for the defense. He is the man with whom the bill over which the trouble occurred originated. Dr. Bogle attended Mr. Moore’s wife during her illness. Moore at the time was employed by Mr. Miller and between the three an agreement was reached as to the payment of the bill.

Judge Cook, however, would not allow the details concerning the bi!l to go in evidence. He, however, permitted Mr. Moore to testify that there had been an agreement regarding the bill between himself and Mr. Miller and Dr. Bogle. The witness was then excused.

At this juncture Colonel Oates, of counsel for the defense arose and asked the court to permit the jury to go with an officer to view the premises where the shooting occurred.

His Honor said that he thought the case was one where such a course would be perfectly proper. An adjournment was taken and the judge, defendant, jury and bailiffs, court reporter, clerk, counsel on both aides, composing tbs entire court, proceeded down Mendocino street to Johnson street. At the suggestion of counsel Judge Cook acted as guide and pointed out the various places referred to in the case, including the Miller, Bogle, Barrickio, Campbell and Durivage residences, the fences, foliage, etc. The jury also viewed the places from the different points suggested in the evidence they had heard. After this the court and Jury returned to the court room and the noon adjournment was taken.

Ney L. Donovan was the first witness called at the afternoon session. Being duly sworn he stated that the evening of April 23, two days prior to the shooting, he had been attracted by loud talking at the corner of Fourth and Mendocino streets. Dr. Bogle and Mr. Miller were doing the talking. Mr. Miller had a knife in his hand, a pocket knife, and he held it with the blade partially up his sleeve. The first words the witness heard were spoken by Mr. Miller. He called Dr. Bogle a “thieving — — — —-.” Miller was greatly excited. His manner was aggressive. Dr. Bogle was also excited. Dr. Bogle stepped back, however, and told Miller to put up his knife. Witness remained in the neighborhood until the two men parted. Dr. Bogle crossed the street, and Mr. Miller made his way up Mendocino street. The meeting described occurred about opposite Claypool’s tailor shop on Mendocino street. Miller afterwards returned.

Upon cross-examination the witness stated he was positive he had seen the knife in Mr. Miller’s hand. If he was whittling anything at the time witness did not notice it. Witness admitted that Dr. Bogle had a knife in his hand later, but he did not consider Dr. Bogle’s actions aggressive. Mr. Miller on the contrary was quite so. He made one move toward Dr. Bogle at least and the latter stepped back. Witness did not see Mr. Miller take the knife out of his pocket. He had it in his hand when witness arrived upon the scene. Mr. Miller did not raise the hand in which he held the knife, but the movement referred to was one of the whole body. Witness stoutly maintained that in his opinion Mr. Miller was the aggressor.

S. B. Claypool was then called. On Monday evening, April 23, between the hours of 6 and 7, while preparing to close his place of business, he saw Miller and Bogle engaged in a discussion on Mendocino street. Miller made the remark “You are a — thief.” To this Dr. Bogle replied that he was not a thief. One word led to another, several hard names were called, and Dr. Bogle said. “Put up your knife.” This was the first time witness had noticed the knife in Miller’s hand. Both men were excited. but Miller the more so. In witness’ opinion Miller was the aggressor. Dr. Bogle told Mr. Miller to put up the knife at least once before he took his own knife, a small pen knife, from out his vest pocket.

Upon cross-examination witness admitted that both men had engaged in the exchange of verbal compliments. He did not see Miller draw his knife — it was already in his hand when he noticed it.

Upon re-direct examination witness stated that Miller’s knife was a jack knife, the blade open being about three or three and a half inches long. Miller held the knife in his hand with the blade pointing backward and upward.

Walter V. Middleton was called. He conducts a saloon at the corner of Fourth and Mendocino streets. A couple of days before the shooting he saw Miller and Bogle together near his place of business. Mr. Miller angry and was abusing Dr. Bogle. Mr. Miller called the Doctor a thief and several other hard names. To one Dr. Bogle replied: “If you say I am a — — — — you are a — — — — — —.” Miller had a knife in his hand. Witness could not remember in which hand Miller held the knife. Both men were angry. Witness also saw a small pen knife in Bogle’s hand. Miller’s knife was a good-sized pocket knife.

Upon cross-examination witness admitted that he had not seen Miller make any motion to strike Bogle.

Gene Ross was called and sworn. He was in this city on the evening of April 23, and saw the meeting described by the previous witnesses. Witness heard Dr. Bogle say that Miller had a knife in his hand. At the time Bogle’s hands were empty. Bogle took his knife from his pocket later on. Miller was angry and made a move forward, at which Bogle stepped back. Miller held his knife with the blade pointed backward The two men confronted each other probably two minutes or so.

Upon cross-examination witness slated that he did not think Dr. Bogle was much excited. He did not see Miller make any attempt to strike Bogle. He made a movement forward however, at which Bogle jumped back and took his own knife from his pocket.

Dr. C. W. Reed, the dentist, was called. His offices are in the Masonic block, a few doors from Mr. Miller’s then place of business on Hinton avenue. On a certain occasion he went into Miller’s store to see about paying a bill. Miller during the visit said that Dr. Bogle owed him a bill and “if he does not pay it I will kill the G—d d-—n — — — —.” Later in Bernstein’s cigarstore. he told Dr. Bogle of the circumstance and warned him to “look out” for Miller. Thornton Preston, witness thought, was present and had heard him tell Dr. Bogle this.

Upon cross-examination witness stated that when he told Dr. Bogle of Miller’s actions the physician replied, “All right, I’ll keep an eye open.” The conversation with Miller occurred on the morning of April 24. as near as he witness could remember.

Thornton Preston, a clerk in Bernstein’s cigar store, next took the stand. He corroborated the testimony of the previous witness to the effect that he (Reed) had warned Dr. Bogle to “look out for” Miller, and had related to him the circumstance of his visit to Miller’s store and the conversation there had. To this Bogle replied that he would keep his eyes open.

Upon cross-examination witness was not positive of the date of this occurrence but was of the opinion that it look place a day or two before the meeting on Mendocino street described by the previous witnesses.

M. V. Vanderhoof took the stand. He described a meeting that occurred between Dr. Bogle and Mr. Miller in the Vanderhoof and Koenig stables the day before the shooting. Dr. Bogle came in to get a horse and buggy. Miller also came in. While the rig was being hitched up Dr. Bogle said to the hostler. “I wish you would hurry.” Miller was walking up and down in the front part of the stable and appeared nervous. Witness was first in the rear of the stable, but came up front because he “thought there might be trouble.” Dr. Bogle got in the buggy and drove out. Miller also went out.

Later in the day Mr. Miller came into the barn again. Witness then congratulated Mr. Miller upon the fact that he had not had any trouble with Bogle that morning. Miller replied that he also was glad, because he had come into the barn “for the purpose of having trouble,” but out of regard for witness and his partner (Frank Koenig) he had refrained. He said he Would “see Bogle later.” however, and would “hurt him.”

Upon cross-examination witness admitted that there was nothing unusual in a physician entering a livery stable and calling for a horse and buggy in a hurry. He did not see Miller make any threatening moves. Witness reiterated his statement, however, that he had come from the back of the stable because he anticipated trouble, knowing that the men had had trouble the night before.

Frank Koenig was called and corroborated the testimony of the previous witness regarding the occurrence in the livery stable. Later in the day. witness stated, he saw Miller coming out of Orr & Stump’s saloon. He crossed the street and entered Fine’s butcher shop. Witness, knowing Miller very intimately, followed into the butcher shop and began to “josh” him. “Are you fixed?” he asked. Placing his hands on Miller’s sides, he felt a knife in Miller’s outside coat pocket. Witness then drew back, and told Miller he was a fool and had better go home. Miller laughed, shrugged his shoulders and said nothing.

Koenig’s cross-examination was very brief. He was asked whether or not he had ever seen Mr. Miller threaten Dr. Bogle and replied In the negative.

Thomas Bonner being called to the stand, testified to having seen Mr. Miller walking up and down in front of Vanderhoof & Koenig’s livery stable on the day mentioned. Witness had intended talking life insurance to Mr. Miller, but when he saw him decided not to do so and did not even speak to him. The reason witness changed his mind was because whoa he got close to him he saw that Miller appeared angry. Witness had known Miller very well for several years but never knew or heard until after the homicide that he had a crippled hand. After a brief cross-examination witness was excused and court adjourned to 1 o’clock this morning. It is hardly likely the case will be concluded before Monday night.

– Press Democrat, September 22 1900

 

BOGLE NOT GUILTY
Verdict Rendered at Midnight
THE TRIAL ENDED
The Jury Deliberated Three Hours and a Quarter
A Big Crowd Listens to the Brilliant Arguments Node by Counsel on Monday

Saturday was an interesting day in the trial of the state against Dr. S. S. Bogle, which was resumed at 10 o’clock in the morning before Judge Carroll Cook. Dr. C. W. Reed, the dentist, was the first witness called. He was asked a question by District Attorney Webber as to whether he had made a statement regarding the trouble between Bogle and Miller. The Doctor replied that he had said that Miller had said that he would kill Bogle.

City Surveyor L. E. Ricksecker was the next witness called for the defense. He was asked by Colonel Oates if Dr. Bogle had ever been to see him regarding his trouble with Miller. Mr. Ricksecker replied that the Doctor came to him and begged him to see Miller and get him to arbitrate the matter. He (the witness) unfortunately was not able to see Miller.

A. J. Wheeler was called and related a conversation he had with Mr. Miller a short time before the shooting. At that time Miller told him that business was not satisfactory but that it would be better if some of those persons who owed bills and did not pay them “were plunked full of lead.” He further stated that there was one man in particular whom he “would fill with lead if he did not pay his bill.”

George F. King, the Fourth street grocer. testified that he had a conversation with Mr. Miller in his store in which Miller related his trouble with Bogle. Miller then threatened that he would kill Dr. Bogle.

Oscar McNally, employed at Frank Koenig’s livery stable, was called. He testified that on one occasion Mr. Miller was following another man across the street whom he thought was Dr. Bogle. The witness testified that he heard Mr. Miller make a threat against Dr. Bogle, saying that he “would cut his — — — — heart out.”

Dr. J. W. Jesse was recalled by the defense. He testified that when George Felix rode up to him and informed him of the shooting he (Felix) stated that Miller had killed Dr. Bogle, and that when he (Dr. Jesse) started for the house he expected that he was going to see Dr. Bogle. The Doctor further testified that Dr. Bogle had consulted him about his trouble with Mr. Miller and he (the witness) believed that he had on one occasion advised Dr. Bogle to put Mr. Miller under bonds. Dr. Jesse further testified that Dr. Bogle’s “reputation for peace and quietness” prior to April 25, in the community was good.

M. J. Striening of the Santa Rosa Bank was called and also testified that Dr. Bogle’s reputation for peace and quietness was good.

W. F. Wines, assistant cashier of the Exchange Bank, testified that Dr. Bogle’s reputation was good.

F. H. Newman, the druggist, whose place of business is on the corner of Fourth and Mendocino streets, testified that he had known Dr. Bogle, both in Monterey and Santa Rosa for many years. His reputation for peacefulness and quietness was very good in both places.

Other character witnesses were W. H. Pool, Allen B. Lemmon, Supervisor T. J. Field of Monterey county, all of whom testified that the defendant had enjoyed a good reputation. The district attorney asked each character witness whether or not he was a member of the same fraternal order to which Dr. Bogle belonged.

Witness Field in reply to the district attorney, stated he had never heard of Dr. Bogle being connected with an election scandal in Monterey but that he had been one of many citizens who had assisted in probing an election scandal.

Dr. O. S. Trimmer, president of the board of trustees of Pacific Grove, testified that he had known Dr. Bogle and that he had borne a good character. He testified that he had never heard of any one having taken a shot at Dr. Bogle.

R. F. Johnson, chairman of the board of trustees of Monterey, testified that Dr. Bogle’s reputation for peace and quiet was good. In reply to a question by Mr. Webber, the witness testified that he had not heard of Dr. Bogle having been mixed up in an election contest, neither had he heard of any one having taken a shot at him. The person whom the district attorney intimated had taken a shot at Dr. Bogle was named Selvay.

City Engineer W. C. Little of Pacific Grove testified that he knew Dr. Bogle’s reputation was good. H. C. Snodgrass of Pacific Grove, a retired Presbyterian minister, gave similar testimony.

At this stage of the proceedings Judge Carroll Cook, stated that as six people from Monterey had given character testimony that he thought that more witnesses from that section were unnecessary, as the district attorney was not going io introduce rebuttal testimony on the question of Dr. Bogle’s character. The court, however, stated that counsel could call one or two more witnesses from Santa Rosa.

County Recorder Fred L. Wright was called. He testified that Dr. Bogle’s general reputation for peace and quietness was good. Similar testimony was given by Waiter S. Davis of Davis & Crane’s insurance and real estate firm.

J. L. Durivage was the next witness called. He resides on Johnson street adjoining the Presbyterian church. On the night of the shooting he heard the shots and went to see what had happened. After the first glance at the man lying on the ground, the witness said, he ran to call Judge Campbell. The witness then detailed the arrival of others on the scene. He also said that he saw what looked like a pocket pruning knife in one of Mr. Miller’s hands. He also described circumstances subsequent to the discovery of the body. When the witness was excused court adjourned for the noon recess.

Thomas Bonner was recalled at the opening of the afternoon session, and testified us to the positions on Johnson street from which the back steps of the Miller residence could be seen.

John A. Stump, of the firm of Orr & Stump, next took the stand. In response to the questioning of Attorney Oates, witness testified that on the afternoon of April 25. Mr. Miller had taken “an extraordinary large” drink of whiskey over his bar. Witness noted the fact because Mr. Miller’s drinks were usually moderate in size. The purpose of this testimony, as explained by Mr. Oates, was an attempt to show that Miller had been preparing for trouble.

The next witness called was Dr. S. S. Bogle, the defendant. As he took the stand and began his story of the shooting and his recital of the trouble which led up to it, a murmur of suppressed interest and excitement passed around the court room and every spectator leaned unconsciously forward. For the first time Dr. Bogle was to tell his story of the unfortunate affair, and how Mr. Miller met his death.

The witness began, in response to queries from Mr. Ware, by giving his age and occupation and outlining his career before coming to this city about two years ago. previous to which time he practiced his profession in Monterey. When asked if he had ever had any trouble in Monterey, as intimated by the prosecution at the morning session, witness replied indignantly in the negative, saying he had never before been in trouble of any kind.

In telling of his trouble with Miller, the witness began at the very beginning. He told of the disputed account, of the meeting on Mendocino street when both had drawn their knives, of the threats Miller had made to kill him, of his attempt to have the matter settled by arbitration, of Miller’s actions at various times, and finally of the shooting itself.

On the evening of the meeting on Mendocino street after the two parted Miller walked up Mendocino to Johnson street, turned down Johnson and disappeared from sight around the corner. Bogle crossed over to Speegle’s stand and watched him do so. Three or four minutes later Miller came back around the corner of Johnson street and started downtown. Witness’ opinion was that he had gone home and armed himself.

Having no desire to meet Miller[,] witness then made his way through Orr & Stump’s saloon, which is located in the Dougherty-Shea block, into the lot in the rear and by the back stairs entered the building and made his way to his office. This office is in the Dougherty-Shea block just mentioned. He remained in his office about half an hour and then taking his revolver from his desk, placed it in his pocket and went home. No further trouble resulted that night.

The next morning, when about ready to start down town, witness noticed from the window that Miller was out working in his yard. He was driving a stake, using an axe and standing on a step ladder. He kept glancing continuously toward the Bogle residence. Witness called his wife’s attention to the fact, and at her request did not leave the house that morning. When he did go down town witness did not pass the Miller house as was his usual custom.

Instead of doing so he walked down Johnson street the other way and passed down Riley alley, thence on to Fifth street and down to Mendocino that way. This was the day he asked Mr. Ricksecker to see Miller and as a friend of both parties suggest the matter of arbitrating their differences.

That night, which was the night preceding the shooting, witness started home about 6 o’clock. As he reached the corner of Johnson and Mendocino streets, where Miller’s residence is situated, his little daughter, two years old. came running down the street to meet him. Taking her by the hand they walked down Johnson street the length of the Miller property to the Bogle gate and started up the steps. As they entered the gate Miller came out into his yard, and as witness and his little daughter were making their way up the steps Miller shouted. “I’ll fix you yet, you G—d d—-n — — — —. I’ll fix you yet.”

Wednesday afternoon, the day of the shooting, witness about half past 2 o’clock drove over to Sebastopol. He returned about 5:30. Before starting home from his office some one asked him: “Have you seen Mr. Miller? He is looking for you.” He made his way home, however, without incident. Although he had tried to do so. witness could not recall the name of the man who had told him Miller had been looking for him.

That night after supper witness started down town according to his usual custom. As he reached a point on Johnson street about opposite the fence dividing his property from that of Mr. Miller, the latter opened his screen door and stepped out onto the back porch. He then started rapidly down the steps towards witness. Miller had his right hand in his hip pocket. As he reached the bottom of the steps he took his hand from his pocket and put both hands behind him. Continuing to advance he cried, “I’m going to fix you, you G—d d—-n — — — —, I’m going to fix you, and don’t you think I won’t!”

Witness told Miller to go back. “I don’t want to have any trouble with you,” he continued. Miller continued to advance, both hands still held behind his back. At that moment, witness testified, he heard two sharp, distinct clicks, resembling the cocking of a revolver. Hurriedly drawing his own pistol he fired four shots at Miller in rapid succession. At the fourth shot Miller sunk to the ground. As he fell, witness heard some metallic substance strike the stone pavement upon which he had been standing.

Witness then put his pistol up. Looking down Johnson street he saw a man standing near the Durivage home. Knowing that assistance for Miller was therefore close at hand, he walked down town and to the county jail to give himself up. Jailer Piezzi was not there, but witness left his revolver with Eugene Fisher, the then deputy jailer, and made his way to the Grand hotel and to the office of his attorney, J. C. Sims. Afterwards he surrendered himself at the sheriff’s office.

Upon cross-examination witness remained unbroken. When asked if he could tell why it was that one of the bullets had entered Miller’s hip, witness replied that he could not. He said he had his theory of the matter, however, but he was not permitted to give it.

Serafino Piezzi, jailor and deputy sheriff, was called to the stand to identify the pistol with which the shooting was done, but the identity of the weapon was admitted, as was the fact that the pistol at the time Dr. Bogle left it at the jail contained one unexploded cartridge. Piezzi was consequently excused, and the defense announced that it rested its case.

Miles Peerman was then called to the stand in rebuttal. He testified that on the morning of Dr. Bogle’s preliminary examination he heard Dr. C. W. Reed make the remark that he (Reed) had heard Miller make some remarks which if known “would help Bogle out.” Reed evidently referred to Mr. Miller’s threats to kill Bogle If he did not pay the bill previously spoken of. Upon cross examination witness’ testimony remained unshaken.

Mrs. J. M. Miller was also called to the stand in rebuttal and asked as to the condition of Mr. Miller’s right hand. She stated that never since his service in the army had he been able to close his hand or grasp any small object with it. Upon cross-examination however Mrs. Miller admitted that her husband was always able to eat with his knife and fork, but said that when driving he usually wrapped one of the lines around the right hand.

Mrs. W. R. Farion of Indianapolis, a sister of Mrs. J. M. Miller, was sworn. She had known J. M. Miller for about thirty-five years and knew that his right hand was injured. The injury was the result of a wound received while in the army.

Walter P. Price, deputy internal revenue collector, was called by the defense. He had often seen Mr. Miller hitch and unhitch horses but had never noticed anything the matter with his hand.

Deputy County Clerk Maitland G. Hall was also called. He had seen Mr. Miller use a pen many times. Miller wrote a good business hand. Witness never noticed that he wrote or held his pen any differently from any one else, or that there was anything the matter with his hands.

At the conclusion of Mr. Hall’s testimony the attorneys announced that the case was concluded. Judge Cook admonished the jury as to their duties and gave certain instructions, as to the way they should be treated over Sunday, after which court adjourned till Monday morning at 10 o’clock. The argument will then begin, and the case will go to the jury some time Monday or Monday night.

MONDAY’S PROCEEDINGS

Morning afternoon and evening the courtroom was crowded to its fullest capacity with men. women and children who never lost interest in the proceedings throughout the entire day. The arguments of counsel were heard with the closest attention, not a sentence being missed by the auditors. It is seldom that a more distinct wave of interest is noticed in a courtroom.

Monday is the usual calendar day in both departments of the Superior Court. On this occasion, however, so as not to lose any time Judge Cook continued the entire calendar for one week and at 10 o’clock took his seat on the bench and instructed counsel to proceed with the argument.

District Attorney O. O. Webber, who prosecuted the case vigorously, made the opening argument for the prosecution. He was followed by Colonel James W. Oates and Attorney A. B. Ware, the able counsel for defense. Then the district attorney closed the argument. All the addresses were very able and at times the learned gentlemen waxed eloquent. The arguments were classed as being some of the ablest heard in the court.

When the argument ended about half past 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Judge Cook announced that he would deliver his charge to the jury, at half past 7 o’clock in the evening. At that hour the courtroom was packed with people. The Judge’s instructions to the jury were lengthy, the delivery of the charge occupying about an hour and a half. While the court was speaking the silence was such that a person could almost have heard a pin drop.

The court gave the Jury a large number of instructions both for the prosecution and defense. One of the most important instructions given for the defendant was No. 22, which was as follows:

If the Jury find from the evidence that defendant knew deceased was angry with him and he had recently seen demonstrations of anger towards him on the part of the deceased, and that he had been informed by a person he regarded as reliable that deceased had threatened to do defendant great bodily harm or kill him, and had been advised to look out for deceased, and that this did create in defendant’s mind an apprehension that, he was likely to be attacked by deceased, he had a right to arm himself for his protection; and if soon thereafter defendant was passing by deceased’s house along the public sidewalk and deceased began a quarrel with defendant, deceased being in his own yard and defendant on the public sidewalk, and deceased advanced towards defendant and made any demonstration by words and acts calculated to produce in the mind of a reasonable man situated as defendant then was, seeing what he saw and knowing what he knew, including the fact of hostile feeling towards him on the part of deceased and of his former acts and threats against him communicated to defendant, if any, and did create the belief in the mind of defendant that deceased was then and there about to assault him with a deadly weapon, and that his, defendant’s safety required that he shoot deceased, he had a right to shoot until he saw that such impending danger was removed, and if the actions of deceased were rationally calculated to create the belief and did create the belief in defendant’s mind that deceased was probably armed with a pistol, defendant had a right to act upon such appearance and take his measure of defense accordingly. And if you believe from the evidence that the deceased had made threats to kill or do defendant great bodily harm, and that the deceased at the time of the shooting made a demonstration that meant as ordinarily observed among men that deceased was drawing a knife or pistol. or any other deadly weapon, defendant was not required to wait to see which it was; if deceased started to draw a weapon or put his hand behind him as if taking something out from his hip pocket, defendant had the right to act upon the assumption usually and reasonably flowing from such acts of deceased.

The jury took with them into the jury room five forms of verdict as follows:

We, the jury, find the defendant, S. S. Bogle, guilty of murder in the first degree.

We, the jury, find the defendant, S. S. Bogle, guilty of murder in the first degree and we fix the penalty at life imprisonment.

We, the jury, find the defendant, S. S. Bogle, guilty of murder in the second degree.

We, the jury, find the defendant. S. S. Bogle, guilty of manslaughter.

We, the jury, find the defendant, S. S. Bogle, not guilty.

Deputy Clerk Hall next swore in the officers to take charge of the jury. The officers were Deputy Sheriffs Logan Tombs, Serafino Piezzi and J. L. Gist. The jury then retired, the eyes of the spectators following them until the door of the room closed upon them and Deputy Sheriff Tombs turned the key in the lock. The hour was a quarter to 9 o’clock. The general presentment that the Jury would be out only a short time caused the crowd of spectators to remain seated for some time. Gradually the seats were vacated until comparatively few people remained. The closing scenes of the trial were memorable.

At a few minutes after the clock in the courthouse dome had struck twelve Monday night the jury in the case of the People of the State of California vs. S. S. Bogle returned the following verdict:

“In the Superior Court of the County of Sonoma, State of California. People of the State of California, plaintiff, vs. S. S. Bogle, defendant.

“We, the jury, find the defendant S. S. Bogle, not guilty. Valentine Watson. foreman.”

The verdict was returned after the jury had been deliberating about three hours and a quarter. At about twenty minutes past 11 the court had the bailiff bring in the jury. His Honor questioned them as to whether they wished any further instructions regarding the law. Several jurors replied in the negative and one stated that they would like to have a little while longer. They were taken back to the room and at midnight they announced that they had agreed upon the verdict stated above.

After Clerk Hall had recorded the verdict and the jurors had affirmed it, the court made the order releasing Dr. Bogle from custody. The Doctor’s friends in the courtroom crowded around him and his brave little wife, who had not left his side during the trying ordeal of the day and shook hands with both. The Doctor shook hands with the jurors as they filed from their seats.

It is understood that the jury before arriving at their verdict took nine ballots and that up the last ballot they stood eleven for acquittal and one for manslaughter.

– Press Democrat, September 26 1900

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stofenvault

WHO ROBBED THE COUNTY TREASURY?

Santa Rosa made national news in the days after Christmas, 1894. Hundreds of newspapers nationwide, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to the Wah-shah-she News in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, ran a wire story that began this way:


Santa Rosa, Cal., Dec. 28.—Santa Rosa had the biggest sensation in its history today. The county treasury was robbed of nearly $8000 and County Treasurer Stofen was left insensible in the vault to suffocate by the robbers, who locked the door of the vault on him. The robbery occurred about 9 o’clock this morning, but was not discovered until about 5 o’clock this afternoon. All this time Treasurer Stofen lay on the floor of the vault gasping for breath, fearing every moment during conscious intervals would be his last.

Stofen told reporters the next day that he had opened his office at the county courthouse as usual on Dec. 28 and was bringing coin trays out of the vault (it was 1894, remember, and “money” meant gold and silver coins, not greenback dollars). Suddenly there was a man in front of him holding a large dagger. “Drop that money,” he ordered. The 58 year-old Stofen put the tray down and either was struck on the head or fainted. The next thing he knew was waking up to discover he was locked in the vault.

“I pounded on the door, but of course no one could hear me,” he told reporters. He knew there was a faint draught at the bottom of the door and lay with his face near it. He passed out again.

Meanwhile, his two kids stopped by at noon to drop off his lunch. Not finding dad in the office and the door locked, they hung around waiting for him. A man from San Francisco wanted to make a payment and was annoyed to find the office closed, as he did not want to make another trip to Santa Rosa. The sheriff – whose office was next door – suggested he give the money to Stofen’s 18 year-old daughter which he did, since it’s 1894 and you can trust a teenager you don’t know with making cash deposits and there’s another reason I wish we were all living back then.

In the middle of the afternoon Mrs. Stofen drops by the office after a day trip to Cloverdale. Finding his lunch outside the door, she goes home, fearing he might be ill. Not finding him there either, she rushes back to the courthouse and learns no one had seen him since morning. She has the janitor open the door and finds the office in disarray. “Then I screamed and immediately heard knocks coming from the vault,” she told the SF Examiner.

She tries the combination of the vault, since it’s 1894, of course the wife of the country treasurer knows the combination to the county vault and is the only other person who does. It doesn’t work. She tries again, and this time the door opens. “When we got Mr. Stofen out,” the janitor told the Sonoma Democrat, “he looked pale and much prostrated. The meeting between Mr. and Mrs. Stofen was one of the most painful things I ever saw in all my life.”

Mr. and Mrs. Stofen, San Francisco Examiner, December 30 1894
Mr. and Mrs. Stofen, San Francisco Examiner, December 30 1894

It was decided that the robber got away with $8400.79 total – over a quarter-million dollars today. Of that $7,815.79 belonged to the treasury; also taken was $585 of Stofen’s own money and non-treasury accounts, such as unclaimed funds collected on behalf of estates.

Stofen and the sheriff formed a theory that the robber had been in the courthouse for hours, maybe overnight. Between the treasurer’s office and the sheriff’s there was a closet-sized gap, as each office had its own lockable door. The space was used only for light storage. There was also the question of the three push-button alarms in the treasurer’s office; it was discovered a corner of the carpet was ripped up near that little passageway and the wires connecting it to the sheriff had been cut.

Stofen was all but useless in providing a description of the robber. In the few seconds before he was clubbed or fainted, he fixated on the knife blade with its sharp edge. “The closest description I can give of him is that he was a large man, had chin whiskers and had no shoes on his feet.”

Assorted suspicious characters were recalled. Assistant DA Leppo saw “a German looking man” walking up steps inside the courthouse turn around when he seemed to notice he was being observed. Two men were reported driving away quickly in a buggy. Another German-ish stranger matching the vague description was supposedly hanging out around the train station before dawn. Given that seven hours had passed since Stofen was locked in the vault the sheriff assumed the robber(s) were far away, and sent out telegrams to be on the lookout.

The robbery also caused legal problems for Stofen. County officers were held personally liable for any funds found missing during their term in office; Stofen and other candidates had to show they were bonded for significant losses. As a member of Santa Rosa’s monied elite, his bondsmen were five of the top bankers and investors in town.1

A petition began circulating which asked the legislature to make up for the loss but nothing came of it. In mid-March – ten weeks after the robbery – the Board of Supervisors filed a lawsuit against Stofen and the bondsmen for the recovery of $7,815.79.

At the first hearing for that case it was revealed the defense would argue Stofen and the bondsmen were not liable because it had been a robbery. California law was unclear if that was a valid defense – in fact, a similar case was then waiting to be heard by the state Supreme Court which involved the robbery of the Healdsburg treasurer a year earlier. (In that theft everything was stolen except for some petty cash, leaving the town so flat broke it had to release prisoners because the jailer could no longer afford to feed them.)2

It took the Supreme Court months to decide, but in the summer of 1896 they ruled that yes, robbery is a valid defense – but it must be proven that a robbery indeed took place.

By that time there was growing suspicion that Stofen was either an accomplice to the theft or had made up the robbery story to cover up embezzlement.

The Daily/Sonoma Democrat was firmly in Stofen’s corner from the beginning. A few days after he was found in the vault the paper offered a long item praising his good character: “The boon of a good name was never more fully shown than in the case of County Treasurer Stofen. No man in this city who knows the treasurer, for a moment doubts his thorough honesty…” The Democrat went so far as to downplay or ignore new details that contradicted his story; fortunately all of the major San Francisco papers were interested in the case and had stringers reporting from here.

Light-fingered treasurers were surprisingly common; in 1857 the Sonoma County Treasurer was convicted of stealing state money, county money, and county school funds, a perfect trifecta of embezzlement. Crooked treasurers also had a habit of making up dime novel-type stories about stickups to hide their crime. The San Francisco Chronicle remarked, “in nearly every instance investigation of detectives has shown that the robbery was mythical.”

Several aspects of Stofen’s story didn’t jibe. He kept adding more details; although he first said he only noticed the robber’s whiskers and lack of shoes, a year later he described him as about six feet, stout and wearing a pistol on his hip. Except for a “slight swelling” on his head he was uninjured, casting doubt on whether he had been knocked out. And then there was the matter of trying to get help.

He said initially he had “pounded on the door,” but experiments were made with someone locked in the vault and hitting the door; the noise could be easily heard on that floor of the courthouse. Attorney Frances McG. Martin was in her nearby office that day and heard nothing, nor did the deputy sheriff on duty next door.

The Grand Jury looked at the noise question and passed an inconclusive resolution that it could have been either a “real or pretended robbery.” When the lawsuit hearings resumed, most of the testimony centered on whether door pounding could be heard in the corridor just a few feet away.

In Dec. 1896 – almost two years after the incident – Judge Dougherty ruled in favor of the county. Stofen had not proven that a robbery had taken place, as the only evidence that it really happened was his word.

Stofen and the bond boys requested a jury trial, citing the usual sorts of legal hairsplitting. While that was being considered, there was a sensational twist: A witness came forward to say he saw the likely robber leaving the treasurer’s office.

George Peery, who was taking his brother’s place as courthouse engineer that day, claimed a stranger with a big satchel came out of the treasurer’s office. (If the stolen money was mainly $20 gold pieces, the haul would have weighed around 30 pounds.) In his statement he described the man as rather small and wearing a light overcoat. Peery claimed he asked if the treasurer was in his office and the stranger said he was.

Asked why he had waited over two years before coming forward, Peery said he did not want to get involved, but claimed at the time he had spoken about it to his late wife and a friend in Santa Cruz. Peery’s affidavit was added to the bundle of documents filed with the court asking for a new trial. It’s unknown whether anyone realized at the time that Peery was a crazy drunk who made up stuff. He would spend much of the next five years in an asylum.3

In August 1897 Judge Dougherty denied the motion for a new trial, saying nothing had changed since his original decision. “No person but Stofen knows what the truth about the matter is. No other person can say that he was robbed or was not robbed. If he was robbed it is his misfortune.” An appeal was made to the state Supreme Court, and in 1899 they affirmed Dougherty’s decision.

With about $12k now due thanks to four and a half years’ interest, the bondsmen made a deal to settle with the county for $8,089.24. Under the civil code they could sue Stofen for repayment, and one of them did. He signed over the deed to his house on Third street, although the family had been living in San Francisco for at least three years.

The Stofen robbery – um, the alleged Stofen robbery – is an intriguing little whodunnit.

stofen1900(RIGHT: Peter N. Stofen, detail from photo of 1900 family picnic. Image: Sonoma County Library)

At the time of the robbery Peter Stofen had been the county treasurer for six years, but it probably wasn’t because he needed the paycheck. He was called “Captain Stofen” because he and his brother famously owned steamers and schooners running to San Francisco from Petaluma and Sonoma; there is spot on Sonoma Creek still called Stofen’s Landing. He had owned houses on Second and Third street, a ranch around Schellville (where he died), and spent his last years in San Francisco while traveling frequently. In short: He didn’t appear to need the missing money, and even losing the Third street house – which likely had a value around $1,200-$1,500 – would not have caused serious financial harm.

There’s no question his story was shaky and the court and Grand Jury were right to focus on proving he had not “pounded” on the vault door to draw attention. And even if they thought in 1897 that Peery was a credible witness, his account of the mysterious stranger with the satchel wasn’t proof of anything.

But as a graduate of ACU/Wingback (Agatha Christie University, Armchair campus), I find two other details stand out as suspicious – yet were not mentioned in any coverage of the case.

The incident occurred when there were just four business days remaining in his term in office. If Stofen knew there was a shortage – intentional or no – it would soon be discovered by the incoming treasurer. If he had embezzled the money, the imminent handover would have been a motive to fake the robbery.

There was also the curious bit about $585 of his own money being stolen as well. Why did he keep so much personal cash around the office? That was the equivalent to a full year’s pay for most skilled workers at the time.

One possibility is that the $585 wasn’t there at all – it was a fib to make the robbery look more real by giving him the chance to say, “hey, I lost money as well” (h/t to Ray Owen for suggesting this).

Another theory is that Stofen had some private business on the side that required ready access to cash. Two that come to mind are loansharking or gambling – the latter either by placing large bets himself or acting as the bank for bookies. This was turn-of-the-century Santa Rosa, remember, and the town had a sizable underground economy centered around gambling and prostitution, as has been hashed over here many times. And 1894 was a major year for sporting events; besides lots of horse racing, the craze for competition bicycle racing was catching fire. So in this scenario perhaps there really was a robbery by one of his clients, but Stofen couldn’t reveal who did it without risk of exposing his own crime.

Peter N. Stofen died in 1910 and is buried at the Mountain Cemetery in Sonoma. None of the money was ever recovered and no one was ever identified as a suspect. None of his obituaries mentioned the robbery, only that he was a well-respected member in the community.


1 Peter Stofen’s bondsmen were Matt Doyle, A. P. Overton, Con Shea, J. H. Brush and Hollis Hitchcock.

2 In October 1893, the Healdsburg city marshal discovered the iron doors of the city treasury open but Treasurer George V. Mulligan could not be found. Much of the town joined the search party that found him handcuffed to a manzanita tree in the park next to the cemetery, but otherwise uninjured. Mulligan said he had been jumped by two men with pistols who forced him to open the safe. According to the San Francisco newspapers the town was divided between those who thought he was scrupulously honest and those who believed he was an accomplice. Strong circumstantial evidence suggested one of the two men who found him shackled to the tree was involved in the robbery. Mulligan died five months later with stomach cancer and the missing $3,560 was never recovered. After his death the Superior Court ruled his estate and the bondsmen were liable for the loss, as the robbery could not be proven. A lawsuit followed where a jury ruled for the city. The bondsmen settled in 1897 and agreed to pay $4.6k.

3 George E. Peery – a sometimes insurance agent, schoolteacher and reporter – was first committed to the Mendocino State Hospital in Ukiah by Judge Dougherty in 1898. He was diagnosed as having “alcoholic insanity” and addiction to narcotics. During his hospital stays of 1898-1899 and 1901-1902 notes on his records state he had delusions of grandiosity, spoke with imaginary persons, and was called in 1902 a “mental wreck.”

 

sources

THE COIN ROBBERY.
Treasurer Stofen Interviewed at His Home.
He Offers a Reward for the Arrest and Conviction ot the Robber.
Attorney Leppo Saw a Suspicious Stranger in the Courthouse — Janitor Hassett’s Story.

Captain Stofen was seen by a Democrat representative on Saturday morning at 11:30 a. m., and lying in his bed told again the now oft-told story of his terrible experience, which was in substance as already stated.

As to the looks of the villain, the Captain has not the slightest recollection. His attention was directed to the knife, which he says was a double-edged dirk with a blade probably six or seven inches in length, held in the man’s right hand with the blade downward, ready to do its deadly work at the slightest movement of non-compliance. The captain does not remember putting the money on the floor, but says the glance he caught of the man’s clothes was that they were dark and that he was in his stocking feet. Then everything became blank. The Captain does not know whether he received a blow or fainted from the effects of the shock. His head had received a bump, but that might have been caused by his being pushed into the vault. He has no idea when he awoke, as he seems to have been only partially conscious for some time; but an intense coldness of his feet made him try to pull off his boots, which were wet with perspiration, as was also his whole body, and rub them as hard as he could; he seemed unable to get his blood to circulate. Then came the sound of voices and making as much noise as possible to attract their attention, he heard the combination click and recognized his wife’s voice, and when it missed and did not open he sank back utterly exhausted, but another try, which was more successful, brought the sunlight with wife and friends.

Treasurer Stofen is resting quietly and it is expected he will he able to go to his office in a few days.

In discussing the robbery with a number of citizens the general opinion is that the robbers had got such a good start after the deed was done that it would be a difficult matter to overtake them.

Sheriff Allen has telegraphed to all the chief points where the robbers might be headed off.

The following notice has been sent out offering a reward:

ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD.
The above sum will be paid for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who assaulted County Treasurer P. N. Stofen and robbed the Treasurer’s office of Sonoma County, California, on Friday, December 28, 1894. Signed,
P. N. Stofen.
Dated Santa Rosa, Cal., Dec. 29, 1894.

While Mrs. Stofen was visiting at Cloverdale a friend invited her to go to Ukiah to spend Friday and at one time she had almost decided to go. Had she accepted the invitation her husband would have died, as no one else would have discovered the robbery and no one else knew the combination of the vault.

No clue has yet been found. There was a report on the street Saturday night that a man had been arrested on suspicion in Vallejo who had considerable coin on his person, but no confirmation of the report could be obtained from the officers here.

Assistant District Attorney Leppo told a Democrat reporter Saturday that he noticed a German looking man on the landing of the stair leading to his office, as he started to come down stairs. The man changed his mind, apparently, when he saw Mr. Leppo, for instead of continuing his ascent he turned and went down stairs again. His notions struck Mr. Leppo at the time as being rather peculiar, and he recalled the man and his actions as soon as he heard of the robbery later in the day.

Mr. Stofen had a number of friends to call upon him Saturday, but he is not in any condition to see many people.

Janitor Hassett says the night before the treasury robbery he left the building at 7 p. m. He returned at 2 o’clock the next morning to begin his work. He went in by the lower Fourth street entrance, going first into the sheriff’s office; cleaned it up, and was in there an hour. Leaving there he went to the surveyor’s and then to the district attorney’s office, then went into the third story; came down after 5 o’clock, and during this time he did not hear a sound or see anything out of the usual run. He remained in the building until 8 o’clock, then went to the hall of records, and returned to the courthouse at 7:30 o’clock. The janitor only cleans the treasurer’s office on Sunday, and so did not go into that office. Mr. Hassett thinks the robber got into the private office with a skeleton key. Mr. Hassett saw Captain Stofen’s mail and lunch at the door during the day but gave it no thought, as Mr. Stofen was in the habit of going away without saying anything about it. He did not know, nor did others, when the treasurer went to Sacramento and returned. The janitor opened the door and went in with Mrs. Stofen. “When we got Mr. Stofen out,” says Mr. Hassett, “he looked pale and much prostrated. The meeting between Mr. and Mrs. Stofen was one of the most painful things I ever saw in all my life.”

Treasurer Stofen was able to be at his office Monday. It is now known that the robber or robbers got away with $7,200 on Friday last. No definite clue has yet been found of the perpetrators. It is the opinion of some that the robbers are not fifty miles away from Santa Rosa. It is hoped they will be caught when perhaps some of the coin will be recovered.

– Sonoma Democrat, January 5 1895

 

A GOOD NAME.

The boon of a good name was never more fully shown than in the case of County Treasurer Stofen. No man in this city who knows the treasurer, for a moment doubts his thorough honesty. He is exact, punctual, economical and careful in his methods to an unusual degree. The misfortune which came upon him is in no way his fault. So fully is this recognised that at least three of his five bondsmen, Matt Doyle, Mr. Hitchcock and Con Shea have been heard to say since the robbery that sooner than see Mr. Stofen give up his home they would willingly draw their checks for $1,530 each, their share of the loss. No doubt his other bondsmen feel the same way. They all, so far as they have spoken, have the utmost confidence in Mr. Stofen. At the time this unfortunate occurrence took place the treasurer had nearly $200,000 in the banks at his command. The actual amount of cash in the safe in the office was, fortunately, on that day much below the average usually kept there. The expressions of confidence in the treasurer by Messrs. Doyle, Hitchcock and Shea must be extremely gratifying to Mr Stofen in this time of his great misfortune. It is only at such times that true friendship and good will can be shown. Of those who know Captain Stofen not one will pass him by on the other side. His friends here and in Sonoma, and everywhere he is known, have the most unlimited confidence in his integrity and the deepest sympathy for his misfortune.

– Sonoma Democrat, January 12 1895

 

…[Sheriff Sam Allen] wore a puzzled look yesterday when he was asked if there were yet any clews to the big robbery of the County Treasurer’s office, which occurred about a year ago.

“It is a mystery yet,” he said, “and as much a mystery as It was on December 28, 1894, when it was committed. I have employed different detectives and have followed all the clews, but all the work counts for nothing.

“It is as strange still as when the safe was unlocked and Captain Stofen, the County Treasurer, was taken out of the vault.

“I have gone over the entire field. It has cost considerable to investigate the matter, but that wouldn’t count for anything if we had caught the guilty persons. I am at a loss today to tell about it.

“The robbers got $8000. We followed a good many different clews, but we always came up against a stone wall.

“We didn’t discover anybody who was spending any unusual amount of money, and if the offenders are yet in the county they have always been too smart to spend the money. They are either staying there and laying low, or else have goi out of the county entirely. I do not know which.

– The San Francisco Call, December 28, 1895

 

…There have been doubts openly expressed whether there really was a robbery or not.

Of these doubts the Jury seem to have taken cognizance of for they made some experiments In regard to the doors locks ventilation and acoustic qualities of the vault, intended to test the probability of the account of his robbery which Mr Stofen gave. Just what conclusion if any the Jurors came to as the result of these experiments they failed to make known in their report. It would seem however that their belief in the reality of the robbery was not made complete by their use of the expression “alleged robbery.” Suit has beep begun for the shortage and the question of whether there really was a robbery or not may be made an issue in the trial.

– San Francisco Chronicle, February 16, 1896

 

…One of the Grand Jurymen was locked in the vault and his hammering on the walls could be heard on the second floor of the Courthouse. Stofen claimed that he was unable to make noise enough to attract the attention of passers-by in the passage within a few feet of him.

At our last session we passed the following resolutions: That having spent much time in the examination of witnesses in connection with the alleged robbery of the county treasury, and having heard the supplementary report of the expert on the accounts of ex-Treasurer Stofen, this Grand Jury hereby records its opinion that the accounts of ex-Treasurer Stofen are correct up to 1894, and we could find no explanation of the reported deficiency of nearly $8000, except a real or pretended robbery.

– Sonoma Democrat, February 22 1896

 

THE TREASURY CASE.
Sonoma County vs P. N. Stofen and Bondsmen.
Numerous Witnesses Called and the Case Submitted Without Argument.

The case of Sonoma County vs P. N. Stofen and bondsmen came up regularly in Department Two of the Superior Court Thursday.

The Supreme Court decided in the Mulligan case that robbery could be plead as a defense, and the Stofen case being a parallel one, that part of the case was eliminated from the present trial and the only point left to decide was whether it was robbery or not.

Captain Stofen was the first witness called and testified to the main facts of the robbery, also as to how his books were kept and the amount of money he had on hand on December 28, 1894, the day of the robbery.

Mrs. F. McG. Martin testified that she was in her office during the day of the robbery, but heard no unusual noises in the treasurer’s office.

Deputy Sheriff Brophy also testified to this.

Messrs. B. M. Spencer, W. T. Mears, Ben S. Wood Jr., James Hassett, L. E. Ricksecker, E. F. Woodward and W. V, Griffith were called as witnesses. They had all been present when experiments had been made with the vault in the treasurer’s office to test how far the sounds of pounding in the vault could be heard in different parts of the court house.

After the testimony was all in the case was submitted without argument.

– Sonoma Democrat, October 3 1896

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moralitycat

MORALITY LAWS APPLY TO THEE, NOT TO ME

Here’s a rare historical nugget: A summary of the reasons why people were behind bars in the Sonoma County jail during 1892, which I think was the only time such a list appeared in a Santa Rosa newspaper in those days.

There were 500 prisoners that year, more than half (315) being held for misdemeanors, vagrancy, drunkenness and unspecified minor offenses – the whole list can be found below. Mostly the rest is predictable: People steal things valuable or not, people hurt other people causing varying degrees of damage, and people do things that may show they are crazy or stupid. Two items that might surprise us today were child stealing (yikes!) and using vulgar language.

Both Santa Rosa and the county had laws against saying bad words in front of children or women, which was the topic of a previous article (see “THE HIGH COST OF CUSSING“). It was usually a charge thrown in with other offenses such as drunkenness or fighting, and continued to be used that way into the 1920s. But there were two cases in the 1890s that stand out because the law was seemingly used in a cruel and vindictive manner.

Alfred Jacobs, a Sebastopol 13 year-old was arrested in 1890 on two counts: assaulting his sixth grade school teacher and for using vulgar language. He was given two consecutive 60-day sentences by Judge Dougherty, but one of them was dropped when the assault charge was dismissed.

The boy stayed in jail as lawyers returned to court four times to debate a writ of habeas corpus. It’s unclear what that meant in this situation – perhaps they were trying to square the circle of arresting a child by using a law meant to protect children. At any rate, they dithered until two months had passed and he was released anyway.

alfredjacobs(RIGHT: 1893 San Quentin mugshot of Alfred Jacobs)

Jacobs would spend much of the 1890s behind bars, including two years at San Quentin for grand larceny. “After his release from the prison, Jacobs devoted himself most industriously to thievery, and has been in trouble many times,” the Santa Rosa paper tsk-tsked in 1897. “District Attorney Seawell regards Jacobs as a dangerous menace to society.” During that decade he was also locked up for vagrancy, horse theft and burglary.

Even if you don’t take his age into account, there’s no question his punishment was harsh; that same year adults were sentenced to only ten days for swearing. Perhaps the judge intended the extended sentence as sort of a “time out” to contemplate and reform his ways – or maybe the judge was an old-school “spare the rod, spoil the child” sadist. Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to note just three days after Jacobs was given his long punishment, that judge gave a lecture on “the moral, intellectual and religious formation of character.”

The other incident where profanity was treated as a serious crime happened in 1894 – and like the case of Alfred Jacobs, it was also heard in the courtroom of Judge Dougherty.

Until she was arrested Kate Norton lived in poverty with her three children. She and her 22 year-old daughter, Bertha, were taken by the Bodega constable to Santa Rosa on charges of insanity.

There was a history of the women being harassed by local boys, which the Democrat shamefully reported as if it were a big joke. “It seems to have been their part at the town of Bodega to amuse the boys, against their will of course, but the young boys of the town have been in the habit of annoying them into a frenzy to enjoy a little loquacious concert interspersed with pungent profanity.” The paper said both were “intensely excitable and emotional and well stored with vulgar phrases and grossest profanity” because they were Irish immigrants.

Kate’s small children were held at the county jail while she and Bertha were brought to the courthouse. There a sanity hearing was held in the judge’s chambers with three local doctors who agreed that yep, the women had to be crazy to cuss at the neighbor children who were tormenting them. Judge Dougherty ordered the mother sent to the Napa Asylum and the daughter to the one in Ukiah. The little kids were to be sent to an orphanage. And with that decision, I have little doubt that Gentle Reader is thinking of some vulgar language to call that judge right about now.

The Democrat closed the item by saying the children were distraught at being taken away from their mother, meanwhile sneering that anything that happened to them was the entirely the fault of mom: “Jailor Weise has the children in the upper story of the jail. When their mother left they were told she would return. As the day wore on they missed her more and more and toward evening gave way to their feelings. A mother is missed even though she be as was Mrs. Norton, wholly irresponsible.”

That 1892 list of jailable crimes is also notable for what it explicitly did not mention: Gambling and prostitution.

By that time Santa Rosa was known for its red light district centered around the intersection of First and D streets, with at least eleven brothels in the immediate neighborhood documented after the turn of the century; Ernest Finley, Press Democrat editor and the town’s #1 booster admitted in 1908 “The tenderloin district has existed in its present locality for 30 years.” Although Santa Rosa briefly legalized Nevada-style prostitution later, in the 1890s it was certainly considered a crime: “…every lewd or dissolute person who lives in and about houses of ill-fame…every common prostitute and common drunkard is a vagrant, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding six months.”

gamblingcats(RIGHT: Cat illustrations by Louis Wain)

Santa Rosa was also tolerant of illegal gambling, although on paper the city ordinances were so strict that law enforcement officers could be prosecuted for not being diligent enough in arresting gamblers. Horse races drew the high-stakes crowd from the Bay Area (see the “WIDE-OPEN TOWN” series) but Santa Rosa had a reputation for its saloon town culture, with dozens of men-only drinking holes around downtown, each likely having a cardroom in back, which hotels and cigar shops routinely had as well. The Democrat newspaper encouraged by often printed betting odds on horses, prize fights and even political races while giving a hat tip to big winners at the track or in the backrooms: “A couple of Petaluma sporting men are said to have ‘busted the bank’ in a faro game at Santa Rosa last Saturday night…” (Sonoma Democrat, January 30 1892)

Brothels and barrooms also brought in bucks for their landlords, who were among the richest men in town. Those operations were on prime real estate, with the saloons mostly packed into the stretch of Fourth street between Railroad Square and the courthouse. In short, what we came to call “The City Designed For Living” was in that era “The City Designed For Vice,” with Santa Rosa dependent upon money flowing through its large underground economy. There was probably no other place between San Francisco and Reno with such blatant corruption.

Efforts to reform Santa Rosa didn’t get off the ground until the 1908 election, but there was apparently one man who spoke out at the time: Rev. John B. Reid Jr. of the Presbyterian church.

Reid and his wife were popular when they came here from Great Falls, Montana in 1893, with him being quickly voted in as permanent pastor. A letter he wrote church elders from Montana suggests he was an affable man with a sense of humor and no zealous bible-thumper. Here Mrs. Reid organized the choir and was the church organist; they lived at 432 Orchard street which still stands, and is now the Casa Bello Bed & Breakfast on the edge of downtown.

Then a couple of odd items appeared in the same issue of the Sonoma Democrat in 1895. One story reported there was an unusual church meeting to vote on whether to keep Reid as pastor, which he won by a narrow margin. The other item reported his wife announced he would resign “in order that the Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa be no longer rent asunder and in the interests of peace and good feeling.” What happened? Was Reid involved in some sort of scandal?

To find out what was really going on, we have to look at newspapers outside of Santa Rosa, specifically the San Francisco Call:


For some time there has been dissatisfaction among some of the elements of the church. Rev. Mr. Reid is a vigorous preacher, and when he hits he strikes from the shoulder. He has pronounced views on dancing, card-playing and other matters, and has taken off the oratorical gloves every time he described the evils which result from these amusements. In so doing, it is claimed by some of Reid’s friends, he has greatly displeased some of the wealthiest members of the congregation, and the difference was soon seen in the contents of the Sabbath contribution-box. Some time ago the elders were notified that, owing to the hard times and the dissatisfaction, it would be best for Reid and the church if he would sever his connection with it.

johnreid(RIGHT: Rev. John Reid Jr. probably c. 1890)

From the context it’s clear that Reid’s objection to “dancing” wasn’t against the social dance parties regularly held by churches around town (although not the Presbyterian church here) and he wasn’t thinking about games of Whist and Euchre (which were the mainstay of women’s club meetings) when he condemned “card-playing.” And when he wanted those “wealthiest members of the congregation” to state clearly what he had said that so objectionable to them, they refused to answer. “Reid asked the elders to specify the charges, if they had any. This they have not done,” the Call reported.

Reid delivered a farewell sermon the following Sunday based on Acts 20:25, which is a passage from Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesians. It can be summarized as, “I tried to help but you wouldn’t listen to me. I’m outta here.” He left town and his next ministry was in Livermore.

His replacement was Rev. William Martin, an Irishman whose preachifying was less objectionable to the sensitive feelings of rich parishioners. “His sermons are not remarkable for close reasoning or deep wisdom but his style of delivery is singularly impressive and he is unquestionably a man whom churchmen would describe as ‘spiritually minded,’” commented the Democrat, which also praised “his courteous manners.” Martin remained here until 1911; his travel lectures about trips to Greece and Europe, illustrated with stereopticon slides, were quite popular. He was a nice man.

 

sources

The Gambling Law

As considerable is being said about the enforcement of the law for the prevention of gaming, we will give it for the benefit of our readers. Section 330 of the Penal Code reads as follows; Even person who deals, plays, or carries on, opens or causes to be opened, or who conducts, either as owner or employee, whether for here or not, any game of faro, monte, roulette, lansquenet, rouge et noir, rondo, or any banking game with cards, dice or any device, for money, checks, credit or any other representative of value, is punishable by a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $1,000, and shall be imprisoned m the county jail until such fine and costs of prosecution are paid, such imprisonment not to exceed one year. Section 331; Every person who knowingly permits any of the games mentioned in the preceding section to be played, conducted, or dealt in any house owned or rented by such person in whole or in part, is punishable as provided in the preceding section. Section 332; every person who, by the game of “three card monte” so called, or any other game, device, sleight of hand, pretentions to fortune telling, trick, or any other means whatever, by use of cards or other implements or instruments, or while betting on the sides or hands of any such play or game, fraudulently obtains from another person money or property of any description, shall be punished as in case of larceny of property of like value. Section 333: Every person duly summoned as a witness for the prosecution, on any proceedings had under this Chapter, who neglects or refuses to attend as required, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Section 335: Every district attorney, sheriff, constable, or police officer must inform against and diligently prosecute persons whom they have reasonable cause to believe offenders against the provisions of this chapter, and even- such officer refusing or neglecting so to do, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

– Daily Democrat, July 19 1883

 

Order of Discharge.

On Tuesday Judge Dougherty issued an order of discharge in the case of Alfred Jacobs, Jr., whose application for a writ of habeas corpus has been up before the Superior Court four times. The prisoner is about 16 years of age. He is what would commonly be termed a tough customer for one of his years, being mischievous and reckless in his conduct. The charges on which he was convicted were for using vulgar and obscene language to his teacher at Sebastopol. There being two charges and two convictions, there were also two sentences, each for sixty days in the county jail. He was sentenced on the 12th of February, and the second judgment was to begin at the expiration of the first. The first judgment was absolutely void, and had so been held by the Court, and the prisoner having been in jail sixty days or more, claims that he has satisfied the only legal judgment, and as the Court thought so too, young Alfred breathes the free air of heaven once more. It is to be hoped that his incarceration will be a lesson to him.

– Sonoma Democrat, April 26 1890

 

The following interesting facts were taken from the register of the county jail Dec. 31, 1892. They go to show to a certain degree the trend of criminal action. There were confined in the jail, for a longer or shorter period of time, during the year 1892, 500 accused persons. Of these the largest number for any one crime was 137 for misdemeanors. Next, vagrancy, drunkenness and minor offenses, 178;
petit larceny, 22;
malicious mischief, 17;
assault with deadly weapon, 16;
grand larceny, 16;
insane, 15;
disturbing the peace, 12;
battery, 9;
arson, 8;
assault with intent to kill, 7;
disturbing the peace, 7; (yes, it was in the list twice)
murder, 6;
indecent exposure, 6;
simple assault, 5;
fugitive from justice, 5;
vulgar language, 4;
assault and battery, 3;
obtaining money or goods under false pretenses, 3;
mayhem, 2;
perjury, 2;
child stealing, 1;
defrauding landlord, 1;
embezzlement 1;

– Sonoma Democrat, January 7 1893 [edited to place in numerical order]

 

Mother and Daughter Pronounced Insane.

Mrs. Kate Norton and her daughter, Bertha, aged 22 years, were brought to this city on Friday by the constable of Bodega township, for examination on charge of insanity. The examination was held before Judge Dougherty and Drs. Smith, Shearer and Jesse in the judge’s chambers. Considerable of a crowd had collected and they were afforded much amusement by the peculiar conduct of the parties. They are natives of Ireland and possess a fair share of that nations fluency of speech. They were both intensely excitable and emotional and well stored with vulgar phrases and grossest profanity. It seems to have been their part at the town of Bodega to amuse the boys, against their will of course, but the young boys of the town have been in the habit of annoying them into a frenzy to enjoy a little loquacious concert intersperced with pungent profanity. The matter was taken under consideration and today upon recommendation of all of the physicians the judge sent the mother to the Napa Asylum and the daughter to the Ukiah Asylum. The two small children of Mrs. Norton will probably be sent to the Orphan Asylum Monday. The family is absolutely penniless and have no means of support and no property. The Norton family were scattered by legal process on Monday. Deputy Dougherty took the mother to Napa, Deputy Murphy the daughter to Ukiah, and the two “kids” will go down to the Home of the Feeble Minded this (Tuesday) morning. Jailor Weise has the children in the upper story of the jail. When their mother left they were told she would return. As the day wore on they missed her more and more and toward evening gave way to their feelings. A mother is missed even though she be as was Mrs. Norton, wholly irresponsible.

– Sonoma Democrat June 16 1894

 

AN IMPORTANT MEETING.
Presbyterian Congregation Considers Pastoral Relations.
Majority Vote in Favor of Retaining the Present Pastor-Appealed to the Presbytery.

The members and congregation of the Presbyterian church held a meeting to consider the pastoral relations Friday evening…The moderator explained the object of the meeting. J. M. Miller moved that Rev. John Reid Jr. be installed as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Rosa; John McWilliams seconded the motion. A statement by the session was read by Elder Crawford, also a copy of a letter which the session had addressed to Rev. John Reid Jr. in February last. W. E. McConnell on behalf of the trustees made a statement. After some discussion by various members the motion was voted on and resulted in a majority of ten votes in its favor. The total number of votes cast was one hundred and thirty. On the announcement of the vote Elder Crawford on behalf of the session protested and appealed to Presbytery. By request Rev. Dr. Nobles of San Rafael explained that according to church law the vote taken was virtually a renewal of the call extended to Mr. Reid two years ago. Mr. Reid was not present at the meeting.

– Sonoma Democrat, March 30 1895

 

Mrs. Reid explained that her husband had been induced by a consideration for the church’s welfare to send in his resignation. He had exercised his right to give up his rights in order that the Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa be no longer rent asunder and in the interests of peace and good feeling. Mr. Reid came to Santa Rosa from Montana nearly two years ago. He received a call to be pastor by a large majority vote. Owing to circumstances with which Mr. Reid had personally nothing to do, the act of installation had never taken place. His life and labors as citizen, pastor and preacher since coming here are well known.

– Sonoma Democrat, March 30 1895

 

SANTA ROSA CHURCH ROW.
Presbyterians Disagree as to the Qualifications of a Pastor.

SANTA ROSA, March 23.-There are lively times at the First Presbyterian Church in this city in regard to the pastorate of Rev. John Reid Jr., who came here about a year ago from the Northwest. The trouble began to brew a few weeks ago and the storm culminated at a large congregational meeting at the church last night, when the question whether to keep or part with Mr. Reid’s services was decided by a very close vote. For some time there has been dissatisfaction among some of the elements of the church. Rev. Mr. Reid is a vigorous preacher, and when he hits he strikes from the shoulder. He has pronounced views on dancing, card-playing and other matters, and has taken off the oratorical gloves every time he described the evils which result from these amusements. In so doing, it is claimed by some of Reid’s friends, he has greatly displeased some of the wealthiest members of the congregation, and the difference was soon seen in the contents of the Sabbath contribution-box. Some time ago the elders were notified that, owing to the hard times and the dissatisfaction, it would be best for Reid and the church if he would sever his connection with it. Reid asked the elders to specify the charges, if they had any. This they have not done. Matters came to a focus Friday night, when both factions were well represented. Rev. Mr. Whiting acted as moderator, and the deliberations were very animated. A motion was put that Reid be installed as pastor. The vote showed a majority of ten in favor of retaining Reid. Some of the members of the opposing faction favored accepting the result of the vote, but one of the elders gave notice that he would appeal to the presbytery. When that meets it is probable that the majority and minority factions will be represented. An unpleasant feeling exists in the church over the imbroglio.

– The San Francisco Call, March 24 1895

 

WORDS DEPARTING
Rev. John Reid Preaches His Farewell Sermon.
Vast Audience Moved by Hie Thrilling Discourse.
Th« Pastor’s Relations Severed With Words of kindness—A Crowded Church.

The Rev. John Reid Jr. late pastor of the Presbyterian church in Santa Rosa, preached his farewell sermon to his congregation Sunday night. The doors of the church were opened a little before 7 o’clock to admit a large throng that had gathered despite the fact that the service was announced not to begin before 7:30. By 7:15 every seat in the church and galleries was taken and many people were standing. The folding doors that separate the church auditorium from the schoolroom were opened, and soon every bit of available space in the schoolroom was occupied, but for a half-hour afterwards people arrived at the church and. tried to gain an entrance. It was estimated that a thousand people were present. The sermon was taken from Acts, XX, 25, and when it was over Dr. Reid shook hands with nearly every one. They formed in a line down the aisles and passed out at the eastern door. The evangelical churches had closed so as to be present on the occasion. On the platform were Rev. T. A. Atkinson of the South Methodist church, Rev. W. Angwin of the North Methodist, Rev. B. F. Sargent of the Congregational, and they all took part in the service. Mrs. Reid, who organized the church choir fifteen months ago and who has had charge of it since, presided at the organ…Dr. Reid spoke earnestly, with ease and dignity. His flow of language was remarkable. He used no manuscript. Many were in tears and all were deeply interested. He spoke in part as follows: “I came to Santa Rosa over eighteen months ago because my health had failed me in the Northwest, but I am happy to state that I am more robust than for five years past. There has been much said as to the differences between myself and the officers of the church, but they have been mainly on the lines of church policy and methods of work. Other questions naturally arising out of these made it manifest that the only course for me was at once to resign the work. It has been my pleasure to form most delightful associations whilst among you. I will ever cherish the same in my remembrance.” His relations with the ministers of the city had been most cordial. “During my ministry,” be said, “I have endeavored always to preach in a practical way to the practical upbuilding of character. I believe that the important object of life is not creeds but deeds.” He had endeavored in his preaching to teach men to learn to do and to be, and had not shunned to tell them of the plain truths of the Gospel. He could have had a better time, perhaps, and had more social enjoyment if he had not had this high ideal of his duty. Instead of visiting the hospitals, jails and Chinese Mission he might have spent his time in social enjoyment. It is hard to tell the rich man that his standard of life is a low one, to tell the righteous man that he is not living an altogether righteous life. But these things he had not hesitated to do. During his ministry here he had received into the church sixty new members. Forty-two of these were received on confession of faith and eighteen by letter from other churches. There have been baptised twenty-six in all—eighteen infants and eight adults. “I have formed many happy relations in Santa Rosa and I must testify that you have in this city many men, both in public and private life, who are seeking only for the good of Santa Rosa.” Recalling the words of his text, Mr. Reid then preached an eloquent and able sermon, to which the vast audience gave close attention.

– Sonoma Democrat, April 6 1895

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