Great Scott! There was a summer camp in Alexander Valley where kids were brainwashed with Commie propaganda! Under a banner front page headline the Press Democrat reported July 20, 1929, “…boys and girls of tender years are taught the principles of communism and hatred of the American government.”
There were 36 kids there, ages from 8 to 17, and after morning exercises and swearing allegiance “to the Soviet flag, red with a symbolic sledge and sickle, the children paraded behind their flag and sang the Internationale,” the PD continued. Then came “weird ceremonials and class instructions on the river beach,” including an exercise where an instructor took rocks which “he pounded in his hands until one crumpled, [showing] how the ‘workers’ should crush the ‘capitalist’ government of the United States.” On a bulletin board was a poster reading, “Down with the Boy Scouts.”
“Bay Cities’ Pioneer Camp #1” was near the Alexander Valley Bridge and just one of many summer camps on the river.1 According to the PD story, there was “a near-riot” when women and girls from another one nearby “paraded behind the youngsters of ‘Pioneer Camp,’ waving the American flag while singing The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The PD story was picked up by both the AP and UP newswires and proved quite popular, appearing in papers nationwide and usually on page one. While the item was sometimes cut down to a paragraph or two, the editors always had room to mention the camp was on the Russian River. (Oscar Wilde: “The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.”)
Hearst’s San Francisco Examiner lied to readers (no surprise, there) by claiming “authorities immediately raided the place and seized propaganda pamphlets and other evidence,” but what the District Attorney actually said was he could do nothing under state law. He passed the matter to the U. S. District Attorney in San Francisco while sending County Detective John W. Pemberton to investigate. A Press Democrat reporter tagged along and the piece that appeared the next day revealed that much of the original article was either made up or grossly exaggerated. That story apparently relied only upon hearsay from Arthur H. Meese, commander of Healdsburg’s American Legion Post.
The PD writer interviewed camp director M. Martin (his name incorrectly given as “Maury” in the first PD article) who insisted there was nothing anti-American about what they were instructing:
“This is a recreation camp for the children of workers, many of whom are communists,” Martin said. He denied, however, that the children were taught hatred for the United States government. “We had a presidential election in this country not long ago. A large majority of the people voted for one man for president. He was elected. Many thousands of people, though, voted against him. But they were not against the government. They were against the principles of the majority party. We, too, are against the present party; but are not against the United States.”
Nor were they pledging allegiance to the Soviet flag; the kids were waving plain red flags, which had been used by leftist political movements more than a century before Russians added their hammer and sickle.
This was the third year of the camp, the reporter was told, and it was run under the auspices of the Workers International Relief organization.2 “One of the main things that we are interested in is fighting race discrimination,” said Martin. That comment may seem opaque, but I’m betting the reporter didn’t capture his full quote. The group also mainly fought antisemitism – and the previous article had identified most of the children being from families with roots in Eastern Europe. Martin added that all of the children were born in the United States, as were most of their parents.
As for the “near-riot” because of the “Star Spangled Banner” singers, Martin said the story was “ridiculous” – they were being teased because some campers were warbling a popular Al Jolson tune. “We had been taking some exercises on the beach, and two of the girls were singing ‘Sonny Boy’ when the members of the other camp interrupted us with singing and noise; but that was all.”
Martin didn’t know what was meant by “weird ceremonials,” and he never ground rocks together to demonstrate how Commies would crush the Capitalist system – although he admired the concept. “Whoever invented it, though, I think it is a clever idea,” he said.
In sum, the nosy Legionnaire got almost everything wrong except for the headcount and number of tents. He was right about the “Down With the Boy Scouts” poster, however; Martin said “We believe that the Scout organization serves the Bosses.”
The AP wire did a followup a few days later when a few kids were sent home for mild cases of scarlet fever, but not one paper mentioned the PD had reported that the original story was largely untrue.
Despite having debunked its own story, the Press Democrat doubled back and kept repeating misinformation. The next story in the paper claimed “…the principles of communism and hatred of the American government are taught. The children, more than two score of tender age, are said to parade daily, swearing allegiance to the Soviet flag, red with a symbolic sledge and sickle.” The PD also printed an editorial denouncing the camp as a “hotbed of communism, where the red flag of Soviet Russia, is paraded and her dangerous doctrines taught.”
But the PD didn’t stop there. The next Sunday they offered a think-piece that reads like the ancestor of Q-Anon conspiracy babble.
Headlined “SCHOOL HERE LINKED WITH NATION PLOT” the article claimed “investigations of the American Legion” and law enforcement revealed the Alexander Valley camp “was but one phase of a nationwide campaign of the Communist Party in the United States to breed revolution among the school children of the United States.”
The PD item quoted heavily from a magazine article by Mrs. William Sherman Walker which appeared in National Republic magazine.3 Among her startling finds were that Soviet parents dedicate their newborns to the Communist cause: “The names of children, when mere infants are inscribed on the cradle roll of revolution.” She added ominously, “Similar ceremonies have been discovered in the United States as taking place annually in various communities.”
Apparently no copies of that article survive (certainly not online) but about a year later she testified before Congress in her role as the Daughters of the American Revolution “National Defense Committee Chairman” (yes, the D.A.R. still has a National Defense Committee) and had lots to say about the camps. A sample:
“Little children are being taught the principles of street fighting. They are urged to become proficient enough in such tactics to take over certain parts of the cities”
Free school lunches “train children to abhor private property”
“In playing hide and go seek children hunt for capitalists and bring them trembling before a soviet tribunal”
Campers are given a songbook that shows how religious songs are ridiculed, such as using the melody of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” but changing it to have “vicious, obscene words”
As the Alexander Valley camp was closing as scheduled, federal agents from the Justice Dept. showed up and warned Martin not to come back the following year. “They told me it would be better for me not to engage any more in that kind of business.” And that was the end of Bay Cities’ Pioneer Camp #1, as far as is known.
But just a week after our local furor died down, red-baiting papers worked up a new lather over news of a similar camp being raided in Southern California.
A “miniature Soviet Republic” in the San Bernardino mountains was found to have “forty scantily-clad children, described as Slavs from the Boyle Heights industrial section of Los Angeles,” according to the AP wire story.
The Press Democrat added “in every detail the camp was identical” to the Pioneer Camp here and rehashed the notion of the Communist Party USA trying to “breed revolution,” but there was a twist to the San Bernardino story: The adults running the camp were all Russian nationals. They were jailed until U.S. immigration officers could investigate to determine whether they could be deported.
It will probably come as no surprise to Gentle Reader that much of those accusations likewise turned out to be hogwash. The camp counselors weren’t genuine Soviets after all; the camp director was 19 year-old Yetta Stromberg, a student at USC. Failing to show they had captured Bolsheviks, Stromberg was charged with the misdemeanor of failing to obtain a permit from the county health department. She was also charged under California’s notorious 1919 “red flag” statute, which made it a felony to use a red flag as a symbol of opposition to the government.4
Stromberg was convicted of the felony, and while she appealed the decision she was held in San Quentin. Her case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in a landmark 1931 decision overturned her conviction, ruling the state law was vague and unconstitutional.
1 Besides the big summer resort scene on the river, there were many (dozens?) children’s camps that popped up for a week or three. There were several ag camps affiliated with 4-H, camps sponsored by the YMCA, Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMI (Catholic), something called the Institute Club of the Hughson Epworth League (Methodist) and plenty more. The city of Berkeley even had its own year-round camp near Cazadero.
2 Martin said there were about twenty similar Workers International Relief camps around the country; there’s an interesting memoir from a boy who attended a camp in Pennsylvania at about the same time. Many parents stayed at the camps as well, although the adult campsite was separated from their children’s area.
3 National Republic was a monthly magazine catering to conservative women who opposed suffrage (even after the 19th Amendment passed) and anything they considered radical or anti-American, including any form of pacifism. It grew in importance during the mid-1920s after the formation of the Women’s Patriotic Conference on National Defense (WPCND), which was mainly a coalition of the D.A.R. and the American Legion Auxiliary. By the end of the decade the magazine’s focus was on perceived threats to the nation such as subversive books, unpatriotic activities in schools, and particularly Communist plots to subvert American nationalism. For more, see: “‘So Much for Men’: Conservative Women and National Defense in the 1920s and 1930s” by Christine K. Erickson; American Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (Spring 2004)
4 1919 California Penal Code, §403a: “Any person who displays a red flag, banner or badge or any flag, badge, banner, or device of any color or form whatever in any public place or in any meeting place or public assembly, or from or on any house, building or window as a sign, symbol or emblem of opposition to organized government or as an invitation or stimulus to anarchistic action or as an aid to propaganda that is of a seditious character is guilty of a felony.”
They made a terrible racket, shattering the early morning peace by honking horns and cranking sirens as the caravan entered Healdsburg and rounded the Plaza. Many in town, however, were probably awake and anxiously awaiting just such a signal – that they had pulled off a perfect crime and killed three men.
This is a postscript to the series on the 1920 lynchings in Santa Rosa, “THERE WILL BE PRICES PAID” and looks into the most significant of the conspiracies of silence that followed: How people in a small farm town executed a triple murder, then kept the planning behind it and the names of all those involved secret for 65 years. Now – more than a century later – new details have emerged that show the vigilante operation was even more cunning than suspected.
Does your family have a story about great-grandpa hoisting the gangsters up by their necks? Is there a snippet of rope or a yellowed newspaper clipping of the death photo among the family heirlooms as proof of his role? Unless he was from Healdsburg and intimate friends with a certain small clique in the town it’s unlikely he was part of the lynching party. “Later, lots of people said they were there, were part of the group, people that weren’t there at all,” Barnard said.
When the first chapter in this series was posted several people immediately contacted me via social media and email asking about a list containing the names of all the vigilantes. The list was supposedly going to be made public when the last participant died – which was Barnard, who passed away at age 108 in 2008.
There never was any such list, according to Gaye LeBaron and Lynn Prime, curator of the LeBaron special collection at SSU. The rumors arose over the secrecy surrounding the recording of the 1989 interview, which was kept in the safe of the Local History room at the Sonoma County Library until his death, per a promise of anonymity.
Had someone foolishly written and circulated a list, the vigilantes could have been charged years, even decades later – there is no statute of limitations for murder.
A previous chapter, “VENGEANCE FOR SUNNY JIM” covered events of just that night as reported at the time by first-hand witnesses. Also incorporated were later comments by Clarence H. “Barney” Barnard, the only member of the vigilantes to talk about it. Gaye LeBaron broke that story in 1985 after he spoke to her and in 1989 she recorded an interview which is available on the SSU website.
Barnard said the decision to raid the county jail and lynch the gangsters was made the same day that Sheriff James A. Petray was killed. On that night – Sunday, Dec. 5 – a mob of up to 3,000 had attacked the jail to seize them but the sheriff and deputies, reinforced by the Santa Rosa police and fire departments, were able to repel the rioters. It’s likely many of the Healdsburg vigilantes were also on the scene and came away with the lesson that brute force was no guarantee of success.
“We could have had 500 men, if we’d wanted them,” Barney told Gaye in 1985. “But the fellow who got it all organized, the Captain would only take 30. he wanted everybody to have an assignment and didn’t want anybody who was going to get trigger happy and blow it all.”
After a day spent organizing the crew, they gathered together for the first time on Tuesday night to begin rehearsing the mission in the back part of the Standard Machine Works building.
They drilled again on Wednesday night and made a final run-through on Thursday before leaving for the county jail in Santa Rosa. Each man knew his role and was expected to act without supervision.
Before they left, Barnard recalled the Captain saying, “If any one of you wants to back out, this is the time. Do it now. There won’t be one word said. Nobody will think you a coward. But if you stay, from now on, we’re all one.” Barney repeated much the same thing in his 1989 interview, except changing the speech to end with, “after tonight, we’ve got an active war.”
The Captain finished by telling the men to meet back at the same building. “We’ll count noses [and see] if anyone’s missing.” If detained, he told them “just don’t say a lot, answer simple questions, but don’t mention any one of the rest of us and we’ll come back and get you” (1989 interview).
So off they went to Santa Rosa in a dozen (or so) cars with plans for all to convene at the Rural Cemetery. From there about twenty would head for the jail where they took their assigned positions – some as armed guards on the street, others in teams of three to tie up each of the gangsters and pack him out of the jail to a waiting car, carried by the shoulders, waist and feet. It was even planned where each car was to park. They were in and out of the jail with their prisoners in less than ten minutes.
At the cemetery the nooses were already knotted and securely anchored around the locust tree. All that remained was to slip the ropes around their necks and hoist them up. The gruesome work finished, the Healdsburg vigilantes drove home and began leaning on their car horns.
Now let’s crack this nut and see what’s inside.
Perfect crimes are rare, particularly when they are this serious and have so many people involved, both actively and passively, that you can compare the lynching to “The Murder on the Orient Express,” where everyone on the train played some role in the murder.
All credit for its success was given to the leader whom Barney called the Captain, and there’s no dispute the mission was brilliantly planned and executed. As Barney Barnard said in 1989, everything “worked just like a clock. It was so well organized.” But the closer you examine the story, it becomes apparent everything hinged not just upon a single person but also primarily a place – the Standard Machine Works.
THERE WILL BE PRICES PAID
Series on the 1920 lynchings in Santa Rosa
The Standard Machine Works building was at 125 West street (now Healdsburg Avenue) and the vigilantes drilled in the garage section in back, where they did auto and tractor repair. It was, according to the 1919 blurb about its opening in the Healdsburg Tribune, the best equipped machine shop north of San Francisco. When the crew stormed the jail they brought along acetylene torches and the tanks to cut through the cell doors if they couldn’t find the keys; the same Tribune item states welding was “a special feature” of the garage. (In 1920 the equipment was primitive and needed a skilled worker – just a few weeks earlier a Santa Rosa welder suffered facial burns from an explosion.)
The significance of the business goes beyond the use of the premises (which by itself shows a high level of involvement with the scheme); several who worked there had ties to the martyred Sheriff Petray or other law enforcement officers in the county.
In 1920, of course, a great many around here had some sort of connections to Petray or his deputies. We were a small rural county; Santa Rosa’s population was 8,758, almost exactly the size of Cloverdale today (2021). Between memberships in churches, fraternal groups like the Elks and extended families through marriage, probably everyone in the county was no more than two degrees of separation from a man with a badge. That would be particularly true in the village-sized community of Healdsburg, where Petray came from one of the prune-growing family dynasties of Alexander Valley.
But it still seems unusual for a tiny company such as Standard Machine Works to have so many ties specifically to the sheriff’s office going beyond friend-of-a-friend links; there were multiple personal and professional relationships with not only Petray but Sheriffs Jack Smith (before Petray) and Boyes (after Petray). In short, they were men who wouldn’t need arm-twisting from the Captain to convince them the murder of a sheriff was something which must be avenged.
Below are thumbnail introductions to three of them, plus another man who we know was among the vigilantes. Besides showing those connections (and offering a few pretty good stories) it provides context to the most ingenious part of the Captain’s plan, which has been previously untold: Just before the masked vigilantes stormed the jail, he positioned one or more unmasked spies inside the building.
DON PATTESON was a machinist and co-owner of the Standard Machine Works. He was the boss of the county’s motor pool in the mid-1910s which could be why he was spotted driving places with Sheriff Smith. While the newspapers usually didn’t name members of a posse, Don was listed twice in 1915, searching for bandits and a missing man, plus being part of a 1913 opium raid on Sebastopol’s Chinatown. Presumably he was deputized in other Smith posses as well.
Don came from an Alexander prune growing family like the Petrays, Youngs and Lattins discussed in this story. His father, C. L. “Ned” Patteson also served as the popular fourth district Supervisor during the 1910s. In 1915 Ned gave then-Deputy Sheriff James A. Petray a political boost by having him produce a series of Christmas benefits. Petray would later win his tight election for sheriff in 1918 thanks to the larger margin of votes cast for him in Healdsburg.
HARRY PATTESON was a younger brother of Don. When their father died on New Years’ Eve 1917, the Healdsburg and Geyserville newspapers endorsed the 30 year-old Harry to fill out Ned’s term on the Board of Supervisors (the governor chose a man from the Dry Creek area).
Although his only background was in farming, Harry was working at the Standard Machine Shop around the time of the lynching, according to the Healdsburg Tribune. Less than three months after the men were hanged, Sheriff Boyes hired Harry as a full-time deputy sheriff and Superior Court bailiff.
Harry Patteson later became a five-term sheriff (1934-1958) as well as the Healdsburg Police Chief twice.
MAYNARD YOUNG would be the top contender to play the role of the Captain, if that part was not otherwise cast. He had a salesman’s type-A personality and was forceful in convincing others of his views. Maynard almost seemed like a politician with his high level of civic involvement and also acted (and seemed to be expected to act) like a law enforcement officer. He knew Sheriffs Petray and Smith personally.
Maynard Young had a new car showroom in the front of the Standard Machine Shop where he sold the Stephens Salient Six, a mid-priced touring car. He was Don and Harry Patteson’s brother-in-law and when Supervisor Ned Patteson was dying he acted as spokesman for the family. He was also considered another possible candidate to fill out the term.
(RIGHT: Maynard Young 1923 portrait)
Maynard was the subject of a “Velvet Hammer” profile, which was considered something of a badge of honor in the county. (Note to genealogists: If researching someone who lived around here in 1921-1922, hope they were mentioned in “The Velvet Hammer by A. B. B.” There were over a hundred of these little poems in the Press Democrat, each three stanzas of charmingly awful doggerel, to wit: “If you accept the echoed word of Mr. Maynard Young; you’re sure to bite, the car is right, you simply can’t be stung.”)
During WWI, Young was on the three-member draft board covering most of Sonoma county, a job he took very seriously; in 1918 he paid a condolence call on the family of a dead soldier. Other civic duties included being on the executive committee of the county Board of Trade and after Petray was murdered he served as treasurer of the Petray Memorial Committee.
Fun story #1: Maynard was driving back from Petaluma with Sheriff Petray and a deputy in 1920 when they spotted two men arguing by the side of the road. One began chasing the other and “kicking him as he ran.” The sheriff and deputy arrested the drunks and stuffed them in the back seat of Young’s auto. The pair, both masseurs at Burke’s sanitarium, were jailed and fined $25 the next day.
Fun story #2: Serving on the draft board with Maynard was Deputy Sheriff Joe Ryan. In late 1920 (roughly thirty hours before the lynching, in fact) Ryan told Young to be on the lookout for two 14 year-old runaway boys. As Maynard was driving back from the town of Sonoma he saw them hitchhiking. Want a ride to Santa Rosa? Sure, they replied. Once they arrived he asked: Wouldn’t they like to see the inside of a jail? They went along but once inside, one of the boys poked a hole in his trousers pocket and a gold ring fell out as they were walking down a corridor. “You dropped a ring there, didn’t you?” Maynard was asked. Then two more rings were noticed on the floor along with a pearl and opal pendant. The boys were searched and more jewelry and silver coins were found on them. When asked where their riches came from, they claimed, “Just find it in the street, that’s all, lyin’ right there in the street.”
Maynard Young opened another auto dealership in Santa Rosa at Third and Main streets in 1921 (his partner was the other draft board member) but his interests turned to oil. He leased 8,000 acres near Willits and attracted many local investors and when that failed tried drilling near Eureka. His presence in Sonoma County began fading when the auto dealership closed in 1925 and was all but forgotten by the time he moved to Los Angeles and became an oil broker.
RAY LATTIN had no apparent connection to the Standard Machine Shop or the Pattesons – aside from being another Alexander Valley native – but the family was close friends with the Petrays. During the 1920s and early 1930s he ran the prestigious Cummiskey vineyards and ranches near Hopland and Windsor.
He is of interest because after Gaye LeBaron wrote her 1985 column about Barney Barnard’s confession, she received a letter stating Ray Lattin was also among the vigilantes and the stories he always told about the lynching matched the details provided by Barney (this letter can be found in the LeBaron archives at SSU). The importance of this revelation will be discussed in a moment.
Like Maynard Young, Lattin was law enforcement-adjacent in those years. He narrowly lost an election for Cloverdale constable in 1918 but was appointed a reserve deputy sheriff for the town, which gave him a badge. When a forest fire started near Annapolis also in 1918, Jim Petray, acting as deputy fire warden for the district, had Ray organize and supervise the firefighters.
Believe it or not: Ray Lattin’s name still pops up in “Today in History” type newspaper columns because he was owner and trainer of “King the wonder dog” in the early 1940s. King could bark out numbers written on a blackboard and supposedly add/subtract up to five. The dog once selected a beauty queen and after the U.S. joined WWII, entertained enlisted men by playing dead after being asked to show what he would do to enemy soldiers. Ray told audiences the dog was 3⁄4 collie and one part wolf.
All of those wordy introductions were necessary to provide context as to what happened at about 11:15 on the night of December 9, 1920, when three men from Healdsburg rang the doorbell at the county jail (here’s a direct link to that part of the story to jog your memory).
The three men were Maynard Young, Ray Lattin and Joe McMinn.1
They were, of course, unmasked, and did not reveal that one of them – and quite likely all three – were members of the vigilante party. The letter to LeBaron about Ray Lattin stated there was no question “he was at the jail that night specifically for his part in the operation.”
This was a bold strategy to gauge how well the sheriff was prepared to resist an attack on the jail; although the vigilantes were armed, all planning by the Captain showed he counted upon facing no serious resistance. The lynching crew did not want to find deputies and policemen guarding the jail door, as happened at the Sunday night riot.
The supposed reason why Lattin, Young and McMinn were there so late at night was to warn the sheriff that Healdsburg was “pretty well stirred up,” and “there is going to be some trouble.” Not long afterwards the office received a second phone call reporting that a suspicious group of men were gathering near the cemetery.
With only himself and three deputies on hand, Sheriff Boyes asked McMinn and Lattin to go the cemetery and see if their leaders would speak with him. The two men left and returned almost immediately, telling Boyes someone would come there in half an hour.
It was a lie. The vigilantes burst through the jailhouse door just a few minutes later – which suggests Lattin and/or McMinn gave the green light to launch the assault. And so the blitzkrieg attack began, wrapping up under ten minutes later with the gangsters tied and gagged and being chauffeured to their doom.
During the operation the sheriff was moved to the rear office in the cellblock, watched over by five guards. With him were the Healdsburg visitors, or at least Young and McMinn; Lattin’s whereabouts were not mentioned, although the letter to Gaye LeBaron claimed he “gave the keys to the mob,” which can’t be literally true.
Where was the Captain during all this? He was confident enough in his crew that he stayed among those in the office with the sheriff. Asked by Gaye LeBaron in 1989 if he was nervous, Barney replied, “No, we felt relaxed because I went right by Boyes…and two of the, oh, the Captain was there when I went by [unintelligible] and they were just as calm as if nothing was happening.”
So now we come back to our starting place: Who were the vigilantes, and who was the Captain?
As Barnard told LeBaron, besides all of the vigilantes being from the area “we were all friends of Jim Petray’s.” In the 1989 interview he added, “some of them was his close relatives.” During the Sunday night riot Petray brothers Edward and Frank were inside the jail and vowing to kill the gangsters on the spot, so surely they were among the avengers along with Ray Lattin, Barney and his dad. There was the likely participation of the welder from the garage; stir in a few Pattesons and we’re up to ten, easy.
As for the other two dozen (or so) vigilantes, search out the northern county newspapers, particularly editions from before he was elected sheriff in 1918. Small town papers in those days were like collective FaceBook pages, reporting every mundane detail of who was doing what; as a result we can roughly map out who Jim Petray socialized with, from hunting deer to attending events to participating in fraternal groups (Knights of Pythias, Elks, Masons, Woodmen, Native Sons). What emerges is that he and his family seemed to spend time with others who likewise came from Alexander Valley.
As for the mysterious Captain: In its digital exhibition, “Crime of the Century: The Lynching of 1920”, the Healdsburg Museum noted, “the Captain was so competent in his role that people could not resist praising him, revealing his identity.” The person named there is Fred Young.
Fred was absolutely no relation to Maynard Young; their common name is a coincidence.2 That Fred would be the mastermind ends this long story with an unexpected twist because he was such a surprising candidate to plan and lead the mission.
As far as I can tell, Fred Young had no personal ties to Sheriff Petray or any of the other Alexander Valley families mentioned. Nor did he associate with anyone in law enforcement or their offices. The Standard Machine Works opened while he was away in the service so he never worked there; if he had been inside previously it would have been as a guy who walked in because he needed his magneto fixed or something.
The unlikely Captain, part II: If Fred was called the “Captain” it was an honorific; he was in the Army during WWI with his highest rank as a Lieutenant, promoted because he scored well on a test. After the end of the war he stayed in the service as personnel adjutant at the base – there was no leadership experience apparent in his military record.
His wartime assignment was as a flight instructor in Southern California. When it was over he flew a Jenny back to Healdsburg in 1919, becoming the first airplane to land in town and to great excitement. Unfortunately, he was not so skilled at takeoffs; the ballpark where he landed was too short for the ungainly aircraft and he made the rookie mistake of trying to fly underneath telegraph lines. He crashed into a barn and destroyed the “government flying machine” but was unhurt.
Fred’s father was long the town’s mortician and when he died at the close of 1919, Fred inherited the funeral home and the job. He resigned from the Army and moved back at the end of Feb. 1920, about nine months before the lynching took place. Even if he was the Captain he probably would have needed help assembling his militia, as he mostly had been away for three years (before being drafted, Fred was working in Arizona).
In later years Fred Young was a popular and respected Healdsburger, active in the American Legion and several fraternal groups. He was elected County Coroner from 1926 to 1940 when he retired because of ill health. The mortuary still bears his name.
The identity of the Captain and (most) of the vigilantes will never be known for certain. Those mysteries join a substantial list of “what-if” scenarios where something could have easily gone awry and many men from Healdsburg could have ended up arrested or even dead.
For example: All of the vigilantes had loaded weapons – but were they really prepared to use them? If Santa Rosa policemen had arrived while the vigilantes were inside the jail seizing the gangsters, would they have surrendered or started a shootout? When Maynard Young, Lattin and McMinn were talking to Sheriff Boyes before the assault, would they have subdued him if tried to contact the state police? (And for that matter, were they secretly armed?) The Captain anticipated there might be an attempt to capture them after the lynching via roadblocks, ordering some of the men to return via Coffey Lane or other roads; would a 40-something Alexander Valley farmer have maintained his composure if stopped by a patrolman and asked, “why are you out this late with a shotgun in your car?”
Through both the brilliant planning and great good luck, everything went off perfectly. There was no serious investigation by local authorities and the state did not intervene, although Governor Stephens grumbled there had better be some Sonoma County prosecutions.
But now that it was over, everyone was glad of being rid of those troublesome gangsters. It was two weeks to Christmas; there was shopping to do and dinners to plan. Children decorated school auditoriums with colorful bunting before performing holiday pageants. And around Healdsburg and the Valley of Alexander there were thirty men who carried only a lightly troubled conscience over an extraordinary and violent thing which already seemed as if it happened a long time ago.
1 Joseph A. McMinn was a director of the First National Bank of Healdsburg and a former County Supervisor. Like the others, his roots were in Alexander Valley prune farming and had a Patteson connection, being a pallbearer at Ned’s funeral. He would be named interim sheriff for a few months in 1926 following the sudden death of Sheriff Joe Ryan – a controversial appointment because McMinn had no experience in law enforcement.
2 Confusing matters further, there was another Fred Young in Healdsburg at this time who was born in 1880 (nine years before this Fred) and worked as a butcher.
FRED YOUNG AN AVIATOR
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Young received a letter from their son Fred, who is in the aviation section at San Diego, announcing that he had experienced his first flight. “I handled the controls some,” says Fred. “There isn’t anything to the flying — the landing is the hard part.”
– Healdsburg Tribune, May 2 1918
FRED YOUNG A LIEUTENANT
Fred Young, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Young of Healdsburg, has received a commission as a lieutenant in the aviation branch of the service at San Diego. Fred won the promotion in competitive examination, his percentage being 95. He has been detailed as an Instructor at the San Diego aviation field.
– Healdsburg Tribune, July 11 1918
MAYNARD YOUNG HERE
Maynard Young, who returned from a visit to his Colusa County ranch on Friday night, was here on business Saturday. On his way home Mr. Young stopped at the country home of former Sheriff and Mrs. J. K. Smith at Knights Landing and found them comfortably installed in a nice home.
– Press Democrat, June 22 1919
First Airplane to Visit This City, Piloted by Local Man
Healdsburg received its first visit from an airplane Saturday, when Lieutenant Fred Young dropped out of the sky into his home town, making a landing at the ball grounds, where on many occasions as schoolboy Fred had contested on the diamond and in athletic events.
For a half-hour or more before making his landing, Fred treated his friends to an exhibition of his skill as an aviator, in stunts that even Beachey of fair-time days would have hesitated to attempt.
It was a little before twilight when the whirring of the engines of Fred’s airplane told of his coming. He circled far above the city, going to a height of about eight thousand feet, and then returning by means of nose dives, glides and apparently end-over-end maneuvers, to within a few hundred feet of the earth.
He easily made the landing at the Luce field, and was given a glad welcome home by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tom O. Young, and by his wife, who had come to Healdsburg to be present when he arrived…
…Fred planned to leave Healdsburg early Monday morning on his return trip to the aviation field at Riverside. A great crowd of home folks was at the field to see him start. But within a minute or two from the moment that the motors started at the upper end of the field to give the plane its momentum to leave the ground at the south side and soar into the air, the big piece of mechanism was a mass of wreckage just across the street from the field.
As with the start on the previous day, sufficient momentum was not obtained for the big plane to rise above the telegraph wires, and Fred resorted to his trick of that day to dive beneath the wires.
But just as he reached the point of making the dive, one of the wings of the plane collided with the top of a small oak tree. This swung the plane out of its course and lessened its momentum, and before it could recover the plane collided with the roof of a barn, just across the street. In an instant it was a wreck. Fred jumped from the seat of the plane as soon as it fell to the ground, and did not receive a scratch. The car was injured beyond repair except at its home workshops, and it will be shipped to Riverside by rail.
The accident was a great disappointment to the young aviator, and to the hundreds of his warm friends of this community. The wreck has been visited by hundreds of sightseers…
– Healdsburg Tribune, July 10 1919
MAYNARD YOUNG HAS THE AGENCY FOR SALIENT SIX
Maynard Young, who a short time since disposed of his ranch interests in Alexander valley and moved into Heaidsburg to reside is now the agent in this section of the state for the “Stephens Salient Six” car, one of the classiest of automobiles and a good seller. Mr. Young is confidant that he will do well in the handling of this car and already has had many inquiries concerning the same. He will go here and in this county and adjacent territory in his car and will have his salesrooms in Healdsburg, and it will be well equipped. Mr. Young is an active business man and before he entered into the auto game with the Stephens car his friends knew that he must have satisfied himself perfectly as to the merits of the machine before taking it up and recommending it to his friends. He will undoubtedly meet with success.
– Press Democrat, July 18 1919
Patteson and Woods To Have Machine Shop
Don C. Patteson and Jack Woods are to have a first class machine shop in Healdsburg and it will occupy the back part of the Maynard Young auto sales shop. Mr. Patteson is a well known mechanican [sic] and has had much experience in garages and machine works here. He and his partner will undoubtedly establish a first class business in Healdsburg. Mr. Patteson, discussing his plans here Thursday stated that the machine shop will be equipped with everything right up to date for the handling of work.
– Press Democrat, July 18 1919
STANDARD MACHINE WORKS TO OPEN IN HEALDSBURG
The Standard Machine Works, the new company formed by Don Patteson and L. B. Woods, better known as “Jack” Woods, will be ready for business next Monday. The company has a lease of the Hiatt garage, on West street and the machinery is being installed this week. The building is being rearranged to meet the needs of the company, and additional skylights have been built to afford abundant light. The company will make a specialty of lathe work of every description, and will be equipped to make any part of an automobile or tractor. Welding in any of the metals will also be a special feature of the service of the machine works. Ail of the machinery of the company is of the latest design for auto and tractor repair.
Maynard Young will have a salesroom for the Stevens Salient Six at the front of the building. The entire building is being whitened inside. The ladies’ rest room is fitted up attractively, and is conveniently located near the front of the building. Auto and tractor owners of Northern Sonoma county have been compelled heretofore to send to San Francisco for repair work of the kind that the new company is prepared to do, and the enterprise will meet a present and growing need in this section.
– Healdsburg Tribune, August 14 1919
Sheriff Petray Returns
Sheriff James A. Petray has just returned from a business trip to Colusa county…While away he visited his old friend Jack Smith. former Sheriff of Sonoma county, now engaged in ranching at Knights Landing.
– Press Democrat, June 25 1920
CELEBRATOR STOPS AUTO ON HIGHWAY; SHERIFF IS IN IT
While driving home from Petaluma about 11 o’clock Thursday night, Sheriff James A. Petray and Jailer Gus Jewett, riding with Maynard Young, espied a man standing in the middle of the highway a short distance out of Santa Rosa and wildly waving his arms.
Young stopped his car and discovered that the gesticulating gent had a companion near an automobile which they had left standing at the side of the highway. When the officers arrived the man who had been standing in the highway started an argument with the other and started pursuing him, kicking him as he ran.
Petray and Jewett started a little pursuit themselves, with the result that in about the time it takes a watch to tick, they had the two celebrators safely tucked away in the back seat of Young’s machine. They were brought to the county jail, where they gave their names and occupations as Walt Connors and F. Mulhall, masseurs at Burke’s. They probably will be put under a charge today.
– Press Democrat, June 25 1920
HEALDSBURG TO HAVE BIG SHOW Maynard Young Arranges Special Exhibit Space for North End of Sonoma County.
Maynard Young of Healdsburg was here yesterday and madr arrangements with the directors of the Sonoma County Fair for exhibit space for Healdsburg and Dry Creek valley districts. Young promised that an exhibit would be brought here that would open the eyes of Sonoma countv people. This exhibit will be outside the regular farm center exhibits and will be staged in the industrial tent, which will in itself be a unique feature, as it will be the only horticultural and agricultural exhibit in that tent.
– Press Democrat, August 11 1920
TWO BOY BURGLARS AGAIN JAILED; MUCH LOOT FOUND Bianchi Boy and Companion, Each 14 Years of Age, Arrested Once More; Pockets Are Found Full of Money and Jewelry.
When Mario Corelli and Joe Bianchi, both 14 years old, stopped Maynard Young, of Healdsburg, this side of Sonoma and asked him for a ride to Santa Rosa, they reckoned not that their path led straight to the county jail.
Without questioning the lads. Young took them into his car and proceeded to town. Arriving at the jail, he invited the boys inside. Then a veritable shower of jewelry occurred.
“You dropped a ring there, didn’t you?” someone asked Young, and he bent down and picked up a small gold ring. Then his eyes caught another ring, and another, and another; then a dainty little pendant, set in opals and pearls rolled out onto the floor, apparently from nowhere. Young gathered this up also…
Shortly after the boys left Sonoma Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Sheriff Joe Ryan received word to be on the lookout for them, and he requested Maynard Young to pick them up if he saw them along the road. Young recognised them when they hailed him and brought them to the county jail without warning of his intention.
– Press Democrat, December 9 1920
HEALDSBURG LAUDS MEN WITH ROPE
Some Healdsburg members of the mob which lynched Boyd, Valento and Fitts early this morning, are making no effort to hide their identity, according to reports from that city this morning.
In fact, report says, they are being acclaimed as public heroes.
“I’m prouder of you than if you’d gone to France and killed a hundred Germans,” cried one Healdsburg woman as she greeted her husband on the street after his return from Santa Rosa, and as she spoke she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.
A great demonstration was made in Healdsburg by the returning lynchers. A dozen automobiles, before daylight, circled the Plaza, tooting horns, blowing sirens and making a huge racket which woke up the town.
More than a dozen of the masks used by the gang were found scattered along the edges of the highway between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg.
Several of these masks were brought to Santa Rosa by a member of the Democrat staff, and are now on exhibition at this office.
– Press Democrat, December 10 1920
HARRY PATTESON DEPUTY SHERIFF Harry L. Patteson of this city has been appointed to the office of deputy under Sheriff John M. Boyes of Santa Rosa, and takes up his work immediately in Santa Rosa. Patteson is universally known in this section, and his selection will meet with popular approval. Mr. Patteson is the son of the late Supervisor Patteson. whose family has been connected with official life in this county for years. He has been associated with his brother, Don Patteson, in the auto business at the Standard Machine Shop.
– Healdsburg Tribune, March 2 1921
PATTESON NAMED DEPUTY SHERIFF
With the appointment of Harry Patteson of Healdsburg as deputy sheriff to be detailed as bailiff in department one of the superior court, Sonoma county has one of the best organised sheriff systems in the state, Patteson took up his duties as deputy yesterday.
With Patteson as bailiff of the superior court, Marvin Robinson will be freed for general work throughout the county. Robinson has been handicapped in his work since the murder of Sheriff Petray.
Patteson is well known through out the county. He is the son of a former supervisor, is a prominent business man and is very well known. He will retain his residence in Healdsburg while serving on the sheriffs force.
– Press Democrat, March 2 1921
THE VELVET HAMMER MAYNARD YOUNG By A. B. B.
Some people muffle their remarks so neighbors cannot hear. They make few contributions to the other fellow’s ear. But Maynard Young has got a voice which does not waste a word. When he proceeds to state a fact, that fact Is always heard. Opinions do not die with him because they can’t get out. nor does his language leave them in obscurity or doubt.
The motor cars he sells you at his Healdsburg auto shop have got the gears that run for years before they stall and stop. If you accept the echoed word of Mr. Maynard Young; you’re sure to bite, the car is right, you simply can’t be stung. The engine will co-operate with axles in the rear; the only question on your mind is where you go from here.
He deals in grapes and raises prunes and has a mind acute for getting on the happy side in marketing the fruit. Ha helped us win the recent war with services of weight (a member of the draft board, we specifically state). He is a county pioneer whom everybody knows, who does not wander far and fast with every wind that blows.
– Press Democrat, October 26 1921
Local Wonder Dog Amazes Crowd
“King,” the wonder dog owned and trained by Ray Lattin of Alexander valley, amazed hundreds of guests with his ability to add, subtract, select a beauty queen and intelligently obey the slightest command of Lattin at the opening of a Santa Rosa cafe Tuesday night.
The dog, to be shown at the coming Petaluma Dog Show, November 22–23, astounded spectators by identifying figures chalked on a blackboard and barking the numbers, in addition to presenting a routine of unusual tricks.
When the big book of Sonoma county history is writ, there should be a special chapter on some of the remarkably dumb business ventures that were tried here and flopped spectacularly.
Near the top of the list would be Jack London’s eucalyptus obsession, which caused him to squander a fortune. London wasn’t alone in the mistaken belief that blue gum trees would be a valuable cash crop but he was probably the largest investor, planting about 100,000 seedlings. The trees proved worthless (plus a fire hazard, to boot) and just made London’s Beauty Ranch stink like cheap menthol cough drops.
London only wasted money with his dream of a eucalyptus plantation, but in the 1870s a Glen Ellen farmer inadvertently launched an environmental disaster. In 1871 Julius A. Poppe set up a fish farm but he didn’t stock it with Steelhead or Rainbow Trout or another native fish; instead, he imported common carp all the way from Germany.
Often called a “trash fish,” common carp could be the eucalyptus of the piscatorial world. They grow big very fast, spawn prolifically and crowd out any other species in its vicinity. And like blue gum trees, they are mostly worthless – very difficult to clean as well as eat because of their tiny bones, not to mention being also an acquired taste. Yet it was a traditional food for German/Central European immigrants and carp ponds became a local fad, with Poppe selling breeding fish to more than a dozen farmers.
Big winter storms caused some of the ponds to overflow and by the middle of the decade carp were found in creeks, rivers and the Laguna. That was the death knell for commercial carp farming in Sonoma county, although Poppe also sold stock to farmers in Southern California, Hawai’i, and even Central America.
But there seemed to be an upside to the release of the fish into the wild; carp fishing in the Laguna became a popular sport and a tourist draw. In 1879 the State Board of Fish Commissioners even supported carp by introducing catfish, which would eat the “water dogs” – newts of the now endangered tiger salamander – which preyed upon juvenile carp.
Shift forward fifteen years and attitudes are flipped. Sportsmen realized the carp were forcing out trout and other types of fish which people actually liked to eat, while carp were also reducing the food supply of migratory ducks. Thus in 1896 the state introduced largemouth bass into the Laguna to eat the carp (“all the carp which are now in the stream will eventually be destroyed, as black bass are death on carp” – Sonoma Democrat, 4/24/1897). Two years later the bass itself had become such a nuisance that someone began trying to wipe them out with dynamite: “Every few days a stick of powder is touched off under the water and as a result dead bass in great quantities can be seen floating on the surface,” reported the Sebastopol Times in 1898.
What a fine example this was of the Unintended Consequences Law; in less than a quarter century, a modest side business of a few farmers ended up wrecking an entire ecosystem. Even today, catfish and bass appear to be in all our local waterways, while Mr. Poppe’s carp can still be found in Green Valley Creek, Estero Americano, the Petaluma River and elsewhere.
Although the carp and eucalyptus projects didn’t make any money (or at least not much), at least they moved the ball forward; Poppe successfully imported fish from Germany and sold some. London indeed planted a carpload of trees which no one wanted. But John M. King badly fumbled between the dreaming and the doing. John M. King wanted to become the first steamboat captain on the Russian River.
A 1908 steamer with the same dimensions as King’s Enterprise
Nothing is known about King – whether he had any experience aboard ships or even how old he was. “John King” and even “John M. King” was a surprisingly common name at that time. From descriptions in the weekly Russian River Flag newspaper we know he indeed built a very small stern-wheel steamboat in 1869. There are no photos but it must have resembled the Mazama steamer shown above. Named the Enterprise, King’s little ship was only fifty feet long and sat high in the water, with a draft of only a foot and the paddles dipping in merely ten inches. Although it was so tiny that it probably looked like somebody’s hobby boat, the specs were a good match for the shallow Russian River except for one issue – the very first article about him mentioned “…in the season of high water the Captain expects to run to Healdsburg.”
Paddling around the lower Russian River and piloting a boat through the bendy twists of the river around Healdsburg are two very different goals. Yes, his dinky steamer was more maneuverable than a larger craft, but that’s not gonna help if that part of the river dried up completely (or nearly so), as it did every autumn back then. The river was only legally declared navigable in 1976 by a court revising the meaning of “navigable” as not necessarily allowing passage year-round. And closer to King’s day back in 1886, the state Supreme Court had declared specifically that “the [Russian] river is not navigable for boats larger than canoes, skiffs, etc., and is not in fact navigable for commercial purposes.”*
Captain King built the Enterprise just downstream from Heald and Guerne’s lumber mill, which is to say a mile west of today’s Safeway store in Guerneville. He also built two barges to tow with his steamer; he had a contract with the mill to carry shingles and lumber to the mouth of the river, where presumably an ocean-going ship would connect to take the barges down to San Francisco. But before he began barging or making his quixotic run to Healdsburg, King wanted to show off a bit.
King took out an ad in the Flag announcing an “excursion” from Guerneville to Duncan’s Mills. “…The trip will afford one continuous panorama of the most beautiful and romantic scenery,” he burbled, as well as the chance to see lumbermen’s camps – which seems to me a bit like the SMART train trying to draw riders by promising scenic views into junky backyards and homeless encampments.
Alas, a cancellation notice quickly followed. “The excursion trip is postponed for a few days, owing to an unavoidable accident which will be soon remedied, when all will be right again.” As the summer and autumn of 1869 passed, King continued to tinker with his boat and just before Christmas the Flag reported that he was actually towing cargo. The excursion to Duncan’s Mill and back (with dancing on the barges in tow) supposedly happened Dec. 23-24, but nothing further appeared in the paper.
He failed to meet his goal of reaching Healdsburg before Christmas, but told the Flag he “intends next Summer to make regular trips – three times a week — from the month of the river to Healdsburg.” Besides working on his boat, “the Capt. has constructed a dam and lock, which gives the river a three foot rise above the dam,” reported the Flag. “He will open the lock and let the boat ride through to the sea on the accumulated waters.”
Then sometime after the New Year with the river around its winter peak, he made a run for Healdsburg. He sank two miles past Guerneville.
“The indomitable Captain has got her afloat again,” reported the Flag a few weeks later. King was aided by someone from the Mare Island Navy Yard as well as fifteen men clearing obstructions in the water. “Capt. King’s steamer, ‘Enterprise,’ will probably reach Healdsburg today. as she is now but a short distance below town,” the paper reported on March 24.
He didn’t. The ship ran aground again and this time could not be budged. It stayed wherever it was for months, maybe years.
In November of 1871 a visitor was told “…she twisted off her shaft and went to the bottom; and how the hulk now lies half-buried in the sand — a warning to any man so presumptuous as to attempt steamboat navigation on a river along which there is not yet enough traffic to have made even a decent bridle-path…”
Hannah Clayborn, who writes some about the steamboat in the “Roads, Ferries, and Bridges” chapter of her Healdsburg history page, suggests it got no farther than the Windsor area, but Dr. Shipley’s “Tales of Sonoma County” says King almost made it to the summer dam:
She struck hard aground and fast, the water went down and left the tug high and dry on the bar and it had to be abandoned until the next high water when the fall rains set in, at which time she was repaired, re-caulked, and with the crew who brought her up the river the spring before, they sailed, or rather steamed, down the muddy water back to the sea…
Why he risked – and ultimately, lost – his river hauling business at Guerneville is a mystery. What was so important about reaching Healdsburg by water? His steamer was so small he could not have carried much cargo aboard, and he certainly could not have gotten his barges through the channel. And even in the middle of the rainy season, Healdsburg was not cut off by road, or at least no more than other towns. A January, 1870 letter from a Healdsburger who went to Vallejo remarked, “the road to Santa Rosa was so so – very fair for our county; from thence to Petaluma it was too abominable to talk about to strangers.”
My guess is that King’s venture was bankrolled by Thomas W. Hudson, who owned considerable property on the southern end of Healdsburg. A one-term member of the state Assembly 1869-1871, the only bill he tried to get passed was to declare the Russian River navigable so state money could be spent on improvement. “This is intended to encourage and protect the indomitable enterprise of Capt. John M. King,” the Flag noted. Hannah Clayborn wrote, “…declaring the river navigable would have served Hudson’s interests, as he owned the west bank of the river and half of a ferry system throughout the 1860’s, a natural location for a proposed Healdsburg Wharf.”
There’s an odd little Believe-it-or-Not! twist to the sad tale of steamboat captain John M. King, and I’m not sure what to make of it. About two months after the (final) sinking, he wrote a letter to the Flag informing them he was now running a sawmill near Cloverdale, and would return to the Russian River soon and build a new ship which he would name the “Perseverance.” Alas, he wrote, Heald and Guerne were trying to break him and had attached the Enterprise for money owed. They had even attached his dog, Gipsey, “which I valued more than money.” The pooch was supposedly sold for $200. “This seems like a large sum. but I would not have taken twice that amount for it.”
The next week Tom Heald wrote the paper. “Heald and Guerne have not attached the boat as represented by King, and, as to his dog ‘Gipsie,’ I never as much as knew he had such a dog. Heald and Guerne do not wish to ‘break’ J. M. King, nor to ‘keep him broke,’ but suppose we will have the pleasure of seeing the ‘Perseverence’ when she comes along.”
The Steamboat “Enterprise.” — This boat now being built at Heald’s Mill by Capt. John M. King, will be launched next Saturday the 15th. The machinery is all aboard now and the boat will be completed within two or three weeks, when she will make an excursion to Duncan’s Mill on the Coast, going down one day and returning the next. As many of our citizens will want to join the excursion the Flag will give timely notice of the day set for it to come off. The livery stables will run stages down to the landing twelve miles from Healdsburg. Capt. King has been running a barge on the river, drawing from fourteen to twenty-six inches, according to the load. He has made six round trips from Heald’s Mill, carrying, in the aggregate, 200,000 shingles and 20,000 feet of lumber, besides considerable farm and dairy produce. He has built another barge drawing only twelve inches when loaded. He is now building the “Enterprise” to tow these barges. The boat is 50 feet long; 10 foot beam on the bottom and 14½ on deck; Engine 15 horsepower; draught 12 inches; depth of hull 44 inches; dip of paddles (stern wheel) 10 inches. She is built in a superior manner and fitted up with a cabin and all necessary conveniences for carrying passengers. Capt. King having a contract for carrying the lumber from Heald & Guern’s Mill the regular trips of the boat will be between that point and the Coast. In the season of high water the Captain expects to run to Healdsburg. This would give us cheap freight between Healdsburg and San Francisco while the mud road to Petaluma was at its worst. We hope Capt. King’s enterprise in building the “Enterprise” will be richly rewarded.
– Russian River Flag, May 13 1869
Particular attention is likewise invited to the advertisement of Capt. John King, of the new steamboat “Enterprise.” He proposes an excursion which will give every one an opportunity to enjoy the delightful scenery along the navigable portion of Russian River, and also to visit the coast on the first steamboat ever built or run on this river. We hope the Captain may have an encouraging benefit on this occasion. His pioneering energy should be well rewarded. It is twelve miles we believe to the Mill from which the excursion starts.
– Russian River Flag, May 20 1869
Read Capt. King’s advertisement carefully once more and decide whether you can afford to lose the trip. — We learn from Capt. King, and you will learn from our correspondent “Visitor,” that the excursion is postponed for a few days. Be ready for another announcement.
– Russian River Flag, June 3 1869
Letter from “Big Bottom.” Big Bottom, May 29th, 1869.
Mr. Editor: The most important event of th« day to the people of Lower Russian River, is the successful launching of the steamboat “Enterprise” built at Heald’s Mill by Capt. J. M. King. The scene was witnessed by many of the citizens — ladies and gentlemen — who met there on the occasion. The little boat sat on the water beautifully, and promises all that her sanguine friends could have anticipated of her. The excursion trip is postponed for a few days, owing to an unavoidable accident which will be soon remedied, when all will be right again. When ready, due notice will be given to all. – Visitor
– Russian River Flag, June 10 1869
The steamer Enterprise, Capt. John King, has steam up again and is running. It will make a trial trip to the mouth of the river this week. The Capt. has constructed a dam and lock, which gives the river a three foot rise above the dam. He will open the lock and let the boat ride through to the sea on the accumulated waters. — Capt. King says that three locks would be sufficient to make the Russian River navigable to Healdsburg the whole year; also that we may expect to see his boat up here the first Fall rains.
– Russian River Flag, August 12 1869
We visited the steamer Enterprise, lying one mile below the mill. Capt. King is quite confident that he will visit Healdsburg by steam before Christmas. Says he intends next Summer to make regular trips – three times a week — from the month of the river to Healdsburg. Next Saturday he intends making his first trip to the mouth of the river.
– Russian River Flag, August 26 1869
Capt. King of the steamer Enterprise was in town last week having some repairing done to the machinery of his boat, which will soon be skimming over the waters of Russian River.
– Russian River Flag, September 2 1869
A Success. – The new steamer Enterprise recently constructed by Captain King for navigating the Russian River, made her trial trip on the 23d ult., and we are glad to learn, proved a success. Her speed was some ten miles an hour.
– Petaluma Argus, October 7 1869
The Steamer Enterprise. — We are pleased to learn from Mr. J. W. Bagley that Capt. King’s boat, the Enterprise, is now successfully running on Russian River. She left Heald & Guern’s Mill on the 16th with several passengers for Duncan’s Mill, with barges in tow loaded with charcoal. On her next trip she will carry hoop poles and several thousand Christmas trees for San Francisco. At last, after several unsuccessful attempts, Russian River is navigated by a live steamboat, and we hope, when the river rises, to see the little vessel throw out her bow lines and stern lines and spring lines to the Healdsburg wharf! Captain King is entitled to great praise for his indomitable pluck and perseverance under difficulties and we hope his “Enterprise” may prove a great success. Since the above was in type we are informed that the boat will leave Heald & Guern’s Mill today at 12 o’clock on a pleasure excursion to Duncan’s Mill and return at noon tomorrow. Fare down and back, $2.50. Two barges fitted up for dancing will be in tow.
– Russian River Flag, December 23 1869
Mr. Hudson’s bill declaring Russian River navigable and providing for its improvement, has passed the Assembly. This is intended to encourage and protect the indomitable enterprise of Capt. John M. King, who has built a steamboat to navigate Russian River, and it will no doubt become a law. It will be of great benefit to our county.
– Russian River Flag, February 17 1870
The Enterprise. – Some weeks since Capt. King attempted to make a passage to Healdsburg with the “Enterprise,” but a little above Heald and Guern’s mill the pilot backed the boat upon a snag and sank her. This occasioned delay and considerable expense, but the indomitable Captain has got her afloat again and with the experienced help of his friend Capt. Parker, of the Mare Island Navy Yard, he will make the first voyage to Healdsburg as soon as some obstructions can be removed from the river, which he is now engaged in doing, with a force of fifteen men. The boat is now above the mouth of Mark West creek about ten miles below Healdsburg. The captain has bought new sixty horse power engines for her and he will keep her here when she comes up until they are put in.
– Russian River Flag, March 10 1870
Capt. King’s steamer, “Enterprise,” will probably reach Healdsburg today. as she is now but a short distance below town.
– Russian River Flag, March 24 1870
The Russian River Boat.
We have learned with considerable regret that Capt. King’s boat the “Enterprise.” is, for the present, a failure. The Captain has met with many serious difficulties in his undertaking, the chief of which lately, seem to have been the summary manner in which some of his creditors have secured their claims, whether rightfully or not we have no knowledge, and of course have nothing to say upon that head, though we had hoped that the Captain’s energy and perseverance would be rewarded. At his request we publish the following letter:
Eds. Flag: — I take this opportunity of thanking you for the many favors you have done me during the time I have been endeavoring to prove that Russian River is navigable. Although I differ very widely from you in politics, yet as long as I can use a hammer and cold chisel you may consider me one of your subscribers. Messrs. Heald & Guern have attached my boat, but that will not prevent me from making a living, as some friends have engaged me to run the Perseverance Saw mill, which is located thirteen miles above Cloverdale. They also attached my dog, “Gipsey,” which I valued more than money. They sold the dog for $200. This seems like a large sum. but I would not have taken twice that amount for it. They may break me, but they cannot keep me broke. The first of August, I will commence building another steamboat, at the mouth of Russian River, to be called the “Perseverance.” Again thanking you for past favors I ask that you do me one more by publishing this letter. Respectfully, yours,
John M. King.
– Russian River Flag, May 5 1870
A Card From Mr. Heald.
Eds Flag: — If I may be permitted the space in your paper to correct some errors in the card of John M. King, in your issue of May 5th, I will be thankful for the favor, as it seems to throw the blame of the failure of his boat where it does not belong. I think, however, the fact of his trying some four weeks to get the boat to Healdsburg over the shoals, with the river falling every day, without any probability of a rise till next December, and only making twelve miles, should convince any one that the “Enterprise for the present is a failure,” and Heald and Guerne not wholly answerable tor it, if they had lately attached the boat; but the facts are, that Heald and Guerne have not attached the boat as represented by King, and, as to his dog “Gipsie,” I never as much as knew he had such a dog. Heald and Guerne do not wish to “break” J. M. King, nor to “keep him broke,” but suppose we will have the pleasure of seeing the “Perseverence” when she comes along.
Thos. T. Heald. May 8th. 1870.
– Russian River Flag, May 12 1870
IN THE REDWOODS.
Life among the Lumbermen – How the Redwoods are Cut and Hauled, etc.
[Correspondence to the Bulletin.]
Stumptown, Sonoma Co., Nov. 20th
…Two or three hours I listened to these heavy stories, and to my hosts narrative of his financial shipwreck through a rash steamboat venture up Russian river with one King; how she twisted off her shaft and went to the bottom; and how the hulk now lies half-buried in the sand — a warning to any man so presumptuous as to attempt steamboat navigation on a river along which there is not yet enough traffic to have made even a decent bridle-path…