THE ASYLUMS NEXT DOOR

The North Bay’s economic foundation was remarkably solid a century ago, but not thanks to grapes, hops, prunes or other agriculture; it was because we had the most asylums. In Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties the largest employers were the huge state hospitals used to warehouse the mentally ill. And while a crop might fail or market prices fall, the asylum business was always growing – California has never suffered a shortage of crazy people.

Insanity stories appeared regularly in the old Santa Rosa papers but they’ve been ignored here because there’s rarely anything interesting reported – typically a drunk/drug addict goes bezerk or a despondent person attempts suicide. A three member “lunacy commission” is convened. The drunk vows to sober up and maybe does a little jail time; the suicidal person’s fate usually isn’t mentioned, but he or she is likely sent away to live with relatives.

Then there were the tales of “wild men.” Newspaper editors around the turn of the century loved these stories, and would reprint accounts about some poor demented soul living in the woods even though it happened hundreds of miles away. Locally we had the “Wild Man of Mendocino” who was captured in 1909 near Cloverdale (apparently the “Wild Man of Cloverdale” didn’t have the snap) just a few weeks after an escaped asylum patient was found in the same hills. A Press Democrat article about the Wild Man mentioned a woman had written to the Cloverdale police asking if he could be her long-lost son; when the PD item was picked up by a paper in Arizona, her son saw it and wrote an “I’m alright, ma” letter to her from Yuma. Let that be a lesson into the power of the press, at least when it comes to Wild Man stories.

Certifiably Insane

Being hunted down as a Wild Man pretty much assured a one-way ticket to the asylum, but otherwise being declared certifiably insane required some doing, such as Ed Bosco repeatedly shooting at police officers. Herman Welti asked the sheriff to do something about the men controlling his mind “by use of a wireless instrument.” And then there was William Franklin Monahan, who went mad trying to count the stars.

When these men arrived at their particular asylum, each would have found the place bursting with erstwhile lunatics. In that era California was clocking an “insane ratio” sometimes above the state’s annual growth percentage – in 1903, one out of every 260 state residents was adjudged crazy. Many asylum wards were 300 percent over capacity with patients sleeping in hallways and basements. To make room, the institutions kept expanding and the state began looking closely at the immigration status of its asylum population; under 1907 federal law, any immigrant found to be insane within the first three years of residence could be deported to their native country. Superintendents also began an early release program, which certainly wasn’t good for anyone.1

Today California may have one of the largest prison populations but for fifty years starting in 1870, we were tops in the nation per capita for locking up people in asylums. And before wisecracking about California being the national nuthouse, consider that medical authorities were seriously raising that question 140 years ago. Speculation as to why relatively more Californians were committed to asylums included the nice weather, dashed hopes of striking it rich in the Gold Rush, the distance from family and friends on the East Coast and “fast living.” These explanations ignored that most of those deemed insane were simple laborers and housewives, not down-on-their-luck 49ers or burned-out Barbary Coast gamblers.2

In 1875 the superintendent of the state’s first asylum warned that the cities were using the place as a dumping ground for the senile or indigent elderly, incurable drunks and anyone “simply troublesome.” But whatever their problems, 19th century California sought to accommodate them by building five public asylums plus the California Home for the Care and Training of Feeble-Minded Children. (There were also three private asylums, but these never housed more than a tiny percentage.) More about the institutions in a moment.

Even as the state asylums were grappling with overcrowding, the legislature required by law that medical examiners adopt a new form to determine if a patient was certifiably insane.3 While the document sensibly begins by collecting vital statistics including nationality and length of U.S. residence, it goes off the rails quickly by asking questions that seem irrelevant to mental health. A sample:

* Have any relatives been eccentric or peculiar in any way in their habits or pursuits? If so, how? Have any relatives, direct or collateral, suffered, or are suffering, from any form of chronic disease, such as consumption or tuberculosis, syphilis, rheumatism, neuralgia, hysteria, or nervousness, or had epilepsy or falling sickness?

* Which parent does alleged insane person resemble mentally? Physically? Habits (cleanly or uncleanly)?

* Has alleged insane person ever been addicted to masturbation or sexual excesses? If so, for how long?

* Age when menses appeared: Amount and character before insanity appeared: Since insanity appeared:

* Has the change of life taken place? Was it gradual or sudden? How changed from normal?

* What is the supposed cause of insanity? Predisposing or exciting?

The final example reflects the 19th century notion (or maybe older) that a mentally ill person was either “predisposed” to insanity because of heredity or “excited” into madness by drugs, events or ideas. But many of the other odd questions have more to do with interest in the new pseudoscience of eugenics.

The history of the eugenics craze is discussed in the earlier article, “Sonoma County and Eugenics,” but let’s summarize that it was a set of crank theories that proposed some individuals – even entire races – were genetically inferior and prone to insanity, epilepsy, “moral degeneracy” and criminal behavior. Many educated and otherwise sensible people in the first half of the 20th century bought into this nonsense to varying degrees (including Luther Burbank) but no body of government was as eager to actually pass eugenic laws as California. At the same time as the new certification form was legalized, the state authorized forced sterilization of anyone deemed incurably mentally ill. These laws were extended in 1913 and 1917, and by the time ten years had passed, California had performed 2,558 sterilizations, about 4 in 5 of all such operations in the United States in the 1910s.4

Most superintendents of the asylums and the Sonoma State Home embraced the new asexualization law with gusto. Soon after it became law the Press Democrat ran an item that the director of Napa State Hospital “thought there were a number of patients in the Napa Hospital upon whom the operation should be performed” and it wasn’t long before they were doing an average of a procedure a week. The asylums at Stockton and Los Angeles were sterilizing every person being released of child-bearing age.

Since each asylum had its own policy on sterilization, it mattered a great deal where a patient was committed, but it appears it was fairly random and probably based simply on which hospital had an available bed. Someone found insane in San Francisco could end up in Stockton where a vasectomy was guaranteed. (A few early newspaper accounts mention castration although it is likely reporters didn’t understand the difference, and the law did not specify what “asexualization” technically meant.)  At Mendocino, the patient would probably escape the operation; that asylum and the one in San Jose were singled out in the 1918 state review for their “poor record” of sterilizing less than five percent of their inmates. But odds were always that anyone committed in the northern part of California would end up in the North Bay simply because we had the majority of asylums, plus the home for “feeble-minded children” in Glen Ellen.

The Napa State Asylum for the Insane was built to handle the overflow from the state’s premiere asylum in Stockton. Admitting its first patients in 1875, it started as a 500-bed institution and was the first building in the West following guidelines of the Kirkbride Plan, an early Victorian design for massive hospitals. Its architecture was viewed at the time as a form of treatment itself, offering patients humane lodging along with an infrastructure to support thousands of people – there was even a railway in the basement for transporting food, bedlinen, and whatnot. They were also gothic monstrosities that looked like the setting for a Stephen King horror novel, and the open floor plan made it easy for one screaming patient to upset hundreds of others. And then there was the problem of them falling down; the unreinforced Kirkbride-design asylum in San Jose collapsed in the 1906 earthquake killing 100, including a Santa Rosa woman. Napa’s “castle” was demolished in 1949, but the grounds still serve as a psychiatric hospital. Your obl. believe-it-or-not factoid: under 1874 state law, no alcohol could be sold within one mile of the hospital’s location – maybe the Napa tourist board should check to see if that’s still on the books.

The Sonoma State Home was discussed in the longer article about eugenics. It may have been called the hospital for “feeble-minded children” when its doors opened in 1891, but about one in five was epileptic. Its mission shifted after Dr. Fred O. Butler became superintendent in 1918 and it became an outright factory for asexualization surgery in California. By the mid-1920s, half of the women patients there were classified as “sexually delinquent,” and male patients were often “masturbators” or “passive sodomists.” Recall that “masturbation or sexual excesses” was a prominent question on the state form, and masturbation was the third most commonly reported behavior “indicating insanity.”5

Opened around the same time in 1893 was the Mendocino State Asylum for the Insane at Talmage, near Ukiah. The facility was intended to be the new overflow mental hospital for the state system, but records from the early 1900s show the great majority of patients came directly from San Francisco, for reasons not clear. Like the other hospitals it ballooned as its inmate population and staff grew to the size of a small town over the first half of the 20th century. But the story of the Mendocino Home takes several odd twists that Ripley might not have believed; for 25 years starting in 1929 it housed the criminally insane (a must-read story can be found here), then became an alcohol and drug rehab center during the 1950s and 1960s. In this era there were psychiatric residency and research programs that experimented with giving alcoholics massive doses of LSD. As the hospital was shutting down in 1972 because of a directive by Governor Reagan, cult leader Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple reaped a financial bonanza by setting up nursing homes to care for the former inmates. (It is also alleged that cult members who worked at the hospital before closing had stolen a stash of psychotherapeutic drugs like Thorazine and Lithium that would later be used to control dissenters at Jonestown.) Today the site is a Buddhist monastery that’s supposedly the largest Buddhist temple in North America.

NOTES:


1So Far Disordered in Mind: Insanity in California, 1870-1930, Volume 1, Richard Wightman Fox
2 ibid pg. 123
3 Certificate of Medical Examiners, Feb. 26, 1909
4 op. cit. pg. 27
5 ibid pg. 141

 

NEW LAW INVOKED
State Authorities Will Try Vasectomy on Insane Patients

Napa, March 22–A number of patients in the Napa State Hospital for the Insane will shortly undergo the operation of vasectomy for the purpose of their sterilization, as provided in the new asexualization law, applicable to certain patients and certain inmates of State Prisons.

A few days ago Dr. F. W. Hatch, Superintendent of State Hospitals, came here from Sacramento, and held a conference with Dr. Elmer Stone regarding the new law, the constitutionality of which has not been doubted by the Attorney General. Superintendent Stone of the hospital told Dr. Hatch he thought there were a number of patients in the Napa Hospital upon whom the operation should be performed. Dr. Hatch directed Dr. Stone to segregate these patients and get them ready for examination. When these arrangements have been made the patients will be examined by Dr. Hatch and Dr. W. E. Snow of the State Board of Health, and if the operation is deemed necessary will be ordered performed.

– Press Democrat, March 23, 1910
STAR GAZER FOUND INSANE

William Franklin Monahan was brought down from Fulton Friday afternoon by Sheriff Smith and County Physician S. S. Bogle and examined before an insanity inquisition. The man has become a star gazer and has attempted the impossible task of counting the stars in the heavens. Each evening he goes out and steadfastly gazes into the heavens. He was tried before Judge Thomas C. Denny and Dr. S. S. Bogle and Dr. P. A. Meneray and ordered committed to Mendocino hospital. He will be taken to that place on the evening train Friday.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 9, 1909

SMITH SAYS HE GUESSES HE HAD ‘EM SURE

William Smith, an aged man who was arrested several days ago near Penngrove, at an early morning hour by Deputy Sheriff Rasmussen of Petaluma, and was to have been taken before a lunacy commission on Thursday to have the state of his mind inquired into, was put over for a day or two longer. Smith, who says he is a carpenter by trade, is apparently sans now. He blames his condition the other morning, when he was armed with an axe with which he had prepared for battle with an imaginary foe, to the mixing of beer and wine, and the imbibing of too copious doses. He told the Sheriff and Rasmussen Thursday morning that he honestly believes that he was suffering from the “d. t’s” at the time. He must have been, he said, for he firmly believed then that he was being pursued. The feeling then was a terrible one, but now it has disappeared. Sheriff Smith will have County Physician S. S. Bogle take a look at the man and if he passes inspection then he will be turned loose with his kit of carpenter tools. He says he can get a job.

In the corridor of the court house, in the presence of the officers and a newspaper representative, the man raised his right hand and swore that he had taken his last drink. “I will never touch a drink of wine, beer, or whiskey,” he said, “as long as I live.”

– Press Democrat, June 18, 1909

AN INSANE MAN IS FOUND IN THE HILLS
Escaped Inmate of Stockton Asylum

William J. Wash, an escaped inmate of the Stockton Insane asylum, was found on Monday night wandering in the hills, near Cloverdale. He was brought to Cloverdale, and detained there over night and Constable W. J. Orr took charge of him and accompanied him to the county jail here yesterday morning. Stockton asylum was communicated with and an officer was set to take Wash back there.

Wash is said to have escaped from Stockton about three weeks ago. He was wearing some of the clothes provided by the institution when Orr took him in charge. It is probable that he had been wandering in the hills ever since he made his getaway.

– Press Democrat, November 10, 1909
CAUGHT HIM IN THE HILLS UP NORTH
Cloverdale Constable Captures “Wild Man” After Search Lasting for Several Miles

Constable William J. Orr of Cloverdale headed a posse on Thursday who captured Amelio Regoni, who for some time past has been described as the “wild man of Mendocino county.”

Since last May there has been a lookout for the man who was run to earth seven miles from Cloverdale on Thanksgiving day. Numerous robberies of cabins and farm houses in the wooded hills of Mendocino county have been charged up to the “wild man.” He has been near capture on a number of occasions, but always managed to get out of the way and into hiding before his pursuers came up with him.

Constable Orr got word that a man had been seen dodging in and out among the hills near Cloverdale. He got a posse together and they tracked the man and he was captured in the fissure of a large rock. He was taken by surprise and covered with guns before he had time to reach for his rifle even if he had determined to resist capture. Thursday night Constable Orr landed his man in the Mendocino county jail at Ukiah. He is wanted in that county, as stated.

– Press Democrat, November 27, 1909
PRESS DEMOCRAT FINDS WANDERER
Victor Green Reads Story in This Paper and Writes to His Mother in Her Far Away Home

Two or three weeks ago when the Press Democrat mentioned the letter Constable Orr of Cloverdale had received from Mrs. Green of Pennsylvania, anxiously inquiring if her son, Victor Green, who had left home several years [ago] to come west, was the “wild man” Orr had captured in Mendocino county, a strong appeal was made if the item met the eyes of the boy that he at once write to his mother, and let her know of his whereabouts. The Press Democrat asked other papers to copy the story it published.

A Santa Rosan received a copy of the Press Democrat in Arizona and passed it along to a newspaper there. The story was published and it was read by the missing son, who at once wrote home from Yuma, telling his mother of his whereabouts. In turn Constable Orr and the Press Democrat have received the cordial thanks of Mrs. Green.

– Press Democrat, February 2, 1910

INSANE MAN SAYS HE IS HYPNOTIZED
Herman Wells Placed Under Arrest–Has Threatened Residents of the Bloomfield Section

Deputy Sheriff William Coret of San Rafael has arrested Herman Welti at Tomales, charged with insanity. Welti is a frog catcher by trade and for many years has made his home in and around Bloomfield, but a short time ago removed to the Tomales section. He has been in the habit of spending his money mostly for liquor and at times would stay intoxicated for weeks at a time. It is thought that this is the cause of his present demented condition.

A few weeks ago he made threats to injure Wm. Minck the post master at Bloomfield, who is also a general merchant. Mr. Minck had had some trouble at times with Welti, owing to the fact of his coming into the Post Office intoxicated and using improper language before patrons and children, but Mr. Minck, having been previously warned through the mails to look out Welti, had managed to avoid any trouble. About the 2nd of December Welti wrote a long letter from Fallon’s to Sheriff Smith of this county and sent it by registered mail, wherein Dr. Cockrill and others were charged with holding a hypnotic spell over him, by use of a wireless instrument and claiming that they had followed him through ten or twelve counties of this state, trying to unbalance his mind. Sheriff Smith immediately remailed this letter from Dr. Cockrill at Bloomfield. The doctor was inclined  to treat the matter as a josh, but his son, W. A. Cockrill, reflecting what serious consequences might result from such persons being allowed their liberty, forwarded and the letter to Sheriff Taylor of San Rafael and requested him to get Welti and have him examined as to his sanity. Deputy Sheriff Coret made the arrest as stated before, but on arriving in the jail at San Rafael, Welti drew a pocket knife and attempted to stab Coret, and only for the deputy’s presence of mind probably would have succeeded.

Coret while parleying with the prisoner, made an offer to trade knives and in that way get possession of the knife which Welti had, after which he succeeded in locking him up without any further trouble. Welti will undoubtedly be adjudged insane and committed to an asylum when he comes up for examination.

– Press Democrat, December 15, 1909

INSANE MAN IS ARRESTED
Wandering About Barefooted and Without Hat

Ernest Bassanessi, formerly an employee of the Santa Rosa tannery, was arrested near Melitta Tuesday by Deputy Sheriff C. A. Reynolds and brought to the county jail. During the latter part of the morning of that day word was received over the telephone from Melitta that a man, supposed to be crazy, was in the neighborhood. The message stated further that the man was bareheaded and barefooted and that he carried a revolver. When the deputy sheriff took him into custody Bassanessi had no revolver, but was carrying a rock with which to protect himself from imaginary enemies which he believed were trying to kill him. An insanity commission will likely look into his case Wednesday.

– Santa Rosa Republican, May 24, 1910
JOKING PRAYED ON MIND AND DROVE MAN INSANE

Ernest Bassanessi, the man who was found wandering around Melitta on Tuesday, is a man of good family and was born in Venice, where he taught school for some time. His wife was a native of Rome, and also a school teacher before her marriage. Mr. Bassanessi is a sensitive man and took the joking of his fellow workmen as an insult and their talk bothered him and preyed on his mind.

When he and his wife landed in this country from Italy, they had a sum of money with them, which they had saved, and immediately they were robbed. This was the first of their misfortunes and this and other things worried the man and he finally went insane.

– Santa Rosa Republican, May 25, 1910
BOSCO COMMITTED TO INSANE ASYLUM
Former Resident of the Vicinity of Healdsburg Adjudged Insane and Not Sent to Penitentiary

Ed Bosco, an aged man charged with an assault with intent to commit murder, was examined on a charge of insanity in the Superior Court in Napa yesterday afternoon. He was declared insane by Judge Gesford and was ordered committed to the Napa State Hospital.

Bosco attempted to shoot Officer Ed Powers at Calistoga when Powers arrested him on a minor charge. Bosco, who formerly resided in Sonoma county, imagines that people have taken his land away from him. The officers in Healdsburg and in this city have had experiences with Bosco.

– Press Democrat, January 22, 1910

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INSANITY DUE TO EARTHQUAKE

Many victims of the 1906 Santa Rosa earthquake had lingering health problems, but none probably suffered more than Hattie Runyon, who apparently went mad.

Today she’d be diagnosed with an extreme case of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder); washing her hands up to fifteen times in a row and repeatedly bathing the children would be giveaway symptoms. But at the time, the post-Victorian doctors and courts were most concerned by her refusal to stop breast feeding her 2 year-old child, born around the time of the earthquake.

Hattie wasn’t the only one to lose her mind because of the disaster, and some died as a result. About ten weeks after the quake, America Thomas died from “general disability following general neurosis caused by shock” according to his death certificate, and Elwin Hutchinson, a 15 year-old schoolboy who died at the end of 1906, suffered from “partial paralysis and nervous prostration.”

WOMAN MUST WEAN CHILD
Runyon Insanity Matter is Under Observation

The examination of Mrs. Hattie Runyon, charged with insanity, held before Judge Thomas C. Denny Wednesday morning, was attended by a number of ladies, who were summoned to tell what they had seen of Mrs. Runyon’s actions which indicated her mental unsoundness. These ladies told of the frequent bathings of the children of the woman at late hours, of her taking them up town at midnight, when they should be sleeping and resting, and other things.

Their presence of these ladies and their brilliant millinery gave the sombre court room the aspect of a social function, with Judge Denny as host. Dr. J. W. Cline and Dr. J. W. Jesse were the medical inquisitors.

Mrs. Runyon stoutly denied some of the accusation made against her, admitted that she was on the streets late at night, but declared she was compelled to go up town at unusual hours to get food for herself and babies. It developed during the examination that the woman had a child more than two years of age which she had refused to wean. The woman was told months ago by her physician that if the child was not weaned it would drive her insane, but she had refused to wean the little one. Her predicament in the present time is undoubtedly due to this.

The husband of the woman broke down and wept as he told the court and doctors of how his wife had changed since the earthquake. He said she was continually at the water faucets and that she would wash her hands and dry them and then return immediately to the faucets and wash them again, doing this as often as fifteen consecutive times.

Judge Denny continued the further hearing of the matter until November 24, and the woman will be kept under observation during that time. She was ordered by the court to wean her child and to keep off the streets at night. Unless these orders are obeyed she will be arrested again and placed under restraint.

– Santa Rosa Republican, October 28, 1908

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ARMED, CRAZY, AND FORECLOSED UPON

Not since the misadventures of Joseph Forgett, a drug addict who carried a meat cleaver under his coat, had Sonoma County law enforcement encountered a man as dangerous and (probably) crazy as Edward/Eduardo Bosco.

The Santa Rosa newspapers first introduced us to Mr. Bosco, a middle-aged Italian immigrant, in late 1907, when he was in Sonoma county jail awaiting a sanity hearing. A few days earlier, it seemed, Bosco had an ugly confrontation with deputies at his little farm near Healdsburg. When he refused to open his door, the deputies smashed it in. Eduardo ran to the back of his house locking doors behind him, with the deputies and their battering ram in pursuit. He fled to his basement, where the deputies broke down the door and arrested him, although he was threatening them with an axe. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. An important detail downplayed in those news reports was that Bosco had recently lost his farm to foreclosure.

At his hearings, Bosco said he was defending himself because he didn’t understand at the time why those men were breaking into his house. He was released after two doctors declared him sane, and several character witnesses testified on his behalf. Bosco “claimed that his neighbors bothered him greatly, and intimated that it was desired to have him placed in an asylum so his property could be confiscated.” He sued those neighbors for damages for bringing the complaint against him.

If the story ended there, we might presume that Bosco was the victim of a scheme to steal away his property, and those neighbors were conspiring to boot him out because they held the mortgage or lien on his farm. But the story does not end there.

A few months later, Bosco was discovered back at the farm he no longer owned. He had picked clean the pear trees on the property and sold the crop to a cannery and when a Healdsburg police officer and posse showed up to arrest him, he opened fire with a shotgun. No one was injured, and the police retreated. We next heard of Eduardo Bosco when he was in the Napa county jail about two months later. Now the police were after him for “stopping and molesting” people on the road outside Calistoga. A local cop investigated, and Bosco allegedly pulled out a gun and pressed it against the officer’s chest, pulling the trigger three times. No bullets were fired.

At the end of 1908, courts of Napa and Sonoma counties were squabbling over whether Bosco would be tried for real shotgun blasts at deputies or an empty gun fired at the heart of a cop (UPDATE HERE).

(Note: Eduardo Bosco was apparently unmarried and childless, and no relation to former Congressman Doug Bosco, who was born in Brooklyn.)

BOSCOE INSANE

An insane man, one Boscoe [sic], residing in the vicinity of Healdsburg, is in the county jail awaiting an official examination as to his sanity. He is violent and it became necessary to tightly strap him on his removal to Santa Rosa. His family circumstances are unknown.

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 21, 1907

GIVE OFFICERS EXCITING TIME
Man Barricades Door and Bids Defiance When an Attempt is Made to Serve Eviction Papers

Armed with a writ from the Superior Court to put Orselo Silva in possession of some land near Healdsburg, Deputy Sheriffs Ben H. Barnes and Lencioni visited the place Thursday for the purpose of carrying out the order contained in the writ of assistance, and evicted Edward Bosco. They had a lively time.

Some time ago Bosco was believed to be mentally deranged and consequently the officers went about their work carefully, especially when they found that the man had shut himself up in his cabin and barricaded the door and that he probably had a double barreled Winchester in his possession.

When the officers went to the cabin they were denied admission and Bosco commenced shouting and raised a “rough house” generally. After temporarily pacifying him the writ was read to him, but he still refused to open the door. Finally a battering ram was secured and with Deputy Sheriff Barnes covered the man with his gun which he thrust through the window, Deputy Lencioni broke down the door. Bosco ran to the rear of the house and disappeared through a trap door down into the basement, which is also used as a small winery. The officers removed him from there with difficulty, having to batter down more doors. He was found to have an axe as a weapon of defense. He was taken into Healdsburg and lodged in jail. He will be brought to the county jail and a charge of assault with a deadly weapon will be preferred against him.

– Press Democrat, December 13, 1907
EDWARD BOSCO FACES COURT
Preliminary Examination at Healdsburg Today

Edward Bosco, charged with having resisted an officer, was taken to Healdsburg Saturday morning for his preliminary examination before Justice Charles Raymond. Recently Deputy Sheriff Ben H. Barnes and Constable Henry Lencioni went to Dry Creek valley to arrest Bosco, he barricaded the doors and windows, and resisted arrested [sic] even at the point of a gun.

Attorney William F. Cowan went to represent Bosco at the examination, and the people were represented by Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle. Court Reporter Scott recorded the testimony. Bosco was recently before Judge Seawell on a charge of insanity, but was released after an examination by two physicians, who declared the man sane. He claimed that his neighbors bothered him greatly, and intimate that it was desired to have him placed in an asylum so his property could be confiscated.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 4, 1908

ROPED AND DRAGGED TO THE COUNTY JAIL
Sensational Allegations in a Complaint in a Ten Thousand Dollar Damage Suit Thursday

Charging that he was arrested for insanity, bound by ropes by deputy sheriffs, divested of hat, coat and vest, and taken unceremoniously to the county jail at Santa Rosa at the behest and complaint of Silva Nurrisa and Orsola Nurissa, Edwardo Bosca commenced an action in the Superior Court on Thursday against the aforenamed and asks the court to award him $10,250 for damage done his reputation and name and for the indignities he was forced to suffer as the result of his arrest.

The allegations are set forth in a complaint and the trial promises to present a number of sensational features. William F. Cowan is the attorney for the plaintiff. It will be remembered that Bosca [sic] was evicted from his ranch near Healdsburg some weeks ago.

– Press Democrat, January 31, 1908
ALL EVIDENCE IN; ARGUMENTS TODAY
Trial of Edward Bosco Charged With Resisting Officers Commenced on Thursday

Charged with what the law classes as high misdemeanor, resisting an officer, Eduardo Bosco, who resides near Healdsburg, went to trial before Judge Denny and a jury in the Superior Court on Thursday morning.

Among the bits of evidence offered in support of the complaint that he resisted Deputy Sheriff Henry Lencioni when the latter went with Deputy Sheriff Ben H. Barnes to serve a writ upon him (Bosco) were a hatchet and knife and a whetstone. These articles were admitted in evidence…

…Bosco was called as a witness in his own behalf. Among other things he testified that he did not realize the mission of the officers at the time he resisted them. Several character witnesses were called and at five o’clock both sides rested their case.

– Press Democrat, March 13, 1908

BOSCO SELLS THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT
Man Who Was Dispossessed of Premises Near Healdsburg is Said to Gave Established Himself There Again

From Healdsburg comes word that Edwardo Bosco, a rancher, who lived near there, and who was dispossessed of his place by process of court, is again in trouble, and that Constable Ed Haigh has a warrant for his arrest.

According to the report sent here, Bosco has again gone on the premises from which he was evicted and has entered the house, and installed himself there, and furthermore, has picked the pear crop on the place and sold it to the cannery.

– Press Democrat, August 19, 1908
POSSE EXCHANGES SHOTS WITH RANCHER BOSCO
Constable Tries to Dislodge Man and Is Met With Shotgun Volley

Constable Ed Haight and posse had an encounter with Edwardo Bosco yesterday afternoon in the hills near [Healdsburg], but returned to town without their man. Bosco recently lost his little ranch on foreclosure proceedings, but maintained possession and so far all efforts to depose him have proved futile.

In an effort to get him off the place Constable Haight and posse went to the ranch yesterday, but after firing a shot to scare the old man they were met with a volley from his Winchester and all efforts to dislodge him were unavailing. Some seventeen shots were fired between the posse and Bosco, but none was effective as far as learned.

– San Francisco Call, September 6, 1908
BOSCO NOW UNDER ARREST
Man Wanted Here is in Jail in Napa County

Eduardo Bosco, the eccentric individual who has given the officers of northern Sonoma county considerable trouble, has been arrested in Calistoga. He snapped his rifle three times at an officer there who attempted to arrest him Monday, and he will probably be charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to commit murder.

Bosco has disturbed the peace of residents of Calistoga and an officer went to arrest him. It was then that Bosco attempted to murder the officer, and had his weapon been loaded he would probably have succeeded. He was taken into custody and landed in the county jail in Napa. There he told Sheriff Dunlap he had been in jail here and that officer communicated with Undersheriff Walter C. Lindsay. The latter informed Dunlap that Bosco was also wanted in this country. Constable Ed Haigh of Healdsburg has a warrant for Bosco’s arrest for stealing fruit from a ranch which he formerly owned and from which he had been ejected. Recently when the constable attempted to arrest Bosco in Healdsburg the latter drew a weapon and the officer also drew a gun. No shooting ensued and Bosco went his way unmolested. He is charged with petit larceny, by the warrant held by Constable Haigh.

Bosco was examined for insanity here at one time and was permitted to have his liberty after the hearing. Later he went to the ranch which he had lost and took fruit from it and disposed of the fruit to a Healdsburg cannery. He will probably be tried at Napa, as the offense there is far more serious than the charge against him here.

The Napa Daily Journal has the following regarding the crime of Bosco and his arrest:

“Early that morning Constable D. E. Powers received word that a strange man, believed to be insane was stationed on a road leading into the up valley town, stopping and molesting all who passed by. Powers went out to investigate, and found Ed Bosco, an Italian, 55 years old, lying by the road side. When he attempted to take the queer acting stranger into custody, Bosco drew a big revolver and pressed it against the officers breast. Three times he pulled the trigger, but the shells refused to explode.

[“]After a hard struggle Powers succeeded in taking the weapon away from the man who would do murder. Bosco was brought here Monday afternoon and lodged in the county jail. He will be taken to Healdsburg, where he is wanted for taking a shot at an officer.”

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 10, 1908

BOSCO LANDED IN THE COUNTY JAIL

Eduardo Bosco of Healdsburg who has given the officers considerable trouble in one way and another recently, was brought to the county jail last night from Napa, where he had been arrested for his peculiar actions towards strangers at Calistoga. When the officers went after him Bosco is said to have pulled his rifle on them and to have snapped the trigger several times before it could be taken from him.

There was a warrant out in this county for his arrest. Bosco was once examined for his sanity here, has been displaced from the farm where he resided, and resisted when officers went to take him off the second time. His appearance at Napa was a surprise here.

– Press Democrat, November 11, 1908

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