When the only daughter of the richest family in town gets married you expect a fuss. The engagement will be announced in the press, often with a portrait. The big church wedding would be the social event of the season; the newspapers would describe the bride’s trousseau in loving detail, the bridesmaids and others in the party would be named, followed by a long list of family members and VIPs attending the ceremony.

Thus many in 1891 Santa Rosa were likely surprised to read a small item in the Democrat stating Jessie Overton and Ed Livernash were married one Monday morning. “The wedding was very private, only the members of both families being present,” the Democrat paper reported.

Perhaps they wanted to avoid a showy wedding because of Jessie’s deep piety; not long before that her father, ex-Judge A. P. Overton, had convinced her to leave the convent she had joined as a novitiate. Or maybe they wanted it kept quiet because she was then three months pregnant.

The Overtons probably approved of Ed as their son-in-law, despite his role in creating the family’s awkward situation. He was ambitious, whip-smart, and seemed headed towards Democratic party politics, which would have certainly pleased the old judge. They might have felt differently if they had a crystal ball, however – by the end of the year Ed would be charged with attempted murder as well as being arrested for impersonating an African-American woman.

Most of we wretched souls have life stories that tread a straightforward path, cradle to grave. Not so Edward J. Livernash; he did remarkable and more than a few crazy things; he was brilliant and unpredictable, sometimes cunning and criminally inclined; he had spells when he seemingly had a tenuous grip on reality and had other episodes where he saw the world with greater clarity than anyone around him. Why there is not a book or movie about this guy is a complete mystery.

Jessie was 25 when they married and her new husband was 24, yet he already had a biography of someone who lived a full life.1 He was an attorney (having passed the bar on his 21st birthday) but was mainly a newspaperman, having founded a successful paper in Cloverdale at age 16, which he sold a couple of years later to buy the Sonoma Index (which he renamed The Tribune). After selling that he worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, edited and published a respected literary journal, and at the time of their marriage was editor of the Healdsburg Enterprise.2

livernashportrait(RIGHT: Undated portrait of Edward J. Livernash courtesy of Craig Livernash)

Regular visitors to this dusty digital nook have already met Ed via “THE MURDEROUS SOMNAMBULIST,” where he attempted to kill an elderly Cloverdale man and claimed at the trial he was not responsible because he was in a “somnambulistic state.” This article is about an incident a month earlier when he was arrested for dressing like a woman, but the two episodes were really different sides to the same coin. There are several callbacks below to the somnambulist tale and if Gentle Reader does not have time to (re)read that entire story, please review the synopsis provided below as a sidebar.

While waiting for Jessie to give birth, Ed worked for the San Francisco Examiner during the spring of 1891 and in June paid $1,000 cash for another country weekly, the Livermore Herald. Their baby Alberta was born in August.3

But in September, Ed’s life began to unravel. The Livermore newspaper’s office caught fire and was nearly a total loss, yet Ed continued publishing it by contracting with a printer in Oakland. He began seeing Dr. John W. Robertson, who owned the Livermore Sanitarium and often testified in Bay Area courts during the 1890s as an expert on insanity.

And so we arrive at the afternoon of Saturday, September 26.

The policeman on duty at the San Francisco Ferry Building saw someone who didn’t look right to him. Said the sergeant, “You are a man, sir, masquerading in female attire.” The suspect denied it.

“You are a man,” reiterated the sergeant, gazing at the masquerader sternly. “It is against the law for one of your sex to appear in public in petticoats. I shall have to take you in.” With that the sergeant snatched the black veil away, revealing sharp features, smeared with black grease-paint.

Illustrations from the September 27 1891 San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
Illustrations from the September 27 1891 San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

All San Francisco newspapers covered the story, but it’s obvious only the Chronicle happened to have a police reporter at the station house. The Chronicle described the dress as blue sateen “almost concealed under a fashionable traveling ulster” (now called a “duster coat”), a gray hat, black gloves and new leather bag.

From the Chronicle: “‘What is your name?’ demanded the desk sergeant. ‘George Jones.'”

“Nothing of any importance was found about the prisoner’s person but the opening of the satchel created a sensation. First was fished out a pound bottle of chloroform which had not been opened. Next were produced two one-pound bottles labeled prussic acid, likewise unopened…By this time the police were genuinely interested, and pressed Jones for explanations. But he had nothing to say.”

Asked why he was wearing women’s clothes, he said only he planned to play a joke, but would not say who it involved. “I decline to answer that. It would involve the names of some very prominent people, and I would die before dragging their names into the matter.”

Livernash was placed in a cell pending a court appearance on Monday. Later that night he dashed off a lengthy note to the Chronicle which appeared in the Sunday edition. This was his new explanation: “I determined to play a joke I had been planning for a fortnight or so. It was this: To dress as a negress and apply for service to a lady friend in this city, who shall be nameless.”

When he appeared before the judge he told still another version – apparently expecting no one had read his statement printed in the Sunday Chronicle. He now said it was a joke “to fool my wife” because “he wanted to see if she would recognize him.” He claimed in court the new mother was staying with someone she knew in San Francisco and while he was indeed wearing her clothes, he had taken them and dressed up in the city hotel where he stayed when not in Livermore.

Swiss cheese has fewer holes than that story.

Then there were questions about the poisons and why he was waiting to take a ferry. Again his answers made no sense.

In his letter to the Chronicle, Livernash wrote he intended to pour out the bottle of chloroform but put it in the satchel anyway. The prussic acid was too dangerous to leave in the hotel room so he took it along as well.

While costumed and enroute to his wife, or lady friend, or very prominent people, he suddenly remembered someone from San Francisco was going to meet him in Livermore that evening. That took priority, so he hustled to the Ferry Building to intercept his buddy from making a needless trip. Alas, he was busted before he was able to board the ferryboat.

strangeportraits(RIGHT: Newspapers heavily played up the impersonation angle of the story, illustrating stories with highly feminized portrayals of Livernash. At top is a drawing from the September 29 1891 San Francisco Chronicle and below is an engraving which appeared in many papers nationwide)

In both his jailhouse letter and in court, Livernash said he was inhaling chloroform because of chronic insomnia – although the police reporter noted the bottle was unopened. He said that in Livermore he and his pal were going to use that industrial-size stash of prussic acid for oddball experiments in extracting gold from coins.4

At his court appearance Dr. Robertson testified his patient “is afflicted with insomnia and hypnotism. Hypnotism, a condition not thoroughly understood, is produced artificially by mesmerists and magnetizers, or is produced by the person afflicted. Livernash hypnotized himself.”

SF Examiner: “In Dr. Robertson’s opinion Livernash was not in normal mental condition during his masquerading tour.” SF Chronicle: “the case went on it developed into one which would hold the Society of Psychic Research spellbound with interest…he is not morally responsible for what he does.”

Like the police, Judge Joachimsen showed a great deal of skepticism about the entire story, particularly why Livernash was carrying an enormous supply of an extremely lethal compound. He took the case under advisement and found Livernash guilty of the misdemeanor charge of wearing woman’s apparel in public. Accounts differ as to the fine being $50 or $100.

Newspaper editors across the country (helllooo, Sioux City Iowa!) loved the story and can be found printing a shortened version of the Chronicle’s court reporting over the next few months, the delays presumably due to them waiting for the engraved portrait to be shared. Curiously, that version got the judge’s decision wrong: “After thinking the matter over for a day, the judge concluded to let Mr. Livernash go.”


On October 28, 1891, Ed Livernash paid a visit to a wealthy bachelor in Cloverdale. Days earlier, Livernash had written a letter claiming to be from his father-in-law, stating he wanted to buy the elderly man’s livery stable. Livernash said he would return when his in-law arrived and gave the man a bottle of wine as a gift. The wine was poisoned with prussic acid.

Livernash came back by himself later that night and made smalltalk while supposedly waiting for his relative. Livernash remarked on two portraits on the wall and was told those were the man’s niece and nephew. “I thought you had no relatives,” Livernash said before growing agitated.

Suddenly Livernash pulled out two guns. “Make out your will in my favor or I will kill you, God damn you!” He fired seven times. Four of the bullets hit the victim in the face but incredibly did no serious damage.

The trial opened exactly a year after the shooting. Little new evidence was introduced – the whole defense rested on whether or not Livernash was in a “somnambulistic state” while he was blasting away.

During part of his testimony Livernash was supposedly placed in a hypnotic trance by the Superintendent of the asylum in Napa. He spoke of an elaborate conspiracy against him and that the man he shot was really Judge Joachimsen in disguise. The Napa doctor told the jury he was certain Livernash had an exceedingly rare condition and was not faking. In a commentary section I remarked that during his months at the Napa asylum, it appeared the doctor and patient developed a codependent relationship to use his case to support theories in the emerging field of psychology.

The jury deadlocked 8:4 and a second trial was held, Livernash acting as his own attorney. Jury selection was lengthy because he quizzed them closely “as to their ideas of hypnotism and insanity.” His defense did not include hypnosis again but argued he and others in his family sometimes just went nuts. This time the verdict was not guilty.

What to make of this unusual story? Today Edward J. Livernash lives on as a footnote in LGBTQ history, mentioned in books, academic papers and websites as a documented example of 19th century cross-dressing. That might be true or not; there’s no evidence of gender dysphoria aside from this 1891 incident, and Ed later had plenty of enemies who might have gladly used something like that to attack and discredit him.

(The articles transcribed below do, however, say a great deal about how the press was – and still is – pushing aside hard news when it has a delicious scandal it can serve up instead. The lede for this story should have been that police suspected Livernash was planning some sort of serious crime. From the Chronicle report on his arrest: “The peculiar articles found in the satchel and the fact of the prisoner assuming such an elaborate disguise incline the authorities to believe that they have unearthed something much more sensational than an intended joke.”)

Lurking in the background of Ed’s 1891 misadventures is the question of whether there was something actually wrong with his mind. A sidebar in the somnambulist article discusses some possibilities, but it’s now too late to know if he had real problems or was faking temporary madness to stay out of prison.

But aside from Ed’s shifting excuses for dressing up and having toxic chemicals, when this incident is taken in context with other events around that time a more complex picture appears – and strongly points to him methodically plotting a series of crimes rather than being a madman performing impulsive and irrational acts.

Whether insane or no, he certainly intended to murder the Cloverdale man. He dropped off the poisoned wine and began shooting when he returned and found his victim still alive. His motive was apparently to forge a will making him the beneficiary.

If Livernash was not deranged, then the only explanation must be that he was desperate for money. In that light, recall the Livermore newspaper office burned in early September; just a few days prior, he had taken out a $1,000 insurance policy on it.

So was there likewise some sort of financial motive behind the cross-dressing episode? His “practical joke” explanations made no sense to Judge Joachimsen or anyone else. Either he had a sexual kink for dressing up in public or was intending to travel back to Livermore looking like that.

Perhaps the dress and particularly the blackface makeup meant he was trying to slip into Livermore in disguise. At the time the town only had about 1,400 residents, and Ed Livernash would have been known by many on sight. Yet a glance at a well-dressed, face-veiled, African-American woman in a traveling coat with a large bag might easily be presumed to be newly employed at Ravenswood, the ever-expanding estate just outside of Livermore where the San Francisco elite frequently hobnobbed.

The sole part of his story which was consistent and believable, however, was he intended to meet in Livermore a man named Peter Cunningham.5

Peter Cunningham was reportedly an expert jeweler who had even worked for Tiffany in New York, which might explain Livernash’s uncharacteristic interest in gold plating. It could be why Ed was hauling around two pounds of prussic acid (although at the later Cloverdale trial Livernash would give an excuse for having it that didn’t mention anything to do with Cunningham or jewelry).

But Cunningham was also crazy himself, or at least extremely eccentric. Every year or so in the late 1880s-1890s there would be a rash of San Francisco newspaper stories about him being arrested as a suspected lunatic or for vagrancy – once specifically for being “in the nightly habit of visiting swill barrels in the rear of hotels, bakeries and saloons and picking out pieces of meat and bread.” Each time charges were dismissed after Cunningham gave the names of well-known people as references and produced bank books showing he was actually quite wealthy. In 1898 he was worth exactly $51,559, which was the equivalent of $1.6M today.

Cunningham was unmarried and lived in a house he owned just a couple of blocks from the Ferry Building. In sum: He was a very rich elderly bachelor who appeared to have no family members – exactly the same profile as the man in Cloverdale who Livernash would try to kill a month later with the same prussic acid he was carrying in his satchel.6

Illustration of Peter Cunningham that accompanied the article transcribed below from the San Francisco Call, August 21 1898
Illustration of Peter Cunningham that accompanied the article transcribed below from the San Francisco Call, August 21 1898

Ed’s arrest at the Ferry Building put an end to whatever he planned to do in Livermore, and after being taken into custody “the prisoner cast one last mournful look at the ferry boat and turned away as if resigned to fate,” in the Chronicle’s fanciful description. It was an embarrassing failure in a life that had been surprisingly full of failures – despite his marvelous smarts and law degree, he had never been more than a printer and editor of struggling little country papers.

There will be a final chapter here about Ed (although I humbly beg your indulgence as it will drift ever farther away from doings in Sonoma County) because his bizarre story has never been properly told. Not to give away too much, but he did other things both awful and heroic; he remained a newspaperman for the rest of the decade, entered politics, divorced Jessie (1909) and married Zilla Daisy Shaw Ashby Mayne Dumouriez, possibly the only person on the planet who could match (and exceed!) Ed’s penchant for strangeness.

As for Jessie, she returned to Santa Rosa following the breakup of the marriage, although she and Alberta also lived in San Francisco and spent extended time in Europe while her daughter studied piano.

Her father had died in 1898 but his vast estate wasn’t settled for seven years (he had owned or co-owned much of downtown). The lawyer for the estate was Edward J. Livernash. Yes, he was then the Overton’s in-law but that was still mighty generous of the family, considering Ed had used the name of the late judge in that forged letter sent to the Cloverdale man.

Jessie obtained some of her father’s prime real estate on the corner of Fourth street and Mendocino Ave. The new Exchange Bank was built directly on the corner (architect: Brainerd Jones) and in 1909 she built “the Livernash Block” on the L-shaped property surrounding the bank. The Fourth street side was used for retail stores (including the town’s first Woolworth) and the Mendocino side was professional offices on the ground floor with apartments upstairs. Jessie lived there and Alberta had a piano studio which included a small recital hall.

Jessie Overton Livernash died in 1913 and is buried in the Overton family plot at the Rural Cemetery.

1 The death certificate for Edward J. Livernash lists his birth year as 1868, but all other records, including voter registrations, the 1880 and 1900 census reports and his 1899 passport application all specify 1866.
2 The Livernash family bought the Healdsburg Enterprise in 1890 and sold it two years later, shortly before Ed’s first somnambulism trial and presumably to pay for his three lawyers. The buyer was M. Menihan, owner of the United States Hotel in Cloverdale, where Ed had stayed during the attempted murder. Ed and his siblings Lizzie and John J. continued publishing the paper until Menihan sold it in 1898. Besides running the Enterprise almost single-handed, Lizzie supported her five younger siblings and grandmother and was bitter about the sale, as the new owner promptly told her to get out. In a statement to the Feb. 20 1898 SF Call, Lizzie said: “We were turned out without a dollar. As soon as Mr. Menihan acquired possession of the paper he turned us out bag and baggage.” (The Call reporter confused Menihan as the buyer instead of the seller.) She continued: “Ed had deserted us and brought shame upon us. He has not contributed one cent to the support of our five young brothers and sisters since he was married. He is the cause of the rumor that there is a taint of insanity in our family.”
3 Alberta Pauline Livernash was born in San Francisco in August 1891 (1900 census) or September 13 1891 (1899 passport application). I have not seen her birth or death certificates, but family genealogists have settled on her birthdate as Aug. 15. Until her death in 1920, she was known by the nickname “Pink”.
4 Prussic Acid was the 18th century name for hydrocyanic acid. A combination of hydrogen, carbon, and ammonia, it is the precursor for more practical forms of cyanides used in electroplating and mining, the latter where it extracts gold from low-grade ore. Taken at face value, Livernash seemed to be saying he wanted to create a non-smelting process to remove gold from coins and then plate it on a different coin or something else. If this was an actual plan it would have returned little or no profit, as a $20 gold coin contained nearly $19 worth of gold at 1891 market rates. It would have been far more practical just to use lower-carat raw gold for plating, as others were doing. Prussic Acid is also a fast-acting poison if swallowed or inhaled.
5 A search of online California newspapers, voter registrations, census data and other resources available through turned up only two adults named Peter Cunningham living in the Bay Area during the 1880s and 1890s. The other was Peter R. Cunningham, who lived in Oakland and had various management positions at the Oakland Planing Mills company.
6 Cunningham did have an older brother who lived with him, but that was never mentioned until the subsequent 1898 article, and the brother might not have been around in 1891.



LIVERMORE September 6. – This morning at 5:30 o’clock the Herald office, Bank of Livermore and G. W. Langan’s law office were destroyed by fire. The fire broke out in the Herald office and soon extended to the other two buildings. All three are wrecks…

– San Francisco Chronicle, September 7 1891


A Masquerader Captured at the Ferry.
Chloroform and Poison in His Satchel.
He Is Identified as E. J. Livernash, a Livermore Newspaper Man.

She appeared to be a stylishly dressed colored woman with a dainty mincing gait and she glanced about with a timorous air aw she walked through the Oakland ferry entrance to take the 4:30 o’clock boat yesterday afternoon.

Sergeant Kavanaugh, who was on duty at the ferry, saw the ebon-hued belle but was too astute to be deceived.

Stepping up and clutching her arm, the sergeant said:

“You are a man, sir, masquerading in female attire.”

The object of the sergeant’s suspicions flashed an indignant look at him through her black veil.

“How dare you attempt to insult me, Mr. Officer? I am a lady, if I am black.”

That settled it. Her last hope of escape was gone. The voice was too unmistakably masculine to deceive even a policeman.

“You are a man,” reiterated the sergeant, gazing at the masquerader sternly. “It is against the law for one of your sex to appear in public in petticoats. I shall have to take you in.”

With that the sergeant snatched the black veil away, revealing sharp features, smeared with black grease-paint.

The prisoner cast one last mournful look at the ferry boat and turned away as if resigned to fate. Sergeant Langford turned up and constituted himself assistant captor. The patrol wagon was summoned and fifteen minutes later the hero stood before the booking desk at the city prison.

The prisoner was a sight well worth gazing upon. Not a stitch of masculine clothing was there about him. A blue sateen dress was almost concealed under a fashionable traveling ulster of gray goods with a small cheek. A splendid sample of the milliner’s art – a symphony in gray – surmounted the prisoner’s head. On his hands were a pair of new black gloves. Not the least noticeable feature of the outfit was a brand new russet leather satchel. Everything about the prisoner, in fact, was of inviting newness.

“What is your name?” demanded the desk sergeant.

“George Jones.”

And after giving this cognomen, not another word could the prisoner be induced to say.

Nothing of any importance was found about the prisoner’s person but the opening of the satchel created a sensation. First was fished out a pound bottle of chloroform which had not been opened. Next were produced two one-pound bottles labeled prussic acid, likewise unopened. After these discoveries two keys, attached to long metal shanks and evidently taken from some hotel were found; then came four small satchel keys, $82.45 in money, a lady’s gold watch, a razor, a pocket knife, a package of black grease paint, a paper of hairpins and other minor articles of utility, some used by the sterner sex and some by the gentler.

By this time the police were genuinely interested, and pressed Jones for explanations. But he had nothing to say. Sergeant Kavanaugh rushed up stairs and noticed Chief Crowley. Then Detective Ben Bohen came down to investigate, followed shortly by Detective Rogers. A trusty brought hot water and Jones was ordered to wash up. Then all hands, including Chief Crowley, who had just arrived, took a good look at Mr. “George Jones.”

They saw a short, slight, sharp-featured young man about 25 years of age. The Chief and the detectives shook their heads. They did not know him.

“Come, now,” said Chief Crowley, “tell us all about this, Jones.”

“I will tell you privately,” was the answer; “I won’t talk here.”

So they took him into the city prison hospital.

“It was all intended as a joke,” Jones began.

“Upon whom?” interposed Chief Crowley.

“I decline to answer that. It would involve the names of some very prominent people, and I would die before dragging their names into the matter.”

A ticket for Livermore which the prisoner had attempted to throw away was here produced.

“What were you going to do in Livermore?”

“I am employed there as a printer. I was a reporter at one time and have also dabbled in law.”

“Yet you didn’t know it was against the law to masquerade in female attire?” demanded the Chief.

The prisoner became suddenly mute.

“What were you going to do with those bottles of poison?” resumed Chief Crowley.

“I use the chloroform myself.”

“And the prussic acid?”

Again the prisoner was mute.

Thereupon the prisoner was conducted to a cell. There may have been no facetiousness intended, but he was assigned to one of the “bird cages” usually occupied female prisoners.

The prisoner was identified later as Edward J. Livernash, a country newspaper man. He was at one time editor of the Healdsberg Enterprise, and recently bought and ran the Livermore Herald, the office of which was destroyed by fire about two weeks ago, an adjacent bank building being consumed at the same time.

What Livernash was doing with three pounds of poison and hotel and satchel keys are things which the police would give a good deal to know. The peculiar articles found in the satchel and the fact of the prisoner assuming such an elaborate disguise incline the authorities to believe that they have unearthed something much more sensational than an intended joke. At any rate they refused to admit him to bail, although the $82.50 found on his person was more than sufficient for cash bail for the misdemeanor of masquerading in feminine attire.

Livernash’s Peculiar Explanation of His Queer Action

About midnight Livernash, who was still in the city prison, sent to the Chronicle office the following statement written in his own hand in the form of an interview with himself and requested that it be printed as his explanation of the cause of his arrest:

“I am publisher of the Livermore Herald. I got into this unpleasant but somewhat ludicrous fix through a clumsy attempt at practical joking, and of course will readily establish my entire innocence of any questionable motive. I’m deucedly sorry the affair has happened, but I’m trying to look on it as valuable in curing me of my propensity to joke.

“I came to town to-day to meet my brother and by appointment saw him at the Lick House, where I had a room for several days. I intended to return to my home by the 4:30 o’clock train, having business needing attention there tomorrow.

“I have been feeling unwell for several days, and felt especially so to-day. I happened to inhale a little chloroform recently, during one of my spells of restlessness, and I liked the results, save for the after effects. So this morning I bought some of the preparation and put it in a small grip intending to take it home with me. But when I found myself unusually ill after luncheon I concluded not to use the drug, fearing after all that it would do me more harm than good. I didn’t pour the stuff away but intended to.

“I went to bed in my room and on arising felt bright and well. Then it was that I determined to play a joke I had been planning for a fortnight or so. It was this: To dress as a negress and apply for service to a lady friend in this city, who shall be nameless. I dressed, and was about to go to her home, when I remembered that I ought to save a friend of mine from an unnecessary journey in search of me, so I went directly to the ferry in search of my friend. Not finding him, I supposed he had gone aboard the steamer. I arose to get a ticket to Oakland and return in order to meet him, but I was conscious of being much stared at and grew ashamed of my folly, and concluded to back down, get into a corner of a car and return home without further nonsense. I bought a ticket and as I was boarding the boat was arrested.

“As to the acid found in my grip, I placed it there to-day to avoid the risk of accident from having it in my bureau. I bought it in quantity of a wholesaler, and intended to use a little of it in testing for myself a statement made to me by the friend last mentioned as to plating silver with gold.

“I took the grip as it was for the sake of having something in hand and merely added to its contents a few trifles needed in my masquerade and a razor I had just bought and did not wish to leave on the bureau top.”

– San Francisco Chronicle, September 27 1891


The Masquerading Livermore Editor Is an Auto-Hypnotist.
During One of His Hypnotic Conditions His Wife Roused Him by Wagging His Right Wrist Exactly Forty Times.

Edward J. Livernash, editor and proprietor of the Livermore Herald and owner of a part of the Healdsburg Enterprise, who was arrested Saturday at the Oakland ferry dressed in woman’s clothing and with face blackened by cork, is described by Dr. John W. Robertson, an expert in nervous disease, as a man subject to strange hypnotic conditions.

Less than a year ago Livernash married Miss Jessie Overton, daughter of ex-Judge Overton, the Santa Rosa millionaire. She at one time determined to become a bride of the church, and took the while veil. Her father was much opposed to her becoming a nun, and she yielded to his opinions, left the sisterhood aud subsequently married young Livernash, who is an attorney-at-law as well as editor, author and publisher.

Last week the office of the Livermore Herald was destroyed by fire, and only two cases of type were saved. The proprietor, who estimates his loss at $1,000, is having the paper printed in Oakland until he can procure a new supply of material.


Yesterday he was tried before Judge Joachimsen on the charge of wearing woman’s apparel in public. The police officers proved the arrest at the ferry and the garments that Livernash wore when arrested.

Then the young man told his story to the Court. He described strange dream-like conditions that control him at times. He is greatly troubled with insomnia and somnambulism. At night when he sleeps he lives over the work of the day or events in his past life, or sometimes seems to see himself doing things he would not do in his normal state, yet has no will power to control his actions. He awakes more tired than on going to bed.

On the day that he was masquerading in black face and skirts he came to San Francisco, and at the Lick House had a consultation with his brother about their mother, who is very ill. About 2 o’clock in the afternoon he went to bed, hoping to sleep, as he had not rested the night before.

He awoke at 4 o’clock, but instead of putting on his trousers and other garments he donned long stockings, patent leather shoes, a white skirt, a dress, a cloak and a hat, all of which were the property of his wife.

He blackened his face and then walked out of the ladies’ entrance to the Lick House.

“Why did you dress like that?” asked the prosecuting attorney.


“To fool my wife,” he replied. He explained that Mrs. Livernash was visiting at a house on California street, and he wanted to see if she would recognize him. He intended to put on her garments in a room at the house where she is staying, and why he thus arrayed himself at the Lick House he could not tell.

When about to go out to California street he remembered that he had an engagement at Livermore with Peter Cunningham, and took a car to go to the ferry in order to intercept his friend. In the car he noticed that people stared at him, and at the waiting-room at the ferry he tripped twice on his dress skirt. He noticed that he was attracting attention, became dizzy, purchased a ticket for Livermore, explaining that seeing people watching him he thought if he could get on the Livermore train he would be safe, because the conductor knew him. He was arrested at the ferry landing.

Of the chloroform and hydrocyanic acid found on him he said he had bought the chloroform intending to inhale some to produce rest, as he was very nervous and particularly depressed on this day that he was to play the joke on his wife. The acid, he said, was to be used for some experiments in removing gold from coins to be used for plating. He had a letter from his friend Cunningham explaining the sweating process.


Dr. John W. Robertson, for two years a physician at the Napa Asylum for the Insane, has been treating young Livernash for some time. He testified that his patient is afflicted with insomnia and hypnotism. Hypnotism, a condition not thoroughly understood, is produced artificially by mesmerists and magnetizers, or is produced by the person afflicted. Livernash hypnotized himself. Sometimes when in a hypnotic state he knew his condition and would tell his wife how he might be aroused from it. He told her once to move his wrist forty times, and at the fortieth movement he came from under the hypnotic influence.

Another time he told her to put a drop of alcohol in his hand. She did so and he awoke.

During one spell he told her to give him some water. He drank half the water in a glass and threw the remainder over himself. Instantly recovering his normal condition he blamed his wife for throwing water on him.

He also was a somnambulist, and one night wanted to climb out of a window to walk on a balcony when there was no balcony there.

In Dr. Robertson’s opinion Livernash was not in normal mental condition during his masquerading tour.

Judge Joachimsen reserved his decision until to-day, and incidentally expressed surprise that a wholesale druggist should sell two pounds of hydrocyanic acid to a stranger.

– San Francisco Examiner, September 29 1891


Editor Livernash’s Queer Defense.
A Strange Story Sustained by a Doctor.
A Good Subject for Investigation by the Society of Psychic Research.

Editor E. J. Livernash of Livermore, who was arrested at the ferry Saturday for masquerading in female attire with his face blackened, was given an opportunity to explain his escapade yesterday in Judge Joachimsen’s court. As the case went on it developed into one which would hold the Society of Psychic Research spellbound with interest. An attempt was made to prove that Livernash is a rare example of a hypnotic patient – a man who has occasional lapses of memory and loss of mental control during the existence of which he is not morally responsible for what he does.

The prisoner was neatly attired in his proper habiliments when he appeared in court. He appeared to be in a condition of suppressed but intense nervousness, and this is the story he told:

“My great trouble,” said he, “is restlessness and insomnia. For some months past I have been in a state verging upon nervous prostration. When I retire at night I generally fail to get refreshing rest and wake up in the morning frequently more exhausted than when I retired.

“I began to go to school when I was 7 years old,” continued Livernash. “At 14 I left school From 16 until now at 25 I have been engaged at intervals in publishing newspapers. I have also been a reporter. When I was 19 I began to study law and was admitted to practice on my twenty-first birthday. I have always been engaged in hard mental work and it has affected my health seriously. Very often, when I go to bed at night, instead of sleeping healthily my mind goes over all the incidents of the day in very vivid dreams. I have often while resting thus gone over the most trivial details of things that happened many years before. During my real waking hours in the day time my will-power very often is not strong enough to recall the past with anything like the same distinctness.”

“Have you any recollection of the events of last Saturday?” was asked.

“I have a distinct recollection,” Livernash replied. “I came to the city in the morning from Livermore and put up at the Lick House, where I had had a room for several days past. My mother’s health is in a critical state, and I came down mainly to consult my brother as to what should be done for her. Through the day I was weary and unwell, becoming gradually worse. I went out and got some chloroform, with the idea that inhaling it would calm me. I saw my brother and we made arrangements for the care of our mother.

“At 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon I felt the need of sleep. I meant to try the chloroform but decided not to, as I was afraid of its effects. A little before 4 o’clock I woke up and proceeded to carry out a plan which I had for some time in mind. This was to black my face, put on woman’s clothes and call upon my wife who was visiting in this city, and play a joke upon her without revealing my identity. My original plan had been to assume this disguise in a vacant room in the house where my wife was staying.

“Now I had promised to meet a friend in Livermore that evening. After I was dressed in the woman’s clothes, in which I meant to play the joke upon my wife, I remembered my appointment. As I did not intend to go to Livermore, it occurred to me that as he would probably leave San Francisco on the 4:30 o’clock boat I could meet him at the ferry.”

Livernash claims to have but a very confused recollection of what happened on the way from the Lick House to the ferry, but he remembers starting to go aboard the boat and also remembers the fact of his arrest.

Dr. Robertson of 705 Sutter street gave the technical part of the testimony for the the defense. Livernash has been under his treatment for the past two weeks.

“He is,” said the doctor, “one of the most pronounced instances of hypnotism that ever came under my observation.”

“What do you mean by hypnotism?” demanded the counsel.

“Hypnotism is a thing generally misunderstood,” waa the expert’s reply. “It is a condition of trance, which may be induced by a mesmerist, or may be induced by the patient himself, without even the intention of so doing.”

“And is the subject conscious of what he is doing while in the hypnotic state?”

“That is just as it happens. Sometimes the subject is partially conscious and sometimes absolutely unconscious as long as the hypnotic trance lasts.”

Dr. Robertson continued, giving a history of Livernash’s case since the young man has been under his treatment. When asked if he considered that the prisoner was morally responsible when he dressed himself in woman’s clothes on Saturday, the physician replied that in his professional opinion. Livernash would never have done such a thing if he had been in complete possession of his faculties.

Judge Joachimsen took the case under advisement and will give his decision this morning.

Dr. Robertson told a Chronicle reporter later that he had never known a man of such peculiar hypnotic temperament as Livernash although the latter’s brother presents a case full or interest to experts.

“The brother,” said the physician, “was taken with epileptic fit not long ago and it required six men to hold him. He acted vindictively toward all six of the men, but when he came out of the fit he had no recollection of what had happened. The next time he had an epileptic fit, however, he remembered perfectly all that happened on the previous occasion and all his former vindictiveness against the men who had held was revived. He put a pistol in his pocket and started for this city from Healdsburg with the intention of shooting one of the men who had held him during the former attack. Fortunately he came out of the trance before he found the man. Yet if he had shot him while in that hypnotic trance he would not have been morally responsible.

The case of Editor E. J. Livernash is one that well recommends itself to any one who is interested in psychic research.

– San Francisco Chronicle, September 29 1891


Livernash, the Female Masquerader, Is Found Guilty.

E. J. Livernash, who was arrested for masquerading in female attire by Sergeant Kavanagh on Saturday evening last, was found guilty by Judge Joachimsen, Tuesday, and ordered to appear Wednesday morning for sentence. His honor held that the hypnotic idea was not tenable. That Mr. Livernash, a lawyer and journalist, should array himself in female attire at a hotel and then glide out on the street, take a street car, go to the ferries and purchase a ticket for Livermore while waiting for one Cunningham, under the pretext that he was going to play a joke on his wife, who lived on California street in this city, was an improbable story. His honor had never been hypnotized save by Prosecuting Attorney Martin Stevens or Attorney J. H. Long, and then he thought that “paralyzed” would have been the proper word. Therefore he did not believe in such bosh: hence the order.

Detective James Rogers recovered a wig worth $40 which Livernash had hired from Goldstein & Cohen on the pretext of using it for a masked ball. It was in the Property Clerk’s office. —S.F. Post.

Edward J. Livernash, the Livermore publisher who was convicted of masquerading as a negro woman at the ferry in San Francisco, appeared before Judge Joachimsen for sentence. The case was continued until to-day, when a motion for a new trial will be argued.

– Sonoma Democrat, October 3 1891


What is Thought of His Joke at His Home.

Livermore, Sept. 28. — The arrest of Editor Livernash has caused much excitement here. He came here four months ago and bought a newspaper from W. P. Bartlett for $2000, paying $1000 cash. A few weeks ago a fire in his office burned out his establishment, but an insurance policy taken out a few days before covered his loss. He was in town Sunday afternoon, and he repeated his statement that he was merely playing a practical joke. The presence of so much poison in his satchel caused a great amount of speculation here.

– Sonoma Democrat, October 3 1891


Editor Livernash’s Sentence.

E. J. Livernash, editor of the Livermore Herald, convicted of misdemeanor for having masqueraded in female attire around the ferry landing, was sentenced by Judge Joachimsen, in San Francisco, Friday, to pay a fine of $100 or be imprisoned in the county jail for fifty days. His counsel gave notice of appeal to the Superior Court, and Livernash was released on $600 bonds pending the hearing of the case.

– Sonoma Democrat, October 10 1891


Peter Cunningham, an old man of fifty years, dressed in rags, after being found guilty of vagrancy yesterday morning by Judge Rix declared that he was worth $36,000, and gave the names of several reputable citizens as references. The Court gave Cunningham till this morning to prove what he said under promise of a new trial.

– San Francisco Examiner, June 19 1889



Peter Cunningham, an old miser, was convicted of vagrancy by Judge Conlan yesterday, although he has $51,559 on deposit in six banks and is the owner of real estate in the city and a ranch in the country. He was arrested last Tuesday night on Bush and Sansome streets by Pollceman Tom Langford, who committed suicide the following night, and Special Officer Rowland. Several officers testified in court yesterday that Cunningham was in the nightly habit of visiting swill barrels in the rear of hotels, bakeries and saloons and picking out pieces of meat and bread, which he took to his home at 316 Davis street. When arrested several scraps were found in his pockets. He and an old beggar had been seen to run a race to get first to a swill barrel. Special Officer Rowland said that on one occasion he had given his dog a juicy leg of mutton to eat and Cunningham had taken it from the dog. He was also in the habit of going along the streets in the daytime and picking up odd things.

Cunningham, in his own defense, denied that he purloined stuff from swill barrels, but he appeared to know something about whether they were boxes or barrels, and that some of them were locked. He produced six bank books, showing that he had, as he said, about $52,000 on deposit. He admitted that he very frequently took some meat and bread that a Chinese employed in a saloon on Front and California streets used to leave at the foot of a palm tree in front of the saloon for newsboys.

Judge Conlan said it was one of the worst cases that had come before him. If a poor man had taken meat and bread out of swill barrels, there would be some excuse for him but there was no excuse for the defendant, who, although a wealthy man, was, in his opinion, “an inveterate bum.” It was not necessary that a man should be a drunkard or an associate of known thieves to be a vagrant, and he had no hesitation in saying that the acts of the defendant constituted him, in the eyes of the law, a vagrant. He would convict him of the charge and order him into custody to appear for sentence to-morrow morning.

Cunningham was was up on a similar charge before the late Judge Campbell in February last, and the case was dismissed. He was therefore considerably taken aback by the judgment of Judge Conlan, and instructed his attorney to appeal the case. He had given his attorney, E. S. Comyns, his bank books, but later insisted upon their being given into the custody of the police.

“I am not a vagrant,” said Cunningham when seen in the City Prison, “and this is a job on the part of the police. I have lived here since 1856, and should be allowed to live my own way. I do not need to work, as I have plenty of money, which I honestly earned. I was born in the west of Ireland and am a jeweler by trade. I worked for Tiffany in New York before coming here, and worked for some of the leading jewelers in this city. I speculated in stocks and was successful, and then I gave up work. I have an elder brother living with me and have relatives in the country. I suppose they call me an old miser, but that is none of their business.”

– San Francisco Call, August 21 1898

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“I am the king of Siam,” the young man told the Marshal.

The officer and the hotelkeeper knew very well that he was not the king of Siam, who was not likely to be staying at the United States Hotel in Cloverdale. His name was Ed and he was well known, having lived in the town as recently as five years earlier.

“I am the king of Siam,” Ed repeated, adding that he had just killed several men, primary among them a judge whom he had shot 43 times. On a table behind him could be seen two revolvers, one covered in blood.

This scene took place at 2:30 in the morning on October 29, 1891, not long after he had drawn those guns on an elderly man, firing seven times. Four of the bullets hit the victim in the face but incredibly did no serious damage – his forehead was grazed along with the bridge of his nose, an eye tooth was knocked out and a bullet passed through his neck wattle.1 The shaken old fellow walked unaided to a nearby doctor’s house where his wounds were dressed.

livernashprofile(RIGHT: Edward J. Livernash, SF Examiner, Oct. 29 1892)

The next day Ed was taken to Santa Rosa, where a sanity hearing was immediately held in the judge’s chambers. Questioned about the shooting, he “told a story which revealed the workings of a mind that is in the habit of making excursions on its own account,” according to the Democrat newspaper, insisting that he had used eight guns to shoot the old man (whom he believed was actually someone else in disguise) 48 times. At the end of the hearing he was committed to the Napa asylum, “there to he held in custody until his sanity or insanity has been demonstrated.”

Normally this would have been the end of our story, and Ed would have been salted away at the asylum at Napa or elsewhere for the rest of his life. Yet five months later he was free awaiting trial and walking around Santa Rosa greeting friends. How could this be? That’s because he was not your average homicidal lunatic – he was Edward J. Livernash.

At the time of the assault Livernash was 23 25 years old and that was not the first time he had done something considered insane. An episode from just a month earlier will be told in a following part of this series; his peculiar life which followed the trial will be explored in part three.

Sanity questions aside, everyone recognized Livernash was absolutely brilliant. He had founded a newspaper (the Pacific Sentinel in Cloverdale) at age 14 16 and sold it two years later to buy the paper in the town of Sonoma. On his 21st birthday Ed had passed the bar exam and was an attorney.

His smarts were well known in Sonoma County which often led people to give him plenty of slack – and nor did it hurt that he was married to the daughter of Judge Overton, one of the most influential men in this neck of the woods. His privilege can be seen in the gentle handling of his case in Santa Rosa’s Democrat newspaper. For trial coverage locals had to turn to the big San Francisco papers, particularly the Examiner. The Democrat didn’t even print the findings of the preliminary hearing held in Cloverdale, which included details that made the shooting appear less like the impetuous action of a madman and more like an attempt at premeditated murder.2

Livernash knew the 71 year-old man, Darius Ethridge, well from his time in Cloverdale; Ethridge was a wealthy bachelor and supposedly had no relatives. Days prior to the shooting, Livernash sent him a letter asking Ethridge to stay up late on a certain night because he would be passing through and wanted to conduct a business deal. Livernash signed the letter as A. P. Overton, his father-in-law.

When Livernash arrived in Cloverdale, he met Ethridge and said Judge Overton and others were coming later that evening to buy his livery stable. He gave Ethridge a gift bottle of what he said was fine wine. Authorities later determined the wine was poisoned with prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide).

Livernash returned to his hotel room intending to rest but could not sleep. Around 2AM he climbed down from his second floor balcony with his revolvers and headed for Ethridge’s house.3

Rousing Ethridge from bed, they made smalltalk while supposedly waiting for the others. Livernash remarked on two portraits on the wall and was told those were his niece and nephew. “I thought you had no relatives,” Livernash said.

livernashethridge(RIGHT: Darius Ethridge, SF Examiner, Oct. 29 1892)

Livernash became restless and began pacing. He put $150 on the table as good faith money towards buying the stable and asked Ethridge to write a receipt, but then stopped the old man from taking the money.

Suddenly Livernash pulled out his guns and pointed them at Ethridge’s face. “Make out your will in my favor or I will kill you, God damn you!”

“You would not kill me would you?” asked the startled man. Livernash began firing the guns. Ethridge ran out the door and made his way to the doctor. When he returned home after Livernash was in custody, he found the $150 and the receipt gone, along with the letter forged with Judge Overton’s name.

News of the incident reached Santa Rosa the next morning, where it immediately became the talk of the town. From the Daily Democrat:

The town is divided in opinion on the case. Some say he is crazy, while others say it was a premeditated attempt at murder, as Mr. Ethridge is an old bachelor with no known relatives and quite wealthy, and if Livernash could have scared him into making his will he would have forced him to drink the poison or shot him and people would thought he committed suicide. The will would probably have stood, as there were no relatives to contest it and no one who would ever have suspected anything wrong, as Mr. Ethridge used to be a great friend to the Livernash’s when they lived in Cloverdale.

What did seem suspicious was that Livernash seemed to be able to turn the crazy talk off in a snap. After his arrest he was allowed to remain in his hotel room overnight under guard of the town constable, it appears all the king of Siam jabber ended. He sent a telegram to the most prominent lawyer in Santa Rosa, asking him to stand in his defense. He tried to bribe the constable to let him sneak back into the scene of the crime. He asked for the return of his blood-stained shirt cuffs, commenting that he knew as a lawyer that they could be used as evidence against him.

At the preliminary hearing following his release from Napa the court also was told by Dr. Gardner, Superintendent of the asylum, that Livernash was a somnambulist and at the time of the shooting was unaware of what he was doing.

The judge would have none of that. While acknowledging that Livernash’s mind may have unhinged after the shooting, everything he had done up to that point showed he was sane. Edward J. Livernash was ordered to be tried in Santa Rosa for attempted murder.


Was he actually mentally impaired in some way, or faking it to avoid punishment? Here are some possibilities, which might have also existed in combination:

* He suffered hallucinations because of temporary psychosis caused by acute sleep depravation (he had chronic insomnia and regularly used chloroform or a “sleeping powder”)

* He sometimes lost touch with reality because of a neurological disorder such as schizophrenia

* He had a chronic inflammation of the brain such as encephalitis (his cause of death at age 70 was post-encephalitic syndrome)

* He had a rare form of temporal lobe epilepsy where seizures were followed by spontaneous acts of violence and amnesia (“petit mal intellectuel” or postictal agression) which his brother reportedly sometimes exhibited

* He had bouts of delirium which caused personality changes

* He had delusional thinking which led him to take daring risks and believe he could get away with crimes

* He was an addict recklessly cycling between drugs to put him to sleep and keep him alert

* He actually was a homicidal sleepwalker, which sometimes has been used successfully as a legal defense

The trial opened exactly a year after the shooting. Little new evidence was introduced – the whole case rested on whether or not Livernash was in a “somnambulistic state” while he was blasting away.

One new detail solved a lingering mystery: Why didn’t Ethridge drink any of the poisoned wine? He might have, until Livernash said it came from the hotel where he was staying. It turned out Ethridge believed there was a conspiracy against him by others in Cloverdale, and the owner of the U.S. Hotel had been paid $500 to poison him. As the reporter for the Examiner quipped, “a little insanity has before been proven a very good thing.”

The centerpiece of the defense’s case was to be Dr. Gardner placing Livernash into a hypnotic trance on the witness stand, where he would be able to recall in exquisite detail all the events of that night. Before Gentle Reader snorts at this premise, recall all this is taking place in the early 1890s. In the sources transcribed below is the description of a popular lecture given in Santa Rosa shortly after the trial, where our ancestors were told that hypnotism exercised a spiritual “sixth sense” and that the hypnotist’s power over the subject “was far greater than it is possible for any man to exercise over his own mind or body.” Good grief.

That was also an era when we believed the mentally deranged could toggle between good/evil personalities. The gruesome Jack the Ripper murders happened just four years prior and were still talked about (the same issue of the Democrat that reported Livernash’s assault also had an item about a Ripper-like killing in Germany) and it was assumed that Jack lived an otherwise respectable and nondescript life. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was both a best-seller and a popular stage play in the year before Livernash’s trial, while the San Francisco Examiner introduced its trial coverage with a headline calling him “an involuntary Jekyll and Hyde.”

The courtroom exhibition began with Dr. Gardner holding a small mirror in front of Livernash. Soon his eyes were unfocused and half closed. Dr. Wachendorf, the expert for the prosecution, approached Livernash and pulled a punch aimed at his eyes. He did not flinch. Dr. Gardner stuck pins in his cheek, ear and hands. He did not react. Then he was asked to tell his story.

The first part was dreamlike nonsense with a crying baby, seeking a man named Smith and wandering the streets. He told of sending the letter asking Ethridge to stay up and signing Judge Overton’s name to it.

“I went to Cloverdale to work out a scheme I had,” he said. “There was a general conspiracy among those men against me.”

“Those men” were led by San Francisco Judge Joachimsen, who had fined Livernash $100 in the incident discussed in the next part of this series. There were fifteen in all, including his brother, father-in-law, most lawyers in Santa Rosa and the reincarnated presidents George Washington, Benjamin Harrison and James Garfield.

“I wanted to make sure whether Ethridge was a man who ought to be on the list,” he said, and asked the hotel owner about him. Livernash said he was told that Ethridge was an “obstacle to progress” and “it would be a godsend if he were taken out of the way.” (Maybe the old man had good reason to be paranoid about his neighbors!) Livernash met Ethridge and they looked at the stable, with an understanding that Livernash would return with Overton and make the deal.

Back in his hotel room, he began to worry The Fifteen might show up early. “If they got to drinking they might not drink my stuff,” he said. So he took his poisoned bottle over to Ethridge (climbing down from the room’s balcony) and declared it was choice wine for Judge Overton. He went back to his room (“it was hard to climb up, but easy to go down”) and tried to sleep, but couldn’t find his sleeping powder.

Late that night was the confrontation. As soon as he saw Ethridge, he knew he was really Joachimsen in disguise. “I found confirmation of all my fears and all my suspicions…they wouldn’t fool me any longer.” Livernash pulled out his guns and ordered him (Ethridge? Joachimsen?) to make out his will:

He wrote a couple of words and turned round as quick as a flash and grasped one of my revolvers. Then there was no foolishness. If he got that revolver I was a goner. I felt as weak as I could. He struck out and hit me, but do you suppose be could hurt me? Not the least particle. I was invulnerable. He fought like a tiger, but it had no effect. I kept shooting at him, I judge forty-three times.

Asked by the prosecutor if he thought he had a right to shoot him, Livernash replied “Think? I know it! He was transgressing one of the fundamental and ultimate principles of fate – of nature.”

Livernash described his arrest, being the king of Siam and such, although his version had, as the Examiner put it, “his eerie, insane philosophies permeating it all.” Dr. Gardner told him to wake up from his trance. He seemed flustered and noticed a needle was still in the back of his hand and he pulled it out, wincing.

The next day Livernash testified without hypnosis. “His story was plausible, logical, and though simply told, forceful and dramatic. Surely there is much beside insanity in that long head with the shock of tumbled hair,” reported the Examiner. “He could have more than held his own with any man in the courtroom, or with all.”

The big news in court that day was that Livernash couldn’t buy a small dose of prussic acid from a druggist, so he went to a wholesaler where he purchased two pounds worth. “Answering a quirk of his crazy brain, he might have wiped out a city,” gasped the Examiner reporter.

Dr. Wachendorf testily told the court that Livernash was faking and not acting like someone actually under hypnosis. In later cross-exam, it was revealed that Wachendorf was no expert on hypnotism and barely a doctor. He had obtained a degree in homeopathy just a few months before and learned about hypnotism via “instruction from different experimenters.” He expounded at some length on his theory that the phase of the moon affects “natural somnambulists,” which amused the Napa doctors greatly.

Dr. Gardner also told the court that he had proved Livernash could not be faking. The night before at the asylum he was placed in a trance and a bottle of concentrated ammonia was placed under his nose for a minute, without him having the slightest reaction. The powerful-smelling bottle was passed around members of the jury, but for reasons not explained, the prosecutor took Gardner’s word that he had been unresponsive so the test was not performed in court, much to the disappointment of spectators.

The case went to the jury, who were out for 30 hours. They came back undecided, with eight voting for conviction and four against. Livernash was held over to await retrial.

Dr. Gardner hypnotizing Edward J. Livernash in court. SF Examiner, Oct. 29 1892
Dr. Gardner hypnotizing Edward J. Livernash in court. SF Examiner, Oct. 29 1892

Back at the Napa asylum, Livernash wrote to Congressman Thomas J. Geary. “Friend Geary: Will you come to the rescue and get me out of the unfortunate muddle in which I am involved?”

Geary was the attorney who Livernash telegraphed the night of his arrest and had represented him at the arraignment in Santa Rosa. As he was in the area while campaigning for reelection he also testified at the trial as a character witness – never mind that Livernash had named Geary among The Fifteen men he wanted to kill.

In his letter Livernash seemed awfully sane, complaining his defense attorneys made mistakes which almost led to his conviction because they were not “pushing forward the theory of hypnotism with overwhelming evidence of insanity” that should have put acquittal within “easy reach.”

He had three lawyers at his first trial, but at the next one he would be representing himself alone. That risky decision could have been driven by the manic side of his personality or by necessity. Everyone assumed his wife’s father had paid for his defense, but now that it was revealed Overton was among The Fifteen – not to mention that Livernash had exploited his name to trick Ethridge – it would be understandable for Pops-in-law to not feel so generous anymore. Livernash further told Geary that he wanted to hire the lawyer/congressman although he was “not in a position to pay a cash fee” at the present time.

The second trial began about five months after the first. It was less about evidence than flair.

Jury selection took two days because Livernash examined each “very particularly as to the jurors’ association with various prominent citizens and as to their ideas of hypnotism and insanity” (Sonoma Democrat). This time there would be no courtroom hypnosis; what he was seeking was to discover if they believed in what was then often called “auto-hypnosis” – that the meek-looking overachiever could suddenly be triggered to turn into a monster.

His defense was simply that he sometimes went crazy – as did others in his family – and at those times was unable to distinguish between right and wrong. He introduced this argument in what was called a “brilliant opening statement” (SF Chronicle):

The theory of hypnotism, so strongly dwelt upon at the first trial, was not adhered to. Livernash claimed that he would be able to prove that be inherited from his parents an impaired nervous system, and that in his constitution there had always been lurking a tendency which, if unchecked, might develop into insanity.

In his defense he called several witnesses (including Geary again) who testified that, yeah, he went nuts sometimes. The Napa doctors came back and said again that he really had blackouts and wasn’t faking. The prosecutor brought out those various prominent citizens (including Exchange Bank founder Matt Doyle) who said Livernash was completely untrustworthy. The biggest excitement came when the county assessor was called and said, “I won’t go on the stand until that man is searched. He is a dangerous man and may have weapons and might hurt somebody.”

The retrial wrapped up with another show of his eloquence. As the Healdsburg Tribune put it, “His plea to the jury was one of the most remarkable ever heard in Santa Rosa. It abounded in brilliant metaphor and biting sarcasm.” He spoke for five hours.

The case went to the jury and they were out but seven minutes. Verdict: Not guilty. Ed Livernash walked out of the courthouse a free man.

COMMENTARY:   As of this writing (2021), I’ve pondered over the Livernash case for eight years. In that time more newspapers have come online that added new details (particularly coverage of the first trial), although they haven’t significantly changed the story. There are also now many more medical resources available on the internet which discuss the various psychological or physical conditions he might have suffered, as are listed above. (An interesting paper: “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: a case of epilepsy in the late nineteenth century“.)

My conclusion is that there is no simple binary explanation. At some points of his life he did abnormal things – but mostly he was completely rational and a man of extraordinary accomplishments. There are three episodes to the story for Gentle Armchair Detective to consider separately:

PLOTTING THE CRIME   There is little doubt he schemed over several days (weeks?) to make himself the beneficiary in Ethridge’s will before murdering him with the poison. He bought the revolvers, bought the the poison, wrote the fake Overton letter and traveled to Cloverdale, all acts which seem to show he acted with deliberation and premeditation – but whether he could have executed such a detailed plan while in his “Mr. Hyde” persona must also be weighed. Note he also had motive, as up that point in his life he was perpetually broke.
BEHAVIOR DURING THE ASSAULT   Livernash either intended to force Ethridge to drink the poison after writing his will or hoped he would already be dead after having sampling the wine when alone – in that case, he presumably planned to forge the will. The plan fell apart when he saw the portraits on the wall and realized the old man did have heirs (after Ethridge died in 1894, the Cloverdale City Marshal had little trouble finding his niece in San Jose). That led him to draw his guns and begin firing wildly, which can only be considered a moment of raw madness.
BEHAVIOR AT THE FIRST TRIAL   It’s my firm belief that his trance testimony was completely faked. The king of Siam business was laughable, like a child’s idea of what a crazy person might say. The tale he told the court in his “trance,” in contrast, was a complex narrative involving a conspiracy of reincarnated presidents (among others) and the man he hated having taken possession of Ethridge’s body.


From their testimony, Gardner and the other asylum doctors showed they were entranced (sorry) by Livernash, who was not the run-of-the-mill lunatic they normally treated. He was very, very smart and exhibited no evidence of mental impairment aside from a dependency on sleeping aids. Dr. Gardner spoke excitedly of having “discovered his real condition” – that his patient had an exceedingly rare condition “that made him capable of leading a dual life.” But as Livernash wrote to Geary, his own objective wasn’t to be cured of a mental illness – he was just trying to be acquitted due to “overwhelming evidence of insanity.”


Over the course of his months at the Napa asylum, it appears the doctor and the patient developed a codependent relationship. The doctor was given an exciting case study in the burgeoning field of psychology – and in turn, he inadvertently coached Livernash in developing a story about somnambulism which would hold water with other doctors. Together they needed to sell that yarn to the public to advance the doctor’s reputation and obtain the patient’s freedom. And together, they did just that, convincing a jury he used to be a murderous Mr. Hyde but now he’s back to Dr. Jekyll, completely cured and perfectly harmless. As it turned out, this wasn’t a milestone in the progress of medical science or legal precedent; it was, however, one helluva show, and something that Santa Rosa still talked about years later.



1 Although it was agreed that he was struck four times, newspaper descriptions of his injuries were inconsistent over the following two years. It was variously reported he was shot twice in a shoulder, that a bullet passed through his mouth and through both cheeks, that each cheek was grazed and the tip of his nose was now missing.

2 The court report on the preliminary examination appeared in the Cloverdale Reveille, April 30 1892. Several details vary from later testimony as reported in the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle.

3 From Livernash trial testimony in the San Francisco Examiner, October 29 1892.



Old Man Ethridge Shot by E. J. Livernash.
Strange Story Concerning the Conduct of the Attempted Slayer.
Ed. J. Livernash the Author of the Shooting, Pronounced Insane.

A report from Cloverdale that E. J. Livernash, formerly editor of the Healdsburg Enterprise, and more recently of the Livermore Herald, had shot and killed a man by the name of Darius Ethridge caused a great sensation, and was the principal topic of discussion on the streets for the rest of the day. The reports were very conflicting and unsatisfactory. It was first stated that the shooting was the outgrowth of a quarrel over a poker game, and later it became noised about that Livernash had borrowed money from Ethridge for a legitimate business enterprise, and that they quarreled over a settlement. No one could judge between the accuracy and truth of these and many other rumors, and people waited anxiously for the arrival of the afternoon train from Cloverdale, in the expectation that Livernash would be brought to the county jail.

The supposition proved correct, and with the arrival of the 3:30 train came Livernash in the charge of a Deputy Sheriff from Healdsburg, and accompanied by his attorney T. J. Geary, his brother, John Livernash. Dr. Weaver and M. Menihan, of Cloverdale. He was taken at once to Judge Dougherty’s chambers in the oourt-house, and no time was lost in summoning another physician to participate in the examination of his mental condition.

The story of the shooting was related to Judge Dougherty and the physicians by T. J. Geary and Mr. Menihan. It seems that Livernash arrived in Cloverdale on the evening train Wednesday and went directly to the United States Hotel. Mr. Menihan, the proprietor, noticed that he was feeling badly and did not eat. He sat in the hotel office reading a paper for some time, and at the suggestion of Mr. Menihan went to bed. He arose and dressed himself between 1 and 2 o’clock and went across the street to a small house occupied by Ethridge. As soon as he entered the room he told Ethridge that Judge Overton and Mr. McElarney were coming up on the morning train from Santa Rosa to buy his (Ethridge’s) livery stable. Ethridge said he had no desire to sell his property, but Livernash urged that it was a fine bargain and threw $150 on the table in front of him as earnest money and asked for a receipt. While in the midst of their discussion about the proposed sale Livernash suddenly changed the subject by demanding that Ethridge should draw up his will and make Livernash his heir. Mr. Ethridge very naturally declined to do so, whereupon Livernash drew two revolvers and began shooting. He stood very close to Ethridge, and the bullets flew around the latter’s head like pellets of ice in a hailstorm, and four took effect. One passed through the fleshy part of the throat under the chin, another grazed the bridge of the nose, and the other two abraised the skin on either cheek. None of the wounds were serious.

Livernash thought he had killed the man and returned to his room in the hotel. When the constable and marshal, with Mr. Menihan, knocked at his door, he opened it immediately. He was dressed and the two revolvers laid on a table farther in the room. He told the officers that be had killed several men and informed them where the bodies were to be found. He was particularly certain that Ethridge was Judge Joachimsen, of San Francisco, who he said had closed out his business in San Francisco and opened chambers in Cloverdale. At the intercession of Mr. Menihan he was allowed to remain in his room the rest of the night in charge of the constable.

When a Democrat reporter entered Judge Dougherty’s chambers Livernash was weeping and his brother, John, was trying to comfort him. He did not recognize the Democrat representative at first, but a few words recalled his memory and he shook hands in a passive way. Before Dr. Smith arrived Livernash approached the reporter and expressed the hope as best he could in a choked voice that the Democrat would not make sport of his misfortune. The request was a natural one and his manner failed to reveal any taint of insanity.

When questioned as to his conduct at Cloverdale he told a story which revealed the workings of a mind that is in the habit of making excursions on its own account, unaccompanied by its guardian’s reason and will power. He said he had gone to bed at the suggestion of Mr. Menihan, but finding he could not sleep, had gotten up and dressed and started out for a long walk. He wanted to go to his father’s old place of business, about which clustered a thousand tender memories. If he could stand in front of the old place once more he thought he might give vent to the feelings within him. At this point he broke down and sobs choked his voice. He soon regained his composure and told about drawing up ten wills for people living in Cloverdale, and then he went off into a rambling account of his grievances against Judge Joachimsen, of San Francisco, before whom he was taken after his masquerading escapade. He knew the Judge had gone to Cloverdale. In fact he had seen him, and knew he was in the house where he found Ethridge. When he entered the house Ethridge told him that be was not Judge Joachimsen, and in order to humor the man he pretended to believe that he was talking to Ethridge and not Judge Joachimsen. He said he knew all the time, though, that the Judge was deceiving him, and he watched tor a chance and began firing at him. He thought he had put forty-eight bullets into the Judge’s body. The next he remembered was running down the street and into the arms of a man. The man grabbed him so that he could not shoot and then robbed him of $600 in gold which he had in his right-hand trousers pocket. A hundred and fifty dollars in his other pocket was not touched. He tried to shoot the man but could not. During the course of his rambling story he took occasion to explain the two kinds of sleep to which he is accustomed. One, he said, was a semi-consciousness where the mind was free to act, but without the aid of the will power. The other was darkness, a total blankness which he characterized as a natural slumber.

John Livernash testified that he had noticed a change in his brother ten months ago. He, Ed, had not been able to sleep, and when he did doze off his slumber was accompanied by constant talking and muttering. He knew that he had been in the habit of taking narcotics for some time.

Without many minutes lost in deliberation the physicians pronounced Livernash insane and his commitment to the Napa Asylum was made out and signed. He will be taken to the asylum to-day.


We later learn that Judge Dougherty has ordered the Sheriff to hold Livernash until further order is made, as the fact of his arrest upon a complaint filed in the Justice Court of Cloverdale township was not made known at the examination.



Another Account.
Special to the Democrat.

Cloverdale, Oct. 29.—Ed. J. Livernash, the young man who created a sensation by appearing on the streets of San Francisco in the disguise of a negro woman, added another link to his unenviable reputation in this town this morning by shooting and dangerously wounding D. Ethridge, at his home in this place. Mr. Ethridge, who is an old bachelor, was awakened this morning about 2 o’clock by a rap on his door. He got up and found it was Ed. Livernash, who told him he had a purchaser for his livery stable, and wanted to pay him some money on it so as to bind the contract, as he wanted to leave on the early train. Mr. Ethridge, suspecting nothing, invited him in, when Livernash counted out $150 and laid it on the table, setting a bottle on the table at the same time. He then pulled out a contract and asked Mr. Ethridge to sign it, which he did. When Mr. Ethridge had signed the contract he looked up and found Livernash pointing two revolvers in his face. At the same time Livernash demanded that he make a will, leaving all his property to him (Livernash). Instead of complying with his demand Mr. Ethridge grabbed him, when Livernash fired at him three times in rapid succession, one shot just touching the nose, knocking the skin off, another just grazing the mouth, knocking out a tooth, and one hitting him in the neck, passing through the flesh, making a very serious wound. Livernash then grabbed the money he had counted out on the table and the contract Ethridge had signed, jumped out the door and disappeared. Mr. Ethridge then walked over to Dr. Mason’s residence and had his wounds dressed. In the mean time the City Marshal, J. S. Conner, was notified and went to hunt Livernash and arrest him. He found him at 2:30 a. m., one-half hour after the shooting, locked in a room at the U. S. Hotel, where the Marshal placed him under arrest. He had in his possession when arrested two revolvers, one of which was cocked and had blood all over it, showing how close he was to his intended victim when he did the shooting.

The City Marshal then went around to the residence of Mr. Ethridge and secured the bottle Livernash left setting on the table and failed to take when be grabbed the money and contract, and found it contained a deadly poison. When arrested Livernash said he was the king of Siam and that he had shot Judge Joachimsen, or some such name. He said he did not take his sleep powder last night and felt bad.

The town is divided in opinion on the case. Some say he is crazy, while others say it was a premeditated attempt at murder, as Mr. Ethridge is an old bachelor with no known relatives and quite wealthy, and if Livernash could have scared him into making his will he would have forced him to drink the poison or shot him and people would thought he committed suicide. The will would probably have stood, as there were no relatives to contest it and no one who would ever have suspected anything wrong, as Mr. Ethridge used to be a great friend to the Livernash’s when they lived in Cloverdale. Livernash was taken before Justice Abraham this afternoon, who ordered him to be sent to Santa Rosa for trial.

– Daily Democrat, October 30 1891


Another Order.

Judge Dougherty made another order Friday night committing Livernash to the asylum at Napa, there to he held in custody until his sanity or insanity has been demonstrated. If he proves to be sane he will be brought back for his preliminary examination on charge of assault to murder, but in the event that his mental irregularities are genuine and not purposely induced he will remain in the asylum.

– Sonoma Democrat, November 7 1891


Wants a Jury Vindication.

Santa Rosa, March 15. It has been learned that Ed J. Livernash, the Livermore newspaperman, who was arrested for masquerading in female attire in San Francisco last Fall, and who afterward attempted to kill Davis Ethridge at Cloverdale, will be brought here for trial on the latter charge next month. After Livernash’s attempt to shoot Ethridge he was examined on a charge of insanity and committed to the Napa Asylum, where he has been ever since. He is in a fair way to recovery, and as soon as discharged from that institution he will be brought here for trial. His relatives will insist that he be tried, as many have charged that he was not crazy when he made the attack on Ethridge, and they desire to see him vindicated by a jury.

– The Napa Register, March 18 1892


Ed. Livernash called on us Monday. He is looking quite well.

– Sonoma Democrat, April 16 1892


Justice’s Court, Cloverdale Township April 26, 1892.

Preliminary examination of defendant on the charge of felonious assault with deadly weapon upon one Darius Ethndge, held April 6, 1892. The prosecution proved, among other things the following:


The defense then established the following:

That the defendant was of a very nervous temperament and that the least trouble or excitement would cause him great mental distress which would be followed by his being low spirited, melancholy and moody lasting for period of days. That while in this condition he was always quiet and orderly with one or two exceptions.

The evidence of Dr. Gardner, Superintendent of the Napa Insane Asylum, was to the effect that the defendant was a somnambulist; that his condition was such that he was living a dual life; that is he was subject to frequent moments of unconsciousness and at the same time acting and doing things of which he knew nothing when he would return to his lucid moments. That at the time of the committal of the deed, by the defendant, he was in this somnambulistic state, and that it was some time after the defendant was placed under his care at the Napa Insane Asylum before he was able to restore him to his normal condition. The Doctor further stated in his testimony that after studying the case of the defendant he discovered his real condition and became able himself to put the defendant asleep when desired, and could have perfect control over him, having the defendant do whatsoever he commanded.


The defendant was proven to be a person having a highly disordered, nervous organization and that great excitement would throw him in a state of somnambulism. It is perfectly consistent with the theory of sanity that he was conscious of the act and for weeks prior thereto and having worked himself up to a state of great excitement consequent upon the shooting he shortly afterward lapsed into the somnambulistic state. Believing then that the defendant was sane at the time of the shooting it is ordered that defendant be held to appear before the Superior Court with bail fixed at $3000.

– Cloverdale Reveille, April 30 1892


Remarkable Somnambulistic Affection of E. J. Livernash.
He Is Held on a Charge of Attempting te Kill a Cloverdale Citizen for Refusing te Make a Will in His Favor.

[Special to the Examiner.] Santa Rosa, April 26.- Ed. J. Livernash, the young man who created a sensation in San Francisco last October by appearing on the streets disguised as a negro woman, and who, the morning of October 29th, created great excitement in Cloverdale by attempting to kill D. Ethridge of that place, has been held to appear before the Superior Court for trial. Livernash’s preliminary hearing was held before Justice Abraham of Cloverdale two weeks ago, but decision was not rendered until this afternoon.

The trial promises to be one of the most interesting ever known in California. Livernash claims to have been in a somnambulistic condition when he made his attempt to kill Ethridge, and that he knows nothing about the affair.

The morning of the assault he went to Ethridge’s house and ordered him to make a will in his favor, leaving him all his property. Ethridge demurred, and then Livernash fired four shots at him, two of which took effect, but only slight wounds were inflicted. Livernash was arrested, and told such wild stories about having put forty bullets into Judge Joachimsen of San Francisco who, he said, had assumed the person of Ethridge, that he was examined for insanity and committed to Napa Asylum. A few weeks ago he was discharged from that institution and pronounced cured. He was then brought back here to answer to the criminal charge preferred against him.

At the preliminary examination at Cloverdale Drs. Gardner and Robertson of Napa testified that Livernash was subject to a somnambulistic influence that made him capable of leading a dual life, and that when in his somnambulistic state ha was not accountable for what he did. In their opinion he was in that condition when he made the attack on Ethridge. Opinion is divided upon the matter among the Sonoma county people, and the case will be stubbornly contested on both sides.

– The San Francisco Examiner, April 27 1892


An information has been filed against Ed. Livernash, charging him with an assault with intent to commit murder. His arraignment has been set for next Monday,

– Sonoma Democrat, May 14 1892


The Remarkable Defense In the Case of E. J. Livernash.
It Is Claimed That the Assailant of Ethridge, the Cloverdale Capitalist, Was Mentally Irresponsible.


– The San Francisco Examiner, October 26 1892


An Extraordinary Trial Now in Progress in the Superior Court of Sonoma County.
The Wonderfully Endowed Mind of E. J. Livernash “Jangled Out of Tune” Whether He Sleeps or Wakes.


– The San Francisco Examiner, October 28 1892


Livernash, the Duplex Mental Wonder of Sonoma, Appears Before the Bar in a Trance.
An Exhibition of Dual Intellect practically Seen for the First Time in Any American Court.

The trial of Edward J. Livernash at Santa Rosa yesterday developed something startlingly unique in California courts – probably in all the courts of America and possibly in the courts of the world…

…The skies were “ashen and sober” on the morning of this “lonesome October” day, entirely befitting the story of a clouded mind and of a man in a trance, conscienceless, purposeless and uncontrollable, ready to commit murder at any suggestion of his crooked brain – a roaming, scheming monster, like that of Frankenstein.


– The San Francisco Examiner, October 29 1892


…Ethridge testified to-day aa follows: “I received a letter from the defendant from San Francisco stating that he had a purchaser for my stable and arranging for a meeting at my place on the evening of October 28th. Livernash came to my house in the evening and said the purchaser would arrive that night and asked me to remain up. At 11 o’clock he came over with a bottle containing a liquid, saying that it was a choice wine. He returned to his room at the hotel and at 1 o’clock knocked at my door saying the parties were in town and would be over presently. He paid down $150 to bind the bargain and when I attempted to take the money told me to leave it alone.

“He then drew two revolvers and pointing them at my head commanded me to make my will, leaving everything to him. I told him that I could not write and he replied, ‘Write quick or I’11 kill you!’ I said, ‘You would not kill me would you?’ Immediately he fired seven times, six shot taking effect but not seriously. I ran for a doctor and on my return found the light out and the money and receipt gone.”


– The San Francisco Chronicle, October 29 1892


With Mind in Fine Poise He Patches With Sanity the Breaks in the Story of insanity.
But With All His Weird Actions and Unnatural Impulses Dr. Wachendorf Persists He Was Shamming.
Enough Poison in the Hands of an Uncontrolled Madman to Have Wiped Out a City – The Man of Two Lives shows Himself at his Best, Fencing the Attorneys With Rare Skill and Enthralling His Hearers With the Dramatic Vividness of His Recital.

Santa Rosa, October 29.-Yesterday developed Edward J. Livernash in a hypnotic trance, peering with glum eyes into the beyond, and living over again the days of a year ago, when, moved by grisly fancies, be walked tba earth to murder men and ghosts. To-day found him at himself – out of the spell, acute, argumentative, dramatic – justifying Dr. Gardner’s estimate of him: “One of tba brightest men in tbe State of California.”


– The San Francisco Examiner, October 30 1892


Experts Subject Livernash to the Influence of the Pungent Drug.
They Declare That the Result of the Experiment Proved Him to Be a True Hypnotic.
The Representations of Doctor Gardner and Robertson Disputed by Dr. Wachendorf, Who Discourses Elaborately on Moon and Magnetic Theories and the Differences Between Artificial and Natural Somnambulism – The Five Hundred Dollar Mystery Unsolved.


– The San Francisco Examiner, November 2 1892


Napa Asylum.
18th Nov. ’92

Friend Geary:

Will you come to the rescue and get me out of the unfortunate muddle in which I am involved? Of course I refer to the charge of assault to murder pending against me.

Your absence in Washington and your subsequent duties on the street naturally forbids any request of the nature heretofore; but now that you are somewhat less engaged I hasten to ask your aid, feeling that if anybody in the state can clear me fully your are the man.

Confidentially, my case most damnably mismanaged at the trial recently concluded. The surprising thing to me was that a conviction did not result. Pushing forward the theory of hypnotism with overwhelming evidence of insanity [illegible] our easy reach was an almost fatal error and it was supplemented by a score of omissions and weaknesses that could readily have been avoided. And while I am not unmindful of the kindly intention of my attorneys, I have the greatest indisposition to have them appear for me at the second hearing.

You know my situation well enough to guess that I am not in a position to pay a cash fee; but you may also guess that I know the value of the service I solicit and would compensate you at the earliest opportunity. Once I get upon my feet again I think I can reach out for opportunities as well as though the calamity had not befallen me.

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ting together whatever is likely to be useful in the direct examination of our experts and in the cross examination of experts called by the People.

Now, my dear Geary, this request is put forth in the utmost earnestness. If you can at all imagine to appear for me you will have my gratitude through life. I am nearly worn out by Burnett’s vindictive persecution and I feel that you can clear the trouble away in a manner that will silence opposition and leave my future unclouded by suspicion.

I shall be here for a fortnight to come, and a letter addressed to me at the asylum will be promptly delivered.

Sincerely yours,
E. J. Livernash


Dr. Truesdell’s Lecture.

In Dr. Truesdell’s opening lecture on Hypnotism at Armory Hall Friday evening the lecturer presented the expert testimony of the doctors as given in the Livernash trial, and then proceeded to show that tbe spiritual power of the hypnotizer over the subject was far greater than it is possible for any man to exercise over his own mind or body, and hence a power for good or evil of fearful magnitude, and one that could be controlled for good only by knowledge and law, and not by ignorance or prejudice.

He claimed that the sixth sense was a spiritual, and not a physical sense, as seeing, hearing, etc., and could only be understood through the facts of hypnotism, somnambulism, trance, clairvoyance, etc., and could only be relied upon when truth appealed through it.

He also showed how the well [sic] were paralyzed by hypnotism or the paralyzed restored by the same power. At the close of the lecture questions were asked in relation to important points of distinction between hypnotism, somnambulism and mental and spiritual influences, in which a prominent minister of this city proved himself most thoroughly informed on the whole question.

The doctor will continue his series of instructions on the same subject next Wednesday evening, at the same place.

– Sonoma Democrat, November 19 1892


Livernash on Trial Again at Santa Rosa.
The Man Who Was Placed Under Mesmeric Influence to Testify In His Own Behalf-A Case Without Precedent.


– The San Francisco Examiner, April 14 1893

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