You have to wonder which came first: The marriage proposal or the suggestion that she should also become an embalmer. But here’s Mrs. Moke in 1908, a newly minted graduate of the United States College of Embalming, only the second woman in the state to be certified.

Moke’s first wife, Lottie, died along with a daughter in the great earthquake, and he married again about a year later.

In July, the Mokes welcomed another undertaker into their business: W. B. Ward of Ft. Bragg. The funeral parlor was renamed Moke & Ward.

Takes Degree From School on Embalming

Last Thursday evening Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Moke return from San Francisco, where they have been attending the United States College of Embalming. Mrs. Moke passed the examinations and received a diploma and is now an embalmer and undertaker. She has the distinction of being one of the only two lady graduates of an embalming school in the state of California. Mrs. Moke put in some hard hours studying during the four weeks they were away and she is glad to be back home again. Mr. Moke also took the examinations again, as his diploma was destroyed in the earthquake and fire, and he took this means of getting it renewed. Mr. and Mrs. Moke attended a banquet Wednesday evening at the Jefferson Hotel, which was given by the class of which they were members. There were 13 in the class and a jolly time was had. Mr. and Mrs. Moke came home by way of Sacramento to spend a day with Mrs. Moke’s mother, who resides in the capital city.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 23, 1908

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Everybody loves a parade: Floats, waving flags, marching bands, all followed by a crew of rowdy punks mocking everything decent and respectable, including the town itself. It was the Fourth of July in Santa Rosa, 1908, and it was the last ballyhoo of the Squeedunks.

(RIGHT: The “Car of State” that was the most prominent float of the traditional parade. “The beautiful Goddess of Liberty, Miss Hope Knapp, [was] surrounded by a bevy of dainty maidens all dressed in white and waving American flags,” reported the Press Democrat. CLICK on this or other images to enlarge. Photo courtesy the Sonoma County Library)

Back then, Fourth of July celebrations were a day-long affair that brought out the entire town. “Young America, ably assisted in many instances by old America, too, from dawn until midnight kept the firecracker on the bang. The rip-rap, rocket, red devil, squib, and other varieties kept up a merry roar and sputter,” wrote the Press Democrat, and rather poetically, at that. After the morning parade, most people drifted to the park at the end of McDonald Ave. (The former “City Gardens” was really more of a beer garden, owned by the Grace Brothers brewery; it is now the Creekside Park apartment complex at 1130 4th Street.) Here bands played patriotic tunes, kids recited “literary exercises,” and the public heard a tub-thumping patriotic oration about battleships along with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. The emcee for the entire program was our own James Wyatt Oates. At the end, everyone joined in singing “America” and scooted back downtown, where the real fun was about to begin.

An outsider might have believed he had stumbled upon a parade of lunatics. Led by a man riding a cow, a procession of wagons carried displays that seemed to compete for being the most bizarre. A portrayal of a vacant lot surrounded by a worn fence; a scrap pile; a bush sprouting eggs and umbrellas; a horse watering trough fitted with a crane that picked up rocking horses and lifted them up for a “drink.”

But for Santa Rosans, each float was a grand inside joke. The vacant lot represented the new post office building that was supposed to have been built two years earlier. The scrap pile was the city park that the new mayor had promised to create; the eggy bush was a poke at Luther Burbank; and the rocking horse gag was making fun of the S. P. C. A, which had recently paid for raised, more humane watering troughs to be installed in Santa Rosa, although neigh-sayers (sorry) wanted to verify they weren’t too high for short horses. (As a capper for the joke, a sign on that float read, “Horse Prohibition.”)

Less funny today are the swipes made about women. The “Latest Improvement of the Woman’s Improvement Club” float made fun of the suffrage movement by portraying a woman enjoying a bicycle ride while men toiled at housework. Another float presented their elected queen and maids of honor, all men in dresses – a holdover from the 1900 parade, when women seeking to join the Squeedunks were rebuffed and an all-drag royal court was flaunted instead. Boys will be boys pigs.

Swinishness aside, the 1908 crew held true to the spirit of the Squeedunk founders more than three decades before. Gaye LeBaron wrote in a July 5, 1998 column (now regrettably behind a Press Democrat paywall) about their origins in 1876 Santa Rosa:

When the county’s honored “First Citizen,” General Mariano Vallejo, ended his long oration (in Spanish, with a translator) and the formal portion of the celebration drew to a close, a band of masked men in outrageous costumes seized the podium and began a mock-heroic “Oh Ration,” an extemporaneous and outrageous send-up of the venerable Vallejo’s speech. Using the same stentorian tones as the general, the costumed orator began: “One hundred years ago today, the booming of the patriotic cannon awaked from their heroic slumbers a band of ancient Squeeduncques…”

Boldly mocking a respected man like Vallejo was less a goofy prank than being an act of defiance bordering on subversiveness. (UPDATE: Almost all of that account about their origin was untrue. See “BIRTH OF THE SQUEEDUNKS.”)

The Squeedunks again demonstrated this take-no-prisoners attitude when they went ahead with their July 4th parade in 1881, although Santa Rosa had called off regular festivities out of respect for President Garfield, who had been shot a couple of days earlier. Even their name made a anti-authoritarian statement. At least as far back as 1858, “Squeedunk” was a derogatory term for a place where backwards country folk lived. (There is a Squedunk Road in a remote section of upstate New York). Calling themselves “Squeedunks” might be something like today’s college students living in modular housing creating “The Trailer Park Trash Association”. We’ll define ourselves, thank you very much.

Not to say that the 1908 Squeedunks didn’t embrace the buffoonery of it all. The Press Democrat had stories in nearly every issue during the weeks leading up to the parade, documenting the latest silliness by “The Ancient and Disreputable Order of Squeedunks,” and matters became very silly very fast. At their first meeting at “Temple Bacon” (Bacon’s Garage on Main street), committees were formed to organize volunteered horses, wagons, and automobiles; the next week, the groups were merged into the “Committee on Freaks and Skates.” It was first announced that the best float would be awarded a “handsome loving cup, of artistic design” but that was changed to a “loving bucket… more approaching this taste and capacity of competitors.” (In truth, they gave themselves silver cups, crystal goblets, and other awards that couldn’t have been cheap).

Much of the fun surrounded electing the queen. – “vote early and often,” urged Charlie Holmes, the driving force behind the group. It cost a nickel per vote, but they decided to also take slot machine slugs and beer checks “because they are some element of value.” They refused bread checks, however, as “It is too hot to eat bread at meetings of the committee.” (It was common then for some workmen to be partially paid in “checks,” which were scrip redeemable specifically for a certain brand of beer, bread, milk, etc.)

Sexist they were, but the 1908 Squeedunks were surprisingly progressive about race for that time. A participant and an early front runner in the queen contest was Quong Sing, a Chinese merchant. Apparently seriously concerned that he might win and not be able to sell fireworks and American flags on the holiday, he had to be talked into staying in the contest (as usual, the PD reported him speaking in pidgin dialect to make it “funny”). Quong raised $15.50 for the parade from his community, which was duly recorded as a donation from “the Chinese Squeedunk Tong Cantonese No. 1.”

(RIGHT: Members of the 1908 incarnation of the “Ancient and Disreputable Order of Squeedunks.” This is the only known surviving picture of early Santa Rosa Squeedunks. Photo courtesy the Sonoma County Library)

The boys also raised a fuss over the suggestion that the queen wear a “directoire” or a “peek-a-boo waist” (the former was a tight-fitting floor-length gown; at the time, a “peek-a-boo” was apparently any blouse with open lace or a sheer material covering the arms, cleavage, or shoulders). These styles were “not becoming for fleshy people,” protested one Squeedunk, and “John Walker says he has worn clothes pretty near all his life and he is not going to leave them off now.” It was agreed that the royal court could wear “chest protectors” beneath their garments.

All in all, it was a great success, the event ending as District Attorney Clarence Lea read the “Declaration of Indifference,” and another member read the “Squeedunk’s Poem.” Their satirical paper, “The Truthful Lyre,” sold like hotcakes. Once the prizes were awarded, it was announced, they would be exhibited in the display window of a downtown store. “Due announcement will be made of the time of the display so that there will be no danger of overcrowding in front of the store.”

Obl. Believe-it-or-not epilogue: As bizarre as it was, the wacky parade by men wearing grotesque masks was not the most remarkable thing that happened in Santa Rosa on July 4, 1908. As evening approached, there was a hot air balloon ascension and parachute jump by “Captain Hamilton, the noted aeronaut.” Hamilton jumped from the balloon, and fell directly upon the skylight at Moke’s funeral home on Third street, raining broken glass into the chapel and frightening Mr. and Mrs. Moke, who were apparently entertaining at the time. “I’m not a dead one just yet,” Hamilton quipped. Long time readers might recall that back in 1905, “Professor” Hamilton was in town for a show where his wife was the jumper, and earlier that year, he had been touring with a parachuting monkey named “Jocko.” You could not make this stuff up, honestly.


This evening at the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce there will be a meeting of the Squeedunks to arrange for the parade on the Fourth of July. All members of the old organization who provided the fun in the parades in the days gone by and all new enthusiasts are asked to be on hand this evening. Eight o’clock is the hour of the meeting.

– Press Democrat, June 16, 1908



Charles H. Holmes, who years ago was orator at the last Squeedunk parade of consequence given here, on the memorable occasion when Virgil Moore edited “The Truth Lyre” as a special Fourth of July number, announced yesterday afternoon that the voting for “queen” of the Squeedunks will commence today. Holmes is a “cracker jack” when it comes to being a funmaker on Squeedunk Day and he will take an active part in this year’s celebration. There will be a meeting of the Squeedunks tonight at Bacon’s garage.

– Press Democrat, June 18, 1908



“The Ancient and Disreputable Order of Squeedunks” held a largely attended meeting Thursday night at the “Temple Bacon” on Main Street to arrange for the part the Squeedunks will take in the great celebration here on Fourth of July. There was a large gathering of the old Squeedunk clan as well as a number of novitiates and it is safe to predict that there will be all kinds of merriment when the Squeedunk parade makes its escape on the afternoon of the Fourth.

“It was a great meeting tonight,” said the Arch Squeedunk, at its conclusion when discussing what has been accomplished. “We branded about 150 victims.”

“The Grand Chief Grafter and the Keeper of the Records and Bale Rope were among those present. The Gold Dust Twins’ sat in meeting by request. There’ll be lots doing on the Fourth and don’t you forget it.”

The following committees were appointed…

…Charles H. Holmes the noted Squeedunk speaker, will be the orator of this occasion. “The Declaration of Indifference” will also be specially prepared as well as the “Squeedunk’s Poem.”

– Press Democrat, June 19, 1908



It was announced last night that the candidates for the Squeedunk queen are Jack Smith, Frank Dowd, Doc Miller, Doc Somerfield, Joe Ridgway, Aubrey Barham and Quong Sing.

It was reported that Quong Sing, if elected, would resign in favor of Doc Cozad, but upon being interviewed he denied the rumor. He claimed this report was started by Sam Gilliam to injure his chances, and if elected he will serve to the best ability.

The committee says it is only interested in seeing the handsomest and best citizen elected. The queen will have the right to appoint his own the maids of honor.

– Press Democrat, June 20, 1908



At the time of going to press the following vote for the Squeedunk queen was handed in at this office:

Jack Smith, 80; Dr. Bogle, 40; Dr. Sumerfield, 45; Dr. Cozad, 42; Aubrey Barham, 64; “Uncle Bill” Smith, 3; Frank Dowd, 60; Dr. Miller, 128; Quong Sing, 120.

Election fraud is already being charged. Dr. Summerfield claims that Aubrey Barham wants to be elected so that he can appoint his friends as maids of honor, and thus dispense political patronage. Aubrey refuses to withdraw claims, and says that he has positive information that Summerfield has hired 14 new stablemen to pack the vote. The committee promises both to enforce the purity of election law.

– Press Democrat, June 21, 1908



The Ancient and Disreputable Order of Squeedunks held a regular meeting last night at the “Temple Bacon.” There was a large and enthusiastic attendance. Many new features were listed. Jim Johnston, “the big red one,” will send a float from Forestville. In the queen contest a dark horse appeared with 160 votes at first jump. The vote stands: … Quong Sing was told while in Bower & Mercer’s the Drs. Miller and Summerfield would beat him unless he voted for himself. So he voted five votes and paid his 25 cents, treated the boys and went away. In a little while he returned, and seeing that he looked worried, he was asked with ailed him. He replied: “I don’t think I can be queen. You see, I sellem fire clackers, I sellem flag. Be queen no see me nobody buy.” It was explained to him how disappointed every one would be, and that he would “spoil the Fourth” and that it would be “wrong to let Summerfield, Jack Smith and the other boys run alone.” So he said, “all lite I stay.”

– Press Democrat, June 23, 1908



Watch for the Squeedunk posters today and watch the leaps and bounds in the queen voting contest. When the votes were counted last night it was found that Quong Sing is slowly gaining on Dr. Summerfield and Dr. Miller, although a “black horse” in the race is forging ahead. It was reported last night that a bunch of votes had been handed to Nathan Rosenbaum, but up to the time of going to press the report has not been fully verified. “I’m in the hands of friends,” said Frank Dowd last night when told of the day’s gain for him in the voting contest. “So am I,” echoed Jack Smith, who was in hearing distance, and who had made a substantial gain. Jake Luppold, “the mayor of Main Street,” threatens to put a candidate in the race with Summerfield and Aubrey Barham, and if he does his friends, “the nickle splitters,” will have to look out. Meanwhile “Jim” Johnston and the other ones anxious to be “maids of honor” to the queen, are waking in breathless expectancy to know if [the] position is to be thrust upon them. Vote for your choice at a nickel a vote. Charles Holmes says, “vote early and often.”

– Press Democrat, June 24, 1908


“Sore Head Breakfast” for Disappointed Contestants–“The Dark Horse” Appears–Announcements–Don’t Vote Bread Tickets

It was discovered by the committee in charge of the queen contest for Chris Stengel was the dark horse, and a large vote had cashed for him yesterday by the never treat club. Caterers Lewis O’Brien and Walter Farley have promised a cow had breakfast to the new queen and her maids of honor. They will also serve a sore head and breakfast to the defeated candidates.

The “Ancient and Disreputable Order of Squeedunks” fairly bubbled over with enthusiasm at the meeting held last night when final plans for made for the great feature parade and exercises that are to furnish the best sidesplitting remedy for the blues in the big pageant her on the Fourth.

Right now, a word of advice. If you’re at all susceptible to fun, don’t miss the Squeedunks.

At last night’s meeting Charlie Holmes showed up fresh from a week’s outing at a nearby village, bringing with him all the latest ideas that had flooded his brain while enjoying the exhilarating ozone of the country. He is to be the orator for the Squeedunks and when it comes to that he is hard to beat.

Here are some announcements: All those who intend entering features in the Squeedunk parade must report to C. C. Donovan. All those who are willing to donate horses and wagons for the parade are requested to notify Virgil Butts at the office of County Tax Collector Collins on Third Street, and Lester Brittain at the office of county assessor Frank Dowd. All those who want horses and wagons for their displays are instructed to notify these gentlemen as soon as possible.

Just a word about the horses and wagons. It makes no difference how ancient or disreputable the horse or wagon may be, if both can go, loan them to the committee. If a few oats or some bale rope are needed to make them go, apply them. There need not be any putting on of frills. The Squeedunks will see to that.

It was reported at the meeting that two enthusiastic citizens, supporters of rival candidates, so far forgot themselves as to pummel each other’s anatomy. This is hardly right in the opinion of the committee, as some one may get hurt and be unable to come in at the finish with the requisite votes.

The committee wishes to register a kick. It has offered no objection to beer checks or slot machine slugs being voted for nickels because they are some element of value. But when it comes to voting bread tickets the committee considers it is time to call a halt. It is too hot to eat bread at meetings of the committee.

– Press Democrat, June 27, 1908



Last evening there was a parade of the newly organized Native Sons’ Drum Corps, and it was a call to arms of the Squedunks for their meeting at the Bacon garage. The boys drum well and attracted considerable attention on the streets.

Captain Sanborn stated last night that the corps will be out tonight in parade to attract the crowds out to the baseball benefit ball and fete at Grace Brothers Park.

– Press Democrat, June 27, 1908


Candidates for Squeedunk Queen Are Kicking

Like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky, like a stroke near unto death, came the announcement to the Squeedunk queen candidates that whoever was the elected lady, she or he would have to wear a peek-a-boo waist. This decision came after a secret meeting of the Committee on Robes and Coronation. Both the peek-a-boo and the directoire or [sic] split up the side skirt were suggested for the queenly outfit. Some of the committee had never heard of the garment, consequently were at first disposed to look with favor on the skirt until Will Rohrer, who introduced the matter, exhibited a picture of a lady clothed or rather unclothed in the Frenchified dress.

After Mr. Rohrer had tranquilized the indignant committeemen he in language drawn quite mild explained that it was really a classic skirt and considered exceedingly proper. But the display was too much. W. W. Skaggs, the chairman of the committee looked the other way while they blushingly turned the directoire down.

The committee, however, compromised by accepting the peek-a-boo and Mr. Billy Rohrer was notified that bids would be received from Santa Rosa and Healdsburg clothing houses for the supply of an elaborate royal peek-a-boo for the Squeedunk clean. But trouble is on. The candidates all say if elected they will not wear the waist and every blessed one of them, including Quong Sing, threatens to withdraw from the contest.

John Walker says he has worn clothes pretty near all his life and he is not going to leave them off now.

Aubrey Barham says he sunburns easily and he would be a blister before he rode three blocks unless it happens to be a cloudy day, and he can’t afford to take that chance.

Doc Summerfield says he has an English strawberry mark on his right shoulder that can be seen a mile and blast him if he is going to make a spectacle of himself exhibiting his body in that matter.

Quong Sing says in China ladies were plenty of clothes and it really would not be honorable for him to dress less than his countrywomen.

Colonel C. C. Donovan says the wihinas of Honolulu, the meztizo of Manila and the geishas of Yokohama and the barmaids of London haven’t got to the peek-a-boo yet. As the “uncrowned” he cannot sacrifice propriety for a queen’s crown.

Jack Smith modestly thinks that kind of garment not becoming for fleshy people, as the transparency of the fabric accentuates the wearer’s attractiveness and the masculine does not desire that attention–to himself.

The other candidates have filed their objection to the waist and it is believed that the committee will substitute for her majesty’s robes.

The loving cup of handsome finish and artistic design has been changed to a loving bucket. This will be more approaching this taste and capacity of competitors. All those who have features, vehicles and horses for the Squeedunk parade will see Colonel C. C. Donovan, Captain Virgil Butts or Corporal Lester Brittain. These gentlemen compose the committee on freaks and skates and with them everything goes. Louie O’Brien is fixing up a rare “hand out” for the queen and the maids as they ride through the parade.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 27, 1908


Friday Cook “Squeedunk Queen”

As the result of the never-to-be-forgotten election in Geyserville Friday Cook was declared the popular choice for queen. Queen Friday is the right one in the right place. This is what his can campaign slogan declared. He will select his maids of honor within the next few days and they will be taken from among the leading citizens of the Geyserville community.

– Press Democrat, June 27, 1908


“Peekaboo” Incident is Closed–Plot to Bust Quong Sing for Queen in Discovered

The controversy over the wearing of Peekaboo waists that arose and for a time seemed likely to disrupt the galaxy of aspirants for queenship honors in the Squeedunk realm, has been satisfactorily adjusted. Articles of agreement have been drawn up whereby the queen and the maids of honor may fortify themselves by wearing chest protectors beneath their peekaboos. This provision has wiped away all obstacles as regards details of the royal costumes.

A monetary surprise was given the committee last night when the Chinese Squeedunk Tong Cantonese No. 1 presented the Tong Santa Rosa Squeedunks with a donation of $15.50 towards the celebration. Charley Quong Sing, not with any selfish motive of making votes thereby, collected from the Chinese residents the sum named. Quong is still in the race for queen and said last night if he wins he will ride in the parade, “dressed alle same ‘Melican queen.”

Last night there was a large gathering of candidates at Chief Frank Muther’s place. Upon investigation it was discovered that the Dr Miller, Dr. Summerfield, Jim Johnston, Willis Gauldin, Jack Smith and John Walker had combined to beat Quong Sing. Quong has fireworks for sale and the plan was to get Quong to withdraw under threat of prohibiting the use of fireworks on the Fourth, which matter chief Muther was to bring before the council. It was stated that he had already promised to appoint Councilman Fred Forgett one of the maids of honor. Forgett, when seen, refused to commit himself, but the committee are hopeful of getting “Billy” Nichols to turn state’s evidence. It was also announced at the Dunk McKinlay had offered his services to the committee.

A show at the Richter on Thursday night for a benefit for the Squeedunks is one of the possibilities.

– Press Democrat, June 28, 1908


Numerous Good-Natured Hits Presented and Cleverly Carried Out–Immense Crowd Witness Parade

The great Squeedunk parade “broke loose” about 3 o’clock as agreed, and attracted an immense crowd. There were more people on the streets than during the hour set for the morning procession. The bits were all clever, and the various ideas splendidly worked out. In fact, the general opinion seems to be that it was one of the very best Squeedunk parades ever seen here.

The Woman’s Improvement Club woman out riding a bicycle, while the joshes [sic]. One float dedicated to this organization was labeled “Horse Prohibition,” and showed a watering trough some twelve feet high to which it was necessary to elevate the horses by means of a derrick. Imitation hobbyhorses were used, of course, and as they were raised one by one into the air much amusement was caused.

Another good one was supposed to show Burbank’s “latest creations.” There were all kinds of rare and unknown plants, eggs were growing on bushes, an umbrella or two had sprouted, numerous successful “grafts” were exhibited–and all the time the typewriter was working overtime.

The new federal postoffice building “built two years ago,” was represented by a vacant, hay-grown lot, surrounded by an old-fashioned wormwood fence.

The “Latest Improvement of the Woman’s Improvement Club” showed a woman out riding a bicycle, while the men-folks were at home running the sewing machine, washing the dishes, getting dinner, taking care of children, etc.

“Gray Jim’s New City Park” was a scrap pile. An immense sea-serpent was labeled “What They Found in the City Water.” The “New National Bank Building” was portrayed by a rusty coal-oil can with a smaller coal-oil can for an annex. Some of the others were “The Municipal League Accuses Frank Muther of Stripping Tobacco.” “What Santa Rosa Got for Her $200,000 Bond Issue,” Fred Rushless (Rushmore) on a Fishing Trip.” “Chris Donovan in Japan.” “Mayor Gray and His Carnival Attendants,” etc. etc.

– Press Democrat, July 5, 1908


Balloon Ascension One of the Most Successful Features of the Big Celebration

“I’m not a dead one just yet,” remarked Captain Hamilton, the noted aeronaut, when he struck the skylight over Moke’s undertaking parlors Saturday night in his descent from the clouds in his parachute. If the framework had not saved him he would have come through the skylight and dropped to the floor in the chapel connected with Moke’s establishment. When his parachute struck the glass there was a lively smashing and it startled Mr. and Mrs. Moke and others. Hamilton was not cut by the glass.

Thousands of people witnessed Hamilton’s ascent and descent both of which were very successful. It took the big balloon some time to fill up with gas, and consequently the ascent was made a little later than scheduled. But everybody was pleased and Captain Hamilton was a much complemented man. The balloon fell some distance from where Hamilton alighted.

– Press Democrat, July 5, 1908



Will Rohrer rode In the Squeedunk parade on Saturday, an Ideal queen of the Squeedunks. He looked royalty itself. His maids of honor were Frank McNamara, Charles Smith, Roney Noonan and Ed McNamara and they all looked very fetching. Calvin Rohrer and Carl Patterson were the maids.

C. C. Donovan was the grand marshal and he rode a cow at the head of the parade. Virgil Butts was the president of the day, Chas. H. Holmes, who cut off his mustache for the occasion, was the orator. Clarence F. Lea read the “Declaration of Indifference,” and President Butts read the poem.

The Squeedunk paper, “The Truthful Lyre,” sold like hotcakes, and there are still a number of copies left for those who want them. It is a very neat souvenir of the day.

– Press Democrat, July 5, 1908


Committee Holds Final Meeting and Winds Up Business Connected With Very Successful Feature

Thursday night the Squeedunk committee of the Fourth of July celebration held its final meeting, paid all bills and generally wound up the business. After the payment of all bills there will be there will be a small surplus in the treasury which will be deposited in a local bank to the credit of the “Squeedunk fund,” which will be a neucleus [sp] for future celebrations.

It will be remembered prior to the celebration that the committee promised some prizes for best and most original “hits” carried out in the parade. Thursday night the committee announced the award of prizes as follows:

Bacon Brothers, Main street garage, first prize; Charles Body and Albert Bacigalupi, second prize. August Kopf and Ed Rohrer, best sustained “take off.” Roy Enders, consolation prize.

Of course the prizes will be something of great value. When they are secured they will be placed on exhibition in the show window of the McConnell-Prentiss Company on Fourth street, and they are sure to be greatly admired. Due announcement will be made of the time of the display so that there will be no danger of overcrowding in front of the store.

– Press Democrat, July 17, 1908

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The poor Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery has been abused more than the proverbial borrowed mule. While it’s probably now in its best shape ever – thanks to Bill Montgomery and a crew of volunteers (which you are WELCOME TO JOIN, on the third Saturday of every month at 9AM) – the sprawling old dear has weathered dark ages of neglect.

It appears that about every 25 years there was an awakening that the grand hill had shamefully turned into a hobo jungle and delinquent playground, and efforts were made to clean it up. But after awhile the do-gooders lost interest, or moved away, or became old. Not so the vandals, not so the weeds. In one horribly misguided effort to bring the undergrowth under control, the city set fire to the place, destroying many wooden tombstones.

The first effort to reclaim “the silent city of the dead” came in 1907 from the Woman’s Improvement Club, which did many good deeds around Santa Rosa. On the designated day, volunteers “gathered up the old cans and jars and bottles” in the cemetery, and wagon loads of weeds were removed. The club vowed to hire a sexton to watch over the grounds, and to generally fix up the place.

Also included below: A detailed description of the new undertaking parlor operated by Mr. Moke and Mr. Stanley, which was at 421 Third street, (approximately between the Apple store and Sears in today’s downtown mall). Your obl. Believe-it-or-Not footnote: Herbert Moke’s wife and one of his children were killed in the 1906 earthquake, and although Moke and Stanley owned swathes of burial plots on the perimeters of the Rural Cemetery, the gravesite for the Moke family is in the Odd Fellows’ cemetery behind the two old temporary holding vaults.

(RIGHT: Decoration Day illustration, Press Democrat, June 1, 1901. CLICK to enlarge)

Improvement Club Takes Up Good Scheme
Plan to Have Lots and Sidewalks in Rural Cemetery Made Neat and Greater Reverence Paid the Quiet City of the Dead on the Hill

The women of Santa Rosa, represented in the large membership of the Improvement Club, believe that the quiet city of the dead–Rural Cemetery–should be kept more reverently. They want to see the weeds removed from the pathways, the tall grass and briars taken from unkempt lots and a general clean up. They want attention paid to all the graves, whether those who rest therein have relatives or friends living here or not. There are many graves in the cemetery that are not kept green for the reason that there is no on left or kith or kin to even give the last resting place the passing tribute of a sigh, except such a sigh as might emanate from one moved by the wilderness effect of some of the plots.

So while not blaming anyone for the condition of affairs at the cemetery the women voted on Monday afternoon to ask the directors to allow a general cleaning up to take place in the cemetery on Saturday, November 23. The secretary of the board of directors was seen and he said he did not think the board would have any objection to the plans outlined by the ladies. Consequently the day and date named have been designated “Cemetery Cleaning up Day” in Santa Rosa. The club asks all owners of lots in the cemetery to clean them on this day. They ask all citizens who will assist to do so. They also ask the boys of the Santa Rosa High School to help in the effort. The women want all who can do so to bring rakes and hoes. While they expect to superintend the work of cleaning up the cemetery on this day they will also work if necessary so anxious are they that the cemetery be made more neat.

– Press Democrat, November 11, 1907
Has Beautiful Place, With New Adjuncts

H. H. Moke, the undertaker, is moving his establishment from the temporary quarters he has occupied for nearly two years into the handsome rooms constructed especially for his business.

The new parlors are the handsomest north of San Francisco and reflect great credit on the taste of Mr. Moke and Mr. Stanley. The rooms of the establishment are done in bird’s eye maple and are beautiful in the extreme. The reception room is a large apartment and following this is Mr. Moke’s private office. Then follows a mortuary chapel, capable of seating one hundred and fifty people or more. The chapel is fitted with permanent pulpit and with alcove ceiling, with room sufficient for the singers at the services. To the rear of this pulpit and entering at the left is something entirely new in this vicinity, a mourner’s room. This department is designed that the mourners and relatives, if they close, may seek seclusion during the conduct of the religious services for the dead, or where persons may be taken in they are overcome from any cause and ministered to. This mourner’s room has stained windows and is a closed apartment except from the entrance door.

The workshop of the establishment is at the rear of the lower floor and the show rooms, where many elegant caskets are kept, is up stairs. This is a large apartment. The front rooms of the apartment are for the use of J. P. Stanley and they have been handsomely furnished for his occupancy. A large staircase reaches from the front hall to the second floor and there is also a rear stairs. An elevator has been installed for taking the caskets from the show room to the work room and vice versa.

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 22, 1907


Saturday the ladies of the Woman’s Improvement Club and hosts of others gathered at the invitation of that organization and spent the day cleaning up the center. It was a lively company that spent the house together clearing away the weeds and debris that had gathered in the City of the Dead, and with a right good will did they work with hoe, rake and spade.

The attendance during the forenoon was good, but shortly after the lunch hour he people began to come and soon there was a great army of people industriously laboring to beautify the walks, drives and lots on the silent hill. The J. P. Fitts Lumber company sent out two teams and drivers, and Lee Bros. furnished a team and man, and there were other smaller wagons on hand, and these were all kept busy hauling away the grass dug from the walks. It would have done your heart good to see the way those women gathered up the old cans and jars and bottles that had accumulated and had them loaded into the wagons.

Prominent among those who were in charge of the work were… [9 women] and quite a number of others came later in the afternoon…

Many of the graves were also decorated with an abundance of pretty flowers and the occasion took on very much the form of a memorial day in many parts of the burying ground.

It was a great work and was well done and much credit is due the efforts of the zealous women who started the move and left nothing undone to make it a success.

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 23, 1907


The ladies of the Improvement Club may take charge of the Rural cemetery. They are willing to assume the responsibility and have appointed a committee composed of… If the ladies take personal charge of the cemetery they are determined not to allow the place to become so badly run down again as it was when they decided to make the clean-up…

– Santa Rosa Republican, November 26, 1907


The fact that members of the Woman’s Improvement Club should have considered it necessary to set aside a day for the cleaning up of the local cemetery emphasizes the fact that some intelligent and concerted method should be adapted for improving conditions in the silent city of the dead. The management of the cemetery is in the hands of a board of trustees who, while more than willing to keep the place up as it should be kept, are powerless to act for lack of funds. Either an assessment should be made upon the various lot-owners, or some means should be found to make possible the levying of a small tax, such as is now levied for the support of the public library, and a cemetery fund established. The latter result could be accomplished by taking the cemetery into the city limits, and a mere resolution of the board of trustees would put the first-named plan into effect. However, there would probably be no means of enforcing collection on an arbitrary assessment in case a lot-owner elected not to pay it, while a direct tax could be depended upon to bring results. There is no reason why Santa Rosa should not keep up its cemetery properly, and no reason why the cost of so doing should not be borne by the community as a whole.

– Press Democrat editorial, November 26, 1907

Wednesday afternoon the committee of ladies from the Woman’s Improvement Club met representative members of the Cemetery Association and discussed plans for future improvement in the Cemetery. Among the first things to be undertaken will be the graveling of the roadways and the replacing of broken culverts. Garbage cans are to be purchased and placed in the several different localities wherein people are requested to throw all rubbish and faded flowers. Later, in the Spring in all probability, the question of doing some landscape gardening around the entrance will be undertaken.

– Excerpt of Press Democrat “Society Gossip by Dorothy Anne” column, December 8, 1907

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