THE 1911 COMSTOCK HOUSE FIRE

It was great good luck the house escaped damage that August morning; had the fire been discovered just a few minutes later the big roof could have been engulfed and quickly after that, the entirety of the landmark home which would later become known as Comstock House.

The item appearing in the Santa Rosa Republican was maddeningly brief and vague. Apparently someone spotted flames coming from the chimney during the night and sounded a fire alarm, also waking Mattie and James Wyatt Oates. Firemen arrived and put out the blaze with a handheld fire extinguisher combined with another one provided by Oates. The incident seems to have left the Oates’ shaken, as discussed in the following post.

Chimney fires were a serious concern in that era, when almost all buildings in residential areas had wood shake or shingle roofs. Not only could a structure burn quickly, but flying embers could set afire nearby buildings, destroying neighborhoods and even entire cities; the 1923 Berkeley fire saw nearly 600 homes burn in a few hours as wind-whipped flames raced over rooftops. Towns like Santa Rosa were particularly vulnerable because at the time of the Oates fire, Santa Rosa firefighters were no better equipped than they were during the 1906 earthquake, still using the same old horse-drawn wagons. When there was a real conflagration – such as the 1910 Levin Tannery fire – the Santa Rosa Fire Department had to rely upon citizens to volunteer their automobiles and swiftly ferry gear and crew between the station house and scene of the blaze.

(RIGHT: Santa Rosa Fire Department seen in their Pope-Hartford fire truck, 1915. Photo courtesy Sonoma County Library)

All that was about to change later in 1911, thankfully. The city fathers, who shamefully went on the cheap in building the post-earthquake firehouse, were now willing to put a few bucks towards modern firefighting tools, including a gasoline engine fire truck.

The Knox truck dealership was vying for the sale and brought their latest model up from San Francisco. While demonstrating the machine’s bells and whistles, a real fire alarm sounded in the Cherry street neighborhood. Firemen with the horse-drawn steam fire engine were quickly on their way. Not one to miss a great sales opportunity, the company rep invited the city councilmen and SRFD chief Frank Muther to jump aboard and head for the action.

Despite the driver not knowing Santa Rosa streets and taking a much longer route, the truck still reached the fire ahead of the horses. “The conflagration was a small one, but was quickly put out by the Knox chemical,” reported the Santa Rosa Republican. “After the fire the members of the city council were taken for a ride about town.” Deal closed, eh?

It was certainly a boffo demo, but a few months later the town chose instead to buy a Pope-Hartford model fire engine, which was a better known make. Like the Knox, it was technically a “Combination Chemical and Hose Wagon,” which meant that it had tanks that could mix on the fly “carbonic acid gas” (AKA carbon dioxide) to smother flames. The Press Democrat article transcribed below gives a pretty good description of the truck’s features, but additional details and a side photo can be found here.

Their Pope-Hartford fire truck was delivered in mid-December, driving up from the Petaluma wharf in less than an hour, thanks to its powerful 50 horsepower motor. Apparently the frenzy over its arrival was so great that a car hit their mascot Buster in front of the firehouse. “He was run over and killed by a careless auto driver who had the entire street, and yet would not get by without killing Buster,” lamented the Press Democrat, noting the pooch was “a favorite with all who have occasion to visit the house or pass it regularly.” As the Fifth St. PD offices were directly across the street, the writer undoubtedly had first-hand knowledge of the deceased.

The new fire engine finally brought the Santa Rosa Fire Department into the Twentieth Century and just a few months later, there was another page turned when SRFD chief Frank Muther retired.

Frank Muther was universally respected as fire chief and his tireless leadership on the morning of the 1906 earthquake likely saved the town from widespread destruction. Even Press Democrat editor Ernest Finley, who viewed Republicans with suspicion in that era, wrote admiringly of Muther in his collection of character sketches, “Santa Rosans I Have Known:”

Frank Muther, pioneer cigar manufacturer and dealer, for years was chief of the fire department, and no matter what the hour he was always on hand when the bell rang. He was a picturesque character and in politics an ardent Republican, but with him friendship came first, even when everybody was supposed to take sides and when opposing tickets had to be place in the field as far down the line as dog catcher. Rough and often boisterous of manner, he was a real sport and an all-round good fellow. Muther was a man typical of the times. In later life he quieted down, as most men do, but he never lost his force and mental vigor.

(RIGHT: Frank Muther, 1849-1927. Photo from “Illustrated Portfolio of Santa Rosa and Vicinity,” 1909)

Yet despite his historical bonafides, Frank Muther is about as forgotten as anyone can be forgotten. There isn’t even a headstone on his grave (he’s buried in the old Odd Fellows’ Cemetery lot 21, just on the other side of the fence from the Fulkerson crypt in the Rural Cemetery). Possibly there was a wooden marker originally; in the 1950s the city made an ill-conceived effort to clean up weedy undergrowth at Rural with a controlled burn which ended up torching trees, roses and many, many wooden markers. As Muther’s family plot and several others in that row are likewise bare, it’s easy to presume the fire must have crossed the fence.

With the 110th earthquake anniversary coming up next year, some sort of tribute to that man is really overdue.

FIRE SCARE SUNDAY AT COLONEL OATES’ HOME

The residents of Mendocino avenue were alarmed early Sunday morning by an alarm of fire which summoned the department to the residence of Colonel and Mrs. James Wyatt Oates, at the corner of that thoroughfare and Benton street. A blazing chimney was the cause of the alarm, and an extinguisher that was on hand at the Oates home and one from the fire department extinguished the blaze. There was no damage from the fire.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 28, 1911
AUTOMOBILE FIRE ENGINE WHICH MADE RECORD BREAKING RUN TO CHASE FIRE ON SUNDAY

C. S. Richardson, manager of the Reliance Automobile Company of San Francisco and his chauffeur came up to this city Sunday morning, bringing with him a Knox automobile combination chemical fire extinguisher and hose wagon. He brought it here to demonstrate it to the city council in answer to the advertisement made by the city dads for bids for one of these machines to be addd to our fire fighting apparatus.

A fire in the residence owned by Mrs. Frank Graves and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Guy Chase a few months before 2 o’clock gave the Knox automobile combination machine a chance to demonstrate its efficiency. Although starting from the engine house after the hook and ladder had left. It reached the fire first, going the long way to the fire, as the chauffeur did not know the direct route. The conflagration was a small one, but was quickly put out by the Knox chemical. Mr. and Mrs. Chase were over in Sebastopol at the time the fire started. They were preparing to move from the house, and the fire caught in some goods that were packed. The damage done was nominal. After the fire the members of the city council were taken for a ride about town by Mr. Richardson in the Knox. Mr. Richardson will be here until after the council meeting Tuesday evening.

The run to the fire was made under adverse circumstances, which taken in account, makes the Knox’s performance remarkable. At the time that fire alarm 16 was rung in, no one was in the machine. It waited for Fire Chief Muther and several of the councilmen and others before starting and traveled a greater distance, turning three corners to one for the hook and ladder in reaching the conflagration. The working of the twin chemical tanks proved interesting to the people of the fire department. Both tanks have an outlet into one hose that can be run into the burning building. They are so arranged that while the chemicals are being used in one tank, the other can be filled, and then the chemicals drawn from the refilled tank without any loss of time. Chief Muther and the members of the city council who saw the demonstration at the fire and who went on the ride about town on the Knox, were greatly pleased at the high grade quality of the materials and mechanical construction, and its complete equipment.

– Santa Rosa Republican, May 1, 1911
CITY’S NEW AUTO CHEMICAL FIRE ENGINE HAS ARRIVED

Santa Rosa’s new auto chemical fire engine, manufactured by the Pope-Hartford Automobile Company of Hartford, Conn., arrived last night, and is now at the Grand Garage on Main street. It is a handsome and substantially built machine, complete in every detail, and will be a valuable addition to the city fire-fighting equipment. It will be placed in commission at once.

The machine was brought up to Petaluma last night by boat, and from there proceeded under its own power, the run from Petaluma being made in less than an hour. S. W. Jewell of the Consolidated Motor Car Company of San Francisco and Charles O. Buckner of the Santa Rosa Fire Department were in charge. Buckner has been in San Francisco for several days, ever since the car arrived from the factory taking instructions as to its use and handling.

The machine is something like thirty feet long and the tires are 40xC. Two thirty-five gallon chemical tanks and two three-gallon hand tanks are carried, a thirty-foot extension and several smaller ladders and hose for the chemical tanks. Besides this a large space is provided for water hose. There is a full compliment of power for lights, including a huge searchlight, all by acetylene with electrical control. The finish is in dark maroon, with brass trimmings and the machine is appropriately lettered. The accompanying illustration gives a good idea of the appearance of the new machine. [Low quality photo on scratched microfilm not shown here – je]

–  Press Democrat, December 16, 1911
BUSTER, THE FIREDOG, IS NO MORE

Buster is dead. He was run over and killed by a careless auto driver who had the entire street, and yet would not get by without killing Buster.

Buster was the mascot at the fire engine house, a favorite with all who have occasion to visit the house or pass it regularly. The fire laddies amused themselves many an hour playing with the dog as he greatly enjoyed running after a stick, package or stone and returning it to the thrower with a wagging of his tail and a joyous bark.

–  Press Democrat, December 17, 1911
HAS TENDERED RESIGNATION
Frank Muther Relinquishes Position

Frank Muther, Sr., who has been chief of the Santa Rosa fire department for several years past, has tendered his resignation of that position. Few men have ever served the City of Roses who have been better qualified in their respective departments than Mr. Muther, as chief of the fire department. He has been engaged in that work for many years, and has the matter of quenching conflagrations down to a science. The people of Santa Rosa have learned to regard Frank Muther as one of the most efficient chiefs on the Pacific coast, and he was always on hand where duty called, and in the thickest of the fray. At the time of the big fire here in April, 1906, he made a record for himself in the handling of the department.

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 4, 1912

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COUNCILMEN WILL BE BOYS

It’s always disheartening to attend a city council meeting and find your elected officials are acting like weepy drunks, but thus it was at a Santa Rosa council meeting in 1908.

The agenda item was the 8:30PM juvenile curfew, and the first sign of trouble was that each councilman was motivated to rise and deliver a sorrowful little speech about the need for a curfew because of a few wayward youths, some revisiting their own unhappy boyhood. Discussion turned to the question of how the time of curfew would be sounded each evening, and a councilman said they might be allowed to ring the bell at the new Santa Rosa Bank building. At that suggestion, the council meeting dissolved into pandemonium.

The councilman who proposed a curfew bell applauded his own brilliant idea; another broke out in tears; another council member waxed uncontrollably nostalgic about his recitations at school while yet another lunged towards the telephone to call the library for a poem that he could read aloud.

The hot button that turned them into drooling Pavlovian dogs was the concept of a “curfew bell.” It seems that children of their day were expected to memorize a bit of Victorian doggerel titled, “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight,” a narrative poem about a man condemned to be executed at the sounding of the curfew bell and who is saved by his lady love who blocks the bell from ringing (read it here, if you must). Driven by the psychological need to redeem their own wanton youth (or as an alternative, see: weepy drunk), the emotional story about silencing the bell transformed into the councilmen wanting the curfew bell to ring, even though they would have to personally take weekly shifts yanking the bell rope.

Presumably after hankies blotted eyes and further maudlin verses were misquoted from memory, council business continued. Another item concerned a request from cigar store owners to be allowed the running of card games. These stores were already permitted to have slot machines, but adding card tables was a matter of controversy also being debated in Healdsburg at this time. To the apparent surprise of the council and the reporter, Fire Chief Frank Muther rose and spoke up in opposition. Muther was there on fire department business, but he also operated the most well-known cigar store in town. Muther concluded his remarks by saying, “…I have seen boys ruined through the gambling games in the back of cigar stores. I have known mothers to come and ask that their boys be protected, and I don’t want to see this council grant this permit.”

At the mention of ruined boys and pleading mothers, you can bet that the sobbing lamentations began anew, and the rest of the meeting was surely lost wandering deep in the weeds.

CURFEW SHALL RING TONIGHT
Councilmen Will Take Turn at the Bank Bell

It was quite an animated discussion the city fathers had over the curfew ordinance Tuesday night. There is a general desire on the part of the public to have the whistle blown at 8:30 in the evening as a warning to straying juveniles that the big bogey man in blue coat and brass buttons is after them. Councilman Bronson made quite a feeling little speech on the perils of permitting little boys on the streets at night, and said something about safeguarding the young, etc. Councilman Forgett earnestly echoed this tender sentiment and referred to Councilman Steiner as a sad object lesson of a young boy being permitted to run at large. Councilman Johnson looked more sorrowful than ever as he thought of his youthful street scrapes at night.

Councilman Barham arose to his feet and said that it was impossible to get either brewery or gas company steam whistles, as those instruments of exquisite melody are used for fire alarms and to call a lineman to answer lamp kicks at all hours of the night. But he was quite sure they could have the use of the big new bell on the Santa Rosa Bank building if they could have it rung at the hour. If no other way was found, he would suggest that the members of the council take a week turn about ringing the curfew, beginning with Councilman Bronson. Then he sat down.

The picture of Bronson swinging the bell clapper, and repeating:
“Curfew, it shall ring tonight–
Curfew’s got ter ring tonight.”
was so inspiring that the tears came in Forgett’s eyes and Barham enthusiastically applauded his own speech.

Johnston, in mind, wandered far away over the sunset English hills where the poem girl first tackled the curfew proposition and Steiner remembered his young school days when he used to speak the “piece” every term and make his teacher and schoolmates tired to death.

Even Frank Muther forgot all about fires and Engineer Tom McNamara quit worrying over the collection of his surveying bills from the property owners. Rushmore slipped over to the telephone and called to the free library if they had among the books a copy of the immortal verses. He wanted to read them to the council. Clerk Clawson began to read the list for a vote on the proposition and before he recovered himself he had voted all the councilmen and all the city employees “aye.” Bronson will probably begin his week as soon as the building contractor gets a ladder up to the bell.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 8, 1908
OBJECTS TO CARD GAMES
Cigar Men’s Petition Addressed by Frank Muther

At the meeting of the council Tuesday evening a petition was presented by the cigar dealers of this city asking that they be permitted to conduct card games in their establishments. When the matter was presented, Chief Muther, who is one of the cigar men of the city, addressed the council in doubtful terms and told the officials and spectators that he was opposed to the movement. He commenced by saying: “This is a matter in which I am interested, and I am not speaking as chief of the fire department, but as a cigar dealer. In the interest of the protection of the boys of the town, I want to request that this petition not be granted. It is not asked for a legitimate purpose, but is for gambling. I am not a party to this. I believe in a legitimate business, and the cigar business is legitimate. I have seen boys ruined through the gambling games in the back of cigar stores. I have known mothers to come and ask that their boys be protected, and I don’t want to see this council grant this permit.” Mr. Muther said there were some good men who had signed the petition, but there were those who had signed it for the purpose of getting an opportunity to have gambling games and he was opposed to the whole scheme.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 8, 1908

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ELECTION 1908: THE BOSSES OF SANTA ROSA

Luther Burbank was Santa Rosa’s #1 booster – except for the year he joined reformers who called the town scandalous and controlled by a handful of political bosses.

“We fail to see how Mr. Burbank’s advice on political matters becomes of any particular importance,” sniffed Press Democrat editor Ernest Finley. “He has always represented himself as being too much engrossed with scientific matters to pay any attention to anything else, and has never before taken any part in public affairs.”

As with most everything else that appeared in the PD about the city elections of 1908, it was untrue. Three years earlier, Burbank was one of the founders of the “Good Government League,” which likewise wanted to clean up the town. The difference in 1908 was that the political field was wide open: No incumbents were running for office. Also, the reformers had a leader who was willing to confront Santa Rosa’s entrenched Old Guard and name names.

The reform party was now called the Municipal League, as introduced in part I of this series on the Santa Rosa city election of 1908. Apparently so frightened that the reformers might sweep into office, the main political parties decided to offer voters a Democratic-Republican “fusion” ticket – a move that only underscored the reformer’s point that a tight group of “bosses” really controlled the town.

Everyone in Santa Rosa knew about “bossism” because newspapers kept readers updated on the latest pre-trial developments in the Abe Ruef case. A year earlier, “Boss Ruef” had plead guilty to bribing the San Francisco Supervisors over utility and cable car deals, followed by indictments against him and his puppet mayor. Ruef tried to block the trial right up to the selection of the jury, arguing that the prosecutor had tricked him into incriminating himself. It was a surprisingly high profile legal fight, with probably everyone in town having strong opinions on the fairness of a trial for the confessed villain. (Sidenote: Santa Rosans didn’t view a fusion ticket as unusual because just such a ballot appeared in the 1905 San Francisco election, when the Dems and Repubs of that city joined forces in a failed attempt to block Ruef’s corrupt Union Labor party from winning.)

In Santa Rosa, the political jabbing was over candidates for mayor. Heading the fusion ticket was Chamber of Commerce president James Gray, who vowed to maintain the status quo. The reform mayoral candidate was Rolfe Thompson, a former D.A. with bonus points among reformers for being the lawyer who had recently won a lawsuit against prostitutes and their landlord. Most remarkable, Thompson called out the people who he said really ran Santa Rosa: State Senator Walter Price (R), Santa Rosa Fire Chief Frank Muther, brewer Joseph Grace, and Thomas Geary, who was currently city attorney.

Even immersed in early 20th century Santa Rosa history as I am, it’s difficult to grasp how these four were the triumvirate (+1) of evil. Muther’s day job was as the owner of a small downtown cigar store with a little rolling factory in the back room – hardly the profile of a kingmaker. Grace also seemed apolitical; during the 1905 Battle of Sebastopol Avenue, he meekly hunkered down lest he offend any beer drinkers. Of Price I know nothing (update here) but of the odious Geary, I’ll believe anything horrible. Besides being the author of the Chinese Exclusion Act when he was a Democratic congressman in 1892, he was the “top gun” attorney in the area and could be found representing the wealthiest private interests before he became city attorney, as when he tried to get Santa Rosa to abandon its municipal water system (he also argued the rich deserved more water because they paid more taxes).

But how far did Thompson really push the “bossism” analogy? He implied that Gray was merely a figurehead in his political newsletter, “The Municipal League,” which apparently presented a crossword puzzle where the solution for one line read

GRACE GRAY GEARY

with only a tiny space to wedge in Gray’s name. Was he also hinting that he knew about Abe Ruef-style bribery of elected officials and secret backroom deals? Alas, we don’t know; no copies of the reformer’s newsletters from 1908 survive, and the Santa Rosa daily papers were hardly likely to mention allegations of serious crimes against their endorsed candidates.

STATEMENT OF MR. BURBANK
Tells People What He Believes of Situation

Luther Burbank, the well known resident of the city, has issued the following statement to the voters. It came from Mr. Burbank on Wednesday morning and is published herewith”

“I believe that the time has come when our city affairs should be divorced from politics, and when citizenship should be placed above partisanship. Having read the platform and the statement of principles of the Municipal League, I wish to express my appreciation of the movement and my hearty endorsement of its candidates.

“I further urge my fellow citizens to give these men their unanimous support. Luther Burbank”

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 1, 1908

It is announced that Luther Burbank favors the election of the so-called Municipal League ticket, and in a signed statement he gravely directs all qualified voters to follow his lead.

We fail to see how Mr. Burbank’s advice on political matters becomes of any particular importance.

He has always represented himself as being too much engrossed with scientific matters to pay any attention to anything else, and has never before taken any part in public affairs.

It is very probable that the motive actuating Mr. Burbank in taking the stand he does is the same that both Mr. McMeans and Dr. Anderson admit actuates them–they all three live in that part of town.

– Press Democrat editorial, April 2, 1908

ENTHUSIASTIC MASS MEETING
Thompson and McMeans Address Fourth Ward

A meeting, small in number at first, but large in enthusiasm, was held by the Municipal League at Germania Hall Wednesday evening, and was addressed by Rolfe L. Thompson and Alexander C. McMeans, candidates for mayor and councilman respectfully. Before the meeting closed the hall was well filled, including a number of ladies.

Professor McMeans was introduced by Chairman William R. Smith, the well-known pioneer and made a splendid speech. He declared that the laws of the city should be enforced or they were of no earthly good. The speaker declared he was not the nominee of the Ministerial Union, but that he represented the Municipal League, and that he accepted the nomination in the hope that if elected he might do something for the betterment of conditions in this city. The speaker read the application which saloon men have to sign before being allowed a liquor license, and then stated that women were permitted to conduct houses of prostitution without getting permission at a less cost than the saloon men were taxed. He declared the issue of prohibition was not before the people, neither was there any issue of saloon closing on Sunday or raising of liquor licenses. He declared if elected he would consider the wishes of the people and all things and if the requisite number asked that the question of licensing saloons be placed on the ballot, he would be in favor of permitting people to vote on the question.

Rolfe L. Thompson made a ringing speech, in which he spoke plainly regarding his candidacy, and paid a high complement to Professor McMeans. He declared that the people of the fourth ward had an honor in being permitted to vote for such a man, and that no fault could found with his character. He said no better man could be found in the city for the position of councilman, and predicted a great majority for him at the polls.

Mr. Thompson said at the outset he wanted the people to know exactly where we stood on all questions that he would be pleased to answer any questions regarding his stand. He declared if elected mayor he would administer city affairs fairly and impartially, and give a square deal to all the people. In appointments and in the employment of labor he said he would be fair to all parties.

The speaker said he was representing up a movement of citizens of Santa Rosa for the best interests of the city, and was not representing any class, clique or boss. The people interested in this movement, he said, were of all classes, mechanics, builders, lawyers, professional men, merchants. He asserted that the movement emanated from a growing sentiment in Santa Rosa to get away from bossism, and to destroy partisanship here. The speaker said the fusion ticket was dominated by one lawyer, one cigar maker, one politician and one brewer, and that the ticket emanated from these bosses.

Mr. Thompson denied emphatically and in plain language that he was representing a “dry” town, or in any manner a prohibition issue, and said these things were not an issue in the campaign. “I have no intention if elected,” he stated, “to initiate any new legislation against the saloon.” At this juncture the speaker was interrupted with the information that some saloon men were with him and intended to support his candidacy. He remarked that he was glad, indeed, to know that some saloon men had realized their own interests in the matter, and that they had not been deceived by a little clique of politicians. Speaking further on the subject, Mr. Thompson said he intended to enforce the present laws on the statue books, and that he would simply carry out the wishes of the people. The speaker reiterated his belief that the money lying in the bank in the building fund and not drawing interest should be utilized at once to build a suitable fire department, and said he was against the purchase of other property when the city owned good lots and bonding the town for $75,000 when it could be avoided.

[..]

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 2, 1908

[Selection of remarks by James Gray at a rally:]
Ladies and gentlemen: I have been charged with being in league with and under the control of some terrible people, described as political bosses, Price, Muther, Grace and Geary. As to Price and Muther, Mr. Thompson can tell you a great deal more about them than I can, as until up to the date that he attempted to throw his party into the control of the Municipal League and the Ministerial Union, he was either under their employ or taking advice from them in all matters pertaining to politics.

As to Grace Brothers, as near as I can find out, they are conducting a legitimate business of manufacturing here. They are also conducting a creamery which is certainly a great benefit to Santa Rosa and the surrounding country; also an ice and cold storage plant which is used extensively in the storage and packing of fruit. They employ a large number of men supporting a great many families and are one of the institutions that help make Santa Rosa a live town.

I never had any business with them, but they have the reputation of being honorable business men who are received with their families in the best of society, in the homes of members of the Municipal League, and are recognized and taken by the hand by not only Mr. Thompson, but by members of the Ministerial Union. They have built up a large business which they are no doubt trying to protect. If they are taking any interest in the fight, it is for the purpose of protecting their business interests, and has nothing whatever to do with me. I do not see how they are to be blamed for this. If they expect any favors from me they will not get them any more than any other citizen interested in the growth and welfare of the town…

…As soon as it was noised about that I would be a candidate the Municipal League began preparations to make an aggressive campaign, and I must say they laid their plans carefully and have left no stone unturned to get a vote. After a great deal of thought and discussion they finally decided that their wisest political move would be to attack the present administration, make the present city administration as unpopular as possible and connect the present candidate with them. At Mr. Geary, on account of his prominence, they have directed most of the fire. I accepted the nomination because I thought that I could carry out plans that would benefit Santa Rosa…

…They started the movement with good intentions. They thought the Prohibition movement, which is likely to die out before it reaches Sonoma County, whose backbone is the production of hops and grapes, was a good thing. It was a prohibition movement pure and simple, and they should have stuck to their principles, but their leader and candidate for mayor is so carried away with the desire to be elected that he has forgotten his principles and is bowing down and soliciting votes of the interest that he had organized to fight.

We are all pledged to repeal the boarding house ordinance, and of course it will be done as soon as possible after those who are elected have taken office. But what will you do with the parties in dispute? Leave them in the lodging houses on Fourth street, where they were driven from the former from the Behmer house, where they have become a familiar sight to every shopper and mingle with the innocent stranger bringing his family here to locate? Drive them back to their old quarters to plague respectable residents of that part of town? At the most move them to some isolated spot? Or shall we take the advice of Saul’s Letter and cast a mantle of charity over the unfortunate creatures and try to reform them?

[..]

– Press Democrat, April 5, 1908

The League manipulators have had a great deal to say about “bosses,” apparently imagining the public would overlook the fact that the men who are most active in support of that organization themselves aspire to be bosses, by all the rules governing such propositions.

They have also indulged in uncalled for personalities and tried to appeal to individual likes and dislikes, regardless of facts. A case in point has been the amusing attempt to make a city attorney Thomas J. Geary an issue in the campaign. In an effort to secure the support of that gentleman’s political enemies, the charge has been made that in the event of Mr. Gray’s election he would be re-appointed to his present position, although Mr. Geary has repeatedly and publicly declared that under no consideration with the accept the appointment for another term, and most of the men who are making the charge know that owing to the pressure of other businesses he has wanted to resign for some time, and did prepare to give up the office last summer when Mayor Overton handed in his resignation, and was only prevented from doing so through the earnest solicitation of that gentleman and others wen public sentiment against allowing Mayor Overton’s resignation to be accepted was so strongly manifested. Having no particular interest in the campaign one way or the other, and having already stated his position, Mr. Geary suggested that we make some mention of the fact in the paper, but we declined to thus dignify the charge. Although Mr. Thompson has known the facts all along, he has continued to charge that “a vote for Mr. Gray is a voted to keep Mr. Geary in the city attorney’s office,” and as far as we know is still so charging.


One of the worst features of the present campaign has been the reckless hurling of charges broadcast effecting the reputation and character of the community. People all over the state have been led to believe that Santa Rosa is a grossly immoral place where crime and vice run rampant, and where only evil influences prevail. Great damage has been done Santa Rosa in this way, and it is likely we will feel the effects for many years to come. It would have been bad enough had any of the charge been true, but when we consider the fact that Santa Rosa is one of the cleanest and best-governed in towns in California, if not in the entire west, the full significance of this phase of the situation becomes even more apparent.

– Press Democrat editorial, April 5, 1908
ADDRESS OF MR. BURBANK
Delivered at Pavilion Rink Monday Evening

“Every party is supposed to have a platform. Every voter should also have one of his own. Perhaps you would like a photograph of mine.

“I believe in justice to all. I am not a partisan not a politician, have no axe to grind, have no personal interests to boost, am not an expert at political mud throwing, generally mind my own business and rejoice in giving others the same privilege. As it happens I belong to no church, no saloon, no Ministerial Union, no brewery.

“Personal schemes, passion and prejudice should not be allowed to overshadow the public welfare, and any man or any party who, at any time or under any circumstances by threats, fraud, boycott, or any other form of coercion or deceit tries to influence the vote of another is not a true American. He is not a patriot. He is a relic of the dark ages and has not yet arrived. He is a back number and should be made to realize the fact by every intelligent. citizen’s vote.

“I prefer to think that every voter wishes to cast his vote for the best interests of Santa Rosa and to have every honest industry protected.

“The hobo, the hoodlum, the confidence man, the crook, the swindler, the gambler, the bully and the bum are not needed by Santa Rosa. All these tend to weaken the confidence of man in man which is the foundation of all prosperity. Talk is cheap, character counts. Every city should have, above all, good men to attended to its business affairs, men you can trust to hold your purse.

“I am not here to tell you how to vote. Some of the gentlemen whose names are on the fusion ticket are admirable neighbors and personal friends. I have no objection to them except that they are, in my opinion, on the wrong side and have the wrong kind of boosters behind them.

“My interest in the city, its people, its progress, is very natural as I was here at its birth, voted for its first mayor and city council and have continued to do so up to the present time.

“I endorse the Municipal League as a party–it has a right to live and if I shall be honored by giving it my vote tomorrow, whether the party wins or not, by voting as I think for the best interests of Santa Rosa. I, at least, have won. Count me for one.”

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 7, 1908

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