Someday, I really want to teach a history course with the name, “How to Read a Newspaper.” I’m not joking; it’s a skill mostly lost today, accustomed as we are to skimming headlines and zooming in on favorite topics. But before the internet, before TV and before radio, newspapers were a prime source of entertainment, often read entirely over the course of hours.

Anyone who wants to get a flavor of the era will discover the best bits were those little items stuffed in the cracks – usually filler at the bottom of a column on the inside pages, barely newsworthy and often without even a headline. Sometimes they were attempts at humor writing; sometimes they are unintentionally funny because we can’t imagine something like that happening today. Sometimes they reveal only a glimpse of some larger and very screwy story; sometimes they are complete vignettes. But almost always, they reveal some insight into the lives we lived back then.

Over the years I’ve written up dozens of these morsels from 1904-1912. Among my favorites was the story of the man who admired the suit worn by a guy he passed on the street, unaware he was looking at his own clothes just stolen by the burglar. Then there was the time a carpenter and attorney got into it on Fourth street over the ownership of a handsaw, one beating the other in the head with his hammer as his foe tried to saw him up. But my all-time favorite concerns young Fred J. Wiseman getting revenge for a speeding ticket by later forcing the selfsame cop to arrest himself for spitting on the sidewalk, at night, and during a downpour. Most of the other stories like these can be found in the archives labeled with the “odd” tag.

Here are my picks for the best odd stories in the Santa Rosa newspapers for 1913:


About three miles west of Santa Rosa one dark Saturday night, a Mr. A. Mills and John Ferdinand ran into each other – not so unusual, except they were both were on bicycles. Mr. Ferdinand’s bike was something of a wreck but while Mr. Mills was shaken up by the collision his bicycle was undamaged. So Mr. Ferdinand promptly grabbed it and pedaled away. By the time Mills walked back to town and reached the sheriff’s office, he was understandably fuming about the “hold-up.” Amazingly, this story has a happy end: The next day Ferdinand was arrested and immediately brought before Judge Atchinson, who fined him twenty bucks. A. Mills even got his bike back, the wheels of justice grinding with rare and satisfying speed. (Santa Rosa Republican, May 5, 1913)



Attorney Frank H. Gould and other members of his San Francisco club caught an excursion train to Cloverdale to watch an airshow. As the primitive, kite-like planes flew (1913, remember), Gould and two others noticed a cow in a pasture was paying attention to the overhead action. So mesmerized were they by watching the cow they missed the departure of their train home. “It was the funniest thing I ever saw,” the easily-amused lawyer told the Press Democrat after the trio hitched an auto ride as far as Santa Rosa. “She just raised her head and turned here and there so as not to miss any of the airship…that cow – well, it was well worth seeing.” (Press Democrat, February 23, 1913)



A man walks into a bar with a new pair of shoes for sale. The reporter did not express surprise at that by itself, so maybe shoes were regularly hustled in Santa Rosa saloons in 1913, but anyway, George White sold the pair for the remarkably low price of $2.50 and bought drinks for the crowd. Then, of course, he tried to steal the shoes back. Around that time a man from Windsor entered the same bar and said the shoes belonged to him. George White was arrested, and hopefully the court had an easier time figuring this out than me. (Santa Rosa Republican, November 21, 1913)



Santa Rosa city councilman Spooncer heard the fire alarm and exercised a privilege of his elected office to jump aboard the fire engine as it left for the blaze. Unfortunately he did not get far, flying off the running board as the truck turned the corner at Fourth and B streets. “He sailed straight out through the air,” the PD reported. “[A]nd being rotund, as aforementioned, started to roll. He finally landed with a gurgle, a grunt and a gasp, against the base of the new fountain and it looked for a moment as if someone else would have to donate a new fountain.” (Press Democrat, April 19, 1913)



Tired of his sleep being interrupted by the yowling of his neighbor’s cat, Frank Powers shot it. When Charles Gardiner found his pet had been killed, he confronted Powers and went to the police. Powers was arrested and charged with discharging a gun within Santa Rosa city limits, and while he was at the station Powers swore a complaint against Gardiner for cussing him out. As explained here before, using “profane and vulgar language” in that era was considered more serious than animal cruelty or even incidents of child abuse. Both Powers and Gardiner were fined five dollars. (Press Democrat, April 10, 1913)



Mr. C. R. Duncan was arrested for drunkenness in Sebastopol. Before his court hearing he asked permission to wash up and was told to use the barbershop next door. Some time dragged by and Duncan had not returned, but a woman entered the office to complain that a man had given her a fictitious check. “She said that the man’s name was C. R. Duncan,” the paper reported, “and then the officers fainted.” The item ended, “officers all over the county are now out looking for the champion long distance washer of the world.” (Santa Rosa Republican, September 23, 1913)



The Republican wryly observed workmen in Petaluma cleaning out an old building came across a bottle with a note inside. It read: “At Sea, July 4, 1904. The good ship ‘booze’ was wrecked on the rocks of Point Pedro yesterday. All hands will be lost if we are not found. (Signed)…” The writing was very clear although it “rapidly faded after being exposed to the toxic atmosphere of Petaluma,” the Santa Rosa reporter claimed. The owner of the printing business formerly there was contacted to explain what he and his buddies were doing that night at the print shop. His “recollection of the titanic disaster is somewhat hazy”, but he clearly remembered that Fourth of July “the fog was so dense it could have been sliced up with a sharp knife and fed to the chickens, a coagulated water diet.” (Santa Rosa Republican, May 9, 1913)

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Confession time: I have never revealed our great-grandparents loved tamales.

In the hundreds of articles about historic Santa Rosa appearing here, never have I mentioned tamales were the favorite fast food in the decades around 1900. Our ancestors ate them on the street, at celebrations, club dances, parties, picnics and every other sort of get-together. There was a tamale stand downtown, the Boston Restaurant at the corner of Fourth and B featured Mrs. Gore’s tamale pie in their newspaper ads, and as described in a somewhat creepy item below, there were even guys roaming around the neighborhoods late at night peddling the spicy meat and cornmeal snack wrapped in corn husks.

(RIGHT: 1894 cartoon courtesy the New York Public Library)

I long ago stopped paying attention to mentions of tamales in the newspapers – until recently when I noticed I wasn’t noticing everyone was wolfing down…tamales?? Nothing wrong with the humble tamal, but today it’s so far off the American food radar it is not even ripped-off by places like Taco Bell.

Sadly, I’ve probably overlooked other interesting details of life back then; it’s all too easy to become so immersed in reading the old papers that one loses sight of how damned peculiar some of those doings were from a modern perspective. For example, I almost scanned past a tiny, understated item in 1912 about a riot at Max Rosenberg’s department store caused by monkeys.

It seems the two monkeys (the article doesn’t mention what kind) escaped their cages at the feed store and invaded Rosenberg’s. “They seemed particularly fond on the girl clerks and there was almost a panic,” reported the Santa Rosa Republican. “Fully a hundred people rushed in to see what was going on and it was some time before the pets were captured. No damage was done, but the girls were given an awful scare.”

It wasn’t the monkey business that really caught my eye, however; animal disturbances were common – horses bolting, dog fights, and so on. No, what made me look twice was the inconceivable claim there were as many as a hundred people once spotted on Fourth street.

These days you don’t hear much about monkeys running amok in department stores, or monkeys in feed store cages, for that matter. Nor do you see many newspaper articles about groups seeking to rent live bears.

The Native Sons of the Golden West, a prominent California social club, put out a call for all “parlors” (their name for local chapters) to find “a good supply of bears” for their upcoming 1913 convention. Although the state symbol was officially the grizzly bear, the NSGW wasn’t picky: “Any kind of bears, brown bears, cinnamon bears, and even grizzlies, if the cubs are not too old, strong and carniverous [sic]…”

The NSGW held its bear-less convention in Santa Rosa the previous year and it brought about twenty thousand to town for the weekend festivities. That was small potatoes compared to the 1913 celebration in Oakland which lasted four days, drew crowds up to 200,000 and included a six mile “electrical parade” plus ongoing band concerts and pageantry around Lake Merritt. Although references to bears abound in the newspaper descriptions, it’s unclear how many were real live bears, people in bear costumes or paintings of bears. Presidio Parlor No. 143 had a tiny bear on the top of their float, and a “big black bear sat serenely” on the float of the Aloha Parlor of Oakland. It also seems animals were used in some of the many “pioneer days” tableaux presented at the park.

I almost missed that item because I presumed the headline, “WANTED–BEARS NOT TOO TAME” could not be literally true. But the opposite happened with stories about “white slavery,” which appeared at every opportunity in both Santa Rosa papers. My earlier article, “WHITE SLAVERY IN SONOMA COUNTY?” explained this was a national hysteria between about 1910-1915 based largely on twice-told tales about young women being forced into prostitution and sometimes shipped off to Chinese opium dens. I presumed it was true that the public really had deep fears that innocent girls were actually being snatched off city streets. I was wrong. To a large extent, it was about soft-core porn.

(RIGHT: Illustration from From Dance Hall to White Slavery, 1912. Bessie, the former telephone operator, gave in to temptation after being “persuaded” by a “villainous looking highball.”)

There was quite a boom of lurid white slavery novels and serialized fiction in those years. As author Amy Stewart described in a fun article, “Your Great-Grandma’s Dirty Books,” the only acceptable excuse for an unmarried woman having sex was because “she must have been drugged, defiled, and sold into prostitution. This tended to happen, we were warned, when girls left home and went to the big city, where the dangers of liquor and dance halls were all too well-known.”

Here in Santa Rosa, we had visiting speakers describing white slavery in 1912 and 1913, both lectures illustrated with slides.

First up was J. C. Westenberg, who ran the “Whosoever Will” mission in San Francisco. Westenberg appeared in many cities around the state in those years showing his slides at the invitation of some local church, with collection plates being passed around afterward. Whether Westenberg was a true believer is uncertain, but he was a big self-promoter and frequently in big trouble. He was investigated by the Church Federation of San Francisco for playing fast and loose with donations to the mission and did not show up when the Charities Commission ordered him to appear with his books. He was jailed at least twice: Once in Berkeley for a soliciting donations without a permit, and after he was found guilty of libel against Oakland’s Chief of Police, who he claimed was among the city’s “white slavers” operating bordellos (also included were Oakland’s mayor and top city officials). He was also sued for saying Dr. Julius Rosenstirn of the San Francisco municipal clinic had collected $50,000 from prostitutes. Rosenstirn was a public health hero for pioneering sex education for prostitutes, particularly teaching them symptoms of venereal disease.

The 1913 speaker was Rosa A. Davis, then at the start of her career as a white slave expert. Davis later found herself warmly endorsed by the temperance movement and expanded her expertise to the dangers of Demon Rum. Before all that, however, Rosa was on the vaudeville circuit narrating a silent film about the bank-robbing Dalton gang, sharing the bill with the Shomers, “a pair of iron-jawed artists performing marvelous feats of strength with their teeth.” It’s a living.

So I almost overlooked great stories about bear rentals and runaway monkeys and the true seamy side of the white slavery industry. (And tamales! I’ve already forgotten about tamales again!) But I almost overlooked one of the best items I’ve ever read in the papers.

In the 1913 Santa Rosa Republican (and on a page which I printed for another article) was the story of a young man who went to the County Clerk for a marriage license. Asked his age, the young man said he was twenty. Told that he had to have his parent’s consent at that age, the young man said he did. Told further that he had to have that consent in writing, the young man “fell over on the counter and then slid to the floor in a dead faint.”

The paper continued, “Deputies in the office rushed to his aid and by applying cold water in large quantities brought the young man back to consciousness. He left with his fiancee, saying that he would secure the necessary consent as soon as possible and return.”


Friday morning wild excitement was caused in the Red Front when the two monkeys kept caged in Roof’s feed store on Fifth street, escaped and ran into the store of M. Rosenberg. They seemed particularly fond on the girl clerks and there was almost a panic. Fully a hundred people rushed in to see what was going on and it was some time before the pets were captured. No damage was done, but the girls were given an awful scare. The monkeys are now safe back in their cages.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 8, 1912
Healthy Cubs that Can Growl For Sept. 9th Parade

The Native Sons’ celebration of Admission Day will be held in Oakland this year and the committees on the coming festivities are determined that September 9, 1913, will be an event, the glory of which will dim the pyrotechnics of all past events. The Committee on Unique Features has requested that a good supply of bears be provided by the parlors of the state. Any kind of bears, brown bears, cinnamon bears, and even grizzlies, if the cubs are not too old, strong and carniverous [sic]. Yet the native son of the bruin family must not be too mild. To qualify for the Oakland dissipation he must “register” some fierceness. The celebration committee’s request was brought up by the N. S. G. W. last meeting and as the organization has no bona fide bears, no real wild bears in its membership, it was decided to appoint a special committee on initiation; suspend all previous rules governing the initiatory ceremonies, and let the committee make, and be governed by, its own rules; this committee is expected to have a large class ready for the great fiesta of the Ninth. There was considerable difficulty in selecting the committee as the members of the parlor present modestly hesitated to qualify as bear hunters, Finally President Marvin Vaughan, President-Elect John M. Boyes (in private, life chief of police) and the late financial secretary, John Calhoun Hoke Smith, were with difficulty selected for the honorable mission. These Native Sons of the Golden West did not rush for the work but were persuaded to volunteer because of the cause and the glory of their beloved California, which demanded the sacrifice if some old dam bear should interfere with the abduction of her cubs…if any person has a tame cub bear in stock and is inclined to lease the animal for parade purposes during several days in September, the committee will be pleased to hear from that person. The Ursus Minor will be accorded a prominent place in the great procession and will get to see Oakland in all the colors of the rainbow, and if he is not scared to death, will enjoy the experience.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 11, 1913
Young Man Startles County Clerk’s Office

So overcome when told that he could not secure a marriage license was a young man from the country that he fainted away in County Clerk W. W. Felt’s office Thursday. He and his bride-to-be appeared at the desk in search of the necessary permit.

After answering a number of questions the young man was asked his age and responded that he was twenty. He was asked if he had his parents’ consent and said that he had. When he was told that the consent would have to be written and filed in the Clerk’s office, and that without this he could not secure the license, he fell over on the counter and then slid to the floor in a dead faint.

Deputies in the office rushed to his aid and by applying cold water in large quantities brought the young man back to consciousness. He left with his fiancee, saying that he would secure the necessary consent as soon as possible and return.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 26, 1913
Father Cassin Pleased With Erection of New Street Light in Front of St. Rose’s Church

The erection of an electric street light in front of the Church of St. Rose, on B street, is much appreciated by the rector of the parish, the Rev. Father J. M. Cassin.

There are two potent reasons why the god father takes kindly to the new lighting system on B street. One is that the light will now illuminate the pathway into the sacred edifice on dark nights; another is that it will put an end to the “spooning” of love-sick couples on the church steps after dark. The church steps have been a popular resting place for couples after a stroll and on more than on occasion Father Cassin has found it necessary to suggest to boys and girls that they select some other place for their whisperings of affection.

Consequently the esteemed spiritual director of affairs of St. Rose’s parish was in good humor Thursday when complimented on the additional comfort the new lamp will give worshippers when entering the church at night.

The efficacy of the new lamp calls to mind a good story that was told by Father Cassin at the time when the world was gazing at Halley’s comet.

About 10 o’clock one night Father Cassin happened to be standing in his dooryard. A tamale man came along.

“Want a tamale?” queried the vendor of the priest.

“Too late, too late, my man,” was the rejoinder.

The man passed along. Just in front of the church he stopped and inquired again.

“Want a tamale?”

The reply was not distinguishable where the priest stood, but it game him a cue. Someone was loitering about the entrance to the church.

The priest stole stealthily to the church steps.

“What are you doing here?” inquired the man of God of two objects he could barely distinguish.

“Watching for Halley’s comet,” came a weak feminine rejoinder.

“You had better go home and take a rest in the meantime,” suggested Father Cassin. “You will not see the comet again for seventy-five years.”

The comet had several nights before [it] became invisible.

The lovers said nothing but went their way, and the priest count not forebear an audible smile as he again entered his residence.

– Press Democrat, August 2, 1912
Will be Given at M.E. Church South Wednesday Night

The White Slave Traffic will be the subject of a meeting to be held at the M. E. church, South, on Wednesday evening at eight o’clock. Rev. W. H. Nelson is the pastor and has made arrangements for this lecture.

All the churches of this vicinity are specially invited to participate in this meeting. This fight is aimes especially at the white slave traffic, the red light district and the social evil. All public officials are invited to attend.

J. C. Westenberg of the Barbary Coast Who-so-ever Will Mission of San Francisco will give his famous stereopticon lecture on the white slave traffic.

Mr. Westenberg was once a gambler and saloon keeper. He will tell a most interesting and thrilling story, in word and picture, showing scenes of the Great White Way, New York; the Chicago Stockade; Views of the White Slave Traffic; Ten years in Rescue Work; the Submerged Tenth; Twice-born Men; the Power of the Gospel in the Slums.

Admission will be free, but a silver offering will be taken. Money received at this meeting will be devoted to the work of suppressing the White Slave traffic in California and to the Who-so-ever Will Mission Rescue Work.

President David Starr Jordan of Stanford University has strongly endorsed Westenberg. It is hoped that a large audience will be present on Wednesday evening.

– Santa Rosa Republican, June 18, 1912

Miss Rosa A. Davis will appear again today with her talk on “The White Slave Traffic,” and will also give a short illustrated talk on police graft. A feature of the act today will be a recital entitled, “Five Dollars a Week.”

Miss Davis has won renown on the coast with her interesting and instructive lectures. She is a Southern woman, and has a soft, moderate voice, but it is well regulated, speaking clearly and distinctly with expression. Miss Davis will close her engagement today and those wishing to hear her should not miss the opportunity.

– Santa Rosa Republican, May 13, 1913


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Aside from earthquakes and airplanes and other headline moments in local history, a goodly chunk of this journal is devoted to the odd little stories that peppered the back pages of the Santa Rosa newspapers more than a hundred years ago. Most irresistible are the ones ending with a twist or some mystery.

For example, it wasn’t particularly interesting that Mrs. Patterson (“a prominent resident of Rincon Valley”) accidentally took a dose of mild poison instead of a laxative, but it made you wonder why anyone would have them in presumably identical, unmarked bottles in a medicine cabinet. It was nice to read there was a benefit to raise funds for one-legged Harold Casey to buy a prosthetic limb; what we really hoped to learn, however, was how he performed his job as the town’s messenger boy using just a crutch. And enquiring minds want to know why a couple in Cotati tied someone up with wire after he began acting crazy, yet didn’t take him to the police until the next day (they originally restrained him with rope, but he “gnawed the rope in two as a rat would have done,” according to the paper).

These peculiar items are fun to read (and write!) but also serve to illustrate how profoundly times have changed in just a century. The batch of crime-related stories from 1912 transcribed below each provides a different glimpse of that different world, starting with a crime wavelet in Santa Rosa where robbers were stealing stuff from cars while the drivers where attending Sunday evening church services. The thefts – which had been “going on for some time” according to the Press Democrat – involved overcoats, lap blankets, and probably umbrellas and other items one might have in a car during winter.

First, it’s interesting to learn Sunday night church was such a popular thing that parishioner’s cars became a dependable target for crooks (it was about another ten years before door locks became a standard item on cars). If it was happening so often, one wonders why the churches didn’t appoint a deacon or someone to hang around the vestibule and keep an eye on the doings outside. But the broader question is why people would be stealing used coats and blankets, which were not exactly high value items; perhaps the thefts were another artifact of Santa Rosa’s perpetually invisible homeless population which was then, as now, centered around the Wilson street soup kitchens operated by religious groups.

Also in 1912 the sheriff and deputies were dispatched to Kenwood where they looked for a man who had “offended women and children in that city by vulgar actions,” which presumably meant indecent exposure. That was certainly unusual (the last case mentioned in the papers was in 1906) but more remarkable here is police were shooting as they chased him.

Guns were also involved in the Dinucci fracas. According to the Santa Rosa Republican – which misspelled the name as “Denucci” – the trouble began when some brothers in the Healdsburg branch of the family were trying to move an old log on their property. “In the melee that followed, one of the brothers was cut in the eye, but he is unable to account for the exact manner in which he was injured, whether he was cut with an axe, struck with a club or fell down and collided with some object.” Irregardless of whether the eye injury was caused by chopping, clubbing or stumbling, one of the brothers next picked up the shotgun which the Dinucci boys apparently carried around whenever they were out and about lifting logs. He fired the gun at one of the others, missed, and ran for the hills. The sheriff came up from Santa Rosa and looked around for the shooter but he was not found, so everyone left and presumed he would show up at home, eventually. What a different outcome from trigger-happy Deputy Barney blasting away at the Kenwood flasher.

There were serious crimes in 1912 not discussed here, the most sensational being 15 year-old Adam Clark poisoning his parents. (The Windsor boy, who reportedly was abused and mentally handicapped, said he planned the murders because his mother was always nagging and “giving him the dickens.”) That story made the Bay Area newspapers, as did the supposed “sale” of Mrs. Seek.

Mrs. Lottie Seek and her husband were driving home to Santa Clara when they were stopped by two men. She recognized one of them immediately – it was her ex-husband, Francis Pettis.*

Heated words followed. Lottie said they were divorced two years earlier. Pettis, a horse trader who lived in Petaluma, insisted they were still married. Claiming his companion was a cop, Pettis demanded she be arrested for bigamy. After rejecting her pleadings and a further threat to have her husband, Louis, arrested for adultery as well, Pettis agreed to drop the matter if they would give him ten dollars (about an average week’s pay at the time).

All was well for the next three weeks. Then one evening, Louis could not find his wife. Lottie turned up the next morning and said “Pettis had compelled her to go to his apartments,” the San Francisco Call reported. Soon after, Pettis is at their doorstep; this time he wants another fifty bucks. Louis Seek went to the police. “He had not purchased her on the installment plan,” The Call wryly remarked. An arrest warrant for Pettis was ordered on cause of extortion.

Once before a judge, however, matters looked murkier. She was not divorced from Pettis after all; while living in Santa Rosa she had paid a Petaluma lawyer $20 for divorce papers, but did not understand – or was not told – a divorce required court hearings. Now facing possible arrest for bigamy, Lottie said she would go back to Pettis.

On hearing that, Louis Seek demanded she be arrested for bigamy.

While Lottie sat in jail, Louis took inventory. “He treated her like a brute,” he told the Call. “I treated her all right. Look at that suit on her. I paid $40 for that. Look at those shoes and that hat. All of them expensive.”

After she spent a weekend behind bars, however, Louis had second thoughts and refused to press charges. They went home together – only to find a subpoena from Sonoma County waiting. It seemed Pettis (still sought for extortion, remember) wanted her as a witness in a suit against a guy named Moretti, whom he claimed was responsible for breaking up his otherwise swell marriage. Alas, the newspapers never reported how the three (four?) cases were resolved, which usually meant charges were dropped.

And finally, someone wrote to the county asking for details about an assault that happened about forty years earlier. In the early 1870s a man was acquitted for stabbing someone in a bar fight; the writer helpfully adds this was the same brawl where the city marshall was shot. Yikes! I take back my scoffing about Santa Rosa ever having the character of a real “wild west” town. It certainly makes the odd little crimes of 1912 look positively modern.

*  My best guess is Francis E. Pettis, born 1868 in Michigan, was her husband. The man was called both H. E. Pettis and F. E. Pettis by Bay Area newspapers, and although Francis was never identified elsewhere as a horse trader, he spent most of his life around San Jose, the scene of this story. Francis left a meager personal record; as an adult he appears in the census only twice – as a clerk in a poolroom in 1910 and an inmate of the Santa Clara County Almshouse in 1930, both of which seem like situations which could involve our guy.

Articles Removed From Automobiles and Other Vehicles Standing Outside Churches

Considerable petty thieving has been going on for some time from automobiles and other vehicles standing outside Santa Rosa churches on Sunday nights. Overcoats, rugs and other articles have been removed. So far the guilty parties have gone undetected but efforts are being made to apprehend them.

One clergyman has asked his parishioners, when they drive up to his church, to carry their coats and rugs into a room in the church for safety. Such thefts are mean and contemptible, to say the least.

– Press Democrat, December 29, 1912

Charged With Selling Wife for Ten Dollars

F. E. Pettis of Petaluma has been arrested at San Jose on the charge of extortion, a warrant having been issued for his incarceration after Judge T. R. Dougherty has listened to one of the most remarkable stories ever told in the local police court.

In effect the charge is that Pettis sold his wife, Lottie Pettis, to Louis Seek of Santa Clara for $10. The price was satisfactory to all concerned, but there was a row when Pettis, having put the money into circulation, demanded more and threatened a disturbance when his demand was refused.

Three weeks ago Seek and the woman were driving on the Monterey road. They met Pettis and a scene ensued, during which the $10 changed hands. Mrs. Pettis told Judge Dougherty that she had believed herself divorced from Pettis, having given $20 to a Petaluma attorney, whose name the police are witholding, for divorce papers. The attorney told her that the payment of his fee was all that was necessary to get a divorce, and she believed him. She came here and went though a proper marriage ceremony with Seek.

That was eight months ago. Three weeks ago, when they met on the public road, Pettis threatened Mrs. Pettis with arrest for bigamy and said he would charge Seek with a statutory offense. Seek considered it a good bargain when they told him they would sell their charges for $10, and paid over the money. He objected, however, when Pettis wanted further installments, and threatened to shoot Pettis. The latter then became so annoying that they came to the police.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 4, 1912
Italian Brothers Have Trouble Over Lifting Log

The brothers Denucci, who reside some miles west of Healdsburg in the Dry Creek section, got into an altercation on Sunday and Sheriff Jack Smith and some of his deputies were called to the scene from this city.

Trouble began over the simple matter of lifting an ancient log, which was on their place. In the melee that followed, one of the brothers was cut in the eye, but he is unable to account for the exact manner in which he was injured, whether he was cut with an axe, struck with a club or fell down and collided with some object.

Finally one of the brothers secured an old shotgun and discharged it at his kinsman, then he skipped out for the hills and has not been seen since.

Deputy Sheriff Ben Barnes went out to the scene of the trouble from Healdsburg immediately after being notified of the shooting, but he could find no trace of the man who wielded the shotgun. Later he notified Sheriff Jack Smith, and the latter took Deputy Sheriff Donald McIntosh and C. A. Reynolds in his auto and hastened to the scene. Barnes joined the party at Healdsburg and went with them to the place where the shooting occurred.

The officers remained in the vicinity until after dark, searching for the man who did the shooting, but were unable to locate him. It is believed he will return to his home Monday and be picked up by the officers.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 11, 1912

 County Official Receives a Peculiar Request

 A prominent county official received a letter on Monday, asking for information which has not been located in the records of the county. It is possible that some of the pioneers of this section may know of the occurrence mentioned, and be able to supply the information desired. The letter follows:

 “I would like to find out the time W. L. Rude was put in jail for stabbing Eph. Baldwin, and the date of his acquittal. This occurred some time in the early 70’s. E. Latipee was sheriff and Willis Mead was the city marshal at the time. This occurred in a fight in Adkins’ saloon. Jim March shot the city marshall, Willis Mead. Please let me know, if you can find out the dates, and oblige.

 “P. S.–George Tupper, who used to run the Occidental Hotel, can tell you about it. So can Clem Kessing or Trib Fulkerson of your city.”

– Santa Rosa Republican, May 28, 1912

 Sunday the members of the Sheriff’s office were busy, running down a man named Bauducka of Kenwood, who earlier in the day had offended women and children in that city by vulgar actions. He gave the officers a good chase before captured [sic]. Three shots were fired at him before he was arrested.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 9, 1912
How So-Called Honor Among Thieves is Shown

The old saying is that it is no crime to steal from a thief, but how far this will hold in law is a problem, says the Ukiah Press. Sheriff Byrnes of Mendocino county has uncovered a case that would stagger the old soothsayer. It is in connection with the recent robbery of Shimonisky’s clothing store at Willits, for which Jack Kelly was arrested in Santa Rosa last week.

It develops that the robbery was committed by two men, Smith and Wilson, who cached the plunder. Smith, who was a friend of Kelly’s, went to him and told of the robbery and then suggested that they changed the plan and beat Wilson out of his portion. This was done and the plunder moved. Kelly then got to thinking over the matter and decided that it would be no more than right to rob Smith, so he accordingly swiped the goods from his friend and got away with it.

 Wilson certainly deserves no sympathy for being robbed, as he was a thief. Smith should have been robbed for being a thief and also for putting up the job to rob his partner. As a retribution for Kelly’s part in the crime he was the first arrested and caught with the goods. Smith was arrested in Fairfield Monday and Wilson is located and will probably be captured soon.

 The men were all clever thieves, but they figured without a knowledge of Sheriff Byrnes being the cleverest crook catcher in the county.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 21, 1912

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