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Ordinarily, a book of this kind might be expected to find 
its way before the public without the formality of a pref- 
ace or introductory remarks, but as this book was not 
written with a view to its general publication, and is 
now submitted to the public for what value and inter- 
est it may have, at the urgent request of friends acquainted 
with the undertaking, I feel that I should place upon these 
friends the responsibility for any seeming assurance on 
my part in presenting the book. 

A life experience of sixty-five years in California, con- 
nected as it must be with the pioneer days of the state, 
could hardly be otherwise than fraught with incidents 
and events of interest and observations of historical value. 
Such a life was my fortune to experience. Upon reaching 
that period of life when man does not look so much upon 
the future as upon the past, I was prompted in one of my 
reminiscent moods to reduce to writing my recollections, 
experiences, and observations for the sixty and odd years, 
the most of which were passed in Central California, 
solely for the perusal and benefit of my four sons. The 
manuscript was completed three years ago. 

I felt that they would not only be interested in the activi- 
ties of my career and such matter of historical value that 
came under my observation during this long period of 
years, but also they might derive some profit by having 
laid before them the experiences and the mistakes, as 
well as any possible successes of my lifetime. 

This will explain the presence in the chapters that fol- 
low of certain details of purely personal matters and fam- 
ily affairs that it would be presumption on my part to 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

consider as possessing interest to any one outside the 
members of my own family, and possibly the circle of 
intimate friends. 

It will also explain the peculiar phraseology in some of 
the passages where the writer appears as addressing his 
sons, a form which might seem out of place in a book 
written solely for the public eye. 

These four boys have been a source of great pride to 
me, and their companionship has been one of the greatest 
pleasures of my life. This book was written for their ben- 
efit and gratification, and therefore to eliminate the fea- 
tures apologized for, would impair if not destroy the 
objects and purposes of my labor of love. 

In conclusion, I must confess no small degree of 
pleasure derived from the work of writing "My Recol- 
lections," but in submitting the book to the public I must 
admit some feelings of misgivings, mingled with the hope 
that its historical features may be regarded as overshad- 
owing its excessive personality, and give to the book value 
and interest to others than for whom it was originally 

Frank A. Leach. 

San Francisco, Cal., April 10, 1917. 



CHAFrER I pack 

My First Years in California 1 

Old-Time Election Methods 14 

Early Days in Sacramento 28 


Reminiscenses of Napa 43 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 66 


Close of School Work 87 


Squatter Troubles 102 

Beginning Newspaper Work 110 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 131 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 


Events in and About Vallejo 152 

Political and Other Incidents 182 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life . . .216 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 256 

In the Service of the Government 287 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 313 

Official Life in Washington 368 


Frank A. Leach Frontispiece 


J Street, Sacramento, New Year's Day, 1853 ... 16 

Election Tickets Used in the Early Seventies ... 32 

Sacramento Fire, November 2nd, 1852 .... 48 

The Little Brick Church in Napa 64 

A View Across the Lower End of Napa Valley ... 80 

View of Napa River Looking East from the End of Sec- 
ond Street 96 

One of the Pioneer Flour Mills of Napa Valley . . 96 

One of the First Houses Erected in Napa .... 96 

View of Georgia Street, Vallejo, in 1868 .... 160 

View Near the Business Center of Vallejo, 1870 . . 176 

The Morning of the First Day of the Great Fire of 1906 320 

U. S. Mint Building Immediately After the Fire . . 336 

U. S. Mint Buiding, Showing Fire-Scarred Walls . . 352 

Scene from the Roof of the U. S. Mint Showing Fire 

Ruins 352 

Sketch by the Author of an Adobe House Near Pleas- 

anton 368 


• •• 

* • - . • • 

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• • •• •• •• 



Observations and Incidents in Crossing the Isthmus of Nic- 
aragua in 1852 — Floods and Fires in Sacramento — 
Early Day Schools — Presidential Campaign of 1853 

My life seems to begin, so far as my memory serves, at 
the age of about five and a half years; at the time, in 
company with my mother, I left New York City in 1852 
on a steamer bound for California. The departure from 
our old home in Cayuga County, New York, or the trip 
to the City of New York left no impression of any kind 
on my mind or memory, but I have a very clear recol- 
lection of being on the deck of the steamer as she moved 
away from the wharf in New York harbor. The great 
crowd of people assembled on the docks to witness the 
departure of the steamer, cheering and waving handker- 
chiefs, bombarding the passengers with oranges, all made 
a scene which remains vivid in my memory to this day. 
I do not recall any incidents or even have any recollec- 
tion of what occurred during the trip to Nicaragua 
other than the illness of my mother from seasickness, 
and that prunes and mush and molasses were too promi- 
nent and frequent items on the steamer's bill of fare to 
suit the pampered taste of an "only child." However, 
the events occurring in crossing the Isthmus were to my 
youthful mind of a character to place me in a condition 
of excitement, wonderment, and interest such as I had 


never known before. There was so much going on that 
was so new to me that I did not want to spare the time 
to eat or sleep. A portion of the journey was on mule- 
back through the tropical forests, but that did not inter- 

— 1 — 



• •••••••• ••/• • • •. 

• • • . «•• • • • . • • 

• • •- • • . 

*.•. \\ /'•A ; " v " f&y'He&ipifo'of a Newspaperman 

est'.fne-. s\) : much as that part of the trip up the Chagres 
Rivet on a small stern-wheel steamer in which the 
passengers were so crowded that when it came night 
there was not sufficient room for all to lie down on the 
deck for rest or sleep. The women and children were 
given the first privilege of the deck floor and the bal- 
ance of the passengers had to sit or stand up until the 
landing was reached. It seems to me we were on that 
steamer a good part of a day and night. A portion of 
the river was quite narrow, and the branches of trees 
on the banks overhung the water. Either through unskil- 
ful handling of the little steamer, or wilfulness in head- 
way on the part of the steamer itself, the craft several 
times crashed into the overhanging branches, to the great 
fright of the passengers. When a railing gave way before 
a rush of passengers to our side of the craft to witness 
some unusual sight, a couple of passengers fell or were 
pushed overboard, but they were quickly rescued. 

During the daylight part of the trip and early evening 
it had been a "picnic" for the major part of the passen- 
gers, but when darkness overwhelmed all scenery and 
practically all space in the steamer (for little provision 
had been made for lighting the vessel, and people wanted 
to rest and sleep), then the misery of the situation began 
to develop. Lucky was the individual who found enough 
space in which to lie prone upon the deck. Those who 
were compelled to stand up were not very considerate of 
those down on the decks. The noises they made, startling 
false alarms of "man overboard!" and the occasional 
crashing of the steamer into limbs of overhanging trees, 
made sleep impossible even for a boy. 

I remember but little of the remaining part of the trip 
across the Isthmus other than that we crossed a lake in 
another small steamer and had to be carried out from 
the beach to small boats which took us to the steamer 
at anchor, some little distance from shore. 

— 2 — 

My First Years in California 

The steamer on the Pacific side of the Isthmus that was 
to have taken us to San Francisco was destroyed by fire 
on the way down to meet us. This misfortune compelled 
us to remain on the Isthmus for thirty days while another 
steamer could be secured to continue us on our journey. 
The accommodations for the compulsory residence in the 
tropics were not suitable for the passengers, nearly all 
of whom were from Northern climes. This, with indis- 
cretion in eating and drinking, caused serious illness to 
seize upon them, resulting fatally in many cases. When 
the steamer did arrive to take us away, another lot of 
passengers had come over the Isthmus, so it can be well 
imagined how crowded the vessel was when she started 
for San Francisco. For myself, I do not recollect any 
inconvenience on this part of the voyage other than the 
plebeian diet, which was too common and coarse for a 
finicky boy of my age, whose tastes had undoubtedly 
been unduly gratified in the past by a lot of loving aunts 
who had no children themselves. However, I recall the 
recital by my mother of the trials of the trip, which 
showed that it was anything but a pleasure excursion. 
The steamer was slow at the best, and with her overload 
she was more than two weeks in reaching San Francisco. 

There my father, who had preceded us by nearly two 
years, met us and immediately took us to Sacramento, 
where he was engaged in the business of making and bot- 
tling soda water, the pioneer plant of that city. We were 
soon established in a home of our own. Father had 
bought a lot on the south side of P Street, between Third 
and Fourth streets, and erected a small dwelling, doing 
a good part of the work himself. That winter the city 
was visited by a flood which put nearly every part of it 
under water, and where our house stood the flood was 
several feet deep. In fact, our house was floated off its 
foundation. The rain had fallen in torrents for so many 
days continuously that a flood seemed inevitable, so father 

— 3 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

wisely found quarters for us in the loft of a barn, where, 
with our furniture, and hanging of sail cloths around 
the walls to keep out the wind that otherwise would have 
come through the cracks, we lived quite comfortably. 
When the flood was the highest the water came within 
two feet of the loft floor. Father had a boat, and, boy- 
like, I certainly enjoyed the situation. The barn was our 
domicile for the entire winter, until the waters so receded 
that father could replace and fix up our house. 

Before the flood a terrible fire visited the city, destroy- 
ing many blocks of buildings in the business as well as 
the residence sections. It occurred during a black, windy 
December night. I shall never forget the sight. The fierce 
flames arising from blocks of burning buildings and red 
light reflected against the heavy clouds to me looked as 
if the world was on fire. On account of the direction of 
the wind our part of the city was safe from the fire, and 
the refugees, men, women, and children, came rushing 
down the streets, many passing our place, some partially 
clad, intermingled with all kinds of horse-drawn vehicles 
crowding the streets from curb to curb, loosely laden with 
household effects, all making a motley procession such 
as I have never seen before or since. The next morning 
there were to be seen along these highways all kinds 
of furniture and bits of clothing, etc., which had been 
lost from the vehicles or abandoned by the owners in their 
rush for safety. My father picked up a few pieces of 
furniture and placed them in our front yard for a time, 
but I do not remember they were ever reclaimed. One 
piece was a large arm rocking chair, which father 
repaired and which was in our household for many years. 
In fact, he gave it to me when I was married, and I spent 
many an evening in its comfortable seat, before dispos- 
ing of it. 

But to return to the subject of the flood. As I recollect, 
the water subsided finally so that father was enabled to 

— 4 — 

My First Years in California 

get our house upon its foundation again, but we were 
barely installed when the city was again overflowed. But 
the water did not come high enough to drive us out of 
the house this time. I am sure I enjoyed the situation 
immensely. I would not have had the water drained 
away if I could have prevented it. The flood water around 
our house afforded me more entertainment than I could 
possibly have got out of the freedom of dry land in its 
place. We had a boat, and as the water was shallow 
about the house I was allowed to get into it, with the 
understanding that I was not to loosen it from the moor- 
ings. At first it was fine sport, and the length of the 
play of the "painter" was a matter of indifference, but 
after a while I longed for a wider scope of movement 
of the boat so, concluding a little more length of rope 
would increase the length of my voyages, I let it out 
little by little, still keeping my compact not to cast it off, 
until finally and literally I came to the "end of my rope." 
I knew now how to paddle to make the boat go in any 
direction desired. I had not fallen overboard, as had 
been expected, so what harm could there be if that 
"painter" accidentally became untied? I wouldn't be 
scared if I drifted away beyond the limits of my past 
sailing privileges! Why, I would just row back and tie 
the old boat up according to contract, and no one would 
be the wiser! I will not take the space to preach the 
sermon that would be imperative at this point in a Sun- 
day-school book, but give the sequel, which was just what 
you would expect to find in fiction or in stories told where 
a moral is the predominating feature. 

Just prior to the recurrence of the flood, father had had 
the lot, which was about 100 by 150 feet in size, plowed up. 
When the boat slipped from its moorings I managed to 
influence its drifting to the farthermost corner of the 
lot, where the water was the deepest, and things most 
unknown to me were supposed to exist. Here in my 

— 5 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman v 

awkwardness I dropped one of the paddles overboard. 
The fear of losing the oar, and the loss becoming glaring 
evidence of violation of my privilege, gave me a moment 
of agonized excitement in which I grabbed for the pad- 
dle floating away from the boat and, losing my balance, 
overboard I went. Now the question in my mind was a 
graver one: Was death to be the punishment for my 
offense? Fortunately, when my feet touched the bottom 
I stood on top of one of the plowed furrows and was 
able to keep my mouth out of the water, though scarcely 
above the surface. Along the west side of the yard was a 
picket fence. This was the only place of refuge and 
safety, so I decided to reach the fence, if possible. At the 
very first step I made my foot landed in the bottom of 
the furrow, and down went my head under the water, 
I had enough presence of mind to know that if I ever 
expected to reach the fence I should have to do it by 
stepping from the ridge of one furrow to the other, as 
they were parallel to the fence. This I succeeded in doing 
fairly well. Occasionally the lumpy earth crumbled under 
my weight, and sometimes I would miss the ridge, so I 
was completely immersed several times before the fence 
was gained. Somehow in the mix-up I got hold of the 
"painter" of the boat and dragged it along with me. 
In due course of time I reached the house in as penitent 
mood as could be imagined, feeling, though, that I had 
received full measure of punishment for my escapade. 
I guess, from my looks and general appearance, my folks 
thought so, too, for I was simply put to bed, and in a 
few days I was fully recovered, but it was some time 
before I was privileged to do any more boating. 

One of the winters we passed in Sacramento was 
remarkable for a cold snap, the like of which I do not 
remember in any subsequent year of my long residence 
in California. It must have been the winter of 18&f or 
1855. There were several vacant lots in the vicinity of 

— 6 — 

My First Years in California 

Second and L streets depressed below the street level, 
which became ponds in the rainy season. These were 
frozen over with a thickness of ice to bear the weight 
of a man. My father had a pair of skates. When he 
obtained them I do not know, but as soon as he discovered 
the ice mentioned he was out skating, to the entertain- 
ment of quite a crowd, some of whom were so anxious 
to enjoy the sport that he was offered $5 and other sums 
for the privilege of putting on the skates. 
V China Slough or lake was also frozen over, but as this 
was quite a large body of water the ice was not so thick 
and was not safe for the skaters, although venturesome 
boys were on it along the shore line. China Slough is a 
thing of the past. For many years it existed, an eye- 
sore and a menace to the health of the city. The body 
of water extended from First Street to about Seventh 
in one direction and two or three blocks from I Street in 
the other direction. Chinatown was located on its south- 
ern boundary. Consequently, much filth was dumped 
into the slough, which had no drainage, and as may be 
well imagined it was but little better than a huge cess- 
pool. In recent years the Southern Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany filled it with earth and sand, obliterating the last 
vestige of the little lake. The weather bureau was not 
established until a number of years subsequent to the 
winter above mentioned, therefore there is no official 
record of the cold snap described, but I have many times 
in later years verified my recollections of the event in 
conversation with pioneer residents of Sacramento. Peri- 
odically the entire state is visited by unusually cold spells 
when the thermometer registers a few degrees below the 
freezing point, but I am sure the winter I mention gave 
us the coldest weather ever experienced since the set- 
tlement here of white people. We have had, perhaps, 
wihters as a whole made more severe by long durations 
of weather when the thermometer registered higher, but 

-7 — 


Recollections of a Newspaperman 

so close to the freezing point that much damage was 
caused, especially to raisers of stock. I have in mind 
the winter of 1861 as one instance. On that occasion the 
rainfall was excessive, with a period of several weeks of 
very cold weather. Cattle on the ranges were almost 
exterminated in some sections. At that time all the land 
east of the Town of Napa was a vast cattle range, carry- 
ing large herds, the majority of which succumbed to the 
cold. The carcasses fairly dotted the range. When the 
owners found they could do nothing to save the stock 
they employed gangs of men to go on the range and 
strip the hides from the animals as fast as they died, and 
in this way they made some salvage from the disaster. 

My mother was anxious that I should have a good edu- 
cation, and, with the mistaken idea that we should begin 
at the earliest possible moment, bundled me off to a pri- 
vate school while I was yet six years old. At this time 
* there were no public schools in Sacramento, as no public 
school system had been legalized by the state. At first I 
was much interested in going to school, but soon the con- 
finement from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m., with the usual intermis- 
sions, and being forced into studies which were beyond 
my power of comprehension, completely destroyed all 
ambition I might have had to acquire learning, and for 
several years thereafter I attended school much in the 
same frame of mind as a person submits to imprisonment. 
For some years any knowledge I acquired must have been 
by absorption, and not on account of any effort on my 
part. On the contrary, according to my recollections, my 
best efforts were exerted in ways of avoiding school and 
the attempt of the well meaning teachers to crowd into 
my immature brain principles of grammar and arith- 
metic far beyond my sense of understanding. I did not 
make a practice of running away from school or "playing 
hookey." I can recall only one occasion when I indulged 
in truancy. I knew I was doing wrong, but all thoughts 

— 8 — 

My First Years in California 

in that direction were overbalanced by the contempla- 
tion of the enjoyment of freedom for an afternoon with a 
lot of my boy chums who planned the escapade. This 
included a visit to a watermelon patch where young- 
sters were welcomed by the owner, and an hour or two 
in the swimming hole, which was but little better than a 
mud puddle. On the way we heard the strains of band 
music. After running around a block or so we finally 
located the band in a building where the members had 
assembled for practice. There was a glass door or win- 
dow some little distance above the ground, and a con- 
venient box enabled the boys to climb up and peek in 
the room and see as well as hear. The window accom- 
modated only a couple of the youthful spectators at a 
time and the fortunate ones remained at the point of 
vantage only as long as the other boys would allow. 
When it came my turn to look into the window they 
did not have to pull me away or did I delay my suc- 
cessor, for, horrors upon horrors ! the first and only thing 
I saw was my father gazing directly toward me. I col- 
lapsed, dropped to the ground, and rushed away to hide 
myself. My remorse was deep and sincere. How could I 
face my parents again, for I was certain that my father 
had discovered my absence from school without his per- 
mission. I resolved never again to play truant if I should 
live through the ordeal of the severe punishment I rec- 
ognized the enormity of the offense justified. I would 
have given anything I possessed, and mortgaged my 
future, if I could only have got back into the school room, 
but all I could do was to wait for the time to go home 
just as if I had been at school. However, when I did 
get home, greatly to my surprise, nothing was said to me 
about the affair. I never knew whether my father failed 
to recognize me or that he was averse to bringing up the 
subject for fear that he would have to admit an act dis- 
pleasing to mother, for she did not approve of his mem- 

— 9 — 


Recollections of a Newspaperman 

bership in the band, especially when it took him away 
from his business. Anyway, to the best of my recollec- 
tion, neither he nor I played hookey again. 

The first public school in Sacramento was opened in 
a rented store building on the southwest corner of K and 
L streets, and was presided over by a man named Jack- 
son, who possessed many of the characteristics attrib- 
uted to the Jackson of presidential fame, especially in 
temper, impulsive action, and unkempt appearance. 
I attended the school the day it first opened and was one 
of the very first pupils to excite the wrath of the irri- 
table teacher and receive punishment. The heavy blows 
on the palm of the hand laid on with a long, flat ruler 
did not wound my flesh so deeply or was the hurt so 
lasting as was the humiliation of receiving this punish- 
ment upon a platform before the entire school. Moreover, 
as this treatment was unwarranted by any act of mine, 
so far as I knew, I never outgrew my feelings of repug- 
nance for Jackson as a teacher. 

Prior to the establishment of the public school, which 
was in 1854, the only places of instruction for children 
were conducted as private schools are in modern days. 
There was one more pretentious than the others taught 
by a man named Wells, in a frame building erected for 
the purpose on the east side of Fourth Street between 
K and L streets. Somewhere between fifty and a hundred 
pupils were in attendance. The tuition was something 
like $5 per month. Mr. Wells was generally loved and 
respected by his pupils. In this school I am sure I made 
some headway, for it is the only early school I attended 
where I retained any recollection of my books, studies, 
and school work for any length of time thereafter. My seat 
was back near the front door. It was near the noon hour 
one exceedingly warm day in July, 1854, when, hearing 
a commotion on the street, I looked out through the open 
school door and saw a large column of dense black 

— 10 — 

My First Years in California 

smoke ascending straight up from the rear part of the 
building on the northeast corner of K and Fourth streets, 
a half block away. That was the beginning of the second 
largest fire that Sacramento ever experienced. The greater 
portion of the business part of the city was destroyed. 
. The fire protection then consisted of four or possibly 
five hand-brake fire engines and two hook and ladder 
companies, depending on cisterns in the street squares 
or intersections when away from the river for water sup- 
ply. This fire apparatus was manned by well organized 
companies of volunteers, whose only compensation was 
exemption from jury duty and poll tax. The membership 
of the companies was made up largely from the ranks of 
business men and their employees, and each company 
was equipped with torches mounted on handles three or 
four feet long which were used when the companies were 
called out at night, and were carried on these occasions 
by boys who were considered as members of the depart- 
ment. I was very ambitious to be a torch boy and was 
promised the position whenever I became old enough, 
but we moved away from the city before that time 
arrived. It was just as well, for I do not believe my 
mother could have been induced to consent to the plan. 

The first political activity attracting my attention was 
the Presidential campaign of 1853. The torchlight parades 
and illumination at night were the sources of excitement 
for the boys of that day, who were freely permitted to join 
the ranks of the paraders and carry torches like the men. 
The torches consisted of balls of wicking that had been 
soaked in camphene, a very inflammable burning fluid, 
impaled on the point of a stick about as long as a broom 
handle. Many of the boys were indifferent as to the party 
with which they paraded so long as they secured a torch, 
but, young as I was, my sympathy and enthusiasm were 
bestowed on the Fillmore party only. Why, I can not 
tell, nor do I think I was influenced by my father's atti- 

— 11 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

hide in politics, for I do not remember how he stood. 
Father never took much interest in politics except that 
he always voted and was consistent in his principles. 
From the time of the Civil War until his death he voted 
with the Republicans. 

Only once did my father ever aspire to hold a public 
office. In some way quite unknown to me he was influ- 
enced to seek the position of County Assessor for Napa 
County. He was defeated in the primaries for the nomi- 
nation. This incident happened in 1868 or thereabouts, 
after I had left home to establish myself in business, so I 
was unable to help him, but aside from the feeling that 
no one likes to be or to have those near to him defeated 
in any kind of a race, I was rather pleased that his career 
was not directed away from the business he had chosen 
for his livelihood. I knew he was a very superior 
mechanic, with an inventive turn of mind. I felt there was 
a wider and better field for him in mechanics than he could 
ever expect in politics. It was about this time, or it may 
have been a year or so earlier, that he invented a new style 
of wagon and carriage hub, the one that is universally 
used at this time on nearly all wheeled vehicles through- 
out the world where modern wagons, etc., are employed, 
known as the Sarven patent. After conceiving the idea of 
the new hub father constructed a set of wheels in accord- 
ance therewith to demonstrate the advantage of such 
wheel construction. The wheels gave practical proof of 
all he claimed for the invention. He delayed or rather 
procrastinated in his application for the patent so long 
that when he did apply he was just too late — a patent had 
been issued to other parties. 

To return to the subject of early day politics. As I 
remember the Presidential campaigns of my early youth, 
the pre-election day work was conducted much the same 
as in modern times. Only then the displays were some- 
what cruder. The first attempt at anything of uniforms 

— 12 — 

My First Years in California 

in political parades that I recall was at the time of Lin- 
coln's first election when Republican organizations, called 
"Wide-Awakes," wearing glazed capes and caps, were 
a feature of the torchlight parades. The visit of some 
renowned speaker would be the occasion of a grand 
rally. Partisans would gather from near and far, and a 
parade generally preceded the speaking, with illumina- 
tion of the buildings along the line of march, the occu- 
pants of which were in sympathy with the paraders. 
In view of the great advance made in the use of elec- 
tricity for illuminating purposes, the illumination dem- 
onstrations of those early days would be very tame affairs 
in this day. At the time to which I refer there were no 
gas works in any California city or town. People had 
to be satisfied with oil, a burning fluid called camphene, 
or candles. The latter were more generally used in mak- 
ing the illuminations of the houses along the line of march 
of the parades. The candles were cut in short lengths, 
which were fastened on strips of board the width of the 
window to be illuminated. These strips of board with 
the candles lighted were fastened into the window casings, 
spaced from six to eight inches apart. This arrangement 
would give from twenty-five to fifty or more pieces of 
candles burning in a window. When nearly all the win- 
dows on both sides of a street were thus lit up it was 
considered in those days something of a display. As may 
be imagined, candles thus arranged were not infrequently 
the cause of houses getting on fire. 

The relation of these features of old-time political cam- 
paigns leads me to what might be considered a digression 
in my story. This may be true, but I know no better 
place to introduce some history of California political 
methods and incidents of campaign work of years gone 
by that are not only matters of interest, but enable one 
to appreciate the progress we have made in improving 
the purity of the ballot and practices at elections. 

— 18 — 



Some Heretofore Unpublished Facts About the Notorious 
Tapeworm Election Ticket — Incidents That Led to 
the Uniform Ballot in California 

When the citizen who has been a voter for nearly fifty 
years in California looks back to the time he cast his first 
vote and makes notes of the alterations that have taken 
place in the method of conducting elections, he finds radi- 
cal changes have been effected, not only in the individual 
conduct of the voters at the polling places and the man- 
ner of receiving and registering votes, but in the balloting. 

It is hard to realize in these days of well ordered, qui- 
etly conducted elections, even of the greatest importance, 
that, in old times, election days were almost universally 
days of excitement, not infrequently of rioting, and were 
always conducted amid much activity, blustering, and evi- 
dence of excessive indulgence in free liquor. 

One of the first steps, if not the very first, toward a 
more orderly condition was the passage of the law by 
our State Legislature closing saloons on election days. 
While the immediate effect was not total abstinence from 
intoxication on election days, for at first the more bold 
saloon men would leave their back entrances open to 
relieve the "thirst of excitement," the improvement was 
so marked that public opinion subsequently gave its 
strong support to the law and insisted upon its enforce- 
ment to the very letter. While liquor played its part in 
making elections disorderly and dreaded by all peace- 
loving citizens, there were other causes more potential; 
chief among these were the method of voting, the prep- 

— /* — 

Old-Time Election Methods 

aration of the tickets to be voted, and the employment of 
"workers" or men to supply voters with tickets of the 
different parties. These "workers** made their reputa- 
tions as efficient politicians by attracting the attention 
of the "higher-up** in the political game by their activity 
in working off tickets on voters, and the number of men 
they would bring up to the polls to vote the tickets they 
peddled. Some worked for glory; some worked for so 
much per day in dollars and cents; others worked with 
the expectation of future recognition in nominating con- 
ventions, or placement in political positions for services 
rendered, and it may be said here that the latter con- 
sideration was one of the most demoralizing features of 
the election system of those days. Each side furnished 
its own election tickets or ballots, and these were pre- 
pared by the party managers and such independent candi- 
dates as might be in the field. As a rule, a great deal of 
ingenuity was manifested in getting up the tickets, so as 
to make them attractive and to give party or distinctive 
character to them. They were printed on paper of vari- 
ous textures, color, and sizes, as the party managers 
thought the conditions demanded. Great care was given 
to the printed headings and the selection of mottoes and 

The tickets were, as a rule, prepared with the greatest 
secrecy possible, and kept under lock and key until the 
last possible moment before use. This was considered 
necessary to prevent opposing parties counterfeiting a 
ticket and imposing bogus ones on the unsuspecting 
voter, who scarcely looked further than the heading of 
his ticket to be sure he was voting for the Republican 
or Democratic party, as might be his preference. There 
were times and occasions when this matter assumed very 
great importance, and committees were delegated to 
remain with the printers to receive the tickets as fast as 
printed, and in other ways prevent any knowledge of 

vr — 15— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

their form and character from getting into the hands of 
the enemy. But with all this care, sometimes the style and 
character of tickets became known to opponents, through 
ways that would not always bear investigation. Not infre- 
quently the printing of ballots would not be trusted to 
the printers of the town or city where they were to be 
used, and the printing offices of other or neighboring 
places would be resorted to. So with the care and vigi- 
lance exercised to conceal all knowledge of the character 
of the ballot to be used, there were times when it was 
impossible to obtain the desired advance information. 

In those years party lines were tightly drawn. The loss 
of social standing and more frequently the loss of posi- 
tions of employment, especially if the employment was 
under the government, state, or city, was the penalty of 
a person voting an opposition ticket, or even voting for 
a candidate other than the one of his own party ticket. 
Hence it may be understood what part the peculiar form 
of a ballot played in keeping tab on voters when they 
stepped up to the ballot box to cast their votes. Each 
side did everything to encourage desertions from the 
other and to protect those voters from detection who 
wished to come secretly with their whole vote or part. 
For this reason, when the form of ticket of the opposing 
side could not be obtained in full, advance information 
of simply the color of the paper on which the ticket was 
printed would be taken advantage of when possible, and 
tickets of the one party would be printed on the same 
colored paper as would be used for the regular ticket by 
the other party. 

In Vallejo a number of years ago, before the days of 
the uniform ballot or much law governing primary elec- 
tions, the managers of the dominant party there had 
planned to nominate a set of candidates not altogether 
according to wishes of the rank and file. The popular 
candidate for Sheriff had been rejected by what we now 

— 16 — 

Old-Time Election Methods . 

call the "bosses." This action called for an opposition 
ticket favorable to the popular candidate by the faction 
calling themselves the Independents. The "regulars" 
knew the only way they could succeed was by preventing 
the insurgents from obtaining advance knowledge of their 
tickets, and thus interfere with the placing of "bogus" 
tickets in the hands of voters who were dependent on 
the party managers for their daily employment, and there 
was a large number of such voters. 

The Independents were extremely active in their efforts 
to obtain this information so important to their success. 
Their scouts and agents were most active, but they waited 
in vain up to midnight before the day of election for the 
greatly desired copy of the "regular" ticket. Upon hasty 
consultation it was decided an agent should proceed to 
San Francisco and obtain a supply of all the different 
colored paper possible to be used. This necessitated a 
perilous rowboat trip across Carquinez Straits and the 
chartering of a locomotive for the run to Oakland, but 
the agent was at the doors of the San Francisco paper store 
when they opened in the morning, and within two or 
three hours afterward the desired stock of colored papers 
was in my office, a printing office friendly to the Inde- 
pendents. Presses were made ready with the forms of 
the Independent tickets. Runners, fleet of foot, were sta- 
tioned at the polls to secure a copy of the first "regular" 
ticket that should show itself. The managers of the "regu- 
lars" were so confident of having headed off the opposi- 
tion in the matter of style of tickets that the ballots 
were freely given out, but within twenty minutes, to their 
great surprise, the "regulars" found the opposition had 
matched the color of their ballots and these tickets were 
being used to the disadvantage of the "regulars." They 
immediately changed the color of their tickets, but again, 
within a few moments, the insurgents had matched the 
new issue. Again and again the change of color was made, 

— 17 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

only to be met by the opposition. The "regulars," driven 
to desperation by these tactics, finally refused to give 
tickets to a voter except at the ballot box, where he would 
have no chance to exchange it for the ticket of the other 
side without detection. By these methods the "regulars" 
won the election by a narrow margin. 

To return to the discussion of the causes of riotous char- 
acter of the old-time election day. The ballots were sel- 
dom distributed or put into the hands of the workers 
v/until the first thing on the morning of election. Then the 
fight was on. The voting places were the centers of activi- 
ties and consequent excitement. The challengers were all 
important personages at the polls, and they contributed, 
as a rule, a goodly percentage of the causes of excitement. 
It was their duty to stand close by the box in which the 
ballots were deposited and closely scrutinize all the voters 
of the opposing side, to prevent so far as possible the 
casting of illegal, and frequently legal, votes by the enemy. 
Strong, courageous, or daring men were selected for this 
work, and they could, and frequently did, make things 
lively. If a man presented himself to vote, and the chal- 
lenger thought he was not entitled to vote or that he could 
prevent his casting a vote through some technicality, he 
would interpose an objection to the election officers, who 
would then question the would-be voter and allow or dis- 
allow the challenge. It can readily be understood how 
some unscrupulous men as challengers, and others as 
judges of election, could breed election day disturbances. 

At every hotly contested election the offer of a chal- 
lenge was the signal for a rush of bystanders as well as 
the police or peace officers to the polling place, who 
crowded up with craned necks to hear the details of the 
challenge and the decision of the judges. As may be imag- 
ined, these excited gatherings frequently broke up in fight- 
ing, resulting in broken heads and scarred faces, if nothing 
more serious. 

— 18 — 

Old-Time Election Methods 

For many years the law did not regulate the style or 
character of ballot boxes used at election, and charges 
of fraud, through tricky ballot boxes, were often made. 
Such boxes were described as having false bottoms, under 
which a supply of tickets was placed before the voting 
commenced, by the side having control of the Election 
Board, which would be mixed with the legitimate ballots 
during the day or before the counting was begun. 

In Vallejo in early times a cracker box did duty as a 
ballot box for many years until some one, more observant 
than usual, detected the judge of election poking ballots 
through a convenient knot-hole on the back side, or that 
side of the box hidden from the vision of the voters. 
There is no one to tell now what influence that innocent 
little knot-hole played in the political organization or 
control of affairs of that section. The owner of that box 
was a public official during all the years it was used, but 
he was a popular man, and it is doubtful if he needed 
the aid of the knot-hole to continue his term of office. 

For fifteen years or more after the state was admitted 
into the Union, there were no registration laws, and the 
loose laws adopted first for the purpose of registering 
voters were but little improvement; in fact, it is a ques- 
tion whether or not some kinds of illegal voting were not 
made easier and safer. It was a comparatively easy mat- 
ter to stuff the register with dummy names, and then, 
as one register was made to do for several years, it would 
soon become loaded with the names of people who had 
moved away or had died. It would be such names that 
would be used by corrupt voters. 

But around the use of the distinctive ballot, which car- 
ried only the candidate names of one party, we find more 
history of election scandals than anywhere else. The 
abolition of the distinctive ballot was the greatest step 
in election reform. The evils of its use were many. The 
combination of this form of ballot with the government 

— 19 — 


Recollections of a Newspaperman 

employment condition existing before the adoption of 
civil service laws was an evil of most serious import. 
The use of this kind of ballot enabled employers — fed- 
eral, state, city, and big corporation officials — to know 
how the men dependent upon them for employment voted. 
That this advantage was commonly made use of with- 
out distinction to party is undeniable. The distinctive bal- 
lot made the delivery of purchasable votes comparatively 
easy, with the least element of danger, both to the buyer 
and seller. The buyer could tell when the seller depos- 
ited his vote whether the goods had been delivered or 
not. Watchers at the polls could form close estimate of 
how elections were going and, no doubt, incentive to do 
wrong was increased or aroused by the advance infor- 
mation thus obtained. 

The distinctive ballot evil culminated in 1871 by the use 
in the general state and judicial elections of that year at 
Vallejo of the notorious "tapeworm" ticket, and at Sacra- 
mento at the same election of even a worse or more 
objectionable form of ballot. The Republican party man- 
agers in control of navy yard politics were responsible for 
the first named, and Democrats controlling workmen 
engaged on state work at the capital for the other. The 
"tapeworm" ticket, however, attracted the greatest amount 
of attention, perhaps for the reason that it was used on 
a larger scale among a greater number of voters, and was 
a more radical innovation as to form and material on 
which it was printed than the ticket used at Sacramento. 

The scandal raised was widespread. The subject was 
even discussed in the halls of Congress, and for years 
following the stigma of responsibility was applied to 
nearly every person prominently connected with the 
Republican side of politics in Solano County when oppo- 
nents wished to use a crushing argument. In the absence 
of the true history of the origin of the ticket (and the 
facts were never before published), many innocent of any 

— 20 — 

Old-Time Election Methods 

connection whatever with the origin or even use of the 
ticket suffered abuse. 

While the law at that time did not prescribe any form 
or size of ballot, generally tickets were printed on paper 
from five to seven inches in length and from two to three 
inches in width; occasionally either smaller or larger sizes 
of paper were used. The type used was as a rule good 
sized and plain, so as to be easily read, and admitted the 
use of "pasters." These were names of opposing candi- 
dates printed on narrow strips of gummed paper which 
could be easily pasted over the name on the "regular" 
ticket The "tapeworm" ticket was five and one-eighth 
inches long by a half inch wide, and was printed on thin 
cardboard. The type used was the smallest known in 
printing work (brilliant), and was seldom required; in 
fact, but few printers had this kind of type in their offices. 
The lettering on the tickets was printed so small and close 
together that it was impossible for any one to. "scratch" 
a candidate's name and substitute another^ either by 
paster, or pen and ink work. It either had to be voted 
in its entirety or not at all. The success of the party man- 
agers in thus heading off "scratching" of the ticket 
incensed a large number of voters, who indignantly 
refused to use this regular ticket at the polls. Some who 
opposed an individual on the ticket satisfied themselves 
with simply erasing the name. 

At this election there was an organized effort among 
some Republicans to defeat their candidate for Congress, 
and in a few hours after the ticket made its appearance 
the "bolters" succeeded in finding a printing office sup- 
plied with brilliant type and having printed on thin 
gummed paper, in fac-simile as to size and form of the 
"tapeworm" ticket, the names of all the Republican can- 
didates, except the one for Congress, to be used in cov- 
ering the entire face of the objectionable ticket. Owing to 
the difficulty in obtaining the regular ballots in quantity, 

— 21 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

or in any considerable number, very few tickets with the 
entire face pasted over were found in the ballot boxes 
when the counting of the votes was over. 

A peculiar political condition existed in Vallejo at that 
time. The place had but recently come into prominence 
as a prosperous town with a most promising future. It was 
even the boast of some of its advocates that it would 
become a rival to San Francisco. It had been made the 
terminus of the California Pacific Railroad, the first steam 
railroad from the interior to reach tidewater around the 
bay. The shops and general oilices of the company were 
located there. Grain dealers from Chicago were erecting 
a grain elevator on the waterfront. The largest flouring 
mill on the Pacific Coast was being constructed; ships 
were departing almost daily with cargoes of wheat for 
Europe; the navy yard was crowded with workmen as it 
never had been before; in the three years from 1868 to 
1871 the population had more than trebled. A great 
majority of the new population were of the Republican 
faith in politics, so the political complexion of the com- 
munity changed from a slight Republican to an over- 
whelming Republican majority. One of the results of 
this change was that the newcomers captured the Repub- 
lican organization. There were many politicians in their 
ranks, especially those employed in the navy yard, hav- 
ing secured positions there because of their previous polit- 
ical influence or usefulness in political matters. The new 
men made themselves prominent in all Republican gath- 
erings and assumed authority and position, all of which 
was irritating to the old-timers, and was naturally resented 
to some degree. Then again, some of the new men came 
as appointees to positions in the navy yard, which the 
old-timers thought belonged to them. Thus factional con- 
ditions arose. The newcomers were dubbed "Carpetbag- 
gers'* and the old-timers were referred to as "Silurians.** 

The conditions became more acute when the former 

— 22 — 

Old-Time Election Methods 

captured the county convention and nominated the entire 
county ticket, the majority of the nominees being from 
their ranks, the most of whom had been in the county 
but a few months. As a matter of course, they named and 
took control of the county committee. It was this com- 
mittee which was responsible for the "tapeworm" ticket. 
The individual responsibility was never made public, and 
probably never will be. After the notoriety created by 
the use of the ballot every one accused denied connection 
with it. Although I do not possess positive information, it 
is my judgment that the party who planned the ticket was 
never accused. 

This person was a deputy in one of the county offices 
and did not live in Vallejo. A few years ago the writer, 
in conversation with this ex-official, remarked that he, 
the official, ought to give the true history of the "tape- 
worm" ticket to the public, as he was the only one who 
possessed all the facts. He replied, saying that, while it 
might be true, he could not talk while some of the prin- 
cipals connected with the issue and use of the ticket 
were alive. Not very long after this time he, himself, 
passed away. 

It is known that the tickets were printed in the printing 
department of a large publishing house in San Francisco, 
which retired from business some years ago; and after 
printing they were given into the custody of the official 
above referred to, who delivered them into the possession 
of one of the principal county candidates the night before 
the election. From the latter*s possession they were dis- 
tributed to the foremen of the navy yard and some other 
political workers, who in turn placed them in the hands 
of the voters under their control. 

While voters were accustomed to many curious forms 
of printing in tickets, the appearance of the "tapeworm" 
ticket created a storm of indignation, especially mani- 
fested among the old-timers, as it was interpreted to be 

— 23 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

a device to drive that faction into support of the "Car- 
petbag" nominees. 

Early in the day, or very soon after the existence of the 
ticket was known, on the morning of election day, a gath- 
ering of old-timers quickly assembled, by common 
impulse, in the law offices of Honorable S. G. Hilborn, 
subsequently Congressman from the third district, just 
as they had gathered there frequently before to give 
expression to their feelings of indignation and opposition 
to other acts of the "Carpetbaggers." 

The question now was, what they should do or even 
could do to show their resentment and demonstrate their 
independence of this crowning act of the presumptuous 
and domineering newcomers. 

As might be expected, there was much heated talk 
before anything practical demanded by the situation was 
considered or suggested. To a man, those present swore 
they would not vote the "tapeworm" ticket, even if such 
resolution cost them their right to vote. This unanimity 
of feeling suggested to me, one of the rebellious Repub- 
licans present, the idea of having a ticket printed at once 
for use of every one to whom the "tapeworm" ticket was 
repugnant or objectionable, and I promised, at my own 
expense, to have printed and distributed on the streets 
in thirty minutes a ticket containing all the names of the 
regular Republican nominees in a form which no one 
need be ashamed to put in the ballot box. The offer was 
accepted with enthusiasm, as it afforded a method of 
expressing independence of the "organization" and resent- 
ment against the attempt to compel all Republicans to 
vote a straight ticket, whether disposed to or not. 

It happened that at the office of the Vallejo Chronicle 
there was an efficient printing plant. The compositors on 
the newspaper were called to the job department and 


the copy for the tickets was divided up into small "takes" 
with instructions to set the type in plain letter, pica, as 

— 2* — 

Old-Time Election Methods 

it was then known, with the title of the office in small 
capitals and the name of the candidate in capitals, run in 
the same line. This style was selected as being the quickest 
way the type could be set up. 

For better illustration, the first two names on the ticket 
are here produced in the style and kind of type used : 

For Governor, NEWTON BOOTH. 

For Lieutenant Governor, ROMUALDO PACHECO. 

Two forms of the ticket were put in type in about ten 
minutes. In the meantime, or while the type was being 
set up, two presses were being made ready for the work. 
There happened to be on hand a large quantity of white 
book paper cut in strips of four inches in width, which 
only required to be cut into 12-inch lengths to be ready for 
the pressmen on which to print the new form of ticket. 

These details now have probably more interest because 
of the fact that this hastily gotten up ticket was really 
the beginning or birth of the subsequently popular uni- 
form ballot in California, as will be seen later. 

To the satisfaction of the old-timers, the tickets were 
being distributed on the streets in less than the half hour 
promised, and the cause of serious friction was in a great 
measure overcome. Notwithstanding the ability now of 
the independent voter to scratch and paste to his heart's 
content, there was not enough of this kind of work done 
to affect the result. In truth, the majority of the insur- 
gents voted the straight ticket. The entire ticket was 
elected, and the "tapeworm" ticket passed into history, its 
like never to be seen again, with the possible exception 
of the ticket used at the judicial election held several 
weeks later, though the tickets for both the general and 
judicial elections were printed at the same time. With 
the idea of removing the selection of judicial officers from 
those baneful influences ordinarily dominating elections, 
the times for the election of the general officers and judges 
were separated. 25 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

The Democratic newspapers gave the matter much space 
in denunciation of the new political monstrosity. Some 
editors went so far as to demand that the vote of the 
Vallejo district should be thrown out. Strange to say, 
the Democratic ticket used in Sacramento at the same 
election attracted but little attention, and even that criti- 
cism might have been less had not a Democratic leader 
and contractor attempted to get at the ballots after the 
election to check up the numbers placed on the tickets he 
had given out to his men. 

This election ticket was printed in as small and compact 
form as possible. The names of candidates were twisted 
and intertwined, one lapping over another and intermin- 
gled like a bunch of angleworms, so that there could be 
no "pasting" of names or voting anything but a straight 
ticket, and so marked on the back as not to be counter- 
feited, but the worst feature was that each ticket was 
numbered and the record of the number set down 
against the name of each workman to whom the tickets 
were given. 

The discussion that followed the introduction and use 
of the "tapeworm" ticket throughout the land from the 
Pacific to the Atlantic aroused the people to a sense of 
necessity for a passage of some law governing the size 
and form of election tickets. Therefore, at the session 
of the Legislature which followed the election of 1871, 
a state uniform ballot law was passed and approved by 
the Governor. In this law the Legislature, in selecting 
a form of ticket to be used thereafter, adopted the form 
and style of ticket so hastily improvised by the indepen- 
dent or insurgent element of the Republican party in Val- 
lejo, in showing their resentment to the "tapeworm'* 
ticket The new law followed not only the arrangement 
of title of office and candidate's names, but the kind and 
size of type, size and kind of paper, used at the Vallejo 
election; also required that all the paper should be pur- 

— 26 — 

Old-Time Election Methods 

chased of the Secretary of State, and thus uniformity in 
tint and texture was secured. 

So the "Carpetbaggers" builded better than they knew. 
They laid the foundation for the uniform ballot law, one 
of California's most progressive steps in election reform. 

The use of election tickets devised for the purpose of 
compelling voters to vote according to the wishes of party 
managers, depriving them of the privilege to express any 
individual preference for candidates other than regular 
nominees, became more and more objectionable, as time 
brought around some measure of release from the strict 
adherence to party rule existing during, and for some 
years following, the Civil War. So the time was ripe for 
a movement in reform, and when some thoughtful legis- 
lator, prompted by the Vallejo and Sacramento incidents, 
suggested the uniform ballot, it was immediately adopted. 

The law continued in force until the people were ready 
for another forward step, and the uniform ballot gave way 
to the adoption of the so-called Australian ballot, which 
gave to the voters greater independence and privacy. 
These improvements in political conditions extended 
beyond advantages and privileges bestowed upon the 
voter; for in times when party managers could control 
the action of voters by the use of special ballots there 
was less reason to listen to popular voice in selection of 
candidates, and there was at least a tendency to place 
men on the tickets and elect them to offices, their quali- 
fication for which was the least consideration. 

Forty years or more have elapsed since the beginning 
of the reform in the methods of holding elections in 
this state; nearly two generations of voters have been 
born and come upon the field of active politics; and, meas- 
ured by the span of human life, these measures of reform 
have been slow of growth, and to the younger voters 
the progress probably has been hardly perceptible, but, 
measured by the life of the nation, the growth is marked 
and most gratifying. 27 



Money in Plenty for Boys as Well as Adults — Boyhood 
Adventures — The "Old Swimming Hole" Nearly 
Scores a Victim — An Epidemic of Gunpowder Explo- 
sions Explained 

To return to the experiences of my childhood in Sacra- 
mento. In the '50s it was easy for boys to make spending 
money. As peaches were selling at from 25 cents to 
50 cents apiece, and a dollar for extra large, choice fruit, 
the pits had considerable value. I do not remember how 
much per hundred pits the fruit men gave, for most of 
the youngsters like myself preferred to trade in to the 
fruit men a dozen pits as we accumulated them for a 
peach or two. Peach pits therefore were a medium of 
exchange with the boys of that period until the orchards 
became more extensive and the market for pits was 
glutted for all time to come. It was a common thing for 
the boys after school to drift around the business section 
of the city, where the fruit stands were located, and trail 
a purchase of peaches to recover any peach pits that 
might have been thrown away. 

There were no "rags, bottles, and sacks" men in those 
days, so the boys had the business all to themselves. 
Empty wine and champagne bottles sold to the liquor 
men for $1.50 per dozen. As money was plentiful and 
everybody received large profits on whatever he sold, 
and received big pay in compensation for all services 
rendered, many wine and champagne bottles were emp- 
tied to the gain of the youngsters ever alert to gather 
them up. A good burlap or potato sack had a ready ftiar- 

— 28 — 

Early Days in Sacramento 

ket value of a "bit" apiece, which might be 10 cents or 
15 cents, according to the convenience in making change. 
Everything of value of less than a dollar was priced in 
bits," that is, "one bit," "two bits," "four bits," etc., the 
bit" being one-eighth of a dollar or 12y 2 cents. As there 
was no coin to represent one bit, 10 cents would be 
accepted in payment for a one bit purchase; or, if a 
purchaser proffered a 25-cent piece, he only received a 
10-cent piece in exchange. Five-cent pieces were not used. 
I remember offering a fruit vendor a silver 5-cent piece 
for a banana. The fellow took the coin and threw it into 
the street as far as he could send it. At drug stores the 
minimum price of any article was 25 cents. As late as in 
1879, to avoid the recognition or use of nickels, it was 
seriously proposed by some prominent newspaper of the 
state to introduce the French franc or 20-cent piece. 

Old cast-iron was salable at a foundry on Front Street 
at 5 cents per pound. Consequently, the boys gathered up 
such metal as fast as it was discarded as useless. I was 
once given an old, worn-out cooking stove by a party 
living a number of blocks away from the foundry. As the 
stove weighed over sixty pounds, I had a hard time in 
transporting it to the foundry. I took a good part of one 
Saturday, the only day I had from school, to deliver 
the iron, but with the aid of a couple of small wooden 
cart wheels, dragging, pushing, and pulling, I finally man- 
aged to get it to the foundry. I was near to a state of 
collapse, but revived when the f oundryman paid me some- 
thing like $3.50. I think the spirit of determination to 
accomplish anything I undertook to do was strongly devel- 
oped in my boyhood days, but I am not so sure that I 
would have accepted the gift of another old stove, condi- 
tioned on my delivering it to the foundry myself. 

Probably the greatest and most common source of prof- 
its for boyish enterprise was the gathering of old tin cans, 
such as were used for oysters, fruits, etc., and burning the 

— 29 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

solder off. This solder when recovered and run into bars 
was much desired by the tinsmiths, who paid something 
like 50 cents per pound for it. 

Those were days of high prices for everything, big 
wages, abundance of money, no poverty, and little 
thievery, the like of which in all probability will never be 
experienced here again. 

When I was about ten years old I had an adventure, 
the experience of which frightened me thoroughly. My 
folks permitted me to go on a visit to a friend of theirs 
who was mining on the American River in the vicinity 
of Folsom. After a narrow escape from falling into a 
big mining ditch filled with swift running water and the 
performance of some other acts which were undoubtedly 
classed by the elders as mischievous, I strayed away 
some distance from the house, thence to the river bank, 
which at this point was probably 150 feet above the bed 
of the stream where the water was flowing. I was seized 
with a desire to get down to the water. It seemed sim- 
ple enough. The bank where I stood was perpendicular 
for the first six feet and consisted of earth. From the 
foot of this six-foot bluff lay a bank of big cobblestones 
extending on a slope of about 45 degrees all the way to 
the bed of the stream. I had calculated that all I had 
to do was to drop off the bank of earth to the cobble- 
stones and then walk down the remainder of the dis- 
tance. I laid down on my stomach and slid over the 
bank, holding on until the greater part of my body was 
over the edge, completing the rest of the journey with a 
drop, landing with a jar, which closed the first chapter 
of the adventure. 

Finding I was not seriously damaged, I started down 
the bank of cobblestones. I had not gone far, possibly 
thirty feet, when, to my horror, I discovered my feet 
were displacing the stones so as to start the pile behind 
and above me to rolling down on me, and if I went any 

— 30 — 

Early Days in Sacrcunento 

further I calculated I would be treated to a shower of 
cobbles, nearly every one of which was as large as my 
head. As I could not travel down the slope faster than 
the cobblestones, unquestionably I would be crushed to 
death before I could possibly reach the river. So I deter- 
mined to retrace my steps, but I soon found that to do so 
was a matter of grave uncertainty, for when I attempted 
to move directly up on the cobbles, my feet movements 
would displace the stones and start those above to roll- 
ing. I fully realized now I was in a bad predicament, 
and my getting out of it was a serious question. Although 
thoroughly scared, I did not lose my presence of mind. 
I found that if I remained quiet the cobbles did like- 
wise. So I laid down flat on the rocks and set my mind 
in action working out a plan of escape. I soon conceived 
the idea that by working upward at an angle from my 
position, though the rocks were displaced by my for- 
ward movements, I would be out of the way of the 
greater part of the rolling cobbles which must pass behind 
me. This reasoning, in the main, proved correct, and after 
hard work and a few bumps at short range I reached 
the top of the pile of cobbles and the foot of the six- 
foot embankment. But here another dilemma was pre- 
sented. How was a four-foot boy going to be able to 
climb up that six feet of perpendicular embankment? 
While considering this I thought of a story I had read 
of a man escaping from a similar position by cutting 
niches for his hands and feet in the wall as he worked up. 
Luckily I had a good, strong knife and, finding a place 
in the embankment with a trifle of a slope, I soon reached 
the top, not much the worse physically, but a much wiser 
boy for my experience. 

The first piece of railroad laid in California, if not on 
the Pacific Coast, for the operation of steam cars, was 
constructed between Sacramento and Folsom, a distance 
of something over twenty miles. This enterprise must 

— 31 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

have been begun in the year 1855. I remember the incep- 
tion of the work very well. The track out of Sacramento 
was laid on the R Street levee. The construction of the 
road as well as the subsequent operation of the line 
had much interest for me. As we lived only a couple of 
blocks away from the line, I was able to witness and 
study the operations advantageously. The completion and 
opening of the road for business were made an event of 
celebration that lingered in the memory of Sacramentans 
for many subsequent years. This railroad line is still in 
operation, but was extended in later years on to Placer- 
ville. During an early period of the undertaking of the 
construction of the Central Pacific by Stanford, Hunting- 
ton, and Crocker the Folsom road became a menace to 
their enterprise in the way of a competitor for the bounty 
of the government in building a railroad across the con- 
tinent. After some months of negotiation the Central 
Pacific bought the line. 

The R Street levee, which served as a road bed for the 
Folsom railroad, was originally built for the sole purpose 
of protecting the city from flood waters on the south side. 
The greater part of the earth forming the levee was taken 
from trenches paralleling the embankment on both sides, 
but as the trenches did not supply sufficient earth 
a few big pits were dug on the south side of the levee, 
from which the extra earth was obtained. These pits 
filled with water in the winter and made "swimming 
holes" for the boys in the summer. The one at the foot 
of Fifth Street was the largest and most popular, and it 
was there, before I had learned to swim, that I was nearly 
drowned. I "went in swimming" with the usual crowd 
of boys, and I jumped into the water at a place where 
it was considerably over my head. The boys who saw 
me go in said that the only part of me showing after 
jumping in was my hair or the top of my head. I knew 
that I was drowning, but suffered no pain, but a peculiar 

— 32 — 

Early Days in Sacramento 

feature of the incident was that I was conscious of the 
frantic efforts of the boys on shore to attract the atten- 
tion of the swimmers to my condition, and that finally 
one of the large boys understood what was wanted and 
was coming across the pond to my aid, and that there was 
a query in my mind whether he could reach me soon 
enough. Of course, the physical sight of the boys on 
shore and the lad coming to my rescue was impossible, 
for I was under and out of sight in very muddy water, 
but in some way all the efforts to rescue me were as 
visible as if I had been out of the water and a spec- 
tator on the bank. Another peculiarity of the affair was 
that in the short time I was under the water every event 
of my life seemed to run through my mind, and it seemed 
as if I could see all at once everything and everybody 
in the world I was familiar with. Where the people were 
and what was going on, and the frightened antics of my 
chums and the coming of my rescuer were all part of 
this remarkable panorama. When the latter reached me 
he grabbed me by my hair and soon, with the aid of 
others, had me out on shore. I was not unconscious, and 
within an hour was able to go home. As might be 
expected, this experience put a stop to my visits to the 
"swimming hole" for a long time. 

To relieve the minds of those who may read this story, 
I must say I never believed in mankind possessing occult 
powers, and I never held to any theory in explanation 
of the phenomenon described. However, it has undoubt- 
edly served to strengthen my belief that there are secrets 
about this life on earth and the passing out of it not yet 
revealed to us. 

When the discovery of gold in California caused the 
stampede of fortune hunters from the Eastern states in 
'49 and '50, every old tub of a sailing craft that could 
be got hold of was purchased in Atlantic harbors and 
used to bring passengers and supplies to California. 

— 33 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

When these vessels arrived in San Francisco harbor they 
were almost immediately deserted by the crews, and only 
a very small percentage of the crafts ever passed out of 
the Golden Gate again. The result was that within a few 
months there were a great many of these old hulks tied 
up near shore and at anchor in the bay. They became 
useful as storage places in the absence of warehouses, 
and, when hauled up against the shore, as landing places 
for steamers plying on the bay and rivers. As a rule, 
when used this way and as warehouses, the top masts 
were removed and a hip roof constructed over the deck 
from bow to stern, and they were commonly called 

, At Sacramento the entire river front was filled with 
/ hulks, from I Street down to P Street, moored to the 
levee, used as steamer landings, warehouses, etc. The 
one near I Street was used as a jail for several years, and 
undoubtedly influenced the location of the county jail in 
its present site. The hulk at the extreme end of the row 
in the other direction was used largely for storage of gun- 
powder. Some time about 1855 the seams of this old hulk 
opened and let into the hold a considerable quantity of 
water, so that a large part of the powder stored was 
damaged. Much of this powder was in one-pound and 
two-pound cans, and to get rid of it was thrown into the 
river, probably with the supposition that it would sink 
or the force of the stream would carry it off and thus dis- 
pose of it. Gunpowder always has possessed attraction 
for the small boy, and the boys of that day were no excep- 
tion to the boys of modern times. It did not take them 
long to discover what had taken place, or much longer 
for them to recover many cans by diving to the river bot- 
tom, and picking up such packages as drifted ashore. 
As much of this powder still had the power of explosion, 
it can be well imagined what subsequently took place in 
the community. More boys were punished with scarred 

— 34 — 

Early Days in Sacrcunento 

faces and powder burns within a few weeks than have 
been in that city altogether since. I confess I was among 
the number, and I think half the boys I knew suffered 
likewise. I do not remember any fatalities, but there were 
some severe injuries. Again I obtained wisdom by expe- 

During the latter part of my five-years residence in Sac- 
ramento I was a witness to two tragedies in real life. 
One was common, such as has been enacted since the days 
of Cain, and there will be repetitions in all probability 
until the end of time. The other affair would be uncom- 
mon now, for it was an execution of a murderer under 
the old order of things, when executions were conducted 

In the first affair a Chinaman was killed by a blow on 
the head from a club wielded by a boy fifteen or sixteen 
years old. A half-dozen boys about that age had under- 
taken to tease the Oriental. They succeeded beyond their 
expectations, for he started after them, following them 
with bulldog persistence. After a chase of some distance 
the boys took refuge behind some cordwood piled up 
along the sidewalk. One of the boys seized a four-foot 
stick and when the Chinaman came up struck him on the 
head, with fatal result. I came in view of the affair just 
at the time the Chinese was felled. The affair happened 
near Chinatown and caused great excitement among the 
residents of that locality, but I never heard of any arrest 
being made on account of it. 

The execution referred to took place in the open field 
just outside of the eastern part of the town, some little 
distance beyond the residence district, I should say not 
very far east of the present State Capitol grounds. 

The gallows was erected a day or so before the day set 
for the hanging. The victim in this case was also a China- 
man, who had been tried in the courts and convicted of 
killing a countryman. A military company formed a 

— 35 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

hollow square around the gallows inside of which none 
but the condemned and officials were allowed. The crowd 
of spectators, of which there were several hundred, gath- 
ered on the outside of the lines of soldiers. I said I was 
a witness, but it was only in a general way. With a lot 
of other boys I went to the scene of execution early 
enough to gratify my curiosity as to the construction 
of the gallows, but when the procession accompanying 
the officers and the condemned approached the place I 
ran off to a distance, but only stood long enough to 
observe some of the preparations; then when I thought 
it was near time for the fatal drop I turned my back and 
ran for home. There were a number of boys present as 
well as a few women, but it must be said to their credit, 
especially the women, that they stood back some dis- 
tance and it was only the men who crowded up close 
enough to witness the gruesome details. The horror of 
that scene remained with me for many, many years. 
It was one of the last public executions held in the state, 
for the Legislature soon afterward passed a law requir- 
ing that death penalty proceedings should be conducted 
privately, admitting to the scene a certain number of 
witnesses only. Subsequently, the law was again changed 
providing that all executions should be carried on at the 
state prisons instead of within the county jails. 

I suppose everybody has noticed the after-effect a visit 
of a circus to a community has on the boys. Well, this 
execution of the Chinaman had much the same influence 
on the boys of Sacramento, but instead of erecting minia- 
ture circuses, turning cartwheels, etc., the youngsters were 
building miniature gallows of sizes suitable for the exe- 
cution of grasshoppers, to the hanging of dogs. A bank- 
er's son living in our neighborhood erected one of the 
latter, but I believe his parents demolished the affair 
before he secured a victim. Such was one of the baneful 
influences of public executions. The action of the Legis- 

— 36 — 

Early Days in Sacramento 

lature gave evidence of the rise of social order to a higher 

The facts just related are not pleasant things to write 
about, and my first thought was to omit the incidents, 
but afterward I concluded that it was from the portrayal 
of events as they occur that subsequent generations 
obtain their knowledge of what has happened before their 
time and by which they would be able to measure the 
advance of social conditions in California. 

I became interested in Sunday-school attendance as 
soon as I learned to read, and this reminds me the first 
book I ever read through from cover to cover was "Pil- 
grim's Progress." I found the book on my way to school 
one morning. The copy was profusely illustrated, and to 
understand the meaning of the pictures I was compelled 
to read some of the text. So in this way I became inter- 
ested in the story and read the book through with benefit, 
I am sure, to my character in after life and which opened 
my mind to the pleasures to be found in books. I read 
many other good books, but none made the impression 
on my mind like this book, found in the street. One of 
the very first churches to be established in Sacramento 
was the Congregational, which was presided over by Rev- 
erend Benton. He was a fine gentleman and popular, and 
always had a good congregation. I attended the Sun- 
day school for several years. The First Baptist Church, 
presided over by Reverend Shuck, who had passed some 
of his earlier years as a missionary in China, was another 
strong organization. I also attended the Sunday school 
of this church, which was held before the regular morning 
services. Here I had for a teacher Major E. A. Sherman, 
whom I met fifty years afterward when I took up resi- 
dence in Oakland. Major Sherman took much interest 
in boys. In one of his efforts to occupy the minds of 
the boys in things that were best for them he planned 
an organization similar to the boy scouts of the pres- 
ent time. 37 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

The major was a veteran of the Mexican War, there- 
fore versed in army tactics, and the boys were organized 
into a company and drilled in marching. Arrayed in 
blue silk sashes with tinsel rosettes and banners and flags, 
we paraded to good advantage on several occasions. 
To the last days of his life the major liked to talk about 
his company of boys. He was very proud of the work, 
for he said the boys all made good after reaching man- 

It was at this Baptist church at a Sunday school exhi- 
bition I made my first attempt to appear before an audi- 
ence. My Sunday school teacher said I must select a 
piece, commit it to memory, and recite it at the exhi- 
bition. I submitted the matter to my mother, but she 
failed to refer me to any selection meeting my idea of 
appropriateness, so I went to an old gentleman I knew 
who kept a lumber, coal, and wood yard, who I thought 
was wiser than anybody, but as a matter of fact on sub- 
jects of this kind he knew less. He picked up a copy of 
the morning paper and after looking over a page or two 
clipped out an article on the subject of poetry of not 
more than 250 words, and said for me to try that. It was 
about as appropriate for the occasion and as fit for a 
boy of my age and appearance as for the minister to 
have attempted to recite "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Up to 
this period my old friend's judgment was respected by 
me, and I committed the piece to memory so I could 
recite it frontward and backward, although I had not the 
slightest idea what it all meant. On the night of the exhi- 
bition I sat on the stage with the others who were to 
take part in the exercises and had begun to realize that 1 
had undertaken a contract over which I had some mis- 
givings as to a successful outcome. When my name was 
called I mechanically stepped out to the center of the 
stage. The number of people there seemed to multiply 
rapidly and the lights to dance. I bowed my head with 

— 38 — 

Early Days in Sacramento 

a jerky nod and commenced my recitation with the 
words, "Poetry — what is poetry? " 

That is as far as I was able to go. The audience as well 
as myself was relieved of the painful embarrassment of 
the situation by my kind teacher leading me off the stage. 

By 1854 or earlier Sacramento had secured a firm hold 
on the state capital, which for several years past had been 
shifted around from one place to another. The first state 
house was a frame structure located on I Street. I recall 
seeing the members of the Legislature going in and com- 
ing out of the building, and as nearly all of the members 
wore silk hats, commonly called "plugs," they impressed 
me as being superior individuals, and I viewed them with 
awe and respect. For some time thereafter I regarded 
all men wearing silk hats as being members of the 
Legislature. This first state house in Sacramento was 
destroyed by one of the early big fires and was replaced 
by a brick structure further out on the same street. I was 
present on the occasion of laying the cornerstone. The 
event was celebrated in an imposing manner. The erec- 
tion of the present stately capitol building was not com- 
menced until after we moved away from the city in 1857. 

The state fair was another institution which enlivened 
the city every year. The first pavilion exhibits were held 
in the state house. Then subsequently a building was 
erected for the purpose. In the early history of the fairs 
gambling games of all kinds were permitted adjacent to 
the fair grounds where the stock was exhibited and the 
racing was had. The gambling interested me very much 
and I spent a great deal of time watching the conduct of 
various games. It did not take me long to detect the dis- 
honest methods resorted to in fleecing the unwary visitors 
who patronized the games. If I ever had any inclination 
to gamble, my observations then were sufficient to cure it. 
At this date there was no law prohibiting gambling games, 
and therefore the evil business was conducted openly in 

— 89 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

many parts of the city, the games running night and day 
in flashily furnished saloons, opening upon the streets, so 
as to attract the people passing by. These places were 
usually crowded with people at night. It required some 
years of persistent effort to stop the business, but finally 
legislation was secured that outlawed the games and con- 
duct of any gambling games in public places. 

Sacramento was a lively city in early days, by reason 
of being the place from which one must start for almost 
every interior point, especially the mines. Here all pas- 
senger and freight lines of transportation centered. It was 
the hub. The two main business streets, J and K, , 
would be lined on each side during a good part of / 
the day with big mule teams and freight wagons loading 
up for trips to the mines and other interior points. The 
jangling of the little bells mounted on the harness of the 
mules and horses, rumbling of truck loads of merchandise 
trundled across the sidewalks from the stores to wagons, 
and the shouting of teamsters and others made an ani- 
mated scene, the like of which will never be re-enacted 
there. Aside from the little railroad line to Folsom and 
the steamer lines up and down the river, all other pas- 
senger transportation was by stage lines. These stage 
lines were largely controlled by a powerful corporation 
known as the California Stage Company. One of the lines 
was operated from Sacramento to Portland, Ore. There 
were several other lines of many miles in length, and 
probably more than a hundred of lesser importance. The 
general starting point from Sacramento was the block 
on Second Street between J and K streets, and the stages 
commenced loading up and leaving at an early hour of 
the day, and a little later the block would be filled with 
stages preparing for departures for their various destina- 
tions. As the stages would leave or start out on their 
journey other stages would come in and take their places. 
The rush of coming and going of the stages lasted sev- 

— 40 — 

Early Days in Sacramento 

eral hours in the morning. It was an interesting sight, 
and was always attended by the presence of a crowd of 
people, including travelers, their .friends, and those 
impelled by curiosity. The speed at which passengers 
were transported depended upon the nature of the coun- 
try traversed. I think, however, as I remember it, six 
miles per hour would represent a fair average, though 
there were important lines that made much better time, 
making frequent changes of horses. The line from Sac- 
ramento to Napa was a little over sixty miles, and the 
distance was covered in about ten hours running time, 
with three changes of horses. In latter years the construc- 
tion of railroads running out in almost every direction 
from the city put stage business in general, and the Cali- 
fornia Stage Company in particular, out of business. 

Father had been into two or three different businesses, 
but through losses by fire and otherwise he had been 
unfortunate, and concluded to return to the vocation he 
had been brought up in under his father, that of wagon 
making and repair work. Associated with a man named 
Rankin, who was a blacksmith, quite a large business 
was built up by the firm in a comparatively short time. 
One of the employees of the wood working department 
of the shops was one of the Studebakers, who subse- 
quently became a member of the famous firm of Stude- 
bakers, wagon and carriage makers of Indiana. In 1880 
I met this particular member of the firm in Chicago, and 
in conversation, when he learned I was from California, 
he became much interested and told me of his employ- 
ment with father in early days in Sacramento. He gave 
me pressing invitation to visit the company's big plant, 
but I was unable to accept it. 

Though father was doing well in a business way, it 
became necessary to leave Sacramento on account of our 
health. Mother, who had not fully recovered from the 
effects of the sickness that seized upon her on the Isth- 

— 4* — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

mus, was ill much of the time, and father and I both 
had chills and fever. There was much malaria in and 
about the city at that time, and our physician advised 
a change of climate. It was in the spring of 1857 that we 
boarded a stage coach and after an all day's ride reached 
the town of Napa. In reviewing the events of my life, 
the five years spent in Sacramento seem to cover a much 
longer period of years. I formed some strong attach- 
ments there and it was with sadness and tears I turned 
my back on the city. 

— 42 — 



Beauty and Attractions of the Valley Before the Advent 
of Trespass Signs — Churches, Schools, and Business 
of Pioneer Days — Mining and What Led to the Dis- 
covery of the Great Quicksilver Deposits — Grain 
Harvesting and Its Evolution — Invention of the Steam t 
Thresher — Orchards and Vineyards — Wine-Making 
and Its Start — Pioneer Residents of the Town and 

The stage road out from Sacramento cut across the tule 
basin a little north of where the railroad track lies now. 
It was passable during the summer months only. The 
•first habitation met was a ranch about fifteen miles from 
the city located on the banks of Putah Creek, owned by a 
man named Davis. The home part of this ranch became 
the townsite of Davisville when the railroad was built 
through that locality and a station made there in 1869. 
Here the first change of horses was made. As there was 
no bridge over Putah Creek, the crossing was made 
by driving down into the bed of the stream and fording 
it. Coming out on the bank on the other or south side 
of the stream there was before you a stretch of level 
prairie all the way to the foothills of the Coast Range for 
a distance of ten or more miles, without a single fence 
or enclosure or tree, except for the roadhouse of a man 
named Silva, located about a mile north of the present 
site of the Town of Dixon and about five miles from 

This prairie at that time was not considered worth 
fencing, but afterward, when the remarkable fertility of 

— 43 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the soil was discovered, became about the most produc- 
tive wheat growing section of the state. The owners of 
it were the wealthiest lot of farmers to be found in any 
one locality, and their land was unpurchasable. 

Vacaville was then a little town with the country there- 
abouts yet undeveloped as a fruit growing section. It was 
the headquarters of stock men and a goodly part of the 
inhabitants were Mexicans. We stopped here for lunch 
and change of horses. After getting out of the hills south- 
west of Vacaville the country was more settled and with 
farms fenced, a condition which continued all the way 
to Napa. This part of the route took us through Fair- 
field, the county seat of Solano County, and farther on 
to the town of Cordelia. 

Upon arriving at Napa we put up at the Napa Hotel. 
I was tired and went to bed early and was awakened 
soon after daylight by music new to my ears, but so 
delightful and sweet, the impress on my memory has 
never been dimmed. It was the singing of hundreds of 
various kinds of wild birds, living and nesting in the 
trees and brush bordering the stream flowing back of 
the hotel. Perhaps my love for nature was then a fea- 
ture of my character, and it made me more apprecia- 
tive of the warbling of these little songsters. At any rate, 
this introduction made me pleased with my new home. 

It was dark when we arrived the night before, and now 
in the morning the sun was shining in all the glory of 
a beautiful spring day, revealing sights grand and new to 
me. My delight, my pleasure, and enthusiasm were 
immeasurable. All my existence of memory had been 
passed in a country level and unbroken by so much 
as a hillock, and no water but the muddy Sacramento, 
and here I had been set down as if it were by magic 
alongside of a beautiful stream of clear water, with 
grand hills and mountains on either side so close that 
I could study the trees and rocks and see the cattle feed- 

— U — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

ing on the grassy sides. I have never ceased to love those 
hills and I have never ceased to remember the pleasures 
of that first view of them and the happiness I found for 
years afterward in hunting and tramping over and 
around them. I am sure there is not a canyon, big rock, 
or clump of trees for miles around on either side of the 
valley that I did not become familiar with. Napa Valley 
is generally acknowledged as a garden spot of the state; 
but with all the embellishment made in later years in 
the process of denser settlement, and the beautifying 
of country homes, the valley, more as Nature had made 
it — teeming with wild life, with the freedom of those bor- 
dering hills, and the beautiful creeks coming down from 
the mountain sides meandering through the valley, 
un trammeled by fences and unmarred by trespass signs — 
was far more attractive to me; and to think of the happy 
days in such surroundings is to sigh for something gone 

The town in those days was known as Napa City and 
contained a population not to exceed 500 people. There 
were five brick buildings in the place. These were one 
on the southwest corner of Main and First streets, the 
two buildings adjoining south on Main Street, the court- 
house (since replaced), and the Revere House, a hotel on 
Second Street opposite the county building. 

The business of the community consisted of five or six 
general merchandise stores, one drug store, two butcher 
shops, three hotels, two livery stables, one harness shop, 
one wagon shop, a lumber yard, two flour mills, two ware- 
houses, several saloons, a shoemaker, and a few other 
business places of less importance. There was no tele- 
graph or railroad connecting the town with the outside 
world. A neat little side-wheel steamboat made three trips 
a week to San Francisco, going down one day and back 
the next. Besides there were three sailing craft, two 
sloops, and a schooner plying regularly on the river. 

— 45 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

When low tide in the river happened at the hours of 
the steamer's schedule of arrival and departure, it used 
a wharf four or five miles below town, and passengers 
were handled between the town and that landing by 

In the summer time, or when harvest was on, hundreds 
of Indians from the north would come to Napa and 
camp with their families about the town. The steamboat 
was a matter of the greatest interest to them. It was no 
uncommon sight when the steamer's whistle signal of 
her coming was heard to see them drop whatever they 
might be doing and rush for the river bank. There they 
would line up along the river side showing the greatest 
interest and pleasure in witnessing the movements of the 

The Indians came to Napa to work in the grain fields. 
In those days the cultivation of wheat was about the 
only farming done in the valley. It was before the days 
of headers and self-binders, so the grain was simply cut 
down by reapers and lay loose on the ground. The 
machine was followed by several men, a sufficient num- 
ber to bind it in bundles as fast as it was cut. The 
Indians did this work well, and therefore found ready 
employment. They generally got rid of their earnings 
about as fast as received, making purchases of blankets 
and trinkets in the stores, buying whiskey, and in gam- 
bling. The men were inveterate gamblers. Generally they 
made Sundays an exceedingly lively day. The mixing of 
liquor with games of chance seems to develop about the 
same degree of meanness and brutality in the red man 
as in the white. 

There were a number of Mexicans, people of Spanish 
descent, or native Californians, as they were frequently 
styled, living in the valley, the remnant of the original 
settlers of that section. Some were well-to-do, being the 
owners of large land holdings and herds of cattle. They 

— 46 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

were hospitable people and popular with the new settlers 
coming into the valley, who were destined eventually 
to succeed in ownership to their homes and ranches. 
Though some few descendants of those families are still 
to be found in the county, there is little to distinguish 
them from the ordinary citizen, and the big ranches 
were long ago cut up into comparatively small holdings. 

In the early '50s a very large number of the people 
living in town as well as those engaged in farming in 
the valley were people who had come across the plains 
from the State of Missouri. By their mannerisms and 
peculiarity of speech they were almost as distinguishable 
from other Eastern people as were those, of Spanish 
descent. As a rule they were a whole-souled, generous 
class whose doors were always open to strangers and 
friends alike. The adventures, trials, and hardships expe- 
rienced by these people in crossing the plains, beset with 
Indians bent on murder and plunder, and here and there 
murderous whites, gave them something of a heroic char- 
acter in my youthful eyes. They too, like the Spanish 
descendants, have disappeared as a class. Death has 
removed the older generation and time has eliminated 
all distinguishable characteristics of the descendants. 

There was a public school held in a one-story, two- 
roomed building, with two teachers. The school was not 
graded. One teacher taught the smaller or primer schol- 
ars, while the other teacher taught the older pupils. The 
attendance, as I remember it, was somewhere between 
seventy-five and a hundred scholars. For the first few 
months of my residence in Napa I was sent to a pri- 
vate school, but this did not suit my democratic notions 
and I prevailed upon my folks to let me go to the public 
school. I enjoyed the school life there more than at any 
other school I had attended. There were a number of 
Spanish or Mexican boys among the pupils. As one of 
the results of the contact with the "native Californians" 

— 47 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

there were few of the American boys who did not speak 
some Spanish, and some of the boys could speak it as 
well and fluently as the Mexican lads. 

I think there were only two church organizations hold- 
ing regular services when I first went to Napa — the Pres- 
byterian and the Methodist. The Catholics built their 
church quite soon thereafter, however, and may have 
been holding services at the time I speak of. The Epis- 
copalians also established a church within a couple of 
years. The Presbyterian church for about ten years was 
presided over by Reverend E. P. Veeder, who was suc- 
ceeded by Doctor Richard Wylie, the present minister. 
Few churches in the country with a record of sixty years 
of uninterrupted work can make the showing of the 
church in the length of time of service of its ministers, 
and unity and harmony of its memberships, the person- 
ality of which must have almost completely changed in 
that period. The elders of the beginning of the church 
have all passed away, and the Sunday school scholars of 
that time are now old men and women. 

The Methodist church was a strong organization. As 
was the custom in that denomination, the ministers were 
changed at least every two years and assigned by the 
state organization. In the early history of the church 
some of the ministers who served there subsequently 
became prominent men in the state. 

Father Deyaert was the name of the priest who from 
the beginning, and many years after, was the pastor of the 
Catholic church. He w r as exceedingly popular with all 
classes. He was fond of outdoor life, especially tramping 
the neighboring hills and shooting quail. I met him on 
such excursions several times, when we enjoyed one 
another's company very much, as people generally do 
when the source of their amusement lies in the same 
direction. He would frequently go into saloons, not to 

— 48 — 

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Reminiscences of Napa 

scold or preach to those who happened to be in there, 
but simply to be social, conversing on ordinary topics 
such as would interest those he might meet. He would 
drop into stores and the hotels, meeting acquaintances 
and making friends. He was a very intelligent man, and 
his generous, charitable disposition and genial manners 
were the secret of his universal popularity. 

If I am correct in my memory, the Baptists in the latter 
part of the '50s built a small brick church, but their 
numbers were too few to maintain it, and in the early '60s 
it was used for educational purposes. Reverend E. P. 
Vceder and a Mr. Van Dorn, a professor from a college 
in Missouri that had been closed on account of the Civil 
War, made an effort to establish a school in the higher 
studies with the hope that it might be the beginning of 
a college. This little church was used by them for the 
purpose. I was one of the pupils from the beginning to 
the close of the school. The teachers worked hard, but 
after several months gave up the effort. With the close 
of this school also ended my school days. I was now 
nearly seventeen years of age and had passed the best 
part of eleven years in various schools — five private and 
three public. Yet I was not equipped with an ordinary 
high school education. I had some little insight into 
higher mathematics, and was able to translate some Latin, 
but had not been given any instruction whatever in other 
advanced studies. Beyond winning a prize for excellence 
in spelling once in a public school, I am sure I never 
distinguished myself for any particular brightness as a 

All through my early life I wanted to know the why 
and wherefore of everything, and this disposition came 
near causing my expulsion from the embryo college when 
I entered upon the study of algebra. I realized this study 
was essential to education in higher mathematics, but 
in my dullness I could not clearly understand the neces- 

— 49 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

sity and use of it, and I requested the professor in charge 
of the class to give a clearer explanation of the principles 
and purposes than was to be found in the book. Either 
the teacher was unable from a lack of knowledge of the 
subject to make me understand, or I was mentally too 
obtuse to get satisfaction from his explanations. I think 
the teacher and I took up the greater part of the class 
hour for three or four days through my persistence to 
be made acquainted with the whys and wherefores of the 
study, until I wore out the patience of a very patient 
man. Finally he naturally showed his irritation by some 
criticism on my mental capacity, which I resented by 
expressing the opinion that he knew more about theology 
than algebra. I probably would have omitted this inci- 
dent of my school life if I had not read that Charles 
Darwin had a similar experience when he undertook 
to master the same study in his school days. 

Another great man, Thomas Huxley, in his biography 
details an incident of his schoolboy days which was so 
like another experience of mine it may be of interest to 
relate both, but I am sure if I had not read Huxley's 
life I would not have referred to mine. I never was very 
proud of it. Huxley says : "Almost the only cheerful remi- 
niscence in connection with the place [his school] which 
arises in my mind is that of a battle I had with one of 
my classmates, who bullied me until I could stand it no 
longer. I was a very slight lad, but there was a wild- 
cat element in me which when roused made up for 
lack of weight, and I licked my adversary effectively. 
We made it up, and thereafter I was unmolested." Hux- 
ley says some years afterward he was shocked to be told 
by a groom who brought him his horse in Sydney that 
he was his quondam antagonist. In my case, beyond the 
cause, the battle, and result, the parallel ceases. I did not 
become a great man, nor my adversary a groom, but he 
did become an admiral in our navy. My battle, I think, 

— 50 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

was a more pretentious affair than Huxley's, for when 
it became known that my adversary and I were to fight 
our companions insisted the combat should be conducted 
under the prize-ring rules. We fought for nearly three- 
quarters of an hour, taking rests every few. minutes, which 
were determined by the referee. During these rests we 
refreshed ourselves in turn at a well pump near-by. 
Finally my opponent acknowledged he was bested. 
I might have been defeated, but my persistence would not 
admit it, and I hung on until he declared he had had 
enough, and we went to our homes. Afterward, like Hux- 
ley and his opponent, "we made it up," anl became insep- 
arable friends. 

The Methodists made a more pretentious effort to estab- 
lish a college. They erected a three-story brick building 
of sufficient size for school rooms and apartments for 
boarding scholars. The cornerstone of the building was 
laid with considerable ceremony. This must have been 
before 1860. When the building was completed the col- 
lege was well attended by young ladies and young men, 
the majority of whom were from other parts of the state. 
It was conducted for several years with apparent suc- 
cess, but was finally closed for some reason which I do 
not now recall. The building has since been torn down 
and the college grounds cut up for city lots and fine 

The boys of that day amused themselves much as the 
boys of the present time. The games and plays were 
much the same, excepting we had no football contests. 
I never saw or heard of a game of football in our part 
of the country while I was a boy. But boys must have 
strenuous exercise to work off their superfluous spirits, 
and we probably found it in hunting, fishing, and horse- 
back riding and in other outdoor sports. Hunting trips in 
the mountains, camping out in the most primitive way, 
relying wholly on our skill with gun and rod for our prin- 

— 51 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

cipal food was the most delightful pastime of many 
of us boys. I shall never forget the experience of my 
first night in camping out The father of a chum of 
about my age, which then was about twelve years, owned 
considerable land at the head of Napa Valley where at 
that time there were but few settlers. The country was 
about as wild as any frontier section. The house of the 
ranch referred to was a log cabin affair and but little of 
the land was under fence. Wild animals and game were 
plentiful. My chum and I went up to the ranch for a 
hunting trip. About a quarter of a mile from the cabin 
there was a small patch of ground enclosed which had 
been planted to corn and melons. As coons were play- 
ing havoc with the melons, the men at the place sug- 
gested that we boys take our blankets and guns and 
sleep out in the cornfield and be on hand when the coons 
came for their feast of melons. The idea seemed a little 
"spooky" to me, but I would not show any fear and went 
with my friend, as suggested. It was a beautiful, bright, 
moonlight night, and we soon found a camping place. 
How long we had been asleep I do not know, but the 
time must have been past midnight when we were 
awakened by a most terrible, blood-curdling screech that 
seemed to fill the whole end of the valley with its echoes. 
Without speaking, both of us immediately sat up, and 
almost instantly the frightful noise was repeated, seem- 
ingly nearer. Now we were on our feet, and another 
screech still nearer raised the hair on the back of my 
head, and sent the two of us flying to the cabin, leaving 
guns and other belongings behind us. I was so scared 
I would not have been surprised to have met anything 
from an African lion to a Chinese dragon shooting flames 
of fire from mouth and nostrils. However, we reached 
the cabin without meeting or seeing the California lion 
which had been making the frightful noise. Of course, 
the older folks had much fun at our expense for some 

— 52 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

time afterward. Anyway, we made no further attempt 
to stop the depredations of the coons. 

Calistoga at this time was unknown, no town or set- 
tlement being there, but the site was known as Hot 
Springs, as several springs sending forth quite a flow of 
hot water had been discovered. A greater part of the 
grounds of the old springs property was marshy. Some 
time in the '60s the property was purchased by Samuel 
Brannan, a pioneer capitalist of San Francisco, who 
expended a small fortune in filling in and reclaiming 
the marsh, beautifying the springs and grounds, and 
erecting a hotel building and cottages. Fine driveways 
were laid out and many palm trees and much expensive 
shrubbery were planted, all of which had to be hauled 
there from Napa by team. 

When Brannan completed his work and threw the place 
open to the public he named it the Calistoga Springs. 
For some years it was a resort for ultra-fashionable peo- 
ple. This was the beginning of the town of Calistoga. 
One of the springs yielded hot water which some people 
imagined tasted like weak chicken soup, and it was cus- 
tomary for visitors to take with them some pepper and 
salt to flavor the "soup" to suit, because Nature had neg- 
lected or wilfully failed to add these necessary condi- 
ments, possibly recognizing the difficulty cooks have in 
flavoring edibles to suit all comers. 

Some years later a faker claimed to have discovered 
that this spring was yielding pure gold in solution. 
He announced, after a period of experimentation, that 
he had also found a way to recover the precious metal 
in a solid or metallic form. To corroborate his statements 
he exhibited some small bars of gold which he claimed 
he had recovered from the spring waters. The gold was 
forwarded to the mint with a good deal of display, but 
for some reason the public did not become excited, which 

— 53 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

fact seemed to disgust the discoverer, for he soon aban- 
doned the spring and left the country. 

Prior and subsequent to this event there was genuine 
mining excitement, based on the actual discovery of valu- 
able minerals in the mountains adjacent to Calistoga. 
Somewhere about 1857 a man found on one of the flanks 
of Mt. St. Helena, which towers above Calistoga to the 
north, a piece of detached rock or float which he thought 
worth investigating. He brought the rock to Napa and 
showed it to Doctor Stillwagon, who was thought. to know 
more about such things than any one else in town. The 
doctor took the sample and said in the course of a few 
days he would be able to determine what it contained. 
He sent the rock to an assayer in San Francisco, and 
was able on the findings of the assayer to inform the 
finder it was rich in gold and silver, and advised him 
to hunt for the place from whence it came. If he should 
be able to locate the source he possibly would have a 
rich mine. All this soon became generally known, with 
the result that the mountains around the northern and 
eastern part of Calistoga were the field for the operations 
of many prospectors. During this hunt for the gold and 
silver deposit a prospector found croppings of quite an 
extensive deposit of mineral bearing rock, quite unlike 
what they had been looking for, but thinking it worth 
investigating the discoverer took a sample to Doctor Still- 
wagon, who by the same process as in the other case 
found it was cinnabar or quicksilver ore. This was the 
beginning of quicksilver mining in Napa and Lake coun- 
ties, which for many years was an important industry of 
that section. By this find the minds of the prospectors 
were diverted from the search for gold and silver to 
hunting for other deposits of cinnabar. Several good 
mines were found, some of which are still in operation. 

About fifteen years afterward a ledge carrying good 
values in gold and silver was found on the eastern side 

— 54 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

of Mt. St. Helena a short distance above where the high- 
est point of the old toll road crossed the mountain. This 
find caused a very great excitement and the whole coun- 
try thereabouts was covered with location notices. After- 
ward the place was brought into notice as Silverado in 
one of Robert Louis Stevenson's novels. People in all 
walks of life caught the fever. A small town called Sil- 
verado sprang up on the mountain side and considerable 
work and money were expended in shafts and tunnels, but 
no ledge of consequence other than the original was 
found. A couple of well known and experienced Corn- 
stock miners, Archie Borland * and Coll. Dean, bought 
the discovery claim, put up a mill, and proceeded to work 
their mine, producing considerable bullion, something 
like $80,000, I was informed by one of the owners. Some 
skeptical people insisted that the owners of the mine 
brought the bullion from their Nevada mines, hidden in 
supplies shipped from San Francisco to the mines, then 
sent it back to San Francisco by express, as the product 
of the mill. There was little or no foundation for the 
story. I was an owner of a claim from which I was able 
to extract a few tons of ore which, upon milling, yielded 
about $10 per ton. The life of the district was short, for 
in a few months the ledge of the original mine suddenly 
gave out. It was cut off by a fault and the owners were 
unable to locate the continuance of the ore body. Some 
years subsequently another deposit of similar ore was 
found lower down the mountain side which was said to 
have yielded some profit. 

In 1857 the farmers of Napa valley devoted their efforts 
almost exclusively to the production of wheat. As the 
yield was large and the prices obtained for their crops 
big, they were as a rule well rewarded for their efforts. 

•A son of Archie Borland is the senior member of the Important contracting 
firm now constructing the great dam for the East Bay Water Company in San 
Pablo Canyon, near Berkeley, Cal. 

— 55 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Harvest times made the valley of Napa a very lively place 
throughout the summer. The work of harvesting as it 
was conducted in those days required the labor of many 
hands which were recruited from every possible place, 
including the Indians heretofore mentioned. These work- 
men spent their money freely in town, and on Sundays 
were present there in large numbers. The coming and 
going of hundreds of teams and wagons engaged in bring- 
ing the wheat crop to the warehouses in town were no 
small part of the daily business activity. 

I have already described how the wheat crop was cut 
and bound into bundles. The bundles were shocked or 
collected into piles of a dozen or so and allowed to 
remain a few days in the field. The theory was that any 
immature berries or grain that might be in the crop 
would be ripened and filled by the sap remaining in the 
stalk or straw carrying the head. At the proper time 
the shocks of grain were gathered up and piled into stacks 
preparatory to threshing. The grain would go through 
a process of sweating in the course of a few days after 
being stacked. Then it was ready to be threshed out. 
By following this method the grain was supposed to shell 
out in threshing more completely and therefore a greater 
percentage of grains would be recovered. Some farmers, 
however, hauled their crops direct from the shocks to the 
thresher, reasoning that the extra recovery did not com- 
pensate for the cost of extra stacking. 

The threshing machine or separators were much the 
same as in use the present day, although there have been 
some remarkable changes in the driving power as well 
as the method of applying it. The first device for driving 
the machinery of the separator was by horse-power. The 
motion was derived from a large gear wheel several feet 
in diameter into which were horizontally fastened six to 
eight poles. The gear wheel was mounted on a heavy 
frame which also carried the smaller connecting gears, 

— 56 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

communicating the power to a driving shaft. From two 
to three horses were attached to each pole, according 
to the size of the horse-power, and were made to walk 
around in the circle permitted by the lengths of the 
poles. The big gear wheel was covered over by a floor on 
which the driver took his position — something like a ring- 
master in a small circus. However, there was not much 
fun or amusement in this business, for it was the duty 
of the driver to keep close watch on the horses and main- 
tain the steady motion required for the proper operation 
of the separator. The cleaning device always required 
nice adjustment. Too high speed would send some of the 
grain out with the chaff, or if too slow some chaff would 
be retained with the wheat. So the driver had not only 
to be watchful but able to exercise good judgment as to 
the gait his horses should travel, and, moreover, he had 
to exercise great care in starting the power in motion. 
To avoid breakages or displacement of the machine it 
was necessary to start the horses slowly and all together. 
The horse-power had a truck especially devised to trans- 
port it from one place to another when necessary. In its 
time it was considered a great invention, but in a few 
years it gave way to a more advanced application of 
power in harvesting operations. This was the introduc- 
tion of the steam engines. A machinist named Joseph 
Enright and my father built the first steam thresher con- 
structed. It was built in the rear of father's shop on Main 
Street in Napa. Although considered something of a won- 
der in those days, it was a very simple affair. It con- 
sisted of about a 25 horse-power boiler mounted on wheels 
with an engine fastened on top of the boiler. Many people 
were skeptical as to the ability of the inventors to mount 
a boiler and engine so that the machine could be pulled 
around from place to place and be operated in all posi- 
tions necessary. Others predicted it would set fire to the 
fields and destroy the country. Really, this was the great- 

— 57 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

est danger to successful application of steam power to 
harvesting work. At the time of the year when the 
machine would be used everything was exceedingly dry, 
and on hot days seemed ready to burst into flames with- 
out much help. Finally the builders completed the 
machine, overcoming, they thought, the danger of com- 
municating fires to the fields as well as other minor 
objections. Now came the greatest obstacle, for, while the 
steam engine ran a separator in the shop yard better in 
every way and at less expense, no one was willing to 
allow the machine on his premises. I am not sure that 
Enright succeeded in even getting a trial run in the fields 
in Napa. However, he took the machine to Yolo County 
and there demonstrated its great superiority over the 
horse-power device. The fuel used at first was wood, but 
Enright soon saw the advantage and greater saving made 
by substituting straw for wood, and therefore changed 
his boiler construction to admit of burning the waste 
straw from the threshing operations. This change, while 
greatly reducing the cost of operation, also reduced the 
danger from fire. 

With the successful adoption of steam power soon came 
larger engines, bigger separators, and consequently much 
greater daily products from threshing outfits than had 
ever been thought of. The farms of California owe much 
to the inventive genius and persistent zeal of Joseph 
Enright, for his steam thresher served to give them a 
device of much greater capacity with greater profits for 
many years, until it in turn was displaced by the inven- 
tion of the combined harvester of the present day. 

The flour mills of Napa Valley have a history which 
would prove very interesting if all the facts concerning 
their origin and erection could be given. The two in Napa, 
one at Yountville, and the one north of St. Helena were 
all in operation when I became a resident of the valley 
in 1857, and had been for some years immediately prior. 

— 58 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

The two mills in Napa were operated by steam power, 
but the others were driven by water power. I always 
understood that the first mill established was the one at 
Yountville which was built by George Yount in the '40s. 
A little town was built up near the location of the mill 
which was called Sebastopol until after the death of 
Mr. Yount, when the name was changed to Yountville and 
has been known by that title ever since. The mechanics 
employed by Mr. Yount in erecting this mill showed 
great ingenuity in overcoming difficulties presented in 
the inability to obtain iron castings for certain working 
parts of the mill by using in substitution mountain oak. 
My attention was called to some of these parts many years 
afterward. They showed but little wear and the wood 
was as sound and strong as when first put in the mill. 
It has always seemed strange to me that California should 
continue to pay large prices for Eastern oak timber, ignor- 
ing the presence here of as good if not a better oak to be 
had at little effort. 

The mill above St. Helena was located by the county 
roadside and with its huge water wheel and flume was a 
picturesque affair and was ever an attraction to tourists, 
especially in later years after the mill ceased to be 
operated and wild vines overgrew the great wheel and 
partial ruin overtook the building. With a background 
formed by the hills with primitive growth of trees and 
brush, no person with love for the artistic could pass 
by the mill with a camera without snapping a film. 

Napa Valley was early recognized as a section favorable 
for the growing of fruit, and a few enterprising farmers 
gave their attention to that business. Wells and Ralph 
Kilburn were among the pioneers. A man named Osborne 
planted the Oak Knoll orchard, and Captain Thompson the 
Suscol orchard, both of which became famous throughout 
the state before 1860. There were some other orchards 
planted on a smaller scale in various parts of the valley, 

— 59 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

so the shipments of fruit to San Francisco in season were 
a matter of some importance in considering the produc- 
tive wealth of the valley. 

As is generally known, Napa in later years became 
noted as the largest wine growing district in the state. 
/Orchards and wheat fields disappeared, being replaced by 
' vineyards which for a time gave great profit to the owners, 
which probably was the cause of the overdoing of the 
business, placing the producers at the mercy of specu- 
lators. Then with the subsequent losses from the ravages 
of the vineyards by phylloxera the winegrowers in later 
years had hard times indeed. The first vineyard for wine 
making purposes was planted in the latter part of the '50s 
by John Patchet on a piece of land about a mile north- 
westerly from the courthouse in the town of Napa. Here 
the first wine on any scale was made. Doctor Crane, a 
physician in Napa, a very intelligent and observing man, 
had become thoroughly impressed with the idea that the 
soils and climate of Napa Valley were particularly favor- 
able to the culture of the grape for wine purposes. As early 
as 1857, he contributed column after column to the pages 
of the local paper, giving his reasons therefor and urging 
the planting of vineyards, calling attention to the possi- 
bilities of the poorer lands, useless for the growing of 
grain. The doctor kept up his publications for two or 
three years, or it may be longer, until he finally gave up 
his practice and bought a brushy and gravel covered piece 
of land near the town of St. Helena not considered worth 
fencing and planted the vineyard that subsequently 
became famous. 

When I first went to Napa, several of the original set- 
tlers were still living in the town, and in fact continued 
to make Napa their home for years after, until called away 
by death. In my acquaintance with them I learned that 
the site of Napa was within the boundaries of the grant 
belonging to Salvador Vallejo, a brother of General Val- 

— 60 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

lejo, and that Nathan Coombs purchased a large tract of 
land from Vallejo including that which subsequently 
became the townsite, and in 1848 laid out the first streets, 
and thus began the town of Napa. The first building was 
erected by Harrison Pierce early in that year, and was 
used as a saloon. A store followed almost immediately, 
conducted by J. B. Thompson. Within the next year or 
so other buildings and businesses followed, including a 
warehouse on the bank of the river. General Frisbie and 
his father-in-law, General Vallejo, established a store 
there which was a branch of their business established 
in Sonoma and Benicia. In 1850, Captain Baxter com- 
menced running a little steamer between Napa, Benicia, 
and San Francisco.* 

He was quite an enterprising man in his time. I remem- 
ber that in the latter part of the '50s he imported some 
hives of bees, which were the first to be brought into that 
section of the state. He sold the honey at $1 per pound or 
comb, and people were glad to get it at that price. Nathan 
Coombs, the founder of Napa, was a fine character and 
possessed native ability to an extraordinary degree. He 
was a natural leader of men. As might be assumed, he 
was one of the foremost men in Napa County and a leader 
in affairs of state as long as he lived. He came to the state 
in 1843 and first went to work for a man named Gordon in 
what is now Yolo County. He married Gordon's daughter 
two years later and not long after moved to Napa. There 
he erected a beautiful home and reared a large family. 
He died December 26, 1877, greatly respected. 

I have in this history of my observations and experi- 
ences spoken of hunting trips, and it may be of some 
interest to know how I obtained the first gun I ever 
owned. I was thirteen years of age when I began to tease 
my father to buy me a shotgun. He protested on the 

*He died in May, 1915, aged ninety-five years, and so far as I can learn was 
the last of the pioneer settlers of Napa. 

— 61 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

ground of my age. This argument I met by pointing 
out the lads of similar age who possessed guns. Then 
it was that the cost of the gun was more than he wanted 
to expend at that time. Father was a skilful mechanic 
and I knew he could construct almost anything, so, run- 
ning across one of my boy friends in possession of a 
single barrel of an old shotgun, which he had suspended 
to a clothes line and was hammering it to make a noise 
like that from a triangle, I began negotiations for the 
possession of the gun barrel. The negotiations continued 
until I had added, one by one, all my holdings of marbles, 
tops, jack knife, etc., as consideration in exchange, and 
finally obtained the gun barrel. I never made a trade 
which gave me more pleasure and satisfaction. I imme- 
diately took it to my father, saying now he could make 
me a gun without cost. He was not provoked at my per- 
sistence, but called my attention to the absence of a gun 
lock, and laughingly said, "When you bring me a lock I 
will put a stock on the barrel and finish the gun for you." 
I always thought he had an idea he had blocked my prog- 
ress in getting a gun. There was a gunsmith in town to 
whose shop I immediately proceeded. I hung around the 
place all my spare time for several days cultivating his 
good will, turning grindstone, blowing bellows, running 
errands; in fact, offering to do anything that I thought 
would help or please him. In the meantime I had oppor- 
tunity to thoroughly examine his stock of second-hand 
gun locks, of which he had a number, and found one I 
was sure was suitable for my purposes. But how was I to 
get it? I was sure I did not have enough money to buy 
it unless on the instalment plan, and I questioned the 
value of my services as a helper being of sufficient com- 
pensation. Finally I screwed up courage to ask the gun- 
smith how much the lock was worth, and to my surprise 
and greater pleasure he replied that if I wanted it I could 
have it without charge. I fairly flew to my father and 

— 62 — 

Reminiscences of Napa 

presented the gun barrel and lock, calling attention to 
his promise. It is needless to say I hung around his shop, 
day by day, watching the progress of his making the 
gun complete with the parts I had furnished. He could 
not work at the job steadily, but only at odd times, so 
there were days when no headway was made, which dis- 
appointed me greatly. However, in time he handed over 
to me the gun, finished and ready for use. I know my 
father felt repaid for his labors in the supreme satisfac- 
tion and pleasure the possession and ownership of that 
weapon gave me. Still I think his reward was not 
unmixed with some fear of accident to me from careless 
handling of the gun, for he schooled me in the manner 
of loading it and particularly in the proper method of 
carrying it when loaded, so as not to injure myself or 
any one who might be with me in case it should be acci- 
dentally discharged. 

My gun was a curiosity. It was longer than my height. 
The barrel was jet black and the stock yellow, but this, 
of course, did not interfere with its efficiency. It was a 
muzzle loader, as were all shotguns of that day. The first 
Saturday after receiving it I was off to the hills on a 
hunting trip bright and early. I soon came across a big 
jackrabbit. Several times I aimed my gun at the game, 
but concluded I was not close enough for execution. 
I would creep through the weeds for a closer position and 
would rise to shoot, to find the rabbit had also shifted its 
position. Finally I had reached my last opportunity, and 
fired. To my surprise the rabbit tumbled over. It was my 
first game. My enthusiasm and excitement were intense. 
I was through hunting for the day, and started for home 
holding my gun over my shoulder with one hand and 
dragging the big jackrabbit with the other. In my pride 
and excitement I did not feel the burden of either the 
gun or game. —63 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

I had a gun. It would shoot. It would kill, and my ini- 
tiation as a hunter had been a success. 

The gun was my close companion for all time I could 
get out of school, but finally I traded it off and in the 
exchange obtained a double-barreled one. After that the 
old gun changed hands many times, and the last I saw of 
it a Chinaman had it. He had further embellished it by 
carving some Chinese characters on the broad part of the 
stock. It had so many owners and was so well known 
that it became almost a part of the early history of Napa. 

I was quite successful in my hunting trips. The hills 
and the valley teemed with all kinds of small game. Quail 
were very plentiful, but it took an expert shot to be able 
to kill any number of this kind of game, for to do so 
one had to be proficient in shooting them while flying. 
There were also great quantities of wild ducks and geese 
in the fall and winter months. I have seen the geese 
gather in the grain fields by the thousands, covering acres 
of ground. When such flocks would rise upon being fright- 
ened they would make a roaring, rasping noise that could 
be heard for miles. 

My ambition to engage in business activities began to 
develop at a very early age. I think I must have been 
about eleven years of age when I saw some boy friends 
peddling peanuts and candy at some public gathering, 
and finding out they were stocked up by a storekeeper 
in town who also supplied the baskets, I applied for an 
opportunity to sec what I could do with an outfit. I soon 
had my chance and easily made a half dollar as my share 
of the undertaking, but was greatly chagrined when I 
told my mother of the enterprise and showed her my 
profits, to find that she felt humiliated and hurt that her 
son should engage in an occupation that she regarded as 
being below his station in life, and was commanded never 
to do such a thing again. 

— 64 — 


. Reminiscences of Napa 

Not very long after that there was a big gathering one 
Saturday afternoon just outside of town on account of 
some horse races. I happened to pass near the store from 
which the peddling supplies were obtained. The proprie- 
tor, pleased with my previous transaction, put a basket 
into my hands and told me to hurry out to the race track. 
I hesitated, for I did not want to disobey my mother's 
injunction, but I could not screw up my courage to tell 
him why. I thought if I did he would have a poor opinion 
of my folks, and think I was a sissy-boy. Therefore I 
took the basket and quickly sold out the contents, receiv- 
ing a dollar for my share of the profits, but I would not 
make another trip. By this time I could not have felt 
worse if I had stolen the money I had earned. I did not 
dare to keep it in my pockets, for somehow or some way 
my mother generally knew what was stored there. Past 
experience told me there was no privacy in those con- 
veniences so necessary to a boy's happy existence so far 
as my mother was concerned. I dared not buy anything 
with the money and thus dispose of it, for then I would 
have to account for the purchase. Watching my oppor- 
tunity, I buried the dollar in the back yard. I occasionally 
dug it up to see if it was safe and finally came to the 
conclusion that the only thing to do was to go to my 
mother and make a clean breast of the affair, which I 
did, promising I would never peddle again, which promise 
I faithfully kept. 

— 65 — 



Incidents of Voyage — Winter in New Brunswick — Down 
the Coast of Maine on a Schooner — Breaking Out of 
the Civil War — Departure of the First Troops from 
the North — War Feeling in California. 

In 1859, my mother's family planned to have a reunion 
at the house of my grandfather and grandmother in 
Auburn, N. Y., so in company with mother, leaving father 
at home, we embarked at San Francisco on a steamer, 
bound for New York via the Isthmus of Panama, arriving 
there early in October. This was about ten years prior 
to the completion of the first railroad across the conti- 
nent. The Panama steamers at this period generally 
carried all the passengers they could accommodate, so 
we were not lonely. The steamers in those days were not 
so large and were not fitted up with the accommodations 
for passengers' comforts as in the present day. Second- 
cabin passengers of this day have better accommodations 
than first-cabin travelers of that period had. We had a 
"stateroom" in the first cabin. Why it or any of the 
rooms were styled "state" I never understood, unless it 
was to give them in importance by name and imagina- 
tion something they lacked in furnishings and comforts. 
Our room, like all the others, had three berths, one above 
the other, like a tier of three shelves in a pantry. The 
dimensions of the room were not unlike a pantry and a 
rather small one at that. In one corner was a projection 
to hold a washbowl and pitcher, a slop bucket underneath, 
a looking glass, and a couple of stools which had tin air 
chambers fastened to the under side of the seat with the 
idea of use as life preservers in case of need. These 

— 66— 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

completed the list of furnishings. Mother's ticket called 
for the middle berth, and mine the lower one, which was 
barely over a foot from the floor. A stranger, an exceed- 
ingly short and very fat woman, was to be our stateroom 
companion, and hers was the upper or top berth. When 
she came in and discovered her location, she gave a wail 
of disappointment, saying she could never get up there in 
the world. I thought so, too, as there were no ladders 
furnished to aid fat women in climbing feats. She won- 
dered what she was going to do; she couldn't sleep on the 
floor; there wasn't room, besides it wasn't nice. As all 
this time she had been looking straight at me, I under- 
stood what she meant and readily traded berths. All 
went well for a few nights until the steamer ran into 
warm weather and our fat companion almost suffocated 
in the stuffy lower berth. She complained greatly of her 
sufferings, and spoke as if she thought we all suffered 
as she did. Then I was foolish and talked too much, 
disputing her statement, explaining about the circulation 
of air passing over the top berth from the ventilator. To 
my surprise and chagrin, she responded by saying she 
guessed she would have to take the berth after all that 
had been assigned to her by the purser. Of course I 
yielded the comfortable place but had my revenge 
whether I was entitled to it or not. I do not know how 
she got up into the berth, but I do know how she came 
down a night or two afterward, and by which incident I 
came into my own again. It was along about midnight 
and there were no noises except the regular throbbing 
of the engines and the beating of the paddle wheels when 
something happened in the engine room, making a noise 
as if the side of the ship was being torn out. Everybody 
was frightened, and particularly our fat lady, who did 
not think there was time to climb down from her elevated 
perch, but leaped out of the berth. Some part of the 
flying mass struck a valise standing on one of the stools. 

— 67 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

This flew out and caromed on the washbowl and pitcher, 
while its pedestal went in another direction. For an 
instant it seemed as if everything movable in that little 
room was flying about as if the place had suddenly been 
transformed into a professional spirit cabinet exhibition. 
Fortunately, she was not seriously injured, and when she 
returned to bed it was to occupy the lower berth. "All is 
well that ends well," thought I. 

Acapulco was the only stopping place between San 
Francisco and Panama. The few hours passed in that 
port were sources of pleasure and interest. A number 
of passengers went ashore to see the sights. Those who 
remained aboard the steamer were entertained by scores 
of natives in small boats, hovering around the sides of 
the vessel, selling fruit and curios. Besides there were a 
number of young natives swimming around, diving for 
coins thrown into the water by the passengers. 

In about two weeks' time we arrived at Panama and, 
after crossing the Isthmus on the railroad, embarked on 
the steamer Star of the West for New York. This steamer 
was the vessel sent down by the government to Charleston 
harbor about eighteen months later to relieve Fort Sum- 
ter, and the first cannon fired in the Civil War was 
directed against this ship, preventing the accomplishment 
of her mission. 

While we were crossing the Gulf of Mexico, a few 
hours out from Aspinwall, the steamer's shaft broke on 
the starboard side, letting the big paddle wheel drop, 
crashing against the side of the steamer in its momentum 
of revolution. It was only held from dropping into the 
sea by the outer bearing of the shaft. As may be imagined, 
the crashing and grinding of the broken wheel against 
the side of the steamer before its momentum was stopped 
was something to startle every one on board, especially 
as only the officers at first knew what had happened. 

Fortunately at the time of the accident the sea was as 

— 68 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

smooth as could be wished foF. The broken wheel was 
soon lashed up and secured from falling into the sea, and 
the steamer proceeded on its voyage with one wheel, 
making fairly good time. As a number of the passengers 
were timid about remaining with the vessel in her dam- 
aged condition, she was run into the harbor at Key West 
and all who desired went ashore and completed the trip 
to their homes and destinations overland. We remained 
with the steamer. Off Cape Hatteras we encountered an 
awful storm. The steamer with its reduced power was in 
no condition to battle such tremendous seas. The waves 
literally ran mountain high. When we slid down from 
the apex of these big seas it was like "shooting the chutes," 
and it seemed as if we were going into certain destruction, 
but the sturdy little steamer would lift her nose out of 
the brine as if with a snort as she finished the glide, and 
up she would climb the long, steep side of the next oncom- 
ing wave. For some hours the contest with the elements 
continued, and when we finally reached smoother water 
and the steamer ceased to creak and groan, color returned 
to the faces of the passengers, and we proceeded on our 
voyage without further incident, but it was generally con- 
ceded we escaped destruction by a very narrow margin. 

We went direct to Auburn, N. Y., where Grandfather 
Roffee lived. There we remained for several months. I 
entered the public school at once and continued a pupil 
until we left on our round of visits to relatives living in 
other parts. I soon became very homesick. Everything 
was so different. The country was so thickly settled one 
could hardly go out beyond the town limits without fear 
of trespass. I sorely missed the freedom of the hills at 
home, and frequently declared to myself that if ever I 
got back nothing could again lure me away. The family 
reunion was held soon after our arrival at grandfather's 
and grandmother's home. All of their children, four boys 
and five girls, all grown to be men and women, gathered 

— 69 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

at the old homestead. I was the only grandchild present. 
The other grandchildren were left at their homes. Per- 
haps I was made the exception because of being the only 
child among the five daughters. The reunion was made 
a notable affair by the newspapers, especially as the fam- 
ily had assembled from such remote points, California, 
New Brunswick, Michigan, Massachusetts, and other states 
of less distance. Grandfather had settled in that section 
of the country between 1825 and 1830, first as a farmer, 
then as a contractor. He was a sturdy, good-natured man, 
and having passed some of his early life at sea, he always 
bore the looks and manners of a seafaring man and was 
universally called captain and was widely known and 
popular in the community. He died in 1876, an event that 
grieved me deeply. 

Mother and I left Auburn late in the fall of 1860 to 
spend the winter in St. John, New Brunswick, with my 
Aunt Augusta, the wife of Doctor John Peterson. St. 
John interested me very much. It was quite a seaport 
and I was able to study the shipping at close range, a 
privilege I never before enjoyed. Another thing which 
impressed me greatly was the 30-foot rise and fall of 
tide, and the river near the town with a fierce, reversible 
current. With the fall of the tide the water whirled and 
eddied into the bay, and with the flood tide the water 
flowed in like manner up stream. 

The winters here were very cold and the fall of snow 
was quite heavy. On the majority of streets no attempt 
was made to remove the snow as it fell, other than from 
the sidewalks. This was thrown into the street, with the 
result that before the winter was over the snow was 
banked in the streets to a level as high as a man's head, 
so that short people walking on one side of the street 
could not see any one on the opposite side. 

With entertainments, skating and other outdoor sports, 
the winter quickly passed and when I left St. John it 

— 70 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

was with pleasant recollections of the visit there. I pre- 
vailed upon my mother to allow me to return to the States 
by sailing vessel. I had made the acquaintance of a cap- 
tain of an American schooner of 300 tons, about to leave 
for Boston. The captain expected not to be longer than 
a week or ten days at the most in making the trip, but 
owing to adverse winds and a fierce storm, the worst that 
had visited the coast for several years, we were over 
two weeks on the voyage. However, I enjoyed it greatly, 
as I was then at that age when excitement and adventure 
were not avoided, if not courted. 

It was some time in March when the schooner sailed 
out of the harbor of St. John. We had fair wind out 
of the Bay of Fundy, but when outside our troubles began, 
so the captain concluded the course nearer the mainland 
would give us more favorable weather, though necessi- 
tating more careful navigation, as we would be sailing 
along and among the many islands bordering the coast 
line. As he was not familiar with the channels on this 
course, he would anchor the vessel at nightfall, and do 
all the sailing in daylight. On a few occasions we came 
to anchor early enough to go to the beach and dig a 
fine mess of clams, which made a most agreeable addi- 
tion to our menu. One afternoon we overtook another 
schooner of about the same size as ours, sailing in the 
same direction. As the islands were getting closer and 
therefore the sailing room narrower our captain became 
a little nervous. He hailed the other craft to know if the 
captain were acquainted with the channel. The reply came 
back that he was and for us to keep about 100 fathoms on 
his starboard quarter and he would take us through all 
right. We shortened sail so as to maintain the position, but 
this was hardly accomplished when a glance at the other 
craft showed it was in trouble. It was hard and fast on a 
reef. It had struck so hard all sheets were carried away 
and the sails slanted forward instead of aft. Almost in 

— 11 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the next instant our vessel's keel touched the rocks, and, 
though lightly, it was sufficient to give us all a scare, 
and for the second time in my young life the hair on the 
back of my head seemed to lift up. The captain acted 
quickly, the sails were dropped by the run, the anchor 
hove, and signal for a pilot was set. In course of an hour 
or so, a little boat was seen putting out from the main 
shore line, which at this distance seemed to carry, besides 
the oarsmen, something like a big cooking stove with a 
section of stove pipe. This object, however, turned out to 
be the pilot answering our signal. When he unfolded 
from his position in the boat he proved to be a very tall, 
slim man wearing a stovepipe hat, who measured about 
seven feet from the deck to the top of the hat. He soon 
had us on our way again and in less dangerous waters. 
He certainly was a comical sight. 

Our next serious adventure was the weathering of a 
fierce gale. We sought anchorage in a small harbor, as 
the captain anticipated troublesome weather. Both 
anchors were put out and everything made snug. The 
preparations were hardly completed when the storm was 
on us. The wind came with tremendous force. There 
were no waves, but the surface of the water was one mass 
of white foam. We felt sure the schooner was dragging 
her anchors and drifting toward shore, but nothing could 
be done. A person could not stand on deck. All we could 
do was to lie in our bunks and wait for the hurricane 
to abate or something worse to take place. Finally 
toward morning the storm passed over, and at daylight 
I was out on deck to see what had happened. Our 
schooner was riding the water safely some distance from 
its original anchorage, though we had passed close to 
a big rock while dragging the anchors, and was located 
then not far from another mass of rocks on which we 
surely would have been dashed if the gale had continued 
much longer. When we came into the harbor the night 

— 72 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

before we found at anchor several fishing sloops and 
schooners. With one or two exceptions these had all 
been blown ashore and were wrecks high and dry on the 
beach, some a hundred yards or so from the water, show- 
ing that the force of the wind had raised the water level 
several feet in the harbor. It was a record storm and 
much damage was done along that part of the Atlantic 
Coast, as I afterward found by reading the account of it 
in the newspapers. 

The day following the storm was Sunday. The weather 
was still unfavorable for the resumption of the voyage, so 
we remained at anchor. During the day some residents 
of the shore came aboard for a visit and to discuss the 
incidents of the previous night. The visitors informed 
us that inshore a short distance was a school-house where 
religious services would be held that Sunday evening, and 
invited us to attend. When the hour for church was near 
a party from the schooner, including myself, put off for 
shore. We soon found the school-house back in among 
the trees a half mile or so from the water. It was the only 
building we saw in the vicinity, and was constructed of 
logs in the usual manner. The assemblage fairly filled 
the school-room and was made up mostly of young peo- 
ple. The room was lighted by candles placed around the 
sides of the building. The preacher took his position at 
the teacher's desk, holding a candle in one hand and a 
bible or hymn book in the other throughout the ser- 
vices, not even laying the candle aside during the prayer. 
I can not recall anything said by the preacher, for the rea- 
son that my whole attention was absorbed by the appear- 
ance and conduct of the people making up the congre- 
gation. Nearly everybody was chewing gum, not the kind 
we get in these days in the stores, but the spruce gum 
as it was found on the trees thereabouts. Moreover, the 
young men as well as the young ladies seemed more inter- 
ested in one another than in what the minister was telling 

— 73 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

them. When the services were ended the men left the 
room first and took position lined up on each side of the 
path from the door. Then the young women filed out 
and as they passed between the lines they, one by one, 
found their partners from among the young men and off 
they went in various directions. 

We found our way back over the snow-packed road to 
the beach, and thence to the schooner, feeling fully 
repaid for the tramp through the snow and exposure to 
the cold wind blowing over the water. 

One afternoon we sailed into Portsmouth harbor and 
cast anchor near the government navy yard, where an 
exceedingly strong current prevailed. For some reason 
the sails were not lowered, only the peaks being dropped. 
The wind was blowing fairly strong and the canvas would 
fill and the schooner would sail up against the current 
until the anchor would bring her into the wind, then 
the sails would flap and the vessel would drift back until 
the sails would catch the wind again. While this was 
going on and everybody was down below getting supper, 
I came up on deck. Desiring a more elevated position 
to view the country I climbed onto the boom of the 
mainsail and walked out to the end, which projected over 
the water, hanging on to the top and lift with my hands. 
Here I stood until the schooner had been brought into the 
wind as just described. The first flap of the big sail 
knocked my feet off the boom. There I dangled in the 
air with only a hand hold between me and certain death 
until the schooner drifted back to where the wind caught 
the sails again. I regained the deck limp with fright from 
my narrow escape, but glad that no one had witnessed the 

For the last few days of our voyage we had exceedingly 
cold weather, and when we put into Boston harbor the 
decks, bulwarks, and rigging were covered with a mantle 
of ice. I soon found mother, who was greatly relieved by 

— Ik — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

my arrival, as she had begun to fear something had hap- 
pened to our craft in the great gale. 

Leaving Boston, mother and I arrived at Providence, 
R. I., going for a short visit to the home of Nathaniel 
Potter, who was a distant relative of my mother. The 
great conflict of the Civil War had begun. It was while 
here that the first troops left Rhode Island in quick 
response to the call of President Lincoln. Fort Sumter 
had been fired on and blood had been shed. Government 
stations and property in the South where possible were 
being seized by those in rebellion who had declared 
they were no longer a part of the federal government. 
There was great excitement in Providence. To fill the 
quota of soldiers wanted from Rhode Island offices were 
opened to enlist volunteers. In a few hours the required 
number of men was obtained, and the enlistment offices 
were overwhelmed with crowds of men who were willing 
and anxious to serve their country. Not one-half of the 
men who offered their services could be accepted. I saw. 
men shedding tears because they had not secured enlist- 
ment. The men accepted were mustered in at once into 
company and regiment organizations. Martial music arid 
the tramp of men were to be heard almost continuously, 
and the coming conflict was the subject uppermost in 
everybody's mind. The only attempt to uniform the troops 
was to dress them in dark pantaloons, blue blouses, and 
soft black hats, there not being time for more. During 
the period of enlistment and until the troops departed 
from Providence I frequently saw Major Burnside, who 
afterward distinguished himself and became a great com- 
mander. The first lot of Rhode Island volunteers left 
Providence in a large steamer, which was accompanied 
down the bay by numerous smaller steamers, crowded 
with relatives and friends of the enlisted men. I went on 
one of Mr. Potter's steamers and was greatly impressed 
with the sight, and with the serious import of the occasion. 

— 75 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Subsequently I saw many thousands of troops leaving for 
the seat of war from other points in the North. 

Mr. Potter, at whose home we were visiting, suffered 
great financial losses by reason of the war. His business 
was largely connected with the South. One of his indus- 
tries was the manufacturing of cottonseed oil, but he 
was only one of many in like position who never fal- 
tered in their patriotism and loyalty to the government. 

From Providence we went to Great Valley, a little place 
in Western New York, a station on the Erie Railroad, 
where my Aunt Mintie lived. We remained there a couple 
of months, and I think I enjoyed the time passed in 
Great Valley more than at any other place while away 
from California. The town, located on the banks of the 
Allegheny River, was on an Indian reservation, and the 
country around was in its natural wildness. The neighbor- 
ing streams all yielded trout to those who knew how to 
catch them. 

I constructed a small skiff and rigged a sail for it 
and with this craft I had much pleasure on the river. 
My boat interested the Indians greatly, for they never 
had witnessed this manner of navigation. It was along 
this section of the Allegheny River that the first units 
of the great lumber rafts were made that were floated 
down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to be marketed. At 
the sawmills located on the banks of the Allegheny the 
sawed lumber was made into rafts of small sections which 
were joined together from time to time as the river 
widened out, until finally when the great rivers were 
reached they were huge affairs. These rafts drifted with 
the current and were kept in the channel by long wide- 
bladed sweeps worked on each end. The raftsmen lived 
on the rafts during the passage down the river. 

While we were at Great Valley the construction of a 
railroad to Cincinnati connecting with the Erie road, a few 
miles east of our station, was begun. Where the tracks 

— 76 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

of the two roads joined was a wild forest, with no habi- 
tation for miles around. My curiosity took me out to 
this point quite frequently. The junction was called Sala- 
manca. The first habitation put here was a freight caboose 
car taken off its wheels, which was solely used for rail- 
road purposes. I helped the lineman install a set of 
telegraph instruments in this "first house." Therefore, I 
was present at the birth of Salamanca, which inside of 
fifteen years had several thousand inhabitants, and grew 
to be a city with paved streets and blocks of brick 

The wildwoods with their great variety of trees, shrubs, 
and berry bushes, nearly all of which were new to me, 
were a source of much interest, and as trout streams 
meandered through these spots, I must say I passed a 
great part of my time in their company. 

With all my pleasure here, an accident occurred just 
before we left which threw a shadow of sadness over it 
all. One evening after supper I was playing on the 
sloping bank of the river with two boy companions when 
the latter took to chasing each other over some large 
logs which had been hauled to the bank to be rolled into 
the river for the convenience of the sawmill nearby. 
I noticed an open space between the logs lying near the 
water's edge and those on the bank above, and, as there 
was little if anything holding the upper logs from rolling 
down against the others, I was fearful the action of the 
boys on the logs would start them. I shouted a warning, 
but too late — the logs began to roll. The boys saw their 
danger. One nearer the end of the logs escaped by jump- 
ing; the other lad struggled for a few seconds to keep on 
top, only to be jolted off down between the logs as 
they came together, instantly crushing out his young life. 
We ran to the mill men for help, who quickly responded, 
but it took some time to move the heavy logs and recover 
the body. 

— 77 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

The time had now come for our return to California. 
The country was ablaze with excitement over the war 
with the South. In every city and town we passed on our 
trip from Great Valley to New York we saw marching 
soldiers in preparation to take part in the great struggle 
to preserve the Union. The activities of the war were 
not confined to land alone. The navy was being increased 
in every possible way, and all possible effort was being 
made to blockade Southern harbors and capture or 
destroy the privateers being sent out to prey upon mer- 
chant steamers and ships owned in the North. So when 
we embarked on the steamer for home the passengers 
were in constant fear that our vessel would be captured. 
It was thought an especial effort would be made to over- 
take our steamer, as we had on board as passengers sev- 
eral naval officers, one of high rank, bound for the Pacific 
Coast. Besides, our cargo would have been of value to 
the Southern side. During those days not a few passen- 
gers spent much of their time watching for the possible 
privateer, and there was much speculation as to what 
would be done with the passengers in case we should be 
captured. I must confess, boylike, I was rather disap- 
pointed when none of the craft that came in view proved 
to be privateers in search of our steamer. Of course, I 
did not consider the hardships we might have had to 
undergo if capture had been our misfortune. It was only 
the excitement of such an event that then appealed to me. 

We reached the Isthmus safely, and the remainder of 
our voyage was without incident until the night before 
we were to arrive in San Francisco. This was July 3. The 
next day being the Fourth, every one was anxious to have 
the steamer reach port as early as possible. To gratify 
the wishes of the passengers that they might not miss the 
celebration of Independence Day in the city, it was said 
that the course of the steamer was brought in as close 
to the coast line as possible. However, along about mid- 

— 78 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

night everybody was awakened by a terrific shock and 
the stopping of the machinery. Throwing on a few 
clothes, I ran out from the main saloon to the guard abaft, 
the starboard wheelhouse to learn, if possible, the cause 
of the stopping of the vessel, for no one in the saloon 
seemed to know what had happened. Upon looking out 
from this point I saw the sea breaking over two or three 
different points of rock directly opposite the side of the 
steamer. They could not have been very far away, other- 
wise the heavy fog would have shut them out from view. 
I then ran across to the other guard on the port side, where 
I found a similar condition prevailed. About this time 
one of the officers of the ship came down in the saloon, 
saying that while there was no danger the passengers 
should all dress themselves and be prepared to leave the 
ship, as she had run ashore in the dense fog. 

Investigation showed we were under a high cliff and 
the bow of the steamer was resting easily on the sandy 
beach at Point Concepcion. In getting this position the 
steamer had fortunately passed in between several rocky 
projections. Another thing in our favor was that the 
accident happened near low water and there was no wind 
or high sea running. Anchors, with a couple of heavy 
cables, were taken out some little distance from the after- 
part of the ship. The steerage passengers were all 
brought aft and everything was done to lift the bow of 
the steamer as much as possible. After waiting awhile 
for sufficient rise of tide, the capstans on the cables were 
started and the big paddle wheels put in backward 
motion. There was a straining of cables and the ship 
held fast for a few moments; then she began to move 
backward, but no one breathed freely until we were well 
beyond the rocks. 

In recent years the steamer Santa Rosa was wrecked 
at the same point, but in this instance there was a total 
loss of ship and cargo, besides a few lives from among 

— 79 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the passengers and crew in making the transfer from the 
wreck to the shore. The Santa Rosa struck on the rocks 
we missed. 

Soon after the passengers were instructed to don their 
clothes and to be prepared to go ashore, an amusing inci- 
dent came under my observation. The excitement had 
about quieted down and people were waiting for develop- 
ments, when a second cabin passenger named Solomon, 
who had his wife and little boy of six or seven years 
of age with him on the trip, known to all the passengers 
of both cabins by his peculiar conduct, came running out 
of the second cabin into the first cabin saloon dragging 
his boy with one hand and a trunk with the other. He, 
the boy, and trunk were covered with life preservers, fas- 
tened on them in most absurd ways. Apparently, Solo- 
mon had exhausted the supply of preservers, for his wife 
had none. So he had disposed of them in the order in 
which he valued his possessions. The "ha! ha!" that 
greeted him did not disturb his equanimity, for he did not 
retreat to his cabin or remove the life preservers until 
all danger was passed. 

How much damage, if any, the steamer received I never 
learned. Nothing was published in the newspapers about 
it that I ever saw. It was said that when she came along- 
side the wharf in San Francisco to discharge her passen- 
gers she had several feet of water in her hold. 

Father met us at the wharf and we soon took the river 
steamer bound for our home in Napa. We left the steamer 
at Benicia, with only a three-hour stage ride between 
this last point and our destination. I shall never forget 
the exultation and thrill of joy I experienced when I 
came in sight once more of the country and the hills so 
familiar and dear to me. I thought nothing of having 
missed those indulgences, sports, and pastimes common 
to boys of my age on Fourth of July. I was satisfied, for 
I was home where for nearly two long years I had wished 

— 80 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

to be. However, I must say that in after years I learned 
to appreciate the value of the knowledge and experience 
gained in that absence and visits to various parts of the 
Eastern states and Canadian possessions. 

War feeling was running high in California, and for a 
while there was fear some effort would be made to take 
the state out of the Union, as there were so many South- 
erners and Southern sympathizers here, prominent in 
office and in politics. There was an attempt made to fit 
out a small schooner called the Chapman as a privateer, 
and rumors were thick of organization to seize the gov- 
ernment arsenal at Benicia and the navy yard at Mare 
Island, but government authorities seized the Chapman 
and acted so promptly and firmly on other matters that no 
serious conflict occurred in the state. 

In Napa County the sympathizers with the North and 
South were thought at first to be about equally divided in 
numbers, but as the war went on and the town increased 
in population, a decided majority for the Union side 
developed. Before the war closed there were three mili- 
tary organizations formed in the town of Napa — a com- 
pany of infantry, a company of cavalry, and an artillery 
company with two field guns. They were all mustered in 
as state troops. The companies were frequently called out 
for drill, parade, and encampments, and were prepared 
to promptly answer any call for service in defense of the 
state or government. But, fortunately, no occasion arose 
demanding service of that kind, although there were 
times when it appeared as though a conflict was not only 
possible but probable. Government agents were keeping 
close w r atch of the doings of all prominent Southern sym- 
pathizers, and some of their reports were quite alarm- 
ing as to what the Southerners were organizing to do. On 
one occasion the military of Napa was notified by the 
federal authorities that a number of rebels would assem- 
ble in the upper part of the valley with the intention 

— 81 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

of swooping down on the armory in the town and cap- 
turing the field guns and the equipment of the other com- 
panies; then, thus armed, they would make a rush for 
the navy yard and attempt to capture that place. For 
months previous a small guard had been on duty at the 
armory during the night hours, and the ringing of the 
courthouse bell was to be the signal of trouble when the 
members of the companies were expected to assemble. 
When the report above mentioned was received the guard 
was increased with a sufficient number of men to nightly 
patrol the roads leading into town from the north. I was 
a member of the infantry company — in fact, the youngest 
of the eighty members — and stood my share of this night 
work. Heretofore I had not regarded it as a very serious 
matter, but now it seemed to be taking on a very realistic 
form, and I was not so sure I was enjoying it. The lonely 
vigil of sentry duty was creepy business at night at the 
best for a sixteen-year-old boy, but when things became 
so threatening I could have given Sherman's definition of 
war my unqualified indorsement. 

On one occasion while all were tuned up with excite- 
ment, expectation, and anxiety, a man rode into town in 
great haste, bringing the information that in the vicinity 
of Yountville, out in the fields about a half mile from 
the county road, he had seen some mounted men maneu- 
vering with a field gun of large size. The horses would 
be attached to the gun. It was rushed to position, unlim- 
bered, and so on, giving the impression that the artillery- 
men were being drilled in handling the gun. As that sec- 
tion of the valley was at this time almost exclusively 
settled with Southern sympathizers, the statement of what 
the man saw, coupled with the information furnished by 
the federal authorities, caused the military of Napa to be 
placed on war footing in short order, at least for one 
night. The whole force was called out and remained on 
duty all night. Our scouts, sent into the enemy's country, 

— 82 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

however, brought back information which raised a big 
laugh at the expense of the "Home Guards," as we were 
frequently dubbed by Southerners. They found the gun, 
but it was only a rough imitation — a couple of sections 
of 6-inch stove pipe laid across the axle of a pair of 
front wheels of a wagon. While the joke was on us, all 
hands were pleased with the outcome of our nearest 
approach to a conflict. 

So numerous were the friends of the South in this sec- 
tion that the flying of rebel flags was quite commonly 
indulged in, but I do not recall that any serious disturb- 
ance arose over flaunting the colors of the South. This 
was possibly due to the fact that the town was so small 
that, aside from politics, the inhabitants were all friends 
and neighbors. 

The assassination of President Lincoln at the close of 
the war was an event causing intense excitement in Napa 
as well as everywhere else. All interest in business or 
other matters ceased upon publication of the telegram 
announcing the tragedy. For several days people would 
gather in groups on the streets or public places discuss- 
ing the details of the awful affair. There was much bit- 
terness expressed in these meetings, and it was feared 
that the feeling might take some form of vengeance on 
those sympathizing with the South. It would have taken 
but little to have started the Unionists in some kind of 
mob action. In San Francisco such a mob did destroy 
one or two newspaper offices and commit some other 
offenses against persons who had been outspoken in their 
attitude against the Union side, but in the course of a few 
days things quieted down and citizens began prepara- 
tions to honor the dead President. Public and private 
buildings, business houses, and private residences were 
festooned in mourning drapery. Mock funerals were held 
in almost every community of any size. At Napa a most 
creditable display was made. A procession with an impos- 

— 83 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

ing catafalque, followed by the military, civic societies, 
and civilians, was an impressive sight. A funeral oration 
was delivered by Henry Edgerton, one of the ablest 
and best known orators in the state. Every one felt the 
solemnity of the occasion and was moved by sincere grief 
at the loss of the great President. I participated in the 
parade as acting orderly sergeant of our company. I know 
I felt quite set up at being taken from the ranks for the 
position, and I do not believe the grand marshal felt his 
responsibilities more than I did mine. It, moreover, 
pleased me as an appreciation of my efforts to thoroughly 
acquaint myself with the duties of a soldier and the drill. 
I had studied tactics and sought information and instruc- 
tion from every source. In fact, all through life I never 
entered upon any undertaking without making myself 
thoroughly acquainted with all its details, that I might 
be master of it. To this, coupled with determination and 
persistence, and with no room for discouragement, I owe 
what success I have made. Thus equipped, I know I have 
succeeded in fields where others have failed. 

Our company made a practice of going out for target 
shooting about twice a year. As a rule I won the first prize, 
but there was one very marked exception. I was not 
conscious of any superior ability as a marksman; it 
seemed so easy for me to hit the target, I could not under- 
stand why everybody else could not do as well. On the 
occasion of the exception, the detail who had the handling 
of the ammunition were practical jokers, and when they 
dealt out to me my three cartridges I noticed they were 
considerably shorter than usual. We were using muzzle- 
loading Springfield rifles, and the powder wrapped in 
paper fastened to a conical ball with a hollow base con- 
stituted the cartridge. The procedure of loading was to 
tear the end of paper open, pour the powder into the 
muzzle of rifle barrel, then ram home the ball with the 
paper attached, as a wad over the powder. I loaded my 

— 84 — 

Trip to the Atlantic Coast 

gun .with one of the cartridges, and, when it came my 
turn to shoot, there was a weak report, and the bullet was 
seen to plow the dirt very short of the target. Those in 
on the joke had a good laugh at my poor marksmanship. 
I then looked at the other two cartridges and realized 
what had been done. I was deeply mortified and much 
wrought up in my feelings, and while in this mood I 
loaded my rifle again, this time using the powder of the 
two remaining cartridges for one shot. Addressing my 
tormentors I pointed to a little tree about twelve inches 
in diameter standing about 300 yards away, telling them 
to watch it. I fired, and a patch of bark flew off, so all 
could see that I had made a center shot. I was out of 
the match, but felt I had repaired my reputation and put 
a stop to further amusement at my expense. 

Writing about the doings of the military companies calls 
to mind an incident in the history of the Napa cavalry 
that was serious in one sense and quite amusing in 
another. The company had been in attendance at a state 
encampment held a few miles west of Suisun, and was 
on the way home from the affair. A vineyardist, learning 
that the company was to pass his ranch that afternoon, 
had brought out to the roadside in front of his place a lot 
of wine with which to treat the soldiers. It had been hot 
and everybody was thirsty. This was in the early days 
of wine-making in this state when not only those who 
drank it but those who made it knew but little about it, 
further than that it had about the same intoxicating quali- 
ties as an equal amount of whisky. Probably not one in 
twenty of the company had ever tasted any of the Cali- 
fornia wine. The company was halted upon arrival at the 
place and the wine-maker given a cheer when it was made 
known what was to happen. Everybody drank — some 
daintily, some freely — the officers as well as the rank and 
file. The company was soon on the march, but in a few 
moments the strong wine in the heated blood began to 

— 85 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

show its effects. Within a half hour the company lost 
all semblance of order. Some men fell off their horses 
and were unable to regain their saddles; some ran their 
horses, and others sought the shade of trees. The mem- 
bers became scattered along the road for several miles. 
Those least affected managed to get a position ahead of 
the straggling cavalrymen, and when they reached a place 
a couple of miles from home they halted the men as they 
came up and remained there, not going into town until 
after dark. No one was seriously hurt, but several were 
made quite ill, and all who drank complained they did 
not recover from unpleasant sensations for several days. 
The members were from among the very best citizens 
of the town and country and could never have been 
induced to indulge in the wine if they had had the slight- 
est idea of what was to happen. 

86 — 



Experiences in Futile Search of Employment in a Machine 
Shop — The Position of Apprentice in a Newspaper 
Office Accepted — Oil Excitement of 1865 — Adventures 
on the Trip Through the Wilds to the Oil Fields. 

Almost immediately upon our arrival home from the 
long visit East, I entered upon my studies in school. 
I began now to appreciate the value of an education. 
I worked hard to keep up with my classes, fully realizing 
I was not what was called a bright scholar. Probably for 
this reason I concluded I would never be able to earn a 
living in a professional way, and the adverse comments 
of my teacher on my school work, especially mathematics, 
undoubtedly influenced my conclusions. When I was about 
seventeen years of age our embryonic college closed for 
all time, so I determined to make my start in life, 
considering mechanics was the only field open to me. 
I thought the trade of a machinist was the best suited 
to my qualifications, and that it offered some little chance 
of position in life above that of a day laborer. I thought 
that if I could serve my time as a machinist, I might then 
be able to secure a position as an engineer on an ocean 
steamer and in time become a chief engineer. With my 
future thus mapped out I went to San Francisco and 
sought out the manager of one of the largest machine 
shops in the city and applied for a position as apprentice. 
I guess my size (for I was very slight in build) and my 
country appearance must have been against me, for he 
said he was sure I would not do. I visited other shops, in 

— 87 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

nearly all of which my services were declined. Finally 
I found a manager who gave me some encouragement to 
the extent that he would give me consideration when he 
had a vacancy. These efforts required considerable time 
and several trips to and from San Francisco. I visited the 
last-mentioned shop several times to be certain that I 
should be on hand when the vacancy developed. How I 
envied the boys at work there, wishing I could be rigged 
up in greasy overalls as they were, with smutted hands 
and faces! The buzz of the machinery was a pleasing 
sound to me. These visits, therefore, only served to excite 
my ambition instead of tending to discourage me. Some- 
how, and for some reason I can not explain, I was sure 
if I persisted I would finally succeed. 

While waiting for the greatly desired opportunity I 
was told of a place I could secure in a big planing mill 
which was located on Market Street near the intersection 
of California. I took the job with a compensation of $5 
per week attached, with the idea I could remain in San 
Francisco, which might afford me some advantage in get- 
ting into the machine shop. In the planing mill I was to 
wait on the workmen, remove to the boiler room the shav- 
ings and sawdust made by the mill operation, and do any- 
thing that might be required of me. I had learned to 
handle tools in my father's shop, so I was quite at home 
in my new job. This pleased the boss greatly, and he gave 
me work to do that tickled my vanity. He put me at 
machine work helping to turn out some extra heavy 
moulding made in circular sections for an archway that 
was ordinarily done by his best men. From lack of expe- 
rience I had a couple of very narrow escapes from death 
on the job, and some close calls from lesser injuries in 
working on other machines. Finally, while ripping up 
some long redwood boards on a circular saw one day, 
I had nearly finished the cut when the board split out the 
remainder of the distance and one piece flew up and 

— 88 — 

Close of School Work 

landed on top of the saw. The momentum of the saw 
sent the board flying back endwise with the velocity of a 
cannon ball. It struck the front end of the building, shat- 
tering the door and passing so close to my body that I 
was unnerved for any mqj*e work in that place and 
resigned the job, thankful I was alive. 

The $5 per week allowed me only an average of about 
70 cents per day for the seven days of the week for room 
rent, meals, and any other minor necessities. It required 
some careful managing to satisfy my appetite. I patron- 
ized the waterfront coffee stands for breakfast, then 
the cheap restaurants up town for lunch and supper. 
A 25-cent meal was the limit of possible indulgence. 

Under the circumstances I concluded I had better go 
back home and there await the chance for the opening in 
the machine shop. Traveling back and forth did not 
require any passage money, for I took advantage of the 
regular trip of the schooner Toccao, on board of which I 
was always welcomed by Captain Wines, the owner. 

It was on one of these trips I made the acquaintance 
of John T. Dare, who afterward became a prominent attor- 
ney and politician in San Francisco. One Sunday morn- 
ing, while the schooner was waiting for the turn of the 
tide to start on the trip for Napa, a young fellow came 
strolling down the wharf, dressed in the garb of a work- 
ingman, with a roll of blankets over his shoulder. After 
eyeing the schooner for a while he hailed me, asking where 
she was bound, how long it would take to make the trip, 
etc., and finally asked if I thought the captain would 
let him go along without charge. I replied that I would 
find out. The generous-hearted owner said that of course 
he could go. This young fellow was John T. Dare. He 
told me he had just arrived from Arizona and was prac- 
tically without money, and, learning there was plenty of 
employment in the harvest fields, was striking out for a 
job. I did not see him for some months after we landed 

— 89 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

in Napa. He had gone to work on one of the big ranches, 
and had already secured the position of foreman. He 
made good in all he undertook, even subsequently in 
the study of law, but his achievements were not due to 
luck, for all his progress in life and final elevation to 
high political positions and esteem of his fellow citizens, 
was gained only by hard work. 

On my return home, late in the summer of 1863, 1 found 
the publication of a newspaper was about to be started 
by a couple of men named Strong and Howell. They had 
employed a printer named Ray and wanted a boy. I told 
the publishers I would only take the job temporarily, 
as I intended to be a machinist. I was engaged, however, 
at $6 per week. The paper was published weekly and was 
called the Napa Register. It is still being published as a 
paper of excellence and influence, but is now issued daily 
and weekly. It was in this office I was taught the mys- 
teries of the printing business, the lay of the case, how to 
"roll" for a hand press, and was called the "devil." 
Mr. Strong, for some reason, soon sold out his interest in 
the business and went to San Francisco, where he secured 
a position as foreman on a newspaper called the Argus, 
published almost wholly in the interest of the mining 
business. Mr. Strong sent for me, offering me the largest 
wages I had yet earned. Of course, I was not backward 
in accepting. I was to .receive $10 or $12 per week. 
Mr. Strong was a kind-hearted man, a thorough printer, 
with more than ordinary education, and I greatly appre- 
ciated his efforts to perfect my work as a printer, as well 
as many practical ideas he drilled into me. I became 
interested in the work and saw there was a future in the 
business, with greater independence in position and much 
less red tape to contend with than in the calling I had 
first chosen for my life work. Therefore I gave up the 
idea of being a machinist and engineer and decided to 
learn the business of printing and become a publisher. 

— 90 — 

Close of School Work 

Mr. Strong was making a fair compositor out of me. 
I worked hard to please him and the owner of the paper, 
using every opportunity to learn all I possibly could about 
the business. 

The Argus was not the financial success we all wished 
it to be and the result was that after a while we only 
received a portion of our earnings on Saturday nights. 
At the request of the publisher I had canvassed the town 
of Napa for subscribers and obtained quite a list. How- 
ever, I refused to accept any advance payments, as I knew 
that the life of the paper was uncertain. After working 
some time and as the amount of unpaid earnings was 
growing with the coming of each weekly pay day, I con- 
cluded to seek employment elsewhere. The publisher had 
so many creditors chasing him that I had hard work 
to find him to secure authority to collect the subscriptions 
due from the Napa subscribers and apply them to the 
discharge of the amount he was owing me. He was reluc- 
tant to do this, but I was insistent, and finally succeeded 
in my demands. I returned home and collected my dues. 
The paper failed soon afterward and I was told that I was 
the only one working on the paper who had received all 
that was due him. 

It was now late in the spring or early in the summer of 
the year 1865. I had become quite an expert in setting type 
for plain newspaper work and found considerable employ- 
ment in the office of the Napa newspapers. While in town, 
I was the only person who could set type available for any 
extra demand that would come on the office, therefore my 
services were sought nearly every week for a few days, 
and for this reason I did not go away to seek steady 

About this time the people of Napa especially became 
greatly interested and excited over the discovery of oil 
in Humboldt County, owing to the fact that one of the 
most prominent citizens was the owner of considerable 

— 91 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

land in the district where the oil indications had been 
found. In fact, some of the oil seepages existed on his 
land. A company was incorporated and stock was sold to 
citizens. I was among the many who had been stricken 
with oil fever and invested all my savings, about $800, in 
purchase of the stock. The investment embraced the first 
accumulation of money I had ever made. After becoming 
interested in the company I was anxious to visit the oil 
field. A party of three or four citizens who were also 
owners of the stock was preparing for the trip and they 
offered to supply me with a horse if I would go along. I 
very promptly accepted the invitation. The trip had to be 
made for the greater part of this distance on horseback, 
so it was decided to go all the way in this manner. We 
had two horses on which we packed our provisions, cook- 
ing utensils, and blankets, and, with ourselves mounted, 
made quite a cavalcade when we rode out of Napa the day 
after the celebration of the Fourth of July. A couple of 
the party carried rifles and I had my shotgun, as we were 
to camp out for the entire trip and, as a considerable por- 
tion of the route to the oil fields was through sparsely and 
wholly uninhabited sections, we knew we had to depend 
upon the guns to supply all the meat we would have to 
eat. I may as well say now that we never went hungry for 
meat. Game was so plentiful and, with no game laws to 
interfere, we seldom had to leave the trails or road to get 
all we needed. 

Our route took us through Napa Valley, thence into 
Russian River Valley, thence by way of Cloverdale out to 
the coast, and thence up the coast to Mattole River, which 
was our destination. On the banks of the river, a few miles 
from where it flowed into the ocean, a little town had 
risen, called Petrolia. It was around the town for an area 
of several miles that oil indications or seepages w r ere 
found at various points. 

At the time we passed through Russian River Valley it 

— 92 — ! "f 

Close of School Work 

seemed outside of civilization. There were no railroads 
and the distance to market for the farmers' produce was 
so great that grain grown there was fed to cattle and 
hogs. We saw droves of hogs being turned into magnifi- 
cent fields of ripe wheat. As soon as the animals became 
fat they would be driven to market; thus the farmers 
harvested their crops by turning the grain into pork, and 
solved the problem of transportation by making the pork 
carry itself to market points. The land was exceedingly 
fertile and everything grew most luxuriantly. The grain 
stood as thick as could be, with heavy heads waving, as 
high as the fences. The growth of corn was prodigious. 
We passed one field where the stalks seemed to average 
between ten and twelve feet in height. The road from 
Cloverdale to the coast has been changed but little, if 
any, in location, though the country on either side has 
been settled to far greater extent in recent years. The 
same is true of other coast highways. In the hundred 
miles or so traveled along the coast, from a few miles 
above Mendocino City, we encountered only two habita- 
tions, one of which was occupied by a couple of hunters. 
There was no wagon road, and for the best part of the 
distance no trail, other than those made by the wild 
animals. Magnificent forests of redwood and tanbark 
oak covered the mountain sides, the beauty of which no 
woodman's ax had yet marred. How different now ! This 
entire stretch of country is dotted with lumber mills and 
ranches, and I am informed the timber is about all cut 
on the mountain slopes facing the ocean, and the timber 
men arc logging from the back or east side of the ridges 
paralleling the ocean shore. In traveling through this 
section we were able to ride along for many miles on the 
sands of the ocean beach. The route would be blocked at 
times by rocky points jutting out into the ocean, when we 
would have to take to the hill and mountain side. At' one 
of these places we found it dangerous work to get around. 

— 93 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

A narrow but very deep canyon came down almost paral- 
lel to the beach. On the ocean side there was a perpen- 
dicular cliff which left only a thin slice of the mountain 
between the canyon and ocean. The only way out for us 
was to go up on the edge of the slice. We could see the 
trail made by animals going up and down. We dis- 
mounted and, with the pack horses ahead, started up. 
It was not only steep, but the edge was so narrow that 
in places you could, by turning your head, look down 
either side and, at the most elevated point, a distance of 
some four or five hundred feet to the beach. All went 
well with us until near the top, when in a very narrow 
place, the pack horses stopped to nibble some inviting 
bunches of grass. Being next to them in the procession, 
it fell to me to get the animals moving on the trail again. 
To do this I had to go a portion of the way on my hands 
and knees, to reach the straying horses and start them 
again on the trail. I was somewhat unnerved by the situ- 
ation and fearful of serious accident. A few yards fur- 
ther on and we were out on safe ground. 

Before we left home we had been supplied with a rough 
map, giving an outline of the route by a party who had 
been over it a short time previously. It was frequently 
referred to during the last few days of our journey. At 
last, from our interpretation of the map, we concluded 
we had reached a point from which one day's ride would 
take us into the oil fields and to our destination. We 
decided that by caching all of our provisions, cooking 
utensils, etc., our pack horses would be so relieved that 
we could travel faster and reach the end of the journey 
early in the afternoon. As we were to stop at the oil 
company's camp we would not need any of the provisions 
until we should reach the cache on our return trip. We 
found a suitable place among some rocks in a little 
gulch where we felt reasonably sure our things would be 
safe until we should need them. We selected enough 

— 94 — 

Close of School Work 

food for our lunch and took along the coffee pot as indis- 
pensable for the noon meal. We rode along rather 
briskly, frequently comparing the landmarks with our 
map to find indication of the end of our journey. Noon 
came but we had not yet been able to identify any place 
pointing to it, though, from the number of miles we had 
put behind us in that forenoon, we thought we should be 
near the mouth of the Mattole River. At lunch we finished 
the last morsel of food we had taken with us. Resuming 
our journey, hour after hour passed until near sundown, 
when we came to a place on the coast where we could 
see ahead for several miles, but the landmarks locating 
the river were not visible. We concluded it would be 
unwise for us to attempt to finish the trip in the dark 
and there was nothing else to do but camp where we were. 
We had nothing to eat and were hungry. While standing 
around discussing the situation I felt a trifle chilly, so 
put on my coat for the first time after the first night out, 
and, putting my hand in a pocket, I felt a package, which 
I removed to see what it was, and to the delight of all 
hands it proved to be a part of a paper of tea that the 
cook had put in the pocket of my coat, conveniently 
hanging near the camp fire of that first night out. A 
couple of the party went to the beach and gathered some 
mussels from the rocks. Up on the mountain side a half 
mile or so was seen an Indian shack. I rode there in 
hope of being able to get something to appease our hun- 
ger, and found a half-breed man at home. After consid- 
erable parleying I purchased two loaves of bread — all 
he had. These loaves were about ten inches wide by 
fourteen long and an inch and a half thick. At first he 
denied having any eatables but finally brought out the 
bread at the sight of a dollar. Further offers of money, 
however, were of no avail in getting anything additional. 
When I dumped the bread in a sack I concluded that by 
weight I had not paid a very excessive price for it. I also 

— 95 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

noticed some little lumps over the top surface of the 
loaves the same as raisins indicate their presence in cake. 
Examination showed, however, that, instead of raisins, 
the loaves had been stuffed with grasshoppers. When I 
got back to camp the other men had returned with a lot 
of mussels, so with our bread, tea, and mussels we had 
a meal that satisfied our hunger, at least. We picked 
the grasshoppers out of the so-called bread, though. We 
saved one loaf and some of the mussels for breakfast, 
but, as nearly all of the party suffered from illness during 
the night, we had "loaves and fishes" to spare after the 
morning meal. Some charged the illness to the shell fish, 
others to the grasshopper bread, but as one member of 
the party had not eaten the mussels and was the only 
one who escaped the sickness, we finally concluded the 
trouble was due to some poisonous substance in the 
mussels. I know I could not eat a mussel for many years 
after the incident. Our illness resulted in a very early 
start in resuming our travels. It is well we did not 
attempt to Complete the journey after dark the night 
before, for we did not reach Petrolia until some time 
after noon that day. Upon reaching the mouth of Mattole 
River we turned inland from the beach, riding along the 
banks of the river, and in a little while began to detect 
the odor of oil in the air. We then forgot all our troubles, 
for surely this smell of oil pervading the air must mean 
that there were endless quantities of it, which spelled 
wealth for us. I was somewhat intoxicated by the odor 
of oil, like others of the party, and felt as I thought 
a millionaire must feel. Subsequently, we visited all 
parts of the oil field and, although at no place were more 
than five barrels per day being recovered, we were not 
discouraged, for in our ignorance of the business we con- 
cluded where there was a little oil on the surface there 
must be great quantities waiting to be tapped by the 

— 96 — 

View of Napa River looking ml from Die md of Second Street. It was Id this 

bend of the river where the steamer landing was first established. The river In 

the right foreground was the "swimming hole" Tor the hoys or pioneer days 

and the plaee where, the author learned how lo swim. 

Omb of the pioneer flour mills of Napa Valley that beeame famous In after years 

■s a landmark and for Its Kreat vine-covered water wheel. 

One of the first houses erected In Napa. It Is still standing. In Its time it has 

done service as a hotel, residence, store, and boarding house. It Is one of the 

type of "ready-made" buildings sent around the Horn In the earliest of pioneer 

Close of School Work 

In a week's time we were homeward bound. We found 
our cache as we had left it. I can recall only a couple of 
incidents on the homeward trip worth relating. One 
afternoon while Crossing Shelter Cove Mountain we 
noticed a small band of deer off some distance on a ridge 
favorable for a shot. We left one of the party, who was 
not a hunter and had no gun, on a little flat in charge of 
our horses and pack animals while the remainder of the 
party went after the deer. We were absent possibly a 
half hour. When we got back not a horse was in sight 
and our friend was sitting on a log, his face as white as 
a sheet. In response to our inquiry as to what had hap- 
pened, he said we had hardly turned our backs on him 
when a large grizzly bear had come out of the thick 
brush but little more than fifty feet away, and sat up on 
his haunches as if to inspect the trespassers on his domain. 
When the bear gave a loud sniff or two the horses jerked 
away in terror, racing off to the east. After the horses 
had disappeared in the brush, the bear eyed the man 
for a while, then returned to the brush whence he came. 
Our friend acknowledged that he was "frightened stiff" 
and momentarily expected the grizzly would come back 
and make a meal of him. He said the pleasantest sound 
he ever heard was that of our voices when returning. 
We were now all on foot without blankets or food, and 
miles from any habitation of man. Fortunately the horses 
had taken the direction we had intended to go when they 
started on their flight. It was easy to follow their trail. 
We began to find blankets, cooking utensils, provisions, 
etc., belonging to the packs, scattered along the way, and 
all hands were loaded with these things before we came 
up to the animals, which were quietly feeding in a little 
valley or depression on the mountain top. They had 
given us a rough tramp of two or three miles, but caused 
nothing more serious. 

One day we encountered great quantities of wild pigeons. 

— 97 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Everybody declared here was our opportunity for a 
pigeon pot pie. I killed in a very short time as many 
as were thought necessary for the meal. It was dark 
before we found a suitable camping place. All hands 
went to work preparing for the fine meal we had been 
anticipating, and the pigeons were put to boil in a large 
iron pot we had for such purposes. They boiled and 
boiled, but no amount of fire or cooking seemed to make 
their meat tender. Finally, about 9 o'clock, when our 
hunger would not permit of further delay, we decided we 
would have to eat them, even though not tender. No 
crowd of campers ever sat down to a meal with stomachs 
so empty of food and minds so filled with joyous expec- 
tancy. Everybody selected pigeon for his first mouthful 
and that proved enough. We could have overcome the 
toughness of the meat, but when we found it as bitter as 
quinine we could only spit it out, with exclamation of 
language that would not appear nice in print. The birds 
had probably been feeding on acorns or some other food 
which had imparted the most bitter taste to their flesh. 
That supper was long remembered by the members of 
our party. The distance we traveled from Napa to Petro- 
lia was estimated to be about 250 miles. With the side 
trips and return, we calculated we had, in all, ridden 
about 600 miles and had traversed a lot of wild country 
in which we had not even a trail to mark the way. The 
mountainous part was extremely rough. We all returned 
home in fine shape, pleased with our experiences and full 
of hope and expectations of great wealth coming to us 
from the oil lands. However, the investment in the oil 
company stock proved a total loss. Although our com- 
pany bored a couple or more wells at places where oil 
was plainly visible seeping out of the ground, and thou- 
sands of dollars were expended in various other places 
in the district, no oil in paying quantity was ever found. 
Wells were sent down to great depths but without finding 

— 98 — 

Close of School Work 

oil in greater quantity than to make the "smell" referred 
to. I never regretted the loss of the money. In truth, 
in after life I regarded it as a profitable investment, for 
the loss tended to curb my disposition for speculation 
and taught me the fallacy of jumping at conclusions and 
that appearances and smells were not to be relied upon 
as being more than indications. Not very long after this, 
the entire country was in a state of speculative frenzy by 
reason of the great wealth found in the Comstock mines. 
I went through it all without a touch of the fever. 

At the time of the trip to the oil country I did not fully 
value the privilege that came to me of riding through a 
goodly part of Nature's grandest and only exhibit of the 
kind in the world, the California redwoods in their primi- 
tive state — a forest of majestic trees, beautiful in their 
symmetrical form, and imposing and magnificent in their 
great girth and height. Little did any of us think that, 
within a comparatively short time, the ruthless logger, who 
had already begun the work of destruction at points nearer 
settlements, would invade and have cleared these forests. 
But, as already stated, such is the fact. Some of the red- 
woods were of immense size. I remember passing a tree 
with the base burned out, making a cavity in which our 
entire party might have encamped. I rode my horse into 
the opening and turned him around so as to come out 
head first. I did this without difficulty. The tree was 
very tall and was so large in diameter that the cavity at 
the base did not endanger its stability. 

I have said we all enjoyed the trip, but that is hardly 
an accurate statement, for there was one drawback to the 
pleasures, affecting one of our party. As soon as we got 
into the wild country he was in mortal fear of Indians. A 
part of the country traversed by us had been largely under 
the domination of bad Indians, but really there had been 
no danger from them for a year or two. Fighting with 
them had been brought to a close after they had been 

— 99 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

badly beaten by the whites and many of their numbers 
slaughtered. They had been "pacified," and the majority 
of our party who knew the character of the aborigines 
well enough to feel secure against any attacks on this 
trip did not let the thought of Indians interfere with their 
sleep or enjoyment of the journey. For myself I was 
not so sure of the peaceful conditions of the Indians, or 
that they might not take a notion to become bad again on 
short notice. However, during daylight I felt no apprehen- 
sion whatever, and at night the man who was so nervous 
could not sleep, so I knew we could not be taken by sur- 
prise. I did not feel it necessary to remain awake or to 
take notice of any strange noises about camp. The ner- 
vous man attended to all that while we enjoyed our rest 
undoubtedly all the more, because we had a man con- 
tinually on guard. At the time we considered the matter 
a joke, but now I am inclined to think we were very 
inconsiderate of the feelings of our friend. 

There was another oil excitement in Napa which for 
a few d^ys overshadowed the Humboldt oil interest. 
Doctor Stillwagon, a great wag, declared Napa to be the 
greatest country on earth, and felt it should not be 
excelled or outdone by any other section of the state. As 
the production of mineral oil seemed to be a subject 
uppermost in every one's mind and most attractive as a 
source of wealth, the doctor further said that oil should 
be found around that section somewhere without delay, 
and took it upon himself to make the discovery. His large 
practice as a physician took him almost daily into the 
country. On one of these trips he returned with a soda 
bottle filled with water and oil in about equal propor- 
tions. This he exhibited to town people, stating it had 
come from the Goodrich ranch about three miles east of 
town. The news of finding this oil spread quickly, cre- 
ating intense excitement. Soon the road to the ranch was 
filled with vehicles conveying people to the newly dis- 

— 100 — 

« -■•■•. «. • # - 

C/o*e o/ Sc/ioo/ W^rft ' - :-" :'.*• ".".' : : ; 

■■ . . . j " . 

covered oil field. A company was organized to buy lands 
and bore for oil. The news reached San Francisco. 
People came from there to see the oil. Everybody was 
shown the spring on the side hill with a film of oil floating 
over the water. All the visitors who saw it were convinced 
that oil had been discovered. Doctor Stillwagon seemed 
depressed, however, and had little to say other than to 
caution his friends against excitement. The discovery 
was three or four days old when a couple of well-known 
San Franciscans came up to see the spring. I piloted 
them to the ranch. When we arrived there the owner's 
little boy ran out to open the gate that we might drive 
through. As he did so one of the gentlemen, throwing 
the boy a quarter, said, "Bub, how much oil did daddy 
put in the spring this morning?" The boy, to the great 
surprise of all hands, replied as promptly as an impedi- 
ment of speech would permit: "A-a-about a b-b-bottle 

f-f-f unl- 
it is almost needless to say, this candid answer exploded 
the local boom, to the great delight of the doctor, who 
had only intended to have a little fun, but was greatly 
worried when the joke got away from him, and he found 
his words of caution were regarded by his friends as 
efforts on his part to mislead them for selfish interests. 

— 101 — 

, . *, a . # a a 

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a • 



Disputes of Land Titles in Settling the Validity and Boun- 
daries of Mexican Grants — Incidents Arising in the 
Contest Over the Suscol Grant — Murder of a Settler 
While in the Custody of cut Officer. 

When the result of the war with Mexico brought the 
Territory of California into the United States, it was 
agreed in the articles of peace that our government 
should recognize and respect all Spanish or Mexican 
grants of land within the territory and protect the owners 
in possession thereof. As a rule these land grants covered 
the cream of the land in the districts where land was 
considered by the Spanish and Mexican settlers as worth 
holding. In very many cases the boundaries were so 
poorly defined that much litigation followed in after years, 
when adjoining property became valuable and it became 
necessary to establish definite lines. Then there were 
some grants which proved to be of fraudulent origin, and 
there was more litigation to establish the fact. Many 
innocent purchasers suffered in such cases. 

Grants, genuine in character, were assailed on techni- 
calities or trumped-up charges of fraud. This was the 
case of the General Vallejo grant, known as the Suscol 
grant, which practically covered the land lying between 
the Suisun marshes on the east and the marshes of Napa 
River and Mare Island Strait on the west, and from Car- 
quinez Strait on the south to Suscol Creek, some ten or 
twelve miles north. During the first years of American 
occupation the land of this grant was regarded as inferior 
on account of its hilly character and exposure to the sweep 
of the trade winds from off San Pablo Ray, but when two 

— 102 — 

Squatter Troubles 

towns began to grow upon it — Benicia, named after the 
owner's wife, and Vallejo, given the family name — and 
the soils of the hills, even to their tops, were found to 
be exceedingly fertile, the attention of land sharks was 
drawn hither, and the validity of the grant to General 
Vallejo was attacked. Among the soldiers who came to 
California during the war with Mexico was Captain John 
B. Frisbie, in command of a company of New York vol- 
unteers. Having married one of General Vallejo's daugh- 
ters, Captain Frisbie took up the defense of the title to 
the grant. A very large part of the grant had been sold 
to settlers. Of course the attack made on the legality of 
the grant affected the validity of the titles of. all the set- 
tlers or owners, and as quickly as the titles were ques- 
tioned, squatters made their appearance in formidable 
numbers and located on the best of the land on all parts 
of the grant. The settlers organized to defend their inter- 
ests and the squatters did likewise to present a strong 
front in an offensive campaign, and a veritable war was 
on. The shacks erected by squatters in their attempt to 
take possession of land would be torn down, only to be 
put up again. Settlers and squatters went about armed 
with rifles and pistols. There was shooting; blood was 
spilled; murder was committed; the courts were filled 
with cases arising from this trouble. Even Congress was 
finally appealed to. Captain Frisbie was an exceedingly 
active and forceful man and he led the settlers' side in 
a most vigorous manner. The fight was bitter and event- 
ually culminated in the waylaying and wounding of a 
squatter, and in turn the assassination of the settler who 
was supposed to be responsible for the shooting of the 

The squatter was traveling along a public road, not 
very far from the town of Vallejo, after dark, and was 
shot by a man hidden in a fence corner. The victim had 
been accused of an attempt on the life of a settler, using 

— 103 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the same method of attack. However, the squatters were 
incensed. A settler by the name of Manuel Vera was 
accused of the crime and threats against his life were 
openly made. He was placed under arrest, but there was 
no jail in Vallejo, so, while arranging for bonds and to 
safeguard him while the arresting officer went home to 
eat his supper, Vera was temporarily put in a room in 
E. J. Wilson's family apartments in the second story of a 
brick building in the center of town, the lower floor of 
which was used as a postoffice and store. It was the 
purpose to take Vera over to the navy yard for the night, 
as he would be secure from all possible attack, once there. 
The presence of Mrs. Wilson and her little children, it 
was thought, would be sufficient to prevent any act of 
violence while in the Wilson home. The squatters were 
determined to kill Vera. Their organization had sum- 
moned a band of one hundred or more (the exact number 
was never known), to assemble mounted, on the eastern 
outskirts of town at sundown, undoubtedly for the pur- 
pose of executing Vera. Their spies in and out of town 
had been alert all day and in some way had obtained 
knowledge of the intentions to place Vera in the navy 
yard for security of his person. It was supposed that the 
leader of the mounted band was informed that he would 
have to act quickly if the purpose of killing Vera was to 
be accomplished. The shades of night were hardly closed 
when the mounted band of squatters rode into town like 
a company of soldiers, clearing the streets of all loiterers 
until they halted before the postoffice. A certain number 
remained to hold the horses of those who dismounted 
and entered the building, going upstairs. It did not take 
the others long to find Vera and riddle his body with bul- 
lets. Seventeen wounds were found on his body, yet he 
lived several hours after. Mrs. Wilson fortunately was 
not compelled to witness the horrible deed, as she and 
the children happened to be in another room. Neverthe- 

— 10A — 

Squatter Troubles 

less, the affair was a terrible shock to her, mentally and 

The bloody deed was committed and the authors of it 
were out of town in less time than it takes to relate the 
circumstances. The excitement in the community natu- 
rally following such a crime was very great. The brutality 
of the act — the murdering of a man in custody of an 
officer — justified the people in denouncing the affair as 
a hideous outrage against society and a cowardly act 
against the laws of the land. As the men who committed 
the deed had their faces blackened or covered with 
masks, no member of the band was fully identified. The 
squatters had many friends among the citizens of Vallejo, 
and this fact probably prevented any success in the efforts 
to detect and punish the individuals engaged in the assas- 
sination. The grand jury met soon after the affair 
occurred and seventeen persons were indicted for com- 
plicity in the murder. It was feared that any attempt to 
arrest and punish the perpetrators would be resisted by 
the squatters and that more blood would be spilled, but 
the Sheriff of the county secured the services of the Suisun 
cavalry company, went to Vallejo and arrested all of the 
accused men without any trouble. It was planned to 
try them one at a time, but in the first case the jury 
brought in a verdict of "not guilty," so thereafter all the 
other cases were dismissed. 

In the first stage of the legal fight the settlers were 
victorious. The state courts upheld the validity of the 
grant, but upon appeal of the case to the Supreme Court 
of the United States they met with an adverse decision. 
This court decided that General Vallejo claimed two 
grants from the Mexican government — one in Sonoma 
County, where his homestead was, and the Suscol grant, 
the one in question. The court found that under the 
Mexican laws a person could not hold two grants, there- 
fore declared the Suscol holding an invalid grant. As 

— 105 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

may be imagined, the news of the decision elated the 
squatters, who became more aggressive, as well as more 
numerous, but the settlers were not beaten yet. They 
held possession of their land where they could, by the 
power of might, and appealed to Congress, where, in the 
course of two or three sessions, the contest was finally 
settled. The land embraced within the grant was ordered 
surveyed into townships and sections, as all public lands 
were, but not to be opened to pre-emption. Finally an 
act was passed which provided that the settlers who could 
prove their titles to have been purchased from General 
Vallejo or his assignees should be given a patent for 
such holdings upon the payment to the government of 
$1.25 per acre. These favorable acts of Congress were 
not obtained without strenuous efforts, but they brought 
the contest to a close with victory prevailing on the side 
of those who had purchased the land in good faith and 
no thought of insecurity of title. The squatters, how- 
ever, attacked the authority of Congress to deny them the 
right of pre-emption, and it was not until March 21, 1870, 
that the decision of the Supreme Court of the United 
States was rendered putting an end to the contest. The 
decision was to the effect that the squatters acquired no 
vested rights in the land that Congress could not take 
away, unless the land had been actually paid for. When 
the government ordered the grant to be surveyed, the sur- 
veyor selected for the work was T. J. Dewoody, the leader 
of our expedition to the Humboldt oil fields. He asked 
me to make up one of the surveying party, acting as 
chainman. As it was to be a short job I accepted the 
position, and in the next few weeks dragged a surveyor's 
chain pretty much all over the grant, singing out "stuck" 
to the rear chainman's song of "stick." We camped out 
the entire time and, as the work was light, we enjoyed 
the employment as a frolic. One young fellow whom I 
shall call Jim was particularly mischievous. He couldn't 

— 106 — 

Squatter Troubles 

pass a farmyard without robbing the hen nests. Just before 
noon one day he found a couple of dozen eggs which he 
stored in between his shirt and body. Soon we started 
down a long, steep hill for lunch. As the grass made the 
going quite slippery, I invited the man with the eggs to 
sit on a shovel blade while I should pull on the handle 
and thus give him a ride down hill. He accepted and we 
were soon going down at a rapid pace and, considering 
the bumps, very unpleasant for the rider. He attempted 
to stop by digging his heels in the ground and succeeded, 
but the momentum threw him over on his stomach, smash- 
ing every one of the two dozen eggs. He was a sight and 
not in a frame of mind that made it exactly safe for me. 
Fortunately for his comfort and the need of change of 
clothes, we were near camp. On another occasion we 
were resting on a little elevation overlooking a farm yard 
and garden, while the chief and a gentleman named Hill 
went away some little distance and temporarily out of 
sight. They scarcely had their backs turned before Jim 
was utilizing the telescope feature of the surveyor's instru- 
ment, searching the farm yard and garden. Suddenly he 
bounded off and in a few moments came back with a 
couple of watermelons, and had just cut into them when 
the chief and Mr. Hill returned. Jim politely asked them 
to participate in the feast. Mr. Hill replied that while he 
appreciated the courtesy, he thought Jim possessed a lot 
of cheek to ask a man to eat his own watermelons. It 
was then we learned that Mr. Hill owned the ranch. 

We got so used to tramping that we thought nothing of 
walking home, eight or ten miles, to Napa Saturday even- 
ings after walking miles in our work during the day. The 
week we were camped in Vallejo I missed the stage on 
that Saturday night so walked the sixteen miles to Napa. 

While we were working near the summit of the hills 
northeast of Vallejo and making a monument in estab- 
lishing a section corner, I found a rock about the size of 

— 107 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

a man's head. I called Mr. Dewoody's attention to its 
great weight and peculiar appearance. He immediately 
pronounced it to be a rich piece of cinnabar or quicksilver 
ore. As we were surveying and not mining, no search was 
made by us to locate the source of this piece of ore. Some 
fifteen years or more afterward a rich mining property 
known as the St. John mine was developed near there. 
In giving some outline of the history of the Suscol 
grant I think I may relate some facts in connection with 
a piece of land located in the extreme northwestern cor- 
ner of the grant, or on the Napa River, at a point where 
the Suscol Creek, which was the northern boundary of 
the grant, empties into the river. They are not only inter- 
esting but are illustrative of the opportunities for accu- 
mulating fortunes^ in California in early days in ways 
other than by digging for gold. In 1851, William Neely 
Thompson, a lumber dealer in San Francisco, sold to 
General Vallejo the lumber to build the state house in 
Vallejo, which the general, with a certain amount of land, 
presented to the state in consideration of Vallejo being 
made the capital city. Mr. Thompson took as pay for the 
lumber 320 acres of land, located as above mentioned, 
allowing $12 per acre as the value of the land. Soon 
after this deal, Simpson Thompson, a brother, arrived 
from the Eastern states with the intention of establishing 
illuminating gas works in San Francisco, but, finding that 
coal used in such works would cost about $50 per ton, 
gave up the idea. In the absence of any other occupation 
he concluded he would see what he could do with the 
brother's land at Suscol. He decided to plant part of the 
land to orchard. Young trees, pits, and seeds were 
obtained from the East and planted in the spring of 1853. 
Peaches were produced from these pits in sixteen months, 
and apples from seeds in two and a half years. Mr. 
Thompson also had the foresight to see that there was 
going to be a great demand for fruit trees, so decided to 

— 108 — 

Squatter Troubles 

use some of the land for a nursery. In a very few years 
the Suscol orchards and nursery were famed for their 
fine fruit and trees and were known from one end of the 
coast to the other. The first basket of peaches sold from 
the orchard brought $23.75, or about 80 cents per pound. 
I am quite sure this statement is true for, as stated else- 
where in the memoirs, I saw peaches sell at $1 apiece in 
Sacramento. James Thompson, son of the founder of the 
orchard, who succeeded to the care and ownership of 
the place in after years, said the books kept by his father 
showed that he received, in 1856, 70 cents per pound for 
apricots, 50 cents for apples, and 30 to 60 cents for peaches 
according to variety. The year before, they sold the cher- 
ries for something like $3 per pound. In 1856 they sold 
nursery trees from 60 cents to $1.50 each, and at higher 
prices for large trees. The farm, orchard, and nursery 
that year earned something like $40,000. The place was 
in a high state of cultivation and improvement in 1871, 
the last time I visited the orchards, but was not the money- 
making concern it had been, owing to competition. 

— 109 — 



Experiences in an Early Day Printing Office of San Fran- 
cisco — How Two Young Men Started a Daily News- 
paper in Napa — A Move to Vallejo — Parting from 
Home Ties — Founding of the Vallejo Chronicle. 

After having enjoyed the rare opportunities of outdoor 
life for a number of weeks, I received a letter from Mr. 
Ray, the journeyman printer whose acquaintance I made 
in the Napa Register office, and who assisted in giving me 
my first instruction in type setting, telling me he had 
obtained the position of foreman in one of the best job 
printing offices in San Francisco and I could have a place 
with him at $15 per week. As I was anxious to work in 
a job office where I could have some experience in job 
work, I accepted the offer. This office was owned and 
conducted by Edward Rosqui, in connection with a large 
bookbinding establishment. He would take nothing but 
the very best work, and the printing turned out from his 
establishment had the reputation of being of superior 
excellence. Mr. Rosqui was not only a fine gentleman 
but a man of high ideals, kind and considerate to those 
dependent upon him for employment. He never missed 
an opportunity to talk with his men in a way that was 
helpful and encouraging in their battle with the world. 
His talk was always practical, logical, and convincing, 
and the men could not help being the better for it. He 
impressed upon them that loyalty, character, and energy 
were everything in whatever business one might choose 
to follow. He maintained that a man with these virtues 
could succeed in whatever vocation he undertook, from 
pegging shoes to selling diamonds. He exacted attention, 

— 110 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

promptness, and truthfulness from his employees — rules 
of conduct which were strongly reflected in his transac- 
tions with customers. Here I worked for several months, 
when Mr. Ray had to give up his place on account of ill- 
ness. He was succeeded by an excellent printer named 
George Daley, one of whose very first acts was to dismiss 
two or three of the old hands, of which I was one, but as 
soon as Mr. Bosqui heard of it he sent for me and had me 
reinstated. However, I felt that my position would be 
unpleasant, and when, a few days later, I heard that the 
de Young brothers wanted a young man to work on their 
paper I made application to them for the job. They were 
publishing a little four-page paper called the Dramatic 
Chronicle, in W. P. Harrison's job office down on Clay 
Street. The three brothers, Gus, Charlie, and M. H., were 
practically doing all the work of publication except the 
press work. As I remember the distribution of their 
labors, Gus attended to the business part, Charlie the 
mechanical part, and M. H. the distribution of the edi- 
tions. I had my talk with Charlie about the vacant 
position. After questioning me as to my experience and 
ability in a printing office he concluded I would fill the 
requirements and should receive $18 per week. I was 
elated with the chance to get away from the place 
under Daley and so expressed myself to my associates. 
They in turn dissuaded me from going to work on 
a newspaper where less skill was required and where the 
employment was more tiresome and no more remunera- 
tive. So I sent word to the Chronicle office that I would 
not accept the place. But I could not make up my mind 
to work under Daley and told Mr. Bosqui that I must 
leave him, so, with kindest words and advice, he let me 
go. As I always had done when out of a job, I went to 
my home in Napa. 

In subsequent years the Dramatic Chronicle, mentioned 
here, developed into a regular morning paper, eventually 

— 111 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

becoming the San Francisco Chronicle of today, one of 
the great papers of the Pacific Coast. My refusal to take 
a position on the paper was undoubtedly an important 
turning point in my life. If I had gone to work there, in 
all probability my career of life would have been along 
narrower lines and quite different from that which I 
have enjoyed and never regretted. 

Before I close this chapter I must relate a funny inci- 
dent happening in Mr. Bosqui's printing office. A great 
many briefs for lawyers were printed there. One of the 
regular customers was Ben Brooks, one of the most prom- 
inent lawyers in the city at that time. All the copy for 
the brief work was hand written, this being before the 
day of typewriters, and some of the writing was abomi- 
nable, and of this class the copy furnished by Mr. Brooks 
was the worst. We seldom saw him. In fact, he was 
known to only a few of us older hands. We had a brief 
of his in hand for which he was in a great hurry. Some 
outsiders had been called in to help "set it up," and to 
be paid so much "per thousand" for their composition, 
which fact made bad copy very objectionable. The copy 
was, as usual, execrable. Finally one of the new hands 
got stuck on a page and could make nothing of it. Several 
of the other compositors gathered around, all trying to 
help decipher Brooks's writing. The first man was swear- 
ing rather loudly just as a tall stranger leaned over the 
crowd, asking what the trouble was about. The reply 
came back : "Oh, a blankety-blank lawyer thinks he knows 
how to write, but he couldn't make fish hook copy 
for an A, B, C class !" The stranger took the copy, studied 
it for a moment, then quietly handed it back with a smile 
and a remark that he thought they were right. The stran- 
ger was Mr. Brooks, who slipped out of the office smiling, 
as if more pleased than annoyed because he could not 
read his own copy. 

At this time three newspapers were being published in 

— 112 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

Napa: The Register, of Republican faith; the Reporter, 
conservatively Democratic, and the Echo, radically Demo- 
cratic. All were weekly publications, and, to use an old 
joke, the Echo was especially weakly in size, circulation, 
general appearance, and, in fact, weakly in everything 
except the tone of its editorials. In these it was a regular 
little spitfire. Its utterings against the federal government 
and Republicans in general were unusually vicious — so 
much so that it was in constant danger of having its office 
destroyed by those whose feelings were outraged. This 
treatment had been meted out to several other newspa- 
pers in various parts of the state conducted editorially 
along the same lines. The publisher of the Echo really 
expected it, and I think was disappointed when the Re- 
publican element of the town proved to be more tolerant 
and law abiding than those in some other communities. 
His name was Alex Montgomery. He knew little or noth- 
ing about the mechanical part of newspaper work. For 
some unknown reason we became very good friends, not- 
withstanding the difference in our ages and the wide gulf 
separating us politically. I was back in town only a day 
or so when Mr. Montgomery came to me saying one 
printer (all he had) had left him and he wished I would 
go with him and "get out" the paper. I was pleased with 
the acknowledgment of a publisher that I had the ability 
to do all the mechanical work necessary to perfect the 
issue of a newspaper, and it set my mind to work as to 
what I might possibly do in the near future, instead of 
working for wages for others. I accompanied him to his 
office, which had about the smallest equipment for a 
printing office I had ever seen. There were only a few 
cases of type, a composing stone and hand press. The 
editor's desk was a large dry goods box at which he had 
to stand to write. Either forced economy or expectation 
of destruction of his plant denied him the comforts of a 
stool or chair. I had set only two or three stickfuls of 

— 113 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

type for his paper when he handed me a small piece of 
copy characteristic of the Echo's general political tone. 
It fretted me some to be the agent of dissemination of 
such unpatriotic opinion, but I smothered my wrath and 
called for more copy. This time it came in shape of a 
particularly venomous reflection on some policy or act 
of the government. I thought I detected a malicious 
twinkle in his eye when he handed me the copy. How- 
ever, I had only put a few lines of it in type when my 
indignation grew beyond control and I threw down the 
composing stick, grabbed my coat and hat and left the 
office, passing an opinion on the editor, the paper, and 
his party that was more emphatic than polite. Neverthe- 
less, he laughed as if the affair was a good joke, notwith- 
standing the predicament he was in regarding the issue 
of the paper. Seemingly the incident did not change his 
regard for me in subsequent relations. 

I was now a young man out of employment and began 
seriously to consider plans for the future. Up to this 
time I had been practically drifting along, dropping into 
this place and that as the eddies of time had carried me. I 
concluded to make an effort to go into business for 
myself. I had noticed that none of the Napa printing 
offices was properly equipped for executing job printing 
except in a crude way, so I approached the publisher of 
the Reporter with a proposition to lease his presses and 
material, which he very promptly accepted. I purchased 
a Gordon job press and added it to the outfit in the 
Reporter office and started work in business for myself. 
My success came fully up to my expectations. Owing to 
improved facilities I introduced, and modern ideas 
obtained by experience in Mr. Bosqui's printing office, 
the work turned out by me was some improvement on 
what the business men of Napa had been getting. So I 
had enough business to pay me good wages and encourage 
me for bigger operations. 

— 1U — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

Working in the Reporter office on the newspaper was 
a friend, Livingston Gregg, of about my own age. We 
had been companions from boyhood, and now that we 
were following the same vocation our relations were 
closer, if anything. We discussed many projects in the 
endeavor to work out a field to give play to our ambitions. 
Some of our talk included the plan of starting a paper 
somewhere. The publisher of the Reporter was cognizant 
of our discussions and seemed anxious to forward our 
hopes, so we made a proposition to him to lease his mate- 
rial and start a paper which was to be called the Daily 
Reporter. He was to have use of all the matter we put 
into the daily for his weekly. As this would greatly in- 
crease the amount of reading matter in his publication 
and at the same time reduce his cost of labor and in 
other ways lessen his work, he accepted the proposal. 
Gregg and I were to be the owners and publishers of the 
new paper, the first daily paper to be published in Napa. 
We issued a neatly printed circular announcing the forth- 
coming of the Daily Reporter and that its purpose was 
simply to furnish a daily summary of passing events in 
Napa and the surrounding country. In politics it was to 
be independent. We did not desire to say neutral, for 
that sounded as if we were lacking in courage. The rea- 
son for our "independent" attitude was that Gregg was a 
Democrat and I a Republican. This political complexity 
bothered us considerably in framing our salutatory to 
the public. But we finally reached the conclusion that, 
as everybody in town knew our political predilections, 
they would understand the necessity for our declaration 
of independence in political matters, and, as they would 
soon find out that we both thought alike in what consti- 
tuted decency and honesty in politics, this feature of the 
paper's policy would not be very embarrassing or trouble- / 
some. The first number of the Daily Reporter appeared 
on the morning of September 24, 1866, under the heading 

-"* —115 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

of "Leach & Gregg, publishers and proprietors." Neither 
one of us was yet twenty years of age, but in our eyes it 
was a man's paper, however the public might look upon 
it. We both hustled around the street gathering the 
news, set all the type, ran the forms off, or, in less tech- 
nical phrase, printed the paper on a hand press, and for 
the first week, fearing the work would not be done just 
as it should be, I delivered the papers to the subscribers 
myself. I do not recall the number we printed, but I 
do remember that after working hard all day and along 
in the night getting the paper out, I was pretty well ex- 
hausted when through delivering to the subscribers. In 
fact, in that first week of publication we hardly went to 
bed at all. In our solicitation for subscribers and adver- 
tisements we met with generous response; therefore, when 
the paper appeared, it was well filled with business cards 
and general advertisements, and had an excellent list of 
subscribers, considering the size of the population of 
Napa. Like all daily newspapers of that period, our paper 
consisted of four pages and the whole sheet was about 
as large as a man's pocket handkerchief. But business 
was good and we were soon able to enlarge the publica- 
tion to a fair size for a country daily paper. 

We were not restricted in time in the work of prepa- 
ration and printing of this first issue — we had devoted 
several days to it — but after the first number was issued 
and we faced the fact that we had to do, inside of the 
next twenty-four hours in the issuance of the second 
number of the paper, as much work as we had performed 
in getting out the first issue, it looked like a stupendous 
undertaking, shaking faith in our judgment, to some 
extent, as to whether we had not undertaken too big a 
job, but our courage and zeal were not seriously dimin- 
ished. It was near midnight when we finished printing 
the second number. I obtained three or four hours' rest 
and was out before daylight distributing the paper to sub- 

— 116 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

scribers. When through with this part of the work, I 
had my breakfast and was at the office early, again set- 
ting type for the succeeding number of this paper, having 
for copy items and suggestions picked up in my rounds 
as carrier. Just how long we worked under this pro- 
gramme I do not remember, but it was for at least a 
week or two. We found we could afford to employ a boy 
to deliver the papers and that it would be less exacting 
upon us in the work of publication to issue the paper in 
the evening and as acceptable to our subscribers. There- 
after we published the Reporter as an evening instead of 
a moriytig paper. Considerable interest in our efforts 
was taken by the public. Several of the citizens who 
afte/ward became prominent in state and national poli- 
tics contributed editorials and news items in assisting us 
In our labors of publication. This was particularly true 
of John M. Coghlan, afterward Congressman from this 
state. He was a very popular resident of Napa and had 
been but recently admitted to the practice of law. He was 
an interesting writer with a keen perception of humor, 
and everything he contributed to the paper attracted more 
than passing notice. Wirt Pendegast, a State Senator, 
was another brilliant and prominent man who occasion- 
ally gave us the aid of his pen. Both of these men rose 
to positions of power and influence in the state, but were 
claimed by death in their early manhood. 

Not many weeks after we had entered this field of jour- 
nalism the Reporter office was visited by fire, which gave 
us our first experience of misfortune. The fire was dis- 
covered about midnight but not until after it had gained 
some headway. It originated in the composing room, but 
just how was never determined. The fire apparatus of 
Napa consisted of a small hand-brake engine such as was 
common in protection against fire in California towns in 
those days. The water supply was from cisterns at the 
street squares. The members of the fire company were 

— 111 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

volunteers from among those engaged in business in 
town. When the flames began to pour out of the windows 
of the printing office and had worked up through the roof 
of the building, it looked as if a very destructive confla- 
gration was having its beginning, as the block was built 
up solid and, although mostly brick, the buildings were 
not fireproof. The firemen, however, did excellent work, 
extinguishing the flames before they spread to the adjoin- 
ing apartments, as readily and effectually as would have 
been done by a steam fire engine. The printing office was 
badly damaged, though out of the wreckage we recovered 
my job press and the hand press on which we had printed 
the paper, practically uninjured. We also found a few 
cases of type that were usable, and with some assistance 
from the other printing offices in town we got the paper 
out as usual, though we were compelled to work for sev- 
eral weeks in a room about 10 by 14 feet, where all type 
setting, press work, and editorial work were done, until 
our original quarters were restored. 

Unlike any other newspaper enterprise since under- 
taken by me, our little paper returned a profit from the 
day of its first issue. Our subscribers paid us 25 cents 
per week for the paper, which was then considered a 
small price. This money, as well as the dues from the 
advertising, was collected weekly and divided between 
Gregg and myself after first paying all bills against the 
firm. I think our earnings over and above all cost netted 
each of us in the neighborhood of $30 per week. This 
was more money than either of us had ever earned before. 
Our success whetted my ambition for operation in a 
larger field, and Vallejo, which at that time had no news- 
paper, attracted my attention. I visited the town and 
found considerable interest manifested in the idea of 
having a paper started there, especially as it had been 
practically settled that a railroad was to be built from 
Vallejo to Sacramento, a matter that was infusing some 

— US — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

new life into the navy yard town. My partner did not 
share my ambition for larger operations, but his brother, 
Wilmington Gregg, who was also a printer and quite an 
able writer, did, but as he was unable to get his share of 
the money necessary for the undertaking we put off going 
to Vallejo for a few months. In the first part of May fol- 
lowing he reported to me that he had succeeded in collect- 
ing the $800 necessary for his share of the capital, so we 
were now ready for the new venture. I made a present 
of my share in the business of the Daily Reporter to my 
friend and first partner, and the paper continued to be 
published for many years, under various owners. With 
my new partner I left Napa for the new field, never to 
return there to live. It was with feelings of sadness and 
thoughts of the many days of happiness I had passed there 
that I bid adieu to the people I loved and who had been 
so kind to me. I left with regret the country and those 
blessed hills and vales that had yielded me so much 
pleasure, as I realized I was stepping out into the world, 
leaving my parental home forever. I held no fear of the 
future, but there were regrets I could not suppress — regrets 
which every son who has loving parents must feel under 
like circumstances. There were also other heart strings, 
as one might suspect. 

Besides the steamer every other day, there was daily 
stage connection between Napa and Vallejo. The greater 
part of the travel patronized the stage and it was by stage 
we took our departure. The driver had been on the line 
for some years and was a great big, generous hearted man 
named Bill Fisher, popular with every one, and who loved 
a joke as he did his meals. It was some time about this 
period of which I have been writing, possibly a year or 
two earlier, when greenbacks were only worth half their 
face value, that Fisher had an experience with a big, burly 
woman that raised a great laugh in two towns. To appre- 
ciate fully this story one must be reminded that green- 

— 119 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

backs were exceedingly unpopular with the people of 
California, and although during the war and for some 
time thereafter this kind of currency displaced the use of 
gold entirely in the Eastern states, gold coin remained the 
currency of the people of California. Every person who 
attempted to discharge an honest debt with greenbacks 
at their face value was ever after known as Greenback 
Thomson, Smith, Jones, or whatever his surname might 
be. The big woman in question was in the habit of mak- 
ing a trip about once a week from Vallejo to Benicia and 
back in Fisher's stage. The fare each way was a dollar. 
The woman for a while paid her fare like other passen- 
gers — the fares were always collected at a station about 
half way between the two towns — and finally she ten- 
dered a greenback of large denomination. Fisher, in his 
generous way, told her to keep it, and made no collection 
from her. Then the woman began to make a regular 
business of tendering greenbacks. When Fisher demurred 
she insisted upon his taking them at face value, relying 
upon her belief that, having no small denominations of 
greenbacks with which to make change, he w r ould have to 
continue handing back the depreciated currency. Learn- 
ing that the woman was well to do and able to pay her 
just debts and abide by the business rules of the day, he 
laid in a supply of sheets of one-cent postage stamps. The 
next time she tendered a ten-dollar greenback for her 
fare, Fisher took it and stuffed it into his pocket. Raising 
the cushion of the driver's seat he pulled out 900 one-cent 
postage stamps and handed them to the woman. She 
dropped them, crying out, "What's that?" "Your change, 
madam — one hundred cents on the dollar!" About this 
time the wind caught the sheets of stamps, scattering them 
along the road. Shaking her fist at Fisher, she bade him 
drive on. The last he ever saw of her she was chasing 
down the road recovering the last of the postage stamps 
which gnsts of wind had whirled away. 

— 120 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

When my partner and myself arrived in Vallejo we 
made arrangements to live at the Metropolitan Hotel, of 
which D. W. Harrier was proprietor. The field in Vallejo 
for starting a newspaper, especially a daily as we had 
intended, was not as promising as we had anticipated, for 
another firm had invaded the territory while we were 
waiting to collect our capital and had started a weekly 
paper which was called the Vallejo Recorder. It was very 
apparent that the new paper was doing a profitable busi- 
ness, but it was a grave question with us as to whether 
the town would support an additional newspaper or not. 
However, we began to look around for a location for an 
office. The prospect of the town becoming a tidewater 
terminus of a railroad system had begun to bring other 
business concerns to the place and we found it impossible 
to get a location that suited us. The only place that would 
afford any accommodation was a dwelling house on Vir- 
ginia Street, next to a livery stable. The owner had moved 
or was about to move his family out. We engaged the 
premises, although they were located on a back street and 
the rooms were not well suited to our business. The next 
thing to do was to go to San Francisco and buy type and 
presses. Our outfit, consisting of a hand press with which 
to print the paper, newspaper type, and a selection of 
material for the execution of job printing, exclusive of 
my job press which I had shipped down from Napa, cost 
about $1400. We paid cash for our purchases, press, etc., 
much to the surprise of the dealers, for I afterward 
learned that most of their business was conducted on a 
credit basis. If we had known this we would not have 
had to wait until we had raised the money for the pur- 
chase of the plant, and thereby lost the opportunity of 
having the first paper in the town. The material was 
ordered shipped and we returned to Vallejo. We found 
a letter here urging us to abandon the Vallejo project and 
to go to Woodland, Yolo County, and start the paper 

— 121 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

there, guaranteeing a circulation and business that were 
more than we could hope to have in the beginning at 
Vallejo. At that time there was no direct way of reaching 
Woodland by any means of public conveyance, so we 
hired a horse and buggy and went there to give the propo- 
sition proper consideration. We found some of the citi- 
zens anxious for a newspaper, but the town was small 
and we thought it held no particular encouragement for 
the future. The promise of an immediately profitable 
business was good. So we took the matter under advise- 
ment while we journeyed homeward. We weighed the 
prospects, present and future, of one place against the 
advantages and disadvantages of the other as a field for 
our enterprise, discussing the matter from all angles 
during the day required for the trip back. By the time 
we reached Vallejo we came to the conclusion that while 
the Woodland idea assured us against financial risk, a 
business there could scarcely expect much of a future 
growth. On the other hand, while a newspaper under- 
taking at Vallejo was associated with serious doubts as 
to sufficient income to enjoy a profit from the start, the 
place had exceedingly bright prospects, affording us a 
more promising future, which strongly appealed to us. 
This conclusion decided us to adhere to our first plan of 
starting the paper at Vallejo, changing it in one respect, 
with the hope of avoiding the financial uncertainty that 
bothered us. Instead of a daily issue, we decided to start 
with a weekly publication. After paying in advance for 
a week's board and deducting the expense of our trip to 
Woodland, we had but little over $30 of our money 
remaining on hand. Our material had arrived and we had 
taken possession of the quarters which was to be the 
home of the new paper. We had opened a case or two 
when the landlord of the premises appeared. After sur- 
veying our operations for a few moments he announced 
in words and tone that sent a chill down our backs that 

— 122 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

he always received his rents in advance. His manner 
plainly indicated that we would have to part with prac- 
tically the last of our cash surplus. As he left with our 
$30 in his pocket, my partner and I sat down on the 
unopened cases and simply 'stared at each other. Finally 
the humor of the predicament caused us to laugh, then to 
discuss the serious side of the matter. We thought that 
as soon as we could get the presses and material in work- 
ing order we could make a few dollars per week from 
job work which we might solicit, but we could not figure 
out sufficient profits to meet our board bill and rent for 
office. The idea came to us that we could reduce our 
expenses to a point of safety by getting an oil stove and a 
few dishes and board ourselves. We confided our trou- 
bles to an old bachelor acquaintance, a former resident of 
Napa. To our great delight he gave us just such an outfit 
as we had thought of. After dark, as secretly as possible, 
we moved the cooking utensils to our office and were 
prepared to board ourselves after the end of the week 
for which we had paid at the hotel. It was not a very 
pleasant beginning. We were worried more by what we 
thought people would think of our manner of living and 
the possible exposure of our poverty than by the trouble 
or work of cooking. At the end of the week I attempted 
to arrange with Mr. Harrier, the proprietor of the hotel, 
for continuation of rent of our room in his hotel without 
board. He began to question me and soon wormed out of 
me a full statement of our embarrassed situation. He 
laughed at the idea of cooking for ourselves and treated 
the matter as a great joke. He insisted on our remaining 
at the hotel until our financial circumstances would enable 
us to pay our hotel bills. This act of unexpected kindness 
was the solution of our financial troubles and created a 
bond of friendship between us that was never broken, 
and a debt of gratitude I was never able to meet. 
We were now able to give our efforts unhampered to the 

— m — 


Recollections of a Newspaperman 

matters of our enterprise. We decided to name the paper 
the Vallejo Chronicle. In our prospectus we promised 
those things commonly expected of a newspaper, and 
announced that in politics the Chronicle would be inde- 
pendent and not neutral. 

This was something a little out of the ordinary, for in 
those days party lines were sharply divided and partisan 
feeling still ran high, being one of the consequences of 
the Civil War but recently closed. As a rule, the news- 
papers were unquestionably Republican or Democratic 
in their editorial expressions, and the claim of indepen- 
dence was rare and used principally as a cloak for neu- 
trality. After getting the office arranged to begin the 
work of publication, the next thing to be done was to 
make a canvass of the town for subscribers and adver- 
tisements for the paper. This kind of work was repugnant 
to both my partner and myself, but, knowing that it had 
to be done, we started out. Gregg was to take one side 
of the street and I the other, and interview every business 
man in the town. We started in at the foot of Georgia 
Street, the main thoroughfare. During the first half hour 
I caught sight of Gregg going in or out of the business 
places on his side of the street. Then I missed him alto- 
gether. I kept at work on my side of the street until 
the noon hour, glad of a respite from the hateful busi- 
ness. At the office I found Gregg gloomy and despondent. 
He had accomplished so little in his efforts to get busi- 
ness that he became wholly discouraged and quit work. 
I endeavored to brace him up to make another effort, 
showing him the few contracts for advertisements and 
subscribers I had obtained. It was of no use. He had no 
faith in his ability and would not try, so I finished the 
unwelcome job alone. 

The first issue of the paper was made on Saturday, 
June 29, 1867. Interest in the state election campaign was 
just beginning to be awakened. The Republican candi- 

— 1U — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

date for Congressman from our district was Chancellor 
Hartson of Napa. In our "independence," we advocated 
his election and picked flaws in the characters of some 
other Republican candidates, to even up the appearance 
of our political attitude before the public. I was to reach 
the voting age that fall, but lost my vote by change of 
residence from Napa to Solano County. Two or three 
issues of the paper had now been gotten out, and some 
little job printing had come to us. We felt encouraged; 
so one Saturday, after the paper had been printed, we 
decided to hire a buggy and go to Napa for a visit to our 
folks. One of the first persons we met in Napa was 
Mr. Hartson, who was so pleased with our support of 
his candidacy that he ordered $50 worth of papers and 
handed me two $20 pieces and a ten in payment. The 
transaction came near to taking my breath away. It was 
the largest sum I had ever received in one account in 
the business, and, besides, we now had enough money to 
pay our board bill, rent, and incidental expenses for the 
first month. We were still elated when we started back 
to Vallejo the following Monday. When near town, at a 
point where the road was graded up high for the 
approach to a small bridge crossing, we were compelled 
to drive down the sloping side of the grade to cross the 
little creek which was then dry. When we came along, 
carpenters had just taken up the old flooring of the bridge 
to replace it with new planks. The creek bottom and 
sloping sides of the road were covered with high weeds, and 
we were fairly started down when an old sow lying in the 
weeds with a litter of pigs jumped up in front of our horse 
with a snort, frightening him so that he reared and 
wheeled on his hind feet as if on a pivot, then bolted 
like a shot out of a gun. This capsized the buggy, throw- 
ing us both out with some violence. The horse ran back, 
with the buggy dragging upside down until it struck a 
telegraph pole and was badly smashed. The horse passed 

— 125 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

on out of sight. My partner received a gash on one leg, 
but otherwise was not hurt. I landed sitting up against 
the fence, as I first thought uninjured. The first thing 
I saw was a couple of $20 pieces lying on the ground 
between my feet. I thought to myself that good fortune 
intended to stay with us, as this find would pay for 
repairs. The fairy gift, however, was quickly dispelled 
when I put my hand in my pocket and found the Napa 
collections two "twenties" shy. In being propelled from 
the buggy to the ground my body must have made a com- 
plete revolution, otherwise the money could not have 
fallen out of my pocket. I also found I had a seriously 
sprained ankle. The horse had such a bad reputation 
as a runaway that the liveryman never presented us with 
a bill for the damages to his buggy. My injuries were 
very painful, but with the assistance of Gregg and a pair 
of crutches I managed to go daily to the office. Mounted 
on a stool, with my injured foot propped up under the 
cases, I set type all day, suffering every moment of the 
time. I felt it was compulsory for me to do this, as we 
did not have enough money to pay a printer to take my 
place in the work of getting out the paper. 

Our enterprise was meeting with a favorable reception. 
We worked hard to make the paper interesting and at 
the same time a factor in advancing the growth and popu- 
larity of the town, and it was gratifying to know that our 
efforts were not without appreciation. Our cash receipts 
were now sufficient to meet all our expenses, and that 
was about all we cared for then, as we were certain 
the business would in time reach a profit-paying basis. 
In the course of two or three months R. W. Snow, who 
had a brick building in course of construction on the 
main street of the town, offered us the entire second story 
for our business at a very reasonable monthly rental. 
We were very glad of the opportunity to make the change 
of location of the office, as the place we were in was 

— 126 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

unsuited in every way for our purpose. In the new loca- 
tion our business increased so that we felt it necessary 
to employ a printer to help us with the mechanical work. 
Gregg did the bulk of the editorial work at odd times, so 
he would be able to put in a full day setting type. 
I assisted him, especially in looking after news items and 
attending to business matters, as well as setting up a 
column or two of type each day. A little incident hap- 
pened about this time which for a while promised very 
serious results so far as I was concerned, but was finally 
regarded as a joke by all but one of the principals. Very 
early one Saturday morning, after the issue for that day 
had been distributed, I was alone in the office, preparing 
the mail edition, when I heard heavy footsteps on the 
stairway. Soon a very large man, a stranger to me, made 
his appearance in the office. Without introducing himself 
or making any preliminary remarks, he announced that 
he had come up there to lick the blankety-blank some- 
thing who put that piece in the paper about him. It was 
apparent to me that the man was not only able but deter- 
mined to carry out his intentions, and as there were no 
indications of insanity in his manner my only chance to, 
escape was to appeal to his reason. I first assured him 
he must be mistaken in the paper that had offended 
him. I insisted that he certainly had made a mistake 
in the office, and turned to my work of wrapping up the 
papers for the mail. These remarks and my action only 
aroused him to more alarming demonstrations and strings 
of "cuss words." There was no way out, and I had to 
meet the issue, so I asked him to suspend hostilities until 
I understood what was the cause of offense, and that it 
undoubtedly would give him more satisfaction to feel 
that I knew what I was being licked for. As the propo- 
sition now stood, I certainly had not the remotest idea of 
any item appearing in our paper that could give any one 
cause of complaint, so I asked him his name. He replied, 

— 127 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

"Hobbs." I then asked him to point out the article com- 
plained of, fully confident he would be unable to do so, 
when, to my horror, with shaking finger and another 
string of oaths he pointed to a couple of verses entitled, 
"Hobbs, the Office Seeker." The verses told in rhyme what 
an irrepressible office seeker Hobbs was, how, before 
election, what an amiable person he was, how he doffed 
his hat to the ladies, kissed the babies, and patronized 
church fairs, without putting on airs. And how, after 
defeat, what an old crab he was, ever so stingy, with face 
so dingy, he scared the children off the street, etc. 
I declared that this was the first time I had noticed 
the verses, and now that they did seem to have a personal 
application, inasmuch as he had just been defeated for 
the nomination for Sheriff, I also would like to know, 
myself, who wrote them and how they got into the paper. 
I had an idea how it occurred, but I preferred to keep 
it to myself until I could verify it to the satisfaction of 
my excited visitor. The offending verses appeared at the 
top of the column on the fourth page. It was our method 
to print on this page nothing but reading matter clipped 
from other journals. If my theory of how the Hobbs 
verses got into the paper was correct, I would find on 
the dead-copy hook the copy from which they were set 
up for our paper in reprint form, which would be con- 
clusive evidence that the verses were not original with 
us. I invited Hobbs to help me look for the copy. We 
went over the mass, piece by piece. At last there it was, 
and, as I had conjectured, a piece of reprint. It had been 
scissored out of an Eastern publication by my partner, 
with no thought of the Vallejo Hobbs whom he did not 
know, even if he had ever heard of him. As I afterward 
learned from Gregg, he needed a little piece of matter to 
fill out the column and had selected the unfortunate 
verses without the slightest thought of any possible local 
application. I handed Mr. Hobbs the copy, explaining 

— 128 — 

Beginning Newspaper Work 

how the remarkable coincidence must have occurred. 
I probably impressed him with my innocence of any 
connection with an attempt to bring ridicule upon him, 
as he left the office in a more peaceable frame of mind 
and afterward became one of the staunchest friends I 
had in the town, although he never was quite reconciled 
to the thought of wholly acquitting my partner and 
accepting the theory of coincidence. 

The election was over, and the Republican majority in 
the state had been overturned. Haight, the Democratic can- 
didate for Governor, had been elected, and our friend and 
candidate for Congress, Chancellor Hartson, was defeated 
by James Johnson. Republican party managers were 
offended at the vote cast in Vallejo and began to take steps 
to cause the discharge of such employees in the government 
navy yard as were known to have voted the Democratic 
ticket, and even the dismissal of those who were under 
the suspicion of having so voted. This policy struck me 
as being not only narrow and unworthy of a great party, 
but something that must eventually bring injury to the 
Republican organization, instead of advancing its voting 
strength. I did not hesitate to express these views. My 
stand, of course, pleased the Democrats and, on the other 
hand, was offensive to the Republicans, and was thereby 
the cause of some loss of business. The weeding out 
process had been going along for some little time when 
our paper made a humorous reference to an incident hap- 
pening at the navy yard, as indicating that there was still 
another Democrat left in the yard whom our Republican 
friends had overlooked. A Democratic Constable, who 
had a grudge against us because of some words had with 
my partner over the matter of poll taxes, industriously 
went around among all the Democrats in town known 
to be patrons of our paper, showing them the item and 
giving a different meaning to it. Upon the Constable's 
say-so it was accepted as an offense against the Democrats 
and, by night of the next day, about every Democrat 

— 129 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

who had an advertisement in the Chronicle, and about 
every Democrat who was a subscriber, gave us notice 
to discontinue publishing their "ads" or sending them 
the paper. This was an experience in journalism quite 
new and unexpected. Such Democrats who came in 
person to communicate their wishes, I treated cordially 
as if the withdrawal of their business was an imma- 
terial matter to us, acknowledging written notices in 
similar spirit. This concerted action hit us pretty hard, 
but no one but ourselves knew how hard. As we expected, 
in the course of a few weeks the majority of these patrons 
saw their error and how they had been misled, and 
restored their patronage. If we had been resentful and 
abusive to the extent which their unjust treatment of us 
in the first place might have justified, we perhaps would 
have closed the door against any probability of a renewal 
of their business. However, we had the good judgment 
to leave the door open in an inviting way, and they 
came back. The Republicans continued the policy of 
weeding out all employees of the navy yard of Demo- 
cratic faith and preventing their re-employment, and even 
extended this discriminating policy to those Republican 
workmen who had enough independence of mind and 
character to "scratch" their election tickets. When the 
Democrats came into power, through the election of Cleve- 
land to the Presidency, they followed the same narrow 
policy, and party managers were able to accomplish their 
purpose through the navy yard regulations that made 
the selection, or left the naming of the men to be 
employed and discharged in the hands of the navy yard 
foremen. The spoils system of employment at the navy 
yard continued to exist for nearly thirty years, or, until 
civil service laws were made to apply in part to navy 
yards. Neither the Republicans nor Democrats, as party 
organizations, profited by adhering to the obnoxious sys- 
tem. On the other hand, it gave cause for stigma, scandal, 
and bitterness. 




Great Impetus Given to the Growth of Vallejo — The Earth- 
quake of 1868 — General Vallejo and Why the City 
Was Named for Him — Popularity of the Railroad and 
Its Management — The Steamer New World and the 
Daring Act of Captain Ned Wakeman — Attempt to 
Introduce the Chicago Grain Elevator System — Some 
Vallejo Boys Who Became Distinguished in Public 
Affairs in After Life. 

The next year, 1868, was one of great activity in Val- 
lejo. Heretofore the business of the community depended 
almost entirely upon the employment at the government 
navy yard, but now, for the first time in the history of the 
town, considerable money from other sources was being 
distributed among the people. 

The railroad company had begun the work of con- 
structing the road to Sacramento and grading for the 
terminus at South Vallejo. Some Eastern men were erect- 
ing a large grain elevator, on the plan of those in use 
in Chicago, with the expectation of revolutionizing the 
method of handling wheat in California in bulk, and ship- 
ping in bulk to Europe, thus saving the farmers the enor- 
mous outlay for sacks. The erection of a large flouring 
mill was started and wharves and warehouses were being 
built. These undertakings all promised much for the 
future of Vallejo and influenced the expenditure of con- 
siderable capital in the erection of new buildings in the 
business section of the town, while new houses in the resi- 
dence part of the city were springing up in every direction. 

— M — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

The real estate dealers were in clover. Surveyors had 
their hands full of work. The surrounding country for 
miles was laid off into streets, lots, and blocks. 

By May 11 of that year, the railroad track was laid to 
Napa Junction, a distance of six or seven miles from the 
waterfront at Vallejo. The railroad officials gave an 
excursion and took out three carloads of invited guests, 
employing a band to give more spirit to the affair. The 
train was run out to the front, where a complicated device 
called a track-laying machine was employed in laying the 
ties and iron rails on the new roadbed. The railroad offi- 
cials announced that the tracks would reach the heart of 
the grain-growing section of the country in time to handle 
the crop of that year, and would be finished to Sacramento 
by August 1. It was further stated that the San Francisco 
market price would be paid for grain at Vallejo. This 
statement was received with enthusiasm, as it not only 
meant quite a saving to the farmer but it had the further 
significance of establishing a grain dealing center at 

The first big earthquake since the settlement of the 
country by Americans was experienced in October of the 
same year. It occurred about 8 o'clock in the morning, 
and while no very great damage was done in Vallejo, 
several government buildings in the navy yard suffered 
some injury. The courthouse of Alameda County, then 
located at San Leandro, was thrown down, and many 
buildings in San Francisco were cracked and strained. 
Only two or three people were killed and a very few 
injured. Having been up quite late the night before, 
working in the office, I was in bed at the time in the third 
story of the Metropolitan Hotel. I jumped out onto the 
floor but could only maintain my balance by holding on 
to the footboard of the bed. The building seemed to sway 
fully two feet with each oscillation, and I fully expected 
at each swing that the next would whip the top of the 

— 1S2 — 

The a irst Railroad to Tidewater 

building off into the street. I stood near a window where 
I could look down on the street where I expected to land, 
and there in the middle of the roadway was a lady school 
teacher who boarded at the hotel. She was on her knees 
with hands clasped in the attitude of prayer. The impious 
thought crossed my mind that if I were in her place I 
would make a different use of my time. There were a 
number of shakes of much iess violence during the day, 
but as no material damage had been inflicted, the commu- 
nity went on with its business and other affairs as if 
nothing had happened, beyond a little manifestation of 
nervousness on the part of some people when the succeed- 
ing shocks came. 

The business of the Chronicle grew, like other enter- 
prises in Vallejo, and a daily issue of the paper was made 
to take the place of the weekly, but for a few months the 
venture was at the cost of all our income. It was during 
this period that my partner became discouraged with the 
prospect of ever establishing a profitable business in 
Vallejo, and a visit from his older brother made him so 
homesick that he suddenly asked me, one morning, to buy 
his interest in the paper and let him go. Our relations 
had been exceedingly pleasant and never a word of dis- 
pute or disagreement had passed between us. He had 
shouldered without complaint his share of the struggle 
we had experienced, and I disliked to have him go. But 
he had evidently been thinking the matter over for some 
time, and no argument would change his resolution. I 
had no money, but said I would see what I could do. 
I went up town and laid the matter before a friend who 
promptly advanced the money necessary, simply taking 
my unsecured note for the amount. In less than one hour 
from the time Gregg broached the subject, I was sole 
proprietor and publisher of the Vallejo Chronicle. He 
immediately took his departure, and I never saw him but 
once or twice afterward. Up to this time it had been a 

— 133 — 

Recollections of a News pa ± erman 

struggle to meet the expenses of the daily issue, but almost 
immediately the business began to improve, growing 
beyond anything we had anticipated for that stage of the 
game. When the collections came in for the first month 
after Gregg left me, I had something like $300 over and 
above expenses, and I was soon able to take up my 
note, which was done with no little feeling of pride and 

Hard work, close attention to the details of business, 
and devotion of the paper to the town's best interest had 
at last brought reward. In speaking of hard work I mean 
it literally. For instance, from the day of the first publi- 
cation to the time I acquired Gregg's interest, or for nearly 
two years, he and I had done all the press work of printing 
the paper on a hand press, both for the weekly and daily, 
besides setting a greater part of the type for the publi- 
cations. Also in some way I found time to execute all 
orders for job printing, setting the type and running the 
job press by foot power, while upon Gregg fell the bulk 
of the editorial work. He would make the rounds of the 
principal streets once or twice a day for local news and 
to interview friends, upon whom we depended for infor- 
mation of the occurrence of anything worthy of notice 
in the paper. No time was lost or wasted by us, for when 
we went out for meals or any other purpose we were alert 
for news items and discussion of subjects of local interest. 
Keeping the books, making out bills, and attending 
to collections fell to me, to do at such times as would not 
lessen the amount of other daily routine work expected 
of me. We must have given an average of about sixteen 
hours daily to our work, although we invariably took 
Sundays for rest. I can recall during that time but two 
occasions of working on the Sabbath. One was the issu- 
ance of an extra, giving the news of a frightful railroad 
accident between Oakland and San Leandro, where there 
was a large death list, including some of California's 


The First Railroad to Tidewater 

most prominent men. The other was caused by an election 
emergency. Fortunately, we both had good health and 
lost no time on account of sickness. 

The improvement in the business of the Chronicle soon 
enabled me to employ help to do the best part of the 
mechanical work heretofore contributed by me. In fact, 
in a very short time I had about all I could do in attending 
to the business of the concern and superintending the 
work of others. The paper was making money beyond 
anything I had expected. I purchased a Hoe cylinder 
press, as the circulation of the paper was overtaxing the 
capacity of a hand press. The press cost between $1500 and 
$2000. I do not remember the exact amount, but it seemed 
like a large investment, although the paper required it. I 
also purchased a bookbinding outfit and more job presses 
and material. Our office was now equipped to make 
blank books and to do all kinds of job printing. We had 
no driving power for the presses. As was the rule in 
many offices in that day, we had to depend upon foot and 
hand power. Electric power had not been developed, 
and steam power was costly and not easily obtained. The 
new cylinder press was geared to run by hand. A big 
Chinaman who frequently found interest in visiting our 
office was very curious about the purpose and operation 
of the new press. When it was set up he wanted the job 
of turning the handle. He worked for me several months, 
coming to the office every afternoon with great regularity 
and remaining until the forms were off and washed. 

Finally the necessities for steam power were so great, 
I gave an order to Booth & Co.'s iron works in San Fran- 
cisco for the construction of an upright boiler and engine. 
W. R. Eckert, then a designer and draughtsman employed 
by the government at Mare Island, and who afterward 
became quite famous in his line, designed the engine for 
me. The engine cost $1200, but it certainly paid for itself 
many times over. Besides, it was a good advertisement and 

— 135 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

it afforded me considerable satisfaction to note the imprint 
on our work, "Vallejo Chronicle Steam Power Print," 
especially when I considered there were not very many 
power-driven plants in the state outside of San Francisco. 
The office was now turning out considerable job work. 
We had a power press, three job presses, ruling machine, 
and bindery. The largest contract we had up to this time 
was the printing of a directory of the growing city. The 
entire printing and binding of the books were done in the 
office. A couple of young fellows came to Vallejo for the 
purpose of publishing the directory. They did not have 
sufficient capital and were soon in financial troubles, and 
I had to take the business off their hands and complete 
the undertaking. It was the only directory ever published 
for Vallejo, and the size of the place, or business condi- 
tions at the time, scarcely warranted the publication. The 
book contained about 3000 names, which, with ordinary 
communities, would have indicated a population of 15,000 
people, but the growth of the city had been sudden. Many 
men were engaged as workmen in the navy yard, and 
many others were giving the new town a trial, with the 
intention of bringing in their families later; consequently, 
an estimate of the population can not exceed 10,000 or 
12,000. To give any size to the book and to pad out its 
pages we had to work up a lot of reading matter, some of 
which was historical and interesting. From Doctor Platon 
Vallejo, son of General M. G. Vallejo, was obtained the 
contribution of an article entitled, "History of Vallejo — 
Why So Named," from which the following is an extract: 

The country round about what is now Vallejo was once 
in the absolute possession of numerous tribes of fierce 
and warlike Indians, who looked with no favor on the few 
whites who from time to time appeared among them; 
and they paid no heed to the mandates of the Mexican 
authorities, whose headquarters were at Monterey. In 
1835 an expedition of 600 men was fitted out at Monterey 
by General Figueroa, military commandant and governor 
of the Department of California. This expedition was 

— 136 — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

placed in command of General M. G. Vallejo, then an 
officer in the Mexican service, and who had been for three 
years previously stationed in the lower country, with 
instructions to proceed with it to this region, and to 
endeavor to make treaties with the various Indian tribes, 
if possible; and if unable to do so, then he was to attempt 
their subjugation by force. The Indians showed no dispo- 
sition to negotiate, and so General Vallejo determined to 
use the logic of force. His first battle with them occurred 
in Russian River Valley, and the second and largest one 
was fought at what is now known as "Thompson's Gar- 
dens," a few miles north of Vallejo. The place was then 
called "Soscol" (which means "artichoke" in English) 
and subsequently corrupted to "Suscol." In this second 
battle General Vallejo lost two men, killed, and several 
were wounded. Of the 700 Indians engaged, 200 were killed 
and a large number wounded. But this chastisement 
seemed only to exasperate them, for immediately there- 
after they congregated in immense numbers from all the 
valleys round about, completely hemming in General Val- 
lejo and his little band of soldiers. He notified General 
Figueroa of the state of affairs and asked to be immedi- 
ately reinforced, adding, like a true soldier, that, if neces- 
sary, he would fight with what force he had as best he 
could. General Figueroa promptly replied that he would 
himself come to his assistance with 600 men, and desig- 
nated Petaluma Creek (now Lakeville) as a place of 
rendezvous for the two forces. After the arrival of this 
large band the Indians concluded that it would be wiser 
to make treaties than to fight, and so a grand council or 
"pow-wow" was had, treaties were made, the pipe of peace 
was smoked, and quiet once more reigned. This effected, 
General Figueroa returned to the capital (Monterey) with 
all his forces, leaving General Vallejo behind with a small 

At this time the commander-in-chief directed Genersl 
Vallejo to lay out a town where Sonoma is now standing. 
He did so, and a colony of 450 Mexican families was sent 
to occupy it. But this colony was not successful. The 
people became discontented and mutinous, and General 
Vallejo placed them all under arrest and sent them back 
whence they came. The general had by this time become 
enamored of the country and determined to make it his 
permanent abiding place. To this end he applied to the 
supreme government for a tract of land, and was invested 
with the ownership of what is now known as the Petaluma 

— 137 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

grant. At various times during the troubles of Mexico 
and her consequent pecuniary straits, General Vallejo 
furnished the government large sums of money and other 
supplies. In consideration of these favors, and in part 
payment for his services as an officer in the government 
employ, the Soscol rancho was deeded to him. It was 
then known as the National rancho. 

When California was ceded to the Americans, General 
Vallejo accepted the new order of things and was elected 
to the convention called to frame a state constitution. 
Subsequently, when in the State Senate, the name of 
"Solano" was, at his suggestion, given to this county, being 
the name of an Indian chief who had aided the general in 
the war against the Indians. He proposed the name of 
"Eureka" for what is now the City of Vallejo, but his legis- 
lative colleagues, appreciating his efforts for the settle- 
ment of the place, determined to honor him by giving to 
it his own name. 

In 1850, General Vallejo determined to have the state 
capital permanently located at this place, and to this end 
he presented a memorial to the Legislature. He proposed 
to grant to the state, free of cost, twenty acres, for a state 
capitol and grounds, and for other state buildings 136 
acres, making in all 156 acres, in the most desirable parts 
of Vallejo. But, more than this, he likewise agreed to give 
$370,000 in gold! After a struggle, Vallejo was made the 
capital of the state. But it was not permitted long to be 
such. It did not subserve the interests of politicians that 
it should. 

The general's life was a stirring and eventful one, as a 
pioneer, a soldier, and a legislator. Indeed, it would be 
hard to find a record more romantic, and a life more 
honorable. He was born in Monterey, CaL, in 1808, when 
Spain ruled the land. When Mexico won her indepen- 
dence, the republic had no warmer supporter than Gen- 
eral Vallejo, who, true to his Republican instincts, opposed 
and defeated a plot, entertained by some native Cali- 
fornians, to turn the country over to the monarchies of 
either England or France in preference to allowing it to 
become a part of the United States. 

B. T. Osborn, a pioneer, told me that the first house in 
Vallejo was erected by him in February, 1850. It was a 

— 138 — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

small affair, 10 by 10 feet. He did not know just where 
the main street was intended to be when he built, but it 
subsequently turned out that the dwelling was located in 
the "heart of the city." 

I think it was about this period (1868-9) that Adolph 
Sutro launched his great scheme of driving a long tunnel 
into Mount Davidson, Nevada, to ventilate the Comstock 
mines and drain the water from them. The mines were 
hot and the abundance of water was a great hindrance in 
mining operations. At this time the project was regarded 
as a stupendous enterprise and attracted much attention. 
As it was a live topic, we gave the subject some space in 
our editorial column, favorably commending the scheme 
as well as the courage and enterprise of Mr. Sutro, with 
no thought of our comments ever reaching his eye. In 
the course of two or three weeks I received a letter from 
Mr. Sutro, thanking me for the editorial, and enclosing 
an order for 100 shares of the stock of the tunnel com- 
pany, to be delivered to me when the certificate should 
be ready for issue. I put the letter and order away and 
the matter passed out of my mind. Some eight or nine 
years afterward, while walking down California Street in 
San Francisco, I noticed a sign in a hallway, "Office of 
the Sutro Tunnel Company," which brought to my mind 
the order for the stock. I called upon the secretary, who 
told me my order was still good. Subsequently I received 
the 100 shares. These were in my possession for some 
three or four years, when at hqme one evening about 9 
o'clock, reading a San Francisco newspaper, I noticed a 
quotation in the New York market of the tunnel stock at 
something like $5.88 per share. I grabbed a hat and 
ran for the telegraph office, which closed for the day at 
9 p. m. I got there just in time to send a message to a 
friend in New York to sell 100 shares of Sutro tunnel 
stock for me. I realized something over $500 from the 

— 139 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

sale. I had never noticed a quotation of the stock before 
and I do not remember that I have ever seen one since. 

If anything, the business conditions in Vallejo were 
better in the year 1869 than in the preceding one. The 
railroad to Sacramento, Woodland, and Napq^had been 
completed, which made the establishment of great lumber 
yards in Vallejo possible and profitable. The handling 
of lumber and wheat and the manufacture of flour on a 
large scale, with the railroad shops, embraced the features 
of Vallejo's new business. I remember that about this 
time I made a careful estimate of the amount of money 
being disbursed monthly in Vallejo for salaries and wages 
by sources wholly independent of the navy yard or gov- 
ernment control. While I can not recall the amount, I do 
remember it was fully equal to the sum disbursed monthly 
by the government at the navy yard. Ocean ships lay 
alongside the wharves to be loaded with wheat for Euro- 
pean ports. In the height of the shipping season, two or 
three ships each week would be dispatched with cargoes 
complete. The coming and going of river steamers, the 
frequent arrivals of huge grain-laden barges, and the ply- 
ing back and forth of tugboats that handled the grain 
ships gave an appearance of commercial activity to the 
harbor which played no small part in the formation of 
the opinion, generally entertained at that time, that Val- 
lejo must certainly grow to be the second city on the 
coast. There were some people so enthusiastic on the 
subject that they expected Vallejo to surpass San Fran- 
cisco in population and business importance, and this 
notion was not confined solely to local residents, but was 
shared by people of San Francisco and Sacramento, who 
invested freely in Vallejo city lots. Moreover, the faith in 
great things for the place was also entertained by some 
very prominent financiers of the Eastern states who had 
real estate holdings in Vallejo, and were occasional vis- 
itors there. Among those whom I now recall was Colonel 

— IkO — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

E. H. Green of New York, husband of Hetty Green, who, 
after the death of the colonel, became famous as a finan- 
cier. Orange Judd, the famous publisher; Joseph Medill, 
and several other of the most prominent citizens of 
Chicago were also among the number. All of these were 
subscribers to my paper. Colonel Green was a stock- 
holder in one of the banks of Vallejo. It was only within 
the last few years (in 1914) that Mrs. Green disposed of 
the holding. Admiral David Farragut, the greatest naval 
officer of the Civil War, was the owner of two of the 
largest brick buildings in the town. Colonel John P. 
Jackson of the big law firm of Hoadley, Jackson & Johnson 
of Cincinnati, Ohio, was one of the large owners of Vallejo 
property. Colonel Jackson subsequently became president 
and general manager of the Vallejo railroads and steamer 
lines. There were others of prominence in the business 
world, whose names I can not now recall, who pinned 
their faith in a great future for Vallejo by investments 
in real estate there. 

The first lot of freight hauled by the railroad company 
was a train load of wheat piled on flat cars. Upon notice 
of its coming, citizens flocked to the side hills back of 
town shouting a welcome and giving voice to expressions 
of pleasure at the sight which meant so much for them. 
It was an era of prosperity, and everybody engaged in 
business was making money. I now induced my mother 
and father to remove from Napa to Vallejo, which made 
me feel more contented. 

My printing office had become so crowded that I felt 
the necessity of seeking more commodious quarters. After 
some thought on the subject I concluded to purchase 
a lot and erect a brick building. This was in the early 
part of 1870. I selected a lot on Sacramento Street, 
between Georgia and Virginia streets, purchasing it from 
Paul K. Hubbs, the man who had loaned me the money 
to buy my partner's interest in the paper a few months 

— HI — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

before. I made arrangements with General Frisbie to 
loan me the money to erect the building. The little bank- 
ing concern we had in town then did not have capital 
enough to warrant making loans of this character. In 
fact, I remember once the manager called a meeting of 
the directors to decide whether or not he should cash 
a check for $1000. After engaging an architect and obtain- 
ing plans, I let the contract for the erection of the building. 
When the work had progressed nearly to the point where 
the first payment was to be made, I went to General 
Frisbie's office three days ahead of the date of payment 
to get the money. To my great dismay the general was 
out of town and was not expected back for several days. 
I had pride in meeting my bills on time and keeping to 
the very letter of every contract made, and this was a 
case where more than one man would be disappointed 
by the failure to meet my obligations. The contractor 
depended upon me, and the men employed depended 
upon him for the money for their wages. In my distrac- 
tion over the situation, I pictured in my mind loss of credit 
and all sorts of financial and other troubles for myself 
and others connected with the job. I said to myself that 
I must get that money by Saturday night. With the forma- 
tion of the resolution I hired a horse and buggy and 
started on the trail of General Frisbie. At Napa I found 
he had left there a few hours ahead of me on Friday 
evening, bound for San Francisco. Saturday morning 
found me in the city chasing around the banks and places 
where I thought I might find him. At last, near noon time, 
I found him at his club. I explained the situation and 
obtained his check. I managed to get back to Vallejo 
with the money to make the payment to the contractor, 
with scarcely a moment to spare for him to disburse it 
among his workmen before quitting time, without any one 
having knowledge of my anxieties or the narrow escape I 
had from defaulting on the first payment on my building. 

— U2 — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

Profiting by experience, I made provision in ample time 
for the remaining payments. I was proud of my success 
in establishing the paper on a paying basis and housing it 
in a home of its own. The building was of two stories. 
The printing office was established on the upper floor, and 
the lower floor I intended to rent, but as about all the 
applications, for some time, were for saloon purposes, it 
remained vacant until the postmaster of Vallejo arranged 
with me to have it occupied by the postoffice. 

A street car line operating over a track connecting the 
north and south parts of Vallejo was established about 
this time, which helped give something of a metropolitan 
appearance to the town, but when the boom times reached 
their limit and hard times replaced prosperity, the cars 
and track disappeared and the place was without such 
conveniences until another era of progress and improve- 
ment in the business and growth of the city was expe- 
rienced in later years. 

The owners of the California Pacific Railroad were 
financially interested in the growth of the city and they 
freely co-operated with the citizens in matters intended 
to promote its welfare and progress. The managers of the 
company were energetic, progressive, and broad minded. 
I do not recall a single instance of a clash on the part of 
the citizens with the officials of the company. I might 
relate a couple of instances of dealing with individuals, 
illustrating the policy of the company, that obtained for 
the corporation a position of popularity both in the minds 
of the citizens of Vallejo and the country through which 
their roads operated. While burning off weeds and grass 
along the right Qf way, a gang of laborers let the fire get 
away from them, destroying a lot of fencing and standing 
grain. The railroad company, without question, paid the 
owner the full value of the damage done. There were a 
few hundred feet of an almost worthless rickety fence on 
one side of the burnt field, running down to the railroad 

— US — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

tracks. This the company replaced, without request, with 
a new five-board fence, giving as a reason for their action 
that the old fence was scorched. Every one in the neigh- 
borhood soon knew of this act of liberality on the part 
of the corporation, and the officials were complimented 
freely, especially for the reason that the owner of the land 
so fenced was a man of small means. I was present at 
the settlement of another claim for damages by a farmer. 
A train had struck and killed a bull. The owner had been 
sent for as soon as the report of the accident reached the 
railroad office. When asked what value he had placed on 
the animal the farmer gave a figure. The railroad offi- 
cial expressed some surprise that the amount was not 
more, and promptly paid over to the farmer the amount, 
plus a sum to fully cover his loss of time and expense of 
coming to the city. This was done, too, in less than twenty- 
four hours after the time notice of the accident had been 
received. After the man departed I expressed the thought 
that the company would probably be imposed upon when 
it was known that such a policy was followed in settle- 
ment of damage cases. The official replied that in some 
instances this would be true, but, even so, it was cheaper 
than employing lawyers and paying costs of suits, though 
he found a great deal of honesty in humanity, especially 
when it was encouraged by fair treatment. These inci- 
dents illustrate the plan adopted by the corporation in 
dealing with the public and will explain how it was pos- 
sible for the company to freely secure from the city and 
county authorities about everything asked for without 
complaint or objection on the part of the people. 

When the railroad was completed to Sacramento the 
steamer New World was purchased to run in connection 
with the trains from Vallejo to San Francisco. This was 
about the fastest steamer ever plying upon the waters of 
this section. She frequently made the run from Vallejo 
to the city in one hour and twenty minutes. The railroad 
— Uk — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

run to Sacramento was made in about an hour and fifty 
minutes. Thereby the time of travel between San Fran- 
cisco and the capital was reduced, and trains were oper- 
ated so that people of one place could go to the other and 
have time to transact considerable business and return 
home the same day. The steamer New World had a his- 
tory. She was built in New York early in the '50s, being 
intended for a speedy steamer on the Hudson River. How- 
ever, she was purchased and fitted out to be sent "around 
the Horn" under her own steam for use on the Sacra- 
mento, and was placed under the command of Captain 
Ned Wakeman, a dare-devil in character and a superior 
navigator by profession. Just before the time set for 
sailing, the steamer was attached to satisfy some kind of 
a judgment obtained in court, and a deputy sheriff was 
placed on board. But such action was not sufficient to 
withhold Captain Wakeman from steaming out of New 
York harbor when he was ready to leave. With flags 
flying and the deputy sheriff helpless, the steamer left for 
San Francisco, where she arrived in good time and was 
put upon the run between that city and Sacramento. 
Wakeman's high-handed act was a matter of widespread 
interest for a while, but I do not remember that he was 
ever punished or even arrested for the offense. When 
he retired from active life in later years he settled in 
Oakland, where he died, mourned by a large circle of 
acquaintances and admirers. When the steamer was 
purchased by the Vallejo Railroad Company, one of the 
engineers who helped Wakeman run away with the vessel 
from New York was still employed in the same capacity, 
and from him I obtained the story of the daring act. 

The railroad company attempted, in 1870, to bring out 
from New York another steamer of even greater speed 
than the New World. The vessel was named the D. C. 
Has kins, but she got no further than Cape Hatteras, where 
in a great storm she foundered. The officers and crew 

— U5 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

were rescued. The railroad people, after the loss, made 
no more attempts to bring vessels "around the Horn," but 
bought what steamers they needed from the supply here. 

At the time when the State of California was growing 
and exporting thousands of tons of wheat annually, the 
fact that our farmers adhered to the use of sacks in 
handling their grain, even shipping it in sacks to Europe, 
was the cause of much adverse comment on the part of 
Eastern visitors, as being a useless and extravagant waste. 
Finally G. C. Pierson, a Chicago grain elevator man 
and a capitalist, came to the state in 1867, determined 
to introduce the elevator system of handling grain in bulk 
here. The new railroad tidewater terminus at Vallejo 
presented every advantage required for the business, and 
he decided to erect his elevator on the waterfront of 
Vallejo. He was a hard man to deal with and, being 
unable to reach an understanding with the railroad com- 
pany, was compelled to abandon the project. Thereupon 
General Frisbie and Doctor Rice, president of the railroad 
company, took up the enterprise and enlisted the co-opera- 
tion of Isaac Friedlander of San Francisco, the grain king 
of that period, and Charles Wheeler, an Eastern grain 
operator, as well as some other capitalists of lesser note. 
A company was organized and an elevator erected, the 
building being completed in 1869. It was the pride and 
hope of Vallejo, as the beginning of another great grain 
mart of the world. It was a massively constructed build- 
ing and towered above everything along the waterfront, 
like a modern skyscraper in the business center of our 
big cities. Pictures of the structure were as freely used 
by the business men of Vallejo for advertising as was the 
State Capitol building at Sacramento for like purpose. 
When the plant was ready for business it was expected 
that the farmer would load his wheat in bulk into box 
cars or barges to be conveyed to the elevator, where it 
was to be stored until sold and run into the ships 9 holds 

— 1*6 — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

for transportation to Europe, but the farmer would not 
co-operate with the elevator people. He preferred to 
stand the loss of the sacks, adhering to the old method 
of storing his wheat in the local warehouse of his section 
until he was ready to sell, and all the zealous work of Mr. 
Wheeler, manager of the elevator company, was without 
results. Mr. Friedlander then used it as a warehouse, 
storing in bulk the grain he purchased from the farmers. 
He profited over the old warehouse methods of storage 
to the extent of the value of the sacks. So the elevator 
proved a great disappointment to the community as well 
as to the owners. About three years after its completion, 
as if unable to endure the disgrace and ridicule of the 
miserable failure of its original purpose and the humilia- 
tion of the attempt to put it to less important use, one fine 
summer afternoon, or, to be exact, September 16, 1872, the 
elevator began to totter on its foundation, then collapsed 
and fell into a monstrous heap and buried its face thirty 
feet deep in the mud of the estuary. The roar of the crash 
reached almost every ear in town. Thus closed the first 
and last attempt to introduce the grain elevator system 
into California. If the promoters had put up small ele- 
vators at receiving points along the railroad, the introduc- 
tion of the system might have been a success. 

It was in the beginning of the year 1869 that the 
acquaintance I had made with your mother developed in 
mutual attachment and marriage. A friend and I were 
looking over some photographs and my attention was 
attracted to the picture of a young lady. The sweet face 
and kindly expression appealed to my sense of loveliness 
so strongly that I expressed a desire to have her among 
my acquaintances, for I thought she must be a person of 
magnificent character and of most agreeable companion- 
ship. My friend told me that it was the photograph of Mary 
Louise Powell, daughter of Abraham Powell, one of the 
foremost citizens of Vallejo, and that she was then a 

— U7 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

pupil at Mills Seminary at Benicia. Shortly after this I 
was greatly pleased to be introduced to her. 

We were married December 1, 1870, in the parlor of 
Mr. Powell's residence by the Reverend N. B. Klink of 
the Presbyterian church at about 9 o'clock in the morn- 
ing, with no one present except our parents, immediate 
relatives, and Mrs. T. W. Hall, a dear friend of ours. 

My newspaper business kept pace with the general 
advancement and growth of the city, and I had a fine lot 
of young men working for me. Bert Worthington, who 
has a national reputation as a general manager of railroad 
business, was a newspaper carrier in our force. Sam 
Irving, member of the board of regents of the state uni- 
versity, was another one of our boys.* A. B. Nye, State 
Controller of California, began his career in life in my 
office, starting as office boy, working up from station to 
station until he became editor of the paper. It was during 
these years of our relationship that I learned to appreciate 
his superior ability in newspaper work, the soundness of 
his judgment, purity of character, and high moral courage. 

A gentleman came into the office one day early in 1871, 
saying his son had just returned from the East, where he 
had been attending college, and was now desirous of get- 
ting employment in a newspaper office. Could I give the 
young man a position with us? I was rather interested in 
his statement of the matter and in the young man's ambi- 
tion, and told him to send his boy around. This boy was 
A. B. Nye. As was the custom with beginners, one of his 
daily duties was to sweep the office floor. This work could 
be done at his leisure after the general hours of work in 
the composing room were over for the day. I was soon 
attracted by the boy's insatiable desire to read everything 
in print around the office. I never knew him to waste a 
moment of opportunity to gratify this desire. I frequently 
saw him with a paper or clipping from a paper in the 

*Mr. Irving has since been made Mayor of the City of Berkeley. 

— US — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

hand with which he held the upper end of the broom 
handle, reading and sweeping at the same time, and in 
other ways I found reason to believe he possessed those 
qualities which afterward developed and gave him the 
reputation of being one of the best journalists the state 
has ever produced. I resolved to give him every oppor- 
tunity — in fact, to push him along when necessary. A few 
months after he had been at work in the office I received 
an anonymous contribution for publication in the shape 
of a parody on a poem that had just been published by 
the other paper in Vallejo. The authorship of the poem 
was claimed by a man who was so conceited in the matter 
of his poetical ability that he was near to being an object 
of ridicule in town. As a rule we never published any 
contribution from anonymous sources, but this parody 
was so rich in its humor, so fitting to the time and circum- 
stances, and generally meritorious, that I gave it a place 
in the columns of our paper. It created something of a 
sensation. I do not recall any publication of similar char- 
acter that I ever made that attracted such general atten- 
tion and was so highly complimented. There was great 
demand to know who the author was, but of course I was 
unable to say. Several months afterward — perhaps a 
year — I met a former employee in Sacramento who asked 
me if I had ever found out who wrote the parody. I 
replied that I had not. After swearing me to secrecy, he 
said Nye was the person. I was delighted with the infor- 
mation, not that the knowledge of authorship of the 
parody was of any particular value, but that I now knew 
that I had among my employees a man of rare attainments 
as a writer. I do not know whether Mr. Nye ever learned 
that I had been made acquainted with the authorship of 
the parody or not; I do not remember of ever discussing 
the subject with him, but the knowledge I had gained 
made me impatient for the chance to enroll young Nye on 

— U9 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the editorial force of our paper. The opportunity soon 
came by the sudden departure of a reporter. I called Mr. 
Nye into my office and offered him the place. He was 
greatly pleased with the idea but expressed some misgiv- 
ings as to his ability to do the work expected of a reporter. 
I gave him some general instructions as to his round of 
travel in search of news items, and sent him out. At the 
noon hour I saw him and he appeared discouraged, as he 
had not been able to turn in more than about ten lines 
of copy. I tried to encourage him by telling him his 
work would be satisfactory and easy when he became 
acquainted with the people on the streets. That evening, 
after all the hands had left the building, I found Nye in 
my office waiting for me in a most dejected frame of mind. 
He said he was sorry but he would have to take his dis- 
charge, as it was impossible for him to become a reporter, 
and as I had given his case or position in the composing 
room to another man, there was nothing else for him to 
do but to leave me. I said he did not have to go; that 
he could have his case again. To my great pleasure he 
returned to his work of setting type. Not long after this 
some unusual accident occurred warranting the publica- 
tion of the fullest details. I went to Nye and asked if he 
would not undertake to cover some feature of the case, 
explaining just what was wanted. He consented and ful- 
filled his assignment like a veteran, and from that day 
until he became editor of the paper, worked with the local 
force, doing the work better and more reliably than any 
one I had ever employed. As editor of the Chronicle, he 
elevated the tone and standing of the paper, creating 
an interest in his department never before known. He 
remained some six or seven years until he became ambi- 
tious to enter into business for himself. Then he purchased 
the Dixon Tribune in 1877, and therefore was compelled 
to resign his position on my paper. I deeply regretted 

— 150 — 

The First Railroad to Tidewater 

the loss of his services but our relations of friendship 
remained unchanged, and when in after years I entered 
journalism in another field, Mr. Nye was associated with 
me as a partner. However, the particulars of this venture 
belong to another chapter. 

— 151 — 



Colonel John P. Jackson and His Relation With the 
City — Anthony Chabot Builds Water Works — Intro- 
duction of Air Brakes and Miller Platforms — Ama- 
teur and Professional Dramatic Incidents — Planting 
of Shad and Other Fish in Our Waters — Hard Times 
Strike Vallejo—The State Printing Office. 

I think it was also in the year 1869 that I made the 
acquaintance of Colonel John P. Jackson, about the time 
he became the president of the California Pacific Railroad 
Company, the corporation owning the railroad from Val- 
lejo to Sacramento. As our office was executing nearly 
all the printing of blanks and blank books used by the 
company, I frequently came in contact with the colonel, 
and the acquaintance thus formed developed into a friend- 
ship — I might more correctly say an attachment — that 
continued with great regard, one for the other, until his 
sudden and unexpected death nearly thirty years after. 
The colonel was a very youthful appearing man when he 
first came to the Coast. Not long after I had made his 
acquaintance, in conversation where several were present 
I remember he said he was forty years old about that 
time. There was an expression of surprise by all, and no 
one was more astonished than I, for I looked upon that 
number of years as constituting old age. 

Colonel Jackson loved newspaper work. He not only 
gave me information which put me on the track of very 
important news which enabled the Chronicle frequently 
to "scoop" the San Francisco papers, but at times he 

— 152 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

himself would write articles and news items for publi- 
cation. As there was no clash of interests between the 
people and our railroad at that time, his motive in writing 
was not to influence public opinion in railroad matters. 
In fact, his contributions were devoted largely to the dis- 
cussion of the business advantages and promising future 
of the Pacific Coast, and particularly to its attractiveness 
as a place in which to live. He was very enthusiastic on 
the subject and never missed an opportunity to impress 
upon strangers some of his thoughts of the beauties, the 
attractions, and possibilities of the state. I recall a letter 
addressed to one of his old partners in Cincinnati, in which 
he said: "California, oh, glorious climate, six months in 
the year, and not a fleck in the skies!" This letter was 
probably written from Napa, where he passed all his leis- 
ure hours. He purchased the famous Napa Soda Springs 
property, finding great delight and enjoyment in sojourn- 
ing there. The property had been in litigation for years 
and the title was so clouded with legal cobwebs that 
would-be purchasers were afraid to buy it. However, the 
colonel undertook the task of unraveling the complica- 
tions and finally succeeded in securing a clear title. As 
our intimacy became closer and his interest in the 
Chronicle increased, he made an offer to purchase a half 
interest in my business. The proposition was exceedingly 
pleasing to me, because to accept it would not only bring 
me in closer relation to the man I most respected for his 
brilliancy of mind and admired for his rectitude and 
strength of character, but the money I would receive 
would enable me to pay off my obligations. I was still 
owing quite an amount on the newspaper building. The 
trade was quickly consummated. The colonel was a 
delightful public speaker and as such was very popular 
in Vallejo. He was the orator at two Fourth of July celebra- 
tions and made addresses on several other occasions of 

— 153 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

public assemblage. Our partnership continued under most 
pleasant relations for several years until the period of 
hard times and depression in business struck the town. 
Our newspaper business ceased to be profitable, and as 
there was no prospect of satisfactory return to him on his 
investment, I proposed that I deed the building to him 
and he turn over his interest in the newspaper to me. 
This suggestion was carried out and our partnership 
ended, but not our friendship, which, if anything, grew 
stronger as time advanced. He subsequently loaned me 
considerable money to help me over the financial diffi- 
culties caused by the set-back the town had received. 

October 1, 1871, was the date of a most important event 
in my little home. My first child was born. It is perhaps 
needless to say that I was particularly proud of the young- 
ster, and in writing to the colonel, telling him of my great 
fortune, I incidentally said I intended to name him " Jack- 
son." I received a splendid letter from the colonel in 
reply, in which he congratulated us and thanked me for 
the evidence of my kind regard, but said I would soon 
find out that naming the babies was a matter pretty much 
outside of my province, or at least, when I had as much 
experience as he had, I would not attempt to interfere 
with the mother in such matters. He thought the name of 
that baby would be Frank A., Jr., a selection he most 
heartily approved. Well, that is how it happened; the 
angelic mother said, "We shall name him Frank," and I 
did not object. 

The officials of the California Pacific Railroad Com- 
pany were progressive people. They were the first to intro- 
duce the air brakes and Miller platforms for passenger 
cars on Californian roads. I had the pleasure of being 
present at the first test of these new devices. It was in 
the summer of 1871, June 2. A train equipped with the 
new inventions was run out on the main line and the 
operations of the air brake were demonstrated. Ot 
— Uk — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

course, the great improvement was manifest to all who 
witnessed its workings, and the railroad company was 
commended for its enterprise. The ability to stop a train 
under full headway within little more than its length 
seemed a marvelous thing. Under the old equipment of 
hand brakes, with a brakeman to each car, as was the 
practice, a train could not be brought to a full stop 
inside of several times its length. The hand brakes were 
operated by the brakemen, who were supposed to remain 
constantly on the platforms of the cars and to work the 
brakes upon signals from the locomotive whistle. One 
blast was the signal to apply the brakes, and two whis- 
tles to release them. The Miller platform was really a 
change in coupling the train together. Before the inven- 
tion was introduced the cars were coupled with big 
links and pins, which gave quite a space between the 
platforms, allowing a great deal of jerking and jolting 
of the cars in starting and stopping, and which also was 
the cause of many fatal accidents to people who 
attempted to pass from one car to the other while the 
trains were in motion. The new invention coupled the 
cars so that the platforms were one against the other, 
making the train as one solid mass and eliminating the 
disagreeable shaking up so commonly experienced by 
passengers under the old method. The passenger cars 
used by the Vallejo road were superior in finish and 
comfort to anything in use on the Coast. The efforts 
of the management to please the traveling public were 
fully appreciated. 

This company, in 1871, began to reach out for other 
roads, and announced its intention to extend its main 
line east via Oroville and the Beckwith Pass and become 
a transcontinental railroad. The Napa Valley railroad, 
the Petaluma road, and the Stockton and Copperopolis 
road were all purchased within a short time, and finally 
the California Navigation Company, with all its steamers 

— 155 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

plying between San Francisco and Sacramento and other 
interior points, was absorbed. Our office had to do all 
the printing for these lines, as they came under the jur- 
isdiction of the California Pacific company. However, 
we were not destined to enjoy the business for any great 
length of time. The Central Pacific company had com- 
pleted its road over the Sierras and across the State of 
Nevada, and made junction with the Union Pacific near 
Ogden, and had also, under the name of the Westerh 
Pacific, completed the railroad from Sacramento to Oak- 
land, and was looking with jealous eyes upon its com- 
petitors who already had the best and shortest lines 
where there was the greatest amount of local travel, and 
was threatening to become an opponent to transcon- 
tinental business. The owners of the Central Pacific did 
the only thing possible to head off this formidable com- 
petitor. They leased the entire system of the California 
Pacific for a term of ninety-nine years, but before they 
brought the owners of our road to terms they had begun 
the work, showing they intended to practically parallel 
the Vallejo and Sacramento route. 

The political campaign of 1873 made it a season of 
extreme activity for me. The addition of a large amount 
of political printing to an office already crowded with 
railroad work required close personal attention on my 
part to keep things moving as they should. When the 
rush was over nature compelled a rest. It was about 
this time, or July 27, 1873, to be exact, that the second 
addition to our family arrived. The nurse or doctor 
could not restrain me from getting out of a sick-bed and 
going to the room of the brave mother to show my joy 
and affection for her and have the satisfaction of hav- 
ing the new-born son in my arms, if only for a moment. 
After this event my mind was, for the time, diverted 
from business cares, and my return to health quickly 
followed. There was no question or trouble in the selec- 

— 156 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

tion of a name for the baby. I knew better, now, than 
to suggest any name outside of the family, but I had 
no desire to do so, so the infant naturally received his 
grandfather Powell's given name of Abraham. 

Very soon after Vallejo began to take on an air of 
prosperity, in 1867, there had been talk of the necessity 
for a water supply. As a rule, the water obtained from 
wells within the limits of the older part of town was 
unfit for household purposes. It was not only very hard 
but very brackish. Nearly all the old residents had cis- 
terns which they filled with rain-water in the winter, 
and they depended upon that supply to last them 
through the dry season for all household purposes. 
While not intended for this purpose, when the cisterns 
in the central part of town were constructed, these sup- 
plies of rain-water served to prevent several disastrous 
fires. Fortunately they were built so as to be convenient 
for the fire engine to take suction, and were used on sev- 
eral occasions to good advantage. In fact, the cistern 
owned by E. J. Wilson and located near the corner of 
Georgia and Sacramento streets, gave more water for 
fire purposes during the years from 1867 to 1870 than 
to the owner for his uses. Several water companies were 
organized and various plans suggested with a view to 
obtaining a water system for the city during the year 
mentioned. Napa, fifteen miles north of Vallejo, was 
at the time without a water supply other than what was 
obtained from wells, and a company was organized by 
citizens from both towns to bring water from Milliken 
Canyon, about three miles northeast of Napa, where a 
supply of the finest kind of water could be impounded 
sufficient for both communities. This was the best 
scheme of all that was presented, considering the quan- 
tity and quality of the water and promise of return on 
the investment, but nothing was accomplished toward 
creating the system beyond the organization of the com- 
pany. I never knew why the plan failed. j 57 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Another company, through its representative, appeared 
in Vallejo in the early part of 1870 with the announce- 
ment that it would introduce a water supply for the town 
at once. The agent purchased for a reservoir site a lot 
that I happened to own which was on one of the high- 
est elevations in town, and he put a gang of men to work 
excavating. The lay of the ground was such that the 
proposed reservoir would have had several feet greater 
elevation, and could have been constructed at consid- 
erable less cost, if the company had acquired the lot 
adjoining mine and made the excavation across the rear 
portion of the two lots. This fact, coupled with the efforts 
of the company to sell stock to the citizens of Vallejo, 
and a very hazy explanation of the source of the water 
to be supplied, caused people to believe that the com- 
pany's activity in actual work was only a sham. Such 
it turned out to be, and I found out that the only "capi- 
talist" behind the scheme was the proprietor of the 
defunct San Francisco mining paper, for whom I had 
worked and was the only employee and creditor who 
secured his dues when the paper failed, the details of 
which incident are related in the earlier portion of these 
memoirs. It is possible that my discovery saved some 
of the Vallejo residents from making a bad investment. 

There were schemes presented by others for bring- 
ing water from Suscol Creek and from American Can- 
yon, but before either took on any aspect of promise 
Anthony Chabot of Oakland, who had but recently put 
in the water system for that city, quietly dropped into 
town, and after surveying the situation announced that 
he would install a system and have water in all parts 
of town in less than twelve months. This was in the 
early part of 1871. Following the necessary formalities 
with the city authorities, Mr. Chabot placed a large num- 
ber of men at work constructing the dam for what is 
now known as Lake Chabot, and also laying pipe in the 

— 158 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

street. Another gang of men was employed in construct- 
ing the large pipe for the main, from the dam to the dis- 
tributing system of town. The length of the main line 
was about three miles. Mr. Chabot was a superior man 
in this line of work and he had no trouble in keeping his 
promise as to the time of the completion of the work. 
Probably no community was ever more pleased with the 
realization of this long-deferred hope of a water supply 
than was that of Vallejo. Without it, the future of the 
place was seriously handicapped, and the danger from a 
conflagration that would wipe out the town was a seri- 
ous menace. Citizens who had no cisterns of rain-water 
to draw from were subjected to no small expense for the 
water they consumed in their households. They had to 
buy it by the barrel and thought they were getting it 
reasonably when competition brought the price down to 
35 cents per barrel, which was equivalent to between 
$7 and $8 per 1000 gallons. So the gratification of the 
people upon being able to draw water from faucets in 
their houses at a cost per 1000 gallons of but little more 
than they had been paying per barrel, to say nothing 
of the comfort of the feeling that they now had some 
protection from fire, can be appreciated. It was a day 
of joy when the water was turned into the system. 
Mr. Chabot stocked the lake at once with Sacramento 
River perch, and after the second year we had some sport 
fishing there. Now comes the record of a most remark- 
able experience, unfortunate and costly, both to Mr. Cha- 
bot and to the citizens. He had been using riveted sheet 
iron pipes in other water supply instalments with great 
success, but he had overlooked the fact that the soil 
between the dam and the town contained certain chemi- 
cal elements most destructive to iron not properly pro- 
tected — a feature he had not had to deal with in his 
other installation. I think it was in the summer of the 
third or fourth year after the installation that the chemi- 

— 159 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

cals of the soil showed their power over the thin iron 
of the pipe line by causing numerous large leaks along 
the line from the dam to town. Some were geyser or 
fountain-like in form. The water, released from the pipe, 
forced its way up through the earth, spouting several feet 
into the air. It was soon apparent that the pipe line was 
useless for the purpose for which it had been con- 
structed, and for some reason, which I can not now 
recall, it was impossible to shut off* the water in the reser- 
voir from the pipe line, so there was nothing to do but 
to let the contents run away through the breaches in 
the main line. In a few weeks there was not a drop of 
water behind the dam and the people of Vallejo had 
to return to their cisterns and to buying water by the 
barrel. Before the winter rains came Mr. Chabot replaced 
the thin iron pipe with heavy cast iron pipe. During the 
summer the mud at the bottom of the lake was fissured 
by contractions in drying out, and it was supposed that 
it was in these fissures that nature in some way pre- 
served some of the perch or their eggs, for the next year 
after the lake was filled again the perch were as plen- 
tiful as ever. There is another chapter to the history of 
Vallejo water supply. It is quite a story how the peo- 
ple, after Mr. Chabot's death, became dissatisfied in deal- 
ings with his successors, voted bonds and installed a 
system of their own, and prohibited the old company 
doing business in competition with the municipal plant, 
but all that occurred after my departure from Vallejo, 
and was a matter in which I was in no way connected. 

In looking over the files of the Chronicle for the first 
years of its existence, I was reminded of my connec- 
tion with the Vallejo Dramatic Association and my expe- 
rience in amateur theatricals before I went to Vallejo. 
I do not recount these matters with the thought that 
they have any importance or any interest, beyond the 
humor involved. I have already mentioned the disas- 

— 160 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

trpus attempt I made to recite a poem at a Sunday school 
exhibition, and I am sorry to say that my second attempt 
to appear in public was another failure, but in an alto- 
gether different way. I was about eleven years of age. 
On this occasion the Napa Dramatic Association was giv- 
ing an entertainment where there was to be a giant in 
the cast who, at a certain time in the play, was to be 
disjointed. I was selected for the "upper joint" of the 
giant — that is, I was to sit astride the shoulders of a large 
man, who not only furnished the larger part of the giant 
but also the voice and speaking part. Of course, we were 
draped with a cloth that completely covered my head and 
reached to the floor. I could see nothing, but I had been 
instructed that when the man on whose shoulders I was 
riding should stoop I was to jump down and run off the 
stage with the drapery. It appears that I was too keen 
for the cue. Before the time intended, I mistook a slight 
stoop or forward movement for the signal for me to 
jump, and was in the act of doing so when he suddenly 
straightened up in such a way that I was thrown vio- 
lently to the stage, falling on my head. It was thought 
I must be injured, for there was a rush from the wings 
and from the audience (my father among the latter) to 
pick me up. I was only stunned, but the play was seri- 
ously interfered with. 

Two or three years after this event I had another expe- 
rience. In those days the young ladies of the town did 
not help the young men in their dramatic efforts, so they 
had either to employ professional actresses, or them- 
selves personate the female characters in plays they pre- 
sented. The association, on the occasion I refer to, was to 
give a play in which there was to be a young girl with only 
a word or two of speech. I was asked to take the part, 
and some of the big sisters of the members of the club 
undertook to dress me for it, and, as I remember, 
they had more fun in doing it than I got out of the 

— 161 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

whole affair. This was in the days of hoop-skirts. The 
one they put on me was too long in front, being in 
the way of my feet when I walked, and too big behind, 
being a serious obstacle in the way of sitting down. The 
girls tried to show me how to circumvent these trou- 
bles, but it was of no use. The time was too short to 
acquire the knack, or I was too clumsy. I had to walk 
about a block in this rig to the theater. I think I could 
have walked on the top of a picket fence with as much 
confidence from tripping and falling. When I reached 
the space behind the scenes where the "star actors" were, 
my presence caused a commotion, and my appearance on 
the stage even more. I have an indistinct recollection of 
the disturbance caused by my awkwardness, and of my 
shedding the rig and taking it back to the house on my 
arm, thoroughly resolved never to allow myself to be 
used in that way again. 

In after years, even after moving to Vallejo, I took 
part in comedies, never essaying any sentimental charac- 
ter but once, and that was the last time I ever participated 
in any dramatic entertainment. It was one of the rules 
of the club that every member should accept any part 
or character he might be given in making up the cast 
for a performance. Whether by design, misjudgment, or 
accident — I never knew — I was assigned a sentimental 
part in a play that was to be made quite an event. I 
remonstrated, but it was of no use. A couple of beautiful 
girls, sisters and actresses, were engaged for the female 
parts. I was to impersonate an ardent lover. In the first 
scene of my appearance I was to make love to one of 
these girls, twine my arms around her waist and gently 
lead her off the stage. I did not like the job, and the boys 
all knew it and they all assembled in the wings, giving me 
what they called encouragement. Unknown to me, your 
Uncle Harry had brought his sister home from the semi- 
nary at Benicia that she should see the performance. 

— 162 — 

Events in and About Valtejo 

Now this was at a time when I had just discovered that 
all my happiness in the world lay in making this sister 
think that I was the only young man worthy of her con- 
sideration. It was the thought of this that increased my 
objection to the part for which I had been cast. I had 
been able to withstand all the guying from the wings, but 
it was in that part of the scene where my arm stole 
around the waist of the girl that my eye fell upon my 
sweetheart down in the audience. I was paralyzed. I 
never knew how I finished the scene. My only thought 
was to square myself, and I did, without much trouble. 
However, I resigned from the club. 

While on the subject of theatricals I may as well 
relate the details of an occurrence in Vallejo that was the 
cause of great amusement in the theatrical world at the 
time. California has furnished men and women who 
have made world-wide reputations as actors and singers, 
as well as given young people from other sections the 
opportunity to develop here histrionic ability that made 
them famous. Lawrence Barrett and John McCullough 
were two young men who came into our state in the '60s 
and found employment on the stage of the principal 
theater of San Francisco. They were not strangers to the 
stage when they came here, but had not yet impressed 
the theater-going public with the belief that they pos- 
sessed any particular merit. In a few months, though, 
they became immensely popular. The people of San 
Francisco in many ways gave evidence of their appre- 
ciation of the extraordinary merit of these men, and 
through their patronage they succeeded in winning a 
place among the names of the greatest actors of that day. 
The people seemed never to tire of them, so they remained 
in San Francisco, appearing regularly on the stage of the 
principal theater in a stock company with but few and 
short omissions for several years. The omissions were 
largely caused by the stock company being laid off tem- 

— 168 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

porarily for an operatic season, or in the presentation 
of some special play. The stock company would take 
advantage of the lay-offs to give plays in other cities of 
the Coast. On one of these occasions the company con- 
cluded to give the people of Vallejo a treat in presenting 
Shakespeare's play, "Othello," at Eureka Hall. This was 
the only place in Vallejo at that time with anything like 
a stage, and while there was some pretense of arrange- 
ment for scenery, it was all too simple for any theatrical 
effect. In fact, the simplicity of the stage contrasted 
strangely with the great actors appearing in the tragic 
roles of the famous characters of "Othello." What prob- 
ably added to the absurdity of the situation was the fact 
that very few people had been attracted to the hall, so 
that when the candle footlight had been lighted and the 
curtain "went up," not more than fifty or sixty people 
were seated on the benches as the audience. The major- 
ity of those there probably had never witnessed a tragedy 
— at least under such conditions. The actors were unable 
to impress them with the seriousness of their parts or 
the tragic features of the play. From the beginning, the 
audience giggled over the heavy parts, and finally laughed 
outright, as if witnessing a comedy, in the best scenes of 
McCullough and Barrett. The actors, instead of being 
annoyed, were so amused that they were unable to con- 
ceal their emotions, and soon ceased to try. All hands 
on the stage were as full of laughter as the audience. 
Even McCullough, as Othello, was convulsed with laugh- 
ter while in the act of killing his faithful wife, Desdemona. 
As may well be imagined, what was intended as a pre- 
sentment of a tragedy was unexpectedly converted into 
a farce, with McCullough and Barrett as the leading 
comedians, and under these conditions the play was car- 
ried through to the end. Probably "Othello" was never 
played before or since under similar circumstances. I 
could not remain to see the end of the burlesque, nor 

— i6h — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

did I detail a reporter to interview the popular actors as 
to impressions made on them by the incident. For the 
reputation of our town, I thought the less said about the 
affair the better it would be. McCullough and Barrett, 
while they must have suffered some pecuniary loss by 
reason of the slim attendance, seemed satisfied and 
pleased with the experience, and used to speak of it 
among their friends, in after years, as a great joke. 

I was much interested in the work of the fishermen 
who plied their vocation in the waters of San Pablo Bay, 
Carquinez Strait, and other vicinities of Vallejo, and I 
was especially interested in the efforts of B. B. Redding 
and other prominent citizens of our state to transplant 
several varieties of food fishes of the Atlantic Coast 
waters to the Pacific. They began the work early in the 
year 1871. The completion of the railroad across the 
continent made the idea practical. The Californians 
engaged the co-operation of Seth Green of New York, 
a man famous for his practical knowledge of the value 
and habits of the fishes of our country. Mr. Green had 
demonstrated the possibility of transplanting fish from 
one locality to another, as well as the culture of fish. He 
entered into the plan of the Californians with great zest 
and gave his personal attention to the first shipment of 
young fish across the continent, which consisted of 15,000 
baby shad. The little fish came in specially designed 
cans and were immediately taken to Tehama and put 
into the Sacramento River at that point, on June 27, 
1871. One of the papers of that day, in describing the 
event, said that the little fish were about the size of "a 
wiggle and a half." In April of 1873, another lot of 
75,000 little shad was placed in the Sacramento River; 
in June following, 35,000 more, and a few years later an 
additional lot of 150,000 was planted, all being put in 
the Sacramento River. A law was passed protecting the 
fish until December 1, 1877. The State Sportsmen's Asso- 

— 165 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

ciation, however, offered a reward for the first mature 
shad caught in our waters, but it was not until the spring 
of 1874 that any one was able to lay claim to the prize. 
One beautiful morning in the year last mentioned, while 
taking an early morning walk before breakfast, I strayed 
down on the Main Street wharf to see the fishermen's 
catches, as was a common practice. On this occasion one 
of the fishermen, "Baltimore Harry," announced that he 
had been waiting for me as he had a strange fish for my 
inspection. He then presented me with a fish weighing 
about a pound and a half or two pounds, the like of 
which I had never seen, but from what I had read and 
heard I immediately concluded it was the first shad 
caught on the Pacific Coast. The fisherman said he had 
never seen a fish like it before and asked me if I could 
name it. He said there appeared to be great quantities of 
them but they were so small that they escaped through 
the meshes of his salmon net. I told Harry I thought 
I could classify his catch but preferred not to just then, 
and further said that if he would say nothing about this 
fish, when he caught another I would tell him how he 
could get $50 for it. The fish he gave me I carefully 
wrapped and carried to Mrs. Powell, your grandmother, 
to whom I presented it, knowing her acquaintance with 
the fish and her fondness for it. She immediately pro- 
nounced it to be a shad. She cooked the fish and we 
had it for dinner that night. We thought then, and I 
have never had occasion to change that opinion, that it 
was the first shad caught and eaten in California. About 
two weeks later "Baltimore Harry" showed me another 
shad he had caught, about the same size of the one given 
me. I gave him a letter of introduction to Ramon 
Wilson, president of the State Sportsmen's Association, 
and instructed him to give the shad to Mr. Wilson, which 
he did and received the $50 prize. This fish was a matter 
of great interest. The San Francisco and other newspapers 

— 166 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

commented freely upon this evidence of the success of the 
scheme to introduce this valuable food fish in our 
waters. The association had a big dinner at which the 
lone shad was the great feature. I had intended to tease 
my friends about their claim to having had the first shad, 
but so much importance and wide publicity had been 
given the event that I regarded it too serious a matter 
to joke about. I regretted my course and maintained a 
discreet silence. 

A very strange fact developed with the introduction of 
the shad, as apparently the waters, temperature, or some 
other conditions caused a remarkable change in the 
habits of the fish, which added enormously to the value 
as a food supply. In the Eastern waters, their native 
habitat, they only run into the rivers where they can 
be caught for a few weeks each year. They make their 
first appearance in March in the rivers of the lower 
Atlantic Coast, remaining from four to six weeks, then 
disappear, to run in some stream further north, and so 
on until all the rivers flowing into the Atlantic have been 
visited. But here in our waters the shad remain the 
year round. I never heard a theory advanced for this 
change in habit, but the temperature of the Eastern rivers 
undergoes quite a change with the difference in seasons. 
It is well known that the change in temperature of the 
waters inhabited by the shad here is slight, and is prob- 
ably about that of the rivers of the East when the fish 
seek them. Our waters doubtless give them an even 
temperature naturally required by the fish. 

The catfish was another variety that was transplanted 
about the same period as the shad. The "cats" seemed 
to find the changed conditions very agreeable for propa- 
gation, for they soon became most abundant in the 
sloughs and stagnant branches of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin rivers. Fresh water eels were also planted 
about the same period, but they did not prosper in our 

— 167 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

waters. I never heard of any being taken other than two, 
caught in the Sacramento river about three years after 
planting. One was a foot and a half long and the other 
three feet in length. These were in all probability some 
of the original planting, for it is now known that eels 
go out into mid-ocean to drop their eggs, and that the 
little eels hatched from the eggs do not reach or enter 
the fresh water stream flowing into the ocean until about 
a year after their birth. They inhabit the fresh water 
and tide waters of estuaries for several years thereafter 
until they reach a condition of maturity, then they in 
turn go out into the ocean, as stated. After having depos- 
ited the eggs, which seems to be the crowning and final 
act of their existence, the female and the male who 
assists die. It was undoubtedly a fortunate matter that 
efforts to introduce this snaky looking fish into the Pacific 
waters was a failure, for it has been found that eels are 
very destructive to the spawn of valuable food fishes in 
Atlantic Coast streams. 

Striped bass was another valuable food fish that was 
successfully introduced here after the shad. Black bass 
came still later and has prospered beyond any expecta- 
tion. Both of these varieties, beyond their value for food 
purposes, were desirable to sportsmen on account of their 
gamey qualities. 

Carp, common in so many parts of the interior waters, 
is also a transplanted species, being brought by private 
enterprise by a German who lived in Sonoma Valley in 
the early '70s. He had a fine place and thought that a 
fish pond in his grounds, stocked with German carp, 
would be a source of satisfaction to himself and a matter 
of interest to his friends. The carp were extensively 
advertised by the newspapers of the state as a curiosity, 
and the Sonoma place was visited by many people for the 
sole purpose of seeing the new fish. All went well for 
a few seasons when one wet winter a flood swept through 

— 168 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

the fish pond, carrying the carp away into the stream, 
Sonoma Creek, which, after the course of a few miles, 
terminates in San Pablo Bay. Carp seem to be remark- 
ably prolific in reproduction of their kind, for in a very 
few years they were to be found almost everywhere in 
the quiet waters of the interior of the state. In fact they 
soon became a nuisance and almost a pest in some places, 
especially in waters used for domestic supply. The carp, 
being a scavenger of the fish family, goes rooting around 
the bottoms and mud of the margins, keeping the water 
in a constant state of disturbance. Great has been the 
abuse hurled at the man who was responsible for the 
carp being here. 

While the waters of our bays are favorable to the 
growth of oysters, they do not for some reason propagate 
here, and the only oysters taken from these waters are 
those planted as "spats" and allowed about three years' 
growth. Neither were any clams to be found on the 
shores of San Francisco and adjacent bays until the fall 
of 1875, when somebody found that the clam, now so 
common in our markets, had made its appearance on the 
tide flats of San Pablo Bay. The discovery created some 
little excitement among the lovers of this variety of 
Mollusca. Parties came from a distance to "dig for 
clams." In the course of the next five years the clams 
were abundant on all the flats of the bay shore. It is 
believed that the sudden appearance of the clams was 
due to the oyster beds that had been made in San Fran- 
cisco and San Pablo bays. The "seed" had been inad- 
vertently brought here with the "spats" or young oysters. 
However they came, the clams were a most valuable 
contribution to the natural food products of the state. 

While the waters were receiving additional inhabitants 
of new varieties, one kind of food fish, sturgeon, which 
at one time existed in great numbers, began to disappear. 
Forty years ago a person traveling on the bay could see 

— 169 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

sturgeon jumping out of the water in almost every direc- 
tion. While I was living in Vallejo, there were several 
instances of sturgeon jumping out of the water and land- 
ing in the row boat of the workingmen while passing to 
and fro between Vallejo and the Navy Yard. The sudden 
addition of huge, flapping fishes, weighing a hundred 
pounds or more, in a boat already well filled was no 
laughing matter. In those days this fish was so common 
that Chinamen and the poorest classes of people were the 
only consumers of the meat. Now it is so scarce that it is 
very rare in the markets and is considered a delicacy. 

The destruction of the grain elevator ended the hope 
of the community for the introduction of the new method 
of handling grain, and of Vallejo becoming the business 
grain center of the state. In our anticipation we had 
pictured a number of giant grain elevators on our 
water front, many more docks and warehouses, and a 
harbor filled with shipping, with the great increase of 
population that would follow such improvements and 
business enterprises. Our expectations of future great- 
ness in this direction were seriously shattered when the 
big grain elevator building fell in a mass of ruins. 

However, more serious damage to that great future 
we all had predicted for Vallejo happened when control 
of the railroads leading out of the city passed from the 
California Pacific Company to the Central Pacific. The 
announcement of the change was a sad and hard blow to 
Vallejo. Everybody felt that the destinies of the place 
were now in the hands of railroad men who had no par- 
ticular interest in the growth or welfare of the commu- 
nity. As was expected, the repair shops were practically 
closed and the number of other employees at the Vallejo 
terminus was materially reduced. The depressing effect 
of the unfortunate change was quickly manifest in the 
reduction of property values and the suspension of real 
estate transactions. All hope of Vallejo becoming the 

— 170 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

terminus of another great transcontinental railroad sys- 
tem was dispelled. 

Following the change in the control of the railroad 
came another misfortune to the business interests of the 
community, which was like heaping more fuel on the 
fire to make the work of destruction complete. The Sec- 
retary of the Navy ordered the discharge of about half of 
the force of workingmen employed in the navy yard. It 
can be well imagined how this combination of circum- 
stances affected the reputation of Vallejo as a city of 
great expectations. 

The loss of employment drove many resident working- 
men and mechanics out of the city in search of work else- 
where. There was the loss of the floating population as 
well as of some business firms. In all, Vallejo lost a 
large percentage ot population and about all its prestige. 
There was an abundance of real estate for sale but practi- 
cally no buyers. Those who remained in business suffered 
from the conditions, but they were largely men finan- 
cially strong and better able to weather the storm. 

Notwithstanding the combination of misfortune, some 
of us retained our optimistic views of the future for the 
place. It seemed to us that the natural advantages exist- 
ing at Vallejo, with its extraordinary facilities as a ship- 
ping point, would sooner or later be recognized by 
manufacturing and business interests, and that it was 
only a question of time when the city would again be 
prospering and growing in population and wealth. Some 
of us who felt this way, having more courage than good 
judgment, bought property that was thrown on the mar- 
ket at depression prices. In the early period of the 
depression (1873) I purchased the two-story brick build- 
ing on the south side of Georgia Street between Santa 
Clara and Sacramento, used in later years as a meeting 
place for fraternal organizations. I bought it subject 
to a mortgage, paying the owner, I think, about $4000 for 

— 171 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

his equity. At the time the lower floor was occupied by 
two stores, and the upper floor by offices, all filled with 
tenants. The monthly rental collected from the building 
was approximately $300, and I was calculating upon this 
income to pay the interest and monthly instalment upon 
the mortgage. Here is where I showed more courage 
than good judgment, for 1 had no revenue from other 
sources with which to meet these payments in case I 
should fail to receive the rentals of the building. A fail- 
ure in rental receipts is just what happened. Within 
sixty days from the date of my deed there was not a 
single tenant left in the building and it looked as if I 
must lose the property. I was in distress. While I needed 
the money invested in the building, I worried more over 
the mortification of the failure and exhibition of poor 
judgment, in attempting to buy property in such a condi- 
tion of business affairs under such poor financial circum- 
stances. I had to do something, and do it quickly, to 
"save my face." I talked the matter over with your dear 
mother, who was ever ready to share with me the trials 
and •tribulations of my business affairs. Her courage and 
excellent judgment were my refuge on many occasions. 
In the matter of this building we decided to have the 
upper story fitted up at slight expense for living apart- 
ments, and to move the newspaper office into the first 
story. The money we were paying for house rent, and to 
Colonel Jackson for office rent, was more than sufficient 
to pay the interest on the new purchase. I presented the 
case to Colonel Jackson, who told me not to hesitate 
making the change on his account, and in his big-hearted 
way insisted upon my doing that which was best for my 

We made the change and lived there very pleasantly 
for some four or five years. It was in our home in this 
building, May 3, 1878, that our third boy was born, who 
was called Ed at once, being given my father's name. I 

— 172 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

well remember the day — it was a most charming one — 
and it is difficult to express the delight I felt that another 
grand boy had been added to our family group, as I 
was proud of my family, and I had good reason to be. 
One feature of our residence in this building, became a 
source of unpleasantness and irritation. I was so con- 
veniently located and some people were so inconsiderate 
of my time for rest that I was called out at all hours of the 
night to answer business calls. This was especially true 
in election times. While living there I had about the 
most serious spell of illness ever experienced, from over- 
taxing my strength and capacity for work. It was not 
long after we had moved to this place when Abe, then 
scarcely two years old, was seized with illness that threat- 
ened to be fatal. The hours of anxiety we passed while 
watching over and caring for him severely taxed the 
strength of his mother. My anxiety was doubled when I 
found how her cares were telling upon her. The most 
critical period of the case was now reached when we had 
to hold him in our arms, so as to give him the quickest 
attention in case of occurrence of convulsions. The doc- 
tor had instructed us what to do, and to carry out his 
instructions it was necessary to keep a quantity of water 
hot. The kitchen was the only place where that could be 
done, so I requested our Chinese cook to keep up the 
fire during the night. I held Abe in my arms a good part 
of the night, insisting on his mother lying down during 
my vigil. The crisis passed between 2 and 3 o'clock in 
the morning. The change in condition for the better was 
so marked that I was able to lay him down in peaceful 
slumber. I started to leave the room to tell the China- 
man he could allow the fire to die when, to my astonish- 
ment, there he lay fast asleep, curled up on the mat in 
front of our bedroom door. He had understood Abe's 
critical condition and the necessity of prompt action in 
case of convulsion, and he had remained in front of our 

— 173 — 

*, .«»* *»r* *i « Seivspaperman 

- <n* u answer my call in the least pos- 

**• " **\\. tr ,«*kened him he was quite chagrined 

.^ •.-*■ * ^ ^^ buf ddighted that the patient 

•*■ v **■ -- 11 . . perhaps needless to say that 

-m*ined as help in our home for several 
.w> '»--«*■*" J ^ the laundry business. Upon the 

- ^ "' " ^vsician. we moved our residence to a 

- J ^' '" /iivINng in the residential section of town. 
" r *"" % 7- " finally got rid of by deeding it to the 

. A^nsidoration of the return to me of my 
^ *..-h* I sacrificed the amount I paid for the 
t,M ' j ^-a S pleased to get out of the unfortunate 

^ lnV r. *> easily. 
' , "" ,v lime I made the purchase of the building, 

xrl** 11 * onc °^ ^e P rom * nen t real estate owners of 

V * ■*. *mi a friend of mine, who felt much as I did 

,• *Jie future of Vallejo, came to me and said that 

* K»« a chance to buy a tract of several hundred lots 

>hc eastern edge of town at a very small figure, and 

l^j me to join him and make the purchase. When 

i -Ajdaincd that I had no cash he said that he would put 

* |ho money and take my note for $3000, which was 

^v share of the cash necessary. The history of the value 

j[ the lots subsequent to the purchase was not unlike 

llK* values of everything else in the real estate line. I 

lljid a number of business transactions with Mr. Wilson, 

^vcring quite a long period of time, without settlement, 

^o we got together onc day and, after some hours of 

work, had adjusted about everything, when I noticed 

he had made no mention of the purchase of lots and my 

note. I called his attention to the omission and he 

responded by going to his safe, extracting the note, and 

tearing it up, with a comment in substance that, as the 

lots were not worth anything now, the note should have 

no value, and especially, as he had advised me to enter 

into the speculation, he did not want me to be a loser by 

— Ilk — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

the transaction. Mr. Wilson and I remained cordial 
friends until his death some years ago. He was a warm- 
hearted man and there are many people who can testify 
to his kind acts. He was very secretive in his charities 
as well as in his business affairs. 

It was some time in the year 1873, or possibly early in 
the following year, that I conceived the idea of con- 
structing a job press for a special line of work, such as 
long runs that had to be executed on a narrow margin 
of profit. In furtherance of my plan I made a working 
model of the press I wanted. It was complete in every 
detail, less than twelve inches long, and not more than 
six inches high and five inches wide. I worked the greater 
part of the time on it at home at nights after the children 
were put to bed. I did not get a press made from the 
model on account of the cost, as there was not business 
enough in sight to warrant the outlay. At the time I 
constructed the model there was no press made like it, or, 
at least, I never heard of one. Thirty-five years after- 
ward, while visiting a department of the United States 
treasury where the carmine-colored seals are printed on 
government currency, I was greatly surprised and pleased 
to find a number of presses patterned exactly after my 
model. I could not find a detail that was not covered in 
the model I had made. I dearly loved to work with 
tools and to be making something, but as I grew older it 
seemed as if there was a growing demand upon my time 
which prevented the gratification of my desire. 

Even before I was old enough to vote, I became greatly 
interested in political matters. I could not keep away 
from the polling places on election day. While, owing 
to my youth, I could not participate in the discussions 
that arose and were common to such places, I loved to 
hear the talk, for I entertained a live interest in the suc- 
cess of the Republican, or Union side as we called it then. 
On one occasion, when only eighteen, I was very proud 

— 175— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

to be chosen as clerk of a primary election in Napa. That 
seemed to me to be the transition point from boyhood to 
manhood. I was a constant attendant of county conven- 
tions, but it was not until 1869 that I first attended a state 
convention. John Howell, a former newspaper publisher 
from Sonoma County, was a candidate for State Printer. 
He asked me to go to the Republican state convention at 
Sacramento and assist him to secure the nomination. At 
that time the state had no printing office and it was the 
practice, as provided by law, to elect a man, designated 
as State Printer, who was supposed to do the printing 
required by the state in his own office. Therefore, only 
persons who had printing offices were regarded as eligible 
for the position. Of course it was impracticable and 
impossible for any one country printing office to execute 
all the printing required, and it was the custom for sev- 
eral proprietors to combine and support a certain one of 
their number for the position of State Printer. Whoever 
was elected divided up the business with his associates. 
It was a very unbusinesslike and costly way of doing 
things. As might be expected, the custom finally led to 
charges of wrongdoing, when the Legislature provided a 
printing office of its own and required the election, or 
appointment, of a man to run it. When I reached Sacra- 
mento a day or two prior to the assembling of the con- 
vention, I found, to my surprise, that Mr. Howell expected 
to be nominated without making combinations with other 
printers. I looked over the field to find out who were can- 
didates, what strength they possessed, and what chances 
my friend had, and I found only one person who had 
made any organized effort for the nomination who was 
formidable. This was a well-known publisher from one 
of the mountain towns. The Republican party was then 
beginning to feel the demoralizing influence of bitter fac- 
tional feeling arising from the railroad company's attempt 
to control the politics of the state. Anthony & Morrill, 

— 176 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

publishers of the Sacramento Union, were the leaders of 
the anti-railroad faction. In my investigation I fouiid 
that this formidable opponent, while receiving the sup- 
port of Anthony & Morrill, had combined with some 
publishers supporting the railroad faction. One particu- 
larly interesting feature of this combination was that the 
railroad organ, the paper established to kill the Union if 
possible, was a member. I was now satisfied that my 
friend Howell, with a little good judgment and care, could 
win the fight. I laid the situation before him, showing 
that, if he would only consent to join hands with the 
other lesser candidates, then give out the information I 
had obtained which would destroy the opposition combi- 
nation, he could get the nomination with little effort. I 
spent a very great part of my time in winning Mr. Howell 
over to my view of the case. It was not until the next day 
that I secured his consent to accept a third member for 
his combination. 

Finally I succeeded in getting his agreement to the 
acceptance of McClatchy of the Sacramento Bee, Gagan 
of the Oakland News, and another publisher whose name 
I do not recall. There was but little time left before the 
meeting of the convention. While others of our combine 
were working up votes for Howell, I hunted up Mr. Mor- 
rill of the Union for the purpose of playing the trump 
card in the game. In my youthful enthusiasm I was sure 
that the publisher of the Union, as soon as he heard my 
story, would repudiate our opponent and give us his 
all-powerful support. He listened patiently to my state- 
ment. When I was through with showing him how he 
was indirectly working to give financial aid to a paper 
started by railroad interests with the avowed purpose of 
displacing his paper, he replied that all I said might be 
true, but he had given So-and-so his promise to support 
him for the nomination, and he was going to do it, as 
it was too late now to investigate the matter. Then he 

— i77 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

added, with great vehemence, "So-and-so will be nomi- 
nated for State Printer and will be elected, and if what 
you say shall turn out to be the facts, then I will have his 
office and accounts experted so that the business of State 
Printer will not be worth anything." This sounds very 
mild when I recall the language actually used in making 
this declaration and threat. 

It is hardly necessary for me to say that I was badly 
disappointed. We made a lively canvass for Howell, and 
just before the convention met in the session that would 
select the candidate for State Printer we concluded that 
we had just a bare majority of the vote. At this moment 
I was approached by the chairman of a county delegation 
having about sixteen votes, which had been promised to 
Howell, saying that, unless the latter took some publisher 
he mentioned into our combination, he would go into 
the other combine and the delegation would follow him 
with their votes. Howell, as I expected, flatly refused to 
consider the proposition, saying he had enough votes. 
There was no time left to argue the matter with him, so 
we had to let the delegation of sixteen votes go. The hot 
contest over, this nomination created great interest in 
the outcome, not only among the delegation but on the 
part of the spectators. The vote was so close while the 
roll call was being made, no one could tell how it had 
resulted until the finals were announced by the clerk. 
Our opponent won only by a bare majority. The sixteen 
votes lost at the last moment killed our chances of win- 
ning the nomination. It was my first attempt at "smashing 
the slate" of a political convention, and although the 
effort failed I certainly enjoyed the experience, and I do 
not think I missed any of the state conventions of the 
Republican party held during the following twenty years. 

As Mr. Morrill had foretold, our opponent was elected 
and, as I had warned him, the partnership developed; 
and as Mr. Morrill had threatened, the work of the new 

— 178 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

State Printer was experted so fiercely that no profit from 
the work of the state accrued to the combination, either 
to principal or any member thereof. A claim of several 
thousand dollars for alleged unpaid services due the 
State Printer was before several sessions of the Legisla- 
ture, only to be rejected. Many years after, the widow 
succeeded in getting an appropriation from the state in 
satisfaction of part of the claim, if not all. It had been 
the custom, up to the time of the election of State Printer, 
to charge the state for its printing "all the traffic would 
bear." There was but little competition in those days 
and no one complained. Everybody seemed to take it 
for granted that a printer had a right to charge all he 
could collect for his work. Mr. Morrill, through his expert, 
prevented further enjoyment of the state's business on 
such a basi?, but how close the expert pared down the 
profits on the state work I am not prepared to say. It 
was the contention of the Union and the expert that the 
State Printer was being allowed a commercial profit on 
all work turned out by him. On the other hand, the State 
Printer complained that he was being deprived of any 
profit by the way his bills were cut down. However, the 
controversy brought the ugly and unbusiness-like method 
of doing the state printing before the public eye in such 
a way as to cause a reform in the system, and the state 
supplied its own office with complete equipment for doing 
the work. 

During the boom period I had many opportunities to sell 
out my newspaper business. I was offered nearly $20,000 
for the plant by Harry Mighels, a well-known publisher 
of Nevada, and as this sum was considerably more than 
double what it had cost me, the profit of such a transac- 
tion was something of a temptation. But being married 
and "settled down," contented with my business pros- 
pects, and most happy in my home life, I could not see 
how, even with the increased capital, I could improve 

— 179 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

my condition in a business way or add to the comforts 
or pleasures of our home. I rejected all offers as they 
came, but the fact that other newspapermen were 
attracted by my newspaper and wanted to purchase it 
was pleasing to my pride, making me feel that I had in 
some measure been successful in my efforts to establish a 
newspaper of merit. It was my policy from the first that 
the paper should command the respect of the community 
for honesty of purpose, reliability, and decency, and that 
people should depend upon it for all legitimate news. 
I caused to be published, for the first time in the history 
of the county, full details of the meetings of the Board 
of Supervisors and transactions of the City Trustees and 
City Board of Education, having quite a controversy with 
the members of the last named body over the matter of 
sending a reporter to its meetings to record the doings 
of the board for publication. The members were indig- 
nant and resented the appearance of the reporter as an 
intrusion, claiming that they should be allowed to pro- 
ceed with the business of school -matters in privacy, and 
were horror stricken with the idea that publication should 
be given to what one or another member said in the 
transaction of business before them. The board refused 
to proceed with its business upon the reporter's appear- 
ance at the second meeting. The chairman of the board 
came to me personally and requested, begged, and threat- 
ened, but I would not be moved, insisting that the public 
was entitled to know all that a public officer did in an 
official capacity. The board made some futile attempts 
to avoid the reporter's presence, but as they were unsuc- 
cessful, it soon became reconciled to the new order and 
we had no more trouble. 

One of the best business strokes I ever made was when 
I conceived the idea of sending a competent writer out 
into the surrounding country to write up in newsy form 
what he found of general interest among the farmers, 

— 180 — 

Events in and About Vallejo 

fruitgrowers, and stockraisers. His travels took him 
around through Solano, Napa, Lake, and part of Sonoma 
counties. The articles sent in for publication by our rep- 
resentative were very interesting and attracted much 
attention to the paper, materially increasing its circula- 
tion, while the new subscriptions and other business 
picked up by our agent considerably more than paid his 
salary and expenses. 

-*M — 



Bitter County Seat Contest — Efforts to Establish Private 
Ship Yards — The Comstock Mine Craze — Exciting 
Times With the Fire Department — Justice McKenna; 
His Rise in Political Life — Visits by Grant, Farragut, 
and Hooker. 

An attempt to move the county seat from Fairfield to 
Vallejo was a matter that wrought up the feelings of all 
parts of the county to an extreme state of bitterness and 
excitement before the matter was finally settled. The 
suggestion of removal originated in the mind of E. H. 
Sawyer, at that time a prominent citizen and property 
owner of Vallejo, early in 1873. The idea at first was 
not received as a popular scheme, but Mr. Sawyer adhered 
to his plan and for months worked single handed obtain- 
ing signatures to a petition, required by law, asking for 
the removal. Not until Mr. Sawyer's petition contained 
the requisite number of names did he receive any assist- 
ance. Then other leading citizens joined him in formu- 
lating a plan of action whereby public interest in Vallejo 
was aroused, and a mass meeting was called. At this 
meeting speeches were made setting forth the advantages 
that would accrue to Vallejo by reason of being made the 
county seat, and an executive committee was selected to 
take charge of the campaign. Although Vallejo was 
much the largest town in the county, it was located in 
the extreme southwest corner, and was regarded by 
the people generally as a political hotbed, and for these 
reasons it was almost universally opposed in its ambition 
to become the county seat by the inhabitants of the other 

— i82 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

towns of the county. Like the Vallejoites, the up-country 
people met and organized to combat the efforts of the 
former. The petition was presented to the proper authori- 
ties and an election was ordered to determine whether 
or not the county seat should be moved. The battle was 
now on. The Vallejoites made strenuous efforts to win 
some of the up-country men to their way of thinking, 
with some little success, but it was not safe for an indi- 
vidual in the neighborhood of Suisun to express himself 
as being in favor of removal. One poor fellow was so 
thoughtless as to declare that he was going to vote for 
the removal, and the report that reached Vallejo was that 
he was promptly ducked in the muddy slough flowing 
by that town. No election ever held in the county called 
out so many active workers, every possible voter being 
made to go to the polls. It was even said, with reasonable 
grounds for belief, that all names of deceased persons 
and absentees on the great register of some precincts were 
voted by men who thought they were performing a duty 
to the side of the controversy they represented. When 
the votes were counted, all of the precincts had polled 
a considerably larger vote than at the general election 
held a few months before, ranging from 20 to 85 per cent 
increase, and Vallejo won by about 300 votes. The Super- 
visors were compelled to declare that the people of the 
county had decided to remove the county seat, therefore 
on and after February 7, 1874, Vallejo was the seat of 
county government. 

The up-country people were not beaten yet They 
immediately started a suit to enjoin the removal, employ- 
ing a number of prominent attorneys to conduct the case, 
Justice McKenna, now on the supreme bench of the United 
States, directing the proceedings for the plaintiffs and 
winning praise from both sides for the masterly way in 
which he presented facts. The Vallejoites did not have 
such an imposing array of attorneys, but they had some 

— 183 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

good fighters, and after a battle royal in the courts lasting 
several days, the judge rendered a decision in favor of 
Vallejo, denying the application for an injunction. The 
offices were removed to Vallejo and that place was the 
seat of government for the county. The different officials 
were located around town in different buildings where 
suitable rooms could be obtained, but this was only a 
temporary arrangement, as a fine court house and a jail 
were to be erected immediately. 

However, the up-country people had more fight left 
in them yet, but the scene of the contest was shifted to 
the state capital. The Legislature was in session, and a 
bill had been introduced to divide the county of Solano, 
setting Vallejo off by itself as a new county, to enjoy its 
new-won prize as it might, with the county boundaries 
not much greater than the city limits. The Vallejoites 
were incensed. The proposition was most humiliating. 
A delegation of the most active citizens was rushed to 
Sacramento to combat the bill. The halls and lobbies of 
the capitol were filled with citizens from Solano, and woe 
to the poor members of either house who showed them- 
selves to this crowd of excited and earnest men. Such a 
pulling and hauling, coaxing and urging of members was 
never seen before nor since. 1 was one of the number 
from Vallejo, and I know I did my share of the disagree- 
able work. The earnestness and the zeal with which the 
citizens from both sections of the county worked were 
soon imparted to many members of the Legislature, pos- 
sibly to the detriment of the work they had in hand. It 
was soon, evident that our opponents had won over to 
the support of the division bill a majority of the members 
of the Legislature, but we had a fighting chance to defeat 
the measure by delaying its consideration in the Assembly 
after it had passed the Senate, but on the last day of the 
session of the Legislature it was forced through. We 
then appealed to Governor Booth to veto the measure and 

— m — 

Political and Other Incidents 

he did, but it was generally understood that he privately 
intimated to the opposition that if it would get a bill 
through, moving the county seat back to Suisun from Val- 
lejo, he would sign that. Whether he did or not, when 
it was found that the Governor had killed the division 
bill, an act removing the county seat back was rushed 
through both houses in a few moments' time, while they 
were preparing to adjourn, and on March 30, 1874, the 
Governor signed the bill and Vallejo was compelled to 
give up the seat of government to its victorious opponents. 
The ill will and bad blood engendered by the contest 
which had lasted for nearly a year was the worst feature 
of the affair, the evil influence of the antagonistic feeling 
continuing to be felt for years afterward in politics, busi- 
ness, and social matters. 

In recalling incidents belonging to the period of my 
business career prior to my removal from Vallejo, the 
occasional visits to our office of a curious character come 
into my mind. The man I refer to was a tramp printer 
named Haslit, commonly known pretty much all over the 
United States as "the Pilgrim." I first made his acquaint- 
ance in 1864 in Napa, while I was an apprentice in the 
printing office there. The Pilgrim was a small man, then 
not much over twenty years old, short in stature and 
delicate in limb and features, probably not weighing over 
120 pounds. On the occasion of our first meeting he came 
into the office clothed in a suit that must have been made 
for a 300-pound man. If he had donned them to appear 
ridiculous he was most successful. The clothes, besides 
being filthy, were torn and in tatters. The Pilgrim was 
one of those objects which you instinctively feel like pick- 
ing up with a pair of tongs and dumping into the nearest 
garbage can. The proprietors of the office put him to 
work. Before the first day of his employment was over 
we had struck up something of an acquaintance, although 
he was quite reticent. I asked him if he would not like 

— 185 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

to exchange the suit he was wearing for a suit of my 
old clothes, and he said he would be most glad to do so. 
In fact, he declared, he felt lost in the trousers he was 
wearing, as although they had been cut off at the knees, 
thef-e was so much waste room about the belt that his 
suspenders were sorely taxed to keep the garment in 
proper place. He was a sight. I brought him a suit of 
my old clothes from home and the next morning he 
made an altogether different appearance. Incidentally I 
profited by the gift to Haslit, for I found in the pocket of 
my suit some state warrants, being pay for military ser- 
vice at the state encampment, mislaid by me some 
months before. From that time on the Pilgrim was my 
friend, and whenever in the next thirty years or more 
he came to California, he seemed to make it a point to 
hunt me up. While he talked quite freely with me, tell- 
ing me where he had traveled and relating some of his 
experiences and observations in different parts of the 
country, he was generally credited with avoiding such 
familiarity with other people. As a rule, he showed up 
in town in periods of about three or four years apart. 
When his visits occurred, after I became a proprietor, he 
would walk into the printing office and, without asking 
whether his services were wanted or not, would hang up 
his coat and tell the foreman to give him some copy or 
distribution of type to work on. He might work one, two, 
or three days, seldom more than three, then say "he 
guessed he'd move on." When asked how much he had 
done, he would reply that he had not measured it up but 
he thought it was so much, generally greatly overstating 
the amount. However, he would accept whatever amount 
of money was given him, scarcely looking at it, with every 
manifestation of satisfaction. When he made up his 
mind to leave, no amount of coaxing or offer of double 
pay would induce him to remain. One of his peculiarities 
was that he would work in only one office in a town. He 


Political and Other Incidents 

was in Vallejo in 1875. At that time he told me that since 
he was there, in 1871, he had been across the continent 
twice. Leaving Vallejo at the latter date, he went East 
via Nevada, Utah, Colorado, etc., working at different 
places along the route until he reached Omaha; then he 
started down South, following the Missouri and Missis- 
sippi rivers until he reached New Orleans. From there 
he made a circuit through the Gulf states, Georgia, the 
Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland, finally reaching New 
York, where he lingered a short time, then started West 
and continued in this direction until he reached Cali- 
fornia once more. This trip occupied about four years. 
The Pilgrim was not a temperate man, although I do not 
remember ever seeing him intoxicated, but on one of his 
visits to the state I do recollect seeing published an 
account of his arrest on a charge of drunkenness in some 
neighboring town. The last time I saw him was not long 
before I retired from the Oakland Enquirer, or more than 
thirty years from the time I first saw him in Napa. He 
was still shabby and still dirty; time and the hardships 
of the life he was living were telling upon him in the 
whitening of his hair and the deepening of the lines in 
his face. I often wondered what could have been the 
causes that so completely warped and misdirected the 
course of his life. What became of Haslit I never knew. 
The wages paid to the workmen .employed in the navy 
yard by Uncle Sam were as a rule a trifle higher than 
were paid elsewhere for similar work. The conditions 
and hours of work were also more favorable. As a 
result, when there was a discharge of employees in the 
yard, a considerable number of men would remain in 
idleness in Vallejo, awaiting the chance for re-employ- 
ment. This practice, involving such a great waste of 
labor, attracted my attention. I considered many plans 
with a view to utilizing it for the benefit of the commu- 
nity. The greatest difficulty I met in my attempt to 

— 187 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

devise a practical scheme was the lack of capital. How- 
ever, some time early in 1874, after many conferences 
with some of the leading mechanics, I submitted a plan 
which was agreed to. In short, it was this : One of their 
members, a master ship carpenter, was to submit a design 
of a large three-masted schooner. The men were to give 
their time and labor in the construction and receive there- 
for an interest in the completed vessel. Every week each 
was to receive a receipt showing how much labor had 
been contributed, and its value. I had obtained an agree- 
ment from a hardware firm to supply the rigging, sails, 
etc., accepting an interest in the completed vessel in pay- 
ment, also an agreement from Mr. Powell to supply all 
the timber on the same terms. Thus we had siyceeded 
in starting a shipbuilding yard without a cent of money 
for working capital. The city authorities gave the unused 
part of a street that ended on the bay shore for the ship 
yard. In a short time the frames of the new schooner 
began to go up, the men working industriously and enthu- 
siastically until the vessel was ready for launching. The 
vessel was named the Joseph Perkins, after the designer 
and superintendent of the work, and was launched with 
something more than the usual ceremony. The plan had 
worked so smoothly, nearly up to the time of completion, 
that there was no thought of failure in any part of the 
scheme, but a certain storekeeper who had been accepting 
the workingmen's scrip in lieu of cash for groceries, 
attached the schooner, demanding payment in cash for 
the amount of scrip held by him. The firms furnishing 
rigging and timber were forced to the same action to 
protect their interests. There was no money or organiza- 
tion to fight the suit brought by the groceryman, and the 
schooner was sold at auction to satisfy the claims men- 
tioned. Sixteen thousand dollars was realized, which was 
about half her cost. As nearly all the workmen had traded 
off their dues for labor to the storekeeper, the unpleasant 

— m — 

Political and Other Incidents 

ending of the enterprise did not cause any very great 
hardships. I was greatly chagrined and disappointed that 
a weak spot had been left in our arrangements, per- 
mitting such an unfortunate ending to the undertaking 
when it had almost reached the point of success. The 
Joseph Perkins was said to be a finely built vessel by those 
competent to judge, and she certainly presented a fine 
sight, with her canvas spread, sailing down the bay. 

Having established the fact that the workmen of Vallejo 
could build sea-going vessels as well at Vallejo as could 
be constructed elsewhere, I went to work on a plan of 
incorporating a shipbuilding company with stock sub- 
scriptions sufficient to raise enough money to pay for the 
labor in building a full-rigged ship. The materialmen 
were to come in on the same plan as with the schooner. 
In recognition of my activities in the enterprise, I was 
elected president of the company. I worked hard for 
several weeks and succeeded in getting signatures for the 
amount required. Grounds for the ship yard were pur- 
chased, a "loft" and tool shed built, and everything was 
ready to lay the keel, when I was compelled to go East 
on a trip connected with matters personal to myself. Dur- 
ing my absence the official acting in my place called 
in some portion of the subscription money. Whether 
through inadvertence or intentional purpose I do not 
know, but demands were made upon the materialmen 
for payment in cash of the percentage of the amount they 
had subscribed to be paid in materials. This started a 
row which grew to such proportions before my return 
that it could only be settled in the courts. The shipbuild- 
ing enterprise was killed and the property sold. After 
the business was all settled up, some little money was 
left which was paid back to the subscribers. The under- 
taking cost me a round thousand dollars in coin, the 
amount of my subscription, as well as a lot of hard work. 
Some little benefit accrued to the community by reason 

— 189 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

of our work. A street was cut through a high hill, giving 
access to a section of town on the waterfront that had 
been inaccessible except by a roundabout way. The ship 
yard fell into the hands of a firm which had established 
an industry there, giving employment to a few hands. 
This second failure rather dampened my efforts to find 
employment for the idle workmen of the navy yard force. 
In view of the growth of the shipbuilding industry around 
the bay in subsequent years, had this misunderstanding 
not occurred, a permanent business would probably have 
been the outcome of our enterprise. 

Among other activities to advance the interests of Val- 
lejo was the organization of a Board of Trade in '76 or 
'77. I was made president of the organization and served 
in that capacity until leaving Vallejo. It was an active 
organization, though I do not recall any accomplishment 
of special importance. Considerable effort was made by 
the board to induce certain manufactories and other 
industrial enterprises to locate in Vallejo, but the fact 
that larger wages were being paid at the navy yard made 
managers of such business timid about locating there. . 

During the mining excitement aroused by the discovery 
of silver-gold ledges on Mount St. Helena in 1874, in which 
I participated to some extent, I learned of the existence 
of some chrome iron deposits in Napa County. I made 
an investigation with a view to finding out if the ore had 
any economic value, and, if so, how it was to be treated 
or disposed of, to realize on it. I found there was only 
one buyer, a firm in San Francisco representing the 
chrome works of Baltimore. A talk with the members or 
agents of the firm developed their method of doing busi- 
ness with owners of chrome iron deposits, a method that 
did not seem very fair to the mine owners. Before the 
agents would make a price on any ore, they insisted upon 
knowing the exact location of the mine, which enabled 
them to figure exactly the cost per ton for delivery of ore 

— 190 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

at tidewater. Then to the total cost of mining and 
transportation they would allow $1 per ton for profit to 
the mine owner. So for some ore located comparatively 
near the bay they would pay, say, $12 per ton, and for 
ore located where it would cost $4 or $5 more per ton to 
get it to a shipping point, they would just as willingly pay 
$16 to $17 per ton. I did not like this way of dealing and 
concluded to go East and see if I could not find a market 
for chrome iron where the owners of the deposit could 
secure all that their ore was worth. I left Vallejo on 
March 11, 1875, on the overland train, on my first trip 
across the continent by rail. In those days the trains ran 
very slowly, requiring seven days' time to reach New York 
from San Francisco. Eating houses along the road were 
so few and so poor, and trains so irregular in reaching 
points where meals were obtainable, that passengers 
started out with big lunch baskets stored with eatables to 
last them until Omaha, at least, was reached. Pullman 
cars had not been introduced on the overland road at that 
time, and dining cars were a convenience that came some 
few years later. The company had sleeping cars, though, 
which were not quite as luxuriously finished as the Pull- 
mans, but so far as I remember were quite as comfortable 
and convenient. They were styled "palace cars." 

In the Rocky Mountains we ran into some extremely 
cold weather and a snow blockade, which did not prove to 
be a very serious matter, however. We arrived in Chicago 
nearly on time but in the midst of a sleety blizzard. In 
going from the train to my uncle's store, I thought I would 
perish from the cold, which seemed to penetrate to my 
very bones. That night I slept but little on account of the 
cold, although the bed was piled with everything I could 
find in the room to make more covering. The next day 
the sun shone and the natives called it pleasant weather, 
but to my notion it was anything else, as the thermometer 
indicated several degrees below the freezing point. My 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

relatives insisted upon showing me around the city. We 
were out on the trip some three or four hours, and when 
we got back home I felt as if I had been that long in an 
ice chest, and my fingers were frost bitten. After leaving 
Chicago I visited Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore, 
Philadelphia, and New York. In all these cities, as well as 
in Chicago, I visited every place where I thought some- 
thing about the chrome iron business could be learned. 
I was very thorough in my search and gathered much 
information. Having completed my round I had the 
knowledge that thej;e was only one consumer or purchaser 
of raw ore of any consequence in the United States, and 
only two in Europe. The one in this country was located 
at Baltimore and was represented in California by the 
agents in San Francisco, previously referred to. In Phila- 
delphia I met a gentleman who told me his experience 
in an attempt to establish a plant for the manufacture of 
chroma tes from chrome ore, which gave me some idea 
of how absolutely the market was under the control of 
the existing factories. He said he found quite a large 
deposit of chrome iron in California, the owner of which 
made a favorable contract with him to sell the ore on a 
tonnage basis. He chartered a ship which carried about 
2000 tons of ore and commenced putting up reduction 
works in or near Philadelphia while waiting for the ves- 
sel to come "around the Horn" with the cargo of ore. He 
noticed the price of the manufactured article began to 
drop, and before the ship arrived it was selling below 
any rate which he could make. So he quickly took the 
hint when he was asked if he did not want to sell his cargo 
afloat. He let it go for less than it cost him, charging up 
his loss to experience, and made no further effort to 
establish chrome iron works. I had gone to Baltimore for 
the special purpose of calling on the firm which seemed 
to have such a strong grip on the business, and, on giving 
my name, I was courteously received and was told they 

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Political and Other Incidents 

had heard of my presence on that side of the country 
and understood the nature of my business. I was unable 
to obtain any statement promising a different method of 
dealing with the California mine owners and was practi- 
cally told such matters were left with their California 
agents. It is perhaps needless to say that I lost all further 
interest in chrome iron mines and returned to California 
by the most direct route. I was absent on the trip about 
thirty days. While in the different cities I made it a point 
to call on our relatives living in such places and also 
had the pleasure of meeting some prominent men in 
Washington, among whom I recall Senator A. A. Sargent 
and Chief Naval Constructor Hanscom. I had a letter 
of introduction to Mr. Bristow, Secretary of the Treasury, 
but did not find time to present it. 

There lived in our part of the country a man by the 
name of John Neate, an Englishman by birth. He was 
a man of more than ordinary education and refinement. 
He had some knowledge of mineralogy and an insatiable 
desire to engage in mining. Not long after I made Vallejo 
my home, I heard of Neate's prospecting in the hills back 
of town and that he was opening up a deposit of cinnabar. 
His work interested me because of my finding the rich 
piece of ore in the same neighborhood several years 
previous, a fact I have mentioned in the earlier part of 
these memoirs. Mr. Neate, in his first location, failed to 
find ore in any considerable quantity, although he spent 
no small amount of money and effort in his attempt. 
Some few years later he found a more promising prospect 
on the Joseph Wilson ranch, a mile or two further north 
of the other prospect, and it became what is now known 
as the St. John mine. He soon found enough ore to war- 
rant the erection of a small furnace of his own design. 
With this furnace in operation and the aid of a few 
miners, he began to realize some part of the hope that 
had been in his mind for years past. He was making 

— 19S — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

money easily and quite rapidly, for quicksilver was then 
selling for nearly $1 per pound. If he had not been impa- 
tient he would undoubtedly have become a rich man. He 
thought that, if his little 10-ton furnace was making 
money for him, a 40- ton furnace would be proportionately 
that much more profitable. There is where he made the 
error that finally brought to him financial disaster and 
the loss of the mine. To enable him to build the new 
furnace and run a long tunnel to connect the ore body 
with it, he borrowed $40,000 from John B. Felton. He 
had a partner in the mine, and the buying out of that 
interest also involved him in further debt. When the 
new furnace was fixed and put in operation it failed to 
reduce the ore. It would not work satisfactorily. As a 
consequence Mr. Neate could not meet his obligations, 
which by this time were many. The property was sold 
under attachment and, if my memory is correct, was bid 
in by some of the lesser creditors in satisfaction of their 
claims. The Felton estate lost its loan in the wreckage. 
Previous to the failure the mine had been considered 
worth between $200,000 and $300,000. Quite large bodies 
of good ore had been struck or opened up. Owing to the 
large consumption of quicksilver in the Comstock milling 
plants at Virginia City, Nev., and the high price of the 
metal, good quicksilver mines were sought after. An 
agent of Senator Jones of Nevada requested me to obtain 
for him an option on the St. John mine. I could not get 
a written agreement but the owners agreed to sell the 
mine to me for $200,000. I notified Jones's agent and an 
expert was sent to examine the property, with the result 
that the agent informed me that the senator wanted the 
n^ne syad would give ttue*price-:and pay me handsomely 
for my trouble. I notified Neate's partner to close the 
deal. Neate and his partner in some way mussed up the 
matter so that the senator became displeased and refused 
to consider the property any further. Subsequently 

— in — 

Political and Other Incidents 

Neate made something of a stake in mining operations 
and went to London with the hope of promoting on a 
large scale. The last I heard of him was that he was 
traveling through the cities and towns of California, going 
from house to house gaining a precarious livelihood sell- 
ing a little pamphlet of poems of which he was the author. 
While writing of John Neate and his mine I am 
reminded of a visit to the property by an Eastern gentle- 
man named Hale, who a few years later became 
Governor of New Hampshire. Mr. Hale was engaged in 
the manufacture of furniture in that state, and in connec- 
tion with his business made yearly trips to the Pacific 
Coast. On one of these trips we met and formed an 
acquaintance lasting for several years. While calling on 
Mr. Hale in San Francisco on one occasion, he remarked 
that he had never seen a mine and expressed a desire to 
go into one so that he could tell his Eastern friends how 
mining work was conducted. I offered to give him letters 
to some Nevada County miners but he thought it would 
take more time than he could spare to go to Nevada City 
or Grass Valley. I happened to think of the St. John 
mine as one affording the opportunity he wished for with 
the expenditure of but little time, so invited him to come 
to Vallejo. When we arrived at the mine he expressed 
some reluctance to going underground, but finally I 
induced him to take a candle and enter the mine with 
me through the 800-foot tunnel. At the end of the tunnel 
where it intersected the ore body quite a chamber had 
been cut out and two or three ore chutes were installed 
to receive the ore being mined in the upper levels. These 
chutes were lined with iron. Mr. Hale stood with his 
back to one, leaning on it, while the*foreman was explain- 
ing how the ore lay in the formation of the wall near by. 
He was much interested until a carload of ore was 
dumped into the chute from the uppermost level. The 
falling ore striking the sides and finally the iron lining 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

of the chute, made a terrific noise. It was as if the whole 
top of the mine had fallen in. Mr. Hale with great fright 
dropped his candle and, leaping like a deer, ran out 
through the tunnel. I could not stop him with my shouts. 
When I reached the outside, there he stood in great 
excitement, bespattered with mud from head to foot. He 
seemed glad to see me and was anxious to know if any 
more had escaped with their lives. He thought the whole 
top of the mine had fallen in. No amount of explanation 
that no one was hurt and there had not been an accident 
would induce him to return to the mine. His nerves had 
received a shock that killed all further interest in mine 

The two great mining epochs of the Coast were the 
placer mining era of pioneer days and the later Comstock 
period. Both yielded fortunes to many people but in 
decidedly different ways. The wealth won in the first 
instance was due to legitimate efforts in mining the pre- 
cious metal from the earth, and it was distributed among 
a greater number of people. In this period neither did 
any one fortune ever approximate any of the larger accu- 
mulations of wealth that grew out of the Comstock era, 
but for a time when the number of millionaires in the 
United States could be counted on the fingers of one hand, 
the fortunes of pioneer days were considered large if not 
extraordinary. While the value of the gold and silver 
yielded by the Comstock mines was equal if not greater 
than the amount wrested from the gravels of the early 
day mines, it was not directly by the distribution of these 
riches that the majority of the fortunes were made. It 
was by the buying and selling of the shares of stock repre- 
senting the ownership of the Comstock that many became 
wealthy. Never before or since has the state witnessed 
such an era of stock gambling craze. There were few 
people in the country hereabouts who were not familiar 
with the value of all the principal Comstock shares, even 

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Political and Other Incidents 

if they did not own some. It was the condition and devel- 
opment in the mines that principally influenced the rise 
and fall of prices of the shares. Not infrequently the 
fluctuations were exceedingly sharp, and shares that may 
have cost a few hundred dollars one day could be sold a 
few days later for many thousands. The striking of a 
new body of ore, any improvement, or pinching out of a 
bonanza would be first known to the management or 
those on the inside in control of the mines. Inside infor- 
mation of mine conditions was used to the greatest advan- 
tage in buying and selling shares, and was imparted to 
friends for their benefit and sometimes for their loss, for 
it was not always reliable. I went through nearly the 
entire stock craze period without the slightest desire to 
speculate in the stocks. Undoubtedly I was influenced by 
my loss of $800 some few years previous in the Humboldt 
oil excitement. However, I had a very narrow escape 
from a loss of several thousand near the close of the 
period. Colonel Jackson, who had profited by invest- 
ments in shares to no small extent, quite frequently 
had given me inside information on mine conditions, 
which, if I had taken advantage of, would have yielded 
no small gain. On this occasion, meeting my friend in 
San Francisco, he called my attention to the fact that I 
had not availed myself of the advantage of the informa- 
tion or "tips" he had given me, but he would give me one 
more. He explained how a body of ore had been found in 
the Best & Belcher, I think it was, and with the publicity 
of the information to be made the next day, the price of 
the stock would go skyward. I told him that I would think 
the matter over and when I reached home would telegraph 
him my conclusions. That evening I wired him to pur- 
chase a certain number of the shares, saying that I 
would send down next week the $3000 or $4000 margin 
needed for the deal. Naturally I sought the following 
issues of the morning and evening papers from San 

— 197 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Francisco for the anticipated rise in the price of the 
stock. Instead of an advance the quotations showed a 
shrinkage. In truth, the price of the stock of the Best 
& Belcher has never been as high since as on the day on 
which I ordered the purchase. Agreeable with my prom- 
ise, I went to the city with the money and tendered it 
to the colonel. He was surprised, saying he had not 
received any telegram from me. At first I thought his 
attitude was due to his generous desire to befriend me 
and save me from loss, but he insisted that he had not 
received the order from me. So we went down to the 
telegraph office to see what had become of the telegram 
I had sent. The investigation developed the fact that my 
dispatch had been handed to a green messenger boy, 
who had left the message in a tailor shop adjoining the 
colonel's place of business, and the tailor not being able 
to read did not know what to do with it. In this way, 
by the combination of two very fortunate and unusual 
incidents in telegraph operations, I was saved from the 
loss of the first money I was tempted to put into min- 
ing stock, and no one was more pleased that the trans- 
action turned out as it did than Colonel Jackson. It was 
one time when luck seemed to be on my side. 

To give an idea how some fortunes were made in deal- 
ing in Comstock shares, I will mention two or three 
transactions coming under my observation which are 
illustrative of deals common to that period. Four hun- 
dred shares of Consolidated Virginia costing $2.50 per 
share, sold for $1000 per share. One lot of Crown Point 
shares costing $9 per share, sold for $1360 per share; 
Gould & Curry, costing $60, sold for $500. It was said, and 
my observations seemed to confirm it, that the majority 
of these suddenly-made fortunes were lost in the same 
gambling pit whence they came. 

For many years the fire department of Vallejo con- 
sisted of a hook and ladder company, a hose company, 

— 198 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

and two fire engine companies; the latter using the old- 
fashioned hand-brake engines, one of which, though, 
had proved itself to be very efficient and had a great 
record as an extinguisher of fires and belonged to San 
Pablo Company No. 1. The membership of the fire 
department was made up of volunteers, who received 
no pay for their services. However, at that time mem- 
bers of a fire company in good standing under a state 
law did have privileges of which the firemen were very 
jealous. They were exempt from payment of poll tax 
and jury duty. About 1875 or 1876, the state Legislature 
repealed or amended the law so that the firemen were 
no longer exempted from paying poll tax. This aroused 
the members of the San Pablo engine company to a high 
sense of indignation. The company held several meet- 
ings for the discussion of the situation and finally on 
July 13, 1876, resolved to disband. They first manned 
the ropes and paraded the main street with the engine, 
after which they returned to the house, pulling the 
machine into place in reverse position, and dispersed. 
The action of the company was a serious matter, con- 
sidering that the town was largely built up with frame 
structures. The next day I went around the town and 
secured the signatures of about thirty business men to 
an agreement obligating themselves to form a new vol- 
unteer fire company. This document was presented to 
the city trustees with the request to turn over the appa- 
ratus to the new company. The petition was granted. 
At that time the engine house was located at the foot 
of Georgia Street on the north side. One of the first 
things the new company did was to remove the build- 
ing to a more central location up town, on Virginia 
Street, near Sacramento. The new organization proved 
faithful to its duties, though they became quite onerous. 
For a while the company was called out almost nightly 
in responding to false alarms and incendiary fires. It 

— 199 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

seems that some members of the disbanded company 
regarded their action as being in the nature of a strike, 
and the new organization was looked upon by them as 
a strike-breaking device, and the members of the new 
company were considered "scabs." It is only fair, to say 
that this feeling was not entertained by all the mem- 
bers of the old company, but was manifested only by a 
small number of the younger and less responsible men. 
However, they made it exceedingly unpleasant and excit- 
ing for the entire community. The incendiarism had 
become so frequent and threatened such great damage 
to the town, that a vigilance committee was organized, 
providing a night patrol of the main streets, citizens act- 
ing as patrolmen as they would be called upon by the 
committee. Threats to maim and kill were made from 
anonymous sources to the leading members of the new 
fire company if they should persist in responding to 
fire alarms. However, they assembled so quickly and in 
such numbers that no serious assault was ever made. 
The organization of the vigilance committee seemed to 
put an end to the trouble, and after a period of peace 
and quiet the patrol was abandoned, but one Sunday 
morning at 3 o'clock the heavens were illuminated by 
a sudden burst of flames in the center of town. With the 
sounding of the alarm, there was a rush of firemen and 
citizens to the location of the blaze, which proved to 
be the San Pablo engine house. The roof was a mass 
of flames. An attempt to open the front doors proved 
that they had been fastened against any unlocking. 
They were finally battered down, but all attempts to 
remove the hose cart and engine were fruitless, as 
they had been fastened to the floor to secure their 
destruction. The fire inside the building had gained 
such headway that nothing could be done to undo 
the fastenings, and the crowd of citizens were com- 
pelled to stand idly by and witness the wilful destruc- 

— 200 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

tion of the city's most effective fire-fighting machine. 
The smell of coal oil at the fire, the suddenness 
of the blaze, together with the circumstances above 
related left no doubt as to the origin. The coming of 
daylight, however, gave further and convincing evidence 
of the incendiary act. From the sidewalk in front of 
the place where the engine house had stood, to the alley 
entrance of a saloon about a block away, was a trail 
clearly marked by dripping of coal oil. It was well known 
that the coterie of members of the old organization that 
had showed so much opposition to the formation of the 
new company made this saloon their headquarters. 
Beyond the circumstantial evidence related, no further 
information as to who the culprits were was ever devel- 
oped during my time in Vallejo. No one was arrested 
for the deed, though nearly everybody was satisfied as 
to who was responsible for it. The citizens were aroused 
and a greater interest centered in the fire company. 
With the aid of the city authorities we purchased a small 
steam fire engine, housed it in a vacant store in the 
Masonic Hall building and placed a guard over the prop- 
erty. Whether the vandals became frightened, or were 
satisfied with the destruction of the old apparatus, we 
never knew. We had no more trouble. The company 
with its new engine made a creditable record. The mem- 
bership was made up of leading storekeepers, bankers, 
and lawyers. S. G. Hilborn, afterward Congressman from 
the third district, was one of the most active members. 
At one fire my familiarity with the operation of steam 
engines came into play. I performed the duty of engi- 
neer, getting the engine to work in what I thought was 
fairly good time. When I retired from business in 1879 
I sent in my resignation as a member of the fire com- 
pany, but in the letter of acceptance I was notified that I 
had been elected an honorary member. 
The prosperity of Vallejo was so closely allied with the 

— 201 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

work laid out for the navy yard that our newspaper 
kept in as close touch with the navy yard authorities and 
department officials as possible for the purpose of secur- 
ing all information that would be news. On one occasion 
I had information of the possibility of orders being issued 
at Washington for the performance of certain things 
which were of considerable importance to the people 
in Vallejo. A former employee of mine had taken a posi- 
tion in the navy yard, the duties of which occasionally 
brought him into its main office building. I had requested 
him to keep his eyes and ears open for the anticipated 
orders. One day, shortly after, just before the paper was 
going to press there was placed in my hands a copy of 
a telegram from the Secretary of the Navy to the com- 
mandant of the navy yard embracing the order I had 
been looking for. The publication of the news was a 
pleasure to the community, but was the cause of an 
uproar in the commandant's office. The chief clerk, Cox, 
was summarily dismissed from office and mischief was 
at play generally. I explained to the commandant that 
while I could not tell him how I came by the copy of the 
telegram, he had most unjustly accused his chief clerk. 
He would not accept my statement clearing Mr. Cox 
unless I would tell him everything, which was impos- 
sible. The real culprit was never suspected of having 
any connection with the affair. I never told how I 
obtained the copy of the telegram, but as no harm can 
come to any one now, as nearly all the participants have 
passed away, I will give the facts. It was supposed that 
this telegram after being received was laid on the com- 
mandant's desk. He was out at the time or had stepped 
out just after its receipt, for it lay on his desk until a 
gust of wind through an open window blew the telegram 
and some other papers on the floor. My man came into 
the room and seeing the papers scattered around, pro- 
ceeded to pick them up and replace them on the desk. 

— 202 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

His eyes dropped upon the message, the substance of 
which he committed to memory while replacing the 
papers. Then he stepped out of the room without being 
seen and subsequently sent me the news. I admit it was 
a great deal like receiving stolen goods, and I never felt 
quite satisfied about it after the commandant acted as 
he did, although there was no good reason for his 
withholding the information. Mr. Cox was finally 
re-employed in the yard, but I think he was compelled 
to accept a subordinate position. 

Justice Joseph McKenna, who for the last ten years or 
more has been an honored member of the Supreme Court 
of the United States, entered upon the practice of law 
in Solano County about the same time that I began the 
publication of the Chronicle in Vallejo. His residence 
was in Suisun. I soon became acquainted with him 
and our acquaintance grew into a friendship that has 
never ended. I admired him for the brilliancy of his 
mind, cleanliness of his character, his high ideals, and 
his sense of honor and truthfulness. As an attorney in 
pleadings in courts and as a public speaker he always 
appeared to great advantage, and attained more than 
local reputation. When he became a candidate for the 
Legislature in 1875 it was a pleasure to assist him in his 
election. He took position at once as one of the leaders 
on the floor of the Assembly, and on more than one occa- 
sion carried measures to victory by the force of his argu- 
ments and power of oratory. The defeat of the enact- 
ment of a bill to repeal the Compulsory Education Act 
was due to his untiring efforts. The opposition to the bill 
was strenuous and much oratory came from both sides 
of the question. His conduct in the bitter contest over 
this measure and the ability he displayed won for him 
commendation and compliment from his opponents and 
the opposition newspapers. His advocacy and vote for 
the bill were unquestionably the cause of his defeat a 

— 208 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

short time afterward when he appeared before the peo- 
ple as the Republican candidate for Congress in the old 
third district. It was supposed that some religious influ- 
ence was behind the bill, which, being chagrined at defeat, 
sought to even things by defeating McKenna for Con- 
gress. But people generally understood and appreciated 
his high minded and honorable stand and honored him 
for it. 

There are some other incidents in connection with that 
Congressional election worth relating. Justice McKenna 
was nominated in the Congressional convention held in 
August as the Republican candidate for his district. His 
opponent on the Democratic ticket was J. K. Luttrell, 
who had the advantage of being the incumbent He was 
a hustling chap, alive to all the arts and devices of poli- 
ticians in getting votes, and did not scruple to say any- 
thing on or off the stump, regardless of the underlying 
facts, that he thought would advance his political inter- 
ests. For a couple of times he was invincible as a candi- 
date, but his tactics, reckless declarations, and promises 
finally made him easy to defeat. The Vallejo Chronicle 
made a vigorous fight against Luttrell when he was 
opposed to McKenna for the position of Congressman, 
but the district then was very large, extending away 
beyond the limits of the general circulation of our 
paper. It embraced the entire northern part of the state 
from Carquinez Straits and Sacramento north to the 
state line. Perhaps we did not assist McKenna or injure 
Luttrell in that election even within the radius of 
the circulation of our paper, but the contest we waged 
may, and I think did, have its influence in the succeed- 
ing Congressional election. 

Soon after the nominations in 1876 the nominees were 
in the field making efforts to cover the great district and 
to address and meet as many of the voters as was pos- 
sible. Reports soon began to reach us that Luttrell was 

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Political and Other Incidents 

making all kinds of misstatements about the Republican 
candidate, charging, among other things, that McKenna 
was afraid to meet him in joint debate, in such language 
that one would infer he had challenged McKenna and 
the latter had avoided him. Luttrell kept getting bolder 
in this matter and finally was faced by some of McKenna's 
friends. Then he attempted to hedge by denying the 
use of the language attributed to him. However, the 
upshot of this meeting was a challenge on the part of 
Luttrell and its acceptance by McKenna. An arrange- 
ment for the debate was fixed for the evening of Octo- 
ber 26, at St. Helena, Napa County. This was some little 
time ahead, and because the itinerary of both candidates 
brought them into that place the same night, it was 
arranged that the Republicans and Democrats should 
gather in the one hall and listen to the candidates. By 
the conditions of the challenge and acceptance, McKenna 
was to open the debate and close, and be allowed one 
and a half hours for opening and a half hour for clos- 
ing. Luttrell was to have one hour and a half — a total of 
three hours and a half for the debate. The night before 
the debate McKenna spoke in Yolo County or Yuba, and 
had to start from Knights Landing or Marysville very early 
next morning on the only train that made connections, 
so that he could get into St. Helena on time for the meet- 
ing in the evening. He left orders to be called in the 
morning that he might take the train, but it was not 
done. He was awakened by the whistling of the depart- 
ing train, and hastily dressing he sought some of his 
friends to aid him in devising means to overcome the 
embarrassment that his predicament threatened. His 
failure to meet Luttrell at St. Helena would confirm all 
the wild assertions the latter had been making. Besides, 
it would discourage and humiliate McKenna's own party 
and friends. All agreed that he must be landed in St. 
Helena in some way, and it was finally arranged to take 

— 205 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

a light buggy with a double team and arrange by tele- 
graph to have relay teams ahead at necessary points 
along the road. In this way they drove across the coun- 
try to a station in Solano County to connect with a train 
that enabled McKenna to reach St. Helena in time to 
take his place on the platform. 

It was evident by the remarks Luttrell was making 
that evening that he was informed of McKenna's misfor- 
tune and did not know that he had overcome the trouble. 
An immense crowd had assembled and the neighbor- 
ing towns contributed delegations of people interested in 
the contest. Luttrell and the managers of the meeting were 
on the stand, and only a few minutes remained before 
the hour announced to begin the debate. McKenna's 
friends began to manifest a nervous anxiety, and Luttrell 
a corresponding degree of elation. He had been pre- 
dicting that evening that his opponent would dodge the 
meeting by laying blame on the railroad. Almost at the 
moment when all despaired of McKenna's presence, he 
appeared on the scene as if dropped out of the sky to 
save the day for the Republicans. As he walked up to 
the platform he was cheered as a hero. Luttrell's face 
was a study. Something had gone wrong. Nobody knew 
just what had happened, and they could only speculate. 

The preliminaries were brief. McKenna stepped to the 
front and spoke for one hour and a half in language 
forceful and brilliant, with a dignified but pleasing man- 
ner, and most courteous in the references to the Con- 
gresssman, his opponent. His friends were wild with 
delight and were not slow in manifesting their feelings. 

When Luttrell took the platform in reply it was clear 
that he had lost his composure. He was irritated and 
angry and appeared at great disadvantage. He realized 
that the vast audience recognized the superiority of 
McKenna as an educated man and an orator. Luttrell 
used his hour and a half. During the course of his speech 

— 206 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

he made a very serious charge reflecting upon the Repub- 
lican party which, he claimed, was supported by an 
official report which he had in his possession. 

When the time came for McKenna to close the debate 
he referred to the foregoing charge and suddenly turned 
and asked Luttrell for the privilege of looking at the 
"official report." The latter began to dive among his 
papers and documents, hemming, and hawing, and at last 
muttered "it must have been misplaced." 

"Never mind," said McKenna, "I can wait," and stood 
immovable, watching the movements of Luttrell and wait- 
ing for the "report." 

Finally, in pure desperation Luttrell produced the 
alleged report. McKenna looked at it, then instantly held 
it up to the audience, and there was displayed a Demo- 
cratic campaign document with the very unofficial head- 
ing on its title page: "Republican Lies." A roar went 
up from that crowd that fairly shook the ground. Words 
were unnecessary. About all the comment McKenna 
made was: "There was a time when Congressmen were 
expected to instruct their constituents, but here is a man 
who would mislead them." 

The scene at the close of McKenna's speech was some- 
thing remarkable, and such a demonstration at a politi- 
cal meeting is seldom recorded. Such shouting and 
cheering! Democrats struggled with Republicans for the 
privilege of shaking McKenna's hand. Finally the crowd 
picked him up and carried him off to the hotel. Luttrell, 
contrary to the arrangement of the debate, attempted 
to make another address, but no one would stop to listen 
to him. In less than three minutes he was left alone with 
his shorthand reporter, to find his way to the hotel as 
best he could. The crowd went with the victor. The mat- 
ter would have probably ended there had not Luttrell 
been so indiscreet as to have claimed in subsequent 
speeches to have annihilated his opponent in the debate. 

— 207 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

In response to this declaration, our paper challenged Lut- 
trell to give his shorthand report of the debate to the 
press for publication. Finally we offered to pay him for 
the report and agreed to publish it, but of all our goad- 
ing he took no notice. 

The Saturday night before the election Luttrell spoke 
in Vallejo. As I was the presiding officer of a Republican 
meeting that night, I was unable to attend the gathering 
to hear the Democratic Congressman. It was unfortu- 
nate, for when he arose to speak he looked around the 
audience and asked if Mr. Leach were present. When sat- 
isfied that I was not there he held out a bundle of manu- 
script, saying: "Here is that shorthand report of the 
St. Helena debate, and I will give $50 to have it pub- 
lished." He made the most of my absence and failure to 
accept his offer. I did not learn of the incident until 
the next morning while I was in a barber shop being 
shaved. I looked at the clock and saw by the time that 
Mr. Luttrell could not have left the hotel yet, and though 
but half shaved I rushed to the hotel, picking up two or 
three acquaintances on the way. I found the Congress- 
man in the hotel office. I told him I had just heard of 
his offer of the night before and was there to accept it. 
He then changed the proposition so that I was required 
to contribute to his $50 an equal amount for the benefit 
of the schools. I accepted the offer immediately and 
started to write a check, when he said he would be unable 
to carry out the proposition, as the report was in San 
Francisco. Then I called attention to the fact that he 
claimed to have had it in his hand the night before when 
he offered it for publication. I wanted to know which 
was the truthful statement, "The one made then, or now?" 
He replied: "It is just like you black Republicans to take 
advantage of me when you know I sent that report off 
in my trunk !" and then bolted for the street. The absurd- 
ity of the reply caused a big laugh from the crowd that 

— 208 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

had gathered in the hotel lobby, and that was the end 
of it. He was elected, to my great disgust and lessened 
confidence in the power of the press. Without going into 
details which now perhaps have lost their interest, the 
gentleman was subsequently retired to private life. He 
was not without some good points as a Congressman. He 
was untiring in the performance of his duties in Wash- 
ington, and was ambitious to give good services to his 
constituents and his country. 

A few years later, in 1882, in the Republican congres- 
sional convention that assembled at Benicia, McKenna 
was again given the nomination. The district had now 
been changed so to include only a few of the more popu- 
lated counties in the central part of the state, which were 
strongly Republican in vote. As a nomination was almost 
equivalent to an election, there were at least three other 
very strong candidates contesting for the nomination. We 
balloted nearly the entire afternoon. I do not recall how 
many ballots were taken. No candidate had a sufficient 
number of votes to give him the nomination, but the 
McKenna supporters were the most active, enthusiastic, 
and determined. Finally, late in the afternoon, the break 
came and McKenna was made the unanimous choice of 
the convention, and at the following election in the fall 
was elected. 

In Congress, McKenna quickly won a place of influence, 
commanding the respect of the foremost members of the 
House. When the lamented McKinley was chairman of 
the Committee of Ways and Means of the House, I heard 
him speak of the young Californian's ability and sound- 
ness of judgment, in terms that showed that eminent 
statesman placed McKenna in the foremost ranks of the 
Congressmen of that day. President Harrison held 
McKenna in the same esteem, for he appointed him United 
States Circuit Judge, and Mr. McKenna was filling this 
position when McKinley was elected President. Know- 

— 209 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

ing the opinion of the latter and the high regard he had 
for the material qualities of the Congressman, I was 
almost certain that he would invite McKenna to accept 
a position in his Cabinet. It so proved, and Justice 
McKenna was made Attorney General of the United 
States, a position he filled with credit to himself and 
the country, until he was made a member of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. His career has been 
a successful one and a matter of pride to his friends 
of early days. It is worthy of more than passing notice. 
It shows how much character counts in life's course 
and what can be accomplished in life by determination, 
application, and tenacity of purpose. Here is a man early 
endowed with noble traits of manhood, imbued with 
determination to learn and ambition to excel, modest but 
courageous; who fought his way from poor boyhood in a 
little country town in California to one of the most exalted 
positions in our government. 

During my residence in Vallejo the place was honored 
by visits of several of the most distinguished men of our 
country. Admiral David Farragut, the naval hero of the 
Civil War, was not only a frequent visitor, but was one 
of the large property owners of Vallejo. Some years 
before the war, when the admiral was on duty on the 
Coast, he became impressed with the idea that Vallejo 
enjoyed a location that gave promise of development of 
a city of importance, and he purchased two or three lots 
in the main business part of the city, as well as some 
residence lots. When some years later the city began to 
grow he erected substantial brick buildings on the busi- 
ness lots. The upper part of one was made into a theater 
and was known as "Farragut Hall." Many of the Vallejo- 
ites enjoyed a personal acquaintance with the admiral, 
which in some cases extended back a number of years, 
when he was stationed at the navy yard and before he 
had attained his great fame. His personality was most 

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Political caid Other Incidents 

agreeable ; he was quiet and unaffected in manner, affable 
and gentle in speech — qualities that added to his popular- 
ity and caused him to be greatly admired and beloved by 
the Vallejoites. 

General U. S. Grant, the famous commander and 
ex-President, visited Vallejo and the navy yard on his 
trip around the world. The occasion was made a holiday, 
and the demonstration on the part of the citizens in 
welcoming the great soldier to Vallejo was hearty and 
most creditable to them and most pleasing to the 
visitor. Being one of the officials of the day, I enjoyed 
the pleasure of shaking hands with General Grant and 
exchanging a few words with him. A few nights later I 
was an invited guest at a banquet given in San Francisco, 
attended by General Grant. Sitting next to me at the 
table was Fred MacCrellish, one of the publishers of the 
San Francisco Alta, who had served with Grant in the 
Mexican War and who was intimately acquainted with 
him. MacCrellish asked me if I had an autograph of 
the general. I replied in the negative. "Well, I will get 
one for you." So saying, he wrote on a card, asking who 
was in command of a certain battery in one of the battles 
of the conflict with Mexico and sent it to the general by 
a waiter. In a few moments the card was returned with 
the reply signed by the general in his characteristic sig- 
nature. MacCrellish then turned the card over to me and 
I have it yet. Some twenty-five years later I became 
acquainted with U. S. Grant, Jr., who bore a remarkable 
resemblance to his father both in looks and manner. The 
junior Grant, after attaining a residence in California 
through making his home and investments in San Diego, 
aspired to be elected to the United States Senate. How- 
ever, he was defeated and retired from the political field. 

General Hooker, an old Californian, and known to fame 
in the Civil War as "Fighting Joe," visited Vallejo in the 
seventies and was given a warm reception by the citizens. 

— 211 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

He remained in town a couple of days renewing friend- 
ships with old acquaintances of pioneer days and com- 
rades in the late war. A number of old soldiers called 
on the general at his hotel. With the party was an attor- 
ney and veteran of the Mexican War named Judge 
Coombs. He shook hands with the general, when the 
latter measured the judge from head to foot and said: 

"I have seen you somewhere before." 

"Yes," replied the judge, "I was with you in the Mexican 

Hooker, saying it was a pleasure to thus meet old com- 
rades, asked the judge to take a glass of wine with him. 
The judge took the proffered glass and, raising it, said: 

"General Hooker, accept this toast, for it is probably 
the last I may be called upon to give to you : 

"I drink to the health of General Hooker, the only 
American general who ever fought above the clouds." 

After a moment's silence the general said: "I don't 
think I shall ever be so near heaven again as I was on 
that occasion." 

Judge Coombs's reference, of course, was to the Battle 
of Lookout Mountain in the Civil War. 

The hard times following the misfortunes of the change 
of ownership of the railroad, with attending removal of 
repair shops, etc., and the wholesale discharge of navy 
yard workmen, had a disastrous effect upon the business 
men of Vallejo. There were not a few failures. Some 
shut up shop and moved away, and those who remained 
barely existed for some time. A factor contributing to 
the continuation of the "hard times" was the policy of 
the government in reducing expenditures at the navy 
yard. After the big discharge of workmen in the early 
seventies, the navy department kept reducing the force 
until the average number of workmen employed in the 
yard for 1876 was only 330. The smallest number in 
any one month was 190 men, and the largest 690, which 

— 212 — 

Political and Other Incidents 

was about half the number employed in the years of 

In 1877 I reduced the size of the newspaper and cur- 
tailed expenses in every possible manner. I can not 
recall just how long this period of business depression 
continued, but after six or eight years property values 
reached a very low mark. A great many people who had 
bought lots in the new parts of town refused to pay the 
taxes levied upon them and they were sold by the authori- 
ties for the benefit of the county and city. It was some 
time in 1878 or 1879 that I was in San Francisco one day 
and called upon my friend Colonel Jackson, when he 
presented me with a deed to all his real estate interests 
in Vallejo. I asked him what he wanted me to do with 
the property, as I could not fathom his purpose. He 
replied by saying that he was tired of paying taxes on 
the property and that so far as he was concerned, I could 
do anything with it that pleased me, as he was done with 
it. The property conveyed consisted of an undivided 
interest in some acreage property near the city limits 
and some fifty or more city lots. Upon my return home 
I went to E. J. Wilson, who was buying all property at 
tax sales or which was being sold at similar prices, and 
arranged to sell him all the city lots at a ridiculously low 
figure, something like $50 apiece, as I remember. The 
acreage property was under the control of Mr. Wilson, 
although there were several individuals who owned undi- 
vided interests in it, two or three of whom were non-resi- 
dents. I told Mr. Wilson that I wanted a division of this 
property, at least so far as the interest I held was con- 
cerned. Mr. Wilson was willing, but said that there 
might be some objection on the part of other owners. I 
announced that under such circumstances I could apply 
to the courts and obtain an order for a division and 
segregation of my interests. In the course of a few days 
Mr. Wilson mapped out a line of procedure by which 

— 213 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

we could reach the desired result and which I was pleased 
to accept. We determined the amount of land due me 
to embrace some fifty acres, and we also agreed that it 
should be taken from the northeastern corner of the tract. 
We had the piece of land surveyed and prepared the 
papers for the signatures of the other owners to com- 
plete the transaction. It was a comparatively easy matter 
to secure the signatures of owners living in California, 
but I was put to some trouble and expense in obtaining 
the signatures of the non-residents, especially where one 
owner, a Mr. Ruelofson, had died and his heirs had taken 
up their residence in Paris. Fortunately the estate had 
enough other property in California to warrant the 
employment of an attorney to look after its interests. 
After locating this attorney in Sacramento and laying the 
matter before him and patiently waiting a few months, 
I finally received the signatures for the remaining inter- 
ests. The attorney charged me for his fees and expenses 
$500. I now had my land in shape to dispose of and soon 
found a customer who paid me somewhere in the neigh- 
borhood of $3000 for it. I think that after all expenses 
were deducted, I had about $5000 as the proceeds of sale 
of the lots and acreage. Half of this amount I took down 
to San Francisco and placed on Colonel Jackson's desk. 
It was the colonel's turn to ask what I meant by the offer 
of the money. When I explained, he wanted me to keep 
it. I insisted, however, that he had given me the property 
to use as I pleased, and what I had done was not only the 
proper thing for me to have done but was what I had 
wanted to do. The profit that came as my share entered 
into my financial affairs at a most opportune time. It 
enabled me to pay off a debt which at that time looked 
large and was burdensome. For some months previous 
to this transaction I would have been glad to have given 
up to my creditors my newspaper and other holdings for 
a discharge from my financial obligations. In truth, I did 

— 21* — 

Political and Other Incidents 

make such an offer to one of my largest creditors and was 
laughed at, and told that my proposition evinced a lack 
of courage, a weakness not to be expected in a young 
man of my standing. All this was coupled with some 
good advice. This talk, from one of my best friends, was 
not pleasant to hear, but it fired my spirit and stirred me 
up to a determination to win out. If I had made any 
reputation for business capacity, I decided then and there 
it should not be impaired by any lack of zeal and energy 
on my part. I know I walked away with an entirely 
different feeling. Within a very few months from that 
time I had paid off every dollar I owed. The tide seemed 
to turn with the real estate transactions just described. 

—1U — 



Nominated to Represent Solano County in the Legisla- 
ture — The Campaigns — The New Constitution — The 
Republican National Convention of 1880 — Life on the 
Farm — Appointed Postmaster of Vallejo. 

The hard work I put in on the newspaper in the preceding 
twelve years, and devotion of personal labor in matters 
pertaining to advancement of the general interests of the 
community, together with the mental anxieties incident 
to payments of notes as they became due, seriously 
affected my health. Our physician gave it as his opinion 
that it would be impossible for me to regain a normal 
condition of health without being rid of all business 
cares, advising that I sell the newspaper and go to the 
country and live an outdoor life for several months. 
Knowing your mother was worrying over my condition, 1 
acted on the advice of the doctor and disposed of the 
Chronicle and its business. In March, 1879, 1 sold to Thos. 
Wendell, a young man who had been employed in the 
editorial work of the paper for several years. He was an 
exceptionally bright man and a born journalist. He died 
suddenly a year or so after his purchase had been made, 
and in the settlement of his estate the paper fell into the 
hands of some ambitious young men of Vallejo who had 
but little experience in newspaper work. 

Now, free from all care,. your mother and I thought it 
would be pleasant to locate for the summer at or near 
Aetna Springs, Napa County, so I engaged a cottage near 
the springs grounds. The building had been constructed 

— 216 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

by some settler in years gone by, before there was any 
thought of the springs being made a place of resort or 
recreation. There were three or four rooms somewhat 
roughly constructed, but with the wagonload of house- 
hold fixtures I had sent there we were soon very com- 
fortably established. We brought a house maid with us, 
as the care of you boys, especially Ed, who was just 
learning to walk, gave your mother enough to do without 
having the labor of cooking and attending to other work. 
We certainly enjoyed the life there. It was in the month 
of April when we arrived, and all nature was in its glory. 
The attraction of the springs brought enough people to 
keep us from being lonesome, even if we had been so 
inclined. There were a couple of trout streams within 
walking distance which gave me frequent occupation. 
Game of various kinds was also plentiful. On several 
occasions I shot rabbits, quail, and wild pigeons from the 
door yard. My health began to mend at once, and within 
a few weeks I was able to tramp all over the surrounding 
hills with little effort. I kept a horse and buggy there, 
which enabled us to vary our pleasure trips by going to 
more distant places. Our stay at Aetna was made 
more pleasant by the visit of your grandfather and 
grandmother Powell, with the three girls, your aunts. It 
was my purpose to remain at Aetna all summer, not 
returning home until fall, and then to make a trip to the 
Eastern states, but politics interfered with the plan, as 
will be seen. It was during the summer when, reading 
a paper giving an account of the proceedings of the 
Republican county convention of Solano, I was surprised 
to see that I had been chosen as a nominee on the Repub- 
lican ticket for the Legislature. As I had no ambition or 
thought leading in this direction, my astonishment can 
well be imagined. In the course of a few days I received 
a formal notice of the action of the convention, with a 
request to meet with the county committee. I made the 

— 217 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

trip home for this purpose, which I found to be nothing 
more or less than a meeting to arrange for a campaign 
plan throughout the county, providing speakers from 
among the candidates, I being booked to make a speech 
in all the towns and voting centers. I remonstrated, 
informing the committee that I had never attempted to 
make a formal speech in my life, and insisted that the 
committee put somebody else in my place on the ticket. 
It was decided that it would not do to make a change, and 
my proposition was rejected. It was with feelings of 
misgivings as to the outcome that I yielded to the wishes 
of my friends and consented to stand for the nomination. 
The memory of that Sunday school exhibition fiasco still 
clung to me and made the chills run up and down my 
back when I thought of trying to make a set speech. As 
the political meetings were to begin within a short time, I 
returned to Aetna and brought the folks home to Vallejo. 
The election on the adoption of the new constitution had 
just been held. The campaign had been waged with 
extreme bitterness of feeling on both sides — those for and 
against its adoption. The voters of the country districts 
largely favored its adoption, while the cities furnished the 
greatest number of opponents. Being away in the 
country during all the contest, I escaped being drawn into 
the campaign, or imbibing any of the bitterness of feeling 
so commonly manifested by the partisans, pro and con. 
The feature of the new constitution responsible for the 
trouble between the two sections of the state was the 
provision whereby mortgages were to be taxed. In 
making assessments of property, the assessors were to 
deduct from the value of property assessed to an owner 
any mortgage, and assess that mortgage to the holder 
thereof. In some way the people of the country obtained 
the idea that this provision, if adopted, would be a great 
relief to them in equalizing the burden of taxes, and that 
the plan was opposed by the cities because that was where 

— 218 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

the money lenders on mortgages lived. Whether or not 
the opposition to the adoption of the new constitution 
originated with the lenders of money, considerable money 
was raised and expended in the interest of the opponents, 
and it was largely due to the character of the fight made 
by that side that so much ill-feeling was engendered. 

Being at Aetna on the day of election, I could not vote. 
If I had been able to cast a vote I should have voted 
against adoption, but not on account of the mortgage 
provision, for I did not think the proposed change in 
taxation would shift the burden or equalize it to the extent 
expected, as the lender of money is usually the man who 
dictates the terms. In making a loan under the new 
order he would charge a greater rate of interest — a suf- 
ficient increase to make up for any addition to the amount 
of taxes required from him. I was opposed to the adop- 
tion, probably on account of my conservatism. I thought 
the new constitution was too radical in several matters. 
At the election it was adopted by a good majority. The 
feeling aroused in this contest entered largely into the 
campaign for choosing state and county officers that 
immediately followed, and I have explained the situation 
with the idea of giving you a better understanding of how 
I suffered from this enmity early in my campaign. 

The programme arranged for public meetings by the 
county committee called for the first meeting to be held 
in Vallejo, consequently here was where I was to make 
my maiden speech. The other meetings were to be held 
in the various towns of the county. The meeting in 
Vallejo was made quite an event, as it was the opening of 
the campaign. The Farragut Theater was engaged for 
the occasion and was filled to its utmost capacity with an 
enthusiastic audience. When I stepped out upon the 
stage to make my address I found a very friendly greeting. 
I was trembling with nervousness and embarrassment. 
I suppose I was personally acquainted with nine-tenths 

— 219 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

of the people there, and could have called nearly every 
one, if not all, by name, and their kindly consideration 
was so manifest that I quickly shared the excite- 
ment of the greeting and became as cool and self- 
possessed as could be wished for. Both political parties, 
in their platforms, pledged their candidates to uphold the 
new constitution in letter and spirit. The new constitu- 
tion was the main issue of the campaign. The advocates 
of the new fundamental law did not propose to lose the 
fruits of their victory in allowing enemies to be elected 
to positions where its purposes and reforms could be 
hampered or annulled. For this reason, the candidates, 
especially those up for the legislative positions, gave much 
attention to this subject in their speeches. The matter 
was made more difficult for those candidates who had 
been identified with the side opposed to the adoption. 
In my address I said I wanted to be frank with the people 
and I wanted them to understand my position; that, while 
I had been away, removed from the influences and bitter- 
ness of the new constitution campaign, and did not vote 
one way or the other, had I been home on that election 
day I would have voted against the adoption. However, 
when the people decided, by their votes, to adopt the new 
law, I felt it a bounden duty, if I should be elected to the 
Legislature, to do all in my power to sustain the letter and 
spirit of the new constitution with as much loyalty and 
sincerity of purpose as if I had been a partisan on the 
other side. I went into the subject at considerable length. 
My declaration and pledge of good faith were received 
with applause, and when I had finished my speech and 
received the congratulations of my friends on the stage 
I felt I had scored a success, and was somewhat elated. I 
now looked upon the remainder of the meetings in an 
altogether different light; but pride is bound to have its 
fall, and there was no exception in my case, as you will see. 
The little town of Vacaville was the next place desig- 

— 220 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

nated for a meeting. When we candidates, billed to 
make the speeches, arrived there' a day or so after the 
V a lie jo meeting, we found, to our huge disgust, that the 
posters advertising the meeting had not been put up or 
any arrangements made whatever. The candidates at 
once concluded to abandon the idea of holding a meeting 
and to move on to the next appointed place. The few 
Republicans in Vacaville said that such action on our part 
would be mortifying to them and would mean a loss of 
votes to the ticket on election day, assuring us that they 
could get up a crowd to hear us speak, even if the time 
was short. These arguments caused us to change our 
minds and consent to the arrangement. That afternoon 
the local party men busied themselves in drumming up a 
crowd for the evening. When the time came for the 
speaking, about thirty people had assembled in the hall to 
hear our arguments. The meeting was called to order by 
a local chairman. I was the second or third speaker on 
the list, and when it came my turn, I was in no frame' of 
mind to make a formal speech to that handful of unsym- 
pathetic farmers. All the conceit that had come to me, 
because of my apparent success at the Vallejo meeting, 
had by this time completely evaporated. I went along 
with my address in a mechanical way, giving facts and 
making declarations of principles that were received in 
Vallejo with enthusiasm, but fell here with unresponsive 
coldness, much as if dropped into a refrigerator. When 
I began to discuss the new constitution, one by one my 
audience began to disappear through a side door. In 
telling the story on me, my associates said that when I 
made the declaration that I had been opposed to the new 
constitution, I emptied the hall of all but one man, and 
that when I extended my hand to him, thanking him for 
his loyalty, he interrupted me by saying that he was only 
waiting to collect the hall rent. Well, it was not quite 
as bad as that but it was sufficient to give my egotism a 

— 221 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

frightful shock. I went through with the meetings at the 
other places with all sense of my oratorical ability sub- 
dued, but not without some profit from the experience at 

A. B. Nye, with his paper at Dixon, Joseph McKenna, 
now one of the Supreme Judges of the United States, Mr. 
Dinkelspiel, and R. D. Bobbins of Suisun, rendered me 
great service in the campaign. Without their aid, it is 
doubtful if I could have overcome the prejudice against 
me arising from my opposition to the adoption of the 
new constitution. These men were warm, loyal friends, 
and of great influence in the northern part of the country 
where I was politically weak. 

When the election came off I was elected by a sub- 
stantial majority of the votes. The new constitution 
necessitated considerable legislation in the enactment of 
new laws and the amendment of old statutes to make its 
provisions effective, and, knowing that an immense 
amount of work was entailed upon the coming session, I 
decided to go to Sacramento a month ahead of the opening 
of the session and familiarize myself with the work to be 
done. Governor Perkins had wisely appointed a commis- 
sion of three attorneys to prepare bills covering all the 
requirements of the new constitution. I attended the ses- 
sions of the commissioners, heard their discussions, and 
in this way obtained a very clear understanding of some 
of the most important legislation required. Without the 
work done by them, it would have been impossible for 
the ensuing session of the Legislature to have covered the 
changes made necessary by the adoption of the new con- 
stitution. Of course, the bills prepared by the commission 
went through the legislative mill in the same manner and 
with the same consideration as measures presented by 
members. However, some of the commission bills were 
side-tracked by bills offered in substitution by members 
of the House and Senate. 

— 222 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

When we decided to go early to Sacramento, we con- 
cluded our stay would be so long that it would be better 
for us to "keep house** than to board. We rented a fur- 
nished house quite near the Capitol building from a Mrs. 
Mansfield, a widow, whose husband had been State Con- 
troller. It gave us a very pleasant and comfortable situa- 

In the organization of the House committees I was given 
a position on the Committee of Ways and Means and 
made chairman of the Fish and Game Committee. It 
was soon made apparent, after the Legislature began its 
work, by the influence being brought to bear upon the 
members, that every possible effort would be exerted to 
make ineffective or nullify the provisions of the new con- 
stitution, relative to revenue and taxation, which had 
been the great issue in the question of its adoption, and 
which the members had been pledged to sustain by their 
party platforms. In short, it was a question whether the 
Legislature would enact laws in accordance with the letter 
and spirit of the new constitution, or evade the require- 
ments by passing bills intended to defeat the reforms. 
Immediately upon development of the situation, all 
interest centered upon Bill 404, which was the commission 
bill providing the changes in the revenue and tax laws 
required in the new constitution. So important was the 
matter that the Senate and House committees sat in joint 
session to consider it. The joint committee, or some sub- 
committee of the same, met daily, working on the 
measure, listening to the arguments of outsiders inter- 
ested for and against it, and investigating and discussing 
the laws of other states on revenue. For over four weeks 
this work was kept up. During that time I was a close 
attendant at the committee meetings, and never worked 
harder and took so little time for meals and sleep. I 
searched the libraries for everything on the subject of 
taxation. I think I must have scanned everything pub- 

— 223 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

lished up to that time in the United States relating to the 
matter — certainly everything by well known authorities. 
Apparently a decided majority of the joint committee 
was favorable to recommending for passage a bill that 
would be consistent with the provisions of the new con- 
stitution. A minority under the leadership of a Doctor 
May (a San Francisco member of the House) were con- 
tinually offering, or arguing for adoption, features for the 
bill that would circumvent the tax reform sections of the 
new fundamental law. The majority finally announced 
that they were prepared to report the bill to the Senate 
and House for enactment. A canvass of the members of 
the joint committee present at that meeting showed a clear 
majority favorable to recommendation of the bill framed. 
The minority asked as a matter of courtesy that the date 
of recommendation and report of bill be postponed until 
the next evening. The majority, confident of the loyalty 
of the members to their side, granted the request; but 
great was their chagrin and disappointment at that 
meeting when, through the absence of some members and 
a complete change in the attitude of two or three others, 
the "majority" found themselves in the minority. The 
bill with the evading features was voted to be the choice of 
the "majority" of the joint committee, and a report was 
framed recommending its passage. No public scandal 
came from this action, but the corrupt means to bring it 
about was common talk among members of the Legis- 

After being out- voted, our side met and framed a minor- 
ity report recommending our bill for passage, and con- 
demning the measure presented by the other members of 
the committee as inconsistent with the requirements of 
the new constitution. I was chosen to present the minor- 
ity report in the House. Of course this action made it 
necessary for me not only to advocate and point out the 
merits of our bill on the floor of the House, but to defend 

—224 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

it from attacks by the other side. While I was given the 
leadership of the fight for the adoption of the minority 
report, I was supported by some of the ablest men in the 
House. Doctor May, chairman of the Committee of Ways 
and Means, was the spokesman for the "majority" side. 
The motion that was to decide which report the House 
should adopt was made a special order for a certain after- 
noon. When that time came, the galleries, lobby, and all 
places for visitors were filled by spectators, for the pledge 
of the Republican party was at stake, as well as the will 
of the people. Was all the work given in securing a new 
constitution and having it adopted by a decided vote of 
the people of the state going to be negatived finally by 
legislation planned for that purpose? Well, things 
seemed, for a time, to be drifting that way. I remember 
Doctor May, House leader of the other side, came over to 
my seat just before the final debate began, complimented 
me on the attention I had given the subject, and expressed 
great sympathy for me that nothing should come of my 
efforts, speaking as if he were certain of our defeat and 
his victory. 

Doctor May opened the debate, speaking in his usual 
forceful way. Chancellor Hartson made a strong speech 
in reply. There were some other briefer speeches and it 
was left to me to close the discussion. I was feeling well 
wrought up by this time and fitted in mind and spirit to 
do my part. I spoke for fully an hour with great earnest- 
ness, especially so when I found that I had won the atten- 
tion of my hearers, and I began to feel the exhilaration of 
the thought of possible victory. Even the opposition 
showed me the respect of close attention. When I had 
finished and sat down, there quickly gathered around my 
desk members and others privileged to the floor to con- 
gratulate me. It only remained now to call the roll. The 
minority report was adopted by a vote of sixty to fifteen. 
Our victory was complete. 

— 225 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

The bill reported by the minority, in due course of 
time, became the law of the state. It is probably needless 
to say that the winning of this fight was a source of great 
satisfaction to me. It was so in a double sense for, in 
addition to the gratification to my personal pride in being 
a factor in winning a contest of this importance, there was 
the greater satisfaction that right had prevailed in face of 
the opposition directed and backed by tremendous influ- 

The Republican party had redeemed its pledge to sus- 
tain the new constitution in the enactment of the revenue 
bill and other measures to enforce its provisions. The 
calamitous results predicted by the opponents were never 
realized. Capital was not driven from the state, and 
business affairs of the various communities progressed 
apparently uninfluenced, one way or the other; neither 
were the taxes or interest increased, as was predicted 
would be the case, by lenders adding taxes, which they 
were now compelled to pay, to the rates of interest pre- 
vailing before the adoption of the new law. 

It is more than possible that the law of supply and 
demand was, to a great degree, the controlling influence 
in adjusting the rate of interest after the Legislature had 
completed its work. For the ten years or more previous 
there had been a continuous and gradual decrease in the 
average rate of interest charged to borrowers of money — a 
change which naturally follows the process of settlement 
of all new countries. In 1870, the rate of 12 per cent per 
annum was commonly exacted on mortgage loans, and 
18 per cent on short time loans was not considered exces- 
sive, and these were lower rates .than had prevailed in the 
previous decade. By the time the laws of the new consti- 
tution became effective, the rates on mortgage loans aver- 
aged about 8 or 9 per cent. The force of this downward 
tendency of interest rates was probably sufficiently strong, 
with the aid of the stringent laws enacted, to overcome 

— 226 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

any attempt to increase them by adding the amount of 
taxes lenders had to pay on their mortgages. It is certain 
the new revenue and tax la^vs greatly aided in making a 
more equable distribution of the burden of taxes, and in 
acknowledging this much, there was a satisfactory return 
for all the work and expenditures of time and money in 
adopting a new constitution. 

Up to this time in the history of our state scarcely any 
laws had been enacted regulating banking business. The 
necessity of laws protecting the interests of depositors and 
stockholders, etc., similar to the statutes existing in nearly 
every other state in the Union, was clearly apparent to 
every one who gave the subject any consideration. A bill 
to remedy the situation in California was introduced, and 
was before the House with a committee indorsement for 
passage. The same element which opposed the revenue 
bill fought the banking measure. I had given the subject 
considerable attention and made a short speech in behalf 
of the bill. It was near the close of the session, and a 
time limit had been placed on the length of speeches. 
The fight was sharp and short, but resulted in another 
victory for reasonable reform. It was on these two occa- 
sions only that I attempted to occupy the floor for any 
considerable length of time during the session. 

This session of the Legislature was marked by turbu- 
lence of an extraordinary character. There was scarcely 
a day in which some disorder did not occur, the blame for 
which was clearly traceable to the peculiar character of 
two members: Geo. W. Tyler, a Republican from Ala- 
meda County, and S. Braunhart, a "sandlotter." I mean 
this latter in no disrespectful sense, for there were some 
good men sent from the sandlots in' San Francisco. 
Braunhart was an exceptionally bright and able man. 
Tyler was a most aggressive person. He was a large man 
with a big voice, was excitable, and possessed an irascible 
temper, and was frequently likened to a "bull in a china 

— 227 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

shop." He seldom spoke in moderate tone. His roaring 
voice and menacing manner were a constant source of 
irritation to a majority of the members, and what made 
conditions worse was that Mr. Tyler seemed to think it 
was incumbent upon him to speak upon nearly every 
question before the House. With all his rough exterior 
his sympathies were easily touched and he possessed qual- 
ities that made strong friendships, and was not without 
followers. It is with his other characteristics that I have 
to deal. The particular object of his dislike was Braun- 
hart, the sandlot representative. The latter was a voluble 
talker, who was also quite offensive, and aggressive in 
speech and manner. He was often on his feet, and the 
shafts of his sarcasm were more frequently directed at 
the member from Alameda. These two men were so 
frequently engaged in unbecoming controversies that a 
common saying by the Speaker was, "Here we go again !" 
at each outbreak, and the members were becoming impa- 
tient with the interruptions. The seats of the two men 
were near to each other and located just across the aisle 
from my desk, where I was an unwilling listener to 
occasional verbal passages between them on matters of 
personal or private nature. One morning one of these 
private discussions led to an unusually violent outbreak. 
Apparently, to the majority of the members, Mr. Braun- 
hart had started the disturbance. It was of such a char- 
acter that the House was compelled to maintain its dignity 
and self-respect and take notice of it. Mr. Braunhart was 
called before the bar of the House and a motion was 
made for his expulsion. Upon roll call the Republicans 
were all voting in the affirmative until my name was 
reached, when I voted "no." I had heard the beginning 
of the rumpus and knew that Tyler was the aggressor, 
and I felt that Braunhart was being unfairly treated. 
With the announcement of my vote, some of the members 
who had voted "aye" changed their votes, and the motion 

— 228 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

for expulsion failed. At this or some other time (I forget 
which) Braunhart was denied the right to address the 
House for three days. On another occasion Tyler refused 
to take his seat when ordered to do so by the Speaker. 
He was ordered under arrest, brought before the bar and 
punished, by order of the House, in being denied the right 
to speak for two days. Along toward the latter part of 
the session, when Tyler was in the chair one day for a 
short time, he seized upon a slight provocation to order 
the arrest of Braunhart, who was dismissed on motion of 
the House, upon being brought before the bar. Then, 
upon resolution, Tyler was called from the chair and 
brought before the bar, charged with misuse of authority 
in ordering the arrest of Braunhart. It looked a little 
serious for the gentleman from Alameda, but when he 
addressed the House in his own behalf, making a manly 
and candid statement and apology for his action, he was 
released by a vote of the House. 

The "sandlot" members referred to came from San 
Francisco, and their election to the Legislature was an 
outcome of the political agitation begun by Denis Kearney, 
who held his meetings in the open air on what was called 
the sand lots in the neighborhood of the city hall. 
Kearney was a workingman, with a remarkable gift of 
speech, coupled with the energy of a steam engine. He 
was possessed with the idea that he had a mission here, 
and that was, especially, to drive the Chinese out of the 
state, and in general to reform the political organizations 
and social conditions of at least San Francisco. For a 
time he certainly exhibited a wonderful influence on the 
platform when addressing the crowds that gathered to 
hear him. His tirades were particularly directed against 
the presence of Chinamen in California, and incidentally 
against corporate powers, complaining of unjust use of 
wealth and unfair treatment of the working classes. He 
did not offer himself as a candidate for public office, 

— 229 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

seeming to prefer being "a power behind the throne.*' 
However, after a year or two his power and influence 
over the men who had flocked to his standard began to 
wane, and that was the end of him as a factor in politics. 
The men sent to the Legislature as one of the results of 
Kearney's agitation were, with few exceptions, capable 
and of excellent character, incorruptible and most loyal 
to their sense of duty. 

The Legislature was unable, in the limit of time fixed 
by the constitution, to enact all the legislation required of 
it. The Governor called an extra session after a recess of 
a few weeks. 

It was now approaching summer of the year 1880, and 
the Presidential campaign was on. The sentiment of the 
Republicans of California was largely in behalf of James 
G. Blaine of Maine. The name of General Grant was also 
before the country for President. Grant had not become 
unpopular with our people as a man and soldier, but the 
idea of making him President for the third term was dis- 
tasteful to a great many people, especially as his candi- 
dacy was being urged most strongly by the machine 
politicians of the country. The friends of Grant made very 
poor showing in the primaries, so when the Republican 
state convention assembled at Sacramento, the Blaine 
men had things all their own way. Strong resolutions 
indorsing the candidacy of Blaine men were adopted, and 
the delegates chosen to go to the national convention were 
pledged in the strongest possible manner to vote for 
Blaine, and Blaine only. I was elected as an alternate 
delegate to the convention, and took the pledge to vote 
for the Maine candidate, the same as the other delegates. 

Ever since I had sold my newspaper business it had 
been my intention, as soon as I was physically able, to 
make a visit to the Eastern states, taking all the family. 
I was very proud of your mother and you boys, and I 
wanted the relatives on both sides of our family to see you. 

— 230 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

When it was learned that I would be an attendant at 
the Chicago national convention, the California Asso- 
ciated Press agent made arrangements with me to look 
out for such matters in the convention as were of state 
interest, and report the same by telegraph. 

We landed in Chicago a day or so prior to the assem- 
bling of the convention, and secured a stopping place near 
the lake front in a residential part of the city. The con- 
vention of 1880 is the only national convention I ever 
attended, and I was always exceedingly pleased that I 
had the opportunity of attending this particular conclave 
of the Republican party. In surprises, brilliancy of 
speeches, enthusiasm, and general interest, it has never 
been excelled in the history of the Republican party. 

The national convention of 1880 was noted for the 
number of great men of the country who were present as 
delegates, and the debates and proceedings were made 
more interesting by reason of all of these men taking 
active part in the transactions. I can recall seeing there 
Garfield and Harrison, both of whom were subsequently 
elected to the presidency of the United States. Conkling, 
the great Senator from New York, was about the most con- 
spicuous member of the convention. He was a man of 
commanding appearance and great dignity of manner. 
Standing near me one day in the convention, I heard him 
say that, if the Lord would forgive him for his attend- 
ance there this time, he would never attend another con- 
vention. Perhaps, if he had been successful in his mission 
to Chicago and had secured the nomination of General 
Grant, he would have regarded his attendance at the con- 
vention in an altogether different light. General John A. 
Logan, the famous soldier and politician, was also there 
as an active member of the convention. The two forceful 
United States Senators froriT Maine — Hale and Frye — 
were most active in their support of the candidacy of 
Blaine. W. E. Curtis, the famous editor, of New York, 

— 231 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

was a delegate from that state. Hoar, the great Massa- 
chusetts Senator, was chairman of the convention. There 
were a number of other great men of that day in attend- 
ance. It seemed as if the Republicans of every state had 
made a special effort to send their best and most gifted 
men to the convention. The California delegation had 
Frank Pixley as its shining light. He was known on the 
Pacific Coast as a most brilliant speaker, and in recogni- 
tion of the activities of the California delegation in behalf 
of Blaine, the managers of his campaign accorded Mr. 
Pixley the honor and privilege of placing the name of 
Blaine before the convention and making the nominating 
speech. The Californians were elated at being thus hon- 
ored, but their pleasure was of short duration. Mr. 
Pixley probably had never spoken in a great building like 
that where, to make oneself heard and understood, every 
word delivered must be articulated deliberately and time 
given for the sound of each word to reach the further- 
most parts of the big building separately and distinctly. 
Either he did not understand this or was laboring under 
embarrassment disqualifying him for the task. His 
appearance on the platform was the signal for a tremen- 
dous outburst of enthusiasm on the part of the Blaine men. 
When he was presented to begin his speech the utmost 
quiet prevailed, for there was great curiosity to hear the 
Californian. To our great mortification and disappoint- 
ment, Mr. Pixley spoke so rapidly that at a distance of fifty 
or sixty feet from where he stood the words he uttered 
lost all individuality and became just a jumble of sound. 
The convention stood it for a few moments, then mani- 
fested its impatience by noise and confusion, so nothing 
could be heard of the speech. We could only see Pixley 
waving his arms as if in pantomime. This was before the 
day of the invention and use of the "hook," but some- 
thing of the kind was badly needed then. I never knew 
just how the managers on the platform disposed of the 

— 232 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

unpleasant situation, or whether Mr. Pixley relieved it by 
his own act or not. However, Eugene Hale rushed to the 
front of the platform and gave a most remarkable exhibi- 
tion of the influence and power of speech, when used by 
one experienced and capable in oratory. In a few seconds 
he stilled that great turbulent mass of delegates and spec- 
tators and proceeded to make a most impassioned and 
impressive speech in advocacy of the nomination of 
Blaine. It was one of the dramatic features of the con- 
vention's deliberations. By his presence of mind, skill, 
courage, and great ability as an orator, he had quickly 
converted what promised to be a fiasco, in placing the 
name of Blaine before the convention, into an incident of 
tremendous enthusiasm and satisfaction to the supporters 
of the candidate from the Pine Tree state. 

The naming of U. S. Grant as a candidate and the 
speech made in that connection by Roscoe Conkling were 
other most interesting incidents of the convention. He 
first stood up at his seat on the floor of the convention, 
but as the delegates and vast assemblage divined his 
purpose, cries of "higher," higher!" from all over the 
great hall drowned all effort on his part to speak. He 
then stood up on his chair, but that did not satisfy the 
audience, and the clamor for a more conspicuous position 
was unceasing until he went to the reporters' platform 
and finally stood up on the reporters' table, a huge affair 
located directly in front of the main platform of the hall. 
He was now in the most conspicuous place and looked a 
physical giant for, with fine figure and neatness of dress, 
his appearance was most pleasing. The speech he made 
was the greatest effort in oratory that it has ever been my 
fortune to listen to. Time and time again he was inter- 
rupted by explosions of applause and tremendous cheering 
which fairly shook the building. Delegates and spectators, 
men and women, rose to their feet waving flags and hand- 
kerchiefs, and yelled themselves hoarse. During these 

— 233 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

periods of interruption he would stand calmly waiting for 
an opportunity to proceed or to coolly consult his notes, 
which, when speaking, he carried in the outside breast 
pocket of his cutaway coat. The enthusiasm he aroused 
was not confined to supporters of Grant, but nearly every 
human being in that great building fell under the won- 
derful magic of his voice and words. He seemed to know 
that he was in full command of that vast assemblage and 
could sway them at will, in all but voting for his candi- 
date. The people loved Grant but were afraid to make 
him President for the third term. 

There were many other interesting situations and inci- 
dents during the sessions of the convention, but the two 
events here related are those which made the most lasting 
impressions on my memory. 

Neither Grant nor Blaine had enough votes to secure 
the nomination and, after balloting a couple of days more, 
demonstrating that fact, the delegates turned to Garfield 
and nominated him. As stated before, Garfield was a 
delegate. He was there urging the candidacy of John 
Sherman of Ohio. He was a man of commanding figure, 
and his pleasant manners gave him a popularity in the 
convention that attracted general attention. Wherever 
he was, either on or off the platform, he was always sur- 
rounded by a number of individuals seemingly attracted 
to him by his personality. I remember that, early in the 
session, I made the prophecy that Garfield would be the 
most prominent candidate in the next Republican con- 
vention, little thinking that he would be the choice of the 
one in session at that time. 

At the convention I met Governor Hale, who was a dele- 
gate from New Hampshire. He was a friend whose 
acquaintance I had made several years previous, and who 
had such a fright while visiting the St. John mine near 
Vallejo. We had a very pleasant visit. It was the last 
time I ever saw him, for not very long after that he died. 

— 2U — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

After the close of the convention and a few days' visit 
with my aunt, we left for Auburn, New York, my birth- 
place and the home of my grandmother. We remained 
there over four days, with great enjoyment. My grand- 
mother was greatly pleased to have us all about her, and 
was particularly interested in you, her great-grandchil- 
dren. An incident occurred here that aroused my sym- 
pathy and caused me to regret that I was not a rich man. 
A cousin of my father had been conducting quite a large 
jewelry store in Auburn for many years. I went to the 
store to call on him and found the sheriff in the act of 
levying an attachment on the place. A series of misfor- 
tunes had combined to throw him into a debt that finally 
brought this disaster. I could only express my sorrow at 
his misfortune and regret my inability to help him out of 
his difficulty. He eventually became re-established in 
business there. From Auburn we went to Brooklyn, 
Rondout, N. Y., Philadelphia, and Washington, visiting 
relatives in all those places. Having some business mat- 
ters to attend to in New York, we remained in the city a 
few weeks. The weather was extremely hot during the 
greater portion of the time. I remember finding the ther- 
mometer one night at one o'clock registering in the nine- 
ties. The heat was affecting the health of you boys, so 
we left the city. After going down to Norfolk, Va., to 
attend to a business affair for a Vallejo friend, we 
returned to our home in California. During our stay 
in Norfolk of nearly a week I made some very agree- 
able acquaintances. I remember one gentleman in par- 
ticular, proprietor of one of the large business houses 
there, who had taken considerable interest in politics. 
He talked very freely with me about the political condi- 
tions in the Southern states. He told me how they had 
recovered control of the elective offices. His description 
of how the Republican Congressman was replaced by a 
Democrat was particularly interesting to me at that time. 

— 235 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

He said that the white element determined it would elect 
a Democrat. It was first necessary to get control of the 
election machinery, and when they had done that much, 
they would put the control of all the election precincts 
into the hands of Democrats. They figured out how 
many votes would be required to give their candidate for 
Congress a majority over the Republican candidate. This 
vote was apportioned to the various precincts, with 
instructions to the officers to return that number of votes 
for the Democratic candidate, regardless of the number 
cast, which they knew, or expected to be, considerably 
less. When election day came and the votes were 
counted, all of the precinct officers but two or three failed, 
through timidity, in carrying out the programme, and re- 
ported only the actual number of votes cast. The returns 
showed the Democrat to be behind. The managers in 
Norfolk then sent out messengers to the precincts, which 
had responded as requested, to increase the vote for the 
Democratic candidate. Then came in messages from 
these officials, that the revised returns from the precincts 
showed such and such increase of votes for the Democrat. 
Still the total was short of a majority, and messengers 
were again despatched to the accommodating election 
officials to further revise the returns and increase the vote 
for the Democrat. Some of the officials became alarmed 
at the boldness of the operations and refused, but other 
officials kept responding with the "revised" and "re- 
revised" returns, until the desired number of votes were 
certified to declare the Democratic candidate to Congress 
elected. My friend admitted that this story did not sound 
very good morally, but contended that the best element of 
the community considered that the end justified the 
means. They felt that the best interests of society and 
protection of property warranted their going to any 
extreme in wresting the political power away from the 
negroes and "carpetbaggers." 

— 236 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

One afternoon a number of gentlemen were sitting in 
the shade on the porch of the hotel and a great many 
"darkies" — laboring men — were stringing along the street, 
apparently on their way home from work. It was water- 
melon time, and many of the negroes were carrying 
melons. One of the gentlemen on the porch spoke up and 
said : "Just to liven up the crowd, I will make a bet of the 
drinks for all hands here that each of the first twelve 
negroes coming around that corner will have a watermelon 
under his arm." The challenge was promptly accepted 
and the count began : "One ! Two ! Three !" and so on, up 
to about the ninth consecutive man with a melon, when 
every man on the porch was seized with interest in 
the outcome and was on his feet craning his neck in 
excited suspense, tallying the melon-laden darkies as they 
came around the corner at intervals of a minute or so 
apart. "Ten! Eleven!" — only one more. Would the 
challenger win? All were fairly holding their breath 
watching for the twelfth man. When he came he had a 
melon, and with a shout of satisfaction the porch crowd 
retired to the club room of the hotel to drink at the 
expense of the loser. 

Our return to California was unmarked by any inci- 
dents. One of the first men I met after my arrival in 
Vallejo was S. C. Farnham, a wealthy citizen of the place, 
who had loaned the money to the young men who had 
purchased my paper, and who had made a failure of their 
undertaking. Mr. Farnham had been compelled to take 
the property into his own hands in satisfaction of the 
debt. He begged me to take charge of the paper and see 
if I could not restore its business and make it a paying 
concern again. I called his attention to the fact that my 
only reason for disposing of the property was on account 
of my health and, besides, I did not like to undertake the 
job of repair work. He pleaded so strongly for my aid 
that I finally consented to take charge of the paper until 

— 237 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the revenues of the business should exceed the cost of 
maintaining the plant, so within a few days I was "in the 
harness" once more, as editor and general manager of 
the Vallejo Chronicle. 

A provision of the new constitution fixed the biennial 
session of the Legislature in the odd years. This necessi- 
tated the election of members in the fall of 1880, for the 
session beginning in January, 1881. I had no thought or 
intention of being a candidate for re-election, and took 
no part in the caucuses or party action preliminary to 
conventions. In fact, these proceedings were very nearly 
over, upon my return home. Some of my political ene- 
mies, or more particularly those individuals who had 
unsuccessfully endeavored to change my attitude on the 
new constitution legislation at the last session of the Leg- 
islature, evidently thought I wanted to go back, for it soon 
came to my ears that they had succeeded in forming a 
delegation that would oppose my nomination. The news 
of this action quickly spread to all parts of the country, 
where I had made many friends by my course in the 
previous session. Justice McKenna, then an attorney at 
the county seat, informed me that there was considerable 
feeling in the northern part of the country over the action 
of the Vallejo politicians in the matter, and said that, if I 
could find one man in the Vallejo delegation who would 
place my name in nomination, my friends up country 
would furnish the votes in convention to give me the re- 
nomination, as a vindication of my course at Sacramento 
and a rebuke to those who were attempting to punish me. 
I found that my friend, D. W. Harrier, was one of the Val- 
lejo delegates, and to him I explained the situation. He 
quickly volunteered to nominate me. The convention was 
held at Dixon. Little or nothing was being said about my 
candidacy. In fact, the Vallejo delegation was so certain 
of its power to make the nomination that it was divided 
on the two other names, and consternation seized the Val- 

— 238 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

lejo managers when Mr. Harrier rose and placed my name 
before the convention. Upon balloting, I was declared 
the nominee of the convention, the cotlntry vote being cast 
almost solid for me with quite a break in the Vallejo dele- 
gation. The announcement was received with quite a 
demonstration. This triumph over those who would 
punish me for my adherence to the pledges of the party in 
legislative work, and my own promises to the citizens of 
Solano in the previous campaign, was a moment of 
supreme satisfaction. The up-country people were elated 
with the victory over what they called the "politicians" of 
Vallejo, for, as a rule, in the past for some years, the 
latter had dominated in nearly all convention contests. 
On the other hand, the two or three men from Vallejo 
responsible for the contest — in fact, for my being pro- 
jected into the affair — went home grumbling and loudly 
asserting that, as the countrymen had nominated me, they 
would have to elect me. At the time, we all thought these 
expressions were but the manifestations of disappoint- 
ments of the moment and that a few days would heal the 
wounds of defeat, as was usual in such cases. When the 
campaign was on, reports began to come to me of the 
activity of Mr. Farnham in opposing my election. I could 
not believe the statement at first, as he seemed to be on 
such friendly terms with me. I had taken his paper when 
it was running him into debt, and placed it on a paying 
basis, doing it as an act of friendship and accommodation 
to him, for which he showed much appreciation. It seems 
that his feeling of opposition to me was much deeper than 
I thought it could be, from our relations. On election 
day I was shown indisputable proof of his attempts to 
take votes away from me. However, his efforts did not 
result in any material change in the voting, but his course 
gave me good reason to resign the management and care 
of his paper immediately after the election, which I was 
very glad to do. I held no animosity toward him. It 

— 239 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

was his prerogative to oppose my election, but I consid- 
ered it was a little too much for him to expect me to con- 
tinue to render him a valuable service while he was 
endeavoring to humiliate me before the public. Our rela- 
tions were never very cordial after this. Before, his dis- 
like for me was on purely political grounds, but now he 
had a personal grievance, occasioned by my throwing the 
paper back on his hands. When I look back on the inci- 
dent I can hardly blame him. He knew nothing about the 
newspaper business, and the expense to him of keeping it 
going promised to make a hole in his fortune. 

When all the returns from the election were in, except 
from one small precinct, I was only a half dozen votes 
ahead of my opponent on the Democratic ticket, so there 
was much interest shown as to what the vote of the miss- 
ing precinct should disclose. There were only about 
twenty registered voters there, nearly equally divided in 
party affiliation. The precinct was located in a remote 
corner of the county on the Sacramento River and could 
only be reached by boat. The vote of the precinct was 
not known until the board of supervisors met to canvass 
the returns several days after the election. When the 
returns from the missing precinct were opened a majority 
was found for my opponent, which was just sufficient 
to offset the majority I held for the rest of the county, 
making a tie vote. An investigation of the election held 
in the precinct showed a peculiar state of affairs, which 
should have caused the returns from the precinct to be 
rejected by the canvassing board. That would probably 
have been the course had not a vote for United States 
Senator been involved, and had not the board, a majority 
of whom were Democrats, been influenced by party obli- 
gations. It was found that the register of voters and other 
election supplies had not been sent to the precinct, but 
the election officers opened polls and received all votes 
offered, making a list of those who voted. A comparison 

— HO — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

of this list with the great register of voters showed that 
nearly half of the persons voting were not registered, and 
therefore not entitled to vote. The attention of the board 
was called to this fact, but the responsibility of rejecting 
the vote of an entire precinct was more than it dared to 
assume. The board announced a tie vote and a new elec- 
tion was ordered, which was held a few weeks later. By 
this time it was known that the Legislature would be 
largely Republican, insuring the election of a Republican 
to the United States Senate, therefore many of my Demo- 
cratic friends felt released from party obligations, and on 
the special election day openly voted and worked for me. 
I won, this time, by a majority of some 600 or 800 votes. 

It was about this time that E. J. Wilson called my atten- 
tion to a ranch of 850 acres near Napa Junction that he 
had for sale at a bargain. When the Vallejo Savings and 
Commercial Bank failed some months previously, he 
bought the remnant of securities that was left in closing 
up the affairs of the bank, among which was a mortgage 
of $23,000 on the ranch spoken of, that he got at a greatly 
reduced figure. He was able to settle with the owner of 
the land, obtain title to it and offer the same to me for 
$18,000. It was such a bargain, and as I was free from 
business cares, I at once accepted the offer and closed the 
deal. At that time I had not thought of ever farming any 
part of the place. It was my plan to use it for stock- 
grazing, but as soon as my farmer friends living in that 
vicinity learned of my purchase, they all advised me to 
plant it to wheat, saying that I would make enough money 
off the crop in one year to pay for the ranch, as the prop- 
erty had not been cropped for several years. I concluded 
these people must know more about such things than I 
did, so followed their advice. This necessitated the pur- 
chase of horses, plows, feed, harrows, seed, etc., besides 
fitting up the house, bunk-houses, shop, hay barn and 
stables. I also concluded that if I was going to farm the 

— Ul — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

place I could best do it by taking up our residence on the 
ranch. Frank and Abe thought it would be great fun to 
live on the farm and go to the country school on horse- 
back. Ed was too young to recognize any change in place 
of living. Your mother was never enthusiastic over life 
in the country, and while she entered into the spirit of the 
new venture and was an aid to me in many ways in the 
work I had undertaken, I never felt I was doing quite 
right in putting her in a sphere of existence which she had 
always looked upon as undesirable. 

We moved to the ranch in the month of October, and I 
soon became so interested in the work that I regretted 
I had allowed myself to be drawn into politics and was a 
member of the Legislature. However, I went to work 
with all the energy I possessed to get the crop in, if possi- 
, ble, before the session began, the first Monday after Jan- 
uary 1. I contracted with Mr. Brownlie, a neighbor, to 
put in one large field of 200 or 300 acres, and hired all the 
men and teams I could get hold of to put in the balance of 
the land, but the weather conditions were against me. 
There were excessive rainfalls, some of the storms lasting 
more than a week at a time. During these periods (and 
there were several of them) not a thing could be done, 
and, what was worse, the twenty head or more of horses 
ate up the supply of hay and grain that would have been 
ample for their needs under ordinary conditions. Before 
little more than half the ground was plowed, the roads 
were impassable for teams and wagons, and the only way 
to move an article of any size or weight under these 
conditions was on a mud sled. I had a sled constructed 
which was hauled with a team of strong horses. This 
outfit was kept busy hauling hay and feed for the teams 
from the different neighbors who were able to share their 
supply with me. From one to two bales of hay at a time 
was the extent of the loads. We managed to get through, 
with the aid of the sled, but the shortage of feed was the 

— U2 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

cause of an unexpected outlay of money, at a time when I 
could least afford it. 

The time for the beginning of the session of the Legis- 
lature was near at hand, and it was necessary for us to 
start for Sacramento. As the roads were still impassable 
for wheeled vehicles, we had to ride a distance of about 
two miles down to the railroad station from the ranch on 
a sled. I fixed some seats on one sled for your mother 
and you boys, and put the trunks on another, and we 
made the trip with ease, or but little discomfiture. The 
storms had disarranged the running time of the railroad 
trains, and we were compelled to wait several hours at 
the station for the arrival of the train to take us on our 
journey to the state capital. We had nothing to eat and 
could not buy even as much as a cracker. There was 
only one house at the station and the person living there 
was away from home. We had not anticipated the delay, 
hence made no provision for such contingency. How- 
ever, we got away early in the afternoon, and upon arrival 
at Vallejo soon found something to appease our appetites. 

This time we did not attempt to keep house in Sacra- 
mento, but went to board with a private family. In addi- 
tion to the election of a United States Senator, the 
reapportionment of the state and legislation relating to 
hydraulic mining were matters most prominent before the 
Legislature. General John F. Miller, a resident of Napa, 
well known throughout the state, 'was elected United 
States Senator by the Republican majority of the two 
houses. The Legislature was unable to get through with 
all the work it had cut out for itself, when the time limit 
of the session fixed by the constitution was reached. The 
appropriation bills, the apportionment, and the hydraulic 
mining or debris bills were all on the list of unfinished 
business when the Legislature was, by constitutional limi- 
tation, compelled to adjourn. There was nothing the Gov- 
ernor could do but call an extra session, naming the 

— 243 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

matters to be considered and acted upon. In fixing the 
date for the beginning of the extra session, sufficient time 
was allowed to give the members a few weeks' rest. It 
was early in April when the extra session was convened, 
and it was the middle of May when the session closed. 
The bill for redisricting the state in political divisions 
was a matter of great importance, in a political sense, to 
both the Republicans and Democrats. The former had a 
majority in both houses and it was clearly within the 
power of the Republican element to enact a measure to 
its satisfaction, but, to the discredit of certain of the 
Republicans and great chagrin of the remainder of the 
members of that side of the Legislature, the advantage 
was traded off to the Democrats for their support to the 
renegade Republicans in killing the measure relating to 
the mining debris question. The deal was engineered by 
the Speaker of the House, but was never suspected until 
the vote on the apportionment bill was called and the 
renegades assisted the Democrats in passing an appor- 
tionment measure of their own manufacture. The min- 
ing debris measure was improperly before the Legislature. 
It was not included in the measures stated by the Gov- 
ernor in his call for the extra session, and for this reason 
was overwhelmingly rejected by the vote of the House 
when it came up for action. Consequently, it was very 
apparent that the advantage and power of the Repub- 
licans, in framing the apportionment of the state for the 
ensuing ten years, had been traded off unnecessarily. 
Final action on the apportionment bill was postponed 
until the mining debris bill was disposed of. The feeling 
toward the renegade Republicans was very bitter, though 
I do not now recall that the apportionment made by the 
Democrats contained any glaring or very objectionable 

Whenever conditions would permit of my absence from 
the session of the Legislature, I would take advantage of 

— 2U — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

the fact and go to the ranch. On one occasion I arrived 
at the ranch some little time before the noon hour, quite 
unexpected by the men. When I went out in the fields 
where they were supposed to be plowing, I found all the 
teams idle, standing in the furrows, and the drivers lying 
around on the grassy, unplowed sod, sunning themselves. 
Some absurd excuses were made, but not accepted. I 
found an idle team in the barn. This I ordered hitched 
up to go out after dinner. The foreman wanted to know 
who was going to drive it. I replied that I was — and I 
did. We were plowing around quite a large hill with 
single plow, so it was straight ahead work and no "land 
ends" to turn at. I set the pace, and it was neces- 
sary for every team to keep its place in the order in which 
it started to work; that is, the man behind me could not 
plow ahead of me, but he had to keep out pf the way of the 
man behind him, and so on back, with all the teams on the 
job. At first I heard the men passing the word to crowd 
me so that I would get tired and quit work. I had a fine 
team and was feeling strong, myself, so did not tire as the 
men expected. In a couple of hours I had gained a whole 
round of the hill and was pushing the hindmost team up 
on the others, and it was now my turn to crowd the pace. 
There were no sun baths that afternoon, or other stops not 
necessary. In fact, there was nearly as much ground 
plowed that afternoon as had been plowed in any one 
entire day before. I was tired when night came, and was 
as glad as any of the men when the time came to unhitch 
the teams from the plows for the day, but I enjoyed the 
incident, as well as the labor. I made some changes, and 
the work for the rest of the season went on better. 

We had a very wet winter, and toward the last of the 
season we had one of the heaviest rainfalls I have ever 
witnessed. There was an extensive freshet in Napa Valley 
about the middle of April, the flood waters reaching the 
highest mark known since the valley had been settled 

— U5 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

by white men. As stated, the protracted rain storms 
interfered with the plowing and seeding at the ranch, 
but we managed to seed about seven hundred acres, 
nearly all to wheat, planting only a small field to barley. 
After I got through with attendance at the Legislature 
we all returned to the ranch again, and the work and 
care of the place interested me intensely. The days, 
weeks, and months passed more rapidly than I had ever 
known before. I had a shop equipped with wood-working 
tools, also a blacksmithing outfit. With the former I was 
quite handy, but could do nothing in the blacksmith shop. 
However, I had a foreman who could, so between us 
we were able to do many jobs that other farmers would 
have had to send to town. Thereby we made a saving in 
cost and time, and besides found a lot of pleasure and 
interest in the work. As I experienced some difficulty in 
getting any of the traveling threshing outfits to come up 
into the hills and thresh our crop, I bought a small 
threshing machine operated by horsepower, and in July 
commenced the harvest of the crop. It is hardly neces- 
sary to say that I was full of anxieties as to how it would 
turn out. I had begun to have fears of unfavorable 
results, because of the discovery that some kind of an 
insect was blighting the crop in places. This insect proved 
to be the Hessian fly, and, as near as I could learn, this 
was its first appearance in the wheat fields of California. 
It made its appearance in nearly all of the wheat fields 
in the vicinity of Vallejo that year. In some places its 
ravages were worse than others. One of my neighbors 
had a field of wheat so injured that he made no attempt 
to harvest it. The injury to the growing grain through 
the action of the pest was by the fly depositing its eggs 
in a crease of the leaves of the plant, and the larvae, 
when hatched, working their way down the leaf until 
they came to a joint between the leaf and stalk, where 
they remained, extracting the sap, until they turned to 

— 2*6 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

pupae. The latter are about the size and appearance of 
a small flax seed. This injury to the plant caused the 
stalks to wither and prevented the heads from filling, 
as they otherwise would. It was thought by many people 
that the fly was brought to this country by some vessel 
from foreign lands that came to Vallejo to load with 
wheat, but as the pest had been known at times for a 
century past in Eastern grain fields, there was as much 
probability of its coming from the Atlantic side of the 
country, by way of the new railroad, in packing straw, 
as from the ships at Vallejo. 

When my grain was all threshed and sacked I had 
scarcely half the number of sacks anticipated. Instead 
of "making enough money from the first crop to pay for 
the ranch" as I had been told I would, I found, after 
selling the grain, that I had not made enough money 
to pay the expense of plowing, seeding, and harvesting. 
In fact, I had run behind, as a business transaction, in 
the neighborhood of $4,000. I was discouraged, but I 
liked the ranch life so well that I was determined to 
stay with it, confident that I would eventually learn how 
to work the ranch successfully. I decided to discontinue 
the one crop idea. The next year I let go to hay and pas- 
ture the greater part of the ground I had cultivated the 
previous season, and only plowed and seeded a couple of 
hundred acres of land, a considerable part of which had 
never had a crop on it. I also started a dairy, making 
butter, and bought some fine stock for breeding purposes. 
When harvest time came I cut and stacked a fine lot of 
grain. The hay crop was a good one, too. The harvesting 
of the hay delayed our threshing until September. The 
threshing machine was finally put to work, and we were 
just cleaning up the first stack, or setting, when I saw a 
curl of smoke rise from under the feet of the man on 
the feed table of the machine. Almost instantly there 
followed a burst of flame, and soon all was ablaze on 


Recollections of a Newspaperman 

top of the table and platform of the derrick wagon. The 
men on the table had to jump to escape the fire. I ordered 
a couple of men to cut the horses loose from the horse- 
power, and others to hitch a team to the rear of the 
thresher to pull it away from the blazing derrick wagon, 
but before all the fastenings that held the threshing ma- 
chine could be loosened the fire had spread to it and further 
effort was useless, for in a few seconds it was on fire from 
end to end. I then directed all our efforts to preventing 
the fire spreading to the stubble. In this we were suc- 
cessful. A few sacks of un threshed grain, the derrick 
and derrick wagon, with feeder attachment, and the 
thresher was the sum of the loss, which was estimated 
to be about $2000. The season was so far gone I knew it 
was impossible to find an outside threshing outfit that 
could be induced to come to the ranch and finish the work 
of threshing the crop. Before the embers of the fire were 
all extinguished I jumped on a horse and rode over to a 
neighboring ranch where they had an outfit, but there 
they had just finished dismantling it and had stored it 
for the winter. I then concluded there was nothing to do 
but to go to the city and buy another machine. It took 
about ten days to get the new machine up to the ranch, 
rig up another derrick wagon, self-feeder, etc., and get it 
in operation. We threshed out a small setting of oats 
and then moved to the wheat, where I had expected a 
big return for our labor. We got all ready, with every- 
thing working nicely, when it commenced raining, and 
operations had to be suspended. This rainstorm was one 
of the most remarkable for the amount of rainfall, length 
of time, and the season ever recorded in the state. All 
Californians who have paid any attention to these mat- 
ters know that it is very unusual to have heavy rains 
and continuous storms in September, but on this occa- 
sion there was hardly any cessation of rainfall from the 
day it began until near the first of November. I think 


Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

the storm covered some five or six weeks. Then, when 
the weather did clear up, the grain stacks to be threshed 
were wel through to the ground. It was late in November 
before any part of them was sufficiently dried out to be 
threshed. By this time the grain on top of the stacks 
had sprouted and the tops of all the stacks were green 
with growing grain. Of course, this all had to be thrown 
away, as well as a goodly portion of the' interior of the 
stacks. Our loss in this was more than one-third of the 
grain. Although we were able to thresh out the remain- 
der, it was so damaged by mildew that the wheat could 
only be sold for chicken feed at a greatly reduced price. 
I figured my loss on the wheat at something like $1000. 
The aggregate damages from the fire and rain were 
sufficient to wipe out the profits of the year from the hay 
crop. It was disappointing, but I found some encourage- 
ment in the result of the year's work in that I had done 
much better than the year before, add the misfortune 
could not be assigned to bad management or poor judg- 
ment. Besides, with my two years' experience, I now 
knew more about the business. The next year, with my 
increased dairy output, sale of stock, hay, etc., I scored 
a profit of nearly $4000. I had given much study and 
attention to the dairy feature and was marketing a 
product that found ready sale at an advance over the 
market quotations, but in the meantime I was once more 
drawn into the swirl of political strife. I had hoped, with 
the close of my services in the Legislature, to be freed 
from further connection with politics, but it seemed as 
if fate had assumed control of the destiny of my life 
and was determined to make a politician of me, regard- 
less of my desires or inclinations. This time I was made 
Postmaster of Vallejo. I did not want the position. I did 
not want to give the time to the office that I could employ 
with greater satisfaction and interest in conduct of the 
ranch, and then, again, it necessitated moving back to 

— 249 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

town. When the suggestion was first made to me I 
persistently refused to accept. Other candidates for the 
office were making strenuous efforts to get the position, 
and I gave what influence I could muster for one of the 
parties who was a warm personal friend, with the sincere 
hope that he would be appointed and that I would not be 
bothered further about it. The situation became very 
embarrassing to Senator John F. Miller, who had the 
naming of the Postmaster, and he made a very strong 
appeal to me to take the office. Other influences were 
brought to bear, and, besides, the two leading candidates 
for the place both asked me to reconsider my determina- 
tion in the matter. In short, I yielded. This was in the 
spring of 1882. I bought a lot in town and erected a 
cottage, where we were very comfortably located. The lot 
was a large one, admitting of the erection of a barn, the 
keeping of a cow, etc. We had now become so accus- 
tomed to the use of horses and the advantages of having 
plenty of milk that we felt we did not want to try to get 
along without such conveniences. I kept two horses and 
a cow. The taking care of the animals, vehicles, and 
harness, gave me, daily, abundance of good, healthy 
exercise, though Frank and Abe were now old enough to 
help, and rendered assistance in the work. I look back 
on those days as one of the most pleasing periods of our 
home life. 

It was in this little home, with the happy surroundings, 
that Harry was born in June, 1883. How proud we were 
of him ! Four boys ! All honor to the brave mother who 
bore and raised them to honorable manhood. I know 
of no better place in these memoirs to express my grati- 
tude, my pleasure, my pride, that all four should reach 
manhood's estate without reproach to their characters, 
and without causing us a single hour of distress by acts 
of misdeed, or anxieties as to their futures. I frequently 
said to your mother that we could be shorn of all earthly 

— 250 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

possessions, yet we would still have treasures beyond 
any estimate of value: four honorable boys, whose love 
and devotion to their parents were a blessing we most 
devoutly thanked God for. Oh, what a source of con- 
solation to me were these boys in the hours of my greatest 
grief, when death claimed the mother! In recording 
these thoughts, I can not repress the tears or the gripping 
of the heartstrings. A better mother, a more loyal, faith- 
ful, and loving wife never lived. The nobility of her 
character and the beauty of her soul were strong influ- 
ences that could not be otherwise than reflected in the 
lives of her boys. 

Not only into politics, but into the newspaper business, 
was I drawn once more. Mr. Farnham, the owner of the 
Vallejo Chronicle, had died, and the administrator of his 
estate was very anxious to dispose of the newspaper 
business. A couple of the young men, W. D. Pennycook 
and W. B. Soule, who had worked for me, and, in fact, 
had learned the printing trade in my office, persuaded me 
to buy the plant. It was understood that they should have 
an interest in the business and relieve me from the annoy- 
ance and time-consuming details of administration. The 
executor of the estate, or his attorney — which, I do not 
remember — was out of town, but a bargain was made 
with one or the other, and the property was turned over 
to the new owners, and we had published one or two 
issues of the paper, when the absent representatives of 
the estate returned and refused to confirm the bargain. 
As I recall the incident, it was for the reason that not 
sufficient money had been paid down for the property. 
We insisted that the representatives of the estate should 
stand by the bargain. They would not, and we therefore 
turned the business back to them and retired from the 
paper. My young friends were greatly disappointed, and 
urged the starting of another paper, which we Anally did. 
The enterprise thus being determined upon, we pur- 

— 251 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

chased a plant and soon had a paper being regularly 
issued which we named the Vallejo Review, making my 
third undertaking in the way of establishing newspapers. 
The enterprise demanded closer attention and more active 
work than an old-established paper would have required. 
I was now running the ranch, directing and overseeing 
the postoffice business, and managing the business of the 
Vallejo Review. As may be imagined, my time was fully 
occupied, but as I was in good health I enjoyed the work. 
The Review was making a decided headway, when the 
owners of the Chronicle came to us and offered to sell us 
the paper on the basis of the original terms. It was now 
our turn to dictate, but we were not hard on them, and a 
bargain was soon reached and the two papers merged 
under the name of Vallejo Evening Chronicle. 

The next year (1884) gave us another presidential 
campaign. The Chronicle supported the Republican can- 
didates with all the strength it could command. I know 
I shared in the feeling, so common with Republicans that 
year, that the election of Cleveland would be disastrous 
to the business interests of the nation. I shall never forget 
the excitement among the Democrats of Vallejo that the 
news of the election of the Democratic candidate caused 
in that town. In manifesting their joy they threw all 
restraint to the wind. In a short time, without call or 
pre-arrangement, they assembled in mid-day, as of one 
mind, on the main street, formed a procession and 
marched around town, dragging a small cannon. They 
marched with little semblance of order, a howling, shout- 
ing mob of wildly delighted citizens. Some were coatless, 
some were hatless, just as they were when they rushed 
from their occupations to join the parade. They gave 
little consideration to personal appearances. It seemed 
as if all they wanted to do was to shout. The cannon was 
frequently made to add its roar to the general clamor. 
The demonstration lasted until the men were near 

— 252 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

exhaustion. However, the enthusiasm was not exhausted 
in one day, by any means. Later on there were fireworks 
at night, speeches, and more orderly demonstrations 
of delight over the victory than were shown in the 
impromptu affair. The Democrats, generally, decorated 
themselves with colors or some badge indicative of their 
feelings. It was quite a common sight to see miniature 
roosters mounted on the men's hats. I think it must have 
been more than a week before the excitement of the event 
allowed the affairs of the town to assume a normal 

The change of administration from Republican rule to 
Democratic domination meant that the men holding 
federal offices would have to step out. Although there 
was the tenure of office act, which was supposed to protect 
an official in holding his office for the length of term for 
which he had been appointed, I had no inclination to 
remain Postmaster under an administration the Presi- 
dent of which I had so severely criticised, during the 
campaign, in the columns of the Chronicle, but I never 
had a chance to resign. Very soon after Cleveland was 
inaugurated (March, 1885) I received a letter, over his 
signature, removing me from the office on the ground of 
"offensive partisanship." I was the first commissioned 
officeholder on the Coast to be removed from his position. 
I was satisfied with this distinction, and gave up the 
office with no small degree of pleasure. I found out after- 
ward that some one had clipped out of the Chronicle all 
the objectionable items and editorials that had appeared 
in the paper during the campaign, and pasted them in 
one continuous strip, which made quite a bulky roll, and 
this was laid before the President in proof of the charge 
that I had been unduly active in my opposition to the 
Democratic ticket. I must say here that if I had known 
Grover Cleveland then as I learned to know his worth 
and the greatness of his character in after years, I am 

— 253 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

sure many things said in the Chronicle during that cam- 
paign would have remained unsaid. However, I never 
entertained the slightest feeling of resentment toward him 
for removing me from office. On the contrary, I after- 
ward learned to hold him in high esteem as one of the 
foremost men of our country. 

The affairs at the ranch did not progress in order and 
with satisfaction after I moved into town, so, having an 
opportunity to rent the place for $2000 per year, I leased 
it to a dairyman in the fall of 1884, just before the election. 
There were two matters which greatly influenced me to 
this action. One was the loss of my foreman, a splendid 
fellow, for whom I had great regard, not only on account 
of his efficiency, but for his excellent character. The other 
was a row between the head dairyman and the cook, in 
which the latter stabbed the former in the leg, from 
which wound he bled to death. When the news of the 
affray reached me in town it was after dark, and I 
hastened out to the ranch and arrived there in time to 
save the cook from the vengeance of the dairyman's 
friends, who had begun to assemble there from the neigh- 
boring ranches. The cook was arrested, and at the 
preliminary examination was dismissed from custody 
upon his showing that the dairyman was the aggressor 
and had him down on the ground, when he took his 
pocket knife out and cut the assailant in the leg. 

I had planted about ten acres of land to vineyard and 
orchard, and the young trees and vines were making a 
fine growth. When making the lease to the dairyman, I 
proposed to reserve this portion of the ranch, as I was 
afraid it would not receive the care and attention I would 
give it. He pleaded so hard to have it included in the 
lease that I let it go, with a stringent provision for the 
necessary cultivation and pruning, with the penalty that 
the lease would be annulled upon any failure to conform 
strictly to the agreement as to the care of this part of the 

— 554 — 

Legislative Experiences and Farm Life 

ranch. That winter and spring were unusually wet. The 
roads were impassable the greater part of the winter, 
and it was not until the month of April that I was able 
to visit the ranch and see how things were going. I found 
the orchard had been made a calf pasture, and the vine- 
yard a mass of weeds nearly breast high, not a plow or 
cultivator having been used since I gave up possession of 
the place. I immediately told the dairyman he would 
have to vacate. I found another renter, Frank Baranci, 
who remained a tenant for several years after I had sold 
the ranch, and who has since become a ranch owner and 
a well-to-do citizen. 

It was while I was still Postmaster that some of my 
friends in Benicia prevailed upon me to establish a news- 
paper in that town. After several consultations it was 
decided to start a weekly paper. L. B. Mizner, the father 
of the well-known Mizner boys, had taken considerable 
interest in the matter, and when 1 asked him to suggest 
a name for the new paper, he proposed that we consult 
Mrs. Mizner. She quickly proposed Ithe name of the 
New Era of Benicia. It was adopted without discussion 
as being a most appropriate title. A young man named 
Macdonald was given an interest in the business. He 
lived in Benicia and attended to the office. I gave a 
couple of days or parts of days each week to the enter- 
prise, until the paper was well established, when I sold 
out my interest to a young man named Ferguson. The 
paper changed hands many times, but was still alive 
and apparently thrifty when I last saw a copy of it not 
very long ago. In later years Ferguson made quite a 
reputation for himself in the Philippines, where he gained 
the admiration and friendship of President Taft. The 
New Era made the fourth paper I had established. 

— 255 — 



Removal from Vallejo to Oakland — How the Enquirer 
Was Established — Senator Aaron A. Sargent and His 
Sensational Defeat — Election of Stanford — The Great 
Railroad Strike — Alameda County Politics. 

Having got rid of the cares of the ranch, post office, and 
the New Era, I had only the Chronicle's business to 
engross my time. Perhaps it was that I did not feel I had 
enough business to satisfy the tastes and desires for a 
bustling life, or it may have been the change of admin- 
istration and political control of the navy yard that 
awakened a desire to move to San Francisco. While I 
was in this frame of mind I was requested to visit Oak- 
land by some prominent gentlemen there, who said 
another newspaper was needed. It was also proposed 
that I take charge of and conduct a paper called the 
Express. If I would consent, it was the purpose to buy the 
paper and plant. I made an investigation of the books of 
the concern and found it had but little business, and a 
walk through the printing office disclosed the most dilapi- 
dated condition of things that I ever looked upon or 
imagined could exist in a composing or press room. The 
floor appeared not to have been swept for months. Hun- 
dreds of pounds of pied type were lying around in all 
kinds of receptacles and in all manner of places. There 
was no order or system manifested in the care of any- 
thing pertaining to the business. The press used to print 
the paper was wholly unfit for that or any other purpose. 
My report on the plant was to the effect that it was worse 

— 256 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

than worthless. Even the paper itself had a bad name, 
and I said I would not accept the whole thing as a gift. 
It developed that some of the gentlemen who had made 
the proposition were financially interested in the paper, 
and were working up a scheme to get out or to secure 
a management with a reorganization of the business 
arrangements that' would give some value to the publica- 
tion. My findings completely smashed the programme, 
as well as all interest in the organization of a company 
to start a new paper in Oakland. 

In my visits to Oakland in connection with this propo- 
sition I made a number of acquaintances and had a 
chance to study the town. The more I saw of it the more 
I liked the place. The attractive homes, the delightful 
climate, and the agreeable people I met, combined with 
the excellent educational advantages for children, influ- 
enced me in deciding to make Oakland our future home. 
Having reached this conclusion, I informed the young 
men associated with me in publishing the Vallejo Chron- 
icle that I was going to move my family to Oakland, and 
intended to make that place our future home, and that I 
wished them to buy my interest in the business. The 
trade was quickly consummated. W. D. Pennycook and 
L. G. Harrier became the owners, and this partnership 
continued under most prosperous conditions for about 
twenty-seven years, when Mr. Harrier, who had become 
a prominent attorney in Solano County, desired to retire. 
Mr. Pennycook is now sole owner of the business, which 
is of much greater value and importance than when I sold 
out my interest. 

When it was known that I intended to leave Vallejo, I 
quickly found a buyer for our little home, and in Feb- 
ruary, 1886, we moved to Oakland, taking up our resi- 
dence at the boarding house of Mrs. Blake in Washington 
Street, which house was located in the center of the block 
between Eleventh and Twelfth streets. The large trees, 

— 257 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

shrubbery, gardens, and lawns about the place made it 
most attractive and homelike. 

During the couple of months pending the change of 
residence I had been making frequent visits to Oakland, 
and was quite pleased with the idea of becoming estab- 
lished in business there, especially with no risk of my 
capital, as the people who had invited me to come there 
proposed to supply all the money necessary for the news- 
paper. In fact, the few thousand dollars I had collected 
from the sale of my interest in the paper and home I 
wished to pay on the mortgage on the ranch. However, 
as already stated, my report against buying the Express 
upset the chance for going into business on capital 
advanced by others. In the course of my several visits I 
found the conditions very favorable for the establishment 
of another newspaper in Oakland, and soon determined 
that I would undertake the enterprise alone. I reasoned 
with myself that it would be better this way; that I would 
have full freedom in the matter of the policy of the paper 
and conduct of the business. The field appeared to me to 
be especially inviting and free from any unusual obstacles 
or any difficulties not common in the establishment of 
any new business. I little knew the dimensions of the 
hornets' nest I was deliberately jumping into, or the 
sharpness and the length of the stingers of the hornets 
soon viciously buzzing around and threatening me from 
all sides. Of this, however, I will write later on. 

I knew that the establishment of the paper was going to 
be a matter of slow progress, and that it would probably 
take a couple of years' time before the business could be 
expected to pay expenses, and I knew that I did not have 
enough money to meet that steady drain or loss necessary 
for operations on a large scale. For that reason I decided 
to start the paper on the smallest possible plan, and 
engage in a job-printing business on the side, figuring that 
the profits from the latter, with what money I could raise, 

— 258 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

would meet the expense of maintaining the paper during 
the period in which the income from the publication 
would be insufficient for the purpose. 

While looking around preparatory to making the start, 
I found that F. J. Moffitt was publishing a little four-page 
advertising sheet semi-weekly, which he had named the 
Enquirer. The paper was distributed free around the 
business part of the town, and made but little pretense of 
giving the news of the day. It had but little advertising 
patronage. In truth, there was little reason for its exist- 
ence. However, I bought it. It would do to make the 
beginning of something greater, I thought, so placed my 
name at the head of the editorial page as editor and 
publisher. I began at once to put some life into the 
editorials and freshness into the local news. The first 
day of my ownership I stopped the forms as they were 
about to be sent to press to insert the particulars of an 
exciting fire alarm on Washington Street. The printers 
were amazed, but all hands soon entered into the spirit of 
making as good a paper as possible. Moffitt knew of my 
intention to have a job-printing office, and brought 
George E. Whitney to me with a proposition to sell an 
old printing plant that he had been compelled to take 
for debt The office was complete in its furnishings of 
type, presses, etc., but the material was somewhat worn. 
However, it was well worth $2000, the price Mr. Whitney 
placed upon it He was so anxious to sell it to me that 
he offered to give me a bill of sale for the plant, and 
take my note, payable whenever it should suit my con- 
venience. It was somewhat of a "white elephant" on his 
hands. It was stored and was costing him in the neigh- 
borhood of $50 or $60 per month for rent and insurance, 
as well as some expense for some one to look after it. 
I bought the plant on Mr. Whitney's terms. I now had 
things working about as I had planned. After running 
the little paper three or four months in a way that caused 

— 259 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the people to take some notice of it, and the politicians to 
consider it something of a factor in the political game as 
it was being played in Oakland, I began to plan the con- 
version of the semi-weekly into a daily issue. My friend 
A. B. Nye was then engaged in editorial work on one of 
the San Francisco papers. I proposed to him that he 
should take an interest in the Enquirer, which he did. 
W. F. Burbank, then a young attorney in Oakland, also 
desired to be identified with the new undertaking, and he 
bought a small interest. Thereupon he gave up the idea 
of immediate law practice and decided to follow the 
profession of journalism. He was a hard and earnest 
worker in the upbuilding of the Enquirer. He remained 
with the paper several years, but finally sold out his inter- 
est to J. T. Bell and entered the field of journalism on a 
larger scale in Los Angeles and in North Carolina. But 
to return to Mr. Nye, to whom more than any one man 
the Enquirer's ultimate financial success, popularity, and 
influence are due. I think it was in the month of July, 1886, 
that we issued the first number of the Enquirer as a daily 
evening paper. We had on the news force W. F. Burbank, 
A. A. Dennison, and Alfred Share, and they were all 
hard-working and hustling fellows. For a few months 
Nye did the editorial work for the Enquirer, after his 
work on the San Francisco paper was finished for the day, 
and not infrequently his labor for the new paper con- 
tinued long past the hour of midnight. This was the spirit 
with which all hands worked to give character and stand- 
ing to the infant enterprise. The business and circulation 
of the paper grew so rapidly that Mr. Nye resigned his 
position in San Francisco and gave all of his time and 
energy to the Enquirer. Notwithstanding the popularity 
and rapid growth of our paper for twenty-seven months 
there was not a month that the expenses of our business 
did not exceed the income. In other words, for more 
than two years there was a steady drain upon our 

— 260 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

financial resources. It was some time during the early 
part of this period that Mr. Whitney, from whom we 
had purchased the job office, announced himself as a 
candidate for Governor, and expressed himself as being 
very much hurt and disappointed because we refused 
to advocate his nomination or support him in his ambi- 
tion. I explained to him that he was identified with a 
wing of the party to which we could not give support or 
sanction, and moreover we felt that our duty lay in the 
support of another candidate. In a very few days I 
received a notice that Mr. Whitney must have the money 
we owed him for the printing office — a demand quite 
inconsistent with the verbal agreement on which the sale 
was made. I knew that if I could have time I could raise 
the money, but I did not see how I was going to be able 
to comply with his demand for. immediate payment. 
While I was contemplating what to do, Andrew Smith, 
who had taken much interest in our enterprise, called at 
the office and said that he had learned of the demand of 
Mr. Whitney, and insisted upon lending us the money 
with which to pay off the note. I accepted the loan, giving 
Mr. Smith a note for ninety or one hundred and twenty 

Mr. Whitney was paid in accordance with his demand, 
as was the loan from Mr. Smith when it became due. Now 
comes the most interesting feature of this incident, and it 
was more to record the following that I made mention of 
the other details, which in themselves are quite ordinary 
and unimportant. When I handed Mr. Smith the money 
in payment of his loan to us, he said: "You don't know 
who loaned you this money, do you?" I replied: "Why 
yes, you did." "No," said Mr. Smith, "I was only acting as 
an agent for a friend of yours, who in some way heard of 
the unexpected demand made upon you by Mr. Whitney, 
and, presuming that the request for the money was made 
while you had no surplus funds, he asked me to hand 

— 261 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

you the amount, as he knew you would not accept it from 
him; and, being in politics, he thought you might mis- 
construe his motives if you should know that he was 
furnishing the coin. Being anxious that you should 
get the money and not be distressed, he adopted this 
method and charged me above all things to keep all 
knowledge of his action from you." "Who was this good 
friend?" I asked of Mr. Smith. "Ex-Senator A. A. Sar- 
gent," was the astounding reply. 

I had known the gentleman for ten years or more, but 
our relations had not been on intimate terms. During 
the time of our acquaintance, or the greater part of it, he 
had been Congressman, United States Senator, and 
Ambassador to Germany. I was at a loss to understand 
his interest in my troubles, to say nothing as to how he 
found out that Mr. Whitney was pressing me for money. 
I never did learn, but I did have an opportunity to thank 
Mr. Sargent for his kindness. He was then in private life. 
His political career had been a stormy one. He was a 
forceful and aggressive man, with capacity for an 
extraordinary amount of work. He was one of the 
strongest men in the Senate, and wielded great influence 
in the politics of California. He was most loyal to his 
friends and uncompromising with enemies, and fearless 
in treading the path of duty. Subsequent to the incident 
just related, he decided to return to political life, and 
announced himself as a candidate for the position of 
United States Senator once more. After the state election 
was held it was found that the Republicans would be in 
the majority in the Legislature, and consequently would 
elect the United States Senator to be chosen at the session 
to come. As practically no opposition to Mr. Sargent had 
been announced, it was supposed that his election by the 
Legislature would be a matter of form only. A number 
of his friends went to Sacramento when the Legislature 
convened, not that they thought their services were neces- 

— 262 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

sary, but simply to be on hand when the expected great 
honor should again be placed in the keeping of Mr. Sar- 
gent. I was among the number who assembled there with 
that simple idea in their minds. It was a very happy 
gathering, embracing a number of men prominent in the 
affairs of our state. The first indication of disruption of 
the plan of re-election of the ex-Senator was manifested 
in the refusal or failure of the Republican leaders of the 
Legislature to bring the senatorial election up and dispose 
of it quickly, as was expected. The meaning of the delay 
in action was not fully understood until some of the 
members of the Legislature who had been the loudest in 
their declarations for the re-election of Mr. Sargent, and 
for the first few days had been the most prominent and 
the most officious around the Sargent headquarters, sud- 
denly disappeared, and the rooms no longer had their 
presence. The friends of Mr. Sargent were disturbed, but 
had no idea that it would be possible to prevent his 
election. How could a majority of the Legislature 
pledged to vote for him be swerved from their promises 
at that late hour? Usually it required months of organ- 
ized effort and popularity of a candidate to make any 
showing in a senatorial fight. With these thoughts in 
mind, it did not seem possible that any candidate in 
opposition to Mr. Sargent could be thrust into the field 
with any hope of success. Still his friends were worried 
and puzzled to interpret the meaning of the strange action 
of certain members of the Legislature and others who 
had been counted upon as reliable supporters of the 
ex-Senator. However, they did not have to wait long, for 
out of those heavy clouds of political distrust, blackened 
with the perfidy of traitorous friends, that had been 
hanging for days over those political headquarters, came 
a flashing announcement that fell upon the public ear 
with a crash and a jar, experienced from one end of the 
state to the other. No bolt of fierce lightning or crashing 

— 2<M — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

peal of thunder ever was more startling. Some bold 
politicians connected with the railroad company, finding 
they could control the majority of the legislative vote, 
had planned to have Leland Stanford, president of the 
Central Pacific Railroad, elected to the United States 
Senate in place of Mr. Sargent, who had been the regu- 
larly announced candidate, and for whom the majority 
was supposed to be pledged to support. 

The anti-railroad feeling or sentiment throughout the 
state at the time was very strong, and no one not directly 
connected with the scheme would have been bold enough 
even to have suggested the name of the president of a 
"hated organization" for the great position of United 
States Senator, much less expect to elect him to the office. 
People stood aghast. Of the newspapers, some thundered 
a protest, some threw up their hands in despair, and some 
few applauded. Stanford was easily elected. Sargent 
and his friends went home stunned. 

For a daring, defiant, skilful, and expeditious piece 
of political work, it never has had its equal in this state. 
How it was done only a few know, and they won't tell. 
Perhaps for the good name of the state it is better it is so. 
It is but fair to the memory of Senator Stanford to say 
that he made a much more satisfactory Senator than the 
enemies of the railroad anticipated. I do not recall that 
he at any time misused his high position in the interest 
of the great railroad corporation, and but for the manner 
of his election his record as Senator was a good one. He 
was not a brilliant man, but was faithful to his duties, 
which he discharged in a seemingly impartial and able 

When I look back and review all the stirring incidents 
attending the more than thirty years of my newspaper 
lifer, there is one incident standing somewhat head and 
shoulders above all the rest for the worry, anxiety, and 
hard work it caused me. I refer to the Enquirer's dealing 

— 26* — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

with the news and incidents of the great railroad strike 
in 1894. Oakland, being the terminus of a great system of 
railroads, where were gathered thousands of railroad 
hands and their sympathizers, was for a while a seething 
center of disturbance. Twenty years and more have 
elapsed since the affair occurred, and I may have for- 
gotten much that took place, but some of the details of 
the exciting days are still fresh in my mind. The Enquirer 
was one of the few papers that denounced the acts of 
violence committed by the desperate strikers. For the 
position we took, we were threatened with personal injury, 
and efforts were made to have the paper boycotted 
through adoption of resolutions to that purpose by all the 
trades unions. We had many strong friends among the 
workingmen — men who would not sanction the wild deeds 
being committed in the fight against the railroad com- 
panies. I heard of many instances where the Enquirer 
was defended and the resolutions defeated. If the reso- 
lutions were adopted by any union, I never heard of it. 
However, the Enquirer suffered no loss by its attitude in 
the affair. 

The great strike grew out of a disagreement between 
G. M. Pullman and the workmen employed by him in 
building and repairing the Pullman sleepers in the town 
of Pullman, near Chicago. On May 10 of the year here- 
tofore mentioned, 2500 out of 3100 of the workmen struck 
and walked out of the repair shops, and on the day fol- 
lowing the shops were closed and the remainder of the 
workmen were dismissed. After more than a month of 
idleness and failure to secure any concession from Pull- 
man, the workmen appealed to the organization of rail- 
road employees of the United States to aid them in bring- 
ing the great car builder to terms. In response to this 
request the national organization ordered the railroad 
employees, from Chicago to the Pacific, not to handle any 
Pullman sleepers after 4 p. m., June 27. As a result no 

— 265 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

trains with sleeping cars left the yards or mole at West 
Oakland after that date, as the men refused to make up 
trains with sleeping cars. For the two or three days fol- 
lowing, all other trains were operated as usual, but the 
railroad company made no attempt to send out or move 
trains ordinarily made up with sleepers. There was some 
clamor in the newspapers and by the public for the com- 
pany to operate such trains without the Pullmans, but the 
request was refused. Thereupon an order came from 
Eugene Debs, the head of the national organization of 
the railroad employees, on June 28 to tie up the entire 
system of the Southern Pacific. The Santa F6 and West- 
ern Pacific railroads had not yet reached the state. 

The next forenoon a meeting of the railroad employees 
was called at West Oakland, which was attended by about 
600 men. The leaders of the local organization of rail- 
road men reported the actions taken to comply with Debs's 

The seriousness of the situation as affecting the public 
was apparent. The stopping of every passenger train and 
all mail and freight movement meant the paralyzation 
of business. Up to this time the people generally had been 
looking upon the contest as from a disinterested stand- 
point, but now the situation was changed, and consider- 
able pressure was put upon the railroad company to have 
it yield to the demand of the employees. The attitude 
of the railroad was denounced by the San Francisco 
Examiner as "stupid and blundering." Another news- 
paper said: "The luxurious conveyances are not essen- 
tial to the wants of business. People will gladly submit 
to temporary discomfort while the dispute is being set- 
tled." A local paper said: "The party most injured is 
in no way a party to the controversy. The people, who 
know nothing and care less of the merits of the dispute 
between the railroad companies and their employees, are 
being ruined by the warfare, throttling industry and com- 

— 266 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

merce." Notwithstanding this, and the fact that it was 
in the midst of the fruit shipping season when millions of 
dollars to the fruit growers were at stake, the railroad 
company refused to operate any passenger train unless 
allowed to run the Pullmans. A railroad official, in an 
open letter to the public, admitted that the company 
could operate a service without the Pullmans, "but to 
have conceded this demand would have accomplished 
the introduction of a principle in transportation which 
would have been a governing and controlling factor in 
all f uture time." 

For four or five days there was but little change in the 
conditions. The company had difficulty in finding men 
to operate the local lines and ferry system, but they man- 
aged to make a number of irregular trips daily. Some 
few trains had been sent out on the main lines, and some 
few came into Oakland. No act of violence or mob action 
took place prior to July 4, but on that day the West Oak- 
land men gathered for desperate work, which had evi- 
dently been carefully pre-arranged. The railroad yards 
were rushed by mobs of strikers, engines were stopped 
and killed, and engineers and firemen were lucky if they 
escaped a beating. The mechanics in the shops were made 
to quit work. One of the first acts of lawlessness was dis- 
regarding the orders of the United States Marshal, who 
tried to stop the men from entering the yards. He was 
brushed aside, with yells of derision. The mobs swept 
through the yards, doing some rough work in "persuad- 
ing" the men to quit work. Local trains were killed on 
the way to and from the ferries and the passengers made 
to leave the cars. One train was killed on the mole and a 
big crowd of holiday passengers was compelled to walk 
back to Oakland. A wagonload of policemen and a lot 
of Deputy Sheriffs responded to the call of the railroad 
superintendent, but they arrived on the scene too late to 
be of any great service. 

— 267 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

A similar display of force was made by the strikers at 
all points in the West from Chicago to the Pacific. Not 
a wheel in all this territory was allowed to turn. The most 
gigantic strike known to history was now on. 

The company was allowed to operate ferryboats by the 
Creek route as a concession to public convenience. For 
several weeks mail between cities of California was trans- 
ported on bicycles. Automobiles had not yet been intro- 

The first destruction of property to be reported was 
the burning of a 200-foot trestle in the Shasta Canyon. 
Rails on the lines leading out of Sacramento were spread, 
preventing the use of the tracks. 

Federal and state troops were now ordered out, some 
of which were sent to Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Oak- 
land, with the purpose of supporting the United States 
Marshals, who had served notices on the strike leaders 
not to interfere with the movement of mail matter. The 
strikers met this move by bringing into Sacramento from 
outside points several lots of armed strikers. A clash 
between the strikers and the soldiers seemed unavoid- 
able. Owing to the feeling of the public in relation to 
the railroad company, growing out of its interference with 
the politics of the state and its attitude of defiance of 
public opinion for years past, and the sympathy of a great 
portion of the people with the strikers, it was thought that 
the state troops could not be relied upon to enforce any 
orders against the strikers requiring the use of arms. In 
short, it was not thought they would fire upon the strikers 
in any offensive movement against them. 

As soon as the soldiers were ordered out and distrib- 
uted to the points ordered, the railroad company began 
to prepare to move trains under protection. Neither the 
engineers nor the conductors had joined the strike move- 
ment, and as it was not a very difficult matter to get men 
to perform the services of firemen, the railroad company 

— 268— : 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

thought that, with the protection of the soldiers at the 
points of arrival and departure, they could operate the 
trains with some show of regularity. The first move was 
made at Sacramento in an attempt to dispossess the 
strikers in control of the depot and yard, and it began 
with a wrangle between the commander of the state troops 
and the United States Marshal as to who should give 
the orders that in all probability would result in blood- 
shed. The Marshal refused to shoulder the responsi- 
bility unless he could command the troops. Finally the 
command was turned over to him. In the meantime a 
company of Sacramento militia had been ordered into 
action at some other point in the city, and had refused 
to fire on the strikers and had even fallen back, upon a 
demonstration on the part of the mob. The Marshal, upon 
being given command of the militia, directed the placing 
of soldiers around the depot, then issued orders for a 
detachment to clear the depot by driving the strikers out, 
with instructions for the soldiers to fire on the strikers 
if it were necessary. Before these last orders reached the 
detachment of troops or could be executed, the news of 
the action of this Sacramento company called a halt and 
resulted in a demoralization of all plans. At Chico the 
militia had planned to capture a trainload of armed 
strikers reported to be coming down from Shasta way to 
reinforce their companions at Sacramento. A cannon was 
mounted on the track, and soldiers were so placed as 
to be in position to tear up the track in rear of the train 
when it was stopped. This company was even ordered to 
withdraw. In the course of the next few days United 
States troops displaced the militia and soon put the 
depot and other property of the railroad in possession 
of the railroad company. It was not accomplished without 
some shooting and some bloodshed, however, not in a 
general conflict between the soldiers and strikers in large 
bodies, but in cases where the latter were discovered in 

— 269 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

attempts to damage property or when parties refused or 
neglected to obey the orders of the soldiers. 

On July 11 the company managed to get a train started 
out of Sacramento for Oakland, but about eight miles out 
from the city it met with a terrible disaster. It was 
wrecked while passing over the trestle at that point by an 
explosion of dynamite. Clark, a well-known engineer in 
charge of the train, was killed, as were four soldiers who 
were on the train, and several other people were injured. 
Subsequently, the parties guilty of this outrage were 
caught and convicted after a hard-fought trial in the 
courts of Yolo County. 

Other deeds of violence were being committed in the 
Eastern railroad centers, which were taken account of 
by President Cleveland in ordering federal troops to such 
places in sufficient numbers to enforce law and order. 
Public opinion underwent considerable change when the 
strikers resorted to violence, and the public mind was 
being wrought up to a pitch that added seriousness to the 
situation. On the 13th of July, Debs, who was the head 
of the whole affair, sent out a telegram ordering the strike 
off, "under conditions,' 9 which the railroad companies 
refused to accept. The order had a demoralizing effect 
on the strikers' organizations and there was some wran- 
gling among the strikers as to what should be done. Many 
of the rank and file wanted to give up the struggle and go 
back to work, but the leaders refused, with the hope that 
they could by so doing influence the railroad to take all 
the strikers back unconditionally. 

Within a day or two the company began to give evi- 
dence of making headway against the strike, in sending 
out a few trains from Oakland and other points. The 
strikers now rallied in further attempt to block the opera- 
tion of trains. On the 16th a freight train was started 
out of the West Oakland yards which was attacked by a 
mob, but before the strikers succeeded in accomplishing 

— 270 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

anything to stop the departure of the train the soldiers 
and police were on the scene and quickly put the mob to 
flight. Some few days after this an attempt was made to 
dynamite a Seventh Street local train at Kirkham Street. 
The explosion made a terrific noise, but did little dam- 
age. A guard on the locomotive was asked "how high the 
engine was lifted from the rails." "Oh, I don't know, 
exactly, but so high that I thought I saw the gates of 

Numerous minor offenses were committed in the war- 
fare against the railroad company. Public feeling against 
the strikers reached a point where it was felt necessary 
by the citizens of Oakland to take some action in the 
interest of law and order. A mass meeting was called 
for the evening of the 17th of July. There was a large 
gathering of citizens in response to the call. The assem- 
blage was addressed by the Mayor and other prominent 
people. The outrages involving the destruction of life and 
property were warmly denounced. Resolutions were 
adopted pledging "the influence of the citizens, and the 
force of arms by them if necessary, in bringing punish- 
ment to the officers of the A. R. U. or persons guilty of 
blocking railroad traffic by violence or unlawful acts." 
Some seventy or eighty citizens signed the pledge, and 
it was arranged that thirteen taps of the City Hall bell 
should be the signal to call them into service. The situa- 
tion, however, began to improve, and additional trains 
were being sent out with less interference, so fortunately 
there was no call for aid beyond what the police and sol- 
diers could give. 

Soon after the passenger trains began to be operated 
the strike officials published a notice warning the travel- 
ing public against patronizing all trains on the Southern 
Pacific lines, saying, "Such trains are unsafe, as the men 
who operate them are incompetent, and great damage to 
life and limb may result from faulty operation of trains 

— 271 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

entrusted to unskilled hands." In the same notice the 
strike officials denied responsibility for the outrages com- 
mitted against the railroad and declared they would not 
indorse violence. 

It was not exactly true that the trains were being oper- 
ated by "unskilled hands," for, excepting green firemen, 
the engineers and conductors were in the main old hands 
and experienced men in the business. Nevertheless, travel 
was "light," for passengers were somewhat timid yet, and 
not a few interpreted the warning to the public as a threat 
and a notice that more trains would be dynamited. 

On the 21st of July the railroad company announced 
that for the first time since June 29 all the trains, way, 
local, passenger, and freight, would move that day as 
per schedule. On the two previous days 450 cars of freight 
had been dispatched from the West Oakland yard. It was 
apparent to everybody, including the strikers, that the 
strike was broken. In fact, if the company would have 
consented to take back all hands, the men would have 
given up the contest a week before, but the company 
would not reinstate the men connected with the deeds of 
violence, great or small. At Sacramento it was reported 
that the railroad men met after the trains began moving 
on schedule and decided by a two-thirds vote to give 
up the fight unconditionally, each man to present him- 
self individually for reinstatement in the employ of the 
company and do the best he could. It was said that this 
action was largely influenced by the attitude of the public 
of the capital city. However, Knox, the strike leader there, 
repudiated the action, saying it was the work only of 
the "weak-kneed." Subsequently the Oakland organiza- 
tion sent agents to Sacramento to see how things were 
really going, and upon their return and report the union 
in Oakland voted to remain out. Nevertheless, the men 
realized that the fight was lost and they began to apply 

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Newspaper Life in Oakland 

to the heads of departments of the railroad company for 

On the 23d the Fifth Regiment of state militia was sent 
home, but the Second Artillery and a naval force of 650 
men, all federal troops, were continued on duty for a few 
days longer. 

Some little show of keeping up the contest was con- 
tinued by the extremists, but by the 1st of August even this 
ceased and peace reigned again after an entire month of 
a bitter struggle. 

During the last days of the strike the leaders called a 
mass meeting in Oakland which was largely attended by 
the railroad men and people who sympathized with them 
in their fight against the railroad companies. The speak- 
ers denounced the Mayor and other citizens who spoke 
at the previous mass meeting and used the opportunity to 
justify the strike. 

At a period in the strike when the strikers were in con- 
trol of the situation Mrs. Stanford, widow of Leland Stan- 
ford, late president of the Southern Pacific, started from 
the East for her home in San Francisco via one of the 
Northern roads. When her private car reached the sec- 
tion within control of the strikers and where no trains 
were being operated the strikers gallantly manned engines 
and continued the car on through its trip to the Oakland 
mole. At Davisville, Yolo County, the company attempted 
to get possession of the engine and train, but were foiled 
by the strikers. 

The business of the Enquirer grew, meeting all our 
expectations, but the expanding business meant a larger 
plant and increased facilities for getting out the paper 
more rapidly and in larger numbers. Before the end of 
five years we were compelled to increase the pressroom 
facilities three times. The first press we used was a Hoe 
single cylinder, which served our wants for a few months. 
We then purchased a double-acting single cylinder. It 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

was the fastest press printing from type on a flat bed that 
I ever saw. Its rate was good for 3000 copies per hour. I 
was told when I bought it that it was built to print the 
San Francisco Chronicle in the early stages of that paper. 
We had many visitors come to our office to see the press 
in operation — people who had heard of the reputed speed 
and capacity and wanted ocular proof of the claim. Such 
a thing to many was unbelievable. It was quite a small 
affair and gave us much trouble in keeping it fastened 
to the floor. In less than a year it became necessary to 
buy a press of greater capacity. 

This time we purchased a new Hoe double-cylinder 
press, which answered our wants for a couple of years. 
Then when the circulation demanded a press of still 
greater capacity we put in a stereotype-plate or perfecting 
press, printing from endless rolls of paper. It was named 
the "Maid of Athens," and did fine work, filling all 
requirements for several years. It was the first of its kind 
erected in Oakland. The increase of business in the job 
printing department required almost a constant outlay for 
additional appliances. These continual drafts for addi- 
tional capital made it incumbent upon me to sell my 
ranch. I found a customer in Oakland who gave me some 
fine property for the ranch, which by a series of trades 
and sales I managed to turn into cash, realizing about 
$30,000 for the ranch, for which I had paid $18,000. After 
paying off some debts, I had something like $15,000 or 
$20,000 more money to put into the Enquirer business — 
and there it went. 

Our quarters on Ninth Street, just off Broadway, were 
cramped and inconvenient. We relieved the situation tem- 
porarily by renting a store on Broadway for the busi- 
ness office and editorial rooms. The rear of this room 
was in proximity to the printing and pressrooms facing 
on Ninth Street, but the growing business of the con- 
cern soon demanded more room. It was in 1890 that I 

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Newspaper Life in Oakland 

made arrangements with the owners of a lot on Tenth 
Street for the erection of a three-story brick building with 
a basement for a pressroom. It was completed and we 
moved into it in 1891, and the building has been the home 
of the Enquirer ever since. 

The circulation of the paper grew until it enjoyed the 
distinction of being classed by advertising agents as one 
of the "top notchers" of the evening papers of the United 
States, considering the number of papers issued in relation 
to the population. It was one of the most widely quoted 
papers in the state, and its editorials were generally 
acknowledged to be the soundest and strongest. For this 
feature we were indebted to Mr. Nye. Through the energy, 
loyalty, and ability of the young men who had thrown 
their whole souls into the enterprise with us, and by the 
strict adherence to policies adopted for the best interests 
of the community, the Enquirer was a success in every 
way, financially and politically. We might have increased 
the revenues of the business had we been willing to 
smother our principles and not be particular as to the 
source and purpose underlying ofl'ers of business. We 
rejected thousands of dollars offered for lottery advertis- 
ing. Not a line was allowed in the paper. Notwithstanding 
such advertising was prohibited by law, papers with- 
out scruples accepted the business and ran the advertise- 
ments with impunity. How could a paper acquire any 
influence or gain the confidence of the public if it should 
wantonly violate the laws or commit acts for which it was 
bounden to censure others? 

At the time we began the publication of the paper the 
political situation in Oakland City and Alameda County 
was deplorable. Through a combination of the railroad 
company and the water company complete control of 
both county and city administration had existed for sev- 
eral years, with scarce a break of any kind in the con- 
tinuity of the rule. The combination surely ruled with an 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

iron hand. I was told by several parties who had been 
ambitious to serve in some of the public offices that they 
found it impossible even to get before the public at any 
stage of the game (unless as an independent candidate) 
without the consent of the dominant power, and no one 
had the least chance of success unless the candidacy was 
approved by that power. Hearing these statements, I 
made some investigations and found that it had been 
quite generally understood among would-be office-hold- 
ers that they would at each campaign cross the bay to 
the railroad offices and there submit their claims or 
desires to the political managers of the corporation, and 
no one could obtain a place on the Republican ticket 
who did not satisfy the managers that he was unobjec- 
tionable to the corporation mentioned. These candidates 
were asked very plain questions, and were made to 
understand plainly what was expected of them. This 
practice extended to the most unimportant office on the 
ticket. The two corporations had enormous interests at 
stake, especially the railroad company, and they prob- 
ably acted with the idea that it was more economical 
and safer to select and elect the officials of the city and 
county administrations than to take the chances of get- 
ting what they wanted from administrations chosen with- 
out participation on their part. 

The work cut out for the Enquirer was to make war on 
this outrageous practice, rouse the people to a sense of 
their political obligations and actions to maintain their 
rights, and assist them in rooting out such officials as 
only acknowledged obligation and were subservient to 
the railroad and water company combination. It was an 
enormous undertaking, and when I look back now over 
those years and recall the incidents of that bitter contest, 
I marvel that wc began it so poorly equipped. We must 
have had some courage and determination, which were 
probably the things to be credited largely for the com- 

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Newspaper Life in Oakland 

plete success that finally crowned our efforts. When the 
work was completed the people had elected men of their 
choice to every office both in the county and city. 

At the outset of the contest, or soon after it was begun, 
it became apparent that to make any substantial and last- 
ing headway the voters favorable to reclaiming their 
rights would have to be organized with something like 
a party formation. From this idea grew the Municipal 
League. For the needs of the first campaign directed by 
the league I personally made the canvass and collections 
of about all the funds used. The amount was small, 
being considerably less than $2000. The Enquirer con- 
tributed considerable printing and all the advertising. 
Many of the leaguers contributed time and services 
usually paid for, so the organization was able to make the 
campaign with a comparatively small outlay. The greater 
part of our money was expended in protecting the polls 
from fraudulent voters and watching the ballots after 
having been cast. It was a common thing for Oakland to 
be overrun on primary election days by gangs of toughs 
and repeaters from San Francisco. If their presence here 
had not been made profitable to them, it was not reason- 
able to expect that they would have taken the trouble to 
come. On these occasions the league would employ the 
Harry Morse Detective Agency to send to Oakland men 
who were sufficient and able to pick out the unwelcome 
visitors and prevent their voting. I remember that at 
one very important primary, upon the result of which 
depended a vote for United States Senator, we heard of 
the preparations made to bring over an extra large num- 
ber of "south of Market Street" repeaters, who were to 
be furnished with conveyances to enable them to pass 
readily from one polling place to another. We learned, 
too, that we had a desperate gang to deal with. The men 
had been selected for their efficiency, already shown in 
like occupation in San Francisco. After a council of 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

war, we decided we should have to meet kind with kind 
and in equal numbers if possible. It was first thought 
that we would not be able to hire any toughs willing to 
fight under a banner with the motto of "honest election 
and a fair count." But we had no trouble in employing 
a gang of selected toughs and prize-fighters. They were 
parceled out and instructed that their duty was to stand 
by the league representative at each polling place and 
point out the repeaters, and to assist the league men in 
any physical effort that might be necessary to prevent 
illegal voting. Above all things, they were cautioned not 
to attempt to vote. This experience was something new 
to the band of burly men, who probably had never before 
accepted employment in a political contest without know- 
ing that the work they had undertaken carried with it 
the risk of a term in jail or prison. But they entered into 
the spirit of the fight and proved their loyalty and effi- 
ciency. Only one man of the lot gave any trouble, and 
that was only annoyance. He was stationed at a polling 
place in East Oakland, and after he had sized up the 
situation he concluded he could easily work in a lot of 
fraudulent votes for our side. A half hour after the 
polls were opened, he left his station and came to me 
and with great earnestness explained how he could 
increase our vote in his precinct. I ordered him back 
and warned him that our men would arrest him if he 
attempted to vote. In an hour or so he came back to 
renew his argument I told him that if he came again 
with this or any like proposition he would not be paid. 
He went off with an expression of disgust on his face that 
was unmistakable. He came to me the third time plead- 
ing to be allowed free rein. I then tried to explain to 
him that our side did not have to resort to repeating or 
fraudulent voting of any kind. We knew that we had a 
majority of the votes if we could get them in and have 
them fairly counted, and that he didn't have to do crooked 

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Newspaper Life in Oakland 

work, but just be straight. He replied, "Mr. Leach, I would 
sooner do the work in a crooked way than straight." I 
directed him back to his beat and sent word to our people 
to watch the fellow, but he made no trouble, and was one 
of the enthusiastic shouters after the election. When the 
time came to open the polls, a gang of the repeaters 
crowded around one of the principal voting places in the 
Second Ward, forcing aside the challengers and other 
opposition, with the intention of putting in a lot of fraud- 
ulent votes, but our men were equal to the requirements 
of the case, and not a vote did the gang get in there. 
They then drew off and in a bunch started for the polling 
place on Telegraph Avenue, in the same ward. Our 
managers at the first precinct sent word with some 
reinforcements, warning our friends at the second pre- 
cinct of the coming of the enemy. When the latter arrived 
they attempted to repeat the tactics that had failed them 
at the other place. But meeting a greater number of 
opponents with more threatening consequences, they 
withdrew here without getting in a vote, and started back 
to make an attempt to vote in the Fifth Ward. Our side 
quickly concentrated our extra men and fighting force 
at the precincts in this ward, and the gang of repeaters 
was as easily driven away from there as a lot of tres- 
passing hens from a garden patch. Here they quit trying 
to vote, or giving any further attention to the election. 
They seized the rigs supplied to convey them from polling 
place to polling place, and used them in joy-riding about 
the town and suburbs. We knew then that the battle was 
over and that the fight had been won. So it proved when 
the count was in, and the result was declared that our 
side carried the day by a large vote. All our fights 
were not won as easily as the one just described, nor did 
we always come out victorious, but the incidents related 
in the description of this primary affair will give some 
idea of the election contests we had to engage in. 

— 279 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

I expect I felt a greater interest in the outcome of the 
primary election just described, on account of its bearing 
on the selection of a United States Senator. The winning 
of the election put into the hands of friends of Senator 
George C. Perkins the power of nominating the legisla- 
tive candidates from our county who would support the 
Senator for that high office. Our defeat would have 
meant that the legislative nominees elected from the dis- 
tricts in the contest would have supported another man. 
I had formed a strong friendship for Senator Perkins. 
Our acquaintance began when he was State Senator from 
Butte County, and was renewed on more intimate rela- 
tions when he subsequently became Governor of the 
state and I was a member of the Legislature. In both of 
these positions he gained a popularity rarely acquired 
by men in public life. He was broad minded and gen- 
erous in the extreme. All his votes as Senator and his 
acts as Governor were actuated by the highest principles. 
He was approachable and unaffected in his manner, ever 
ready to champion the cause of the weak and the 
wronged. His elevation to the high offices did not cause 
him to forget the friends or associates of his days in 
humble life. I consider Senator Perkins one of the most 
appreciative men I have ever met He seems never to 
forget any favor done in his behalf, political or other 
kind, and never appears satisfied until he is able to make 
some substantial showing of his gratitude. His generosity 
was remarkable. What he has done in contributing to 
the support of charitable institutions, the relief of indi- 
viduals and families, and in aid of character-building 
institutions, would surprise the people of California. He 
was first appointed to the United States Senate by the 
Governor of our state, to fill an unexpired term, and then 
was subsequently elected to five consecutive terms by the 
Legislature. This is a record of service at the national 
capital never before attained in representation of this 

— 280 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

state. This long, continuous service, together with his 
traits of character and manner of dealing with people, 
gained for him an influence, a power, and a standing in 
Washington that are exceptional and unusual, and of 
untold benefit to this state and the Pacific Coast. I felt 
it always a duty as well as a personal pleasure to aid his 
candidacy at each of his campaigns, and in reviewing 
the political experiences of my life I find no greater grati- 
fication in any part than in the work and time given in 
assistance at his elections. 

I gave much time to political work while I was man- 
aging the Enquirer. At every election we made as vig- 
orous a fight in the paper as we possibly could; I attended 
caucuses and acted with committees delegated to manage 
the details of the campaigns and solicit funds; I have 
acted as challenger in bad precincts when others were 
reluctant to act. I was always treated well, even when 
on one occasion I detected an election official, whose duty 
was to receive the votes, substituting ballots of the oppo- 
sition for ballots handed to him by voters from our side 
to be deposited in the ballot box. I snatched a ballot 
from his hand as he was about to drop it in the box and 
handed it to the voter, who declared it was not the vote 
he handed in. The delinquent was hustled out of his 
position by his own crowd upon my request, and that 
was all there was to it. 

I think I must say that for the first few years of my 
active participation in political affairs, especially while 
it was optional with me, I rather enjoyed this excitement. 
In later years, when the objects involved matters of 
greater importance and my close personal attention 
seemed to me to be imperative, I recognized the approach 
of each campaign with regret, and had aversion and 
reluctance to discussions of any subjects involving local 
politics. I know this feeling was an important factor 
in my decision to sell the Enquirer when opportunity 

— 281 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

came. I had been an active participant in politics for 
more than thirty years. During these years I held some 
official positions, but in no cases were they objects of my 
own seeking. In addition to the positions named in the 
foregoing record I was appointed by President Harrison 
to act on the Assay Commission in February, 1891. This 
is a commission that meets annually, appointed by the 
President to examine the samples of the coinage of all 
the mints of the United States for the calendar year 
previous. It is the duty of the commission to determine 
if the coinage is executed in accordance with the provi- 
sions of law, in the matter of weights of the coins and 
the standard fineness of the metals. The duties of the 
commissioners are nearly always completed within three 
to five days, and the stay at the Mint Building at Phila- 
delphia, where the commission meets, is always made as 
agreeable as possible. No compensation is attached to 
the duties, but all the expenses of the commissioners, 
coming and going, and while at Philadelphia, are paid 
by the government. Little did I think then that sixteen 
years later I would be in attendance at the meetings of 
the commissions as the directing official, but of that expe- 
rience I will speak later. I think it was some time in 
1888 or 1889 that there was to be a change in the post- 
mastership of the Oakland office, and the position was 
tendered to me, but I declined the honor and persisted 
in my determination, though the matter was held open 
a couple of months with the expectation that I would 
change my mind. I fully appreciated the compliment and 
friendly act involved in the tender. 

Along in the nineties (I do not recall the exact time), 
the Enquirer took up a subject which proved to be a 
matter of the greatest importance, and eventually resulted 
in an advantage and gain to the city that the most san- 
guine little looked for or anticipated. The Oakland 
Water Front Company, a side corporation of the railroad 

— 282 — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

company, claimed and had been in possession of nearly 
all the water front of Oakland for many years. The com- 
pany obtained its title to the property from parties who 
claimed it through grant from the state. The validity 
had never been questioned through process of law, and 
probably never would have been had not the water front 
company felt so secure in its holdings, and had it adopted 
a liberal policy in making terms with people and firms 
who desired to purchase or lease portions of the property. 
The railroad company probably thought it necessary in 
fostering its own business to use the water front company 
as a kind of wall around the city, beyond which no freight 
or passenger could be moved by others without its con- 
sent. This policy was manifest in the leases granted by 
the water front company, by provisions prohibiting the 
lessees from handling any freight other than for them- 
selves over the property granted them, and prohibiting 
any passenger traffic. However, it was not everybody 
who could secure a lease, even upon such arbitrary terms, 
and the leases granted could not be assigned to others 
without the consent of the Water Front Company. No one 
could obtain the use of any part of the land whose busi- 
ness the railroad company considered as interfering with 
its revenues. As Oakland began to grow in a commercial 
way these restrictions were felt and were looked upon 
as a most serious obstruction to expansion of commerce 
on our shores, independent of the railroad's business. 
The subject was frequently discussed in the editorial room 
of the Enquirer, with a view to finding some way of 
overcoming the selfish policy of the railroad company. 
Finally it was decided that we should undertake an inves- 
tigation of the records of the city, county, and state, and 
carefully inspect every step taken in the proceedings 
whereby the title went from the state into the possession 
of individuals, and thence into the ownership of the 
railroad company. It was a big undertaking and required 

— 283— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

many weeks of time. Mr. Nye did the greater part of the 
work, which speaks for the fairness and thoroughness of 
it. In addition, all laws and decisions relating to tide- 
land property were read. The conclusion that was 
reached, after all this work, was that the title of the 
railroad company was weak. The Legislature, in the early 
fifties, had conveyed the land to the city, but the convey- 
ance from the city to the private individuals seemed to 
us to have been consummated unlawfully. In fact, it 
appeared to us that the valuable street ends of four or 
five streets (including Broadway) had never been con- 
veyed by the city to any person or corporation. I may 
say here that subsequently Mayor George C. Pardee, with 
assistants, took forcible possession of the Broadway end 
and it has remained in possession of the city ever since. 
We also concluded that if the title could not be upset, at 
least the barrier around the city, established by the water 
front company leases, could be broken down. The situa- 
tion at least warranted, and in fact demanded, that the 
city attack the legality of the railroad's claim to the tide- 
land. If the city failed in this, then the lease-hold policy 
could be attacked. When the facts of our investigation 
had been whipped into shape, we gave them to the public, 
taking two pages of the Enquirer for the purpose. It is 
hardly necessary to say that the publication aroused great 
interest in the subject. Public opinion soon prompted 
the city authorities to commence legal action to regain 
the water front. The city employed able attorneys, and 
the railroad company put its best men forward in defense 
of its title. It was one of the greatest legal battles ever 
fought out in the courts of Alameda. The matter was in 
the courts for years. When the railroad found that the 
citizens of the east side of the bay had become aroused 
over the water front situation, and were in deadly earnest 
in their purpose to unbottle the City of Oakland and 
smash the bottle, they proposed to pacify the public by 

— 28* — 

Newspaper Life in Oakland 

eliminating the objectionable prohibitive clauses in the 
leases, and sell, unconditionally, water front property 
that might be wanted by others and was not necessary 
to the plans of the railroad company for its business. The 
chief attorney for the company sent me word that, when 
in San Francisco, he would like to see me and discuss 
the situation. In the interview that followed he said that 
the present management of the company realized the 
error of the existing policy, and were now willing to sell 
and lease the water front property without the unpopular 
conditions. The company did subsequently announce 
this policy, and changed outstanding leases to comply with 
the more liberal plans. I told the attorney that there 
was a strong feeling running through the community of 
Oakland to the effect that the city had been unlawfully 
deprived of its water front, yet I did not think that this 
sentiment would ever have reached a stage serious to 
the interests of the corporation, had not the latter insisted 
upon the barrier around the city. Now it was too late 
to try to divert the city from its determination to try to 
win back the property. The company had delayed too 
long in correcting the evil. The matter would now have 
to be threshed out in the courts. 

In the end, while the city did not gain all it set up a 
claim for, the result was of tremendous advantage and 
benefit to the community, and all that was necessary to 
insure the city's control of the water front for all future 
time. The city was confirmed in its claims for a small 
portion of the water front, from the high land to low 
water mark, and certain street endings, including the 
foot of Broadway, which were seized by Mayor Pardee. 
The final decision confirmed generally the title of the 
railroad company to that part of the water front embrac- 
ing the strip between high land and low tide. It denied 
to the corporation the control or title to the property 
between low tide mark and ship channel, awarding such 

—285 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

rights to the city. Practically the city obtained all it 
wanted and needed. The result of that contest will grow 
in importance each year for many, many years to come. 
It was a costly affair, but the value of property recovered 
and the benefit to the city made the cost a small matter 
in comparison. Through the advantage of controlling its 
own water front, we can only speculate now on the enor- 
mous benefits that will yet accrue to the city. The part 
that Mayors Pardee and Mott played in this matter will 
ever remain a most important feature in the history of 
the growth and progress of Oakland. 

— 286 — 



Appointed Mint Superintendent — Retirement from Jour- 
nalism — Incidents in the Management of the San 
Francisco Mint — Wm. J. Burns, Famous Detective — 
Story of a Remarkable Crime— Theft of $150,000. 

When Justice McKenna resigned his position as Con- 
gressman to accept the appointment as a United States 
Judge of the Circuit Court, S. G. Hilborn, a resident of 
Oakland, but formerly for many years a resident of Val- 
lejo, was ambitious to succeed to the position of Congress- 
man. Mr. Hilborn had been prominent in political affairs 
and was a lawyer of considerable reputation. He had 
served Solano County in minor positions and also in the 
state Senate. He had represented the government as 
United States Attorney for the northern district of Cali- 
fornia, and had been prominent in the councils of the 
Republican party. He had been successful as a lawyer 
and a politician, and altogether was an able man. He 
was not particularly active, but a plodder with great 
tenacity of purpose. During the first years of my resi- 
dence in Vallejo my relations with him had been intimate 
and most agreeable, and I had always been his warm 
supporter in all political contests. But when I became 
a candidate for the Legislature for the second term, 
against the wishes of Mr. Farnham, as heretofore related, 
much to my surprise, Mr. Hilborn was one of the 
few Vallejoites who made an effort to defeat me for 
the nomination. . As I won and he did not carry his oppo- 
sition farther than the nominating convention, the breach 
was easily bridged over when he wanted to go to Congress. 

— 287 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

He was known to be an able man, familiar with the duties 
of the office, and who would go to Washington better 
equipped for the purpose, generally, than any available 
man in the district on the Republican side. For these 
reasons, he readily received the support of the Enquirer, 
and after a hard fight received the nomination for the 
unexpired term and for the regular term to follow, but 
the terms were voted for separately at the same election, 
with the strange result that he was defeated for the short 
term by the Democratic candidate, but was elected over 
his opponent for the regular term. Following this term 
he was again nominated and elected to succeed himself, 
after another strenuous fight. We had a terrific opposi- 
tion to overcome, backed as it was with ample funds 
and some of the ablest and shrewdest politicians on this 
side of the bay. It was at this primary election that I 
detected the election officer in the act of depositing fraud- 
ulent votes in the ballot box. Of course, the satisfaction 
of winning such contests was very great. The Enquirer 
gained no small amount of prestige from the part it had 
taken in the matter. The success of the paper in political 
matters had an unpleasant side as well, which as time 
went along became very annoying to me, and was a 
matter that played no small part in my decision to sell 
the paper when an offer was made to purchase it. The 
almost unbroken record of success of the candidates 
receiving the support of the Enquirer gave the idea to 
many, ambitious to hold office, that all they had to do to 
gratify their desires was to secure the support of our 
paper. We were continually being importuned to sup- 
port this man and that man for various offices. Some 
were good men and would have made satisfactory offi- 
cials, but there were more that had no fitness. Of course 
it was useless to go into details and explain to each appli- 
cant that the Enquirer was not supporting candidates 
because of any personal interest in them; that its support 
— 288 — 

In the Service of the Government 

was given to men because of their special fitness for the 
duties they would be called upon to fulfill; that the 
Enquirer did not make the selections of candidates; that 
was the work of the faction of the party which thought 
it was working to better political conditions in Oakland 
and Alameda County. My personal position in the rela- 
tion of things was becoming too much like that of a boss 
in politics. I could plainly see the paper was working 
into a position, although imbued with the best of motives, 
where it would, with seeming justification, be accused of 
building up a condition of leadership in one faction that 
it was warring against, and trying to destroy in another. 
The thought was very disturbing to my peace of mind, 
and the worst of it was that I could formulate no satis- 
factory remedy. It was about this time, in May, 1897, 
after the inauguration of President McKinley, that I was 
greatly surprised to receive a telegram from Washington, 
signed by Congressman Hilborn, informing me that I was 
the choice of the delegation for the position of Superin- 
tendent of the United States mint in San Francisco, and 
desiring to know if I would accept the office. After taking 
a day to consider the matter, I decided to accept, conclud- 
ing that the appointment would make it easier for me 
to get out of the newspaper business, and I wired an 
acceptance. I was appointed on the recommendation of 
Senator Perkins, and confirmed by the Senate in the 
month of June of that year, but I did not present my com- 
mission until August 1, that my predecessor, Honorable 
John Daggett, might fill out a four years 9 term of office. 
I found the duties to be agreeable and the work most 
interesting in character, which made me more anxious 
to be rid of the newspaper business, that I might give 
my whole attention to the new occupation. The oppor- 
tunity came within a very short time. I sold the paper 
to G. B. Daniels and turned over my stock to him. It was 
with some feelings of regret, however, that I surrendered 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the property I had worked so hard to build up, and espe- 
cially did I feel sadness in severing the intimate and close 
relations that had existed for years between myself and 
my loyal, zealous, and able co-laborers. However, the 
paper had accomplished the work it had set out to do, 
and I felt at liberty to turn it over to the control of other 
hands, especially as it was promised that the policy of 
the paper would not be changed, and Mr. Nye, although 
he had also sold his interest, was to remain as editor. 
The transfer took place in 1898. At first I hardly knew 
how to deport myself, after being so suddenly released 
from the numerous cares and duties that I had been 
methodically performing daily for years. I can not 
describe the sensation of relief. While in the business, 
every day and every moment of the hours when awake 
demanded my time in some form of thought or action, 
and nothing leisurely. Everything was done with the 
greatest speed, that all expected of me might be accom- 
plished. Going on for over thirty years, this business 
practice had almost become a habit of life. 

It was my privilege, as Superintendent of the mint, to 
participate in the administration of one of the most inter- 
esting eras of the coinage history of our country. In this 
was embraced the record of the greatest volume of gold 
coinage; the introduction of the Philippine coinage; the 
radical change in designs of our gold coins; the adoption 
of the new electrolytic method of refining, and the first 
introduction of improved machinery and methods in 
coinage operations. In short, these were the years of the 
greatest activity of the mints of the United States. 

When I became Superintendent in 1897, the mint 
contained six steam engines, located in various parts 
of the building, to supply the power required to operate 
the machinery and appliances used in refining and coin- 
age operations. Electricity for power purposes was not 
yet in general use; the practicability of long transmission 

— 290 — 

In the Service of the Government 

lines at low cost had not been fully worked out. Even 
at the high cost of electric power of those days, I consid- 
ered that it would be more economical to discard all the 
steam engines and adopt the plan of individual electric 
motors, so as to be able to apply power singly to the 
machines as they might be needed in coinage operations. 
My recommendation was accepted and approved by the 
authorities at Washington. I arranged to change from 
steam to electricity so that there was no interference with 
the operations of the mint whatever. The old style of 
coke and coal melting furnaces, which had been the form 
used ever since the government erected the first mint in 
1793, were discarded and replaced with furnaces in which 
gas and crude oil were used for fuel. Modern water tube 
boilers, with fuel oil burners, replaced the old-fashioned 
tubular boilers of the power plant Relating these facts 
calls to mind an interesting and rather amusing experi- 
ence we had with some charcoal dealers not long after 
I became Superintendent. The mint was using about 
$250 worth of charcoal monthly. At the letting of annual 
contracts for supplies, a certain dealer in wood and coal 
was the successful bidder on the charcoal item at $11 
per ton, which was about what the government had been 
paying for previous years* supplies. There were other 
bids, ranging from $15 to $16 per ton. As is usual in such 
cases, the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, who 
offered to supply the coal for $11 per ton. The con- 
tractor gave a bond for the faithful performance of his 
agreement, and for about a month supplied the charcoal 
as ordered by the mint authorities, when he came to me 
and regretfully said that he would have to default on his 
contract and sacrifice the amount of his bond, otherwise 
the men who were controlling the charcoal business 
would ruin him. He said that he was able to get enough 
charcoal to fill his contract, independent of his opponents, 
but that they had enough influence to prevent wholesalers 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

selling him wood and some kinds of coal. Upon inquiry 
I found that we were using charcoal almost exclusively to 
start the fires in the metal melting furnaces. Thereupon 
I told the contractor that he need not worry about his 
bond. The government would let the contract stand in 
force for the year, but would not call upon him to fur- 
nish any more charcoal, as in fact it would not use any 
more. The gratitude and appreciation of release from 
the unpleasant position in which he had been, and the 
saving of the bond were made manifest by the hearty 
shake of my hand. I ordered a cord of four-foot pine 
wood cut into six-inch lengths. At the mint, these blocks 
were split up into ordinary kindling, and the melters 
were told to use this kindling thereafter in place of the 
charcoal, and when laying their fires they would be per- 
mitted to soak the wood with coal oil, if necessary. Some 
of the old hands said it would be impossible to start the 
fires in that manner, but when asked why could only, 
say, "It never has been done that way." However, upon 
the whole, the men entered into the spirit of the change 
' and after the first morning discarded the use of coal oil, 
and as long as the coke and coal furnaces were in use in 
the mint the hands never used another lot of charcoal, 
and would not have used it as a matter of preference had 
there been a supply on hand. In the course of a month 
or more afterward the spokesman of the charcoal com- 
bine called on me and offered me a supply at a reduced 
figure, which of course I declined. He pointed out that 
the government could not get it from any other source. 
When I said that that might be so, he asked, why wouldn't 
we buy it from him. I replied, "Because we are done 
with using charcoal in the mint, especially when we can 
make $8 worth of pine answer the purpose of $250 worth 
of charcoal." The man was speechless. I never saw him 
Some years before I became Superintendent, the depart- 

— 292 — 

In the Service of the Government 

ment at Washington had directed that anthracite coal be 
used under the steam generating boilers, as this coal gave 
off no appreciable amount of smoke. The neighborhood 
had been making complaint of being annoyed by the 
smoke from the bituminous coals used. I knew of a 
lignite, remarkably free from smoke, mined in Oregon, 
which made an excellent fuel for steam boilers. I was 
able to have this coal laid down in the mint at about one- 
quarter of the cost of anthracite. Of course it required 
more pounds of the lignite to produce a given amount of 
steam than anthracite, yet the change netted the govern- 
ment a saving of over $700 per month in the cost of steam 
fuel. After the great development of oil wells in Cali- 
fornia, the cost of fuel was reduced to a still lower notch 
by the introduction of oil burners under the boilers and 
the use of oil as a fuel. 

I think I found about as much interest in the operations 
of the refining department as anywhere else in the mint. 
With the discovery of the rich gold deposits on the 
Yukon River, bringing, as it did, a very great addition to 
the gold deposits at our institution, the importance of the 
refinery operations was correspondingly increased. The 
department was originally equipped with a plant for the 
nitric acid process. Subsequently a small sulphuric acid 
plant was added, when it was found that the process with 
the latter acid was more economical. When the gold 
deposits were so largely increased by the influx from the 
Far North, the old nitric plant was torn out to give place 
to the addition needed by the later-adopted process. All 
the wood work of the old plant was burned and the metal 
parts were melted, and from the ashes and meltings we 
recovered gold and silver of considerably greater value 
than the cost of the new addition to the refinery. Prior 
to this time, but little attention was given to saving the 
copper sulphate, which was a by-product in the opera- 
tions of the refinery. A few crystallizing tanks had been 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

provided, but the number was insufficient, and even then 
the solution was turned into the tanks only when the 
refinery hands could be spared for the purpose. At other 
times the solution of copper sulphate went down into the 
sewers. The idea was that the cost of crystallizing the 
solution would not be met by the returns from the sale of 
bluestone or copper sulphate. A complete system of tanks, 
pumps, and drying houses was installed, and all the solu- 
tion was converted into bluestone and readily sold to 
consumers and dealers. Several thousand dollars per 
year were saved to the government by taking care of and 
marketing this by-product. The law required that the 
refineries of the mint should be operated as near to cost 
as possible, so that the cost of refining gold and silver, 
which is borne by the depositors, shall be reduced to the 
smallest possible figure without loss to the government 
My predecessor had to deal with an extravagant organi- 
zation when he took possession of the mint. The refinery 
had run behind in the previous four years and piled up 
a deficit of $82,230. He had made a decided improve- 
ment in conditions, but was unable, through the small 
volume of business, to place the refinery on a self-sustain- 
ing basis. However, his deficit for four years was only 
$15,361. In the first four years of my administration the 
earnings were $205,943, and cost of operation $206,205, a 
difference of only $262. Through the refinery having been 
operated at a loss for more than twenty years, there was 
a deficit of about $150,000. There was only one way to 
make this amount good, and that was to increase the 
earnings and reduce the cost of operations, which I did, 
so that before I resigned my position in 1907 the total 
deficit was wiped off the books by the annual credit of 
surplus earnings. 

After the first six years of my administration as Super- 
intendent, I had occasion to make an investigation of cost 
operation in the coinage department and wastage for that 

—2H — 

In the Service of the Government 

period. I found that in that time, we had handled 
$1,200,000,000 of gold. The law recognizes the difficulty 
in handling gold without some wastage, and fixes the 
limit of allowance of loss in melting at .001 per cent, and 
in coinage .0005 per cent; and our legal wastage with 
these limitations could have been $900,000 in the six 
years, whereas it was only $6361. In the matter of 
coinage and cost per piece turned out, the result also was 
gratifying to us all. Although the amount appropriated 
by Congress for coinage purposes for the San Francisco 
mint during the six years of my administration had been 
but little more than had been allowed for corresponding 
periods during three previous administrations, yet we had 
been able to produce nearly double the number of pieces 
of coin, or practically double the coinage. What was 
more satisfactory was that the cost per piece had been 
reduced from 4 cents and 6 mills to 1 cent and 6 mills, 
for the three years* work from 1902 to 1905. 

The mint work was interesting from several stand- 
points, and not least were the metallurgical problems 
that frequently developed. They had to be worked out 
for the reason that there was little in technical books to 
direct us or to explain the difficulties. Our greatest trou- 
bles began when bullion from cyanide plants became 
common in deposits. At first the miners did not appre- 
ciate the necessity of freeing their product from zinc that 
became associated with the gold in the process of recov- 
ery, and its presence in the bullion not only made it 
difficult to determine accurately the value of the gold by 
assaying, but whenever any of the zinc or lead failed of 
elimination in the refining operation, there was trouble 
in the coining rooms when the operators there had to 
make the bullion into coin. It is remarkable how small a 
quantity of these impurities would make the gold unfit 
for coinage. As much as one part of lead or zinc to 999 
of gold would render the metal absolutely unworkable 

— 295 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

in the coinage room. I have seen gold ingots, cast for the 
making of double eagles, or twenty-dollar pieces, so brit- 
tle from the presence of a small amount of these impuri- 
ties that they would break in pieces when dropped on the 
stone floor of the rolling room. All problems of this 
character were eliminated when the electrolytic method 
of refining was substituted for the sulphuric acid process. 
The metal refined by electrolysis was converted to a 
practically pure state. 

Not long after the cyanide process for gold recovery 
was in general use, a man came into the Superintendent's 
office and introduced himself as a miner and mine owner 
from the State of Nevada. He said he had a very private 
matter that he wanted to discuss with me, as he had been 
told that I could help him out of his difficulties. He first 
asked the privilege of shutting the office door so that his 
conversation could not be overheard by persons outside. 
Then he went on to say that he was sure that one of the 
largest and most responsible firms of bullion buyers in 
the city had been robbing him. He said that the bullion 
he had been shipping to this firm was a combination of 
gold and silver, with considerably greater quantity of 
silver than gold. The shipments were made about one per 
month, and until the last three months the returns from 
the buyers had been very satisfactory, agreeing with the 
mine manager's assay, but that during the last three 
months, there had been a decided falling off in the buyers' 
allowance for silver contents of his bullion. In reply to 
my inquiry, he said that the allowance for gold was all 
right. He also said that he had a very superior chemist 
in charge of his cyanide plant. When I asked the mining 
man how long this new and very "superior chemist" had 
been in his employ, he replied that he had secured him 
about three months before. His confidence in the "supe- 
rior" ability of his new man was so great he had not 
noticed that the beginning of the period of his complaint 
— 296 — 

In the Service of the Government 

of losses was about the time of the introduction of the 
new ijian in his works. In further response to my ques- 
tions as to the details of operating his cyanide plant, he 
went on to tell me how the new man "soaked" the pre- 
cipitates from the cyanide solution (which, of course, was 
the product of gold and silver from his ores) "in strong 
sulphuric acid for twenty-four hours," explaining that 
this final treatment of the bullion eliminated the zinc and 
other impurities that might be there. I then asked him 
what he did with the acid after it had been drawn off 
from the precious metals, or after he was through with 
the "soaking" process. "Oh," said he, "we throw it 
away!" I explained to him that the silver in the finely 
divided state was almost as soluble in the acid as the zinc, 
so that his "very superior chemist" had been throwing 
away a good part of his silver with the acid, and thus, in 
all probability, his suspicion of wrong doing on the part 
of the bullion buyers was unwarranted. He was dazed 
for a moment, and when he recovered his speech said 
that he "didn't see how his man could make such a blun- 
der, as he was a thorough chemist, having worked in a 
drug store all his life !" He thanked me, but I never saw 
him again. However, I think there was a "superior chem- 
ist" who lost his job on short notice. 

A very strange and interesting feature in relation to 
volatilization of precious metal arose while I was investi- 
gating the extent of furnace losses in the metal process 
of the coinage operations. I discovered one day that 
gold and silver in a finely divided state, but in globular 
form, were being deposited on the floor of the mint court, 
which is in the center of the building. A sweeping of the 
roof and gutters of the building gave a very good return 
in gold and silver. Such of the furnaces as were not 
equipped with dust and vapor-arresting chambers I imme- 
diately had rebuilt, adding the gold and silver saving 
device. The first year's saving more than paid for the 

— 297 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

expense. Upon looking into the subject further I found 
that the metals, when condensed from the vapor form, 
assumed the shape of perfect globules. In this case they 
were so minute that it required the use of a microscope 
to see them. I found precious metals inside the melting 
rooms, on all wall or other projections that would hold 
dust, as well as in adjacent rooms, in addition to that 
found in the court and on the roof. While there might 
be some question as to the form in which the gold was 
drawn up through the furnace chimneys and deposited 
in minute spheres on the roof and court of the building, 
there seems little room for argument that the metal was 
projected from the melting pots thirty feet or more across 
the room to find lodgment on the walls in the form of 
these minute globules, while other globules were being 
drawn up the chimneys as solids. A force strong enough 
to overcome the draft of the chimneys would have sent 
the globules with such force that the working men stand- 
ing between the melting pots and walls, seemingly would 
have been struck by some of the little pellets of gold and 
silver if in solid form while in movement. No such sensa- 
tion was ever experienced nor did we find any evidence 
of the metals leaving the furnace in solid form. The 
best explanation I have heard is that the metal in gaseous 
or vapor form, soon after its release from the heat which 
vaporized it, first returned to liquid form, in which, by 
surface contraction, it would be forced into globular form, 
when the cool atmosphere would quickly solidify it, 
returning it by the same steps through a cooling atmos- 
phere, from gas to a solid, as by which, through heat, it 
passed from a solid to gas. 

T. A. Rickard, the talented editor of the Mining and 
Scientific Press of San Francisco, asked me if I knew why 
some gold coins fresh from the mint possessed a slight 
greenish tinge. I had some experiment? made to deter- 
mine the cause, and found that a decided green color 
— 298 — 

In the Service of the Government 

could be given to gold by adding silver in certain propor- 
tions to it. We knew that the presence of silver in gold 
bullion influenced the shades of its color, and the presence 
of copper had the same effect, and naturally attributed a 
green shade to the copper; but to our great surprise, after 
experiments in making many different combinations of 
pure gold, silver, and copper, we were unable to develop 
any bullion of a decided green color until we entirely 
eliminated the copper and melted together 700 parts of 
gold with 300 parts of silver. This combination gave a 
decidedly light shade of green. We obtained a decidedly 
darker shade of green by combining 900 parts of gold 
with only 100 parts of silver. To account for the green 
appearance of some gold coin it must be explained that 
the regulations allowed the presence of ten parts of silver 
out of 1000 parts of gold bullion to remain with the gold 
that was prepared for coinage, it being impractical, with 
the refining processes in use in those days, to remove all 
the silver from the crude bullion. It was always taken 
into account, when adding the copper for alloy, that of 
silver and copper there should not be more than the 10 
per cent fixed by law. The blanks or disks cut for coins, 
before being stamped or pressed, were annealed, which 
is a process that requires heating the blanks up to a 
cherry red. This caused the particles of copper in the 
surface of the blanks to form the black oxide of copper. 
As the oxide is quite soluble, the subsequent dropping of 
the blanks that had been heated into a bath of diluted 
acid removed all the copper from the surface of the 
blanks, leaving in place a film of gold combined with 
what silver was left in the metal by the refiners, which 
frequently came near amounting to 1 per cent, and suffi- 
cient, under the procedure described, to impart a greenish 
shade to the coins. Why a white metal combined with 
a yellow metal should produce a green color I was unable 
to explain, a determination of the matter being beyond 

— 299 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

our equipment for investigation. The experiences men- 
tioned are samples of the many we had, and are given 
to illustrate the character of problems and matters with 
which we had to deal. 

Altogether, I suppose I had the most varied, exciting, 
and interesting, as well as distracting experiences of any 
other mint Superintendent that was ever commissioned 
in the United States. 1 have not attempted to relate all 
the incidents pertaining to my administration, especially 
some of the unpleasant matters involving acts of dishonest 
employees. The facts are matter of record, the offending 
parties in most cases were punished and are now trying 
to earn an honest living, and I would not say a word or 
write a line that would hinder or embarrass them in their 
praiseworthy efforts. Under the law that makes the 
Superintendent responsible for all losses of every charac- 
ter, my bondsmen had to make good to the government 
the theft of $30,000 in 1900, and in turn I had to deed over 
to the bonding company my real estate in Oakland which 
included the old homestead. I wanted the company to 
take some valuable mining property instead of the home 
place, but the company was afraid of mines and insisted 
on taking the Oakland property. However, this apparent 
misfortune was not a lasting one. A relief bill was intro- 
duced in Congress which had the indorsement of the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury and Director of the Mint, and the 
active support of Senator Perkins and Congressman 
Knowland. Much to my surprise and gratification, the 
measure was passed by both houses in the session of its 
introduction and was promptly signed by the President. 
It was the first time that a bill of this character, relating 
to a Pacific Coast beneficiary, was made a law in so short 
a time. Usually Congress takes from ten to fifteen years, 
or more, for consideration of acts of this kind of relief. 
It was due to the earnest work and influence of Senator 
Perkins and Congressman Knowland that an exception 
— 300 — 

In the Service of the Government 

was made in this case. The appropriation enabled me to 
repay the surety company and receive deeds for the return 
of the property I had turned over to it a few months 
before. It was in connection with the loss of the $30,000 
and the ferreting out of the party responsible for it that 
I became acquainted with William J. Burns, now of inter- 
national reputation as the greatest of detectives. The 
friendship begun then has continued until this day. I 
should have said that he gave no small aid in the passage 
by Congress of the relief bill in my interest, when men- 
tioning those to whom I was especially indebted for the 
enactment of that measure. I saw much of Mr. Burns in 
after years when he was prosecuting the Oregon land 
fraud cases for the government, and was able to render 
him some assistance in the famous San Francisco graft 
cases. When the scene of his activities was transferred 
to the Atlantic states and his business called him at times 
to San Francisco, he never failed to pay me a visit. Mr. 
Burns is a man of fine personality, polished, and an 
intensely interesting conversationalist; a man of high 
ideals, and incorruptible; he is endowed with a power 
of insight into human nature, an intuition, and a judg- 
ment of the acts of men that are something wonderful. 
These qualities, coupled with his utter lack of fear and 
a tenacity of purpose without limit, are the broad basis 
on which his great reputation rests. 

In 1905 Mr. Burns gave me considerable assistance in a 
matter of investigation which I had been directed by 
the department to make. This was in the United States 
assay office at Seattle, where there existed some evidence 
of wrong doing on the part of some one connected with 
the institution. The case turned out to be one of very 
great importance, and the incidents involved gave it a 
character of unusual interest. At this time most of 
the deposits of gold made at the assay office were in the 
form of gold dust, nearly all of which came from the 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

mines in Alaska. .Gold in this form always carries a small 
per cent of black sand, which the miners can not elimi- 
nate from the gold dust without washing out' the little 
fine particles of gold associated with it. When the gold 
dust is melted into bars by the government, or any one, 
for that matter, the sand goes off with the flux, and of 
course the gold, after melting, will weigh less than gold 
dust before melting, to the extent of the said elimination. 
I had made quite a study in our work at the mint of these 
apparent losses, and had found that the average loss 
should not exceed 5 per cent. So when complaint reached 
the Washington authorities from depositors at the Seattle 
assay office that they were suffering greater losses than 
they thought they should, I was directed to make an inves- 
tigation of the matter. I was quite certain that something 
was wrong there. I took with me to assist in the work on 
this errand Lee Kerfoot, an exceedingly bright young 
employee of the mint. He was a graduate of the Univer- 
sity of California, with experience in the melting of gold 
and dealing with the metallurgical problems arising from 
the work. My first step was to look over the institution 
and find out how the place was conducted, expecting 
to find the leak where there was laxity in adherence to 
the regulations. I found the office part of the work seem- 
ingly carried on with excellent system, and with every 
regard for the regulations and check required, but in the 
melting rooms, so far as proper supervision and care 
against dishonest losses were concerned, things were 
loosely conducted. For this reason I began the investi- 
gation in this department. Mr. Burns had assigned two 
first-class men to assist me, whom I detailed to run down 
the habits, past and present, of all employees of the melt- 
ing room. This required about two weeks' work. In the 
meantime, Mr. Kerfoot and I were making experiments 
and taking notes of the daily operations in the melting 
room as if we expected to find the cause of the undue 
— 302 — 

In the Service of the Government 

losses accountable to unskilfulness and carelessness in 
the melting operations. I personally took the weight of 
each deposit as it went to the melting room, and there 
every handling was closely watched by Mr. Kerfoot, until 
the deposit after melting came back and was weighed by 
me, and the losses in melting noted. Notwithstanding this 
care and watchfulness, at the end of each day's work the 
sum of the losses exceeded what experience told us 
should occur. It was plain that the stealing was still 
being practiced, notwithstanding our presence. The reali- 
zation of this fact made us feel as if the fellow who was 
guilty of the dishonest work thought he was so shrewd 
and had his tracks so well covered that he could safely 
continue his stealing during our presence there, and was 
practically laughing in our faces. It was as if we were 
challenged to a contest in which the unknown was put- 
ting his skill and shrewdness against our wit The thought, 
no doubt, acted as a spur in our determination to locate 
the thief. The reports of the detectives failed to show 
anything that would indicate that the workmen investi- 
gated were leading any other than normal lives. In fact, 
their characters and habits proved to be beyond criticism. 
Two weeks or more had passed without having discovered 
the slightest clue, and I was becoming discouraged, for 
in whatever direction we prodded it was without result, 
and the losses were going on daily with a regularity that 
was hard to accept as caused by dishonesty. One morn- 
ing, while contemplating the situation and mentally going 
over all the procedures in receiving, melting, and deposit- 
ing of the bullion that was being tampered with, I was 
reminded that all the deposits that came in the afternoon 
did not come direct to me to be sent out to the melting 
room, but were taken in charge by the cashier, and by 
him placed in the vault over night and then given to the 
melters in the morning. Instantly I felt that the path 
leading to a solution of the matter had been discovered. 

— SOS— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

I am sure that if any one had noticed me at that moment 
I would have betrayed the excited state of my mind. I 
immediately went to the books and made calculations of 
the losses on the morning deposit receipts that went direct 
to the melting room, and, as I expected, found the losses 
normal, and when I figured the losses on the afternoon 
deposit receipts that were taken in charge by the cashier 
and put in the vault over night I found them to run about 
3 per cent greater than they should. I had been looking 
for the trouble in the wrong department. Here was a 
trail leading in another direction. It was not only a plain 
trail, but I could make out the man who had made it — 
none other than the cashier. Through little inquiry, I 
found out that the cashier was in the habit of coming 
down to the office a half hour or more before the time 
of beginning work and opening up the office, for the 
purpose, he said, of getting out the deposits kept in the 
vault over night so that the melters would not be delayed 
in starting their labors for the day. I knew then that he 
used this time to rob the deposits, and to do this without 
detection he had to make a substitution of black sand in 
weight for the gold removed. During the cashier's absence 
to lunch, I managed to get access to the vault and found 
the balances, or scales, in a tin box, which were neces- 
sary to weigh the gold in making the substitution. It 
was imperative for the success of his scheme that the 
deposits should weigh exactly the same, when he turned 
them over to the head melter, as when they were received 
the day before by the receiving clerk. We soon found 
that he used a dark-colored sand to replace the gold he 
took from the deposits, and Mr. Kerfoot, by some exceed- 
ingly clever work, found that the cashier obtained the 
sand from some distance at a point on Puget Sound shores. 
It was obtained under an assumed name in quite large 
quantities. He had used altogether in the dishonest work 
over a quarter of a ton of sand. 
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In the Service of the Government 

Although we were now positive of the guilt of the 
cashier, some evidence stronger than any we had was 
necessary before he could be charged with the crime. 
Therefore, we arranged with the manager of the bank 
which had filed the complaint at Washington that caused 
the investigation to supply us with a lot of gold dust, from 
which we sifted every particle of sand, and even all the 
small particles of gold. This was sealed in the presence 
of witnesses and sent to the assay office during an after- 
noon by a messenger, with a witness. It was noted by 
proper witnesses that the deposit was subsequently taken 
in charge by the cashier and placed in the vault. The 
next morning, when the deposit was turned over to the 
melter, instead of allowing it to go to the melting pot, we 
sifted it and recovered about three ounces of sand. As 
the deposit had not been increased in weight after its 
receipt, it was plain that an amount of gold equal to the 
weight of said sand had been abstracted. As we had been 
sifting deposits and manipulating them in various ways, 
our treatment of this particular deposit had no particu- 
lar significance with the workmen who saw us working 
with it. Nevertheless, the cashier, within two or three 
days afterward, came down to the office in the morning, 
and instead of applying himself wholly to his work, 
busied himself with other matters. Among other things, 
he went to the vault and brought out the tin box which 
1 was sure contained the balances with which he made 
his weights in the substitution process. Becoming con- 
vinced that he was preparing for flight, Mr. Kerfoot, who 
was on watch at the assay office for any such action dur- 
ing my absence, gave the signal to the secret service men 
who were conveniently posted outside, for the arrest of 
the cashier. He professed surprise and amusement that 
he should be charged with any wrong doing. He was 
taken to the office of the secret service men and was told 
with what offense he was charged. He was directed to 

— 305 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

open the tin box. He hesitated. When further com- 
manded, he held the key to the lock, again hesitating, as 
if to delay the exposure of positive incriminating evidence. 
The secret service officer again spoke, demanding com- 
pliance with his request. The cashier obeyed, and with 
the raising of the lid of the box exposed to view a neat 
pair of balances with numerous little grains of gold dust 
scattered around on the bottom of the box, plainly show- 
ing the use the scales had been put to. The incident was 
further heightened by the cashier crumpling up and fall- 
ing to the floor as if in a faint. After he "came to," or 
became composed, he confessed to some slight peculation, 
but denied responsibility for all the losses that had been 
going on for five years past. On his person the officers 
found $12,000 in currency that he had drawn from the 
bank that morning, leaving $3000 to his credit in his 
account, as we subsequently found when searching the 
city for property and money in his name. The sum of 
these two items represented a good part of his thefts 
for that year. This bank was a new institution, and he 
represented to the official that he was interested in or 
owned some good mines ip Alaska, and that he desired to 
deposit his gold with the bank and have the bank dispose 
of it and credit him with the proceeds, as he, being an 
employee of the assay office, was prohibited from selling 
or depositing gold there. He stored up his daily stealings, 
and on days corresponding with the arrivals of steamers 
from Alaska would appear at the bank with a bag of gold 
dust and leave it there to be disposed of in accordance 
with the arrangements just mentioned. In that way he 
had acquired the credit of $15,000. 

Knowing now how the cashier had been feloniously 
operating, it was incumbent upon us to discover to what 
extent his stealing operations had reached. This necessi- 
tated taking account of every deposit made in the assay 
office in the afternoons for that year and the preceding 
— 306 — 

In the Service of the Government 

four years, and computing the difference between a nor- 
mal loss and the loss shown by the books, which would 
approximately represent the stealings. This was not 
only a tedious but a complicated job, for the normal loss 
on gold varied with the districts from whence it came. 
Here again was where my young friend Kerfoot's talents 
came into play and rendered service hard to duplicate. 
By these computations we found the total of stealings to 
reach an amount somewhere near $150,000. I do not 
recall the exact figures. The next thing for us to do was 
to find where he sold the gold and what he did with the 
proceeds. It took some time, but we succeeded in locating 
his sales, which had been made once a year or thereabouts, 
and were pleased to find that the amounts of gold sold 
agreed exceedingly close with the amounts estimated by 
us to have been stolen. We had great trouble in finding 
out what he did with the gold stolen in the years of 1903 
and 1904. 

After exhausting the possibilities of the cashier having 
disposed of his stolen gold in Seattle in 1903, we knew that 
he must have taken it to some other place. But where? 
The attendance record at the assay office showed that at 
no time was there more than two consecutive days when 
he did not record himself as having been at the office. We 
then made a search in those cities which he might have 
visited by taking no more than two days 9 time for such 
a trip, but found nothing to indicate he had ever visited 
any of the places. The cashier himself explained those 
two days' absence by saying that he had spent them in a 
visit to friends in Portland, but we could not verify even 
that. We were well nigh discouraged when it occurred 
to us that the two days might have been Monday and 
Tuesday, which would have enabled him to use Sunday 
in traveling, making three days, and if he left the office 
Saturday morning, after recording his presence, and then 
returning late Wednesday afternoon in time to record his 

— 307 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

presence, he would have practically five days, which was 
the exact time it would have taken to go to San Francisco 
and back, arriving there in the morning and taking the 
train back in the evening. I immediately went to San 
Francisco and called on the officials of the Selby Smelting 
and Lead Company, explaining the case to them and tell- 
ing them that I was sure that the cashier had, on the 18th 
day of November, 1903, sold to their firm about $16,000 
worth of gold dust. An examination of the books showed 
that a purchase of just about that much had been made 
on that date. The receiving clerk was asked if there was 
anything about the man's action that would cause him to 
remember the appearance of the person who sold the 
gold to the firm. He promptly replied in the affirmative. 
He stated that, in the first place, the man declared that 
he was on his way East and must have his money that 
day, and insisted on paying a discount for the favor of 
getting the money at once, instead of waiting twenty-four 
hours, as was the rule for making payments. Then, again, 
he refused a check or coin, and would take nothing but 
currency. It is the practice at this institution to give a 
man a receipt for his bullion, which he holds while the 
gold is being assayed and its value ascertained, and which 
is surrendered upon being paid. The receipt in this trans- 
action was issued to a name different from that of the 
guilty cashier, but the indorsement was plainly in his 
handwriting, and he had made some figures on the back 
of the receipt, computing the loss in melting, which were 
unmistakably his. Moreover, the clerk's description of 
the man closely tallied with the general appearance of the 
cashier. I was certain now that we had located the steal- 
ings and verified the amount for the year 1903. However, 
I wanted to make the evidence stronger. I felt satisfied 
that he would not dare to purchase a return railroad ticket 
and travel under an assumed name, as he would be likely 
to meet trainmen and other people who knew him, so I 
— 308 — 

In the Service of the Government 

went to the railroad office and found that a ticket to 
Seattle had been sold on November 18 to the cashier in 
his proper name. The stub of this ticket, with the cash- 
ier's signature, was given me to be used in the trial. The 
evidence in this transaction was now complete, but we 
had yet to locate the sale made in 1904. This was a more 
difficult task, as his movements for the year had been 
more varied, and besides he was married early in Decem- 
ber and had gone East on his wedding trip. We first 
concluded that it was on this trip he disposed of an accu- 
mulation of stealings of about 1000 ounces, valued at 
between $16,000 and $17,000. We thought that he would 
find some way to dispose of it at the United States assay 
office in New York, and that he would put himself to some 
trouble to accomplish it. We felt that he would undoubt- 
edly make the deposit through a third party, and by his 
knowledge of the government's method of doing business, 
he would feel protected from robbery by any middleman 
or messenger. We endeavored to have the officials at 
the assay office assist us in locating the sale there, but 
through some misunderstanding or error in description 
the officials reported that no purchase of that magnitude 
in gold dust had been made by them that season. The 
findings of the officials threw us off the right track and in 
consequence of the blunder we spent weeks in inquiries 
and searched through each city where the cashier and his 
bride stopped on the roundabout way from Seattle to 
New York, requiring investigations in San Francisco, Los 
Angeles, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and New York City. In 
reviewing all this work it did not seem to us that any 
possibility had been overlooked. Nevertheless, we made 
another very careful search through San Francisco, but 
not a clue was found. I then began to think the officials 
at the government assay office at New York might have 
made a mistake. Finally I became positive in my mind 
that they had overlooked the deposit. I then wired the 

— 309 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Director of the Mint to cause another examination of the 
books of the New York institution, expressing my belief 
that on or about December 13 or 14 they would surely 
find a record of a deposit of gold dust of about 1000 
ounces. The Director kindly took up the matter and I 
had the gratification of soon receiving a telegram in 
return saying that such a deposit as I had described had 
been made. It did not take long to connect the cashier 
with the transaction and secure evidence proving that he 
was the depositor. He sent the gold to the government 
office through the aid of a messenger, and all the commu- 
nication he had with the office was over a telephone, 
located at a hotel other than that at which he was regis- 
tered. The signatures made by him on the documents 
issued in the transactions were easily identified as being 
in the handwriting of the guilty cashier, although he 
used a fictitious name. Other facts were developed which 
helped to complete the chain of evidence of the man's 
guilt. The locating of this deposit also completed account- 
ing for the amount estimated by us to have been stolen 
during the five years of his dishonest operations. We had 
been short in finding the disposition of all of his stealings 
for the last year, and finally reached the conclusion that 
in all probability he had not sold it and the gold would 
be found secreted somewhere around his home. Mr. 
Kerfoot, with the assistance of a secret service officer, went 
to the home of the cashier, and together they made a most 
thorough search of the premises, including the residence, 
garage, and other outbuildings and grounds. They had 
been at work several hours and had found where the 
cashier had endeavored to hide some black sand which 
was of the lot he had been using in making substitution 
for the stolen gold, as well as some of the appliances he 
had used in the dishonest work, when a setter dog belong- 
ing to the cashier brought in his mouth and laid down at 
the feet of the searchers a small buckskin pouch, as if 
— 510 — 

In the Service of the Government 

he, too, had joined in the hunt for evidence against his 
master. The pouch still contained a few grains of gold, 
showing the use that had been made of it. However, so 
far, the gold the officers were in search of had not been 
discovered, although they had searched and poked into 
every nook, cranny, and corner from the roof to the base- 
ment of the residence, and were now in the cellar and 
about to give up the search, when Mr. Kerfoot called 
attention to the pile of about three tons of coal in a cor- 
ner of the basement that they had not moved, although 
they had moved and repiled a cord or two of stove wood, 
and remarked that, to make the job complete, they would 
have to shovel it across the basement, so the two men 
started in on the job. They joked each other about being 
coal-heavers, especially when their complexions began to 
take on the hue of blackness that follows that vocation. 
They little expected that in the last possible place to be 
searched and under the last shovelful of coal to be 
moved in the remotest corner of the coal bin they would 
find two fat buckskin pouches containing the amount of 
gold missing from the estimate of the year's stealings, 
about $7000, but such was their reward. 

In relating the story of this crime, I have only touched 
on some of the main and interesting features. The cash- 
ier pleaded guilty to stealing the gold missing for the 
year 1905. He was not charged and tried with the crimes 
committed in the other years, on the motion of the Assis- 
tant United States Attorney. He was sentenced to ten 
years' imprisonment. 

The government seized all the property that could 
be found standing in his name, except the homestead and 
one or two other smaller pieces of real estate. The cash- 
ier was not extravagant and had not wasted the steal- 
ings. On the contrary, he had invested the proceeds of 
his rascally work with excellent judgment, largely in 
"near in" real estate, which had enhanced in value to a 

— 811 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

considerable extent. He accounted to his friends for 
these purchases by stories of rich relatives dying from 
time to time and leaving him large sums of money. The 
government sold the property and with the proceeds 
endeavored to restore to the miners the amounts of their 
losses. Considerable publicity was given of the intention 
of the government in the matter, but less than 50 per 
cent of the total amount stolen by the cashier was 
awarded to those who filed claims in the case. He had 
a number of influential friends who worked incessantly 
for a pardon and finally succeeded in getting him released 
from prison after he had served about six or seven 
years of the term of his sentence. He returned to Seat- 
tle and these friends found a good position for him, 
but in less than ninety days he was arrested once more 
and in prison. This time it was on a charge of taking 
some part in making counterfeit money. He was tried 
and convicted and sent back to the government prison. 

He came from a good family, was refined in appear- 
ance, was bright, and had pleasant mannerisms, which 
made him well liked, if not popular. His was a strange 

— 312 — 



Destruction Wrought in San Francisco and Neighboring 
Places — The Battle to Save the Mint Building — How 
San Francisco's Financial System Was Re-estab- 
lished — Nation-Wide Generosity Shown to Victims. 

Perhaps I should class my experience in the great fire 
and earthquake of April, 1906, as the most exciting fea- 
ture of my administration as Superintendent of the mint 
in San Francisco. While I would not seek another such 
experience, I have often said that I was glad the oppor- 
tunity fell to me to be present and in the midst of one 
of the great disasters of history, but I shall always cen- 
sure myself that I did not make a record of what I 
saw, as well as the observations of other people and 
my own thoughts while the circumstances and details of 
the awful affair were fresh in my mind. I was suddenly 
awakened soon after 5 o'clock on that memorable morn- 
ing of April 18, with the hundreds of thousands of others 
who lived within a radius of a hundred miles of this sec- 
tion, to a realization of being shaken by an earthquake 
that seemed to threaten to tear our house to pieces. The 
building danced a lively jig, jumping up and down a 
good part of a foot at every jump, at the same time sway- 
ing this way and that; the walls and ceilings were twist- 
ing and squirming, as if wrestling to tear themselves 
asunder or one to throw the other down. Then there were 
the terrifying noises, the cracking and creaking of tim- 
ber, the smashing and crashing of falling glass, bric-a-brac, 
and furniture, and the thumping of falling bricks cours- 
ing down the roof sides from the chimney tops. Now and 

— 313 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman ' 

then there would be a louder crash and roar, coming from 
some distance, that told, plainer than words, of the awful- 
ness of the visitation and the greater destruction of prop- 
erty, if not life. The air was filled with dust. It seemed 
as if the shaking would never cease. Every vibration 
seemed to be followed by another more fierce, stronger, 
and more destructive. I lay in bed and saw the debris 
of wrecked chimney tops go sailing down past our bed- 
room windows. I felt that I was in as safe a place there 
as anywhere else in the house while the shaking lasted, 
and much safer than to attempt to go out of doors. Then 
I also felt that if the terrible disturbance was primary 
to the end of all things we might as well meet our fate 
right where we were. I confess that for a few seconds 
I was impressed with the idea that the end of the world 
had been reached. I did not get out of bed until the 
shaking ceased. Hastily dressing, I hurried to the street, 
expecting to find many houses wrecked and churches and 
other large buildings in ruins. I was greatly surprised 
to find so little damage done. A church tower had tum- 
bled down on Telegraph Avenue a couple of blocks from 
our house, and its debris practically blockaded the street. 
A frame building, an old two-story rickety affair, at the 
intersection of Hobart Street and Broadway, had fallen 
flat. A larger, built-over frame apartment house on Elev- 
enth Street was wrecked so it had to be taken down. 
Nearly every brick building in town suffered a loss of 
fire walls, while three or four old buildings were so 
badly injured that they were subsequently removed and 
new buildings erected in their place. The modern steel- 
framed structures went through the test without serious 
injury. The tall buildings were as immune from injury 
as the smaller ones. There was not a building in Oak- 
land, Alameda, or Berkeley, that I heard of, that was 
not shorn of its chimney tops. This contributed no small 
amount of discomfort in household affairs, especially in 

— SU — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

culinary operations. People who relied upon gas stoves 
for their kitchen needs were not discommoded any 
length of time. On this side of the bay the gas and water 
mains did not suffer any serious damage. There was 
not a household that did not suffer some loss from 
broken crockery, ornaments, furniture, etc. Interiors, in 
some instances, were flooded by the breaking of water 
pipes inside of the houses. The addition of soot, broken 
plaster, and the liquid contents of broken glass contain- 
ers increased the misery in many homes. 

People who were on the street during the earthquake 
said that the shaking of the houses made a terrific din. 
The houses, and especially the roofs, emitted clouds of 
dust. Tree tops and telegraph poles were swaying sev- 
eral feet back and forth, and the surface of the streets 
running east and west moved in undulations not unlike 
the waves on the bay. With all of the tumbling of chim- 
neys, crumbling of fire walls, and falling buildings, only 
two or three people were killed in Oakland, and not more 
than a score of injuries were reported. People were 
frightened and many could not be induced to enter their 
homes for a length of time — some for hours and some 
for days. Fortunately, we were having a spell of about 
as fine weather as one could wish for. The air was warm 
and balmy for a couple of days more, so it was no hard- 
ship to eat and to sleep out of doors, as many people did, 
until driven in by the cold winds and rain storm a little 
later on. Our family ate their breakfast inside the house, 
though it was cooked out in the back yard on a camp fire. 
People who had gas stoves were soon able to resume their 
cooking operations in the house, the gas company hav- 
ing quickly repaired damages to its plant and renewed 
the supply of gas. But people who depended on wood 
or coal stoves, with chimneys to carry off the smoke, 
were not allowed to use them until the chimneys were 
examined by a city inspector, who would then issye a 

— 315— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

permit. Bricklayers were in great demand for several 

After an early breakfast, and finding that none of our 
family had been hurt, I walked down town to see what 
had happened and hear what I might from other places. 
Upon reaching Fourteenth and Broadway my thoughts 
for the first time touched upon San Francisco, and I 
instinctively turned my eyes in its direction. I saw that 
the heavens above the city were filling with the black 
smoke of a great fire, which was rapidly finishing the 
work of destruction begun by the earthquake, and that 
a disaster more appalling than anything ever dreamed 
of and more extensive in destruction of property ever 
before known was now upon the unfortunate city. 
Under the circumstances I knew my presence was needed, 
or at least my place of duty was at the mint, to direct 
and assist in protecting the government property placed 
under my care as Superintendent. I had great difficulty 
in making the trip to the city. The local trains connect- 
ing with the ferry-boats were not running on schedule, 
and when a train did come along the roofs and platforms 
were covered with people who could not get inside. It 
seemed as if about all of Oakland's population was bound 
for San Francisco, but few people, however, were carried 
over by the ferry-boats. The trains were halted along the 
line between Broadway and the pier. By riding on one 
until it stopped, then running ahead and getting aboard 
of another and walking from the foot of Seventh Street 
to the end of the pier, I finally reached the ferry slip, to 
be told that no one was allowed to go on the boats bound 
for the city and that the boats would only be run to bring 
refugees from San Francisco. I hunted up Mr. Palmer, 
the division superintendent, and asked him to make an 
exception of my case and let me go over. He said he fully 
appreciated the circumstances of my request and would 
send me across the bay immediately. I was directed to 

— 316 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

go aboard one of the ferry-boats in the slip and was soon 
on the way to the city that was being ravaged by fires 
arising in almost every direction. I took a position on 
the upper deck as far forward as possible and tried to 
pick out the districts threatened by the flames. At this 
hour there were several distinct and separate conflagra- 
tions, which merged into one great, sweeping fire later in 
the day. The fires were started, no doubt, by the dis- 
turbance of electric wires, upsetting of stoves, etc., in 
half a dozen or more sections of the city, but more par- 
ticularly in the wholesale district, the water front section, 1 
and the district through to the Mission from the bay. 
The earthquake had broken the water pipes in the streets 
in many places, therefore the mains were empty and 
no water was to be had by the firemen at any of the 
hydrants. They were helpless away from the water front. 
By getting water from the bay, the fire department pre- 
vented the flames from spreading to the docks and ware- 
houses on the piers, and also saved considerable other 
property adjacent to the waterfront. 

It was a terrible sight. Flames were leaping high in the 
air from places scattered all the way across the front 
part of the city. Great clouds of black smoke filled the 
sky and hid the rays of the sun. Buildings in the track 
of the rapidly spreading fire went down like houses of 
cardboard; little puffs of smoke would issue from every 
crevice for a brief time, to be suddenly followed by big 
clouds of black smoke which would hide things for an 
instant, as if in attempt to shut out the vision of the trag- 
edy being enacted. Great masses of flame would quickly 
take the place of the smoke and shoot up above every- 
thing, announcing the consummation of destruction, and 
then sweep on to the doomed one next in order. I could 
see that the devastation was going on in the very midst 
of the most important and costly part of the city — the 
wholesale, financial, and retail districts. How far the fire 

— 317 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

had extended I could not make out; whether the mint 
structure had yet been subjected to the fury of the flames 
I could not determine. The uncertainty increased my 
anxiety to reach the building. 

Landing from the ferry, I found both sides of Market 
Street for several blocks from the ferry building to be 
in a mass of flames. Passage up town was also blocked 
by the flames by the way of Mission, Howard, Folsom, 
and other parallel streets on the south. To the north, 
along the water front, I made my way on docks, passing 
in front of the burning buildings facing the bay, amid 
firemen fighting the flames, and hundreds of refugees 
racing for the ferry building, having learned that the 
cities of Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley afforded an 
asylum for the homeless of San Francisco. These people 
were of all classes and conditions, young and old, male 
and female. Many were laden with all they could carry 
of household things, pet animals, and birds in their cages, 
but more people passed along in the race for a safer place 
with no loads or packages to hinder them. By use of the 
word "race" I do not mean to imply that the movements 
of the crowds indicated any showing of panic. On the 
contrary, I did not see a single person in tears or mani- 
festing fear. Every one seemed to realize that all were 
menaced by the same danger and victims of the same 
misfortune, and were reduced to a common level for the 
time, at least — a condition which seemed to arouse the 
utmost confidence in one another. The sight of so much 
distress drove into obscurity the baser soul, to give the 
fullest play to all that was noble and good in man. Never 
was human life and person, or personal property so safe 
from injury or loss by depredation in San Francisco as 
on that terrible day, and for the several days following. 

I went as far north as Jackson or Pacific Street, thence 
west around the fire. I found at Sansome Street the 
fire fighters concentrating their efforts there to prevent 

— 318 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

the fire from crossing the thoroughfare and spreading 
west; and as on Market Street, from the intersection of 
Sansome Street west as far as the street was built up, the 
fire had not been able to cross, it was thought and hoped 
that all that valuable property and business west of San- 
some and north of Market were going to be saved from 
the conflagration. This hope remained strong until late in 
the afternoon, when the fire, slowly eating its way north 
on the east side of Sansome Street, reached a tall build- 
ing between Clay and Washington streets which was 
filled, from cellar to attic, with inflammable goods. This 
structure made a terrific blaze, which was communicated 
to some frame buildings across the street which were very 
flimsy. The appellation, "fire fiend," seemed to be the 
only term appropriate at this point. The flames acted 
as if they knew that, so far, they had been prevented 
from crossing to the buildings on the other side all along 
Sansome Street, but now they had conquered the resist- 
ance after an all-day fight and hesitated only long enough 
to gather strength for a terrific and terrifying demonstra- 
tion of their destructive powers. The buildings at the 
point of the crossing were wiped out in a few moments, 
then from a direction west across the territory thought 
to have been saved from the fire raced a column of flame 
about a block wide like a prairie fire, leaving the prop- 
erty bordering its path for more deliberate destruction. 
In almost less time than it takes to tell about it the flames 
jumped from Sansome to Montgomery, then from the lat- 
ter street to Kearny, seizing upon Chinatown with a fury 
that terrified the poor Chinamen and prevented them 
from saving much or anything in the way of goods or per- 
sonal effects. The fire moved more slowly in spreading 
in the other directions, but it was this particular part of 
the conflagration that completed the destruction of the 
business district and hotel section and burned for more 
than two days afterward before it was conquered by the 

— 319— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

firemen, citizens, and soldiers who, when routed at San- 
some Street, retreated to Van Ness Avenue, and there put 
up a successful line of defense. The fire burned up to 
that street, but there it was stayed. The part of the con- 
flagration which swept from the ferry building on 
through the wholesale district and thence through the Mis- 
sion finally worked its way across Market Street and 
joined the Sansome Street branch of the fire. It would 
take too much space to attempt to relate all the details 
of the burning of the city. But in those three days of 
horror every bank, every theater, every newspaper, all 
the large business houses, and the homes of over one-third 
of the population of the city had been swept out of exist- 

To return to the description of my efforts to reach the 
mint building: when I reached Kearny Street and found 
that I was out of the fire zone, I started in the direction 
of the mint, using Kearny, Sutter, and Post streets until I 
reached Union Square. In crossing Union Square I saw 
the dead body of a man wrapped in a quilt lying near the 
base of the Dewey monument. I was told that the unfor- 
tunate was a victim of the earthquake. I had now passed 
through a good portion of the substantial part of the city 
not yet attacked by the flames and was able to observe the 
damage caused by the earthquake. I was surprised to 
find that all the first-class buildings on good foundations 
were practically uninjured. There were some poorly con- 
structed buildings erected on made ground which were 
thrown down, among which the hotel on Valencia Street, 
where the greatest loss of life took place, was a notable 
instance. Frame houses on solid ground but a short dis- 
tance away on either side of the hotel showed little evi- 
dence of having passed through an earthquake. 

After leaving Union Square I walked down Powell 
toward Market. Upon reaching the last named street I 
was stopped by the soldiers posted along the thorough- 

— 320 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

fare to keep all people from passing into the burning 
district. Just what advantage to the public, property 
owners, or any one, for that matter, such use of the soldiers 
was, or of what value their instructions were, I could 
never learn or understand. The action of the troops pre- 
vented proprietors of stores and office people from vis- 
iting their places of business, securing papers, and saving 
personal belongings. They prevented the looting of the 
doomed stores, it is true, but probably it would have 
been better to have thrown the store doors open and let 
people carry off what they could than stand over the 
property with loaded rifles, threatening death to any who 
attempted to enter until the flames came along and 
devoured the stuff and relieved the soldiers. However, I 
was displeased with the manner in which the soldiers 
pushed me back, in my several attempts to cross Market 
Street at different points. Finally, at the intersection of 
Mason and Market streets, while trying to convince a 
guard that I was a government officer and that my duty 
called me across the street, a policeman who happened to 
know me came along, and finding out what I wanted 
ignored the soldier and escorted me to the other side 
of Market Street, thence down to Fifth Street, where the 
mint was located. I felt exceedingly grateful for his kind- 
ness and could not help admiring this evidence of supe- 
rior judgment of the police over the military in this par- 
ticular case. 

When I reached the mint building I found that I had 
also reached the edge of the fire zone. A lot of small 
buildings directly opposite the mint building on Fifth 
Street had already been destroyed by the flames, and the 
fire was slowly eating its way northerly toward the Met- 
ropolitan Temple and Lincoln school building, both of 
which faced on Fifth Street; besides, from the center of 
the same block it was working its way more rapidly 
toward the big Emporium Building. Another branch of 

— 321 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the flames had swept the buildings on the south side of 
Mission opposite the mint building, and was crossing 
Mission* heading for Market Street, clearly pointing out 
for destruction all the big buildings west and north of 
the mint; and it was also evident that before the after- 
noon was over the two fires would come together on Fifth 
Street, and thus cut off the mint building from communi- 
cation with the outside world and surround it with fire, 
if not destroy it. Early in the beginning of the confla- 
gration a great many of the poor people living in the vicin- 
ity of the mint brought quantities of bedding and other 
household things such as could be easily handled and 
piled the stuff on the walks around the building, think- 
ing it would be safe there. 

One of the initial fires, that finally merged with others 
in making the general conflagration, started a block below 
the mint on Fifth Street in a rickety frame building used 
as a boarding house. It was partially thrown down by the 
force of the earthquake shocks. A stove in which a fire 
had been started to cook breakfast was upset and the 
red-hot coals, when spilled out, set fire to the place. Fire- 
men quickly appeared on the scene while the flames were 
yet small and could easily have been extinguished if any 
water could have been obtained from the hydrants. They 
could only stand by and watch the fire grow into an uncon- 
trollable demon of blaze. 

Inside the mint building I was greatly pleased to find 
fifty of our employees, whose sense of loyalty to duty had 
not been modified by fear of earthquake or the horror of 
being penned up in a big building surrounded by fire. 
They were there to do their best to help save the prop- 
erty of the government, and they went about the work in 
a simple, every-day manner, but nevertheless with earnest, 
willing, and active spirit. I felt proud to be Superinten- 
dent of that band of faithful and brave men. The captain 
of the watch, T. W. Hawes, had directed the work with 

— 322 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

excellent judgment until I arrived. They had fought the 
fire away from getting a foothold in the building from the 
east and south sides, but we all knew the worst was to 
come when the flames reached the big buildings to the 
west and north of us. 

I made a trip over the inside of the building and had 
things made snug and had all inflammable material 
removed from proximity to the openings in the walls 
on the north and west sides. A survey from the roof 
about 1 o'clock in the afternoon made our position look 
rather perilous. It did not seem probable that the struc- 
ture could withstand that terrific mass of flames that 
was sweeping down upon us from Market Street. The 
fire that had cut across Mission Street to the west of 
us had swept out northwesterly to Market Street, then 
east as if to join hands with the other branch of the fire 
then raging in and on both sides of the big Emporium 
Building; it had thus marshaled the elements of destruc- 
tion and was now marching them down on the mint 
building. The battle would soon be on. Lieutenant Arm- 
strong of the United States army was thoughtful enough 
to bring a squad of ten soldiers from Fort Miley to help 
in any way the men could be of service to us. These with 
our own men made a fighting crew of sixty, which was' 
divided up into squads for work on each floor, from the 
basement to the roof. Fortunately for us, we had a good 
supply of water. In fact, it is a matter of interest to know 
that, some months previous, the suggestion came to me 
that we should have the building piped and fire hydrants 
and hose at suitable places installed on each floor to pro- 
tect the building from any fire originating on the inside. 
It was only about ten days before the great disaster came 
upon us that the last hydrants of the system were put in 
place on the roof. Our water supply was independent 
of outside sources, being derived from an artesian well 
in the court. With a strong pump in the boiler room 

— 323 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

we were able to force a good stream to any part of the 
roof. Then the two large tanks located on the roof, filled 
with water, gave us a strong head for two hose streams 
at the basement floor. Without this protection the build- 
ing would, without question, have been gutted by the 
flames. But even these alone would not have been suffi- 
cient to keep the fire from gaining a foothold. On the sec- 
ond and third floors the men worked almost wholly with 
buckets. Every man stuck to the post where he had 
been placed. There was not a whimper, though some 
knew their homes were in the path of the fire, and all 
felt there was possibly something else besides the safety 
of the building depending upon the issue of the contest 
with the great mass of fire that was soon to sweep against 
us. I know I had decided that, if we should be unable 
to withstand the heat of the flames beating against 
and over the building, or should be driven out by the 
flames taking possession of the structure, what I should 
try to do to preserve the lives of the brave men defend- 
ing the property. I formed a plan of retreat, if the worst 
came, but said nothing of it to the men. If the mint build- 
ing had burned it would have been warm work for us, 
in more than one sense, in getting outside of the fire 
zone, but I think we would have succeeded, for the build- 
ings to the south of us had been burned away, so we 
could have gone to the streets, where we would only have 
had to endure the heat of the ruins until an opening was 
made in the fire circle surrounding us. We possibly would 
have had to remain inside the fire zone, like cattle in a 
huge corral, until the fire burned out at some point to 
enable us to make an exit. However, we did not have 
much time for speculation, or long to wait for the con- 
test to begin. We had scarcely finished placing the men 
when, inside, the building was made almost dark as night 
by a mass of black smoke that swept in upon us just 
ahead of the advancing flames; then, following, came a 

— 324 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

tremendous shower of red hot cinders, big and small, 
which fell on our building as thick as hail in a storm, 
and piled up on the roof in drifts nearly two feet 
deep at one place against a fire wall for a distance of 
twenty feet. The court in the center of the building was 
open to the sky, and in it were much wood and timber. 
Here the sparks and cinders fell as thick as elsewhere, 
a dozen little fires were starting at various places in the 
court, and the men with the hose streams at each end of 
the court had all they could do to keep those fires down 
and new ones from starting. In the height of this feature 
of the fight I went out into the court to show a soldier 
who was handling one line of hose how to get the most 
efficiency from the stream of water. Before I could get 
back my clothes and hat were scorched by the falling 
cinders. The difficulty of keeping the fire from getting 
a foothold here greatly increased my fear that the mint 
was doomed to destruction. Finally the shower of living 
coals abated somewhat, making the fight in the court 
easier, so I passed to the upper floor, where I felt that 
the hardest struggle against the flames would soon take 
place. The buildings across the alley from the mint were 
on fire, and soon great masses of flames shot against 
the side of our building as if directed against us by a 
huge blow-pipe. The glass in our windows, exposed to 
this great heat, did not crack and break, but melted down 
like butter; the sandstone and granite, of which the build- 
ing was constructed, began to flake off with explosive 
noises like the firing of artillery. The heat was now 
intense. It did not seem possible for the structure to with- 
stand this terrific onslaught. The roar of the conflagra- 
tion and crashing of falling buildings, together with the 
noises given off from the exploding stones of our build- 
ing, were enough to strike terror in our hearts, if we 
had had time to think about it. At times the concussions 
from the explosions were heavy enough to make the floor 

— 325 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

quiver. Once I thought a portion of the northern wall 
and roof had fallen in, so loud and heavy was the crash- 
ing noise. Great tongues of flame flashed into the open 
windows where the glass had been melted out, and threat- 
ened to seize upon the woodwork of the interior of the 
tier of rooms around that side of the building. Now came 
the climax. Would we succeed in keeping the fire out, or 
should we have to retreat and leave the fire fiend to finish 
the destruction of the mint unhindered? Every man was 
alive to the situation, and with hose and buckets of water 
they managed to be on hand at every place when most 
needed — first in this room and then in that. The men in 
relays dashed into the rooms to play water on the flames; 
they met a fierce heat; though scorched was their flesh, 
each relay would remain in these places, which were ver- 
itable furnaces, as long as they could hold their breaths, 
then come out to be relieved by another crew of willing 
fighters. How long this particular feature of the contest 
went on I have little idea, but just when we thought we 
were getting the best of the fight another cloud of dense, 
black, choking smoke suddenly joined the flames and 
drove us back to the other end of the building, and some 
of the men, more sensitive to the stifling smoke, were com- 
pelled to go to the floors below. I thought the building was 
now doomed, beyond question, but to our surprise the 
smoke soon cleared up and the men, with a cheer, went 
dashing into the fight again. Every advantage gained by 
them was told by their yells of exultation. We were gain- 
ing in the fight when word came to me that the roof was 
now on fire and the flames were getting beyond the control 
of the men there, who only had buckets to fight with. The 
roof men wanted a hose stream, but I sent word back that 
the hose was needed on the third floor for a while longer 
and that as soon as we were out of danger at this point 
we would attack the roof fire from underneath in the 
attic. I knew the roof would burn slowly, as it was cov- 

— 326 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

ered with copper roofing plates. The explosions of the 
stones in our walls grew fainter, and finally we heard no 
more of them. The flames ceased their efforts to find 
entrance to our stronghold through the windows, but the 
heat reflected from the mass of red hot ruins to the north 
of us was almost unbearable; we could not see what the 
situation was outside, or tell just what other or further 
experience was in store for us. -However, we began to 
feel that the fight was nearly won and that, after all, we 
were going to save the building. We were now able to 
keep the interiors of the rooms which were most threat- 
ened wet down by the bucket men, so I sent the men with 
the hose to extinguish the roof fire, which was quickly 
done. In a half hour or so our defensive work was over. 
I now had time to take some observations, and made a 
trip over the building for that purpose. I found that 
the building had not been seriously injured, and that with 
careful watching and preventing the lodgment of cinders, 
there would be no further danger of the mint being 
destroyed. The fight was won. The mint was saved. 

We were a happy band, pleased with the result of our 
efforts in successfully fighting off the fire, but we did not 
think so much of our victory until a day or two later 
when we saw the benefits to follow to the stricken com- 
munity in a financial way. We opened the only available 
vaults in the city holding any considerable amount of 

It was now near 5 o'clock in the evening. The struggle 
with the fire demon had lasted from early morning, and 
all were tired, but there were other duties to be performed 
by them, as no relief crew was obtainable. The men were 
divided in watches, which gave some of them opportunity 
to obtain a little rest. The watch on duty was stationed 
at the exposed places. The hose lines were stretched, filled 
buckets were placed in convenient places, and steam 
pressure in the boiler room was ordered kept up so the 

— 327— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

fire pumps could be started at a moment's notice, if 
needed. When all the preparations and plans for the night 
had been arranged I determined to make the effort to go 
to Oakland and send a report to the Director of the mint 
at Washington, as I knew the authorities there would be 
pleased to know that our building had been saved. I shall 
never forget the feeling that came over me as I descended 
the steps of the mint building into Fifth Street and noted 
the change that had taken place there within a few short 
hours. When I passed down that block on Fifth Street 
from Market in the morning all the large business blocks, 
the Metropolitan Temple, and the Lincoln school were 
intact. The soldiers, policemen, firemen, and privileged 
citizens moving to and fro then gave animation to the 
scene, but now, turn which way you would, the view pre- 
sented was one of utter ruin, desolation, and loneliness. 
The buildings just described were piles of smoking and 
blazing ruins. The street was encumbered with fallen trol- 
ley poles and tangled wires and other indestructible debris 
from the burned buildings. Not a human being was to be 
seen. It seemed as if all the people and buildings of the 
city but the mint and its defenders had been destroyed. 
It was a most depressing scene of desolation. 

The heat was intense, but I picked my way through the 
obstacles lying in twisted and tangled masses in the street 
until I got out of the fire zone. I then started for the 
ferry at the foot of Market Street, taking something of 
the course on my return as that by which I came in the 
morning, although I had to make a wider detour to the 
north, as the flames had worked several blocks farther in 
that direction. On my way I saw that part of the fire had 
escaped from the firemen on Sansome Street and was 
racing across Kearny Street to Dupont, threatening, in its 
course, the destruction of Chinatown. The poor, unfor- 
tunate inmates of this section, realizing the fate in store 
for their homes and property, were in a state of great 

— 328 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

activity and excitement. From the speed the fire was 
making in their direction and the reluctance some of the 
Chinamen were showing in the way of leaving their homes 
and property, I felt that there would be a loss of life here 
to be added to the list of deaths caused by the disaster, 
but the soldiers and police came along and drove the 
loiterers out of the zone of danger. It was an appalling 
scene that I passed through on my way to the ferry. The 
wild march of the flames up the hill, the fleeing residents, 
the rushing of the firemen with their engines and trucks, 
and of other fire fighters to a new line of defense, the 
exploding charges of dynamite used to blow down build- 
ings in the path of flame, combined in telling, in a manner 
stronger than words, the terrible character of the disaster 
the people of San Francisco were facing. 

After arriving in Oakland I immediately went to the tel- 
egraph office and filed a dispatch to the Director of the 
mint at Washington, D. C. The telegraph office was 
crowded with people trying to send messages to relatives 
and friends. To give an idea of the extent of business sud- 
denly thrust upon the telegraph company within the ten 
days following the fire, it may be said that it was unable 
to place all the messages filed upon the wires and hun- 
dreds were forwarded by mail. However, all government 
business had the right of way and was forwarded at once, 
so I was soon in touch with the authorities at Washing- 
ton. The following is the substance of the report I sent 
the evening of the first day of the fire : 

San Francisco visited early this morning by terrible 
earthquake followed by fire which has burned the greater 

Eart of business district. Mint building not damaged much 
y shock. Every building around the mint burned to the 
? round. It is the only building not destroyed for blocks, 
reached building before the worst of the nre came, find- 
ing a lot of our men there, stationed them at points of 
vantage from roof to basement, and with our fire appa- 
ratus and without help from the fire department we suc- 
cessfully fought the fire away, although all the windows 

— 329 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

on Mint Avenue and back side third story were burned 
out; fire coming in drove us back for a time. Adjusting 
rooms and refinery damaged some and heavy stone cor- 
nice on that side of building flaked off. The roof burned 
some little. Lieut. G. R. Armstrong, Sixth United States 
Infantry, with squad of men, was sent to us by command- 
ing officer of department, who rendered efficient aid. Fire 
still burning in central and western parts of city, and what 
little remains of central business section is threatened. I 
could not report sooner, as I had to wait until I could 
return to Oakland. No dispatches could be sent from San 

There was great activity in Oakland among the people 
in preparing to take care of the thousands of refugees 
who had so suddenly and unexpectedly been thrown upon 
the generosity of the community. The churches and all 
public assembly places were thrown open to the home- 
less and hungry. Food, bedding, and clothing were pro- 
vided as if by magic. Thousands of private homes were 
opened to the sufferers, and no one had occasion to com- 
plain. An intelligent organization of Oakland's leading 
and active citizens was effected in th£ shortest possible 
time. Lawyers, merchants, capitalists, preachers, teachers 
— in truth, people, men and women from all walks of 
life — were represented in the list of those who responded 
at once to aid in receiving and caring for the sufferers. 
Committees were sent to the depots and ferries to receive 
and direct the sufferers to places of refuge as fast as they 
arrived within the limits of Oakland. It was a grand and 
noble work, and was discharged with willingness and 
enthusiasm. It would take too much space to relate the 
details of the later organization and work of the citi- 
zens in caring for the refugees, the establishment of camps, 
and the orderly provision for the multitude of people of 
almost all nationalities. All I can sav here is that it was 
well done, and a credit to the community and humanity 
of the people composing it. 

The sudden doubling of the population of Oakland and 

— 330 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

other conditions warranted the calling out of several com- 
panies of the National Guard to assist in policing the city, 
and before dusk the streets were being patrolled by sol- 
diers. However, there was little need of them, for the cir- 
cumstances of the disaster, for the time being, filled the 
minds of every one with only the best of thoughts and 
traits of character. The best that is in humanity was 
on parade. Strange as it may seem, it is no less a truth 
that life and property were never more respected or more 
secure than during the trying days following the disaster. 
All lines of class feeling were obliterated; the rich and 
the poor were on the one level of life. I do not remember 
of an instance when any individual failed to respond in 
the performance of duty to his fellow in distress, when 
and wherever called upon. 

That first night of the disaster, the flames from the burn- 
ing buildings in San Francisco illuminated the western 
part of the heavens well nigh to the zenith, and the light 
reflected made the streets of Oakland like twilight. Thou- 
sands of people who had been made nervous by the earth- 
quake in the morning would not go into their homes to 
sleep, and either made their beds on the ground away from 
danger of falling walls or walked the streets. Thousands 
sought places of advantage from whence they could watch 
the progress of the conflagration on the other side of the 
bay. So far as weather conditions were concerned, the 
day and night were beautiful. This fact made it desirable 
and not unpleasant to be out of doors. 

I retired early and had a good night's rest, which I felt 
was necessary, that I might be in the best trim to meet 
the demands my position would probably call for when I 
reached the mint the following day. 

I reached San Francisco quite early Thursday morning. 
When I landed there I found the ferry building almost 
deserted. A policeman and two or three citizens were all 
the people to be seen around that usually lively place. I 

— 331 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

asked the policeman how I could best get up town. He 
said he did not know of any route not accompanied with 
danger, or without going through the fire zone. There was 
no way of going around the fire, as he was informed that 
it was then burning near the water or bay, both north and 
south, therefore he advised me not to try to make the 
trip. I asked if Market Street would not admit of a pos- 
sible passage. He replied in the affirmative, and said that, 
if I was determined to go, that was undoubtedly the best 
way to get there. One of the citizens standing near, hear- 
ing the conversation, spoke up and volunteered the infor- 
mation that one or two parties of men had succeeded in 
making the trip through the burned district by following 
Market Street to the ferry building, although one man 
had been killed by falling walls and the balance of his 
party had been nearly suiTocated by the smoke and heat 
from the ruins lining both sides of the street. This infor- 
mation was not very encouraging, but I felt that I must try 
to reach the mint building, as I had not heard from there 
since leaving the evening before, so I started out. The 
heat was not so great as I expected, but every now and 
then suffocating clouds of smoke enveloped me so closely 
I could hardly see or breathe. There were tons and tons 
of debris from all kinds of building material lying in huge 
masses in the street. In one or two places the fallen ruins 
had filled the street from curb to curb, several feet deep; 
these I had to clamber over, practically on "all fours." 
Tottering walls still stood in many places on both sides 
of the street. They appeared as if the slightest earth- 
quake shock or puff of wind would send them toppling. 
As we had been experiencing shocks of earthquake every 
few hours, following the big shock, I must confess I felt 
I was in peril, and heartily wished I was out of that par- 
ticular place. The worst of the trip was between the 
ferry and Montgomery Street. From Montgomery Street 
west to Fifth Street 1 had fair going, as there was but 

— 332 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

little smoke and less heat, and no debris except on the 
sidewalks. I was probably one of the first who passed 
through Market Street from the ferry, after the buildings 
on both sides of the street had been burned. I saw no 
evidence of the mishap the citizen had described to me, 
although I saw the dead body of a man, a victim of the 
fire, lying in the street near the sidewalk in front of 
what had been Spreckels Market. The head had nearly 
all been burned off, though the clothes were scarcely 
scorched. While about midway between Montgomery and 
Kearny streets on Market I noticed a small, two-story 
brick building still intact, which, for some strange reason, 
had escaped the flames that had gutted the big Crocker 
building to the east and the Chronicle building on the west 
and leveled the buildings between. While I stood there 
alone, the only person on the street, marveling as to how 
the building could have escaped destruction, a little jet of 
flame appeared above the eastern fire wall on the roof. 
It could have been extinguished with a bucket or two 
of water. I recall now that, while I saw that the building 
was doomed to the fate of its neighbors, it did not seem a 
matter of much importance. The idea probably arose from 
a sense of relation, wherein this building was so uncon- 
siderable an affair, compared with the large and costly 
structures by which it had been surrounded, now gutted 
and in ruins. 

I met with no other incident in completing my journey 
to the mint building than encountering the dead body 
before mentioned. I will not attempt to describe my feel- 
ings or my thoughts while making that trip up Market 
Street, solitary and alone, between the towering and 
threatening ruins of the great buildings which had lined 
San Francisco's main thoroughfare and amid an awful 
and suggestive silence. When I turned into Fifth Street 
quite another scene was pictured. My heart thrilled with 
emotion at the sight of our national colors floating from 

— 333 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

an improvised staff thrust out from the front gable peak 
of the mint building, the staff from which it was usually 
flown having been burned. The waving flag confirmed 
our victory over the fire demon in the contest of the day 
before, and proclaimed a haven of some comfort for 
all who could gather under its folds, and a nucleus in 
the restoration of the city. On the sidewalk around the 
building was an encampment made of all kinds of impro- 
vised shelters, occupied by several hundreds of peo- 
ple. In some way, they had found that the fountains in 
front of the building were a source of fresh water, one of 
the very few supplies available in the entire burned dis- 
trict. As the sidewalks and the two lawn spaces in front 
of the building offered a camping place, as many as could 
be accommodated located there. Having an abundant sup- 
ply of fresh water in our wells, I had a couple of pipe 
lines run to convenient places near the sidewalk, and for 
two or three days there were lines of people awaiting 
their turns at the faucets. Among the campers I found 
some acquaintances and some guests from the St. Francis 
Hotel. The mint people did all within their power to make 
the refugees comfortable. One or two sick people were 
given shelter in the building for the night. 

The mint now being out of danger, I sent the following 
message to the Director of the mint : 

San Francisco, April 19, 1906. 
(Forwarded from Oakland.) 
As feared, the balance of the business part of the city 
was destroyed last night. The fire is now raging in the 
western residence section. Whole street is now being 
dynamited across the path of the fire. The mint building 
safe, one side scaled by heat, but interior is intact. It is 
the only building in path of fire south of Market not 
destroyed, except new postoffice partially burned. Appre- 
hend no further trouble from fire. 

The squad of soldiers stood watch with our men, but 

managed in some way to get hold of liquor during the 

night, and one or two of them became intoxicated and, 

— 33* — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

consequently, troublesome. One of them threatened to 
shoot the doorkeeper who had refused to allow him to go 
out of the building, acting under the directions of the 
army officer in charge of the soldiers. I was sent for, as it 
appeared there was going to be serious trouble. When I 
arrived on the scene the troublesome soldier was loading 
his rifle. He threatened to close my earthly career if I 
took another step nearer or interfered with his purposes. 
It was an ugly situation, but I succeeded in quieting the 
fellow and induced him to unload his gun. I then found 
the sergeant in charge of the squad and requested him to 
take the men away, as we were now able to take care of 
the building without outside help. This was about the 
only incident worthy of mention occurring on the second 
day in the mint. A regular watch of two hours on and 
four off, on duty inside and outside of the building, was 
established. The officers of the mint passed a good part 
of the day on the roof, watching the progress of the fire. 

The next morning I received several telegrams, among 
which were two from the Secretary of the Treasury — one 
asking for a statement as to the loss of life and extent 
of damage and the condition of banks in neighboring 
towns, and the other thanking us for saving the mint 
building, and complimenting our actions. He also 
requested me to recommend some action that would 
enable the department to relieve the situation. In 
response, I replied by wire that the stories of loss of life 
had been grossly exaggerated, that I had been in position 
to hear from all parts of the city, and I did not think the 
list of the dead would reach more than 400; that the fire 
did not travel fast and the authorities took trouble to 
keep ahead of the flames, notifying people of the danger, 
and caring for the helpless. "Every bank in San Fran- 
cisco buried in ruins. All banks in Oakland, Berkeley, 
and Alameda able to resume business. To meet the con- 
ditions the suburban banks ought to have free and 

— 3S5 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

prompt telegraphic transfer of funds. In view of the 
ruined condition of sub-treasury, I advise making trans- 
fers direct through the mint." I also reported that the 
fire was practically under control and that it was esti- 
mated that about half of the residence section would be 
saved from the flames. 

The suggestion to make free transfer of funds by tele- 
graph was promptly adopted, and the Secretary wisely 
extended the privilege to individuals in private life. This 
action proved far-reaching in re-establishing a financial 
system and restoring confidence in the banking institu- 
tions of the city, that had been temporarily put out of 
business, to say nothing of the relief afforded people in 
private life. The procedure in the transfer of money 
was made very simple. A person or firm in the East 
desiring to have a given sum of money delivered to a 
person, firm, or corporation in San Francisco, or any 
part of the state, would deposit the amount at any of the 
sub-treasuries of the United Stales, giving the name and 
address of the person to whom it was to be delivered. 
These particulars would be telegraphed to me, and I 
would send notices to the beneficiaries to call at the mint 
and receive the money. Some idea as to the extent peo- 
ple used the privilege accorded by the government can 
be formed by the statement that over $40,000,000 was 
transferred in less than a fortnight. The transfers ranged 
in sums from $50 to over $1,000,000 each. On the first 
day of the transfers I attended to the business without 
assistance; however, the next day, I had to have the help 
of a couple of clerks, and in two or three days after the 
transfers had so increased in number that the work 
required the help of all the clerks in the mint force. Not 
a dollar was lost. Only one payment, a $300 transfer, 
was delivered to the wrong person. The person who 
received it bore the same name and initials as the party 
for whom it was intended. The error was discovered soon 
— 336 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

after the payment was made, and the money was returned 
at once. Not more than two or three transfers were 
returned to the senders as "not called for." 

On the morning of the fourth day, or on April 21, 1 was 
able to report to the Washington authorities that all fire 
had been extinguished or had burned out for the lack of 
buildings to burn. Referring to the establishment of a 
bureau of information, requested by the Secretary of the 
Treasury at the suggestion of people anxious to learn of 
the condition of relatives and friends in the ill-fated city, 
I reported that I found that the relief committees, both 
in San Francisco and Oakland, were trying to accomplish 
the purpose with the aid of the Associated Press, though 
the manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company 
informed me that he thought the plan impracticable at 
that time, as it would be impossible to get the desired 
information over the wires, which were then more than 
forty-eight hours behind in forwarding the ordinary mes- 
sages filed. I also suggested "that reassuring telegrams 
be spread through the country, explaining that stories of 
loss of lives and condition of people had been grossly 
exaggerated." I further stated that the list of dead and 
injured "was exceedingly small, considering character 
and extent of the disaster. No further danger, unless the 
conflagration should break out anew. Officials declare 
they have affairs completely in hand. Relief supplies are 
coming in rapidly, and everybody is being taken care of. 
Water mains being repaired." 

Up to this time, business of all kinds had been sus- 
pended in Oakland and other towns of the bay section, 
but now the care of the homeless and helpless had been 
systematized, and circumstances required that the banks 
and business houses be opened again to supply the needs 
of the general community of the state. Business through- 
out the entire state had been paralyzed. All confidence 
in the stability of the banks was for the time suspended. 

— 337 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Depositors could not withdraw any part of their funds, 
nor could they induce any one to cash their checks. 
Realizing that one of the greatest aids in relief of the con- 
dition was to re-establish the San Francisco sub-treasury, 
I therefore got hold of Assistant Treasurer Jacobs, 
gave him quarters in the mini building, and advanced 
him all the money he needed, thus starting him in busi- 
ness without waiting for authority from Washington, 
being satisfied that the emergency warranted my action 
and that the Secretary of the Treasury would approve 
the act, which he did, subsequently. For the same reason 
I also gave the commandant at Mare Island navy yard 
$50,000 with which to pay the workmen there. The Selby 
Smelting and Lead Company was probably the distributor 
of the greatest amount of actual cash of any business 
agency on the Coast. I sent word to the manager to 
establish an office in the mint building and resume the 
purchases of bullion, and we would take it off the com- 
pany's hands at once. This arrangement was the means 
of sending out into various parts of the state an average 
of $225,000 daily. 

One of the most difficult problems confronting the busi- 
ness interests of this city was the re-establishment of the 
banking business that would give some kind of a financial 
system at once. People had begun to feel the need of the 
money buried in the vaults of the banks. There was no 
telling how long before these vaults could be opened. 
The banks, to meet the wants, had funds transferred from 
points in the East to their credit at the mint, but there 
was no place where they could keep this money and 
open up for business. A committee of the bankers' asso- 
ciation came to me to arrange to check against their 
credits in favor of their clients, but that was impossible, 
for we had no men trained in the banking business to do 
the work, nor suitable books. After some discussion of 
the subject, I proposed that the association should organ- 

— 338 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

ize an emergency, or central, bank representing all the 
banks of the city, using the funds in the mint to their 
credit as the capital for the emergency bank, the banking 
institutions forming this central bank to establish offices 
in various parts of the city, where they could issue checks 
on the central bank in favor of their clients, the central 
bank to be officered by men of their own selection. I told 
the committee that, if such plans met with their approval, 
I would supply ample quarters in the mint suitable for 
the transaction of the business. The plan was adopted 
and worked out splendidly, meeting all requirements and 
remaining in operation for several weeks, until the 
various banks were able to open up in their individual 
capacity. This accommodation to the bankers and to the 
public was one of the benefits arising from the saving of 
the mint building from destruction, making available the 
three hundred and odd millions of dollars in the vaults 
there. We received many expressions of appreciation 
of the favors granted by the Treasury Department and 
delight that the mint had been preserved to render such 
great accommodation to the people of the state in the 
time of its greatest necessity. 

President Roosevelt increased my duties and responsi- 
bilities by requesting me to act as custodian of relief 
funds, then being collected in the various parts of the 
country and forwarded to San Francisco. To handle this 
money necessitated the detail of a couple of clerks and 
several assistants. The money came to us in all shapes, 
from nickels to big bills. One donation of $5000 from 
a street railroad company was all in nickels. In one day 
alone we received fifty-one packages of money from all 
parts of the United States which took nearly two days to 
count. However, I was relieved of this duty soon after the 
general relief committee was organized. 

I had to arrange to house and feed a lot of our men 
whose places of abode had been destroyed; besides, many 

— 339 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

of the guards had to remain at the building, as it was 
difficult to go and come any distance. I obtained a sup- 
ply of bedding and provisions from stores in Oakland. 
Some of our workmen understood cooking, so we soon 
had an efficient restaurant established in the building. 
One day we fed 124 people at the noon meal. The restau- 
rant was continued until places outside were established, 
relieving us of the necessity of feeding the employees. 

By Saturday night our electricians had improvised an 
electric light plant, by changing one of our large motors 
into a generator, which enabled us to supply a current 
sufficient to light up the interior of the building and the 
streets around the building. This gave some appearance 
of cheerfulness at night in the field of desolation and 
ruin around us, and was especially agreeable to the many 
people encamped in our neighborhood. On Sunday I 
reported to the authorities at Washington as follows: 

We will open for business Monday, receiving deposits 
and paying out transfer funds. All men of mint force 
accounted for but four. Will have to furnish subsistence 
for employees for some little time, getting principal sup- 
plies from army headquarters, only nuying such things as 
can not be obtained there. Much activity in city prepara- 
tory to resumption of business. Last of fire extinguished 
during night; relief supplies coming in abundance. Peo- 
ple generally in comfortable condition. Relief committee 
patrolling streets hunting for distressed. 

On April 23, or the following day, I was able to report 
that every man of the mint force had been accounted for, 
and that the United States Signal Corps had run a wire 
into the mint building and established an office there, 
putting us in direct connection with the rest of the world. 

As soon as the minds of the people reverted to the 
subject of renewal of business and the reopening of the 
obstructed streets to permit the operation of the street 
railroad lines, the city authorities placed a crew of men 
in the burned district, blowing down standing ruins of 
brick buildings with dynamite, and other crews of men 
— 3*0 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

were get to work clearing the streets of debris. For the 
latter work it was difficult to obtain all the laborers 
needed, therefore citizens, regardless of station or occu- 
pation, were impressed, through aid of soldiers, and were 
made to donate about a half hour's labor before being 
released. Nearly everybody caught and put to work 
made light of the affair, but now and then some of the 
impressed created a scene. A young lawyer from one of 
our neighboring states, who had come to San Francisco 
to gratify his curiosity by viewing the ruins of the city, 
was one of the captured who was not excused from per- 
forming the task allotted to him. He made violent pro- 
test, and his feelings were so outraged that he did not 
miss an opportunity to denounce all officials, state and 
city, for several years thereafter. 

The work of dynamiting was conducted in a most 
unskilful manner, doing considerable damage to the 
structures that had wholly or partially escaped destruc- 
tion in the conflagration. It was necessary that the tot- 
tering walls remaining from the ruins of many of the 
large buildings along the principal thoroughfares should 
be leveled before the people could with safety use the 
streets, or the street cars be allowed to run. Nearly all the 
class "A" buildings were intact, so far as the walls and 
floors were concerned, and offered no menace. It was the 
buildings constructed before the introduction of steel 
frames that supplied the menacing piles of brick, and it 
was this kind of structures that predominated in the busi- 
ness section of the citv. 

The crew of dynamiters apparently had little knowl- 
edge of the use of explosives, and less experience. They 
seemed to work on the principle that, if a small amount 
of powder was good, a large amount would be better. 
About the first work they attempted was the demolishing 
of the standing walls of what had been the Odd Fellows' 
Building at the corner of Seventh and Market* streets. 

— HI — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

They set off so much dynamite there that they not only 
threw down the walls intended to be leveled, but the 
force of the explosion blew in all the windows of the post- 
office building, a block away from the scene of the explo- 
sion, besides which many doors were torn from their 
hinges and much of the marble work of the structure was 
displaced and broken. I was told by Mr. J. W. Roberts, 
assistant to the United States supervising architect, that 
one blast of dynamite did more damage than was occa- 
sioned by the fire and earthquake together, and that the 
cost of repairs to the building was made $100,000 greater 
by reason of the careless work. The mint building was 
damaged also on this occasion, and further injury was in- 
flicted by subsequent blasting done nearer to our building, 
not a pane of glass being left whole. I recovered a piece 
of iron, about a quarter of a pound in weight, that was 
thrown by a blast set off nearly a quarter of a mile away 
and which landed in our court, as well as pieces of iron 
bolts and fragments of bricks that landed on or in the 
building from other blasts. I made a vigorous protest 
against this manner of blasting, and at the same time 
offered to supply men experienced in the use of explo- 
sives, guaranteeing that the work would be executed thor- 
oughly and quickly, without danger to the people or 
property, but no attention was paid to my protest or offer. 
I then sent a communication to Mayor Schmitz contain- 
ing a protest in about the same terms. He promptly 
replied, saying: "I shall take great pleasure in having 
your request complied with. I will have the man in 
charge of the dynamiting of the unsafe walls call upon 
you tomorrow morning and will instruct him to arrange 
matters satisfactory to you." 

The man called the "next morning," not to "arrange 
matters," but apparently to show his independence and 
his defiance of all authority, for all that he had to say 
was to look out for ourselves, as he was going to throw 

— U2 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

down the walls of the big Emporium building that fore- 
noon. Being certain that the walls of that building were 
in no danger of falling and consequently could not menace 
traffic, and that to dynamite them was not only useless 
and would result in injury to government property, but 
was an outrage on the owners of the Emporium building, 
I repeated my protest to General Funston, then in charge 
of the troops and representing the government here. He 
promptly sent a colonel, whose name I do not now recall, 
with a couple of troopers to confer with me and empow- 
ered to act. It was then late in the forenoon. The dyna- 
miters had been working up Market Street toward the 
Emporium, with apparent determination to carry out 
their purpose of demolishing that structure, or what was . 
left of it. The concussions from the blasting were so 
heavy that injury to our building in some form followed 
every explosion. The falling material placed the lives of 
those in and about the mint in great danger, and we were 
compelled to suspend the work of repairs. When I 
explained the situation to the colonel he was inclined 
to take issue with me, intimating that we were unneces- 
sarily alarmed. While he was trying to assure me there 
was no danger to be apprehended and that work was in 
good hands, etc., a tremendous blast under the ruins of 
the old Phelan Block was set off. Although this explosion 
was located nearly a quarter of a mile away, a shower 
of missiles fell in our vicinity; the vibrations were most 
severe; the crashing of falling glass in the mint building 
was terrific. The colonel involuntarily ducked his head 
as if he were dodging the explosion of a 14-inch shell. 
It was unnecessary for me to make reply to his argu- 
ments. I simply looked at him, my countenance undoubt- 
edly wearing a significant expression of "didn't I tell you 
so?" The colonel, upon regaining his composure, in a 
very gentlemanly way acknowledged his error and said he 
would stop the outrageous work at once. He prevented 

— MS — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the destruction of the Emporium walls and all further 
heavy blasting in the vicinity of the mint. It may be of 
interest to note that the imposing front of the present big 
Emporium building is the same front that passed through 
the earthquake and fire, which was doomed to be leveled 
by the inexperienced crew of dynamiters. We were now 
able to resume repairs on our building and transact busi- 
ness. The mint was the center of all financial affairs. Its 
halls and corridors were filled during business hours with 
people called there by business requirements. They were 
making use of the privileges and benefits arising from the 
preservation of the mint building and the great stock of 
money in its vaults. I do not know what would have 
happened had the mint suffered the fate of the other 
financial institutions. The banks were timid enough as it 
was with the mint funds available, and the condition was 
made worse by some disturbance of confidence in the 
banks. Within a week after the fire the streets of San 
Francisco presented a remarkable scene of life and activ- 
ity; teams of every description, crowds of people on foot 
coming and going in all directions, gangs of men at work 
clearing away the debris from the streets, some at work 
erecting temporary structures in which to resume busi- 
ness, others engaged in making repairs on gas and water 
pipes, restoring telegraph and power lines, and laying 
railroad tracks through the burned district to facilitate 
the removal of debris. Everybody seemed busy, and all 
wore expressions of determination, as well as confidence 
in the future greatness of San Francisco. 

In sweeping over the business section the fire performed 
some strange antics. A small two-story brick building 
on the northwest corner of Second and Mission streets 
was scarcely scorched ; a canvas awning used for a shelter 
for a cigar stand there was only partially destroyed; the 
window panes were left intact, and the merchandise inside 
the structure was uninjured. I was told that the first 

— 544 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

information the owner of the property had of the remark- 
able incident was when a friend congratulated him on his 
good fortune, about a week after the fire. He had sup- 
posed the place went the way of everything else in that 
part of the city, and had not attempted to visit it. 
On the Second Street side, as well as on the Mission Street 
side of the little building, were located extra tall build- 
ings, both of which were gutted by the fire, but in some 
way they served to protect their little neighbor from the 

A tall office building on Montgomery Street had its lower 
and upper stories burned out, while the three or four 
floors between wholly escaped all damage from the 
flames; the lucky occupants of the offices on these floors 
found their possessions, books, and papprs undamaged. 
An entire block of buildings bounded by Montgomery, 
Sansome, Jackson, and Merchant streets was passed by the 
flames, while all else in the neighborhood except the 
United States Appraiser's building in the east block 
adjoining was laid low by the devouring elements. This 
was the business center of the city in early days, and the 
large old-fashioned brick building in the district described 
was the largest and most important structure in the city 
for some years and was known as the Montgomery Block, 
and some of the adjoining structures were among the very 
oldest buildings in San Francisco. After the fire, for a 
few months, the old Montgomery Block was once more a 
place of importance and a center of business activity, 
such as it had not known for a score or more of years. 

For several weeks after the disaster the streets of that 
part of the city escaping the fire presented novel scenes 
arising from the fact that all housekeepers were obliged 
to cook their meals in the street. The city authorities 
would not allow lights or fire of any kind to be used in 
any of the houses until they were inspected. When all 
leaking gaspipes and damaged chimneys had been found 

— 545 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

and repaired, certificates were issued by the inspector 
permitting the use of lights and fires in the houses. The 
cooking or kitchen devices that fronted nearly every resi- 
dence on the street were greatly varied in form. Some 
had quite elaborate kitchens, with ingenious arrangements 
of bricks for service as range or stoves, while others 
were satisfied with the most primitive outfits. The rule 
was strictly enforced; the guards and police were given 
instructions to even shoot if necessary to secure compli- 
ance with the ordinance. The utmost vigilance was used 
to prevent the breaking out of fires in this part of the 
city until the water mains were repaired and the fire 
department re-established. The people were extremely 
nervous, as well they might be, for if another fire had 
started, with no water, and a disorganized fire depart- 
ment, the remainder of the city would undoubtedly have 
been swept by flames. 

There was considerable difference in the estimates made 
as to the number of fatalities resulting from the earth- 
quake and the fire following. At the request of Secretary 
Shaw of the Treasury Department, I looked into this 
feature of the disaster with care and sent him reports 
from time to time of my findings and conclusions. At 
first, or a few days after the fire had been extinguished, 
my figures on the total of those killed outright and those 
who died from the result of injuries received only reached 
a number of about four hundred, but after the ruins 
cooled off, in the work of clearing away the debris in 
the burned district, the remains of other unfortunates 
were found, adding somewhat more than a hundred to 
the list of fatalities. In my final report to the Secretary, 
I fixed the number of killed at approximately five hun- 
dred people. The record as kept by the city authorities 
exceeded my figures, as I remember, by fifteen or twenty. 
Undoubtedly these figures were near the truth, and they 
would fix the ratio of deaths by the disaster at but a 
— 346 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

trifle over one person to each thousand of population. 
The greatest number of deaths at any one place occurred 
on Valencia Street, where a three-story frame hotel 
building was thrown down by the earthquake. The first 
and second stories appeared to have telescoped and 
were then crushed flat by the weight of the third story, 
which practically retained its shape as it sank down on 
the wreck below. The dead and injured were removed 
some time before the fire swept that section. The num- 
ber killed was reported at twenty-seven. The hotel had 
been erected on a piece of filled ground, where the effect 
of the earthquake was most severely felt. The piece of 
filled ground was less than a block wide and extended 
from the hills to the bay. After the earthquake the out- 
lines of the filled section could be traced for the entire 
distance by the wrecked buildings located on it. 

It was very remarkable how quickly on that first morn- 
ing an efficient organization was effected for the care and 
treatment of the hundreds of injured people. Temporary 
hospitals, with physicians, surgeons, nurses, and help, 
were provided like magic in various parts of the city. 
One or two of these hospitals were compelled to remove 
their patients once or twice to avoid the course of the 
flames. I do not recall ever having seen an official 
statement of the number of injured treated; but from 
conversation with some of those who officiated in the 
hospitals I formed the opinion that the total would not 
exceed fifteen hundred persons. 


There was no delay in giving relief to the homeless suf- 
ferers. The people in San Francisco who escaped from 
the earthquake and fire seemed to know at once their 
duty to the unfortunates, and how to perform it without 
suggestions. That inborn power of leadership with which 
nature endows a man here and there, only to be made 

— U7— 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

manifest and exercised in crises and great emergencies, 
gave an immediate supply of leaders and directors at 
several points in the city, without the formality of selec- 
tion or other means. The badge of natural leadership 
was quickly recognized by the common workers. There 
were places of refuge made at once for the sick and the 
injured, and food provided for the hungry. In the course 
of a few days the temporary relief measures gave way to 
control by most complete organizations on both sides of 
the bay, which were maintained for several months, or 
until all need of their work was ended. 

It will never be known how much was the money or 
what the value of the goods and provisions contributed 
for the relief of the sufferers, as so much relief work was 
given directly to the needy, and through agencies and 
organizations other than the ones under the direction and 
control of the municipal authorities. Not a few firms 
and individuals chose to expend what they had to con- 
tribute in the earliest stages of the crisis by direct 
distribution to the needy or in other ways to relieve the 
situation. Many social, fraternal, and similar organiza- 
tions, which sought to aid in relief work, preferred to have 
their contributions go directly to suffering or unfortunate 
members of their societies. 

Many thousands of dollars were raised in Oakland and 
other cities near San Francisco, and expended by relief 
associations in those communities, for the care of refugees 
from San Francisco. These amounts were not and could 
not be accounted for in the statements of disbursements 
by the San Francisco relief committee. In Oakland alone, 
the local relief organizations expended $100,000 of its 
own collections in addition to $10,000 given to it by the 
San Francisco organization. The Standard Oil Company 
established and maintained a camp for the care of the 
helpless and homeless near Richmond at its own cost, 
the expenditures not being accounted for nor made a part 

— 348 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

of the total expended by the general relief committee of 
San Francisco. 

In the month that I acted as treasurer and custodian of 
the general relief funds, from April 27, I received from 
contributors in San Francisco, the state, United States, 
and foreign countries, the sum of $2,409,656.35. A large 
part of this sum was disbursed on orders from the proper 
officials of the general relief committee. When several 
of the large banking firms were able to resume business 
on June 1, 1 insisted upon being relieved of the responsi- 
bility of handling these funds, and turned over the 
balance to the banks designated for the purpose. 

The actual cash remitted direct to San Francisco and 
accounted for by the Relief Association was $8,921,452.86, 
and additional funds were acquired from the sale of sur- 
plus and perishable relief supplies, interest, etc., to the 
extent of $751,605.08, making a grand total of $9,673,057.94. 

In addition to what has been enumerated, nearly 
$50,000 was expended by the Red Cross Society in Wash- 
ington, from San Francisco relief subscriptions, and the 
government appropriation of $2,500,000 was disbursed 
entirely by and under direction of the War Department, 
principally for bedding, tents, medical supplies, mainte- 
nance of relief camps, food, clothing, etc. Neither was 
the value of the two thousand carloads of food supplies, 
clothing, etc., ever computed in dollars and cents. In 
all probability the total amount disbursed in relief work, 
counted in money, if ever it could be determined, would 
reach a sum somewhere between fourteen and fifteen 
millions of dollars. 

The larger part of this great sum was contributed 
within the United States. Contributions from other coun- 
tries would have been generous but for the proclamation 
of President Roosevelt practically declining aid from out- 
side countries. Nevertheless, England, France, Germany, 
Japan, and Mexico were represented in the list of con- 

— U9 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

tributors, Japan being the largest, sending nearly a quar- 
ter million of dollars. The emperor of that country gave 
about $100,000 of the amount himself. One of the most 
noteworthy features of this record of generosity and 
expression of world-wide human sympathy was the con- 
tribution in the stricken city itself of the sum of $413,090 
by the citizens and business men there, nearly all of 
whom had themselves been injured in property losses. 
Undoubtedly there were other contributions of money and 
supplies from this source which were not reported or 
handed in to the general committee, but were made 
directly by the donors, and which would swell the total 
of San Francisco's donations to its sufferers to more than 
a half million of dollars. 

The particulars of how the relief funds were expended 
would fill a volume of large size. All the people whose 
homes were destroyed were not helpless. Many of them 
were people of means, and there were many who soon 
found refuge with relations or friends in the unburned 
district of the city and elsewhere. So, after the first few 
days of the disaster, the number of refugees depending 
upon the relief committee was reduced to the helpless 
as well as the homeless, of which there were estimated to 
be some 30,000, but by the latter part of September, 
following the fire, the number of refugees being cared for 
by the committee was about 18,000. Some fifteen or 
twenty camps were established in various parts of the 
city. When it was found that the relief committee would 
of necessity have to care for several thousand helpless 
people for several months to come, the camps were made 
in the most comfortable shape, tents were floored, the 
grounds were put in the most complete sanitary condi- 
tion and scrupulous cleanliness was enforced by army 
officers. Hot and cold water and bathhouses were pro- 
vided in all the camps. Before the winter was over, 

— S50 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

wooden shacks and small cottages largely replaced the 

It was frequently remarked that many of the inmates 
of those camps enjoyed more comforts than they had 
been accustomed to; but no one begrudged them that. 
It was a satisfaction to know that all efforts to make the 
unfortunates comfortable in healthy and pleasant sur- 
roundings were so successful. 

In addition to the camps, some ten or twelve kitchens 
and eating places were established in July in various 
parts of the city by the relief committee. These places 
furnished meals at low prices to those able to pay. Those 
who were unable to pay presented meal tickets supplied 
under authority of the relief committee. During the 
first month the kitchens furnished 20,867 meals, but by 
the end of September, or the third month, many privately 
owned restaurants had been established and the need of 
the public kitchen was no longer felt, so these latter 
institutions were discontinued. 

The relief committee was composed of some of the 
most successful and prominent business men and capital- 
ists in San Francisco, and they brought to the organization 
the very best talent for the kind of work in hand. They 
knew what was needed and how to accomplish it. After 
housing the homeless, they began the more serious and 
difficult work of replacing these people in their former 
positions in the industrial world. Hundreds of sewing- 
machines were given outright to women who needed 
them to earn a livelihood, and to other women who had 
large families to care for. Many thousands of dollars 
were expended for mechanics' tools given to men to 
enable them to find employment at their various trades. 

Nearly one million of dollars was expended in build- 
ing new dwellings to aid those whose homes had been 
burned. This was one of the very creditable and success- 
ful features of the relief work. By aid received the com- 

— 351 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

mittee effected the construction of over eight thousand 
dwellings in the city. The requirements of this work pro- 
longed the labors of the committee nearly two years after 
the camp system was discontinued. The remnant of the 
refugees by August, 1908, was only about seven hundred, 
all aged and infirm. The committee constructed a per- 
manent home for these unfortunates and gave it to the 
city, and the municipal authorities then assumed the care 
of the building and inmates. 

The final report of the relief committee was filed Janu- 
ary 4, 1911. 

The relief work described was repeated in Oakland 
and other cities around the bay along the same lines, but 
not on so large a scale. 


The territory swept by the conflagration measured four 
miles in length in a northerly and southerly course by 
three miles in width east and west Every bank, every 
theater, every hotel of importance, all newspaper offices, 
telegraph offices, libraries, municipal buildings, and nearly 
all of the business houses in San Francisco were destroyed 
by the conflagration. The value of the property thus 
wiped out of existence was placed near five hundred mil- 
lions of dollars. About one-half of the loss was recovered 
through insurance. San Francisco was struck a stag- 
gering blow, but, fortunately, the people of San Francisco 
were in the best condition to meet it. For some time 
past the city had been enjoying a wonderful degree of 
prosperity. The business section was handling the great- 
est volume of trade it had ever known. Mechanics and 
laborers were all employed, receiving the best of wages. 
Building was going on at a greater rate than ever known 
before. Real estate values were advancing most rapidly, 
making old-timers wag their heads with astonishment 
In every direction the city was expanding and on every 

— 352 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

hand there was evidence of thrift and prosperity. The 
banks were in the best of condition, proof of which lies 
in the fact that when the disaster came they had over 
twenty millions of surplus coin on deposit in banks of 
the Eastern cities. 

The majority of the people who saw their businesses 
swept away by the fire were financially able to resume 
the struggle with the world, and naturally the question of 
where to begin came to them. Where? 

Should it be in New York, where business is conducted 
on the lines of keenest competition, and where every 
phase of living is in such direct contrast to the freedom 
enjoyed by Calif ornians? Or in Chicago, Philadelphia, 
Boston, Baltimore, or similar cities, where the conditions 
of home life might be better than in the city of the Empire 
State, but business conditions for a stranger and new- 
comer would be more complex? Everywhere it would 
be a beginning among strangers — a crowding in where 
the fight of the "survival of the fittest" was always on. 
At best, the establishing of a business elsewhere would 
be experimental. 

It only required a moment's consideration of the oppor- 
tunities at home to settle the question. San Francisco 
was the place for them, where they were known and 
where there were still over three hundred thousand peo- 
ple to be fed, clothed, and housed. Here there was an 
adjacent country big enough for an empire, and as rich 
in possibilities as any land on God's footstool, for which 
San Francisco was the bank and clearing house, the 
shipping point for the products, and the supply house 
for the needs. San Francisco was the place for them, 
for had not the commercial hand of the Orient and the 
islands been reaching out to this port, taking more and 
more of the things we grow and make, and returning to 
us things that the people of the Occident crave and need? 
San Francisco then was the place to renew business, 

— 555 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

where the conditions not only invited but demanded it, 
with the promise of great profit. 

The decision was instantly made, and before the smoke 
of the conflagration had entirely blown away, or the heat 
passed out of the fallen debris, the noise and activities 
attending the cleaning and rebuilding amid the ruins were 
heard and seen on every hand. The banks quickly quar- 
tered themselves in makeshift structures built around 
their undamaged vaults, and sent for their millions in 
New York and elsewhere, to be properly prepared for the 
unusual drafts anticipated on their surplus. But, to the 
great surprise of all, the banks upon opening received 
more money on deposit than they paid outl That the 
trade of the great country tributary to San Francisco and 
the adjoining states might not suffer, and that the people 
of our city might be furnished with the necessities of life 
and supplies for rehabilitating the city, it was apparent 
that the first thing to be done was to order goods and 
prepare temporary structures in which to house them 
and the people engaged in business. All over the burned 
district these structures began to make their appearance. 
They were not all pretty and not all homely, but suffi- 
cient and suitable for the purposes intended. Trainloads 
of goods began to arrive and the new stores and ware- 
houses were filled up as fast as completed. Within a 
marvelously short time, the streets of the city, the water 
front, and the depots of the Southern Pacific and the 
Santa Fe companies showed the life of trade and com- 
merce. The erection of buildings continued, the volume 
of trade increased, and the incoming freight crowded 
upon the merchants faster than they could take it away. 
The main business streets, from early morn to night, 
presented daily one continual procession of teams laden 
with goods, coming and going. A great many retailers 
and professional men located in that part of the city 
between Van Ness Avenue and Fillmore Street, which 

— 35* — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

escaped the fire, the former street becoming the location 
for the larger and more important retail business houses. 
For some time afterwards it was a much discussed ques- 
tion whether or not these firms would remain there per- 
manently, and thus bring around a radical change of the 
business center of the city.- Van Ness Avenue, being a 
wide and beautiful street, presented a lively and attractive 
appearance while trade was located there, but as soon 
as new permanent buildings were erected down town in 
the old retail section, and office buildings were restored, 
the stores and professional men returned to the neighbor- 
hood where they had transacted business in the years 
before the fire, and the district that had given them tempo- 
rary accommodation was largely restored to use for pri- 
vate residences. Van Ness Avenue became the automobile 
mart of the city. Fillmore Street, however, was a busi- 
ness street before the fire, and it did not lose much by 
the return of business firms to their old locations down 
town. Immediately after the conflagration, when people 
began to discuss the subject of replacing the buildings 
destroyed by the fire, there was expressed much differ- 
ence of opinion as to the time it would take. Many 
thought that such a gigantic undertaking could not be 
accomplished inside of twenty years, and I think ten 
years was most commonly fixed upon as the length of time 
required. When asked for my judgment, I said that after 
five years people would have to hunt around the business 
section of San Francisco to find any remaining evidence 
of the great disaster. Considering the matter eight years 
after the terrible event, it must be admitted that I was 
nearly correct as to the time in which the business sec- 
tion would be restored, yet it must be acknowledged that 
the entire burned district had not been rebuilt. The 
old residential section north of Market is being rehabili- 
tated with apartment houses, giving place to the possi- 
bilities of a much denser population than existed in the 

— 355 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

same boundaries before the fire. In the district bounded 
by Market, Mason, California, and Larkin streets there is 
probably more than a quarter of the area still uncovered, 
but the fine, large apartment houses and hotels that have 
taken the sites of former residences and flats are housing 
in the same area possibly ten times as many people as 
were living there before the fire. There are still many 
vacant lots in the old cheap tenement district south of 
Mission Street which are slowly coming into occupation 
for warehouses, factories, and cheap boarding and lodging 
houses. San Francisco lost heavily in population by the 
conflagration. I should judge by an estimate from the 
number of votes cast before and after at elections, and 
the statistics furnished by the school census, that fully 
one-third of the people living in San Francisco, through 
fear of recurrence of earthquakes, loss of homes, prop- 
erty and like reasons, left the city with the idea of 
permanently abandoning the place. Not a few of these 
people in the course of time undoubtedly changed their 
minds and returned to the city. These, with the new- 
comers, gave a fairly rapid growth to the population, but 
the number of the population before the fire was hardly 
restored until five years after the disaster. 


There were numerous instances of remarkable and 
queer mental disturbances in individuals caused by their 
experience in those four days of fire, the earthquake on 
April 18, and the seven lesser shocks that followed on 
that and subsequent days. People who were apparently 
sane and rational on all other matters would relate scenes 
of accident, robbery, and violence, wholesale slaughter of 
people by falling buildings, fire, and by shooting by the 
soldiers, etc. Stories of mutilation of the dead by ghoul- 
ish robbers, for earrings and finger rings were most com- 
mon and for a time were generally accepted as being 

— 356 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

true, but I never learned of a single authenticated instance 
of such a crime. In one case a story came to my ears 
with much detail of facts of how a man was caught in 
the act of cutting off the fingers of a victim of the fire 
to obtain some valuable rings, and when his clothes were 
searched a pocketful of human fingers was found; then 
and there his captors promptly punished the criminal 
with death by hanging. The circumstances were alleged 
to have taken place at a point quite near to the mint. I 
was therefore enabled to make an investigation and I 
found that there was not the slightest foundation for the 
story. An afternoon newspaper gave credit to an absurd 
story that the mint had been assailed by a band of rob- 
bers in broad daylight, but that the guards or watchmen 
employed by the government had succeeded in defeating 
the attempt at robbery, and in accomplishing this they 
killed at least eleven of the robbers, whose dead bodies 
were left where they fell. Of course the facts were related 
with much more detail than attempted here. It was not 
so very strange that a newspaper should publish an 
unwarranted yarn like this, and I am only referring to it 
here as an instance in support of the opening words of 
this paragraph. This will be understood by the statement 
that on the evening of the publication my son Harry was 
refuting the story to a coterie of acquaintances, when a 
stranger standing near, overhearing his denial, inter- 
rupted him, saying that he was wrong and that the story 
was true, for he saw the affray himself, witnessing the 
shooting and seeing some of the men fall. The reported 
attack was as baseless as it was untrue. There was no 
attack; there was no row or even a dispute on the mint 
steps or about the building. One man told me, with con- 
siderable emotion (I think it was on the fourth day after 
the earthquake), that he had occasion to go over into the 
northern part of the burned district, and in order to reach 
a particular place he was compelled to pass through a 

— 357 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

block where the dead bodies of earthquake victims still 
lay so thick that he had difficulty in getting along without 
stepping on some of them. As I was gathering facts on 
which to base a report of the fatalities, at the request of 
the Secretary, I made an investigation of this statement 
and found it to be like the others described — without 
foundation. On returning home from the mint Thursday 
night about dusk, I stood on the rear deck of the ferry 
boat, discussing with a well-known newspaper corre- 
spondent the progress of the fire and the possibilities of 
getting it under control. Reaching the station at Seventh 
and Broadway, we walked up the street, when he sud- 
denly remarked, "That was a terrible sight, wasn't it?" 
I asked him to what he referred. "Why, the burning of 
the ferry building as we left it, with the people trapped 
in there," said he. I replied that it could hardly be so, 
as there was no fire within a mile of the building at that 
time. He looked at me with astonishment, and said that 
he could not understand why I did not see it, for he had 
watched the flames lapping up the great structure, from 
his position on the boat all the way across the bay, and 
that we had scarcely left the slip when the fire burst out 
from many places in the building, and it was so sudden 
that undoubtedly hundreds of people in the building must 
have been caught and burned to death. I saw by his 
manner and expression that he was so certain of the truth 
of what he had stated that it would be unprofitable to 
discuss the matter further with him. More than likely, 
reporters affected in the same strange way were the par- 
ties responsible for the many wild, baseless, and lurid 
reports of the doings of the earthquake and fire, pub- 
lished not only in our state but throughout all parts of 
the world reached by telegraphic service. At the time 
of the disaster there was no motive for resorting to "fake" 
statements, for there were more facts and details of truth, 
sensational in character, than place or space could be 

— 558 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

found for in any newspaper. Only a disordered brain 
could account for the publication of hourly bulletins in 
a nearby city, describing with horrible detail the gradual 
submergence in the waters of the bay of Oakland, Berke- 
ley, and Alameda, accompanied by a terrible loss of life. 
Such, however, is a sample of hundreds of baseless reports 
of features of the great disaster that found publication in 
all parts of the United States. I can not believe they were 
wilfully made by the reporters with knowledge that they 
were untrue. 


The exact value of the property destroyed in the dis- 
aster will never be known. The fire swept over the city 
too quickly to give an opportunity to survey the havoc 
wrought by the earthquake alone. While the damage 
from this source was considerable, it probably was not 
a hundredth part of the total losses made by the fire 
that followed. In a recent discussion of the fire loss 
with George W. Dornin, one of the best informed insur- 
ance men on the Pacific Coast, he gave some figures con- 
firming the estimate made by business men soon after the 
disaster, which was that the total property loss, not includ- 
ing contingent losses, such as disruption of business, was 
somewhere between $400,000,000 and $500,000,000. The 
exact amount of insurance on the property was not 
known. It could only be approximated, and this was 
estimated at from $200,000,000 to $225,000,000. As near as 
could be determined, $164,916,659 was paid to the insured 
on their losses, which sum included the amount recovered 
in after years from companies which litigated the losses. 
Mr. Dornin estimated that the defaulted insurance 
amounted to about $8,000,000. 

Fire patrol statistics for a series of years show that 
the uninsured loss equals the insured loss, so that if the 
estimate of the amount of insurance in force, $200,000,000, 
is correct, it would indicate the total loss in the great 

— 359 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

conflagration was double the amount, or $400,000,000. 
Of the insurance paid, California companies paid over 
$11,000,000, other American companies nearly $83,000,000, 
and foreign companies nearly $71,000,000. 


I conclude my story of the earthquake and fire by 
appending copies of a few of the letters I received and 
replies made, which may give some additional interest to 
the history of the great disaster, as well as make clearer 
some of the situations I attempted to describe. There is 
also included copy of a letter sent by an employee of the 
mint, Joe Hammill, to his brother, which gives a vivid 
description of how the United States mint building was 
saved. It follows: 

San Francisco, May 11, 1906. 

Dear Brother — You have heard many conflicting 
accounts of how the United States mint was saved, and I 
want you to know the exact facts as they were, as I saw 
them on April 18. 

When the earthquake at 5:15 a. m. rocked the city, 
hundreds of buildings south of Market Street were either 
thrown down or badly shattered. The mint, however, 
escaped serious damage, though its great chimneys are 
both badly cracked and seem to lean toward the center 
of the building, where a great court is located. Small 
chimneys were thrown in every direction and furniture 
overturned. Fire broke out shortly after the earthquake 
and by 9 o'clock the entire district south of Mission was 
a mass of fire, which leaped from block to block as though 
running through dry grass. It swept Mission Street clean, 
scorching the South side of the mint but doing no great 
damage, for the iron shutters on the windows shielded the 
inner woodwork of the offices and melting room. 

Superintendent Frank A. Leach arrived at the mint 
from Oakland early in the morning, and immediately took 
charge of operations. Through his coolness and ability 
the men under him worked to the best advantage. He 
took his turn at the hose with the others, and did not 
ask his men to go where he would not go himself. It is 
remarkable how he has stood the strain of the fire and 
press of business since. 

— 360 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

About fifty of the mint employees succeeded in reach- 
ing the building before the soldiers barred the way to 
all comers. Then a detachment of artillerymen, com- 
manded by Lieutenant G. W. Armstrong of the Sixth 
Infantry, entered the building to serve more as a guard 
than as a band of firefighters. Later, Lieutenant Arm- 
strong and a few of his men did take an active part. . . . 

Within the yard of the mint is an artesian well which 
proved the only water available. The pump connections 
were badly broken by the earthquake, yet the engineer, 
Jack Brady, did a lightning job in repairing the pumping 
plant, making connections in short order that ordinarily 
would require a long time. He finished his splendid work 
just in time to supply the fire fighters with two streams 
of water. 

Meanwhile the fire swept up Fifth Street, devouring the 
Metropolitan Temple, the Lincoln school, and the great 
Emporium. These huge buildings, full of inflammable 
material, sent great bursts of flame two or three hundred 
feet into the air. The hot breath of the fire fiend made 
our roof very uncomfortable for those who were up there. 
On the west side, a lot of frame buildings made a fierce 
heat that was hard to stand against, especially since the 
openings of our roof were bursting into flames from the 
flying cinders. 

With three others I had the pleasure of working for 
over an hour on this shaky roof, throwing buckets of 
water on the blazes as they sprang up. At any moment 
another earthquake might have sent the great chimneys 
tumbling down on our heads. Three of us refinery men 
then went down into our department, which is located 
at the northwest corner of the top floor. Here we knew 
we would catch it most of all, for the fire was now burn- 
ing over toward Market Street in the group of structures 
comprising Hale's, Breuner's, Emma Spreckels and Wind- 
sor Hotel buildings. Fanned by a whirlwind of their own 
making, the flames leaped 200 feet against the north wall 
of the mint. The roaring was awful as the great build- 
ings crashed and fell, while the bursting of Targe pieces 
from our own walls sounded like shells exploding against 
our mint. We stuck to the windows until they melted, 
playing a stream of water on the blazing woodwork. Then, 
as the flames leaped in and the smoke nearly choked us, 
we were orderea downstairs, for it was supposed that 
the mint was doomed. 

— 361 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Employees and soldiers stood around the door, nearly 
strangling, and wondering what chance we would have 
for our fives if we were driven into the street, where 
masses of flames bordered either side. Some, who for rea- 
sons best known to themselves, did not show up when 
the mint was in danger, now say we could have escaped 
if we wanted to. There is not a man of us, whose judg- 
ment is worth anything, who does not know that we were 
prisoners and fighting for our lives, as well as the preser- 
vation in good shape of over $300,000,000 in the vaults. 

Finally we made our way back through the smoke to 
the refinery, and with a hose succeeded in putting out 
the burning interior, where the flames had gotten under 
lively headway. We then climbed out on to the roof and 
played the hose on the red hot copper surface over the 
gold kettles. There we worked for an hour, ripping up 
sheet copper and playing the water and using tne hose 
where they would do the most good. 

At a little before 5 o'clock we were free to go and see 
what had become of our various homes. The north side 
of Market Street had not then burned, and after dancing 
over the hot cobbles of Fifth Street for a block we 
reached the sheltered side and looked back on the battle- 
scarred mint. 

Treasury Department, 
Washington, May 1, 1906. 

My Dear Mr. Leach : — On April 20 I sent you a telegram 
as follows: 

"Accept thanks for your heroic conduct, and that of the 
men under you. What national banks are there in San 
Francisco or suburbs in condition to do business? What 
action by this department would you recommend to 
relieve the situation? Can you locate Assistant Treasurer 
Jacobs or his deputy ?" 

I now write to confirm the same and to say to you and 
through you to your associates how much the department 
appreciates the heroic work performed by you and them. 
It requires courage of the highest rank to defend a single 
building from within while everything burns on four 
sides. Again I congratulate you. I also thank you for 
your telegram of the 21st ultimo, which conveys much 
interesting information. Very sincerely yours, 

(Signed) L. M. Shaw. 
Honorable F. A. Leach, Superintendent United States 
Mint, San Francisco, Cal. 

— 362 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

May 15, 1906. 

Honorable L. M. Shaw, Secretary of the Treasury, Wash- 
ington, D. C: 

My Dear Sir — I assure you that I greatly appreciate the 
commendations you have so generously bestowed upon 
us here at the mint. While the men had a pretty hot time 
of it, and it was hard to tell which would conquer, the 
fire or the mint employees, still I am afraid that distance 
has magnified the achievement of saving the building. 
Nevertheless, it is most gratifying to know that what was 
done has given satisfaction and pleasure to you and other 
officials of the department. It was also very gratifying to 
us to note that the banking interests showed their appre- 
ciation of your prompt and energetic action which aid so 
much to give stability to the financial conditions. 

The mint building is a very busy place now, containing, 
as it does, the "Bank of All Banks, the Assistant Treas- 
urer, cashier's department for the receipt and disburse- 
ment of the relief fund, the refinery agency, the mint gold 
deposit business, and, last but not least, our restaurant, 
the only one so far for miles. 

I have the emergency repairs to the building well along. 
These repairs consist mainly in replacing the destroyed 
windows and frames, of which there are over sixty-odd 
in number. Notwithstanding the large additions to our 
family, everything is running smoothly, without confusion 
or rush. Respectfully yours, 

Frank A. Leach, Superintendent. 

May 2, 1906. 

Mr. F. A. Leach, Superintendent, United States Mint, San 
Francisco, CaL: 

My Dear Mr. Leach — I have just received a letter from 
Mr. Bert Clark, our representative in San Francisco, in 
which he mentioned a pleasant visit which he had with 
you a few days ago. 

I have thought of you many times during the past two 
weeks, and I think I can well imagine the strenuous period 
you have been passing through. As soon as I learned that 
the sub-treasury had been destroyed and that the mint 
was still standing, I realized that you would be the center 
of an important situation, and I felt confident that you 
would acquit yourself with credit under the circum- 

— 363 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

The first really intelligible account of the San Francisco 
situation which I read was your telegram, sent to Wash- 
ington, and, upon reading it, I realized more than ever 
the value of the sort of training which a successful news- 
paperman receives. I am sure that no other official of the 
government on the spot could have written so lucidly and 
briefly, or have expressed so much in a few words. 

I sincerely hope that you suffered no serious personal 
losses in the conflagration and that you will not overwork 
yourself by trying to straighten things out and keep the 
treasury business moving. It must be hard, I know, for 
a person in your responsible position to take any more 
time for rest than is absolutely necessary, but for many 
weeks to come you will require the use of all your energy 
and it will be a great mistake to overdo things now. 

With best wishes and sincere regard, I am, 

Cordially yours, (Signed) F. A. Vanderlip. 

May 16, 1906. 
Mr. F. A. Vanderlip, National City Bank, New York, N. Y.: 

My Dear Mr. Vanderlip — Your kind and very compli- 
mentary letter of May 2 came duly to hand. However, a 
very "great stress of business" of unusual character has 

f>revented my acknowledging your kindness before. Your 
etter was especially appreciated, as it seemed to express 
something more than was laid down with simply ink and 

While the situation imposed increased labor and greater 
responsibilities, I assure you I enjoyed it, for there was 
real pleasure in contributing to relief and to the work of 
organizing and restoring financial conditions. The mint 
building is a busy place, housing the "Bank of All Banks," 
the sub-treasury, the cashier's department for the relief 
fund, office of tne Selby company, and our own business. 
As there were no eating or lodging places for a great 
distance, I had to provide lodgings in the building for a 
lot of my own men and start a restaurant for their sub- 
sistence and the accommodation of many others in the 
mint building. We fed over 100 people for a few days, but 
now the number is considerably less. 

The building had a close call from destruction. It was 
on fire inside of the upper story and roof many times. 
There is quite a section of the roof that will have to be 
replaced. During the worst part of the fire around the 
building, burning embers and red hot cinders rained 

— 36* — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

down upon us in perfect showers, and they would find 
lodgment against every projection on the roof, and in one 
place for twenty feet long they accumulated to the depth 
of about two feet. This was about the time the building 
was being scarred up as you see it in the picture. The 
windows there were all burned out, and the boarding up 
shown in the picture was done the day after the fire. 
The hose streams we had on the inside of the building 
and roof enabled us to prevent the fire getting any serious 
foothold. I had a brave lot of fellows who stood up to 
the fight while their flesh and clothes were scorched. I 
did not expect to save the building. It was sufficiently 
hot to make trouble for us on the south and west sides, 
and as the buildings on the north side were larger, taller, 
and nearer, with the wind against us, it appeared to me as 
if no possible power could protect the building from 
destruction, but the character of the structure and our 
fire plant won the day. By the way, the latter was com- 
pleted only about ten days before the fire. 

I am pleased to say my personal loss did not amount to 
anything worth mentioning. I live in Oakland, where the 
damage was less than in San Francisco. 

The condition of the mint building, which, outside of 
the chimneys, has not a crack in it, and other first class 
buildings, shows it is possible to build against damage 
by earthquakes. A cheap, three-story building, a half 
block from here on Fifth Street, was thrown completely 

California can not express its gratitude for the extraord- 
inary showing of generosity on the part of the people of 
New York and other parts of our country. We have been 
placed under a debt we never can discharge. 

I shall be pleased to be remembered to Mr. Clark. 

Again thanking you for the kindly interest manifested, 
and with full appreciation of the soundness of your 
advice, I am, Yours truly, 

(Signed) Frank A. Leach. 

United States Senate. 
Committee on Civil Service and Retrenchment. 

Washington, D. C, April 27, 1906. 

Honorable F. A. Leach, Superintendent of the Mint, San 
Francisco, CaL: 
My Dear Leach — I wish to express to you and to the 
employees of the mint who worked with you the appre- 

— 365 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

ciation of the Secretary of the Treasury and all the offi- 
cials of the government and of the California delegation 
of the great work performed by you by which the most 
important structure in San Francisco was saved from 
destruction. Had it not been for the efforts of yourself 
and the employees of the mint, San Francisco would now 
be in a desperate plight financially, without adequate 
means for making money transfers, which is of such vital 
necessity at the present time. I can assure you and all 
those who risked their lives in the great work that the 
services performed are appreciated by the government, 
by Congress, and by all people who have given thought 
to the various needs of a stricken people. It is no more 
than iust that the government has determined to main- 
tain tne pay-roll of the mint and other public offices with- 
out change, even should there not be work to fully employ 
every one, and the delegation will use every effort to pro- 
mote the interests of all those who have shown themselves 
to be brave and faithful in time of stress. 
I remain, Cordially yours, 

(Signed) Geo. C. Perkins. 

Treasury Department. 
Office of the Director of the Mint. 

Washington, April 23, 1906. 

Dear Mr. Leach : — The Bureau of the Mint is living in 
the light of your glory these days. We are all very proud 
of the work done by yourself and helpers who saved the 
mint while fire swept by on all sides. It was a great 

The calamity to San Francisco is almost inconceivable 
in its magnitude. I can not realize that the splendid busi- 
ness section is absolutely obliterated. But wnile it means 
hopeless ruin to thousands, there can be no doubt that 
the city will rebuild and in a few years be greater than 
ever. I am wondering if Oakland will not, however, 
receive a permanent impetus from the transfer of so much 
business to it temporarily. It has always seemed to me 
that there was the natural place for the great city. 

With personal regards, Very truly yours, 

(Signed) Geo. E. Roberts, 
Director of the Mint. 

Frank A. Leach, Esq., Superintendent United States Mint, 
San Francisco. 

— 366 — 

Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 

Temporary Office 2129 Laguna St. 

San Francisco Clearing House Association. 

San Francisco, May 8, 1906. 

Honorable F. A. Leach, Superintendent United States 
Mint, San Francisco, CaL: 

Dear Sir — The following resolution, passed at a meet- 
ing of the San Francisco Clearing House Association, May 
7, 1906, I trust you will accept as an expression of our 
high appreciation of your kindness to its members one 
and all: 

"Resolved, That the thanks of the San Francisco Clear- 
ing House Association, and of the community, be tendered 
to Honorable Frank A. Leach, Superintendent of the 
United States mint at San Francisco, for the efficient and 
courteous manner in which he is carrying out the spirit of 
the Treasury Department policy, and for the desire he has 
manifested to serve the city's financial interests to the 
utmost." Very truly yours, 

San Francisco Clearing House Association. 

Homer S. King, President 

— 367 — 



Appointed Director of the Mint — Interesting Incidents 
Attending the Production of the New Gold Coin- 
age — Important Transfer of Gold Coin — How an Ex- 
Senator Was Victimized — The Close of President 
Roosevelt's Term of Office — Retirement from the Ser- 
vice and Return to California. 

In July, 1907, the year following the great fire, George E. 
Roberts, Director of the Mint at Washington, resigned 
from the position and the place thus made vacant was 
tendered me. 1 accepted the appointment and thus 
became a bureau chief in the Treasury Department. The 
acceptance of the office necessitated my resignation of the 
superintendency of the San Francisco mint. Having 
entered upon the duties of Superintendent August 1, 
1897, and resigned September 19, 1907, I had held the 
office for a trifle over ten years, which was a longer ser- 
vice by several years than ever before given by one man 
to the superintendency. I was becoming tired of bearing 
the very great responsibilities of the office atod was think- 
ing seriously of resigning when I received the offer of 
being made chief of the mint bureau. As the duty of the 
new position carried no financial responsibilities with it, 
the appointment afforded the release from those I had 
longed to shake off. When it became known that I was 
to resign the San Francisco position, the San Francisco 
bankers paid me a very great compliment in the shape of 
a set of resolutions, especially thanking me for services 
rendered the banking world after the fire, adopted by 
their association. The resolutions were engrossed in mag- 

— 368 — 

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Official Life in Washington 

nificent and most costly form, and presented to me by 
Homer S. King of the Bank of California, I. Steinhart 
of the Anglo-California Bank, and Wellington Gregg 
of the Crocker National Bank. In addition, the asso- 
ciation presented me with a library of several hundred 
volumes of standard works and a very costly watch, bear- 
ing on the cover a neat engraving of the San Francisco 
mint on one side and a monogram of my initials on the 
other, with my name in full on the inside of the case, 
coupled with a record of the gift and its source. In 
acknowledging the testimonials I said that these gifts, 
bearing such strong messages of good will, kindness, and 
esteem, with such close connection with one of the greatest 
tragedies in the world's history, would ever possess his- 
torical interest, as well as be most highly cherished by me. 

The officers and men of the mint, with whom I had 
been so long associated, manifested their good feeling 
toward me with kind words of regret that I was to leave 
them, and pleasure that I had been promoted to a higher 
office. A more formal testimonial was the presentation 
of a fine oil portrait of myself which they caused to be 
painted and which they hung in the mint building. I 
received a number of letters and telegrams congratulat- 
ing me on my promotion from friends and acquaintances, 
messages that warmed the heart and brightened the world 
from my point of vision. The unpleasant part of the 
change was the necessity of having to make Washington 
my place of residence, leaving behind all the friends of a 
lifetime and those so dear to us by family ties. The 
packing up of our belongings for the trip and preparing 
the old home for use by others in our absence were accom- 
panied by a feeling of sadness, a depression of spirits I 
could not shake off, for the move meant the breaking up 
of the old homestead and disruption of the family circle. 

We arrived in Washington in time for me to assume my 
new duties about the first of October. I was received 

— S69 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

most kindly and welcomed in my official capacity by 
President Roosevelt, Secretary Cortelyou, and Treasurer 
Treat. With the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Cortelyou, 
I had enjoyed previous acquaintance, and I found sev- 
eral other friends holding positions in the department, 
so that I was able to assume the position of Director of the 
Mint with the feeling that I was not altogether a stranger. 
In fact, all the officers with whom I came in contact, with- 
out exception, treated me with the courtesy and spirit 
of amity that was very gratifying and went a long way 
in repressing feelings of strangeness and embarrassment. 

Now I will say something about the position and duties 
I had assumed. As Director I was the chief of the bureau 
of the mint, which brought all the mints (then four) and 
all the government assay offices (nine) under my super- 
vision. In a general way the working parts of the bureau 
embraced three divisions, namely, examining or auditing, 
statistical, and laboratory. The requirements of the first 
division brought every expenditure made in the mints 
and assay office to the bureau for audit, where not only 
the accuracy, but authority and necessity had to be 
passed upon, as well as to determine if purchases and 
expenditures were made with proper observation of laws 
and rules regarding prices paid. To illustrate the care 
the government exercises in watching the expenditures 
of congressional appropriations made by the Treasury 
Department, I will mention that the Auditor of the Treas- 
ury revises all these accounts after the audit of the bureau 
of the mint. Then afterwards, the Comptroller of the 
Treasury examines them in search of any irregularity 
that might have been overlooked by the preceding exam- 
ination. The investigations of this latter official more 
particularly related to the legality of expenditures, as 
simple errors seldom pass the other auditors. 

The division of statistics had the work of gathering 
the figures which showed the annual production of gold 

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and silver in the United States and in all other countries 
of the world, so that at the close of each calendar year 
an official statement may be given of such statistics. The 
production reports made by the Director of the Mint of 
the United States have for many years been accepted by 
writers on economics, and by officials in all other coun- 
tries, as standard authority. In this division, record of 
the kind and quantity of money in use in the United 
States is kept, and regular statements are made through 
the Secretary of the Treasury, showing the total and its 
relation in amount per capita to (he population. Much 
care is exercised in keeping the account, as the state- 
ments of this record are also accepted throughout the 
world as authority by economists and financial writers. 
Here also is compiled quarterly the table of the value of 
foreign coins in many of the United States, which table, 
by act of Congress, is made the standard of value in all 
custom house transactions and in the courts. 

In the laboratory divisions, the principal work is to 
examine the samples of the coinage as it is made at the 
different mints, both as to weight and fineness; that is, 
to find if the coins contain the proper quantity of copper 
alloy with the gold or silver, within the limitations allowed 
by law, and also if the proper weights are maintained. 
That a prompt examination may be made of all coinage, 
the regulations require from each mint samples of each 
day's work to be sent to the Director for examination 
and test. The coinage from which the samples are taken 
is not released for circulation until the examination has 
determined the work to have been properly executed. 
Incidents of imperfect coinage are seldom recorded; nev- 
ertheless, the system of inspection is maintained as if it 
were something of frequent or daily occurrence. 

The Director of the Mint has responsibilities outside of 
the routine mentioned, one of which is to see that the 
coinage of the mint is of the particular denominations 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

required in the needs of trade and finance, and is 
promptly met in time and quantity. Ordinarily this obli- 
gation is met without trouble or anxiety, but there are 
times when enlivened conditions of trade exhaust the 
surplus stock of some particular denomination or denomi- 
nations of coins in the Treasury of the United States, and 
the ordinary working capacity of the mints is unable to 
meet the requirements. This was the condition of things 
when I assumed the duties of Director in the fall of 1907. 
The extraordinary expansion of trade which ultimately 
resulted in a financial panic required the full capacity of 
the four mints working overtime to meet the demands 
for silver coins. Never before in the history of our 
country was so much coin of that character made by the 
mints in the same space of time. Nothing like it could be 
found in the records. When in October of that year the 
panic disrupted business affairs, and factories were shut 
down and employment contracted, the need for the extra 
coinage was at an end and the silver and minor coinage 
not required in trade and for the payment of wages began 
to flow back into the Treasury of the United States until 
a surplus of something like $30,000,000 had accumulated. 
The record of the holdings by the Treasurer of this kind 
of money acts as an accurate barometer of business con- 
ditions in the United States. When trade and commerce 
are expanding there is an increased employment of labor 
and more transactions in the stores. For every new hand 
employed and every additional transaction, there is a 
draft upon the surplus of the Treasury, and a correspond- 
ing increase of the stock of money in circulation. The 
workingman's pocket, when he is employed, carries 
money, and is empty when he is unemployed. The store- 
keeper needs a greater amount of silver, nickels, and cop- 
pers for change, when his volume of trade is enlarged. 
When the number of the storekeeper's business transac- 
tions falls off and trade becomes dull, that kind of money 

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Official Life in Washington 

accumulates on his hands and he deposits the surplus in 
his bank. The banks, not being able to use the surplus 
of this kind of money, turn it into the Treasury of the 
government and receive, in exchange, currency or gold 
coin. Thus it is seen that with the increase or expansion 
of trade the surplus or stock of small coin in the Treas- 
ury is reduced by drafts upon it. The flow is outward, 
and when a reverse condition of business takes place then 
the flow is into the Treasury and the surplus is increased, 
and the Director of the Mint has only to watch the daily 
cash statements of the Treasurer, taking into considera- 
tion the additions to stock made by the mint operators, 
to be informed as to the status of business conditions in 
the country as a whole, and to be advised as to the needs 
in coinage operations. 

Another very important matter was in hand in the 
bureau when I arrived at Washington, which was soon to 
cause me some anxiety, and that was the perfection of 
President Roosevelt's scheme for new designs for all the 
gold coins of our country. There were a number of prom- 
inent people in the East, especially in New York and Bos- 
ton, who some time before began an agitation for an 
improvement in appearance of all our coinage. The 
President quickly became the leading spirit of the move- 
ment. The prevalent idea in this undertaking was that 
the design and execution of our coinage were inferior and 
inartistic when compared with those of ancient Greece; 
and as the coins used by a nation are one of the most 
enduring records of the art and mechanical skill of its 
age, our government should make an issue of coinage that 
would leave to future generations and ages something 
that would more truthfully and correctly reflect the artis- 
tic taste and mechanical ability of our day than the coin- 
age then in use, unchanged for so many years. The 
admiration for the ancient Greek coins unwittingly influ- 
enced those gentlemen to suggestions that were imitative 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

rather than original. They wanted the designs for the 
proposed coinage to be brought out in high relief, or with 
medallic effect, like the designs on the ancient coins. The 
commercial use and requirements seemed to have been 
lost sight of in the enthusiasm of producing a highly 
artistic coin; but in all probability none of the leading 
spirits in the movement was familiar with the use of 
metallic money, and did not understand that the proposed 
high relief would make the face of the coins so uneven 
that the pieces would not "stack/* which was a condition 
fatal to the practicability of the idea. 

It was early in the year 1905 that President Roosevelt 
authorized the Director of the Mint to conclude a con- 
tract with the famous sculptor, Saint-Gaudens, to supply 
designs in high relief for the $20 and $10 gold coins. This 
was accomplished in July, but no designs were finally 
perfected that met the approval of the President until 
the early part of 1907. The first model was a design for 
the double eagle, or $20 piece. Dies from the model 
were made at the Philadelphia mint. On trial, the dies 
gave such a high relief to the figures on the design that 
all efforts to produce a perfect or satisfactory coin on 
the regular coining presses were ineffectual. A medal 
press was then resorted to, that the beauty of the design 
might be studied and be preserved in the shape of a coin, 
but even by this process it required about twelve blows 
or impressions in the press for each piece, with an anneal- 
ing process between each stroke of the process. The 
annealing process consists of heating the coin to a cherry- 
red heat and cooling it in a diluted solution of acid. This 
process eliminates the copper alloy on the surface of the 
coin and leaves the piece covered with a thin film of pure 
gold. As a work of art the pieces were beautiful, but had 
more the appearance of medals than coins for daily use. 
Nineteen pieces only from this model were struck on the 

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Official Life in Washington 

medal press, and these were subsequently given to mint 
and Washington officials connected with the work. 

There were some who thought that by reducing the 
diameter of the piece to about the size of a "checker," 
with a corresponding increase in thickness, the much 
desired high relief might be struck on the ordinary coin 
press; accordingly dies were made and several pieces 
struck, when it was discovered that the coinage act, 
passed in 1890, prohibited the change of the diameter 
of any coin. Thirteen pieces were struck from this small 
die for the thick or checker pieces, but with the exception 
of two coins placed in the cabinet or collection of coins 
at the Philadelphia mint, all of these pieces were melted 
and destroyed on account of the improper or illegal 

Saint-Gaudens then attempted to facilitate the work 
of coinage by supplying another or second set of models 
with the relief reduced to some extent, but satisfactory 
results were not obtained on the regular coinage presses. 
He then made a third model with still further and 
greater reduction of the high relief. The failure gave 
rise to considerable friction between the artist and 
the mint authorities. The President had become impa- 
tient and began to think that the mint officials were not 
showing a zeal in the work that promised results. It was 
at this stage of the undertaking that I came into the 
office of Director. Before I had become familiar with my 
surroundings the President sent for me. In the interview 
that followed he told me what he wanted, and what the 
failures and his disappointments had been, and proceeded 
to advise me as to what I should do to accomplish the 
purpose determined upon in the way of the new coinage. 
In this talk he suggested some details of action of a dras- 
tic character for my guidance, which he was positive were 
necessary to be adopted before success could be had. All 
this was delivered in his usual vigorous way, emphasiz- 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

ing many points by hammering on the desk with his fist. 
This was my first interview with the President, and it was 
somewhat embarrassing for me to oppose his views, but I 
felt that it was essential to my success that I should be 
untrammelled by any interference in the plans that I 
should adopt to secure the production of the new coinage. 
I determined then and there that if I could not have free 
rein in the matter I would not attempt the work. In my 
reply to the President I finally made the wisdom of my 
position clear to him. I explained to him how I had not 
yet had time to look into the matter and locate the causes 
of failure, consequently could not say what was necessary 
to correct them. At any rate, I would have to insist that 
these were matters of details that should be left to my 

"All you want, Mr. President," I said, "is the production 
of the coin with the new design, is it not?" 

"Yes," said he. 

"Well, that I promise you." 

He said he guessed I was right in my attitude in the 
matter, but I think he was not very confident of my get- 
ting results, for when a few days later I laid upon his 
desk a sample of beautifully executed double eagles of the 
Saint-Gaudens design, he was most enthusiastic in his 
expressions of pleasure and satisfaction. I certainly 
believed him when he declared he was "delighted." He 
warmly congratulated me on my success, and was most 
complimentary in his comments. 

"Now," said he, "I want enough of these coins within 
thirty days to make a distribution throughout the coun- 
try, that the people may see what they are like." I replied 
that we would be able to meet with his desire, although I 
explained that this issue would have to be struck on medal 
presses from the second design model, but that in a few 
weeks later we would have dies completed from model 
No. 3 with lower relief, so that the coins, when made, 

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Official Life in Washington 

would meet the requirements of the bankers and business 
men in "stacking/ 9 etc., and these could be struck on the 
regular coin presses in the usual way. The pleasure of 
the President was manifested in the heartiness of his 
thanks. I had every medal press in the Philadelphia mint 
put into operation on these coins with an extra force of 
workmen, so that the presses were run night and day. 
The officers of the mint entered into the spirit of the 
work cut out for them, putting a zest into the operations 
which assured me that the issue of the new double eagles, 
so greatly desired by the President, would be made on 
time. In fact, we delivered to the Treasurer of the United 
States 12,153 double eagles, representing $243,060, which 
was considerably more than asked of us, several days 
ahead of time. I came in for more compliments from 
the President. In his enthusiastic way he introduced me 
to several of his Cabinet officers who were present in his 
office, as a "man who got results." The coins of this issue, 
when made available to the public, were much sought 
after by people who wanted to keep them as souvenirs 
or as additions to numismatic collections. Contrary to 
expectations, a premium was demanded by dealers soon 
after the distribution began, and by the time it was ended 
the premium had increased to about an average of fifteen 
dollars on a piece. The newspapers gave much space to 
criticism, both by their own editors and from correspond- 
ents. Opinions as to the merits of the new coin were 
fairly well divided. The artistic appearance of the coin 
was generally recognized, but it could scarcely claim 
a popular reception. The design of the eagle on the 
reverse side of the coin was the object of much adverse 
comment. Saint-Gaudens did not use any originality in 
this design of the eagle, but simply copied that used on 
the penny coined in 1857, following the feature of the 
bird flying with its talons extended backward under the 
tail feathers, instead of being drawn up under the breast, 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

the position most generally observed in birds of prey 
when flying about. 

While discussing with the President the criticism by 
the public, I spoke of the position of the talons as being 
incorrect. This the President promptly denied, and said 
that if I would visit the large aviary at Rock Creek Park 
I would find the eagles flying about just as represented 
by the Saint-Gaudens design. I did not know then that 
the President was such a close observer of things in 
nature, and, having doubts as to the accuracy of his 
opinion, I went to the aviary as he had suggested. I did 
not have to wait to be convinced of the correctness of the 
President's assertion, for the very first flight of an eagle 
across the aviary showed the talons extended out behind, 
in the manner of a crane or gull. 

The greatest extent of unpleasant criticism over the new 
issue was aroused by the discovery that the motto, "In 
God we trust," had been omitted from it. The President's 
mail, as well as that of the Secretary of the Treasury, was 
flooded with letters, some mild and many bitter, in protest 
against the removal of the motto. So loud became this 
protest that the President felt called upon to defend the 
omission, in a statement to the press, wherein he took the 
position that it was a profane use of the name of God, 
and the motto had been very properly omitted. He could 
have made an explanation that would have silenced all 
criticism and relieved himself of the responsibility for 
the omission if he had referred his critics to coinage acts 
of the government. 

The statutes of the United States supply the only words 
and mottoes that shall appear on the various coins au- 
thorized by the act of Congress. For many years the 
motto, "In God we trust," was included with other word 
requirements by law. In 1890 the coinage act was 
changed in several particulars, and when the re-enact- 
ment was completed the motto in question, whether by 

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Official Life in Washington 

design or accident, had been omitted. So when Saint- 
Gaud ens was given the words and figures that must 
appear on the coins, the motto was not included. When 
this was understood an appeal was made to Congress, 
and that body quickly authorized the restoration of the 
words, "In God we trust." 

While the people were talking about the new coins, the 
mint officials were busy working on the dies from model 
number three, and their efforts to produce them on the 
ordinary coining presses were finally crowned with suc- 
cess, and by the latter part of December the mint presses 
were striking off new double eagles at the rate of about 
$1,000,000 daily. Excepting the addition of the motto, 
the design is the same as that used in the coining of 
$20 pieces at all the mints of the government ever since. 

About the same experience was encountered in pro- 
ducing the $10 pieces, or eagles. Three models of the new 
design were made by Saint-Gaudens. Five hundred 
trial pieces were struck from the first model, and 
34,100 pieces were struck from the second model, but 
all of this lot were subsequently remelted except forty- 
two coins, which, with those of the first lot, were given to 
museums of art and officials and others connected with 
the work. Dies from the third model were found to 
work satisfactorily in the ordinary coining presses. 

The new $10 pieces came in for more severe and 
adverse criticism than the double eagle received. First, 
for the omission of the motto; next, that the emblem of 
the eagle was a monstrosity; third, an accusation that the 
artist had posed his Irish servant girl to secure his design 
of the Indian maiden's head appearing on the obverse 
side of the coin. The omission of the motto has been 
explained. The criticism of the eagle was unjust, and 
showed unfamiliarity with bird life on the part of the 
critics. This eagle was copied from one of Audubon's 
famous drawings. The majority of the people who 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

handled coin probably had never seen a live eagle, and 
the only idea they had of what the king of birds looked 
like was formed from the travesty on the bird that has 
appeared on the coins of the country ever since the mints 
were established. The President was right in his judg- 
ment; if an emblem of freedom was to be used on the 
coins, good taste demanded the most accurate representa- 
tion of it, and artists say the Saint-Gaudens design was a 
truthful copy from nature. The third feature of complaint 
was groundless. No Irish servant girl, or any other girl, 
had posed for Saint-Gaudens for the head design of 
the Indian maiden. Saint-Gaudens copied the design 
from the experimental penny of 1857, the same coin from 
which he obtained the idea of the flying eagle used on the 
new double eagle. It is a most excellent copy, as any 
one will find who will take the trouble to compare the 
two coins, the old cent of 1857, and the new $10 piece. 
The designs and appearance of the new coin, however, 
were not beyond criticism. In my judgment the artist 
unduly lengthened the legs of the eagle to better center 
the design on the piece. It was but a trifle, but it was 
enough to cause some critics to make fun of the bird. 
The more serious fault was on the obverse side. When 
it was decided to adopt an Indian head design an accurate 
representation of a real Indian, head dress, and orna- 
ments, should have been selected for the purpose, for the 
same reason manifested in the selection of the emblem 
of the eagle. Such designs should not be ideal or imag- 
inary. If worth using, they should be faithful to the 
subject represented. The original design of the Indian 
maiden copied by Mr. Saint-Gaudens was made more 
than fifty years before, evidently by some one who had 
a very imperfect conception of what a real Indian looked 
like. Apparently the original artist's opportunity for the 
knowledge had not extended beyond the old pictures of 
"Columbus Discovering America." 
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Official Life in Washington 

Originally it was the intention to give the $5 and 
$2.50 pieces the same design as that used on the double 
eagle or $20 piece, but before final action to that end was 
taken President Roosevelt invited me to lunch with him 
at the White House. His purpose was to have me meet 
Doctor William Sturgis Bigelow of Boston, a lover of art 
and friend of the President, who was showing great 
interest in the undertaking for improving the appearance 
of American coins, and who had a new design for the 
smaller gold coins. It was his idea that the commercial 
needs of the country required coins that would "stack" 
evenly, and that the preservation of as much as possible 
of the flat plane of the piece was desirable. A coin, there- 
fore, with the lines of the design, figures, and letters 
depressed or incused, instead of being raised or in relief, 
would meet the wishes of the bankers and business men, 
and at the same time introduce a novelty in coinage that 
was artistic as well as adaptable to the needs of business. 
The President adhered to the idea that the high relief 
afforded greater possibilities of artistic results, and 
referred to the beauties of the ancient gold coins. Unques- 
tionably he was correct in this opinion, but I called his 
attention to the fact that he and the other promoters of 
the new coinage were trying to do more than the ancient 
Greek artists and coiners had found possible, and that 
the Greeks had only been able to produce a high relief on 
one side of their coins, while we were endeavoring to 
give a high relief on both sides. We had in a way suc- 
ceeded, for by the use of a medal press we had outdone 
the Greeks. But the uncompromising demands of trade 
would not tolerate even the one-sided coins of ancient 
Greece. The President expressed surprise at my state- 
ment, and at once sent a messenger to his room for a 
beautiful example of Grecian work in the shape of a gold 
coin of the days of Alexander the Great. Of course, he 
found one side quite flat, while the other was in high 
relief. _ 381 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

I enjoyed the luncheon. It was as simple and devoid of 
ceremony as a lunch would be in the home of any well- 
to-do family. Mrs. Roosevelt, a lady friend, and a federal 
judge, an old-time friend of the President, were also at 
the table. It so happened that it was the anniversary day 
of April, 1865, of the surrender of the judge as a Con- 
federate army officer in the closing days of the Civil War. 
As might be imagined, it put the judge in a reminiscent 
mood. He was an excellent talker and interested us all. 
One of his remarks was that no one could tell what would 
happen in life. "The day I surrendered as a Confederate 
soldier I little expected to stretch my legs under a dining 
table in the White House, as a guest of the President. 
Why, I remember I was so dejected on that occasion that 
an aged friend of mine said to me, 'You think you and 
the country are going to hell on a toboggan, but that is all 
wrong.' So I found out." 

It was after the lunch and we had excused ourselves 
from the others that the question as to the new design for 
the half and quarter eagles took place. The discussion 
ended by the President authorizing Doctor Bigelow and 
me to go ahead and produce some trial pieces after the 
suggestions of the doctor. Bela L. Pratt, an artist of 
high repute in Boston, was selected to make the models 
for the designs, which were to be a faithful copy of an 
Indian head and the eagle with shortened legs. The 
models and dies were not finished until some time in 
September. When the trial pieces were produced I was 
pleased with their appearance, for the nationality was 
so plainly stamped on the coin that it needed no lettering 
to tell anybody in any part of the world that it had been 
issued by the United States of America. It pleased the 
President, and he at once gave the official approval neces- 
sary for the adoption of the design. Soon after, the new 
coins were minted and placed within the reach of the pub- 
lic. Considerable criticism followed the appearance of the 

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Official Life in Washington 

new design. The depressed or incused idea of portraying 
the figures, device, etc., was unfavorably received, while 
the faithfulness of the designs to the objects represented, 
as artistic work, was very generally commended. Con- 
firming the truth of the old saying, "there is nothing new 
in the world," we found, in looking over some authorities 
on ancient coinage, that almost the very first attempt in 
making coins was by depressing or incusing the designs. 
This issue finished the work of changing the designs of 
the gold coins. 

Without the authority of Congress, the coinage laws of 
our country permit the change of designs on any denomi- 
nation of our coins only once in twenty-five years. For 
this reason, the only other denominations that could 
undergo a change of designs were the nickels and copper 
cent pieces. 

Congress passed an act early in the year of 1908 restor- 
ing the motto, "In God We Trust," so that all coins made 
thereafter bore these words. 

In 1905, when President Roosevelt conceived the idea 
of changing the design of the several coins of our country, 
the cent was one of the denominations selected for altera- 
tion and improvement, and the work of making the new 
design was turned over to Saint-Gaudens at the time 
he was given the contract for changing the designs of 
the gold coins. His first work, after completing the de- 
sign for the double eagle, was making the models for 
the cent. He made a model of a female head, adorned 
with an Indian feather head dress, much the same in 
general appearance as the head in use on the coin at 
that time. When this model was presented to the Presi- 
dent for his consideration, he decided to adopt it as 
the obverse side for the new $10 gold piece. This changed 
the original plan of having the eagle, half eagle, and 
quarter eagle made with the same design as that adopted 
for the double eage; and as the famous artist was 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

feeble in health, all the time he was able to devote to 
the work of changing the designs was given to perfecting 
the models for both the double eagle and eagle for practi- 
cal mint operations, and the last artistic work of the 
great man was to beautify the American coins. He finally 
passed away without making a new design for the cent 

Victor D. Brenner of New York, one of the most skillful 
medalists of this country, was presented to the President 
with the request that he be given the commission to 
complete the work the President had in mind of changing 
the design of the cent piece. As an outcome of this visit, 
Mr. Brenner was requested by the President to consult 
with me in the matter. We had several interviews, and 
upon conclusion I instructed him, with the approval of 
Secretary Cortelyou, to prepare a model for the obverse 
side, bearing a portrait of Lincoln. He was also advised 
as to the law that should be followed in making the 
design for the reverse side. In due course of time, Mr. 
Brenner presented the models in accordance with these 
instructions, which met with the hearty approval of Presi- 
dent Roosevelt and Secretary Cortelyou, and were for- 
mally adopted as the design for the new cent. 

The fact that this change had been decided upon was 
given considerable publicity in the newspapers at the 
time, creating a very great interest in the public mind, 
and the appearance of the new coin was anxiously 
awaited. The Treasury Department was for a time 
almost overwhelmed with applications for a supply of 
the new issue, coming from every part of the United 
States, but the new coppers were not given to the public 
until the early part of 1909. 

There was some little criticism emanating from those 
who feared that the use of the head of the ex-President 
might establish a precedent which would lead ultimately 
to the adoption of the use of the portraits of existing 

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Official Life in Washington 

executives on our coins, after the manner of monarchial 
governments. In this connection it may be of interest 
to cite the fact that the legislative act -establishing the 
first mint of the United States and providing for a coin- 
age system originated in the Senate. When the bill was 
sent to the House it contained the provision that the 
head or portrait of the President should appear on all 
coins executed during the term of the official, with the 
numerical order of the presidency. When this act was 
considered in the House no alteration of the bill was 
made except to strike out this clause and substitute the 
following: "An impression emblematic of liberty, and 
an inscription of the word 'liberty* and the year of the 
coinage." What was intended in the law by the vague 
expression of "An impression emblematic of liberty" has 
been generally interpreted through all these years by the 
use of a female head, sometimes adorned with the cap 
of Liberty, and at other times with an Indian head dress, 
but more frequently without any ornamentation other 
than a band above the brow holding the hair, bearing 
the word, "Liberty." Some years ago this matter was 
made the subject of debate in the Senate, when Senator 
Morrill of Vermont said : 

The emblem of Liberty, like that of many other virtues, 
has been said to be always represented in petticoats. The 
Britannia of Great Britain appears in form like a near 
relation to the Liberty, or the Minerva, often found on 
old Greek and Roman coins, and in the days of Charles 
II, the Duchess of Richmond served as a model to the 
engraver; but, more recently, Victoria, by the distin- 
guished medalist Wyon, has been stamped with great 
excellence upon British coins, and she, like Queen Anne, 
seems to have occasionally insisted upon decent drapery 
about the bust. 

Our sitting emblem of Liberty on the fractional silver 
looks very like a descendant of our grandmother Britan- 
nia by Clark Mills. Whether she wears long hair or a 
widow's cap may not be quite clear, and there is no end 
of crinoline, while the obtruding whalebones, in bas relief 

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Recollections of a Newspaperman 

compressing the waist, painfully disclose overworn cor- 
sets. But, as our highest effort and best, on the copper 
cent and on the one-dollar and three-dollar gold coins, 
the head of our emblem appears in the baubles of an 
Indian princess, doubtless an ideal Pocahontas — "that 
female bully of the town" — with the head accordingly 
stuck around with feathers, and labeled on the tiara, 
"Liberty." Its circulation in the Indian territory, I 
regret to say, has not been commensurate to the witchery 
of the bait. England strangely omits to stamp on her 
figure of the lion, "This is a lion"; but our emblem, safe 
from all misconception, is always plainly and veraciously 
branded across the forehead, "Liberty. 

The use of the liberty cap, which appears on some of 
the earliest coins of our country, was the subject of much 
discussion as to its appropriateness at periods from 1793, 
when it was first used, up to some time in the '30s, when 
it was discarded. Its first use was on the cent pieces 
of 1794, 1795, and a part of the year 1796, where it appears 
on the coin as if suspended in the air over the head of a 
female figure with flowing hair. It was not intended 
that this cap should appear as suspended in the air, but 
as being borne on a wand leaning on the shoulder of the 
figure and projecting backward. It was contended that 
the liberty cap, or pileus, was in itself an emblem of 
liberty and should never be placed on the head of the 
figure; and that the emblem in proper relation to a full- 
length figure of Liberty should be borne on a wand or 
staff sustained in her hand and was out of place as an 
adornment or head dress. 

During the time that I filled the office of Director of 
the Mint nothing was done in the way of preparing a 
new design for the nickels or five-cent pieces. I had con- 
ceived some designs which I thought if adopted for the 
silver coins would greatly improve their appearance. It 
was my intention to have some sample coins made, using 
the head of Washington, copied from the famous Stuart 
portrait, for the obverse side, and an eagle in natural 

— 386 — 

Official Life in Washington 

position, standing on the American shield with wings 
partly spread, making a pose suggestive of courage, free- 
dom, and action. It was my intention to submit the sam- 
ples to the President and if they met with his approval 
it was then the further purpose to lay them before Con- 
gress, with the hope of securing action that would have 
permitted the device to take the place of the meaningless 
designs now used to designate the different silver coins 
of our country. Some work was done on the proposed 
models at the Philadelphia mint, but as I had retired 
from the service before the models were completed, and 
as Roosevelt had stepped out of office that Taft might 
take up the responsibilities of the presidency, there was 
no one in official position interested in the subject suffi- 
ciently to complete the work or carry out the suggestion. 


When I left the San Francisco mint there was stored 
there in the several vaults of the institution the immense 
sum of two hundred and seventy millions of dollars in 
gold coin and sixty-one millions of dollars in silver 
coin, or over three hundred millions of dollars alto- 
gether. The gold had been accumulating there for six or 
seven years or more, after the adoption of the plan of 
paying people who sold their gold to the mint with 
checks drawn on the New York sub-treasury. The mint 
was not well equipped with vaults, as it had not been con- 
templated that it would ever become one of the storage 
places for Uncle Sam's surplus cash. Consequently the 
capacity of the vaults for storage purposes was limited, 
besides which the vaults were not substantial enough for 
the purpose and did not give that security demanded for 
government funds. The possibility that some bold and 
desperate men would attempt to secure some of this 
gold, either by tunnelling under the building or rushing 
the place during working hours, was always a source of 

— 587 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

anxiety to me. Especially was this so after overhearing 
in a theater one evening a couple of fellows who sat to 
the rear of me discussing the matter and expressing the 
opinion that a great theft in some such manner could be 
successfully carried out. Besides, there was another 
strong reason for its removal. In case of war, being so 
handy and easy of access, the vast sum might fall into 
the hands of an enemy as a result of some brief or 
temporary advantage. 

At the new Denver mint there had been constructed 
a fine large and strong vault with the most modern 
devices for security. It was located far inland from any 
seacoast, consequently any treasure stored there was com- 
paratively secure from capture by foreign invaders. 
Here, then, was the place to which the gold and silver 
at the San Francisco mint should be transferred; but in 
its transfer it would be subject to dangers of loss by 
theft in the handling in a petty way and robbery on a 
large scale by train robbers. I laid the matter before the 
Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Cortelyou. He asked me 
to make a statement of the facts so that the subject could 
be presented to the President, as he considered it of 
great importance and something that should have imme- 
diate attention. A decision in accordance with my views 
and recommendations was quickly reached, but we were 
confronted with the fact that there was no money with 
which to defray the expense of the transfer. There was 
nothing to do but to appeal to Congress for the money, 
with the hope that the appropriation might be made 
without undue publicity of its precise purpose. It was 
our intention to make the transfer, if possible, without 
knowledge of the fact being made public while the coin 
was being transferred, and in this way reduce to the 
minimum the danger of loss of money and conflict with 
robbers. The Secretary sent for the chairman of the 
Committee on Ways and Means of the House, Mr. Tawney, 

— 588 — 

Official Life in Washington 

and explained the situation and asked him to secure the 
appropriation of the sum I had asked for, $300,000. Mr. 
Tawney handled the matter very cleverly, for none of the 
facts stated to him ever became public, and no newspaper 
mention of the appropriation appeared. The sum men- 
tioned was quickly made available, and as soon as pos- 
sible I was on the way to San Francisco with full authority 
to make arrangements for the transfer of the largest sum 
of metallic money ever made. It was quite a matter to 
arrange the details for moving several carloads of gold, 
but to arrange for the transfer without publication of 
such an extraordinary event was quite another matter 
and caused many anxieties. Arrangements with the 
express company had to be made, and the United States 
Marshal had to be authorized to employ thirty guards. 
Then there were the workmen, handling, packing, and 
storing, employed at both ends of the route, to add to 
the sources through which knowledge of the transfers 
might be made public. 

Finally the bargain with Wells Fargo & Co. was com- 
pleted and all other details were finished, and I was able 
to start the first shipment of gold to Denver on August 15, 
1908. Thereafter two shipments of $5,000,000 each per 
week were made. The money was placed in horse-cars 
and made a part of the regular express trains. As horse- 
cars were common in express trains, they did not attract 
any more attention when filled with millions of dollars in 
gold coin than when occupied by fancy race horses. Each 
shipment was accompanied by fifteen deputy United States 
marshals in citizens' clothes. These were all tried and 
trusted men, selected with the greatest care by Captain 
Seymour, formerly Chief of Detectives in San Francisco. 

At the San Francisco mint a force was organized to 
handle the gold. These men were all skilled in that 
kind of work and were exceedingly trustworthy. The 
plan of operation was to take the gold out of the vault 

— 589 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

and weigh it, which was the usual manner of determining 
the value of gold. It was stored in the mint in canvas 
sacks holding $5000 each. It was weighed in the sacks, 
one of which was occasionally opened to show that its 
contents were really what they were supposed to be. Then 
the sacks were packed in strong pine boxes, bound with 
iron bands, $40,000 to each box, weighing about 140 
pounds. The lids of the boxes were screwed on and then 
the boxes were sealed with the seal of the United States 
by a specially detailed official. 

It took one expert weigher and two tally clerks to tally 
the gold out of the storage vault into the one where the 
work was done, and two more to keep track of the bags 
and boxes. There was also a force of laboring men to 
move the money from vault to vault. 

It was figured that by moving two shipments each week 
there would be only $10,000,000 on the road at any one 
time. As one shipment reached Denver the next one 
was just leaving San Francisco. The frequent handling 
of silver for the Philippine coinage made people familiar 
with such operations at the mint, and when the express 
company's wagons backed up twice a week and loaded 
up ten tons of gold for each shipment but little attention 
by outsiders was paid to it. ' Three trucks handled 
$5,000,000 without any trouble, and there was only the 
usual complement of two guards to each wagon or truck. 
It is possible that even they did not know what a fortune 
they handled at every trip. 

The shipments began August 15. When December 
came they were going forward with great regularity twice 
a week. Then it was found that, by increasing the ship- 
ments to $7,500,000 each time, the work could be com- 
pleted before the new year, so this was done and the 
shipments ended on December 19. 

Not a dollar was lost, and there was never any sign 
or rumor of trouble, and not a word appeared in the 

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Official Life in Washington 

newspapers of San Francisco or Denver giving publicity 
to the shipments. When the transfer was completed so 
successfully it added much to the pleasure of reporting 
the accomplishment to Secretary Cortelyou, and earned 
from him a very handsome compliment. 


The office of the Director of Mint was a bureau of 
information on matters of coinage, past and future, 
domestic and foreign, as well as in statistics pertaining 
to productions of precious metals at home and elsewhere. 
This fact brought many distinguished people to the mint 
bureau, and in this way I made the acquaintance of a 
number of the most active Senators and Congressmen 
of those years, and some prominent writers on economic 
subjects. I enjoyed this privilege for the opportunity it 
gave to study the personalities and the character of men 
of whom all that I had heretofore known were the impres- 
sions gained by reading of their activities in public life 
as presented in newspapers and magazines. One thing 
that I noticed in sizing up these men from my own obser- 
vations, and comparing the conclusions with impressions 
conveyed by the press, was the universal custom of the 
latter to harp upon and magnify individual peculiarities, 
making such people in some instances better known to the 
public by a peculiar trait in habit or appearance than 
they would otherwise be. 

An occasional visitor to my office was an ex-Senator 
from one of the Pacific Coast states. He was always 
welcomed, as he was a good talker and gave me many 
interesting details of stirring political events of the recon- 
struction work after the close of the Civil War. Finally 
his visits developed a bold swindle, in which he and two 
other prominent professional men of Washington were 
the victims. The Senator came into my office one morn- 
ing and placed in my hands a lump of gold worth about 

— 59* — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

$50, requesting me to have it assayed for him. He came 
back the next morning, when I reported the value and 
fineness of the lump. After asking me if I was certain 
of the findings and being told there could be no mistake 
about it, he went away. A week or so later he came 
back with a larger lump of gold, which he again asked 
to have assayed, saying that the importance of having a 
reliable assay was the reason for bringing it to the mint 
bureau for determination of its value. The next day 
I was able to report to the Senator that the value of the 
gold was practically $1500. In response to his request 
to know how to sell the gold to the government, I gave 
him directions how to send the metal to the Philadelphia 
mint and how he would receive the value in money in 
return. It was something like ten days later when, early 
one morning, the Senator came into the office laboring 
under a state of excitement he could not hide. He asked 
me to close the doors of the office so that we could have 
the utmost privacy. Then he declared that he was almost 
sure that the lump of bullion which he had sold to the 
Philadelphia mint was not gold and only something in 
imitation, and he wanted to refund the money he had 
received before the mint authorities discovered the fraud 
and caused his arrest. Upon making this declaration he 
placed a roll of bills on my desk. I assured him that he 
was certainly mistaken in his opinion of the bullion; 
for, laying aside our assays, the treatment of deposits at 
the mints was such as to make it impossible for any one 
to impose counterfeit bullion on the gold-buying agents 
of the government. "Now," I said, "come, tell me what 
has happened." He then went on to relate how a fine- 
looking man, educated in chemistry and metallurgy, 
introduced himself some eight or ten weeks before, and, 
after reading a magazine article relating the wonderful 
feat of Sir William Ramsay, the famous English chemist, 
in transmuting a small amount of metallic copper into 

— 392 — 

Official Life in Washington 

lithium, said what was claimed by Ramsay was not only 
true, but that he, the stranger, was able to do even more, 
as he could change silver into gold, and offered to dem- 
onstrate the truth of his claim. He was so plausible that 
the Senator asked to see a demonstration. At the man's 
house he found a lot of chemical and metallurgical 
devices arrayed in an impressive manner around the 
place. The stranger, after allowing the Senator to inspect 
them, placed a couple of silver dollars in a small cell 
or tank containing some kind of liquid, then for an hour 
or so he entertained the Senator in conversation to pass 
the time necessary for the solution to play its part in the 
transmutation of the silver dollars into gold. Finally the 
alchemist drew off the solution, and in the bottom of the 
cell was remaining some finely divided or powdery stuff, 
brown in color. This was declared to be the gold resulting 
from the change. It was carefully gathered, dried, and 
melted, becoming the $50 lump of gold which he had 
shown on the occasion of his first visit to my office on this 
business. The Senator admitted to me that the demon- 


stration surprised him as well as later convinced him that 
there were merits in the stranger's claim when I reported 
to him that the lump was real gold. The stranger then 
offered to make a demonstration on a larger scale if the 
Senator would supply the silver. To the proposition the 
Senator agreed, and supplied seventy-five dollar pieces 
for the purpose. The operation or transmutation occupied 
the best part of a day and resulted in the larger lump of 
what is, in mint terms, called a "king," which the Senator 
sold to the Philadelphia mint for $1500. Now all doubt 
as to the stranger's ability to transmute silver into gold 
was removed. The Senator became excited in contem- 
plating the effect of the discovery in the financial world 
and on civilization throughout the world, so he sought 
a couple of near friends, a physician and an attorney, 
feeling that he needed the advantage of support and 

— 393 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

consultation in a matter of such tremendous import. 
Now the alchemist was desirous of operating on a still 
larger scale if his associates would supply about 2500 
silver dollars. The offer was accepted. The three 
watched the proceedings with interest and saw their sil- 
ver go into a tank filled with solution. This was on a 
Friday. The tank was locked and the keys given to the 
Senator, and accepted by him with a confidence of com- 
manding the security of the precious metal in the tank 
inconsistent in a "man of the world" and in a person who 
was familiar with all kinds of confidence games and 
tricks of sharpers. The alchemist said that the process of 
changing so large an amount of silver into gold could not 
be completed until the following Monday. In the mean- 
time, as he was out of a supply of certain chemicals that 
could only be obtained in New York, he would make a 
trip to that city and return on Monday and complete 
the operation. Up to Sunday the trio had looked upon 
the transaction with every expectation of receiving nearly 
$50,000 in gold for their $2500 in silver. However, on 
that afternoon they received a telegram from the alchem- 
ist, saying that he would not be able to return to Wash- 
ington as soon as he had expected and warning his part- 
ners not to unlock the tank or tamper with the solution, 
as such an act would not only interrupt the process of 
transmutation, but cause a loss of the silver in solution. 
They began to fear that they had been victimized, and 
therefore immediately proceeded to the laboratory and 
unlocked and examined the tanks, which they found to 
contain nothing more or less than water from the Poto- 
mac River. Then it was that the Senator had visions of 
having swindled the Philadelphia mint and having 
incurred the wrath of the government, which prompted 
the early visit to my office on the following Monday morn- 
ing. The trio quietly pocketed their losses and thanked 
their good luck that the sharper did not propose a 


Official Life in Washington 

"transmutation" affecting their pockets on a larger scale. 
Their only fear was publicity of having been "taken in" 
on such a simple scheme. 

During my connection with the Treasury Department 
in the two years at Washington I was occasionally called 
upon to act in matters other than those belonging to the 
mint bureau. In the fall of 1908 the Secretary of the 
Treasury, Mr. Cortelyou, and his three assistants left 
Washington to go to their former residences to cast their 
votes for Presidential Electors, and President Roosevelt 
appointed me acting Secretary of the Treasury for the 
several days of their absence. I treasure the commission 
issued to me by the President for this service as an expres- 
sion of his good will and the confidence with which he 
regarded me as a member of his political family. Nothing 
occurred during the few days of my administration out- 
side of routine matters, so I am unable to recount any 
incident giving special importance to the temporary ele- 
vation of my duties. The newspapers spoke kindly of the 
appointment, but referred to it as being unusual, if not 

When the matter of selecting the site for the new sub- 
treasury building in San Francisco came up for final 
decision, Secretary Cortelyou submitted all the formal 
offers of sites, giving price and locations to me, with a 
request for my opinion as to which was the most desir- 
able. This seemed to be a small matter at first, but 
months passed before I was finally through with it. The 
work necessitated a trip to San Francisco and much cor- 
respondence and many interviews with people posted on 
San Francisco real estate values. After a careful consid- 
eration of all the offers, the block between Sansome and 
Battery, Clay and Merchant streets, considering the price 
and location, was decided upon as the most desirable. 
Supervising Architect Taylor also reached the same con- 
clusion, and upon our reports the Secretary concluded 

— 395 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

to accept the offer for this site. Almost at the moment 
this conclusion was reached the Secretary received a tele- 
gram from the agents of the owners of the corner of 
Pine and Sansome streets, offering that fine lot as a site 
at a very reasonable price. The Secretary asked me what 
I thought about it. In reply, I said that the lot presented 
in the new offer was more desirable than any of the sites 
offered in the original proposals, and in fact it was about 
the best place in the city for the proposed building. The 
agents came to Washington and the deal was made after 
some little dickering. Since then, a substantial and costly 
banking building has been erected by the government 
The owners wanted more money than Congress had 
appropriated for the purchase of a lot, but as the piece 
of land was larger than was needed by the government, 
they reserved a piece off the west end of the lot and gave 
the balance to Uncle Sam for $375,000. This southwest 
corner of the intersection of Pine and Sansome streets 
was owned by my father in the very early part of the 
'50s. He told me that at the time of his ownership there 
was quite a sand hill just back of the lot. He said that 
he soon sold the lot for a few hundred dollars, being 
satisfied with a small gain. 

The President, learning of my experience in the print- 
ing and publishing business, placed in my hands a great 
mass of typewritten matter relative to the conduct of the 
Government Printing Office at the national capital, with 
the request that I examine it and give him my conclu- 
sions. The papers embraced complaints from various 
departments, answers, reports and sub-reports of investi- 
gators, statements of employees and officials of the big 
print shop, as well as of experts and dealers in paper, 
printing machinery, furniture, etc. I devoted every 
moment of the day that I could spare at my office to this 
task, then took the papers home with me at the close of 
the day and worked late into the nights for nearly two 

— 396 — 

Official Life in Washington 

weeks, before I was able to make a report to the President. 
The charge against the administration of the government 
printing establishment was extravagant management, 
making the cost of printing for all the departments exceed 
the allowance of Congress for blanks, stationery, printing, 
etc. It was while engaged with this matter that I first 
met and had acquaintance with Senator Root, the famous 
Secretary of State of the Roosevelt administration. I 
found him a very pleasant man to meet. I regarded Mr. 
Root as the brainiest man, the most practical, and best 
posted on every-day affairs in Washington official life. 
I heard President Roosevelt say: "Mr. Root was one of 
the great Secretaries of State, and we have had some 
great men in that office." I learned afterwards that the 
Secretary of the Navy, Victor Metcalf, who, as you know, 
was from Oakland and an old friend of mine, 'was respon- 
sible for acquainting the President with my knowledge 
and experience in the printing business. While there was 
some labor attached to the commission, I rather enjoyed 
the work and did not object to it. 

I regretted the close of President Roosevelt's term of 
office. I found him a very pleasant man to work with, 
appreciative of all efforts, and enthusiastically grateful 
for success in what he considered of public need or utility. 
I was frequently surprised with exhibitions of his won- 
derful memory as shown in his dealings with details of 
affairs and his knowledge of the character and capacity 
of men. His capacity for work was tremendous. By his 
systematic methods he was to be found at places in his 
office and the White House at various hours, as if his 
activities and official life were being regulated by a time 
card. Interviews with the President by others than 
those whose position and official business gave them 
greater privileges were made by appointments previously 
arranged. The parties to these appointments would 
assemble in the Cabinet room adjoining the President's 

— 597 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

private office, separated by folding doors which remained 
closed until the hour of the meetings, which as I recall 
was 11 a. m. By this time the room would be filled with 
twenty to thirty visitors. Very punctually the doors 
would be opened and the President would step into the 
Cabinet room, the visitors would rise and remain stand- 
ing while he passed around among them, picking out 
with unerring certainty the visitors present with no pur- 
pose other than to gratify an ambition and to be able 
to say that they had met and talked with the Chief Magis- 
trate when they were in Washington. Notwithstanding, 
if any of them had prepared speeches they intended to 
make to the President when presented to him, he did 
most if not all of the talking, skilfully parrying all attempt 
at reply. Visitors who had no business seldom obtained 
more than a few seconds of the President's time, but 
his humor, good-natured remarks, and manner always 
placed them in a way of leaving the White House office 
pleased with the President if not with themselves. When 
the President, passing from one to another of the visitors, 
met a person with business, the matter was discussed 
then and there, if it embraced something that could be 
disposed of without consumption of more than a few 
moments of time. He lost not a second of time in the 
visitors' hour ceremony, for while in the process of sifting 
out those with no business and ridding himself of those 
with business of minor importance, his eye would light 
on those who had more important affairs, and he would 
signal them to remain or go into his private office to 
meet him after he had completed the round of the room, 
which seldom required more than fifteen or twenty min- 
utes. Being occasionally called to the President's office, 
I was several times a witness to the interesting scene or 
ceremony described. There was, however, one occasion 
when the President laid aside for a time the rushing man- 
ner, high-pressure action, and the "don't-take-an-unneces- 
— 398 — 

Official Life in Washington 

sary-second-of-my-time" look, and that was on March 3, 
1909, the last day of his term of office, when he received 
the officials of his administration who called to speak of 
their regrets at the parting and to bid him good-bye. He 
stood there, plainly showing the relief he felt in freedom 
from the cares of the great office he was about to lay 
aside. His work as President was done. That it had 
been well done was vouchsafed by the laudations of his 
countrymen and by the plaudits of the rest of the civilized 
world. During the seven years of his incumbency in the 
great office he had made a name for advocating every- 
thing that stood for good in government and for the 
betterment of man, and a name inseparable from the 
history of our country. On that day he was filled with 
the spirit that becomes a man conscious of having success- 
fully performed a difficult task, but with it there was 
tenderness and sincerity of manner never to be forgotten 
in the farewells to his associates. For myself, I was 
pleased and proud that I had been even for a short period, 
and in a very small way, a part of his administration, 
and it was gratifying to receive his thanks and apprecia- 
tion for what little assistance I had been able to give him. 
I saw considerable of President Taft, who succeeded 
Roosevelt. He was a very able man and, as everybody 
knows, of excessively good nature, with a strong ambition 
to give an administration of his duties that would com- 
mend itself to all factions of his party, and at the same 
time receive the sanction of his countrymen regardless 
of party organization. His great size, with an increasing 
avoirdupois, was a matter of considerable annoyance to 
him. On one occasion, when arranging with him to pose 
for a likeness from which to make the usual presidential 
medal, he said to me: "The best photograph I ever had 
taken was out in your town, and it is the one my wife 
calls her picture." I asked him in what particular did 
the San Francisco photographer excel. "Oh, he was able 

— 399 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

to conceal some of my avoirdupois," he replied with a 
smile. President Taft was broad-minded and had little 
patience for the small things that divided men, and it was 
largely due to his efforts to ignore these matters that bred 
the factions in the Republican party that made his 
re-election to the presidency an impossibility. His ways 
of meeting people and his indifference to precedence or 
system in this matter were most distressing and discour- 
aging to his subordinates whose duty it was to arrange 
meetings and make appointments for visitors, official and 
ordinary. Senators were shocked and offended by having 
the President absorb their time and apparently ignore 
their presence in his attentions to ordinary visitors. High 
officials with important affairs in hand, or what they 
might think to be so, could impatiently wait the Presi- 
dent's pleasure by standing first on one foot and then 
the other, while he with leisurely manner was laugh- 
ingly engaged in conversation with some other person. 
It was my good fortune to be present at one of President 
Taft's first morning hours to visitors, with some other 
officials familiar with the customs and manner of his 
predecessor at this hour, and we could not help noting 
this difference. Taft spent almost as much time with the 
first visitor he spoke to as Roosevelt did in clearing the 
room of visitors. Those who had business shook their 
heads in displeasure, while tourists, of course, were 
pleased to be able to have something more than a snap- 
shot view of the chief magistrate, and were delighted to 
be able to carry on some little conversation with him. 
Whether following private secretaries succeeded in 
changing the new President's way of meeting these 
engagements, I have never heard. I left Washington 
shortly after Mr. Taft's inauguration. With the change 
of administration, Franklin MacVeagh succeeded Mr. Cor- 
telyou as Secretary of the Treasury. Being the chief of 
our department, I soon became acquainted with him, 

— WO — 

Official Life in Washington 

through the frequency of official interviews. It is a pleas- 
ure to say that he was a most capable man and an ideal 
selection for this important office. He had himself 
achieved great success in business and was an authority 
on banking matters, being a finely educated man and, 
beyond all, practical. He did much by his untiring efforts 
for new legislation on the currency question, and he 
accomplished more than was ever done before in stop- 
ping wastes in the general cost of running the government. 
He insisted upon the application of business methods in 
transacting the government's business, and in this way 
he succeeded in saving several millions of dollars per 
year in ordinary expenditures. If the American people 
appreciate the efforts of their officials in economical 
administration, his reputation will pass into the history of 
our country as excelling all others in this direction. 

George E. Roberts, a newspaperman of Iowa, who 
became the Director of the Mint not long after I entered 
the mint service, and who had served up to the time that 
I entered upon the duties of Director, early won a place in 
my heart on account of his kindly ways and generous con- 
sideration for those under his direction in the mint work. 
Besides, to know him was to be impressed with his intelli- 
gent ideas on all matters concerning our government and 
policies of administration, and economic questions in gen- 
eral. He was especially well informed on matters of 
finance, and moreover possessed a remarkable ability 
to write on the subject in a way to attract, interest, and 
instruct the ordinary reader. He had the rare power of 
stripping financial subjects of dryness and laying them 
before the people so that all who could read could under- 
stand them. He did more than any one writer in the 
United States to expose the fallacy »carried in the silver 
craze that swept over our country in 1896. To his efforts, 
more than any other person, belongs the credit of starting 
the agitation for a reform of our financial system which 

—m — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

finally resulted in the new Federal Reserve Bank Act. It 
was his trenchant pen that first pointed out in language 
that could be understood, that it was in the power of 
Congress to prevent the possibility of recurring financial 
panics by creating a financial system similar to the 
method common to every other civilized government of 
the world; that under our money system panics were not 
the outgrowth of poor business conditions, but were more 
the results of periods of prosperity. Mr. Roberts has con- 
tributed many valuable papers on economic questions to 
magazines and newspapers. 

In Washington, where rules of social life are so rigid 
and the performance of certain social obligations are so 
exacting, a person who has hi (her to lived a rather uncon- 
ventional life may be expected to be somewhat disturbed, 
and view what is required of him as a duty somewhat 
undesirable, if not disagreeable. I confess that this was 
my impression, although I was pleased to be able to 
attend two or three of the President's receptions. I had 
heard much of the magnificence of these affairs. I had 
considerable desire, if not curiosity, to be present at an 
assembly where the foremost ladies and gentlemen of 
our country had been gathered for social pleasures. These 
functions were regularly held each winter and were the 
principal events in Washington social life. They have 
been so frequently and minutely described that I will 
not attempt to give an account of my observations. It 
is, perhaps, needless to add that I avoided all per- 
functory social affairs other than those to which my 
official position required attendance. An amusing inci- 
dent occurred at an afternoon reception, given by a promi- 
nent banker of the city, which Mrs. Leach and I attended 
not very long after we had taken up our home in Wash- 
ington. There was no attempt in this affair to make a 
lavish display of wealth and there was more of a cordial 
and hospitable atmosphere than is usual in such functions. 

— 102 — 

Official Life in Washington 

Quite a number of prominent people were there, among 
whom were several representatives of foreign countries. 
The host, after introducing me to several of the visitors, 
finally escorted me to a seat by the side of a lady from 
New York State, to whom I was introduced with quite an 
elaborate mention of the official title of my position 
with the government. The lady was a trifle hard of 
hearing. The noise of the music and buzzing of conver- 
sation probably increased the difficulty of understanding 
distinctly what the host had said, for she misunderstood 
him and thought he had described me as an ambassador 
of some foreign country, the name of which she did not 
catch. Now this lady was one of thousands who come to 
Washington as sightseers and who esteem it a matter of 
great fortune to be able to talk with men prominent in 
the world, so that they can go back home and interest 
their friends with tales of association with what in 
Europe might be called the royalty of the country. I 
immediately discovered the lady's error and the love of 
humor prevented me from doing the courteous thing at 
once in correcting her. She commenced a series of rapid- 
fire questions leading to information concerning the 
country I represented. She was particularly anxious, and 
therefore I presumed she wanted to know just who I was 
so as to be able to decide whether I was worth while 
wasting any time on when there might be others of greater 
importance. She was too proud to confess a deficiency 
in hearing as an excuse for asking me what country I 
was from, and too polite to put the question direct. She 
wanted to know if Washington life differed from what I 
expected. I replied that I did not recall forming any 
thought upon the subject, but I could say that I found 
some difference in the way people observed social customs 
in Washington and my country. 

Next, how long had I enjoyed service of my country 
in the national capital? I truthfully replied, "Only for 
a few weeks." . , __ 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

So far I am sure my replies to her queries confirmed 
her in the belief that she almost had in her hands a live 
foreigner of distinction; and she did not conceal the 
pleasure it gave her. Now she wanted to know what 
kind of weather we had in my country, and if we had 
snow, and other questions as to climate. So I told her 
that people who were able to pay for it could in almost 
any month of the year have any kind of climate they 
desired. Six months of the year there was scarcely a 
fleck in the sky, and while on part of our land the sun 
beat down with almost tropical fierceness, yet such places 
were in sight of districts of most delightful temperature, 
as well as mountain sections, marked by the gleaming 
white of perpetual snow. In truth our climate was unsur- 
passed by that of any other country on the face of the 
globe. It was where living out of doors a greater part 
of the year was a delightful pleasure. My lady friend 
was plainly perplexed. Her questioning gave me oppor- 
tunity to speak of our magnificent trees, the palms, mag- 
nolias, the grand oaks, the lofty conifera of such great 
growth that one tree would make lumber sufficient to 
build a family house. Then I described the wonderful 
variety of wild flowers and their beauty, growing in such 
profusion in their season that they colored the landscape 
and were visible miles away. Our land was rich in varied 
productive qualities, and I knew of no place on earth that 
could surpass my country in the variety and excellence 
of the fruits from its plantations of pineapples and orange 
groves, its peach and apple orchards, and vineyards, etc. 
My lady's brow contracted; perhaps the mention of pine- 
apples, palms, and magnolias gave a hint of a possible 
Oriental origin for me. However, she brought the con- 
versation to a climax by the query if in my country it 
was lawful for men to have more than one wife. I was 
cornered, whether it was intentional on her part or not. 
I was pleased that it was so, for it was with difficulty I 

— 404 — 

Official Life in Washington 

had held my composure, and I felt I had gone further 
than proprieties should permit. Therefore I said: "My 
dear lady, you have evidently been laboring under a 
mistaken idea as to my country and my position, for I 
am no foreigner, and do not represent another country. 
I am just a plain, ordinary American, temporarily called 
to Washington to look after the conduct of Uncle Sam's 
mints. My home is no more than California, with all 
the attractions I have truthfully described to you." She 
was disappointed, and soon found excuse to devote her 
attention to others present. It so happened that in 
taking our departure from the gathering we left the apart- 
ments at the same time with this lady and were the only 
occupants of the descending elevator, but she gave not 
the slightest indication either by word or expression of 
countenance that she had ever held conversation with me, 
or had even seen me before. What had been an interest- 
ing and amusing incident to me evidently was a matter 
of disappointment to her, and she could not resist the 
opportunity of exercising her womanly privilege of ignor- 
ing my presence. I certainly did not blame her. 

The first twelve months or so in Washington passed 
most quickly. My time was so fully occupied with new 
and interesting duties, which with almost daily contact 
with the foremost men of the administration, as well as 
with many distinguished men who had business with the 
government, made my position highly interesting to me. 
I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to study at close range 
the characters of the men great in affairs, whose names 
were familiar to every citizen of our country, but of 
whom few people had any knowledge other than that 
pictured by the daily press, magazines, etc. After a while 
the novelty of all this wore off and there was more time 
to think of the dear ones and the old associates on the 
other side of the continent. In short, I began to long to 
return to our California home. I remember, when this 

— 405 — 

Recollections of a Netvspaperman 

feeling came on I wrote as follows to a friend who 
inquired how I liked my new position: "Washington is 
a most beautiful city and lovely place to live in, and there 
are lots of nice people here who do everything they can 
to make it pleasant for strangers like us. Nevertheless, 
they do not fill the places of friends and associates of a 
lifetime, and I must confess that I have begun to look for 
the day when I shall be packing my grips for permanent 
return to the Coast. Mrs. L. and Harry are ready to go 
any moment." However, the day did not come for some 
months following. In the summer of 1909 I received a 
telegram offering me the position of general manager of 
the People's Water Company of Oakland, my home city, 
and this gave me the excuse I wanted to sever my con- 
nection with the government service. I tendered my 
resignation, which took effect on August 1 of the above 
year, making exactly twelve years devoted by me to 
mint work with Uncle Sam. In accepting my resignation, 
Secretary MacVeagh sent me a letter of such a nature 
as to make a pleasing finish of my service with the 
Treasury Department. 

[The End] 

— W6 — 


Acapulco, 68. 

Adventure in the Sacramento flood, 5-6. 

Adventures, 5-6, 30-31, 32-33, 71-74, 79. 

Adventures at sea, 79. 

Aetna Springs, Napa County, residence at, 216-218. 

American River, adventure near, 30-31. 

Amusements at school, 51. 

Anthony & Morrill, 176. 

Argus, newspaper, 90-91. 

Armstrong, G. R., 323, 330. 

Arrival in Sacramento, 3. 

Atlantic voyage, 71-74. 


Balloting, methods in vogue in early days, 15-17, 21. 

Ballots, evils and abuses of, 19-21. 

"Baltimore Harry," 166. 

Barrett, Lawrence, 163-164. 

Bottles, value of, in early days, 28. 

Baxter, Capt., 61. 

Bear, (frizzly, 97. 

Bee-raising in Napa, 61. 

Bell, J. T., 260. 

Benton, Joseph A., 37. 

Bigelow, William S., 381. 

Booth, Newton, 184-185. 

Borland, Archie, 55. 

Bosqui, Edward, 110. 

Brannan, Samuel, 53. 

Braunhart. Samuel, 227-229. 

Bread made by Indians, remarkable character of, 95-96. 

Brenner, Victor D., 384. 

Brick buildings in Napa City, 45. 

Brooks, Benjamin S., 112. 

Burbank, W. F., 260. 

Burns, William J., 301. 

Business, early undertakings in, 64-65. 

California during the Civil War, 81-84. 

California Pacific Railroad Company, 143-144, 154-156. 

California Stage Company, 40-41. 

Calistoga, 53-54. 

Calistoga, mining around, 53-55. 

Carp, German, introduced into California, 168-169. 

"Carpetbaggers," political faction, 22. 

Catfish in Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, 167. 

Cavalry of Napa, unintentionally demoralized, 85-86. 

Chabot, Anthony, 158-160. 

Chagres River, 2. 

— kOl — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Chapman, privateer, 81. 

Chemist, a remarkable, 296-297. 

China Slough, 7. 

Chinese, execution of, 35-36. 

Chinese, murder of, in Sacramento, 35. 

Chinese servant, faithfulness of, 173-174. 

Chrome iron industry, 190-191, 192-193. 

Churches in Napa City, 48-49. 

Cinnabar discovered near Calistoga, 53-55. 

Cinnabar near Vallejo, 108. 

Cinnabar mining, 193-194. 

Civil War, efTect upon California, 81-84. 

Clams in San Francisco and San Pablo bays, 169. 

Coghlan, John M., 117. 

Coin, current in the '50s, 29. 

Coin, great transportation of, 387-391. 

Coinage of 1907, 374-387. 

Cold weather, 6-8. 

Comstock mining excitement, 196-198. 

Comstock mining shares, value of, 198. 

Conkling, Roscoe, 231. 

Consolidated Virginia mining stock, 198. 

Coombs, Judge, 212. 

Coombs, Nathan, 61. 

Co-operative plan for shipbuilding, 187-188. 

Cortelyou, George B., 388-389, 391. 

County seat of Solano, bitter contest over, 182-185. 

Criminal ingenuity of Mint cashier, 305-312. 

Crooked politician, a, 278-279. 

Crossing the isthmus, 2. 

Crown Point mining stock, 198. 

Curious accident. 125-126. 

Curtis, W. E., 231. 

Cyanide process, difficulties imposed on Mint, 296. 


Daggett, John, 289. 

Daily Reporter, newspaper, 115-119. 

Daley, George, 111. 

Dangerous adventure, 30. 

Daniels, G. B., 289. 

Dare, John T., 89-90. 

Dean, Coll, 55. 

Debate between McKenna and Luttrell, 205-208. 

Dewoody, T. J., 106-108. 

Deyaert, Father, 48-49. 

de Young brothers, 111. 

Directory of Vallejo, 136. 

Dornin, George W., 359. - 

Dramatic Chronicle, newspaper, 111-112. 

Dramatic experiences, 160-165. 

Dynamite, use of, in San Francisco fire of 1906, 341-344. 


Early boy scout organization, 37. 

Early life, 1. 

Earthquake of 1868, 132-133. 

— *08 — 


Earthquake of 1906, 313-315. 

Eccentric printer, an, 185-187. 

Echo, early Napa newspaper, 113. 

Eckert, W. R., 135. 

Edgerton, Henry, 84. 

Eels, freshwater, 167-168. 

Eggs, unfortunate disaster, 107. 

Election evils and abuses, 19. 

Election tickets, 15-17, 19, 23-26. 

Elections in early days, 14. 

Emblem of Liberty, 385-386. 

En right, Joseph, 57. 

Enright & Leach threshing machine, 57-58. 

Escape drowning, 5-6. 

Eureka, name originally proposed for City of Vallejo, 138. 

Execution, public, in Sacramento, 35-36. 

Executions, demoralizing effects upon spectators, 36. 

Expedition against the Indians, 136-137. 

Fairfield, county seat of Solano, attempt to remove, 182-185. 

Family reunion, 69-70. 

Farming in Napa County, 55-58. 

Farming methods, 55-58. 

Farnham, S. C, 237, 239, 251. 

Farragut, David, 141, 210. 

Farragut Hall and theater, 210, 219. 

Fatal accident to young companion, 77. 

Felton, John B., 194. 

Figueroa, Jose, expedition of, against the Indians, 136-137. 

Financial difficulties, 144. 

Fire department of Vallejo, 198-201. 

Fire of 1906 at San Francisco, 317-367. 

First Baptist Church, Sacramento, 57. 

First dollar earned by author, 65. 

First house erected in Vallejo, 138. 

First public school in Sacramento, 10. 

First railroad in California, 31-32. 

Fish culture in California, 165-170. 

Fisher, "Bill," stage driver, 119^120. 

Flour mill at St. Helena, 59. 

Flour mill at Yountville, 59. 

Flour mills of Napa Valley, 58-59. 

Friedlander, Isaac, 146-147. 

Frisbie, John B., 61, 103, 142, 146. 

Fruit growing in Napa Valley, 59-60. 

Fruit raising on Suscol Rancho, 108-109. 


Gagan, William, 177. 

Gambling at the State Fair, 39-40. 

German carp, 168-169. 

Grain elevator at Vallejo, 146-149, 170. 

Grain elevator, collapse of, 147. 

Grant, Ulysses S., 211, 233-234. 

Grant, Ulysses S., Jr., 211. 

Great fire of San Francisco, 1906, 317-320, 327-329. 

— 409 — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Great fire of San Francisco, use of dynamite in, 341-344. 

Great railway strike of 1894, 265-273. 

Great Valley, New York, 76. 

Gregg, Livingston, 115. 

Gregg, Wellington, 369. 

Gregg, Wilmington, 119. 

Green, E. H., 141. 

Green. Seth, 165. 

Greenbacks, unpopularity of, in California, 120. 

Grizzly bear, adventure with, 97. 

Gold, large amounts of, handled in Mint at San Francisco, 295. 

Gold mining in Napa County, 53-55. 

Gunpowder and small boys, 34. 


Hale, Governor, of New Hampshire, 195-196, 234. 

Hale, Eugene, 233. 

Hall, Mrs. T. W., 148. 

Hammill, Joseph, 360. 

Harrier, D. W., 121, 238, 257. 

Harrison, W. P., 111. 

Hartson, Chancellor, 125, 129, 225. 

Haskins, D. C, steamer, 145. 

Haslit, alias "Pilgrim," 185-187. 

Hatteras, Cape, storm experienced off, 69. 

Hawes, T. W., 322. 

Hessian fly, in California, 246-247. 

Hilborn, S. G., 24, 201, 287. 

"Hobbs the office-seeker," anecdote of, 127-129. 

Honey industry, in Napa, 61. 

Hooker, Joseph, 211-212. 

Howell, J. I., 90, 176-178. 

Hubbs, Paul K., 141. 

"Hulks," description of, 33-34. 

Humboldt County, discovery of oil in, 91. 

Hunting trip, 51-52. 

Huxley, Thomas, anecdote of, 50. 


Illumination, early methods of, 13. 

Indians of Napa, 46. 

Insurance losses, paid in fire of 1906, 359. 

Interest rates in California, 226. 

Irving, Samuel C, 148. 

Isthmus of Panama, 1. 


Jackson, J. P., 141, 152-154, 172. 197-198, 213-214. 

Joseph Perkins, schooner, 188-189. 

Journey to California, 1. 

Judd, Orange, 141. 

Junk, a source of profit to small boys, 28-29. 

Juvenile attempt at oratory. 38-39. 


Kearney, Denis. 229-230. 
Kerfoot, Lee, 302, 303, 304, 305. 

— 4*0 — 


Kilburn, Ralph, 59. 
King, Homer S., 367, 369. 
Klink, N. B., 148. 
Knowland, Congressman, 300. 

Lakeville, 137. 
Land titles, 102. 
Leach, Abraham, 157. 
Edwin, 172-174. 
Edwin W., 12, 41, 57-58. 
Frank A., acquires interest in Oakland Enquirer, 259-260. 

aids passage of Bill 404, 223-225. 

appointed Acting Secretary of the Treasury, 395. 

appointed member of the Assay Commission, 281. 

becomes Director of U. S. Mint at Washington, 368. 

becomes ranch owner, 241-242. 

begins career in planing mill, 88. 

constructs printing press model, 175. 

delegate to Legislature, 217, 241, 243-245. 

difficulties and embarrassments while in Mint, 300-312. 

earns first dollar, 65. 

enters employ of Edward Bosqui, 110-112. 

enters office of Napa Register, 90. 

establishes Benicia New Era, 255. 

establishes Napa Daily Reporter, 115. 

establishes printing office at Napa, 114. 

establishes Vallejo Chronicle, 121. 

establishes Vallejo Review, and Evening Chronicle, 252. 

exposes defaulting cashier of U. S. Assay Office, Seattle, 

exposes swindling scheme, 391-395. 

in search of oil in Humboldt County, 92-98. 

inaugurates publication of public records, 180. 

installs Hoe cylinder press, 274. 

institutes changes in the Mint, 291-292. 

investigates extravagance in Government printing office, 

Joins infantry company, 81. 
eaves Sacramento, 42. 

made Postmaster of Vallejo, 249. 

makes Eastern trip in 1880. 230-237. 

marries, 148. 

moves to Oakland, 258. 

practices economy, 89. 

president of Vallejo Board of Trade, 190. 

purchases brick building in Vallejo, 171-172. 

real estate, transactions of, 213-215. 

sells Oakland Enquirer, 289. 

speculates in lots in Vallejo, 174-175. 

Superintendent of U. S. Mint at San Francisco, 289-312. 

target practice of, 84-85. 
Legislative Bill 404, history of, 223-225. 
Legislature of 1854, 39. 

passes state uniform ballot, 26-27. 
Liberty, emblem of, described, 385-386. 

Lincoln, Abraham, assassination of, effect upon California, 84-85. 
Luttrell, J. K., 204-209. 

— kit — 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 


McClatchy. James, 177. 

MacCrellish, Fred, 211. 

McCullough, John, 163-164. 

Machinery and methods employed in U. S. Mint at San Francisco, 

McKenna,' Joseph, 183, 203-207, 209-210, 222, 238, 287. 
MacVeagh, Franklin, 400. 
Mattole River, 92, 95. 
May, W. B., 224, 225. 
Medill, Joseph, 141. 
Methodist Church in Napa City, 48. 

college in Napa, 51. 
Mexican Califormans in Napa, 46-48. 
Mighels, Henry, 179. 
Miller, John F., 243, 250. 
Milliken Canyon, 157. 
Mining, chrome iron, 190-191. 

Comstock excitement, 196-198. 

in Napa in early times, 53-55. 
Mint at San Francisco, see U. S. Mint at San Francisco. 
Mizner, L. B., 255. 
Moffitt, F. J., 259. 
Montgomery, Alexander, 113-114. 
Morrill, Paul, 177, 178. 
Morrill, Senator, 386. 
Mount Davidson Tunnel, 139. 
Murder of Manuel Vera, 104-105. 


Napa cavalry, unintentionally demoralized, 85-86. 
city, churches of, 48-49. 
fire protection of, 117. 
first building erected in, 61. 
in early days, 45-46. 
laid out, 61. 

school in early days, 47. 
county, character of population of. 46-48. 
chrome iron deposits in, 190-191. 
oil excitement in, 100-101. 
Echo, newspaper, 113. 
Junction, railroad to, 132. 
Register, newspaper, 90, 113. 
Reporter, newspaper, 113, 115-119. 
Valley, general description of, 51-61. 
Navy yard, men employed in, 212. 
Neate, John, 193-195. 
New constitution, 218. 
New Era, newspaper, 255. 
New World, steamer, 144-145. 
Nye, A. B., 148-151, 222, 260, 284, 290. 


Oak Knoll Orchard, 59. 

Oakland, City of, Water Front Company, 282-286. 

Oakland Enquirer, newspaper, 259-260, 289. 

Express, newspaper, 256-257. 

News,, newspaper, 177. 

— 4/2 — 


Oil in Humboldt County, 91. 

Osborn, B. T., 138. 

"Othello/' early performance of, in Vallejo, 164. 

Oysters in California waters, 169. 

'Talace cars," early type of, 191. 

Panama steamers in 1859, described, 66-67. 

Pardee, George, 284. 

Patchet, John, 60. 

Peach pits, valuable in early days, 28. 

Pendergast, Wirt, 117. 

Pennycook, W. D., 251. 257. 

Perkins, George C, 280-281, 365. 

Petaluma Creek, 137. 

Petrolia, Town of, 92, 96. 

Phylloxera, 60. 

Pierce, Harrison, 61. 

Pierson, G. C, 146. 

Pigeon potpies, poor eating, 98. 

"Pilgrim," eccentric printer, 185-187. 

Pixley, Frank, 232-233. 

Political crook, a, 278-279. 

torchlight processions, 11. 
Politics, 175-176, 217-242, 252-253, 275-276, 287-288. 

in Vallejo, 129-130. 
Population of Vallejo, 136. 
Postmaster of Vallejo, 249, 253. 
Potter, Nathaniel, 75, 76. 
Powell, Abraham, 147. 

Mary Louise, 147-148. 
Presbyterian Church in Napa, 48. 
Presidential campaign of 1880, 230-237. 
Printing press model constructed by author, 175. 

used in Vallejo office, 135-136. 
Providence, R. I., at opening of Civil War, 75. 
Pullman railway strike, 265-273. 


Quicksilver discovered at Calistoga, 53-54. 
mining, 193-194. 


Railroad, California Pacific Company, 143-144, 154-156. 

Central Pacific Company, 156. 

first in Sacramento, 31-32. 

Napa Valley, 155. 

Stockton and Copperopolis, 155. 
Railroads, "palace cars," early type of, 191. 

traveling overland in 1S75, 191-192. 
Railway strike of 1894, 265-273. 
Ranch life, 241-242, 245-250, 254-255. 
Real estate transactions, 142, 171-172, 213-215. 
Redding, B. B., 165. 
Register, Napa, newspaper, 113. 
Relief fund, handled temporarily at Mint, 339, 349. 
Reporter, Napa, newspaper, 113, 115-119. 
Return to California during Civil War, 78-80. 

— 4/5 

Recollections of a Newspaperman 

Revenue and tax laws, Bill 404, 223-225. 

Rice, Doctor, 146. 

Rickard, T. A., 298. 

Road from Sacramento to Napa, described, 92-93. 

Robbins, R. D., 222. 

Roberts, George E., 366, 368, 401. 

Roffee, maternal family of author, 69. 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 375-377, 381, 383, 397-399. 

Russian River Valley, 92-93. 

Sacramento Bee, newspaper, 177. 

departure from, 41-42. 

disastrous fire of 1854, 10. 

fire of 1852, 4. 

first public school, 10. 

flood of 1852, 3-5. 

in early days, 40. 

railway strike of 1 894, 269. 

stage companies, 40-41. 

Sunday schools, 37. 

Union, newspaper, 177. 
San Francisco earthquake of 1906, 313-315. 

fire of 1906, 317-320, 327-329, 331-334. 
correspondence, 360-367. 
freaks of, 344-345. 
loss of life estimated, 346. 
losses and insurance, 359-360. 
losses and reconstruction, 352-356. 
strange effects of, 356-359. 
use of dynamite in, 341-344. 

Mint, see U. S. Mint at San Francisco. 

Sub-treasury, new site and building, 395. 
Saint Gaudens, Augustus, 374, 375, 376. 

criticism of his designs, 378-380. 

designs coinage of 1907, 374. 
Saint Helena, flour mill at, 59. 
Saint John mine. 108, 193-196. 
Saint Johns, N. B., winter in, 70-71. 
Salamanca, N. Y., founded, 77. 
San Pablo Engine Company, 199. 
"Sandlot" politics, 229-230. 
Santa Rosa, wrecked, 79-80. 
Sargent, A. A., 193, 262-264. 
Sarven patent, 12. 
Sawyer. E. H., 182. 
School life in Sacramento, 8-10. 
Sebastopol, flour mill at, 59. 
Selby Smelting and Lead Company, 308. 
Selling a stove, 29. 
Seymour, John F., 389. 
Shad in California, 165, 167. 
Shaw, Leslie, 362. 
Sherman, E. A., 37-38. 
Shipbuilding, co-operative plan for, 187-188. 

in Vallejo, 189-190. 
Shotgun, history of a, 61-64. 
Shuck, Reverend, 37. 

— kU — 


"Silurians," political faction, 22. 

Silver in Napa County, 54-55. 

Silverado, 55. 

Skating in Sacramento, 7. 

Smith, Andrew. 261-262. 

Snow, R. W., 126. 

Solano County, how named, 138. 

Sonoma founded, 137. 

Soscol, see Suscol. 

Soule, W. B., 251. 

Southern sympathizers in California, 81. 

Squatter difficulties, 103-105. 

Squatters murder Manuel Vera, 104-105. 

Stage companies of Sacramento, 40-41. 

Stage driver, early day, 119-120. 

Stanford. Mrs. Leland, 273. 

Star of the West, steamer, 68. 

State Fair, gambling at, 39-40. 

State Printer, contest for office of, 176. 

State Sportsmen's Association, 165, 166. 

Steamers to Panama, description of, 66-68. 

Steinhart, I., 369. 

Stillwagon, W. W., 54. 100-101. 

Stock gambling, 196-198. 

Strange effects of San Francisco fire of 1906, 356-359. 

Strong, L. H., 90. 

Studebaker, of Chicago, formerly a Calif ornian, 41. 

Sturgeon at Vallejo. 169-170. 

Sunday schools in Sacramento, 37. 

Supreme Court of United States, decision in land grants, 105-106. 

Suscol Rancho, 59. 105-106, 108, 137. 

acquired by W. N. Thompson, 108. 

origin, of name, 137. 
Sutro, Adolph, 139. 

Tunnel Company, value of shares, 139-140. 
Swimming hole in Sacramento, hard experience in, 32-33. 
Swindling scheme exposed, 391-395. 


Taft, "William H.. 399-400. 

"Tapeworm" ticket, 20-26. 

Tawney, James A., 388. 

Telegrams sent during fire of 1906, 329-330, 334, 340. 

Thompson, Captain, 59. 

James. 109. 

J. B., 61. 

Simpson, 108. 

William Neely, 108. 
Threshing machines, 56-58. 
Toccao, steamer, 89. 
Traveling overland in 1875, 191-192. 
Tyler, George W., 227-229. 


United States Government Printing Office, 396-397. 
United States Mint at San Francisco, 289-312. 

correspondence during fire of 1906, 362-367. 

how saved from fire of 1906, 322-327. 

in fire of 1906, 360. 

machinery in, 290-291. — 4*5 — 


Recollections of a Newspaperman 

United States Mint at San Francisco (continued) 

relief fund handled at, 339, 349. 

transfer of funds after fire of 1906, 336. 

duties of Director, 370-373. 

great transportation of coin to Denver, 387-391. 

new coinage of 1907, 374-387. 
United States Assay Office, Seattle — 

remarkable crime, detection of the criminal, 301-312. 

Vacaville, 220-221. V 

Valleio Chronicle, newspaper, 24, 121-130, 133-134, 136, 237-238. 
City of, 22, 102-103, 108, 157, 170-171. 

awakening of activity in, 131-132. 

Board of Trade organized, 190. 

business of, in 1869, 140. 

capital of California, 138. 

directory of, 136. 

Ore department of, 198-201. 

first house erected in, 138. 

grain elevator at, 146-147. 
istory of, and how named, 136-138. 
Indians of, 136-137. 
politics of, 129-130, 182-185, 204-209. 
population of, 136. 
water supply of, 157-160. 
Valleio Dramatic Association, 160*165. 
Evening Chronicle, newspaper, 252. 
Mariano Guadelupe, 61, 103, 105, 138. 
gives state house at Valleio, 108. 
fand grant or, 102-103, 137. 
Dr. Platon, son of General, 136. 
Railroad Company, 145-146. 
Recorder, newspaper, 121. 
Review, newspaper, 252. 
Salvador, 60. 
Vanderlip, F. A., 363. 
Veeder, E. P., 48. 

Vera, Manuel, killed by squatters, 104-105. 
"Very superior chemist," a, 296-297. 
Vineyards in Napa Valley, 59-60. 
Voyage to Atlantic Coast in 1859, 66-69. 
perilous experiences during, 71-74. 


Wakeman, Ned, 145. 

Water Front Company, of Oakland, 282-286. 

Water supply of valleio, 157-160. 

Wells Fargo & Co., 389. 

West Oakland, railwav strike of 1894, 270-273. 

Wheeler, Charles, 146. 

Whitney, George E., 259. 261. 

Wilson, E. J., 157, 174, 213, 241. 

Wines, Captain, 89. 

Winter in St. Johns, N. B., 70-71. 

Worthington, Bert, 148. 

Wylie, Richard, 48.