Finding One Thing While Looking For Another – My Usual MO

Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library and the Press Democrat launched a new project last Sunday in the Towns section. If you missed it here's a link

The idea is to provide the Press Democrat with photos from the Library’s vast collection of historic images. In most cases a professional Press Democrat photographer will then be assigned to capture the same vantage point so as to provide a now perspective.

In other situations we may provide a photo that needs further identification. Each situation will be different. The plan is to show images that represent all parts of Sonoma County and get the word out about the amazing photo collection (40,000+) maintained by the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library.

The Towns editor Linda Castrone asked me how I find photos that might be considered as features. The easy answer is – usually by looking for something else.

For example when Kevin McCallum, a Press Democrat reporter, was looking for historic images of the former PG&E plant on First and E Streets in Santa Rosa I went to the Library’s catalog and typed in E Street as the subject. Much to my surprise a photo of a memorial to Dr. Anabel McGaughey Stuart came up. Why did this happen? Turns out that the memorial was located at 211 E Street – site of the current Santa Rosa Central Library.

I found this quite interesting. I knew that Dr. Stuart was one of Sonoma County’s first female doctors (great subject for a National Women’s History Month blog post), but I wasn’t aware of the memorial. When and where was it installed? Where did it go?

My research began with Santa Rosa A Nineteenth Century Town by Gaye LeBaron, Dee Blackman, Joann Mitchell and Harvey Hansen in which I learned that “in a community where nearly all the physicians were general practitioners who treated entire families through two and three generations, “beloved” was not an unusual adjective to attach to a doctor’s name. But none in Santa Rosa were more beloved than the woman known to her patients as “Doctor Dear.” Anabel McGaughey Stuart, a leader in the Santa Rosa medical community in the last decades of the 19th century, practiced in Santa Rosa until her death in 1914, when her patients dedicated a fountain to her memory in the little park next to the library.”

As I delved further into the subject I discovered that the “little park next to the library” was Santa Rosa’s first public park and was established by the Woman’s Improvement Club just prior to the installation of the Anabel McGaughey Stuart Memorial.

More research is needed to determine what happened to this park and the memorial, but I suspect they were demolished when the “old” Carnegie Library was torn down following its closure in 1960. Chances are there is someone out there with firsthand knowledge. As best I can tell the park now sits beneath the driveway between the Central Santa Rosa Library and the annex to the former Rosenberg’ department store at 720 Fourth Street (Empire Eye Doctors).

About Katherine J. Rinehart

Katherine J. Rinehart received a MA in History from Sonoma State University in 1994. For the past 19 years, Ms. Rinehart has worked in various positions within the fields of Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation and is currently employed by the Sonoma County Library where she has worked in the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Department since 2002. Katherine is the author of Petaluma: A History in Architecture, a contributor to Celebrating Petaluma published by the Petaluma Sesquicentennial Committee and the Petaluma Visitors Program. Ms. Rinehart is an occasional contributor to the Press Democrat and is proud to be a Petaluma Good Egg.
This entry was posted in Historic Buildings, People, Photos, Santa Rosa. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finding One Thing While Looking For Another – My Usual MO

  1. Jeanne Robinson says:

    Great research on the fountain dedicated to Dr. Anabel McGaughey Stuart!!

  2. Kim says:

    I saw the article in the paper and I am pleased it will be a regular feature – I am always fascinated by “earlier” and “later” pictures.

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