The de Young Museum, the Chronicle, sweet treats and getting away with murder: San Francisco traditions. Part 2.

See Part 1.

Charles de Young shoots Rev. I. S. Kollach

Charles de Young shoots Rev. I. S. Kollach

The story begins with a couple of brothers from St. Louis named Dejung or some such, who started an entertainment-oriented newspaper in San Francisco back in the 1860’s. Charles was the real instigator, and his brother Michael Henry Dejung was the business manager (another brother, Adolph, was in on it, but he sort of faded out for a long time; more on him later).

They named their rag the Daily Dramatic Chronicle. Then, as now, San Francisco was a pretty wild town, and Charles’ approach was no-holds barred populism and yellow journalism, with a little blackmail on the side. The Chronicle’s circulation grew rapidly, and soon the de Youngs, as they began to call themselves, were powerful movers and shakers in San Francisco politics.

A little background: During and after the Civil War, an influx of Chinese labor helped to build the railroads and provide cheap labor for a variety of other services and industries. Xenophobia and racism emerged, and in 1879 an election was being held, to decide whether to adopt a new state constitution that would make it easier to discriminate against the Chinese. One of the leaders of the anti-Chinese movement was a demagogue named Denis Kearney (not as in Kearny Street). He addressed his followers, called the Workingmen, on a vacant lot at Grove and Larkin, next to City Hall, which came to be called the “Sand Lot;” hence the Workingmen’s nickname, the “Sand Lotters.” Kearney recruited a rascally newly-arrived Baptist preacher named Issac S. Kalloch, who had been run out of a lot of places for certain bad habits. Nonetheless, Kalloch was possessed of a powerful oratorical style and a talent for pamphleteering, and he used his magic to attract a congregation of several thousand of the unwashed, and a couple of wealthy patrons, as well. These believers built him a venue, called the Metropolitan Temple, on Fifth, near Mission. From his pulpit Kalloch spewed forth his righteous invectives on both the evils of the Yellow Man and the transgressions of his sinning congregation. chinese-must-go“The Chinese Must Go” was their infamous slogan.

Well, The new constitution passed, and the next order of business for Kearney and the Workingmen was to elect Rev. Kalloch the next mayor of San Francisco. But for some reason, probably related to the fact that the moneyed interests of the city were terrified by the Workingmen, Charles de Young and the Chronicle decided to oppose Kalloch, and things got dirty. kearnycommieDe Young threatened to publish lurid accounts of Kalloch’s indescretions, and, in turn, Kalloch denounced the de Young brothers as bastards, the Chronicle as an unspeakable evil, and, as the cherry on top, made their mother out to have been a madame in St. Louis.

Well, the next day, Charles hired a closed buggy, made sure his pistol was loaded, and rode down to Fifth and Mission, where he directed his driver to tell the Reverend that a woman was waiting outside to talk to him. When Kalloch duly appeared, de Young shot him from inside the cab, then shot him again as the Reverend tried to run away. After the shooting, a number of Kalloch’s supporters tipped over de Young’s cab, and would probably have killed him, but for the intervention of a passing cop. The exact site of the Reverend’s wounds, which were termed “severe,” is clouded in the mists of history, particularly since Kalloch was cared for inside the Temple. Some have suggested that “flesh wound” would have been a better description. At any rate, any gunshot wound in those days was potentially life-threatening (recall that President Garfield would die of complications, two months after being shot in 1881).

Well, Charles was arrested briefly, and when released on bail, fled to Mexico while things sorted themselves out. Good news/bad news: Kalloch won the election, and suddenly emerged from his sick bed. Charles de Young returned to face only attempted murder charges. Over the next few months, Charles assigned his best blackmailers muckrakers to dig up dirt on the Reverend. In the spring of 1880, ten days before the trial was slated to begin, Charles, in an ill-advised attempt to contaminate the jury pool, published the accumulated slime in a sixty-page pamphlet smearing Kalloch:
The "Twinkie" that set off Isaac M. Kalloch

Kalloch’s 26-year-old son Isaac Milton Kalloch got ahold of an advance copy, and went “ballistic.” He got himself a gun, and a few stiff “shots”, and weaved by the Chronicle offices. Seeing Charles through the window, he entered and fired a number of times (mebbe 4, mebbe 6, mebbe an impossible 7) while pursuing the publisher to a desk, where apparently de Young’s pistol was stored. Before Charles could manage to get off a shot, however, young Kollach scored a frontal bulls-eye, an inch from to de Young’s nose, resulting in near-instant death.

As the shooting occurred in early evening, a number of people were on the street. Their response was telling. When de Young’s lifeless body was loaded into an ambulance for the trip to the morgue, the crowd grew nasty, hooting and ridiculing the dead man. Not surprisingly, a number of “witnesses” mysteriously appeared, ready and willing to testify that Charles de Young had actually fired back at Kalloch, hoping to lay the groundwork for a self-defense strategy. However, when the case went to trial in the spring of 1881, the discerning court responded by charging and convicting one such liar for perjury, and sending him to prison. Nonetheless, the de Young pamphlet was Kalloch’s “Twinkie,” and he was acquitted, mostly because Charles de Young and the Chronicle were so hated.

Michael H. de Young, 1885

Michael H. de Young, 1885

With Charles gone, Michael aka M. H. de Young became the head man at the Chronicle. He started off with a bang, hiring Chicago architects Burnham and Root (see “The Devil and the White City”) to design a new ten-story home for he Chronicle at Kearny and Market, the first steel-framed structure in the city. But it wasn’t long before M.H. got himself in difficulty. spreckels
In 1884, The Chronicle ran a piece alleging corruption in the Spreckels sugar company. In an eerie reprise of 1880, Adolph Spreckels brought a gun into the Chronicle offices in the early evening and shot Michael twice, in the left chest and shoulder (and once in a city directory that Michael used to protect himself). De Young’s life was spared by the fact that the more accurate of the two bullets struck his clavicle instead of the underlying left subclavian artery. Of course, Spreckels was acquitted. “Of course,” because, as Ambrose Bierce put it, “Hatred of de Young is the first and best test of a gentleman.” And, because Spreckels, like Kalloch four years earlier, was defended by the brilliant Henry E. Highton (As far as we know, Highton did not attempt to convince the jury that Spreckels might have been indulging in too many family-produced sweet treats).

Well, by this time it was becoming clear to the city fathers and to their principal scumbag publicist, M. H. de Young, that the environment and the image of San Francisco was not that of a civilized community that would attract growth and investment, or even allow for the longterm survival of its most hated individual. Furthermore, the Hearsts had come to town, and had out-yellowed and outstripped the Chronicle with the “Examiner,” and won a senate seat in the bargain. Looking for a way to refurb the civic reputation, polish his own image (and make a few bucks on his extensive property holding in western San Francisco), de Young settled on the idea of a great exposition in Golden Gate Park. The California Midwinter International Exposition opened in Golden Gate Park in January, 1894, and more than 1.3 million people visited the fair.

And that, my friends, is how the de Young museum was built. It was originally the Exposition’s Fine Arts building, and supposed to be a temporary structure, to be torn down in 1894, but de Young had a better idea: make it a permanent art museum, to exhibit the cultural accomplishments of California artists, draw people to the western end of the city, increase his property values, and create a permanent monument to himself. So he had the building made of stone, and offered it to the city after the exposition closed. He later donated a bigger building to house the rather pedestrian collections.

Original Fine Arts building

Original Fine Arts building

Nonetheless, Michael de Young continued to be a pariah. It didn’t help that brother Adolph (remember him?) showed up on the public dole as a bereft homeless person, while Mike lived it up on the millions generated by the paper that Adolph had helped to found. The de Youngs’ old enemies, the Spreckels, ran the muckraking San Francisco Call paper, and dogged Michael’s every step until 1914, when de Young and Hearst colluded to buy the Call and silence its editorial voice, if not its publication. Without the Call nipping at his heels, the image of the de Youngs began to improve. The de Young daughters married captains of local industry, and, under different surnames, began to control San Francisco society. Most importantly, Michael passed on in 1925, leaving the paper in the hands of one of his sons-in-law, George Cameron.

The original museum building had been damaged by the earthquakes in 1906, and in 1926 it was declared unsafe and was demolished in 1929. The de Young family contributed funds for a new building, built in 1933, which was called the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum

de Young Memorial Museum ca. 1933

de Young Memorial Museum ca. 1933

This building, in turn, was damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, leading to extensive bracing, and the planning for the new building, which was completed in 2005. It is as beloved now as its namesake was once hated.

A few loose ends:

Rev. Kalloch completed his term as mayor, then split for the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where he promptly fell on a pier, hit his head, and died. His son, the indignant Rev.Isaac M. Kalloch, became a successful attorney and lived out his years in the East Bay.

The Chronicle was pretty good back in the 50′-70’s, under the leadership of Michael’s grandson Charles de Young Thieriot and editor Scott Newhall. Herb Caen coined the word “beatnik” in 1957, and popularized the term ‘hippie.” He won a special award from the Pulitzer committee in 1996, and died of cancer in 1997. Without him, The Chronicle began to suck. The far-flung Chronicle enterprises, which now included extensive publishing, newspaper and television holdings, proved to be more than the increasingly-divided family could manage. Once again, the family was making news as well as reporting it.

They finally sold the Chrony in 2000, to the Hearsts, surprise. In turn, the Hearsts rid themselves of the Examiner, which became a free tabloid, leaving the Chronicle as the only daily broadsheet newspaper in the City.

And now it sucks big-time.

Acquitted double-murderer, convicted double-involuntary-manslaughterer Dan White served a little more than five years; I somehow suspect the other inmates were not kind to him. Or maybe he ate too many Ding Dongs. For whatever reason, he later committed suicide.

Adolph Spreckels, unsuccessful murderer, fared better. He succeeded his father as head of the Spreckels empire, and built and furnished the Palace of the Legion of Honor. He married Alma De Bretteville, the model for the statue in Union Square.union
Pretty sweet.

Actor Max Thieriot is the great great grandson of Charles de Young.
Not my type, but I don’t know of anyone who hates him.

Does that tie up all the loose ends? one more: the whole idea behind the “Twinkie defense” has been discredited by medical science…for whatever that’s worth…..


Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “The de Young Museum, the Chronicle, sweet treats and getting away with murder: San Francisco traditions. Part 2.

  1. Pingback: The de Young Museum, the Chronicle, and getting away with murder: San Francisco traditions. Part 1. « Over the line, Smokey!

  2. Pingback: Mud-slinging, Mayhem & Murder « Gary Ghertner's family blog

  3. Pingback: Ghertner Genealogy Blog » Mud-slinging, Mayhem & Murder

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s