It may interest you to know that Dr. Dodge's descendants are of the belief that he was murdered. Washington Dodge Jr. never accepted the "official" report following the investigation and expressed his beliefs to his children, and to author, Walter Lord.
Arthur Dodge, Dr. Dodge's grandson, told me that his father, Washington Jr., was always stung that there were no witnesses to his father's death ~ and that while Dr. Dodge was suffering under the strain of the criminal investigations in San Francisco, he was a man devoted to his family and would have never committed such a "cowardly" deed.
I have sent a private e-mail to Jan Nielsen, but I also wanted to express my thanks here on the ET for such an outstanding and well-researched article. I know that Arthur Dodge will be very interested to read it as well.
I'm glad you share my doubts about the suicide. It just doesn't fit the man's behavior up to that point of his life to desperately shot himself while being railroaded. However, it does fit both the politics and underworld of the times to have him killed because he would be too tenacious in clearing his good name to the detriment of the real crooks. Remember the fate of Chief Biggy his death has never been solved either and he too was about to blow the roof off corrupt political and business interests that involved the police department.
Its too bad the transcripts of the inquest didn't survive. It would be interesting to hold this post mortem today.
Thanks for the interesting feedback. I am not disagreeing with you. If you look in the footnotes, one of them states that I decided not to take a position on whether Dodge was murdered. It's quite possible that he was.
But even if he was murdered, I think that the article's premise, i.e., that Dodge suffered from psychological trauma (his "iceberg" in the post-Titanic years, so to speak) remains valid. Given his behavior at the May 11, 1912 speech (where he broke down and cried), and the statements of McNab and the coroner that he was having mental problems -- whether he was killed or not, he definitely had a serious unresolved trauma to deal with. The point that I'm trying to get across is that Dodge suffered from a psychological injury that was with him wherever he went, and that may have destroyed him -- even if someone else, in the end, pulled the trigger.
As the article states, one way or another, his time may have come.
That's very interesting, Mike. For years, his practice was at his residence, on Van Ness Street -- according to phone books that I looked in. I suspect that around 1900 he split up with Alice Lampson Shepard, moved to the Fairmont, and took his practice there, too. As the article states, he divorced her in 1902. By the way, I added a picture of the Anglo London Paris National Bank to the article. This is the bank that Dodge worked at after he returned from the Titanic disaster.
Jan, I especially was impressesd with the article about W Dodge. There was quite a bit I learned, and the time line of events always befuddled me. About the debate over his death, I always was told, and I remember his son telling me, that Washington killed himself. The word Survivor's guilt was part of my vocabulary since I was achild. Despite all the questions, his son, and grandson were always led to believe he killed himself- and I should think that if that was any different it would have been suggested years ago- because the stigma of a suicide is a lot harder for a family to deal with- yet his family always owned up to that-
Thanks, Jennifer, for the nice feedback, and interesting comments on the suicide/murder issue. Actually, I did cite to Ostler's article about the "Ghost Of Titanic Survivor" in a footnote. Because we have mostly a conservative, "I'm-From-Missouri" type of membership on this board, other than that, I didn't get into the ghost story hardly at all. I would really like to gain access to the basement of 840 Powell, where the ghost has been seen, and look around.
Prior to my father's death, he had several convrsations with Ostler- and some contact with the Rodriguez family, last residents to see "the ghost". In fact, my father had planned a trip to San Fran in July to visit same. I would be interested in poking around as well!
Yes, Jennifer, when I was looking through the archive in the History Collection at the San Francisco Public Library, I did see a reference to Henry Dodge's obituary --- but I didn't look it up. I can check into getting you a copy of that, the next time I'm there.
Henry lived in San Francisco all his life, and I don't think that he had a family, or at least, any kids. I think your father told me in an email that he met Henry, and even went swimming with him at the historic Sutro Baths, near the Cliff House in San Francisco. The Baths were closed in the 1960s, caught fire, and were destroyed. Only the huge foundations remain. But, I'll find out more when I go to the library. I wonder what happened to the sister's family that lived in Stockton?
When I visited the Dodge Ranch in Colusa County last year, I noticed that there was a big sign announcing that it was a "Home Rule County." Here's picture of that sign:
I didn't know what this referred to until yesterday. Incredibly, it may be something connected to Dr. Dodge. I was looking over a monthly real estate sales publication from when Dr. Dodge was San Francisco's Assessor. In it, there was a statement or speech by Dr. Dodge. He adovocated "Home Rule." That meant he wanted San Francisco's tax revenues to be received, and re-allocated by local persons. He didn't think that money should go to the State of California, then to be re-distributed at that level -- this local control and re-allocation of money from revenues, Dodge apparently deemed, was "home rule." Incredible as it seems, "Home Rule" in Colusa County, shown on the sign, may be one of Dodge's legacies. Maybe this is part of the reason he bought a ranch for his retirement there -- i.e., it was to be his utopia, a "home rule county."
Yes, the ranch is still there, and still referred to as "Dodge Ranch." The local librarian told me her husband works there. Dodge Ranch is located between San Francisco and Sacramento, and to the north, near Chico, on the periphery of a town named "Princeton." Princeton is a sleepy little country village that probably hasn't changed much since the days of Dr. Dodge. Here's a picture of the local country church, and a map of the section of Colusa County where Dodge's ranch was located. If you look closely in the center, you can see where "Dodge Road" is.