Vintage Auburn

Politics, pageants, and an outbreak of polio

By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Editor’s note: The following news articles have been taken from the Auburn Journal archives with light editing. To comment on Vintage Auburn, contact staff writer Tessa Marguerite at

10 years ago

Democratic Party opens office in Downtown Auburn

Aug. 12, 2008

Auburn and Placer County Democratic Party organizations have joined together to establish an office in Auburn.

The Downtown Auburn office, located at 1015 Lincoln Way, was officially opened Monday, with 4th District congressional candidate Charlie Brown helping with ribbon-cutting honors.

Kim Haswell, vice-chair of the Placer County organization, said the location in the downtown area boosts Democratic Party visibility in Auburn.

The new headquarters, in the former Placer Realty building, provides an accessible location for party activities on both the local and county levels, with room for phone banking and training, as well as a base for precinct walking and voter registration, she said.

With a poster of Barack Obama on one wall and several Charlie Brown campaign posters festooning the walls, the headquarters was buzzing with a crowd of Democrats celebrating the opening and upbeat about the election campaign.

“I think we have two really wonderful candidates,” said Leslye Janusz, chair of the Auburn Area Democratic Club. “They’re energizing the campaign.”

With the formation about a year ago of a Foothills for Obama group that now has 300 members in the area, Janusz said finding the right spot in Auburn was important not only for her group but for the presidential candidate’s local grass roots organization and the county group. With Brown already established with an office in Roseville, the Auburn group lobbied for a new location in the foothills city.


30 years ago

Dying teen’s final words remembered

Aug. 12, 1988

Jason Alexander Cooper’s dying words, moments after a .22 bullet pierced his skull in a suicide last Memorial Day, were: “Deny everything, deny everything.”

That was enough for Steven Forsmann. Rather than fulfilling his part of the dual suicide vow, the 18-year-old Roseville youth turned his back on a dying friend, threw the death gun over an embankment into some poison oak and rode off on the victim’s motorcycle.

Cooper, his body still convulsing from the gunshot, lay in the dusty Sore Finger Road.

The details of how the two best friends planned to go to “heaven or hell together” were revealed Thursday during the preliminary hearing in Placer Municipal Court. Forsmann faces charges that he aided and abetted Cooper in suicide and that he was a party to involuntary manslaughter.

Judge John Cosgrove, after hearing nearly two hours of evidence from Deputy District Attorney Jess Bedore, ordered Forsmann to stand trial on the felony charges, including the special allegation that Forsmann provided the gun that Cooper used to shoot himself.

Forsmann’s statement indicated they were riding on Cooper’s motorcycle, Forsmann on the back with the gun in his backpack.

Cooper pulled onto a dirt road and stopped. He took off his motorcycle helmet and allegedly asked Forsmann “how to do it.” Forsmann’s answer as recorded by Owens was specific. “I said he should shoot himself on the left side of his head,” Forsmann recounted for deputies during the June 1 interview.

According to Forsmann, Cooper looked at his friend, said, “I love you, Mac,” and made a mention that looked like a sign of the cross. He then lay down on the road and brought the gun alongside his head. “I put my hand around his and he (Cooper) pulled the trigger,” Owens quoted Forsmann as saying during the interview.

The two friends’ suicide plan called for Forsmann to then load the gun and shoot himself. But Forsmann panicked. “After I saw that I couldn’t do it,” Forsmann told detectives during the interview.

Forsmann later agreed to take a lie detector test and subsequently gave a second interview to deputies that were essentially a repeal of his first statements, with additional detail.


70 years ago

Girls’ camp curtailed due to polio

Aug. 12, 1948

The outbreak of infantile paralysis cases in the county has resulted in the curtailing of the Campfire Girls summer camp at Camp Pahatsi this week.

About half a dozen Auburn girls and Dr. J. A. Russell to Campfire leaders, advised against holding the camp.

Leaders notified parents of the doctors’ report, with the result that very few children from the Auburn council went to camp.

Roseville and Lincoln girls were already in camp when notice was received by the camp director, Mrs. Ruby Allen, last Saturday.

It is understood that the majority of these children have remained at Pahatsi, where the camp is in progress.

Dr. Barnes and Dr. Russell cited the case of the El Dorado Boy Scout Camp, where four boys were reportedly stricken, as reason for not holding camp.


90 years ago

Two held in Blue Canyon killing

Aug. 16, 1928

John Steiner, Southern Pacific employee, at Blue Canyon, “came to his death by a gunshot wound from a gun in the hand of Estelle Teft as told by Sheriff Gum and so testified by him before this Jury, aided and incited by John Bogden, alias John Black. Said crime happened at Blue Canyon, California on August ninth between eight and eight-thirty p.m., 1928,” according to the verdict of the Coroner’s Jury summoned by Coroner Colin B. Hislop.

Witnesses at the inquest testified as to the following facts: John Bogden, alias John Black and Estelle Teft, Sacramento negress, operated a house of ill repute near Blue Canyon where liquor was sold on at least one evening. On Tuesday evening of last week, a number of men went to the house and purchased wine. Several of the same men returned the following evening but were informed that the wine was all sold and more would be in within a short time.

A group of about nine men returned to the house on Thursday evening, August 9th and a fight started followed by three shots, fired from the cabin. The third shot took effect in the body of one of the visitors, John Steiner, he died shortly afterward. Sheriff Elmer Gum testified that Teft admitted firing three shots.

The men who were in the party with Steiner testified that as the leaders of the party reached the cabin they were met at the door by John Bogden who swung a pick handle at the men. This was followed by the three shots. Bogden, who is an ex-convict, sticks to his statement that the men threatened Teft and the row followed.

Following the shooting, Teft walked to Emigrant Gap with Bogden and she boarded the train and was later arrested by officers at Colfax. Bogden went back into the hills and was not arrested until he was picked up in Sacramento several days later. Both are held in the county jail.

The inquest was conducted under the direction of Coroner Colin B. Hislop who was the first at the scene of the shooting last Thursday evening. District Attorney Orrin J. Lowell took an active part in the questioning of witnesses.

Teft was confined to her bed at the county hospital unable to attend the inquest.