Bernal Heights Historical News Stories

Through the Articles and Databases on the San Francisco Public Library's Web site, BHP has tracked down a treasure trove of San Francisco Chronicle news stories relating to Bernal Heights. Click on the links below to read stories about the goat thieves, young hooligans, and heated political meetings in Bernal in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Got time on your hands and want to help us transcribe more stories? E-mail us!


"Wanton Thieves"

1882: A young man and his friends are caught skinning a dead horse.

"Holland's New Gun"

1891: Taking pot shots at birds will get you in trouble.

"Charged with Abduction"

June 1891: A young girl stays at a friend's house -- but her parents insist she was kidnapped.

"Why Berner Died"

April 1891: A shoemaker dies of pneumonia, weeks after being attacked.


1892: Watch out for the drunks on Alabama Street.

"Boy Bystander Killed in Fight of Two S.F. Gangs"

February 1920: NoCo versus SoCo.

"Said to Be a Footpad"

December 1892: Beware the Army Street pickpocket.

Bernal School Robbed

of 95 cents in February 1893.

"A Bernal Heights Blaze"

April 1893: The home of a Holly Park plumber burns down.

"Dangerous Sport"

May 1893: A drive-by shooting -- involving a horse and cart.

Mr. Carlson's Fire

July 1893: A conflagration on Kosciusko Street (now Anderson), south of Cortland.

"Local News: February 1892"

Just one line -- but a very descriptive one.

"A Police Blunder"

August 1894: Police arrest two Bernal boys in a case of mistaken identity.

"Tyrrell Arrested: Assaulted the Owner of a Bernal Heights Goat"

September 1898: Rounding up Bernal's goats may cause problems.

"Juvenile Terror of Bernal Heights"

August 1896: Young Frank Quinlan loves to throw stones. Neighbors get up a petition against him.

"Girl at Play Sets Her Home on Fire"

April 1914: Tomasa Street suffers at the hands of a six-year-old pyromaniac.

"Fights Police and Hospital Attaches, Nine Are Injured"

March 1916: After a night's drinking on Cortland, a Folsom Street man decides to "clean up the town."

Churches and Schools

"A German Church"

October 1893: The birth of St. Anthony's.

"Bernal School to Open"

October 1910: The public school opens for the evenings.

"Bernal Grammar School Celebrates Graduation"

December 1912: A list of children who received diplomas.

Everyday Life

"The Scalding Proved Fatal"

June 1898: A tragic laundry accident on Wool street leaves six children motherless.

"Tax Collector in Quarantine"

February 1916: Bernal Avenue resident's son has scarlet fever.

"An Old Woman Drowns"

April 1892: The demise of the reservoir-keeper's wife.

"Automobile Kills Bernal Heights Lad"

March 1916: An accident at Cortland and Mission.

Heir to Old Estate in Dispute Over Title"

January 1917: A grandson of the Bernals claims a remnant of the old rancho.

"Bernal Heights Club Holds Naval Rally"

November 1920: Recruiting sailors at 515 Cortland.

"Court Says Veteran Must Pay Land Tax"

July 1920: A Civil War veteran living on the original Bernal rancho is not exempted from payment.

1906 Earthquake News

"Big Relief Station at Bernal Park Is Still in Operation"

May 1906: A month after the earthquake and fire, thousands are still camped out in Precita Park.

Politics and Activism

Bernal Heights Reform Club

August 1881: A meeting of the Bernal Heights Independent Municipal Reform Club, or of "Kilkenny cats"?

"Mission Democrats Listen to Howe, Hammond and Levy."

Two weeks later, Bernal residents, who are apparently "much neglected and are difficult to please," meet some candidates and pull them to pieces.

"A Lively Row"

October 1882: Bernal Heights Democrats offer to "sit down on" some invaders from 23rd Street. Many harsh words are eloquently exchanged.

Meeting of the Howard-street Protestants

August 1891: The Bernal improvement clubs battle interlopers.

"Fire Engines at Holly Park"

June 1894: Bernal residents agitate for a firehouse on the hill.

"Welch Club Formed"

October 1900: Bernal Republicans organize to support state senatorial candidate Richard Welch.

"Bernal Heights Wants More Cars"

February 1910: More streetcars, that is -- and the residents of Costa Street and Holladay Avenue want fire engine access from San Bruno Avenue.

"Peralta Heights Club Obtains Improvements"

November 1910: Paving Folsom Street and cleaning up Bernal (Precita) Park.

"Bernal Council to Discuss New Plans"

June 1920: Founding the Bernal Community Council.

"Bernal Heights Residents Are Awarded Health Center"

July 1920: The efforts of the Bernal Community Council get a health center -- and maybe a branch library.