Peter Kyne: Coastside Author (5)


Peter Kyne of Moss Beach returned from the Spanish-American War in the late 1890s and got work in San Francisco as a bookkeeper for a waterfront shipping firm. Maybe he knew it, maybe he didn’t, but Peter Kyne was collecting a trove of stories for books he would write in the near future.

But before he actually picked up pen and paper, he tried to work in the “real world” one last time–selling men’s hats, ties and shoes.

Discovering that he wasn’t a good salesman, Peter Kyne finally decided to do something with the colorful stories that had come his way. He was good at developing simple plots and had a little hit on his hands with the publication of “Cappy Ricks” –a book about the founder of the Blue Star Navigation and Ricks Lumber and Logging Companies. Kyne had a winner in Cappy Ricks, the character, and wrote follow-up books with the colorful CEO doing all kinds of things, including traveling the world, all before the end of WWI.


From John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Kyne, the Dolbeers, Carson, and the Donkey

Hi June,

  I found about a dozen hits in  a search of the old newspapers, using Peter Kyne, and the more productive, Peter B. Kyne, as Search terms.  Most of them were bland, except for a couple that mentioned him as testifying in the “High Society”-tinged, Dolbeer Estate Trial/Scandal and as having inherited $5,000 from the estate.

  He testified, along with many others, that Bertha Dolbeer seemed totally rational and sane the last time he saw her. That was when she had come into the office at Dolbeer & Carson, where he was a stenographer, for some piece of business, not long before she committed suicide by jumping out of a window of the Walforf Astoria.

   She was a very rich young woman with a tragic past. Her deceased father, John Dolbeer, invented the “Steam Donkey Logging Machine,” that gets mentioned often in the Coastside logging stories;  and thereby revolutionized 19th Century logging, especially of the giant redwoods.  

  At some point earlier, after a fire, and needing capital, Mr. Dolbeer formed the Dolbeer & Carson  Lumber Company with Mr. William Carson.  This was a giant of the lumber companies in Humboldt, harvesting the old growth as fast as possible, to get it to S.F., to build Victorians on the hills.  Mr. Carson, is now remembered most for the extremely ornate, “Carson Mansion,” in Eureka, that he had built. 

  When Mr. Dolbeer died he left about a million dollars to his only survivor, his daughter Bertha. For Bertha’s mother, an invalid, had committed suicide when Bertha was 2, and her brother, four years older, was killed when she was nine, by being thrown from a wagon and run over. 

  When Bertha died she left the bulk of her estate to her longtime, closest confidant, a young female cousin, and most of the rest in five and ten thousand sums to many friends. The relatives were outraged and took it to court.  And lost. Mr. Kyne’s testimony wasn’t critical, but he must have really appreciated the rather princely sum for that time, $5,000, that his testimony helped cement. He also seemed to  have benefited from the exposure he got at this high profile trial, where descriptions of the fine clothing of the Society attendees was included in the coverage, as he was listed in the following years as a participant in hoity-toity events in various newspaper articles.