Editor’s note: This monthly feature uncovers Santa Monica’s history by compiling notable city happenings from a century ago. The stories are found in old newspaper archives.

Upset about money in politics?

It’s not a new issue, as evidenced by a local candidate forum held at a Santa Monica church a century ago this month.

The black pastor of Phillips Chapel Church at Fourth and Bay streets invited 12 candidates to speak to about 100 congregants for five minutes each ahead of an upcoming City election.

At the end of the forum, the candidates were asked to walk past a table on which the pastor was standing and leave “not less than a dollar,” according to an archived Los Angeles Times article.

“While the coup was successful for the church, it called forth speeches from various members of the congregation, [criticizing] the idea that the colored vote of the community could be bought,” the article reads.

“Any money spent in this way is money thrown away,” attendee J.C. Rickman, a barber, was quoted as saying.

Man’s grave at center of custody battle

Relatives were locked in a battle over the custody of the body of a man who was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica a century ago this month.

Attorneys and court officials were digging through law books to determine how to handle the case between James Mann’s widow, Belle Mann, and his step-daughter, Margaret Zink, according to a Times article.

Through a legal agreement, Zink was originally given the deed to the cemetery plat where Mann, a wealthy Texas miner, was buried. She had the grave’s foot-high tombstone removed because it did not fit in and because of “other matters,” according to the article.

But a court found that the rights to bury a corpse, preserve it, remove it or change its location belong to the next of kin, his widow.

“I realized the plot belonged to Margaret,” Belle Mann said, “but the removal of the tombstone hurt me deeply. … the body belongs to me, even if the cemetery plat belongs to his daughter.”

A suit filed by Zink to recover $100 that she had loaned Mann’s widow was pending.

Halloween burglary suspects sought

The local police department warned the public not to wear costumes as they searched for suspects in connection with burglaries on Halloween night.

“If you want to wear a yama yama costume keep near the amusement section of the beach, or you might be taken for a burglar,” reads a Times brief from 100 years ago this month.

Santa Monica police Chief Ellis Randall said the suspects were disguised in Yama Yama suits, which are often described as clown-like Pierrot pajama outfits.

Cyanide found in man’s body

The death certificate of a man who poisoned himself with cyanide “while temporarily insane” was signed in Santa Monica a century ago this month, according to a Times brief.

William J. Guthrie, a miner and promoter, was initially believed to have died of heart failure at his “palatial home,” but an autopsy revealed the presence of poison in his body. A jury concluded that the cyanide was self-administered.

Guthrie’s funeral was scheduled to be held at St. Clement’s Catholic Church in the Ocean Park neighborhood.

jeff@www.smdp.com