Bernal History Project

Bernal Heights is a hilltop village, tucked away in the southern part of San Francisco. Freeways and urban thoroughfares now bound a neighborhood once defined by the swamps and creeks of the original Mexican land grant. From the 1860s legend of Widow O'Brien's cow to the current fight over the preservation of the branch library's murals, residents have tirelessly guarded and recorded their environment. Bernal is diverse, vibrant, and still evolving.

Bernal Heights from 26th and Fair Oaks 1921 - David Gallagher

This site aims to provide a solid basis in researching the neighborhood. Browse the links, subscribe to our newsletter, and contact us if you want to know more about anything Bernal-related not shown here.

Historic Bernal News
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  • A Police Blunder August 23, 1894
    Two Innocent Young Men Behind Prison Bars Four Hours.

    Police Officers Porter and Heaphy made a stupid blunder yesterday in arresting two innocent boys, mistaking them for two young fellows who have been indicted by the Grand Jury for an attempt to commit robbery and an assault to murder.

    On July 7th Herman Boegi and Albert McDonald, who are employed on a cattle ranch on the Mission road, were arrested for trying to rob and kill an acquaintance named Finnigan near St. Mary's College. After numerous appearances in Police Court 2 and the dismissal by the Judge of the charge of an assault to rob, the police took the case before the Grand Jury and the two were indicted. Meanwhile the young fellows were out on $1000 bail.

    Officers Porter and Heaphy saw two young lads yesterday in a hallway in the new City Hall, whom they arrested for Boegi and McDonald on the Superior Court warrants. The young men protested that they were not the persons wanted, but nevertheless they were taken to the City Prison to be charged and removed to the County Jail.

    Sergeant Lindheimer refused to enter the lads' names on the prison register, as he was not satisfied that the prisoners were the right parties. One said his name was Henry Roberts of 23 Chenery street and that he is a florist. The other said he was Frank McCaffrey, a paper-carrier, of 6 Plymouth avenue.

    About this time Attorney D.J. Donavon, the lawyer for Boegi and McDonald, who were to appear before Judge Conlan in the morning, heard what had happened. In order to prove the innocence of Roberts and McCaffrey Donavon was obliged to send out to Bernal Heights for the young men's mothers to identify them, and he surrendered his own clients, Boegi and McDonald, into the custody of the police.

    Roberts and McCaffrey were detained in the City Prison four hours before the mistake was rectified and they were released.

    They narrowly escaped being sent to the County Jail, where they would no doubt have been kept for a day or two before the blunder could have been corrected.