Daniel Slinkey

The Slinkey Family Main Page

Born: August 1841 in Adelaide, South Australia.

Died: August 16, 1900 in Sausalito, Marin County, California, USA.

Possibly a portrait of Daniel Slinkey, taken in Columbia, California, likely 1870s. - 2013-01-27

Daniel Slinkey, brother of John E. Slinkey, appeared in the Sausalito News fairly frequently as a comic character. Sadly, his life had enough tragedy to get in the papers as well. In the Great Register of Marin County in 1894, Daniel Slinkey's eye color is described as "one black and one blue," and his hair auburn.

April 1880: Listed in Langley's San Francisco directory as "Slinkey, Daniel, bartender, Overland House." His brother John was the proprietor.

June 2, 1880: Listed in the U.S. Federal Census in Martinez, Contra Costa county, California, living with his brother's family at the picnic grounds they ran: "Slinkey, Daniel, White, Male, 35 years old, Single, Brother to head of household, Occupation: Saloon Keeper, Born in South Australia, Both parents born in Germany."

August 29, 1885: J. E., Christina, Dan, and Lillie Slinkey host a "Domino Party" (masked ball) at the El Monte Hotel: "The initial domino party of Sausalito was held at the 'El Monte' Saturday evening. The dining room was cleared for the dance hall by a committee of arrangements, and the guests were given full possession of it and the parlor for their ball room, and by 9 o'clock the merry dance commenced. A large number of maskers participated and as many more were present as spectators and all equally enjoyed the evening's merriment. A splendid supper was served by Col. Slinkey at 11 o'clock at which time the masks had been removed, and after the pleasures of the festal board on with the dance again." (Sausalito News, September 3, 1885, page 3, column 2.)

August 3, 1887: Dan apparently is tricked to holding a baby on a San Francisco horse car and is then abandoned with it. He brings it to the El Monte Hotel to care for while the police search for the woman! (Daily Alta California, August 4, 1887, page 1, column 4.)

July 31, 1888: Installed to the office of "Inside Guardian" of the "United Order of Honor," Sausalito Lodge No. 191. His brother-in-law serves as president, his sister-in-law as vice-president, his niece as recording secretary and his brother as treasurer. This organization is formed for "charitable and benevolent purposes." (Sausalito News, July 13, 1888.)

October 11, 1889: The Sausalito News humorously reports Dan's proposals to build a causeway to Angel Island and a toll road to Alcatraz. (Both islands in the San Francisco Bay some distance from Sausalito.)

September 25, 1891: A gentleman named Mike Webber is reported to have been hired to dig a well on the Haffner property, with Dan Slinkey acting as foreman for the job. (Sausalito News, September 25, 1891, page 3, column 1.)

October 30, 1891: "Mike Webber and Dan Slinkey have mad [sic?] arrangements to go into the business of supplying Christmas trees and garlands for the coming holidays with Headquarters in San Francisco." (Sausalito News, October 30, 1891, page 3, column 1)

"Dan Slinkey was at Larkspur this week and took the contract for digging a well on Mr. Visaria's property." (Sausalito News, page 3, column 1.)

July 29, 1892: Dan Slinkey is reported as a candidate for Constable, subject to nomination by the Democratic County Convention. (Sausalito News, July 29, 1892, page 3, column 2.)

December 24, 1892: Constable candidate Dan Slinkey is in trouble with the law: “Marin County. Daniel Slinkey, a brother of J.E. Slinkey, proprietor of El Monte hotel at Sausalito, and J.D. Regfus, a butcher, were arrested on a charge of larceny upon a warrant sworn to by Constable C. Reed while taking lumber from the property of the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company and disposing of the same for firewood.” (Mountain Democrat (Placerville, California), December 24, 1892, col. 2.)

March 23, 1894: "Dan Slinkey has resigned in favor of J.D. Cramer the boss of the Democratic party in Sausalito, for the position of town marshal."(Sausalito News, March 23, 1894, page 3, column 2, but on page 2, column 5, Dan is still listed as a candidate.)

March 30, 1894: Dan Slinkey still listed as one of several candidates for Town Marshall. (Sausalito News, March 30, 1894, page 3, column 1.)

May 4, 1894: Apparently Dan loses the election for marshall, but is appointed "Deputy Marshall and Poundkeeper." (Sausalito News, May 4, 1894, page 3, column 2.)

September 28, 1895: "The opening of the Sausalito Pastime Club, Dan Slinkey, President, will be held tonight at the Sausalito Hotel." (Sausalito News, September 28, 1895, page 3, column 1.) A club by the same name was reported giving "monthly socials" by the Sausalito News in 1894.

December 5, 1896: "Dan Slinkey reports that the El Monte clothes-line was robbed Thursday night. Loss about $20." (Sausalito News, December 5, 1896, page 3, column 3.)

February 27, 1897: Dan Slinkey accuses a former El Monte Hotel resident and officer of the Society of Old Friends, Charles Burrey, of stealing two pictures from the wall of the hotel. A reporter writes a bombastic, and perhaps tongue-in-cheek, article on the affair. The pictures, the theft of which Burrey is found blameless by a court the next day, are described as "not original but, together with the frames, they would probably bring about $1.75 at a forced sale. One represents Columbus at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella and the other is a chromo in colors of a Roman chariot race." (San Francisco Call, 27 February 1897, page 9, column 1.)

May 15, 1897: "Dan Slinkey and John Mulaney, as house-movers, are a success." (Sausalito News, May 15, 1897, page 3, column 3.)

August 14, 1897: Sausalito News reports (page 3, column 1) that "Dan Slinkey starts for the Klondike mines next week." He apparently came back quickly, or never made it, for Dan was in town in December.

November 20, 1897: Sausalito News reports (page 3, column 1 in the "Brevities" column) that "Dan Slinkey, the Deputy Poundmaster, has been doing a land office business this week impounding stock and destroying dogs. Dan takes some desperate chances, and if he continues his aggressive campaign without being shot he will be in luck." On the same page is an example of Dan's chances: "RECORDER'S COURT/Trials of the Deputy Pound Master," detailing the impounding by Dan Slinkey of the tagless dog of a man who was out walking it—Slinkey seems to have stretched his authority here, as the resolving article in the Sausalito News, on December 4, 1897 shows.

December 4, 1897: Sausalito News article (page 3, column 6) "THE DOG ORDINANCE" explains the case Dan Slinkey recently lost, how he unjustly impounded the dog of a local man who had left the dog in the care of his nephew outside of a store for a few moments. Slinkey noticed the dog had no tag, took it away, and cited the owner for obstructing an officer in carrying out his duty when the man objected to the dog's impoundment. The court, however, found that the dog ordinance only authorized impounding dogs "running at large" and that this was not the case. Slinkey strongly rebuffed for overstepping his bounds.

December 20, 1897: San Francisco Call reports on Dan's collision with a locomotive the night before (page 4, column 3): "Run Down by a Train. SAUSALITO, Dec. 19. - Daniel Slinkey, well known in Sausalito, was the victim of a probably fatal railway accident here this evening. He slipped and fell on Water street in front of an incoming train. The locomotive struck his head and right arm, cutting the latter off near the elbow. The arm was amputated by surgeon and Slinkey's recovery is doubtful."

December 25, 1897: The Sausalito News catches up on the story with banner headlines (page 3, column 3): "FEARFUL ACCIDENT/Dan Slinkey Collides With/a Locomotive./And Narrowly Escapes With/His Life."

January 29, 1898: Sausalito News reports on Dan's progress (page 3, column 1): "Dan Slinkey paid the NEWS office a visit this week. Dan has about recovered from his injuries, and is back again, getting his friends as of old. Satisfactory arrangements with the railroad company have been made, and no suits will be filed."

February 12, 1898: The News is hopeful for Dan, hinting that his accident with the train had alcohol involved (page 3, column 2): "Dan Slinkey comes back to Sausalito a new man, and no longer has the flowing bowl temptations that cannot be resisted."

October 6, 1899: The San Francisco Call perhaps falls for Dan Slinkey's way of embellishing a tale, and what could be better than a poundmaster saved by a dog? Here's the whole story:

San Francisco Call, October 7, 1899, page 3:



SAUSALITO, Oct. 6. - Dan Slinkey, the local poundmaster, who has the record of killing more dogs than any other man in California, came within a hair's breadth of losing his life in the waters of the bay last night, and the fact that he is still in the land of the living is due to a dog-a poor, miserable little cur that Slinkey should have killed weeks ago if he had followed strictly the rules laid down by the ordinance. But for some reason--Slinkey now inclines to the opinion that it was fate--he spared the dog simply because it looked so lonely and miserable that he had not the heart to put an end to the creature's life. The poundmaster now thanks his lucky star he didn't, for if he had a watery grave would have been his portion.

Last night Slinkey came over on the late boat from San Francisco, closely followed by the yellow dog, which has never forsaken him since he spared its life and gave it a good meal. As the boat docked Dan got headed in the wrong direction, and instead of walking off the boat upon the slip ambled off the other end into the bay. As soon as he hit the water the dog heard the splash and ran to the edge of the boat. Seeing its friend struggling in the water the dog uttered a howl and darted back to the restaurant of the boat, where a number of deckhands were congregated. By howling and whining and running a short distance away, only to return and make more signs of distress when it perceived that it was not followed, the faithful brute managed to notify the deckhands that something was wrong. They followed it to the end of the boat and saw Slinkey floundering in the water. It was the work of a few moments to procure a rope and drag the unfortunate poundmaster out of his predicament. He was so weak when he reached the deck of the boat that he sank down exhausted. Dan now freely admits that he owes his life to the dog as well as the dog its existence to him, and hereafter will see that it never lacks protection if he has to pay its license out of his own pocket.

Two years ago Slinkey was found lying close to the railroad track with his arm crushed. He had evidently been struck by a train and hurled to one side of the track instead of being thrown under the wheels of the engine. He has also had a number of other narrow escapes from a violent death.

October 13, 1899: Dan Slinkey finds a dead body of a Chinese fisherman in Sausalito while engaged in his poundmaster duty of "drowning dogs." ("Body of a Chinese Found," San Francisco Chronicle, October 14, 1899, page 9.)


February 15, 1900:


Signature of “James G. Fair and Wife” Found in Old Register of a Sausalito Hotel

The discovery on the 1892 register of the old Hotel El Monte at Sausalito of the signature, “James G. Fair and wife,” may prove a bomb in the camp of Fair’s heirs. The discovery was made by Dan Slinkey, the poundmaster, brother of John A. Slinkey, the late proprietor of the hotel, and two others whom Slinkey says he took with him for the sake of precaution.

Yesterday Slinkey read the account of Mrs. Craven’s testimony as to the marriage performed in Sausalito by Judge Simpton. His interest was aroused and he racked his memory in the effort to recall any circumstances connect with the couple’s visit to the town. Then it flashed across his mind that in July, 1892, two guests sojourned at his brother’s hotel for two days. These guests were called by the townspeople who knew them by sight Mr. and Mrs. Fair.

When John Slinkey left the town he gave his old registers into his brother’s keeping. They had lain in Dan Slinkey;s garret since 1894 and had grown moldy when his curiosity impelled him to drag them into light and search their pages for the signature he thought should be there.

As Slinkey had anticipated, half way down the page and about the middle of the 1892 register appeared the Senator’s signature, followed by the words, “and wife.” The date is, Slinkey says, July 23.

Slinkey is evidently sincere in his declaration, despite the fact that he refuses to show the register. He says that he will take an oath before a notary that his statement is correct and will show the register itself “when the time comes.” He apparently is divided between fears of being dragged into the case as a witness and pride in telling of his discovery. He refuses to divulge the names of the two witnesses who saw the signature with him, but says they are merchants of Sausalito.

“I will tell all when the time comes,” he said. “I do not wish to get into trouble by talking too much.”

June 15, 1900:

Poundmaster Slinkey Tries to Beat Boat to Sausalito

Cartoon by San Francisco Call artist depicting Dan Slinkey's ferry boat leap on June 15, 1900. - 2017-07-31

Dan Slinkey, poundmaster of the town of Sausalito, attempted to commit suicide by jumping into the bay from the steamer Sausalito on the 5:15 trip from this city yesterday afternoon. In the early part of the present week Slinkey, in conjunction with Frank Payne, opened a ladies’ poolroom in Sausalito and was in a fair way to make a fortune, but the publicity given the affair caused the authorities to close the place. Since then Slinkey has been despondent with the result that to-day while crossing the bay he endeavored to drown his troubles and himself in the chill waters.

Slinkey is an old resident of Marin County and has been a strong supporter of the pool-selling interests in Sausalito. In the fierce battle that has been waged against the poolmen Slinkey has always been their friend. His ladies’ poolroom which was backed by the other poolsellers was such a palpable violation of the law that even the Sausalito authorities had to turn it down.

Slinkey is quite a character. His main failing is liquor and to that is attributed last evening’s incident. He sports a huge lump over his right eye that could not possibly have been caused by contact with the water and it is supposed a cruise along the water front before embarking on the ferry steamer resulted in his attempt to beat the boat to Sausalito.

Dan strenuously denies an attempt at suicide and is quite positive he fell off, but eye-witnesses disprove this statement and say that he deliberately threw off his hat and coat and leaped overboard. Hardly passing beneath the surface, he was seen to calmly turn on his back and await his early rescue. Fears were expressed by the passengers that before the rescuers could reach him he would swallow one mouthful of water, which would be more fatal than poison. The boat traversed about 200 yards before it was brought to a standstill and then the usual delay occurred in lowering and manning the boats. Fortunately the San Rafael, on her way to this city, perceived that something was wrong, instantly changed her course and lowered a boat which soon picked him up.

After being transferred to the Sausalito Slinkey was taken to the bar and enough "preventive" given him to keep him free from colds for the balance of his life. The rescued poundkeeper had a bath furnished him, causing unlimited amusement to the crowd on the boat and finally went ashore at Sausalito with a "package" of very comfortable proportions, one that ought to last him a week without any replenishing.” (San Francisco Call, June 16, 1900, pg. 9)

The San Francisco Chronicle took a more serious view of the event, with a headline "Dan Slinkey Attempts Suicide," and noted that he almost died and that "despondency and drink" led him to the act. His despair was attributed to depression over his "ladies' poolroom" scheme being ended and a conviction it would lead to him losing his job as deputy marshal and poundmaster. ("Dan Slinkey Attempts Suicide," San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 1900, page 7.)

June 17, 1900:


Would-Be Suicide a Noted Character in Marin County.

Had Himself Confined in Jail on a Charge of Murder of Which He Was Innocent.

Special Dispatch to The Call.

SAN RAFAEL, June 16.—Dan Slinkey, who attempted to commit suicide by jumping into the bay yesterday afternoon, is famous in this country for his peculiar escapades. Some ten years ago a mysterious murder was committed in the county, and the authorities were looking high and low for the murderer. Slinkey, alive to the possibilities of the occasion, presented himself at the Sheriff’s office and calmly proclaimed himself the long sought murderer.

He was promptly jailed and remained there for some three days. It afterward developed that by no human possibility could Slinkey have had any knowledge of the crime, his alibi being patent to a hundred people. When released and asked why he accused himself he said that he felt a controlling thirst casting its spell over him and that the County Jail was the best place for him.

About a year ago he was compelled to thank a large Sausalito dog for the preservation of his life. While contemplating the troubles of life he walked off the afterdeck of a ferryboat moored to the Sausalito wharf, and was rescued by a faithful canine, which dragged him ashore and then raised a howl which brought a portion of the town, with numerous barrels, over which the luckless Slinkey was carefully rolled. It was thought at the time that he had attempted suicide, but Slinkey claimed it was an accident, and people let it go at that.

The failure of his melodramatic performance yesterday has had a quieting influence on his disposition, and to-day he has given little evidence of his existence. He is believed to be at home nursing a large lump on his forehead and trying by liberal doses of spring water to extinguish the hot coals that are broiling his stomach. According to his friends he has made his last attempt to end his life. Henceforth he will continue to pursue and impound the tagless and ownerless canines that ill fortune may cast into the town of Sausalito. Dog-catching is not as pleasant as the ladies’ poolroom act, but still, says Slinkey, it is much better on second thought than the briny waters of the bay.

As a dog catcher Slinkey is Sausalito’s pride; no man in the town could ever come near him when it came to luring the wandering bow-wow to the pound. His method of executing the condemned canines is as original as it is perplexing to the railroad officials. He drowns the dogs from the wharf at Sausalito, and a prominent railroad official to-day said that Slinkey had used several tons of coupling pins and tie plates belonging to the company for the purpose of weighing his victims so they would stay down. He has been forbidden to drown dogs from the company’s wharf, and as he now obeys the injunction the railroad men know where to find their coupling pins and other pieces of loose iron. Slinkey is famous in other roles than that of unsuccessful suicide. (San Francisco Call, June 17, 1900, page 17, column 2.)

"In order to delay arrival of the ferry from San Francisco on election day, Dan Slinkey was paid $50 and a flask of whiskey to jump off the ferry into the Bay in an attempt to delay the arrival of voters until after the [Mill Valley] polls closed." (According to the Mill Valley Historical Society in The Mill Valley Historical Review in Spring 2000 issue.)

Newspaper headline on Dan Slinkey's suicide, August 16, 1900. - 2017-11-14

August 17, 1900:


Sausalito Poundmaster Carries Out an Oft-Repeated Threat.

His Third Attempt at Suicide

Has Twice Thrown Himself Into the Bay, and on One Occasion Was Rescued by His Dog.

Special Dispatch to The Call.

SAN RAFAEL, Aug. 16.—Dan Slinkey, the poundmaster of Sausalito, committed suicide this afternoon at about 4 o’clock at the Ryan house in that town. The Coroner was notified and went to Sausalito and held an inquest. The jury returned a verdict of death from an overdose of morphine taken with suicidal intent.

In late years Slinkey has met with many reverses of fortunes, and has often attempted to commit suicide. About two months ago he jumped from the steamer Sausalito when she was about half way across the bay going to Sausalito. He was rescued with much difficulty. At that time he said he would kill himself, but that he would not try to drown himself, as his two attempts had failed. His previous attempt at suicide was made from the afterdeck of a steamer lying at her dock in Sausalito. At that time he was rescued by his faithful dog, which pulled him out of the water.

Some years ago a murder was committed here, and the authorities were looking for the murderer. Slinkey went to the Sheriff’s office and surrendered himself as the murderer. It afterward turned out that he knew nothing about the crime and was only recovering from the effects of a debauch.

The cause of his last and successful effort this afternoon was a trial before Judge Belrude of Sausalito last night on a charge of disturbing the peace. This morning when he appeared for sentence he was fined $10, and when he used violent language to the court he was fined $5 for contempt.

The night before last a man named Ross was having a little dispute with his wife, and Slinkey, who was a deputy Marshal, went to the house to quell the disturbance. The woman threw him down the steps and he retired and procured a warrant for her arrest. Not to be outdone, she got a warrant for Slinkey’s arrest for disturbing the peace. At the trial both were convicted, the woman Annie Ross, being fined $5.

Slinkey, after his conviction, was taken in charge by Constable R. Garrity and was to be brought to the jail here, but asked to be allowed to go to bed until sober. He was placed in the Ryan House, and when next seen was in his death struggles. Slinkey was well known throughout this county. (San Francisco Call, August 17, 1900, pg. 3.)

August 17, 1900:




End of One of the Most Eccentric Characters Ever Known in the History of Marin County.

SAUSALITO, August 16.—Daniel Slinkey, poundmaster of Sausalito and one of the most widely know characters in the State, committed suicide shortly after 2 o’clock this afternoon by swallowing the contents of a two-ounce bottle of morphine. Slinkey died in the same theatrical manner in which he has always lived, his body falling almost into the arms of a constable who had come to take him to serve a ten days’ sentence in the County Jail at San Rafael.

The direct cause of the man’s suicide was this sentence, which was given him by the Justice of the Peace Bellrude last night after hearing the evidence in a charge of disturbing the peace preferred against Slinkey. At the hearing the man behaved in a most remarkable manner, claiming that no oath would cause him to tell the truth, and absolutely refused to be sworn. Eventually, when his testimony was taken, he stated that he could remember nothing in the past ten years, and concluded with the most virulent abuse of Judge Bellrude and the spectators in the courtroom. He appeared to take his sentence much to heart, and his sole topic of conversation this morning was the alleged injustice which had been inflicted upon him.

At nine he went home, saying that he wanted to take a rest, and the next that was heard of him was the fall of his body as he sank to the floor from the effects of the morphine which he had swallowed. The noise caused Mrs. Jennie Coutat, his landlady, to hasten to the room, where she found Slinkey writhing on the carpet.

At almost the same moment Constable Garrity arrived for the purpose of taking the man to jail, but found that he was too late. Drs. May and Crumpton were summoned to attempt to revive Slinkey, but in spite of their best efforts the man expired at 4 o’clock. The case was evidently one of suicide. An empty bottle and also an empty box of poison were found at the man’s side when he was first discovered. He had made four previous attempts at suicide, his most recent one being less than two months ago, when he jumped overboard from the steamer San Rafael. A Coroner’s jury, after considering the facts, rendered a verdict of suicide, caused by morphine poisoning.

Slinkey was one of the most peculiar characters who ever lived here. He had tried nearly every method of suicide, from lying on the railroad tracks before an approaching train to jumping from the deck of a ferry-boat. As the proprietor of a ‘ladies-poolroom’ he also gained considerable notoriety, and his eccentricities made him locally famous.

At his specialty of catching dogs he was known to earn as much as $15 a day during the summer months, and it was his habit to gather up his monthly earnings and go to San Francisco, where a hack ride to the Cliff House and the opening of wine paid him for his weeks of toil. Slinkey’s dog, which once rescued him from death by drowning, sat by his master when he died, an all efforts of strangers to make the animal leave the dead man failed. (San Francisco Chronicle, August 17, 1900, pg. 5)

August 18, 1900: Dan Slinkey's end, as reported by the Marin County Tocsin:

Dan Slinkey, the eccentric poundkeeper of Sausalito, after 3 determined attempts at suicide, finally succeeded in taking his life last Thursday evening. He had been arrested for disturbing the peace and sentenced to a short term in the county jail. Being intoxicated at the time, he asked Constable Garrity to permit him to rest for a couple of hours before going to San Rafael. This was granted and he went to a room in the Ryan House. Here he must have taken immediately a heavy dose of morphine, for when discovered he was in his last gasp.

Images of Daniel Slinkey:

Made 22 August 2006 by me. Updated 19 November 2017.