Black Sheep Sunday – My Dad lived in San Quentin

About 30 years ago, my mother-in-law took a ferry ride from Marin to San Francisco with her young son, husband, and in-laws, John A and Shirley Pope.  Shirley, my husband’s grandmother, pointed to San Quentin as they passed by and casually remarked “My dad lived there.”

I heard this story for the first time about 3 years ago and was amazed.  It was one of those stories that people knew but don’t talk about much.  I have since researched the story and found out that it is very important to pick your friends wisely.  This is the story of Charles Frank Gingg and his time “living” in San Quentin.

Charles Franklin Gingg taken June 1920 Pacific Heights Grammar School.
Charles Gingg was born Charles Franklin Padgitt on October 5, 1905 to John A Padgitt and Carrie Belle Wells.  His mother divorced his father and remarried William Carl Gingg.  Charles took William’s last name after his mother remarried.  All family stories have Charles using his middle name.

Frank Gingg married Agnes Mattson  September 5, 1925.  On the marriage certificate, Frank is listed as 22 and Agnes as 19.  In reality, Agnes was only 16 at the time.  She had lied to get past the age restrictions for marriage.  They had one daughter, Shirley Marie Gingg on September 16, 1927.  The 1930 census shows the young family living in Santa Rosa, California.  At the beginning of 1933, Agnes left Frank and took their young daughter to live in Santa Rosa.  Frank was living in an apartment in Santa Rosa with Ralph Thatcher.  Apparently, they both worked together as printers in Santa Rosa.

On February  20, 1933, Frank met with Andrew Mareck in San Francisco to discuss driving to Santa Rosa to rob a speakeasy in the back of the Buon Gusto Hotel on Adams Street. Frank, along with Tony Cardinelli, F.B. ‘Slim’ Hoyt, Ralph Thatcher, George Jones and Andrew Mareck drove up to Santa Rosa in several cars on February 25 and 26 and met at the apartment of Ralph Thatcher.  During the early evening of February 27th, the ‘gang’ robbed the 101 Ranch.  Frank was not present for this robbery as he was driving up from San Francisco.  He met the men at Thatcher’s apartment after.

Later in the evening, Andrew Mareck and Frank Gingg went to the speakeasy adjoining the Buon Gusto Hotel for some drinks.  They returned to the apartment once again, where they collected their friends and in two cars drove back to Adams Street.  Frank Gingg and George Jones remained in the cars as the get-away drivers.  Mareck, Cardinelli, and Hoyt entered the speakeasy with guns and declared “stick ’em up.”  They stole approximately $17 dollars from the speakeasy patrons and another $100 dollar from the three slot machines in the room.
There was a nightwatchman, C.R. ‘Bill’ Carrick, who made regular rounds in the neighborhood.  One of the victims of the robbery warned that the nightwatchman would be coming soon.  Slim Hoyt went outside to keep watch and ran straight into Carrick in the alley.  He shot Carrick six times.  Somehow, while being shot, Carrick was able to hit Hoyt once in the arm with his own gun.
Meanwhile, George Jones, who was waiting as a get away driver, was spooked by the gunshots and ran back to Thatcher’s apartment.  By the time he arrived at the apartment, both cars with the rest of the ‘gang’ had already returned.  Thatcher and Mareck, an ‘illegal doctor’ (he was on trial for performing abortions the year prior), tended to Hoyt’s wounds.  Gingg, Cardinelli, and Jones all immediately returned to San Francisco.
The cars used in the robbery/murder were quickly identified to police who within hours found them parked outside of Thatcher’s apartment. Police took Thatcher and Mareck into custody.  Slim Hoyt had escaped and was on the run.  After Mareck was interviewed, the Santa Rosa police had the San Francisco police go to his home.  At the apartment in San Francisco, the police found Thatcher and Gingg.  All men were arrested.  Thatcher and Gingg were not immediately transferred to Santa Rosa because the Sheriff had received threats of mob violence.
In the days after the murder, the police ordered that all speakeasy’s in Santa Rosa be shut down.  Apparently, the was not a drink to be found the following evening.
Agnes Gingg and her mother-in-law, Carrie Belle Gingg, visited Frank in jail.  Agnes told the local paper “I have all the faith in the world in Frank and I’ll do everything in my power to help him.  Frank has never been in any trouble before.  I can’t believe that he would do anything like this.  He told me when I talked to him that he wasn’t there when the shooting occurred and I believe him.  But, I can’t understand how he ever became mixed up with that crowd in the first place.”  Apparently, Frank became friends with the ‘gang’ after Agnes left him.
I have not found out if and when Slim Hoyt was arrested.  I have scanned the papers a month after the robbery/murder and he still had not been captured.
All of the ‘gang’ members were convicted of robbery and first degree murder in May 1933.  All of the men were sentenced to life and 5 years to life CS (My best guess is that notation means concurrent sentences).  Frank was processed at the intake center at San Quentin on June 2, 1933.  Mareck and Jones both tried to appeal their convictions.  Both of the appeals were denied.
Charles Frank Gingg, Prisoner Number 54252
While in prison, Frank received divorce papers from Agnes.  I am still trying to find the date that Frank was released from prison.  It was not included in the San Quentin prison records I received from the State Archives.  When he got out, Frank moved to Alaska.  He  lived in Ketchikan where he worked at the local paper as a printer.  I have been told by my mother-in-law that Shirley only told her sons that their grandfather had been in prison when they started to act up as teenagers.  She wanted to make sure that they knew the consequences if they got in trouble with the law.

The next generation – My Descendants

It occurred to me very recently that not only do I have ancestors, I have descendants.  The event that sparked this moment of clarity was the birth of my second child, Mia Caitlin on May 15th.  You would think that this would have occurred to me when my first daughter, Julia, was born in December 2008 but it didn’t.  It was a cool realization that there is now another generation added to my family tree, this time down in the roots.

Mystery Monday – Who was Mary Bradley’s mother?

Mary Bradley is my second great grandmother on my mother’s paternal side (William Lawbaugh ->Effie Bender->Mary Bradley).

Mary Eugenia Bradley was born 18 December 1867 in LaSalle county, Illinois.  Her parents are listed on her death certificate as Charles Bradley and Kate Bradley.  The informant listed on the death certificate was her daughter, Matilda ‘Tilly’ (Bender) Case.

Both my mother and one of her cousins remember their ‘Grandma Bender’ (Effie May Bender), Mary’s older daughter & Tilly’s older sister, telling the story about how her mother, Mary Bradley, was born illegitimately to a Jewish woman and forced onto her father’s new bride to raise.  They both also remember a story that Grandma Bender remembers a visit to Mary by the supposed biological mother.

Here are some of the ideas I have researched in my attempt to find an answer to this family story:

Birth Records

  • Birth Records were not kept in the state of Illinois until 1916.
  • LaSalle County, Illinois starting keeping birth records in 1877 but have no earlier records.

Census
An analysis of the census records is not clear either:

  • 1870 Federal Census – living with John and Kate
  • 1880 Federal Census – living with John and Kate and 3 brothers
  • about 1883 – John Bradley dies
  • 1885 Kansas Census – living with Kate and 3 brothers
  • 1900 Federal Census – living with husband, William Bender.  Kate is living in Chicago with her 3 sons.  She indicates that she has had 5 children and only 3 are living.
  • 1910 Federal Census – Mary is living in Kansas with her second husband.  Kate is living with her oldest son and his family in Chicago.  She indicates that she has had 3 children and 3 are living.

It is very interesting that after moving to Chicago, Kate (Cary) Bradley has indicated only 3 children are living when Mary is clearly alive in Kansas.

Marriage Records

  • Mary Bradley’s marriage certificate to William Bender dated 17 December 1877 does not mention Mary’s parents.  There is a certificate signed by John Bender (William’s father) attesting to both Mary and William being of age (18 and 19 respectively).
  • The marriage certificate for John Bradley and Catherine Cary is definitely more interesting.  They applied for a marriage license in LaSalle County, Illinois on November 18, 1867.  The copy of the license I received states that license # 1243 was ‘not returned, missing’.
  • I have also received a copy of the St. Columba Church marriage records (Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois) for Charles and Kate.  The church records indicate that Charles and Catherine were married November 18, 1867.  The marriage was witnessed by William Edding and Mary Noonan.

The marriage date for Charles and Catherine is only 31 days before Mary was born.  I find it very unlikely that a woman in 1867 would wait until she is 8 months pregnant before marrying the father of her child.  Considering the year, I would expect a woman to have gotten married as soon as possible to hide the fact she was pregnant before marriage.

Conclusions
I have not reached any conclusions about who Mary Bradley’s mother is.

I do find the evidence in favor of Kate Bradley being Mary’s mother on the thin side.  The only person who has stated that fact was Mary’s daughter.  She was obviously did not have first hand knowledge of the birth since she was not there.

There is also no proof yet that another woman is Mary Bradley’s mother.

The only clue I have to the mystery Jewish woman is that her last name might have been Udell.  This name was given to my mother’s cousin by Grandma Bender in a conversation.

I am following up on another research idea right now.  I have sent an inquiry to the Catholic Church, St. Columba, in Ottawa, Illinois to see if they have any birth or baptismal records for Mary Bradley.  This is the church that Charles and Kate got married at just a month before Mary’s birth.

I will keep you updated when I receive a response.

Thriller Thursday – Aunt Laura’s house blew up

Last October, I got the chance to take a genealogy research trip to Kansas to look for information about my mother’s family.  The highlights of the trip include visiting with family on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family.  My mom’s uncle, Raymond, was just shy of 90 when we visited.  He told us so many great stories about the Mitchell family.  We spent an afternoon driving around Topeka, Kansas seeing the family sites when Raymond pointed to a street corner and said “That is where Aunt Laura’s house blew up.”

Of course, my mom and I immediately wanted to hear more.  This is a retelling of the story we heard that afternoon from Uncle Raymond with a little of my research added in.

Aunt Laura is Laura P. Mitchell.  She is one of Dudley Moses Mitchell’s older sisters.  She was born about 1868 in Jackson County, Kansas.  At the time of this story she was living in Topeka, Kansas.

One day Laura smelled gas in her house so she called the gas company.  They came out to the house and let her know that they did not smell anything and she was fine.  Later in the day, Laura still smelled gas and called the gas company again.  She apologized for being any trouble but let them know about the continuing gas smell.  The gas company again sent a man out to her house.  Laura went into the basement with the gas man.  When he turned on his flashlight, the gas in the room ignited.  The house split into two the explosion was so large.  They both somehow miraculously survived with little injuries.  Uncle Raymond continued that if Aunt Laura had been lying in her cot as usual, she would have gone through the roof becaues that is exactly what happened to the cot!  Laura received a settlement from the gas company.  She moved to Downey, California sometime after the explosion happened.  She lived in California the rest of her life.

Those Places Thursday – North Star Brewery, San Francisco, California

It turns out to be no surprise that my husband loves to brew his own beer.  His second great grandfather, John Pope, was the owner of North Star Brewery in San Francisco, California.  The brewery was open from 1897-1920.

1902 – Portraits from the Pacific Art Company’s book, Men of California. Photo accessed 6 April 2011 on the Anchor Brewing website (www.anchorbrewing.com/san_francisco/menofcalifornia.htm)

The brewery was located at 3312 Army Street in the Mission.  The photo below was taken from a brochure for a restaurant, The Old Clam House, that occupied the same space later in the 20th century.  The original is held by John A. Pope, Hopland, CA.

1915 Sanborn Insurance Map.  Accessed at burritojustice.com on 6 April 2011.

Matrilenial Monday – 5 Living Generations Twice in Her Life

This article ran in my local paper yesterday.  The genealogy bug in me was fascinated by the story.  If you get a change to visit the paper’s website, there are photos of both sets of 5 generations.
Marin Independent Journal
San Rafael, California
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Page A1, column 2
Also available at www.marinij.com with photos

Terra Linda matriarch has five living generations in her family — again

Loretta Castillo still has the photograph that ran in Ohio’s Toledo Blade newspaper 71 years ago, showing her at age 19 with her infant daughter and her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Nearly three years ago, Castillo’s great-granddaughter, Melissa McSweeney, gave birth to a baby girl — giving the 90-year-old Terra Linda resident the opportunity to boast for a second time that she’s part of a family with five living generations of women. The case is so rare that one geneticist estimated there may be at most two or three other examples in the United States.
“At first you don’t think anything about it,” said Darlene Belluomini, the daughter who appeared with Castillo in the Toledo photograph in 1940. “It’s kind of crazy.”
Now 71, Belluomini lives with her husband in Novato and has hung a placard outside her home with the slogan, “Family is Everything.”
She talks to Castillo on the phone every night and takes care of her 2-year-old great-granddaughter, Abby McSweeney, on Fridays while the toddler’s mother works. Several times a week, Belluomini’s 50-year-old daughter, Susan Belluomini — who lives in Petaluma with her 25-year-old daughter, Melissa, and granddaughter Abby — has lunch at her mom’s house while on break from her preschool job in Novato.
Castillo moved to California from Ohio in 1948 with her two children after a divorce; she had married at age 18. She went on to marry Fred Castillo, who has been her husband for 62 years, and have two more children.
Her daughter, Darlene, married young too, at age 19, and gave birth to Susan 10 months later, making Castillo a grandmother at 39. At the time, Castillo had a 1-year-old daughter and would take care of both children together.
Susan married at 20, and at age 25 gave birth to Melissa, who at age 23 gave birth to Abby.
“I have 12 grandchildren, nine great- and one great-great,” said Castillo, who worked as a waitress at the House of Prime Rib in San Francisco for 35 years. “In my family room, I got pictures galore. I can’t even use the fireplace.”
On Mother’s Day, about 30 family members will gather to visit and eat together at Susan’s house in Petaluma. The family is close and always gets together for holidays, Castillo said.
There is roughly a 1 in 10,000 probability of a family having five living generations in the United States, with most likely about a couple hundred examples nationwide, said Shripad Tuljapurkar, a Stanford University professor of population studies and biology.
But the probability that the phenomenon would occur twice in the same family is extraordinarily low, approximately 1 in 100 million, Tuljapurkar guessed, noting that he’s never heard of another such case.
“That’s really striking,” Tuljapurkar said. “I would be astounded to find even one (case) with this happening twice. This deserves to be known by more demographers.”
Kenneth Wachter, a professor of demographics and statistics at the University of California at Berkeley, also called the case “rare and extraordinary.”
“Back in that generation, people dying at 70 was relatively common,” Wachter said. “To get five generations back then (in 1940) seems very rare. … That’s strong enough to suggest that there could be favorable alleles of genes in that family.”
While many mothers give birth to their first child at roughly the same age as their mothers, a large number of women also rebel and take the opposite route, Wachter said.
“There’s a general tendency for these things, by which I mean early initiation of childbearing … to run in families, but it’s not as strong as you might think because of the rebels,” Wachter said. “To have that general tendency (for early childbearing) expressed so clearly in one family is rare.”
In the United States, the average age of first birth is about 25 for women, said Stewart Tolnay, a sociology professor at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. To have even one instance of five living generations in a family, four generations of women needed to be fertile, have children young and survive to child-bearing age — and in the great- and great-great-grandmothers’ cases, live to advanced ages, he said. “Lots of stars need to line up for this to happen.”
The Castillo-Belluomini-McSweeney women agree that they’re fortunate.
“We’re lucky,” Melissa McSweeney said. “Most of my friends don’t even have their grandparents.”
“When I tell people I have grandparents still at my age, they’re in awe,” Susan Belluomini added. “We’re very lucky to have each other. … Life is tough. We’ve all had our little stepping stones. We always know that through the good times and all the bad, we’re all going to be there for each other.”
Castillo said she still remembers the day she posed for the newspaper photograph with her relatives in 1940. Her great-grandmother, a “full-blooded French” woman, was 88 that day and lived to be 92.
“I remember the words she said to me after we took the picture — she said, ‘Good luck with your bebe,” Castillo recalled, adding that’s she’s happy a picture of the new five generations will appear in the newspaper.
“I know my mother in heaven is going to be very pleased,” she said.

A Tribute to Great Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day!

I want to take a moment today to recognize some wonderful mother’s in my family.  All of these women have helped shape me into the mother that I am today.  I cannot thank them enough for loving me, supporting me, and teaching me.  I love you!

My Mom 

My Maternal Grandmother

My Paternal Grandmother

My Mother-in-Law

Sorting Saturday – My Scanning Goals

I recently started this blog to share stories about my ancestors.  As I have written the first several blog posts, it has become abundantly clear that I need to take some time to scan and reorganize a bunch of my research.  I thought that I had a pretty good system set up that would make it easy to find anything I have input and sourced in my genealogy software.  I realize now that my system is not so great, especially when you want to quickly double check stories and facts when writing a blog post. 

I have decided that I need to spend at least 50% of my genealogy time devoted to achieving these new goals until the project is done. 

I have taken some time and thought about exactly what needs to be done and how I want to reorganize my data both in binders and on the computer.  Here is the goal list:

  1. In my computer, create a new library that holds genealogy files only (they will no longer be split across the documents and photos libraries).  Organize files by family name and specialty folders such as places, books, etc.
  2. When moving all files to their new ‘home’, rename any file that doesn’t match the way I have been naming files the last couple of years.  Also check each file to make sure citations and information about the image is located in the comments section of the image properties. (Yikes, that means adding source information to all of the federal census images I have saved – thank goodness they are all printed on my transcription copies.)
  3. Go through all family binders and check to see if all data (including letters, photocopies made on research trips, photos, and vital records) has been scanned to the computer.  Any information that has not been scanned will get put in a clear plastic box.
  4. Scan all of the stuff that gets put into the plastic box being sure to put the proper citations in the comments section of the image properties.
  5. Attack my stack of research data that needs to get input into my genealogy software.  Each document needs to be cited to the correct ancestor, scanned, filed to correct family folder, and printed copy filed to family binder. 
  6. When finished with this scanning project, burn a new set of backup DVD’s.  I will be backing up during the project to my Sugarsync account.

I expect this to take most of the rest of the year to complete.  I will keep you updated as to my progress every now and then.

Tech Tuesday – How Amazon’s Cloud Crash Should Change Your Backup Routine

Why Redundant Backups Are Necessary

This week Amazon experienced significant problems at their Northern Virginia data center.  The outages brought down part of Amazon’s cloud services.  Since Amazon is one of the largest providers of cloud services, this was a major event.  Many companies were unable to access their data or their websites were unavailable on Thursday and Friday. 

I joined the cloud revolution this year to back up my genealogy data.  I personally use Sugarsync’s 5 GB free account.  One of the other popular providers is Dropbox.  These services are great!  You can back up your data off site to protect against a myriad of things including hardware crashes, earthquakes, and 2 year-olds.  These cloud sites also allow you to access your data from other devices when you are not at home.  For example, you can access your files while at the library if you forgot to bring something with you.  Or the reverse, upload photos and document scans to your data backup while still at the library. 

Amazon’s problems this week should also effect the way that we (the home user, blogger, etc.) backup our data.  My suggestion is to back up your data in multiple ways.  This will ensure that if any one of the back up methods fails, you will still be able to access your data.  I personally backup my data at multiple levels. 

First, as mentioned, I have my genealogy data automatically backup to a cloud service.  This keeps my data off site (out of the house) in case of a massive natural disaster.  In California, we are always worried about earthquakes.

Second, at my house, we have an external hard drive attached to our computer.  We periodically delete all of the files off of the external hard drive and copy over all files from our computer (every couple of months).  This backup is to cover us in case the hard drive on our home computer fails.  Hardware failures are the largest cause of lost data.

Third, once a year, we copy all files to DVDs.  The DVDs are supposed to be kept in a safe spot at my in-laws house.  I have to fess up that the case holding these are in my house right now.  Note to self – drop them off as soon as possible!  Again this keeps all of our data off site in case something happens at our house.  We find this a cheaper way to back up our photos and music than subscribing to a larger cloud account.  Our backup plan is not perfect but it works for our household and is something that we can maintain.

Redundancy is the key and this was proven this week at Amazon.  Many large companies (such as Netflix) pay for upgraded Amazon services to have their data backed up to multiple data centers.  These large companies pay for redundancy.  In return they did not experience any outages since their data is backed up in multiple locations.