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.

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.

Charles Mattson & Wendla Botmaster (Johnson)

Charles Oscar Mattson married Wendla Botmaster (Johnson) on February 13, 1904 in Berkeley, California.  Wendla unofficially took the last name Johnson when she arrived in the United States from Finland.  They had 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl, during their short marriage.  Unfortunately, Charles died only nine years after they married on May 13, 1913.

Charles and Wendla are John’s second great grandparents through his father’s maternal line (Shirley Gingg -> Agnes Mattson ->Charles Mattson.)