Monday, October 17, 2016

Stories of the Forgotten: Infamous, Famous & Unremembered

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It's been four years in the making, but it is now complete. What once was just an idea, now has finally came to fruition with the publishing of my latest book, "Stories of the Forgotten: Infamous, Famous & Unremembered." 

In this book you will find some of my favorite investigations. Although some of the stories were originally published on my blog over the years, this book will give a fresh take on each and every one of those chosen stories, adding much more detailed information, citing all sources and revealing even more than ever before. Besides that, I have interviewed many people along the way, as well as adding several new stories that I have never been published before.


Come travel back in time with me to explore the stories of the forgotten. From suicides to drownings, accidents and natural deaths to unsolved murders, these fatalities occurred under the most bizarre and mysterious circumstances. From chapter to chapter, you will delve into each story with their own tumultuous twists and turns. Find out what really happened to Octavia Hatcher and Julia Legare, both rumored to have been buried alive. Read the details of the three equally mysterious drownings of Alida Ghirardelli, Ella Newton, and Agnes Jaycoax. Be shocked by the story of Rose De Fabrizio, the young bride who collapsed while walking up the steps of the church to be married. Find out the truth behind Savannah’s own mystery encircling the life and death of Corinne Elliott Lawton.  In San Diego County, let me show you the facts surrounding the Hotel Del Coronado’s “Beautiful Stranger,” as well as the puzzling account of Emma LeDoux, the infamous Black Widow of Amador County, and many more.  

Besides these narratives, I have covered many popular urban legends known throughout the country. See how I reveal the truth behind Burrillville, Rhode Island’s more recent folklore encompassing the tale of Bathsheba Sherman. Take a closer look at the origins of other urban legends within Niles Canyon, located near Fremont, California.  In each case, I present to you a thoroughly researched accounting of every story, allowing you to draw your own conclusions, and also learn where many of their graves can be found in cemeteries within the United States.


Learn the true stories of:

Enid Rimpau - In 1915, a beautiful young bride, who had just started a new life and married the man she loved, was found poisoned in her home in Anaheim, California. Did she kill herself or was she murdered?

Elna Zimmerman - Learn about the tragic suicide of Elna Zimmerman, and see what events happened in her life that led up to her suicide jump off a skyscraper in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Cora Casey- Another tragic suicide, this time inside one of the fanciest hotels in Tucson, Arizona. Learn all about her life and what transpired before her demise. 

Ella Newton- It was a cold, winter day in December of 1892, when the body of Ella Newton was found drowned in the creek of Mt. Vernon, New York. Who killed her? And most importantly, why? 

Agnes Jaycoax- A young teacher from Sacramento, California, with her whole life ahead of her takes one wrong step on the rocks at Cypress Point in Monterey, California, and loses everything.

Alice Curtis- The daughter of a well known Sacramento politician, Alice was found with a gunshot wound to the chest, but still alive. Upon questioning Alice refused to tell her secret: who really shot her?

Octavia Hatcher- A famous urban legend surrounding Pikeville, Kentucky, Octavia's story is investigated with a fine tooth comb to tell you whether or not she was truly buried alive.

Rose De Fabrizio- Walking up the steps of the church on her wedding day, Rose De Fabrizio collapsed just feet away from her groom. Learn the tragic story behind this heartbreaking tale.

The Ghirardelli Grandchildren - Not one, not two, but three of Domingo Ghirardelli's grandchildren died in tragic and mysterious ways. Learn the stories of Aurelia Mangini, Alida Ghirardelli and Edwin Ghirardelli, and find out the odd origins behind their family crypt at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.

Mabel Steele - Killed by her sister in an act of "mercy," learn the details behind Mabel and her daughter, Nadine's deaths. Although both killings took place decades apart, each included eerie similarities. 

Euphemia Hill- Claimed to be the inspiration for Barbara Stanwyck's character in the hit television show, "The Big Valley," learn the story of Euphemia Hill of the Hill Ranch in Camanche, California. The town no longer exists, as it is buried deep below Lake Camanche, but now her story, and the tragic story of her husband, Hugh Lawson White Hill's death has finally surfaced from the deep.

Lottie Bernard (Hotel Del Coronado's "Beautiful Stranger") -
Who died on the north steps of the Hotel Del Coronado that November night in 1892? Was it Kate Morgan? Lizzie Wylie? Or was it really Lottie Bernard? Go with me through all the documented records and decide for yourself: who was the beautiful stranger?

Louise Catalano- A woman juggling a secret love affair and a husband, along with maintaining a home and four young children, it was only a matter of time before her secrets were revealed. Read all the details of this gruesome murder that rocked the town of Roseville, California in 1921. 

Elizabeth Griffith- A spirited 17 year old from Louisville, Kentucky, Elizabeth Griffith was found dead on Christmas Eve of 1919, in the doctor's office where she was employed. To make matters worse, the gun used to kill her belonged to the doctor, who she had also been previously engaged to marry. Find out the details of her suspicious death and much more. 

Corinne Elliott Lawton- Buried in the historic Bonaventure Cemetery located in Savannah, Georgia, the tale of Corinne has enamored thousands who visit her grave. Learn the true story behind her life and death, and see new photos and information that has never been published before, revealing the identity of the man she was engaged to marry shortly before her death. 

Julia Legare- Rumored to have been locked in the Legare crypt while in a coma like state, literally sealed in alive, the story of Julia Legare is one you won't forget. Journey with me as I sift through the facts of this story that haunts Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Bathsheba Sherman- Infamously known as the evil entity or "witch" from the film, The Conjuring, come with me to Burrillville, Rhode Island, where I show you documented evidence clearing her name once and for all. I also delve into the history of the Old Arnold Estate, all the alleged deaths on the property and reveal where and who may have originally started this whole "ghost story" after all. 

The Urban Legends of Niles Canyon- Two eerie stories surround the area near Fremont, California, known as Niles Canyon. The "Lady in White" who appears on the side of the road or near the creek, and the "Vanishing Hitchhiker" who hitches a ride and disappears soon after crossing the Dumbarton Bridge. Learn the origins to these stories as well as true accounts of accidents and tragic deaths in the area. 

Emma LeDoux- The woman convicted for the "1906 Trunk Murder" of her husband, Albert McVicar in Stockton, California. Although eventually caught for this murder, it wasn't the first time she had been suspected of killing one of her husbands. Mrs. Emma LeDoux's story, with all its twists and turns, is one you will never forget. From her early beginnings through her scandalous adulthood and leading up to her death, read the most in depth account available regarding this calculating black widow.


(Copyright, J'aime Rubio - www.jaimerubiowriter.com) 


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Flora Somerton - Nob Hill's Famously False Urban Legend

A few nights ago when I was driving my son home from work, and happened to be switching radio stations, I heard the mention of a "lady in white" frequently sighted in Nob Hill, San Francisco. The name of this alleged specter was presumed to be Flora Somerton.

The story relayed over the airwaves was brief but mentioned that the young lady mysteriously disappeared from a ball one night in 1876, only to be discovered 50 years later, dead in the same dress she had been seen wearing the night she vanished. The DJ was not very clear about what had happened to Flora during those 50 years. Was she dead all that time and they only discovered her body 50 years later? Or did she die 50 years later? I was intrigued by this story, even the just the small tidbits I heard over the radio, so I decided to go home and see if there was any truth to this story or not.

First, I searched her name and every variation of it: Flora Somerton, Flora Sommerton and Flora Summerton. Besides the many links to websites mentioning the story in almost a scripted, (copied and pasted) regurgitation of the same story, there was not one website that cited any concrete sources of where they got their information. It appears that each person copied from the other person, and so on, leaving the internet inundated with sites mentioning her story, but not really detailing facts.

Several "paranormal" authors mention her story as fact in their books, claiming that she was a real person who really disappeared in 1876. They go on to state that she was engaged to be married to someone her parents set up (basically betrothed), and that at her "coming out" ball she took off and disappeared. Several writers claim that her family were socialites in San Francisco's high society and that they offered large rewards for any information leading to Flora. There are mentions of $250,000.00 being offered as a reward from her family, as well as noting that the newspapers all over the country published this mystery.  Then the story goes on that nearly 50 years later, an indigent woman going by the name "Mrs. Butler" dies in Butte, Montana, and that when her body is discovered, she is found with the dress and newspaper clippings about Flora's disappearance in 1876. Allegedly the authorities put two-and-two together, leading to the conclusion Mrs. Butler is actually Flora Somerton and she is brought back to her family plot to be buried.

The ghost story surrounding Flora claims that she haunts California Street, between Jones and Powell Streets, where she once lived. This is close to the Fairmount Hotel. She is known as the "Ghost Bride of Nob Hill" or the "Lady in White."

In theory the alleged history of this woman's story sounds interesting, but I could not find any facts to substantiate any of these claims. Although these previous writers claim there were newspaper articles laying out the entire story from her disappearance to the discovery of her body half a century later, none of these writers ever cite the sources they used to base their conclusions on.

I diligently searched every archive database I could find and came up with no newspaper articles of that time period showing that any woman named Flora Somerton had been missing, nor were there any records in Butte, Montana, showing her death, or the death of this "Mrs. Butler," in 1926.

In reality, it appears that there was no Flora Somerton (spelled any way you try)....and if there had been, she did not live in San Francisco. There are no records of birth, death, census records, voting registries, nothing with Flora's name or anything that remotely comes close to it. The only newspapers that mention her at all are ones that mention the legend, the ghost stories, not the events that supposedly took place in 1876.

In my research I did find one family with that name, although they spelled their last name as Summerton. They also lived in San Francisco. The 1880 Census shows the father's name was George Summerton, and his wife, Matilda. George had two daughters from his first wife, Susan. Their names were Amelia and Elizabeth; however, neither one of the daughters disappeared. Another thing to note, the family did live in Nob Hill, but not on California Street. The Summerton's residence was located at 1417 Hyde Street, in between Jackson and Washington Streets, but again, these young ladies did not go missing.

I hate to rain on anyone's parade but there are no records or documented facts that prove Nob Hill's infamous "lady in white" was this woman Flora Somerton. Again, it is highly unlikely this woman "Flora" ever existed at all.  The "lady in white" stories go back centuries, leading us back into ancient folklore from Europe, such as France's "Les Dames Blanches." This tale is among the most popular in urban legend folklore that I have found in my research and writing. It appears every region has their own story of a mysterious "lady in white."

So in ending....whatever is roaming California Street in the dark of night and whatever you choose to believe it to be, one thing is for sure: it isn't Flora Somerton.


(Copyright 2016 -- J'aime Rubio  www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ettie Humphreys And Her Forgotten Headstone

Nina Etta "Ettie" Russell Humphreys (photo: J. Rubio)
Ione, California is famously known for it's archaic structure that towers above the small town, up on the top of the hillside known as Preston Castle. Years ago, I wrote a book on some of the famous and infamous events that took place at that castle as well as early history that had been long forgotten.

Well, it turns out that the castle isn't the only thing in town made from that dark red sandstone, which is the same color of the red clay hills that surround the area. There is one headstone in the Ione Public Cemetery that bears the same color and stone to that which Preston Castle is best known for.

The stone was a mystery to many who would visit the cemetery. At first glance it appears that either time and the elements had washed away grooves into the stone, wiping the name and dates etched in the marker. It also appears that this could have been done by a person, too, but I hope that was not the case. Nevertheless, the identity of this grave had elluded many searching for it.

It was a hard thing, the first letters of the first name appear to be "ET" while the last letters of the last name read "WS" (or so we thought!) One thing clearly visible was the year of death, 1906.  I searched the death records for Amador County based on the year, to no avail. I even did a search in the Find-a-grave database for the cemetery and the cemetery index for any person whose name matched those letters, in both first and last names. Still nothing.

It was after posting the photo above on Facebook that a few of my friends got involved to help me figure out this  mystery.  Robert Mitchell, who is a historical researcher out of Louisville, was able to figure out that her name was Ettie Humphreys (although the cemetery had it under the name Humphries). I almost kicked myself when I saw the name, as I had come across that memorial on Find-a-grave during my search and disregarded it based on her last name not matching the letters on the headstone.  Upon further research into the archived newspapers, the May 11, 1906 edition of the Amador Ledger reveals her tragic story.

Amador Ledger, 5/11/1906
Nina Etta "Ettie" Russell was born on February 21, 1870, in Ohio. When she was just a baby, her parents moved to California, near Buena Vista. Later they moved to Chico and remained until 1880, when her mother passed away.  After the death of her mother, nine-year-old Ettie was moved from home to home, first living with Mrs. William Cook in Buena Vista, and then Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Norris, where she remained until she was married.

Ettie married George Humphreys in Amador County on February 23, 1890. She was 19 years old and he was 31. George had two sons from his previous marriage, Miles and Jimmy, (both were born in 1882 and 1884). By 1900, the Humphreys' were living in the Consumnes Township of El Dorado County, and her legal name was stated as "Nina E. Humphreys."  It is unknown when she moved back to Amador County.

According to the Amador Ledger article, Ettie was a "noble woman, always ready and willing to led a helping hand to those in need, and a loving mother, her first thought being of her boys."  This is very telling, especially since the two boys were not her biological children. Her heart must have been extremely loving and open, because she died on her way to help those who were affected in the Great Earthquake of 1906. In fact, it was only three days after the earthquake that left the bay area devastated with destruction, that she was determined to go and help locate friends and family who were displaced after their homes were destroyed.

"On the evening of her death, Ettie, as she was known by all her friends, was accompanying a friend to East Oakland that they might obtain a pass to San Francisco, to locate relatives who had lost their homes during the disaster, but as she neared her destination she rose from her seat on the outside of the car while in motion, and was thrown to the sidewalk, striking her head on the pavement, which resulted in almost instant death."--

The "car" as it is mentioned must have been a street car or trolley of some sort. The article goes on the state that her body was brought to Ione, California for interment to be next to her mother, Eliza Jane Russell.  The Rev. Hinkson of the Presbyterian Church conducted the services.

What is really neat about Ettie's grave, despite the fact that it is worn so badly you cannot read it, is that hers is the only red sandstone marker in the entire cemetery. Not only that, but in all the years I have been roaming cemeteries I have never come across a red sandstone marker like hers. That alone is a truly unique thing!

Ettie is buried next to her mother, Eliza Jane Russell (photo: J. Rubio)
In ending, let us remember Mrs. Ettie Humphreys, a kind and caring woman who died on her way to help others. She was only 36 years old, and a mother of two boys. After learning of her life and death, I felt that I could relate to her in many ways, as I am about her age and also a mother of two boys. I can only imagine that her last thoughts were of her husband and those two boys.

To Ettie Humphreys, may you never be forgotten, ever again!

(Copyright 9/14/2016-- J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com)


Thank you Rob Mitchell!

Sources:
1900 Census, Amador County
Amador Ledger, May 11, 1906
California, Amador County Marriages 1850-1952
Family Search.com