What is left out of the story is that he had already established Lockeport several years earlier, having several buildings on his property to accommodate the railroad workers and laborers in the area. Locke's packing house, the Lockeport Hotel, including the two businesses ran by Tin San Chan and Wing Chong Owyang, and a few other buildings were among the first. The NCCSAH has even stated that the "Locke Boarding House" located on Locke Road predates all of the buildings, having been built around 1910, while the State Parks website notes the Locke Boarding House as having been built in 1909. This structure more than likely was used as lodging rooms for the railroad workers and also laborers working for G. Locke.
PROSTITUTION IN LOCKE
There were several residents of Locke during this time period, including Grace Melbourne, the madam of the houses of ill repute. I have traced Grace to Locke as early as 1916. After the fire in Walnut Grove, many Chinese moved to Locke, but they were not the only ones living in town. By 1919-1920, the town had a notorious reputation for illegal gambling, prostitution, and drugs. Grace was not the only prostitute during this time either. So far I have found several painted ladies who lived and walked the streets of Locke. The prostitution became so bad by this time that Senator E.E. Grant finally decided to charge George Locke** with illicit operations in the town of Locke (Lockeport), shedding light on some of the practices going on in Locke at the time.
Here's just a few of the women involved in prostitution in Locke:
- Grace Melbourne
- Dora Burns
- Mae Beach
- Ruby Allen
- Ellise (misspelled Ellis)
- Mary Roe
- Grace Poe
- Clara Smith
In April of 1919, both Mary Roe and Grace Poe, some of Locke's prostitutes, had warrants issued for vagrancy. In September of 1919, Dora Burns was also arrested for prostitution. She had rented a back room out from a Chinese merchant for the purpose of prostituting herself. The man ran the Opera House. The September 30, 1919 issue of the Sacramento Union newspaper states that Burns admitted to renting out a room in the back of the store under the Opera House building. The paper states she was using one of the "dressing rooms" for her immoral acts. Pleading guilty in front of Justice of the Peace O'Brien, she was given a six month suspended sentence and basically banned from the Delta area.
The real scandal started in February of 1919, when Ruby Allen testified in front of the grand jury, speaking for over two hours about George Locke and his dealings with prostitution. Besides Ruby Allen taking the stand, Senator Grant also took up some of the grand jury's time, trying to convince them to take action against Locke. The story really made headlines a few months later, when prostitutes came forward with affidavits published in the local papers throwing George Locke under the bus and painting a picture of the situation in Locke.
"GIRLS ACCUSE GEO. W. LOCKE - Furniture Man Narrowly Escapes Grand Jury Indictment for Pandering-
George W. Locke, J Street furniture dealer and large property owner in Lockeport, narrowly escaped indictment yesterday by the county grand jury on a charge of sending girls to a life of prostitution in houses owned by him at that place.
Two affidavits were submitted by girls who swore that he directed them to houses of ill-fame, in which he is alleged to have said they could make more money than by working in a cannery. The affidavits which are in possession of the Union, contain detailed statements relative to time, place and money to be paid for rental."----- Sac Union, 9/12/1919
|Sac Union 9/13/1919|
"A little over a year ago, George Locke, furniture dealer on J Street, Sacramento, California, rented to me one of his houses in the town of Locke, County of Sacramento, State of California, and told me to put girls in the house for the purposes of prostitution;
That I did thereupon occupy the house and had girls in said house for purposes of prostitution, in accordance with agreement with said George Locke; that a girl named Ellis [sic] came to the said house and stated she had been sent there by the said George Locke, and he told me that he had sent the said girl Ellis to my house in Locke, to work as a prostitute in accordance with this agreement, and told me to treat her right and that the said said Ellis did actually, in compliance with this arrangement, work in my house at Locke as a prostitute, practising prostitution for money."-- 2/4/ 1919 affidavit of Ruby Allen.
By September 14th, the second affidavit was published in the paper. It read:
"On or about the months of May or June, 1917, I was directed by George Locke, owner of a house of prostitution known as the White House, located in the town of Locke, otherwise known as Lockeport, County of Sacramento, State of California, to the said White House, the said George Locke telling me that it was a sporting house run by Ruby Allen and that I would make more money at the said White House than I would in the cannery, where I was going to work;
That following the directions of the said George Locke, I went to the said White House in Lockeport, met Bee, the negro maid, and then was admitted to the place by Ruby Allen and that I practiced prostitution in said White House run by Ruby Allen for a period of several months, practicing prostitution with different men for money;
On a subsequent occasion, the said George Locke, being the man who directed me into said house, told me that he owned the said White House, and on several occasions, I saw George Locke in the said White House and at least once, I saw Ruby Allen pay the said George Locke money;
Several months later the said George Locke came to the said White House in Lockeport and asked me in the presence of the landlady, Ruby Allen, to open up a house of prostitution in Sacramento over a firehouse, telling me that I could not keep any other girls there but would have to do all the prostitution myself and that I should be very careful as to whom I let in as there were many stool pigeons around; stating further that I should pay him all the money I made from prostitution."-- 3/3/1919, affidavit of Mae Beach.
** Records show that original owner of Locke, George W. Locke died in 1909, thus the George Locke that is accused for pandering and running prostitution houses in Locke would be his grandson, George R. Locke, since his father had moved away by this time.
--(Copyright 2015, J'aime Rubio)