Sunday, January 20, 2019

One of Locke's Red Light Courtesan's Found Murdered in San Francisco

There are a lot of stories about prostitution in Locke, and most of which solely include Caucasian prostitutes living and offering their services to the men folk there. But why were there so many Caucasian prostitutes in a town that current society believes to have been solely Chinese? Because, our current society's interpretation of Locke's history is wrong.

There were three brothels in Locke that were owned and operated by Caucasian men. This is because there were "white" people living in Locke, as well as Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Chinese and of course others, as I have proven in some of my other blog posts based on actual documented census records, voting registries and even draft records filed with the government.  Again, this idea that Locke was solely a Chinese town is grossly misrepresented, almost entirely due to oral histories that were very biased and one-sided that have been taken at face value without anyone actually researching further to see if these people's memories match the factual documented history of the time.

Remember, the older folks who have been interviewed over the years, and many who have passed did not live in Locke in its early years. Many of them came later on, after many of the Caucasians had moved out, as well as others, and the majority left that remained were Chinese. They wouldn't know how it was back then. And the ones who were there in the early days were just children. And everyone knows a child's memory isn't as clear as an adults would be at the time. They only remember glimpses of the past. An elderly person's memory of when they were a mere child is not going to be as accurate as documented, factual evidence from that specific period in time.

Then later on in the 1960's when the beatnik generation stemming from the bay area came out to Locke they just assumed it was all Chinese from the beginning, because the elderly Chinese residents were all that was left there, and the old timers only spoke about their own. Fortunately, I have found enough documentation and even some oral histories that have confirmed Locke was not solely a Chinese town, which I plan to bring to the forefront in the coming future with a more accurate telling of Locke's history in book form.

Getting back to the subject of prostitution, back in 1919 a lady by the name of Ruby Allen came forward to the State of California filing an affidavit accusing George Locke (grandson of G.W. Locke) of operating houses of ill repute in Locke. Within a day the affidavit was published in the newspapers, with the damaging headlines creating quite a stir.

"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, by another prostitute 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.

Not  much was done to George Locke, and prostitution continued in the town well into the 1950's, until Governor Pat Brown finally went around to the small towns raiding them and putting an end to the oldest profession in California towns, (well at least publicly that is).

So what happened to Ruby Allen? Well according to her affidavit, she claimed to have married a Mr. C. Smith and changed her name, but no records have been found that confirm this. Perhaps she wanted to look as though she had cleaned up her act in order to approach the courts, and be taken seriously, but it doesn't look like she really did. If by some off chance she met a gentleman (or even perhaps one of her Johns), and married him in a spontaneous act, it looks like it didn't last, because records show she returned to the oldest profession, this time in San Francisco.

By October 20, 1920, that was the end of the line for Ms. Allen. On the morning of October 21, 1920, a maid at the Knickerbocker hotel (now the Post Hotel) in San Francisco discovered the body of Ruby Allen, who had been bound, gagged and strangled.  After the authorities began investigating, it was discovered that Ruby had invited a gentleman up to her room with her the evening before, and he had registered under the name R. E. Donaldson.

It was later learned that Donaldson was actually E.R.E. Dugal, a former soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces who fought in France. He had returned from battle with shell shock. He had been working in construction in Newcastle at that time, and on the day of Ruby's murder, he had cashed his check (check no. 350) at a local bank and he allegedly paid Ruby Allen with a $20 bill that was marked #350 on it. (This was stated by the police). Immediately the police issued a warrant for his arrest.

One of the chauffeurs at the hotel, William T. Diggins, who positively identified the murdered woman as Ruby Allen, claimed he knew her, and that she was originally from Mobile, Alabama, where he was also from. He claimed he knew her there, and detectives noticed how deeply affected the sight of her body was to Diggins.

Just hours after Ruby's body had been discovered, the police learned of a body of a man that was found on Thornton Beach (Daly City). He had been found with a bullet in his head, no weapon anywhere, and female footprints in the sand leaving the scene. The police were certain there was a connection, and after some digging it appeared to be true.  The night clerk at the Knickerbocker, Edward Cosgrove, positively identified the body of the man to be the same person he saw with Ruby the night she was murdered.

What is even more odd is the fact that the very next day in Oakland, a gentleman working for the Salvation Army, Richard Skelland, claimed he saw Donaldson very much alive. In fact he was reading a newspaper about the discovery of the man's body on Thornton Beach when Skelland attempted to stop him. The man immediately broke free from his grasp and ran towards the waterfront. Police was dispatched and there was a search for this mystery man, but nothing I could find ever came of it.

Did Skelland mistake this random person as Donaldson? Or was it really him? If so, who was the man who was murdered on the beach? And most importantly, why were there female foot prints in the sand leaving the body? With one question comes another, and another....leaving this story to literally be one of those mysteries that I haven't been able to solve, yet.

At one point the police thought it was possible that the murderer of Ruby Allen was Bluebeard Watson, a serial killer but he was serving a life sentence in San Quentin at the time so that wasn't possible. There were others such as "Jack the Strangler" who sent letters to the police claiming he murdered Ulla Carlson in March of 1920  on the corner of Lafayette and Crocker Avenue in Piedmont, but even that murder seems to have never been solved either.

As far as Ruby goes,  according to Halsted & Company Funeral Records, Ruby's real name was Scurah Allen aka Ruby Allen, and she was actually born in Canada in 1895. She was only 25 years old at the time of her death. It is unknown whether she is buried at a cemetery or was cremated. Given the fact she was also from Canada, makes me wonder if she might have known Donaldson? Also, could there have been some sort of jealousy between William Diggins (who claimed he knew her in Mobile, Alabama) and this Donaldson fellow? There are just too many unanswered questions to this one. However, I felt that Ruby's story should be told, regardless of whether we know for certain who killed her, or why, for that matter.

Rest in Peace, Ruby.

(Copyright 2019 - J'aime Rubio -