Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Curly Gus From Third and Minna

Curly Gus From Third and Minna 
A S, O. M. Boy Who Has Made Good 

Gustave was the brother of my Grandmother's mother. A list of the family is on previous post

Gustave A. Melsing was born, the first male white child in Gold Hill, on the Comstock Lode, Nevada, the mining camp that made San Francisco the home of the Bonanza Kings and the most romantic and wonderful city in all the world. From rumors of the long, forgotten past, he came very near being born a few thousand feet under the ground in the Yellow Jacket Mine, where his mother had descended to collect a few specimens from a particular rich vein, for the collection of his father. At any rate the Hoist House was a fair enough maternity home for him to be born in. Rumors further state, that every man, woman and child, even the Piutes, celebrated this eventful occasion. All of the men and Piutes got polluted, not with "bootlegger arnica" but with the real, old, genuine hooch made out of "skunk cabbage." 

After the Civil War Gus, at the age of 3, brought his father, mother and three sisters, by Burro-Pullman, over the Divide into Grass Valley and then by easy stages back to 'Frisco where they originally came from. 

His father started and was the owner of "Humboldt Hall" on the corner of Dupont and Washington streets. This marvelous Emporium was a bakery, pool room, restaurant, first free-lunch, confectionery cafe, where the finest imported liqueurs (not liquors) would be served with the demitasse, except they called it coffee. 

Not satisfied with "North Beach", the "Mission", "Telegraph Hill" or "Russian Hill", Gus moved, with the rest of the Melsings, including two dogs, a cat, several canary birds and other necessary things like a baby brother, into the Land of Promise, "South of Market", around the year of 1877. At the corner of Minna and 3rd streets a little bakery was opened and from that time on the little shop was known as "Melsing's Bakery." 

Upon the sudden death of his father, Gus was called into action when only 17 years old and conducted the little place successfully, simply because it had to l)e done for want of funds to keep the family together until all of his sisters and his brother were married and provided for. Then and then only did he get married. Pie married Olive Blanche Bradshaw, daughter of one of the first wholesale grocers of San Francisco and the grand-daughter of Col. John W. McKenzie, the Mexican War veteran and the first Acting Chief of Police in San Francisco in 1847. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gustave Melsing - 1826 - Prussia

Gustave Melsing - 1826 - Prussia

Gustave Melsing was a trained accountant, he also learned the confectioners trade in Germany.  They migrated in approx. 1858.

After Gustave Melsing and Elizabeth Schwerin Melsing arrived in America, they came directly to Gold Hill, Nevada where he worked as an accountant in the silver mines.   When the ore ran out and the silver mines closed down, they came with their five children to San Francisco, where he opened a confectionery shop at 3rd & Minna Sts.   It became famous for Melsing's rye bread.

Melsing children

Louisa (Lucy) Melsing
Married - Daniel Barnes Libby (1882)
Issue - Daniel, Jr & Adeline
Mary Melsing
Married - Alfred Huddart
Issue - Emily, Lucy & Alfred
Gustave Melsing
Married - Olive Bradshaw
Issue - Melba
Antoinette Melsing
Elizabeth Melsing
Married - James Gagen
Issue - Edward
Dorothea Melsing (1872)
Married - George Bunker
Issue - Alpharetta (1892) (My Grandmother)
Louis Melsing
Married and divorced
no Issue

3rd & Minna

Over the years, the land where the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts now stands has been home to a wide variety of businesses including: The Manhattan Bakery, Melsing's Bakery, a millinery store, a cabinet maker, a furniture dealer, multiple tailors, a dry goods merchant, the Doscher and Company Grocery, Howard Presbyterian Church, Mission Street Hotel, many laundries, the Ixora Dancing Hall, an undertaker, a candy shop, a tin shop, a coal yard, St. Patrick's School, Thomas Day and Co. Gas Fixtures, a pork shop, many restaurants, a stable, a wire and iron works factory, a drugstore, the Peerless Movie Theater, the West Hotel, a machine shop, a lithography shop, St. Patrick's Shelter Annex with reading room, St. Vincent du Paul Center for Servicemen, an engraving shop, and a number of pawn shops.

Secondary notes .....
Gustav Melsing was married on March 23, 1856 to Elizabeth Schwerin. 
In 1872 was employed as a baker [Columbia Bakery] at 1129 Dupont st., San Francisco [now Grant ave]
In 1878 he was living at 727 Broadway and in 1879 was living at 2126 Howard.
Gustav then listed himself as a confectioner dealing in fancy baked goods
Daughters Louisa and Maria were living with their parents at this time.
In 1880 the bakery was located at 120 3rd. st. and the family was living at 205 Minna.
The bakery was owned by August Schwerin was deeded to Gustav in late 1881. August and Elizabeth Schwerin [Gustav's wife] were brother and sister. 
In 1883 Gustav`s son Peter Henry was employed at the bakery. The son was commonly known as Harry.
In or about 1884 Gustav expired. His wife Elizabeth was running the bakery in 1885. Two other sons Gustav A [gus jr.] and Louis were also working at the bakery until 1896.
After that Gustav A was a brakeman on the cable cars. 1888 and 89 was a watchman and 1900 was a bookkeeper. son Louis was a collector for a law and collection agency. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

Portneuf Canyon Stage Robbery

Portneuf Canyon Stage Robbery
and Charlie's Wells Fargo Badges about 1870

Story compiled by R. Michael Wilson

Before the railroad barreled through Idaho Territory, freight and stage lines provided transportation and movement of trade goods, as well as gold, along the routes leading from Montana to Utah.

In 1864, Ben Holladay expanded his stage line through Idaho, and though it provided a much needed service, the paths were fraught with danger. The Portneuf Road, leading from Virginia City, Montana to Pocatello, Idaho often carried gold from the rich Montana mines and soon became the target of thieves hiding out in the forested areas along the trail.

Such was the case on July 26, 1865.

Carefully planned, four outlaws met in a saloon in Boise City, Idaho during May, 1865. Leading the "gang” was a man named Brockie Jack who had recently broke out of a jail in Oregon and had been hiding out on a nearby ranch. The next main member of the group was Big Dave Updyke, who had been elected Ada  County Sheriff just a few months previous. Parading as a descent citizen, he was known to have consorted with known felons and was watched closely by the Payette Vigilance Committee. The third member was a man named Willy Whittmore, who was known for his quick temper and deadly aim. The fourth man was a little known player that went by the name of Fred Williams.

On May 31, 1865, the four outlaws left Boise City headed toward the Portneuf Stage Route in eastern Idaho, more than 200 miles away. Making camp at Ross Fork Creek near Fort Hall, the men worked out the details of the hold-up. Fred Williams was sent to Virginia City, Montana to gain information about the gold shipments. Once he was sure that the stage line would be carrying the precious cargo, he was to purchase a ticket and ride along as a passenger.

In the meantime, the other three bandits traveled south along the stage road, looking for the perfect place for the hold-up. A few miles south of present-day Pocatello, Idaho, the trio found a narrow canyon that was heavily timbered, rocky, and filled with brush. Determining that the location provided everything that was needed, the bandits began to work out the details of the robbery. They soon gathered a number of large boulders that would be utilized to block the stage road, hiding them out of sight until they were needed. Additionally, they decided that Willy Whittmore, armed with a new Henry repeating rifle, was to shoot the lead horses if the driver found a way around the roadblock.

With the details worked out, the three bandits returned to Ross Fork Creek to wait for their accomplice, Fred Williams. It would be nearly two weeks before they received any word.

On July 21, 1865, the stagecoach left Virginia City with seasoned driver, Charlie Parks, and seven passengers, including one calling himself Fred Williams.

Crossing the Ruby Mountains, the stage spent its first night at the Corral Station near present-day Dillon, Montana. For the next three days, the stagecoach traveled along the route, where the Union Pacific Railroad would later be built, to Pocatello.

On the fourth evening of their journey, the stagecoach stopped at the Sodhouse Station to overnight. After the passengers had completed their evening meal, Williams excused himself and headed toward the Ross Fork Camp. The other outlaws were ecstatic to hear the news that two large strongboxes, laden with gold, were being transported on the stage. After a celebratory drink or two of whiskey, Williams headed back. No one had even noticed he was gone.

On July 26, 1865, the coach set out once again. Around midday, it reached the stream near the place that the three outlaws were hidden in the brush. Slowing down to cross the water, the coach traveled through, went up the bank, and suddenly stopped. There, across the road were the boulders the bandits had placed to stop the coach. Suddenly, the outlaws appeared from their hiding places with guns raised.

From the coach, one of the passengers, a professional gambler named Sam Martin, poked his head out of the side door with a revolver in his hand. Aiming at Whittmore, he pulled the trigger and shot off Whittmore’s left index finger.

Enraged, Whittmore shouted, "It’s a trap!” and began to empty his rifle into the side of the stagecoach. In a desperate attempt to escape, Charlie Parks tried to break through the brush but Brockie Jack shot both of the lead horses and the stage stopped dead in its tracks.

Hit by some of the buckshot, the injured Parks scrambled down from the coach and made a mad dash towards the woods. In the meantime, Fred Williams, the outlaw accomplice, and James B. Brown, a Virginia City saloon-keeper, were also able to escape into the nearby timbers.

Finally, Brockie Jack grabbed the rifle out of Whittmore’s hands and the sounds of gunfire ceased. Cautiously, Jack approached the stagecoach while Whittmore and Updyke covered him. "Come out of there with your hands up,” he called, but was met only by silence. He then opened the door of the stage and shouted, "My God, they’re all dead.”

Inside were the five broken bodies of Sam Martin, the professional gambler who had shot Whittmore; Mr. and Mrs. Andy Ditmar, a Mormon couple who had been visiting relatives in Bannock, Montana; Jess Harper, an ex-Confederate soldier who was on his way to visit his parents in Sacramento, California; and a man named L. F. Carpenter, who was headed for San Francisco to catch a steamship to New Orleans. All were dead except Carpenter, who was injured and feigned his death in order to survive.

As the bandits began to loot the stagecoach and its dead passengers, accomplice Fred Williams staggered from the woods with a shattered arm from one of Whittmore’s deadly bullets. The three other outlaws barely noticed as they were too busy with their frenzied plundering.

Whittmore and Brockie Jack soon hauled the two heavy strongboxes from the stage and cracked the large iron locks with an ax. Inside were 15 heavy gold bars and two large pouches filled with gold dust and nuggets. Two more pounds of gold dust and nuggets were found in the passenger compartment. Pleased with their stolen cache, the four outlaws packed up and rode out of the canyon.

After they were out of sight, Charlie Parks, the stage driver, and James B. Brown, the Virginia City saloon-keeper, cautiously emerged from the timbers. Brown pulled the still breathing Carpenter from beneath the dead bodies and made him and the injured Parks as comfortable as possible inside the coach. He then cut the stage loose from the two dead horses and drove it to Miller Ranch Station.

As the survivors told their story, Parks recognized Brockie Jack and David Updyke, while James Brown positively identified Fred Williams and Willy Whittmore. The insurance company, in an attempt to reclaim its $86,000 loss, immediately offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the gold and the capture of the robbers. In the meantime, the ever active vigilance committee issued orders to hang the criminals once they were captured.

Willy Whittmore, the hot-tempered gunman who had killed all the passengers, was the first to be caught. While on a drinking binge in Arizona, he resisted arrest when lawmen tried to take him in and was subsequently shot. Just a week later, Fred Williams, was captured in Colorado and hanged by the local vigilance committee. Both men were nearly penniless when they were killed.

David Updyke was a different story. Having been duly elected as Ada County Sheriff in March, 1865, the vigilantes were more cautious and waited until the opportune time to punish him for his suspected wrongdoings. On September 28, 1865, the Payette River Vigilance Committee arrested him on a charge of defrauding the revenue and failing to arrest a hard case outlaw named West Jenkins.

However, Updyke made bail and knowing the reputation of the Vigilance Committee, he immediately left town, fleeing to Boise City where he had more influence. However, the citizens there too, were fed up with the criminal elements and began to form groups for the purpose cleaning up the county. By the next spring, Updyke feared for his own safety and accompanied by another outlaw by the name of John Dixon, the two departed Boise on the Rocky Bar Road on April 12, 1866. Unaware that a vigilante party was following them, the two overnighted at an abandoned cabin some thirty miles out of town.

During the night, the vigilantes captured the unsuspecting pair and lead them some ten miles farther down the road to Sirup Creek. The next morning as the vigilantes prepared to hang the men, they questioned Updyke about the whereabouts of the stolen cache. The crooked sheriff only glared at them in contempt, refusing to respond. The vigilantes then hanged both men under a shed between two vacant cabins. Updyke had only $50.00 on his person at the time of his death.

On April 14th, the bodies were found with a note pinned to Updyke's chest accusing him of being "an aider of murderers and thieves.” The next day an anonymous note appeared in Boise that further explained the committee’s actions. "Dave Updyke: Accessory after the fact to the Portneuf stage robbery, accessory and accomplice to the robbery of the stage near Boise City in 1864, chief conspirator in burning property on the overland stage line, guilty of aiding and assisting escape of West Jenkins, and the murderer of others while sheriff, and threatening the lives and property of an already outraged and long suffering community.”

As to the last outlaw -- Brockie Jack, he seemingly disappeared into oblivion.

There is no record of the gold bars as having ever been sold. This, coupled with the weight of the bars and the destitute state of the three men killed, has led to much speculation that the gold was buried somewhere near the site of the robbery. The gold, valued at $86,000 at the time of the theft, would now be worth about $1.6 million. The robbery site was in the canyons around the Portneuf River a few miles south of present-day Pocatello, Idaho.

Story from Wild West Tales R. Michael Wilson

Charles "Charlie" E. Parks (1841-1907) - In the early 1860's Parks was one of 80 Pony Express riders who served Utah , Nevada and California, where he was regarded as one of the most capable and faithful men of the western division. After the Pony Express came to an end, he worked for Wells-Fargo as a "shotgun messenger." In this capacity, it was his duty to guard the treasures that were contained in the iron boxes in the boot of the stagecoach. In his seat beside the driver, he carried his "sawed-off" weapon ever ready for use as encounters with road agents were plentiful in the early days of placer mining in California. Parks won undying fame as a defender of the trust over which he watched, carrying to his grave more than a score of bullet wounds. After Wells-Fargo he made his home in San Francisco where he was in the insurance and brokerage business. He was about 70 when he died in San Francisco on March 27, 1907.

Charlie was my great/great grandfather
Here's another mention of Charles Parks on Idaho Genealogy
The Stagecoach in Bannock County
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