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I have been doing genealogy for 30 years. My Great Aunt Ella introduced me to this fascinating adventure when I was a teenager and boy did I get hooked. She inspired me and taught me the importance of my roots and where I came from.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Edna Keifer & Robert O Bradburn: Counterfeiters and Lovers

Mrs. Edna Kiefer was born Edna Knowlton about 1887 in Michigan or Canada. Husband Albert A Kiefer married in Washington on 23 May 1904.  He was born 1877 in CA they divorced by the 1910 census, He was a waiter. This is all I found out about her.

Inmate #23457 San Quentin Prison
Rec: 22 Mar 1909
Crime: Counterfeiting
Term: $100 fine & 18 months
Discharged:  5 Jun 1910
Age: 22

Robert O Bradburn born about 1880 in Kentucky to Otho M Bradburn (1844-1893) and Mary Lincoln (1849-).

Inmate #23456 San Quentin Prison
Rec: 22 Mar 1909
Crime: Counterfeiting 
Term: 5 yrs
Age: 30

Transferred to Leavenworth Prison 28 Jan 1910 as Inmate #6877

He was also incarcerated as inmate #6738 in Oklahoma State Prison 5 Mar 1916.

His occupation was Switchman for the railroad.

I found no death information for either of them and no marriage information.

I did find these newspaper articles:

She told the newspaper man to drop dead, as he was taking her photo, she covered her face with her muff...She seemed to be a feisty little women. I do not know what happened to either of them, I didn't find death records or other marriage records. 

Too bad would of made the story better if they did get married and ran off somewhere....

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Howard Davelman Alias "Little Davey" Bank Robber

Howard Hyman Davelman was born 10 May 1912 Either in New York City some documents have Zlatopol, Kircvchrads Ka, Ukraine, to David Davelman (1884-1960) and Dora Slotorefsky (1885-1925).

Howard was a colorful character. Living in the roaring 20's with Jazz and Blues screaming from the speakeasy's and the smell of cigar smoke filling the room. It was the time of the mobster's and bank robbers who would pull off daring robberies and get away with cash and spend it on the Dames and booze. Cars and new hats and slick suits.

Howard lived in an Era that made it too easy to be a criminal.

His record here is from 1929-1934

Here's the bank 

Four hour after the trial they were at the prison finding their cells at Eastern State Prison.

Thw get-away car looked simular to this one.

Some weapons from the 1930's bank robbers used.

Some bank robbery statistics:

 California recorded the largest number of bank robberies with 805, followed by Texas (464), Ohio (263), and Florida (243). North Dakota had the nation's best record for bank robberies with only two, Wyoming came in second with three, followed by South Dakota and Vermont, each with four reported bank robberies.

In 1930's based on the state's sentencing guidelines, a person with no previous or a minimal criminal record convicted of an unarmed robbery could get between one and three years in prison. In the case of an armed robbery conviction, the sentencing guidelines recommend between five and 71 2 years in prison.

9 Million was stolen (which translates to $21.6 Million today). $5 Million of it was stolen in cash while $875,000 was in Jewels and at the time of the crime made it the largest cash robbery to happen in American History. The heist inspired three films: 10 Million Dollar Getaway, the Big Heist, and Goodfellas.

I did not find a death date for Howard Davelman, or a grave site. No wife and no children. 

What a time that must of been, as long as you didn't get shot.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Henry Judd Gray & Ruth May Snyder: Lovers & Murderers

Henry Judd Gray was born 8 Jul 1892 in Courtland, NY to Charles B Gray (1864-1920) and Margaret Ursula Carr (1868-1947).  He had a sister Margaret Ann Gray (1890-1936).

He married Isabel Kallenback on 6 Nov 1915 in Kings, NY
They had a daughter names Jane Gray born in 1917.

He was a corset salesman and frequented a diner in New York City where he met a women named Ruth May Snyder.

Ruth May Snyder was born Ruth May Brown 27 Mar 1895 in New York City to Harry Brown (1866-1920) and Josephine I Anderson (1866-1939). She married Albert E Snyder (1883-1927)  in 1915 in New York. They had a daughter Ruth Lorraine Snyder born 1918.

Ruth May Snyder 

Ruth May Snyder 

Ruth May Snyder 

Henry & Ruth started an affair in 1927, meeting at her house during the day while her husband was at work and her daughter was at school, on a few occasions they would meet in motels and leave her daughter in the lobby while they carried on.

Snyder Home

As their affair got more serious and they fell in love, Ruth started telling Henry that her husband would mistreat her and he needed kill hi. Henry would refuse and this would be a pattern for a while, and Henry couldn't take it anymore and started drinking heavily. This was during prohibition. But he continued to refuse. 
Then on 19 Mar 1927 he finally gave in. Long Island was cold that day and Henry had spent the day drinking heavily to muster up the courage to commit murder.  

    When he arrived in Queens Village, where the Snyder's lived, he walked around for an hour, stopping under street lights to take drinks from his flask. It was almost as if he hoped to be spotted and arrested breaking the law. No one paid any attention to him though and finally, he had to enter the Snyder home. He came in through the back door, as he and Ruth had planned. The Snyder family was away at a party and would return late. Judd had promised to hide in a spare room, where Ruth had left a window weight, rubber gloves and chloroform -- all of the tools of murder.

Evidence from the murder case

The Dumb-Bell (Murder Weapon)

Few hours after the murder

The family returned around 2:00 am and Ruth opened the bedroom door a crack. "Are you in there, Bud, dear?" she whispered. She soon returned wearing only a slip and the two had sex with her husband asleep just down the hallway. Finally, after about an hour, Gray grabbed the window sash weight and Ruth led him to the master bedroom, where Albert Snyder slept with the blankets up over his head. The two of them stood on opposite sides of the bed and then Gray raised the sash weight and brought it down clumsily onto Snyder's head. The weak blow merely glanced off the man's skull and while stunned, he let out a roar and tried to seize his attacker. Judd became terrified and let out a whining scream: "Momsie, Momsie, for God's sake, help!" They were both mad, completely mad, but she was somewhat clever. She clearly had more guts than Henry did, but she also had more to gain.

There was no panic in Ruth Snyder however and with a snort of disgust and anger, she grabbed the weight from Judd's hands and crashed it down on her husband's skull, killing him. After that, the two of them went downstairs, had drinks and chatted about the rest of their plan. They faked a robbery by knocking over some chairs and loosely tying Ruth's hands and feet. Minutes after Gray left, Ruth began banging on Lorraine's door. The child ran out and removed the gag from her mother's mouth. She told her to get help and Lorraine ran next door to the neighbor's house, where the police were called. Her own daughter!!!!!
The police didn't buy the "Robbery" at all, they had really botched that up. All of the items that Ruth said had been taken by the mysterious burglar were found hidden in the house and detectives began to question her. Surprisingly, she gave it up almost at once and confessed but not surprisingly, she blamed everything on Judd Gray. He was found hours later, hiding in his Syracuse hotel room. He shrieked his innocence and insisted that he was not in New York. When confronted with the train ticket stub that he had carelessly tossed in the trash can of the hotel room though, he broke down and confessed. Like Ruth, he blamed everything on his accomplice. Not surprising at all. 
Of by the time the trial started they were arch enemies. They had separate attorneys, Henry's attorney claimed he was duped by Ruth, and had always been a upstanding citizen.  As he played the victim in the witness stand he would look over at his elderly mother.
Ruth said Henry was dragging her to  speakeasy's and night spots where she would watch him drink himself senseless. That he was the one who had tempted her by setting up a $50,000 double indemnity insurance policy on Albert Snyder. 

She put on the ignored housewife act and said she made sure her daughter went to Sunday School.

Henry's lawyer played this card, and said in court that he was "the most tragic story that has ever gripped the human heart." He was dominated by a "designing, deadly conscienceless, abnormal woman, a human serpent, a human fiend in the disguise of a woman." He then added that  he had been "drawn into this hopeless chasm when reason was gone, mind was gone, manhood was gone and when his mind was weakened by lust and passion." 

Ruth's husband Albert had many lovers and after their daughter was born Ruth had taken on a few of her own. Eventually, Ruth decided to rid herself of Albert, whom she called 'The old crab'. She took out a $48,000 life insurance policy on him with a double-indemnity clause. Twice, she disconnected the gas while Albert slept and slipped from the house - but both times he woke up and saved himself from asphyxiation. He never suspected it was her.
Albert Snyder

Ruth wanted more, she wanted money, and so insured Albert for $96,000. Then she tried gassing him, adding poison to his food, and arranging near fatal household ‘accidents’; when she told Henry what she was doing, he naively asked her why. ‘To kill the poor guy!’ she replied, and she persisted in keeping up the pressure on her lover until he agreed to help her. She was dubbed "The Granite Women" in the newspapers and he was dubbed "Putty Man."

Ruth wrote this before her execution, "You’ve blackened and besmeared a mother Once a man’s plaything – a Toy – What have you gained by all you’ve said, And has it brought you Joy?"

Snyder & Gray

On 12 January 1928, wearing a brown smock over a black, knee-length calico skirt, she was led to the execution chamber. Her blonde hair had been freshly combed; once thick, the tresses were now so thin that it was not necessary to clip it short where the electrode was to be positioned. On seeing the electric chair she swayed and almost collapsed, a wardress having to assist her to sit in it. There, she broke down and wept: ‘Jesus, have mercy on me, for I have sinned,’ she sobbed.

A newspaperman by the of  Tom Howard had a camera strapped around his ankle to take photos of the execution. The United States would not allow any executions to be photographed. 

Ruth Snyder being electrocuted 

Both were incarcerated at Sing Sing Prison i New york before they were both executed.

Here are their mugshots and prison records.

The following are crime scene photos that show Albert murdered, they are graphic.

The daughter of Albert and Ruth named Lorraine, who was nine at the time of her father's murder, was sent to live with her grandmother, who also was awarded guardianship of the girl.

This was verified from Findagrave.

Henry Judd Gray was executed 12 Jan 1928

Before they were executed they were both housed at the Death house, at Sing Sing.

Two families destroyed, two little girls with no parents. Pretty tough to swallow for $96,000 dollars. 

I hope the children didn't let this ruin their lives, I hope they became strong women that went to college and had great careers and found happiness in the world.

For Jane Gray & Ruth Lorraine Snyder

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ella Beatrice Otterstorm: Mother Sets Bad Example For Son

Ella was born Ella Beatrice Brown 1 Sep 1894 in North Dakota, to Matthew Thomas Brown (1863-) and Mary Hannah Connelly (8173-1965.

Ella married Charles Andrew Otterstorm(1887-1967. They had four children.

1.Wesley Otterstorm 1911-
2. Leslie Howard Otterstorm 1912-1978
3. Geraldine Otterstorm 1914-1933
4. Harold Earl Otterstorm  1917-2005

Inmate #52409 San Quentin Prison
Rec: 22 Jun 1932
Crime: 476a PC Forgery/Checks
Alias Mary Waite
Trans to Tehachapi: 7 Nov 1933
Discharged: 12 May 1934

Her husband Charles divorced her not sure when but he remarried to a Mamie by the 1940 census.

Ella died 10 Feb 1969 in San Francisco.

Her youngest son Harold found himself in some trouble following in his mother's footsteps to San Quentin.

Inmate #69667 San Quentin Prison
Rec: 6 Apr 1943
Crime: Burglary
Term: 1-15 yrs
Trans: Chino 23 Sep 1943 and Paroled from there 15 Jan 1946

He was a problem child as a teen he got Grand Larceny for stealing an automobile in 1934 and sent to IONE Industrial School and in 1937 he was in a Los Angeles Jail for 4 months. He died 21 May 2005.

I didn't find any newspaper clippings for either of them.

Interesting case, I have always believed that it's not in your blood by with whom you learn from. Here's an small example of that.