I don’t know what makes me return to certain relatives time and again even when I think their stories are “done.” My 2nd great uncle Dale Stewart’s story was pretty cut and dry, I thought. I’ve written about discovering his mug shot from his 1930 arrest in Montana and I fairly thought his story was finished. So why did I go looking for him again the other night randomly?
I can’t really say for sure other than it bothers me a bit that I know his sad start in life being raised in the children’s home system after his parent’s murder/suicide and his horrible, painful death by eating ant paste in a sanitarium in 1943 in LA. But his “middle” has always eluded me, and I had assumed that since he was a merchant marine, his story was probably out at sea and there likely wasn’t much to find for him. He never married, had no children that we knew of … so what was left to really find? Likely nothing, but I returned to Dale like a moth to a flame, just drawn in by the look on his face.
I have always felt like he and his older brother, my 2nd great-grandfather Glenn, had a really rotten deal in life. (They could truly be case studies in how your parents’ cruddy choices affect you all through your life.) So anyway, I went looking for Dale again and stumbled upon a news article about his actual arrest.
Dale and this Bert Stevens fellow he was arrested with somehow met in San Francisco while working on ships. Dale was a porter on the steamer “Yale” and Burt was in the kitchen on the steamer “Nome City” according to their arrest sheets. However, both were out of work by May 1, 1930, when they came to Hardin, Montana. Bert seems to have had multiple run-ins with the law in Montana in 1928-1929 so I wonder if he didn’t convince Dale to come along to familiar stomping grounds.
In any event, Dale and Bert robbed a mercantile company’s offices on May 10th, just 9 days after arriving, making off with just $15 and a gun. That’s only equivalent to $229 today so that’s a pretty sad haul considering he traded a year of his life for it in the state penitentiary. They were caught on the 11th being that they were”suspicious characters” and the cops found through fingerprints that they had priors. (I’ve seen Bert’s extensive record but I can’t find anything prior for Dale.) They plead guilty in court on the 15th, arrived at the penitentiary on the 20th, and their paperwork was processed on the 21st.
As a weird side note, Bert was re-arrested on narcotic charges the very day they were released in April 1931. Just bonkers! I lose track of Dale again until his death in LA in 1943. I know that’s not much more information on Dale but it just makes me crave to know even more about his life. Now that I know he had a prior arrest somewhere, I want to find it. I plan on using Bert’s arrest record as a way to eliminate places Dale might have been because I just don’t know how long they were associated. They could have been traveling together for a while!
I just thought this bit was interesting and wanted to share. /shrug/