Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Edward Rowe & Dan Gillette's Wild Escape From Preston

Preston Castle
If you have read my other blogs about the history of the Preston School of Industry, or if you have purchased a copy of my book "Behind The Walls," then you are aware of the many events that have taken place behind the ominous brick walls of Preston Castle. During my search for more stories to include in my upcoming special edition eBook, I stumbled upon a tale of attempted murder and a wild escape too good to ignore. This particular event took place in 1904, by two very dangerous wards determined to stop at nothing for their chance at freedom. In my latest book, "If These Walls Could Talk: More Preston Castle History," you can read about this story in even more detail.

"April 20, 1904- It was a Wednesday night, at approximately 10:00 p.m. when the night watchman in the boys dormitory upstairs in the Castle appeared for his shift. He hadn't been on duty for more than fifteen minutes when he decided to quickly use the restroom while the boys were supposed to be in bed.  When night watchman J.S. Phillips returned from the bathroom he noticed that two of the wards, Rowe and Gillette, were up at the water fountain (to the right of the door) getting themselves a drink.

Edward Rowe
Before Phillips could even get inside the room and lock the door behind him, one of the boys came up and struck him with a slungshot. They had used a woman's stocking and placed a hard, large rock inside of it and continued to hit Phillips over the head until they knocked him out. The boys then continued to beat on Phillips, kicking him in the head and leaving a deep gash. Had it not been for the rock tearing the hosiery and falling out onto the floor, Phillips may have died from being continually struck by it.

Once the boys had completely incapacitated the watchman, they climbed out the window of the dormitory and down the water pipe alongside the castle's brick walls. Barefoot and in their pajamas, the boys immediately separated upon reaching the outskirts of the Preston property.  Rowe headed out west and was caught the next day near Carbondale, California (which used to be about six miles northwest of Ione). However, Gillette went east towards Jackson, causing a big ruckus along the way.

Dan Gillette
While on the lam, Gillette headed down Ione Road and decided to break into the Cuneo residence. There he stole a change of clothing as well as a shotgun. When he was done scavenging through the Cuneo's personal belongings he then retreated off into the night.

By Friday,when he made it towards Martell's station, it was said that he hid his gun near some iron pipes outside. He then was spotted at the Kennedy Boarding House where he even managed to sneak in a meal, staying undetected as a wanted fugitive.  Perhaps he wanted to fit in with the miners and laborers working at the mine, but Constable Kelly (also spelled Kelley) was hot on his trail, apprehending him just outside the mine without any further bloodshed.

Gillette was then charged with "assault to commit murder" and later taken to Humboldt County on charges for a crime he committed before he had been sentenced to Preston. The authorities as well as the administration at the Preston School of Industry were intent that both Rowe and Gillette not return to the reform school but be sent to the State Penitentiary due to their brutal dispositions."----

PLEASE CHECK OUT "If These Walls Could Talk"-- now available at Amazon!

(Copyright 2013-2017-- J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com)
Originally published on Dreaming Casually blog (2013)

California Prison Records (San Quentin & Folsom Prison Inmate Records)
Amador Ledger (4/22/1904, 4/29/1904)

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