Did Raleigh Faulkner become Raleigh Fremont?


Show Notes for Episode 19: Did Raleigh Faulkner become Raleigh Fremont?

Part two of this odd story continues. At the end of part one, the last sighting of Raleigh Faulkner was in an altercation with a nemesis from his prohibition days, who said that although Raleigh was going by “Fremont,” he knew him as “Faulkner.” Then Raleigh Faulkner is seen no more, at least in the papers I have access to.

A few biographical facts about Raleigh Faulkner, according to newspapers:

  • Born around 1880 in Kentucky.
  • Not his real name.
  • Active in various criminal activities mainly up and down the west coast, from Seattle to Los Angeles.
  • Light eyes, dark hair.
  • Last spotted in 1934, at which time he was going by “Raleigh Fremont.”

Of course, the first thing I did was investigate to see whether Raleigh Fremont shows up in the papers. And indeed, Raleigh M. Fremont does. But is it the same guy? Let me tell you what I know about Fremont. The first thing to note is that he just plain doesn’t show up in the newspapers before 1936. Plenty of people don’t, of course, but it’s notable given the timelines we’re trying to match up here.

December 1936 – Raleigh M. Fremont is in the papers extensively for the attempted rape of a 13 year old girl in Hollywood, Bonnie Wrankle. Because she fled and hid in the house of a moderately famous actress (Ann Harding), this gets picked up in a fair amount of papers. She says that Fremont took her on a ride in a car, attempted to assault her, offered her $180-$200 to “forget about it,” and then fired at her with a gun when she ran away. Fremont countered that he had offered to loan Bonnie the money, but she took it and hit him in the head with a rock and ran.

Raleigh M. Fremont is described as age 55, a wealthy mine manager, and having been a friend of the family for several years. Someone who was aged 55 in 1936 would have been born around 1880 or 1881, which lines up with Faulkner. I can’t find any indication that either of Bonnie’s parents were ever implicated in bootlegging, for what it’s worth. It would have been a nice connection if it did exist.

1937 – The case is tied up in court much of this year. It is delayed by a juror being dismissed from the jury because he committed a very similar crime (assaulting a 14 year old girl). Both Fremont and the juror say they were targets of frame-ups. It also goes off the rails because Bonnie’s parents are estranged and aren’t on the same page about the case. Her father, George, asserts that he heard about the attack on the radio and called Marie (Bonnie’s mother), who said “don’t worry, Bonnie wasn’t hurt.” Marie brought a civil suit against Raleigh for $200,000 two days after the incident and allegedly told George that she’d be rich soon.

Raleigh’s employment throughout is described as mining engineer, boss, and promoter. I don’t know what a mining promoter does.

Raleigh is found guilty in May and given 1-50 years in McNeil prison. One article mentions that he’s spent time in McNeil before, for “having counterfeit money in his possession.”

His attorney throughout is Charles W. Ostrum.

In August, Raleigh’s conviction is overturned by the appellate court and he walks free. The judge of the appeals court says that Bonnie’s story is “too weird to be true.”

In December, a judge rules against Marie and Bonnie in their civil suit.

1940 – R. M. Fremont, mining promoter, is sentenced to 1-50 years for nine counts of rape involving two 17-year-old girls. This case got vastly less coverage than the other (they should have tried falling down an actress’s chimney), so that’s the extent of what I know about it. Here’s Fremont’s intake information in 1941:

card2.pngcard.png

A couple things to note here are that (as pointed out by Raleigh Faulkner’s descendant in our chats), this is many fewer scars and marks than in Faulkner’s earlier arrest records. Here’s Faulkner’s intake card from 1912. The two are also different in height – Faulkner in 1912 is listed as 5 ft, 6 & 34 inches tall, while Fremont in 1941 is listed as 5 ft, 8 and 1/4 inches. Both have blue eyes,  1912 has brown hair and 1941 is grey .

faulkner1912.png

It’s possible that this just represents different levels of attentiveness in prison intake procedures, but I think we can agree that it’s unusual for someone to have fewer scars and to get taller as they age.

The criminal record section is a little hard to interpret, but I think it’s saying that Fremont was in McNeil prison in 1910. As a reminder, McNeil is a corrections facility located in Western Washington. It was closed in 2011.

I dug through both Folsom and McNeil records for anyone going by Fremont or Faulkner, and finally turned up this. It’s from prison records 1940-1945, and I believe it was started at the intake above and continued until his death.

allinone.jpg

It’s hard to read, but here’s a selection:

Name: Raleigh M. Fremont

Age: 61

Date of Birth: 1-2-1880

Height-Feet: 5 Inches 8 1/4

Occupation: Mine Operator

Education: 10 yrs

Mentality: Good

Size of Shoe: 9

Religion: Presbyterian

Tobacco: No

Liquor: No

Social Status: Married

Children: One

Brothers: None

Sisters: None

Nativity of Mother: Kentucky

Nativity of Father: Kentucky

Plea: Not Guilty

Military Service: None

Arrived in U.S. via: Native

Arrived in California: 1920

Nearest Relative: Wife, Mrs. Marie Fremont. (Gives address in Bell, California that I’ll elide here just so the search engines don’t pick it up.)

Here’s the most interesting bits:

#2185 – USP McNeil Isl: 3 years; counterfeiting. Rec’d 6-11-1912 fr. Seattle, Wash. Disc 12-17-14 as Raleigh M. Faulkner.

#3484 USP McNeil Isl: 15 ms; consp. to (??) liquor laws. Rec’d 1-16-20 fr. Portland, Ore. Disc. 12-14-20 as Raleigh Falconer.

I’ll get back to the other records later, but this was thrilling. Falconer? I’d never searched for that. But here he is.

falconer.pngfalconer2.png

I’m starting to think they did a much better job cataloging scars and identifying marks at McNeil than they did at Folsom.

Searching Raleigh Falconer leads to a decent amount of coverage that gives more background to his whole “I know about a bomb conspiracy/no just kidding” thing in 1915. Authorities caught a German agent planning to blow up American boats. Raleigh pieced together some newspaper stories and some gossip and inserted himself into the case by claiming he had information about conspirators, but eventually they concluded he was BSing them. Apparently at some point they swapped from referring to him as Falconer and went back to Faulkner.

#5778 USP McNeil Isl: 2 yrs; Consp. to (??) National Prohibition Act. Rec’d 5-17-26 fr. Seattle, WAsh. Transf. to–

#25537 USP Atlanta: Rec’d on trans 11-29-26 fr. USP McNeil Is: Par(?) 1-20-27 Disc 12-22-27 as Raleigh Faulkner. 

Unfortunately, Atlanta’s online historical prison records only go up to 1921. However, we do have an end of the story here:

DIED PRISON HOSPITAL at OCT 22 1946.

From the death certificate, the cause of death was a coronary occlusion caused by coronary sclerosis that had been ongoing for about six months.

Although Raleigh looked very different as a young man than he did toward the end of his life, I think with the Falconer mugshot as a transitional phase you can see the resemblance. Here he is in 1912, 1920, 1926, and 1941.

OverTheYears.png

If I were betting ten bucks, I’d say yeah, that’s him. But I wouldn’t testify to it in court, and there’s evidence to the contrary – namely that this doesn’t match with descendants’ oral histories and memories of his movements and later life. So the mystery persists, at least as far as the Broads are concerned.

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