Sunday, April 18, 2010

Don Francis Cecil and the San Francisco EarthQuake!

Don Francis Cecil was Grandma Dorothy's father. He was born in Iowa in 1877. He grew up just outside of Chicago, Illinois in Aurora where his father was a train conductor. They "traveled" quite a bit since they got free 1900 he is in St. Louis, Missouri (another big rail station) with his parents and sister, May. Both he and his sister call themselves "stenographers"...By 1901 he has married Edith Reffner in Buda, Illinois.

He evidently did a little work for Pinkertons. On the night of the 1906 earthquake he was in San Francisco (I think following someone in a divorce case). He was thrown out of his bed by the earthquake, grabbed his pants and got out of the hotel he was staying in before it collapsed. Exposure during the night led to illness (or maybe he already had it and this just made it worse). He had tuburculosis and died 6 years later(1912).

Pinkerton's founder, Alan Pinkerton, was the original "Private Eye" ....

Don Cecil's father was William Kimball Cecil...he was a train conductor, on the Rock Island Line out of Chicago(it says Rock Island on his uniform collar). The Pinkerton Detective Agency started in Chicago in the 1850s and their first major clients were the railroads. Pinkertons was famous for chasing train robbers (Butch Cassidy, Jesse James, etc) It's very credible that the Cecil's paths crossed the famous Pinkertons.
By 1910 William and his wife, Bessie, had moved to California and lived on Fulton St. in Berkeley. Don Francis and his wife Edith moved to Santa Clara with their four children, Gladys, Dorothy, Bonnie, and Donald. In the 1910 census he is a "farmer" with an "orchard." (Probably prune trees!) He died of tuberculosis two years later.

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