Stories From The Grave
Final Resting Place Row 2 Plot 95
As far as life stories go, Arthur Gruwell’s was a short and tragic one. He was born on July 27, 1895, in Santa Clara, California. His parents were Henry Fremont Gruwell and Alice Roberts, and he was the youngest in his immediate family. Sadly, at the tender age of 12, his father passed away. When he was 19, his sister, Eva May, died at the age of 30 following a month-long battle with Typhoid fever on Christmas night of 1914. She had given birth to 3 children, but only one was living at the time of her death. In June of 1915, his mother married Jefferson Dicken(s). They only had 4 years together, as Alice died in 1919, at the age of 63. Tragedy was not over for this family, for when Arthur was 20, another sister, Bertha (Turner), died at the age of 24, leaving 2 small children without their mother. She had suffered for a couple of weeks with La Grippe and it became pneumonia, to which she succumbed. This same year, he married Mary Margaret Gossett (Gossitt). Mary was just 16 at the time of their marriage. The young couple began their lives in Tuolumne City, California.
We know from census and voting registration records that Arthur started out as a general laborer, but then became involved in the business of trains, working as a conductor and brakeman. They did live in Tuolumne, but spent most of their married life in Stockton, Ca.
According to his WWI draft registration, Arthur was tall, slender, and had blue eyes and brown hair.
It was 4 years later and in Stockton, that they welcomed their son, Harold “Buddy” to the family and 2 years later, in Contra Costa, they had a beautiful daughter they named Leona.
However, Arthur’s marriage was apparently not going well and for several months, he and Mary were separated. On February 6, 1924, Arthur attempted a reconciliation with his wife on the way home from a visit to see his 1-year old baby, who was staying with Mary’s mother in Martinez. When Mary refused Arthur’s plea to return to him, Arthur stopped the car and ordered her out. Passing motorists, including Fred Humbert (remember that name!), John Branquart and Charles Whitehouse were coming from Stockton and stopped to see if they could help. They offered to give Mary a ride to her mother’s and at that point, Arthur lost it! He is quoted as saying,” I guess I’ll kill the whole bunch!”. He proceeded to whip out a revolver and opened fire on the group. One of the men was shot in the wrist (Charles) and as Mary attempted to seize the weapon a bullet passed through her dress in the scuffle. She was not seriously injured. Arthur’s next move was to shoot himself in the head and he died almost instantly. He seemed to carry on the family’s longevity history, by dying at the early age of 28 years.
In reporting of the case, Mary stated that some years earlier her husband was injured and had been subject to spells such as the one culminating in the fatal shooting.
It is interesting to note that Fred Humbert, one of those passing motorists, later became Mary’s second husband. They had at 5 more children, one of whom died at the age of 3. Mary died in 1936 at the still young age of 36. This plot also holds the remains of Arthur’s brother Orrie, Orrie’s wife Dora, and their daughter, Lois Reid, his sisters Bertha, Eva May and their mother Alice Gruwell Dicken(s).
As I was researching for this article it seemed that Arthur may have felt over-shadowed by his older siblings, especially brother Orrie. Other articles I found tout Orrie as “holding a responsible position with the West Side Lumber Co.” and being “well-known in this community and is a young man of sterling qualities.” It’s possible that it was a hard act to follow. Depression, jealousy, loss, feeling unworthy, —Suicide is an act that forever affects friends and family and we will never know why he made the decisions he did and can only hope he has found peace at last.
Written By Pat Dambacher
Tuolumne County Genealogical Society
Tuolumne County Historical Society
Carlo de Ferrari Archives
Arthur Gruwell Center Arthur's widow, Mary, with her new family Arthur's Mother Alice