The end for Ledger Daunt Veazey

In my last post I told the story of my 1st cousin twice removed, Ledger Daunt Veazey. He was a white collar criminal, shady, charming, and seemingly irredeemable. I was having trouble finding out when and where he died and where he might be buried.

The last newspaper article I found about him was dated January 22, 1963. It is about how he was sentenced to prison and it stated he was ill and should be in a prison hospital due to his health. I figured he was probably in prison in Oklahoma or a nearby state after his sentencing. I had so hoped that Ledger had cleaned up his act after all his 1940’s and early 1950’s shenanigans but I guess not.

I searched for death records at Ancestry and Family-search but the only Veazey that was a possible death record was a Donald Ledger Veazey in California. I didn’t think this could be him, I mean his name was NOT Donald. And why would he be in California when he was caught passing bad checks in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia and Missouri. But the middle and last name, Ledger Veazey, was so close that I decided to send for this death certificate and find out if this was my Ledger Daunt Veazey. Here is what I received back;

Son of a gun, this was him! He died in San Quentin Prison. For some unknown reason they got his name wrong – I don’t understand how since he was a prisoner- but maybe he decided to go by an alias in prison?? The certificate indicates he was in the business of Refrigeration and was self employed, wow, that is stretching it. He must have given the prison that information and his embellishments on his life are not surprising – he obviously had the gift of gab and lots of hubris. I know this is the right man because of the parents names and date of birth. San Quentin had a prison hospital so I am assuming that is why he was there, he was very ill by looking at his 3 causes of death. He was 62 years old, which isn’t old by today’s standards but in 1966 he was considered old, plus he had smoked and drank his entire life.

I feel bad that I don’t know what happened to him after his death. He was cremated and I do not know if he was interred or if anyone claimed him or not. There are no records of him at the crematory/cemetery location and I have visions of him sitting on a shelf for many years until finally he was disposed of as unclaimed.

You had an interesting, yet sad, life cousin Ledger. Rest in Peace

Ledger Daunt Veazey – Criminal – Entrepreneur – Flim Flam Man

Ledger Daunt Veazey Folsom Prison Mug shot 1940

The first time I saw this picture from a hint on Ancestry.com I was intrigued. My family has always been law abiding from all accounts I had ever heard or read so to see this Folsom Prison mugshot was pretty shocking. His name was interesting to me also. Ledger was actually this man’s mother’s maiden surname, Daunt was his maternal grandmother’s surname and Veazey was his father’s surname. I found it interesting right away that he was named after his family surnames. Ledger would have been my mother’s first cousin, her father’s nephew. I don’t think mom knew him or of him or she would have talked about him I am sure. Ledger was born in Louisiana where my grandfather was born, but my grandfather moved to California when Ledger was just a young boy.

I started researching Ledger to see if I could find out why he was in Folsom Prison, which is near Sacramento, California. What I eventually found is a man who was born in 1906 and seemed to have a very good and law abiding life until 1934 when he was arrested for first degree robbery and sentenced to 20 years at the Missouri state penitentiary .

1934 Ledger Veazey mug shot, Missouri State Penitentiary

Ledger served about 4 years of that sentence, was close to his first parole hearing but decided to escape instead. He was a trusted prisoner and had even earned time off his sentence when he helped out in the prison hospital during an outbreak of an illness. He then headed to California and instead of keeping quiet and obeying the law, he got caught passing bad checks. He was arrested in 1940 and sentenced to that stint in Folsom Prison, where he stayed until 1944 when he was returned to Missouri State Pen. I wrote to the Missouri Pen and was able to get his 1934 booking pic and then this one from when he was returned to them in 1944.

Ledger Daunt Veazey mug shot 1944 at Missouri State Prison

It was during this time in his prison life where Ledger came up with an idea to make some money. He filed income tax returns for inmates. Before 1943 when withholding taxes were implemented, taxes were not usually paid by people who had low incomes. So Ledger figured out that if the inmates had worked at least part of the previous year then they were probably entitled to a tax refund and he worked out a deal where he would file the tax return for the inmate and they would split the refund 50/50. He did pretty well for himself with this scheme except that he upset someone who turned him into the IRS and he was investigated for tax evasion as he did not claim his income from the tax return service he provided. I found numerous newspaper articles from all over the country that explained how the IRS was taking him to court over tax evasion. Here is one that made the Syracuse New York Journal on Oct 4, 1950:

I could not find out what happened to his IRS court case but I did find that Ledger never did quite give up his life of dubious choices. He moved around a lot and seemed to make trouble for himself wherever he went. He continued to file income tax returns for the “down and out” and seems to have made a good sum doing it. But he also kept up his penchant for writing bad checks and he was caught for that in Oklahoma in 1963 according to this article that I found:

It seems he just couldn’t keep his nose clean! I haven’t found a death record for him yet. But I did find one for a Donald L. Veazey with the same birth day and month and the same maiden name for his mother – I have sent away for that death certificate, I am going to guess that is him. If so, it means he died in June 1966. I don’t know if he was alone, in a hospital when he died- if the Donald Veazey is him, he died in Marin, California. That is where San Quentin prison is so maybe he lived out his life there.

My biggest find was a newspaper article written by Peter Wyden (father of the Oregon senator) in 1950 for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Peter interviewed Ledger when he was living in Columbia, Missouri, shortly after his parole. It’s very good and even has cartoons on it. Mr. Wyden really got into Ledger and seemed to paint a true picture of a man who was not a victim of circumstance, but was his own worst enemy. Here is a link to the article if you would like to read it: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43619878/

I am not sure if you need a subscription to Newspapers.com or not. If you click on the newspaper I think it opens into a page that you can enlarge to read it.

I am so surprised at how Ledger turned out in his life. He came from a well educated family. He had a college degree and was an accountant at a college in his younger years. Why he decided to take up a shady life and constantly get caught is lost to time. He was my cousin, I never knew him. But I am still glad I got to know him through the records and newspaper accounts, I think I would have liked him.

“He coulda been a star!”

June 30, 1936

This is my brother, Dexter Leonard Halldin, and our mom in the Los Angeles Times on June 30, 1936. It seems that they went to the beach and Dexter got a very bad sunburn and had to go to the hospital. Bad mom for not covering him up, but it was the 1930’s and she was only 20 so I guess I get it, big mistake. But the rest of the story is what I heard repeatedly as I was growing up.

It seems that during this time, Hal Roach Studios was filming the Little Rascals or one of those kid serial movies or what they called “shorts”. Someone from the studio (according to my mom it was Hal Roach himself, but I don’t know if that is true) had seen this picture in the newspaper and wanted my brother to try out for the movies! The only problem was that he couldn’t talk yet and they needed a little one that could talk. He was cute as a button but talked late and when he did talk he did have a pronounced stutter.

Our mom used to love to rub it in that he could have been a star and we could have been rich, if only he could talk! He hated that story, and I thought it was not very nice of her to repeat the story every year, usually after a few drinks. But that was how mom rolled.

I had seen the clipping a couple of times when I was a kid, mom had saved it of course. But it got lost over the moves. But when I subscribed to Newspapers.com and plugged in my brothers name, there it was! Brought back memories of how “he coulda been a star!!!”

Grandma’s Album

Elma Etta Fairman Ledger in 1925

My maternal Grandmother, Elma Etta Fairman (1892-1933) loved photographs. I can tell because she left us with 2 lovely albums and some loose photos of our family. My mother told me a story about how her Uncle Dewey (Elma’s brother) had come to our house once in the 1950’s or 60’s and saw a photo album in our garage that was Elma’s. My mom was not one for taking care of or cherishing family history. He asked to borrow the album and I am so glad he did. It seems mom never asked for it back and when they were much older, in the 1980’s, mom went to see Uncle Dewey and he gave the album back to mom with a promise to take care of it.

my mom, Louise, with her Uncle Dewey in the 1980’s

Thank goodness, as now I have that album. There was also a smaller album that was made up of only tinted photos, mostly 5 x 7 prints. I am assuming my grandma had to pay extra for that in the 1920’s and early 1930’s as there was no color photography then. I decided to take apart that album and scan each page so that the album would be saved for our family history on line, instead of probably in some trash heap some day. My kids don’t really care about all the old photos I have so making them available on line is my way of preservation.

There are a little over 40 photos and most are lovingly mounted and labeled with white pen on the dark black pages, thank you Grandma!!! Without the identification it would be so much harder to know who the people are, we are talking photos from about 100 years ago!

If you would like to see Grandma’s album here is a link.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/epjwJUfPDW2PqXtA8

I scanned the photos in the order they are in the album. I think my Grandma got the album later in her life and added the pictures then, as they are not in date order at all. The same is true for the larger album she left to us which I plan to also scan as time goes on.

Do you have old photo albums? Have you scanned them to share? If not, think about it!

Wordless Wednesday – true love

My grandmother Elma Fairman Ledger on the left and her partner Amy Hoag on the right. This is a picture that was in an album of colorized photos that belonged to my grandmother. Probably taken around 1925 or so. Can you see the joy in their faces, that is love.

My diary – August 5, 1975

This is what the Tiki’s looked like – it was so popular and ran from 1960 until the mid 70’s.

We had a really good time at the Tiki’s, we didn’t get to dance, but we had gobs of fun. Watched fire dancers and slid down slides. Dave was so sweet. The next day Dave, Johnny and I went to Barnes park for a picnic with Barb and Joe’s family. What a gas! The men played baseball against some guys that were there. We won but it was close. Funny too! Dave said he had a good time. I sure did. He is so sweet. I spent the night with him Saturday. It was fun! I like sleeping with him.

Frank called last night, he was depressed, which is unusual for Frank. I saw him today at V Super. What a jerk, no class. So why do I still care? I do like Dave Alot, I hope I am not going to ruin this relationship. I will try not to pressure him, but it is so easy for me to do that. I want a man, I just can’t wait for Frank, it is useless. We don’t get along anyway. I want to be loved. I just know that I will ruin it, I usually always do. Ah well, time will tell.

Goodnight.

My thoughts: I remember parts of that Tiki’s night – it was such a beautiful place. I read up on it and it seems the neighbors finally convinced the city to revoke the entertainment license because of the noise and they had to close. It was really a date place for sure.

I really remember the picnic we went on, Barb is my sister and her husband Joe had a large family. We met them at the park and Dave even played baseball with all the family and he didn’t know a soul. I remember he slid into base and ripped his pants. He was wearing white pants as those were really popular then and he skinned up his knee pretty good too. Too bad he turned out to be too weird, as so many men I dated.

I see that I referenced that I screwed up my relationships – and that was true. For some reason I wanted to get married again, but of course I never picked the guys who were stable or who would take on me and my little boy. I would pressure the guys I really liked to move in together, to get serious, etc. etc. Things are so different now, I would be a much stronger woman if I knew then what I know now. I had forgotten what an ass Frank could be. Funny how we remember the good times but not the bad ones so much.

My diary – July 31st, 1975

Well John came over just to mes around, I don’t even want to talk about it! While he was here Dave called and I talked to him for awhile. He is being possessive and I said that was no good. I really like him but I am afraid and now with Frank coming around, I don’t know! Frank called from work at 11 pm he was nice. Then he called in the morning to wake me up, which was nice. Then he went to Big Bear. He came back at 12 a.m. and called me and said he bought a new truck and wanted me to see it right then so I said O.K. (why?) Then at 4 a.m. he calls again and tells me to wake him up at 10:00 a.m.

By now Dave and I have sort of made up. He agrees he is being too possessive so we will start again. Heaven forbid Frank should answer the phone again! I went over Franks and cooked him breakfast and me lunch then he came over last night for a few minutes. He was acting like a brat with Johnny and drove me nuts. I was hoping he would leave before Dave called at 10 p.m. and he just did when Dave called. I like Dave alot. I know he would be very possessive but he is sweet and affectionate and he cares and he is so opposite of Frank. Frank calls tonight and asks me to go to Knotts Berry Farm. Of course not with Johnny (heaven forbid!) I almost went but I decided it is ridiculous to let him lead me around. I don’t even really enjoy being with him that much. I missed him when he was gone but I don’t really know why. Oh Poo! such is life!

Dave and I are going with some people from work to the Tikis on Saturday. I borrowed my mom’s Hawaiian Mumu (mine didn’t fit!) and I am all excited. I get to be with Dave and that makes me happy. I guess we are spending Sunday together also. Dave wants to go to Moms, but dare I take him there? It will be his first day with Johnny, Oh well, we will see.

They took my truck away! I had it three weeks and my credit didn’t go through so they took it away. Oh well, I am glad cause I saved $80 per month. I will fix the bug up and keep it (If I can get it running right)

Well, that’s all!

Bye.

Today’s thoughts on this entry:

I was so glad when the dealership took back that truck! It was so impractical, it only sat 2 so I couldn’t give anybody but Johnny and I a ride. I couldn’t afford the $80 a month payment. I remember the salesman telling me that he would loan me the money himself if he could as I seemed like a nice girl. Yeah, right. It was always about my looks or body. But it was also the times that kind of stuff happened. I took my little VW bug back and my nephew David was always helping me work on it, that was one of the things that led him to be a mechanic and now to lead the service departments of many dealerships over the years.

Frank and I went back and forth like this for so many years. I met him in the beginning of 1973 and now we are at mid 1975 and we have hurt each other in so many ways in those 2 1/2 years….we have stayed in touch. He is a grumpy old man now, staunch Republican who loves that damned Trump and I can’t even talk to him, it pisses me off. Plus he blames me for our young problems but it was both of us. Can you tell I have some resentment??? Even after all these years.