Okeechobee

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Page Twenty Nine

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Ashley Gang.jpg (161104 bytes)

A Sketch on Laura Upthegrove

Laura Upthegrove gained notoriety as a member of John Ashley’s gang, and  his girlfriend.  This couple would  soon  acquire  the   title of "King and Queen of the Everglades", and the name would strike fear in the hearts of the Banks and residence of this area.

Following the deaths of the rest of the gang, Laura was asked to leave several communities and she eventually settled in the city of  Okeechobee. While a resident, she was arrested several times for her excessive drinking, by none other than Sheriff Pogy Bill Collins.

On one of those occasions, she tried to commit suicide. She cut herself and asked for some iodine. When she got it, she drank it. According to her sister, Lola Upthegrove Williams, you could see the color of the iodine on the outside of her neck from where it penetrated when she drank it.

While she lived in Okeechobee, she became a regular participant in the Monday morning sessions of the municipal court. She was ostracized by society and was finally told to leave town.

In 1927, she was living with her mother at Upthegrove Beach, and was assisting at the gas station her mother ran there. A customer said she had cheated him on his change from the bottle of bootleg liquor he had purchased. He returned with friends and in the thick of the fight, Laura grabbed for her gun. He mother snatched it away and then Laura grabbed a bottle of Lysol and drank its contents. 

The "Queen of the Everglades" who had gained notoriety in John Ashley's Gang  , died at the age of 30.  Okeechobee would long remember the story of Laura Upthegrove., and the Ashley Gang.

 

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