Thursday, March 12, 2015

Monte King & his flying machine (Part 2)

Souvenirs of Edward C. Rose's life as Monte King, pasted into the big scrapbook he maintained.

The story of Edward Cyril Rose and his alter ego, Monte King, turned up while I was being obsessive-compulsive --- trying to figure out what became of the daughter-in-law and grandchildren of Chariton's Charley Rose. Charley made a name for himself by spending six-plus years in Yukon Territory, 1898-1904, seeking gold. He died in Albia of an apparent heart attack on Nov. 16, 1917, age 63, health  impaired by his Klondike experiences. His widow, Jennie, died at home in Chariton years later, on April 15, 1934.

Their only son, Cyril Albert "Bert" Rose, had returned to Chariton from idaho during 1933 with his wife, Catherine, to care for Jennie --- but he died, also of an apparent heart attack, on Nov. 29 of that year,  predeceasing his mother. That left Catherine (Swett) Rose and her children, Edward Cyril and Marcella, to account for. Something of their lives up to the time of Bert's death was covered in a previous post entitled, Monte King (aka Edward Rose) & his flying machine. I should have added "Part 1," but there wasn't room to do so on the header line without bumping over onto another line of type (I told you I was obsessive-compulsive).

While tracking the last three Roses in this family line down, I came across Edward/Monte's story and discovered that it already had been explored by Pam Bullent of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and her sister --- cousins of Edward/Monte's only legal wife. Pam has kindly given me permission to use some of their material to help tell what we know of the story here.

At first, Edward/Monte's exploits made me laugh --- how could one guy lead so many people on such a merry chase? And then the story made me sad, and it still does.


As reported in that earlier post, Edward --- born in Chariton on Feb. 2, 1900 --- was living near Conrad, Montana, with his sister and parents when he turned 18 and was obliged to register for the draft. He did so in Conrad on Sept. 12, 1918, two months before World War I ended. He gave his occupation as farm hand and his status as "not employed." According to his physical description, he was a tall and slim young man with blue eyes and light-colored hair.

Less than two year's later, when the 1920 census-taker called during mid-January at the ranch in Pondera County (Conrad is Pondera's county seat) where the Bert Rose family was living, Edward still was living there --- age 19. His occupation was given as "none," but he had attended school within the year. His father seems to have been working as a farm or ranch hand. Although his occupation was given as farmer, he was listed as "employee" rather than "owner-operator."

The next clear records of Edward, now calling himself Monte, begin to appear in Arizona during the latter half of the 1920s. He emerges there as a young man with an evolving back story that seems to grow more elaborate as the years pass. Because he lied so often, it is very difficult to sort fact from fiction.

On Nov. 2, 1928, Edward/Monte married Anne Marie Evelin, a championship diver who had advanced to Olympic trials, in Phoenix. Here is the report of their marriage as it appeared in the Casa Grande Valley Dispatch and The Bulletin of Nov. 8 under the headline "Former Local Girl Married":

"Annamarie Evelin, former Casa Grande girl who made a record in swimming sports on the Pacific Coast last summer, was married last Friday afternoon, November 2nd, to Monte King of Phoenix. Mr. King is a traffic officer of Maricopa county and is a sport enthusiast being interested in wrestling, acting as referee at the Greenway (American Legion) Post matches. He is also interested in promoting water sports and acted as trainer for Mrs. King last summer.

"The bride lived here with her parents, attending the grammar school while they homesteaded in this section. The family moved from Casa Grande to Phoenix, where Mrs. King developed into the champion woman diver in the state."


Anne Marie's life prior to her marriage had not been without interest. Her father, Edward James Evelin, was English; her mother, Gertrude Sturmat, German. They were married in Paris during 1909 and Anne Marie was born in Brussels on 24 October 1910. Pam Bullent and her sister are nieces some generations removed of Edward J. Evelin.

Edward seems to have been back and forth to America several times, commencing in 1896 and with St. Louis the most frequent destination. He brought his new family to the United States permanently during 1912 aboard the S.S. Main when Anne Marie was 2.

By 1915, the Evelins were living in San Francisco when Gertrude applied for a passport so that she could return to Germany, reportedly to deal with an estate. For some reason, she lied on the application, identifying her husband as a native-born American, then with passport in hand departed for Germany with Anne Marie in tow.

Upon attempting to return to the United States in 1916, however, Gertrude and Anne Marie ran into a great deal of trouble. Gertrude, accused of carrying messages for the Germans and considered to be an enemy spy, was removed with Anne Marie from the S.S. Ryndam at Falmouth while traveling from Rotterdam to New York. Mother and daughter were interned at a camp for enemy aliens, Upper Holloway, in London, for the duration of World War I. They were not released until April of 1919, when they were able to return to the United States, traveling to Arizona where Edward had resettled.


A large scrapbook maintained by Edward/Monte and containing a variety of material related to his life, or lives, was located by Pam Bullent during her research and she acquired copies of some of its pages. The page at the top of this post show a variety of items related to his life in Arizona until 1930.

The snapshot probably is of his daughter, Nancy Katherine, born Feb. 14, 1930, at Douglas in Cochise County, where Edward/Monte and Anne Marie were living after moving from Phoenix. He would soon abandon wife and daughter.

One card identifies Monte King as a Maricopa County deputy sheriff as of Sept. 21, 1928; another, as a Phoenix police officer in 1929. The third card is Lt. Monte King's official membership card in John C. Greenway Post No. 50, American Legion, dated Dec. 10, 1928.

I hope I'm not doing Edward/Monte an injustice, but it seems reasonably certain that his service record was spurious, although he would present himself as a war veteran at other times. Remember that Edward C. Rose registered for the draft in Montana just two months before World War I ended and still was living at home near Conrad less than two years later, an unemployed student. You want to give the guy benefit of the the doubt, but most likely --- like so many other things --- he made it all up.


Somewhere, somehow, Edward/Monte learned to fly and during the later 1920s that increasingly became the focus of his life --- and of his deception. He seems to have been revising his persona now --- as a daring airborne soldier of fortune. And in some instances, he lived the persona.

On Sept. 26, 1929, the Casa Grande Express reported that Monte King, of Phoenix, would be among pilots who planned to fly their planes in from Phoenix and elsewhere to help officially open the city's new airport. Edward/Monte apparently was working then as a transport pilot, instructor and mechanic at Van Buren Airport in Phoenix.

By early 1930, Edward/Monte reportedly was working as chief pilot for International Airways of Douglas and in that capacty earned a bit of nationwide publicity when he got involved in a vigilante incursion led by a character named Moroni Finn into Mexico to capture or kill Mescalero Apache cattle rustlers also accused of murder and kidnapping.

It was reported in a nearly full page illustrated (and syndicated) report available to newspapers in early March that "The whole thing will be done in a highly military and thorough fashion. Lieutenant Monte King, chief pilot for the International Airways, of Douglas, will pilot a plane over the Apache country on a preliminary mapping and scouting flight before the main force sets out."

Edward/Monte may have launched one of those reconnaissance flights when he lifted off from the Douglas Airport on Saturday, March 8, with Clifford Denson, identified as a Nevada mining man, aboard. Then the flight vanished over northern Sonora. Associated Press stories about the missing flight were published widely. But on Monday, Edward/Monte's plane reappeared and touched down. Its occupants reported that they had been forced down by a storm. More publicity.

A few days later, Edward/Monte flew a photographer to the expedition's location in Mexico and they returned with photos that again were syndicated across the United States --- the Americans had killed five Apaches. Edward/Monte got credit as a daredevil pilot.

There are other stories that could be told, but this one can be documented and the others can't --- involvement with the French Foreign Legion, flights to many of the world's major cities, Edward/Monte as pilot of a non-stop flight to Buenos Aries that vanished over the Sierra Madres, then reappeared.


Something went wrong soon after 1930, but it's not clear what. It may just be that the Monte King back story had gotten so elaborate that it began to unravel.

When the 1930 census-taker arrived at the Rose/King home in Douglas on April 3, she found the family intact. Monte, age 30, gave his occupation as commercial aviator. Anne Marie was 19; little Nacy K., 2 months.

But between 1930 and 1933, Monte King vanished from Arizona and Edward C. Rose reappeared in Lewiston, Idaho, where he reportedly was living when his father died during 1933. Anne Marie said later that he had just abandoned his wife and daughter.

It's not clear what Edward was up to during the early 1930s, but he may have worked part of the time as a stunt pilot. On Dec. 22, 1935, in Twin Falls, he married (bigamously) a young woman named Ruby Cannon.


Death punctuated this little mystery story on the 14th of May, 1936. Edward was driving a piece of heavy equipment, reportedly working on a dam related to what then was known as Island Park, St. Anthony, Idaho. Just after lunch, the tractor went over an embankment with Edward aboard and crushed him, breaking his back, breaking his neck and fracturing his skull.

Three days later, at nigh noon on Sunday the 17th, graveside services were held at St. Anthony's Riverview Cemetery. Edward's mother, sister and most recent bride all were present. The undertaker, W.M. Hansen, officiated. Mr. Hansen also wrote Edward's obituary, which included the sentence, "As an Aviator, Mr. Rose had visited nearly all the large cities in the world, and as such, had a wonder scrap book, very large, full of pictures, clippings and write-ups showing his work and comments made on events of his life."

This is the scrapbook that Pam Bullent and her sister located and acquired copes from.

The St. Anthony American Legion, under the direction of commander P.C. Coffin, conducted Military rites, "as Mr. Rose was a World War Soldier."

The family asked Mr. Hansen, following his funeral address, to offer the "Aviator Prayer," which they said Edward had wanted to be spoken "when his life's work was finished."

"Mid fog and mist and ice,
Protect me on my way.
Thou who dos't heed the sparrows fall,
In mercy hear me when I call.
And when my last long flight is done,
Let it be simply, winging Home."


This is not quite the end of the story, however. During July of 1937, the following report was filed by the United Press and published in newspapers around the country under the headline, "Wives ask state compensation for same dead man."

LEWISTON, Idaho, July 23 (UP) --- Two "wives" are claiming state compensation for the death of Edward C. Rose at Island Parks last year.

Rose died from injuries suffered when he was driving a contractor's tractor which overturned.

At the meeting of the state industrial accident board late yesterday, two "wives," Mrs. Ruby Rose, Clarkston, and Mrs. Annie Marie King, Portland, Ore., appeared.

Mrs. Rose said she married Rose at Idaho Falls December 22, 1935. Mrs. King said she married Rose in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1928, when he was known as "Monte King." Mrs. King charged Rose, or King, deserted her and that there was no divorce.


I have no idea how that conflict was resolved, but Anne Marie went on to live a relatively long life. She married Victor Berg as her second husband and died on Dec. 27, 1988, in Santa Clara, California, age 76.

The daughter Edward/Monte never knew, Nancy Katherine, was raised by her mother in San Francisco, married Edward B. Hayden there during 1956 and lived in San Francisco, then Marin County. She seems to have had a long and happy life before her death on Jan 15, 2011, age 81, survived by a son and grandson. Her obituary may be found here, although this link may vanish as time passes.

Someone bought a nice little tombstone for Edward's grave at St. Anthony.

And now we now know that Charley and Jennie Rose, who rest in the Chariton Cemetery, do have descendants --- although very few and Nancy's son and grandson could not be blamed for wanting to have little to do with the family of the man who abandoned her.

And we still have no idea what got into Edward C. Rose and caused him to reinvent himself as Monte King. Was he on the run? Had he been in prison and decided a new identity would help him build a new life? Or did he just decide at some point that "Monte King" sounded more dashing than "Edward Rose"?


Edward/Monte's mother, Catherine (Swett) Rose, returned to Lewiston to live after leaving Chariton following Jennie Rose's death in 1934. Her two sisters, Harriet Swett, who never married, and Sarah, married to attorney Miles Standish Johnson, also were living in Lewiston at the time.

Eventually, Catherine moved to Spokane, Washington, to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Marcella and John "Jack" Sizelove. She died in Spokane on Aug. 13, 1949. I don't know where she was buried.

Marcella and Jack Sizelove had no children and moved eventually from Spokane to Rathdrum, Idaho. On Dec. 4, 1972, their car pulled onto a crossing in front of a Burlington Northern train in Rathdrum and both were killed. They are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery at Rathdrum.

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