Defiant to the end

Laura Upthegrove and John Ashley
After two failed marriages and four children, Laura Upthegrove decided to join John Ashley’s notorious gang on the east coast of Florida. STEVEN CARR ELLIOTT MUSEUM

Bootleg booze and blazing bullets pockmarked the short and tragic life of Laura Upthegrove, girlfriend of notorious gangster John Ashley


Anyone familiar with Treasure Coast history certainly knows the story of the notorious Ashley Gang. It was a group of despicable outlaws — murderers, rum-runners and bandits — during the 1910s-20s led by John Ashley, whose parents lived in Fruita, near Gomez and Hobe Sound, in what is now southern Martin County. John’s girlfriend and gun moll, Laura Beatrice Upthegrove, perhaps not as well-known, was nevertheless an important member of the gang.

Ashley was prisoner No. 12501 at Raiford State Penitentiary
Ashley was prisoner No. 12501 at Raiford State Penitentiary. LUCKHARDT COLLECTION

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