DEFIANT TO THE END
STEVEN CARR ELLIOTT MUSEUM
After two failed marriages and four children, Laura Upthegrove decided to join John Ashley’s notorious gang on the east coast of Florida.
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
BY ALICE L. LUCKHARDT
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.
Her life was mostly one of unhappiness and tragedy.
Afraid of no one, she had the grit, determination and spunk
of a frontier woman, probably better suited for a life in the
Wild West of the 19th century.
Laura was born on Oct. 5, 1896, in Reddick, near Ocala, the
first of nine children of John William Upthegrove and wife,
Emma Rebecca Kittler. Her ancestors moved to Florida in the >>