Back to prior page


In Search of Lash LaRue
Work in progress - last updated: April 28, 2016






Off and on over the past decade, I've tried to document the family history and early years of Lash LaRue as his real life was an enigma (at least, to me). Books and biographies on our whip crackin', B western hero have him born in Gretna, Louisiana as well as Michigan, Ohio, Texas, etc.

Can't blame past researchers for misinformation as they did not have access to all the new information available on the Internet such as old newspapers, trade publications, fan magazines, census, marriage records, etc.

In the past six months or so, I received several e-mails asking if I found any new details on Lash's family and background. There was also an e-mail about Lash playing guitar at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans. That rekindled my interest and I made a decision to devote a chunk of time for further research on our black-garbed movie cowboy. And the timing was right as 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of Lash's passing.

Happy to report that I hit the proverbial mother lode - the Coloma, Michigan Library is a few miles from Watervliet, Michigan, which is confirmed as the birthplace and childhood home of Lash. The library has free online access to the Coloma (Michigan) Courier and Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspapers. You'll find a link to the library in box 4 below.

On this webpage, there are boxes with all kinds of nitty gritty on Lash and family. For those not interested in wading through those details, I've highlighted some of the more important findings below with a .

A brief summary of my findings:

  • His parents were Louise Busselle and Charles Wilson Johns and they married in Ohio in 1913. At that time, Charles Wilson Johns had dropped the Johns last name and was known as Charles Wilson.
  • Soon after their marriage, Louise and Charles moved to Watervliet, Berrien County, Michigan and settled on the Martin Farm.
  • Daughter Leora A. Wilson was born July, 1914 on the Martin Farm in Watervliet. Her nickname was "Lee".
  • Son La Rue Alfred Wilson was born June 14, 1917 on the Martin Farm in Watervliet. His nickname was "Rue".
  • Lash got the "La Rue" name from mother Louise's father (who was La Rue Busselle).
  • Circa 1918, the marriage ended.
  • By the late 1920s, Louise and her two Busselle siblings, brother Scott and sister Virginia Ruth, had moved to California. Leora and Rue Wilson were also living in California.
  • La Rue A. Wilson married Wilda J. Cruthers on March 25, 1937 in San Francisco.
  • Son Ronald Alfred Wilson was born October 24, 1937 in San Francisco.
  • 1939 city directories have Alfred L. Wilson and Wilda J. Wilson living in Stockton, California ... and Alfred is working at a beauty shop in Stockton.
  • There were later marriages for Charles and Louise.



1. The search begins here.


Lash is listed in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and California Death Index, and I've capitalized several names to highlight them:

The source data for the California Death Index is the death certificate. The Index has a record for Alfred Lash LaRue, Mother's maiden name of BUSSELLE, father's last name was WILSON. His birth date and location are 6/14/1917 and MICHIGAN and he passed away on 5/21/1996 in California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VPZD-FDX

In the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Alfred L. Larue (and no names of parents or birth state) was born 6/14/1917 and passed away on 5/21/1996 in California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JG4T-PPR

Ancestry.com had the Social Security Applications and Claims Index for a duplicate SSN, change or replacement:

dated September 3, 1968 - his name is Alfred L. Larue.

dated August 11, 1975 - Alfred Lash Larue was born June 14, 1917 in Gretna, Louisiana. Parents were Charles F. Larue and Saraha [sic] L. Bussell [sic].

There was a 2007 interview with Lash's late son Ronald Alfred Wilson who later changed his name to Ronald Alfred LaRue: http://www.havasumagazine.com/LaRue/RonLaRue-01.htm
But when I checked in February, 2016, the article was no longer available at that website. When originally posted online, I made notes and following is a quote from the article (I've capitalized several names to highlight them):

"Ron LaRue was born RONALD ALFRED WILSON on October 24, 1937, to parents ALFRED WILSON and WILDA CRUTHERS WILSON, in San Francisco California. Ron's parents were about 18 years old, in love, and Alfred, like Alfred's mother, was a Hairdresser. Alfred had not yet become an entertainer, and hadn't yet changed his surname to LaRue."

Lash's son Ronald Alfred Wilson / Ronald Alfred LaRue passed away in 2007 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and following are funeral/death notices:
http://obits.arizonagravestones.org/view.php?id=41014
http://www.obitsforlife.com/obituary/349728/LaRUE-Ronald.php


2. Family Trees on ancestry.com
Where is Watervliet, Michigan?
Obtaining birth records from Michigan.


Subscribers to Ancestry.com can build family trees and include additional items such as photos and comments. Several family trees on ancestry identify Lash as "Alfred Larue Wilson", born June 14, 1917 in Watervliet, Berrien County, Michigan.

They've identified his parents as:
Charles Alfred Wilson (1885 or 1887 - 1957) ... he was born Charles Wilson John / Johns and his parents were Ezra John / Johns and Melinda / Malinda / Linda Troy.
Sarah Louise Busselle or Louise Sarah Busselle (1895 or 1897 - ?)
and Charles and Louise married in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio on May 29, 1913.

In Box 4 below, there are many details on Lash and family. Soon after their 1913 marriage, Charles Wilson and Louise Busselle Wilson moved from Ohio to Watervliet, Michigan. They had two children - daughter Leora A. Wilson was born July, 1914 and son La Rue Alfred Wilson / Alfred La Rue Wilson was born June 14, 1917 ... and his nickname was "Rue". The marriage was short-lived. Between Charles' World War I draft registration in 1918 and the 1920 census, Charles and Louise were in Berrien County, Michigan but living apart. They divorced. And in late 1920, Charles married Gertrude Berndt in Berrien County, Michigan. Circa 1930, Charles had married again and was operating his own business in Chicago. Louise also married again - she was visiting or living in Ohio in 1927 and tied the knot with Henry Sykes.

Watervliet, Michigan is located about 90 miles north of South Bend, Indiana and about 350 miles north of Cincinnati, Ohio and Clermont County, Ohio. This link to Google maps will open in a separate window/tab: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Watervliet,+MI/Clermont,+Ohio/@40.6908864,-86.8640521,8z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x8810b54cc6c1b4a9:0xfa655d1c9b247f4d!2m2!1d-86.2605776!2d42.1867052!1m5!1m1!1s0x8840e4b121e3d8b7:0x24865fe63393aade!2m2!1d-84.1857115!2d39.0928449?hl=en

Why not just get a copy of the birth records/certificates for Rue and Leora? The State of Michigan restricts researchers and non-family members from obtaining birth records until the birth is at least 100 years old:

"Birth records are restricted in Michigan and only a person or parent named on the record or a court-appointed legal guardian of the person named on the record may request a copy of a birth record that is LESS than 100 years old. A legally licensed representative is eligible to request a copy if he/she represents the person named on the record. Power of Attorney documents may be used, depending upon the limitations of the power of attorney order. Each will be handled on an individual case-by-case basis."

From: http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71551_4645_4702---,00.html



3. Let's concentrate on Wilda Cruthers, the mother of Ronald Wilson/LaRue, and see if we can find Lash working as a hairdresser.


1920 census summary and census takers worksheet: living in Carbon County, Montana are 29 year old William Cruthers (born Pennsylvania; occupation "foreman - coal mine"), 23 year old wife Louis [sic] (born Alabama, no occupation), and 2 year old Wilma [sic] (born Montana): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M83F-PHT

1930 census summary and census takers worksheet: living in San Francisco are Lois Cruthers (age 33, born Alabama, divorced), daughter Wilda Cruthers (age 11, born Montana), daughter Constance Cruthers (age 8, born Montana), and Lois' 60 year old mother Kathrinn Morgan: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XC6T-WX7

The San Francisco Genealogy website has Wilda Cruthers as a 1936 graduate of the High School of Commerce, San Francisco, California: http://www.sfgenealogy.com/sf/schools/comspr36.htm

1937 San Francisco City Directory is available on Ancestry.com: Lois Cruthers and daughter Wilda J. Cruthers are living in San Francisco. Wilda's occupation is listed as "sten", an abbreviation for stenographer.

 If you sign up for the free user logon at Family Search, you'll find a San Francisco, California marriage index with the March 25, 1937 marriage of La Rue A. Wilson to Wilda Cruthers. Below is a crop from that index sheet with the names of the bride and groom. You can view the full marriage index sheet at: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G5DC-918?mode=g&i=39&wc=3192-PTR%3A20726701%2C21582901%3Fcc%3D1402856&cc=1402856

California Birth Index: Ronald Alfred Wilson (Lash's son) was born October 24, 1937 in San Francisco, California and his Mother's maiden name was Cruthers: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VLNR-YRX

 Alfred L. Wilson and Wilda J. Wilson are in the 1939 Stockton, California City Directory which is available on Ancestry.com. They are living at 3299 N. Cal in Stockton, and Alfred is an employee of Mrs. M. J. Reveal:

In that same 1939 Stockton, California City Directory is Mrs. Maude J. Reveal and her beauty shop at 38 E. Acacia, and this confirms Lash's early work as a hairdresser ... or employed at a beauty shop:

1940 census summary and census takers worksheet: Alfred Wilson and wife Wilda Wilson were lodgers residing with the Garibaldi family at 4069 Oakwood, Los Angeles. There are no details on either Alfred or Wilda and no mention of son Ronald Alfred Wilson. The census taker added the following notation next to Alfred and Wilda's names: "(Moved and took Individual Form; address unknown)": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9CZ-9X7

1940 census summary and census takers worksheet: renting at 190? Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco is Wilda's mother Louise [sic] Cruthers (43 years old, born Alabama, widowed, occupation "clerk-retail dept store") and her mother, Francis Morgan (71 years old, born Alabama, occupation "clerk-W.P.A."): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9D9-16G

May 13, 1957 California marriage license of 19 year old Ronald Alfred Wilson, AKA Ronald Alfred Larue, to 19 year old Marleen Beth McPherson. This is the first marriage for both. Ron's parents are Alfred 'Lash' La Rue (born Louisiana) and Wilda J. Cruthers (born Montana): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L93W-XPR4?mode=g&i=2784&wc=96PJ-K66%3A147738401%3Fcc%3D1804002&cc=1804002

Ancestry had the November 15, 1961 marriage license of 24 year old Ronald Alfred Wilson to 25 year old Elaine Marie Van Cleave (maiden name of Gottschalk) in Arlington, Virginia. His occupation is "U.S. Army" and this is the second marriage for both. His parents were Alfred Larue Wilson and Wilda Juanita Cruthers.

California Death Index and Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have records on Wilda Juanita Grozea, born April 16, 1918 in Montana, and passed away December 24, 1989 in the San Bernardino, California area. Her Mother's maiden name was Morgan and her father's last name was Cruthers.



4. There's many records and newspaper accounts of father Charles, mother Louise and daughter Leora ... as well as Lash:

• Charles Wilson John / Johns was born in Ohio in 1885 or 1887.
• He dropped the John / Johns last name and became Charles Wilson.
• Charles A. Wilson married Sarah Louise Busselle in 1913 in Ohio, and soon after the marriage, they moved to the Martin farm / Martin house in Watervliet, Michigan.
• daughter Leora was born July, 1914.
• son La Rue A. Wilson is 7 months old as of a late January, 1918 newspaper report (which equals a June, 1917 birth date). In a later newspaper blurb, his birth date is listed as June 14, 1917.
• where did the La Rue name come from? Louise's father was La Rue Busselle.
• in the late 1920s, mother Louise and her two Busselle siblings, brother Scott Busselle and sister Virginia Ruth Busselle, were living in the Long Beach, California area.
• in the 1940 census, mother Louise was living in Long Beach, California with daughter Leora.

Searching old records is difficult because of missing data as well as spelling variations and issues with birth dates and birth locations. Lash's father Charles left a confusing trail:

Charles Wilson John / Johns was born December 17, 1885, and his birth location is either Ohio or at sea. Circa early 1900s - and before he married Lash's mother - Charles Wilson John / Johns dropped the Johns last name and became plain ol' Charles A. Wilson. My research indicates that he was married four times - marriage number two was to Sarah Louise Busselle, the mother of Lash. By the 1930s, he and fourth wife Dollie Ellis Wilson were in Chicago, and Charles had his own business. Charles and Dollie moved back to Michigan sometime in the 1950s. He passed away in 1957 and Dollie passed in 1967.

While there were issues in tracing Charles, I found several consistencies in his data: his mother's maiden name was Troy; his father's first name was Ezra; and his December 17 birth date. And he most often identified Ohio as his birth location.


Clermont County, Ohio birth register (not the birth certificate) for Charles Wilson John, born December 17, 1885 in Clermont, Ohio to Ezra John and Linda Troy. Their home is Locust Corner, Ohio, an unincorporated community in Pierce Township, Clermont County, Ohio: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X6F5-GXV

1890 census is unavailable - it was lost in a 1921 fire (and water damage) at the Commerce Building in Washington, D. C.

1900 census summary and census takers worksheet - 39 year old Ezra Johns (born Ohio; occupation "farmer"), his 26 year old wife Nellie (born Indiana), 14 year old son Charles W. Johns (born December, 1885 in Ohio), and five other children (3 daughters, 2 sons) reside in Clermont, Ohio. If you view the census takers worksheet, note that wife Nellie has had 3 children and 3 are living ... which indicates that Ezra had a prior marriage and wife: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMCV-64Q

1900 census summary and census takers worksheet has the Busselle family as boarders in the home of Fred E. and Francis Bryant in Junction City, Nodaway County, Missouri - 49 year old Reu [sic] Busselle (born Indiana), his 25 year old wife Jennie (born Ohio), 6 year old son Scott (born Minnesota), 5 year old daughter Louise (born Canada), and 1 year old daughter Ruth (born Iowa). The occupation of Reu Busselle is "Journalist". And wife Jennie has had four children, three of which are living: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M38M-WH9
(Note: further down this webpage, you'll find info and a link to the December 20, 1924 Orange County, California marriage license of Louise's sister, 25 year old Virginia Ruth Busselle to 31 year old Frank Ellis Delavergn. Her parents were La Rue Bussell and Jennie Clark Doggett.)

November 25, 1905 Greene County, Ohio marriage license of Charles W. Johns to Eva Blanche Kester. Charles' occupation is "farming"; he lives in Xenia, Ohio; was born in Clermont County, Ohio; parents were Ezra Johns and Malinda Troy. The license notes that he was "21 years of age on the 17 day of December 1904 (which would indicate a December 17, 1883 birth date)": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-BPSK-XK?mode=g&i=137&wc=Q3XY-4WL%3A121348001%2C122095601%3Fcc%3D1614804&cc=1614804

1910 census summary and census takers worksheet for 36 year old C. L. Tewell (born Kentucky; occupation "farmer") and his 34 year old wife Jennie Tewell (born Ohio) in Clear Creek, Warren County, Ohio. This was the second marriage for both. The large family includes 15 year old Scott Busselle (born Minnesota), 14 year old Louise Busselle (born Canada), 11 year old Ruth Busselle (born Iowa) as well as five Tewell children from his first marriage: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/ML88-844

 May 29, 1913 marriage license in Cincinnati, Ohio of 27 year old Charles Wilson (born Clermont County, Ohio; occupation "laborer") to 18 year old Louise Busselle (born Canada). His parents were Ezra Wilson and Lindia [sic] Troy. Her mother was Jennie Doggett and her father was Rew [sic] Busselle. The license notes that he was "27 years of age on the 16 day of December 1912" (which would indicate a December, 1885 birth date). And Louise was "18 years of age on the 25 day of May, 1913" (which would equate to a May, 1895 birth date): https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18059-57930-35?cc=1614804
(Note: several interesting things with this record - "Charles W. Johns" has become "Charles Wilson"; his father Ezra Johns has become "Ezra Wilson"; and the license indicates that Charles was not previously married.)

 September 5, 1913 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "Charles Wilson and wife have moved onto the Martin farm west of this village. They were formerly of Loveland, Ohio ..."
(Note: the mileage between Loveland, Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio is about 30 miles.)

July 24, 1914 issue of the Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "A daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson on the A. Martin farm Sunday."
(Note: this paper was from Friday, July 24, 1914. The previous Sunday would be July 19.)

January 1, 1915 edition of The Coloma (Michigan) Courier newspaper had 1914 birth announcements for Watervliet Township: "July 8 (1914) - Leora A. Wilson to Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Wilson"

 June 22, 1917 issue of the Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Wilson Thursday, June 14 (1917)."

 January 25, 1918 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "The Cradle Roll mothers held their sock social ... Rue A. Wilson won the prize for being the youngest baby to take his first step. He is 7 months old."
(Note: 7 months old would equate to a June, 1917 birth.)

World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 for 33 year old Charles A. Wilson. He is living in Benton Harbor, Michigan and wife Louise Wilson is living in Watervliet, Michigan. He was born December 17, 1885 and is a "Switchman" for the Pere Marquette Railroad in Benton Harbor, Michigan: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-G1HX-C4Z?mode=g&i=2410&wc=9FC5-DP6%3A928310701%2C928360001%3Fcc%3D1968530&cc=1968530
Wikipedia has a webpage on the Pere Marquette Railroad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pere_Marquette_Railway

June 27, 1919 issue of the Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "Mrs. Louise Wilson returned last week from Dayton, Ohio, where she went after her children, and will make her home here."

August 22, 1919 issue of the Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "Miss Ruth Busselle of Dayton, Ohio, has been visiting her sister, Mrs. Louise Wilson, for the past ten days."

November 21, 1919 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper listed several divorces that were granted including: Louise Wilson vs. Charles Wilson

December 12, 1919 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper had a letter to the editor from Louise Wilson: "Please correct the statement made in Watervliet Record two weeks ago concerning the time I obtained my divorce, which I have had for a year or more ..."

July 22, 1919 Ohio marriage license of 29 year old E. Blanche Kester to George Edward Faul. Both reside in Xenia, Ohio. License has her name as E. Blanche Johns and she had a prior marriage as "Mrs. Chas. Johns": https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=75&query=%2Bgivenname%3Amarion%20%2Bsurname%3Akester

1920 census summary and census takers worksheet for 32 year old Charles Wilson, born about 1888 in Michigan. He is divorced; occupation is "Freight Brakeman - Railroad"; and a roomer living in Benton Harbor, Berrien County, Michigan ... and no children are with him: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZSZ-5HH

1920 census summary and census takers worksheet for 23 year old Louise Wilson, born about 1897 in Canada. She is divorced; became a U.S. citizen in November 1913; and her occupation is "operator - metal plant"; and she is renting and living alone in St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan ... and no children are with her: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZSD-H62

January 3, 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - Benton Harbor, Berrien County, Michigan: John Charwood, wife Mildred, and daughter Eileen have two boarders - 5 year old female Leora Wilson and 2 year old Rue Wilson (who is listed as female). Both were born in Michigan; their father was born "at sea U. S."; their mother was born in Canada: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZSZ-MFD

About two weeks later, both kids show up in another census. Rue is misspelled as "Rur" but is correctly identified as a male:

January 16, 1920 census summary and census takers worksheet - St. Joseph, Berrien County, Michigan: 5 year old female Leora Wilson and 3 9/12 year old male Rur [sic] Wilson are listed as "inmates" at the Michigan Childrens Home in St. Joseph. Both were born in Michigan; their father's birth location is unknown; their mother was born in Canada. Assuming that 3 9/12 was his real age, his birth year would be 1916: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MZSD-S1S

April 2, 1920 issue of the Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper: "Mr. and Mrs. Scott Busselle arrived from Dayton, Ohio ... They are enroute to Los Angeles, California. Mr. and Mrs. Busselle are spending the week visiting friends in Watervliet and vicinity."

November 16, 1920 Michigan marriage license of 33 year old Charles A. Wilson to 25 year old Gertrude Berndt in Berrien County, Michigan. This is his second marriage and her first. He was born on the "High Seas"; is a conductor; lives in New Buffalo, Michigan; and his father was Ezra (with no last name) and his mother's last name was Troy:

https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939J-CPDP-2?mode=g&i=1672&wc=M6XM-329%3A150751701%2C155401101%3Fcc%3D1810350&cc=1810350
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939J-CP8R-6?mode=g&i=1673&wc=M6XM-329%3A150751701%2C155401101%3Fcc%3D1810350&cc=1810350

December 20, 1924 Orange County, California marriage license of Louise's sister, 25 year old Virginia Ruth Busselle (born Iowa; occupation "telephone company chief opr") to 31 year old Frank Ellis Delavergn (born Montana; occupation "Post Office Clerk"). Her parents were La Rue Busselle (born New York) and Jennie Clark Doggett (born Ohio): https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L93W-N9BL-D?i=505&wc=96PK-2NG%3A148351301%3Fcc%3D1804002&cc=1804002

June 23, 1927 Clark County, Ohio marriage license of 38 year old Henry E. Sykes (born July 26, 1888 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania) to 30 year old Louise Sara Wilson (born May 25, 1897 in Ontario, Canada). His home is Pittsburg; occupation is "Factory worker"; and this is his first marriage. Her parents were Rue Busselle and Jennie Doggett. She is living in Springfield, Ohio; was married once; is a widow; and her married name was Wilson: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-BG9L-QG?mode=g&i=49&wc=Q3XL-GPL%3A121345301%2C122788801%3Fcc%3D1614804&cc=1614804

 November 30, 1928 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper had a long letter from a Mrs. Hoffman describing her trip to California, including the Long Beach area. A few excerpts:

"We went to see Scott Busselle and family. What was our suprise to learn that our dear old friend, Louise Wilson, was in Los Angeles. We were invited to a Halloween party at Scott's and Louise's sister's home. The entire Busselle and Tewell family are here so there were 12 people at the party whom we had known."

"Before Louise arrived Mrs. Harp (formerly Ruth Busselle) ..."

"Leora and Rue Wilson of course are well grown up."

1930 census summary and census takers worksheet for Leora Wilson, about 15 years old, born in Michigan, and her mother was born in Canada. Leora is a roomer living with the George and Selma Dorner family in Long Beach, California: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCJP-ZTK

January 3, 1937 Orange County, California marriage license of 22 year old Leora A. Wilson (born Michigan) to 22 year old Neil Frank Swanson (born Washington) and both live in South Gate, California. This is his second marriage and her first. Her parents were Charles Wilson (birth location unknown) and Louise Busselle (born Canada). The occupation of both Frank and Leora is "soda fountain work": https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-29946-31472-94?cc=1804002&wc=M9MJ-QYT:n1385445445

Appears that Leora divorced Neil Frank Swanson. Ancestry.com had a 1939 New Mexico marriage index record (not the marriage license) for Charles W. Hughlett and Leona [sic] Swanson in Bernalillo, New Mexico.

 1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - living in Long Beach, California are 27 year old Charles Welch Hughlett (born Maryland), his 25 year old wife Leora (born Michigan) and his 44 year old mother-in-law Sarah Louise Wilson (born Canada). Charles Welch Hughlett is an electrician in the U. S. Navy and Leora is a "Waitress - Cafe". Leora's mother Sarah Louise Wilson is divorced and no occupation: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9HW-W1B
If you view the 1940 census takers worksheet, their info is on two census worksheets:

https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MT-F7Q2?mode=g&i=29&wc=QZX5-7WV%3A790105301%2C796133301%2C799984901%2C799996901%3Fcc%3D2000219&cc=2000219

https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89MT-F7WV?mode=g&i=30&wc=QZX5-7WV%3A790105301%2C796133301%2C799984901%2C799996901%3Fcc%3D2000219&cc=2000219

Louise's sister Virginia Ruth is living in Los Angeles, California at the time of the 1930 and 1940 census:

1930 census summary and census takers worksheet for Virginia who has re-married. 28 year old Menard Harp (born Michigan; occupation Fireman), 30 year old wife Virginia (born Iowa), a son and stepson are living in Los Angeles: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XC89-TZ9

1940 census summary and census takers worksheet for Louise's sister Virginia Ruth - living in Los Angeles are 38 year old Menard E. Harp (born Michigan; occupation "Fireman"), his 39 year old wife Virginia Ruth Harp (born Iowa), and their two sons: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9ZK-SJB

Louise's brother Scott Busselle, his wife and son are also living in Long Beach, California at the time of the 1930 and 1940 census:

1930 census summary and census takers worksheet for 36 year old Scot [sic] W. Busselle (born Wisconsin), 36 year old wife Harriet B. (born Kansas), and 7 year old son Scot W. (born California). They own their home at 5917 Cerritos Avenue, Long Beach, California. Scot's mother was born in Ohio and his father was born "Aboard American Ship". His occupation is "Head-light Adjuster - Automobile", and he's a World War I veteran: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCJP-YPG

1940 census summary and census takers worksheet for 46 year old Scott Busselle (born Minnesota), 46 year old wife Harriett (born Kansas), and 17 year old son Scott Jr. (born California). They own their home at 5917 Cerritos Avenue, Long Beach, California. No occupation is listed for Scott: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K96Y-T46

As noted in the 1928 newspaper article above, the three Busselle siblings had moved to California. Also re-locating to California were Louise's mother and step-father, Jennie Clark Doggett Tewell and C. L. Tewell:

1940 census for the widowed C. L. Tewell (about 66 years old; born Kentucky) who is renting in Downey Township, Los Angeles County, California: https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=75&query=%2Bsurname%3Atewell&collection_id=2000219&residence_place1=10%2CCalifornia
California Death Index has a record for Jennie Clark Doggett Tewell, born December 10, 1876 in Ohio, and she passed away in the Los Angeles area on February 2, 1940: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP3B-WVV
California Death Index has a record for Cassuis Lamott Tewell, born July 2, 1873 in Kentucky, and he passed away in the Los Angeles area on May 14, 1944: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VG5J-1WW

By the time of the 1930 census, Lash's father Charles Wilson Johns / Charles Wilson was in Chicago and had re-married to a woman named Dolly / Dollie:

1930 census summary and census takers worksheet - 42 year old Charles Wilson (born United States) and his 42 year old wife Dolly (born Tennessee) are renting at 5809 Hermitage Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. His occupation is "Erector - Steel Goods", and he was a World War I veteran: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XSL2-VH5

1940 census summary and census takers worksheet - 53 year old Charles Wilson (born Ohio) and 53 year old wife Dollie (born Tennessee) are renting at 5809 South Hermitage Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. His occupation is "Steel cabinet erector": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KWB9-PS5

World War II draft registration for 54 year old Charles A. Wilson, born December 17, 1887 in Claremont [sic] County, Ohio. He and wife Dolly Wilson live at 5809 S. Hermitage, Chicago, Illinois, and his occupation is "In business for himself" and "Steel office equip repair": https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V1KK-MZQ

Michigan Death Record for 69 year old Charles Alfred Wilson. He was born December 17, 1887 in Cincinnati, Ohio, passed away on May 28, 1957 in Rural Milton Township, Cass County, Michigan and burial in Chicago, Illinois. His occupation was "Sheetmetal Worker"; his parents are listed as Milanda [sic] and Ezra Wilson; and his wife's name was Dollie: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FHZC-GJ9
(Note: ancestry.com had a few more details including his home address of RR #2, Niles, Milton Township, Cass County, Michigan.)

August 3, 1941 marriage license in Duval, Florida for 25 year old Carl E. Gill (born Iowa) to 27 year old Lee Hughlett (born July 14, 1914 in Watervliet, Michigan). His address is the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida and she is divorced and resides in St. Augustine, Florida: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-MJ9C-LV?mode=g&i=326&wc=32KP-YWL%3A145392901%3Fcc%3D1803936&cc=1803936

 June 20, 1947 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper had a 'Thirty Years Ago' column: "A son was born to Mrs. and Mrs. Charles Wilson on Thursday, June 14th (1917)."

 January 20, 1966 Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper had an article on Lash which mentioned his childhood in Watervliet, Michigan. Excerpts:

"Dark and evil days have come to a former resident of Watervliet, one Lash Rarue [sic]. If that name doesn't ring a bell to jog your memory, perhaps someone will remember Reu [sic] Alfred Wilson. (someone had) sent a clipping from the Tampa Tribune concerning him and his fallen fortunes.

It seems that Reu [sic], alias Lash, was born here ..."

The article continues with more on Lash being down on his luck.

 There was a follow-up in the February 24, 1966 issue of Watervliet (Michigan) Record newspaper. Excerpts:

"More news of Reu [sic] Wilson from the Charles Wigents vacationing in Florida. Reu [sic], better known as Lash LaRue, lived in the Martin house across from the Wigent farm on Red Arrow highway, just this side of the Midway Baptist Church, when he was a little boy and Mr. Wigent remembers him well.

Some years ago his parents separated and his father made his home in Niles (Michigan) until his death about three years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wigent and Mr. and Mrs. Glen Nichols used to visit Mr. Wilson in Niles."

The article continues with more on Lash in Tampa, Florida, his visits to the local children's hospital, etc.

Link to the Coloma, Michigan Library and their online archive of the Coloma (Michigan) Courier, Watervliet (Michigan) Record, and Tri-City Record newspapers.: http://23.25.1.108/colomas.html



5. Wasn't Lash born in Gretna, Louisiana?
What about Lash playing guitar at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans?
The answer to both questions appears to be "Nope!"


Many sources have Lash's birth location as Gretna, Louisiana and some newspaper death notices on Lash mention Gretna (along with other misinformation). Am unsure when and how that came about. Excerpt from the May 31, 1996 death notice on Lash from the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper:

"... known as Alfred LaRue, the son of Charles and Sarah Louise LaRue of Gretna. After his father was killed in World War I, his mother moved the 10-year-old boy and an older sister to Ohio, then to California, where he began working in pictures."

I checked both Family Search and Ancestry.com for any trace of the following:

Charles Larue with a wife named Sarah or Louise; residing somewhere in Louisiana in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census; and with a son named Al, Alfred, Rue, etc. born circa 1910-1920.

Charles Wilson with a wife named Sarah or Louise; residing somewhere in Louisiana in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census; and with a son named Al, Alfred, Rue, etc. born circa 1910-1920.

And I found nothing.

If Lash had ties to Gretna, Louisiana and the Dew Drop Inn, I was hopeful that a newspaper articles would be found. I checked the Newspaper Archive website using the following search terms:

"Lash Larue" and "Dew Drop" during the years 1950 - 1990.

"Lash Larue" and "Gretna" during the years 1950 - 1990.

And nothing was found based on those search combinations.

If anyone has solid information on Louisiana, please shoot an e-mail to ye Old Corral webmeister. And please - no quotes from Lash bios, Wikipedia, etc. as that (questionable) Gretna, Louisiana information was probably culled from a death notice or a Larue book biography.

Some Lash biographies (such as Wikipedia) have our western movie hero as a guitar playing wizard. That reference is due to drummer Earl Palmer, who played on 1950s recordings in New Orleans. In his autobiography titled Backbeat, Palmer recalled Lash performing at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans:

"Lots of white people wanted to come to the Dew Drop. Most were turned away, but they let a few in. Every time the cowboy actor Lash La Rue came in town, he came by. He played a hell of a guitar and was a regular guy."

But Lash playing guitar doesn't ring true. He attended many nostalgia / film conventions in the 1970s and 1980s so I sent off e-mails to folks who coordinated / ran some of those nostalgia conventions or attended same. Heard back from Ray Nielson, Tommy Hildreth, Minard Coons and Bill Sasser. In summary, none recalled Lash singing ... or playing a guitar ... or playing any musical instrument. One mentioned seeing Lash doing public appearances: "I saw his stage show 2 or 3 times and he never sang or attempted to play any instrument."

Did drummer Earl Palmer make an error in identifying Lash as a guitar player? Or was there a guitar player in New Orleans who might have been a LaRue but not Lash? Or was someone pretending to be Lash? Haven't got a clue.

Articles on the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans:
http://www.npr.org/2015/08/24/434209433/will-the-dew-drop-inn-swing-again-attempts-to-revive-new-orleans-hot-spot
http://www.satchmo.com/ikoiko/dewdropinn.html
http://www.offbeat.com/articles/the-dew-drop-inn-past-present-future/



6. Wasn't Lash born and/or raised in Ohio? Wasn't born or raised there, but he spent time in Ohio with the family of mother Louise after her divorce.


Circa 2000, I was contacted by a friend of Lash's who said that Lash was raised with a family in Ohio (in the 1920s) after his parents split. He mentioned that Lash's real name was Rhew Alfred Wilson and he had a sister named Lee.

Alas - after several e-mails, we lost contact.

Appears that Rhew and sister Lee were Rue and Leora in box 4 above.

I'm guessing that the Ohio connection to Lash MAY be related to Charles A. Wilson and Louise Busselle, who, at the time of their marriage in 1913, were living in Ohio. And during or after the breakup of their marriage, newspapers indicate that both kids spent some time with the Busselle/Tewell relatives in Ohio. However, by the mid to late 1920s, both Leora and Rue - along with mother Louise - were living in the Long Beach, California area.

And mother Louise was either living or visiting in Springfield, Ohio when she married Henry E. Sykes on June 23, 1927 in Clark County, Ohio.



7. Lash arrives in Hollywood circa 1944 ... and a few more tidbits.



(From Old Corral image collection)


Above is LaRue doing an early movie role in the thirteen episode serial THE MASTER KEY (Universal, 1945) which was released in April, 1945. From left to right are Milburn Stone (who later portrayed 'Doc' in TV's GUNSMOKE), LaRue, and Dennis Moore. In this, he is billed as Alfred La Rue and plays "Migsy", the street smart leader of a group of teenagers helping Stone, Moore and heroine Jan Wiley outwit Addison Richards.

Universal signed Al to a (brief) term players contract. He had a minor role in the Deanna Durbin LADY ON A TRAIN (Universal, 1945) which was released in August, 1945. By then, he was gone from Universal and playing "The Cheyenne Kid" in the Eddie Dean Cinecolor SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945).

There's very little on LaRue in the tradepapers during 1944-1945.

The "Hollywood - The news roundup" piece in the November 20, 1944 issue of Film Daily has tidbits on various people including Al: "... "U" has handed a termer to Alfred LaRue ..." (meaning Universal has given LaRue a term contract). That Universal contract was brief, and Al's next Film Daily mention is an August 22, 1945 review of SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945).

Left is an Al La Rue biography from the pressbook for SONG OF OLD WYOMING (PRC, 1945) and is more hype than truth. Note the mention of him doing radio, writing and producing amateur plays, and his father was a real estate broker.

He gets more coverage (as Lash LaRue) in 1946 Film Daily editions as the star of a new eight film series at PRC with Al 'Fuzzy' St. John.

Ye Old Corral webmaster has newspaper articles about the funeral service arrangements for Lash. When his wife (and/or family members) went to Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California to prepare for his funeral service, she (or they) discovered he had been cremated. There were lawsuits - or threats of lawsuits - and I'm not sure if and when anything was ever resolved. If anyone wants copies of the newspaper articles, shoot the Old Corral webmeister an e-mail.

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has info on Lash ... and the controversy on his early cremation or cremation in error at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6699730

Rick Albright did some detective work and found A. Larue, age 20, in the 1937 class roster for Pasadena Junior College. No gender given, but the age works for Lash.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Lash LaRue: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0479017/

In the 1980s, Jerry Whittington was working with Sunset Carson on a possible TV series. Jerry filmed Sunset chatting with many B western performers, including Lash. This link will open in a separate window/tab and Lash has positive comments on his mother ... and notes that she was a widow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPk4gx0MCbE

It's always interesting to click through excerpts of newspaper headlines and clippings at the Google newspaper archives at: http://news.google.com/newspapers
While some of the articles are free, many go to newspaper websites where you have to pay to retrieve the full article. The following link will take you to a mix of free and pay articles on Lash LaRue ... and his marriages, divorces, run ins with the law, more: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Lash%20larue%22%20site:news.google.com/newspapers&source=newspapers&gws_rd=ssl

The Los Angeles Times newspaper has an obituary on Lash: http://articles.latimes.com/1996-05-31/news/mn-10514_1_lash-larue

The New York Times newspaper has an obituary on Lash: http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/31/arts/lash-larue-79-western-star-with-a-whip.html



8. How many times was Lash married - some sources speculate that he had a dozen wives. Am unsure of the real number, but there's magazine and online references to marriages/divorces involving six women:


Lash's (first) wife was Wilda Cruthers, the mother of Ronald Alfred Wilson, who was born October 24, 1937 in San Francisco, California. La Rue A. Wilson married Wilda Cruthers on March 25, 1937 in San Francisco. More in box 3 above.

The January, 1953 issue of Screenland Plus TV-Land magazine had a "Hollywood Facts of Life" article about 1952 romances, divorces, etc. There was a mention that in June, 1952, "Barbara Fuller (Claudia of 'One Man's Family') divorced Western star Lash LaRue."

Ancestry.com had 1960 and 1961 Long Beach, California City Directories: Lash LaRue (actor) and wife Pattie are living at 857 Lime Avenue, Long Beach, California.

Family Search and Ancestry had a marriage index record (not the marriage license): 40 year old Alfred W. LaRue married 37 year old Josephine R. Clarke (this is actress Reno Browne/Blair) on January 10, 1962 in Placer, California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V66V-Y2L

Family Search and Ancestry had the California Divorce Index: Lash Larue divorced wife Alice B. Larue on March 20, 1979 in Orange County, California: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VPP7-95K

The Gaffney (South Carolina) Ledger newspaper has the 2010 funeral notice/obituary on Frances Ida Coyle Bramlett La Rue: http://www.gaffneyledger.com/news/2010-09-06/Obituaries/Frances_La_Rue.html


(Courtesy of Bill Sasser)

Above- Lash was re-united with ex-wife Reno Browne (Reno Blair) at the 1987 Charlotte Film Fest.

Browne was a great rider and made a batch of films at Monogram in the 1940s with Johnny Mack Brown, Whip Wilson, others.

She is ill from the cancer that would ultimately claim her life in 1991.


Back to prior page