Robert Hemingray ruled off the track, woman was not his wife


Publication: The San Francisco Call

San Francisco, CA, United States
vol. 93, no. 2, p. 1,5, col. 3-5,5-7












ROBERT HEMINGRAY turfman, will never again race his horses on the Ingleside track. He has been peremptorily ordered to remove his horses from the inclosure and the gatekeepers have been notified that he must not be allowed to again enter the grounds.

Hemingray has been ordered off in disgrace because it was deemed he had traduced the name of a dead woman.

The turfman admitted yesterday that he was not the husband of the girl known as Carlotta Hemingray, but whose real name is Charlotte Steffin and who committed suicide at the Hotel Knickerbocker on Saturday evening last.

Not only did he admit that the girl had been living as his mistress, but he also said that, having heard of her beauty while she was in Indianapolis, he traveled there to obtain possession of her and induced her to accompany, him to San Francisco, where she was supposed to be his wife.

When Thomas H. Williams, president of the New California Jockey Club, heard of Hemingray's shameful confession last night, his Southern blood was aroused to a belling point. He declared that no man who would traduce the name of a dead woman should ever race a horse on any track of which he was in charge or should ever be allowed to enter the inclosure of such a track.

Mr. Williams lost no time in making his declaration good and acting upon his principles. Telephones and messengers were busy at once and neither Hemingray, his horses, nor any of his jockeys or trainers will be inside the inclosure when racing begins to-day and they will never be there again.

Horace Egbert, clerk of the scales, was notified that the disgraced turfman and all belonging to him must henceforth keep outside the gates of the Ingleside inclosure.

Hemingray's career as a turfman is closed so far as California is concerned, and Mr. Williams' action will have its influence on every other track in the country.

Robert Hemingray was ready yesterday to make a statement that would place the whole matter of his relationship with the dead girl before the public.

Looking ill and in an extremely nervous condition, Hemingray received his callers at the Palace Hotel.

It was apparent from the beginning of an interview with him that there was to be no more reserve and that any details which would bear upon the death of the girl known as Carlotta would be rehearsed fully.

Hemingray, throwing off all reserve said:

"I have made a statement that the little girl, was my wife, but she was not. I have done all in my power for the dead girl's sake to avoid saying, this. When, however, her mother goes back on her child, then I cannot hide the true facts longer and am called upon to admit what I would under other circumstances have kept a profound secret. So far was this my intention that I had prepared to write and inform my mother that Carlotta was my wife.

"The girl's mother, having spoken, the world knows that Carlotta was not my wife and any further restraint, in consequence, would be useless.

"I had heard of Carlotta' s extreme beauty when I was in Chicago from a friend, whose name I would on no account divulge. She was living with a girl friend in Indianapolis. This must have been about five weeks ago. I had never seen the girl and my friend himself telegraphed to her to come to Chicago. She replied that it was not convenient for her to take the journey and requested my friend, who had spoken of her to me, to visit her in Indianapolis and he was to take me with him. I went there and that evening I asked her if she would go to San Francisco with me. She thought that I was joking and I impressed her with my earnestness, whereupon she consented to leave Indianapolis with me. We left and went to Chicago where we remained a couple of weeks and then came on to San Francisco, putting up at the Palace Hotel for two or three days, after which we went to the Knickerbocker apartment house on Pine street.


"We never had a quarrel and Carlotta was never despondent. On one occasion when I had had some slight argument with her about her gossiping she jumped from the bed and said she would shoot herself. Since the time that I enlisted in the cavalry for service in the Spanish-American war I have carried a pistol in my valise. Well on the occasion to which I allude I thought she was joking, but as the revolver was loaded I also jumped from my bed and took the weapon from her hand. I unloaded it and handing it to her said laughingly, 'If you want to shoot you can do so now.' She treated this matter in the lightest possible manner and also laughed when I took the cartridges out and said, 'Do you think I would take my life, for any man? I was only fooling.'

"I had been talking seriously to her about her gossiping and I pointed out to her that gossiping would grow on her. That was on Saturday. I had said something about my brother's wife and she repeated the conversation to Mrs. Hemingray, which led to an argument and my taking her to task for gossiping and retelling what I had said.

I had come home from the races. Carlotta had also been there, but on that occasion, Saturday, she did not accompany me. One rather strange thing she said that day to Miss Cora Westphal, a companion of my brother's wife, was that she would not need the race track badge again.


After dinner my brother and I went out and purchased a number of magazines. On going to room on our return and just as I turned the handle of the door I heard the report of the pistol. I naturally felt that something serious had happened and yet I could not think that Carlotta had committed suicide. There had been no reason for her to do so. Yet there was a fear in me. She was not a girl who suffered from remorse for anything that she had done or was doing. She had no fear so far as money was concerned, for she could have called on me for whatever money she needed. Since her mother has spoken I may say that her friends were many and if mentioned the men who cared for her it would create a surprise. There are four gentlemen in high station in this country, two of them prominent politicians, who were deeply infatuated with her.

"Before leaving for San Francisco I told her that she was going a long way from home and that whenever she felt she did not care to remain with me she could always call upon me for money with which to return. Hence I can see no reason for her act. I don't believe she was in love with me, or cared much about me. Her affection was not strong. She knew well that she was beautiful.

Some days ago she read a letter to me which she had received some time or another in which she was informed of the suicide of her uncle, who, too, had shot himself.

"It is strange, but since my relations with her I have had misfortunes. Oh, nothing but what I can overcome, but, still, they have been, misfortunes. The day I first met her I lost from my pocket a most beautiful cigarette case. It was gold, inlaid with diamonds, and cost $250. It was the gift of a friend who presented it to me as a token of appreciation for services I had rendered him. Again my luck at the races had not been what it was previous to our meeting. I lost $3800, where before I could pick five and. six winners a day.

"Now, I understand that J. E. Locke, the proprietor of the Knickerbocker, on Pine street, has made some statement to the police about my having left the revolver where, the girl could find it, anticipating that she would make away with herself. Nothing could be more absurd. As I have said, I have carried a pistol since the time I enlisted, and to think that I would purposely bring this disgrace, not alone upon myself, but upon those dear to me, is, I should think, sufficient answer to the theories advanced by Locke."


J. E. Locke; proprietor of the Knickerbocker apartment house, 1314 Pine street, told the Coronet a tale yesterday morning which prompted that official to order an inquest to be held tomorrow morning into the circumstances connected with the suicide.

Locke stated that Mrs. Locke had been told by Mrs. Rose Hemingray that Robert Hemingray, who had quarreled with the girl, and her husband, Conway, had anticipated that Carlotta would take her own life and had left the loaded revolver in the way that she might use it.

Locke further said that Mrs. Rose Hemingray had told his wife that Robert Hemingray and her own husband had returned in the evening after the fatal shot had been fired and Robert had tiptoed to the apartment occupied by himself and the girl, returning a few minutes later to say that he had heard a report, but was too nervous to investigate and enter the room.

Mrs. Rose Hemingray, when seen at the Palace Hotel, said:

"I saw Carlotta on Saturday before she went to the races. I did not go, owing to my feeling ill and having to remain in bed. She kissed me and appeared most cheerful and asked me whether I would not be lonesome with no one with me. I told her that I would not and she left the room and started for the races in the brightest of spirits. As for any statements being attributed to me, all I have to say is I really knew nothing about the shooting until told of it by Locke, the proprietor of the house. He was the first one to tell me that Carlotta had shot herself and was dead. I did not know the girl until she was brought here by Robert. He wrote to my husband that he was bringing his wife to San Francisco and when he came he introduced Carlotta as his wife to us.

"One cannot account for her taking her life. She seemed so cheerful, and would laugh at the most simple things, things which would not evoke in me anything beyond a smile. She seemed to be ready to laugh at any trifle. It seemed to be peculiar in her. Possibly she may have been inclined to hysteria."

Conway Hemingray said that he married his wife. Rose, in a small town near St. Louis last February, but was unable to remember who it was that performed the marriage ceremony.

Captain Martin has detailed Detective Ryan to watch the inquest for further developments. During yesterday the Hemingrays were interviewed by members of the detective department.

That Robert Hemingray is suffering severely from the strain there is no doubt. He had been under the care of a doctor some days prior to the tragedy. He expressed his intention of sending the remains of the girl to her mother at Cincinnati this evening.

A dispatch from Cincinnati says the dead girl's right name was Charlotte Steffin. Her father is a prominent New York grocer. When he obtained a divorce from the girl's mother Charlotte remained with the latter.

Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:December 14, 2010 by: Bob Stahr;