Unlocking History

Tales from the Cemetery: Dove and Love

Folsom Prison Cemetery with two mugshots overlaid.
The Folsom Prison cemetery overlooks the dam built in the 1950s. At left is Francis Dove, buried at Folsom, and the other is Charlie Love, who is buried at San Quentin.

The tales of two men laid to rest in prison cemetery grounds at San Quentin and Folsom go beyond the faded numbers marking their graves. These are the stories of robber Francis Dove and convicted murderer Charlie Love. Despite their peaceful sounding names, they led violent lives with one meeting a violent end.

(Editor’s note: Dove and Love are the focus of the second in our five-part series unlocking the tales of those laid to rest in the prison cemetery grounds. Read part 1, part 3, part 4, or part 5.)

‘Too-tough’ Dove doesn’t reveal his killer

Francis Dove, tattooed with a skeleton and the words “too tough to kill,” was a San Diego area brawler and bootlegger. According to his prison record, other distinguishing marks included an amputated thumb and two fingers on his left hand.

His prior record lists “liquor possession” in 1927 and 1928. At the time, alcohol was outlawed in the United States.

He was received at San Quentin May 26, 1929, to serve five-years-to-life for first-degree robbery out of San Diego County. Dove, 24 years old, was given the number 47109.

Crime continues in prison

While at San Quentin, Dove ran with a group known as “prison hijackers.” They swiped other prisoners’ tobacco and candy, in turn selling or trading the items. To break up the thieving gang in 1934, Dove and two cohorts were transferred to Folsom State Prison.

Dove was joined in Folsom by Frank Marquez and George Melendez, who began to split when they saw an opportunity to re-create their San Quentin success. Instead of one gang, there were now two gangs of prison hijackers operating in Folsom.

Marquez, serving five years for prison escape, got into an argument with J.W. Howard. The guards intervened when Howard went after Marquez with a piece of wood. A few days later, on July 2, Marquez climbed two tiers in the cell block, stabbing Howard with a sharpened file.

Dove “took up Howard’s fight,” according to Warden Court Smith. Three days later, while working in the quarry, Dove suddenly slumped and collapsed. They found he’d been stabbed and the wound was deep.

Taken to the prison hospital for treatment, Dove was optimistic about his chances. He was so confident, he refused to name his attacker.

Dove died an hour after the stabbing. Three days later, an anonymous note was slipped to the warden, claiming Melendez killed Dove.

When no one claimed his body, he joined others who never left. Dove was buried in the Folsom Prison cemetery, just one of many tales.

Murderer Charlie Love laid to rest at San Quentin

Charlie Love 58651.
Charlie Love was buried at San Quentin cemetery.

Despite serious sleuthing, there is very little information available on Charlie Love. His state prison records indicate he was received at San Quentin State Prison on February 11, 1936, and assigned the number 58651.

Convicted of first-degree murder out of Yuba County, he was sentenced to a life term.

In August 1939, he was “transferred to Mendocino” and returned to the prison in December.

He could have been sent to Mendocino for medical treatment or court appearances, but the reason isn’t indicated.

While serving his life sentence at San Quentin, he passed away May 3, 1944, and was buried at the prison cemetery.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

Learn more about California prison history.

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