Unlocking History

Cemetery Tales: Zoberst and Young

Folsom prison cemetery and Folsom dam in the background with mugshots of Zoberst and John Young overlaying the background image.
John Zoberst, left, and John Young ended up in the prison cemetery in Folsom and San Quentin.

For October’s final Cemetery Tales, we unrolled the list and dropped to the last names of those buried at San Quentin and Folsom prison cemeteries: John Zoberst and John Young.

Zoberst is the last person listed for San Quentin while Young is next to the last for Folsom. These are their stories.

Zoberst dies after two years at San Quentin

Mugshot of John Zoberst, 36825, who was buried in the San Quentin prison cemetery.
John Zoberst, 36825

John Zoberst, incorrectly listed as Zoberat in many records, was 67 years old when he was received at San Quentin Sept. 15, 1922.

He was convicted of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and given an indeterminate 1-year-to-life sentence.

Originally he tried to fight the charges, but ended up pleading guilty.

Searching newspapers from 1922 only turned up his scheduled court appearances in San Francisco.

He passed away Aug. 21, 1924, and was buried in the San Quentin prison cemetery.

John Young lands in Folsom over $6 robbery

John Young, alias John Jackson, was one of four men accused of robbing Fred Peterson in Sacramento. One evening in March 1908, Peterson was flashing and spending his money in “low saloons,” according to newspaper accounts.

He was followed out of one of the saloons, surrounded by four men, jumped and robbed of $6, or roughly $300 in today’s value.

Mugshot of John Young at Folsom prison with the number 6944.
John Young, 6944

Two of the men were arrested and confessed. They also implicated Young, who denied having anything to do with the robbery. The fourth person, known only as Mississippi, was not found.

“John Young has been closely questioned by the city detectives and City Attorney Howe, but refuses to (confess),” according to the Sacramento Daily Union, March 20, 1908. “He claims he was not near the scene of the hold-up.”

Found guilty, Young was received at Folsom State Prison on April 4 to serve 30 years.

Young was a second-termer, having previously served a year for receiving stolen property in Walla Walla, Wash. He was discharged from that prison Nov. 11, 1906.

In June 1908, the district attorney received a letter from Virginia Young, the 23-year-old’s mother.

“(She) is asking his assistance in securing the release of her son, John Young, who is now serving a 30-year term in Folsom prison. (She) says she has been trying to locate her son for 10 years. The last she heard of him was when he enlisted in the Spanish-American War. The case is being investigated,” reported the Sacramento Daily Union, June 6, 1908.

John Young would have been 13 at the time of the 1898 Spanish-American War.

Young served 10 months of his sentence and died Jan. 21, 1909. He was buried in the Folsom prison cemetery under the number 6944.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications

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