The low-down on Victorian San Francisco from the author of "Shaketown"
Thursday, March 29, 2012
The REAL Cayley Wallace
The REAL Tess Wall
Cayley's character in Shaketown is based on a real woman by the name of Tess (Theresa) Wall. Though I pulled many elements of Cayley's life out of thin air, Tessie's real life was so compelling I felt I had to create a character that honored her. Like Cayley, Tess was born to a poor Irish family "South of the Slot" (Market Street), worked as a domestic servant for a time and married a fireman with a weakness for drink. How she came to be in "the business" was pure conjecture on my part, but the fact that she was the most notorious and successful Madame in San Francisco is true. I can only hope that she had close friends like Opal, Ellen and Beatrice as Cayley does in the book. One fact about Tess' life is well-known: she married a gambler by the name of Frank Daroux. An acrimonious divorce followed by Daroux' subsequent affair led her to shoot him, uttering the famous line, "I shot him 'cause I love him, God damn him!" Daroux survived, but refused to prosecute--he left town shortly thereafter.