Can anyone find out more about this homicide?


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Allie

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This is post Civil War - this guy is descended from a soldier I'm researching. I was just mindlessly filling in his tree when I noticed the details on this death certificate: killed by a pistol shot, justifiable homicide. Seems like the sort of thing that would make the papers but I'm not having any luck finding anything about it. In 1920 he was living in an interestingly diverse part of Memphis, with Italians, Greeks, and English on the same page. Working as an engineer at a sawmill, and raising two children he claimed were his own but whom earlier census records say were his brothers. His wife is listed as the informant on the death certificate - did she shoot him? What happened here? I'm hoping someone with better newspaper searching skills can find out more.

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rosefiend

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rosefiend

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Location
Confusion, Missouri
... of course the main problem is that Genealogy Bank and Chronicling America have absolutely no Tennessee newspapers from 1920 (I did a search for "Smith" in both place in 1920 and came up with 0 results). The only Tennessee newspaper in Newspapers.com is the Kingsport Times. Fulton Postcards didn't have anything that I could find.

This is pretty crazy. You might have to order a roll of newspaper microfilm from the Tennessee State Historical Society (whatever they call it) for the month of May-June 1920.

Any family tree information on Ancestry? I have a relative that was murdered in St. Louis but the name she used (married and first name) was a lot different than the one in the family tree book. I didn't know about it until a genealogist on that side of the family told me about it.
 

Allie

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... of course the main problem is that Genealogy Bank and Chronicling America have absolutely no Tennessee newspapers from 1920 (I did a search for "Smith" in both place in 1920 and came up with 0 results). The only Tennessee newspaper in Newspapers.com is the Kingsport Times. Fulton Postcards didn't have anything that I could find.

This is pretty crazy. You might have to order a roll of newspaper microfilm from the Tennessee State Historical Society (whatever they call it) for the month of May-June 1920.

Any family tree information on Ancestry? I have a relative that was murdered in St. Louis but the name she used (married and first name) was a lot different than the one in the family tree book. I didn't know about it until a genealogist on that side of the family told me about it.
I think I'm fairly well set on the usual ancestry records, although if he's buried in Covington as stated on the death certificate, it's not listed on find a grave. I haven't found any living relatives yet, it looks like I'm the only person researching these folks.
 

Allie

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Weirder and weirder...

In 1900, Samuel is single, living with his father William J, William's young second wife Anna, and two small children, identified as William's sons. In 1910, Samuel is married to wife Mary C (Clark) and living with the same two children, now identified as Samuel's sons. I tracked down a death certificate for one of the children, Curtis, in hopes of finding out which set of parents were his, and death certificate says... William J plus Mary C Clark. Samuel's father and his wife. Unless Samuel later married a woman his dad had an illegitimate baby by, that can't be right.

I'm not related to these people, so I think I'm going to give up and file this one under "unsolved mysteries."
 

rosefiend

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Weirder and weirder...

In 1900, Samuel is single, living with his father William J, William's young second wife Anna, and two small children, identified as William's sons. In 1910, Samuel is married to wife Mary C (Clark) and living with the same two children, now identified as Samuel's sons. I tracked down a death certificate for one of the children, Curtis, in hopes of finding out which set of parents were his, and death certificate says... William J plus Mary C Clark. Samuel's father and his wife. Unless Samuel later married a woman his dad had an illegitimate baby by, that can't be right.

I'm not related to these people, so I think I'm going to give up and file this one under "unsolved mysteries."
Maybe the kids that were identified as his sons were actually his brothers and sisters, being raised by Samuel and Mary -- that sort of thing seems to have been common back in the day. And they didn't feel like explaining the whole story to the census taker.
 

Fulton 21 NC

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This might be something a local or regional university might have on a digitized format. Even one of our local library's reference librarians did not realize that that city's historical society had a link to the digitized archives of the local paper from early in the nineteenth century through the early twentieth. The Univ. Of NC itself has a seachable database of other papers from across our state, mostly of the later period. Private colleges also are hosting digital archives but are less likely to be open to non-students. My local library's website has a page of links that one can access online like Fold 3 and Heritage Quest just by entering one's library card number.
Hope this might help and good luck. Also worth mentioning- scan each paper you come across; I found very interesting details or clues in things I would have otherwised missed in the smaller local items and classified ads.
 

Fulton 21 NC

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Maybe the kids that were identified as his sons were actually his brothers and sisters, being raised by Samuel and Mary -- that sort of thing seems to have been common back in the day. And they didn't feel like explaining the whole story to the census taker.
Within both sides of my family, similar situations occurred as homes were often occupied by multiple generations. There was also seemingly a greater likelyhood that wives died at younger ages then and widowers soon remarried and often had children from these later marriages. What then was unfortunate and sad was the fighting over the estates by the children and the insecurity of the widows who were relatively young but might now become destitute but for the support of their own offspring.
 

Dave Wilma

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You can go to your local library and find a good research librarian. They love to look stuff up, but you have to do the work. Ask for microfilms of Memphis newspapers around that time. You will probably have to pay a fee for interlibrary loan. The film will come in and you will begin searching on the day of the offense just in case it made press time. Then keep looking. Enjoy the trip through another time.
 

Fulton 21 NC

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Here's a link to a Library of Congress page with digitized images of newspapers.

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026536/1863-05-28/ed-1/seq-1/

Sorry to submit one with a NC paper, but I am busy with a project and am sure this can be useful once one figures out what paper you are searching. Also worth noting that though there are discrepancies or different accounts of events, most area papers covered the same events. The papers however made no claim to "objectivity" then and were often owned or sponsored by people or groups with specific social or political agendas.
However, what might surprise some is that the occasional "mad man" stories seem as common then as now. Seriously, in a statistics class I took we found several studies that were published regarding the relative occurrence of violence in the society at large and the reporting of it in the contemporaneous media. Even back then, mass killings did occur, but were usually rooted in more personal conflicts. It seems mental illness has been a constant in society.
Good luck.
 

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