In 1937 an ordinary laborer met an unfortunate fate on a dark and lonely road on the outskirts of Owensboro, KY.
His wife and son arrived at the scene to learn of his horrible fate.
In the ensuing days and weeks of that summer, as William Jennings Wells was laid to rest, an arrest was made, and an investigation begun.
The local newspapers chronicled it all seeing, in this tragic story, excitement of a local nature worthy of sharing space with the search for an internationally famous female pilot lost at sea, and the marriage, and financial problems, of the actress Mae West, among other news of the time.
50 years later the young boys older sister told, yet again, the story as she remembered it, to her son, a 27 year old man coming late to an interest in the history of his family.
As reported in earlier chapters of this series I got my hands on the articles my Mother always said were there, and learned more than even she remembered. (READ PART 1.)
Older relatives, including my Grandmother, were long gone by then, and my Uncles, her brothers, only had memories similar to hers for me to work with.
Life has a funny way of sidetracking you sometimes, and the next 15 years saw me set my genealogy aside as I went on with my life, struggling to make a living, and maturing as my life changed in ways I never dreamed possible.
In 1998 I got a computer, and in 2002 I began to use it for genealogical research in a very limited way.
I took out those old articles, and other names and places I had gathered, on other ancestors, and shared them in various ways, online, getting help from various quarters regarding all sorts of questions I was coming up with not just on the other searches, but this particular story as well.
I found a missing Aunt in a paupers grave, learned that this Grandfather and his Mother had more mysteries for me to solve than the circumstances of his death, and got that little boy to tell me, and his children, HIS memories of that awful summer.
I had not done anymore research in about 2 years or so, and was planning to spend May, and June re-organizing for future efforts at continuing my research.
Spending a week in March visiting an Aunt, and cousins, not seen in 37 years will do that do you, I suppose. ;-D
On April 24, I received a communication to one of my long ago posted reports, from a most un-expected source, and was blown away by who it was, and by what he had to say.
Here is that correspondence:
I sat there reading this, and wondered just how to respond.
Among the things I said in my response:
Dear Mr. Taylor,
To say that I was stunned to hear from you would be a major understatement. ;-D
A very happy sort of stunned, I might add. ;-D
My hope has always been that I would hear from someone who could help me out in my research.
It had been 2 years since I'd last posted about my research.
Frustration, disappointment, questions, time, and the fact I might never be able to visit Owensboro, all played a part.
1st let me say that the series on my Grandfather's death, and my questions post were not done as an accusation-fest, only as a way for me to organize some thoughts I had long had about the whole situation for 18 years.
It was not until I got a computer, then some genealogy books, and later a computer program that my research really took off.
I've worked in fits and starts, found some answers, and far more questions along the way.
I've known how to get in contact with you, and even the Rudy family, whose farm William and his family worked for, and rented from, for many years, for 4 years, so why haven't I?
Time, and fear of the unknown, such as maybe stirring up old memories among people I don't know, all played a part (Decendents of Orville Faught still live in the region, too.).
Plus, the last time anyone offered to help me they didn't follow thru, and I never heard from them again.
This person was going to go to Elmwood, and take photos of several graves for me, but didn't.
I once tried, back then, to get Elmwood to locate some graves but for some reason they couldn't be bothered to look up the info.
After a March vacation in VA. with relatives not seen in 37 years, I realized that maybe I CAN make that trip to KY after all, and am going to rejuvenate my research toward that goal.
Your correspondence, and its offer of help, is a kindness I didn't expect, and gives me hope that I may be able to move my research forward along several fronts.
As a life long resident of Owensboro you may, time permitting, be able to provide me some answers, or leads to where I can get them.
I'm in no hurry, the dead, most of them, anyway, have been waiting for me to find them longer than I've been alive (I'm 48) and will have no problem waiting a while longer. ;-D
My Blog stats indicate that you were looking for pictures of old Delbert and, well, I've got one, that's for sure, hee, hee. ;-D
In May 1987 I began my research into my family history, and with the help of my library, got my hands on 2 rolls of microfilm from the Library of the University of Kentucky that allowed me to confirm my Mothers story that the death was front page news. ;-D
I copied the articles, then laminated the set, the only way I knew how.
You have have contacted me almost 20 years to the day I put in the request to my library to order those microfilm.
Coincidence? Fate? Who knows? There have been similar events over the years of my research, that always helped move it forward a little. ;-D
Before you proceed further, on my behalf, let me respond to your comments, and provide you with the names of the others I believe are buried in Elmwood, as well.
It is interesting that your family has a history in the Owensboro funeral business back to 1903 because you just may be able to provide an answer to a couple of mysteries, including a pre-1920 one, or at least guide me on where to look for answers.
As for the Wells connection:
Another one of those strange things that seem to crop up when help arrives to move my research along?
My Wells all come from Indiana, but moved to Ky.
Great-granddad John had a wife and children before he married my great-grandmother, including a son, and they may have had a daughter of their own.
One of my mysteries actually is whether my Grandfather William IS really a Wells, hee, hee. ;-D
The Mary Hesson on the death certificate had 4 husbands, the last and longest lasting, was a man named Fields. ;-D
The date of birth on the Death certificate is yet to be confirmed by a birth record. ;-D
Anyway, that's all for now.
I sent him, by e-mail, a copy of the front page photo, and copies of the images of the newspaper stories, that have appeared in this series, along with info on how to locate the microfilm himself if he wants.
Beginning next week I will follow-up on his invitiation to help, and see where it will lead me.
In the meantime if anyone reading this series has anything to contribute...fire away, in the comments, or by e-mail.
And if there is anyone, reading this, curious about the mystery I mentioned, about my Grandfather, and his Mother, and who might be able to shed some light on that...