Blogging Prompts, Death Certificates, Montgomery Line, Research, Sympathy Saturday, Wilson

Sympathy Saturday – Death by Senility

Charles Wilson, my 3G-grandfather, was born August 13, 1831 in Louisville, New York, the son of John Wilder Wilson and his (as yet unknown) first wife. By 1850, 18-year-old Charles was living in the household of Charles Willard, an innkeeper.

About 1857 Charles married Lucy Bridges Taylor, also from Louisville. They were enumerated in Louisville in the 1860 census, along with their 1-year-old son, Wellington David (“David W.”) Wilson, who had been born November 27, 1859.

By January 1867 the family had begun its slow progress westward; in that month a second son, Oric Edward, was born in West Union, Iowa. Enumerated in the 1870 census in Madison Township in Buchanan County, (about 33 miles from West Union), the family added another son, Samuel Warner Wilson, on January 6, 1873.

Charles, Lucy, and their two younger sons were still in West Union in 1880, where Charles was working as a butcher; Wellington David, my 2G-grandfather, had married in 1879 and was enumerated in Eden Township (18 miles distant). He continued to migrate in tandem with his parents and brothers, though they never again lived in the same household. By 1885, Charles and family had moved to Knox County, Nebraska; in June of that year they were enumerated in Niobrara Precinct in the 1885 Nebraska State Census. In another 10 years the family had moved some 270 miles north, to Roberts County, South Dakota. There the family was enumerated in 1900 in Long Hollow Township. About a year later Lucy died.

In April 1910 Charles was enumerated in the home of his son Samuel, by now married and with a son of his own. Charles lived only another three months after the census enumeration, dying on July 18. On his death certificate his doctor indicated he had been attending Charles since June 1. Charles was just shy of his 79th birthday, but his cause of death is listed as “senility,” one of many age-related causes found on old death certificates.  At least it wasn’t “decrepitude” or “senile gangrene.”

Death Certificates, Montgomery Line, Murder, Research, Sweeney

The Murder of Blanche Hendricks

Usually genealogy research is pretty tame – people are born, get married, have kids, and die in peaceful old age. Every once in a while, though, you stumble across events in family history that are dramatic by anyone’s definition.  I was examining records for a fifth cousin twice removed, Blanche (Phillips) Hendricks, a descendant of our Sweeney line and a fifth cousin of Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery when I made one such discovery.  Blanche Phillips was born 26 October 1903 in Anderson County, Kentucky, the daughter of William Henry and Amer Belle (Carter) Phillips.  She appears with her parents in the 1910 census and now in the recently-released 1940 census.  I also noticed that Ancestry.com had a copy of her death certificate, so naturally I took a look.

I started reviewing the data on the death certificate – died Lexington, Kentucky (462 Angliana Avenue) on 23 November, 1950, aged 47.  She was a practical nurse by occupation.  Then I noticed the cause of death:  “Pistol shot wound in left temple immerging [sic] from right side and about 2″ above right ear. (Homicide).”

 

This was definitely something new!  I attempted to find more information online about the incident but wasn’t having any luck, so the next time we headed from Virginia to Illinois to visit family, we stopped in Lexington and headed to the library.  There it was easy to locate the newspaper records on microfilm as well as the story of what happened to poor Cousin Blanche.

It seems that Blanche, in spite of expecting her fiance to arrive in town the following day, had been seeing another man and was sitting in a car with him at 462 Angliana Street on Thanksgiving morning 1950.  The article didn’t elaborate, but one wonders if Blanche was attempting to prepare for her fiance’s arrival by breaking things off with the other man.  Whatever the cause, gunfire erupted and Blanche was killed.  She is now buried at Lexington’s Hillcrest Memorial Park beside her husband, William Elmer, who had died three years before her murder.

I’d like to find out more about what happened to the murderer.  Was he convicted?  What punishment did he receive?  And what happened to Blanche’s poor fiance when he arrived to find Blanche had been killed?  Maybe we’ll have to make another visit to the Lexington library….