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….