Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thriller Thursday: Murder in MY Family?

I found out a few years ago that there was actually a murder in my family. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that anything like that would have happened to anyone I knew, much less to someone to whom I was related. Nevertheless, it’s true. Of course it happened on my Father’s side of the family, and since I never really knew much about that line, I’d never heard the story - and it happened to my Dad’s own Grandfather!

Now I want to know more. And why haven’t I tried to find out more before now? I, who love murder mysteries with the best of them, have failed to find out the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” of it all. Where has my mind been?

I just happened to run across the article copied below a few years ago, and that’s how I found out how my great grandfather died. At the time, one of my Father’s first cousins was still alive, and she verified the story.  However, she had only been eight years old when it happened and was rather vague on the details. This article is from the Nevada County, AR Depot Museum files and is all I know so far:

Wounds Received in Attempted Holdup Prove Fatal.

Benjamin D. Akers 65 died at his home at 12:30 a.m. He is survived by his wife, 2 sons, F. M. Akers of Cheyenne, WY and J. H. Akers of Memphis, TN.; 1 daughter, Mrs. M. E. Love of Memphis, TN; 1 step-daughter, Mrs. Charles Taylor of Terre Haute, IN; 1 brother, J. W. Akers of Vancover, D.C.; 1 sister, Mrs. Emma McRae of Prescott. Funeral will be at the home on West Walnut St. tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock. Interment in DeAnn Cemetery.

The Nevada News dated 9-24-1931
Not much detail there, so the research begins. And of course, I begin with what I do know:

Benjamin Dale Akers was born in Indiana in May of 1866. He married Nancy Emeline Gardner Pounds on 25 Feb 1887 in Vigo Co., IN. It was a second marriage for them both. Both had sadly endured the loss of a spouse who died.

Sometime after he and his family were listed in the June 1900 Vigo Co., IN census, Dale Akers (the name he most often used) moved his family to Memphis, Shelby Co., TN. He was listed in the 1900 Memphis City Directory (R. L. Polk and Company's Memphis City Directory 1900, p.109) as working for “James & Graham Wagon Co.”

The 1905 version of the same directory listed him as a driver for the Pure Milk Company (p. 115), and the 1910 Memphis, Shelby Co., TN census stated that he was an Inspector for the Street Railway Company.

My cousin told me that Dale left Memphis with my great grandmother, and moved to Prescott, AR where his sister lived. This is proven by the details given in the 1920 Prescott, Nevada Co., AR census, which has Dale listed as 53 years old and working as a chauffeur for a service car company. He was obviously doing fairly well because he owned his own home.

Evidently, at some point he stopped working for others and opened a hamburger stand. I have no knowledge of where this was located, but I certainly plan to find out because that is where the event that took his life occurred, according to my cousin.

The newspaper article indicates that he died at home.  Did they take him home and not to a hospital? Or did the hospital send him home to die? I have so many questions and so much research to do.

My Father would have been seventeen years old when this happened. I can’t even imagine how this affected him. I know that in the 1930 Federal Census of Memphis, Shelby Co., TN, my Dad was listed as fifteen years old. The census was taken on 9 April 1930, and he wouldn’t turn sixteen until July. He was a student at Tech High School here in Memphis at the time. The tragic loss of his Grandfather took place nearly a year and a half after that census.

By 1935, my Dad’s parents divorced. So he lost the stability of his home life (at least he was not a small child), as well as a beloved Grandfather, within a matter of a very few years. Those two major life events must have been very hard for him. In the short time that I knew my Father, who died when I was ten years old, I never heard him mention either of those things.

I want to know more and fully intend to find out. The research begins; the hunt is on. I’ll keep you posted whenever I do know more.

Agatha Christie – move over!


 @2013 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

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