No arrests made in triple murder near Lakeport
Shamefully, I don't really know exactly where Lakeport is located, but I've done enough poking around in Florida history for the past five years that I immediately recognized the name. I picked up the paper and suddenly realized that it was a newspaper article from 1933. I wondered why Daddy (for it was he) had put the article on my desk, so I sat down and read it.
The first two paragraphs tell of three men, all between the ages of 27 and 28, one of whom was named Lincoln Widden (the Widden's were Confederate, so his parent's obviously had a little Yankee brainwashing or it was a family name--'scuse the commentary), who were murdered...probably by more than one person since the weapons used in the murder were clearly identified as a shotgun, pistol, and high powered rifle. All things those Florida cattlemen would have been carrying for protection against wild animals--of all sorts. (Florida was still a rough place.)
So I kept reading...and the third paragraph suddenly blared my great-grandfather's name in my face. Oh.
The elder brother of one of the murdered men had been similarly ambushed and wounded three years prior...and had accused my great-grandfather of the deed. Senior was arrested but later released after he put forth a perfect alibi and was not indicted.
I had heard of the murder accusation before, but I'd never seen it in print. Which brings up the following thoughts.
My great-granddad died when Granddaddy was only three, so he never really knew him. It's kind of hard to access what kind of a man he really was, but there are two opinions on the man--two very stark contrasts. People either loved him--or hated his guts...decades after his death.
Daddy tells a story of when he was a teenager, a little old lady came across the street while he was mowing, and gave him a piece of her mind about his granddaddy.
Savannah met a man a couple years ago who told her a tale of how great-granddaddy saved his granddaddy's life during the depression. That family loves the memory of a man who remains a mystery to me.
Naturally, as he is my ancestor, I like to think the better of him. I know that the Methodist church down there has my granddad and his sister's names in the windows--paid for my their father. He is said to be one of the deputized men who took down the Ashley Gang (I forget what they were guilty of).
On the one hand you hear stories of his compassion...on the other of his cattle baron orneriness of running his cattle through town purposefully after they told him to circuit them around to the rail-head.
Now, I know that the truth probably lays somewhere's down the middle. He was a man. Probably for the most part a good man--but likely with a streak of alligator.
Was he an actual believer? I have no idea. I'd like to believe that I'll someday meet my great-granddad in heaven. But anyway, the rough, tumultuous history of my dad's side of the family just stands to prove that God can pull any kind of family out of the blackness and bring them into the light of the Gospel.
Uncle Hooker is said to have hung a man from a wagon tongue for killing a beef during the depression. The man was hungry.
There is at least one woodscolt in the family tree and I suspect that the rumor that a certain member up the line died of an botched abortion is true. So, I guess the question remains--was my great-grandfather a murderer? Or at least, an attempted-murderer?
It's humbling, one's beginnings...for without the flawed people before us we would never exist. It's also very fascinating. Someday I may decide to write a semi-biographical tale concerning several generations of pioneers, soldiers, and cattlemen...I don't know if I'm big enough for the task, but it sure would be an intriguing research project if nothing else........