Sunday, January 31, 2010

What if your ancestor was an axe murderer?

My research on my Pennsylvania ancestors this past week left me face to face with this possibility! I won't list any of the names here so I can protect the innocent in case this happens to be a different individual.

I was fairly confident that I had traced a couple different families in a specific community in Pennsylvania and was digging deeper by looking through newspaper accounts available on the internet. I came upon some articles that appeared in newspapers halfway across the country about this "well respected farmer" with the same name as my ancestor, living within a 10 mile radius of where my ancestor lived. The article stated he killed his 18 year old daughter by hitting her on the head with an axe and then killed himself. The incident was called a murder-suicide in the press.

There were variations on how the family spelled their surname, so this is why I haven't yet confirmed if this is my ancestor or not. But - both were farmers, both were living in the same vicinity, both had daughters 18 years of age. I've found information that the daughter in my family line died the same year as this incident, although another researcher indicates a different cause of death.

My ancestor disappeared from the census records after this incident. His widow had moved West with one of the sons and his family. They changed the spelling of their last name from the way it was spelled in Pennsylvania.

Hmmm. I suddenly feel as though I'm in the midst of a CSI "cold case" investigation! I shall continue looking into these people and see if I am able to prove or disprove if the killer was my ancestor.

Who said family history couldn't be exciting?

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered the same thing and am still trying to get my mind around it.