For some time, I've been working on a follow up post to the one about the house where my mother grew up in Santa Maria. In order to work on it, I had to do some more research on where she and her mother, grandmother and aunts lived in Indianapolis.
The household in Indianapolis was a matriarchy because all the older women were widows, and my mother's mother (Grandmother Ida's daughter) would become a widow soon enough.
So today I was looking up some information on Ida's husband Joseph (I think I called him John in an earlier post) who died in 1904. (I may have said 1902. It seems I confused Ida's husband with her father.)
I found his death certificate today. It said the cause of death was "gun shot wound." That was interesting. I had thought he died in an accident of some kind, but had no idea he'd been shot. Maybe it was suicide? Murder? Something else?
Digging around on the Google Machine, I found news stories which explained plenty. He was murdered.
By his paramour, Ella Hicks.
Apparently, he'd been seeing Mrs. Hicks -- yes, she was married -- for some years, and one day, while he and she were drunk at her house, he told her he was through with her. She took her gun from the chest of drawers in her bedroom and shot him in the mouth, killing him instantly.
I had no idea. Well, I had some suspicion that something was up because Joseph had been living with his mother -- so he said -- at her house, which he used for his official address much more than the address of the house he shared with Ida and their children, Ralph and Edna (Edna would be my grandmother.)
Ella was tried in July of 1904 -- the murder was in May and apparently was witnessed by more than one neighbor -- and she was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Turns out Ida's sister Lillian was the widow of an Indianapolis policeman who was killed in the line of duty. Now I'll have to find out about Ida's sister Nora, who was also a widow. What happened to her husband? And then there is the saga of Edna's husband Larry, who would die under curious circumstances himself -- I've always thought he was murdered by "accident," but how would such a thing be proven? Ah, that's the cleverness of it, no?