Saturday, July 16, 2011

William H. Haley died “near his home, March 4”.

“Near his home” leaves so much of Will Haley’s story left unsaid. Grandpa Haley had gone out one evening searching for a lost cow. He didn’t return home. Family and friends searched for the lost farmer. As time went by, the cars of searchers lined what is today known as Scuffletown Rd in rural Charlotte County, VA. Grandma Haley waited in the living room of her home for word of her husband. Word finally arrived that Will had been found. Oral history tells that Will Haley was found dead alongside a creek (or as some say in the creek). No one knows the exact cause of his death though exposure is listed on his death certificate. Will was known to have a degree of dementia as well. Did he simply get lost? Did he fall and was not able to get up?

I grew up hearing this story about Will Haley, my GG grandfather. Given the events surrounding his death, I expected to find a large write up in the local newspaper about his death and the search for him. Certainly in today’s reporting of the news, there would have been some type of article written.

The above obituary is from The Charlotte Gazette published in Drakes Branch, VA on 11 Mar 1948. (The Charlotte Gazette was a weekly paper in 1948.) Will’s getting lost, the search for him, and his funeral all took place before the weekly publishing on March 11. Only his obituary was published. What I did find in the newspaper were stories about the upcoming church revivals, who was visiting whom, and lots of farming news. While the newspaper had a large focus on the social aspects of the community, very little of the negative or sad news was reported.

So, “near his home” does tell Will’s story. He will be remembered more for his life than the events surrounding his death. (As it should be.)

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