Friday, July 13, 2012

Accident or Something More Sinister?

Answering a recent query on has led to some remarkable discoveries in my Elliott family line.  My new found information also brought clarity to some of the letters and postcards  written to and from Harriett Elliott Richardson - my GG grandmother.

For instance, this letter from Cynthia  (Elliott) Barnett of Cluster Springs, VA to her sister Harriett (Elliott) Richardson of Mecklenburg County, VA:

First page of letter from Cynthia Barnett to Harriet Richardson

In the 31 Jan 1913 letter Cynthia (she signed her name Sis) tells her sister that "Sam was killed". Cynthia states there are questions surrounding the circumstances of Sam's death and if it was indeed an accident or actually murder. He is buried at Black Walnut Baptist Church and Elie was the only family member able to travel quickly enough to attend.

I had read this letter before, but had no reference point in which to place the people mentioned.   After corresponding these past few weeks with a Barnett/Elliott descendant, I can share Cynthia's full story of Sam.

Sam was Sam Barnett of Cluster Springs, VA.  He was the husband of Cynthia Elliott and brother-in-law of Harriett Richardson.  Sam supposedly died when he was hit by a train and he was found on the train tracks.  Suspicions abounded and an inquest was held. One of the questions addressed involved whether Sam was killed at the train tracks by the train or elsewhere and them moved to the train tracks. Sam was a sheriff's deputy who had broken up a number of stills in the county.  Apparently that made him a few enemies.  John Talbott testified that just prior to the incident he had seen Sam and he was intoxicated, but too much so.  Shortly thereafter, John Talbott testified he heard the accident.  The inquest proved inconclusive at least in the minds of many.  Cynthia was left with no real closure in the incident.

Elie who was the only family to travel to the funeral was Elie Elias Elliott, Cynthia and Harriet's brother.  Until  now I had thought Elie was a woman and not a man. Lesson learned.  One should never make assumptions in genealogy.

Did you notice the name of the person testifying at the inquest - John Talbott?  One of my GGG grandfathers.

Was Sam's death the result of an accident or something more sinister? What do you think?

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