Halloween Tragedy 1937

Whenever I talk with folks who “remember when”, this tragedy always come up.  Back in the days when most people walked to town for socializing, two Muren women were tragically killed and others injured while walking home in 1937 from the Winslow Halloween party.

From the Dispatch, Friday, November 5, 1937:


Mrs Josephine Lang and Mrs. Luella McCandless Meet Instant Death When Hit by Automobile

Mrs. Josephine Lang, widow of the late William Lang, and Mrs. Luella McCandless, widow of the late Curtis McCandless, were both instantly killed Friday night at 8:30 when hit by an automobile driven by Paul Maxey, 21, of near Oakland City.  The accident happened on state highway 61 a few feet south of the bridge on lower Main Street.  The women were returning to their homes in Muren after attending the Halloween Party in Winslow.

There were six in the party of women walking south along the highway, the two who were instantly killed, Mrs. Frona Auburn, her daughter, Evelyn Stewart, 19, her sister Oma Talbert and Betty Whitney, 12, of Petersburg, a granddaughter of Mrs. Lang.  The ladies were walking south, the little Whitney girl holding hands with her grandmother with whom she intended to spend the weekend.  A truck, driven by Joel Evans was passing them going in the same direction.  Maxey caught up with the truck and turned out to pass it when he hit the women.  The two women were killed outright and both bodies were thrown clear of the concrete, great pools of blood made where the bodies lay.  They had evidently been thrown up on the Ford V-8 car as the windshield showed it had met with some sort of impact and the left front fender was badly bent.

Others seeing the wreck went at once and put in a call for ambulances and Dr. George Detar who went at once to the scene.  It was seen that both Mrs. Lang and Mrs. McCandless had been instantly killed and at first it was thought Mrs. Frona Auburn was dead.  They were removed to the Miller Hospital where Mrs. Auburn revived.  The bodies of the dead women were sent to the morgues, Mrs. Lang to the Crecelius and Mrs. McCandless to the Brenton & Company place.  Mrs. Auburn was given treatment at once.  She is still in the hospital suffering a concussion of the brain, a large cut place on her head and internal injuries.

Marshal Claude Smith arrested the driver and locked him in the town jail.  He was afterward removed to Petersburg to the county jail.  As soon as the accident happened he stopped as quickly as he could and came back to town where he was arrested.

Both Evelyn Stewart and Betty Whitney were shocked and bruised some but neither of a serious nature.  The Steward woman received a cut on her left knee.  The shock was almost unbearable for these youngsters.  They were taken to the hospital but were soon discharged.

Dr. D.W. Bell, county coroner, was notified at once as was Sheriff Goodman.  Dr. Bell did not complete his inquest until Monday when he rendered a verdict that “Luella McCandless came to her death by an avoidable accident, being struck by an automobile, driven by one Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Indiana.  The preponderance of evidence tends to show that the Ford V-8 automobile, driven by Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Ind., was traveling at a high rate of speed, and struck the deceased, Luella McCandless while she was walking on  the left shoulder of the road, and I highly recommend that criminal action be taken against one Paul Maxey, Oakland City, Ind.”

The verdict of the coroner on Mrs. Lang was in substance the same as for Mrs. McCandless.

In the car with Maxey were Lennis Gentry son of Mr. and Mrs. Isom Gentry, and Paul Roberts.  The boys were held pending the coroner’s inquest but were released as they were questioned.

Maxey was not drunk, as he was given a thorough test by Dr. Detar, although it was said he admitted to drinking two bottles of beer.  He was held in the county jail for sometime but later released after no charges were filed against him.  Maxey is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Maxey and lives at home with his parents east of Oakland City.

The ladies all lived in Muren, Mrs. Lang and Mrs. McCandless being near neighbors.  Mrs. Auburn was Frona Talbert, later married a man by the name of Stewart and after his death married Auburn.

Josephine Lang was Josephine Faiss.  She was born December 3, 1884 and was 52 years, 10 months and 26 days old at the time of her death.  She was a daughter of George and Temperance Hurt Faiss.  In 1902 she was married to James May with whom she lived until his death in 1904.  One child by this marriage survives, Mrs. Edith Heacock of Ontario, California.   In 1905 she was married to William T. Lang, a Spanish American war veteran and they lived together until his death June 5, 1935.  Surviving are the following children:  Mrs. Scott Norrington of Winslow, Mrs. Bessie Whitman of Indianapolis, Jodie Lang of Texas, Wilbur and Garnett Lang who lived at home with the mother.

Surviving also are six grandchildren, one great grandchild and a brother, John Faiss, of Centralia, Illinois.

Mrs. Lang was a member of the Muren General Baptist Church and was a Christian lady and a good neighbor who had the respect and esteem of all who knew her.

After the body was prepared for burial at the Crecelius Funeral Home it was taken to the home of her daughter, Mrs. Scott Norrington in the East End where it remained until Monday morning when the funeral service was held at the Muren G.B. church.  Rev. G.A. Hopper, pastor of the Winslow Church, conducted the service.  Burial was in the Williams Cemetery.

Mrs. McCandless was Luella Hopkins, a daughter of John P. and Hannah A. Hopkins.  She was born in Pike County March 8, 1898 and had reached the age of 39 years, 7 months and 21 days.  She lived in Patoka Township and grew to womanhood here and on January 30, 1919 she was united in marriage to Curtis McCandless.  They lived together until his death a few years ago.  The one child, Clifford, born to them survives.  Surviving also are three step-children , the mother, two sisters, Mrs. Bessie Johnson and Mrs. Pearl Mann of Evansville and one brother, Samp Hopkins of Muren.

Mrs. McCandless was a member of the General Baptist church and was a Christian lady who was known throughout this section as such.

After the body had been prepared at the Brenton & Company funeral home it was removed to the home of her brother, Samp Hopkins in Muren where it remained until Sunday afternoon when the funeral services were held at the Muren church with the Rev. Edgar Curry in charge.  Burial was in the Williams Cemetery.


Angel in Williams Cemetery.







Mac’s Cafe on Main Street in Winslow

My grandma, Barbara Bolin Evans,  had fond memories of working at Mac’s Café.  She used to walk from Muren to Winslow into work. My Grandpa Evans always told the story about how when he first met her she was walking to work in the winter without a coat.  He said the first thing he did when they started dating was buy her a winter coat.

She was close to the Dedman and McCord families back then, who ran the cafe.  She remembered John David and Mary Jane Dedman Smith as children growing up there.  I asked John David to share a little history of the store with me.  John David Dedman runs the Winslow Eskimo website at www.jddedman.com.  He worked for years as a postal clerk in Winslow and has some good stories to share.

Mac's Cafe, Main Street Winslow, about 1956

Mac’s Cafe, Main Street Winslow, about 1956.  Where the bank parking lot is now.

“At one time back in the 50’s, there was a Marathon gas station on the corner just south of the restaurant and there was a big sign out front that said “Mac’s Café”.  Actually it was a tavern but they did have a fairly good food business, especially sandwiches.

The tavern burned in either 57 or 58 and was a total loss.   The building was owned by Harcourt Scales and was not re-built after the fire.   Someone had broken in to the tavern to steal things and torched it to cover up the break in.

Attached is a picture I had of the inside of the restaurant and I think it is dated 1952.   The lady to the far left is Sarah McCord, my grandmother and I am sure the waitress is Barbara, your grandmother.   I think the man drinking the beer could have been Pap Dorsey and the man sitting behind him reminds me of John Hunley.   I cannot think of the names of the lady and man sitting at the bar but they were frequent guests in there.

I have this picture up on my web site at http://www.jddedman.com.   The juke box is one of those old rare Seeberg record players, and then they had a bumper pool table.  Later they put in a shuffle board and a TV.   The kitchen was on the back left side and the door on the right was to men’s restroom, the ladies room was closer to the kitchen.   One time in the mid 40’s they had slot machines that sat around the restroom door and along the wall.   I remember on VE-D in 1945 after the end of the Japan war, I hit the jackpot on the 10 cent slot machine.  It was not long after that the slots were taken out, and buried as it was becoming illegal to have them.”

Mac's Cafe, 1952.

Mac’s Cafe, 1952.

I had shared this picture with my grandma and she agreed she was the waitress.  She remembered that old plaid dress.

“ After the tavern burnt, the John Russ Insurance Agency re-built it and had their insurance office there for several years.   John Russ, Herbert Russ and Basil Thompson worked there.   At one time, John let us use the back part of his office for amateur radio meetings which we held every month on a Monday night for a long time.   I was a licensed ham, as well as Basil, and Herb wanted to get a license but never did.   Ernie Hume and his wife and son did get a ham license. “

My grandma told me that she had a picture of Pearl and the store somewhere too.  We found it one day in a box in the old cupboard in her bedroom.  I shared it with John who told me about the picture.

The McCord at Mac's Cafe.

The McCord’s at Mac’s Cafe.

“The photo you sent me was of Pearl B. McCord and his wife, Sarah E. McCord.  They were the owners of Mac’s Café which was located at the location where the Citizens State Bank (German American) now sits.   Pearl was my mother’s father and at one time in the early 30’s was Postmaster at Winslow Post Office.   My actual grandmother – Audie, died when my mother was only 12 years old and Pearl married Sarah a few years later and they lived in the house down from you on Center Street where Jerry and Mary Jane lived for years..

I had lived in the same house from about 1958 until 1963 when I moved to Evansville, then Mary & Jerry moved in there.

My grandfather had a large roll top desk sitting where you see them in the picture and he did his book work there and it was where he could see the bar and kitchen.  After the fire, the only thing that was saved was the desk and I ended up with it myself.  I had to take off the roll-top as it was damaged too much, but the rest was okay and I used it for years while I was living in Winslow. “

Kinship with the Sharp Family

When you go back a couple of generations our coal mining families from the Muren, Turkey Hill, and Massey area all ended up married into each other.  I can add the Sharp family to my Bolin family tree along with most families from those parts.    Our families have remained friends to this day.

After writing my blogs about My Grandparents Schooling and 1920:  Cold Blooded Murder or Sad Accident?  I started getting emails that Jean Myers wanted to talk to me about my blogs and the history of the area.  At the time, I did not know who she was.  Her son had commented on the Schooling blog that his mom lived in the house that the was built from the lumber of the old Muren School that my dad helped tear down and haul over to the Arthur shortcut.   He stopped in to talk to me one night about it, telling me that his mom was a Sharp and that the 1920 Murder blog was about her uncle Cecil.  With two blogs tied to the same family, I had to meet her and hear her stories.

Between work and family obligations I found a Monday afternoon to spend with Jean.  At 80 years old,  she is a good storyteller.  If you are interested in the area, you should catch her out and about sometime and listen to her.  She remembers people,  places and things.  So many of that generation are gone and the stories are gone with them.  It was a very pleasant afternoon for me.  One I will repeat often.

Jean showed me her house, the old part that was built with the lumber from the Muren School.  I thought of the photos I had seen of the Muren School and of the stories passed down. That these boards had seen my Grandma as a little girl going to school and my dad as a young boy tearing it down and moving it to this spot.  It was kind of surreal standing in it.

She has this old table in her dining room.  Her grandmother, Issa Sharp bought it in the Ingle Store (formerly Snyders, now the Main Street market).  It was purchased used around 1900.

Purchased used at the Ingle Store in Winslow about 1900.

Purchased used at the Ingle Store in Winslow around 1900.

We talked about the murder.  Her uncle Cecil was the murder victim.  Everyone believed it was murder.  No one believed it was accidental.  It was said Cecil had some money on him that day.  Her grandpa hired a detective to investigate it.  Her family buried Victor Black alongside their son.   She showed me some photos of Cecil and the Black boy is with him in several.  They were good friends.

Jean was born Lois Jean Sharp and married Ab Myers.  Her folks were Louis Sharp and Ollie Bruce.  Her grandparents were Lance Sharp and Issa Tooley.  Her great grandparents were Tom Sharp and Mary Lamb.  Tom Sharp came to America from Scotland.  He was a coal miner who ended up here in Pike County.

Jean shared a box of old photos with me.  I scanned them and visited with her another afternoon so that we could add descriptions to them.  She wanted me to have the Bolin photos.  She also wants to share them with other family members here on the blog.  I have them saved in my Google Plus photos.  You can view them as a slideshow or just click on each picture to view the descriptions.


Tom Sharp and family at house on Kitchen Corners.

Tom Sharp and family at house on Kitchen Corners.

Museum of The Coal Industry

We will travel hundreds of miles and use up those hard earned vacation hours to explore places, when we tend to ignore the places to explore in our own backyards.

The Museum of the Coal Industry  in Lynnville, Indiana is one such place for me.  For years people kept telling me I had to go there.  I always said, I will, I will.  Because it’s just right there I will do that someday.  Then more months would go by before I would even think of it again.

My friend Amber and I were out rambling around on backroads one day and I asked her if she would like to see it.  We made the plan, emailed Aja Mason and set it up.  We had about 3 hours to spend there.

I did not realize I would need the entire day to see everything I wanted to see and to hear everything I wanted to hear.

I am for sure going back and it won’t be months from now.

If you are interested in coal mine history you must visit there.  You might see your Grandpa’s name in a ledger showing what he made and what he owed the company store.  You might find your dad’s hard hat hanging on the wall.  You might see pictures of your ancestors or old home places that no longer are around.  You might see gadgets that open your eyes to how hard the work was for a coal miner in the old days.

Aja knew my interest was in the Muren area and he had this photo for me.  It was from an album titled “Bad Hair Days”.   And believe me, some of them were!

A coal bucket flooded in at the Muren Mine Pit.  1940

A coal shovel flooded in at the Muren Mine Pit. 1940.  I bet there was some cussing this day.

When you have one of these lovely spring or summer days open and feel like doing something close to home I suggest you check it out.


I bet if you emailed Aja ahead of time and told him when you would be there, who and what you were interested in, he would have something picked out to show you when you got there.

He knows the history of everything there and he can tell a story to go along with it.

It’s well worth the visit.

Old Muren House

This old frame house is still standing in Muren.  I think my folks lived there at one time.

When we were on the way home from Mammaw’s funeral,  Dad said there were several houses on this hill that our family lived in.  Doesn’t it look a lot like the house my Mammaw is standing in front of when she was a just a young girl?

My Mammaw, Barbara Katherine Bolin when she was a young girl in Muren.

My Mammaw, Barbara Katherine Bolin when she was a young girl in Muren Late 1920s or early 1930s.

One of the last old frame houses still standing in Muren.

One of the last old frame houses still standing in Muren.

The Witching Hour

For these old ghost stories of our area in the early 1900s I once again turn to the memoirs of Kitty Keeton.  With a special thanks to my friend Amber Ball who lives over by #7 Road for taking these creepy photos in our neck of the woods.

Now still about Joda. (Joda Davis)  He believed alot in ghost stories and was always telling about some on Turkey Hill. There was a family that in the late 1800’s a brother was living or boarding at his brother’s house and both were working in the Muren mines — possibly called Carbon or Sophia then. Possibly about that time I was on the farm.

The story was that they left the home one Fall day hunting and the one living came in but the brother didn’t. It then was dark, so the next day they found him in Clay Point — shot. Some felt that on account of the wife, the husband shot his brother. Some of the family lives about 3 blocks from us today so the name isn’t listed. Every Fall, after the affair it was stated that two lights would come out of the house and go north for almost a quarter mile and go up together like they were fighting, then after about 3 or more minutes, one would go out. The other would go back to home.

My belief is that it was night hunting ? of day — so the light story started about that time of year. People from both sides of the hill watched to see if that was true, that the lights showed as people thought. It was true. “I know for sure”.

Arlo Hurt and I got the word around that it was about the time to watch and using our Carbide lights we are positive that the lights were there. Joda and his buddy died not knowing the answer. I now am the only one that really knows.

There was talk of jack o lanterns following people in the low lands, Joda told us that he was told that the heat of your body drew them to you and they would follow you. He said if one starts following me and the heat of body pulls it, it is going at a very fast gait.

It was told that a young neighbor, Putman Richardson’s son, Ira, was riding a horse from Muren to home and when he got to the top of Turkey Hill, a man dressed in white without a head slipped of the bank and said, “Mister, I want a ride”. Richardson put the spurs on the horse running down the steep long hill. One half way down, the same thing happen, then at the bottom of the hill another slid off the bank and said, ‘I want a ride”. It was told that Richardson ran the horse home by Grandmother’s house — farm adjoined on the north.— and fell in the house almost ready for a doctor. He just turned the horse in the lot and left him for his father to unsaddle and put in the barn. as he was unable to.

Happy Halloween!!!!

The Menomee Murder

From the memoirs of Kitty Keeton.  This happened around 1915 according to him.  He lived on Turkey Hill at this time.

Grandfather died in May of 1915. A few, maybe 10, like he had a party telephone. Everybody was on the line in that part. That slowed down some night visiting, as all the neighbors had phones then. Think it was very cheap.

About that time, they began drilling oil wells all over that part of the county.

Grandmother would give me 50cents a day to help her draw water with the pulley and fill the reservoir in the kitchen cook stove and help her scrub. There was a rough kitchen floor — “oak”. She would cook and spread a big kitchen table with meat, sweet potatoes, Irish beans, jelly, fresh biscuits, coffee, possibly pie or cake, and feed a bunch of oil workers charging 50 cents for dinner. Alot of times when she picked up the plate there was a 1 dollar bill. More than 50 per cent of diner did that. Sure tickled Grandma. They got their money’s worth and knew it.

About then, an old man and 2 sons named Memonee — they looked like Indians or Mexicans — came through right in front of the Keeton home putting up the first so called high line or electric line in Pike Co. or the first around here. The old one was the boss of the crew erecting the line. He offered me a job and I asked if I had to climb poles and hook up the lines, He said, ‘Yes, that would be part of your job”. I believe it would have been about $3.00 a day. I said, “I would like to have the job and money, but I am afraid to climb that high and afraid of the hot line”. And that is the first real job offered and I refused. The three ate dinner there every weekday when in that part of the county.

At a later time when on a passenger train from Winslow to Muren, we had to come through Ayrshire about half way from Muren then and Winslow. I was sitting in the Smoker Car and when the train was stopped at Ayrshire, I saw several fellow from Muren looking out the window. I looked also and saw one of the young Menomee boys standing on the steps of the train and two Winslow Marshalls, Marshall Wilder and Deputy Tisdale, and a Marshall of Muren named Garrison was talking to him.

He said, “I know nothing about it.” About that time, the train started to move and Menomee saw that they were not looking at him, and since the Smoker was next to the engine and the train was starting slowly, he started to run by the engine and cross in front and get away.

I saw Wilder, a nice man and Winslow regular Marshall, start toward him from the side of the platform and yelled “stop”. He fired 3 shots from his side arm gun in the air. He hooked his foot in the guy wire from the telegraph line pole and fell rolling. He wasn’t shooting at Menomee and Garrison didn’t pull his gun. Since I had my head out of the window, I saw Menomee was about to get ready to try to go around engine. Between me and Menomee, Tisdale had his gun shooting and being back and over him, it was like me taking aim on Menomee.

He, Menomee, fell in front of the engine and the engineer, seeing what was happening like I did, stopped and didn’t hit him with the engine. I had a box of shot gun shells — only baggage — and I jumped off the train. When they went to see about Menomee —train men Conductor Engineer Freeman — Menomee said, “Keeton, why did they shoot me”? I think I was the only one there he knew.

I said, “I don’t know”, I helped put him in the baggage car to get him to Oakland City for medical attention, I suppose that Conductor saw what I saw when we loaded him, a spot right on the center of the spine at the shoulder, a big spot of blood about the size of a half dollar, The Conductor wanted me to get in the baggage car with him — but I had my thinking cap on that day!

I said, “I will ride cushions”, But instead, of going to Oakland City like the Conductor asked — a few from Muren did and the others of Muren like I got off.

The two Winslow Marshalls wanted to get on the baggage car and go with them, The Conductor said, “You can not ride this train, you did not have no reason to shoot this man. Therefore, don’t try to board”. They didn’t attempt to get on. He really meant what he said. They told every kind of tale about how it happened. I got off the train and soon was over Turkey Hill, not talking, the others did. Menomee was sent to the hospital at Vincennes for about a week and he died. At that time, the police of city or burg like Winslow, the pay was very low and insurance possibly nill. Don’t know how it happened, but the regular Police Wilder took the blame. Possibly he was the only one with insurance. But I know that he was not the one and Tisdale was.

At that time, no good roads, no bus. Could have rode the Southern to Princeton and the C & E at that time to Vincennes and would have stayed at Vincennes for at least a week for the trial. The ones that told their story had to go and after the trial, Wilder was not sentenced.

Out of the dozen telling it, I told them, “You just got scared and dreamed up alot of this to make it sound good. To me it looks to show that I must have been the only one not scared and could see and know how it happened”. I believe I made believers out of most of them, but anyway, I was the winner. I didn’t ride the baggage car, hit for Turkey Hill, and didn’t have to attend the trial. I almost lost sleep thinking that Menomee, knowing me, would tell his brother and Father and they would get me on trial, but I think he went in a coma soon after his entrance to the hospital.

They kept some Marshalls on at Winslow. A few years later, Guy, then having a Chev. Roadster, and I was in Winslow and Tisdale came up to me and Guy and said, “When you two went through the covered bridge, didn’t you meet two girls walking towards Southern Railway”? We said, “Yes”. Tisdale said, “Alright Kitty and Guy, I deputize both of you to take me to Ayrshire store — Ingle Company store — in your car”. (Guy’s my cousin). I said, “Tisdale, go jump a rope, you are only a Deputy you have no right to order us for that — and I saw you shoot and cause the death of a man — and you might do the same to me. I am not going’. He wilted and said, “OK Guy, you will have to take me”.

They and a Corn — he has folks here at Oakland City now in 1980 and Corn is dead. I don’t remember the girls names — only met them walking when Guy and I was riding in the car. But Tisdale said that Corn and the two girls had pulled a fast deal at a store in Velpen and he wanted to go and get them.

I told Guy to refuse to go, but he was afraid not to I think. Guy told Tisdale he would have to take me to Uncle Charley’s and leave me until he got back and take me home then. When we got to Uncle Charley’s house, I told Guy to stall all he could. He had to hunt for his rubbers for it was a little muddy, then he might need a light, finally found Carbide light, another 10 minutes finding a Carbide flask, then on to Ayrshire.

Corn and the girls had left on the railway or maybe a car with someone about 20 minutes before they got to Ayrshire. The stalling helped Guy.
The next time I saw the County Sherriff, I told him about my refusal of Tisdales orders. Reese Burns, the County Sherriff said, “I don’t blame you at all, but he had authority to order you to help him. But for Guy, the same for him also, but not the right to order Guy or anyone to use their car unless there was a bank robbery, murder, or rape. So you put the bluff on the scrupulous skunk and he was too dumb to know it.’ Said, “He could have had you fined for not going’. Wilder, Tisdale, Guy, Corn, and Reese Burns are all deceased. Also the father of Menomee was an old man then, so I know he is gone.