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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homicide & suicide in the family tree

On this date in our extended family history . . . the 11th day of August . . . in the year 1947 . . . the body of William Harden Sharp is found under a bridge in Clermont County, Ohio. His Ohio death certificate indicates the cause of death as suicide by fire arms. Sharp reportedly chose to take his own life after causing the death (by strangulation) of his own wife and their 4-year-old daughter. His death certificate states that he was cremated, but there is no burial information indicated. At this time, I do not know if his ashes were ever claimed. I have not researched too deeply about this wife and child yet, but as of this date, I have not found their burial sites either, though their death certificates indicate they were buried at "Laurel Cemetery" with no town given. [There is a Laurel IOOF Cemetery in Hamilton County, Ohio, but the only listing I found online is for the veterans buried there.]

This William H. Sharp is a double first cousin to my maternal grandpa, which makes him a 1st cousin twice removed to the Keeper of this blog. The Ohio death certificates for all three victims of this sad story are available in the following photo album, along with photos of Wm. H. Sharp with my maternal grandpa, as well as photos of both sets of parents.

Sharp & Henry

This William is living with his parents in Houston County, Texas on the 1910 and 1920 census. I had suspected that our Wm. Sharp was the William H. Sharp enumerated on the 1930 Census in Cincinnati, Ohio -- listed as an automobile mechanic -- yet I was never sure. In 1930 he had a wife and two children (different family from the one in 1947). His father (brother to my maternal great-grandma) died in Texas in 1921. And his mother (twin sister to my maternal great-grandpa) is said to have died in 1944, presumably in Texas (she has a grave marker beside her husband in Houston County), but I have not yet been able to find her death certificate.

The little boy on the left in the above photo is the youngest of five children born to Sam and Emma (Henry) Sharp. One of William's sisters had died in 1914, but the other three siblings were still alive in 1947. The parents of both little boys must have been rather proud of their little ones who were so close to the same age as well as being double first cousins. William's aunt and uncle, Edgar and Berta Mary (Sharp) Henry (my maternal great-grandparents), were both still alive at the time of William's death, and my Mom would have been living with them in 1947, about to start her junior year in high school. My maternal grandpa (the little boy on the right in the photo) would have been back in Texas by then, having made his home in Massachusetts for almost two decades. Mom does not remember any stories about this event, and nobody seems to remember Grandpa mentioning anything about it -- the family lore came from other sources.

My grandpa (who had buried one young wife in 1932 -- my maternal grandma), was a kind and gentle man who was a gifted teller of tales and who loved to laugh, and who did not like to talk about painful times in his life. It is so hard to look at the sweet little boys in the photo, and to try to imagine such a tragic and painful ending for the other one . . .

2 comments:

CMPointer said...

What a tragic ending for all those family members involved. Unfortunately, I have more than a few of those in my family. Thank you for sharing such an intensely personal part of your family history. Maybe I'll be able to do so in the future. I loved your family album ~ so organized and complete.

Thanks,
Caroline

Beth Niquette said...

Indeed, what tragedy. I'm so sorry--thank you for sharing this family history. Your research is astounding.

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