In the story of A. J. Daugherty and the unexpected loss of his life on an airfield in southern California in 1927, it seemed there were a few missing details—at least, in my mind. First was the question of just how keen he was on learning to fly, and what prompted him to develop that interest. But the second thing I was wondering about—and this likely is the more basic question—was just how Arthur J. Daugherty ended up in California if he was a local boy from Somerset, Ohio.
While the California newspapers reporting the shooting focused on the incident itself and the underlying accusations of smuggling, finding the newspaper coverage from back in Ohio near his Perry County hometown provided a different picture. This was where I could begin finding the answers to my questions on the set up that led to the tragedy.
As it turned out, an article hidden on the seventh page of The Zanesville Signal, the main newspaper published near the Daugherty hometown, covered those questions on the Monday following the April 30 shooting. The source for much of the information turned out to be Arthur's next younger brother, Marion, who by the time of the 1927 news article had moved from the family home in Somerset to the state capital, Columbus. That fifty mile move brought him much closer to where jobs were easier to come by.
According to Marion, "Ever since Arthur was a kid back on our farm, he liked to tinker with mechanics." After he completed his schooling, according to his brother, Arthur worked as a mechanic at a local garage until in his early twenties.
Marion apparently shared that same interest in mechanics, too:
I worked right with him because I liked it, too. Finally, we decided to get away from home for a while and came to Columbus. We worked in garages here for nearly a year.
Arthur's brother recalled the various moves the two had made, following their wish to work in all things mechanical. From their early stint in Columbus, they had returned back home to Somerset, then struck out on an adventure, moving to Florida. Following the job opportunities there, they moved from one town to another, working in various garages for about three months.
It was during that transitional time in Florida when the brothers honed in on their evolving interests in mechanical opportunities.
My brother said he would like to learn something about airplane motors and wanted to try his hand at flying sometime. Los Angeles seemed to be the place for us.
Finding their way to California wasn't a straightforward proposition, however. There was one more step before their plan could bring the brothers to California, and that required them first to return, once again, back home to Ohio.