Thursday, May 18, 2017

Finding the Family's Story

Sometimes, we are so focused, as we run through the routine of researching our ancestors, that we scarcely diverge from those routine paper trails of birth, marriage and death. Almost as if with the rigors of a checklist, we stick to birth records, marriage licenses, and death certificates—wills, perhaps, and baptismal records for those eras pre-dating our preferred methods of documentation.

I already know how fascinating the journey can be if I allow myself the liberty of a detour through the local newspaper holdings for my ancestors, but in today's case, it was only thanks to another Ancestry researcher posting a newspaper clipping that I noticed anything out of the ordinary in one particular family's story.

In my defense, I was researching the ancestors of a man who turned out to be a fourth cousin to my mother-in-law. Not a very close relationship, to be sure. Still, a story is a story, and once I laid eyes on the newspaper clippings included by another Flowers family researcher, I had to take a look for myself.

This fourth cousin was Arthur James Daugherty, a son of Nora Flowers and Lewis James Daugherty of Perry County, Ohio. He had been born in Somerset, Ohio, on July 8, 1900, but by the time of this breaking news in 1927, he was far from home in the Los Angeles area of California.

I can't really say how long he was in southern California. I only know he was there the morning of April 30, 1927, because that was the date in which he suddenly lost his life.

The clipping included in his file at Ancestry came from an unidentified newspaper, most likely from the files of a family member, for the name "Arthur" was hand-printed along the side margin of the scanned paper in block letters. Though the clipping showed a lengthy article, the unfortunate part of this discovery was that the continuation page was not included. Trying to replicate the article in the various subscription services to which I have access brought up several other reports, but not this one.

The sub-heading on this article, itself, was enough to pull the reader up abruptly:
Target for a fusillade of rifle shots from four immigration inspectors on the lookout for smugglers, A. J. Daugherty, 26, said to be a student flier of Somerset, Ohio, was killed instantly today at a flying field at Gardena.

Details from the body of the article brought up the discrepancies that always make a story-hunter want to know more. In particular, the article noted, "Two strikingly different stories of the shooting were given an hour after it took place."

The one version was provided to the deputy sheriffs assigned to the case by a mechanic working at the air field. The other version of the event was provided by the four immigration inspectors working out of the Los Angeles office of the Immigration bureau. No matter which way would turn out to be closer to the truth, it was clear the newspaper favored the take of the mechanic's report when it buried the inspectors' report on the continuation page.

As far as the eyewitness mechanic was concerned, the one who took this whole surreal scene in as it unfolded, "Daugherty was shot without cause or justification."


  1. Two stories I wonder who was right :(

    1. Hopefully, I'll find out. It sure was a story covered widely in California!


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