January 13, 1925 – Edward L. McAllister is Found Murdered In Home

The Savannah Press – January 13, 1925

Edward L. McAllister, employed at the Atlantic, Coast Line Railway shops, was discovered murdered at his home, on Thirty-ninth Street, near Ash, by H. B. Brown of Bee Road and Victory Drive, at 10 o’clock this morning.

Mr. McAllister was found in the kitchen of his home badly mutilated about the head from hatchet wounds apparently received sometime Saturday evening.

His wife had died last November, and he since had lived in his story house alone. Mr. McAllister was last seen alive Friday afternoon when he left the A.C.L. shops.

Mr. Brown, who also works at the A. C. L., discovered Mr. McAllister’s body when on an investigation to determine why McAllister had not been at work in several days. Mr. and Mrs. Brown went to the house together. The house is owned by Mrs. Brown’s mother.

Body Discovered.

Mr. McAllister was discovered by the Browns after they had inspected the house and decided that no one was at home. They had knocked repeatedly at the door, but had received no response, and were on their way home when they were joined by Tom Carr, another neighbor. Mr. Carr accompanied the Browns to the back of the house, where some of Mrs. Brown’s chickens were kept by Mr. McAllister. The body was first seen through a window. It was after going through the back door that the body was found in the kitchen.

As discovered by Detectives McCarthy and McCord this morning. McAllister was lying in a pool of blood with a big hatchet wound in the top of his head.

Hatchet on Table.
The hatchet with which the crime was committed is lying on the table. Blood is splattered on the wall. The body was lying on the floor with rice from a dish on the table scattered about. The room is otherwise in excellent order with no apparent sign of a struggle. The dead man was supposedly eating a meal when his assailant struck him in the head.

In his hand is a spoon and the remains of a partially eaten meal are scattered on the floor. The clothing of the dead man not ruffled and there is no sign in or out of the house to indicate any conflict. In the room were two chairs facing one another. On the wall above the body were blood stains. These stains are also on the table where the hatchet had been placed.

Mr. McAllister is survived by a brother, J.M. McAllister of Pittsburgh. Letters sent to the dead man from relatives in Pittsburgh were found in the room.

Unused Still.
On the table of the kitchen a partially filled bottle of corn whisky was found. In the front room was an unused copper still sent from a mail order house in Chicago.
The belongings of his deceased wife were gathered in a bundle, in the front of the house and the dwelling had apparently been used solely by McAllister since last November, when she had passed away.

Among the dead man’s effects was a letter from the county police, directing that he not bring his wife in for treatment until a few days later than had been planned. Mrs. McAllister had been under the care of the physician at the jail.

His Clothing.
The dead man was dressed in a corduroy suit and khaki shirt. He was stretched upon the floor, with the chair upon which he had apparently been sitting standing upright near at hand, close enough to the table to have been used while eating a meal.

The only mark of disarrangement in the room was a small fragment of arm cushion used as a rest on the only other chair in the

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room, a rocker. This small fragment was found on the floor. 

Time of Crime.

That the crime was committed at least twenty-four hours before the discovery of the body is the opinion of an authority. Sipple Bros., morticians, are in charge of the body.
The time of the crimes believed to be about Saturday around dusk. The oil lamps found In the house were partially filled. None of these had burped down as would have been the case if they had been lighted at the time of the crime. A copy of the Saturday afternoon newspaper was found in the room close beside the dead man.

All other papers found in the room were folded away in a corner.
The McAllister house is situated more than the distance of one city block from any other dwelling. It is the only two-story in the neighborhood and it is separated by an overgrown field from several of the other homes. 
Up to the time of the printing of this edition of The Press no relatives of the murdered man had been located in Savannah.

Brown’s Account.

McAllister had not been to work for three days. H. B. Brown, who
found the body, said:

“This morning my wife and I wend to the place. My wife went to the rear door to see some chickens McAllister was keeping for us. I went to the front door and knocked, but, got no response. Tom Carr a neighbor, came up and went to the kitchen window to see what was inside the house. I saw Mr. McAllistser’s legs sticking out toward the center of the room. I at first thought he was hurt, but finally saw be was dead.”

McAllister had worked in railroad shops at Hamlet and Columbia before coming to Savannah.
Dr. G.H. Johnson, the coroner, has taken charge of the case and  will conduct the inquest.

Ash street is located several blocks east of Waters Road and runs north, and south. It starts at Anderson street.
Thanks to the 
University of Georgia, Main Library
Athens, GA 30602 United States
for possessing a microform holding of the paper.

Interlibrary Loan and Edward McAllister

I know I mentioned it before, but I’ve got to mention it again, Interlibrary loan is one of your best friends. I wrote last January about the Georgia Virtual Vault and Edward Lamb McAllister
I still had many questions regarding Edward’s murder.  Could newspaper articles provide answers to the questions I’ve been looking for?
One of my favorite places to look for books, or anything is WorldCat. WorldCat is a huge network of library content. It will tell you the availability of all kinds of things at thousands of libraries. So, I wanted to see where I might find the newspapers I was looking.
It took some poking around WorldCat to find a Savannah newspaper from 1925 available.  World Cat showed The Savannah Press had issues from 1891 to 1931 available at two libraries.  Zooming in, I found it available at University of Georgia, only about 1-1/2 hour drive so certainly a possible road trip. (The holding at University of Rochester (NY) was a bit far for a visit.)  Looking more closely at their holdings, they appeared to have both a paper and microform versions and the microform has multiple copies. One more click and I see their status as “Not Checked Out.” I took that as code that they allow the film to be checked out and will allow interlibrary loan.  
Logging into my county library, I selected their interlibrary loan option, which opened their link to WorldCat. I found the same selection, Savannah Press, and ordered it.
Savannah Press
Jan 14, 1925, Pg 14
A few weeks later I receive a call from my county library, the microfilm has arrived.  Going through unindexed newspapers on microfilm is a brutal process. This one was like I expected.  The nice thing about having the film local is I didn’t have to review it all in one sitting.  I could take my time and review the material over several visits if I so desired. Nice. 
Anyway, the view was about 1/12 of the page, so it was necessary to make three sweeps across each page, top, middle bottom, looking for relevant articles. I read, the papers slowly looking for key words in headlines and the first paragraph of most articles. Luckily, I could skip over the Society pages, and the entertainment pages.
I found nine articles during the two weeks following his murder. Lots of detail about Edward’s life, a photo of Edward, a photo of the man arrested for the murder and a photo of that man’s wife. Could she be the woman he was “bedding,” as mentioned in the family oral history? There was even a photo of the grizzly murder weapon. 
What a treasure trove of information. Having the film available via interlibrary loan save me several hours driving time, parking hassles, (It is usually a hassle parking at a University.) and the frustration of using unfamiliar equipment. Yes, Interlibrary is one of my best friends. 

Georgia Virtual Vault & Edward Lamb McAllister

Georgia Virtual Vault 

I’m taking a genealogy course with the Cobb County Genealogical Society, with whom I am a member. Although I’ve done many webinars, but I’ve never taken an official class in genealogy.  I have been asked on a couple of occasions to give classes. I suppose I’ve been reluctant because I’ve not seen classes of this type put on by regular folks, only videos of professionals.  So, I thought I’d take the class mostly because I never had taken one before and because I thought I would pick up a few tidbits.  I am also new to the CCGC, so I thought I’d be a great opportunity to meet some of the people there. This class would be my first activity with the CCGC folks.
The first of two classes yesterday was on Census Records. It was an excellent class.  The instructor reminded me of the mortality schedules and the agriculture schedules.  I never look at them and I was reminded that I really should.  She did a short bit on Soundex codes and how they work. It was helpful and put it together more clearly for me. (See my frustration in a previous posting.) Really helpful was one of her Internet Resources Links that she suggested was the Soundex Calculator on the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter site. I bookmarked the calculator and put the bookmark in my Genealogy Tools folder.  I feel bookmarks are so much easier than trying to remember where I put the paper instructions.  
During the class, I was reminded of the Georgia Virtual Vault and due to funding cuts the Georgia Archives is only open two days a week, the least of any state archive facility.  (Note: Contact your state legislators and ask they improve funding for the State Archives
None of my ancestors are from Georgia nor are my wife’s, so I’ve never done a lot with the Georgia Virtual Vault. I was reminded of it so I thought I’d refresh my memory of some of the things that the site has.  My wife’s great-grand uncle, Ted McAllister died in Georgia.  Family oral history said he had “bedded a married woman and was killed by a jealous husband.”  I wondered if the story was true. A quick search and there was his death certificate.  Cause of Death: Murder.  Wow.  Maybe the story is true. Another part of the story is that Harold, the husband of my wife’s Great-Grand Aunt, went down to take care of business and have his body returned to Pennsylvania for burial.  The death certificate shows who the informant was, not Ted’s brother-in-law as oral tradition would indicate but Ted’s youngest brother.  The death certificate also says he was widowed.  Interesting, I had no information on a wife or other family.  It also indicated he was buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.  I guess they didn’t ship the body back. 
He also worked as a car inspector for the “A. C. L. Ry”.  Not being from Georgia, I didn’t know what that was.  Over to Wikipedia – Oh, of Course, the Atlantic Coast Line Railway (Railroad).  
I did a search of McAllister in Laurel Grove Cemetery on Find-A-Grave (FAG) (one of my favorite sites) and quickly located a memorial for him.  The memorial spoke of his first wife, three children, and a second wife who died and was also buried in the cemetery.
Sadly, the memorial indicated that, “A findagrave volunteer reports that he is buried in an unmarked grave in Strangers Ground…- this is where county-paid burials are located.“  His wife is likewise in Strangers Ground so they must have been extremely poor. 
The FAG memorial It also mentioned his immigrating in 1886 and even mentioned the ship, “British King.”  In genealogy, one bit of information found leads to another and to another. 
British King
I knew he came across with his mother and three siblings in 1886, but I didn’t know the date, port, or ship. I’d give a quick look at Ancestry and see if they had the record.  Sure enough, there he was with his mother “Marg t” (instead of Margaret) and siblings. Arriving 23 June 1886 aboard the steamship “British King” from Liverpool to Philadelphia. Surprisingly, Ancestry didn’t have a photo of the British King but I found several elsewhere.
So hours pass, as I thoroughly document all these findings.  But,  so much more to research.  Can I confirm his two marriages?  What happened to his first wife, divorce or death?  Can I find the names of his three children? Did he have other children?  Can I find a newspaper article that speaks of his murder?  Was he really shot by a jealous husband?  

UPDATE

I did confirm, his wife Violet died in 1910. They had three children, Edward L., Albert W., and Paul Y. McAllister.  The Savannah Press, 13 January 1925 has a multipage article regarding his murder.  The article uses four headlines to really grab your attention.

Headlines:

Edward L. McAllister is Found Murdered in Home

Railroad man had been dead since Saturday

Beaten in head with hatchet; body on kitchen floor

Lived Alone since wife died last year

Edward L. McAllister, employed at the Atlantic Coast Line Railway shops, was discovered murdered at this home, on Thirty-ninth street near Ash by H. B. Brown…..

Now the question is who did it?  Was it a jealous husband as oral history indicated.  Oral history was wrong in that he hadn’t been shot, rather a hatchet to the head.  Much more personal than a shooting.  The article also mentions that his wife, who died the previous November, was under the care of the physician at the jail.  Why???  Always more questions.