Sunday, December 12, 2010

Black Sheep Sunday: Son shoots Father, 1927

My paternal grandmother, Nealie, was a Drake from Adrian (Emanuel County), Georgia.  I know very little about my Drake ancestors, other than names and dates.  Sadly, I know of no one left to ask.  However, in perusing the Georgia Death Certificates online, I ran across her father's death certificate:

If you click on the image and make it larger, you can just about make out the cause of death:  "Gun Shot wound of abdomen; accident."

What?!!  I had never heard anything about this.  My father was still alive then, so I asked him about it.  Very matter-of-factly he told me the story that he had been told all of his life:

In August of 1927, Reverend William John Drake's son, James Weldon Drake, had had trouble recently.  So he was carrying a gun for protection.  On the night of the shooting, Rev. Drake had gotten up to go to the outhouse.  On his way back in, James, not knowing who it was and worrying it might be one of the men he'd had trouble with, called out, inquiring who it was.  Rev. Drake did not answer.  So James shot him.  During the process of pulling the trigger, James realized it was his father and tried to throw the gun down in time.  Unfortunately, it was too late, and the bullet hit Rev. Drake in the abdomen. He lived long enough to tell others that it was an accident. 

I have searched the local newspapers of the time and have found no article about the incident.  Just two months prior to this, another of Rev. Drake's sons (and James' brother), William Robert Drake, was shot and killed in an altercation with a man who was passing through town.  (I will talk more about this later.)  So I do not know if the entire family was nervous about revenge from that incident or if James really had been into some trouble himself and was just on edge.  I can always hope that I will find the "true" story one day.

I have often felt sorry for James, as that would be a heavy burden to carry, knowing that you caused the death of your father.  By 1935, James was living in Florida and lived the rest of his life there.  I never knew James, but I hope he found a way to reconcile what happened and had a good life.

1 comment:

  1. That is a sad but interesting story. Thanks for sharing it.