Black Sheep Sunday: Jesse Earl Linville

My great-grandmother’s younger brother, Jesse Linville, had a troubled life for reasons I don’t fully understand because nobody talks, even all these years later, about Uncle Jesse.

Jesse was born in 1908 in Tippah County, Mississippi. He was the tenth child of David Hezekiah Linville and his wife, Mary Frances Shelton.

He grew up farming with his father and brothers and all seemed normal growing up.

Jesse Earl Linville

Perhaps there was an physical injury whose pain caused him to seek relief or a mental one, I don’t know. But for whatever reason, Jesse got hooked on drugs as a young man. I don’t know when it happened, because I cannot account for him between the years of 1920 and 1935.

I find him living in Longview, Texas in 1935 with his brother Frank and working as a cook. It wasn’t long after that that Jesse was arrested for burglary. On 1 March 1936, he was sentenced to serve two years in the Texas State Penitentiary. He entered prison that June and only served just over a year. He was released on 25 June 1937. You will notice the drug addict notation in his record.

Convict Register for Jesse Linville, top entry
Convict Register for Jesse Linville, top entry

I find no record of his draft registration for World War II. I surmise he was considered unfit and ineligible for service because of his drug addiction.

Sometime in between all of these arrests and prison sentences, he found time to be married at least two times, probably three. I found no names of any of his wives, just prison records that he was married.¬†Frank had probably had enough of Jesse’s troubles, family or not. A desperate drug addict is capable of anything and Frank had a wife and two children to think about.

So, Jesse finds his way back to Mississippi and the huge farm in the Delta owned by his oldest brother, William. It was here that the story of Jesse Linville took its sharpest turn. I’m sure Jesse was not the easiest person to deal with, being hooked on morphine. Wild and crazy in the high and violently angry and paranoid when it wore off. So his marriages didn’t seem to last long enough to be counted and children were out of the question. He had also lost both parents in 1934 and went wild. With his last (probably fourth) wife Christine and her two children, he tried to get his life back together.

In 1949, it all came to a head.

The microfilm copy of this article from the Southern Sentinel didn’t want to cooperate so this was the best copy I could get.A murder-suicide. How incredibly tragic. What’s worse is the fact that the children witnessed this. Jesse and Christine fought, probably a lot since he couldn’t afford the morphine lately. He was probably angry and paranoid and just shot her. Then the fact that he did caught up with him and he shot himself. Thankfully William was close by and could help the children.



Wednesday’s Child: Lillian Angeline Linville

Lillian Angeline Linville was my great-grandmother’s sister and the only one of her siblings who died as a child. If or that time, that was really good. It hardly ever happened. It would have been a perfect record, but for her death from appendicitis at the age of 13 in 1910.

What a set of circumstances for that to happen. A rural family with no stillborns, no early death from disease.

But life isn’t perfect.

Appendicitis was always fatal in the days before surgery. It was caused by a blockage of the appendix by infection or stool. Without surgery, it always ruptured and the person always died. Death was quick, but painful and brutal.

My great-grandmother’s sister was not forgotten. When my great-grandmother had her second daughter, she named her Lillian for the sister she lost.

Sunday’s Obituary: David Hezekiah Linville

IMG_1261  My second great-grandfather David Hezekiah Linville was born 17 May 1858 and died 25 February 1934 at the age of 75. In between, he lived what was considered by friends and neighbors a good, long and decent life.

“Splendid Christian gentleman” is a phrase that occurs a lot in older obituaries, I’ve noticed. Even for people I know to be otherwise, it occurs. I suppose we wish to think well of the dead.

But I think it fits in his case.

Or maybe I’m just biased.

David was born just before the Civil War in Tippah County, Mississippi. His parents were Richard McDowell Linville and Elizabeth Reeves Manning. When the Civil War broke out, his father volunteered for the 23rd Mississippi Infantry and was duly elected its 1st Lieutenant.

On 18 December 1884, 26 year old David married 16 year old Mary Frances Shelton. Nine months later, their first son, William Richard, was born. Eleven were eventually born to this marriage, including my great-grandmother.

To try to make money and have a decent, easy life for his family, David taught at the Antioch community school for at least a year. But the call of the land was too strong. David was born to be a farmer.

He bought at least 85 acres north of Tippah Creek near the same school at which he taught. There he created an orchard that was the envy of his neighbors. He had a green thumb for trees, fruit, and crops. His neighbors sought out his advice so they could try to recreate his success.

His passion, besides farming, was squirrel hunting. When he had time, he would take his favorite dog, Ole Ring, and roam the woods looking for the fuzzy gray creatures he loved to eat.

David Hezekiah Linville

He was a deacon at the Antioch Primitive Baptist Church near his home and when he died he was buried front and center in the graveyard. He loved to sing and his deep, throaty voice could be heard for miles around.

His children and grandchildren grew up with him and the fuzzy mustache that must have tickled when he kissed them.

1926 Linville Reunion

In his later years, he had a series of strokes and was confined to his home. He died 25 February 1934 at the age of 75.