Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Perfectly Still

The camp operator slowly opened the door and peered inside the small room at the tourist camp. No one had been seen coming or going from the room all day. Was anyone there? Had the man who rented the room taken off without paying the bill? As the operator looked around the room for evidence of its status, he realized that there lying on the bed perfectly still was a man and a woman. Each had a gunshot to the head. Beside the man lay a pistol. 


Typical tourist camp
By Unknown or not provided 
- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration,
 Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17163848

It was a typical warm humid fall Sunday on the third of October 1937 in the tourist camp located in Weatherford, Texas. Typical of other such camps, some people stayed a night and others stayed longer but generally the camp operator had some idea of their status and plans. Finding the occupants dead was certainly not typical. Had no one heard the gun shot? What had happened? 

A few days earlier, on the 30th of September, thirty-six-year-old Tucker Royal Gurganus checked into the camp. Some say he came alone and that later his wife Nena Frances Mitchell came for a visit, but I have no evidence to this effect. The couple had been married for several years but there had been some difficult times in their marriage and some say there had been talk of a divorce. While they had not had children together, Nena had three children from her previous marriage.

Tucker Royal Gurganus was born 3 November 1901 in Anderson County, Texas to parents, James Taylor Gurganus and Malinda Thacker. Both James and Malinda were Alabamans by birth, but had become part of the great migration to Texas and it was there in Texas that they brought their seven children into the world. 

Nena Frances was born January 17, in 1905 to Charlie C. Mitchell and Emma Trammell, who were both native-born Texans. Charlie and Emma also had 7 children, five of whom were girls. Frances was their second child and their second daughter.

Nena was only seventeen when she married her first husband, Emmit O. Pettiette in 1922. Over the next five years, they had three children, two girls, and a boy. Nena and Emmitt eventually divorced and she took their 3 children and moved in with her parents. 

At some point, Nena and Tucker met and married, but he too had a nose for trouble and thankfully there are records that at least help tell a portion of their story, which I will share in upcoming posts. 


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

25 comments:

  1. I used to see little tourist camps and roadside motel cabins that looked much like this. It sounds like a chilling story in the works.

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    1. I think we use to see these in California back when I was a kid. It truly is a chilling story Wendy....one you don't expect to find in your own family.

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  2. Michelle,
    I'm hooked. I'll be following your posts to find out Tucker and Nina's story.

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  3. Oh, Michelle, I'm intrigued by your post and will be reading to find out more!

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    1. Thanks Marian. It was too much to share in one post, so stay tuned!

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  4. What a shame that two lives ended that way. These stories always intrigue us when we find them. I know I always pause to think of the sadness too. I'm glad you're sharing their story.

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    1. It really is. It's sad to know that those individuals didn't feel any hope for the future in that moment. I always know that no matter how much I find, there is more to the story than any of us really know.

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  5. Can't wait to hear the end of the story!

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  6. Very intriguing opening. This post was too short and now I have to wait to find out more!

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    1. Sorry. It was too long for one and so I split it up----but do come back!

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  7. I'm hooked, too. Looking forward to more.

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    1. That's what it did to me as I began to find more about Nena and Tucker.

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  9. This is a truly shocking story, Michelle, and certainly not one an 'innocent' genealogist might expect to uncover! I'm glad the couple had no children together.

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    1. It really is shocking and not what one expects to find in their own research.

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  10. Wow, what a shocking and sad story. Like the others, I am anxious to hear more! :) Do you know what became of her children? How sad.

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  11. Somehow, amidst my travels and the busyness of summer, I missed this post. I'm glad you linked to it. Wow! What a sad story!!!

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  12. This sounds like the plot for a murder mystery movie! Can't wait to hear the "rest of the Story"!

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