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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Family Legend - Is It True?

A family legend in our family is the story of David Henricks (also spelled Hendricks, which can add to the confusion of finding the right relatives!). David was the family “black sheep” who is said to have stolen a neighbor’s horse and wagon and headed West to Colorado. My great-grandmother, Edith Henricks (she was David’s daughter) is said to have received a post card telling her “Yer Pa is daid”, circa 1886. My Grandma said this story was true and I NEVER knew her to tell me anything but the truth.

After receiving David Henrick’s Civil War pension file, I learned he had “hearing loss” and “lung trouble” (which usually meant tuberculosis). I began to wonder if the story of the stolen wagon was really true. I speculated that maybe he had gone to Colorado for treatment of his “lung trouble”. I knew that he died in Denver, but wondered if MAYBE he had taken a train since he was sick, maybe traveling by horse and wagon would have been hard for him.

I WAS SO WRONG! I should never have doubted my Grandma!

Last summer, while researching the Henricks family at the Shelbyville Genealogy House, I found the terrible truth about this ancestor that I had felt sorry for.

Printed in the September 6, 1886 issue of the Shelbyville Republican was the story of David Henricks. He had died in Denver two years after he “fled the county (in 1884) being guilty of forgery and other crooked business transactions”.

OH NO! I was shocked! Now I knew that the story of the theft of the horse and wagon must have been true as well. How very tragic for David’s two young daughters which he had left behind in Shelby County after their mother had passed away. What a sad story.

When I told my cousin in Shelbyville about this newspaper article, he wasn’t surprised. He said that not only did David steal the neighbor’s horse and wagon, but the wagon was “loaded with wheat”.

Our “black sheep” story was true. Now I could put that legend to rest. Sadly……..

If you have a family legend, good or bad, remember one thing: it’s only a legend until you check it out and find the true story. And, if you have ancestors from Shelby County, the Shelbyville Genealogy House is the place to make your discoveries!

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