All-American: The good, the bad and the ugly

A gang of bandits, 1924

Ancestry.com is a rabbit hole. I have collected the names and birthdates of over 1300 ancestors.

Which sounds impressive, right? Except I know nothing else about them.

I want to know more than their names and dates. I want to discover their stories and see pictures.... to understand the time and place they lived. And I'd like to put everything in an album and give copies to my mom, dad and sisters.  

So this week, I started the hard work of digging up details. I started by re-reading the story written by my Great Grandma Bowers. In it, she wrote that her Uncle Jesse was shot while chasing bandits from Upland to Mathews in 1924. This story in particular peaked my interest for a few reasons.

First, the word "bandits" is just plain funny and makes me think of a Dukes of Hazzard episode.  

Second, after Uncle Jesse’s funeral, Hazel went back to Texas (or New Mexico) with Uncle Jesse’s mother and came back six months later to take care of her new “baby brother.” There are rumors about the real reason for Hazel's out-of-state trip, which I'd like to prove or disprove.

Finally, bandits on the loose during prohibition-era Fairmount? There's just gotta be a story in there, right? 

I found a story. But not the one I was looking for... instead I found a not-so-flattering article about Uncle Jesse written in The Fairmount News in August 1924. I've debated including the article here, but I think it would embarrass some of my family members. So I won't. Suffice to say that when you go digging, you never know what you'll turn up. 

I shouldn't be surprised. I've said all along that our family is an All-American mixed bag of nuts. But now I have proof.