Monday, August 17, 2015
Part 3: Genealogy is what I do; How did George Knight die?
The night of October 21, 1899, George Knight, a laborer working in one of Holmes and Nicholson’s camps, was found lying by the track of the A & N Railroad line near Laroque, Michigan ( also called Hawk). At first the passing train men who saw him thought he was just resting by the track, because that was common, but when they passed again hours later they realized something was wrong, and Conductor McGarry stopped the train. They found him with his head bashed in, and he was recognized as George Knight who lived in Millersburg. He was still breathing when found. They took him on the train to transport him into Laroque, but he died before arriving there. He was examined by a Doctor Sullivan and an inquest was held to determine the cause of death.
This information was gleaned from three different newspapers that carried the story.
My grandmother, who was twelve years old at the time, added that he was a logging boss in the camp and he was carrying the payroll that night.
My grandmother, Edythe Georgiana Knight, was the third of five children born to George and his wife Delia. The youngest was born after his death. My dad’s first cousins all tell similar stories about that night. Their story is that he was murdered for the payroll he was carrying. My grandmother insisted that it was done by the Chinese Cook, who disappeared the same night. However, when the inquest was held, they brought in a different verdict.
According to the newspaper account, the inquest gave a verdict of accidental death due to carelessness. Because of the nature of the head wound it was determined that George had most likely been walking on the tracks and stepped off to let a train pass, but he stepped back to soon, Since the train was completely passed, he was sucked into the side of the train by the intense motion and knocked aside.
I was told the murder version of the story by my dad, as he had been told it by his mother. One of Dad’s cousins sent me copies of two of the newspaper articles. When I decided to investigate it, the third article was found, as well as the inquest’s version of the story.
Although this took place in 1899, no death certificate has been found. I also have not been able to locate any record of George Knight’s marriage to Delia Ruger. The births of his children are all found down in the Arenac and Ogemaw area of the state along with a large number of land transactions.
George was found with his parents in Fairgrove, Michigan in the 1780 census and by 1900 he was already dead. In the 1900 census his wife and children are living in AuGres.
It still seems curious to me that, in spite of the inquest, the family passed on a story of murder. Could there be more evidence out there somewhere?