Heroes and villains

On my way to the library in Fort Dodge to volunteer at the Webster County Genealogical Society, I had this thought: everybody has heroes and villains in their family.

It’s so simple and true.

Some people try to hide the skeletons in the family closet, but I think we really shouldn’t do that. Maybe I would feel differently if it turned out that a close relative was high in the Nazi party or something along those lines, but I think we have to accept our family history.

In my family’s case, one known villain was a young man who in a heated moment made a really bad decision.

On Saturday, July 11, 1908, Will Carr was involved in a fight with a stranger near the train depot in Gowrie, Iowa, after drinking heavily that afternoon. Town Marshal Thomas Nicholson apparently broke up the fight or attempted to arrest Will Carr. Will (he’s sometimes referred to as William or Wilbur) went home and got a gun, then went back to the depot, where he found the marshal and shot him.

There¬† are newspaper accounts of the incident and the subsequent trial. One of the articles mentions that Thomas Nicholson’s wife was the sister of Ira Carr’s wife. This Ira Carr was the brother of Will Carr. This was confirmed in a book called “The Biographical Record of Webster County, Iowa” which was published by the S.J. Clarke Publishing Company in 1902.

That book  lists the children of Richard Quick, including Bessie, married to Thomas Nicholson, a farmer of Roland township, and Leona, married to Ira Carr, also a farmer of Roland township. Roland township is north of Gowrie.

I’m sure that time eases the impact of these events. Had this occurred within my lifetime I would probably not be so easy with it. But we are the sum of everything that has happened before us. It shapes our families and it shapes our selves. We can embrace the good and try to learn from the bad, but it doesn’t help to hide it away.

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