Richard Dabney Thackston items

From the Hamilton (Ohio) Evening Journal, 11 Jan 1926:


Samuel James Monroe died at the home of Lester Wright, 36 North Fifth street, Sunday evening at 8:15 o’clock of pneumonia, at the age of 52 years, 2 months and 8 days. He had made his home with the Wright family for a number of years.

He leaves his step-father, Richard Thaxton of Farmville, Va.; two sisters, Mrs. Daisy Lundborg, Muncie, Ind., and Mrs. Kate Franey of East St. Louis; two step-sisters, Bessie Thaxton, Farmville, Va., and Mrs. Virginia Oaks of Norfolk, Va.; two step-brothers, Richard Thaxton, Jr., Farmville, Va., and John Thaxton, of St. Louis.

The deceased was an active member of the Loyal Order of Moose, Eagles, West Side Aid society and the Spanish-American War Veterans.

The remains will be shipped Tuesday noon to Anderson, Ind., where burial will take place on Wednesday. Friends may view the remains after Monday noon.

From the Baltimore Sun, 08 Sep 1913:

Had Altercation with 70-Year-Old Confederate Veteran

Stabbed in the neck with a penknife in an altercation with Richard D. Thackston, 70 years old, a Confederate veteran, yesterday afternoon, John Bartell, 60 years old, a watchman at the Levering House, 100 North Front street, is confined in his room at the home under the care of a physician.

Thackston was arrested by Patrolman Maisel and locked up at the Central Police Station. He is said not to have a home in Baltimore and was rooming at the lodging house when he had a disagreement with the watchman. Bartell and Thackston are both active men despite their ages.

1883 St. Louis City Directory:

Thackston, Richard D, mngr, res. 1223 Pine
Thackston, Robert H. harness. r. 1954 Cass av.

1900 St. Louis City Directory:
Thackston, Richard, agt. r. 1937 Papin


Richard D. Thackston’s patent for a self-closing hatchway, issued in 1886 while he lived in St. Louis (click on link to see PDF):



The disappearance and alleged death of Richard Dabney Thackston, Jr.

(From 1937 through 1941, there was a mystery in Indiana. Who was the dead man killed while walking on a public highway and carrying $10,000 in cash? Was it Richard Dabney Thackston, Jr.? The following account is summarized from extensive coverage in the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger of Sept. 27 and Oct. 2, 6, 7, 11-13, 16, 18, 21, 31, Nov. 2, 3, 8, 21, 1939, and Feb. 6, Apr. 29, May 2, Sept. 19 and 28, Oct. 23, Nov. 5, and Dec. 19, 1940; Jan. 10 and March 21, 1941; the Logansport Pharos-Tribune of 30 Jul 1938; and the Kokomo Tribune of 30 Jul 1930, and March 21, 1941.)

On August 16, 1937, a man was struck and killed by an automobile on U.S. 20 near Rolling Prairie, Indiana, in LaPorte County. He had no identification on him, but he had a journal of sorts, and something else that generated considerable interest — $10,100 in cash. Unable to identify the man, officials buried John Doe several weeks later in Pine Lake cemetery, and placed the money in the custody of the county treasurer.

Over the next year, hundreds of people traveled to LaPorte County or contacted county officials in an effort to identify John Doe as a relative, entitling them to the $10,000. The body was exhumed four times. “The mysterious ‘John Doe’ has attracted nation-wide attention and Coroner Daniel Bernoske said he has had more than 500 queries from relatives of missing persons,” the Logansport Pharos-Tribune wrote.

In July of 1938, Mrs. O. L. Baker of Farmville, Virginia, traveled to LaPorte County. “Mrs. Baker, viewing the exhumed body, said it was that of her brother, Richard Thaxton, Farmville, who disappeared in 1935.” Thackston “lived on a farm with his sister at Farmville, Va., and was sort of a recluse who roamed the county at will,” the family said. “Early in 1935 the evidence will show that he was placed in the Western State hospital in Staunton, Va., where he remained until October of that year when he suddenly disappeared and never was heard of again alive. While at the hospital, a photograph of him was made and a comparison of the photograph with the body of John Doe revealed it to be that of Richard Dabney Thaxton. The evidence will also show that Mrs. O. L. Baker of Farmville, Va., a sister of Thaxton’s, went to LaPorte and had the body exhumed and in the presence of the coroner recognized the body as that of Thaxton.”

No, John Doe was actually Theodore Jock of Saginaw, Michigan, another family claimed, or bootlegger and gambler Frank Gillman, according to his daughter, Mrs. Stella Barnhill. None of these could be proved, the County said, so it should get to keep the money. And thus began a years-long legal battle, which included some bizarre twists. Jock’s family eventually withdrew their claim, and a trial began in September 1939.

The Thackstons introduced several witnesses and documents. Dr. John Hurt, superintendent of an epileptic colony at Lynchburg, Virginia, testified that he was acquainted with Richard Dabney Thaxton, and that Thaxton had been “a patient at the state hospital in Staunton, Va., from Feb. 19, 1935, to Oct. 19, 1935. He said Thaxton was suffering from a form of dementia praecox. In April, 1937, he disappeared. Dr. Hurt identified a picture of Thaxton and also one of John Doe and said both were the same person.”

“Attorneys for the First National Bank of LaPorte, the other claimant, agreed to stipulations as to testimony of Mrs. Hartman, of Rolling Prairie, and John Lundberg of Muncie, Ind., nephew of Richard Thackston, witnesses for the Tackston heirs, without calling the witness to the stand.”

Mrs. M. J. Hardbarger of Chicago, formerly of Virginia, testified that the had visited at the Thaxton home at Farmville, Virginia, and was acquainted with Richard Thaxton. Shown pictures of John Doe, Mrs. Hardbarger testified that they resembled Thaxton.

“John H. Thackston, of Chicago, was the last witness for the LaPorte Loan and Trust Company, administrator of the estate of Richard Dabney Thackston. The witness is a brother of Richard Thackston, who it is claimed, was ‘John Doe.’ The Chicago man identified pictures of ‘John Doe,’ taken after his death, as those of his brother, Richard. The last time he saw his brother was at Farmville, Va., in 1934. According to the brother, Richard was a conservative in money matters.”

The heirs introduced two letters written by Richard to Mrs. Baker, one dispatched from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1911, and the other from Muncie, Indiana, in 1929. The writing matched that in the dead man’s journal, the Thackstons’ expert said. No, it didn’t, said another expert.

Midway through the trial, Mrs. Barnhill suddenly disappeared — or, more accurately, left town in a hurry. Officials had discovered that her father had in fact been shot and killed in Iowa in 1919, and could hardly have been walking down a public highway eighteen years later. Meanwhile, another set of claimants appeared on the scene. John Doe was actually Fred Reeber of Michigan, they said. A second trial was set in 1940. Mr. Reeber’s sister-in-law, Othelia Amelia Reeber, testified that John Doe was Reeber, who had moved to California and had not been heard from since 1932 or 1933. Mrs. Reeber identified photographs of Theodore Jock, Richard Thaxton, and Fred Reeber as all being Reeber. (She had cataracts, Reeber’s lawyers explained.)

The key, Judge Charles W. Jensen decided, was the dead man’s watch case. From numbers on the case, a jeweler in California was able to identify repairs made on the decedent’s gold watch. John Doe was 67-year-old Fred Reeber, the judge ruled in 1941, more than three years after his death.
[technical difficulties with some images – more coming, including Richard Sr.’s arrest in Illinois]

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