05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Real Life Mystery: Proof Positive Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

By Robin Weaver

I’ve always known my family is strange…literally.  My grandfather’s name was Fern Hall Strange and I’ve traced his ancestry back to twelfth century Britain.  What I haven’t been able to decipher is what really happened with Gramps’ uncle, Noverta.
Great-Uncle Noverta “allegedly” killed his wife.  I say allegedly because Gramps was a no-nonsense sort of fellow who could call bullshh…eh, who didn’t let emotion cloud his rather superior judgment.  Since my grandfather didn’t believe Noverta was guilty, I have to presume innocence despite evidence to the contrary.

Here’s the thing.  The murder isn’t the mystery.  The strange twist (pun intended) in this tale is what happened after the conviction. 
What follows is strictly hearsay…
Shortly after Noverta’s incarceration in Jackson, Mississippi’s Parchment Prison, our hero/villain escaped from his cell.   Supposedly, the guards were bribed (now you know what happened to my family’s fortune J).  Our con somehow made his way to Colorado where he assumed a new identity--John Quincy Adams.  Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.  Under this pseudonym, Noverta remarried, sired five children, and get this, became the deputy sheriff.  No, really.

Our tale gets stranger still.  Noverta worked his way up to sheriff and flaunted his tin star for almost thirty years.  According to some sources, there was a deathbed confession, followed by a Time or a Life Magazine article.  I’ve done extensive research, yet have been unable to find any news story about Noverta.
Here’s the part of the mystery I unraveled.  What follows is factual.

With some extensive research (and a lot of luck), I found another person looking for Noverta.  The mystery woman was from—you guessed it--Colorado.  My fellow Noverta-stalker turned out to be Noverta’s granddaughter.  She was able to confirm Noverta had indeed been a sheriff, although she knew nothing about the murder (thus adding legitimacy to my suspicion that there was no magazine article).
Finding my distant cousin was an amazing thing, but finding the Adams side of the family tree enabled me to locate  Noverta’s nephew, Larry.  He told another story.

We’re back to hearsay, but believable hearsay…

The nephew told me the state of Colorado gave Noverta immunity.  He said Noverta’s wife committed suicide.  Noverta’s sons spent over $100,000 to clear their dad’s name, and eventually all charges were dropped.
I have not been able to confirm Larry’s story.  Being an author, I rather like the ending, although one might say it’s a bit convenient.  Hearing about my infamous great uncle spurred me to become a serious writer—maybe even a seriously strange one.  I’ll keep digging.  To coin a famous TV phrase, the truth is out there.

What about you?  Do you have any strange limbs in your family tree?

Blue Ridge Fear
Coming November 23rd


Linda Lovely said...

Robin, great "true crime" story! There are a number of strange tales about my family but only one (that I know of) involving murder. Allegedly my great-grandmother's last husband (unclear how many husbands, but at least three) died in a knife fight in Chicago. Imagine we all have skeletons in our closets. Yours sounds more interesting than most!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing a piece of your very interesting family history! On my mother's side of the family, the tree goes back to at least Charlemagne...and there are highway men and arch bishops. I'm sure there are many mysteries buried in those archives but I'm busy enough with today's mysteries (where are those car keys?).

Ashantay said...

Your blog encourages me to check out my family's past, in hopes I'll find something even a little bit as interesting as your family!

Sarah Raplee said...

Too many to list! LOL

I enjoyed reading about yours. How fun for you to find one of Noverta's descendents and confirm part of the story!

Our families do provide fodder for our writing, don't they?

Carole St-Laurent said...

Great family story, Robin. Mine has no one as interesting as Noverta.

Ro said...

What a great story - with everything: mystery, history, family secrets, and humor. It was like reading an enticing book cover. Now I want the rest. Start filling in with that wonderful imagination of yours. I will submit my book order now!

Paty Jager said...

Robin, what a great way to weave your family history into a book! It is interesting how so many interesting stories are handed down. My story isn't as "strange" as yours. I've been told my great grandfather dove off a German ship and swam to shore to start a new life in California.

Diana Mcc. said...

Interesting blog! What a great inspiration for a novel!! Are you going to write it? Truth, Fiction and everything in between????

Sandra Cox said...

Wow! Stranger than fiction.

Robin K said...

Hi, Robin, I'm another writing Robin and I enjoyed your post very much. I'm currently working on a short play that sprouted from reading about a true crime. It's the investigation into a drug dealer whose girlfriend disappears while he's staying at a swanky hotel and paying cash and charming the staff and leaving his Do Not Disturb sign out. Amazing how a nugget of fact can set the mind off on a path of fabulous fiction. I think there's lots more to your story both fact and fiction!!