28 July 2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity

While searching for an obituary for Emmett J. Mims, who died 1878-9, I came across an interesting news article about his son. On this date 104 years ago (28 July 1905) a man was found unconscious and dying under a railroad trestle near Milledgeville, Georgia. The body was identified as Emmett J. Mims of Reynolds, Georgia, my 2nd cousin, 3x removed. However, this turned out not to be the case.

29 July 1905
Macon Weekly Telegraph, Georgia
HENRY C. ROSS FALLS TO DEATH FROM TRAIN
UNCONSCIOUS AND DYING MAN IS FOUND UNDER TRESTLE NEAR MILLEDGEVILLE, GA -- FIRST BELIEVED TO BE EMMETT J. MIMS OF REYNOLDS -- IT WAS LATER FOUND TO BE INSURANCE MAN OF MACON

The body of a dying man, in all probability Henry C. Ross of 210 First street, Macon, was found under a trestle on the Georgia railroad near Milledgeville yesterday morning. The unconscious man was taken to Milledgeville, where he died late yesterday afternoon. He never recovered consciousness...

Mistaken Identity.
A peculiar feature of the deplorable accident was the fact that the body was first identified at Milledgeville as that of Emmett J. Mims of Reynolds, Ga., one of the most prominent citizens of that town. The body was taken in charge by the Masons and the Knights of Pythias at Milledgeville, and the relatives of Mr. Mims were notified. Mr. Mims' widowed mother was prostrated by the news.

A delegation of Masons and Knights of Pythias from Reynolds went over to Milledgeville, accompanied by Mr. Mims' grandfather, Capt. E. Aultman, but when they arrived in Milledgeville they found that the dead body was not that of Mr. Mims...

The shock wave that must've went through the Aultman/Mims family is unimaginable. First, upon being notified of the death of their son, grandson, husband, and father. Then, hours later, finding out he is indeed still alive. The article states Emmett's mother was prostrated by the news. This means she was so overcome with grief, she collapsed upon hearing of the death of her only child.

Here is a 1910 photo from the Georgia Archives Vanishing Georgia Collection. The photo is of members of the Knights of Pythias in Reynolds, Taylor County, Georgia. Emmett Mims is 5th on the bottom row. Some of these men might have been part of the delegation that accompanied his grandfather to Milledgeville five years earlier.

It turns out the story was not quite over. Emmett was aboard the excursion train to Charleston that day, and a fellow passenger possibly tried to connect him to the death of Mr. Ross.

2 August 1905
Macon Weekly Telegraph, Georgia
SNOW - GREENE HEARING NOT HELD YESTERDAY
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga., Aug 1 -- The commitment trial of Snow and Greene, held for complicity in the death of Henry C. Ross, who was found dying under a trestle near here last Friday, did not take place today, as was expected...

...The statement was made yesterday in The Telegraph, on the authority of a passenger on the excursion, that Mr. Ross' coat was in the possession of Mr. Emmett J. Mims of Reynolds, Ga., who was on the train.

Mr. Mims writes as follows in denial:
REYNOLDS, Ga., Aug 1
Macon Telegraph: Please allow space for a correction on the article appearing in your issue this morning in regard to myself and the death of Mr. H. C. Ross.

The facts in the case are these. I met H. C. Ross on the Charleston excursion train at some junction near Macon I think the M. N. junction or just before we reached the junction, on his introducing himself to me and asking if I was going to Charleston I gave him my card. I have never had anything belonging to him in my possession. I heard a friend or a relative of his say that he had the coat of Ross in his grip and this was after we heard of his death on our return trip from Charleston somewhere near Augusta.
(Signed.) EMMETT J. MIMS

I haven't come across anything else regarding Emmett and the death of H. C. Ross. If you are interested, the entire first article is transcribed at the Old News blog.

3 comments:

Life Goes On said...

What an interesting article to have in your family research

Vici said...

Emmet J. Mims was my grandfather and I really enjoyed reading about him. My father was Forrest. Thank you.

tgif85 said...

Henry Clay Ross was my great great uncle. He is buried with his family at Union Hill Baptist Church. I enjoy your blog.

-Taylor R. Moulton

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