This is a question that I have been asking for at least seven years now, and never received a straight answer. Whenever I asked, the answer I’d always gotten was, “it was a very sad time,” but no one would ever go into further detail to share WHY it was a very sad time. A few days ago, I found out why.
I had a feeling his death was tragic because living family members that remember these events ignore the opportunity to say more. Everything about it felt so hush-hush. Even down to his funeral program. It’s two barely-there pages. Just enough to say that he was born, had children, died and left a mother and siblings behind. There was no grand life story written for Robert Lee Crutchfield, nor mention of where his remains are interred. Were there shameful circumstances surrounding his death?
Robert Lee Crutchfield was my maternal first cousin, twice removed. He was the baby of five children born to Henry Crutchfield and Emma C. Tillman. However, it was whispered among family that his father was actually a white man that Emma worked for named Robert Lee White. Emma was the older sister of my maternal great-grandfather, Rev. Rufus J. Tillman.
The 1940 US Federal Census has Robert recorded as 17 years of age with a 7th grade education, living at home with his mother in Round Oak, Georgia. My research of more documents revealed he was drafted into the Army on 28 December 1942, but was discharged from duty after a year and seven months due to an injury he obtained from lifting.
On 21 May 1949, Robert married Clara B. Smith in Lucas County, Ohio. He was working as a shipping clerk in Detroit, Michigan at the time. Further evidence of him working as a shipping clerk was found on the 1950 US Federal Census. Robert is also recorded as white, and separated. He was only married roughly 11 months prior to enumeration. How long had they been separated?
The paper trail for the last 24 years of his life goes cold after 1950. I have found no other news articles about his shooting. Who is/was Lester Dickinson? How long were they living together? Why were they living together? What kind of argument goes so wrong that it results in one person getting a shotgun wound to the chest, and the other person being held for murder?