Family History – Ouija Board, Poisoning, and Court Cases

Otis and Ollie Lynn are my great-grandparents.  They were married on 19 August 1922, and lived with Otis’s mother (Artie “Hassell” Lynn) in Walker County, Alabama.

Artie was a cantankerous woman.  There are court documents stating Artie hit her neighbor (Monroe Windgo) with a large stick, due to an argument over a cow.  She also cursed at several other neighbors, was seen with a shot-gun while making threats, and even got so mad at the local preacher that she called him numerous curse words.

In 1926, Artie accused Ollie of stealing $10.00.  Ollie denied the accusation, so Artie acquired a Ouija board.  According to the court records, the money was found, “under the alleged direction of a Ouija board,” in Ollie’s trunk.

This enraged Ollie, so she took her and Otis’s child (Pauline) and moved back to her parent’s house.  Otis pleaded with Ollie to return, and eventually she agreed.  However, she demanded Otis find another place for them to live.

Otis was reluctant to leave his mother’s house.  Upon Artie’s death, Otis was to inherit the house and all of her property.  If Otis moved out of the house, Artie said Otis would inherit nothing.

The relationship between Ollie and Artie remained tense.  In 1927, Artie accused Ollie of trying to poison Tennie Mae (Otis’s child by his first wife, who was deceased).  Ollie denied the accusations, but the fighting continued to intensify.

Once again, Ollie took her child and went back to her parent’s house.  Otis filed for a divorce and for custody of Pauline.  The Circuit Court judge denied the divorce and granted custody of Pauline to Ollie on 25 June 1927.

This was not the end of their legal battles.  Otis decided not to pursue the divorce; however, he did appeal for custody of Pauline.  The case went to the Alabama Supreme Court on 30 September 1927.

During the court proceedings, numerous witness were called and questions were asked regarding the families church attendance, work ethic, sobriety, and their personal reputations.

The court determined Otis and Ollie were, “both of good character.”  However, evidence and testimony showed Artie was, “of a disagreeable character and hard to get alone with.”

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled the child would remain with Ollie and Otis was granted visitation rights.  Otis was also required to pay $15.00 a month in child support.  At the time, Otis worked as a coal miner and made $3.00 a day.

This whole convoluted case finally came to an end when Artie died on 3 June 1928.  Otis and Ollie lived in the house that Otis inherited from his mother.  They had a total of ten children and remained together until Otis passed away on 27 June 1949.

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