My 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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Blogging & Tweeting Without Getting Sued

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I was searching for books about blogging on Amazon when I found Blogging & Tweeting Without Getting Sued by Mark Pearson.  I was intrigued by the title and decided to read the  book.

Here are a few important points to keep in mind when blogging:

  • Criminal and civil laws apply to bloggers and bloggers are treated the same as media companies as far as the law is concerned
  • You should never forward or repost material that you have not reviewed and verified
  • Libelous material may be defended if it is in the public interest, but this is a hard point to prove and any signs of malice will destroy your defense
  • Think about the consequences before posting a negative blog about an individual or a company
  • Anonymity is not guaranteed on the internet
  • Blogging any confidential information about other people is illegal

Witness Protection Program Friend

While attending college in Texas, I had a friend named Ty.  We liked to hang out and even volunteered to do some projects together for a school club.

I lived in the dorm and Ty lived with his mom in a house near the college.  Ty seemed like an average guy and I never suspected there was anything unusual about him.

It started out as a normal day, but that afternoon there was an explosion in Ty’s garage and his mother was almost killed.  Luckily, Ty was at school at the time.

The next day I saw Ty.  He said he wanted to say goodby.  Ty started taking about the explosion and said he was in the witness protection program.  As a child, Ty (which at this time I discovered was not his real name) used to deliver boxes for a local gang.  In his teen years, Ty agreed to testify and help the police put those gang members in jail.  However, his life was now in danger.

I was in shock about the whole situation and it didn’t hit me at first what was actually happening.

It’s been 20 years since I last saw Ty, but I still think about him from time to time.  I hope he was able to create a life for himself and that his is safe now.