Murder in the Family, Part 2

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This post is the second of a three-part series.

Mary Shelby McDaniel was my grandmother, Doris LaNell Thurman Cunningham’s grandmother. She was born in Sulpher Springs, Hopkins County, Texas, on September 1, 1873 to Mary Bates McDaniel; her father, Shelby, was murdered around Christmas in 1872.

Very little is known about Shelby McDaniel. His parentage is uncertain, but Gerald McDaniel, who descends from Mary Shelby’s older brother Greenberry McDaniel, connected Shelby to the Gwinnett County, Georgia McDaniels; however, the 1850 census does not reveal a Shelby in the household of the man Gerald McDaniel believed to be Shelby’s father, James McDaniel. It is possible that Shelby left home before the 1850 census was taken, as he would have been about 17. One possibility for Shelby McDaniel includes:

S.C. McDaniel (age 16) in the home of his mother Mary McDaniel (age 52), with brothers Robert W. (age 22), W.P. (age 21) and E.C. McDaniel (age 14) and sister C.A. McDaniel (age 18) in Chester County, South Carolina, in 1850.

Gerald McDaniel passed away some time ago, and his website is no longer accessible through conventional means; however, if you access it through this link, you should be able to read some of it. You can access his genealogy here; McDaniel information is available here. Could Gerald’s granfather, Greenberry McDaniel, have named his son Shelby Clifton McDaniel using his father’s full name? It makes the S.C. McDaniel candidate more interesting…

Shelby was already in Texas by 1860, as he appears on the 1860 Census for Lamar County, Texas, married to Mary with son David. Most of what I know about Shelby McDaniel comes from my second cousin once removed, Chris Stofel. According to Chris, who has Shelby McDaniel’s Civil War records, Shelby “mustered in the 9th Texas Field Battery, Texas Light Artillery (Lamar Artillery)” in January 1862 in Paris, Lamar County, Texas. He was described on the roll as “5’9″, dark complexion, brown eyes, dark hair, a mason, born in SC, body sound and in good health.” Chris added that Shelby was “present for a few months, then was listed as being sick in the General Hospital/St. John’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, from November 11, 1862. He spent several months there and on November 12, 1863, he was listed as having deserted and was dropped from the rolls.”

Chris Stofel says that Shelby was murdered around Christmas in 1872. “His body was found floating in a river or creek.” To this day, we are not sure why Shelby was murdered. Chris has heard three different versions of Shelby’s murder:

  1. Shelby was robbed as he was returning home from working in Gainesville, Texas; he supposedly had a lot of money with him.
  2. Shelby was murdered by the jealous husband of a woman he was having an affair with.
  3. Shelby was pro-Unionist and was killed by unreconstructed Rebels.

Chris said that many older relatives describe Shelby as a “rounder,” so any of the three versions is possible. Merriam-Webster’s definition 2 of “rounder” is “a dissolute person : WASTREL.”

As far as descendants know, this murder has never been solved.

Source: Stofel, Christopher. Letter to Jerry Thurman. Unknown date.

Read “Murder in the Family, Part 1.”

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