Beware the Woman and Her Gun

When a genealogist says you never know what you’re going to find when you start looking, the axiom is gospel truth. When working with a friend on his family tree, I discovered an unnamed woman who was not about to be deterred by his relative and defended her home by lethal force. In short, the lesson to learn is to beware the woman and her gun when it comes to her home.

“Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,” database with images,  FamilySearch ( 5 December 2014), Wayne Lee White, 22 Jul 1961; citing certificate number 43215, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2,116,789.

My friend and I stumbled upon this death record for Wayne Lee White who died in Wichita Falls, Texas in July 1961. Death records from this time period record the cause of death.

What is Wayne’s cause of death? Gunshot wounds.

Wait! What?

Oh, how sad! Gunshot wounds in the 1960s are just so awful. Who could have shot him?

Well, the death record reveals the truth. A woman shot Wayne apparently several times or with something like buckshot due to his death of gunshot wounds (plural). And the death certificate recorded the reason was that Wayne was breaking into the unnamed woman’s home.

My first thought was, “Wayne! How disappointing.”

My next thought was, “Woman power!” and “Right on, sister!”

Now, it might be interesting to follow up further on this death record. Perhaps my friend and I could find a police report of the incident or a newspaper article. Perhaps we could uncover the name and the life circumstances that took Wayne to the house for a robbery on that night. The sweeter side of me hopes that it was a mistake but the genealogist knows that things like this often lead to further stories.

My friend hopes to learn more about Wayne, any family he had and discover more about this tragedy.  So, if you know about Wayne, please contact me on my form in the sidebar and I’ll connect you with my friend.

As genealogists, we have to recognize that these records are snapshots in time. A record like this can evoke a variety of feelings, positive and negative, for Wayne and the unnamed woman. My only take away is folks better be careful approaching this woman’s house at night. She’s going to defend it!

This death certificate was a great example of the power of guns to protect women. #Genealogy
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

8 thoughts on “Beware the Woman and Her Gun

  1. Nancy. Thanks for stopping by. Learning more would be so great. And yes, I feel so much compassion as I think about the suicides. Isn't amazing that what was once a hush-hush, taboo, don't ever mention it now triggers sadness and curiosity?

  2. I hope she finds more information about Wayne's death. Otherwise it will needle her. I know what you mean about events stirring up emotions. I've come across a few suicides, and it saddens me to think the person was in such despair that he saw no other solution.

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