Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Avard Mitchell–1897 to 1920

Uncle Frank told me the story of Grandmother’s brother, Avard, and Grandad’s twin sister, May. It seems they were sparking when Avard decided to teach May how to shoot. They used a six gun.

Being ignorant about guns and not knowing safety rules, May accidentally shot Avard.

“Gut shot,” Uncle Frank said. “He lived for about a week before he died.”

I try to imagine the accident. I see it happening at the Mitchell house (the cellar is still there but the house is gone) since the older Spess brothers pretty well knew how to shoot and probably would have taken over. (If they were around.)

The sound of the shot, the flash of heat followed by the wash of pure cold that must have gripped Grandma Mitchell when she realized her son had been shot and, barring a miracle, he couldn’t live.

Did they send for a doctor? I don’t know, but I’d guess they did. Knowing the Mitchells, they prayed for that miracle. Called the church together and prayed without ceasing for a miracle that wouldn’t come.   

Avard died on July 8th. Here’s what it says at the bottom of his headstone–

Weep not, father and mother, for me. For I wait in Glory for thee.

Two years later, May married Ott Lawmaster (I think the last name is right) and her twin brother, Ray, married Ruby Mitchell. They eloped.

I don’t know if that was because Grandma Mitchell hadn’t gotten over a Spess killing her son or if Ray just didn’t ask Ruby until the last minute.

Guess I’d better ask Uncle Frank.