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.

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

4 thoughts on “Avard Mitchell–1897 to 1920

  1. Susan, I believe Avard was originally buried in the cemetery in the Basin. But, when the Keystone Dam was going to be put in, they moved the rest of the Mitchell family graves to the Oak Hill Cemetery where Grandma & Granddad Mitchell are buried. I was always fascinated by the unique design of the tombstones from the “olden” days when Mother took us out there.

    Just cannot imagine the pain & heartache Grandma & Granddad Mitchell endured from losing several children at such young ages. May must have suffered much pain from this loss all her life, too. Grandma & Granddad Mitchell certainly trusted in God & stood fast in their faith to see their children again in Heaven!

    • I know, Sharon. Deb and I went to the ‘Ford Cemetery(s) on Memorial Day last year or the year before. We just about cried at all the babies’ and young children’s graves. I know there are statistics somewhere that show how many children died.
      I can’t imagine the pain.
      Makes me wonder if the high loss of children doesn’t have something to do with the number of people who were Christians back then. As our families have a better survival rate, it looks like we stop depending on God so much.
      Very sad, isn’t it?

  2. That story made me cry!
    How sad!
    Great idea to get all this from Uncle Frank. Keep going!

    • I’ve got to get a digital recorder so I can keep his stories in his own words. Glad I was able to touch your heart, #4.
      We’re both good criers, aren’t we?

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