Sunday, August 19, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 33 Family Legend - A Bible and a Gun

The 52 Ancestors prompt for this week is "Family Legend". It isn't unusual for a family to have some sort of legend. Maybe it's a legend surrounding the family's arrival in a country or that there's an ancestral castle waiting to be claimed. Maybe it's a story about how you're supposedly related to someone famous. You could explore how you proved or disproved the story. Then there are the "tall tales" that seem to get taller at every telling!

My father told me quite a few stories about his grandfather's adventures as county sheriff during the 1920s. Charles Creeden was the County Sheriff of Mercer County, OH from 1923-1927. One legend I've been able to prove during Charles' time as sheriff involved a skirmish at the opening of the Mercer County courthouse where Charles turned the fire hoses on an unruly mob. I was also able to find an article about the arrests of farmers for having stills (or hootch!) on their farms during prohibition.

Another of my father's stories involved a gunfight that broke out when Charles and his deputies tried to serve papers on a local pastor. They approached the person in question on his way to church and he pulled a gun out from under his bible and shot at them! A bullet grazed Charles in the head and left a scar. The sheriffs shot back and the shooter was arrested.

I've searched for a newspaper article on this story before with no luck, but this time I had some success.

The above article was published in the News-Journal in Mansfield, OH on March 24, 1925 and is available on It seems to confirm most of the story. It's interesting that it doesn't mention Charles being shot, but I'm guessing the injury was fairly minor. It also doesn't mention the details about a pastor or pulling the gun out from under a bible, so hard to say if that is true or if my great-grandfather was just adding a bit of color to the story! Given that Hein was on his way to church, it certainly seems possible.

One final thing I wondered about was the levy of execution mentioned in the article. According to, this is a court order authorizing a levy on (or seizure) of property or other asset to satisfy a creditor. No wonder Mr. Hein didn't want to answer the door when the sheriffs came to his house!

#52Ancestors is a series of weekly family history prompts developed by Amy Johnson Crow.

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