Every family has its share of tragedies. Some are accidental events while others are more sinister in nature. The stories shared here have been verified by (as available) family members, news media, and/or civil documents. In those instances where possible criminal actions might be to blame, we, personally, draw no conclusions on guilt or innocence of any party. We merely share the stories that have effected the lives of some of our family members.
If anyone has a challenge to any story or portion thereof and can substantiate their challenge with verifiable evidence that might alter our version, we ask that you share that information and evidence so that we may accurately relate the facts.
ELSIE VIOLA POOVEY AND LUTHER TURNER
Lineage: Elsie Viola Poovey, daughter of William Clinnard and Ida Pearl Eckard Poovey, was born on July 17, 1911. She died on December 1, 1929, age 18 years. Her mother, Ida Pearl was the daughter of David Pinkney and Frances Elizabeth Coons Eckard. Through her mother, this made Elsie Viola my 3rd cousin 2X removed. Lineage: Luther Eugene Turner was the son of David Emmanuel and Mamie Pearl Reitzel Turner. He was born on October 25, 1909; he also died on December 1st, 1929, age 20 years. Through his mother, Luther was a distant cousin, as various members of the Eckard lines married into the Reitzel Family.
On December 1st, 1929, after having attended church with their families, engaged couple, Elsie Poovey and Luther Turner, left together in Luther's car. Elsie had told her parents, who were going in another direction for a short visit with a friend, that she would go home and start a fire so the house would be warm when they arrived. When the Poovey's arrived home later that evening, the house was cold and there was no sign of Elsie or Luther having stopped by the house. At first, they thought the couple might have made another stop along the way but, when Elsie didn't return home that night and then learned that Luther was also "missing", they were concerned for the safety of the couple. It would take several days for the true nature of what actually happened on the evening of December 1, 1929 to be revealed.
Despite Mr. Poovey's insistence to the contrary and the revelation of Luther having left an ominous note implying a suicide pact, the locals, for some inexplicable reason, were of the opinion that the couple had eloped. It wasn't until Mr. Poovey, while searching on his own, came to stand on a bridge spanning the Catawba River and spotted what appeared to be an oil slick progressively forming on the river's surface from still rising oil. It was this discovery that prompted authorities to search the river near the slick. It was there that they found and raised Luther's car with the couple still inside.
It is believed that Elsie, a college student at the time, had developed some reservations about marrying. Whether her reservations were general in nature about getting married at that time or were specifically about her marrying Luther, we don't know. All of the national news articles, however, indicate Luther was aware she was having a change of heart and this hesitation had caused him to become depressed over possibly loosing Elsie. He had left a note address to his "Dear Brother and Family:.." in which he said he was going to die and that he and Else wanted to be buried together. Even though there wasn't a single reason revealed and virtually no evidence to support it, his eluding to Elsie being complicit in a suicide pact was believed by many. In fact, her death certificate reads, "suicide" as the manner of death. However, the reports of Luther's actions prior to the incident and those relating what was found when the vehicle was raised, perhaps, shed a different light.
Shortly prior to December 1st, 1929, Luther, while traveling with friends, made and unexpected and unexplained stop at the bridge where the car eventually drove off the road and into the Catawba River. When he got out of his car, he moved some rocks to the location where it was established he drove off the road. This indicated he had given some thought and planning into his actions. Luther had also had some odd conversations with his parents about whether or not he and Elsie would be buried together should they die before they married - and then there's that note he left addressed to his brother and family. No one paid Luther's conversations or actions any heed. Had they, this story would have likely had a much different ending. Nevertheless, fate came to pass and Luther's plan was put into action.
When the car was raised, it was noted that the passenger door was open and that Elsie's leg was outside the car, suggesting that she had attempted to get out of the car. However, Luther's right arm was around her - possibly this was the reason she couldn't get out. No one will ever know the whole of the details from that night. The only 2 people who do know took the answers with them when they were laid to rest. They were not buried together as Luther had hoped; Elsie is buried in Mt. Oliver Lutheran Ch. Cemetery in Hickory, NC and Luther is buried at St. Stephen's Lutheran MO Synod Ch. Cemetery in the older (original) section.
This is one of the many national newspaper articles about the
deaths of Elsie Poovey and Luther Turner
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