Sunday, November 20, 2005

Desperate Housewives - 1886 style

Sex, infidelity, greed, scandal, cowardice, love triangle, insanity, murder....

In the prosperous, bustling river town of New Albany life was pretty good for Professor Ira G. Strunk. A professor of penmanship, he came to town after graduating from the University of Kentucky. Ira arrived in 1872, being assigned as principal of the New Albany Business College. Within 2 years, along with a partner, he owned the school.

Then Ira met, wooed, and wed Myra Sullivan. Her parents, William and Jane Sullivan, operated a successful grocery. Myra was an only child, described as being endowed with charm and intelligence. She had a talent and love of music. She had the best musical education that was available at the time. She had also had the eye of many young men in the City. Ira landed a keeper.

The newlyweds took up residence at the Sullivan home, northwest corner of E. 5th St. and Main St. Ira worked long hours at the school, was an officer of a Building and Loan Association, helped the Republican Central Committee run campaigns, worked to promote the Odd Fellows Lodge, and made regular trips to Florida (alone) dabbling in real estate. Ira and Myra were blessed with two daughters born respectively in 1877 and 1879.

This was a prosperous, popular, and influential family. Even by 2005 standards, these folks were movers and shakers. It's hard to imagine a more idyllic life.

In addition to raising two children, Myra found time to put her musical skills to work as the organist for her church. Undoubtedly, she spent time there practicing with the church choir. The choir director was Charles V. Hoover. The Hoover and Sullivan families were close friends and neighbors - and had been long before Ira came to town.

Charles was the son of Dr. Charles L. Hoover, who operated and owned the Hoover Drug Store. It was a successful business. Charles V. was a traveling salesman for the store. When he was not traveling, he was obligated to work at the store. On such days, he and his father, Dr. Hoover, would often walk to their home on Market Street for lunch.

Again, the only thing notable is the nearly script like lives being lived by the Hoover, Sullivan, and Strunk families. But the plot takes a little twist in this script. On a hot summer day in 1886, at about 11:30am, there will be two pools of blood on Market Street.

Charles Hoover will watch helplessly as his father, Dr. Hoover, is shot. Then Charles' skull will be shattered by crushing blows and he will be shot twice at point blank range. Murder on Market Street.

Who was the murderer? What events led to this bloody lunchtime special on Market Street? Look for more installments later this week.


The New Albanian said...


CannonFarms said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CannonFarms said...

Hi "T" I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the rest of the story.
I will tune in next week.

Amy said...

What church was it where the organist and choir director had their trysts?

TedF said...

Hi Amy - I'll pull out some of my background info and look for the name of the church. It may take me a couple days to get to it.

NewAlbanianMan said...

Anyone interested in the complete story of Professor Strunk, his wife Myra, and the murder of Charles Hoover, needs to attend one of my haunted history tours of downtown New Albany. Contact me, Gregg Seidl, at 948-1195 for more information.

NewAlbanianMan said...

The church was St.Pauls Episcopal church on Market Street.

NewAlbanianMan said...

Strunk shot the Hoovers in the alley between Wolf Glass and Hugh E. Birs; not in front of the Windsor Hotel

TedF said...

Gregg - thanks for the corrections and thanks for reading.

Are you giving tours on a regular basis? Is there a schedule on the web?

NewAlbanianMan said...

The tours are held every Friday and Saturday night through October and some of November, (depending on demand). Tickets are $15 per person, and we meet at Hugh E. Birs at 7:30. Stops include the River City Winery and the old New Albany Inn.

You can contact me via Facebook by sending a request to Gregg Seidl, or by email at

The Strunk story is one of the favorites. :)

Yay-Yay said...

hey!! i have been researching this for a whie now... stepped away for a while because when i started to look into this some very strange things started to happen... i have an old commentary of the bible from 100 years ago.. i found an old news paper cliping that i just found out today was from 1887 i also found a letter from new albany buisness college that has ira g. strunk's name on it.. i got curious and started digging.. the letter is dated july 26,1888 and reads "yourself and company are invited to a picnic given by the students on the knobs friday evening 27''. the grounds are at the head of the water works road. hours from 6 to 12. e sure and come." at the bottom it says
I.G. Strunk Sec'y.

i have become very interested in seing if the news paper cliping articles and ira can be somehow linked together. maybe a relative or someone saved these. i dont know. im just trying to find answers.. if anyone has any info on the names of Ira's children, PLEASE let me know.. thank you :)