Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ira and Myra – the descent

To get up to speed on this true tale of New Albany history read the previous post – “Desperate Housewives – 1886 Style”

The Accusation – The Attempted Murder – The Murder

The Accusation
In December 1885 the rumors made their way back to Ira. Myra and Charles V. Hoover were having an affair. Acquaintances informed Ira that Charles had boasted of the affair. Rumor had it that Charles would blow kisses as he walked past the Strunk home. A resident near the church that both Charles and Myra frequented would later testify to witnessing the sin of all sins – “afternoon delight” in the church itself.

Church sex wouldn’t go over too well today – you can only imagine the scandal it would cause in 1885.

Ira believed his wife had been unfaithful. He had been dishonored. His was family disgraced. As Christmas was nearing, Ira moved out of the house and into the Occidental Hotel at West First and Main Street.

The Attempted Murder
Ira fell violently ill soon after moving out of the Strunk home. For weeks, he was stricken with inflammation of the bowels and a malarial fever. He did not recover until the end of April 1886. That’s nearly four months of being incapacitated, in bed, with nothing to occupy his mind except his wife’s infidelity. From time to time visitors would stop by and relate more gossip and rumor.

Friends would later describe how Ira began to change; he developed a wild-eyed look, rarely slept, appeared grief stricken, would become violent – he was feared by them.

In late April, Ira had recovered enough to take a shopping trip to Maienthal’s Clothing Store (corner of Pearl and Market). He saw a familiar face in the store, Charles V. Hoover. Ira drew his revolver and fired. Nothing happened, as the gun had misfired. Charles scrambled and escaped through the cellar.

A grand jury indicted Ira for assault and battery with intent to kill. He pleaded not guilty and was heavily bonded. He would then leave for Florida to sell his real estate holdings.

The Murder
Fast forward to July 27, 1886. Ira had been back from Florida for several weeks. There had been no reconciliation with Myra – he was back at the Occidental Hotel. On this hot July morning, he had taken his children for a walk. At eleven-thirty he sat down in one of the chairs in front of the New Albany Inn.

It was at this time that Charles and his father, Dr. Hoover, were walking home to eat lunch. Was Ira waiting for them? Was he aware this was their normal path home for lunch?

Regardless, Ira saw the two men, stood up from his seat, withdrew his revolver, and pursued them for two blocks. He reached Dr. Hoover first, firing twice and knocking him to the ground. He then turned the gun on Charles, firing and hitting him twice. Charles managed to stumble into the doorway of Bohl’s Barber Shop (East Fourth Street), but collapsed in the doorway.

Ira was not finished. As Charles lay near death, he pounded him in the skull with his revolver. A witness later testified that Ira then took out a handkerchief, wiped his brow, put on his hat, and walked back to his hotel. He was arrested an hour later.

What happened at the trial? Was Ira sentenced to death?
Check back later this week for a review of the trial, a postscript, and photos of landmarks relating to this sad episode of New Albany history.


The New Albanian said...

I'm having trouble imagining tables on the street outside the New Albany Inn.

Good stuff, Ted.

Brandon W. Smith said...

Nice! Did you stumble upon this story while looking through old newspapers?

TedF said...

Let's just say it helps to be a friend of the Floyd County Historian - David Barksdale. He assists in coming up with ideas to post then he goes to some magic history vault and retrieves a file.

The research for this piece came from a Tribune article dated April 19, 1976 and about 34 pages of research done by the Floyd County Historical Society that also appears to have been done sometime in the 1970's.

ceece said...

I can't wait to see pics!

CannonFarms said...

I have an enterpatation of those days. Imagine the current lobby of the Inn may have been a front porch with large rockers and where you would be served food and drinks. Much like the porch at the French Lick Springs Resort.