Ruth's Genealogy

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

On 22 Dec 1954, my uncle Miles Francis (Mike) Stanley II died in a tragic gun accident at age 14.

Out of school for Christmas break and seemingly with nothing else to do, Mike and a friend had borrowed a couple of guns without permission and gone target shooting atop a small hill near their homes. Being the teenager that he was, Mike held one of the weapons, a pistol, to his head and playfully said to his friend, “Dare me?” The friend told him to stop being silly and turned back to his own target. In the next instant, the sound of a pistol shot rang out. Mike’s terrified friend turned in time to see Mike’s body roll down the hill. The pistol had accidentally gone off, the bullet entering Mike’s head near his right temple. He was killed instantly.

My grandfather’s best friend was in the Navy and stationed at Norfolk, Virginia at the time of this tragedy. Uncle Dick, as we all knew him, was unable to return to Fort Worth to comfort his adopted family. These are the original Western Union telegrams that he sent to my grandfather to express his own heartbreak and condolences:

MilFStanley3 west union1

MilFStanley3 west union2

MilFStanley3 west union3

2 thoughts on “Treasure Chest Thursday: Western Union telegrams

  1. Mike says:

    Ruth, I agree. None of us will ever know what happened for certain. None of us were there. In fact, none of us grandchildren were alive. However, the myth and mystery surrounding Mike’s death have pervaded our family story and the lives of his parents and siblings. I only know my mom’s reflections and the lifetime of guilt she carried. I also know the interesting experience of being born on his birthday and never observing a birthday without being reminded of a young man I never met and his horrible, tragic death.



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