I love when I find new articles about my ancestors! This one concerns the death of a “bad guy” and my 2nd great-grandfather Jerome E Richards.
From the May 26, 1911 issue of The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee), p. 6:
John, alias “Punch,” Wilson died in Memphis the other day – died in the county poorhouse, to be exact. Tuberculosis carried him off. “Punch” was one of the bad men of Memphis. He had committed more crimes than one. But when he approached the great divide but one dread possessed him: he feared to lie in Potter’s field. The friends of other days had deserted him, all but a few. They knew where he was; they knew his end was approaching. As the shadows began to lengthen about Wilson’s bedside, the great dread of a pauper’s grave grew stronger and stronger; and as a last resort he told those about him to inform Jerome Richards when death came. Richards was not a personal friend, he was not an associate – but “Punch” knew his man. When the Pale Horseman called and Wilson was dead Jerome Richards was told. Then the big heart of the ex-police chief and present criminal court clerk was touched. He ordered that Wilson have a decent burial, and he told the undertakers to see to it and send him the bill.
“I never admired the character of ‘Punch’ Wilson,” said Mr. Richards, “but death settles all earthly scores and makes us all equal. If he can fix it all right with his Maker at the judgment, I am satisfied. Death wipes out everything so far as I am concerned, and my only hope is that he may know that his last request was complied with.”
No man who knows expected Jerome Richards to do otherwise or say less. Possibly he is not a saint; but his heart overflows with the milk of human kindness, and, after all, that is the true Christian spirit.
Below are the death records for John “Punch” Wilson (click to enlarge).
I found a picture of John “Punch” Wilson in the December 16, 1908 issue of The Tennessean (Nashville), p 6: