A Downsville Lovesick Tragedy

Dr. Tim Hudson

George Golden moved to Downsville about 1878. An Englishman described as “above the average in intellect and education”, Golden had traveled extensively “upon the high seas” and across the United States. Neighbors described him as “industrious and inoffensive…by all who knew him he was well liked…but sometimes drank to intoxication.” In 1880, Golden married Sophia J. Wheat, the daughter of a Downsville farmer. The marriage proved unhappy, primarily due to frequent “rows” between Golden and his in-laws, James and Calperhia Wheat. In 1880, after Sophia had a baby, an especially heated quarrel occurred between Golden and the Wheats. The quarrel escalated into a physical altercation in which Golden received severe injuries, not to mention wounded feelings.

By August, Golden concluded that to save his marriage, he and his family had to move away from the Wheats. James and Calperhia protested Sophia’s leaving, but after some difficulty, he managed to persuade her “to turn her back to her old home and go with him.” So on Saturday morning, August 5th, George and Sophia, together with their young child, departed for their new home. They only made it to Downsville before she became homesick and refused to go further, wanting to return to her parents. Golden protested, reminding her of the discord between her parents and him and warning her of the renewed quarrels that would ensue if he were to return. He attempted to show Sophia the incredible happiness in store for them at their new home, away from her relatives.

Sophia refused to listen to her husband and started back to her parents’ farm carrying her child. Golden followed her through town, begging her to continue with him. As they reached the edge of Downsville, he convinced her to stop and listen for a moment. They sat down beside the road, where he reiterated his reasoning for wanting to move away, pleading with her “to be true to the vow she had taken before the alter.” His continual entreaties proved in vain, for Sophia had determined to desert him for her relatives.

Distraught, Golden decided he would rather die than be separated from his wife, and “with the madness of a maniac he pulled from his pocket a pistol, placed it against his forehead and blew his own life into eternity. Such is the act of a man who loved his wife more than he esteemed his own existence.” The Wheats felt such animosity against Golden that they refused to participate in his funeral, but “the good people of the town of Downsville” buried him Sunday evening.

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Dr. Tim Hudson is the mathematics department head at Southeastern Louisiana and an avid historian on Union Parish. Hudson is a Union Parish native and graduate of Farmerville High School.

 

 

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