Who Killed Olen Payne Wood?

Wood siblings with Grandpa Anthony
Flora on your far left. Bessie standing behind Zelma. Grandpa Anthony holding James Oscar. Fletcher Pinckney standing behind William Henry and Olen Payne on your far right.

One of the burning questions in the Wood family (and Graham family) is what happened to Olen Payne Wood.  Olen was born in 1886 in Fayette County, Alabama to James Samuel and Vernettie Jane (Anthony) Wood.  He was their second child after their daughter Flora.  James had a lot of health issues and he felt that the climate in Texas might be more to his liking.  The 1900 census showed that the family was still in Alabama and Olen was 13 at that time.  There is a little discrepancy in this census in that the age was recorded as 13 but the year of birth looks like the recorder indicated a year of 1896.  A picture taken of the family after their move to Texas settles the age discrepancy.

Census 1900, Alabama, Precient 11 (Brown) Fayette County - Olen Payne Wood001This picture does not show Flora, Olen or Fletcher Pinckney.  My mother, Bessie Beatrice Wood is standing in the back.  James Oscar is sitting on your far left and his father, James Samuel Wood is next to him with Mayma being held by her mother.  Vernettie is next and on your right is Zelma.  In front is William Henry.  It was not too long after this picture was taken that James Wood died of the bloody flux.  (I think he had undiagnosed diabetes).

Olen Payne may have been missing at that point but I have not been able to determine that at this time.  Flora had married and I think Fletcher Pinckney was off to school.  One of my cousins told me recently that Olen had been given some money to pay on some land and was traveling to do that when he was robbed and killed.

Another theory that I have heard is that Olen had left with the money and was going to visit with a girlfriend before he took off.  The story goes that this girlfriend had two brothers who hated Olen.  The theory goes that he was killed by them and hidden in a cave or some other place.  This theory got some impetus when several years later there was a skeleton found in a cave not too far from where they were living at the time.  Simply robbery by itself would not have required hiding the body therefore the two mad brothers might fit that description better.

The author of this blog will appreciate any memories that family members may have about what happened to Olen Payne Wood.



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