An Odd Coincidence: The Story of Garnett Cramer

An Odd Coincidence: The Story of Garnett Cramer

On Sunday afternoon, December 16, 1934, a young couple was out for a walk in downtown Syracuse, New York. As they passed the intersection of Fineview Place and Standart Street, they happened to look into a car parked near the corner and the sight must have been a shock.

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Corner of Fineview Place and Standart Street, Syracuse, NY as it appears today:
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A man was slumped over in the front seat, a semi-automatic pistol still in his hand. He was Garnett Willis Cramer, 21 years old. This young man, known by his nickname of Gar, was not actually related to me, but the family connections are such an odd coincidence, that the story is strange and perhaps astounding.

Police and family members had been searching for young Cramer since Saturday evening. His father, Frank Cramer, had reported him missing and stated that, “He had been despondent due to his inability to find work.” In addition he said, “l planned to take Gar to a specialist today to see if he couldn’t help relieve the boy’s worries.”

The 32 caliber pistol Cramer used in the suicide was borrowed from his best friend, David Whitcomb, also of Syracuse. Cramer had told his friend that he wanted to do some target practice at his parents’ camp property in the town of Belgium near Baldwinsville. Unfortunately, he chose to end his life, leaving behind grieving parents and older siblings.

The graveside committal service for Garnett W. Cramer was held the following Wednesday at Mount Adnah Cemetery in Fulton, north of Syracuse.

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Garnett Willis Cramer:
Photo credit: Syracuse Journal

However, there is more to this story through family connections – an odd tie-in, the likes of which I have never seen in more then fourty years of family history research.

At the time of Gar Cramer’s death, my grandfather Edward Lindsey was married to my grandmother, Dorothy (Hewes) Lindsey. Her parents had been long-time friends with the Cramer family. Dorothy’s sister Vida was the first wife of Gar’s older brother Leonard Cramer, the well-known aviator. See my account of Leonard’s life here:

Later, my grandparents were divorced, partly because my grandfather became involved with Gar Cramer’s sister, Rosamond B. (Cramer) Day. My grandfather married Rosamond in 1941, but this marriage also eventually failed. They were divorced in 1951.

Along the way, my grandfather met Thelma (Tafel) Whitcomb and they were married in 1954. Thelma had been married to David Whitcomb, who was the best friend of Garnett Cramer at the time of his tragic death. It was David’s pistol, innocently lent to his friend, that led directly to the tragedy.

The odd coincidence is that my grandfather, Edward Lindsey, perhaps without ever having met Garnett Cramer, married three different women who had a very strong connection to this young man.

Family history research sometimes leads to very unexpected and surprising conclusions!

© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2019
(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)

Syracuse (NY) Journal. December 17, 1934. Despondency Causes Youth to End Life. Page 7.
Records of Mount Adnah Cemetery, Fulton, NY.

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