Examining the Evidence

Roberta Mitchell examining old documents

Roberta Mitchell (Mom) examining old documents.

Notice the archival box, archival clear envelopes, strong daylight bulb, magnification, white cotton knit gloves, and trusty cat in a neighboring chair.  All are important ingredients in caring for* old paper documents and divining what they contain.

Mom is rooting through one of many boxes which contain letters and clippings from 1890, the year my great-grandfather was murdered.  I covered this event in “Murder in Juarez, Trouble in El Paso”.  You may see the beginning of a correspondence in the comments at the end that blog, in which a reader makes a fascinating discovery that the man her family knows as (Great-) “Uncle Billy” might also be the murderer of my Great-grandfather.

She has sent me lots of scans of information she has found, as well as preserved postcards and such from Uncle Billy and his wife.  She has requested as much information as we have on the subject of the murder, trial, and escape/release of J. W. Clayton in 1890 or 91.  Mom and I have stepped up our research on this subject, but it is a slow process because we have so many boxes to sort.

We have a lot of correspondence between family members on the subject of a ranch and cattle ‘Out West’ in which not only Cavitt brothers and sisters have an interest, but others, such as Bolton and Clayton, have an interest, too.

We also have newspaper clippings, yellowed and falling apart, about the trial and planned execution of Clayton for the murder of his Cavitt partner in business.  We have receipts from the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Chicago, which John Cavitt hired to track down Clayton after he escaped/was released from jail.  My reader even ran across a story in which Clayton was jailed with Pancho Villa, who arranged for his release!

You can see that there will be more blogs to come on this topic, as we try to unravel the windings of truth and myth which are tightly twined together.  Thank you to my astute reader who caught a connection and offered all her information to me.  You will be seeing the results of her efforts here, as well as the results of Mom’s and my digging.

*Strong light should be used as little as possible, as it fades ink and damages paper and fabric.  Only expose documents to the light long enough to get them transcribed!