Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - The Dillinger Coincidence

John Dillinger
born June 22, 1903 - died July 22, 1934

Our hearts still
ache with sadness,
And secret tears still flow,
What it meant
to lose you,
No one can ever know

Several years ago my husband and I took an extended journey across the country. Along the way we visited cemeteries to photograph headstones of various ancestors.

One of the sites was Crown Hill Cemetery in Carmel, Indianapolis. While searching for my husband's great-grandparents tombstones we came upon the grave of John Herbert Dillinger.

During the early 1930's Dillinger was one of America's most notorious criminals. In fact J. Edgar Hoover created a special task force to find "Public Enemy #1".

The lead agent charged with the capture of Dillinger was Melvin Purvis. My mother-in-law had been on several dates with Melvin while residing in Chicago. In fact the evening Dillinger was found they were out to dinner.

During the meal a fellow agent came to the table with an urgent message. Melvin then excused himself and sped out the door. Only later did she realize he was off to apprehend one of the most wanted men in the country.

Discovering the headstone we felt a strange feeling of coincidence. My husband's mother knew the man responsible for Dillinger's downfall. Then we find him buried in the same cemetery with Doug's paternal ancestors.

Genealogy IS an interesting adventure!


  1. That is an amazing story Deb! Golly, I think that makes your mother almost FAMOUS, doesn't it? I agree, an amazing adventure. I feel sorry for those who don't *get it* because they are missing out on all the fun!

  2. Great connection to history. Love it!

  3. We just walked that cemetery in June - it's an amazing place - and stopped at John Dillinger's grave.

    Great story!

  4. What a curious story, Deb! Such a coincidence. We were just in Indy on our travels...wish I had known to stop by this cemetery. And the inscription you transcribed...makes me wonder about its back story.

  5. Thanks for all the wonderful comments.