The Sad Tale of Mildred Turner

Source:  Knoxville Journal — Dec 29, 1931 — Page 2

Girl Killed in Wreck Saturday, Buried Monday, Isn’t Legally Dead

Although pretty Mildred Turner, 20, of No. 403 Warren avenue, was killed instantly Saturday in an automobile wreck near Bull Run creek, she is not yet officially dead, according to Knox county officials.  She was buried yesterday.

Edward Bayless and Fred Bittle were also injured in the accident.  Bayless has little chance to recover, physicians at the Knoxville General hospital said last night.  He received a fractured skull and deep lacerations of the scalp.  Bittle is expected to be able to leave the hospital in a few days.

According to state law, one is not legally dead until an official death certificate has been filled out by physicians or county officials and filed with the bureau of vital statistics.  And so far, the certificate for Miss Turner has not been filled out, because of several complications.

The accident in which she was killed occurred in Union county, but officials of that county were not notified and no investigation of the wreck was made.  Union county officers explained, in refusing to sign the death certificate.  The accident occurred out of Knox county, so officials here have no jurisdiction in the matter and no right to sign the death certificate, they explained.  Internes [sic] at Knoxville General hospital, where Miss Turner was taken for examination, are also undetermined as to whether they have a right to fill out the certificate or not.

Officials expect to get together today and settle the dispute in some way, and have the girl pronounced “officially, legally dead,” officers said.

The trio was on the way to Pineville, Ky., for a week-end visit with friends when the car struck a tobacco truck, driven by Hugh Harper, employe [sic] of the Ne-Hi Bottling Co.  Harper escaped with slight face cuts.


Mildred, a secretary at the time of her death, was the daughter of Walter J.  and Sallie J. (neé Rutherford) Turner.  They were married June 6, 1909, in Knox County, TN.  In the 1930 Census, Walter (married) and Mildred were enumerated at 401 West Vine Avenue, Knoxville.  He was a Rubber in a marble mill.  Sallie was not included in the household.  In the 1920 Census, the family was living in Akron, Ohio, where Walter was a Tire Builder in a rubber shop.  Next door was the household of Andrew Turner, a few years younger than Walter and also born in Tennessee.

Walter James and his siblings, Eliza, Samuel, and Andrew Lewis, were the children of Francis Marion Turner and Martha Jane Luttrell.  Walter was born 25 Oct 1886 in Knox County, probably the Ebenezer area, where Andrew was born 13 Dec 1890.  Interestingly, Andrew’s wife gave his mother’s surname as Johnston and Andrew’s birth year as 1891 on his death certificate.

Sallie may have been enumerated as 18-year-old “Sallie Ruthaford” in the household of her sister and brother-in-law (Steven and Nannie Adkins) in Whitley County, KY, in 1900.

Mildred, possibly Walter and Sallie’s only child, died the day after Christmas and was buried at Edgewood Cemetery.  No information about Sallie after 1920 has been located, but Walter appears to have died in Knox County 15 Aug 1967.

Click here to view Mildred’s death certificate (you need a free login at FamilySearch to view the image).  It’s just sad to view, once you know the details.

If it’s the same man, Edward Lee Bayless was born 13 Nov 1907 in Knox County to Thomas Myatt Bayless and Jessie A. Tillery.  Edward retired from the railroad and died in Roane County in 1989.

Fred Bittle appears to have married and lived in Knoxville.  In 1940, he was working as a truck driver for a railway express company.

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