From a GoDCer: A Family Connection to a Tragic Suicide

I really enjoy getting emails from GoDCers and reading the great personal connections they have to local history. Below is an email I received last week along with an article worthy of a “From the Crazy Vault” post.

Ghosts,

Since I have no photo of Mr. Luckett, I have attached a photo of A.E. Beitzell. He was Albert Ernest, a younger brother of my great-grandfather. He was born June 6, 1869, in Kents VA. He died on May 27, 1942 and is buried in Mt. Olivet cemetery in DC. He made a fortune in wholesale liquors, theaters, and a restaurant. He lost it all in the fishing industry, but was coming back at the time of his death.

My grandfather worked for Great-Uncle Albert when he first came to DC. That’s how he got into the liquor business. Of course, they had to sell soft drinks during prohibition, but just before that was repealed they acquired exclusive rights to sell things like Johnny Walker scotch and Bols Liquors. We suspect they may have been involved in bootlegging, but don’t know that for a fact.

Best regards,

Christina

Albert Ernest Beitzell (from GoDCer Christina)

Albert Ernest Beitzell in 1919 (from GoDCer Christina)

Here’s the story she sent me from the Evening Star, published on July 1st, 1907. A.E. Beitzell is Christina’s great-grand uncle.

Raleigh F. Luckett, who is employed as an inspector by the local office of the Adams Express Company, shot himself this morning in the breast at the Garrick Club, 1347 Pennsylvania avenue, the bullet entering the right side. It did not penetrate the heart, and there is hope of recovery. He was operated upon at the Emergency Hospital at 11:20 a.m., about twenty minutes after the shooting. He is the son of C.E. Luckett, manager of the F street branch of the express company, and a brother of Joseph E. Luckett, manager of the Columbia Theater.

The reason for the attempted suicide is said to be family troubles, Luckett having been for about two months separated from his wife, formerly Miss Gertrude Harlow of Alexandria, Va., and his two children. Raleigh Luckett is about twenty-seven years of age. He has long been a member of the Garrick Club, although he has not been a regular attendant. Saturday he went over to Baltimore and took a boat for this city arriving by way of the Chesapeake bay and the Potomac this morning. A few minutes before 11 o’clock he entered the rooms of the Garrick Club, on the second floor of 1347 Pennsylvania avenue, in company with E.F. Brown and A.E. Beitzell. He was apparently in the best of spirits, and after chatting a few moments with Manager E.S. Doughty of the club went into the front room by himself and sat down in an arm chair near the window to read a morning paper.

Those in the back room, about five minutes later heard the report of a pistol, and Mr. Brown remarked: “They are beginning the Fourth of July celebration early.”

It was thought at first that the noise had come from the street, but Mr. Beitzell, stepping into the front room, discovered young Luckett collapsed in his chair with a bloody wound in his breast and a smoking revolver in his hand.

“It is all over. It is all over. Telephone Joe,” the wounded man gasped.

“What did you do this for?” asked Mr. Beitzell; but the only reply was, “It is all over.”

Mr. Beitzell called Manager Doughty and the others in the back room, and Mr. Doughty immediately telephoned for the Emergency Hospital ambulance, and also notified Mrs. Luckett, the young man’s mother at the DeSoto apartment house. Word was sent by messenger to Joseph E. Luckett, at the Columbia Theater. Before the arrival of the ambulance Officer Wolfe of the first precinct, who had learned of the shooting, arrived and took charge of the arrangements for removing the young man to the hospital. Luckett was conscious when taken into the operating room, and continued to repeat, “It is all over.” A few minutes after he reached the hospital his father and his brother Joseph were at his side. At a late hour this afternoon it was stated at the hospital that Luckett was still conscious, and that there had been no change in his condition. No operation has yet been performed, on account of the low vitality of the patient as the result of the loss of blood. That the bullet entered the lungs is stated by the doctors to be practically certain. They say he has an even chance of recovery, but a turn for the worse may come at any moment.

About five years ago Raleigh Luckett was married to the daughter of M.B. Harlow, a wealthy real estate man of Alexandria, Va., and until the past few months they lived in perfect harmony. Of late, however, it is stated, a disagreement arose, which resulted in Mrs. Luckett returning to the home of her parents with her two boys. For the past few days she has been residing with relatives in Laurel, Md. It is believed that Mr. Luckett brooded a great deal over this separation from his wife, and that his mind was slightly unbalanced as a result of the trouble. His brother Joseph said this afternoon that he knew of no other reason that would lead to his act.

Mrs. Luckett has applied for a legal separation from her husband, and it is stated he has offered no objection to the proceedings. For several years after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Luckett resided at 401 C street southeast. The house, it is said, was a present from the bride’s father. When Mrs. Luckett, on the advice of her father, returned to her parents’ home, Mr. Luckett took up his residence with his mother and sister in the DeSoto apartment house.

Young Luckett has a large circle of friends in this city, and is said to be very popular. It is stated that he is not a drinking man, and was not under the influence of liquor when he shot himself this morning. The revolver which he used was a long-barreled, 32-caliber short. It does not shoot a large enough bullet to make a very deep wound, except at close range. The police believe the young man wished to shoot himself in the heart, but that in he excitement of the attempt he forgot to place the mouth of the barrel in the proper position.

A crazy story with a family connection to a GoDCer. Keep sending these in to [email protected] if you have them. They’re great.

1300 & 1400 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1908

1300 & 1400 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1908

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  • Jodi

    Interesting article. This is my family! There were some things in here that I had not read before. Thanks!