Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thriller Thursday: What became of the one-armed baby?

Thriller Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks bloggers to write about murders, bizarre accidents or other thrilling stories in their family history.

Several of you asked about Ruth, the baby whose arm was amputated following the horrific shooting accident in which her brother George accidently shot and killed their mother and mangled Ruth’s arm. We all wonder how anyone could live a normal life after that.

Since I do not actually know this family or the descendents – they are very distant relatives whom I discovered through researching my Davis line – I turned to my ever-trusty Ancestry dot com and to the Shiflett Family Genealogy website to piece together a follow-up.

This photo shows a happy family picking huckleberries. The kids are showing off their purple hands. The man on the end is Bernard Henry Shiflett, father of Ruth and George who are to his immediate right. You can see that Ruth’s dress sleeve bears witness to the amputation.

Image from
Girl with glasses - unknown
L-R probably Dora Woods, and Cecil, Mabel and Grace Shiflett
(cousins, children of Myrtie & Alex Shiflett)

But having only one arm evidently did not hold Ruth back. She married twice. She and her second husband Lewis Robert Padula lived in Deming, New Mexico.

Here is a photo of Ruth and George and their sister and brothers at a reunion. Ruth is the middle woman on the front row.  This reunion must have taken place before 1955 which is when George's wife Helen died.  George is standing on the far right and his wife Helen is sitting in front of him.

Image from

According to his obituary, George attended George Washington University and graduated from LaSalle University in Chicago. Prior to World War II, he was a meat cutter with Swift Food. During the war, he served in the Navy in the Pacific. Afterwards he moved to Washington, DC where he worked for the Veterans Affairs Department as a liaison with the Defense Department. He married twice and had three children. He died in December 13, 1997.

We cannot hope to know what emotional scars Ruth and George might have endured, but these brief notes and pictures give hope that they did indeed endure.   I like to think that they were able to put the accident in its proper place – a tragic accident with no ill-will intended.


  1. I am so glad you found this information. It is amazing that everyone did as well as they did.

  2. It is nice to hear the rest of the story and see that life turned out well for them all. I love a happy ending!

  3. Wow! What a story. I agree with the others that it's great to hear that everyone was able to move forward and be productive. Being so young and involved in such an accident could not have been easy, especially during that time (I would imagine). Not that it would easy now, either. I am so fascinated by these two that I want to learn more about them!