The Daily Post Prompt
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I am a genealogy nut. I love looking for family photos, stories, etc., and get caught up in expanding my family tree to such an extent that I will look into families with tenuous (at best) connections.
Collateral families, including aunts, uncles, and other extended family members, can be just as interesting or, in my case, very notorious.
Folks outside the Jacksonville, Florida area are probably unaware of the Hysler Gang from the Prohibition era. One particularly nasty fellow, John Batson Hysler, Sr., the Whiskey King of Duval County, is related to me through a collateral branch. Ancestry.com gives his relationship to me as “paternal grandfather of husband of 1st cousin 2x removed.” See, I told you I get carried away. John Hysler’s bootlegging operation was significant enough to be equated to an Al Capone-type syndicate. John’s life came to an abrupt end on September 26, 1928 when he was caught on Acosta Bridge while running moonshine and, surrounded by “dry agents” of the FBI, was gunned down and died later that evening.
John Batson Hysler’s nephew, Clyde Hysler, was a nasty-ass as well. He was eventually put to death in Florida’s electric chair in 1942 for the murders of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Surrency during an attempted robbery in 1937. Other members of the Hysler family were also either convicted or arrested for murders in the 1920’s, and Al Capone actually visited the Hyslers in March of 1930 and stayed with Jim Hysler.
Now, I know that most people wouldn’t really want to be related, even tenuously, to such badass gangsters, but it sure does spice up the family tree!