Lawrence William Sutherlin was born 24 February 1889 in Warsaw Indiana to William Sutherlin and Edith Ralston. While only 8 years of age he watched as his father was arrested. His mother was away at the time with his sister Nellie thus he was left alone at home for an unknown amount of time. William Sutherlin said nothing to the his son or this captors as he was shackled and led away.
Two months later the children took turns sitting upon their daddy’s lap in court during the his long trial, listening as his father was accused of gruesome crimes against Edwin Fetters. Edwin had lived in the same house for about tw and had probably become more like an uncle.
His papa was found guilty of first degree murder and most certainly bound to spend the rest of his life in prison never to see his two small children, Lawrence or Nellie, again.
Soon after Lawrence’s father was sent off to prison his mother, Edith, divorced and married William Redman. They then made the decision to try to start over as a family so the Redman’s packed up the children and headed west to Scotland, South Dakota.
Sutherlin sued from jail to not allow the divorce to go through and even fought for his two children from prison. At one time even saying he would rather see the children go into an orphanage than allow Edith to keep and raise them. Even after Sutherlin was released from prison he attempted to retrieve his children, telling the courts Redman was running a brothel where the children were staying. None of the courts would approve of Sutherlin’s keeping his two children. He lost his two oldest children with Julia (his first wife) and now he lost two more.
To protect Lawrence and Nellie were given the last name of Redman but it seem not legally in the courts. In fact Edith and William Redman gave a different date of their marriage, the date of Edith and Sutherlins marriage, just to try to wipe Sutherlin out of their history. Even though Nellie would eventually accept her father was William Sutherlin, Lawrence would never acknowledge Sutherlin and would go by the name of Redman for the rest of his life.
As he grew up he seems to have been a bright young man, never getting into any type of trouble. He was a hard working young man and became an equally hard working man. IN 1907 Lawrence, along with another man, was running a short order restaurant when he was 23 years old. Then 1912 took a job as a clerk in the Charles Hotel.
In 1914 he was living with his mother in South Bend Indiana where she was running a boarding house. While there he took a job driving mules for the J.C. Barret Storage Co. when the team of mules took fright while he was attempting to repair the tongue of the wagon. His injuries were not heavy with only the injury to his shoulder. Not long afterwards he traveled back to South Dakota for work.
In 1917 Lawrence signed up for the war (WWI) and soon after he quit a job he had held for in the Dunmire Brothers (family to his wife to be) stock yard for 6 months and headed to South Bend Indiana to be with his mother for a bit before he was called into service.
His army registration card showed that he was “tall and medium weight, eyes hazel and hair black” which sounded much like his own birth father in appearance. Lawrence was first stationed at Ft Dodge in Des Moines, Iowa and then Ft. Harrison, in Indiana, where he was discharge one week before his marriage to Elizabeth Ann Bardell of Bon Homme South Dakota.
Lawrence was still traveling back and forth to Scotland South Dakota visiting friends and his mother and possibly his sister in Iowa. Lawrence and Elizabeth decided to settle in Sioux City, Iowa renting a house. He worked as a fireman on the railroad which made it easier for him to travel between Sioux City Iowa and South Bend Indiana with occasional visits to South Dakota.
Their son and only child, Charles Lawrence Redman, was born in Sioux city on 23 May 1919. But then something unknown occurred between 1919 and 1927. Lawrence was back in South Bend Indiana and living with his mother and again working in trucking and would hold this type of job the rest of his life.
Elizabeth returned to teaching to raise her child as a single parent. Charles entered WWII and served in the Pacific. I have not found divorce records or them ever meeting again. Charles died in 1960 and Elizabeth in 1968, both were buried next to each other in South Dakota.
August 22, 1931 with the death of Lawrence’s sister he returned to Sioux City Iowa to take care of her one last time. Nellie would be buried in the plot that her big brother, L.W. Redman, bought for her since her husband could not or would not do this final thing for her.
Lawrence returned to South Bend and his mother passed away in 1940 and three years later he met and married 53 year old divorced mother, Mamie Ottie Layman. Their lives appears to have been happy. Lawrence worked as a driver and Mamie was an employee at Studebaker in South Bend Indiana.
His sister/niece passed away in 1945 and suddenly he found himself alone. He probably knew nothing of his half siblings only living 30 minutes away from him. His birth father William Sutherlin was long gone and William Redman had left to start a new life.
Lawrence became a step father to grown children and eventually a step-grandfather.
When the 1960’s came things became difficult for Lawrence and Mamie. Lawrence had a stroke and refused to be taken to the hospital. He spent his time at home, slowly recovering, but he never went back to work and would spend his days sitting in his chair, smoking, becoming more and more black in his attitude with his life.
Shortly before his death, Lawrence, was diagnosed with cancer. One day when he left home Mamie and her family decided that was the end of the marriage and all the door locks were changed to prevent her husbands return.
So there was Lawrence at 75 years of age, kicked out of his home, no where to go. No family which he knew, dying of cancer. Lawrence stood by the local tracks in South Bend one night of 18 August 1964 and calmly laid down on the tracks as the New York bound train sped past.
Lawrence’s body was cremated but his ashes are lost. There is no mention on his resting place. The funeral home could not give me any further information and the cemetery, where his mother is buried, doesn’t have any records of burial.
His only son, Charles, had died four years earlier. Mother and sisters were dead, birth father dead and step father also gone. He seems never to have met his other siblings, did he even know of their existence?
Lawrence became a non person. No one would remember him. According to his step-grandson everything was thrown out or sold off.
The two children of William and Edith Sutherlin were gone without anyone to remember them.