Adams County History & Genealogy

Adams County, Ohio Articles

Knauff Family Tragedy

Double Tragedy Near Lynx Father and Son Killed

In a horrible gun tragedy near Lynx, ten miles east of West Union, at about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, Michael Knauff, aged 72, and his son Ralph, aged 35, were both killed in a scuffle for the possession of an automatic revolver with which young Knauff had been threatening his family.

Ralph Knauff and his wife and seven children ranging in age from a son 13 years old down to a four-weeks-old daughter, had been living in the old homestead with the elder Knauff since the death of the latter's wife several years ago.

Mrs. Knauff says that her husband had been drinking for the past week, and more than ever under the influence of liquor Wednesday had been threatening to kill his family and himself. When his threats took on a more serious nature in the flourishing menace of the weapon late Wednesday afternoon, Mrs. Knauff appealed to her father-in-law to take the revolver away from his son. This, the aged parent attempted to do, and the scuffle that ensued in the room over the possession of the revolver cost both the father and his son their lives.

Mrs. Knauff is not certain which one of the men was shot first. She says several shots were fired and that both men fell close together.

They were both dead when Dr. Ray Vaughn, of Cedar Mills, reached the scene shortly after the shooting. An examination showed that both men had received fatal wounds close to the heart, but a further examination was not made at the time to locate possible wounds in other parts of their bodies.

About eight years ago Ralph Knauff was indicted for shooting and killing Hamer Hayslip, but at the trial he was acquitted on his plea of self defense. There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting and Knauff claimed Hayslip waylaid and attacked him.

The Knauff's have been life-long residents of the Lynx neighborhood. In the Michael Knauff family there survives two sons, Robert and Frank Knauff, and two daughters, Mrs. Vianna Eubanks and Mrs. Gertrude Hayslip. He also leaves three brothers, Fred, Jake and Coon Knauff, and three sisters, Mrs. Mary Newbar, Leavenworth, Kansas, Mrs. Elizabeth Roth, of Portsmouth, and Mrs. Anna Wolf.

The surviving widow of Ralph Knauff, was formerly Esta Stevenson, and at the time she was a ward of the Wilson Children's Home.

SOURCE: The People's Defender - West Union OH; January 13, 1927


Michael Knauff and his Son Ralph Buried In Copas Cemetery

A double funeral was held last Friday afternoon for Michael Knauff, 72, and his son, Ralph Knauff, 35, who both died of bullet wounds on the preceding Wednesday at their home near Lynx, while the two men were scuffling over the possession of a revolver held by the young Knauff.

Mrs. Ralph Knauff who was an eye witness to the double killing and was so excited at the time of the trouble that she was not able to state definitely if the seven shots fired resulted in the murder of her father-in-law and suicide of her husband, or an accidental shooting.

The general opinion leans towards the accidental shooting theory and that the two men were killed accidentally while the father was attempting to take the automatic revolver from his son who had been drinking, threatening his family and suicide. It is pointed out that the gun was an automatic and that the enraged husband kept a tight grip on the gun causing it to discharge the seven times. The father was shot near the heart and the husband in the breast to the right of the heart.

The last rites were held from the Knauff home where the double tragedy occurred and burial was made in Copas cemetery a short distance from the home.

SOURCE: The People's Defender - West Union OH; January 20, 1927