Very few things passed down to me from my paternal grandparents, unfortunately, survived our house fire of December 2000.
Remaining, thankfully, is the collection of log books kept by my grandmother, Helen Young, for each year she and my grandpa raised English Shepherd puppies and sold them to all 48 states.
I had tucked the extensive collection of black ledger books into a trunk, which was not damaged in the fire.
Tragic story. Somewhere in those books, a simple entry holds a story. It is the beginning of a story that came to a tragic end.
Two brothers, Joe and Ed Hooker of New London, Ohio, came to my grandfather’s farm in the 1960s to purchase an English Shepherd puppy.
It is said, through family lore, that the brothers wanted the smartest dog that money could buy.
“Will it be loyal?” my grandfather said he remembered the one brother asking.
“Loyal to the end,” was his answer.
It would be one of the last pups that my grandfather raised, ending more than 30 years of a highly successful business. The brothers paid their money for the male pup, and quietly went on their way.
Quietly is how the brothers had chosen to live their lives. It would have caused them great pain to know, the day they bought that pup, that the coming months and years were about to cast them brightly in to the public eye.
Brewing battle. A battle was brewing, as the farm on which they had lived their lives was being sought for the New London Reservoir.
On the day they bought the pup, they had once again refused to sell their land. It appeared that things were about to get much more public than the reclusive men could bear.
Over the coming months, the battle hit the newspapers. The brothers stood their ground, not wanting to give up the farm that was their home and livelihood. At some point, eminent domain was mentioned. It was the beginning of the end for the two bachelor brothers.
Against their wishes, the brothers were paid for the land. Everyone knew the final dollar amount the men were given, as it was a very public battle.
Sadly, it was also common knowledge that the men didn’t believe in placing money in any bank. There was a court order issued, giving the men a set amount of time to get moved off the farm.
Not a single box was packed.
The men had no intention of leaving, and not a penny of the money paid out to them had been invested anywhere, or so people said. The brothers went about their daily chores, their English Shepherd always near.
Intruders. One moonlit night, the English Shepherd was shot in the chest with a bow from a silent bow and arrow. A shotgun would have signaled the brothers to bear arms against the intruders.
Two young men then gained entry into the home and shot and killed the brothers, taking all the cash they could find before fleeing.
Later, more cash would be found in the home by homicide investigators, taped under tables, hidden under floors.
The murderers took off, heading for Chicago. They were apprehended after they were heard bragging about their deed. One of the young men turned state’s evidence against the other, and neither served a very long term in prison, in spite of the fact that the use of the bow and arrow on the dog constituted, in and of itself, premeditated murder.
The peaceful existence of the painfully shy men who lived alone with their loyal dog was shattered by a series of fateful events, ending in a very public battleground.
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