Nashville Unsolved Murder Mystery from 1897

Nashville Unsolved Murder Mystery from 1897

It was on the night of March 23rd 1897 that the Nashville community of Paradise Ridge was shocked by the news of the death of the Ade family.

It was around 10 o’clock that night; that Justice Simpson was getting a drink of water, when he noticed the glow of fire about half a mile away toward the Ade house.

Riding over he found the house already collapsing from the flames, and the smokehouse and other outbuildings burning. He began working throwing meat from the smokehouse, and called for someone to come help him thinking the family was somewhere in the yard. When no one answered, he stopped and went to look for someone.

It was then he found the bodies in the house. He then rode around and notified nearby neighbors and soon a crowd gathered.

Authorities were notified, and the next morning they arrived to make an investigation. Dead were Jacob Ade, age 60, his wife Pauline, age 50, daughter Lizze- 20, son Henry -13 and Rosa Moirer- age 10 who was the daughter of nearby neighbor Henry Moirer.

Sheriff John D. Sharp and Deputy Sheriff Alex Bartheil investigated the scene the next day. Quickly it was determined that the family had been murdered.

This was deduced in part because of the condition of the body of Rosa Moirer. She was not as badly burned as the others and it was speculated that she escaped while the family was being killed, and was then caught, murdered, and her body thrown into the already burning house.

She was found with her arm thrown up over her head, the hand missing and a portion of the skull gone. Probably the same blow that split her skull cut off her hand.

If robbery had been the motive then the culprits were not rewarded as an oyster can containing a large amount of money was found later, where the bedroom closet once stood. It was found out later that Mr. Ade had drawn out $300 from the Fourth National Bank in Nashville, which was to be loaned to a neighbor. This was thought to be the money found.

If the motive were not robbery, then it would be hard to find a reason, as the Ade’s were a well-liked family in the community. The only animosity, which might have existed, between him and anyone living in the area would have resulted from the charge he made against Ed Anderson for stealing hogs.

Mr. Anderson upon hearing of the suspicions against him quickly turned himself into the sheriff with a willingness to be investigated and a plausible story as to his whereabouts at the time of the murders.

It was also said that Mr. Ade kept large amounts of meat stored, which could not be accounted for. This was thought also to be a reason for the crime.

Investigators pieced together the way the murders occurred. The family was all gathered together in the parlor. The murdered entered the room and struck Mr. Ade who was sitting in front of the fireplace.

The others seeing this attempted to escape through the window and were either met by another assailant outside who drove them back in or struck down by the first man with a heavy object before they could escape. This was about 8 o’clock and by the time the murders had been discovered the house had been burning for about an hour and a half.

The grounds were searched but due to a rainstorm that night, they were not able to find any tracks. A cistern was pumped out hoping to find some kind of evidence, but this also was met with failure. Rumors abounded as to who the murderer or murders may have been, but no one was ever convicted of the crime, and soon the conversations among the neighbors changed to different subjects. As the years passed by the memory of that awful night faded away.

Now all that stands to remind us of the fate of the Ade family is a lone tombstone, which sits alone in a small field near where the house of Jacob Ade once stood.

Compiled & written by Karen Beasley Information gathered from stories from the Nashville Banner newspaper.
In 1902, newspapers reported upon George Newland’s death that he was, in fact, the murderer of the Ade Family although, as reported below, details, documentation, and motives were lacking at best.