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Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Peculiar Tribe of People: Murder and Madness in the Heart of Georgia by Richard Jay Hutto

A Peculiar Tribe of People: Murder and Madness in the Heart of Georgia by Richard Jay Hutto

The story is about Chester A. Burge, the illegitimate offspring of Macon gentry, who longed to be accepted among Macon’s elite, but remained on the outside looking in. Hutto traces illegitimate Chester Burge’s roots back through several generations of family leading up to the 1960’s. His ambition to join society as a true Dunlap was blighted by his evil nature. To make his wealth he began loan sharking, running illegal liquor and "selling" homes to poor blacks then foreclosing on them if they were late for payments. If they weren't late for payments then he made sure something else came up and he would foreclose on them. They would lose the money they had put into their homes and he came out all the richer for his devious ways.

Chester's Shirley Hills mansion

Chester's famous cousin, Baby Frances, who was noted in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the fattest woman and, who traveled in a circus.

Chester's life was a sorry, self-made mess and his marriages were dysfunctional from the beginning. Chester and his 2nd wife, Mary, had an only child, John L. Burge, had his own problems and his marraige suffered too. The whole family seemed to live in madness and evil. Then, in 1960, Chester entered the hospital for a double hernia operation and his wife, Mary, was found strangled in her bedroom the next morning.

Chester had motives galore but did he have means? After all he was post-surgery in a hospital. He was the one everyone hoped had done it so he could be put away and Macon would be less one big problem. But did he do it? Could he have?

Chester Burge's maid and chauffeur

Richard Jay Hutto writes this scandalous true crime. Peeling it like an onion, he shows the underside of 1950's and 1960 Macon, GA with Chester in the center. Anything but genteel! But there were still too many unanswered questions. I tend to like everything neatly tied up in the end and there is no answer to the question in this story.

Reading this book was like looking at bugs through a microscope but you still don't know where the bugs end up.

His third wife, Anna Dickie Oleson, married him knowing all about his situation. She was 19 years older than him. The marriage didn't do well but Chester died in October, 1963 when their N. Palm Beach home mysteriously exploded. He ran out of his burning home. But he was on fire himself and died of his burns. So, it seems he may have paid for his sins one way or the other. Chester Burge is buried in an unmarked corner of his elegant family's mausoleum. Anna lived in Northfield, MN and died 5/21/1971 at the age of 86 yrs old. She is buried with her first husband, Peter Oleson, in the Sakatah Cemetery in Waterville, MN.

451 F.2d 221: The Citizens and Southern National Bank, As Administrator And John L. Burge, As Executor, Estate of Chester A.burge, Deceased, Plaintiffs-appellants, v. United States of America, Defendant-appellee
United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. - 451 F.2d 221
Nov. 10, 1971
Chester A. Burge, a resident of the State of Florida, died on October 7, 1963, survived by his widow, Mrs. Anna Dickie Oleson Burge, and by an only child, John L. Burge, whose mother was the decedent's first wife. At the time of his death, the decedent owned property in both Florida and Georgia. His last will and testament was duly admitted to probate in Palm Beach County, Florida, and John L. Burge qualified as executor of the decedent's Florida estate. The widow, however, decided to take against the will and formally elected a statutory dower interest in the decedent's Florida estate, which entitled her to one-third of the realty and personalty of the decedent.

The decedent's will had been executed prior to his marriage to Mrs. Anna Burge and contained no provision in contemplation of that union. Therefore, under Georgia law, the decedent's marriage effectuated a revocation of his will,1 and upon the decedent's death title to his Georgia property, which consisted solely of realty, vested immediately in John L. Burge, subject only to the widow's right to take a child's share in the Georgia estate or have dower assigned therein.2 Under Georgia law, the widow's dower interest was a one-third life estate in all of the decedent's Georgia property,3 but a child's share, in the case of Mrs. Anna Burge, was an undivided one-half interest in all of the decedent's Georgia realty.4

Without formally electing either a child's share or a dower interest in the Georgia property, the widow, some five months after the decedent's death and subsequent to her election to take a dower interest in the Florida estate, entered into an agreement with her stepson in which she relinquished all of her right, title, interest, claim, or demand in the entire estate of her husband in exchange for $40,000. In due course plaintiff Citizens & Southern National Bank, as administrator of the Georgia estate, and plaintiff John L. Burge, as executor of the Florida estate, filed a federal estate tax return in which they claimed a marital deduction in excess of $82,000 against a gross estate of approximately $400,000. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue reduced the marital deduction to $40,000, which is the amount received by the widow from her stepson in exchange for all of her rights and interests in the entire estate. This disallowance of the claimed marital deduction was accompanied by an assessment of additional tax, which was paid by the estate. The plaintiffs then filed a claim for refund, which was disallowed, and thereafter timely instituted an action in federal district court to recover the allegedly erroneous tax assessment.

Ocmulgee National Monument Fire Ruled Arson
By LIZ FABIAN - lfabian@macon.com
A 154-year-old house that survived a Civil War raid was nearly destroyed in an arson early Wednesday at the Ocmulgee National Monument...“Investigators have no question it was arson,” David said. “The individual started a fire in one of the back rooms.” Dwight Donald Davis, 57, of Macon, is charged with arson, burglary and criminal trespass, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office...154-year-old house that survived a Civil War raid was nearly destroyed in an arson early Wednesday at the Ocmulgee National Monument...The house was built in 1857 as a wedding present from the bride’s parents when Mary Burge married Capt. Sam Dunlap...It’s a fact that Macon Councilman Rick Hutto knows well...He spent years researching the family for a book he wrote that detailed the sordid and murderous tale of Chester Burge...

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