Cases of the Murdering Wives – Clarice Covert’s Heritage

(This is research for a law school paper – not my family line)

My daughter, who is writing the paper on the Supreme Court case that grew out of two cases of military wives who murdered their husbands, felt that to REALLY tell the story, she needed to understand the two women and the two husbands.  She asked me to dig into their family backgrounds and to learn as much as I could.  It is very difficult to research people from this era starting with NOTHING.  Brittany gave me some clues from some of the court transcripts and I took those hints and ran with them.

Clarice was born Clarice Barksdale, 21 Dec 1920, daughter of Robert Laurent Barksdale and his wife, May Cosse Simmons.  The place of her birth is somewhat in question.  Her parents were living in Tampico, Mexico when May became pregnant with Clarice.  We know this from their Passport Applications.

Robert Barksdale was an accountant for the Island Oil and Transport Company, based in Tampico in 1919.  He stated on the Passport Application that he ceased to reside in the US in 1912, residing in Ceiba, Honduras from 1912-1915, operating picture-shows “on my own account, most of the time.”  He stated that from 1917-1918 he was in charge of the telephone department for Aguila Oil Company (British) and from 1918 to present (1919) in Tampico, Mexico.  He states on the application that he made visits to the US in 1915 and in 1917.  He says he maintains ties to his mother, Mrs. Annie Wallis Barksdale, 349 Greene St., Augusta, GA and to his sister, Mrs. James A. Anderson, Central Hotel, Highlands, NC and that he and his mother share support of the sister.  Though he states that he has ceased to reside in the US in 1912, he had spent 1905-1906 in Cuba, 1906-1907 in Mexico, 1909-1911 in Panama, before arriving in Honduras in 1912.

May Cosse Barksdale’s passport was issued 23 Aug 1919.  Her destination was to Cuba for pleasure, then to Tampico, Mexico “for husband’s employment.”  The application was filled out in Tampico by Robert Laurent Barksdale, stating that he had known May for 15 years.  It was requested that the passport be sent to the 349 Greene St. address in Augusta, GA.  It is stated on the application that May Barksdale would return to the US within two years.

May’s mother applied for a passport issued 10 Sep 1920 with her destination being Tampico, Mexico “to be with my daughter.”  Presumably, Lottie Lee Simmons wanted to be with May when she gave birth.  However, there is a record of a border crossing from Mexico into Texas by Robert Laurent Barksdale and May Barksdale on 10 Sep 1920. Why did they return to the US 11 days before the birth of Clarice?  Did they go to Augusta, where Clarice was born?

More about the early life of Clarice Barksdale in my next post.


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