One Deadly Night

John Glatt

St. Martin's Paperbacks

1
Roots
David Camm’s family traces its ancestors back to the fourteenth century and the legendary Scottish crusader Sir Symon Locard, who carried Robert the Bruce’s heart into battle in the Holy Land. As the custodian of the key to the casket that contained Bruce’s heart, Sir Symon was later honored by having his name officially changed to Lockheart, later abbreviated to the modern Lockhart.
One of his illustrious family’s most treasured possessions is a bound volume called Lockhart Roots. It proudly bears their coat of arms, consisting of a lion, a cross and a sword, meaning defenders of Christian freedom. Written above is the family motto: “Corda Serata Pando”—Latin for “I Open Locked Hearts.”
In 1683 Captain James Lockhart carried the family name to America, when he and his sons settled in Virginia and prospered. They made their money transporting new immigrants from England to Virginia.
The Lockharts lived in Russell County, Virginia, for the next two centuries, becoming frontiersmen. They were the first of a tough breed of pioneers who moved south, forcibly taking large areas of Virginia away from the Native Americans.
“They had such fear of God in their hearts that it left no room for fear of man,” wrote David Camm’s maternal grandfather, Amos Lockhart, in his 1989 self-published family history, When We Were Young. “Short in material goods, they were long on faith. They were taking God at his promise.”
Amos’ father, John Patton Lockhart, also known as “J. P.,” was born near Honaker, Virginia, on May 7, 1881. At the age of 24 in September 1905, he married Elizabeth A. Thompson, who bore a son, Swanson Banner Lockhart, exactly ten months later.
On January 9, 1908, David’s grandfather Amos H. Lockhart was born and three years later J. P. started his own ministry and began preaching all over the South. In 1916, J. P. moved his wife and children into a small train station in Artrip, West Virginia. And over the next few years he became a traveling minister, preaching on horseback through the mountains of Tennessee and West Virginia and setting up numerous ministries.
“Nothing stopped him,” Amos wrote. “He kept going, hardly knowing the future results.”
J. P., who had thirteen children, relied on collection plate proceeds at his revival meetings, or the good-will donations afterwards, where he could expect live chickens, canned goods or bacon to feed his growing family.
As Amos and his brothers and sisters were growing up they were constantly on the move as the family crisscrossed the South on revival tours, where J. P.’s mission was to convert people to his self-styled version of Scottish Presbyterianism. During their many trips all over the South, J. P. and young Amos would camp out in a tent and live rough.
Amos’ father always carried his Bible, striking up conversations with any strangers they met.
“Soon they would know he was a preacher,” wrote Amos. “And soon he was invited to a home or homes to sing, have prayer meetings and preach. What I liked about these religious services was the good woman home-cooked meals.”
In the early 1920s Amos was a strong, strapping teenager and he and his friend Hollie Bloomer lived the hobo life, looking for work. Sometimes they jumped freight trains and got into many “mischievous” scrapes during their various adventures.
“We were not murderers nor the worst of people,” Amos later wrote. “Neither were we saints.”
In 1929, 21-year-old Amos moved to New Castle, Indiana, where he worked on the inspection line at the Chrysler car factory. But after losing his job in the Depression he moved to Boyle County, in Kentucky, where he met a tobacco farmer’s daughter, a beautiful blue-eyed blonde named Daisy B. Belcher.
Just 15 years old, Daisy, whose family was originally from Germany, was one of seven children and her parents struggled to put food on the table. By the time 21-year-old Amos met Daisy, he had dated many “nice respectable young ladies.” But soon after meeting “this Belcher damsel,” they married.
Looking back on his November 1, 1930, wedding more than fifty-eight years later in his memoir, Amos would quote Chapter 18, Verse 22 of the book of Proverbs: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.”
Amos and Daisy would have nine children, starting with a son, Carlin, who was born on December 28, 1932. Just over two years later, on February 4, 1935, David Camm’s mother, Delpha Susie, was born. And over the next twenty years Daisy bore a further seven children: Leland, Nelson, Gloria, Sam, Phyllis, Kathy and Deborah.
The Lockhart children always had a strong family bond, looking after each other in business and helping any member who might fall on hard times. Years later this would be put to the test with David Camm.
Delpha Susie’s first memories are of the countryside around Danville, Kentucky. When she was a little girl she attended her grandfather J. P. Lockhart’s church, where her father was also a lay minister.
“My father did everything you can think of,” she remembered. “He sold insurance, he sold Bibles and he worked in the coal mines of eastern Kentucky.”
The family lived on a small farm and Amos would travel to wherever the work was, once moving his dutiful wife and children to the Blue Diamond Coal Mining Camp for a year. Delpha Susie, who dropped her first name as a young girl, went to grade school in Junction City, Kentucky, with her older brother and sisters.
In the early 1950s Amos worked for Southern Railroad, finding a job as a fireman on the Louisville-to-Danville run. Eventually he found full-time work as an engineer with the L & N Railroad based in Louisville, moving the family 50 miles northwest across the Ohio River to New Albany, Indiana.
New Albany is a true slice of Americana, lying directly across the river from the more cosmopolitan Louisville. With just fifteen thousand families living there, the town embraced small-town American values, with everybody literally knowing everybody’s business.
New Albany rests on the banks of the Ohio River, which the early French settlers first named “La Belle Rivière,” meaning Beautiful River. Even today it has little in common with the twenty-first century, moving at its own pace with little thought of the outside world.
Before the French and English arrived in the seventeenth century, this scenic part of southern Indiana housed many Native American tribes, including the Wyandotte, Miami, Shawnee and Potawatomi. During the American Revolution in 1778, General George Rogers Clark led an expeditionary force across the Ohio River, capturing three key strategic forts from the British. Five years later, in recognition of the part he played in winning the war, the new Virginia legislature awarded Clark and his men 150,000 acres of land, which today houses Floyd and neighboring Clark Counties.
Since General Clark and his ancestors began settling southern Indiana two centuries ago, the Ohio River has shaped the area’s economic and cultural development. Throughout the nineteenth century, steamboats glided along the river past the growing city of New Albany, bringing hordes of tourists to gamble. And in 1875 the first Kentucky Derby, across the river in Louisville, put the whole area on the map.
But in January 1937 disaster struck when heavy rain caused the Ohio River to break its banks, inflicting millions of dollars in damage on New Albany and its neighboring towns of Clarksville and Jeffersonville. To prevent another costly flood a network of floodwalls and levees was completed in 1945 and some years later an even more ambitious $8-million floodwall was constructed around Louisville.
To this day Floyd County is a rural throwback to a time when American life was simpler and far less commercial. It boasts many unspoiled nineteenth century farm houses, and Greek revival-influenced churches around, as religion plays a crucial role in the life of Floyd County.
By the time the Lockhart family arrived in 1954, Susie was an attractive 19-year-old girl. Like the rest of her large family, she attended the New Albany First Church of God and sang in the choir.
Soon after joining the church, Susie befriended another choir member named Margaret Camm, who was two years her senior.
“It just happened that I borrowed a suitcase from Margaret to go to my brother Leland,” said Susie. “Donald Camm was there and I was introduced.”
Don Camm was a handsome 24-year-old U.S. Air Force flight engineer, who was flying Typhoons out of Guam during the Korean War. Don’s father, William Camm, hailed from Liverpool, England, having emigrated to America in the late 1920s, when he was 24 years old.
A couple of weeks after they met, Don had to return to his base in Massachusetts to complete his four-year service. On his release he returned to New Albany.
“He asked me to marry him,” remembered Susie. “And we were married on February 9, 1956.”
The newlyweds moved into a small house on the rural fringes of New Albany, with several relatives as neighbors. Don found a job as a mechanic with a chemical company called BF Goodrich, which made an assortment of rubber products, including car tires. Susie became a homemaker.
One year after they married, Susie became pregnant and in 1958 their first child, Donnie, was born. Three years later a daughter named Julie followed. And then on March 23, 1964, at Floyd Memorial Hospital, New Albany, David Ray made his entrance into the world.