According to my father, Arthur and my great-aunt, Corene (Sourbeck) Brundage, my grand-father James died when he was cranking a car and the crank jumped back and hit him in the heart and injured on of his main arteries, which resulted in his death. In December of 1989, I obtained a copy of his Death Certificate (next page). It indicated that he died of an overdose of a drug, which was crossed off. Then it said that it was accidental, which was crossed off, then inquiry pending and on top, it said “SEE CORNER’S FINDING ATTACHED.” It wasn’t attached and it could not be found.
In July of 1990, I went to Alliance, Ohio, to see if I could find more cousins. I found William (Bill) Alfred Anderson (1914-1996) and his brother George Albert (1919-1994). The Anderson brothers were James’ maternal first cousins.
I met Bill first and we headed over to his brother’s house, where they told me stories about James Edward Sourbeck and I looked at photos. Then George looked at Bill and said, “Did you tell him?” Bill said, “No!” Of course, I said, “What?”
One of them started off by saying, “He was murdered by the Purple Gang.” (The Purple Gang, also known as the Sugar House Gang, was a mob of bootleggers and hijackers. They operated in Detroit, Michigan, during the 1920s and came to be Detroit's dominant criminal gang, but ultimately excessive violence and infighting caused the gang to self-destruct in the 1930s).
Their father and mother attended the funeral, George Tillman (1878-1949) and mother Elinora (Kandel) Anderson. At the funeral, Adda May (Anderson) Sourbeck, George’s sister took him up to see James, who had a blue scarf around his neck. Adda pulled down the scarf and showed her brother a hole in James’ neck and said it was a bullet hole and that he was killed by the Purple Gang. I was shocked.
They told me one-time James Edward Sourbeck, came down to Alliance for a visit and took them for a ride in his “Stutz.” They were little, but they remember that one day they were driving around town and James got a flat. He had removed the spare from the car some time back. He looked around and saw another Stutz parked. He walked over and removed the spare tire and put it on his car and off they went.
Another story they told me was when they went to Detroit for a family visit, James took them out for a ride and they ended up on a hill somewhere and he showed them the large Ford Rouge complex that was being built in Dearborn. They said that he told them he loved coming there.
According to my father and my Uncle Jim Sourbeck, their father had weight lifting equipment in their house, which was rare for people to have in those days, and he could go up and down the stairs standing on his hands.
Their father used to go to blind pigs during prohibition times in Detroit. They remember riding on the running boards of the car, their father would arrive at the blind pig and went inside. They played around the car until he came out.
One time they were driving in the car and another motorist cut in front of James. He got angry and jumped out of the car to go after the motorist while his car was still moving.
James Edward Sourbeck, did work at the Ford Motor Company, as a foreman. It is not known how long he worked there