Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thomas Lee Woolwine

  It never ceases to amaze me how many famous people are buried here locally in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Most of these people I recognize when I come across their name as being buried in a certain cemetery or graveyard but Thomas Lee Woolwine is a fascinating figure that I never knew about until now. For that reason I will not attempt to describe him in detail but use the words of others. Woolwine is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery because he was born near Nashville. The following is from the Find A Grave website.

Birth: Oct. 31, 1874
Nashville
Davidson County
Tennessee, USA

Death: Jul. 8, 1925
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA


Los Angeles District Attorney, figure in the William Desmond Taylo murder case. Woolwine was a district attorney in L.A. His investigations ended the careers of two L.A. Mayors. He also attempted to jail Valentino for bigamy. However, he made his way into Hollywood legend during the 1922 murder of movie director William Desmond Taylor. Many historians believe that Woolwine destroyed crucial evidence in the case after being bribed by themother of one of the prime suspects. The case was never solved. He also fought the Ku Klux Klan in Los Angeles during the early 1920's when the Klan enjoyed nationwide popularity and huge membership. The following is from the Los Angeles Country District Attorney website.
  

THOMAS LEE WOOLWINE
District Attorney

1915-1923


Thomas Lee Woolwine



Public corruption and vice are high on the list of targets of this reform-minded prosecutor.


He even raided the prestigious California Club once in his zeal to control illegal liquor, gambling, prostitution and, most importantly, public corruption. Thomas Lee Woolwine, who began as a deputy district attorney in 1908, would go on as District Attorney to contribute to the downfall of two mayors, Charles Sabastian and Frederick Woodman, as well as leading and investigation of a particularly violent nest of Ku Klux Klansmen in Los Angeles. Woolwine obtained thirty-five grand jury indictments of Klansmen for assault with deadly weapons with the intent to commit murder after a Klan home-invasion slaying in Inglewood in 1922. None of the defendants were convicted, but Klan members heckled him from the audiences of his political campaign meetings from then on. Woolwine ran twice unsuccessfully for governor during his years as District Attorney.

Reprinted from FOR THE PEOPLE -- Inside the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office 1850-2000 by Michael Parrish. ISBN 1-883318-15-7


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