Robert Allen Hart was born on December 31, 1898. He was the son of Robert Richard and Etta May (Haines) Hart. He was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois. In the 1900 Federal Census, Robert Allen (1898) and his sister Katherine(1896)are listed with their parents in Mount Carmel, Illinois. The elder, Robert R. Hart, is working for the Railroad in Mt Carmel, Illinois. In the 1910 Federal Census, Robert lives with his parents and seven siblings; Robert (1898), Rolla (1901), Elner (1902), Maude (1904), Zura (1905), Bessie (1907), James (1908), Etta (1910).
Robert Allen Hart enlisted with the 16th Illinois Infantry on May 13, 1917. He served during World War I and was honorably discharged on May 12, 1919.
Robert Allen married Grace Goodson on November 19, 1919 in Princeton, Indiana. In the 1920 Federal Census, Robert is 21 years old and he is listed with his 20 year old wife, Grace. He lists his occupation as laborer in a button factory. They live on West Fifth Street in Mt Carmel, Illinois. Findagrave seems to indicate that Grace and Robert had a daughter born in 1920. Her name was Madeline Kristine Hart. She died in 1927. It seems that Grace and Robert split sometime after their child’s death. I am unable to find a divorce record for Grace and Robert, I do find that Grace Goodman Hart marries a Wallace McCarthy in 1928 in Illinois.
Robert Allen married Estella May Weaver on May 10, 1930 in Muscatine, Iowa.
On December 17, 1935, Robert Allen became a Prison Guard at the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison in Iowa.
In the 1940 Federal Census, taken on April 25, 1940, Robert and Estella are living at Fort Madison, Lee County Iowa.
Seventy nine years ago today, Robert Allen died at the Sacred Heart hospital the day after he received a gunshot wound in the neck while attempting to thwart a prison escape. The following is a newspaper article detailing the event.
Mason City Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) July 25, 1940
2 Men Confess Guard’s Murder in Penitentiary
“Haenze and Sullivan Sign Statements in the Killing of Robert Hart”
Des Moines, (AP) R. W. Nebergall, chief of the Iowa bureau of criminal investigation, announced Thursday that Lowell Haenze, 27, and Ivan Sullivan, 28, have confessed to the murder of Fort Madison penitentiary Guard Robert Hart, killed when the pair made an aborted attempt to free another convict several weeks after their own escape.
Haenze, Sullivan and another convict, Estes, broke thru the electric fence at the rear of the prison on June 22.
Hart was fatally shot on July 8 when two or three men came to the prison fence, threw over a shotgun and a pair bolt cutters and attempted to free another convict, William Cunningham. Cunningham committed suicide by firing a shotgun charge into his head when he was thwarted in an attempt to break through the fence. Hart was patrolling the high prison fence and fired on Cunningham and the other men before he was felled by a bullet in the neck. Nebergall said that both Sullivan and Haenze had signed statements admitting they were a party that attempted to free Cunningham and that they fired at the guard.
Nebergall said the statement was obtained by prison officials at Fort Madison working with State Agents Delbert Murray and Robert Gregson, the Lee County Sheriff and County Attorney. He declared that officers were not yet satisfied with what part that Estes may have played in the second escape attempt. He is currently still at large. A woman who figured both in the escape of Haenze, Sullivan and Estes and in the second attempt has been arrested in Missouri, but Nebergall said that he had no details on her arrest. “
Robert Allen Hart was buried at the Oakland Cemetery on July 11, 1940 with full military honors.
Rest in peace, Robert!
Robert Allen Hart is my third cousin two times removed.