Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
David "Stringbean" Akeman
Born in Annville, Kentucky, he came from a musical family and was taught to play banjo by his father. Dubbed "Stringbean" because he was so tall and thin, he would become known by that single moniker. During the 1940s, he was a bluegrass banjo player with the band of country singer Bill Monroe. In 1945 he teamed up with Lew Childre to form a comedy duet and were successful enough to be invited to perform on the Grand Ole Opry. Primarily a backup musician or part of the comedy duet, he never recorded any music until the 1960s. In 1969 he became a founding member of the cast for the television show "Hee Haw."
A modest and unassuming person, he enjoyed the simple life, hunting and fishing. As a result of hard times during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Akeman and his wife lived frugally in a tiny cabin near Ridgetop, Tennessee, their only indulgence a Cadillac automobile. The numerous bank failures during the Depression caused Akeman and many other people to not trust banks with their money. Never a rich man, nevertheless, around the city of Nashville it was general gossip that Akeman usually kept a significant amount of cash on hand. On a Saturday night in November of 1973 when he and his wife returned to their home about 20 miles from downtown Nashville, thieves lay in wait.
Their bodies were discovered the following morning by neighbor and fellow performer, Grandpa Jones (Louis Marshall Jones). A police investigation into the double homicide resulted in the conviction of brothers John and Marvin Douglas. At trial, it was revealed that the two had ransacked the cabin and shot Akeman and his wife when they returned home, leaving with nothing more than a chain saw and some guns. In 1996, twenty-three years after their murders, $20,000 in cash was discovered behind a brick in the chimney of the Akemans' home.
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