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Jun 13, 2018

Wah Murders Wife: You Have to Take the Good with the Bad

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“On this road called life, you have to take the good with the bad. Smile with the sad. Love what you got, and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget. Learn from your mistakes, but never regret. People change, things go wrong, but just remember life goes on.”

— Unknown

In family history, we cannot take bad things that our ancestors had happen to them to heart. We might need to walk away from our research for a time and come back to it when we are able to handle it. I have had to walk away many times until I felt I could handle what I had discovered.

Relatives recall only part of the story, or maybe they do not remember at all. Perhaps they do remember, but do not want to talk about it. Either way, it costs more and takes more effort, but a determined researcher given time can discover the truth.

In the case of Fairview Cemetery, why did so many want that cemetery and its 865 plus interments forgotten? Joe Wah, cemetery owner, and Janie Wah and Frank Arnold are buried there. When I came across the article, “Joe Wah Shoots Wife to Death,” the lack of concern about the overgrown cemetery became obvious.  

Joe Wah is said to have spent the Saturday night before “at home and sleeping in the room with his wife, and apparently was in good humor when he retired.” The next morning between 6:30 and 7:00 am Janie Wah, asleep, never woke again after Joe Wah shot her in the brain four times.

After killing his wife, Wah went shooting wildly at Henry Matthews who was in bed in a different room. He was taken into custody after he visited the home of Frank Arnold and leaving the .25 caliber gun used that day. The funeral was held at Macedonia Baptist Church, and Janie’s burial was to be in Fairview Cemetery.  Joe Wah was acquitted of the murder of Janie Wah.


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Joe Wah, Joes Wah Shoots Wife To Death (Index-Journal), Greenwood, South Carolina, 7 December 1931, page 6, <>,


Years later on May 6, 1946, a front page paper with an article featuring Joe Wah made known his desire to go home to China.


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Joe Wah, Joe Wah Plans Return To Land Of Ancestors (Index-Journal), Greenwood, South Carolina, 6 May 1946, page 1, <>,


He never made it back to Canton, China, but his step-son, Frank Arnold, “came to stay with him when he became ill.” Frank must have understood “You have to take the good with the bad.” In May of 1946, Joe Wah died at the age of 89 at Brewer Hospital in Greenwood, South Carolina. He was buried in Fairview Cemetery.


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Joe Wah Obituary, Joe Wah, Who Planned a Return Home, Died Here Early This Morning (The Index-Journal), Greenwood, South Carolina, 15 May 1946, page 5, <>,


Sharpen the Saw

Is there a point where you have had to take a break with your research because it became to hard to handle? What brought you back to the research? Let us know in our Facebook Group.