He be damned if she do anybody else any.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   }

The examination of Pharo Saunders, Col, Wm Howell, Col, and Lear Rice (Col) taken before the undersigned, Coroner of said County, this the 4th day of Dec. 1900 in the town of Toisnot upon the dead body of Willie Bell Saunders (Col), then and there lying dead, to wit:

Pharo Sanders duly sworn says: I was at my mother’s house Willie Bell Saunders about 8 1/2 o’clock last night Dec 3rd. John Taylor came in and said to mother “Willie I have come” and shot her with a pistol in the head. She fell and died in a few minutes. He only shot one time. Soon after shooting he ran out of house. John has been Living with my Mother several years as his wife. Knew of no difficulty between them before. I guess at time when I say 8 1/2 o’clock.  Pharo /s/ Saunders

William Howell sworn says: John Taylor was at my house last Saturday and said he was in trouble, that Willie Saunders was giving him so much trouble he intended going away soon and that he was going to kill Willie before he left. Willie Saunders and John Taylor have been living together about 6 years and I never knew of trouble between them before nor do I know what this trouble was about.  William (X) Howell

Lear Rice Col Sworn says: John Taylor & Willie Bell Saunders have been living together as man & wife several years. I heard of no trouble between them until recently. Sunday morning she told me he was jealous of her and said he intended to kill her. Sunday I heard him say if she didnt do him any good he be damned if she should do any body else any. He be damned if he didn’t kill her. I live in about 20 yards of her.  Lear (X) Rice

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   }

Be it remembered that on this the 4th day of Dec. 1900, I, John K. Ruffin, Coroner of the County of Wilson, attended by a jury of good and lawful  men Viz W.H. Pridgen, Eli Felton, Jerome Bowen, P.H. Braswell, W.J.T. Beland, J.R. Winstead, by me summoned for that purpose according to law, after being by me duly sworn & empaneled at the Town of Toisnot in the County aforesaid, did hold and inquest over the dead body of Willie Bell Saunders: and after examination of the facts and circumstances of the death of the deceased form a view of the corpse, and all the testimony to be procured, the said jury find as follows, that is to say,

That the deceased, Willie Bell Saunders (col), came to her death by a pistol shot wound feloniously inflicted by the hands of John Taylor (Col) on the night of Dec 3rd 1900, and we advise that he be bound over to the next Court and imprisoned without bail.  /s/ Eli Felton, P.H. Braswell, W.H. Pridgen. W.J.T. Beland, J.R. Winstead, Jerome Bowen.

Inquest had, and signed & sealed in the presence of John K. Ruffin, Coroner of Wilson County.


In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Thompson, cook Leaher Rice, 43, and her children John, 18, a railroad laborer, Frank, 16, a brickyard worker, Bettie, 14, a “nurse” [nursemaid], and Annie, 12.

Despite Leah’s testimony about the proximity of her house to Willie Bell and John’s, they do not appear in the 1900 census.

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Leave a Reply