Wilson Advance, 19 October 1893.
Probably Frank Locus, born about 1870 to Martin J. and Delphia Taylor Locus of Taylor township.
Wilson Advance, 19 October 1893.
Probably Frank Locus, born about 1870 to Martin J. and Delphia Taylor Locus of Taylor township.
One hundred twenty years ago yesterday …
Wilson Advance, 14 October 1897.
An act of self-defense at a small Springhill store ended in the death of an innocent bystander:
Wilson Daily Times, 12 October 1948.
Asheville Citizen Times, 9 January 1949.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Raleigh Road, Joseph Wilder, 44; wife Chestina, 40; and children Almita O., 15, Elizabeth, 11, Seth B., 8, Sidney, 6, and Luther, 4.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Raleigh Road, widow Chestiney Wilder, 51, and children Elizabeth, 21, Seth, 17, Sidney, 15, and Luther, 13.
On 28 December 1924, Seth Wilder, 22, married Aldonia Ruffin, 20, in Johnston County.
Aldonia Wilder died 24 July 1929 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 24 years old, born in Wilson County to Charlie Ruffin of Johnston County and Sarah Jane O’Neil of Wilson County; was married to Seth Wilder; and was buried in Barnes cemetery.
In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Mc. Coward Tucker, 47; wife Bella, 34; and children Mildred, 18, Albert, 17, Eddie, 14, Charles, 11, Martha, 8, Joe, 4, and James, 1.
On 14 January 1931, Seth Wilder, 31, son of Josiah and Chestinie Wilder, married Lillie Mae Creech, 24, daughter of Wright and Sallie Creech, in Smithfield, Johnson County.
In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Seth Wilder, 37; wife Lillie Mae, 32; and children Willie May, 2, and Seth, 1; Chestiney Wilder, 72; Sally Creech, 57, and her children Sally, 18, Geneava, 16, and Addie Lee Creech, 13; and Waltie Monque, 26.
In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Dowell Tucker, 71; wife Isebell, 47; and children Charles, 21, Bennie, 17, Martha, 15, Joe B., 13, James, 10, Dove, 8, Joe Lewis, 5, and daughter-in-law Mamie Ree, 14.
Seth Wilder registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 6 May 1902 in Wilson County; resided at Route 1, Box 261, Lucama; was self-employed; and his contact was R.H. Neal.
Seth Wilder died 2 May 1990 in Washington, D.C.
Wilson Daily Times, 5 August 1924.
“Rifle shot wound in breast by drunken father”
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Bynum, 35; wife Carrie, 29; children Rosetta, 5, and John, 4; nephew and niece Isaac, 7, and Geneva Bynum, 4; niece Susan Bridges, 19; laborer Bruce Daniel, 19; and niece Sudie Ward, 15.
The story broke on the Fourth of July 1907. Raiford Dew had shot and killed his wife Mittie and her lover — his brother Amos Dew. Newspapers across the state could not resist the tragedy:
News & Observer (Raleigh), 4 July 1907.
A few days later, the Clinton Caucasian reported different details.
Clinton Caucasian, 11 July 1907.
Unsurprisingly, Raiford Dew was convicted of second degree (unpremeditated) murder three months later. (And attention moved to another act of violence — the murder of Wiley Faison by Will Scarborough at a “negro dance” on a farm southeast of Wilson.)
News & Observer (Raleigh) 12 October 1907.
Somewhat surprisingly, five years later, Dew received a conditional pardon at the recommendation of the trial judge and jury.
Greensboro Daily News, 16 November 1912.
In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Louisa Dew, 35, and children Isaac, 20, Nellie, 17, Mourning, 10, Grant, 9, Raiford, 7, Mary Ann, 6, and Amos, 2.
On 10 August 1895, Rayfus Dew, 22, of Cross Roads township, son of Amos and Louisa Dew, married Mitty Daniel, 18, of Cross Roads, daughter of Isaac and Edna Daniel. Free Will Baptist minister Daniel Blount performed the ceremony at Pine Grove in Wilson township. Tom Moore, Noah Moore and Riney Ricks were witnesses. [William H. Pate, who fled from Raiford Dew’s threat, was the son of Alford and Polly Ann Daniel Pate and was Mittie Daniel Dew’s cousin.]
In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Roford Dew, 25; wife Mittie, 20; and children Lee M., 3, and Murray, 5 months. Two households away: widow Louisa Dew, 65; daughter Mary, 27, and son Amos, 20; Roselle Deans, 75; and widowed sister Ellen Emerson, 60.
Mittie Dew was buried in Becky Pate cemetery near Lucama. Her headstone notes that she was the wife of R.D. Dew and proclaims her “Gone but not forgotten.”
In the 1910 census of Halifax township, Halifax County: at State Farm #1, Raiford Dew, 38, prisoner.
On 23 August 1914, Raiford Dew, 44, of Cross Roads township, son of Amos and Louisa Dew, married Maybel Dawson, 18, of Cross Roads township, daughter of Perry and Sarah Dawson. Witnesses were Grant Dew, W.H. Mickerson and Vanderbilt Dawson.
In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Raiford Dew, 57; wife Mary Belle, 34; and children Clarence, 15, Lema, 13, and Joseph, 11; sister-in-law Dazzell Dawson, 17, and her daughter Sarah, 4; and brother-in-law Willie Dawson, 19.
Raford Dew died 28 December 1933 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; married to May Belle Dew; was a farmer; and was the son of Amos and Louisa Dew.
Photograph of headstone courtesy of Findagrave.com.
On March 31, 1939, farmer Levi “Lee” Locus was shot to death by a policeman in his own bedroom in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Though the outcome of the officer’s trial was predictable, newspapers called for justice, and black folk took some satisfaction in watching Chief T.T. Autry brought to trial.
Burlington Daily Times-News, 7 April 1939.
Pittsburgh Courier, 27 May 1939.
Pittsburgh Courier, 23 December 1939.
In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John Locus, 37; wife Annie, 31; and children Flonnie, 9, Floid, 8, and Levy, 3.
In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John Locus, 43; wife Annie, 39; and children Floid, 17, Levi, 14, and Wiley, 4.
On 23 September 1922, Levi Locus, 21, of Simms, son of John and Annie Locus, married Lilly Jones, 18, of Bailey, daughter of Jesse and Sallie Jones, in Wilson. Witnesses were Eli Barnes, of Simms, and Ernest Batts and Fenley Davis of Bailey.
In the 1930 census of Oldfields, township, Wilson County: farmer Leevie Locus, 23; wife Lillie, 23; and children Lillie M., 7, Leevie Jr., 6, Johnnie B., 5, Freddie L., 3, Annie R., 1, and Queen E., 3 months.
State of North Carolina, Wilson County }
North Carolina, Wilson County }
The examination of Easter Pool, Gracie Pool, Mrs. E.E. Flora, Mrs. Wethly Flora, E.F. Flora, J.S. Flora, Mary Sims, Jane Sims, Will Artis, J.T. Corbett, taken before the undersigned, Coroner of said county this 16th of April 1901, at the house of J.S. Flora upon the body of Dempsey Pool then and there lying dead to wit: —
E.F. Flora being duly sworn says: —
The fussing commenced about 7 oclock, when Stephen Sims came into the yard and got the wagon, and Easter and Annie Pool, daughters of Dempsey Pool objected. Sims went on with the wagon & got a load of guano from an out house. Coming back to the yard, a boy was driving the wagon & Stephen had his gun on his shoulder. The daughters Easter & Annie went home & come back with their father, mother & brother. These were all at the front gate as the wagon come in. Pool’s crowd has cart-rounds, sticks & a pitchfork, this latter held by Pool’s wife. Sims did not come to the gate, but got over the fence before he got to them & went around the field coming into the yard by a back gate. I told him not to come in the ward with his gun. Pool had come into the yard, following Sims along the fence cursing Sims. When Sims got into the yard, he put his gun to his face & Pool kept advancing I never heard Sims say a word. Pool got about 5 or 6 steps from Sims when Sims shot Pool. Pool ran twenty steps or more after Sims, not saying anything, Sims running from Pool around the house. At the corner of the house Pool fell. Sims went around the house & out the same gate & all of Pool’s crowd were after Sims. Charles, a son of Pool & a grown man, was here shot by Sims. The Pool crowd then struck Sims as he jumped the ditch, and broke the gun. This gun (produced) is a single barrel breech loader. As he went out the gate, Sims daughter, said “Pap, don’t put no more shell in that gun,” but Sims loaded it again. After Sims was knocked down he run down the field & fell over the fence. Charles, who was also shot, was 18 years of age. I did not go out of the house at all. After Dempsey Pool was shot, I saw something in his hand as he ran toward Sims, holding it out straight. Could not tell what it was. Don’t know as to their being on friendly terms. When the shooting was going on in the yard Pool’s children & Sims children were fighting along with the wagon. E.F. (X) Flora
J.S. Flora being duly sworn says: —
Am a son of preceding witness. Pools girls come here this morning & Sims was hitching up to wagon. I heard them talking & went out there & found them quarreling over the wagon. I told the Pool crowd that they could use my wagon today. One wanted to come back & wanted to hitch up. The other went on & collect her sister who followed. This was about half an hour or more before the shooting, When I started to the field I met Pool, his wife, two girls, the boy, Charles. I said Dempsey, go & hitch up to my wagon & don’t have no fuss with Stephen Sims. He said, “no” & went out to the lot. I understood some of them to say that they were going to have that wagon and some one had to die. The wagon belonged to the place, none having a special right to it. I went on out to the field and heard Dempsey Pool cussing at Steven Sims, calling him to some on if he wanted to fight. I saw Stephen come down the road & get over the fence about 30 yards from the Pool crowd, who were at the gate, saw him when he come in the yard with the gun on his shoulder. In 5 minutes heard the gun fire next thing saw Pool run after Sims; did not know that Pool was hurt. Saw Sims go out same gate he come in & the Pool crowd were after him, about twenty yards behind him. The girls had sticks. Saw Charles Pool & Stephen Sims point weapons with Charles holding out hand as if presenting pistol & saw smoke when he fired. Both shot about the same time, pistol a short time before. Charles then came back to the yard & the women pursued Sims & knocked him down. Sims then run home & the Pool crowd come back in the yard. /s/ J.S. Flora
Mary Simms being duly sworn says: —
Am daughter of Steffen Simms. Came on from home with wagon to the main house. My brothers, James Billie & Willie with me. I will be 21 in August. James is 17 years old. I opened the gate, was walking I come on in behind the wagon. The Pool crowd, Easter, Annie, and Gracie, Ella & May, met me at the gate. Dempsey Pool was with them but walked out to meet Pap Easter was standing in the road & told James not to run over her. She hit me on the arm with a plough-bench. I did not hit her. Dempsey went out to the fence & asked Pap why did you strike at my daughter for Pap said I did not strike at her. Pool then called Pap a lie & a s__ of a b___. The fence was then between them, Dempsey followed Pap down the fence, had a pistol & shot at him once before they got to the gate. While Pool was shooting at Pap, the Pool crowd was following after us to fight, but we did not fight. When Pap says don’t come on me Pool kept coming & Pap shot him. When Pap shot, the Pool crowd went near their father & all making toward my father. Pool certainly had pistol & shot at Pa across the fence.
Don’t know where he got it. After the shooting, Pap ran around the house & out same gate & put another shell in his gun, with the Pool crowd following, Charles with pistol. Some of the Pool crowd said shoot him Charlie & Charlie shot & then Pa shot. Charles did not fall but followed Pa a little way & then came back into the yard. The rest of the Pool crowd followed Pa. When I went to get over the fence, Easter Pool hit me. When I saw Pap, he was down then got up & went home one followed us nearly home. There were seven in the Pool crowd. /s/ Mary Simmes
James Simms being duly sworn says: —
Me & my brother Bill went & caught mules. Pa was in the yard, we come together when we were currying Easter Pool was taking our traces off the wagon. Pa says let them traces alone. He started toward the wagon. Easter then run to another wagon flat & pulled a round out she thought Pa was after her. He told her to wait until he carried the load of guano to the field & then she could have the wagon. She called him a ___ rascal & said that her father had sent her after the wagon & she was going to have it. We hitched the wagon & went after the guano & then went by home for breakfast. Then I saw Easter her mother & sister father & brother Charles coming up to the house. We did not wait for breakfast but come on Heard Dempsey call my father & curse him & tell him he was going to have wagon or be killed or kill some body. Pa come down with gun & got over the fence before he got to Pool, Pool went up to the yard fence, had pistol in hand & shot one fence at Pa. Pa come in gate & Dempsey kept coming on him & Pa shot Dempsey & then run around house & back out of same gate.
Charles was on edge first & had pistol, all the Pools were behind Pa & some one of them told Charles to shoot & he shot & then Pa shot. Then Charles walked on a little way, then turned back & come into yard.
Aunt Grace, Easter & Annie followed Pa to the road & struck him as he went over the fence. Aunt Grace had pitchfork. The other girls had sticks. One little girl, Mary, followed us nearly home, other behind. James (X) Simms
Grace Pool being duly sworn says: —
I am wife of Dempsey Pool. I came in the yard this morning & I went to the kitchen & asked why they allowed so much fussing here, & asked Mr. Flora whose wagon it was. Mr. Flora did not seem to talk much said Dempsey could have his wagon about this time Dempsey come in & said carry team back & [illegible] going to do nothing. I says “yes lets put up fence.” He says “no, Steve Sims wants to fight let him come on out in the road.” He hollowed to Steve who was at home to come on & he would fight. This was after Steve had carried wagon after guano. About this time the wagon come in, we all met, Steve’s crowd & my crowd met in the yard. Steve got over field fence & Dempsey stayed in yard, Steven coming around fence & into gate & Dempsey following him. Dempsey was going toward Steven, & Steven was stepping back & said Don’t come here. Dempsey kept on & Steve shot him. Steve then went on around house & Dempsey following until he fell. Steven went out same gate & all of us after him. Charles was back of us. I says “Charles, he has shot your daddie.” Charles then went for Steve & Steve shot him. Charles had no pistol and was half turned when Steve shot him. If Charles had a pistol I don’t know it. Dempsey did not have a pistol at home of abroad & did not have a pistol when he was shot. Grace (X) Pool
Will Artis being duly sworn says: —
Don’t know anything about the fight. Took Charles Pool home. Heard him say that after Stefen Sims shot his father that he, Charles Pool, shot at Steffen. Will (X) Artis
J.T. Corbett being duly sworn says: —
Know nothing of fight. Saw Charles Pool since fight. I was sent down to get his pistol & he said he did not know where it was unless his mother had it. He did not tell me he used it, but said his crowd had one. /s/ J.T. Corbett
Easter Pool being duly sworn says: —
Am daughter of Dempsey Pool. Pa sent me & Annie to catch mules to haul rails to swamp. Stephen was up here. About 5,30 oclock. When I went to take off traces Steve says “don’t do that I am going to use wagon. I said “we want to use wagon.” He says “you are not going to use it. He was coming toward me with lines in his hand. He struck at me with lines & I jumped back. I got me a wagon round & Annie says lets go home we went home & told Pa. Annie told him that Steven had struck at me. Pa told me to come back & “let Steve whip me. Then all of us, mother, sister & brother, came up to the house. Charlie went & caught mule Ma asked Mr Flora what was matter. He said he did not know, then Pa came in the gate & Mr Flora met him & told him to take his wagon. Pa refused to take Mr Floras wagon. He went down to front gate & called me & told me to go & have Steve arrested. I said that [illegible] suit was no use, to get & get wagon & go to field. Pa then got on fence & called Steve & said “You have been messing with my children all the year, now come on to whip them.” Steve took his gun & come on up here. When he got to corner of fence got over on field side & Pa come on up to back gate in yard & met at back gate. Pa was going toward Steve & Steve said “don’t come on me.” Steve then pointed his gun at Pa & Pa said “Don’t shoot here” I then heard the gun fire. Next thing I saw was Steve running around house & then followed fight in field. I have never seen Pa with a pistol. Easter (X) Pool
On 24 December 1874, Dempsey Pool, 23, married Grace Bynum, 23, in Edgecombe County.
In the 1900 census of Wilson Town, Wilson County: farmer Dempsey Pool, 50; wife Gracey, 45; and children Easter, 22, Elizabeth, 20, Dempsey Jr., 18, Charlie, 17, Annie, 14, Ella, 13, Mary, 11, Alice, 9, Haley, 8, Minnie, 5, and Richard, 2.
In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Stephen Simms, 46; wife Zanie, 40; and children Mary, 19, Lizzie, 16, James, 14, Billie, 12, Willie, 9, and Rommie, 6.
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
In April 1898, Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt placed an ad for her “uptown” grocery store, serving a white clientele, on Goldsboro Street in Wilson. A year later, on March 29 and 31, 1899, town newspapers carried an enigmatic series of articles about the trial of a “negro detective” apparently hired by white livery owner Jefferson D. Farrior to “work up a case” against Hunt’s husband, James A. Hunt, for burning her store. Farrior owned the building, and posted the detective’s bond. Almost exactly one year after that, Farrior waylaid James Hunt and shot him down in the street.
Raleigh Morning Post, 31 March 1900.
More than two dozen witnesses, black and white, testified at the inquest into Hunt’s death, held 3 April 1900.
First, the doctors’ reports. James A. Hunt was over six feet tall and weighed 225-250 pounds. He received four gun shots to the torso. One grazed his left chest, another buried in his shoulder, another entered near his left kidney, and another lodged between his 11th and 12th ribs. Dr. Albert Anderson administered a painkiller by hypodermic at the scene, and Hunt was transported by wagon to his home. Dr. C.E. Moore determined that a perforated intestine was likely, and the doctors performed surgery the day after the shooting. Hunt died at about 7:30 the evening of March 31.
The action is somewhat difficult to follow among the multiple viewpoints, but in essence, these are the facts alleged.
A couple of weeks before the shooting, James A. Hunt spoke with Herbert Bass about getting a horse and said he did not want to get one from Jefferson Farrior because they were not on good terms. Hunt also told Bass that he was out of business but had one more piece to transact before leaving Wilson. Monday or Tuesday before the shooting, Farrior showed several people a letter that he believed Hunt had written him. On Thursday, Hunt was observed passing Farrior’s livery stable stable several times, then standing across the street and staring at him. Because it was well known that Hunt had been charged the year before with shooting at a black detective that Farrior had hired to investigate an arson, witnesses suspected that Hunt was up to something. Farrior frequently had to pass through “the colored settlement down the plank road” to get to several farms he owned in the country, and some witnesses claimed that Hunt had threatened to kill Farrior. Sitting in Foster’s bar, Hunt told someone he had had a lot of trouble with “a small man of about 120-125 pounds, a blue-eyed sharper,” adding “It’s a fellow but the fice [feist] wouldn’t bark, and [he] had a fice now that would bark and he would get recompense.”
On Friday, Hunt and Jake Tucker went to Nash County to meet with a Mr. Eatmon about Hunt purchasing property in Wilson’s Little Washington neighborhood. Eatmon lived about six miles “the other side of Finchs Mill.” They returned about five or six P.M. Later that evening, Hunt, his wife Annie V. Collins Hunt, and friend Carrie Moore headed to the Marmona Opera House to attend a benefit performance for the colored Methodist Church. They walked up Green Street, crossed the tracks, and continued up Nash Street to Tarboro Street, where they turned left. They had passed the telegraph office and were near the silversmith’s shop when Farrior suddenly stepped out in front of them and raised a pistol. Hunt, who was unarmed, grabbed Farrior’s hands, and another man ran across the street to them shouting that he would shoot Hunt if he did not let Farrior go. Annie Hunt screamed, “Murder! Fire!” Hunt loosed Farrior and ran back toward Nash Street. Farrior chased him, shooting, then followed him into Ruffin’s store where he shot Hunt again. Alf Moye grabbed Farrior, who yelled that Hunt had threatened his life. John Gaston went outside, found A.V.C. Hunt and took her home.
Marmona Opera House is at the arrow at left. The Hunt party walked northwest up Nash street, then turned on Tarboro. The telegraph office occupied 638 Tarboro, shown as vacant in this 1897 Sanborn insurance map. A few doors beyond is a jewelry shop that may be the silversmith referred to. Officer Harrell likely ran up the alley shown parallel to Nash.
Police officer Ephraim Harrell heard the shooting, ran through an alley and encountered Farrior, who did not respond when asked what was going on. Harrell saw Hunt and told him to move on. Hunt responded, “I am shot all to pieces can’t get anywhere,” and lay down in a pile of wood. Harrell called a hack to take Hunt home. Hunt told him it was “cold-blooded murder” and asked for morphine so he could “die easy.” As he lay in a wagon near Wooten & Stevens furniture store, a doctor administered a painkiller by hypodermic needle. Harrell said he had known Hunt two or three years as a merchant who had a business on Goldsboro Street that had burned out. Hunt was a large man and “regarded as having plenty of grit.” Harrell had arrested him two or three weeks before for fighting a black man named Junk Williams, who had since left town.
Sandy Henderson, who had just dropped off some passengers at the opera house, spoke to Hunt as he lay bleeding. Hunt identified the men who abetted Farrior as Skinner and Privett and said he would have not been shot had they not threatened him. Hunt said he was going to die “but God would pay Mr. Farrior for shooting him.”
At the inquest, Hunt’s wife and several of his friends testified that Hunt had neither written nor signed any letter to Farrior and said the handwriting looked like Junk Williams’. Rev. W.T.H. Woodard said, “If was a swearer, I would swear on a stack of Bibles as high as this Court House it is not [Hunt’s handwriting.]” Williams had stopped payment on a $17 check to Hunt. When Williams refused to make good, Hunt had beaten him. “I have got a good whipping,” Williams told Dennis Brooks, “but will give the man two weeks to live that whipped me.” Despite this incident and the alleged assault on the detective, for which he was acquitted, Hunt was not known to be a violent man. As to Hunt’s alleged unfinished business in town, it was not to settle a score with Farrior. Rather, Hunt had been negotiating to purchase a lot from Emma Gay, a transaction that lawyer Sidney Woodard was handling for him. Hunt also had discussed purchasing land from Rev. Woodard in Littleton for $600.
Having heard this testimony and viewed Hunt’s body, the jurors returned a verdict: “That the said J.A. Hunt came to his death by pistol shot wounds inflicted by J.D. Farrior, That said wounds came to be inflicted by said J.D. Farrior while engaged in a mutual altercation with said Hunt under the influence of a sudden passion and in heat of blood. That therefore adjudge the said J.D. Farrior is guilty of Manslaughter in killing of said J.A. Hunt.”
The inquest verdict was as surprising then as it is today.
Wilmington Messenger, 6 April 1900.
Farrior’s capital case, for which he could have received the death penalty, was set for the June 1900 docket of Wilson County Superior Court. Newspapers reported that the trial was postponed until October and then May 1901. On 6 June 1901, the Wilson News reported that Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Farrior had recently left town for a two-week trip to Washington, D.C., New York, the Pan-American Exposition, and points in Canada. Eighteen months later, the case had yet to be heard, but was expected to go to trial that month. (Note the names of defense counsel.)
Raleigh Morning Post, 11 December 1902.
Finally, in February 1903, a resolution surprising only in its technicality. Certain that it could not win, the State had dropped the case.
Wilmington Morning Star, 8 February 1903.
(A) marks the approximate start point for the Hunt party’s walk to the Marmona. (B) is where Hunt was killed. Sanborn insurance map, 1897.
Here, except for a missing page 7, is the full transcript of the coroner’s inquest over the dead body of James Alexander Hunt.
[Page 7 of the transcript, in which Bass completed his testimony and W.I. Skinner and C.H. Whitehead testified, is missing.]
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
[Personal note: I have a familial connection to J.D. Farrior via Jesse A. Jacobs and Jesse “Jack Henderson, who worked in his livery stable when they came to Wilson a few years after this killing. In addition, I grew up in Bel Air Forest, a small subdivision laid out in the early 1960s along Highway 264 East. 264 runs in the path laid by the Plank Road to Greenville, and my neighborhood was once one of the country farms that Farrior passed through Wilson’s “colored settlement” to reach.]
Wilson County, State of North Carolina.
Pearsonal appeared before me this the 5 day of Nov 1904 Sheriff W.D.P. Sharp who maketh oath that Geo Williford is dead that he hath reason to believe to doth believe that he came to his death by unlawful means. /s/ W.D.P. Sharp
Sworn to and subscribed before me a Justice of the Peace of Wilson County on the day and date above mentions. /s/ T.E. Keel J.P.
Mattie Speight, being sworn says: Well yesterday while it was raining I went home and shortly after I got home Albert Battle came in we all were sitting down by the fire and laufing and talking and I came up town and when I went I went back Geo. Williford came up and knocked at the door and when he knocked at the door the front door was shut but my room door was open and I went out. I heard the pistol fire and I went around the house to see what the matter I found Geo Williford on the ground between the door steps and the walling I run after the police I never heard him Geo Williford say any thing except Oh Lordy. /s/ Mattie Speight
Chas Richerson being duly sworn says: I came up town when I came back to the corner house I heard some one say they were fighting down there and I run p there and ask what was the matter this Albert Battle run by me I heard Geo Williford say O Lord and he turned over. I suppose I was coming from up town when the shooting took place Elvy was setting by the fire when I got there. I smelt powder. Chas. (X) Richerson
Mattie Speight reexamine says: after I went back from up town Albert Battle, Elvy Sutton & another woman were the only ones in the house when I got back from up town. When I got around the house from the garden Albert Battle was on the poarch.
Dennis Brooks being sworn says: I don’t know any thing about the killing about 2 1/2 years ago Geo Williford was in my bar raising sand one Monday morning I ask him what was the matter Albert Battle was there and Geo said he was going to kill a man that morning if any one bothered him Albert told him to come on an have a drink and George told him he had money enough to buy his drinks Albert took me back in the pool room and said that Geo was mad with him and I ask him what about and he said Elvy. Albert said he better not run on him. /s/ Dennis Brooks
Minnie Hodges being sworn says: I don’t know any thing about except Albert Battle & Elvy Sutton & I were in the house when Geo Williford came there & knocked and asked for Elvy and I opened the door and let him come in and he run to the bed where Elvy was she was sleep then he runned towards Albert he Albert had gone out in the passage and Albert said get back off of me and George kept coming towards Albert and Albert shot him once then Geo went back towards the bed and I run out the front door and run up the street and when I came back Geo was out dores and had fell between steps and walling. /s/ Minnie Hodges
Elvy Sutton being sworn says: I was asleep and when I waked up Geo was dead Albert called me to get up. George went after Albert with a knife last summer and tried to kill him I have heard George say he was goin to kill Albert if he ever caught him with me. Elvy X Sutton
State of N.C. Wilson Co.
Be it remembered that on this the 5th day of Nov. 1904, I, Albert Anderson, Coroner of Wilson County attended by a Jury of good & lawful men viz: Sanford Christman, R.J. Grantham, E.F. Killette, W.W. Tomlinson, Frank Winstead, J.D. Barnes, by me summoned for that purpose according to law after being by me duly swored and empanelled at the Mayor’s office in the county of fore said did hold an inquest over the dead body of George Williford and after examination in the facts & circumstances of the death of the deceased from a view of the corps and all the testomonal to be procured the said Jury find as follow that is to say that George Williford came to his death from a pistol shot wound inflicted by Albert Battle. /s/ Sanford Christman, E.F. Killette, R.J. Grantham, W.W. Tomlinson, Frank Winstead, J.D. Barnes
Inquest had and signed and sealed in the presence of Albert Anderson, Coroner of Wilson Co. N.C.
Loney Brooks sworn says:
The frolick was at Mr Aycocks place Saturday night I think Xmas week I saw Carroll Harriss in the House & there was a brick thrown in the house. I ran outside & saw Carroll Harriss running & shooting in the direction of some one that fell & I heard Carroll Harriss & John Whitaker say it was Tobe Brooks & they intended to kill him if powder would burn. Loney (X) Brooks
Fredrick Woodard sworn says: [blank]
Albert Woodard sworn says:
I was at the dance at Mr Aycocks on Saturday night before Christmas I think. I saw Addie Ford in the house as I walked from the fire place to the door Carroll Harriss stepped out of the door & as he stepped out of the door inside Charles Brooks & Tobe Brooks was near the door inside Charles started as if going out & I caught him by the arm & pulled him back and asked him what was the matter. He did not speak at first & I asked him again & he said that fellow cussed Buddie for a son of a bitch. I told Charles not to go out of the door if he did that fellow might shoot you for I saw the pistol in his hand (Carroll Harris hand). After that there was no more trouble for a while. After that some one hit Carroll Harriss with a brick while he was standing in the house. Carroll ran out of the house at the back door as if running at some one & shot off his pistol twice. I & others followed him & found Harris sitting down on the path with his hat off on the ground & the pistol on it. Some one asked him what was the matter & he replied that he was bleeding. Then I turned back & went to the house & left him & others there. Albert (X) Woodard
Grant Brooks sworn says:
I was at the party at Aycock, on a Saturday night before Christmas & heard Carroll Harriss call Tobe Brooks a Damned son of a bitch & Jumped out of the door & I saw him draw his pistol. I heard nothing more. Am no relation. Grant (X) Brooks
Izerick Brooks sworn says:
I was at the dance at Aycocks saw Carroll Harriss draw his pistol on Tobe Brooks & cussed him, dared him out of [illegible] doors, pretty soon after some one hit Carroll Harriss with a brick while he was in the house, then Carroll Harris ran out of the back door & shot at some one running & soon came back to the house & said to me that he was going to get Tobe Brooks for hitting him after that all was quiet. /s/ Izeriah Brooks
Jack Woodard sworn says:
I was over there at Mr Aycocks last Wednesday a week ago the 23rd Dec 96 & the question arose among us concerning the trouble at the dance where Carroll Harriss was hit with a brick. I asked Carroll Harriss is he was hurt & he said he was, bad. I told him to go home & if he knew who it was hit him to indict him & let the law take its course & he said no I am going to get him. That is all I know about the trouble. Jack (X) Woodard
Dora Woodard sworn says:
I was at Jack Woodards house (I live there with my father) I was sitting on the foot of the bed & Tobe Brooks was sitting on the other side by me & these men Carroll Harriss & John Whitaker came into the house & John Whitaker took a seat at the corner of the fire place & Carroll Harriss stood with his back to the fire. There was a [illegible] talking to this girl Tobe Brooks saw Harriss’s pistol in his hand & asked him what did he mean to do. I then jumped up started to the door in the meantime Harriss shot Tobe & by the time I got to the door he shot again. I called to Charly, Tobes brother & told him to come, that they were killing his brother then his brother ran in by me & I got out by the side of the door, looked back & saw Whitaker & Harriss have Tobe down on the the bed, heard one shot after I got out. I saw Charly run out of the house & Whitaker pursuing him with a pistol in his hand. I remarked to Whitaker if he was not ashamed to kill a man in a mans house & he replied that he was not that he had saved the Damned son of a bitch then I went back in the house & saw Tobe bleeding from a wound in the head & mouth. Both of Harriss & Whitaker had pistols one each in the house. /s/ Dora Woodard
Dora & Julia Woodard are one and the same person
Maggie Brooks sworn says:
I was in Jack Woodards house when the shooting took place I was sitting on a chair by Tobe. He was sitting on the bed. Carroll Harriss was standing by the fire place with pistol in hand, pointed at Tobe Brooks. Tobe said Mr what do you mean? Harriss said nothing & then Tobe called his brother. Harriss shot or Whitaker I do not know which, Whitaker was sitting in corner of fire place. As soon as the shot was fired I ran under the bed betwixt Tobe’s legs. I then crawled out from under the bed & saw out of the doors & saw Harriss & Whitaker leave. /s/ Maggie Brooks
George Bell sworn says:
On the evening of the 24th of Dec 96 I was in the Bar room of Luther Barnes at Black Creek & John Whitaker came to the door & called me out & asked me if I could tell him where Tobe Brooks lived. I said yes he lived on Frank Barnes’s place & he said for me to tell him that he was going to kill him a damned son of a bitch & turns to Harriss & ask (who came up about that time) when should they go. Harriss replied he did not care. Whitaker then said we will not go to night but will on Sunday. John Whitaker turned off & said that he would see me again but he did not. /s/ Geo. C. Bell
Charles Brooks sworn says:
I was at the house of Jack Woodard the evening of the shooting of Tobe Brooks my brother. I was standing in the yard when I heard one or two shots. Dora Woodard called me & said: Come in they are killing your brother hearing also my brother Tobe calling me I ran in house, saw they have him down on the bed & shooting him. I jerked Harriss off & shot him & then I ran & some one shot me as U was running leaving the place going home. Charles (X) Brooks
Leslie Brooks sworn says:
I was in Jack Woodards yard on the evening of the shooting of Tobe Brooks. I heard a pistol shot & ran in the house saw Carroll Harriss grab Tobe Brooks in the collar & slam him on the bed Whitaker holding Tobe by the shoulder at the same time, saw Harriss shoot Tobe in the face Whitaker firing also at that time Charles Brooks ran in grabbed Harriss off & shot him in the back of the neck. I then ran out doors, saw Charles running & Whitaker after him shooting him. Hearing John Whitaker saying I will kill the next son of a bitch leaving at the same time. Leslie (X) Brooks
Jonas Woodard sworn says:
I was at my brother in laws John Woodard near the shooting Heard the shooting & saw them a crowd run out of Jack Woodards house & soon after Harriss & Whitaker came along. I asked John Whitaker if he had gone up there & killed Tobe & his reply was: We have killed the son of a bitch. I asked who did it & Whitakers reply was: Carroll Harriss. Jonas (X) Woodard
Augustus Woodard sworn says:
I was with some other boys out in the yard, saw Harriss & Whitaker come out of the house. Leslie Brooks was one of the boys with us, says Maggie Skinner(?) is talking, then Harris & Whitaker turns & goes back in the house & in about five minutes I heard a pistol shot & I ran to the door to see what was the matter. When I got there, saw Harriss & Whitaker standing over Tobe who was lying on the bed, hearing another shots & seeing pistols in the hands of both Harris & Whitaker. Then Charles Brooks ran in & shot Harriss & then ran out, then I ran to the kitchen, then John Whitaker followed Charles & shot him turning to join the house saying I will kill the other son of a bitch goes in gets his hat & leaves. /s/ Augustus Woodard
Sarah [Susan written above] Woodard sworn says:
I live at Jethro Aycock’s place Carroll Harriss came to my house to have his wound washed. Pretty soon afterwards John Whitaker came said to Harriss make haste & lets go down to Jack Woodard & as soon as he had his head washed left with Whitaker in the direction of Jack Woodard’s returned that day Whitaker saying we have saved the son of a bitch. Sarah (X) Woodard
Levinia Artis sworn says:
I went over to John Whitakers house on Sunday morning the day the shooting occurred. Whitaker was sitting in the corner of fire place thinking saying God damn it I believe I will get Harriss & go down there & kill him. Soon after Carroll Harriss came in & Whitaker said Harriss lets go down & get that damned son of a bitch & kill him. Harriss made no reply. They went off together came back in the evening & John Whitaker said to me we have killed the son of a bitch & Carroll Harriss remarked they have shot me too. Luvinia (X) Artis
Dr. H.R. Hoover —
I was called in to see Tobe Brooks on Dec 27th 1896 He was at Jack Woodards it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I found him lying on the bed & there was a bullet wound on the left side of his forehead. There was blood & brain matter oosing from that wound. The face around the wound was backbend & burned from powder as I thought. I examined the wound as completely as possible & found that it was a fracture of the skull. I find that there was a bullet wound as I thought in the jaw but was not able to trace it. In regard to the wound in the skull I found the tissues very badly swollen. I washed the wound thoroughly & put cloth over it & called again Monday the 28th 96. His condition was unchanged so far as I could see. Called again 29th inst. with Dr. R.A. Smith who I called in for consultation. After finding the tissues had gone down we decided to cut in & see if we could not find the bullet. We made the incision & found the bullet had penetrated the skull & a portion of it we found just inside of the skull pressing on the brain & the other fragment lying in the brain. We removed the fragments we found washed the wound & dressed it. /s/ H.R Hoover
Dr. R.A. Smith —
I saw Tobe Brooks with Dr. Hoover Tuesday Dec 29th 1896. I found him suffering with a gun shot wound he was suffering with gun shot wound in the forehead on the left side. The blood & brain were oosing from the wound. Dr. Hoover and I concluded to cut down on this wound & see if we could not find the bullet.I found a fragment of the bullet had passed through the skull & partly imbedded in the brain.Here the piece was shown. Found another piece shown imbedded in the fractured bone. Sewed the wound up & dressed it. The fracture in the skull was about three quarters of an inch. /s/ R.A. Smith
Post Mortem Report
On January 4th 1897 We were requested by the Jury of inquest over the body of Tobe Brooks to make a Post Mortem examination. On opening the skull we found that a wound had been made by a bullet about 32 caliber about one inch above the left eye brow and a little over one inch to the left of the median line of the brain. The ball penetrated the brain backwards and downwards till it reached about the middle of the brain where it was found resting on the floor of the cranium. We believe that the wound produced by the bullet found in the brain was sufficient to cause the death of the deceased. /s/ W.S. Anderson, H.R. Hoover
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.