domestic violence

Goffney bound over.

The Times published a blow-by-blow of the preliminary hearing Wilson mayor E.F. Killette held over the homicide of Blanche Williams. Joe Goffney entered a plea of not guilty, but Killette found sufficient evidence to hold him over for trial in the Superior Court.

Joe Brodie testified first. Goffney, who was married, came with Williams to the house in which she lives. Brodie was in the back room when the shot rang out. Williams staggered out and fell to the floor. Goffney ran out, shouting that he had not known the gun was loaded. Brodie sent for Dr. Mitchner, who declared Williams dead.

Nellie Williams testified that Goffney and Blanche Williams had entered the house laughing and talking. She was in the next room lacing her shoe when she heard the gun fire and heard Goffney say, “I didn’t say a word — or I will kill all of you.” Nellie Williams ran out of the house with one shoe on.

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Clifton Johnson also testified that Goffney and B. Williams entered the house talking and laughing. Johnson said he saw the gun on the center table when he entered and did not know to whom it belonged. (Neither Brodie nor N. Williams corroborated this, saying that as far as they knew there had been no gun in the house.) Goffney picked up the gun and said “let me see it.” Johnson’s back was turned to them when Goffney fired. Goffney did not say anything “out of the way” to Williams. The remark about “killing them all” came after the shooting. Goffney told them to get a doctor, then left the house. He gave Johnson the gun, who threw it away.

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“Colored physician” William Mitchner testified that he found Blanche Williams on the porch dead. The bullet had struck her in the chin, breaking her lower jaw, and exited the back of her neck, possibly fracturing her spine. In his opinion, Goffney was standing directly in front of Williams when he fired, and the bullet’s trajectory was slightly downward.

Clifton Johnson was recalled to testify that he and Goffney were on the same side of the table, and he was behind Williams.

Goffney testified that Clarence Johnson carried concealed weapons. [Is this Clifton? Or a different man?] Clarence had placed a magazine and .32 cartridges on the table.

Officer Weathersbee testified that he and Officer Sikes asked Johnson for the gun, and Johnson said he had thrown it in the pea patch. Johnson admitted the gun was his, and it had not been found.

Clarence Johnson denied telling Weathersbee the gun was his. He did not own a gun. Goffney was mistaken when he said Johnson had pulled the gun from his pocket and that there had been a magazine on the table. Johnson works at an express office and borrowed a holster from a fellow employee. He did not borrow a gun. The holster is in a bureau drawer at his house. Mayor Killette interjected that the holster had been found between the bed[frame] and mattress in Johnson’s room. Johnson could not explain why he borrowed a holster.

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Joe Lee denied seeing Goffney take a pistol from Johnson’s pocket. Apparently, Nettie Williams did, too. Johnson’s mother testified that he did not own a gun and had not brought one to the house the night of the killing.

Johnson’s lawyer F.D. Swindell argued that in the excitement of the moment, it was perfectly natural for Johnson to throw away the gun Goffney gave him. The only evidence that the gun was his was Goffney’s testimony, which was inherently biased.

The mayor was satisfied that Johnson had borrowed the pistol and bound him over as a material witness and for carrying a concealed weapon. He fined Johnson $75 and set his bond for $500. Goffney was sent to jail to await trial.

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Wilson Times, 30 September 1921.

  • Joe Goffney — Was Joe Goffney convicted? I have not found a follow-up, but the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists: Goffney Joseph tobwkr [tobacco worker] h 206 Manchester. This is likely the Joseph Goffney listed in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Lemon Barnes, 51; wife Dollie Ann, 51; children Ida, 26, Lemon Jr., 20, Mattie, 17, Charlie, 15, and Howard, 12; stepsons Cornelius Neal, 11, Paul Goffney, 17, and Joseph Goffney, 15; and grandson Sylvester Barnes, 6.
  • Blanche Williams — Per her death certificate, Blanch Williams was 24 years old; single; resided on Stantonsburg Street; and worked as a common laborer. She was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Wash Smith and Laura Williams, and Selena Craig of Goldsboro was informant. Her cause of death: “revolver wound of head (probably accidental).” [A 26 September 1921 Times article about the shooting reported that Williams was married and lived in Goldsboro, but had come to Wilson to work briefly in domestic service. She had planned to return to Goldsboro the week she was shot. She had been “going with” Goffney while in Wilson, and jealousy was believed to be at the root of the violence. Unnamed witnesses heard Goffney tell Williams, “If you go with that man, I will kill you,” as they walked to Joe Lee’s home. As Williams walked out of the house to return home, Goffney called her back in and shot her.]

  • Joe Brodie — possibly Josephine Brodie listed in the 1922 city directory as a student living at 303 Mercer Street.
  • Nellie Williams
  • Clifton/Clarence Johnson — perhaps the Clifton Johnson listed in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as a porter living at 118 Ashe Street.
  • Dr. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner.
  • Joe Lee — possibly Joseph Lee listed in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as a factory hand living at 115 Manchester Street. [However, the 26 September Times article identified Joe Lee and Joe Brodie as the same person, a woman.]
  • F.D. Swindell — lawyer Fred D. Swindell.
  • W.A. Finch — lawyer William Atlas Finch.
  • Mayor Killette — mayor Edwin F. Killette Sr.
  • Officer Weathersbee
  • Officer Sikes

Redding had two wives.

Wilson, N.C. Nov 25th 1865

Commissioner of Freedman at Goldsboro. Sir there is a Colored woman in prison in this County Committed by some Magistrate in Edgcombe County. I do not know any of the particulars. I have been told that she was in prison with one or two little children & they will certainly suffer with Cold if they remain there. Mr. John Smith of this County has in his care five orphan children have no near relations Mr. Smith has been a loyal citizen to the U.S. Government all the war, he is a good man clothes & feeds well, he wishes to have them bound. There names & ages are Samuel 17 years old, Caroline 15 years old, Symeon 13 years old, Princh 11 years old, Frank 9 years old. Mr. Smith can give the best of refference.

Respectfully

W.J. Bullock, Capt. L.P.F.

[Different handwriting] Roberson Baker put Redding Baker in jail and took his children.

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Wilson N.C. Dec 26th 1865

Geo. O. Glavis

Sir, I received a Communication from you this morning in reguard to one Redding Baker (freedman) stating that he was put in jail by Rob Baker, and I ought not to permit such proceeding &c. I presume you know nothing or but little about the case or myself either, or you would not have wrote as you did. You said Baker had no authority for taking those children &c, if he had not of had an order to that effect he certainly would not have gotten them returned to him, and that authority was the highest in this state. I presume from Col. Whitlesy. The case is as follows Redding had two wives one at Mr. Bakers, and one at a Mr. Blows. He had discarded the wife who lived at Mr. Bakers, took the other one home, I assisted him in getting his children by his wife at home; he afterwards took the children of his other wife, she went to see them, and he whipped her very bad or as she stated to me, she said she wanted her children to stay at Mr Bakers, the case was sent to Raleigh and Col Whitlesy ordered the children carried back to Mr Baker’s. I was absent at the time, Mr Baker called on a Lt of the Police to return the children as the order requested him to call on the Police to return them. The Lt served the order on Redding he promised to return them by a certain day; he did not obey the order & when I came home the Lt sent me to know what course to pursue. I ordered him to return the children to Mr Baker according to the Order from Raleigh, and to send Redding to me for whipping Annikey his abandoned wife, he was sent late in the evening I lodged him in jail for investigation I investigated the case laid no furnishment, found it was a case of not sufficient importants to send to you & discharged him. I hope the above will be satisfactory. You see Mr Baker did not put him in jail. And besides the jailor of this County is a gentleman, and knows his duty, will not receive any one in the jail unless committed by a Magistrate or myself. There have not been any freedmen put in the jail who has not been reported to you or Gen Hardin, except in cases of minor importants upon investigation discharged. There are not any freedmen in jail here at all, the last who was there escaped before I got orders to send him off.

Should the above not be satisfactory, I will try to satisfy you when up to Wilson. As for my character I will refer you to the Union men of the County among them W. Daniel, W.G. Sharp, G.W. Blount & others.

Very respectfully

Your Obedt Servt

W.J. Bullock

Capt. L.P. Force

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White farmer William Bullock, 38, is listed in the 1870 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County NC. 52 year-old white farmer Roberson Baker is listed in Oldfields township. Neither Redding nor Annikey Baker nor their children appear in the county.

Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database online], http://www.ancestry.com.

The murder of Nettie Vick Jones.

Ten years after Caesar Wooten shot Mittie Strickland near Wilson’s railroad tracks, another man killed a woman near the Nash Street crossing. Initially, at least, this murder drew wide attention: A. Wilson Jones, the alleged killer, was a prominent African-American Republican Party leader in Wilson County, and his victim, his wife Nettie Vick Jones, was the sister of Samuel H. Vick.

As an early report from a Fayetteville paper notes, considerable confusion surrounded the crime. Jones fled in the aftermath, and a black constable searching for him got himself arrested after pulling a gun on a flagman.

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Fayetteville Observer, 28 August 1897.

The Baltimore Sun claimed that friends of the victim’s family were threatening to lynch Jones.

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Baltimore Sun, 28 August 1897.

A few days later, the Wilson Advance and Wilson Times offered more detailed versions of events. The Joneses, who were estranged, were overheard quarreling on Nash Street. Nettie rebuffed Wilkes, and he stabbed her repeatedly with a shoemaker’s knife. Wilkes then ran down Pettigrew Street to the home of one of Nettie’s friends, Annie Williams (reported earlier as Annie Battle), and shot her as she came to her door.

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Wilson Advance, 1 September 1897.

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Wilson Times, 3 September 1897.

Expressions of shocked sympathy rolled in from Nettie Jones’ contemporaries.

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Raleigh Gazette, 11 September 1897.

Quickly, though, the hubbub died away, and a few brief updates in newspapers in early 1898 suggest that Jones was never caught.

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fannie, 24, children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, and Nettie M., 5, plus Violet Drake, 52.

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: shoemaker Henry Jones, 55; wife Milly, 50; and sons Morris, 19, a bakery worker, and Wilson, 11.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Daniel Vick, 38, wife Fannie, 35, children Samuel, 16, Nettie, 14, Earnest Linwood, 12, Henry, 10, and James O.F. Vick, 8, plus Frank O., 20, and Marcus W. Blount, 26.

In the 1880 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Wilson Jones, 22, shoemaker.

On 13 December 1884, A.W. Jones, 24, of Wilson County, married Nettie M. Vick, 20, at Thomas Johnson’s. E.H. Ward, a minister, conducted the ceremony before John Moss, Alice Johnson and Thomas Johnson. (Per the 1900 census, Thomas Johnson was a mail carrier and, presumably, therefore an associate of postmaster Sam Vick. Alice was his wife.)