homicide

Like most negroes, she was full of superstition.

In 1891, Rev. Owen L.W. Smith‘s sister, Millie Smith Sutton, shot and killed his wife Lucy Smith at point-blank range, believing that Lucy had poisoned her son.

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Wilson Advance, 9 July 1891.

On 5 November, the Advance reported that Smith had been found “mentally deranged” at the time she killed Smith and was committed to the insane asylum in Goldsboro.

The Wilson Mirror offered more on 11 November:

This tragedy had sequels.

Six years later, Sutton’s walking companion, Nettie Vick Jones, was stabbed to death on the street by her husband, A. Wilson Jones.

Ten years later, on 22 November 1901, the Times reported that Sutton had been released from the hospital and had returned to Wilson and, with Carrie Pettiford, had threatened the life of her brother’s newest wife, Adora Oden Smith. (In the 1900 census, Carrie was a boarder in the Smiths’ home.) Both were arrested.

Waylaid and murdered.

The Independent (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 28 January 1921.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Carolina Street, laborer Haddie Swinson, 29; wife Ianthia, 31; and children May Bird, 6, Glasco, 5, and James B., 3.

Haddie Davis Swinson, a merchant, was shot in the head on 21 January 1921.

No justice for Lee Locus.

On March 31, 1939, farmer LeviLee” 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.

4 7 1939

Burlington Daily Times-News, 7 April 1939.

5 27 1939

Pittsburgh Courier, 27 May 1939.

12 23 1939

Pittsburgh Courier, 23 December 1939.

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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.

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She was going towards Tip when she was shot.

12-30-1921

Wilson Daily Times, 30 December 1921.

Ernest Barnes, 21, son of George and Emma Barnes of Wilson, married Enda Austin, 19, daughter of Eph and Alice Austin of Wilson on 22 December 1909. Holiness minister LeRoy Wiggins performed the ceremony at the residence of Tob. Barnes in the presence of Ed McCullers, Sam Austin, and Tob. Barnes.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 488 Walnut Street, Ernest Barnes, 23, factory laborer, wife Enda, 19, son Frank, 3, and lodger John Jackson, 52, a factory laborer.

India Alston Barnes died Christmas Eve 1921 as the result of a pistol shot to the right cheek. Dr. Frank S. Hargrave, quoted above, certified her death.

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Tip Barnes was indicted in India Barnes’ homicide two months later.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 February 1922.

However, if he were convicted of his wife’s death, he did not serve much time. On 28 December 1926, Tip Barnes, 37, married Mable Polka Scott, 23, in Wilson.

Earnest Tipp Barnes died 1 November 1952 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 January 1888 in South Carolina to George Barnes and Emma McGowan. He was a laborer, was married, and resided at 400 East Hines Street. Mable Barnes of that address was informant.

Thursday night drunk.

Coroner’s report of the Inquest held over Dennis Williams (Col.), Dec. 19th, 1899

North Carolina, Wilson County  }

Record of the examination of witnesses at the Inquest over the dead body of Dennis Williams (col)

The examination of W.D. Crocker M.D., Arch’d Robinson, W.M. Mumford, Edmund Williamson, John Henry, Horton Wells, Jason Wells (col), Alfred Moore taken before the undersigned, Coroner of said County, this 18th day of December 1899 at the Court House in Wilson, upon the body of Dennis Williams then lying dead, to-wit Archibald Robinson, being duly sworn says:

I went down to Mr. Moore’s Thursday night a little after dark. Mr. Moore not at home, but stayed there until a little after eight, went out and hurried towards home, just as I got close to the grave yard I heard a noise sound like some one struggling, I thought at first some one was trying to scare me heard noise about 100 years from Mr. Mumfords house. Saw man laying beside road, just a got against him I turned to left but walked by his feet and look down to see if I knew him, but made no stop. I met Edmund WmSon between where man was lying and Mr. Mumfords house. Just as I crossed the bridge I met him he spoke and I spoke and I stop after I passed him to see if he could recognize him and he stop and called to me that here is a man that seemed to be drunk or hurt come back and see if we can see what is to matter with him. I came back to injured man and found that Edmond knew him and found that he was injured. I and Mr. Mumford went to the depot and let some of the [illegible] Dr. W.D. Crocker went to see him. They took him up and carried him over to a vacant house about 350 years away where the doctor dressed his wounds. The man was total unconscience and stayed so, as far as I heard. Don’t know anything more about it.    Archibald (X) Robinson

Edmund Williamson being duly sworn says:

I was acquainted with Dennis Williams. Did not recognize him that night at first, but did afterwards. There was right much blood on ground, where he was found. Do not know why he was there.   Edmund (X) Williamson.

Wash Mumford, being duly sworn says:

Dennis came up to my house drunk, Thursday night drunk, like he always came, have learn him for 20 years, came to my gate, but Dago wouldn’t let him in. I was out in yard cutting out my beef. I forbid him to come in my yard for he was drunk, he walked off to one side, leaning up against walling. About 8 or 10 minutes, talking to him self. Had some words and he walked away cursing. He was not very offensive and went off as soon as I told him to go. Went off in direction to where he was afterwards found. Heard that he was hurt about 15 minutes after he left my house. I heard him meet some one, and heard him curve some one, and heard other party say he would kill him if he cursed him, and almost immediately afterwards heard blows. Mr. Wells and my son was with me. After I found out he was hurt, took my cart, and help them carry him off and dress his would. Found a bar rail and a fence rail where he was hurt, was blood, and hair on rails.  Wash (X) Mumford

Horton Wells, being duly sworn says:

I was at Mr. Mumford, when Dennis same to his house Thursday night. I heard nothing more than Mr. Mumford testified to.  /s/ J.H. Wells

Jason Wells, being duly sworn, says:

I am barber, my business is at Lucama. Went home a little early Thursday night. I saw Dennis at depot Thursday. He was drunk. I saw him between sun set and dark, didn’t see him after I went home. Didn’t see him have any money, but heard him say he had some. I took a drink with him, some time in the day he was not drunk then. Never saw him after he was hurt.   Jason (X) Wells

Alferd Moore, being duly sworn, says:

The man was found dead about a half miles from my house.   /s/ Alfred Moore

Dr. W.D. Crocker, being duly sworn says:

I practice medicine at Lucama I saw Dennis Williams in Lucama Thursday about sun down very drunk and he spoke to me, did not know him at that time. Had him searched next morning, did n’t find any thing except some candy, When I saw him at about half past ten he was unconscience, and had one cut on head near 6 in in length, cut to skull. I couldn’t detect any fracture in skull. He had both arms broken about five in from wrist, one bone in each arm. I think the cause of his death was from the two wounds on the head. I think the wounds were made by a rail.  He was never conscience, and his pulse was very week. His folks took him home Friday and he died the next day. He also had a bruise on back of his head.  /s/ W.D. Crocker

John Henry Battle, being duly sworn, says:

I live in Lucama, work with Mr. J.L. Hays. I saw Dennis Williams, about dark Thursday night, didnt see him during day. He was going out of town, with a man called Black Jack, coming out towards Barnes cross roads. I thought Dennis was drunk. Black Jack didn’t seem to be as drunk as Dennis, but I though he was drinking, Dennis wanted to go out in the country, and Black Jack didn’t want to go. Don’t know whether he went or no, both seemed to be in good humor. Didn’t see Dennis any more until he was found hurt, and haven’t see Black Jack since.  /s/ John Henry Battle

John K. Ruffin, Coroner

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  • Dennis Williams
  • Jason Wells — Jason Wells, 47, of Cross Roads, married Rena Reaves, 22, of Cross Roads, on 19 October 1897 in Lucama. Witnesses were Henry Odham, Joseph Newsom, and Linsey Wells. In the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: day laborer Jason Wells, 51, wife Arrena, 30, and children Joseph E., 16, Johnie H., 11, Shelly, 2, and Carlton, 9 months. Jason Wells died 18 October 1934 in Cross Roads township. Per his death certificate: he was born in 1851 in Nash County to Dennis and Nellie Wells; was married to Rena Reaves Wells; worked as a farmer until 1931; and was buried in Lamms cemetery. Rena Reaves Wells was informant.
  • Edmund Williamson — in the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: Edmund Williamson, 50, wife Thaney, 44, and children William, 25, Nicie, 23, Eliza, 22, Eddie, 21, Ally, 19, Pollina, 17, Dolly Ann, 15, Isaac, 12, and Raiford, 7.
  • John Henry Battle — in the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: day laborer Columbus Battle, 24, wife Minnie, 20, and brother, John H., 23, also a day laborer.

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

You is a S of B; or, He asked for his hat.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   }

Be it remembered, that on this the 8 day of May 1904, I Dr E.T. Dickinson Coroner of the County of Wilson attended by a Jury of six good and lawful men viz Geo Amerson L.E. Moore J.S. Walston W.E. Millinder P.P. Williams & J.D. Barnes, by me summoned for that purpose according to law, after being duly sworn and impaneled by me at W.W. Graves place in Wilson County did hold an inquest over the dead body of Fate Thomas and after examination into the facts and circumstances of the death of the deceased from the view of the corpse and all the testimony to be procured the said jury finds the following that is to say,

That Fate Thomas came to his death from a blow delivered with an ax in the hands of Bud or Jim Simms and that Bill Simms to be held as accessory to the crime.   J.D. Barnes, J.S. (X) Walston, Geo. (X) Amerson, P.P. (X) Williams, L.E. Moore, W.E. Millinder

Inquest had, and signed and sealed in the presents of E.T. Dickinson, Acting Coroner of Wilson Co.

John Barnes being duly sworn says:

Bud Simms brought Geo Farmer out of the house and Fate Thomas got mad and cussed Bud Simms and Bill cussed Fate and Fate told Bill not to cuss him any moore and Bill cussed Fate again and then Fate hit Bill and Bud Simms hit Fate with something don’t know what it was but think it was a stick and when Bud hit Fate he knocked him down. I think he lived about ½ hours he asked for his hat.  John (X) Barnes

George Farmer being duly sworn says:

I don’t know what it was first started about I heard Bill Simms call Fate Thomas a S of B and Fate said not call me another S of B and Bill said you is a S of B and then Fate hit him with his fist and then there was a general fight and Bud Simms walked up and hit Fate with some thing don’t know where it was an ax or stick but the lick knocked him down.  Geo. (X) Farmer

Dave Ruffin being duly sworn says

All I know about it I heard Fate tell Bill Simms not to call him a nother S of B and Bill said you are a S of B and Fate hit Bill Simms with his fist and then there was a general fight and Bud Simms steps up and hit Fate Thomas with the ax twice I think he hit him the first time in the shoulder and the last time on the back of the head.  Dave (X) Ruffin

Tom Farmer being duly sworn says:

Heard Bill Simms call Fate Thomas a S of B and Fate told him not to call him a S of B any moore and he called him one again and they went to fighting then Bud Simms came up and struck Fate Thomas twice with the ax and the second lick he knocked him down. The last lick he hit him on the head. Don’t know where he hit him first but think it was on his sholder.  Tom (X) Farmer

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I cannot positively identify Jim “Bud” Simms, Bill Simms, John Barnes, George Farmer, Dave Ruffin or Tom Farmer.

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

Now I will fix you.

Mittie Webb.

I was at home (at Place the deceased was killed) abut 12 oclock and Will McNiel came to the house and said he was coming in and did come in and broke the key which was in the lock. My sister Octavia went out the back door after a Policeman. He came in and hit me on the hand and head, and I truck him on hand and across head with iron poker. About an hour he returned and entered the house by forcing the door. I was sitting on bed with my baby when he struck at me with a hatchet, saying you tried to have me arrested, and now I will fix you. Before he came in the last time, the man in house with us shot at him once and on his coming in the second time he shot at McNiel twice more, after the 3rd shot was fired, McNeill grabbed at him and they went in the kitchen to gether and I run out the front door in the yard. After McNiel went out the house the first time, Octavia was trying to get away from him he caught her and threw her to the ground and beat her in the street. The pistol that the shooting was done with was one I borrowed from Nan Garrett. He cut Octavia with a pocket knife in 2 or 3 places.  Mittie (X) Webb

Charles Taylor.

I met this woman Octavia at about 9 30 oclock at Dr. Harriss store, it was rainy and she asked me to go home with her. I went with her and during my stay in the house, a man came to the door and demanded to be admited which the woman declined to open the door and he swore loud oaths to the effect  he was going to come in. This was about 12 oclock and I went up town after an Officer. Left the man inside house fussing and fighting this woman. When I came back with the Officer he was gone and the women of the house being very much frightened asked me to remain for there protection about an 1 1/2 hour or more he returned still demanding admittance which was denied him and with threats and curses he forced the door open by pushing, which was fastened by a chair. The second attempt to gain admittance was when I shot the first time, ball going through the door facing. He then left and returned the 3rd time when he busted the door open and came in at this time. I fire two more shots. He entered with a hatchet in his hand and struck at one of the women and seeing me in the corner made at me with hatchet and grabbed at my head. I went out the front door. I did not go in back room at all only with Office[r] when they searched him.    Charlie (X) Taylor

Octavia Smith.

I was up the street about 9 30 oclock it was rainy and hearing that it was against the law to be out after 9 oclock, I asked this man Charlie Taylor to go home with me which he did. After being there some time Will McNeil came there and demanded admittance by loud cursing and threats, saying he was going to kill the last d-mn one of us to night. We woud not let him come in and he forced the door open and this man who accompanied me home ran out and went after an Officer. Left McNiel in house fighting my sister. At this time I went out the back door to get help, when he followed me in the street and knocked me down and tried to cut my throat. I was in my room when he returned the 2nd time and forced the door open which was fastened with a chain.   Octavia (X) Smith

Miss Nan Garrett

This woman Octavia Smit came to my house and asked me to go up there and help Mittie Weelb, that McNiel was beating her. I went but McNiel was gone. Mittie Weelb asked me to loan her my pistol, which I did. About two hours after  I saw from my porch firing of pistols in front of this womans hous where this McNiel was killed.     /s/ Nanie Garrett

Wilson, N.C., March 2, 1902.

We the Jury for our verdict, after viewing the corpse, and hearing the evidence, find that William McNiel (col) came to his death from a wound from a pistol shot fired by Charlie Taylor (col); and we furthermore find that the killing was justifiable.  /s/ E.F. Nadal, T.M. Pace, Henry Humphrey, R.S. Bryan, W.P. Lancaster

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  • Mittie Webb — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Mittie Webb, 19, and daughter Viver, 4. In the 1910 census of Wilmington, New Hanover County: at 1006 Smith Street, laundress Mittie Webb, 29, children Vivere Webb, 14, Annie Wilmore, 10, and Richard Wilmore, 7, and John McLaughlin, 35. On 15 February 1911, in Wilmington, North Carolina, John McGlaughlin, 30, son of John and Janie McLaughlin, married Mittie Webb, 25, daughter of Joseph and Mary Smith of Magnolia, North Carolina. Mittie McLaughlin died 10 December 1947 at her home at 915 Queen Street in Wilmington. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 March 1884 in Duplin County to Joseph Smith. Informant was Annie Brown.
  • William McNeil
  • Charles Taylor
  • Octavia Smith
  • Dr. Harriss — This, once again, is William “Salt Lake” Harris.
  • Nannie Garrett — in the 1908 city directory of Wilson: Miss Nan A. Garrett, 512 South Spring Street.

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