Tragedy in Elm City.

When the Daily Times reported the shooting of Ephraim Joyner on 18 August 1896, several days after the fact, it noted “the wound would probably result fatally.”

Wilson Daily Times, 28 August 1896.

Raleigh’s News and Observer got the story out a day earlier, but gave conflicting information about Joyner. The headline screams “murder” and speaks of searches for the “murderer,” but concedes Joyner was alive when the article went to press.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 27 August 1896.

Did Ephraim Joyner die after all?

It’s not clear. No death records exist for the period, and I have found no further news articles about this incident. However, there is evidence of a man named Ephraim Joyner living in the Elm City area after 1896. If he is the same man, not only did Ephraim Joyner survive the shooting, he lived a good, long life. His son Marvin Ransom was not as fortunate.


In the 1880 census of Cooper township, Nash County, N.C.: brothers and hirelings Ephram, 22, and Dallas Joyner, 16. Also, in the 1880 census of Rocky Mount township, Nash County: Harrett Joyner, 42, and sons Ephram, 21, Dallas, 16, Ballie, 15, and Lon V., 1.

On 9 January 1888, Ephraim Joyner, 25, married Mary Ann Cooper, 22, in Nash County.

Marvin Ransom died 17 June 1928 in Township #1, Edgecombe County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1899 in Edgecombe County to Ephram Joyner of Wilson County and Jennie Shaffer of Halifax County, N.C.; was married to Dicy Ransom; was engaged in farming; and was buried at Cherry Place. Jenny Shaffer was informant.

“Gunshot wound of abdomen wounding intestine in several places. Gunshot wound of perineum & scrotum. Homicide.”

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower Eph Joyner, 80, farm laborer and widower, living alone.

The entire upper story was a mass of flames.


Wilson Daily Times, 24 March 1911.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: liquor dealer Grant Foster, 32, wife Maggie, a teacher, 27; and stepson Hugh T. Ransom, 3.

In the 1910 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County, at 438 Spring Street: widow Maggie J. Foster, 40, and son Hugh R. Foster, 12, plus lodgers Annie Johnson, 25, a teacher, and Harris Biggs, 21, a cook.