Skip to Content

Colonial Cases


Otsego Herald, 14 November 1816

Nashville (Ten.) Sept. 11

   Died, on Monday, Caleb Hewett, Esq., high sheriff of this county.  The deceased received on Thursday last a writ against a man named James Maxwell, for abusing and maltreating a negro of Major Stump's.  He went to where Maxwell, who was a journeyman carpenter, was at work, and told him that he had a writ for him, when sad to relate, he made  at him with an adxxxe, and struck him on the head such a blow as eventually deprived him of existence. - .  .  .  Never could the public feeling be more excited that it was on the occasion. - every one seemed to forget his usual avocations to arrest the murderer who had fled - the pursuit in every direction was continued until Friday,  night, when he was taken, and is now in jail.


CATAWBA JOURNAL (Charlotte, N.C.), 8 May 1827

   A little girl, daughter of Sarah Brooks, near Nashville, Tenn., aged about 6 years, was, a few days ago, burnt to death, by the accidental communication of fire to her clothes.  Having taken her to the field where a young man was at work, she in sport gathered some dry grass, and set it in flames for amusement.; the blaze seizing in her clothing, she was so dreadfully burnt before assistance could be given, that she survived but a few hours.



SUICIDE. - We learn that a young man temporarily residing at Dr. Wright's, in this county, by the name of William Corle, committed suicide on the evening of the 22d ult. by cutting his throat with a razor.  Mr. Corle was from New York, and during his short stay had gained the confidence and respect of the family in which he resided.  The primary cause for this rash act remains locked up in the bosom of him who suddenly made his exit from time to eternity. - Maryville (Ten.) Intel.


THE CORRECTOR (Sag Harbor), Wednesday 20 March 1839

Distressing Homicide. - Mr. David Hume, of Blount County, was shot through the head about eight o'clock on Saturday night last, while sitting by his own fire side, and died in about two hours.  He was engaged at the time in playing at drafts with a neighbor, resting his head on his hand - the balls, for there were two in the gun, entered through the window, penetrated his hand and into his scull.  Mr. Hume had lately returned from Scotland, his native country, whither he had gone of r a legacy left him by his ancestors.  No discoveries have been made as to the perpetrator of this diabolical act.  Mr. Hume was an intelligent and enterprising citizen, and has left an amiable and affectionate family to lament his sudden and afflictive death. - Knoxville (Ten.) Register.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 19 March 1857

Murder in Blount county. - The Maryville East Tennessean, says:- On the night of the 7th inst., at the residence of W. C. Gillespie, in this county, a slave of the name of Pete, aged 14, stabbed Jim, a mulatto boy aged 7, (the property of Kennedy Malcolm,) in the breast with a pocket knife, from the effects of which he died in a few minutes.  The perpetrator fled and has not yet been traced.  A coroner's inquest was held, whose verdict was that the deed was committed wilfully and with malice aforethought.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 25 March 1857

DISTRESSING AFFAIR. - About daylight on Sunday morning last, Mr. Alfred Towson, a young man about 20 years of age, was found dead in front of the Drake House.  His back was broken and his head considerably mangled.  A coroner's inquest was held over the body and the verdict was that he came to his death by falling from the third story of the Drake House.  His clothes were all on with the exception of his hat and boots - the boots being in the third story of the hotel.  How the accident occurred is a mystery.  His body was warm when found, so that the accident must have happened in the latter part of the night.  He was a quiet inoffensive young man, believed by all who knew him. - Lebanon Herald, Mar. 19th.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 2 April 1857

NASHVILLE CASUALTIES. - We copy the following occurrences from the Gazette of last Sunday:-

DEPLORABLE FATAL OCCURRENCE. - Our citizens were yesterday morning startled by the announcement that Mr. E. C. Glasgow, a young man of unexceptionable character, had met his death on Friday night by falling from the Suspension bridge, and striking upon the rocks below the bluff on this side of the river.  Hundreds repainted to the scene of death where lay the mangled remains of the unfortunate youth, awaiting the inquest of the Coroner's Jury.  It seems that Mr. Glasgow band a friend had walked to the bridge - Glasgow took a seat on the railing, ands waited the return of his friend, who had gone midway the bridge to see a steamboat, just then coming up.  When he returned he found that young Glasgow had gone, and becoming alarmed, (fearing that he had  fallen in the river,) he went to the house of Hart, Macrae & Co., where Mr. Glasgow was employed, and made known his apprehension.  The light of day but too well confined his fears.  There upon the stones, a distance of 140 feet from the flooring of the bridge, lay the dead and horribly mutilated body of his young friend.

   The coroner of the county arrived at 9 o'clock yesterday morning, and immediately proceeded with his official duties.  The verdict of the jury was to the effect that the deceased was killed by accidentally falling from the bridge.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 10 April 1857

MURDER AT LOUISVILLE. -0 We copy the following account of the brutal murder of a wife at Louisville, from the Journal, of last Friday#:


   Yesterday afternoon the vicinity of Main and Brook streets was thrown into considerable excitement by the discovery of the commission of one of the most fiendish and cruel murders of which we have any knowledge.  For sometime an Irish sail-maker named Thomas Traver has been threatening the life of his wife, and, in consequence, for several days past, she has absented herself from home.  Yesterday the neighbors had their suspicions aroused, from the fact of the house of Traver being mysteriously closed.  About noon they attempted to enter his room, but it was locked and barred.  They then found several pollute-men, and with them broke through the door.  In the room they found Traver, with a razor in his hand, in the act of committing suicide.  He made a slight gash in his throat, but the weapon was taken from him by officers Shanks and Powell.  After a very severe struggle, the man was seized and bound hand and foot.

   The woman was found lying in the bed, without a particle of vitality.  It was evident that she had died, some time before, from wounds inflicted by her husband.  Traver acknowledged, after being taken to prison, that he committed the terrible deed.  He says he killed his wife about 4 o'clock in the morning, using for that purpose a small pen knife, which was found in the bed.  He had stabbed her in several places, and made several gashes on her body, manifesting a spirit on his part of excessive violence.  What his motive was for committing this horrible crime is not known.  He gives no explanation of his conduct, though it is presumed that the monster was laboring under the influence of passions aroused by long indulgence in liquor.

   The deceased was about twenty-five years of age, and was originally from Newport, in this State.  Her maiden name was Burns, and she was married to her murderer last July.

   Dr. Bryan, the coroner held an inquest which is reported elsewhere.  The neighborhood, where the murder was committed, was thronged all the afternoon by an excited assemblage of people.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 13 May 1857

MURDER AND ARSON. - While the rain was falling in torrents, about 11 o'clock, Thursday night, the fire bells rung out a startling peal.  The firemen were soon out with their engines, but the fire was discovered to be about two miles out of town, on the Baldwin's Ferry road.  A frame building belonging to Professor W. S. Young was found to be in flames, and, despite the heavy rain, was burned to the ground.  It was occupied by an Irishman named James Noland, who lived alone, and those who first  reached the scene of the conflagration, discovered his lifeless body lying on the floor of the burning building.  The coroner held an inquest on the body, yesterday morning, and the jury rendered a verdict that his death was caused by a blow on the head with some heavy, blunt instrument, in the hands of some person unknown.  Having accomplished his diabolical purpose, the murderer then fired the house, doubtless with the intention of destroying all traces of his crime.  We trust that no efforts will be spared to bring the wretch to justice.  It is long since our county was sullied with a deliberate murder, and  we earnestly hope that in this instance the murderer may be discovered and made an example of. - Vicksburg Whig, May 2.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 14 May 1857

SUICIDE. - On Tuesday, the 28th ult., a footman stopped for the night with John Kimbrough, a highly respectable gentlemen, ten or twelve miles from this place on the old Natchez Trace.  In the morning the stranger not coming to the breakfast table Mr. Kimbrough went to the room to awake him as he thought from his sleep, but to his great surprise found him hung by a rope to the bed post, dead.  But little money was found about his person and no papers that would give any clue to the awful deed.  He is supposed to be a Dutchman, and  his name White.  The coroner's inquest returned a verdict that he came to his death by hanging himself. -0 Kosciusko democrat, May 8.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 20 May 1857

ACCIDENTAL HOMICIDE. - On the 26th ult., Alexander Eudy, who lives about six miles from Greensboro' in this State, went out Turkey hunting.  As is usual with turkey hunters, he commenced yelping in imitation of the hen, and was shortly answered, as he thought, by a veritable hen.  He took deliberate aim, discharging his rifle in the direction of the sound.  On proceeding to secure his game, he was horrified to find that he had short his near and stammered neighbor, Mr. John Herron !  The unfortunate man was mortally wounded and, as the Journal informs us, was "weltering in blood and gasping for life."  The ball had entered under the right shoulder and passed through the left lung.  He died in a few moments.  A coroner's inquest rendered a verdict if accordance with these facts. - Mississippian.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 16 January 1858

Dracut, Lowell.  Heath family.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 15 April 1858

MYSTERIOUS DEATH. - On the 2d inst., the body of a negro man was found on the bank of the Tennessee river about three miles north of this place; besides other bruises on the head, the skull was broken on the right side, showing that he had met his death from violence.  The body appeared to have been in the water for several days, and to have been left on the bank, where it was found by the falling of the river.  Nothing has been elicited indicating to whom the negro belonged.  He was of black complexion, about five feet eight or ten inches high, and would probably have  weighed, when alive, 155 or 160 pounds.  Wore a moustache and goatee; and had on two pieces of cravat, a spotted silk and spotted muslin; two shirts

, one a striped and the other a white cotton; a pair of old black cassimere pants, and a pair of corded cotton pants; two pair old socks, and a pair of old brogans.  About fifty yards above where the body was found, a blue blanket was discovered, supposed to belong to the negro. We learn the above facts from one of the jury of inquest. - Tuscumbis S. R. Democrat.

   We learn, in addition to the foregoing, that since the coroner's inquest was holden, a save has been discovered in the face of the rock bluff, some forty or fifty above the river, and nearly over the spot where the blanket was found.  This cave has the appearance of having been inhabited lately, and the supposition with those who have examined the locality is, that it was the den of a gang of runaway negroes; and that in a row among themselves, the one found dead was killed, and thrown down the perpendicular bluff into the river. [page damaged.]


Memphis Daily Appeal, 24 June 1858

Trial of G. W. Harby for murder of Charles H. C. Stone.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 14 July 1858

DEAD. - Esq. HORNE was called upon as coroner yesterday, to attend an inquest over the body of a negro at Mrs. STARK'S, near Morning Sun.  It was stated that three days ago the overseer whipped the negro with great severity, and on Monday night he died.  The parties who called upon the coroner stated that on learning the negroe's death the overseer went off.


   Coroner HORNE yesterday held an Inquest over the body of JOHN J. WALSH, who died in jail.  This man has been immured in prison, with a brief interval, since the latter end of January last.  The crime for which he has been compelled to pine in a dungeon and herd among outcasts was insanity ! God had smitten him with misfortune and man treated him as a criminal; literally they "numbered him with the transgressors."  He was relieved by death from his sufferings yesterday.   .  .  .  . 


Memphis Daily Appeal, 29 July 1858

INQUEST. - We mentioned a few days ago that an inhuman mother in the north part of the city had abandoned her sick infant, and refused to give it a mother's nourishment.  Yesterday Coroner HORNE held an inquest over the dead body of the little one, to whom the Father in Heaven showed a love unfelt by the earthly parents, and took her to himself.  The parents had both left town, and suspicions were entertained that poison had been administered.  At the request of the Coroner Dr. E. MILES WRIGHT mad a post mortem examination of the remains.  He reported that the deceased, LAURA BELLE BROWN, was a beautiful child of ten months old, and would doubtless have been still living if it had not been deprived of the nourishment nature intended for it.  He detected no trace of poison, but attributed the death of the child to gastro-enteritis, caused by improper artificial diet, teething, and general neglect.  The jury returned a verdict accordingly.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 31 July 1858

REMAINS OF A SUFFERER. - We have received from Justice Blabee, of Jefferson parish, the following particulars of the case of the body found and interred in that parish, supposed to be one of the sufferers by the explosion of the Pennsylvania, and we ask for it the attention of the editors of the APPEAL at Memphis:

   EDITORS OF THE PICAYUNE: In your paper of Sunday you allude to "A victim of the Pennsylvania explosion," and a certain statement made in the Memphis APPEAL by one "Elizabeth Jane Bell."  The following is the statement of the case as it occurred:

On the 29th of June I was called upon to hold as inquest on the body of a man laying in the water of the river opposite the Marine Hospital, parish of Jefferson.  I sent the information to Greenville, in another portion of the parish, to notify Daniel Young, Corner, as it was my duty to act only in the absence or refusal of the Coroner.

   During the morning of the 30th of June, the Coroner held the inquest and buried the body on the levee, near where it was found, because all the burying grounds on this side of the river were, and are now, from four to five feet under water from the present overflow.

   The Coroner found on the body eight dollars and twenty cents, in gold and silver - a pair of shirt studs, representing a coil of rope, five keys on a steel ring, a  watch key, and a pair of tweezers.  The only clothing the body had on was a white shirt, a white flannel undershirt, and a vest with light blue ground and small red flowers.  The body was very much decomposed.  A verdict was returned of "Found Drowned."  The notice of the inquest was published in the Jefferson Journal and New Orleans Delta.

June 30, about three o'clock, Alexander Willex notified me that a sum of money had been taken from the body prior to the inquest, by a Mrs. O'Harre, so he had been informed.  Upon his affidavit, I immediately placed in the constable's hand a warrant for her arrest, and a warrant to search her premises.  The officer immediately proceeded to her house.  She was absent.  He searched the premises and found nothing in relation to the money.  He watched the house until nearly 1 o'clock at night.  The accused not being found, he returned to his residence.  July 1, about 10 o'clock A.M., the accused came to my residence, and delivered four hundred dollars; said she had taken it from the body of the man; did not know what to do with it; went to New Orleans, and her friends told her to place it in my possession.  She gave bond to appear before me when called on.  July 10, the party was examined.  From the testimony there was nothing to disprove her voluntary statement, and that she had not deposited all the money taken from the body, or that she had taken the money with intent of concealing the same.  She was discharged.

   July 3, the matter was advertised in your paper for thirty days, to learnt, if omissible, the identity of the body.  I deposited the four hundred dollars in bank, requiring of the receiving teller to keep a minute description of the money thus deposited.  The main object of the above is to throw some light, if possible, on the present mystery, and to place all the officials in the matter in their proper light before the public.   Yours,

D. W. BISSEE, Fifth Justice of the Peace, Parish of Jefferson, LA.

GRETNA, July 26, 1858, N. O. Picayune.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 11 August 1858

REVOLTING. - One day last week the body of a drowned man was taken out of the river at Fort Pickering.  Afar holding an inquest over the remains Coroner HORNE mad an arrangement with a man named JAMES COBLE to bury the deceased in a proper manner. .  .  .  . 


Memphis Daily Appeal, 13 November 1858

DEATH by J.  W. WHITE - MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. - We learn from Mr. A.  S. BROOKS and Mr. WM. PANDER, both of Haywood county, in this State, who have just returned from ARKANSAS, that when they were ten ort twelve miles this side of Clarendon, on the military road near White River, they were informed that a dead body had been found and was lying in a deserted log hut out by the road side - that the Coroner had held an Inquest over the remains - that no marks of violence were found upon the body, and nothing appeared to show how death occurred, the Jury had returned a verdict of death from causes unknown.

   A watch and chain were found upon the body, some letters and several valuable notes, and also a name marked upon the shirt worn by the deceased, which showed him to be Mr. J. W. WHITE, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who was arrested, some time ago, on the charge of forging land warrants, discharged on trial and re-arrested and held in fifteen thousand dollars bail for his appearance to take another trial.  There was no horse found on which the deceased might have been riding.  His boots were very muddy.  At the time out informant passed, two men were digging a grave to bury him, just by the cabin where he lay.   .  .  .  We presume the family of the deceased, who was greatly respected among his neighbors, will cause an examination to be made into the circumstances of his death.


Memphis Daily Appeal, 27 November 1858

DEATH IN JAIL. - We stated a week ago that twenty-four wretched vagabonds had been taken by the police in one night, as they were sleeping among the shavings in WHIPPLE'S Planing Mill, on Mission street.  They were put on the chain-gang for various terms, but a few days ago the Mayor discharged eleven of them, who were sick and unable to perform that labor. Among those who remained, was one named WM. McMAHON, who had made no complaint of sickness, but worked with the rest until Thursday morning, when he was found to be sick, and before midnight he was dead.  An inquest was held by the Coroner, when it appeared by Dr. TUCK'S testimony, that the unfortunate creature had been suffering from "galloping consumption;" this, together with an irregular life and exposure, had killed him.  A verdict was returned in accordance with the facts.  [Editorial comment.]


Memphis Daily Appeal, 14 July 1859

DEATH FROM ACCIDENT. - A laborer named Michael Hardegan, who was engaged at work on Mr. Grant's new building, on the alley between Main and Second streets, was so badly injured by a fall across the sleepers of the building that he died in a few minutes afterward.  The deceased was about thirty-five years of age, and left a wife and children in England. The coroner held an inquest upon the body.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School