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Colonial Cases


CATAWBA JOURNAL (Charlotte, N.C.), 7 August  1827

[Unreadable], (ALAB.) JUNE 30.

Horrid Occurrence. - Some time during the last week one of those outrageous transactions - and we really think, disgraceful to the character of civilized man - took place near the North East boundary line of Perry, adjoining Bibb and Autauga counties.  The circumstances, we are informed, by a gentleman from that county, are: "that a Mr. M'Neily having lost some clothing, or some other property, of no great value, the slave of a neighboring planter was charged with theft.  M'Neily in company with his brother, found the negro driving his master's wagon; they seized him, and either did, or were about to chastise him, when the negro stabbed McNeily, so that he died in an hour afterwards - the negro was taken before a Justice of the Peace, who, after serious deliberation, waved his authority - perhaps, through fear, as the crowd of persons from the above counties had collected to the number of seventy or eighty near Mr. People's (the Justice) house.  He acted as president of the mob, and put the vote, when it was decided he should be immediately executed by being BURNT TO DEATH - the sable culprit was led to a tree and tied to it, and a large quantity of pine knots collected, and placed around him, and the fatal torch was applied to the pile, even against the remonstrance of several gentlemen who were present; and the miserable being was in a short time burnt to ashes.

   An inquest was held over the remains, and the Sheriff of Perry County, with a company of about twenty men, repaired to the neighborhood where this barbarous act took place, to secure those concerned, but with what success we have not heard, but we hope he will succeed in bringing the perpetrators of so high-handed a measure to account to their country for their conduct in this affair. This is the second negro who has been thus put to death without Judge or Jury in that county.


Jacksonville Republican  (Ala.), Saturday, ? January 1837

SUICIDE. - We learn that a young man temporarily residing at Dr. Wright's, in this county, by the name of William Corte, committed suicide on the evening of the 22d ult., by cutting his throat with a razor.  Mr. Corte 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 so suddenly made his exit from time to eternity. Maryville (Ten.) Intel.


Jacksonville Republican  (Ala.), Saturday, February 1837

The overseer of Mr. Hamilton Fripp and two boat hands were frozen to death in Coosaw river a few days ago.  Mr. Fripp and three other hands, escaped the same fate with difficulty.


Jacksonville Republican  (Ala.), Saturday, 11 February 1837

FATAL OCCURRENCE. - On Monday evening last, about dusk, Mr. R. S. Miller, a citizen of this place, was shot by J. D. Huguenin, late of Savannah, Georgia, and shortly after expired.  The ball was shot from a pistol, entered the pit of his stomach, and came out immediately opposite on the right of the spine.  Mr. M. being near his residence, was able to reach it, but died in about three quarters of an hour after the occurrence.  Mr. Hugeunin was led to the commission of the deed, from some expression of Mr. Miller implicating his honor.  An inquest was held over the body of the deceased, and a verdict of wilful murder brought in against Mr. Huguenin and his supposed accomplice, Mr. Kachlee.  They have been fully committed.   Tallahassee paper.


Jacksonville Republican  (Ala.), Saturday, 18 February 1837


From the New Orleans "True American."

The Indians still continue to commit depredations.  A Mr. Harvey, his wife and son, of Robinson's Colony, twenty-five miles above Tenoxtitlan, east side of the Brassus, were found dead and scalped in his own house.  His daughter, eight or nine years old, was carried off by the Indians.  The marauders were mounted on shod horses, as appeared from the tracks, and are supposed to have been engaged in other depredations, from the hat found at the house, and known to belong to a gentleman living 20 or 30 miles farther west.


Jacksonville Republican  (Ala.), Saturday, 25 February 1837



On Thursday morning last, Mr. John G. Arnold, formerly of this place, was drowned, about two miles and a half north-west of Jacksonville.  Himself and another man were upon Mr. Wm. Gregg's mill dam, engaged in getting off some timber which had lodged against it, at which time the dam and mill gave way, and they were precipitated into the mass of floating timbers some distance down the stream.  The person who was with him narrowly escaped with his life.  In endeavoring to get upon a log across the stream below the dam, one of his feet was caught by the timber, at which time he heard Arnold call for help; upon looking round he observed him wedged between the timbers with his feet up, and found it utterly impossible to render him any assistance until it was too late.  When taken from the water he was found a good deal bruised.  One or two others who were in the mill at the time, also narrowly escaped.

   Mr. Arnold's death is much regretted by his friends and acquaintances in this place, among whom, so far as we know, he had uniformly borne the character of an honest, industrious and peaceable citizen.  By this melancholy casualty, a wife and several children are also left to mourn his premature death



KILLING FOR MONEY. - On Friday night last, a little past eleven o'clock, W. W. Charles, known here as Dr. Charles, was waylaid near the theatre in this city as he was passing from his place of business at the "New Exchange," (where he with others, kept a faro bank and roulette table.) knocked down by means of weights secured in a silk handkerchief, [was] shockingly bruised in the head, and then rifled of all the money about him, supposed to be not far from $3000, his watch, fur cap, and a wig which he wore.  He was shortly after discovered lying on the ground in a perfectly helpless state, and carried to his house.  There he continued to suffer, if he was conscious of suffering - he could not speak - until yesterday morning at about nine o'clock when he died. [Very faint; details of crime, arrests, burial.] - Mobile Adv.


Jacksonville Republican  (Ala.), 25 March 1837

MURDER. - [Left margin missing.] On Monday last as we learn from common report, a quarrel took place in a field five [or six] miles south of this place, between Wm. Bragg and a Mr. Mulinax, about a piece of land. [After] the quarrel had proceeded to some length, Bragg left the field and went to the house for a gun [with] which he returned within 12 or 15 steps of Mulinax and shot him down, and he died a short [time] after he was shot.  Bragg immediately made his escape and has not yet been apprehended.  The [days] previous to the quarrel which terminated fatally had been uniformly friendly.


Jacksonville Republica  (Ala.), Thursday 18 May 1837

More Brutal Murders.  Jacksonville (East Florida); murder by Indians of family of William Clemmans; wife and four children and orphan boy murdered.



The Corrector (Sag Harbor), Wednesday 30 January 1839

Lamentable Death and Dreadful Suspicion. - The Montgomery, (Alabama) Advertiser of Jan. 11th says:

   A gentleman informs us that the wife of Mr. John Smith, a wealthy and intelligent citizen of Lowndes county, was found dead in her bed a few mornings since, and that suspicion has fastened strongly upon the husband as the cause.  The coroner's inquest over her body was, that she came to her death by violence.


The Corrector (Sag County), Saturday 23 March 1839

A Shocking Murder. - The details of a murder that has few parallels ion the annals of crime, are thus given in the Morgan, Alabama Observer:

   We are informed from private sources, that on Saturday, a poor man who was moving westward with his wife and three little children, and driving a small drove of sheep and perhaps a cow or two, which was driven by his family, on arriving at Florence, and while passing through, met a citizen of that place, who rode through his flock, and caused him some trouble to keep it together, when the mover informed the individual that he must not do so again, or he would throw a rock at him, upon which some words ensued, and the individual again disturbed the flock, when the mover as near as we can learn, threw a [????] at him.  Upon this the troublesome man got off his horse, went into a grocery, got a gun and came out and deliberately shot the poor man [???] [???ger] in the presence of his wife and three children.  The wounded man then made an effort to get into some house, when his murderous assailant overtook and stabbed him to the heart with a bowie knife.  This revolting scene, we are informed, occurred in the presence of many citizens, who, [????] says, never even lifted their voices in defence of the murdered man.  The blood of a stranger rests upon them; and the cries of a  widow and three poor little orphans, amongst strangers, who suffered a father's blood to be spilt for so trivial a cause must certainly.


Weekly Sumter Republican, 15 May 1874


Three thousand Men Force the Jail.



[Special to the Atlanta Constitution.]

MOBILE, ALA., May 11, 1874

 Between 2 and 3 p.m. yesterday, Frank A. Williams, a white man of very dangerous character, who has been engaged in numerous and repeated offences against the law, met a four year old daughter of one of our citizens while she was playing upon the street.  Taking her to a house near by, he outraged he in the most deliberate, cruel and hellish manner, using a knife to aid him in the perpetration of his horrible crime. The cries of the child speedily brought her assistance, and her father, rushing into the house, discovered the brutal villain in the act. [.  .  .   and stated that he knew nothing of the deed.  He was crazy with drink at the time.]

 Williams escaped through a back way, but about 6 p.m. was found, arrested and carried to the guard house. Steps were immediately taken to lynch him, but before the crowd had assembled, Williams was hurried to the county jail for protection. The news spreading rapidly, this morning some three thousand men assembled and broke into the jail, and seizing him, hung the fiend to a tree near by till dead.

  The child at 2 p.m. today was lying in a critical and precarious condition and is feared will die.  .  .  .  


  The body of Frank Williams remained suspended over two hours, when it was cut down and turned over to the coroner, who summoned a jury, who viewed the body, and ordered the city sexton to take charge of the body and bury it, which was done.  The injured child is very low and terribly mutilated and is not expected to live.


BIRMINGHAM IRON AGE, 24 September 1874

NEGRO FOUND DEAD. - On the morning of the 5th inst., the body of Luke Gilchrist, colored, was found dead near his residence.  A coroner's inquest was held.  No marks of violence were found on his person.  Two respectable witnesses swore that he drank on the evening before one half gallon and one half pint of whisky in one minute.  The verdict of the jury was "came to his death from drinking whisky."

   Can't the President be induced to send down a regiment to intimidate the abominable murderer "old Alchy."  Such murderers certainly demand punishment. - [Mountain Eagle.


BIRMINGHAM IRON AGE, 10 December 1874

An inquest was held on Thursday last over the remains of a young man named Wm. Harris., who died about two miles from this city, near the engine house of the Water Works Company on Village Creek.  The verdict of the jury was the deceased came to his death from a blow of a pistol in the hands of John Moore.






Partial reports of a terrible occurrence near the line of the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad reached us by telegraph from the Junction on Tuesday morning, but we could learn nothing definite.  Yesterday we were called upon by Mr. W. J. Van Kirk, of Millvure, a Surveyor who was on duty near the scene of the tragedy, but not a witness to its occurrence.  He visited the battle ground, however, was present at the funeral of the victim, and gave us an  intelligent report of the dreadful affair.

   Greenberry Bryers and James Hadley, two men of considerable means and both large owners of stock, had been at feud for some years on consequence of misunderstandings caused by the intermixing of their cattle which "used" in the same range.  On Monday Bryers, Sr., with his son Larry, was plowing about 150 yards from the house, when Hadley Sr. accompanied by a party of five others comprising his son "Dink," two other sons, and his sons-in-law Bud Pricher and Thos. Stewart, all armed with shot guns, rode up near the fence and said they had "come to settle the matter."  Bryers and his son were unarmed, but the father, after some angry words had been exchanged, caught up a piece of pine root, a foot and a half long, and getting over the fence, his son following him, advanced toward the party.  As he approached them he was shot down and instantly killed, and his son who ran to his father as he fell was instantly killed.

   Joseph Bryers then came out of the house with a double barrel shot gun, but both barrels missed fire and he was shot dead.  Meanwhile Dink Handley rode towards the house, sprang from his horse and got behind a pine tree to await the coming of another son, John Bryers, who advanced from  the house under fire with two guns.  He dropped one of them an d sprang to a post in the road which did not shelter more than a third of his person  and exchanged fires with Dink Hadley about thirty yards off, the rest of the attacking party mean while firing on him from a distance.  At his second fire Hadley fell, and attempted to reload, but seeing Bryers run back and get his other gun he scrambled upon his horse and rejoined his party and rode away with them, John firing into them as they left and wounding old Hadley in the shoulder.  Dink Hadley's wound was in the knee.  John was wounded in the head, arm and foot, but not dangerously.  Three shot struck the post by which he stood.  While the fight was going on near the house, Wylie, the youngest son of the Bryers family, ran to where his father and brother Larry had fallen and was shot down, the wound being in the thigh and dangerous.

   The summary of the affair is a father and two sons murdered and two sons wounded, on one side, and on the other, a father and one son wounded.  We are told that Mr. Bryers was much respected being a leading man in religious affairs in the neighborhood, and that Hadley had always been deemed a respectable person.  The dead were buried on Tuesday, a large assemblage being present.  No inquest was held it "not being thought necessary, the facts of the crimes being so plain."

   Tuesday a posse of men, provided with warrants for the arrest of the murderers, went to the Hadley settlement but found their residences deserted.

   The locality of these occurrences is near the Florida line, four miles west of Perdido station, or about midway between the Junction and Tensas bridge.


THE IRON AGE (Birmingham, Ala.), Thursday 8 March 1883.


Shocking Accident to a Prominent Citizen of Mobile,

Caught Under the Wheels of a Moving Freight Train and Crushed to Death.

Saturday morning about 9 o'clock, Mr. W. H. Pratt was crushed to death, b y a freight train of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, while attempting to pass between two cars.  It appears that the train was standing in the yard and on a curve, and Mr. Pratt in tending to pass through stepped in between two freight cars and attempted to climb over the coupling.  Just as he had partially raised himself, the train started, and the sudden jerk threw Mr. Pratt under the cars.  The moving train then caught and dragged him, crushing and mangling his body in a horrible manner, and causing, perhaps, almost instantaneous death.  The body was so mutilated as hardly to resemble a human form; the upper portion of the head was crushed, but the features were well enough preserved to be recognized by those who knew him. [Biography (60 years of age)

 and day's details]



While Playing With an Open Knife in Her Hand, a Woman Stabs a Man and Kills Him.

On Sunday morning last about one o'clock William Hill was stabbed by a woman in a house of ill-fame on Third avenue, and died from the effects of the wound on the same morning at ten o'clock.  The woman's name was Sallie Jones, and she was tried for the offense before Mayor Lane Monday morning, and as the testimony showed the killing to be accidental, she was discharged.

   Sallie Jones' statement is that she had just opened a bottle of beer, and had an open knife in her hand, when Hill, who was standing behind her, caught her in his arms.  She then told him if he didn't let her loose she would cut him.  This he refused to do, and she, with no intention of touching him, made a backward thrust with the knife, when Hill exclaimed, "you have stabbed me."  She then called for assistance, and a physician was sent for.

   Dr. Davis was called in to see the wounded man, and found upon examination that a gash had been made in the left thigh about one inch long and one inch and a-half deep, and the main trunk of the artery severed.  The hemorrhage had been so great that Hill was in a state of collapse when Dr. Davis arrived.  Dr. Hughes was called in by Dr. Davis to assist in taking up the artery, which was done, but too late to save the life of the unfortunate man.


WEEKLY IRON AGE, 10 July 1884


An Irondale Man Run Over and Mutilated by the "Cannon Ball" Train.

Last Sunday night, a man about thirty five years of age, by the name of Stack, was run over and killed on the track of the Alabama Great Southern railroads this side of and near Irondale, by No. 1 passenger "Cannon Ball" train, due here at 2:45 a.m.  The accident, however, was not discovered until an hour or so later.  The track of the Georgia Pacific railroad runs parallel with the Alabama Great Southern at the place where the man was killed, and an engineer on a train which was coming in on that road saw the body lying on the track and reported it to the officers of the Alabama Great Southern, who dispatched a switch engine for it.  The engine returned about half past five o'clock, and brought the body, which was placed in the company's freight depot, where it was viewed by hundreds of persons, none of whom knew the deceased.  A coroner's inquest was held over the remains in the forenoon, who returned a verdict in accordance with the above facts.  In the afternoon the body which was that of a man about thirty-five years of age and which was crushed into a shapeless mass, was sent to Erswell's undertaking establishment, enclosed in a casket and sent to his people at Irondale.


WEEKLY IRON AGE, 25 September 1884


A Negro Driven from Shelter, now Out of Reach of Heartlessness.

A negro man came to E. Erswell's undertaking establishment last Saturday and reported that another negro man named Ephraim Holland was dead in the woods near Eighth avenue and twenty-third street.  He said Holland had been at another negro's house - whose name he would not give - very sick, until Friday night, when he was driven out, and that he went with Holland to the woods and remained with him until he died.

   Coroner Marshall held an inquest over the remains, of which the verdict was that the man came to his death from a complication of fever, malaria and other troubles.

   Mr. E. Erswell took charge of the remains and buried them at the county's expense.

   Holland has not been in Birmingham long.  He came here from Atlanta and worked on the Georgia Pacific railroad as a section hand for a while.



Fired at a Crowd of Frolicers - A White Man Shot in Return - Two White Men and Three Negroes Jailed - Quarrel About Negro Prostitutes - The Trouble.


PRATT CITY HERALD (Ala.), Saturday 19 August 1899

Harrison Yeager, the six-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Will Yeager, of Sandusky, died at the home of his parents Monday.  The little fellow suffered several weeks from a serious attack of typhoid fever, which was the cause of his death.

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