HOLMES COUNTY, FLORIDA

Holmes County Advertiser Headlines & Stories

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A Brutal Murder, 1908:  This interesting article was submitted by Mona Spears that she located in the Holmes County Advertiser.   Thanks, Mona!!

A BRUTAL MURDER:   The DeFuniak Breeze publishes the following regarding the foul and brutal murder near Ponce de Leon last Sunday night: "One of the most horribly cold blooded murders ever committed in Walton county, was that of Sunday night in front of Luther Russ's house near Ponce de Leon, where according to his own confession Mose Daniels shot and killed Rev Jesse J Jones a Methodist minister, and for which crime Mose Silas, Union, Isaac and Manuel Daniels and Luther Russ were lodged in jail. "Monday the matter was reported to Sheriff Campbell who immediately went there to investigate the matter, and arrested Mose and Silas, Daniels and Luther Russ and lodged them in jail. Tuesday a coroner's jury consisting of J H Laird, W F Hall, H M Wadsworth, D A Gillis, W A McCallum and D J Adkinson went down from there, and from information received by them, Isaac, Union and Manuel Daniels were arrested. They then adjourned until yesterday morning when the investigation was further continued at the courthouse. "Mose Daniels was the first witness brought before them and he without hesitation or seeming reluctance made a full confession of the crime, insisting that he, and he alone, committed the murder and that none of the others had anything what ever to do with it. "His story was substantially as follows: "Jones had been harassing me in every way he could since last January. He had repeatedly cursed and abused me, and told false tales on my wife and I had become desperate and resolved to kill him or be killed. I had told others that I would do it. That night I had an idea that he was down the road and about 11 o'clock I took my gun and went down the road and met him near Luther Ross'. When we meet, he started towards me and I threw up the gun but it snapped the first time, and he started to run and I shot him. He fell on his knees and halloed and when I went to him, he tried to grab me, and I hit him over the head with the gun, and then dragged him out of the road. I went to Union Daniels' house and got my wagon with my oxen, went back to the body, put it in the wagon and took it to the old well where it was found, drove back home, unhitched my oxen and took my hoe and covered up the blood in the road and where the body lay while I was gone. There was no one with me did any one else know anything of it." "During the whole recital Mose was as cool as if he were telling of killing hogs, and was the most unaffected one in the room. Luther Russ and Silas Daniels were examined but both denied any knowledge of the matter, and their stories as to other matters did not materially differ from that told my Mose. "Mose also denied telling any one anything about it further than to say that he knew that he knew that Luther and Silas who were accused of it had nothing to do with the crime. "Manuel and Union Daniels had told on Monday however that Mose had told them that Silas and Luther were with him but when he fired the gun they got scared and run off, and had told them where he had hid the body, and in this way it was found circumstances which indicated that either he did tell a part of this or that there were other parties concerned in the crime. "All the parties are colored, and the Negroes in the community where the crime was committed were much wrought up and had it not been for the counsel of white men there would doubtless have been a lynching and the county saved the expensed of the hanging which seems sure to follow." Published in the Holmes County Advertiser, Bonifay FL, Saturday, Sept 19, 1908 

Five Meet Death in Boiler Explosion:  This interesting article was submitted by JoAnn Beagle.  Thanks, JoAnn!

Submitted by JoAnn Beagle via FAX Transcribed by Cathy Strickland Popp 

4 December 1925, HEADLINES: Five Meet Death in Boiler Explosion E P Creel and four others of this city meet tragic death. A terrific boiler explosion at the E P Creel Sawmill located on highway just west of Ponce de Leon yesterday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock took a death toll of five and wounded three others, almost completely wiped out the force of thirteen working men. The dead are: E P Creel, 55, owner of the mill and a life-long resident of Bonifay. Walter Redman, 55, of Ponce de Leon, mechanic at the mill, survived by a wife and four children. William Jenkins, 35, Ponce de Leon, laborer, survived by a wife and four children. Wesley (DeDe) Smith, 40, fireman, survived by a wife and four children. Theodore Martin, of Ponce de Leon, 15 years of age, an orphan. The injured are Elbert Whitehead of Ponce de Leon, Claude Redman of Bonifay, bruised about the head, Edgar McDonald, of Chipley, broken arm and foot. Arthur Creel, son of E P Creel, was badly shocked but, otherwise unhurt, first reports were he was killed. The exact cause of the explosion is not known, but it is believed that the boiler was out of water, and when the fireman turned water into the boiler it exploded. Arthur Creel, said the indicator had shown a gage of water just a few minutes before the explosion. But the indicator might have become clogged. None of the men think the boiler was defective. The explosion was heard for miles around and so terrific was the force of the combustion that hardly a trace of the plant was left. Pieces of the boiler and parts of the machinery were found many feet from the mill. A large piece of the boiler was hurled several yards through the air and cut the top from an oak nearby. The mill had been in operation about ten days. E P Creel, the owner, has been in the timber and sawmill business in this section practically all his life. He was well known throughout West Fla. He has a large circle of friends and business associates in Bonifay. Left to mourn his loss is a wife and three small sons, as well as a daughter and six sons by a former marriage. He is survived also by his aged mother, Mrs S A Creel and R W Creel, Clerk of Court. Mr Creel was struck many times as shown by the bruises and contusions on his body. One injury in itself fatal, was a large wound in the side. Wesley Smith, the fireman, was instantly killed, by a blow which tore off the entire top of his head. Redman was torn literally to pieces. Both Jenkins and the Martin youth were killed instantly. The remains of both Creel and Smith were brought to their home in Bonifay last yesterday afternoon, while the other victims were taken to their homes in Ponce de Leon. The funeral of Mr Creel will take place at his home Saturday morning at 10:00 o'clock and the internment will be at the Bonifay Cemetery. The funeral of Mr Smith will take place this afternoon, at the St John's Church south of Bonifay.

Foul Murder On the West Side, 1911

FOUL MURDER ON THE WEST SIDE: Ed Shirley Shot and Killed by Woodie Gates Last Friday at Brown's Still: Last Friday afternoon, a Negro, Ed Shirley, shot and killed Woodie Gates, colored, thus adding one more to the list of murders in Holmes county. The murder was committed in the woods near H H Brown's naval stores camp, about fourteen miles north of Westville. It was while Gates was at work that Shirley, armed with Gates's own shotgun, slipped upon him and shot him in the back, killing him instantly. Gates's wife, Classie, is charged with being accessory to the murder. Out of infidelity to her husband and too much admiration for Shirley the trouble came, and she demanded that Shirley put her husband out of the way. It is alleged that the job did not appeal strongly to Shirley till Classie took her husband's old shotgun down and told Shirley, it is reported, if he didn't put Gates out of the way she would kill them both. Thus impelled, Shirley took the gun and did murder as above stated. Deputy Sheriff R A Brown arrested Shirley and the woman and took them before Justice of the Peace, T R McDonald, who committed them to jail. Sheriff Hickman went and brought them to Bonifay where they languish in the iron cells of the county bastile (sic). SOURCE: Holmes County Advertiser, Bonifay FL, Saturday, 29 Jul 1911; transcribed by Cathy Strickland Popp 

Three Negroes Were Lynched:  This article was submitted by Mona Spears that she located in the Holmes County Advertiser and describe the aftermath of the murder of Bessie Mae Morrison.

Published in HOLMES COUNTY ADVERTISER, Bonifay, Florida, Saturday, August 6, 1910 (Transcribed by Mona Spears)

For Assaulting and Murdering Bessie Mae Morrison Friday Morning near Dady Post office in this County.

Last Friday morning little miss Bessie Mae Morrison, the 13 year old daughter of Mrs. Gus Morrison, a widow residing near Dady in the extreme north western part of this county, was assaulted by three Negro brutes while on her way to school, and after accomplishing their fiendish purpose the black imps clubbed their innocent little victim to death and concealed the body in a near-by pond by piling heave wood upon it.

The failure of the little girl to return home at the usual hour in the afternoon caused the mother to feel uneasy and after waiting a reasonable time a search was instituted. The news spread rapidly over the settlement that the little girl was missing and all of Friday night the search was pressed with vigor. A slight track of a struggle by the road leading to the school house was found and this led to the arrest of a Negro who had been dipping turpentine in that vicinity during the day. The Negro was hand in custody and the search of the missing girl was continued until Saturday morning about 7 o'clock when the body was discovered in a pond where it had been weighted down by heavy wood, only an arm protruding above the surface of the water.

The body was removed and immediately taken to the home of the mother, and it was at this time that the searching party turned into a mob of infuriated men who were bent on finding the perpetrators of one of the most heinous and brutal crimes ever committed in Holmes county.

The mob closely questioned the first Negro arrested and he implicated another Negro named "Bunk" who was immediately found and arrested, and "persuaded" to tell what he knew of the crime he acknowledged to it and connected the first Negro arrested with it and also implicated a third. He was soon located and brought face to face the three confessed to the awful crime.

The mob, thinking officers might rush in a attempt to block their intention, decided to end the lives of three worthless imps in the quickest and surest way, and the trio of black demons were lined up and their bodies perforated by bullets from a least five hundred guns. 

News of the trouble did not reach Bonifay until late Saturday afternoon and Sheriff Hickman immediately left for the scene. Reaching Westville he was informed by telephone that the trouble had subsided and everything was quiet and peaceable again, and the Sheriff returned to Bonifay on the last rain Saturday night. 

Since the lynching of the three Negroes Saturday various rumors have been afloat to the effect that another Negro, who had knowledge of the crime, had been captured and dealt with in the same manner as the first three but this report is incorrect although a fourth Negro was arrested but he satisfied the crowd that he was in no way connected with the crime or had any knowledge of it and he was allowed to go. No further trouble is expected as the mob has dispersed and the citizens have returned to their work, but it is said that "coons" are few and far between in that community just now. 

Ten Lives Lost in Marianna Fire

Published in the Holmes County Advertiser, Bonifay, Florida, Saturday, Nov 21, 1914

Ten Lives Lost in Marianna Fire:  One of the most shocking disasters that has perhaps ever occurred in the state, took place Wednesday morning when one of the buildings at the state Reform School in Mariana was destroyed by fire and ten inmates were burned to death. 

A special dispatch from Marianna to the Pensacola Journal gives the following account of the awful holocaust:

"The fire was discovered only after it had gained great headway and nothing could be done to stop its progress. It is supposed to have originated in the office on the first floor of the building, from which it crept to the upper floors.

The building was occupied by about one hundred white boys, besides Superintendent Bell and several guards. All sleeping apartments were on the second and third floors.

When Superintendent Bell was awakened the stairways were in flames. The two fire escapes being locked, he could only made his escape through the roof and this he did. Climbing to the tower her jumped to the roof and from this to the fire escape from which he reached the ground an tried to enter the office to obtain the days to the fire escape.

The office being in flames he procured an as and with the assistance of Mr. Allen, one of the guards, he claimed to the landing of the fire escape at the second floor, where three men were trying to make their escape. He succeeded in breaking the locks of the bared grating to the window, but was unable to get the fetal frame out of the window. In the meantime the floors gave way and the wretched inmates were hurled to their doom.

The men at the window were R. B. Evans, a carpenter, C. M. Evans his son, a guard, and one other who was an inmate. The seven others who perished are supposed to have been suffocated before they were burned, as their charred bodies were found on the bed springs of their beds. All were in the same ward in the north wing of the building.

The list of the dead is as follows: R. B. Evans, carpenter, Marianna; Clarence Parrott, Sutherland; C. M. Evans, guard, Marianna; Joe Weathersbee, Jacksonville; Louis Fernandez, Key West; Harry Wells, Jacksonville; Earl Morris, Lakeland; Chiford Jeffords, Clearwater; Walter Fisher, Tampa; Waldo Drew, St. Petersburg.

All of the boys were inmates. The body of the last named boy has not been discovered and it is thought that he may have escaped, thought it is possible that his body was entirely consumed. (Transcribed by Mona Spears, March 1999)

Mysterious Murder Solved.

Published in Holmes County Advertiser, Bonifay, Florida, Friday, Aug. 27, 1915

Jackson county Officials Find Clue, Which leads to Arrest of White Couple.  (From Pensacola Journal)  Marianna, Aug., 25.  - Through the untiring efforts and splendid detective work of sheriff H. A. Bowles and State Attorney Rivers H. Buford, the mystery of the dead body discovered near Marianna a week ago has been cleared up and the alleged perpetrators of the crime are now in the toils of the law.

By the aid of some small scraps of paper sound near the body of the dead man Mr. Buford established a clue which led to the identity of the deceased. Piecing the scraps together he made out a grocery store order on a store in Columbus, Ga. Taking the matter up with the chief of police of that city her ascertained that the order had been filled by a clerk in Starkie's grocery store and the groceries sent to the home of a Negro by the name of Jeff Davis, living at No. 532 Second avenue, and accepted by the wife of the Negro.

Going to Columbus, Sheriff Bowles and Sate Attorney Buford ascertained by inquiry that the wife of the Negro had died some weeks ago and that since her death the man had appeared partially demented. That on July 8th he left Columbus in company with Walter and Milly Barrentine, white, with a horse and buggy belonging to the Negro and traveled through the country as gypsies, telling fortunes. It was understood that the couple had induced the Negro to leave his home and accompany then for the purpose of learning fortune telling and other occult mysteries in which the woman professed to be proficient.

Following the trail of the company the officers found that they had crossed the Chattahoochee river at Fort Gaines and that on July 28th in Henry county, Alabama, the couple had in some way obtained a bill of sale to the house and buggy for an alleged consideration of $250 in cash. On July 31st the party reached Jackson county, Florida, and went to the Double Hole west of natural Bridge on the Chipola river ostensibly for the purpose of fishing. Only the white man and woman returned from the fishing trip and spent the night at the house of Sam Speight, a Negro living half mile from the double Hole. On Sunday, August the 1st, the couple left in the direction of Cottondale, and on August 2nd, Monday, they came to Marianna to the home of the woman's sister, Samantha O'Connor. There they claimed to have won the horse and buggy from the Negro in a crap game and to have left the Negro in Alabama from where he was to return home on the railroad. They later claimed that the Negro left them at the home of Charlie White, colored, but maintains that neither the Negro nor anyone else accompanied them to the Double Hole.

Having obtained the chain of evidence against the white man and woman they were trailed eastward from Marianna towards Tallahassee where on Sunday they were apprehended by Abner Denham of this city, accompanied by a deputy sheriff of Leon county, and brought back to Marianna and lodged in jail. 

State Attorney Buford states the is in possession of evidence to further identify the body of the Negro, and also to prove that he bore the reputation of a peaceful, law abiding man.   (Transcribed by Mona Spears, March 1999) 

A Fatal Accident: 

Late in the afternoon of Dec 4th, Mark (or Mack) Newton, son of the well known J B Newton, was accidentally shot at close range with a shot gun, the whole load taking effect in the upper and left side of forehead, cutting its way through the skull and injuring the brain.

The gun was in hands of a boy (son of Mary Newton) 8 years old, who also sustained some injuries in the face from kick of gun.

The young man, under the able treatment of Drs Warren and Ramsey, and nursed by the tender hands of dear friends and anxious relatives, lay on the margin of death for a few days, but on Monday morning the 14th just, at 11 o'clock, he passed away.

The remains were carried to the family burying ground at Cedar Grove Church for interment, the burial ceremonies being able conducted by Rev E A Buttram.

The young man was in the bloom of youth, and there seem to be a mystic cloud over the affray that rushed him in to an unknown state of existence.

Many friends and associates were deeply affected over the sad accident, and no doubt many good resolutions were made. The neighborhood at large is deeply sympathizing with the family, and especially the parents of the deceased. Although we realize from sad experience that sympathy do not atone for the tears of broken and bleeding hearts, and words of consolation, through spoken by the dearest friends, only reach the ears of the heart broken to fall to earth as empty sounds.

A Friend, R F D No 1, Esto, Fla.

Published in the Holmes County Advertiser, Bonifay FL, Saturday, Dec 19, 1908

Published in Holmes County Advertiser, Bonifay, Florida, Friday, June. 4, 1915

Shaw Died as Result of Blow:  Unfortunate Difficulty at Noma results in One's Death, Another Held for Manslaughter. Noma, Fla., June 2.-- C. J. Shaw, who was struck a severe blow over the head with a shovel by C. Manley on the 26th day of May, died on the morning of the 28th from the effects of the blow, never having regained consciousness.

Both men were in the employ of the Alabama-Florida Lumber Co., and the difficulty that terminated in Shaw's death occurred at the company's blacksmith shop of which Shaw was manager, When Manley, who was mill superintendent, went to the shop to get a shovel a dispute arose over some former minor transaction concerning the shovel. The discussion waxed warm and only terminated when Manley struck Shaw a blow on the head, inflicting a fracture of the skull and from the effects of which the latter died tow days later. 

Mr. Shaw's two daughters, together with Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Sharpless, Miss Virginia Simons and Arthur Campbell, accompanied the remains to Adell, Ga., where they were laid to rest by the side of his wife, who died some years ago. Miss Seville, a trained nurse from Dothan, attended Mr. Shaw during his two days' suffering. 

Mr. Shaw and his two daughters moved to Noma some three years ago and were highly respected and jade many true friends who greatly regret the sad affair that caused the death of the deceased.

A coroner's jury was impaneled Friday and after hearing the testimony of many witnesses rendered a verdict of manslaughter against Manley. His bond was fixed at $2,000, which he readily made, the preliminary hearing being set for the 4th at this place.

Col. Price, of Marianna, and attorney Mathis, of Bonifay were present at the coroner's inquest as counsel for the defendant.

(Transcribed by Mona Spears, March 1999)

 


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