Butler County, Alabama Genealogy Trails



A Bloody and Lawless Affair
A murderous affray occurred at Greenville, Butler Co., Ala recently in which Felix Gufford had his throat cut and quickly died; J. Williams and John Caldwell were terribly mutilated with knives and were killed; and William Williams, Frank Gufford and Henry Caldwell were seriously, if not fatally wounded.  It seems to have been a general melee among an infuriate crowd, who were bent upon mutual vengeance for some unstated cause. (Texas State Gazette, Austin, TX., Sept 16, 1854)


Greenville is just now very much excited over the sudden and unaccountable disappearance of MR. ARCHIE RIED, a prominent citizen of Butler County.  The "Advocate" states that Mr. Ried came to Greenville on Thursday last, and on that night disappeared and has not since been seen or heard of by any of his friends and acquaintances.  He came to Greenville on a wagon and had several hundred dollars in money on his person.  When last seen, Mr. Ried left the residence of his grandfather, MR. A. M. RIED, in the southern portion of the city, and said that he intended to camp out with some of his friends that (Thursday) night, as he desired to get an early start next morning.  Shortly after he left his grandfather's residence his team was seen near the residence of J. K. SEALE, without a driver, and there it remained all night.  On the following morning the team was taken to Johnson's stables to wait the coming of the owner.  He not putting in an appearance during the day his friends became alarmed about him and search was instituted; but up to this writing nothing has been learned as to his whereabouts.  Mr. Ried was married only about two weeks ago and was a sober and industrious young man.  Universal regret is expressed at his disappearance.  Source: Vernon Clipper, Lamar County AL, December 5, 1879 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Special to the Advertiser - Greenville – Dec. 14 – As Col. Cheves, one of the temperance lecturers who have been lecturing here during the past week, alighted from the hack to take the train for Montgomery this morning just before day, he was assaulted by Mayor J. T. Perry and badly beaten, the latter claiming that he was insulted by some remark made by the lecturer during his lectures last week in reference to him. As the train arrived just about that time, both Messrs. Bauchamp and Cheves got aboard and went to Montgomery. Col. Cheves, however, returned to Greenville on the 9:05 a.m. train and was met at the depot by a large crowd of the best citizens in the place and escorted to the residence of Major D. G. Dunklin, where he now is in a suffering condition. There are two deep wounds on his skull, which a physician says were made by the use of some blunt instrument. Besides, there are a number of other bruises on his person. Owing to the time, place, and manner of the assault, great indignation was felt and expressed by our citizens, and excitement ran high during the day. No violence, however has been resorted to, and it is probable that the affair will be settled by the courts. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, December 24, 1886 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


This time it is Butler County’s ex-Probate Judge who has gone wrong. Judge John L. Powell, the former Probate Judge of that county has been found by State Examiner Reeves to be short in his accounts between $1,000 and $6,000.  This is supposed to be only a small amount of the actual default. The books in which the revenue licenses are required to be recorded were stolen from the probate officer and there is no way of getting at the actual amount of the shortage. – [Alabama Beacon] Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, July 1, 1887- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Greenville, Ala., May 10 – J. H. McCue was called from his field this evening and fired upon with a short gun, the load entered his abdomen.  He is considered mortally wounded.  No particulars, and the guilty person or persons not known.  Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, May 17, 1888- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Greenville, May 14 – The posse that went out in search of Rice Gholson and James M. Morgan, the murderers of J. Houston McCue, returned last night, but a newspaper man was barking up the wrong tree when he tried to get a number of the posse to give him some news.  They will not divulge anything.  It is thought by some that they are on close track of the murderers.  The general opinion is that John Gafford, the outlaw, is with Gholson and Morgan in or near a large swamp near here.  Gholson is a brother-in-law of John Gafford.  Rumor says that the total amount offered for the capture of the three men – Gafford, Gholson and McCue – is $1,500, quite a neat little want, but the trio is a hard and desperate one to manage, and the swamp that they are supposed to be hiding out in is very large and as fine a hiding place as any desperado could wish for.  The posse was armed to the teeth.  It is impossible to learn when they will make another attempt to capture the boys, but it is known that a detective is in the case and is on the “look o it” in the Gafford-Gholson settlement. (Weekly Age, Birmingham, Ala., May 23, 1888)

Greenville, May 14 - Circuit Court convened here today, with His Honor, Judge J. P. Hubbard, on the bench.  There is a large docket, both civil and criminal, to be disposed of.  There is one murder case on the criminal docket – it is that of John Drake, who murdered a negro comrade in a drunken row on or about December 20 last.  (Weekly Age, Birmingham, Ala., May 23, 1888)


Si Marshall a negro living on the Dunham Lumber Company’s tram road, in Butler county, had has house destroyed by fire with his 7-year old child.  The mother escaped through a window with the infant child and was badly burned trying to rescue the other.  The husband was absent from home at the time of the burning.  It is thought to be the work of an incendiary, as the fire was at the only door to the house.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, January 2, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Greenville, Ala.  March 6 – WILLIAM B. PEARSON is insane.  Some weeks ago PEARSON fled the country and took with him Miss SKEINAR, of this county.  He was a married man and stood well in his community and in Greenville.  About two weeks ago he returned to his wife and since then has acted in a very strange manner.  Dr. J. C. Kendrick, of this city and Dr. McKittrick of Evergreen, Ala. were called into see him today pronouncing hi s a genuine case of insanity.  The necessary papers were at once filed in the Probate Office and PEARSON will be conveyed of the insane Hospital at Tuskaloosa in the morning.  It is thought that his derangement of mind dates back about six months.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 13, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Greenville, March 22 – Ben and Sam Gibson, brothers, were convicted of the murder of John Smith in the circuit court at Ruthledge Ala and each sentenced to twenty years in the state penitentiary.  The Gibson boys are white men, 36 and 45 years of age.  Smith was also a white man, aged 23 and was murdered during August 1889.  This makes three convictions for murder in Crenshaw county at this term of court, and the aggregate sentences of the three is sixty long years.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 27, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Greenville, May 26 – Lee Washington, a negro of noted and desperate character was shot and probably fatally wounded this evening by Mr. J. Hill Hartley.  The shooting occurred at Hartley’s gin two miles from Greenville.  The negro was advancing on Hartley with a drawn knife and he used his pistol purely in self defense. Mr. Hartley is a prominent man in the courts.  The affair is deeply regretted.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, May 29, 1890 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


KILLED IN HIS STORE - Georgiana, Ala., Sept 9 – An atrocious murder was committed here this morning about 4 o’clock and as yet the perpetrators are shrouded in mystery.  The entire town is stirred from centre to circumference over the crime.
   Mr. Joseph Tomart, one of the most prominent merchants in town was found in his store this morning a lifeless corpse, lying in a pool of his life blood, which had been caused by a pistol shot in the left side of the body.  The heart was penetrated, the ball coming out through the right arm shattering in terribly.
Montgomery, Sept 10 – Frank Sanders, colored, was arrested here, being strongly suspicioned of being implicated in yesterday’s murder of Joe Tomart at Georgiana.  He had plenty of money and a number of dangerous tools secreted about his prison. He took the train at Greenville for this place, and several circumstances pointed strongly against him.  Tonight a number of citizens arrived from Greenville, who identified him and the money found on his person, nearly $200, which he stole from Mr. Hillary Frost, residing ten miles from Georgian, stolen the same night Frost was murdered.
    Numerous burglaries having been perpetrated at and near Georgian recently, Sanders is strongly suspected as one of the gang.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, September 17, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Georgiana, Ala., Sept 26 – Two negro men were captured near this place yesterday who confessed that they aided in the murder of Mr. McKnight near Furman.  When arrested the two men had on them $40 and a pistol, which they admitted was the property of McKnight, the murdered man.  The parties who arrested them, after examining them closely and being convinced that they were the murderers, hung them up to a tree.  The names of the men who did the lynching have not been learned here. Nor the names of the negroes lynched. There is no truth in the rumored capture and confession of the Tourart murderers. This report was probably caused by the lynching of these two men. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 1, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney



Rev. W. H. Morris, of Greenville, Butler County, was convicted last week of embezzlement of school funds as county superintendent of Butler County. Upon recommendation of the Alabama Methodist Conference of preachers and many other citizens from various localities, he was pardoned Wednesday by the governor; a criminal intent not having satisfactory been shown.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, January 7, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Mills of Martin & Porter Robbed
Thieves entered the mills of Martin & Porter, on Commerce Street in Greenville just before daylight Thursday morning, and filling a two-horse wagon with corn, hay, etc., made good their escape.  The robbery was discovered about 6 o'clock, and Chief Porterfield, Sheriff Brown and Officer Hamrick at once went in pursuit.  Late in the evening the goods were found, together with a large lot of groceries, etc.  stolen from the store of Cook & Hunt last week.  No arrests have been made as yet. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, May 12, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Montgomery - Dec. 17 - Information reached here this afternoon from Greenville that the dead body of Tax Collector Armstrong of Butler county had been found in the swamp, on Panther creek fifteen miles from that place. The tax collector was on his rounds, and was it is believed, murdered for the purpose of robbery.  There is no clue to the murderer.  The deceased had been tax assessor of the county for years and was recently appointed tax collector by Governor Jones, the tax collector elected in August having failed to quality.  The governor will offer a reward for the apprehension of the murderers.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, December 22, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney
J. C. Armstrong, tax collector of Butler County, was brutally assassinated last Saturday. It is supposed robbery was the cause, as about $2000 was taken away. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, December 29, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney
Greenville, Dec 17 - E. J. Armstrong, tax collector of this county, was robbed and murdered at Panther Creek this morning.  His body was riddled with bullets.
    No particulars can be learned. The town is ablaze with excitement, and a pose of thirty determined men, armed to the teeth, have set out. The dogs at the Bolling Mills have been put on the trail.
    Armstrong was out in the performance of his duty and had probably $500 or $700 collected.  He was a general favorite and was held in high regard by all. (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, Dec 22, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

Some one dug into the grave of Charles Kelly, one of the men lynched for the murder of tax Collector Armstrong of Butler county and threw the remains out on top of the ground.  The motive for the act is not known.  (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, July 6, 1893 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)


BURNED HIS BODY IN BRUSH - An Awful Crime in Butler
Greenville, April 20 - Information was received from Butler Springs tonight, which is in the western portion of this (Butler) county of the brutal murder of Watts Murphy, the youngest son of Augustus Murphy, Watts Murphy is a nephew of Governor Watts of Alabama
     The information says Murphy was murdered last Wednesday by three negro men, and afterwards the murderers placed the boy in a heap of brush and then set fire to the entire heap, which was consumed.
     The young men having been missed from home search began today for the purpose of finding his whereabouts, when one of the murderers confessed, implicating two other negroes, all of whom have been arrested.
     The brush heap, being examined revealed the heart, liver and teeth of the young man, which had by some means failed to burn.  (Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, Apr 25, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)
Another negro has become the victim of Judge Lynch in Butler county. The murder of a prominent white man and the burning of his body has enraged the people so that they reuse to wait for the courts to mete out the punishment but take it into their own hands. The execution loses the ---- of example to deter others and the friends of the mobbed party will protest their innocence. The public have no assurance o their guilt. They have had no public trial. The whole thing is to be regretted. (Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, May 2, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)





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