Etowah County, Alabama

Crime News




Terrible Tragedy – On Saturday evening last one of the saddest recounters that it has ever been our duty to chronicle took place between John C. Latham and Benjamin F. Hodges, resulting in the shooting of Latham by Hodges in the bowels and from which he died at 3 o’clock Sunday morning.  This tragedy has cast a gloom over the entire community. Both gentlemen were highly esteemed for their many good qualities, and were among our most enterprising and energetic citizens. The meeting took place in Echols’ saloon on Broad street, in the presence of several witnesses.  Mr. Hodges went to his home and sent word to officers that he wished to surrender himself.  The Sheriff took him in charge, and Monday a preliminary examination was had before Notary Public D. C. Turrentine, and Mr. Hodges was committed for trial before the circuit court.  We learn a writ of habeas corpus has been issued by Judge Hamlin, and the case continued until Monday next.  Both families have the sympathy of the entire community. [Gadsden Times, Etowah County, Ala., (The Birmingham Iron Age, Birmingham, Ala., May 25, 1876)


FRANK SLATON, of Marshall County, is in jail at Gadsden, charged with stealing a pair of shoes and a pair of pants. Source: Vernon Clipper,Lamar County AL,November 7, 1879- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Mr. Cook, who has been for some time conductor on the Gadsden branch railroad, was discharged a few days ago for embezzling the company's funds. It seems from Mr. Cook's statements and his extravagant living, the company was put on guard. Two or three local parties checked the passengers for several weeks and they compared notes from which it was discovered that Cook did not make correct returns of the passengers from whom he received money. The Times states that a detective was then places after him, and from the 15th to the 1st of October, he had embezzled $60 of the fare of passengers. Col. Ball submitted to Cook to pay the company $250 in cash, or stand a trial in court. Cook paid the money and also signed a written instrument admitting his guilt. Source: Vernon Clipper, Lamar County AL, December 5, 1879 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Deputy United States Marshal Eugene Milliford and J. A. Milliford, acting under special authority from Collector E. W. Booker, have seized and destroyed an illicit distillery, near Coxville, in Etowah County. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,March 4, 1886- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Since EtowahCounty was formed there have been 32 cases of manslaughter and murder on the docket, and but two convictions, and in those the penalty was light. This is a remarkable record. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,November 11,1886- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Alf. Woodliff and George Stewart, both colored, charged with murder, escaped from jail at Centre, twenty miles above here, Saturday, by sawing an iron bar from the rear window. They have so far eluded arrest. (Weekly Age, Birmingham, Ala., May 23, 1888)


Charles Johnson, alias Wade Holmes, was hung in Gadsden for the murder of Policeman Kinney last November. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,January 2, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Jim Busby, the young man who shot Ernest Daughdrill at Gadsden, was up before the mayor Monday under three charges, viz: Disorderly conduct, shooting promiscuously on the streets, and resisting and shooting at an officer. His fines amounted to $91 but being unable to pay it he was sentenced to 182 days on the street gang. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,February 27, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

W. W. Wright, who was convicted of killing his cousin by the Etowah county circuit court, and sentenced to the penitentiary, has been granted a new trial. Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL,May 8, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

William McGhee, colored, working at Laney, Ala. a few miles east of Gadsden was shot by Jim Smith, colored, under the left arm, the ball striking the fifth rip. The difficulty was over a game of cards. Smith escaped. McGhee was carried to Gadsden and his wounds dressed. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, June 12, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Bob Welch, white, shot Ab Millet, colored, near the new furnace, at Gadsden, Saturday night. The negro was passing along the road, and as he passed a crowed of men Welch threw out his hand with a 38 calibre pistol and fired, the ball passing entirely through the neck, just missing the jugular vein. The negro says Welch took him for another negro who had cursed Welch the day before and who Welch had threatened to kill. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, July 3,1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

On the Chattanooga Southern railroad near Gadsden, a negro desperado took a Winchester rifle and after turning everybody away stole a mule and skipped. Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, July 10, 1890- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

RIOT NEAR GADSDEN - One White Man Killed by Negroes and Another Wounded
Gadsden, Dec 7 - [Special] - News of a riot at Littleton, at the foot of Sand Mountain twelve miles form Gadsden, has just reached here. The sheriff has summoned a posse and will leave in a few minutes. It is reported one white man has been killed by the blacks.
Later news, just reached, says one white man was killed and others dangerously wounded and his horse killed as he was on his way to spread the news of the riot. A posse of twenty-five men have left on a special train for the scene of the trouble. Will give further details from the seat of war. (Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, Dec 11, 1890 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)


At Attala Saturday night, during a fearful rain storm an attempt was made to break into Whaley & Buckley’s store. The robbers failed to break the door down, and then tried to set the building on fire, which failed also. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,March 19, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Prof. W. A. Miller a Calhoun county school teacher, was arrested in Gadsden for stealing a negro woman’s pocketbook. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, May 21, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

At Gadsden one night last week Deputy. Sheriff Melton shot George Lee, a Chinaman inflicting a painful wound in the face. Melton was under the influence of whiskey. Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, May 21, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Judge Talley fined Sheriff Chandler, at Gadsden $50 recently for allowing a part of a jury which was under his charge to go to a saloon for a drink of beer. Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, May 28, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A fine gold watch was stolen from S. M. Morrow of Gadsden on Sunday while he and his wife were at church. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, August 27, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Sam Welch, wanted for killing Jack Day at Gadsden in 1887, has been captured and is in Etowah county jail. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, September 24, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

W. L. Echols of Gadsden, has offered $500 additional reward for the arrest of the party who fired his residence several weeks ago. This makes $800 reward offered for the capture of the incendiary. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,September 24, 1891- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


John Wilson, colored, was lodged in jail at Gadsden on a charge of breaking into the store of Midgby & Eaton at Rock Springs, six miles east of Gadsden. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL,January 7,1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

The trial of Talley Welsh for the killing of Will Welsh on July 4, 1889 was begun in the city court at Gadsden Wednesday. A jury was selected by noon, and the testimony is now begin taken. It will be an interesting trial. He surrendered himself and confessed the killing, and since then he denied his confession. Lee Lancaster is serving a life sentence for the same killing. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 10,1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

LANCASTER FREE - A Life Convict Who is Innocent, Pardoned by Governor Jones
A Gadsden special says: Capt. K. L. Cunningham, who has been representing Lee Lancaster, received a letter from Mr. Jackson, Private Secretary of Gov. Jones, which stated that the Government had pardoned Lancaster, who is serving a life sentence at the penitentiary.
     It will be remembered that on the night of July 4, 1889 Wm. Welsh, while on his way home from Gadsden, was foully murdered. He was found lying in the public road with a bullet hole in this back of his head, cold and stiff in death with no earthly tongue to tell of his mysterious death.
     Lee Lancaster was arrested and tried in the circuit court charged with the crime. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to the penitentiary for life but at last the guilty person came and confessed the crime.
     In December last Tally Welsh confessed the killing of Wm Welsh to the officers in Georgia to which state he had fled and he was brought to Gadsden and lodged in jail. He also confessed the murder to some of the jurymen who convicted Lancaster. An indictment was found but when arraigned before the circuit court he pleaded not guilty.
     The case consumed two days, and attracted may people to hear the evidence.
     Strong evidence was against him, and he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
     He has taken an appeal to the supreme court, and is at present in jail awaiting the action of the highest court. Lancaster will return home tomorrow where he will meet his wife, several children and an aged mother with a hearty and loving welcome.
     The Judge, Solicitor and some of the jurymen before whom he was tried signed his petition asking for his pardon. (Hamilton Times, Marion County, AL, March 31, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

Dick Hooper, of Ball Play, Etowah county, was convicted of counterfeiting standard silver dollars by the United States court jury Tuesday and given eight years in the penitentiary at Columbus O. He was found guilty in two cases, and got two years in one and six in the other. Hooper is the son of Dudley B. Hooper, who was found guilty on the same charge at the fall term of the court and sentenced to six years in the penitentiary. Dudley Hooper was seventy-five years of age. He had already served a term for the same offense. John Kinnett, Hoopers' son-in-law, was convicted at the same time and sentenced to four years imprisonment. He and his father-in-law were taken to Columbus at the same time. So three members of the same family will be in the Columbus penitentiary at the same time for the same offense. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 31, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Ben. W. Reeves, postmaster at Walnut Grove, Etowah county , is charged with embezzlement of post office funds. He was tired before Commissioner Carlson and held under a $3000 bond. (Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County, AL, April 7, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

FIGHTING IN CHURCH - The Brethern Draw Pistols and Inaugurate Bloody Work - One Fatally Wounded
AT Pleasant Valley Church, near Attalla, Sunday afternoon, occurred a bloody tragedy, in which one L. F. Burgess shot and it is said, fatally wounded Samuel W. G. Atwood. Bother were members of the Church.
   The altercation is said to have been brought about on account of ill feelings engendered between the families. It is charged that some time ago a son of Burgess attempted a criminal assault upon the daughter of Atwood. Young Burgess fled the county.
   On Sunday, while a committee of the church was out trying to adjust the matter, they decided to fight it out there. The shooting began in the house. Mr. Marion Smith, in attempting to part them, was shot in the hand. Mr. Atwood was shot, and it is thought the wound will prove fatal. Burgess made good his escape. Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, May 14, 1891 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

The United States grand jury has returned indictments against Robert G. Wade, George W. Bacchus, and James E. Bacchus, all of Walnut Gove, Etowah county, charging them with making and using counterfeit silver dollars. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 6, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Thomas H. Jenkins, the Gadsden forger, has been sentenced two years in the pen. He has appealed his case to the supreme court. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 20, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Bud Cooper, who killed Charles Sweentey in East Gadsden last spring by shooting him, was acquitted in the city court his week. The coroner's jury exonerated him, but the grand jury returned a true bill, resulting as above stated. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 20, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A THIEF KILLED - Mills Vernon, colored, was shot and killed near Gadsden on last Monday. Several pieces of silverware, Bibles and song books had been stolen from the Episcopal church in that city, and the robbery was braced to Vernon. The police officers kept a close watch for the negro and he was discovered in the woods. In resisting arrest he was shot and killed by one of Sheriff Burnes men. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 20, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

SENTENCED FOR TWENTY YEARS - The case of the State vs Tally Welsh, charged with the murder of William Welsh in Gadsden July 4, 1889 came to a conclusion last week in the city court, when the jury rendered a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree and sentenced him to the penitentiary for twenty years. He was tried last year and sent up for life, but got a new hearing.
This is for the same murder that Lee Lancaster served two years in the penitentiary, when tally Welsh returned, confessed and then denied his confession and Lancaster was pardoned.
Welsh was murdered in cold blood, being shot from behind. The verdict was a surprise and Welsh had a narrow escape from hanging. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, October 20, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

There is a reward of $1,000 offered for the arrest of Coley Daughdrill, who murdered Armstrong Stewart in Gadsden last March. Eight hundred dollars is offered by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and the remainer by the state of Alabama. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, December 15, 1892 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


A SUCCESSFUL GANG OF COUNTERFEITERS AT GADSDEN - A Gadsden Special to the Age-Herald says: A gang of counterfeiters have invaded our city, and are working the unsuspecting ones with their spurious coins. It is a splendid counterfeit of a silver dollar, the work being well executed, and can only be told by the ring, which is not true. They have succeeded in working off a good deal here. As yet no clue to the guilty parties has been secured. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, January 5, 1893- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Kale and Will Steelman were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of old man Davis of Etowah county. Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, March 23, 1893- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Lewis Thompson, charged with an attempt to murder, was set free at Gadsden. He plead insanity and a jury was impaneled, and after hearing the testimony he was adjudged an incurable lunatic and the murder case was not heard. Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, June 1, 1893- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


A PLOT TO BURN THE TOWN – Much Indignation Against the Incendiaries
Gadsden, Feb. 22 – A diabolical plot to burn and loot the city of Gadsden has just been unearthed. Chief of police Hughes yesterday arrested Will Smith, Ben Oakes, Jack Holcomb and Frank Cassels for stealing and killing hogs. From the facts ascertained Smith was the ring leader; and at his suggestion he was to cut off the water at the reservoir at noon Thursday and by night all the water in the pipes would be drained out. Then they were to rob the stores in the centre of the city and apply the torch and the fire company would be powerless to come with the fire fiend and the city would be wiped off the face of the earth. Much indignation is felt against them. They are now in jail. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 1, 1894- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


A special from Tampa, Fla. says: L. F. Dekle left town very suddenly a few days ago, and it developed that he feared arrest for bigamy. Dekle learned that a Savannah man had written there, inquiring if he was married. On learning this Dekle borrowed money and left, Mrs. Dekle following in a few days. It is stated that five years ago Dekle deserted a wife at Gadsden, Ala. He went to Mobile, Ala where he married again. This second wife he deserted and married the woman with whom he was living here. Dekle was a clerk in a grocery store here. Source: Hamilton News Press, Marion County AL, August 8, 1895- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Colin Daughdrill, who recently shot and killed J. L. Bates at Gadsden, has been removed to the Jefferson county jail for safe keeping. It seems there was reason to apprehend both rescue and lynching if he remained in Etowah’s jail. Source: Hamilton News Press, Marion County AL, December 19, 1895- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


The preliminary trial of Tom Killian for the killing of Gene Galloway, near Cradup, began at Gadsden on Monday. Source: Marion County News, Marion County AL, March 4, 1897- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Colin Daughdrill was hanged in the county jail yard at Gadsden for the crime of murder, a jury having adjudged him guilty of killing J. I. Bates, a traveling man. The trap was sprung at 1 o’clock and the body fell five feet, the victim’s neck being broken by the fall. He was pronounced dead in seven minutes. Daughdrill died game, his last advice to his brother, Joho, being “Make a man of yourself, John” Source: Marion County News, Marion County AL, March 18, 1897- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

FIENDS AROUND GADSDEN – The QueenCity of the Coosa Excited Over Developments - Gadsden, Ala. - Following upon the destruction Saturday morning with dynamite of the house occupied by the Jones girls, the big hoisting engine of the Christopher Coal Mines was blown to pieces by the same explosive Sunday morning. Everything attached to the machinery has shattered and an entirely new outfit will be necessary. The owner estimates his loss at $2,500. Charles Johnson, who was arrested for dynamiting the Jones’ house claims that he can easily prove an alibi. Will Flood and John Jones, two well known white boys, are being looked for by the Sheriff and police, there being warrants for their arrest on the same charge.  Sunday afternoon a bomb was found under a house in the eastern part of the city and it caused a regular stampede of women to the police for protection. Extra officers have been put on duty; the Sheriff and his deputies are on guard, while a deputation of citizens is guarding isolated houses. There is no cause or theory advanced for the vandalism, nor is it generally believed that these for whom warrants are issued are guilty. Source: Marion County News, Marion County AL, April 22, 1897- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A MUDEROUS ASSAULT - The prisoners in the county jail at Gadsden made a murderous assault on Jailer Bolen last Thursday and struck him with a bottle through the bars. The prisoners refused to tell who struck the blow, and Jim Ward and Ed Walker are in the straight jacket and being dieted on bread and water until they tell who did the work. Source: Marion County News, Marion County AL, July 22, 1897- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Gadsden, Ala. - The Circus in Town With Fights and Other Concomants
Gadsden, Ala., Oct – Robinson's circus was here today and there were 12,000 people in town.  Arthur Naugher, an old offender, was with the circus and was arrested after a bloody fight, and is in jail under three indictments.
    Herbert Lindsey aged 30, was struck with brass knucks by Henry Tidmore and will die.  An unknown man was seriously cut in the face and breast.  His assailant escaped. (The Weekly Corinthian, Corinth, Miss., Oct. 25, 1900)


Bud Beeson, colored, was acquitted in city court last week on the charge of grand larceny. (The Gadsden Times-News, Gadsden, Ala, Dec. 10, 1901)

Stella Talley, alias Stella Hall, colored, has been arrested and jailed by Deputies Lister and Bean on a charge of adultery.  Lucy Coleman was also arrested at the same time on the same charge. (The Gadsden Times-News, Gadsden, Ala, Dec. 10, 1901)

Jack Betty and Man Mayo, colored were arrested at the furnace by Deputies Lister and Bean on the charge of shooting into a house. (The Gadsden Times-News, Gadsden, Ala, Dec. 10, 1901)

The trial of Bud Beacham, charged with the murder of Aust Whitmore, in Echol's saloon several months ago, came up in the city court last week and resulted in a verdict of acquittal. (The Gadsden Times-News, Gadsden, Ala, Dec. 10, 1901)


AN ATTALLA CITIZEN - Killed by an Officer in Self Defense
P. G. Yoe, a well known character of Attala, was shot and instantly killed Friday night by Extra Policemen A. P. Jenkins. The shooting occurred at the Alabama Great Southern passenger depot and was witnessed by many people. Jenkins in endeavoring to arrest a drunken couple, was resisted by Yoe and a general fight occurred, placing the policeman in such a position that he either had to kill or be killed.
     This is the only casualty so far resulting from the street fair. Yoe’s reputation, it is alleged, was unsavory. He was a conspicuous figure in the criminal courts and was under indictment for criminal assault. Yoe leaves widow and two children.  Source: Marion County Democrat, Marion County AL, April 2, 1903 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

TO JAIL FOR REFUGE – Young Man Goes to Gadsden with Story of an Attempt to Extirpate His Family
News reached Gadsden of a murderous assault on the family of A. H. Fondren, in the lower edge of the county Sunday night
     A. L. Fondren, Jr. came in the city and asked to be placed in jail to protect his life. He stated that Hill and Nathan Monroe and Adolph Stafferon came to his home and that Bill Monroe attempted to cut him. His coat was slashed to pieces and his shoulder was gashed slightly. He says that the men followed him to the house and on being refused admittance fired three shots through the door.
     Bill Monroe then poked a shotgun through a crack and fired three shots in the midst of the family, the elder Fondre, who is 84 years old and partially paralyzed, was shot in the stomach and will die.
     John Fondren, helpless imbecile, was shot in the thigh and side.
     The trouble seems to have dated back for some time. Saturday young Fondren swore out a peace warrant for the father of the Monroe boys and he was jailed. The boys were in town when their father was arrested and they immediately returned home to get revenge. Deputies have gone to the scene.
     Young Fondren is apprehensive of further trouble. Source: Marion County Democrat, Marion County AL,May 21, 1903 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

ABDUCTION THWARTED - Alabama City Girl Stolen but Her Abductors Captured and One killed
Gus Steadman was shot and killed in Alabama City Saturday afternoon by policemen N. P. Jarrard and A. N. Burns while he was attempting to escape arrest. John Steadman had kidnapped Mamie McKnight a 13-year old girl under premise of marriage and carried her to the woods and placed her in company with his brother, GUS STEADMAN and a lewd woman named SUE HARVEY of Chattanooga.
     John Steadman met the girl while she was going to work at the cotton factory and forcibly took her against her will. Officers went in pursuit and overtook them. They were ordered to halt. Gus Steadman ran and attempted to draw a pistol. When both officers fired and Gus fell dead.
     John Steadman and the Harvey woman were arrested and imprisoned. Mamie McKnight is of excellent parentage. Much excitement was occasioned by the abduction and killing. Source: Marion County Democrat, Marion County AL,July 2, 1903 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Government secret service agents have made what they regard as an important capture of alleged counterfeiters at Gadsden Ala. The parties arrested are Dr. James Young and Geo. Windsor.
     For the past year there has been thousands of dollars of counterfeit money placed in circulation in that section and it has found its way to other populous centers. The government agents have been at work on the matter for some months Saturday on capturing these parties they searched their home which is located on SandMountain and reported that they discovered a quantity of spurious coin, a complete counterfeiting outfit and a number of raised bills, mostly $1 bills that had been raised to $5. The men were taken to Gadsden where they will be held pending further inquiry . Source: Marion County Democrat, Marion County AL,July 16, 1903 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney



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