Polk County, Florida
Crime News

In the Toils.

Just as the GAZETTE goes to press we learn of the arrest of Dr. J. R. Folsom, postmaster at Cecil, by an United States' officer and carried to Macon upon the charge of forging affidavits to a pension application of a Mrs. Roberts, who claims to be the widow of a survivor of the Mexican war. It seems that the woman's husband is alive and a resident of Polk county, Florida. This fact places the accused under the ban of suspicion, if nothing more. We shall believe him innocent of the charge until the contrary appears by competent testimony. The preliminary hearing will be had to-day or to-morrow.

[Source: Tifton Gazette, Friday, July 6, 1894 -- Page 1.] Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


A SERIOUS CHARGE.

A Georgia Postmaster Who Must Answer for Alleged Forgery.

MACON, July 6,---Mr. J. B. Folsom of Berrien county, has been arrested and brought to Macon by revenue officers on a serious charge of offense against the government. Folsom is the postmaster of Cecil, is 68 years old, and has prominent family connections in the state.

He is charged with forging affidavits to a pension application of a widow in Berrien, and the case has been made against him by the pension department of Washington where Special Examiner Davis was given charge of it to work up.

The result of the examiner's investigation was Folsom's arrest, based upon evidence which the pension department thinks will secure his conviction, though the case has not yeat been sifted by the commissioners here, who postponed the hearing on account of absent witnesses.

According to the case made out against him by the pension bureau's examiner, Mr. Folsom, some time ago, secured forged affidavits to the pension application of a Mrs. Sarah Roberts. The charges recite that some time ago Mrs. Roberts came to Folsom, and claiming that her husband was dead, or that he was, to the best of her belief, said that he was a survivor of the Mexican war and that she wanted him to put the application of her dead husband's pension through to the department at Washington, the understanding being that she would divide up the money with the postmaster in payment for his trouble.

Folsom agreed and went to work at once to secure affidavits as to the woman's title to the pension, necessary to accompany the application, such as to the death of her husband and all the other formalities which have to be gone through with. The batch of papers were sent on to Washington. By looking over their roll of pension drawers the authorities in the department found out that Mrs. Power's husband was not dead, but that he was living in Polk county, Florida, and regularly drawing his pension there. This put a cloudy veil over the whole business, and Special Examiner Davis was put on to the case.

He came down to the little town of Cecil and opened a further investigation into the affidavits. He found, so he claims in his charges, that the men whom Folsom had down as authors of the accompanying affidavits knew nothing about them, and disclaimed their authorship.


[Source: Tifton Gazette, Friday, July 6, 1894 -- Page 1.] Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


KILLED HERMIT BURNED HOME

LAKEKAND FLORIDA SCENE OF WHAT IS SUPPOSED A HORRIBLE CRIME FOR AN OLD MAN'S MANY DOLLARS.

(By Associated Press.)

Lakeland, Fla., April 9.---The charred body of Joseph Wread, an aged recluse of Nichols, was found in the ruins of his home this morning. The police theory of the old man's death is that burglars killed him to obtain $17,000, and then set fire to the house to hide the crime.


[Source: Daily Times Enterprise, Apr. 9, 1913 -- Page 1.] Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


HALE CASE SET FOR NEXT SATURDAY

Evening Telegram Bureau Bartow, Nov. 1—Ben Hale was arraigned yesterday and interposed a plea of not guilty. Senator Dayton, who is representing Hale, made a motion for a continuance of the case to the next term. After argument by Senator Dayton and by State Attorney Singletary, the motion was denied, and the trial set for next Saturday, Nov. 4. Several witnesses for the defense have been subpoenaed and the case promises to be hard fought. Hale, it will be remembered, killed Floyd Carter, near Kathleen, some time last summer, and has been in jail since then. He will be represented by Dayton & Dayton, of Dade City. Senator Dayton is here now looking after Hale's interests. Date of the trial has not yet been set. We understand that the grand jury is still considering the charge against Martin, growing out of the killing for which Hale is held.

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 1, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


BARKER GETS HIS FOR HORSE STEALING

Evening Telegram Bureau, Bartow, Nov. 1.-Yesterday John Howard Barker plead quilty to the charge of larceny of a horse from J. K. Futch, and through his and his attorney's plea was able to get off with the minimum sentence for this offense, namely, two years in the State prison. Barker, by appointment of the Judge, was represented by R. B. Huffaker

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 1, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


Detailed Report of Cases Disposed of During the First Week

The fall term of the Circuit Court of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida met at the court house on Monday, Oct. 23. The court was called to order by Sheriff John Logan. Our new and able Judge, Hon. F. A. Whitney, was on the bench and present assisting him was the new and efficient State Attorney Hon. John B. Singletary, Circuit Court Clerk A. B. Ferguson was at his usual post of duty.

Our New Judge and Prosecuting Attorney.

Judge Whitney by his clear and impartial charges to the juries and by his fair decisions on points of law and his evident desire to dispatch business as rapidly as possible, soon showed that he is the right man in the right place. He will not be able to catch up with the business of the Court in Polk county at this term, but it is easy to be seen that he will soon, by having special terms and by utilizing all of the time in the regular terms, soon have the business of the court in this county in good condition. Mr. Singletary, while not a brilliant lawyer, is an able one, a hard worker, and his uncompromising attitude toward law breakers will be greatly appreciated by all good citizens. We predict that these two officers of the law will give entire satisfaction to the entire circuit.

The Judge in his talk to the jurors, both before the drawing of the grand jurors and in his charge to the grand jury gave it to be understood that when a man is selected to serve on a jury in his court he must serve unless he can show under oath that he or some one depending on his is seriously sick or that his business will be jeopardized thereby. He said that no one would be excused as a juror on account of his business if to serve merely inconvenienced him and inconvenienced his business. It is the firm belief of Judge Whitney that the jury system is the greatest institution ever invented for the administration of justice, and that if it is properly administered there will not be any complaints on account of the miscarriage of justice. In other words, he believes that its abuses and not its use is the case of the frequent miscarriage of justice. He wants it understood in Polk county and in the other counties of his circuit that when a man is subpoened to serve on a jury in his court he is expected to serve.

The Grand Jurors.

The grand jury, composed of the following men: H. W. Hines, C. G. Fletcher, John D. Moore, James D. Dossey, Harley B. Moore, W. R. Hutchinson, Phillip Hicks, G. W. Anderson, C. C. Gresham, W. J. Davis, B. L. Heap, J. E. McGraw, Wm. H. Chestnut, L. Glover, -, C. Ferrell, W. R. Claxton, W. T. Denham, R. E. Grandy, met and organized by electing Mr. W. T. Denham, of Homeland as chairman, and Mr. Harry Heim, of Bartow, as clerk. Mr. J. H. Griffin was sworn in as bailiff.

The grand jury has been grinding steadily ever since its organization, but despite the amount of work done by that body, at this writing (Monday,) there are a great many cases yet to be investigated. The jail is full of prisoners, some of whom have been indicted, while others are waiting investigation at the hands of the grand jury, and there are a number of persons out on bond who are yet awaiting their turn at the hands of the grand jury.

Indictments Returned.

At this writing, the following indictments have been returned:

State vs. Frank McHenry, colored, assault with intent to murder. Frank was too free with a gun while on a spree at Swift's mine a few weeks ago. He plead guilty and the judge gave him five years in the State prison.

State vs. Will Brown and Grant Moore, breaking and entering. They each plead guilty, and were each given one year in the State prison.

State vs. M. F. Johnson and W. F. Robertson; manslaughter. Trial at special term.

State vs. Amos Waters, assault with intent to murder. Trial to be at the special term.

State vs. Tom Harden, larceny of a horse. To be tried this term.

State vs. Frank McHenry, carrying concealed weapons. Certified to county court.

State vs. Raymond Brooks, murder. Brooks is the half-breed who killed a negro near Lakeland several years ago and whom Sheriff Logan captured in Louisian the past summer. He plead guilty and as it appeared that there was some evidence that Brooks killed his man becaused the deceased had killed his, (Brooks') wife, the judge was lenient and gave him only five years in State's prison.

State vs. Jim Corbett, larceny of a horse. To be tried.

State vs. Malvina Brown, murder. Malvina, who is a negro, killed a negro woman by stabbing her while both were at a church in Winter Haven a week ago. She will be tried this week. Wilson & Boswell represent her.

State vs. Monroe King, assault with intent to murder. To be tried.

State vs. William Howard Baker, larceny of a horse.

State vs. John O'Berry, for having carnal intercourse with a female under 18 years. This was a hard case. The girl in the case is blind, and on O'Berry's promis to marry and take care of the girl, the judge married them, and dismissed O'Berry on condition that he behaves himself and in all respects comports himself as a dutiful husband.

The Petit Jury.

The following persons served as petit jurors the first week: J. M. Reynolds, Harmon Carol, E. D. Dishong, B. B. Mitchell, G. W. Wheeler, W. J. Parker, David Lancaster, G. V. Tillman, W. P. Ellett, Robert Feeddern, W. A. Hull, D. M. Pipkin, H. L. Finney and V. W. Stephenson, and at the end of the week they were discharged by the judge with the thanks of the court. The following jury cases were disposed of:

Mann Gets Damages.

Wesley H. Mann, vs. A. C. L. R. R. Co., civil action, damages $5,000. J. W. Brady represented the plaintiff and Sparkman & Carter, the defendant. On Christmas Day several years ago, Mr. Mann was put off the train between Bartow and Lakeland, and he alleged that is was done willfully after he had paid his fare. He recovered $1,000 damages. The defendant has made a motion for a new trial.

Sam Whitney vs. A. C. L. R. R. Co., civil action, damages $1,000.00. J. W. Brady represented the plaintiff and Sparkman and Carter the defendant. The plaintiff failed to make out his case, and it was dismissed.

J. W. Walston vs. W. F. Sneed, malicious prosecution, damages $3,000. The plaintiff, represented by Eppes Tucker, Jr., failed to make out his case, and he was allowed until the next term to do so provided that he pays costs to date. The defendant was represented by Wilson & Boswell.

S. H. Sweat vs. A. C. L. R. R. Co., civil action, damages $2,000. The plaintiff was represented by H. K. Olipant and the defendant by Sparkman & Carter. After hearing evidence in the case all day, the lawyers got together and agreed on $400 damages, the defendant to pay all costs.

State vs. R. B. Bradford, assault with intent to murder. Bradford shot Luther Austin while engaged in a difficulty at a saw mill in 1909 east of Fort Meade. The defendant plead self-defence, and the jury acquitted him. The defendant was represented by Wilson & Boswell.

State vs. Albertus Vogt, uttering forged instrument. Plead guilty at spring term. Defendant ordered to pay all costs of the case.

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 1, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


LATE COURT PROCEEDINGS.

The court is still engaged in the trial of Melvina Brown on the charge of murder. The following men were elected to serve on the jury: R. M. Every, M. G. Merritt, R. V. Bryant, J. K. Futch, W. T. Wright, Jeff Crews, H. Carter, J. A. Williams, Jesse Stephens, John W. Miles, J. W. Durrance, and A. H. Robertson.

The killing by Melvina Brown of Adalaide Macon at Winter Haven, on Oct. 22, was not denied, and therefore, the State soon presented its case. The Brown woman walked up to the Macon woman in a church yard at Winter Haven and stabbed here twice in the breast from which wounds Adalaide died. The state contends that this was a cold blooded murder.

The defense claims that Melvina is not guilty because she is insane, and, furthermore, that she should not be convicted because she committed the crime. If crime it was, in defense of the honor of her husband and home. She is pleading the unwritten law. Witnesses were put on the stand by the defense to prove that Melvina has always been subject to fits, and that her mother, grandmother and sisters were subject to fits. One of Melvina's neighbors, a negro, of Winter Haven, testified that the defendant is "mooneyfied," that she has fits on "de waste of de moon." The defense will finish the introduction of testimony this morning (Thursday,) by putting medical experts on the stand, after which will follow argument of counsel and the verdict. The State is ably represented by State Attorney J. B. Singletary and the defendant by Wilson & Boswell.

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 1, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


WEDNESDAY'S COURT BUSINESS.

Evening Telegram Bureau. Bartow, Nov. 1.-Court convened at eight o'clock Wednesday morning. The first thing taken up was to receive the report of the grand jury. The following indictments were returned:

State vs. John Henry Brown; breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony.
State vs. Robert Martin; breaking and entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanor.
State vs. Richard Wear; having carnal intercourse with an unmarried female under the age of eighteen years.
State vs. Sandy McCoy; petit larceny; certified to County Court.

The court took up for today the trial of Melvina Brown, a negro woman, for the killing at Winter Haven on October 23 of one Adaline Macon, another negro woman. The jury is being selected this morning. From the questions being asked the jurors by the defense, it appears that the defense will appeal to the unwritten law and will also depend upon a plea of insanity. The killing took place in a church and was effected by the Brown woman stabbing the Macon woman twice in the breast with a sharp file. It is likely that the court will be engaged all day in the trial of this case, and it may take longer than one day to dispose of it.

Grand Jury
Probably Complete
Labors Tomorrow.

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 2, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


BARKER GETS HIS FOR HORSE STEALING

Evening Telegram Bureau. Bartow, Nov. 2.-All of today has been spent in the trial of Melvina Brown for the murder of Adelaide Macon. The introduction of evidence was concluded late in the afternoon, and before adjournment Mr. J. B. Singletary, for the State, had made his opening address and Mr. S. G. Wilson had made the first speech for defense. There will be a night session at which Judge Boswell will address the jury in behalf of the defendant and Mr. Singletary will conclude for the State. A verdict will hardly be rendered before tomorrow. After proving yesterday that Melvina's whole family from grandmother down to Melvina herself have been subject to epileptic fits, the defense today put on the stand several physicians to testify to the effect upon one's mind that epiletic fits have. Drs. Wilson, Garrard, Oglesby, and Smith all appeared on the stand, and their evidence, on the hypotheical question asked them, was favorable to the defense. The grand jury is still in session and still investigating crimes, but the foreman states that he is quite sure that they will be able to conclude their labors by Saturday. The grand jury has had an immense amount of work before it to be disposed of. Murder in Second Degree. As we go to press, information is received that Melvina Brown is found guilty of murder in the second degree.

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 3, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


APPEAL IN FISH CASE.

Trial of Lakeland Boys Charged With Illegal Fishing.

Evening Telegram Bureau, Bartow, Nov. 4.—During the August term of the county court, J. W. and Archie McLeod and the negro, Charley Gilmore, were convicted on the charge of seining in Lake Hancock. D. A. DeVane, of Tampa, represented the defendants at the trial of the case, and after conviction and judgment, he appealed the case to the Circuit Court. Judge Whitney has just handed down the opinion in the case reversing the judgment of the county court on the ground of an erroneous instruction by County Judge Preston, and sending the case back for another trial.

Evening Telegram Bureau. Bartow, Nov. 4.—Yesterday, Friday, was a light day for the court. Three cases of minor importance were disposed of and the jury in the Melvina Brown case returned a verdict.

The three cases tried were the State vs. Richard Ware, colored, charged with having carnal intercourse with an unmarried female under the age of 18 years. He was found guilty and sentenced to a term of five years in state prison. The State was represented by Judge Boswell and the defense by R. B. Huffaker. The second case was State vs. Robert Martin, colored, charged with breaking and entering. He was also found guilty and sentenced to a term of 12 months in the county jail. The third case was State vs. Richard Brown, colored, charged with breaking and entering. He was represented by R. B. Huffaker and the State by Judge Boswell. Verdict, not guilty.

As told in yesterday's paper the verdict in the Melvina Brown case was murder in the second degree, and the punishment for this degree of murder is imprisionment in the State prison for life. Judge Whitney has not passed sentence in any of the above named cases.

Source: The Lakeland Evening Telegram, November 5, 1911, Image 1; The Lakeland Evening Telegram. (Lakeland, Fla.) 1911-1922.

Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.

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