Coroner's Inquistions
 1919 - 1931
NEWBERRY COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
Transcribed and contributed by Edith Greisser

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at the Leavell’s Funeral Home in the County and State aforesaid, the 13th day of December A. D., one thousand nine hundred and twenty nine before I. H. Wilson, Coroner, upon view of the body of HAYNE H. ABRAMS of Newberry SC then and there being dead by the oaths of P. D. Johnson, R. M. Kennedy, P. B. Mitchell, A. J. Patrick, James W. Johnson, F. A. Schumpert being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and sworn to inquire, for the state of South Carolina, where and by what means the said HAYNE H. ABRAMS came to his death, upon their oaths, do say that the said HAYNE H. ABRAMS came to his death by the accidental discharge of his gun in his own hands. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, I. H. Wilson Coroner aforesaid, and the jurors aforesaid, to this inquisition, have set our hands and seals, the day and year aforesaid.                                   /s/ I. H. Wilson, Coroner (L.S.)

/s/ P. D. Johnson, foreman (L.S.)

/s/ F. A. Schumpert (L.S.)                                                    /s/ R. M. Kennedy (L.S.)

/s/ James W. Johnson (L.S.)        /s/ A. J. Patrick (L.S.)        /s/ P. B. Mitchell (L.S.)

Inquisition of H. H. ABRAMS   December 13, 1929

LUCILLE CHAPLAIN being duly sworn says:

Direct examination by SHERIFF C. G. BLEASE:

Q. Do you live out on Mr. Hayne Abrams’ Place?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. About three miles from town?

A. Yes sir.

Q. You were at home today?

A. Yes sir.

Q. What time did Mr. Abrams come out there.

A.  Betwixt ten and eleven o’clock.

Q. Drive up in the yard?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Get out of his car?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Did he have his gun?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. He went across the field?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Back of the house?

A.  No sir, in front of the house.

Q. Did you see him any time after that?

A. No sir.

Q. He did not come back across the field?

A.  No sir.

Q. That was between 10 and 11 o’clock?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. You did not hear a gun shoot down in the direction where Mr. Abrams was?

A.  No sir.

Questions from the JURY:

Q. Had Mr. Abrams been coming out there hunting this fall?

A.  Yes sir. He came sometimes.

Q. Did he bring his gun and go hunting?

A. Yes sir.

Q. He was by himself today?

A. Yes sir, he was by himself.

SHERIFF BLEASE:

Q. Your father and mother had gone to town before he came?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. You and the rest of the children were at home?

A. Yes sir. That’s all.

CALVIN CHAPLAIN being duly sworn says:

Examination by Sheriff C. G. BLEASE:

Q. You live out on Mr. Hayne H. Abrams Place?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Did you see him when he came out there today?

A.  No sir.

Q. When was the first time you saw him?

A. Not til I came back toward home and he was laying there.

Q. What time was that?

A. It was between 1 and 2 o’clock when I saw him.

Q. Was it about 1 or 2?

A. I don’t know exactly. I didn’t have time to look at a watch or anything.

Q. Where had you been?

A. I had been hunting.

Q. Where did you see Mr. Abrams?

A. Where you all saw him – in the lane.

Q. What was that lane?

A.  Hog Lane.

Q. He was lying in the lane?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. At the fence?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. What kind of fence – wire fence?

A.  Yes sir. A barbed wire fence at the top and hog wire at the bottom.

Q. You saw where Mr. Abrams was lying?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. How was he lying?

A.  On his back.

Q. Where was his gun?

A.  The gun was under his hand.

Q. Was the left leg of his pants torn?

A. I didn’t have time to notice.

Q. What did you do when you first saw Mr. Abrams?

A.  When I first saw him it scared me.

Q. What did you do? Did you cross the fence where he was lying?

A. I went to the house.

Q. What did you do then?

A.  Got on a horse and came to town.

Q. What did you do then? Did you notify Mrs. Abrams?

A.  No sir.

Q. Did you notify Mr. Leitzsey?

A.  No sir.

Q. Your father notified him?

A.  Yes sir.

Question from the JURY:

Q. Was Mr. Leitzsey in the sheriff’s office?

Answer by SHERIFF BLEASE:     No, he was in the bank.

DR. J. K. WICKER being duly sworn says:

Q. Did you examine the body of Mr. Abrams?

A.  I examined the body today at 3:22

Q. What conditions did you find?

A.  Gunshot wound in the upper portion of his abdomen. After examining the body, decided that he had been dead
     between two and four hours. There were powder burns on his clothes and skin.

Question from the JURY:

Q. Doctor – would that wound produce instant death?

A.  It would cause death anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes.

SHERIFF C. G. BLEASE being duly sworn says:

I am the sheriff of this county. Along with Mr. Leitzsey, State Constable and D. J. Taylor, Deputy Sheriff, I went to the scene where Mr. Abrams body was lying about 2:45 this afternoon, in the position the jury saw it lying. In connection with the physical facts that I found there, it is my opinion and also of the other officers with me including the coroner, that Mr. Abrams was killed by an accidental discharge of his gun.

Question from the JURY:

Q. Sheriff, we take it that you viewed the surroundings there?

A.  That statement is based on these surroundings and across the fence.

Certificate of Dr. John Kieffer Wicker MD

I examined the body of Mr. Hayne Abrams and found that he came to his death due to a gunshot wound of the upper left part of his abdomen.                    December 14, 1929                          John K. Wicker  MD

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at the T. J. Davenport and Wallace Place in the County and State aforesaid, the 30th day of December A. D., one thousand nine hundred and twenty nine before I. H. Wilson, Coroner, upon view of the body of JOE WADE PITTS of Laurens County SC then and there being dead by the oaths of T. J. Davenport, M. M. Livingston, Carrol Brehmer, Henry Swindler, William Cannon, G. F. Buford being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and sworn to inquire, for the state of South Carolina, where and by what means the said JOE WADE PITTS came to his death, upon their oaths, do say that the said JOE WADE PITTS came to his death from a gun shot wound at the hands of L. C. Gary. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid JOE WADE PITTS came to his death by means and manner aforesaid.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, I. H. Wilson Coroner aforesaid, and the jurors aforesaid, to this inquisition, have set our hands and seals, the day and year aforesaid.

/s/ I. H. Wilson, Coroner (L.S.)

/s/ T. J. Davenport, foreman (L.S.)

/s/ W. T. Cannon (L.S.)                                                       /s/ M. M. Livingston (L.S.)

/s/ J. H. Swindler(L.S.)                 /s/ C. M. Brehmer (L.S.)    /s/ G. F. Buford (L.S.)

TESTIMONY

ANNIE WILLIAMS sworn says:

Joe Wade Pitts and Ma were just walking along there, the road, and Bessie Anderson called me. I did not know what she wanted. I told her I could not come and L. C. Gary came to Bessie Anderson’s house. I did not say anything to him. L. C. Gary came out to the road where we were and shot at me when he was about 30 yards from me in the road and then came on to the road and shot Joe Wade Pitts twice. I know that Joe Wade Pitts did not have a pistol or gun of any kind but did have a knife. Joe Wade Pitts was shot twice before and cut by L. C. Gary. L. C. Gary sent for me three times by Eli Lake [Leake] at River Zion Church and L. C. Gary wrote a note to me and said he was mad with me for not coming to see what he wanted. L. C. Gary told me at Newberry Christmas Eve that he was going to kill me if I did not quit going with Joe Wade Pitts and go back with him. L. C. Gary shot Joe Wade Pitts one time after Joe Wade Pitts had cut him. L. C. Gary reloaded his pistol to shoot him the last time. Joe Wade walked 4 or 5 steps before he fell. This happened in Newberry County.                                                                ANNIE WILLIAMS


 

ELI LEAKE sworn says:

I was cutting wood at Neut Anderson’s house when I saw Annie Williams and Joe Wade Pitts pass there. They had passed about three minutes when I heard the shot. I was about 75 yards from them. L. C. Gary called Annie Williams and told her to meet him. L.C. Gary was at Bessie Anderson’s house when he called Annie and told her to meet him and then I heard the shots and I looked and saw Joe Wade Pitts falling and L. C. Gary was coming up the road. I know L. C. Gary did shoot Joe Wade Pitts.                                                               ELI LEAKE (X)

JAMES CUNNINGHAM sworn says:

I was sitting in Furman Anderson’s house on the side of the fireplace, a window was on that side. I saw Joe Wade Pitts and Annie Williams come down the road but could not see them after they passed the window. L. C. Gary left Furman Anderson’s house where I was and after L. C. Gary left the house I heard a shot made and Bessie Anderson says, “James, go and stop L. C. Gary and Joe Wade Pitts.” When I got out of the house and started across the field they were fighting and before I got there – there was more shooting by L. C. Gary and I turned and ran back to Bessie Anderson’s house and then ran across the field to Estelle Anderson’s house. I did not see Joe Wade Pitts. L. C. Gary got in Eli Leake’s car and I got in the car and L. C. Gary says, “I believe I am cut to death.” Then we went on to Mr. Bedenbaugh’s and L. C. Gary stopped the car and got out. I brought the car back home. L. C. Gary said, “Joe Wade Pitts cut me.” He did not tell me what the trouble was about. L. C. Gary was the only man I saw with a pistol at the time of the scuffle.                                                                                    JAMES CUNNINGHAM

BESSIE ANDERSON sworn says:

I was standing in my house door and saw Joe Wade Pitts and Annie Williams and L.C. Gary told me to call Annie Williams and I called her and told her to step here a minute and Annie says, “I can’t come.” L.C. Gary ran out of my door and called Annie Williams and told her to meet him. L. C. Gary pulled his pistol out and ran across the field towards Annie Williams and Joe Wade Pitts. L. C. Gary made one shot and I ran back in the house and told James to stop them. I saw L. C. Gary when he shot and he had his pistol pointed towards Joe Wade Pitts and Annie Williams. L.C. Gary was about 30 yards from Joe Wade Pitts when he shot the first time. When I got back in the house I heard several more shots and when I looked out of the house again Joe Wade Pitts was falling. L. C. Gary got in Eli Leake’s car and tossed around and went towards Clinton. This happened in Newberry County.     BESSIE ANDERSON

Doctor’s Certificate:

This is to certify that I have held a post mortem this day December 30th 1929 on the body of Joe Wade Pitts and found three penetrating wounds, anyone of which would have caused death. Descriptions of wounds are:

#1 entrance 4 inches from the spine on the left side on a line 2 inches below the left nipple – direction of wound was center of the body, no exit

#2 entrance 2 inches from the left of the navel and 1 inch above – direction towards the center of the body, no exit

#3 entrance 1½ inches above the promontory of the Ilium and 1 inch to the right side of the abdomen – direction to wound was center of the body                                                                T. J. POAKE  MD

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at the Oakland Mill Office in the County and State aforesaid, the 6th day of February A. D., one thousand nine hundred and 30 before I. H. Wilson, Coroner, upon view of the body of MRS. GUSSIE SEAWRIGHT of Newberry County SC then and there being dead by the oaths of G. C. Queen, J. T. Thompson, T. N. Parks, H. W. Thomas, B. M. Hughes, J. P. Davenport being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and sworn to inquire, for the state of South Carolina, where and by what means the said MRS. GUSSIE SEAWRIGHT came to his death, upon their oaths, do say that the said MRS. GUSSIE SEAWRIGHT came to her death by pistol shot wounds at the hands of her husband Mr. Fred Seawright on Feb. 5th 1930. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid MRS. GUSSIE SEAWRIGHT came to her death by means and manner aforesaid.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, I. H. Wilson Coroner aforesaid, and the jurors aforesaid, to this inquisition, have set our hands and seals, the day and year aforesaid.

/s/ I. H. Wilson, Coroner (L.S.)

/s/ G. C. Queen, foreman (L.S.)

/s/ T. N. Parks (L.S.)                                                           /s/ Ben M. Hughes (L.S.)

/s/ J. T. Thompson (L.S.)             /s/ J. P. Davenport (L.S.)             /s/ H. W. Thomas (L.S.)


 

TESTIMONY taken Feb. 6, 1930

MRS. EVA HAIR being duly sworn says:

MR. BLEASE:

Q. Mrs. Hair, you live in Newberry County?

A. Yes sir.

Q. You live on the Oakland Mill Village?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Where do you live in relation to Mrs. Seawright?

A. In a house just across the road.

Q. Were you at home yesterday afternoon, February 5th, 1930?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Tell in your own language just what you know about this matter.

A. I was on my back porch when I heard a shot and heard someone screaming and saw the woman running from her front porch and fell in the yard and her little boy ran out to her. I ran out to her and her little boy begged me to help her up.

Q. What did you do?

A. I just turned her over.

Q. Who was screaming?

A. I don’t know. It was Mrs. Seawright or Mr. Seawright’s mother. I don’t know which.

Q. Did you see her running?

A. Yes. I saw her running off the porch and into the yard where she fell.

Q. Where did Mrs. Seawright fall?

A. Out there right by the tree in her yard.

Q. How far from the house was she when she fell?

Q. I could not say.

Q. As far as from here to the mill?

A. No sir.

Q. As far as from here to that car out there?

A.  No sir.

Q. Well, how far then?

A. I would say a few steps.

Q. What did you do when you got there?

A. When I got there I just turned her over and she kind of gasped for breath, that was all.

Q. She made not statement?

A. No sir, she did not say a thing. She just kinda gasped for breath.

Q. You say her little boy was there?

A.  Yes sir.

MRS. HATTIE HENDRIX being duly sworn says:

MR. BLEASE:

Q. You live in Newberry County?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. On the Oakland Mill Village?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Were you at home yesterday?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Tell in your own language what you know about this matter.

A.  Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on my front porch in the swing when I heard the first shot that was fired and heard someone screaming. I jumped up in the swing and looked up the street to see what it was. I saw Mrs. Seawright running and then she fell. I got out of the swing and went running up there, me and Mrs. Hair. When we got there we turned her over and she gasped for breath. Her little girl was there. And in a few minutes we picked her up and laid her on the porch.

Q. Did you see Mr. Seawright?

A. No sir.

Q. Did you see the shooting?

A.  No sir.

Q. Do you know who shot her?

A.  No sir.

FRANK HARRY McCONNELL being duly sworn says:

MR.BLEASE:

Q. McConnell, where do you live?

A.  I live at Oakland.

Q. Where do you work?

A.  I work in the card room.

Q. In the same room where Seawright worked?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Did you see Mr. Seawright yesterday?

A. Yes sir. I saw him sometime between 2:30 and 3 o’clock after he left the mill.

Q. Where did you see him at?

A. Here at the mill. He came back.

Q. He came back to the mill after he had left?

A. Yes sir. It was sometime after 2:00 because I had looked at the clock a little before 2:00 and after a while I went to get Carl Hudgens to go to get a dope. Mr. Wilhite, the man who runs the commissary, was not in right then. We waited around a few minutes and I went back to see about my work. It must have been about 3:00 because the man who comes around about three had just passed and Carl Hudgens and I went back to get a dope. We saw Mr. Wilhite in the shop room and went to get him when Mr. Seawright came into the mill. He walked up and said, “Hello Frank” and I said, “Hello Fred”. He said, “Frank, let me have your gun. I am going to Greenwood and it will be about 1 o’clock before I get back and I don’t want anyone holding me up.” I asked him in a joking way who he was going to shoot and he said no one. He asked me if the cook would let him have my gun and I told him I did not know.

Q. Did you have any idea that he was going to shoot anybody?

A.  No sir. I suppose he went to my house and got my gun. I did not know anything about it until someone told me that he had killed his wife.

Q. What kind of pistol have you?

A.  25 German Option

Q. Was the pistol full of bullets?

A. I could not say but I do not think so. I would say between three and five.

Q. How many cartridges does it carry

A.  Seven.

Q. Carries seven in the magazine and one in the chamber?

A.  I think it is six in the magazine and one in the chamber. I always keep my pistol in one drawer and the magazine in
     the other to keep the children from getting them.

Q. Did you know what he wanted with your gun?

A.  No sir.

Q. Did Mr. Seawright ever talk to you or intimated in any way that he was going to kill anyone?

A.  No sir. He did not.

Q. Do you know that Mr. Seawright and his wife were ever separated?

A.  Yes sir. They were separated before Christmas and it was four or five days before I knew that they were separated.

Q. He did not tell you that he was going to hurt his wife?

A.  No sir.

Q. Or anybody else?

A.  No sir.

JURY:

Q. Mr. Seawright was your friend?

A.  Yes.

Q. Do you know of any reason why he should want to hurt his wife?

A.  No.

MR. BLEASE.

Q. You had no idea for any reason to think that he wanted your gun to shoot anyone with?

A.  No sir. I have lived by Mr. Seawright for around two years and I do not know of any reason why he should want to hurt his wife or anybody.

L. A. DAVENPORT being duly sworn says:

MR. BLEASE:

Q. Davenport – where do you live?

A.  I live at First Street at Oakland Mill.

Q. You were on the Village yesterday afternoon?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Do you know anything about the matter of Mrs. Seawright getting killed?

A.  When I got there they had carried her body on the porch and then we carried her in the back room and put her on the bed. Mr. Seawright was sitting on a chair and I asked him what had happened and he didn’t say anything except shake his head.

Q. Do you know who shot Mrs. Seawright?

A.  No sir.

JURY:

Q. Mr. Davenport, did you see Mrs. Seawright running from the house?

A.  No. I did not see her running in the house or in the yard. When I got there they had already put her on the porch.

TOMMY MIMS being duly sworn says:

MR.BLEASE:

Q. Where do you live?

A.  Hunt Street, Oakland Mill.

Q. Oakland Mill and Newberry County?

A.  Yes Sir.

Q. Were you here yesterday?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Tell in your own language what you know about the matter.

A.  About 15 or 20 minutes after 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon I had started to the mill. I work in the mill at night and as I walking along near the corner I heard some screaming. I thought it was some children up that way playing but said to Percy Brigman that they were making a lot of fuss. Then I heard one shot and of course I did not have any idea that it was a pistol. I did not know what it was. I stood still a minute or two and then I heard two more shots. I went running up that way and met Mrs. Hendrix and Mrs. Hair and saw the body of the woman laying in the yard. Mrs. Hendrix and Mrs. Hair went up to the woman and turned her over.

Q. How was she laying? On her face or back?

A.  She was laying on her face. We turned her over and she seemed to be still breathing so Mrs. Hendrix, Mrs. Hair and myself picked her up and started to go in the house and someone said that Mr. Seawright wasn’t dead and that he might shoot us if we went in. That it was dangerous for us to go in the house. We turned around and started to carry her in Mr. Wooten’s house, but he wouldn’t let us bring her in. Then we carried her back and put her on Mr. Seawright’s porch and I looked in and saw Mr. Seawright sitting in the room in a chair so I took her and laid her on the steps and put the floor mat under her head and then I ran to the store and called the sheriff. I got back before the sheriff got there and Dr. Smith was standing on the porch. We decided to take her on in the house and Dr. Smith and I picked her up and carried her in the house and put her in the back room.

Q. Where was Seawright?

A. He was sitting in a chair.

Q. Did you see the pistol?

A.  No sir, I did not see the pistol at first. I looked around the room for it and after Mr. Quattlebaum came I looked up
     on the mantel and saw it laying up there. I told Mr. Quattlebaum that the pistol was on the mantel and he took it.

PERCY BRIGMAN being duly sworn says:

MR. BLEASE:

Q. Brigman, you live here on the mill village?

A.  Yes sir.

Q. Were you here yesterday afternoon?

A.  Yes sir, going home from the mill after stopping time.

Q. Then in your own language tell what you know about the matter.

A.  I do not know so very much about it. I was going from the mill when I heard a noise up that way and thought it was some children playing. I head one shot, but do not remember whether I heard the others or not. I looked to see what it was and Mrs. Hendrix called me to come to her. I thought it was fire. I did not know what it was. When I got there the lady was laying in the yard and when they picked her up to carry her in the house I picked her head up and when we got to the steps and someone said it was dangerous to go in the house I turned her head closed and went back in the crowd. That is all I know.

Q. You do not know who shot her?

A.  No sir.


 

MR. CANNON G. BLEASE being duly sworn says:

I talked to Mr. Fred Seawright in the Newberry County Hospital this morning, Feb. 6, 1930. I asked him did he know me and he said he did. I asked him did he shoot his wife in the house or out of the house. He told me that he shot her in the house. I did not ask him any more questions.

This is to certify that I have examined the body of Mrs. Gussie Seawright, deceased, and find that death was caused by a gunshot wound entering the left side of the chest between the 6th and 7th ribs and entering the heart.

Newberry, SC                   February 6, 1930                                                                 T. W. SMITH  MD

 

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