Hickman County, TN

Newspaper Articles

 

TERRIBLE TRAGEDY

 

A Citizen of Hickman and Several Mormons Killed in Lewis County

 

The Most Horrible Shooting Affair on Record in this Country

 

(Published in The Hickman Pioneer, Friday, August 15, 1884)

 

 

 

The most horrible tragedy known in the annals of the quiet little county of Lewis occurred on last Sunday.  The particulars of the startling affair are about as follows:

 

For three or four years the Mormon missionaries have been preaching in Lewis and adjoining counties, and had succeeded in making several converts in the neighborhood of the tragedy and established a church there.  The Mormon elders had been notified to quit the neighborhood and had refused to do so.  Things went on thus until last Sunday morning, at which time there was a Mormon meeting for the purpose of preaching at the house of James Condor, an old citizen and Mormon convert, on the east prong of Cane Creek, in the edge of Lewis near the Hickman county line, and close to the mouth of slippery branch.  About 11 o'clock that morning a party of masqued men appeared at Condor's armed with guns.  About a dozen rode up to the yard fence and three alighted and went in.   When they entered Condor's son, a young man, Martin Condor, had a gun and refused to give it up and in the scuffle to get it from him one of the masquers was struck over the head with the gun.  The party who was struck then drew a pistol and shot young Condor dead, and the three turned upon the Mormon preachers and killed two of them, the third and only remaining one in the meantime taking to flight out at the back door or window, but several shots were fired at him by the masqued crowd outside and as he has not been heard of since it is supposed that he too was killed.  In the shooting Mrs. Condor, the woman of the house, was shot (accidentally, it is thought) in the thigh.  The woman was badly though perhaps not fatally wounded.  After the killing of young Condor and the two Mormon elders the three men turned to leave the house when young John Riley Hutson, a half brother to young Condor, took up a shot gun and fired at the one who killed young Condor, but he missed his aim and fatally shot another in the back between the shoulders.  The dead masquer proved to be Dave Hinson, a prominent citizen of upper Beaverdam in Hickman county.  When young Hutson shot Hinson he turned to run out at the back door but before he could get out the man who shot Condor turned and shot him dead also.  The masqued party then left Condor's house, taking Hinson, their dying comrade with them.  Hinson died in about two hours after and was buried on Monday.  The two Mormon preachers killed at Condor's were named Gibbs and Berry, the name of the one who fled from the house is not known.

 

About half a mile above Condor's before the shooting another Mormon elder (name unknown) left T. T. Garrett's going towards Condor's.  Shortly after this the report of guns were heard, and it was supposed he was also killed by some of the mob.  It seems that members of the mob were scattered here and there all over the immediate neighborhood, and the number of disguised men composing it is variously estimated at from fifteen to thirty.

 

As one of the Mormon preachers named Jones was going from Indian creek to Cane creek, on his way to Condor's, he was overtaken by members of the mob, arrested and put in charge of one of the mob, with certain instructions as to the disposal of the prisoner if the firing of guns was heard.  When the report of the guns was heard, Jones begged so piteously and made such earnest promises to leave the country at once, that the party who had him in charge released him and he made his escape without being hurt, Jones passed the house of Wash Mathews, on the headwaters of Beaverdam, in Hickman, about 12 o'clock and asked for water to drink, after drinking a good deal he hurried on, and was next heard of on Short branch (of Swan) enquiring the way to Williamsport.

 

Five men are known to have been killed -- Hinson, Condor, Hutson, and the two Mormon preachers, elders Gibbs and Berry -- and one woman, Mrs. Jim Condor -- shot, besides two other Mormon preachers supposed to have been killed -- all of the parties killed and wounded were Mormons, except Hinson.

 

The affair of course created a great deal of excitement and it is feared that the end of it is not yet.

 

It is thought that it was not originally intended to have any bloodshed and that such a thing was hardly thought of by the mob but it the general opinion that the mob was gotten up to go and arrest the Mormon preachers and take them out and whip them and give orders to leave the country and never return, thereby, as they supposed, suppressing Mormonism in that section.

 

Condor and Hutson, who were killed, were both young men and lived in Lewis where they were killed; the Mormon elders were all missionaries from Utah.   Hinson, lived on Brushy fork of Beaverdam, in Hickman county.  He was a well-known citizen and distinguished for his daring courage and good marksmanship.  He was a jovial man, and liked by all who knew him.  He leaves a wife (formerly Miss Curry, of Perry county) and three children, and aged father and mother, and one brother and two sisters; all nice, clever people, highly respected by all who know them.  His father, George Hinson, is so much distressed over the affair that it is thought he will die from the effects of the shock sustained by hearing of the dreadful news.  He is in bed and very low.

 

No arrest have been made.

 

Later - Since the above was written it has been stated that the preacher seen passing L. T. Garrett's has escaped.

 

As elder Jones passed he stuck up a notice on tree at the forks of the road near Mrs. Peggy Wolverton's on Beaverdam. the notice stating that he had gone on to Shady Grove in this county.  It is supposed that this was done so that if any of his co-workers escaped they would know where to find him.

 

We learn further that on Monday evening the preacher who fled out the back way (name not known) when the shooting was going on was found Monday evening where he had been shot dead with a few hundred yards of Condor's house.

 

Condor's wife is badly wounded and at this writing it is thought will die.  Dr. Plummer of this county, is attending on her.

 

The old man, Jim Condor, at whose house it occurred, is nearly crazy and remains with his wounded wife at home.  He has two daughters, young women, both of whom are still at home.

 

All the dead men were buried on Monday.

 

It is said that inquests were held but the verdicts of the juries are not known.

 

Another version of the affair is that when the masked men halted at Condor's gate the old man (Condor) came out and was arrested by the mob and held there while the three went to the house.  When the masqued men approached the house the women shut the door and held it until it was forced open.

 

On entering the house one of the Mormon preachers, elder Gibbs, was seen holding a small pocket pistol in his hand.  As soon as the mob saw the pistol Gibbs was shot dead and then followed the shooting of elder Berry.  In the melee Mrs. Condor was shot, as stated.  As the three masqued men were leaving the house young Hutson asked his mother (Mrs. Condor) if she was badly hurt and she told him she was.  He then shot at the three men, fatally wounding Dave Hinson, when the two remaining ones turned and killed Hutson and young Condor who  who had picked up and snapped a gun at them.  It said the mob were under the influence of whisky.  These statements are discredited, however, by a great many, who hold to the first as being the true version.

 

It is said to have the bloodiest house imaginable after the affair was over; the blood being spattered over everything and standing nearly an inch deep on the floor.

 

It is now known that six men were killed and one woman wounded.  This is doubtless all.

 

The excitement is subsiding and it is hopeful it will end without any further trouble between the parties.  The members of the mob of course are not known and no arrests have been made.

 

When Hinson fell and the members of the mob were about to leave, the man at whose head _____ ______ ______ shot when he shot Hinson, reloaded his gun and presenting it at his comrades ordered them to come and take up the body of their fallen comrade (Hinson) and carry if off with them; that if they attempted to leave without doing so he would shoot them on the spot.  The order was promptly obeyed and the wounded man was taken off to the woods and laid out and his brother and other kinfolks sent for.

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Since the above was written it has been ascertained that the Mormon preacher who fled out at the back way at Condor's house, and who was found dead on Monday evening, as above stated, was Joseph Love, a citizen of Hickman county, living on the head of Bluebuck, near the Maury county line and who had joined the Mormons (or Latter-Day Saints) sometime ago, and had become a preacher.  He accompanied the Utah elders to Condor's on the fatal Sunday.  Love leaves a wife (also a member of the Mormons) and two or three children.

 

The name of the Mormon elder who passed Garrett's, and who has evidently made good his escape, was Thompson.