Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: murder

He was foully dealt with.

MURDER. — On Sunday morning last, the body of a free colored man, named Michael Knight, was found near Sandy Plain church, in this county, under circumstances that lead to believe that he had been foully dealt with. He was entirely nude, excepting socks upon his feet, and his body was horribly mangled, having been badly beaten with a stick, and his neck dislocated. Coroner A. Nixon held an inquest on Monday, before whom evidence was brought to light pointing to two white men as the perpetrators of this deed. The evidence, however, is wholly circumstantial. We suppress the names of the accused for the present, understanding that warrants are in the hands of the proper officers for their arrest. So far as we can understand there are no extenuating circumstances for the perpetration of this horrible deed.

The Argus, Wadesboro, 16 February 1860.

For the murder of Archibald Beebee.

MATTHEW N. LEARY, jr., a witness for the prosecution, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:

Examined by the Counsel for the prosecution.

Q. What is your name? A. Matthew N. Leary, jr.  Q. Where do you reside? A. In Fayetteville. Q. What is your occupation in Fayetteville? A. Saddle and harness maker was previous to the war. Since the war I have added to that a small grocery in the same building. A. Have you been a free man all your life? A. All my life, sir.  Q. Where did you reside in the beginning of the year 1867? A. In Fayetteville. Q. Did you know one Archy Beebee there? A. I did, sir, by sight. I knew him when I saw him. Q. Where is he now? A. Dead. Q. When was he killed? A. On the 11th of February. … [p. 3]

ROBERT SIMMONS, a witness for the prosecution, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:

What is your name? Robert Simmons. Where do you live? In Fayetteville, sir. What is your occupation there? I keep a grocery there. Was that your occupation at the beginning of the year? Yes, sir. Did you know Archy Beebee? Yes, sir. … [p. 47]

HENRY HAGANS, a witness for the prosecution, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:

Examined by the Counsel for the prosecution.

Where did you live at the beginning of this year? In Fayetteville. What is your business there? Shoemaker. Whose shop did you work in, the first part of this year? I worked with Mr. Henry Sykes. Is that the one-armed man? Yes, sir. Did you know Archy Beebee? Yes, sir. … [p. 55]


… Here is Matthew N. Leary, jr., whose character is unassailed, and unassailable, who says – he was standing to the right of the man who fired the pistol, and his rear, about five feet. … Between Leary and the man who fired his pistol, stood Lewis Smith. Square behind [John] Armstrong – almost touching him – and within five feet or six feet of the man who fired the pistol, stood Henry Hagans; a little further to the front than James Douglass, and to his left stood Robert Simmons… [p.347]

Proceedings in the Case of the United States against Duncan G. McRae, William J. Tolar, David Watkins, Samuel Phillips and Thomas Powers, for the Murder of Archibald Beebee at Fayetteville, North Carolina on the 11th Day of February, 1867, together with the Argument of Ed. Graham Haywood, Special Judge Advocate (1867).

In the 1860 census of Fayetteville, Cumberland County: D. Simmons, 40, Robert, 23, Saml., 20, and Mary Simmons, 12.

In the 1860 census of Fayetteville, Cumberland County: Joseph Heggins, 51, laborer, wife Harriett, 31, and children Henry, 13, Duncan, 9, Lavina, 7, Sophia, 5, and Mary, 3.

Outrageous murder.

An outrageous murder was committed about 3 miles from Weldon, N.C, on the evening of the 11th inst., by a free negro, named John Brown, on the body of James Smith, a very worthy young white man. Brown made his escape, but the Petersburg (Va.) Intelligencer understands he has been arrested in that place and taken back.

Baltimore Sun, 17 March 1848.

Sentenced to be hung.

DAVID VALENTINE, a free man of color, convicted at the late Term of Guilford Superior Court, of the murder of Mrs. West and her grand son, in Davidson County, was sentenced to be hung Friday, the 19th instant.

Raleigh Register, 6 November 1847.

[Sidenote: is this the same David Valentine as in the linked post? — LYH]

They found him in a contuse situation.


HORRID MURDER. – An atrocious murder was committed near New-Market, Bertie county, on Saturday the 26th ult. on the person of Mr. James Hayes – It appears that Hayes went in the morning in the field in which his servants were at work, and did not return as usual. – His family could not learn the cause of his unusual absence, & on Thursday they suspected he must have been put to death. The neighbourhood was alarmed and a general search was made for him. They had been gone but a few minutes before they found him scarcely covered, and in a very contuse situation – The servants were immediately apprehended and examined – One of them, a woman, said that Anthony Wiggins, a mulatto, had murdered him and in conjunction with two others had deposited him away, and declared if she ever told they would take her life. Wiggins is a free man, but in consequence of some incident had given his indentured to Hayes for life, and it is supposed it was a preconcerted plan in order to recover his freedom – The whole of them are in Windsor jail, and undubitably will receive death as an atonement for their enormous crime.   New-Market, June 1, 1810.

Star, Raleigh, 7 June 1810.

Cocks fight; man dies.

Halifax, April 16.

Murder. – On Tuesday last, an inquest was held in this town on the body of Samuel Horne, a free colored man, who died the preceding day. From the Coroner’s report it appears that on Sunday last Edward Jones, a shoemaker, residing in this place, saw two chicken-cocks fighting near his house; he caught one and threatened to shoot the other, which Samuel Horne, the deceased, begged him not to do; upon this Jones ordered him out of the house, and swore if he did not go he would kill him, and immediately looked about for his shoe knife; the deceased went off, was pursued and stabbed by Jones. The wound was afflicted just above the collar bone on the left side of the neck, passing obliquely across the breast, cutting the windpipe, puncturing the swallow, and dividing important blood-vessels. Jones was immediately taken in to custody, and is now in jail awaiting his trial.  Free Press.

Hillsborough Recorder, 28 April 1824.

He died instantly.

Henry Hays, a free man of color, was shot in Fayetteville, a few days since, by John Russel, a white man. Hays died instantly, and Russel was imprisoned. – ib.

Tarboro’ Press, 16 November 1839.

His skull was shockingly fractured.

Attempt to Murder. – On Monday evening last, the citizens of the very heart of our town were alarmed by loud cries of Murder! On repairing to the spot, it was found that a coloured man named Ephraim Hammond, had been struck on the head with a brick, by which his skull was shockingly fractured. Suspicion having attached to two white men, named Frederick Jones and Allen Rowell, they were taken up, and after examination, fully committed for trial. There is little or no hope of Hammond’s surviving the injury.  Fayetteville Observer.

Tarboro’ Press, 2 February 1838.

Killer escaped.


Last night Harris Allen, who was committed for the murder of John James, a free mulatto, of Northampton county, made his escape from the gaol of this town. He is remarkable tall man, and had on a short round jacket. It is hoped the officers of justice and others, will be vigilant in their endeavours to apprehend and bring him to condign punishment.

North-Carolina Journal, Halifax, 20 March 1793.

Horrible outrage.


Three Radicals Murder a Negro, His Wife and Four Children in Their Own Home.

The House Burned to Conceal the Crime – A Mother’s Devotion – The Woman Alarms Neighbors and Secures the Arrest of the Murderers.

RALEIGH, N.C., May 2, 1871.

The Sentinel of to-day has a correspondence from Rutherford Court House, which give the details of one of THE MOST HORRIBLE OUTRAGES that has ever shocked human ears. The perpetrators of the deed are radicals, though it partakes of the nature of Ku Klux Klan outrages. Six souls were, without a word of warning, ushered into eternity, and their slaughtered bodies afterwards consumed in the flames of their burning home. The outrage occurred in Morgan township, on the border of McDowell county, and is as follows:

Silas Weston, a free negro before the war, has for many years been living with Polly Steadman, a white woman of loose character. Polly has or had four children, white, the oldest about fourteen, the youngest nearly two years of age.

SILAS AND POLLY lived peaceably together, and were in better circumstances than most of their class. Some time ago three notorious characters – Govan and Columbus Adair and M. Bernard – were charged with the theft of a quantity of brandy and bound over at McDowell County Court. Silas had seen the thieves carrying off the booty, and was subpoenaed as the principal witness for the prosecution. The Adairs threatened his life if he peached but Silas expressed a determination to bring the rogues to justice. What we now proceed to tell is THE SWORN DEPOSITION of the woman Polly Steadman: — On Wednesday evening, April 26, shortly after nightfall, while the family were preparing to retire to peaceful repose, the dog began to bark violently. Polly, looking through chinks between the logs, received a pistol bullet in the eye. With a wild scream she sprang back, and at that instant the door was broken down and in rushed Govan Adair, Columbus Adair and Bernard FIRING AS THEY CAME. Silas fell dead, with two balls in the head. One of the assassins stood over the children as they lay upon the floor, shooting them through the head like so many pigs. Polly stopped to creep under the bed, but was flung back. Then she began to fight like a tigress. One of the butchers attacked her with a knife. Finally, with five deep cuts on the body, with her throat deeply gashed and a pistol shot through the eye, this poor creature sank to the floor and was kicked into a pile of broom straw preparatory to THE GRAND AUTO DA FE.  Meanwhile every voice in the family had been stilled. Six lifeless bodies lay on the bloody floor – the old man on the hearth, the mother haggled in pieces on the straw, and the children in their night clothes, lying where they fell – all had been jostled by rude feet. The fiends contemplated their work, to make sure it had been done thoroughly, and prepared to hide their tracks. Piling up clothing, straw and other combustible matter they applied the match, and then, with an ineffaceable stain on their souls, fled away into the darkness.

A MOTHER’S DEVOTION. And now occurred what may well sound marvelous. Polly Steadman, scorched by the flames, arouses herself, seizes her youngest child, who gives signs of life, and, crawling towards the door, tries to drag out another child, but nature fails, and the body lies just outside the threshold; then, with supernatural strength, Polly staggers the distance of half a mile to the residence of Mrs. Williams, and gives THE ALARM. It is too late. Three bleached skeletons grin from the ashes,, and a blistered corpse lay without the door.  As soon as possible messengers were dispatched for Sheriff Walker and for medical assistance; but before either arrived, Polly, supposing herself in the last agony of death, solemnly testified against the murderers. She knew them well; they were her near neighbors, and were not disguised. Her testimony was so clear and positive it carried conviction to all who heard it. Accordingly Squire Hanes promptly issued a warrant for THE ARREST of the suspected parties. They were found at home, one of them in bed, though late in the day. Sheriff Walker arrived shortly afterward and conveyed the prisoners to this place, where they are closely confined. Commenting on this horrible affair, it is proper to state with emphasis that all the parties are of the lowest order of society, and that all of them, the slain and the slayers, are radicals of the deepest dye. The Adairs for years have attended the polls for no other purpose than to insult and intimidate conservative voters. So “trooly loil” were they that even with murder in their hearts they sought to make the deed redound for the benefit of the party.

Reading Eagle, Reading, Pennsylvania, 4 May 1871.

In the 1860 census of Catheys Creek, Rutherford County: Cinthia Weston, 41, (described as “idiotic”), Elizabeth, 32, Stephen, 21, and Silas Weston, 20. In the 1870 census of Morgan, Rutherford County: Silus Western 50, farmer, wife Mary, 25, and children Harberd, 10, Docia, 6, David, 4, and Mary, 7 months. Silus, Harberd and baby Mary were described as mulatto; Mary, Docia, and David as white. Nearby, the large household of James H. and Arminta Adair, which included sons Columbus, 26, and Govan, 24.