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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Black Sheep Sunday - Elijah Harrison Dockery, Jr., Accomplice in Robbery and Ax Murder

Black Sheep Sunday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. To participate in Black Sheep Sunday we create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past” and telling their story. Here is mine:

Nimrod Lunsford married Rebecca Foster and they had a daughter named...
...Lavinia Lunsford who married William Washington Stafford and they had a daughter named...
......Martha Stafford who married Elijah Harrison Dockery Sr. and they had a son named...
.........Elijah Harrison Dockery, Jr.

How am I related to this line? My direct ancestor is Nancy Rebecca Lunsford who married William Hanes Reese (My Great Great Grandparents). Nancy Rebecca Lunsford was the daughter of Nimrod Lunsford, Jr. and Mary Mavis "Polly" Stafford. Nimrod was the brother of Lavinia Lunsford (see above) and son of Nimrod Lunsford, Sr. and Rebecca Foster. (This would mean Nimrod Lunsford, Jr. would have been Elijah Harrison Dockery, Jr.'s Great Uncle.)

This story is about Elijah Harrison Dockery, Jr. aka Lige Dockery.

Elijah "Lige" Dockery was born about 1863 in Wilkes County, North Carolina to Elijah Harrison Dockery, Sr. (DOB: 9/17/1840 in Wilkes County, NC; DOD: 11/8/1925 in Wilkes County, NC) and Mary Stafford (DOB: About 1841 in Alexander County, NC; DOD: ? in ? ). Elijah Harrison Dockery, Sr. was also married to Emily Mariah Watson (DOB: 7/7/1854 in Wilkes County, NC; DOD: 1/18/1944 in Wilkes County, NC) who is mentioned in the newspaper transcript below as Lige Dockery, Jr.'s "stepmother".

1870 U.S. Census of Lewis Fork, Wilkes County, NC, Roll: M593_1165; Page: 313B; Image: 630; Family History Library Film: 552664, Lines 27-29, "Elizah H. Dockery" (sic, should be Elijah H. Dockery), living between Robert and Mary A. Foster and Elijah and Matilda Dyer
Elizah H. Dockery, 29 yrs old (1831), M(ale), W(hite), Shoe & Boot maker, Born in NC
Emily M. Dockery, 14 yrs old (DOB 1856), F, W, Keeping House, Born in NC
Elizah H. Dockery, 8 yrs old (DOB 1862), M, W, At Home, Born in NC

1880 U.S. Census of Lewis Fork, Wilkes County, North Carolina; Roll 987; Family History Film: 1254987; Page: 93B; Enumeration District: 210; Image: 0191, Lines 7-13, "Dockery, E. H."
Dockery, E. H., W(hite), M(ale), 39 yrs old (DOB would be about 1841), Head, Married, Farming, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Dockery, Emely M. (sic), W, F, 25 yrs old (DOB would be about 1855), Wife, Married, Keeping House, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Dockery, Lavenia A., W, F, 9 yrs old (DOB would be about 1871), Daughter, Single, At Home, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Dockery, Martha E., W, F, 6 yrs old (DOB would be about 1874), Daughter, Single, At Home, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Dockery, James L., W, M, 4 yrs old (DOB would be about 1876), Son, At Home, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Dockery, Ritchard M., W, M, 2 yrs old (DOB would be about 1878), Son, At Home, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Dockery, Elijah H., W, M, 17 yrs old (DOB would be about 1863), Son, At Home, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC

Elijah Harrison Dockery died between 1882-1887 because he was sentenced in 1882 to 5 yrs in jail and he died while in the penitentiary. He was in jail for being an accomplice in a robbery and ax murder. See the story below.

*Note1* Both of the defendants' first names (Given names) were Elijah. Elijah Church is almost always referred to as "Lige Church" but Elijah Harrison Dockery is usually referred to as Harrison Dockery but sometimes as Elijah and Lige.
*Note2* Italics mine

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW: 1843-1893), Maitland, Australia, Pg 8
Mob Justice.
Statesville, N C, Dec 17, 1881.
On the 19th of last June the house of James Thompson, of Alexander county, was robbed and his daughter murdered while he was in the field at work. Thompson had the character of being miserly, and was reported to have had a good sum of money treasured about his house. He and his maiden daughter, Caroline, a woman forty years of age, lived together. On the evening of the above mentioned date Thompson returned from his work, to find his daughter, whom he had left alone in charge of the house, stiff in death. She lay in the yard, her skull crushed in by several blows from an axe. Suspecting that robbery had been added to murder, the old man made a hasty examination, and found that all the money he had in the house, amounting to about 900 dollars, had been stolen. The news of the atrocious deed spread quickly, and in a short time mounted men were scouring the country in various directions in search of the murderers. A large number of arrests were made in the first few days succeeding the murder, but the officers were not able to make out a case against any of the suspected persons. Two months ago a young man, named Harrison Dockery, whose home is in Wilkes County, which adjoins Alexander County, but who was at that time working in the County of Alleghany, exhibited a curious coin, which was identified by someone who had been reading in the local papers of the Thompson case as a coin which had been stolen from Thompson. Being questioned, Dockery stated that he had received the coin from Elijah Church, a man of desperate character, an ex-convict, also a citizen of Wilkes. Dockery was placed under arrest, but all efforts to capture Church were unavailing until a month later, when he was taken by his brother-in-law and delivered to the Sheriff of Alexander county. Meanwhile Dockery had confessed everything. He and Church had conspired to rob Thompson's house and did so. The robbery consummated, they had started away with their booty when Caroline Thompson said to Church : "I know you; you are Lije Church, of Wilkes county." They went a short distance when Church remarked to his companion that it would never do to leave that woman alive knowing him as she did. They therefore returned to the house and murdered Caroline, as already described. Dockery's recital kindled afresh the passions of the people, and a few nights after his incarceration in Taylorsville Jai,l a crowd gathered around it for the purpose of lynching him. The entreaties of the citizens served, however, to save the life of the prisoner, and the day following the Sheriff conveyed him across the Catawba River and confined him in Newton Jail, where it was supposed he would be safer. There Church remained until half-past ten o'clock at night, when a crowd of about twenty determined men rode up to the jail under the bright light of the full moon and demanded the keys of the jailer. He demurred at first, but finally yielded. The party conveyed Church to a point a mile and a half from the town. Two surgeons, who heard of the visit to the jail, followed the direction the visitors had taken, and found the dead body of Church hanging from the limb of a tree on the side of the road.

Mar 17 1882
As Accessory to the Murder of Caroline Thompson
The Evidence of Dockery and Other Witnesses
On Wednesday at 11 o'clock the trial of Ephraim Davis, of Wilkes county, as accessory before the fact to the murder of Miss Thompson, of Alexander, on the 10th of June last, was begun. The principals in this murder will be remembered to be Elijah Church (aka Lige Church) and Harrison Dockery (Elijah Harrison Dockery, aka Lige). Church was taken from the Newton jail last October and hanged. Dockery made a confession while in the Taylorsville (Taylorsville, Alexander County, NC) jail, and having submitted to the charge, appeared of this trial as a witness for the State.

James Thompson was the first witness examined: On the 10th of June I was plowing in a field near home. Returned about sundown, and found my daughter, Caroline, lying at the door murdered. Her head was cut with an ax, and the ax was lying near, covered with blood. My chest was broken open, the clothes scattered over the floor, and something over $600 in money was stolen. I found several bruises on the back of her head. There was blood on the floor and on the gun. (A piece of money was handed the witness which he examined and pronounced by reason of certain marks, part of the money stolen.) Before this I found a satchel with some biscuits in it near my house in the woods.

Thomas Adams: I am brother-in-law of the deceased. Lige Church stayed at my house one night some time before the murder of Miss Thompson. I saw the deceased the morning after she was killed; saw one large cut in the back of her head and several slighter cuts. Saw drops of blood over the house and on the gun.

Harrison Dockery: I am nineteen years old (His DOB would have been 1863). I lived in Wilkes county last year. On the 9th of June I started with Lige Church from Wilkes county. We went to George Thornburg's that day. I left Church down below the house in a thicket. Church said it would not do for us both to go to the house together. I got my dinner and two day's rations of provisions. We stayed there until dark, then went to the spring house and got a crock of milk. After we had eaten supper we started across the Brushy mountains.

Got to old man Thompson's just before daylight. Watched the old man go out to plough. After he left in the afternoon we went to the house and found a woman standing in the kitchen door. Church asked for the old man's money, after addressing her. She said he had no right to the money, but Church said, "you might as well bring it out. I am going to have it." They then went over to the big house. I heard her ask him his name. He replied, "I am Lige Church." She told him he was the man who stayed at Thomas Adams' when they carried him to the penitentiary. Church came out with his hands full of greenbacks.

We went 25 or 30 yards when Church stopped and said, "by G-d, it won't do to leave things undone that way." I stayed awhile and then went back fearing that he might kill her. I found him striking her with an ax. She was lying on the ground. I had on a checkered shirt, brown pants and blue jacket. Church had on a white shirt and brown pants. We both had on boots. My boots were split in the instep. There was some blood on Church's shirt; he spit on it and tried to rub it out. We then started on and came to a little branch and knelt down to drink.

Church said the woman took down a gun to shoot him when he went back. Church took out a 20 dollar gold piece. We went on a piece when we came to another branch and Church left me, taking a large pocket book, bag of silver and bundle of papers. Would not tell me where he was going. He was gone about half an hour. He brought back some of the silver. Church then pulled off his shirt and put on a checkered one and put the other in his satchel. We then started on towards the Brushy Mountains. Went along the East side of Rocky Face Mountain.

We saw a man named Parker at a house in the Brushy Mountains. We asked the way and the course to John Adams'. I was standing with one foot upon the step and asked for some water. Church told him his name was Thompkins. I did not tell my name. We went on by another house and soon struck the graded road, and in about a mile came to John Adams'. It was pretty late at night. Church stuck a switch in at the jamb of the chimney and Adams came out. Church said, " by G-d, I raised him." Adams said, "it was a fine thing." They took the money up above the house, and I heard Adams ask Church what became of the woman, and told him he must be careful and not be caught. Church said, "never mind the woman, she will never bother anybody."

We then went down the road and built up a fire, and put down three sacks of money. After a while Adams picked up one sack, started back to the house and bid us good night. While there, Adams and Church, went out to one side and talked. I had never seen him before, but I recognized his voice in Taylorsville jail before I saw him the next time, and told Pink Thompson so. From Adams' we went over three hundred yards, stopped a while, and then went on about a mile and a half, and then went up a little branch and stayed till morning. The next morning we went on up to our old neighborhood on the Yadkin. About a week afterwards we crossed the mountain again.

We slept in the lap of a tree on the mountain the night before we robbed old man Redman in Iredell. I saw Redman pass along the road while I was lying in the fence corner. As soon as he passed we rushed on to the house and got $168. After that we struck for the mountain, got lost, and went to a man's house by the name of Ball. Before night we went on and got lost again, and came to a man's house by the name of Sloop. We hired him to show us the way out. When we got home we stayed around till Sunday. On Saturday, June 11th, we hid our shirts and my old coat in a pile of rails. We forgot to hide my boots at the time we hid my clothes, but remembering that Parker looked very carefully at them while at his house, we concluded to hide them too, and did so by an old log on Henry Ellis' land. (Here the coat, the two shirts and boots were produced, examined and recognized as the clothes they wore to Thompson's.)

After we got home from Redman's we hid the Thompson money in a hole under a root. I got $55 of the Thompson money and $2 of the Redman money. We hid the Redman money till we went to Virginia and back. About a week afterward we went to divide the Redman money. We left for Virginia on Sunday night. We went by Ore Knob and traded some. We also went by Flint Hill, and traded some with a man by the name of Smith. I bought a pair pants, and swapped a pair cloth boots for a pair shoes. Church bought a coat and a pistol with white handles. I think he gave $6.50 for the pistol. On the way I carried a banjo and satchel. We came to the house of Will Stugell, charged around and shot some. Next morning we stopped awhile at Weaver's store, and Church traded some and paid coin. We stayed one day in Virginia and then came back.

The first time I ever heard of robbing old man Thompson was below Ferguson's, on a big rock on the Stony Fork road. Lige Church, Ephraim Davis and I were talking together. After talking awhile of some meanness, Davis asked Church when he would be able to make that trip, said his leg was sore and he could not go, said he would give me $55 to go with Church to watch the house. Church said he was ready to at any time. The agreement between us was to go in order to get there by the 10th of June. Church told me while on the trip down there that he and Davis had been down about two weeks before and got all the ropes about it, and that he had lost a satchel with some bread in it. I saw Davis once after that not far from Bill White's store, on Stony Fork road, and he asked me if I got my pay all right. I told him I did. ( A piece of oil cloth was here produced) I think I have seen it.

I saw Ephraim Davis have it at Wilkesboro court with provisions wrapped up in it. I know it by the iron book. Once before Davis gave the same cloth to me to carry for him while we were traveling along the road. The money I got was all silver, mostly half dollars. I hid $9 in a hole. After I was arrested I told Sheriff Church where it was and he went and found it there. I gave it up to Sheriff Mays at the time of my trial at Taylorsville. There was one piece of money with a hole in it, and of peculiar appearance, which he let Weaver have on our way to Virginia. (The coin was produced and recognized.) On the evening after we hid the Thompson money I went to Wash Hayes' still-house. I saw Lawson Davis there and Jim Rector. Jim told me to go to his house and get a dollar of money from his mother, which he owed me.

Cross-examination (of Elijah Dockery): I was arrested about the first of July. Denied the charge. Made my confession about a month afterwards. It was before Church was brought to jail. I made it to Messrs Jones, Transau and Thompson. I had previously written to Mr Transau and Pink Vannoy to come over. I made the confession because I felt it my duty. I did not want an innocent man to suffer. No promises were made me before I made the confession.

Geo. Thornburg: I live in Wilkes county, about seven miles east of Thompson's. I know Harrison Dockery. I saw him last June, before I heard of the murder of Miss Thompson. He came to my house about 3 o'clock, while I and a young lady were at work in a sweet potato patch one afternoon. Said he lived in Ashe. Said he wanted his dinner and three days' rations. He had a checked shirt and split boots. Next morning I found a crock of milk gone from the spring house. I found the crock about one hundred yards off empty. I next saw Dockery in Taylorsville jail and he looked at me, told me about getting his dinner and stealing the milk.

Clementine Parker: I live in Wilkes. My husband's name is James Parker. Two men passed our house on Friday of the same week Dr. York spoke in Wilkesboro. They asked for a drink of water and asked the way to John Adams'. One man put one foot up on the house step, and I noticed his boot was split on top. (Dockery stood up and the witness said she thought he was the man with the split boot.) I had not heard of the murder of Miss Thompson.

Erastmus Redman: I live in Iredell county, about 20 miles north of Statesville. My house was robbed on Friday, the 17th of June. I went to the kitchen to get a pair of harness and went back to work. I saw Dockery about October 1st in Taylorsville jail. He said "you are the Redman I stole some money from." I have a needle which I found sticking in the fork of a white oak tree, lying on the ground. Information by which I found this needle was gained before I saw Dockery from G W Holler. In jail I showed the needle to Dockery and he said it was his, and he told me that he had left it in a tree near my house.

Weaver: I live on Stony Creek, Alleghany county. I saw Harrison Dockery first at my place, which is about two miles from the Virginia line. I think it was about two miles from the Virginia line. I think it was about the 20th of June. There was a man with him who said his name was Elijah Church. I am a merchant. I sold them some crackers, some brandy peaches, and a brace and set of bits. Church seemed to have plenty of money. I got some coin from him. (A coin with a hole was produced which the witness said he got from Church.) They said they were going to Virginia and would be back in a few days. They wanted to buy a Smith &; Wesson pistol. While they were gone, I bought a pistol of that kind, and sold it to Church on his return. He paid me $1 and sent $10 by letter after he went home, and ordered the pistol to be sent to H. C. Ella. He wrote his name, E. C. Church, on the box in which I put the pistol. I suspected the man, and wrote to the postmaster at Taylorsville to give him the names of the parties who had been robbed and to describe money.

Thomas Smith: I live in Alleghany county. I am a merchant at Flint Hill. I saw Dockery last June. A man was with him by the name of Church. I sold Church a coat, a pair pants, a pistol and some other things. I exchanged a pair shoes for a pair boots, which he said were too small for him. They had plenty of money. I am certain that Dockery, who is present, was one of the men. I next saw him after that time in Taylorsville jail, last July. (The witness here examined a white handled pistol and said it was the one he sold Church.)

A M Church: I live in Wilkesboro. I am sheriff of Wilkes county. I have known Harrison Dockery since he was a boy. I saw Dockery immediately after his arrest. He told me he had $9 hid and took me to it. We took it to Taylorsville and gave it to Sheriff Mays. I found the boots which are shown me by an old log in the woods, about half a mile from Henry Ella's. I found the coat and shirts in a rail pile about 300 yards from Henry Ella's, and about 1 1/2 miles from Lige Church's. I saw stains on the white shirt, which I thought was blood. Lige Church had been lying out for years, except when he was in prison. He had escaped from penitentiary about five months before the murder of Miss Thompson. W. W. Vannoy and Mr Transau were with me when I found the clothes. I went to hunt for them in consequence of information which I got from Transau. I delivered the clothes to Sheriff Mays or Deputy Sheriff Hill.

W. W. Vannoy: I live in Wilkesboro. I have seen this clothing before. The first time I ever saw the boots, I saw Transau pull them from Church's. We found the shirts and coat in a rail pile about a mile and a half from Church's. We found the same spots on the white shirt that are now there.

Cross Examination: I saw him in jail at Taylorsville and told him he had better make a confession. Transau advised the same. We told him that if he decided to make a confession to send for us, that we were Wilkes men, and would be his friends. I afterwards got a letter from him telling me to come over. I did not go.

W. B. Transau, said he lived in Wilkes county. He corroborated the witness Vannoy as to the clothes and the conversation with Dockery. In addition he said he went back to Taylorsville about September the 2nd when Dockery told him where to find the boots and clothes, and made a full confession. The witness here repeated the confession which is substantially the same as the testimony of Dockery as reported above.

Joel Triplett: I live in Wilkes county, 5 or 6 miles from Davis. He left North Carolina about the first of July. I moved him to Tennessee. I had known of the death of Miss Thompson before we left Wilkes. It was known all over the country before we left. I next saw him in October in the Taylorsville jail.

Robt Munday: I know Ephraim Davis. I have known him about 30 years. I saw him the first Monday of July, just beyond Boone, going west. I next saw him in Tennessee. I met him in the road, arrested and brought him back to Taylorsville. He said he left North Carolina before the murder occurred, and did not hear of it until August 1st, when a man by the name of Saterwaite told it. It was in October when I arrested him.

This completes the testimony for the State.

March 24 1882
His Trial for Complicity in the Thompson Murder
The Testimony for the Defense

John Ball: I live in Wilkes, 8 miles this side of Wilkesboro, 300 or 400 yards from James Parker's. I live 1 /12 miles from Solomon Sloop's. John Adams lives south-west from my house, about three miles. Two men came to my house on June 17th. They enquired the way to the graded road.

Solomon Sloop: I live in Wilkes about two miles from John Adams'. Two men came to my house one night, woke me up and asked the way to John Adams'. They gave me a quarter of a dollar to show them the way out to the road. They were never there at any other time. I had heard a day or two before of the murder of Miss Thompson.

John Adams: I live two miles from Solomon Sloop's. Lige Church and Dockery were never at my house to my knowledge. They never ran a switch in my house. They never gave me any money. I live in a house built with hewn logs, ceiled inside and weatherboarded outside. There is no hoe nor any way by which a switch could be stuck in.

Cross Examination: I had a talk with Jim Jones a few days after the murder. I told him two men passed my house one night and heard one say, "shall we stop, or shall we go across the Yadkin." I never heard that I was charged until Sheriff Church came to arrest me, but said if I was sent to the penitentiary and ever got back, I would kill Bill Transau. I did not make no effort to kill Dockery while under arrest. I did not send word to Jim Parker to keep his wife at home for God's sake.

W. A. Fairchild: I live about 3 miles from Lige Dockery. I have a son named Gilson. He left home about sunrise on the 10th of June to go to Wilkesboro. He was to go by Wilson Walker's store. In going by Walker's he would have to go by Elijah Dockery's. I was at Walker's also. I saw Harrison Dockery that morning pass my house, going up by the mill, in the direction of his father's. My son brought back a sack of flour that day. I feel certain that it was the day, because I wanted the flour for the approaching meeting at Mt Pleasant meeting house, which embraced the second Saturday and Sunday in June.

Cross examination (of W. A. Fairchild): I am positive that it was Harrison Dockery I saw on the 10th of June.

Gilson Fairchild On the 10th of June I went up to Wilson Walker's. I went by Elijah Dockery's. He called me and got in the wagon and rode with me to the Blue Ridge road. I stopped at Wilson Walker's, got some loading, went on to Wilkesboro and brought some goods back for Walker. Dockery never rode with me at any other time.

Wilson Walker: I live half a mile from Elijah Dockery. I am a merchant. On Friday before the second Sunday in June I got Gilson Fairchild to haul a bill of goods from Wilkesboro.

Emily Dockery: I am the stepmother of Harrison Dockery. I saw him get in Gilson Fairchild's wagon the day he hauled goods for Wilson Walker. This was Friday before the second Sunday.

R. A. Rector: I saw Harrison Dockery on Friday evening at Hayes' still house. The next day I started to Salisbury, I stopped at night in Alexander. I heard of the murder about 10 o'clock Sunday. I never saw Dockery at the still-house at any other time.

F. C. Ellis: I saw Harrison Dockery at Hayes' distillery on the 10th of June.

Mrs Laura Harris: I live in Wilkes county, on Neaked Creek, [ 'sic' ] about two miles from Lige Church's. I saw Lige Church and Harrison Dockery pass our house on Thursday morning, June 9th. That day I went to my uncle's passing Lige Church's between 9 and 10 o'clock. I saw them at work in Church's new ground. That afternoon I saw Dockery at the same place at work by himself. I passed Elijah Dockery's Thursday and Mrs Dockery asked me to go to meeting with her on Saturday, which was the second Saturday in June. I did not go to my uncle's but once that summer. My attention was called to the fact of seeing Dockery and Church at work that day after Dockery's arrest about 3 weeks from that day. The new ground was about 200 yards from the road.

Sidney Summerland: I saw Lige Church at work on the 10th of June, about 2 or 3 o'clock, and made an agreement with him to go to Hayes' distillery to get a dram that evening. I went to the distillery and saw Church there late in the evening.

Jonathan Sloop: I live in Wilkes county, about 2 1/2 miles from Lige Church's. I saw Lige Church on the 9th, 10th, or 11th of June, as I went to his father's after some cradles which he had fixed for me. I met Sidney Summerland on the same day.

Lewis Welsh: Lige Church and Harrison Dockery were at my house on Thursday or Friday night before the June meeting. They came to my house late at night and gave me a drink of whiskey.

William Beatty: I live in Wilkes county. I know John Adams. He has a good house. I have never seen any place about the jamb which a switch could be stuck in.

Ephraim Davis: I never had any talk with Lige Church and Harrison Dockery below Ferguson's about stealing Thompson's money. Never talked with them anywhere about that matter. I never went with Church down to Thompson's about two weeks before. I was never there. I went with Joel Triplett to Cranberry, and then to Tennessee. I worked for Ferguson from March to about the 11th of June. I then went to Taylorsville, Tennessee and drew a three months pension. Came back in about four days. I sold the check to Mr Eller, for $18; got two five dollar gold pieces, and some greenback and silver. I never got any money from Lige Church. I never asked Harrison Dockery if he had got his share of the money. I had a difficulty with Lige Church. Church drew a pistol on me about five or six years ago, and I prosecuted him. I was arrested in Tennessee, by Munday and Teague.

Cross examination (of Ephraim Davis): I left North Carolina, on the 12th of July, and had not heard of the murder of Miss Thompson before that time. I was working at Ferguson's up to that time. The first I heard of the murder was from a man by the name of Satterwaite, who said that Lige Church and Harrison Dockery were accused of killing her and that Dockery had been arrested. This was some time in August. I have been indicted three times. Harrison Dockery and I have not been friendly.

- Eller: I live in Watauga. Am a merchant. I bought an $18 check from Ephraim Davis some time last spring. I paid him $10 in gold and some greenback and silver.

J. H. Ferguson: I live in Wilkes county. I have a stock farm about 18 miles distant. Ephraim Davis was working for me in last June. He worked for me up to July. During that time he went by my stock farm, and said he was going on to Tennessee. He came back in a few days and had some gold and some greenback. I got a ten dollar gold piece from him.

J. O. Rosseau: I saw John Adams have about $100 or $150 some time ago. His character, morally, is very bad. He always meets his contracts. Ephraim Davis' character is bad.
John Hampton: I know John Adams. I know his general character. For truth and honesty it is good. His moral character is bad. In 1864 I sold him about $90 of old coin. About two years later I sold him $3 of the same kind.

Many other witnesses with regard to character were introduced, whose testimony was substantially the same as the last two. The jury's verdict of guilty was returned Saturday evening, after which the judge pronounced the sentence that "Ephraim Davis be confined in the penitentiary for the term of his life." The counsel for the defense appealed, and the prisoner on Monday was removed to the Statesville jail, to be continued until he can give bond for his appearance at the next term of court.

Sep 15 1882
Harrison Dockery, who at the recent term of Catawba Superior Court, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for complicity with Lige Church in the murder of Caroline Thompson, in Alexander county, June 10, 1881, has been landed in the penitentiary.

March 9 1883
An Arrest in Alexander

Clarke Bruce, who at the time of the Thompson robbery and murder in Alexander county, nearly two years ago, was suspected of complicity in it, was arrested one day last week in Surry county and taken to Taylorsville where there was a hearing, Saturday, of the charges against him. The investigation was conducted before three magistrates, Mr E. B. Jones conducting the prosecution and Mr A. C. McIntosh, Jr, representing the prisoner. Bruce is a relative of the Thompson family. On the afternoon when the robbery and murder were committed, he was absent from his work on the farm where he was employed. He has had abundant money ever since the murder. Asked, shortly after the tragedy, where he got his money, he answered that his employer paid it to him. His employer, Mr Lee Lackey, denied it. He was in South Carolina sometime after the crime and his relatives down there wrote to the family up here asking where Clarke got so much money. The result of the trial was that Bruce was committed.

June 8 1883

The case of Clark Bruce, for participation in the Thompson murder and robbery, was continued and moved to Iredell. Messrs. Linney and Jones, of the local bar, have been retained to aid the solicitor in the prosecution, while Messrs A. C. McIntosh, Jr and Armfield & Armfield will appear for the defence. [ 'sic' ]

May 23 1889
Ephraim Davis Pardoned

The public is familiar with the story of the murder of Miss Caroline Tompson, [ 'sic' ] in Alexander county, eight or nine years ago, the robbery of her father's house and the subsequent events. She and her father, James Thompson, lived alone together. On a certain afternoon while the old man was at work in the field, she was murdered and the house robbed of a very considerable sum of money - just how much nobody ever knew. Elijah Church, Ephraim Davis and one Dockery, all of Wilkes (Wilkes County, NC), were arrested for the crime. Church was taken to Newton jail for safe-keeping, the jail was entered by a mob and he was lynched. Dockery turned State's evidence and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary and on his testimony Davis was convicted as an accessory before the fact and was sentenced for life. Dockery died in the penitentiary but before his death made a statement exculpating Davis. Strong efforts were made upon Gov. Scales and have been upon Gov. Fowle to secure his pardon, and last week W. W. Barber Esq, of Wilkes, went down to see the Governor. He consented to pardon the prisoner, and after a term of six years and two months the old man arrived here a few nights ago on his way back to Wilkes. He is the only one of all those associated with the crime (supposing him to have been) who is a live. Church was lynched; Dockery died; Jack Adams, who was suspected of complicity in the dark deed, whether ever arrested and tried or not, was afterwards killed by his son, while old man Jimmy Thompson did not long survive his murdered daughter.

NC Reports, VOL. LXXXVII, CASES ARGUED AND DETERMINED IN The Supreme Court OF NORTH CAROLINA, AT RALEIGH. October Term, 1882. Volume 12, Ashe & Gatling, State Printers and Binders. Presses of Edwards, Broughton it Co., Reported by Thomas S. Kenan
Page 514

State V. Davis.


Common Design—Evidence—Judge's Charge—Accessory before the fact to murder.

1. Where there is proof of an agreement between parties to commit a criminal ofl'ence, any statement made afterward?, and before the commission of the offence, by one of them in furtherance of the common design, is subject to proof and evidence against the others; go also, are the attending circumstances, such as appear in this case and constituting a part of the res gestae.

2. The exceptions to the general rule that a party is bound by the answer of a witness as to a collateral matter, are ; first, where the question put to the witness on cross-examination tends to connect the accused directly with the cause or the parties ; and secondly, where the cross-examination is as to matter tending to show the motive, temper, disposition, conduct or interest of the witness towards the cause or pat ties.

3. If prisoner procures C to commit a robbery, and C kills the deceased to conceal the robbery, the prisoner is guilty as accessory before the fact to the murder.

4. The bill of indictment hero is in the usual form, and sufficient. (State v. Patterson, 2 Ired., 346, cited and approved.)

Indictment for inurder (removed from Alexander) tried at Spring Term, 1882, of Catawba Superior Court, before Eure, J.

The prisoner is indicted as an accessory before the fact to the murder of Caroline Thompson, as charged in the bill to have been committed by one Elijah Church.

Bill of indictment in substance: The jurors, etc, present that Elijah Church (now dead) late of the county of Alexander, not having the fear, etc, on the 10th of June, 1881, with force and arms, etc, in and upon one Caroline Thompson, in the peace of Cod and the state then and there being, feloniously, wilfully and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault, and that the said Church with a certain axe, which he held in both hands, then and there had and held, the said Caroline Thompson, in and upon the head of her, the said Caroline Thompson, then and there feloniously, wilfully and of his malice aforethought did strike and beat, giving to her the said Caroline Thompson with the axe aforesaid in and upon the head of her, the said Caroline Thompson, several mortal wounds and bruises, of which said mortal wounds and bruises the said Caroline Thompson then and there instantly died. And further, that Church, the said Thompson in manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully and of his malice aforethought did kill and murder, contrary, etc And further, that Ephraim Davis, late of the county of Alexander, before the said felony and murder was committed in form and manner aforesaid, to wit, on the 9th of June, 1881, etc, did feloniously, unlawfully, wilfully and maliciously incite, move, procure, did counsel, hire, and command the said Church the said felony and murder in manner and form aforesaid to do and commit, contrary, etc

It was shown in evidence that Church, prior to this trial, had been taken from the jail by parties and executed.

The state introduced James Thompson (father of deceased) as a witness, who testified, that when he returned from his work about sunset on the 10th of June, 1881, he found the dead body of his daughter lying in the yard, very bloody, and her head crushed in several places, apparently cut in by an axe, and the axe was lying by her; that a chest in his house was broken open, and his money to the amount of six hundred dollars gone—$400 of which being in gold and silver coin, the residue in " greenbacks." Some of the silver taken was very old and of rare kind, such as is not now in circulation. One piece exhibited to him, (which, another witness testified, had been passed to him by Church after the murder) he said he believed was among his silver, for he had never seen another piece like it. The silver had been on hand a long time, and had become dark. Thomas State V. Davis.

Adams had paid him one hundred dollars in silver, some time before, all of which was dated prior to the late war, and the most of it was in eagle-half-dollars. Some of the money which had been recovered from Harrison Dockery, (a confessed accomplice with Church in the robbery of the house) was exhibited to the witness, and it was eagle-halfdollars, dated before the war, and dark; and he said he believed it was his money. About two weeks before the homicide, he found a haversack near his fence with biscuits in it.

Thomas Adams was then put upon the stand by the state and testified that he was the brother-in-law of Miss Thompson, the deceased ; that Church, when he was being carried to the penitentiary, stayed all night at his house, and the deceased was there; lives three miles from James Thompson's; had paid him one hundred dollars about four years before, in silver money, dated before the war, and eighty dollars of the amount were half-dollar pieces. The witness also testified that Church had made his escape from the penitentiary, or from the guard who had him and other convicts in charge, and was at large at the time of the homicide.

Harrison Dockery was then examined, as a witness for the state, and that portion of his testimony material to the questions raised by the prisoner's exceptions, is as follows: The first time he ever heard anything said about the robbery of James Thompson was about one week before the robbery and murder, when he and the prisoner (Davis) and Elijah Church were together and after they had talked about some meanness, the prisoner said to Church, "when will you be ready to take that trip?" Church replied, "most anytime." Prisoner said his leg was sore, he could not go, but would give the witness fifty dollars to go in his place and watch the house, and he the witness should not be hurt. The agreement was made between them; and they agreed it should be done by the 10th of July, 1881; and on Thursday the 9th of June, 1881, the witness and Church started from his house in the county of Wilkes, and went to George Thornburg's, but Church did not go up to the house.

Witness got some rations, and after dark he and Church went to Thornburg's spring-house and took a crock of milk and drank it, and then went on towards Thompson's, arriving there about day-break. After day, Church went to watch Thompson, returned between twelve and one o'clock, and said Thompson had got his horse and gone to ploughing, and now was the time. They went up to the house, witness stopping at the fence about ten feet off; Church asked the deceased for her father's money; she told him he had no business with his money; Church said, damned if he wouldn't have it; he came for it; she let him go into the house. Witness heard her ask him his name, and he said, "my name is Lige Church," and she then said, "you are the man that stayed at Tom Adams' when they carried you to the penitentiary." Church came out of the house with a large roll of "greenback" money, and a satchel of silver money.

They started off, and after going about twenty five yards Church said, "it will not do to leave the thing undone, I told her my name, "and after handing witness the things and telling him to go on, he went back to the house". In the meantime the witness went back to the fence, and Church had then knocked the deceased down and was hitting her on the head with an axe. As they went off, Church took out a twenty dollar gold piece, and said, "it is the prettiest I ever saw." They travelled mostly in the woods until they come to the "graded road" on which, about a mile distant, lived John Adams, the way to whose house they inquired of parties they had met. They reach Adams' late at night, and after Adams came out, Church said, "by God I raised him," and Adams replied, "that's a fine thing."

Witness understood John Adams to ask Church what had become of the woman, and said to him, -

On the following Friday (June 17th) they passed over the Brushy Mountain and went to rob an old man by the name of Erastus Redman. In the fork of a white oak near Redman's fence, they hid a satchel, cup and large needle. They robbed his house and got one hundred and sixty-eight dollars. When they went off, the witness forgot the cup and needle, and left them. On the Sunday after this robbery, witness and Church went to Virginia, and on their way they called at a Mr. Smith's store, near Ore Knob, and bought a pair of pants, traded a pair of boots they had for a pair of shoes, and Church bought a coat and a pistol with a white handle, and some other goods. They also went to the store of one Weaver and bought goods, Church buying a brace and bit. The articles were paid for mostly in silver money, and Church paid Weaver the old coin (which had been shown to the witness, James Thompson,) asking him if he ever saw anything like it.

On their return from Virginia, witness started for Watauga county, and met the prisoner, Davis, at the store of one White, and the prisoner asked the witness "if he had got his pay all right," he replied that he had, and then asked a similar question of the prisoner, to which an affirmative answer was also given.

This witness testified to many other matters, and said that when in jail he made a free confession of all the statements given in his testimony, and gave information where his and Church's clothes were hid, and where his money was concealed—under the root of the tree.

All of the above testimony was given in without objection.

The witness was then asked by the state solicitor, if before the murder of the deceased he heard Church say anything about his and the prisoner's (Davis) going to James Thompson's. The prisoner's counsel objected to evidence of any statement of Church or of anything Davis did, on the ground of the want of proof of a common design.

The judge held there was proof of a common design to commit the robbery, and any statement in furtherance of the common design was evidence against the prisoner, and overruled the objection.

And the witness then testified that when Church and he were on their way to Thompson's, Church said that he and Davis had been there about two weeks before, "and got all the ropes about it." Prisoner excepted. He further stated that Church told him that when he went there on the last mentioned occasion he lost his satchel with some bread in it.

There was much evidence offered by the state to corroborate this last witness (Dockery, the accomplice,) and among the witnesses introduced for that purpose was Erastus Redman, who testified as to the kind of money taken from his house on the said 17th of June. During his examination he was asked, if in consequence of what Dockery said about the cup and needle, he made any search for them, and he stated that he went to the white oak and found the cup and needle where Dockery said, in his confession in jail, he had left them. Prisoner objected to the question, and upon its being overruled, excepted.

This witness also testified that the old and rare piece of coin which Thompson said he believed to he his, was not like any money that was taken from his house, and that he had never seen a piece like it.

Julius Smith and W. C. Weaver were introduced by the state and testified that the witness, Dockery, and a man, who said his name was Elijah Church, came to their respective stores in Alleghany county, about the 20th of June, 1881, and bought the articles mentioned in Dockery's testimony, and that they seemed to have plenty of money.

While the witness, Weaver, was under examination, and naming the articles which Church bought of him, the prisoner's counsel objected to his stating that Church bought a brace and bit; objection overruled, and he was allowed to state the articles bought by Church, and the quantity and kind of money he paid witness for them. Prisoner excepted. He also testified that Church passed to him the old rare piece of coin, dated in 1793, which Thompson said he believed to be his.

The prisoner among other witnesses introduced John Adams, who testified that Dockery and Church did not go to his house on the night of the day when the deceased was murdered, nor did he receive any silver money from Church on that night, as testified to by Dockery.

On the cross-examination of this witness, he was asked by the state where he got certain old Spanish and Mexican silver dollars, which he had passed to certain persons since the murder of the deceased, and he replied that he had some of this money before the war. The state then, for the purpose of affecting his credit, handed him the memorandum of his taxable property for the years 1880-'81, which purported to bo signed by him, and asked him if he signed it and if he listed for taxation any money for those years. The witness answered that he did not sign it, he could not write, and did not know that he authorized any one to sign for him; and the state asked permission of the court to call one J. M. Mitchell to prove that the witness had authorized his name to be signed to the memorandum; prisoner objected, but the court allowed Mitchell to be examined; and he stated that he signed Adams' name to it at his request and in his presence, and that it was read over to him at the time. Prisoner excepted. The prisoner's counsel prayed the following instructions: That if prisoner procured Dockery to go and assist in the robbery of James Thompson, and after they had completed the work for which he had been hired, and had left and gone some distance away, and then Church returned and murdered the deceased contrary to the wishes of Dockery, the jury cannot convict the prisoner, Davis, under this bill of indictment.

The judge charged the jury that he would give this instruction, provided they found from the evidence that the prisoner procured Dockery to go and assist in the robbery, but did not procure Church; that the jury must be satisfied that the prisoner procured Church. That the state contended there was a combination and agreement between Church and the prisoner, and that the hiring of Dockery by the prisoner to go with Church, was one of the means of procuring Church to commit the robbery, and then to commit the murder to conceal the robbery; it was incumbent on the state to satisfy them upon the evidence that such was the case. That if Church after the robbery left the house twenty five steps and then returned and murdered the deceased through his own malice and not to conceal the robbery, the prisoner, though the jury should believe he procured Church to commit the robbery, would not be guilty as accessory to the murder; but if they should believe that the prisoner procured Church to commit the robbery, and that Church murdered the deceased to conceal the robbery, then the jury should fiud the prisoner guilty as accessory to the murder. Prisoner excepted. Verdict of guilty, judgment, appeal by prisoner.

Attorney General, for the State.
Messrs. D. 31. Parches and M. L. McCorkle, for the prisoner.

Ashe, J. The first exception taken by the prisoner on the trial was to the ruling of the court in permitting the question to be put to the witness, Dockery, "whether before the murder of the deceased, Church said anything about his and the prisoner's going to James Thomspon's."

In this there was no error, for the witness had testified that in a conversation between him and Church and the prisoner, the latter had procured him to go with Church to commit the robbery, and the agreement was then made between them that it should be done by the 10th of June. This was some proof of a common design, and any statement after that, that might be made by Church in furtherance of the common design, is evidence against the prisoner. 3 Russell on Crimes, 280.

The second exception was to the admission of the testimony of Redman in regard to his finding the "cup and needle" of Dockery at the place where the latter had said he left them. We can see no objection to this evidence. The witness Dockery had been permitted to testify without objection in regard to the stealing of the witness Redman's money in a few days after the murder, and in giving an account of the transaction he had stated that he left his cup and needle at the white oak where he and Church had stayed the night before the larceny. The testimony was immaterial, except so far as it served to corroborate the testimony of Dockery, in which respect it is not inadmissible.

The third exception was to the ruling of the court in allowing the witness, Weaver, to testify about the pistol and other articles bought of him by Church on the 20th of June. The objection was properly overruled. If there was anything in it, it came too late, for the witness had stated before the objection was raised, that Church had bought the articles, as testified to by Dockery, in the enumeration of which by him, the "brace and bit" was mentioned. But aside from that, the testimony of Weaver was very pertinent and important; for he testified to the parsing to him by Church in payment for the articles purchased, the old rare piece of money of the coinage of 1793, which was identified by Thompson as of the money stolen from him on the day of the murder. Whatever was said or done by Church at the time of passing the coin, made a part of the res gestsc and was admissible. The purchase of the brace and bit, and the payment for it and the other articles, was a continuous and contemporaneous transaction, and that constitutes the res gestae. Taylor on Ev., § 538.

The fourth exception was to His Honor's ruling in permitting the state solicitor to prove by Mitchell that John Adams, a witness for the defence, had authorized his name to be signed to the memorandum of his taxable property for the years 1880 and 1881. The witness, Adams, was introduced by the prisoner for the purpose of contradicting the statement by Dockery of the fact of the reception, by Adams from Church, on the night after the murder, of a part of the stolen money. The witness denied that he hud received any silver money from Church on that night, as testified to by Dockery. And on the cross-examination he was asked by the solicitor, where he got certain old Spanish and Mexican silver dollars he had passed to certain persons since the murder of the deceased. The witness answered he had some of this silver money before the war. The solicitor then exhibited to him his lists of taxables for the said years, and asked him if he signed them. He answered that he did not and did not know that he had authorized any one to sign them.

It was important for the state to contradict the witness (Adams); for Dockery, the state's witness, had been corroborated in every material particular of his testimony, and if Adams' testimony had been permitted to pass uncontradicted, it would have left Dockery obnoxious to the charge of "falsum in uno, faisum in omnibus."

But it is insisted by the prisoner's counsel, that the question propounded to Adams in regard to his having old Spanish and Mexican dollars in his possession, since the murder of the deceased, was as to an irrelevant or collateral matter, and the state concluded by the answer of the witness, and should not have been allowed to go into evidence aliunde in order to contradict the witness. As a general rule this is true. But there is an exception, where the question put to the witness on cross-examination tends to elicit testimony which directly connects the prisoner with the cause or the parties. State v. Patterson, 2 Ired., 346; Taylor on Ev., § 1298. Another exception is, where the cross-examination is as to matters, which although collateral tend to show the motive, temper, disposition, conduct or interest of the witness towards the cause or parties. Ib. And we cannot conceive of a stronger motive to swear falsely than that which operated upon the mind of the witness, Adams for if Dockery was to be believed, he was not only guilty of receiving stolen goods knowing them to be stolen, but was an accessory after the fact to the murder of the deceased.

The next exception was to the refusal of His Honor to give the special instructions asked by the prisoner's counsel —"That if the prisoner procured Dockery to go and assist in robbing James Thompson, and after they had completed the work for which he had been hired, and had left and gone some distance away, and then Church returned and murdered the deceased contrary to the wishes of Dockery, the jury cannot convict the prisoner."

His Honor committed no error in declining to give the instruction, or in the charge which he gave the jury. He instructed them that if they believed Church after the robbery left the house twenty or twenty five yards, and returned and murdered the deceased through his own malice and not to conceal the robbery, the prisoner, though they should believe he procured Church to commit the robbery, would not be guilty as accessory to the murder. But if they believed that the prisoner procured Church to commit the robbery, and that Church murdered the deceased to conceal the robbery, then the jury should find the prisoner guilty as accessory to the murder.

The charge is fully sustained by the authorities. In Foster's Crown Law, 370, the principle is laid down, "that if A adviseth B to rob C, and he doth rob him; and in so doing, either upon resistance made, or to conceal the fact, or upon any other motive operating at the time of the.robbery, he killeth him, A is accessory to the murder." See also Roscoe's Crim. Ev., pp. 170, 171.

After the return of the verdict, the prisoner's counsel moved to arrest the judgment, on an alleged defect in the bill of indictment. The counsel contended, or rather suggested, that the bill was defective because the prisoner, indicted as accessory for a substantive felony, ought not to be joined in the bill with the principal. But the bill is in the usual form of an indictment for a substantive felony. In such indictments, it is essential to aver the guilt of the principal, and that was all that was intended to be done in this bill.

There is no error. Let this be certified, etc
No error. Affirmed.

Feb 23 1883
John Adams of Brushy Mountain Township, Shot and Killed by His Son

By the kindness of different friends in Wilkes, who have written to us fully of the occurrence, we have the details of a shocking tragedy which was enacted in Brushy Mountain township, in that county, between 8 and 9 o'clock on the evening of Friday last, the 16th inst. John Adams was the victim and his son, Allen, or "Dick" as he is often called, was the slayer, The son had but recently returned home, having been at work in the coal mines in Virginia. On the day in question Joshua Miller was at the house of Adams and he and Allen had, had a difficulty. They quarreled during the greater part of the afternoon and into the night, when young Adams kicked Miller several times and told him that if he resented it he would kill him. Miller, however, made no hostile demonstration, and Adams' ill-treatment of him continued until the elder Adams interposed objection. Dick thereupon fell to cursing and abusing his father most violently, charging him, among other things, with having harbored John Cheatham, who killed Ray in Wilkes about six years ago. Adams ordered his son to leave the house, telling him that he should not stay there and talk thus to him. The quarrel between father and son continued until the father, exasperated beyond the point of endurance, picked up a piece of axe handle timber and advanced upon his son, who passed into the house, took down a rifle and went out at the back door. John Adams followed him through the house, and just as he opened he middle door Dick fired upon him from the back yard. The rifle ball struck him full in the chest and he fell to the floor and died almost instantly.

After he had fired the fatal shot the son went up to the dead body of his father and with bitter curses bade him get up and take a drink with him. He lingered about the place for a length of time, forbidding any one on the premises making known the occurrence in the neighborhood. So far from manifesting remorse, he said he had this laid up for his father ever since the old man had choked him. He told a younger brother that this was the fourth man he had killed, having previously killed three in Virginia, and that he intended to kill eight more in the Brushy Mountains, after which he would "give up". After having remained upon the scene of the tragedy probably as long as he thought it prudent to do so, the murderer fled under the cover of darkness, and at last accounts had not been captured, though the sheriff and a posse were in pursuit of him

As soon as the knowledge of the murder reached the corner he summoned a jury and proceeded to hold an inquest over the body of the dead man. The verdict of the jury was in accordance with the facts as recited above.

The murderer is known in Wilkes as a desperate character. For several days prior to the murder he had been dodging the officers of the law to avoid arrest under a peace warrant. For sometime past there had been bad feeling between him and his father, and on a former occasion he had shot at him and again had tried to kill him with as axe.

John Adams was a very industrious man and leaves good property, the fruit of his own labors. He, it was who was suspected of complicity with Elijah Church and Harrison Dockery in the Thompson robbery and murder in Alexander county in June 1881, was arrested, tried and acquitted. He was a very wicked man but it is said of him, strangely enough, that in any matter in which he gave his word he was absolutely reliable. Bearing a bad character in almost every respect, he was credited with a scrupulous regard for his plighted faith, being a man of whom it could be said that "his word was as good as his bond." This quality, his industry and a certain candor redeemed him from utter badness, Wm Transau, Esq was his prosecutor in the Thompson case. He said that if he was made to suffer in that matter he would kill Transau. Questioned in court to this conditional threat, he not only avowed it be re-iterated it in the presence of judge and jury.

Not the least interesting incident of this shocking case is the fact that John Adams came to his death by a rifle which he had bought for his unnatural son when the latter was a little boy.

Messrs M W Gibson, of this county, J M Pressly of this town and C W Carson, of Taylorsville, have returned from Baltimore, where they have been attending medical lectures, for the vacation.

If you have any comments, corrections or additonal information, please email me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com. I would love to know when and how Elijah Harrison Dockery, Jr. died and how this affected his family.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is such a terrific piece of history. We all seem to have thieves and other characters in our past. It's a blessing that we escaped their influence :)

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