The State Against F. A. Wiley
The Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina)
31 August 1870 (Pages 1-2) [Paragraphs inserted]
At an early hour on Monday morning the Supreme Court room began to be filled with a large and interested audience, to hear the preliminary examination, before Chief Justice Pearson, of the witnesses in the case of the State against F. A. Wiley, charged with complicity in the murder of the late Senator John W. Stephens, of the County of Caswell.
The only business, however, which was transacted, was the calling and swearing of the various witnesses, whose names we append as follows:
Anderson Graves, Julia Robinson, L. Hall, H. Lawson, Benj. Shaw, Mac Leith, Ruffin Hill, Ham. Johnson, H. Lee, Dolly Lawson, Jerre Graves, Lewis Evans, George Rowe [Bowe], Daniel Johnson, Grace Harrelson, J. McKee, George Bigelow, John Williamson, George Pinnix. Lee Hensley, Jerre Smith, J. Kimbro. P. Roan, Thos. Kimbro, A. J. Hooper, J. A. Henderson, Branch Pinnix, Thomas Bigelow, Alex. Fuller, Wiley Turner, Calvin Miles, Jno. B. Memphill, Richard Graves, W. H. Stephens (brother of the deceased), Mrs. Martha F. Stephens (wife of the deceased), Iverson Gwynn and Zack Hooper.
Mrs. Stephens returned to the hotel, while the other witnesses for the prisoner and the State were divided into two parties, placed under the care of officers, and it was ordered that no person be permitted to approach them save their counsel.
We observed his Honor, Judge Dick, sitting upon the bench with the Chief Justice.
The following lawyers appear for the State: Messrs. Badger, Bailey and McCorkle, Olds, and Hon. Nathaniel Boyden. For the prisoner: Messrs. Bragg, W. H. Battle, K. P. Battle, R. H. Battle, Watt and Withers and John R. Winston.
We append to this brief summary a diagram of the Caswell County Courthouse (lower floor), in which the murder was committed. The explanation accompanies the plat.
Afternoon Session -- Monday.
The Courthouse was densely crowded when his Honor resumed his seat at 3 o'clock.
Mr. Battle moved the arrest of Lt. Col. Burgen upon the ground that he had threatened to kill certain of the prisoners on their release. The matter was taken into consideration by the Chief Justice.
Dr. [Preston] Roan was then called as the first witness. He gave a description of [the] Court house building. He said that he was sent for on Sunday morning; went into the room where the body lay; the door was opened before he got there; the corpse was lying in a hollow in the pile of wood at the north side of the room; knees and arms were drawn up, three stabs were discernable, a rope was around the neck, known as a grass rope, with two ends both hanging from behind; two of the stabs were in the neck, one severing the windpipe; another pierced the heart; a knife was lying near the body, it had a buckhorn handle, two blades, one of which was open, about 3 inches long and 3/4 an inch in width; the rope was drawn tightly around the neck, sinking into the skin; there were considerable signs of blood on the wood and plastering; the stabs had been inflicted rapidly, and strangulation was effected before the infliction of the wounds.
No portion of the body touched the floor; it lay in a space in the wood-pile, and could not have been seen during the night-search, from the windows; a few sticks of wood were under it. The back was toward the east, the side towards the wall. There was no doubt that Stephens was killed in this room. Saw no signs of blood at the window till next morning, then saw a drop on the granite sill and on the box, as if it fell and split; it was florid and fresh. He had ordered the use of the box at the window ledge for the night-search. There was no blood on the floor. A servant got the box. One of Stephens' brothers made examination. A candle was used, for the night had set in. When the windows were down a stick was usually put up to confine them; the door of this room was bolted as he learned that night; there was a thumb bolt at the hasp.
He was not present when the door was opened. No key was seen by him. The spot of blood on the window sill might have been made by the print of a finger, a step could have produced it, but there was no blood on the floor. The body might have been seen in the day. It was not discoverable by candle-light. Had been asked permission to search the Courthouse on the night of the murder. The South window was too high to make an examination, both windows on the East were used. Permission was asked for the search by Mr. T. Stephens and Cooke. Door was closed. Didn't know where the key was. Was not asked for it. Granite would not absorb blood as readily as wood, and stains upon it would appear more plain and distinct.
Daniel Johnson (col.) was called, and on motion, charged to deliver the truth. He testified substantially as follows:
I live in Yanceyville. At home on the day of the murder till 3 or 4 o'clock. Went down to the Courthouse. Mr. Hill was speaking. He said but a few words before the meeting broke up. Dr. Roan said hold on, that the colored meeting on next Saturday in that place would be protected, & c.; after meeting was over about sunset Mr. Stephens' hired man, Lafayette Graves, came to him and said Mr. S. [John W. Stephens] was missing; went home; Squire Cooke said same thing; went down town; a crowd was at the two Mr. Stephens and a Mr. Hemphill; other white men came afterwards; search was made and all but 3 rooms examined, one of them being the room where Mr. S. lay, the other two were the lawyers' rooms; there was no key to the Clerk and Master's room; went round to the windows; Dr. Roan ordered the box, but couldn't see in the room. Fifteen or twenty persons remained there all night on guard; none of them inside of the enclosure, save Mr. Hemphill, who staid [sic] in the passage-way some of the time.
Crowds were on the street all night, at the stores, principally. Both parties could be seen. At day break the body was discovered. Dr. Roan was sent for. Sam Crowder entered the window; he removed the hasp; both the tongue of the lock and thumb-bolt were out; there was no key to be found; the jury had been summoned and entered; the body lay in the hollow of the wood-pile, two sticks supporting the head on each side; there was the print of a shoe on the hat of the deceased, lying on the floor; his stick was near a writing-table; the wound in the heart was not discovered until the body had been stripped for washing; was one of the jury at the inquest; there was a pocketbook and pen knife in the clothes of Mr. S.; didn't see any pistol; know that Mr. S. always went armed; usually he carried three pistols.
Mr. Wiley said that Mr. Stephens had asked him on Saturday to go down and have a talk with him, for that he wished Mr. W. to run for sheriff. Mr. Wiley said he went, but witness did not recollect any place that Mr. Wiley said that he left Mr. Stephens. On Saturday night search was also made towards the jail; the crowd remained near the Courthouse because it felt certain Mr. Stephens was in there. When the body was found George Bowe, a colored man, first saw it; key to room was looked for; Mr. Norfleet helped to search for it; but it could not be found; the window was then opened and the hasp of the door was unscrewed, when the Coroner and jury went in. Mr. Wiley said that he had a talk with Mr. Stephens when they went down; then he went over to get some bitters; that afterwards he had a conversation with a former apprentice boy at the South door of the Courthouse -- Lee Hensley is his name; and that he then took his horse and went home.
There were some papers in Mr. Stephens coat pocket. No money in his purse. -- Mr. Wiley said that Mr. Stephens touched him and said he wanted to talk to him, and this was while the meting up stairs was going on. When the body was found the head was propped up by two sticks of wood, as if they had been placed there for the purpose.
Lewis Hill (col.) was next called and sworn. Lives in Yanceyville. Was up stairs in the Courthouse at the Democratic meeting on Saturday. Saw Mr. Wiley between 2 and 3 come down the gangway, stop a while, touch Mr. Stephens and they both went out. Clay Hubbard and Jo Fowler followed them. They went out of sight. There was no conversation. Mr. Stephens was lying on a bench in the courthouse at the time Wiley approached him; had not seen Wiley, Hubbard or Fowler since that day; went to a speaking after the Democractic meeting adjourned to a colored meeeting at the school house. Did not hear of Mr. Stephen's death till next day. I stood on lfet hand side of the room as you go in, and I saw Mr. Stephens about eight feet away lying down; I also saw Mr. Wile touch him and they went out togother. This was while the meeting was going on. Many other people were passing in and out all the time, but none went out while this party were moving. I saw Clay Hubbard leave town that evening with his father. I have not seen him since.
Here the Court was adjourned until the usual hour to-day.
The Court room was not so fully crowded this morning as on the preceding day, but towards noon all the available space for the multitude was taken up, and a most lively interest observed in all the proceedings.
Mr. Battle having called attention to the diagram of the Court room published in the Standard of Tuesday, then
The Chief Justice remarked that the diagram was incorrect, because the stairway was not properly represented, and
That the report moveover contained an inaccuracy, which in justice to
Dr. Roan ought to be corrected; because that genleman had given it as his opinion that the murder had been committed in the room, for the blood spurted or jetted there upon the wall or plastering, where the body lay.
W. H. Stephens, brother of the deceased [John Walter Stephens], was then called on the part of the State and examined. Lived at his brother's. He left home on the 21st of May about 9 o'clock in the morning, and stayed about the Courthouse till the Democratic meeting took a recess. Went home to cook dinner. There met his brother, who ate and left for the town about 20 minutes before he did. The meeting reassembled at 2 o'clock. Brother had 3 pistols usually. Saw him take them out of the wardrobe that morning, and place a ten-shooter in the breast pocket of his coat and two derringers, one in each breeches pocket.
Went to Court room himself. Saw his brother there taking notes of Mr. Hodnett's speech, which was personal to him (Stephens).* Hodnett said that his brother was a spy there to report proceedings to Gov. Holden to repeat to Gen. Grant. There was some excitement. Several men overlooked Mr. Stephens during this speech. Mr. Kerr was near, and so were John G. Lea, Thos. Hubbard and others. A little before 4 o'clock. when Hon. B. Brown was speaking, saw Mr. Wiley move across the aisle, touch his brother, as he thought, and say "let's go down stairs,"or some remark to that effect. Was twelve feet away. Brother was sitting down low on the end of a bench. Fifteen or twenty minutes afterwards I left and went towards Harrelson's store. Went to Mr. Groom's brother-in law to deceased, and remained there till five in the evening. Went home. Found Mrs. Stephens alarmed for the absence of her husband. Went up town and inquired for him. Went to Mr. Groom's again and called out my younger brother.
Both returned and walked to rear of Courthouse, when they advised with Mr. Neal, who said it was better to make no alarm. Sent for Cooke, a colored Magistrate, who went with younger brother to Dr. Roan's for the keys. Got such as could be found. Searched the Court room, the Grand Jury and Commissioner's room. The clerk and Master's room was closed. Dr. Roan sent to Mr. Norfleet's for the key, but it could not be found. Went outside and procured a candle. Dr. Roan ordered a box to be set under the east windows. Mr. Groom looked in and saw nothing. There was not suggestion as to opening the windows. They hoisted by pulleys and no stick was seen on the top to confine them. Crowd had collected in front. A squad was there, one on the East, one of the West, and another in the rear, where witness remained, with brother and Hemphill.
Saw Jo Fowler and Hubbard setting on the top of a bench in the rear of the bar, and they went down a few minutes after the deceased and Mr. Wiley went down stairs. No moon rose till after two that night, it was star light, with a slight air stirring. There are doors at each side on the steps going up stairs, and the left door is usually open. Mr. Norfleet keeps the keys.
When search was made the body could not have been seen plainly from the Southeast window, owing to its position and to the chimney. The cane was first seen next morning. Then at the East window the body was discovered by George Bowe, who said "here he is, dead as a hammer." His hat was found between the body and the wall, near the floor. The wood-pile, where the body lay was hollowed out, and was about 3 feet long and 3 feet high. The deceased lived about a quarter mile from the Court house. Mrs Stephens is a sister of Mr. Groom.
Richard Graves, (Col.), was next examined. Live in Yanceyville. Know both Mr. Wiley and Mr. Stephens. Was in the Courthouse at the meeting on Saturday. Heard Mr. Hodnett's speech. While Mr. Brown was speaking Mr. Wiley came in; he walked up the aisle, stopped a moment, returned and touched Mr. Stephens, and they went out together. I was standing near the middle of the room.
Mr. Stephens was sitting back of me at the end of a bench near the front wall. When they went down I saw him no more. He put on his hat before he left, -- a soft, black felt hat.
Mac Leath (col.) was next examined. Live in Yanceyville. Was at the Democratic meeting. Saw Mr. Stephens there about 3 o'clock. Saw him no more. Left before the meeting adjourned. Stayed on the public square or the street in front of the Courthouse, until witness went to Republican meeting at the Schoolhouse, about a quarter of a mile away.
Joseph Womack, (col.) was called. Lives in Yanceyville township. Was in town on Saturday. Got to town at the meeting. Was as the Courthouse gate when the clock struck four. Desired to see Mr. Stephens who was a magistrate, because having been whipped by the Kuklux before, I ________ them again, from the threats of Mr. ___ley. Witness desired to obtain a warrant and bind him to the peace. Saw a ________ at the gate, -- a colored man, -- of whom he inquired where was Mr. Stephens. The reply was that he was down-stairs at the tax room. The colored man said he had just come back from the railroad where he had been at work. Stood and waited there a while inside the enclosure. Did not go up-stairs at all. A meeting was going on there. Looked down the ground-floor passage way. Saw men come out of the lower door to the left, -- first Mr. Wiley, next Jim Mitchell, and then Logan Totton, and three other unknown parties. Mr. Wiley came straight on. The others disappeared; witness did not know where. Wiley passed him from 6 to 8 feet distant. He looked as if he had been exerting himself, for he was sweating.
Not seeing Mr. Stephens I went to the Republican meeting at the school house. When Mr. Wiley came out one man seemed to _____ behind and pull the door to. It was only a moment. I was afraid for my life, did not say anything about this at the inquest, told Ruffin Hill of it on Tuesday morning after the murder, when I left for Danville. I was afraid to remain in Yanceyville, because I had been kukluxed before, about the 30th of April. I had been at Greensboro, where a trial was had before Judge Tourgee and certain men bound over to the peace. When the regulars cam to Eanville [Danville?] to go to Yanceyville I followed, was there when Kirk came and gave my evidence to him. I was afraid for my life to say it before that time for I would have been killed. I stood guard on the night of the murder. Saw the candle, but _____ _____ ___ing of the box. ______ _____ _____ and I went to the Courthouse that night. On Sunday I went to preaching early. Heard of the murder and discovery of the body there. Came back and was at the inquest on Monday. On Tuesday I left Yanceyville. Afterwards I returned to Yanceyville. Then went to Graham, since Col. Kirk had my evidence; went to Salisbury with the troops and came to Raleigh as a witness to make my report.
Ruffin Hill, (col.) was called, and he corroborated the statement that Joseph Womack had told him, concerning the seeing of Mr. Wiley and others come out of the last room on the left of the Courthouse passage, about 4 o'clock on Saturday evening; and said that he was cautioned to keep the matter secret. He didn't know but was confident that Womack remained about Yanceyville a few days afterwards. He lived with Wiley Turner, where Womack usually stayed, in the next room, and was himself employed in farming; but he could not give place or particulars as to whether he saw or knew of Womack's presence in Yanceyville after Tuesday.
Was on guard Saturday night. Sent for Womack. Saw Mr. Hemphill in the passage of the Court-house that night. When the body was found was sent to obtain a man to go to Rockingham to get Mr. Stephens brother. Returned to the Court-house and heard the inquest. Gave his evidence to a soldier at the Court-house, since Kirk's arrival there. Did'nt know him. Came to Raleigh on Saturday night last.
Benjamin Shaw, (col.), said he was at the Courthouse on Saturday about a 1/4 to 4 o'clock to give in taxes. He was accompanied by Jos. Pinnix. He enetered the lower passage way and walked down it, passing Lawyer Watt and the County Clerk, Mr. Brannon, to where he saw a crowd of gentlemen at the South door. Mr. Wiley was just going out of the door. He saw also Mr. J. Fowle [Fowler], John Lea, and Tucker Bennett standing there, except Fowler who was sitting down conversing with other parties. He observed the tax-collector in the room above, and he turned in there, where he gave in his tax. Afterwards saw Mr. Wiley at the pump in the public square, get into his buggy and start for home. He also observed Mr. Sam. Hill and Mr. Hemphill together that evening talking, while they were passing the street, and noticed nothing else of a peculiar character. The Democratic meeting had adjourned when he _____ _____ _____.
Judy Robinson, (col.,) was next examined. She said that late in the afternoon she went down to Mr. Harrelson's store. While she was there Mr. Wiley came in. He took off his had and passed his hand over his forehead. Some one, unknown to the witness, asked him if he had been running, because his face was red and full of perspiration. He said "No, I have not been running, but worse." He then drank some water, left the store and went towards Mitchell's grocery. Witness stayed in the store a while after that and then went home.
At THIS JUNCTURE, R. C. Badger, Esq., announced that the examination of witnesses for the State had been concluded; whereupon
His Honor, the Chief Justice, said that the prisoner under the new law had a right to make a statement to the Court if he desired to do so.
Pending which upon the Representation of Gov. Bragg that the counsel for the defence desired to take the matter into further consideration, the Court adjourned till 9 o'clock on Wednesday.
THE COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENCE BEGAN THE EXAMINATION OF THEIR WITNESSES ON WEDNESDAY, AS FOLLOWS:
Court met at 9 o'clock. Chief-Justice Pearson, Justices Dick and Settle on the bench.
The Chief-Justice read the acts of the Legislature bearing on the case, when Mr. Wiley stated that on the 21st of May, he arrived in Yanceyville about 9 o'clock, hitched his horse to the locust tree near the south door of the courthouse; heard a voice asking to come there; turning, saw it was the late Senator Stephens, and as soon as I hitched my horse I walked up the steps to Mr. Stephens and Mr. Hemphill, Mr. Stephens said that he had been wanting to see me several days, and commenced conversation, when Mr. Hemphill left. He (Stephens) said, we regard you as a moderate, and want you to run for Sheriff of the county. I told him that I had no political aspirations. We talked about half an hour, when he (Stephens) told me not to make up my mind too hurriedly, and that he wanted me to help harmonize the people, when I went into Mr. Watts office where I owed some fees. Watts said, "What were you and Stephens talking about?"
The Democratic meeting met about 10 or 11 o'clock. I participated in the meeting until 12, when it adjourned for recess until half past one. Heard L. Brown, Col. Withers and Mr. Hodnett speak during the meeting, when I left and went to Mr. Mitchell's store to get some refreshments, and on returning found Bedford Brown speaking; saw Stephens sitting on the left side of the aisle taking notes; went to Stephens, who said he was busy; soon after taking my seat Mr. Martin touched me, and on turning round Mr. Stephens motioned me to go down; I went out first; we stopped on the steps when he stated that if I got the Democratic nomination to-day for Sheriff, we would (Rep. party) make no nomination. I told him I could not be a candidate when I went out, (leaving Mr. Stephens in the vestibule) to the pump where I found Mr. Bigelow; we had a little talk when Mr. John H. Kerr came up; we went to Mr. Johnston's store where I paid him $50, and took his receipt; went back to the Court-house and saw J. C. Wilkerson; had a short talk with him about the canvass; saw Mr. Stephens at the Assessor's room; called Mr. W's [Wilkerson] attention to him; I then went out to the public square and saw Mr. Jerry Smith; asked Mr. Wilkerson to go and get some bitters; went to Harrelson & McKee's Store, got our bitters; went out along by the pump and drug store; I then went through the Court-house to the South door, and saw Hamp Johnston; asked him to hitch my horse; I saw Lee Hensley, a colored boy who I had bound out; he wanted to know if he could get any damages; I advised him to procure counsel; I also saw Dr. Richmond; I teased Hamp about a woman who was living at my house; I saw several persons as I passed through the Court-house; I wanted to see Henry Brannon; went to his door and found it locked; I then went to Henderson's Store for a bucket to water my horse, who had been standing all day without water; I procured a noggin and went to the pump, and a colored man watered my horse for me; got in my buggy and started home; Mr. Wilkerson went seven miles with me, and _____ Smith went with me to my gate, and within one-half mile of my house; we met severral persons on the road.
By Settle.--I had a difficulty with _____ _____ _____ my hands and the case was ________ Stephens who discharged it ______ satisfaction to both parties; the people were down on him on account of his political opinion; I said to Mr. Watts that the people might crow and scorn Mr. Stephens ____ I should always respect him, Mr. Stephens took me to be a moderate man in _____. I saw Mr. Hemphill and Mr. Stephens _____ talking together; I commenced _____ to Mr. Stephens when Mr. H. left; I am not positive whether I touched him or _____; I saw no one leave; we talked half an hour; he talked to a colored _____, I did not know the man; we were opposite the assessor's room; I was not present; _____ _____ member of one secret organization, _____ _____; I am not a member of any secret ______ organization.
Pearson, C.J. -- I have no way to _____ _____ the murder. I think the meeting _____ _____; there were a good many _____ _____ in the Grand Jury room.
By Settle, J. -- Do not know whether _____ could be heard from one room to the other or not; I think it was between 4 _____ _____ o'clock when Mr. Stephens was con-______ with the colored man.
Mr. Battle desired to introduce J. C. Wil_____, Col. Watts, Col Withers and Mr. _____.
Mr. Battle made a few remarks and said _____ _____ failed and that crimes _____ _____ not committed except under _____ _____ strong passions and they _____ _____ of revenge, &c., &c.
Col. Watts being called and duly sworn,testified as follows: My office is the first room on the right, I was in my office; I saw Mr. Stephens and Mr. Wiley talking; Mr. Wiley came to my office, but remained but a short time; am positive that Mr. Wiley wore a black cloth coat; was in the meeting in the afternoon; L. M. Totten was Secretary; the meeting forgot to appoint delegates to the Convention to be held in Greensboro'; the vestibule was crowded with persons who had gone down from the meeting; I left my office about 6 o'clock; great many persons were passing to the Assessor's room; mostly colored, who were giving in their taxes; am not in the habit of leaving so soon, but was requested by my wife to come home soon on that evening, to go off with her; do not remember whether I had a conversation with Mr. Brannon or not; I met Brannon in the vestibule.
By Mr. Boyden, for the State.--I had a talk with the Clerk after the meeting adjourned; there was no feeling against Senator Stephens, except boys crowing at him on the street.
By Mr. Bragg.--I was present when Mr. Hodnett spoke, and heard him say that besides the $7 per day, Mr. Stephens received money as a spy, detective and eaves-dropper.
By Mr. Boyden.--The political feeling was very bitter against Mr. Stephens; I have no reason to believe that there is an organization to injure the opposition; I have no reason to believe that there is any vigilance committee for that purpose; nor any reason to believe, only from rumor, that there has been any illegal castigation.
Bragg. There has been very few whipped, only three of four; there was one white man whipped; I have no reason to believe there is an organization called the Kuklux in Caswell.
Col. Withers duly sworn testified--I am a partner of Col. Watts; I was in the meeting in the afternoon; I was a candidate; made some few remarks; Mr. Totten was secretary and at the Clerk's desk. Mr. Mebane was chairman; he called Totten and requested us to remain. We went to the jury room to arrange about the canvass.
By C.J. That was between 4 and 5 o'clock.
I then went to my room and found several persons there; then went to Colonel Watts and got my horse and went to my father-in-law's. I am not married.
By Bragg.--I sleep in my office very night except Saturday and Sunday nights. I lost my wife two years ago. My father-in-law has my little child. The Courthouse building is about 100 feet long, the vestibule some 5 or 6 yards. I have occupied the room as my office since 1866; it is about 20 steps from the Courthouse door to the gate. I doubt if any person could recognize another from the gate to any distance in the passage, or from what room any person came from.
By C.J.--Mr. Totten's name is L. M. Totten; do not know whether he left before me or not; I live about six miles from town.
By Mr. Boyden.--Mr. Totten did not leave his desk during the meeting; do not believe there exist any vigilance committees or anything lese; have no reason to believe any person of the opposite party, either colored or white, has been illegally whipped; I have been retained in two cases where colored men are reported to have been illegally whipped; one was examined by Mr. Stephens, and sent on, and the other by Judge Tourgee.
By C.J.--I do not believe there has been any illegal whipping.
By Dick, J.--I know of no murder in Caswell except Stephens'; I heard of one instance of a colored man near Prospect Hill, and Mrs. Stephens' in her son's house.
Geo. W. Pinnix sworn; I was in Yanceyville on the day of the meeting; arrived there between 9 and 10 o'clock; live about 12 miles from town; stayed about 15 minutes in the meeting; I saw Stephens and walked with him as far as the black smith shop; he wanted me to run for sheriff and I declined; wanted me to run for some of the other offices, all of which I declined; we went to the court house a few moments before adjournment; Stephens thought Wiley would make a good sheriff; I conversed with Wiley on the first of May; asked him if he was going to run for sheriff; he said he was not, that he had no aspirations, but wanted to educate his children and attend to his domestic affairs and that Stephens had done him a favor which he should never forget; do not remember how the conversation started about Stephens; Wiley stated that he was banned, and because he did not vote, he was branded with radicalism.
By Mr. Boyden--A very bitter feeling existed among some people against Mr. Stephens.
By Pearson, C. J.--Mr. Stephens first suggested to me to go to the meeting. Mr. Stephens was not in the habit of attending Democratic meetings.
John McKee (youth) being called and duly sworn, said he was 14 years old, and son of Mr. _____ McKee, the storekeeper. Went to the meeting in the evening, but did not stay long; saw Mr. Stephens, also Mr. Wiley; saw Mr. Stephens touch Mr. Wiley on the leg. I left both in the meeting. Mr. Stephens was sitting down. I did not go back any more.
By Mr. Boyden.--Have been examined before.
Brice Harrison [probably Brice Harrelson] being sworn, said he lived in Yanceyville; went to the meeting in the afternoon while Mr. L. Brown was speaking; saw Wiley speak to Stephens.
By Pearson, C. J. [but apparently continuation of the testimony of Brice Harrelson]--Last I saw of Stephens he was getting his cane; did not see him leave. I left at the adjournment. I saw Mr. Wiley, who had bought a bottle of bitters, and told him not to open it as I had some. Saw a conversation between Wiley and Stephens, but did not hear any of it. Did not notice when Mr. Stephens left the meeting. I left the meeting shortly after, and went up the street about 75 yards, had a short conversation with Mr. Hodnett, and went back to the store, where I saw Mr. Wiley and Mr. Wilkerson drinking bitters. Mr. Wiley stayed only a short time.
By Mr. Boyden.--I have been examined before. Mr. Boyden read a former examination which the witness pronounced correct except in one or two instances. I went into the vestibule but did not notice any one in the passage or vestibule; there was a bitter feeling against Mr. Stephens; I have no reason to believe that there has been any white or colored punished for the supposed violation of the State laws; I know of no organizations called the Kuklux, vigilance committee or by any other name.
By Mr. Bragg--I have heard of 3 cases of whipping.
The Court met pursuant to adjournment.
The Chief Justice stated to the counsel on both sides that they could invite their friends in the Court room, provided it was not too much crowded.
Jas. A. Hopkins examined, stated that he lived in Caswell, and about three miles from town, and was in Yanceyville on the day of the meeting. I am acting as deputy assessor; was in the Grand Jury room engaged in taking the list; was in the meeting both morning and evening, and left while Mr. Hodnett was speaking and went to the Grand Jury room to take the list of Mr. Swann, who was in a hurry for me to take his list as he had a sick child at home. I did not return to the meeting any more; left the office about 6 o'clock; most of the persons who came in were colored; I saw Mr. Stephens in the office, who came in and walked around to the rear of the crowd; have no doubt that it was Mr. Stephens; did not notice him any more, and do not know when he left; it was about half an hour after I left the meeting when I saw Mr. Stephens; a great many were passing in and out.
By Pearson, C.J.--I locked the door and carried the key to Mr. Norfleets store who had charge of them. Two or three white men came in the assessor's room.
By Mr. Boyden--I think it was about half an hour after I left the meeting. I do not know of any organization in Caswell for the purpose of punishing white and colored people nor any vigilance committee for theft.
By Pearson, C.J.--Do you believe that there were any parties in the County who were in the habit of going in disguise. My immediate neighborhood is very orderly, no cases of castigation or any other illegal punishment, but do not believe there is any Kuklux organization; I know of but very little bitter party feeling against Mr. Stephens; Mr. Hodnett spoke severely against Mr. Stephens and said to the crowd that "your Senator had received $7 per day besides a fee for acting as spy on the people of Caswell;" I saw Mr. Stephens in the court house.
By Pearson, C.J.--I was about 25 or 30 feet from the room in which the deceased was found. I heard no noise after I saw Mr. Stephens; heard no scuffle or exclamation.
By Dick, J.--I think it was the fourth day on which I was taking the tax list. I saw no one go in or out of the room in which the deceased was found. Did not see the door open. The private door at the back of the Courthouse is usually kept closed.
Branch Pennix called, sworn and examined. Stated that he was a little deaf, and that he lived in Caswell county, and about 12 miles from town. Was at the meeting, and left between 4 and 5 o'clock. Dr. Roan spoke to the colored people, and said the could have the Courthouse to hold a meeting, but did not want them to abuse it. After the crowd dispersed, I went to Mr. Norfleet's store to look for Mr. Bain, then to Henderson's store, Mr. Mitchel's house, and to the Clerk's office, and found the door locked; saw the door of the room open in which the deceased was found; looked in but saw no one; I was looking for Mr. Bain; found him near the front gage; he got his horse and we started for home; I got home about sundown; I think it was twenty or thirty minute [minutes] after I saw the door open before I left.
By Pearson, C.J.--We both rode horseback; and we did not want to be in the dark we travelled pretty fast. I saw Mr. Wiley on my way to the court-house; I have no doubt of the door being open; Mr. Wiley were a black cloth coat and I think dark grey pants.
By Mr. Boyde.--Did not see Mr. Stephens; did not know him; travelled in an ordinary trot; it is eleven miles to Mr. Mitchell's and twelve to my house; I am not mistaken in the door (the plan of building produced and the door pointed out). I have not been in Yanceyville since; heard at Mebanesville, while on my way to Salem, for the first time of the murder; it was the nearest door to me when I turned to retrace my step through the court-house; there is some extremely bitter feelings among the Democrats; I believe that there were persons who went disguised in the county for the purpose of chastising the colored people for stealing.
By Pearson, C.J.--I do not recollect seeing any one at the south door; saw no one in the asessor's room or passage; Mr. Brown had finished speaking; there was no crowd in the passage.
By Dick, J.--Do not recollect seeing a key in the door; did not notice the table; saw the pile of wood but did not notice how much.
J. C. Wilkerson being sworn said: He lived in Caswell, at Leasburg, 14 miles off, was at the meeting, but left between 4 and 5 o'clock; left just before Mr. Hill finished speaking; saw Mr. Wiley and talked with him about the nominations, who stated that Mr. Stephens urged him to be a candidate; knew Mr. Stephens, saw him talking with a colored man in the passage; took a drink of bitters with Mr. Wiley, who went after his horse, watered him, and both left for home about 5 and got home about 8½ o'clock.
By Mr. Boyden.--There were a few persons in the passage; I was about 40 feet from him; am certain it was Mr. Stephens, who seemed to be engaged in a friendly talk with the colored man; saw no one go in the grand jury room; I am a merchant; bitter feeling against Mr. Stephens; know nothing of a vigilence committee; believed that such an organization did exist. On February 19  I saw a band of 24 disguised men who wore long white robes and white caps; came to Leesburg about 11 o'clock at night, did no tdamage, but wanted tobacco and whiskey; they got tobacco from Mr. R. T. Hancock.
By Pearson, C.J.--I think some were under liquor; they came from towards Hillsboro' and returned by same route.
By Mr. Bragg.--Leesburg is 12 miles from Orange and about ½ mile from Person.
By Dick, J.--Knew none of them nor any of the horses; eight of them came in my porch; asked me some questions where David Johnston, a colored township officer, lived; asked me to go and show them where he lived; I declined; they went to his house but did him no harm; have no information of any whipping; been no trouble in our township; Jacobs was found near Sam Allen's; do not know that they went to Allen's house; heard that Allen came back with the U.S. soldiers.
By Mr. Bragg.--Mr. Holden told me that they passed house, have no knowledge where they came from.
Jerry Smith, examined. Was in Yanceyville at the meeting; but few left between 4 and 5 o'clock. Mr. Wiley and Mr. Wilkerson overtook me about three miles from town; it was 15 or 20 minutes after the meeting adjourned before I left.
By Mr. Boyden.--I know of no secret organization; there was three whippings in my neighborhood, but do not know anything of the parties who did the whipping; I know of no very bitter feelings against Mr. Stephens.
By Pearson, C.J.--Heard Mr. Hodnett speak against him, and said the reason taxes was so high that Stjephens voted himself $7 per day.
George Bigelow (col.) examined. Was at Yanceyville, and was in the meeting in the evening. Saw Mr. Wiley and Mr. Stephens go out. Mr. Wiley went out first. I went out soon afterwards. Saw Mr. Wiley give Mr. Stephens a paper. Mr. Stephens went in the Courthouse with a white man. Saw Wiley start home. I went with Mr. Bigelow to Yanceyville. Saw Mr. Stephens in the Courthouse. No doubt it was Mr. Stephens.
By Pearson, C.J.--Left Mr. Stephens at the door. There was no one with him; everything was quiet.
By Bragg.--Found Mr. Bigelow near Mr. Johnston's store. We started for home; met Phelix Roan about a quarter of a mile from town; live 2 or three miles from town; got home about dusk.
By Mr. Boyden.--Live with Mr. Bigelow; between 2 and 3 miles from town; was not before the Coroner's jury; told no one but Mr. Bigelow that I came out after Mr. Wiley; went into the court house to look for Mr. Bigelow; saw no one but Mr. Stephens; told no one that I saw Mr. Stephens except Mr. Bigelow; Mr. Bigelow is a democrat; I did not vote at last election; talked with Mr. Bigelow several times.
By Dick, J.--Mr. Wiley stayed at Mitchel's store until he started for his horse when he stopped at Mr. Harrolds; do not know that he went through the court-house.
By Mr. Bragg--I told Mr. Bigelow several times that I came down behind Mr. Wiley and Mr. Stephens.
Dr. Preston Roan examined; I live in Yanceyville; saw Mr. Wiley as he was about leavng with Mr. Wilkerson, riding horse-back; it was about 5 o'clock; was not in the meeting during the day; to my best recollection it was about 5 o'clock.
By Mr. Boyden.--Mr. Wiley and Mr. Wilkerson were going the same road; think there was a bitter feeling against Mr. Stephens; I have no knowledge of a vigilence committee going about whipping people.
By Dick, J.--I did not notice how Mr. Stephens was dressed; Mr. Wiley had on a long yellow coat next day.
By Mr. Bragg.--Mr. Wiley was examined as a witness next day.
Lee Hensley, (col.,) examined; I live at Yanceyville, was at the court-house about 4 or 5 o'clock; saw Mr. Wiley, asked him if I would get any thing for the time I was bound out; told me to see Mr. ________, who would examine the records; saw Dr. Richmond and an unknown man, and Hamp Johnston; Mr. Wiley was joking Hamp about a woman at his house; do not know where he went; I went to give in my tax; I did not see Mr. Wiley any more; I stayed some time in Assessor's room, there was a great many people in the room; went back to work after giving in my tax; got home about sunset.
. . . . o'clock; saw Wiley at south door; I went in front door. I did not know the other man, or which way he went. I know noting of the Kuklux. I work for Henry Brandon.
James A. Henderson examined--I live in Yanceyville and have a store there; saw Mr. Wiley in the evening; lent him a tub to water his horse. A colored man brought the tub back; it was late in the evening, some time before night.
By Mrr. Boyden.--A great many did not like Stephens course. There was a bitter feeling among some; do not believe there was any regular organization in Caswell to punish colored people for violation of the laws; never heard of any vigilance committees.
By Mr. Bragg.--heard a great deal about Mr. Stephens in regard to his actions; I have no settled belief of the existence of the kuklux; heard of five cases of whipping--three colored and two white--for stealing.
A. J. Hooker [Hooper] examined, lives in Caswell about five miles from Yanceyville; was at the meeting; saw Mr. Stephens with four or five colored men; I know Mr. Stephens.
By Mr. Boyden.--Crowd had left; sun about half hour high; was not before the jury of inquest; saw Mr. Stephens after Mr. Wiley left Yanceyville; do not recollect the month Stephens was killed.
By Mr. Bragg.--Saw Wiley after he was arrested by Col. Kirk.
A. J. Kimbrough examined, live in Caswell 6 miles from Yanceyville; in town day of meeting; saw Wiley at the well; saw Mr. Stephens afer Mr. Wiley left town; he turned round the corner towards Corbett's, a black man just behind him.
By Mr. Boyden.--Was about 40 yards from Mr. Stephens; he was dressed in dark clothes; I was not in when the jury met; was summoned last Monday; heard that Wiley was charged next ddy with the murder; was afraid to tell what I knew after Col. Kirk come.
By Mr. Bragg.--My brother was in town with me; I know where the school-house is.
Court adjourned at 5½ to meet this morning at 9 o'clock.
[Possibly Andrew Jackson Kimbrough (1822-1879)]
Thursday Morning (August 25, 1870)
Court sat at 9 o'clock
Court met pursuant to adjournment, Chief Justice Pearson, Justices Dick and Settle on the bench.
Thomas Kimbrough examined; he said he lived in Caswell five or six miles from town; was in Yanceyville on day of meeting; saw Mr. Wiley on day of meeting; saw Mr. Wiley at the pump, watering his horse, and the pump is about twenty-five yards from Henderson's Store; after watering his horse saw him get in his buggy and drive towards home; it was then about five in the evening; he saw Stephens just before he started home; he (Stephens) was going souh towards Mr. Corbett's; knows him; me and my brother were standing at Henderson's Store; there was nothing particular to attract my attention to Mr. Stephens, our thought he was going to the Academy to a colored meeting; he would not name any one else, but thought he saw Mr. Wm. Bowe who was nearer Mr. Stephens than he was.
By Pearson, C.J.--Mr. Bowe was about 30 or 40 yards from Mr. Stephens.
By Mr. Boyden.--He was 15 or 20 steps from Mr. Bowe, who was 30 or 40 feet from Mr. Stephens; he then started home; first told it at Brotton Jacks that he saw Stephens; did not recollect when he told Monroe Kimbrough, but it was in my tobacco field, he was topping tobacco, he thought it was before Col. Kirk came, he told Mr. Norfleet after Col. Kirk came; he was summonded on last Saturday evening; did not have his dram on that day, he was certain that he saw Mr. Stephens at the Court House before he started home.
By Mr. Bragg.--He left Yanceyville soon after seeing Mr. Stephens.
By Pearson, C.J.--He walked at the rate of three miles per hour, he thought he saw Mr. Stephens half an hour before sunset.
By Mr. Bragg.--He saw Mr. Stephens go around the Court House railing in direction of Mr. Corbetts; there is a near [possibly rear] route to the school house by Con [Col.] Withers; the public square is not all enclosed, the pump is on the public square but not enclosed; he came to Raleigh with his brother, nephew, uncle and others.
By Mr. Boyden.--Mr. Stephens was going towards home.
By Pearson, C.J.--He was afraid to talk about the murder after Col. Kirk came for fear of arrest.
By Pearson, C.J.--Were you not afraid to talk to any one about this matter after Col Kirk came? I was.
Why then did you talk to Norfleet about it? No answer by witness who seemed confused.
J. R. Williamson
J. R. Williamson examined--He testified in Caswell all his life, knows Mr. Wiley and his character is as good as any man in the County; the meeting formed at 10 o'clock; he was present; and took recess at 12.
Mr. Bragg asked permission to ________ with witnesses, but his Honor _____ _____ in all experience such a _____ ___ _____, but if Mr. Bragg wanted the witnesse he could have him subpoenaed. Mr. Bragg declined but asked if any new facts were brought out if he would have the right to reply. His Honor said, certainly.
[Marmaduke Williams Norfleet (1839-1890)]
M. W. Norfleet examined--He lives in Yanceyville and was in town on the day of the murder; he was register of deeds and occupied lower room on right hand side; was appointed by county commissioners; he kept all the keys except those used as law offices; the clerk and master's room had been used for a wood-room ever since the freedmen's bureu left; the key stayed on the mantle in my office.
He noticed the key being on the mantle the first Monday in March. About the middle of April we had a cold snap and got out of wood; he told Robert Roan to send Calvin Miles to the court house and borrow some wood. He kept some of the keys at his store.
The keys _____ _____ my mantel-place; _ _____ _____ the key to Mr. Norfleet, to get wood; the private doors were not generally open, _____ by Mr. Brannon. I was about to _____ when Dr. Roan came after the Courthouse keys; I told him the keys were at the store. Geo. Bowe and Calvin Miles came to my store to get the key for the brother of the deceased to get into the Clerk and Master's room. I went to the office and looked for the key, but could not find it; I asked Calvin Miles where the key was who replied that he carried it back to the store.
I had a talk with Thos. Kimbrough, who came to my store with the following paper for me to read:
"Did you ever say that you saw Mr. Stephens in Yanceyville after Mr. Wiley got in his buggy and left town? If you did, I want to see you, or come and see me."
The note was signed by Col. Winston. I do not know Col Winston's hand-writing. I do not know whether Mr. Kimbrough can read or not. I know Frank Wiley, and his character is above reproach.
The last time he saw the key was on the first Monday in March. He was not in his office during the day of the murder. My door was locked. He did not notice whether thekey was in the door of the Clerk and Master's room. If my attention had been called to the key he might have seen it. He had no belief from his own knowledge that the key was in the door.
John R. Winston examined. He ____tecred his services to Mr. Wiley as ______ [counsel] wherever he was carried. He sent the note to Mr. Kimbrough. He does not know Mr. Kimbrough. He is a member of the bar and thinks Wiley lives nine or ten miles from Yanceyville.
The counsel for Wiley having closed the examination of their witnesses the counsel for the State then introduced the evidence for the State.
Calvin Miles (col,) examined. Said he lives near Yanceyville. He got the key to get the wood from Robert Roan. He got only one key; carried three turns of wood from the Courthouse to Norfleet's store. No one was with him. He got one in the afternoon and two in the morning. He returned thekey to Roan. He was at the meeting in Yanceyville all day; did not see any one leave the Courthouse. ______ _____ _____ _____ .
He lives about 1/? mile out of town, but was at work in town about 100 yeads from the Courthouse; he did not see Jerry Poteat, and he did not go with me after wood and he never said he went; he was examined by the jury of inquest; he took two drams that day; whiskey being pretty high up there, and cannot be had often unless he had the greenbacks.
The front way is the nearest to the store.
Stephen Lawson, (col.,) examined. He lives in Yanceyville and was at the meeting; he helped look for Mr. Stephens and remained at the Courthouse all night as guard; there were some 18 or 20 persons round the house.
McLeath was with me; he heard no noise in the courthouse nor saw any one go in.
He was at work all day; first heard of the murder on the public square near the pump; it was about nine o'clock when the keys were sent for, and no one staid in the courthouse that night.
Mrs. Fannie Stephens
Mrs. Fannie Stephens examined; she is the wife of the deceased; she became uneasy about 4 o'clock, and sent Merret _______, colored lady to look for Mr. Stephens, who left home about 2 o'clock and promised to return when Mr. B. Brown finished speaking to attend to some business; she became uneasy because his life was threatened; the sun was about one-fourth hour high when I sent Fred. Graves to look for my husband; he kept a gun in the house and carried one ten shooter and two derringers with him; I sent Hemphill to look for Mr. Stephens; he returned about 1 o'clock, while I was frustrated having spasms.
She sent Hemphill and then sent Henry Stephens.
Saw my husband for the last time, alive, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon; he was anxious to hear Bedford Brown speak; she thinks it was about 4 o'clock.
It is about one-fourth mile from my house to the Courthouse; the sun was about one-fourth high when she sent Fred to look for her husband.
Joseph Wormack [Womack]
Joseph Wormack [Womack], (col.) recalled: Mr. Badger stated the reasons for reproducing this witness was to prove that Mr. Stephens was not at the meeting at the school-house. The statement being admitted, the witness was dismissed.
Geo. Bowe (col.) examined. Was in Yanceyville on day of the murder; he saw Stephens at the meeting both morning and evening, but saw no one speak to him.
I remained when the meeting adjourned; I then went to a caucus the colored people held at the school house; went to various places to look for Mr. Stephens; searched all but three rooms, the two lawyers' and the wood-room; those doors were locked; the key to the wood-room could not be found; I could find on one who saw Mr. Stephens leave the Courthouse.
After the meeting broke I went to the school house.
Dolly Lawson (colored) examined. I live in Yanceyville, very near the Courthouse; I saw Mr. Stephens enter the rear door of the Courthouse and go into the grand jury room. I remained in my porch all the evening, but did not see Mr. Stephens any more.
My house is about forty feet from the Courthouse. I did not know what was going on in the grand jury room; saw no one in that room, when the deceased was in there.
I saw him close to the room where the body of deceased was found.
The fence is between my house and the window.
She did not know who spoke after Kerr; Hodnett made quite a long speech.
Hamp Johnston (col.) examined--He came down after the meeting and caught Wiley's horse; Wiley got in, went to the pump, watered his horse and drove off.
Wiley was talking to Lee Hinsley.
He was in the meeting; Wiley was teasing Hensley _____ _____ _____ intimate with a colored woman __ his house.
The court then took a recess until 3.
[James Allen Henderson (1842-1907): In the 1880 Census, James A. Henderson was listed as a merchant of dry goods in Yanceyville. He and his family lived across the street from his father-in-law's house, "Clarendon Hall," in the old Bank of Yanceyville Building, which was later owned by the Fitches. In 1870, he served as a juror on the inquest of the death of "Chicken Stephens." Source: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 276 (Article #327, "James Allen Henderson" by Mrs. Susan M. DeGroote).]