Monday, October 21, 2019

Killing of John Walter Stephens: John B. Hemphill Testimony (1870)

Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina
Wednesday, August 31, 1870
Afternoon Session
State vs. J. T. Mitchell
State Evidence

John B. Hemphill examined. He lives in Person county, about one or two miles from the line; he arrived in Yanceyville about 9 o'clock on the day of the murder; went to the courthouse and went into the grand jury room and in the meeting in the morning, but do not know when it adjourned; he had his dinner with him; he first saw the deceased in grand jury room; he was on good terms with the deceased and believed his was my friend; he did not stay in grand jury room very long; went there to pay Mr. Jordan the balance on fee for levying on horse; he was in the meeting but once in the evening and saw Wiley and the deceased coming down as he was going up the steps; he stayed about five or ten minutes in the meeting; he saw Mr. Kerr standing up but he being deaf, could not tell who was speaking, and wanting to see Mr. Stephens on business he came down and looked for him at the front of the courthouse, and then from room to room, and all the doors were locked; saw Wiley in the passage; he, Mitchell and John Lee [sic] at the south door; they were talking and laughing; the sun was then was about 1 or 1 1/2 hours high.

He then went to the deceased's home and Mrs. Stephens asked me to look for her husband; he went back to the courthouse and several other places but could not find him; he was present when the examination of the courthouse was made; it was about 9 o'clock; he stayed around the courthouse until about 2 o'clock in the morning and then left and went to Mrs. Stephens; he went to the courthouse door but do not think he went in the passage; he stayed at Mrs. Stephen's until daylight; then went back to the courthouse and he heard a negro boy say that "he is dead;" he looked in the window and saw part of deceased's head; he was there when the door was opened and went into the room but they would not let me stay; was put out by Sheriff Griffith; he then went in the room opposite took a seat and remained there some time; he saw the body while in the room, it was on the wood; there were 4 or 5 before and 2 or 3 behind Wiley and Stephens when I met them on the steps; he was in the Mexican war in the 1st N.C. regiment; he practiced but very little with the lasso; did not see the officers use the lasso but very little if any; he does not belong to the Kuklux, Invisible Empire, White Brotherhood or any other secret political society; he knows one or two signs (gives Mr. Badger one,) a man at Person Courthouse gave him the sign.

He never told Judge Tourgee, nor any one else, that he belonged to the Kuklux, but he did tell Judge Tourgee of the movements of the Kuklux; he does not remember telling Mr. Stephens that the Kuklux were going to attack his house on a certain night.

He got to Yanceyville about 9 o'clock and wanted to see the deceased on private business; he and the deceased were on friendly terms; saw Stephens about 9 o'clock in the morning in the grand jury room; he does not recollect ever speaking to Stephens again; he saw Wiley going out the front door between 2 and 4 o'clock.

He saw Captain Mitchell and Jno. Lea at the South door.

Capt. Mitchell is a lively man, he is not certain it was at the recess when he saw Mitchell and Lea together at the South door.

He went to Stephen's after dinner and stayed until the sun was 1 or 1 1/2 hours high; Mrs. Stephens was very uneasy and asked me to look for her husband; there were several young young ladies there, Tom Stephens went with me to Mr. Stephens'. The locust tree is about 20 or 25 feet from the window; he did not look in the window with the others; he went to the window the next morning and saw something like blood on the bricks; he is certain that he did not come out of the Courthouse at day-break, nor saw any one in the passage that night.

That the following census records are with respect tothe John B. Hemphill has not been confirmed, and they are placed here for research purposes only.

1870 United States Federal Census
Name: Jno B Hemphill
Age in 1870: 48
Birth Year: abt 1822
Birthplace: North Carolina
Home in 1870: Cunningham, Person, North Carolina
Race: White
Gender: Male
Post Office: Cunningham Store
Household Members: Name Age
William Lockhart  50
Susan V Lockhart  37
Jno B Hemphill  48
Jno W Long  22
Manda Steward  12

1880 United States Federal Census
Name: John B. Hemphill
Age: 54
Birth Year: abt 1826
Birthplace: North Carolina
Home in 1880: Cunninghams, Person, North Carolina
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Brother-in-law
Marital Status: Single
Father's Birthplace: North Carolina
Mother's Birthplace: Virginia
Occupation: Farmer
Household Members: Name Age
William Lockeart  59
Susan B. Lockeart  46
Jones M. Lockeart  7
John B. Hemphill  54
Mildred G. Hemphill  56
Henry M. Hemphill  49

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