Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History

Aunt Bert shot a white man.

Damage Suit Asks $25,000

Suit for $25,000 personal damages has been filed by James L. Warren against Odessa Waddell Williams, executrix of the estate of the late Bertha Mae Murdock, in Iredell Superior Court.

Warren contends in his company that he suffered the damages when Bertha Mae Murdock allegedly shot him in a restaurant near here March 28, 1944, prior to her death.

According to Warren’s complaint, she allegedly shot him while he was visiting at Bill Bailey’s Barbecue Stand four miles west of here. He claims she was a co-partner in that firm at the time.

Warren says that, as result of the alleged shooting, his leg had to be amputated.

Statesville Record & Landmark, 16 December 1955.



I’ve been looking for an article like this for years, and I don’t know how I missed this one. Still, I’m hoping to find something from 1944, the year Bertha Mae Hart Murdock, daughter of Harriet Nicholson Hart, shot James Warren.

Here’s the version of events my family tells: Aunt Bert married a scandalous man who ran a roadhouse out in the country catering to white folks looking for a little liquor with their barbecue. A patron said something to her one day, and maybe got fresh, and she pulled a pistol and shot him. (There was no “allegedly” about it.) She was convicted and sent to the state women’s prison in Raleigh, where she served as cook for the governor before her release.

Photo of Bertha M. Murdock in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.


5 thoughts on “Aunt Bert shot a white man.

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