Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Witnesses to a homicide.

Harriet Nicholson, then about 16, married Abner Tomlin on November 20, 1877, in Iredell County. Their marriage license lists “L. Nicholson” as Harriet’s mother and leaves blank the space for a father’s name. Harriet’s son Lon Colvert was two years old and remained with his father’s grandparents.

The couple settled in Olin township, likely near Abner’s family. Harriet may have been pregnant when she married; their son Milas (named after Ab’s father) was born about 1877. In subsequent census records, Harriet reported having given birth to as many as nine children by Abner, but my grandmother knew only one, Harvey Golar Tomlin, born about 1891. However, at least one other child, Lena, lived to young adulthood, as the newspaper article below attests:


HOMICIDE FRIDAY NIGHT.  Jess Shaw, Colored, Shot and Killed in Wallacetown — Bob Owens Charged With Murder — Conflicting Testimony

Jess Shaw, a colored man probably about 19 years old, was shot and killed between 10 and 11 o’clock Friday night in Wallacetown, a colored suburb on the A., T. & O. Railroad, just south of the Statesville depot.  Bob Owens, a young colored man is charged with the killing and was held by the coroner’s jury.

The shooting took place near the house of Emma Rhinehardt.  According to the testimony Shaw had borrowed a guitar from Grace Belk, colored.  She told him he could pick it but not carry it away.  He did carry it away and when the woman saw him, shortly before the killing, she cursed him about the guitar and advanced on him with a knife.  Jess stooped down to pick up a rock, or did pick up one, and just then he was shot.  Three shots were fired, but only one took effect.  It is known that Bob Owens, Grace Belk, Maggie Morrison, Dovey Gray and Emma Rhinehardt were present when the shooting occurred.  Jess ran up the railroad when shot, a distance of 100 or 150 yards, and calling to Ab. Tomlin’s wife told her he had been shot and that Bob Owens had shot him.  Tomlin and his daughter Lena went to him and carried him to their house.  He died in about 15 minutes but before dying told them again that Bob Owens had shot him.

… Dr. Long, who made the post mortem examination, assisted by Dr. Carlton, found that one ball had entered the abdominal wall of Shaw’s body, passed through a large intestine in two places, completely severed a large artery and buried itself in the muscular tissue of the pelvis, from which it was removed by the surgeons.  Death was due to internal hemorrhage produced by the shot.

The testimony as to the shooting is conflicting.  Ab Tomlin and his daughter testified to Shaw’s telling them that Owens shot him. …

Owens is a small black negro and bears a fair reputation among white people, but his reputation is said to be bad among those of his own race.

The locality where the shooting occurred is a colored settlement that is noted for rowdyism. 

— Statesville Semi-Weekly Landmark, 4 October 1898.


Ab Tomlin apparently died soon after this incident, as his wife Harriet is listed as a widow in the 1900 census. Of their son Harvey Golar, known as “Doc,” more later.


2 thoughts on “Witnesses to a homicide.

  1. Pingback: The Lost Ones, no. 1. | Scuffalong: Genealogy.

  2. Pingback: His name was Golar, and we called him “Doc.” | Scuffalong: Genealogy.

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