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Murders in East Tennessee

Over One Hundred Years of Murders in East Tennessee

Selected Historical

by Sheila Weems Johnston

This is a softbound book containing 107 pages with 4 pages of index. It has some black/white pictures. The stories are from 1777-1934 with the majority of them taking place in Hawkins County.

These murder stories in this book were taken from early issues of newspapers in this area. Some are written as if being told on the corner of Main Street in Rogersville, with no thought as to the guilt or innocence of a captured party.

I give most of these as written to portray their style of writing. Some, if rewritten, would lose all of the story value. These stories are not intended to do harm to any family in this area and are only intended for their historical nature.

The editors did keep people in the area informed though and murder was mostly the issue of the day. One editor wrote in the newspaper, "there had not been a murder in these parts for over a month and things are rather dry here."

During the War Between the States, this area was where "brother was against brother" and "neighbor against neighbor". Even some twenty years later, old issues which had not been settled during the war, gave rise to a high incident of trouble and murder.

The editors of the newspapers were almost always there to record every gunshot and tell about it in his newspaper. As stories go, there has not, to my knowledge from researching newspaper stories, been a single editor killed for what he wrote.

However, there was one editor killed during the civil war, Robert D. Powel, was editor of the STATE SENTINEL when he joined Confederate forces and was killed at Barboursville, Kentucky, during a battle there. Another editor, Lewis L. Poats, who was the editor of the STATE SENTINEL before Powel, had also joined the Confederate army but survived the war and surrendered with General Lee. After the war, there were no newspapers in this area until April 1870 when the HOLSTON JOURNAL was issued.

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Copyright © 1999/2000/2001/2002/2003/2004 by Sheila Weems Johnston