Crime History, March 14, 1912: Kiss leads to Virginia courthouse massacre

The photocaption reads, "The court-house at Hillsville, Va., where a court of justice was annihilated by a band of lawless mountaineers. (The Carroll County Historical Society and Museum.)

The photo caption reads, “The court-house at Hillsville, Va., where a court of justice was annihilated by a band of lawless mountaineers. (The Carroll County Historical Society and Museum.)

On this day, March 14, in 1912, in Virginia, five people — including a judge, prosecutor and sheriff — were shot to death in what is known as the “Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy.”

Judge Thornton Massie had sentenced Floyd Allen, the patriarch of a mountain family, to a year in prison for his role in a fight that began supposedly over a kiss between two youngsters at a corn-shucking festival.

Floyd Allen

Floyd Allen

Tradition then was that if a boy shucked a red ear of corn, he could ask any girl to dance.

Allen’s nephew, Wesley Edwards, picked the lucky red corn and asked Rachel McGraw. He also kissed her.

Her boyfriend wasn’t too happy, and the next day outside church a brawl broke out between two families, followed by several skirmishes, including one in which Floyd Allen was convicted of beating a rival with the man’s own gun.

Inside the Hillsville, Va., courthouse, the judge ordered Allen to a year in prison.

Allen stood and replied, “Gentleman, I just ain’t a going.” Members of the Allen clan opened fire in the courtroom, leaving five dead and seven wounded.

Allen and his men then fled into the mountains.

After a massive manhunt, Allen and his clan were captured six months later. Also recovered were several illegal stills and 50 gallons of moonshine.

Allen was convicted of killing Commonwealth Attorney William Foster, and executed in the electric chair on March 28, 1913.

– Scott McCabe

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Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.com.

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