Saturday, September 30, 2017

Society News from the Hickory Daily Record, 1916

“Society,” from the Hickory Daily Record, Sept. 25, 1916
Mr. and Mrs. E.V. Morton and family left today for Ardmore, Okla., where they will reside in the future. Hickory is loath to part with this splendid family and everybody here will wish them success. For a number of years Mr. Morton was publisher of the Hickory Democrat, selling out several months ago to the Daily Record. Mrs. Morton, who has a decided literary turn, was of great assistance to her husband in the business and all members of the family were popular in the city. Mrs. Morton has relatives in Ardmore and her husband will engage in business there.
Miss Florence Sharpe, who has been spending a few days with relatives in Rockingham, has returned home.
The first meeting of the Round Dozen Book club will be held Wednesday with Mrs. C.C. Bost.
Mrs. Robert Whitener returned today from Cherryville, where she visited her daughter, Mrs. Walter Brittain.
Mrs. Ottis Hull of Winston-Salem, who has been the guest of Mrs. J. Worth Elliott, returned to her home Saturday. She was accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Worth Elliott, Mrs. W.E. McRorie and Miss Lily Jones, who remained over the week-end.
Misses Madge and Helen Wilkinson and Mary Brumley and Messrs. Vernon Brumley Jr., George Ridenhour and Jim Yates of Concord were guests Sunday of Miss Kitty Flowers, who motored with them to Bakers Mountain and spent the afternoon.
Mr. and Mrs. F.A. Henderson and little daughter, Mary Elliott, and Mr. A.C. Henderson returned last evening from Burlington, where they visited relatives. They were accompanied home by Miss Mary Knox Henderson. The party motored through the country.
Mrs. Anderson A. Boliek of Alexander County, one of the best women in that whole section, died Sunday morning at the age of 85 years. The funeral was held Monday afternoon from Shiloh Lutheran Church, interment following in the church burying ground. Mrs. Boleik is survived by her husband and six children—three sons and three daughters—who will bless her memory as long as they live. She lived right and died in the faith. Her sons are Mr. W.M. Boliek of Hickory, Rev. A.L. Boliek, and Mr. R.A. Boliek of Alexander County, and Mesdames Benfield, Laxton and Simms of Alexander County.

Many DWI and Illegal Whiskey Cases Tried in Duplin County Court, 1937

The Duplin Times, Thursday, Sept. 9, 1937

Recorder Tries Unusual Number of Whiskey Cases
Recorder’s Court got well ahead with two days’ docket last week, trying an unusual number of cases for driving while intoxicated and transportation of illegal whiskey.
Cases tried were:
--Charlie Simmons, negro, operating an auto while intoxicated and doing injury to personal property. Plead guilty. Sentenced to eight months in jail and ordered to work in the County Home so long as his work proved satisfactory and was of good behavior, to be sent to jail for remainder of sentence on violation of terms.
--Stacy Herring, operating an auto while intoxicated and transportation of non-tax-paid whiskey. Plead guilty. Fifty dollar fine and costs, and not to operate an auto in the state for 12 months. Driver’s license revoked.
--George Dobson, negro, public drunkenness and public nuisance. Plead guilty to charges and to disorderly conduct; 12 months on the roads for public nuisance and 12 months suspended sentence for disorderly conduct.
--John Sellars, negro, public drunkenness and public nuisance. Plead guilty to charges and to disorderly conduct; 12 months on the road for public nuisance and suspended sentence of 12 months for disorderly conduct.
--Emmett Ezzelle, public drunkenness, public nuisance, and resisting an officer. Plead guilty; prayer for judgment continued for two years on condition of payment of $25 fine and costs and good behavior for two year period.
--Ernest West, operating an auto while intoxicated. Plead guilty to reckless driving. Prayer for judgment continued for two years on condition of payment of $25 fine and costs and good behavior for two year period.
--Joe E. King, operating an auto while intoxicated, possession of non-tax-paid whiskey, and kidnapping. Plead guilty to possession and transportation. Prayer for judgment continued to October term on condition of good behavior. Kidnapping and operating auto while intoxicated charges nol pro(can’t read rest of word) with leave.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Homes with Scarlet Fever, Typhoid Fever, Diphtheria, Measles, Whooping Cough Quarantined, 1917

“New Quarantine Law Requires of Citizens,” from the Oct. 30, 1917, issue of the Monroe Journal.

Do you know what is required of you by the new State Quarantine Law? It requires parents or householders to report every case of whooping cough, measles, diphtheria, smallpox, scarlet fever and typhoid fever occurring in their homes to the county quarantine officer. It requires physicians to report ever case of these diseases that they are called on to attend to the county quarantine officer and to do this within 24 hours. It requires public school teachers to fill out and return the blanks furnished them by the county quarantine officer, and to follow the rules and regulations to protect them and their schools in case of an outbreak of any contagious disease. It requires county quarantine officers to send any parent or householder in whose home a contagious disease has been reported a yellow placard with the name of the disease printed on it with instructions for posting the placard on the front of the house. ….

The names addresses of those having a case of contagious disease during the month of October, which were reported to me, are printed below. If you know of other cases whose named do not appear here, such information given quarantine officer will be appreciated and held in strict confidence. It may be the means of saving a life or keeping down an epidemic.

Scarlet Fever
George Hargett, Monroe
Sara Hargett, Monroe
Ernest Plyler’s child, Monroe, Rt. 10
Joseph Stewart, Monroe
Jane Crow, Monroe, Rt. 5
Roy Wallace, Monroe
Chrissie Chress, Monroe
J.E. Hinson’s child, Monroe, Rt. 3
Calvin Wallace’s child, Wingate, Rt. 1
Martha Snyder, Wingate, Rt. 1
Annie Haynes, Monroe
Ethel Helms, Monroe, Rt. 1
Martha Williams, Wingate
Jimmie Pope, Monroe, Rt. 8
Willie May Hanes, Monroe

Typhoid Fever
Wilmer Williams, Monroe

Mrs. A.W. McCall, Monroe
Lee Helms’ child, Marshville, Rt. 2
D.L. Furr’s child, Indian Trail, Rt. 1
Fairley Drake’s child, Unionville, Rt. 1
Ida Ferguson’s child, Monroe
Tillman Long’s child, Unionville

J.D. Helms, four cases, Indian Trail, Rt. 1
Davis Helm’s child, Indian Trail

Whooping Cough
W.V. Williams, five cases, Wingate, Rt. 1

                --S.A. Stevens, County Quarantine Officer

Ads From The Commonwealth, Scotland Neck, N.C., 1917

The Commonwealth. (Scotland Neck, N.C.), September 28, 1917, page 2. Image provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill. View entire page online at: 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jack Morgan Says He Will Exchange Dress for Soldier's Uniform, 1917

“Will Take Off the Dress,” from the Statesville Landmark, as reprinted in the Monroe Journal, Sept. 25, 1917

Jack Morgan, hailing from Goose Creek Township, Union County, was in Monroe Friday for examination by the local exemption board, says a Monroe dispatch to the daily papers. The remarkable thing about Jack and the reason for this story was that he was in town for the same purpose that hundreds of other young men have gone to town these past few months, was that Jack wears a dress—has always worn one. Here’s the story:

“Morgan wears a real dress. He is about 25 years old and never donned a pair of pants but once in his life time. That was when he was a small child, and it is said that the ridicule of his companions so affected him that he took them off immediately, never to don them again. All his life has been spent around Rocky River. When friends come in sight, it is said, he will tuck up his skirts and fly for the sheltering river banks.

“The man is not insane. He recently bought an automobile. During the years that have rolled by he has accumulated a good deal of property, but he still clings to the garb of a woman. Morgan is unmarried, and if he is found physically fit he will in all probability be taken by the local exemption board for the county’s third quota.”

And then he’ll have to take off that dress.

Social News from Pink Hill, Bear Marsh, Cole's Chapel, 1937

“Pink Hill News” from The Duplin Times, Sept. 9, 1937
J.A. Worley and children spent the past weekend at Manteo.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Heath of Kinston RFD were guests of Mrs. E.K. Davis Sunday afternoon.
J.F. May has returned from a business trip to Philadelphia, Pa.
Dr. R.A. Edwards, Ike Stroud, Willie Howard and Willard Smith were at Swansboro fishing Saturday.
Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Smith and children were recent visitors at Morehead.
Floyd Heath attended the opening game of the Coast Plain League’s Championship baseball finals at Snow Hill Saturday.
Mrs. Herbert Jones of Pink Hill and Mr. and Mrs. Roland Hardy of Moss Hill attended the homecoming day at Mills Home at Thomasville Sunday.
Miss Connor Jones expects to leave for Washington, D.C., in a few days to resume her work as a teacher in the city schools. Misses Louise and Grace Jones are leaving September 11 for Louisburg where they will enter Louisburg College.
Reet Jones, Roland Smith, Rudolph Davis and Melvin Jones were at Swansboro Sunday.
The baseball game between a Wilmington team and the Pink Hill All-Stars on the local diamond Sunday afternoon was won by Pink Hill, 7 to 8.
A.J. Potter, former Davidson College football star, will assist E.M. Waller with the freshman team at State College this fall, so says the Raleigh News and Observer. Potter is a former Pink Hill boy and a son of the late Durham Potter, who was killed by an army deserter several years ago.
Mrs. T.A. Turner, Mrs. Annie Jones and Miss Grace Jones were overnight visitors at Charlottesville, Va., recently. They were accompanied home by T.J. Turner, who attended summer school at the University of Virginia.
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wiliams of Live Oak, Fla., have been visiting relatives here and at Roxboro.
Mrs. Roy Rouse of Moss Hill spent Saturday with Mrs. Lela Pollock here.
Miss Doris Smith when to Stanhope near Rocky Mount Friday to resume her work as a teacher of the fourth grade in the school there.
Bear Marsh
The revival meeting opened at Bear Marsh Church on Monday, September 6, and will last a week or 10 days. The pastor, Rev. W.R. Stephens is assisted by Rev. J.M. Duncan from Murfreesboro. All come and hear the powerful messages being brought.
The boys and girls’ Sunday School class at Bear Marsh gave a weiner roast at Maxwell’s Mill last Thursday afternoon in honor of Boyd Walker, one of the members of the boy’s class, who is leaving the 14th of this month for Campbell College.
Miss Wilma Dixon of Greenville spent part of last week here with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. E.J. Dixon.
Mr. and Mrs. Paul King of near Rone’s Chapel, visited with Miss Annie Swinson awhile Sunday afternoon.
Mr.and Mrs. Lawton Hargroves and daughter, Louberta, visited in the home of J.A. Swinson of near Calypso Sunday.
Miss Nita Jean Brock of Mt. Olive spent part of last week in the home of her uncle, D.J. Brock.
Cole’s Chapel
Miss Lillie Brown spent Saturday in Wallace.
Lean James and Miss Lillie Brown motored to Richlands Tuesday night.
Lean James and J.B. Quinn were the guests of Misses Lillie and Alice Brown Sunday.
Miss Lennie Hatcher motored to Mill Swamp Sunday
Bill Quinn was the guest of Misses Alice and Adell Nethercutt Sunday. Lean James was the guest of Miss Lillie Brown Saturday night.
Miss Daisy Brown spent Sunday with her mother.
John Maready was the guest of Miss Lillie Brown Monday night.
Mr. and Mrs. Don Raynor spent Sunday with Mr.and Mrs. Hampton Dail.
Mr. and Mrs. Ben Maready spent Saturday night with her mother. Miss Mary Ellen Likens and Robert Wood enjoyed a Sunday morning.
Miss Jennie Likins and Mike Burton were out riding Sunday evening.
Charlie Lanier was the guest of Miss Alice Brown Saturday night.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Greensboro Minister Lead Immoral Dual Life, 1917

“Greensboro Preacher Confesses to Dual Life,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 25, 1917

Rev. J.H. Bennett, Well-Known Methodist Clergyman Is Suspended Following Astounding Revelations Made of Immoral Practices

Rev. J.H. Bennett, for two years pastor of the Greensboro Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, was suspended from his pastorate Sunday pending investigation into the charges of immorality against him, says yesterday’s Greensboro News. He has confessed his guilt of the charges, which were whispered for some time, his stewards hearing in its entirety the tragic and sordid story of his dual life.

The presiding elder, Rev. J.H. Barnhardt, yesterday morning made the formal announcement to the people of the suspension of the pastor. The deposed leader departed Saturday night for Salisbury, leaving the city because of the breaking of the storm which was forecast.

One of the most dramatic moments in the life of the church occurred when Dr. Barnhardt broached the subject which lay on the consciousness of all. There was absolute silence in the crowded church. Dr. Barnhardt’s reference to the misdemeanors of the pastor was not lengthy. He did not go into details but the story had spread and everybody knew. The presiding elder said Mr. Bennett had been suspended pending an investigation of the charges of immorality. He continued with a view to clearing up and doubt, to say that he understood Mr. Bennett had confessed to his officers and that there was no reasonable doubt of his guilt. It was recognized that the investigation Dr. Barnhardt referred to could be only a matter of form.

“I would rather have buried him,” said Dr. Barnhardt, his tense voice the only sound in the large auditorium.

The presiding elder extended his sympathy to the betrayed congregation and admonished the people how to act in the calamity.

The charges were like a bolt from a clear sky to the people of his church and of the city generally, where he had been highly esteemed. It is alleged that Mr. Bennett was discovered by policemen in a house of ill-repute in the southern part of town, and under circumstances which left him no recourse but admission to the truth of the situation. This occurred about a fortnight ago, but no police report was made of the incident, and the minister was not summoned to the city court for trial under the Guilford County morals act, which is said to be broad enough to justify charges against him. He was instructed by the men who discovered him to appear the following day to take the matter up with the chief of police, and he obeyed these instructions.

Although a certain amount of secrecy was maintained by persons in position to know of the case, the rumors were circulated and reached the ears of one of the officers of the church. The stewards’ action followed, although the control of the pastor lies in the hands of the presiding elder, his superior officer. It was agreed that Mr. Bennett must discontinue his duties.

Saturday night Mr. Bennett was asked by a reporter if he had admitted his guilt of the charges to his stewards. He evaded the question for a few moments, and was asked flatly if he was guilty as charged, and after a pause he declared the stories circulated were false. “I have to go by places where immoral people live in my ministry,” he said, “and the circumstances might have been suspicious.” He was asked if it was true that officers caught him in the home of a negro woman named Dick, and he said he had no recollection of such an incident; and, declaring he would not be led into saying something he ought not say, he ended the interview. He admitted all this to his officers.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hubert Everett Phillips to Open Law Office in Kenansville, 1938

The Duplin Times, Thursday, Sept. 9, 1938

Hubert Everett Phillips, son of Mr. and Mrs. Abner Phillips of West Siding, plans to open an office for the practice of law in Kenansville within the next few days.
Phillips graduated from Warsaw High School in 1932, studied law at Wake Forest for five years, where he received his LLB degree August 7, 1937. He passed the N.C. State Bar on August 7.
He has purchased the brick office occupied by R.C. Wells and will be located there for the practice of law in state and federal courts. The office in which he is situated was built in 1929 by the late D.M. Jolly, and occupied by him until his death in 1932. Since the death of Mr. Jolly, R.C. Wells has practiced there.
During the past year Mr. Phillips has received some experience in law in both Duplin and Wake counties.

'Dogs Are Useless, Worthless Things,' and Other News from Wingate, 1917

Glenalpine Says Dogs Are Useless, Worthless Things,” from the Monroe Journal, Nov. 27, 1917

He Believes the County Would Be Better Off Without a Single Flea…Wingate Lady Goes to Take Pasteur Treatment

Wingate, Nov. 27—Mrs. David Eudy suffered a very serious accident last Thursday morning. The children had a little pet dog that got a little wrong. Mrs. Eudy took it and tied it in a stable. Thursday morning she decided that it was choking, so she went to loosen the rope a little. When she went in she noticed that the dog was shaking a cow chain like he had a snake, but she did not become alarmed at that, so she tried to loosen the rope, and when she did the dog tried to bite her. She is not quite sure about it but to make things safe the dog was killed and his head shipped to Raleigh for examination. The doctors there wired back that it was mad. So Mrs. Eudy went to Raleigh Sunday morning to take the Pasteur treatment. This is quite a task as she has a small baby, and is needed at home so much.

Now, this we have to say: Let this be a warning to every one owning a dog. Run no risk with them. They are worthless, useless, and a tormenting pest. Marshville had an experience like this just a few years back. Polkton had one just a few days ago. None of them have cost any lives, but if we had not the advantage of scientific treatment, what would have been the result? Union County would be better off without a single flea in it.

James Chaney found somewhat of a curiosity in his Irish potato about a foot up the stalk of a potato vine. His potatoes made so many they could not all grow in the ground, so some of them had to grow on top. This was a well-developed potato about the size of a hen egg.

Jesse McIntyre can come up with Editor Zeb’s Marshville boy on the rabbit question. He has caught 20 in all, one possum and a rabbit with one year. He has just cleaned up the rabbit business and has egun to catch the scraps.

Mr. Hugh McWhirter has a new Ford. They are as common around here now as wheel barrows. The truth of it is you can scarcely get through Wingate sometimes for the things. The owners are so proud of them they will drive them right up in public and leave them standing while they do their shopping. Some people are not ashamed of anything.

Uncle Marsh Stewart went to Charlotte Sunday to visit his adopted daughter, Miss Mary Perry, who is confined in a hospital there. He reports her doing very well. She is expecting to be home the first of next week.

Lightning struck the steeple of the Methodist Church a few days ago, and damaged it considerably.

Mr. J.W. Ross was in Wingate a little while the last of the week.

Mr. Mervin Mangum has been under the weather a little for the past few days. He is some better now.

Mrs. J.D. Biggers has been sick for a few days.

Brick are being placed on the ground ready for the new dormitories. They will be erected before long. Glad day for the Wingate school.

The B.Y.P.U. gave a Thanksgiving service last Sunday evening. It was an exceedingly interesting one. The young people all did very well. The quartet sung by Misses Blanch and Selma Chaney, Willie Bivins and Lucille Chaney was very fine.

Prof. Henry Baucom and Mrs. Alfred McWhirter began the public school here yesterday morning. Prof. Nisbet was present and made a talk. We do not know how many are attending.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Kenansville Father and Daughter Apply for Old-Age Aid on Same Date, 1938

The Duplin Times, Thursday, Sept. 9, 1938

Father, Daughter Apply for Old-Age Aid on Same Date

Peter Wallace, aged negro of Kenansville, and his daughter, Phronia Grady, age 65, both applied for old-age aid last Tuesday at the office of the County Superintendent of Public Welfare.

Peter’s exact age is not known but he is around 86 or 87 years of age.

The Hornet Aims to 'Sting' Republicans, 1908

The Hornet, Bixby, N.C., Sept. 30, 1908, “Hottest Democratic Paper in All America”, W. Henry Davis, editor. All the articles in this four-page newspaper were political; it contained no news about local people.

Splendid Praise

All these long days we have been making The Hornet as hot as fire, to singe bristles off the old fogy rusty-necked Radicals and tame them to their eternal fate; we have been assuming The Hornet to be a National affair, exposing Republican wrongs and stinging the perpetrators. We have been doing all these things and nothing, save the rattle of thousands of quarters and 30 cents have we received to tell us that our doctrine is meeting with approval anywhere. But it has come at last, and it has rolled in from the sweltering perfumes of the stinchingest Republican quarters in the whole political cow lot—Pennsylvania. It is the best piece of home-made praise and poetical juice we have seen or heard since we started out political cat-fight five years ago. It is the honey; it certainly is funny; it’s better than any money. A Pennsylvania poet is evidently the fellow to strow it, so everybody may know it. Here’s the thing that’s made us happy, now we’ll not be called “sappy”; it’s even better than being called “pappy.”

W. Henry D.

Say, W. Henry D., you’re just the stuff
   Your Hornet is certainly a ringer,
You tell the truth and never bluff
   Your pen’s indeed a stinger.
The Rads can “cus,” it ain’t no use
   The Hornet has double triggers
You’re never scared with cheap abuse
   Of Republicans and their “niggers.”
When Democracy again reigns, and the people get free,
   And your life here below is ended
A monument will be built for the world to see
   On which your life will be commended.
On there it will say “Here lies his clay
   His politics was big and strong,
He done his damdest every day
   To help Democracy along.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gaston Means Remained in Trouble With the Law and Died in Prison in 1938

Gaston Means may have been found innocent of killing Maude King, but remained in trouble with the law and ended his life in prison. The following picture was taken in 1924.

“Gaston Bullock Means, detective, scoundrel, and swindler, was born on his family's plantation, Blackwelder's Spring, near Concord in Cabarrus County, the son of William Gaston Means, a lawyer and longtime mayor of Concord.” 

Gaston Means Found Not Guilty of Murder of Maude King, 1917

Gaston B. Means Acquitted of Killing Mrs. Maude King,” from the Monroe Journal, Dec. 18, 1917

Jury Returned Verdict of Not Guilty at 10:22 Sunday Morning, and Defendant Is Now a Free Man

Concord, Dec. 16—“Not guilty” was the verdict of the jury in the case of Gaston B. Means, charged with the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King, widow of a Chicago millionaire, who was shot to death at Blackwelder Spring, near Concord, on the evening of August 29, last.

The jury made known its verdict at 10:22 this morning, after having deliberated since 7 o’clock Saturday night. The decision was made known to Judge E.B. Cline in the Cabarrus County court house in the presence of the defendant, his wife, and mother, representatives of counsel and others who had learned the jury was about to make its report.

No Demonstration Permitted

There was no demonstration, probably prevented by a warning Judge Cline had given before hearing the jury’s report, accompanying it with instructions to Sheriff Caldwell to arrest anyone who made any demonstration. However, a little later, when the prisoner had been formally discharged and the court adjourned, Means was surrounded by relatives, attorneys and friends, who hastened to shake his hand and congratulate him upon his acquittal.

Sisters Weep for Joy

After his release, accompanied by his wife, Means left the court room and went to the home of his father. A little later he reappeared on the streets of the town, where scores of friends extended congratulations. As he and Mrs. Means were leaving the courthouse, they met one of his sisters, who had just arrived, and the two women rushed into one another’s arms, weeping for joy.

Probably no trial ever conducted in North Carolina has held the wide interest of the Means case, nor has any brought more attendants from other states, a number of witnesses from Chicago and New York testifying. Assistant District Attorney John T. Dooling of New York City assisted in the prosecution, coming to Concord at the request of Solicitor Clement, because both Means and Mrs. King were regarded as citizens of that state.

Mr. Dooling brought with him a mass of papers and documents of various kinds seized at Means’ apartment in New York. These Mr. Dooling took with him when he left for New York last night, some of them being subject to the order of the New York courts.

It has been rumored that in the event of acquittal of the charge of murder, Means might be prosecuted in New York on other charges. When asked about this, Solicitor Hayden Clement said this afternoon that he did not anticipate any such action, but that he could not speak with authority.

Story of the Death of Widow of Millionaire

Mrs. King, who was on a visit to Means’ relatives met death at Blackwelder Spring, early on the evening of August 29 last. With Means and a party of his friends she had stopped while on an automobile drive, presumable that she might practice shooting with a small pistol Means had bought for her. Means and the woman were alone at the time, Captain W.S. Bingham and Afton Means, a brother of Gaston Means, having walked down the road to shoot rabbits.

Verdict of Accidental Death

A coroner’s inquest accepted the statement of Gaston Means that she shot herself accidentally. After the woman’s body was taken to Chicago for burial, charges of foul play were made. There the coroner’s physician declared that the wound in the back of the woman’s head could not have been self-inflicted.

The investigation shifted to New York, where Mrs. King had resided for several years and where Means had handled her business affairs. Search of the apartments there of Mrs. King and her sister and Mr. and Mrs. Gaston Means disclosed, according to New York officials, that Means had misappropriated the woman’s money and also that he was connected with German agents. Documents seized in the apartments were cited by New York police as proof of these assertions.

Large Fortune Disappeared

Mrs. King had inherited approximately $1,000,000 from her second husband, the late James C. King of Chicago and New York, and Chicago officials declared nearly all of this sum had vanished during the time Means was connected with the woman’s affairs. It also was asserted Means was preparing to offer for probate an alleged second will of James C. King, which would give an additional $2,000,000 to Mrs. King.

North Carolina officials reopened the investigation and at a hearing in September Means was bound over to the grand jury and later indicted.

State’s Theory of Affair

At the trial, which began November 26, the State contended that Means had “looted” the woman’s fortune and killed her to escape “an early accounting.” Witnesses asserted that Means had kept the woman a virtual prisoner in the Chicago Beach Hotel. The defense denied this and offered evidence to show that Mrs. King approved Means’ speculations with her money.

Means said on the stand that he had investigated alleged neutrality violations for German interests before the United States broke relations with Germany but was always loyal to his country and turned over to officials information he thought of value to this country.

Claimed Death Accidental

The defense contended the woman’s death was accidental; that she stumbled, fractured her ankle and in falling fired the pistol.

Mrs. King’s mother, Mrs. Anna L. Robinson of Asheville, and her sister, Mrs. Mary C. Melvin, took opposite sides in the case, the mother appearing as a witness for the prosecution and the daughter siding with Means.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Gaston Means Takes the Stand in Murder Trial, 1917

“Gaston Means Takes the Stand in His Own Behalf,” from the Monroe Journal, Dec. 7, 1917

With Remarkable Demeanor He Tells of His Relations With the Late Mrs. King…His Story a Long One

Concord, Dec. 6—For practically six hours today Gaston B. Means occupied the stand in his trial on charge of the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King and told the jury his story of his relations with the woman for whose death the state is holding him responsible—his services as her business agent, his various financial transactions in which her money was involved, including his unsuccessful cotton speculation—and when court adjourned for the night his narrative apparently had not approached the chapter in which he will give his version of the fatal shooting and the circumstances directly connected with her death.

Apparently his direct examination was not nearly completed today. His cross-examination is expected to consume fully as much time as the direct and more time will be used in redirect and re-cross examination. He is expected to occupy the stand practically all day tomorrow. It is probable that all of Saturday will be taken up with the introduction of other witnesses, which would leave the argument and the jury’s consideration of the evidence for next week.

The defendant’s demeanor on the stand was hardly less remarkable than the story he told today. His countenance and his manner of speaking—every movement of his body—bespeaking confidence, he literally addressed the jurymen of his boyhood community in tones and accents that made his troy clear to the audience of his former homefolk—with the air of a public speaker supremely confidence of his hearer’s approval of the cause he presents. And it was a wonderful story he told to the farmer-millworker jury—a story involving the intricacies of high finance, of stocks, bonds and securities, of his contact with metropolitan bankers and government officials and of international secrets and plots involving the destinies of more than half the world.

Explains Opening of Letter

When his narrative was interrupted by adjournment it had just reached the events of last July and he had begun to explain some letters bearing his signature which the state has placed in the record as damning evidence against him. The letter to his brother, Afton Means, approving the latter’s action in opening and forwarding to him a telegram addressed to Mrs. King and telling the latter to send all mail received for her and her mother and sister, Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Gary C. Melvin, to the widow and not to let anyone know there whereabouts was read and explained to his apparent satisfaction. The witness was at Chicago when he wrote the letter and had just sent Mrs. King, her mother and sister and his father-in-law, W.R. Patterson to Asheville.

He and Mrs. King had become involved in a contest with the Northern Trust company of Chicago over the “contested will” of the late James C. King, dated 1905. The newspapers had printed something of the alleged discovery of this second will and the party had left the fashionable Chicago hotel to escape the newspaper men ostensibly to go to New York. Mail was to be forwarded to their home address there. Afton Means was to get it, enclose several letters in one envelope, address it to him at Asheville, where the witness would receive it in bulk and distribute it properly, the purpose being to keep the “other side” (Northern Trust Company) in the dark.

Not a German Spy

In order to offset any impression heretofore created in the public mind that the defendant was a German spy or had been unloyal to America he was allowed to tell a weird story of German plots he claimed to have discovered and revealed to the American government. One was what he styled the
“Huerta plot,” which he described by reading a detailed and lengthy report he had compiled and delivered to William J. Burns following his severance of relations with the Burns detective agency and which the latter turned over to J.P. Tumulty, President Wilson’s private secretary. It told of a secret conference in Barcelona between “German interests” and General Huerta, in which it was agreed that the latter should follow the instructions of the German interests, organize in Mexico a sort of peace society, enlist prominent representatives for all factions and lead and expedition into the United States which would be met by American forces and bring the United States and Mexico into war with each other, the purpose of the plot. This report was dated March 8, 1915, and the witness reminded the jury that the plot was executed to the point that the expedition started to invade America and Huerta was arrested before the movement culminated. He told of another plot by German sympathizers and German interests to blow up munitions plants which he said he revealed personally to Secretary Daniels, whom he said he told of the plot to destroy the capitol of Ottawa, just in the way it was destroyed, just four weeks before it was burned.

While in the employ of the Burns agency he had investigated for its client, the Hamburg-American line, reports that British men of war were hovering close to the American shores and being supplied by American concerns with fuel and other supplies in violation of the neutrality laws; also he investigated a report that submarines for the allies were being built in the United States. He found and reported that neither of these reports was true.

Explains State’s Allegations

Going slowly and in detail through the numerous ramifications of his financial transactions as Mrs. King’s business agent, he explained each point that had been presented to the state in its effort to show a motive for the alleged crime of murder and in each instance told the jury that Mrs. King was a party to the transaction and that it had her approval.

He denied that he ever sought to control or restrain her, and declared she went and came at will in her own automobile.

The defendant’s brother, Afton Means, this morning finished his cross-examination, and Earnest Eury, the negro chauffeur, who drove the party to the Blackwelder Spring on that night of the death of Mrs. King, told a smooth-running story of the trip. He said Captain W.S. Bingham, a member of the party, told him a few minutes after the shooting that Mrs. King had shot herself and Afton Means said he told Chief of Police Robinson of Concord the same night that the defendant told him that she “shot herself accidentally.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Means' Trial Set for Nov. 26 in Cabarrus County, 1917

“Means Will be Tried in Concord November 26,” from the Monroe Journal, Nov. 2, 1917

Concord, Nov. 2—Gaston B. Means was sent back to the Cabarrus County jail here tonight to await a special term of Superior Court November 26 when he will be tired for the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King, who was shot near here last August.

Means was remanded to jail after Judge Cline decided against removing the case but granted the State’s plea for more time to prepare for trial. At the court’s request, Governor Bickett at Raleigh late today authorized a special term of court for November 26 and designated Judge Cline to preside.
Argument for a change of venue sought by the State was completed by Solicitor Clement this morning and Judge Cline decided against removing the trial from Cabarrus County. He declared he was satisfied an impartial trial could be given the defendant there.

The time of holding the trial caused much discussion. The State contended it would take several days to assemble witnesses from distant states and the prosecution could not proceed before next Tuesday. The defense declared it was ready to go to trial. As the present session of court ends next week it was decided to bring the case to trial later. The term of court for Rowan County fixed for the week of November 26 has been annulled.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Both Sides Ready in Gaston Means' Murder Trial, Jury Selection Comes Next, 1917

“Gaston Means On Trial for Murder of Mrs. King,” from the Monroe Journal, Nov. 27, 1917

Both Sides Are Ready, and Special Venire of 150 Men Summoned…Interest in Case Still Intense

The trial of Gaston Means, charged with the murder of Mrs. Maude King, the wealthy New York and Chicago woman, started yesterday morning. A special venire of 150 men have been summoned, and the court is occupied with the drawing of the jury. The prosecution, as far as has been outlined, relies on the mass of circumstantial evidence to fasten upon Means the charge of murder, and, it is understood, will seek to show that a fortune of $2,000,000, which Mrs. King might have inherited through a second will of her husband, the last James King, of Chicago, provided the motive.

Means, a native of Concord, had been the woman’s business agent for some time before she met death while here on a visit to his relatives, and according to statements made by District Attorney Swann’s office in New York, evidence has been brought to light to show that a second will was to be offered for probate. Mrs. King had inherited more than a million through the first will.

Only Means Was There

No one except Means was present when Mrs. King was killed at Blackwelder Spring near here, according to the statement Means made to a local coroner’s jury. The coroner’s verdict was that Mrs. King accidentally shot herself with a small pistol with which he had intended to practice target shooting. To refute this, the prosecution, in the preliminary hearing which was ended by Means agreeing to be bound over to the grand jury, endeavored to show by expert witnesses that it would have been physically impossible for the woman to have held the weapon which inflicted a wound in the back of her head.

Counsel for the defense declined tonight to discuss their line of defense, but it was intimated from a source close to the defendant that its contention would be that Mrs. King accidentally was killed in handling the pistol which she had picked up while she and Means paused at Blackwelder Spring, near the target field, for the latter to get a drink.

Suicide Theory

One theory discussed again in Concord tonight as witnesses and officials gathered from New York and Chicago to aid the prosecution, was that the defense might contend that Mrs. King committed suicide. Little credence, apparently, was placed in this, but those who mentioned it held that Means at the inquest might have wished to shield the name of the dead woman from the stigma of suicide. 

Means’ counsel would not discuss the defense plans and the latter in jail, here, refused to see newspaper men. His wife and child spent the afternoon with him, and a member of his counsel said he was bearing up well.

Little chance was seen tonight of selecting a jury before Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest, and attorneys generally had that the 36 jurymen automatically called with the issuance of the order for a special term of Cabarrus County court to try the case would be exhausted before 12 acceptable men were found. In that case, the court probably would adjourn while a special venire of 150 men were summoned, their names being drawn from the jury list, according to North Carolina law, by a child unable to read.

State at Disadvantage

In choosing the jury the defense has the advantage in that it has 12 peremptory strikes, and the state only four. Another feature of the jury selection that has attracted attention here is that the defense has retained all the principal attorneys in Concord, and the State, as far as known, is without a local attorney to aid in choosing jurors. Knowledge of this led to reports that the state again would seek trial in another court.

Change of venue was denied once when Judge E.B. Cline, who will preside at the trial, ruled against the state’s contention that a fair trial could not be had from a jury of Cabarrus County men. Either side, however, can renew its plea up to the time trial actually starts.

Solicitor Clement, who held a long conference today at his home in Salisbury, Rowan County, with John T. Dooling, assistant district attorney of New York, stated that thus far the prosecution has no intention of making another attempt for a change. Mr. Dooling, accompanied by other New York officials, who worked on the case from that end, arrived early today. L.C. Cline, a Statesville attorney, formerly of Concord, and an acquaintance of the Means family, came here today, having been retained, he announced, to aid the prosecution, and is expected to give much time to jury selection.

Grand Jury Returns True Bill, Means to Stand Trial for Murder, 1917

“Gaston B. Means to Be Tried for His Life,” from the Monroe Journal, Nov. 2, 1917

Solicitor Clement Has Asked for a Change of Venue, Claiming That a Fair Trial Cannot be Secured in Cabarrus County

Concord, Nov. 1—The grand jury of Cabarrus County this morning returned a true bill charging Gaston Bullock Means with the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King, wealthy New York and Chicago woman, who was shot and killed at Blackwelder Spring near here on August 29. Immediately after the bill was returned, Means was arraigned in court and a special venire was summoned from which to select a jury to try him, but Solicitor Clement asked a change of venue and court adjourned until 2:30 at which time the defense will make its answer to the affidavit.

Means put in a plea of not guilty.

In asking that the trial of Means be removed to another point in this judicial district Solicitor Hayden Clement sets forth the prominence of the Means family during 100 years in this vicinity; that the defendant had employed practically all the lawyers in the city to defend him; that when he wanted to swear out a warrant charging Means with the murder of Mrs. King the officers were reluctant in issuing same, and that the feeling displayed against the New York witnesses and newspaper reporters, together with articles regarding them printed in a local newspaper and a newspaper at Kannapolis, made it difficult to properly try the case here.
The counsel for the defense asked to be given time to reply to the affidavit of Solicitor Clement and at 10:30 o’clock court adjourned until 2:30 this afternoon.

The indictment charging Means with the murder of Mrs. King came after the grand jury had examined witnesses for three days. Among those testifying before the jury were Dr. Burmeister, coroner’s physician of Cook County, Illinois, whose alleged discoveries at a postmortem examination of the body of Mrs. King at Chicago, where it had been carried for burial, was partly responsible for the reopening of the investigation into the case in this state. A coroner’s jury which investigates the circumstances surrounding the killing of Mrs. King returned a verdict the day after the tragedy at Concord that she had met death by an accidental bullet wound, self-inflicted.

Mrs. King was killed about 8 o’clock on the evening of August 29 at Blackwelder Spring, an isolated spot 10 miles from Concord, where she had gone with Gaston Means, Afton Means, a brother, and Carolyn Bingham, apparently for target practice. Mrs. King was a guest with her sister, Mrs. Mary C. Melvin, at the home of Gaston Means’ parents in this city. Means has maintained that he and Mrs. King left the automobile party and started for the spring, Means leading the way. According to his story, he was leaning over the spring getting a drink of water when he heard a shot, and whirling around he saw Mrs. King fall, some distance away.

Means is being defended by an array of leading lawyers of North Carolina and the state is being represented by Solicitor Hayden Clement and Attorney General James S. Manning.

When Judge Frank I. Osborne stood before Judge Cline this afternoon to oppose the removal of the Means case to Statesville or Salisbury, a bog preliminary battle began, for the defense, having shown its hand, now is ready to fight to a finish and the suspension and waiting of the last three days will be changed into spectacular happenings that promise to characterize the entire trial.

Solicitor Clement, in his affidavit this morning, included among his reasons for asking a removal, the prominence of the Means family, the universal discussion and forming of opinions by Cabarrus people, the employment of practically the entire Concord bar by Means, and last, certain editorials in the Concord Observer, which the solicitor declared were strong arguments in favor of the defendant.
Summing up, Mr. Clement said that he was satisfied a fair and impartial jury of men who had formed no opinion in the case could not be had in Cabarrus.

The arraignment of Means was the most dramatic spectacle in the proceedings of the morning. Hardly had Foreman C.S. Farrow of the grand jury announced the finding of a true bill, than Means was being conducted into the court room by Sheriff Caldwell from his cell hard by, where he has spent two months following his arrest on September 22. Mrs. Means, who had been on her daily visit to her husband’s cell, was with him when he received the discomforting news of the grand jury finding and she wept bitterly as she entered the little court room where only a few score citizens, urged on by curiosity, were keeping a silent vigil in hope of witnessing the grand jury return. Col. W.G. Means completed the family as represented at the court house this morning. Mrs. Mary Melvin was not present.

Means himself, despite his contagious optimism of past weeks, looked like a man suddenly shaken by some terrific emotion as he entered with his wife and the sheriff. When the clerk of court had uttered the words of arraignment, Means’ eyes were filled with tears and he showed far more emotion that he has ever displayed since the case had its beginning two months ago. His look was hard to interpret but there was disappointment and perhaps a suggestion of chagrin as if he felt the sting of some invisible lash and could offer no force to resist it with his own will or hands. When the clerk, a lifelong friend, had taken down Means’ plea of not guilty, and had uttered the solemn words, “And may God give you a true deliverance,” the dramatic elements of the tragedy of it all seemed to shoot home to Means’ consciousness and he fell for the moment under the sway of emotions that could not be controlled—perhaps the presence of the woman who had learned to love and trust him made the moment harder for him. And Colonel Means, the father and veteran lawyer of a thousand legal battles, became a chief actor in the scene which hundreds of times he has witnessed but only as an outsider and an uninterested witness. Judge Cline, it is probable, will grant the prayer for removal, but it is pointed out that the drawing of a jury from Rowan or Iredell would offer a ready compromise to the two pleadings, one for removal and the other against it, and many people here give this a likely place on the further program in this sensational case.

Since Assistant District Attorney Dooling and all of his aides are on the ground with the large contingent of Chicago men, the early hearing of the murder case will save these men form a great deal of inconvenience and, while their going and coming will not be material in setting the date of trial, there has been no hint that Judge Osborne or Mr. Cansler will ask for a continuance of the case, though a removal to Statesville or Salisbury would cause the case to await the next term of court in either town unless a special term is called and that would not head off a delay of 10 days or longer.

Therefore, it is believed that the trial will have an early opening. Not less than two days is the limit fixed by lawyers for selecting a jury to try Means.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gaston Means' Case Now With Cabarrus Grand Jury, 1917

“Gaston Means’ Case Now With Cabarrus Grand Jury,” from the Oct. 30, 1917, issue of the Monroe Journal.

 Solicitor Clement Asks for “Bill of Indictment Charging Murder…Many Witnesses Arrive From the North

Concord, Oct. 29—Hayden Clement, solicitor for the 15th judicial district, of which Cabarrus County is a party, today asked the Cabarrus grand jury to return a true bill against Gaston Bullock Means, charging him with the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King, whose death occurred at Blackwelder Springs a few miles from this city, exactly two months ago today.

Means, since a preliminary hearing on September 25, has been confined in the county jail here to await the action of the grand jury at this term of court. This body was chosen today with O.S. Farrar, a local business man, as foreman, and after disposing of several less important cases went into the Means case this afternoon, examining three of the state’s witnesses.

The presence here of witnesses from New York and Chicago added much interest to the case. From the office of District Attorney Swann, of New York, there are here Assistant District Attorney john T. Dooling, Dr. Otto Schultze, pathologist, and Detective William Jones, as well as Pistol Expert William J. Jones of New York.

Witnesses from Chicago include Dr. William H. Burmeister, physician to the coroner of Cook County, Ill., and Detective Sergeant George B. Schrivener. It was the former who performed the autopsy on the body of Mrs. King after it had been exhumed in Chicago.

Means Trial May be Moved to Union County, 1917

“Gaston Means May Be Tried in Union County,” from the Monroe Journal, Oct. 5, 1917

Tom Bost, in the Greensboro News, Voices the Suspicion that Mr. Armfield Was Brought Into Case for This reason

There is a faint possibility that Gaston Means, charged with the murder of Mrs. Maude King, will be tired in Union County. Mr. Frank Armfield, suspicions Tom Bost, the well-known Raleigh correspondent of the Greensboro News, was brought into the case in order that he might pick the “right kind” of jury in case Means should be tried in this county.

Mr. Bost’s story, sent from Salisbury Wednesday, and contained in yesterday’s Greensboro News, follows:

“Assuming that the grand jury will find a bill against Gaston Means and that there will be a big trial “somewhere in North Carolina” about the close of October, the populace of Rowan, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Union counties finds excuse for its sustained interest in the case through proposed change of venue.

‘Here there is a suspicion that Frank Armfield was bought into the case from Union to make sure of a good jury should the state decide to move the case from Cabarrus County to the place where Andy Jackson, former well-known Salisburian, Governor Bickett and Secretary Frank Dave Houston of President Wilson’s cabinet had the destiny first to open their eyes, and mouths. The assumption of such business is this is positively amazing.

“Then the Cabarrus bar in toto is attached to the Means defense sothere is no danger of a jury of local dunderheads. In Mecklenburg both Cansler and Judge Frank Osborne are known to the vast empire outside Charlotte and they have that division protected against a hostile venire or even a Twelve. It is assumed that Union or Mecklenburg will get the trial for these very potent popular reasons.

“And that’s about all that there is immediately ahead. All hope of the ‘squeal’ promised last week is gone now. All early prospect of the new arrests now has passed. The two men and the star woman who were to have taken last week or early this will not be arrested. The people have only the trial to look forward to and that is four weeks off.”

Sunday, September 17, 2017

J.T. Holloway Convinced Wealthy Widow Didn't Kill Herself, 1917

“Mr. Holloway Convinced There Was Foul Play,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 25, 1917

Visit to Spot of King Murder Leads Monroe Man to the Belief That Wealthy Lady Did Not Die Accidentally

Since visiting the spot where Mrs. King, the wealthy Chicago and New York woman, was standing when she fell wounded to death from a pistol shot, Mr. J.T. Holloway is convinced that she did not die from wounds inflicted by her own hands. He makes no accusations; merely stating that he does not believe it possible that she could have killed herself accidentally in the manner described by Gaston Means, her confidential secretary.

The spot near Concord, which Mr. Holloway visited Saturday, is secluded. In fact, according to him, it would hardly be possible to find another spot more so in Cabarrus County. The forked tree which Means claims he laid the pistol, was given a close scrutiny by Mr. Holloway, and he is of the opinion that it would be impossible for a pistol to lay on the spot indicated by Means. He endeavored to place a pocket knife on the spot, but it slid to the ground.

Gaston Means Consents To Being Held Until October Grand Jury, 1917

“Means Is Held Without Bail to the Next Court,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 28, 1917

In the Midst of His Preliminary Hearing He Waives Examination…Unsuccessful Attempt Made to Seize Documents

Concord, Sept. 25—Gaston B. Means waived examination in the midst of his preliminary hearing before a magistrate here late today and consented to be bound over to the October term of the Cabarrus County grand jury on a charge of having murdered Mrs. Maude A. King of New York and Chicago. Magistrate Pitts ordered him held without bail.

Counsel for Means stated at the hearing they had “been informed that threats had been made” that New York officials here had brought extradition warrants to take the defendant back to New York on “some undisclosed criminal charge” and that they felt she would be safer in custody of the sheriff of this county.” It also was announced that Means did not desire to run the chance of facing any charges elsewhere with an unsettled murder charge against him in North Carolina. This charge, his counsel contended, would be cleared away at the trial.

The agreement came after counsel for Means had made an unsuccessful attempt to get possession of papers and documents seized by District Attorney Swann’s representatives in Means’ New York apartment, and was accompanied by a lengthy explanation by the defendant of his reasons for abruptly ending his fight in the magistrate’s court. Mrs. Mary C. Melvin, sister of the woman Means alleged to have killed, joined him obtaining a writ from Superior Court Judge Webb at Gastonia, ordering Assistant District Attorney Dooling, New York, and other New York and Chicago officials who came here with Dooling to aid the prosecution, to turn over the documents to the clerk of the superior court of Cabarrus County. The writ is made returnable before Superior Court Judge Cline at Salisbury October 8.


Dooling and other officials named in the order informed Sheriff Caldwell that the documents referred to were in the possession of Solicitor Clement, who conducted the prosecution of Means. The latter issued a statement, saying:

“We will keep the documents unless ordered by the court after the hearing to give them up.”

Among the documents mentioned in the order was the alleged second will of the late J.C. King of Chicago, which if finally held legal, would give to the estate of Mrs. Maude A. King approximately two million dollars more than the wife got when her husband died. Mrs. Melvin, whose name was attached to the order as Mrs. Mary C. Melvin, believes, according to the order, that C.B. Ambrose, a federal department of justice agent, who came here for the hearing and was one of those named in the order, “is agent of the Northern Trust Company of Chicago, and is vitally interested in preventing the will being probated.” The trust company holds the two millions in trust for a charitable organization.
“I don’t worry about what they believe I am,” said Ambrose when asked about the allegation. “I have papers showing what I am.”


Means alleged in the order for the papers and documents that they were necessary for defense of his cause and cited that none of them had been introduced by the prosecution in the preliminary hearing. His counsel in court said they had been unable to get permission to copy the papers, while Solicitor Clement replied that he had been unable to get from the defense certain documents and evidence wanted.

“The defendant comes into court and waives examination and the finding of probably cause for the reason stated in the paper hereunto attached. It is therefore ordered that the defendant be committed to jail without bond to await action by the October term of the grand jury. The grand jury meets October 29 next,” Magistrate Pitts said.

Solicitor Clement had argued for a commitment binding Means over and stating that evidence justified such action, while Means’ attorneys contended that the order should contain Means’ reason for agreeing to be bound over, including statements as to his ineffectual efforts to obtain the documents and references to extradition papers and “undisclosed criminal charges” which he did not want to face before final action on the murder charge here.


Attorney General Manning of North Carolina, who was present during the hearing, spoke one time for Solicitor Clement and when one of Means’ counsel mentioned “contempt proceedings” as one possibility which might result from the proceedings by which Means sought to get the documents, Mr. Manning announced that he was interested in the case and declared “the attorney general won’t be bulldozed.”

Solicitor Clement came into the court room shortly afterward and both he and the attorney general continued in arguments with the defense on the wording of the writ. Finally the two sides agreed to the final writ with the attached explanations. Magistrate Pitts signed the writ itself, but declined to sign the attached explanation.

The latter contained also a statement that Means in no manner agreed that there was any evidence by which he could have been held to the grand jury if he had seen fit to continue to fight the case and also described him as “fully believing” that he would be “completely acquitted and vindicated” of the charge of murder when the case went to a jury.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

At Preliminary Hearing, Witnesses Say Physically Impossible for Mrs. King to Have Shot Herself, 1917

“State Concludes Case at Means’ Preliminary Hearing,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 25, 1917

At First Day of Sensational Murder Case, Experts Testified That Woman Couldn’t Have Killed Herself as Described

Concord, Sept. 24—The state concluded its case at the preliminary hearing here today of Gaston B. Means on a warrant charging him with the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King, without giving any hint of a possible motive. It confined itself to an effort to show “probably cause” which would be sufficient to bind Means over to the grand jury.

An adjournment until tomorrow was taken immediately after the state finished presenting witnesses, the defense requesting time to confer before announcing what steps it would take.

Among the witnesses who testified for the prosecution were two experts who declared that in their opinion it would have been a physical impossibility for Mrs. King to have shot herself in the manner in which she received her fatal wound near here early in the evening of August 29, last. Means, who was the business agent of the wealthy widow, was with her at target practice at Blackwelder Springs when the shooting occurred and he told the coroner’s jury that she shot herself accidentally.

The hearing was held before Magistrate C.A. Pitts, counsel for Means declining to have him examined before Magistrate A.B. Palmer.

Gaston Means Finally Arrested for Killing of Maude King on August 29, 1917

“Means Is Charged With the Murder of Mrs. King,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 25, 1917. Remember, the police and coroner had originally ruled that the death was either an accident or a suicide, after Means gave his word as a Southern gentleman.

Officers Arrest Him Believing They Have Sufficient Evidence to Establish Motive for the Killing…Was Unexpected

Concord, Sept. 22—Gaston B. Means was arrested at his home here late today on a warrant charging him with the murder of Mrs. Maude A. King, a wealthy Chicago widow who was mysteriously killed near this place August 29. His preliminary hearing before a magistrate was set for Monday morning.

The arrest of Mrs. King’s so-called business manager followed a long conference between Solicitor Hayden Clement and representatives from the office of District Attorney Swann of New York, who brought here many documents seized in a raid upon Means’ New York apartment several days ago. Means was held at his home under guard until he could confer with his attorneys, who include some of the leading members of the North Carolina bar. Later he was locked up in the Cabarrus County jail.

After swearing out the warrant for Means, Solicitor Clement announced that coroner’s inquest would not be reopened Monday as planned, but that all witnesses summoned for the inquest would be required to appear to give evidence at the preliminary hearing.

As a preliminary move before having the warrant issued for Means’ arrest, Solicitor Clement made a demand through Coroner Carl L. Spears that Means delivered to the authorities the clothes fire arms, cartridges and other effects of Mrs. King, when she was killed and which are said to be in Means’ possession. The accused man refused to comply with the demand, and the solicitor would not say what steps would be taken to procure them.

During the conference between Solicitor Clement and Assistant District Attorney Dooling of New York, several persons were called in and questioned. They included Captain W.S. Bingham, who was a member of the party with Mrs. King when she was shot. Later he accompanied the solicitor and Mrs. Dooling to the scene of the killing and rehearsed the evidence he had given to the coroner’s inquest. He also pointed out the positions of the several members of the party when the shot was fired.

Testimony at the coroner’s inquest was that Means was with Mrs. King near Blackwelder Spring and that the other members of the party were unable to see them because of the uneven ground.

M.F. Ritchie, a hardware dealer, from whom the two pistols and a repeating rifle carried by the Means party were purchased, also was examined during the conference between the prosecuting attorneys. Present also were Dr. Otto Schulte, pathologist attached to the New York district attorney’s office; Captain William T. Jones, pistol expert of the New York police department; John Cuniff, a New York detective; C.B. Ambrose, an agent of the Department of Justice who is on leave of absence and will assist in the prosecution, and Attorney Philip O. McDuffie of Atlanta, Ga., counsel for Mrs. Anna L. Robinson, Mrs. King’s mother.

Persistent rumors that a second automobile was following the machine in which the Means party went to Blackwelder Spring were given official attention today and the authorities are working to clear them up. Captain Bingham said tonight he was certain there was a car following the one in which they were riding and intimated that the names of the occupants would be named at the trial.

The killing of Mrs. Maude A. king, a wealthy New York and Chicago widow, which has attracted nationwide interest, occurred during the early evening of August 29 at Blackwelder Springs, near here, where she, accompanied by Gaston B. Means, her brother, Afton, and Captain Bingham, had gone ostensibly for target practice. A coroner’s jury which investigated the case returned a verdict the day after the tragedy declaring that Mrs. King had met death by the accidental discharge of a pistol. The bullet which caused her death entered the back of her head and caused almost instant death.
When the body of Mrs. King reached Chicago, where it had been taken for interment, a Chicago physician performed an autopsy on the body and his investigation is alleged to have disclosed that there were no powder burns on Mrs. King’s head, which indicated, according to the Chicago physician that Mrs. King could not have accidentally shot herself.

Following closely the publication of this report came stories from Chicago and New York which intimated that Means was in financial difficulties. The Chicago authorities and district attorneys of New York began active investigations into Means’ activities in those cities.

Ten days ago Solicitor Hayden Clement of this district announced that he would re-open an investigation into the death of Mrs. King and asked the coroner of Cabarrus County to re-open the inquest, and set Monday, September 24, for the hearing. The solicitor issued a statement, at the time, in which he neither believed Mrs. King met her death by accident nor by suicide, and stated that he wanted to give the coroner’s jury an opportunity to correct their former verdict, if in their opinion, the evidence warranted it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

More Than Single Person Behind Death of Maude King, 1917

“Mrs. King Was the Victim of Murder Plot,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 21, 1917

It Was Deliberately Planned in New York City…Deposit Box Gives Up Only Rubber Band

New York, Sept. 19—The World today carries a story in which District Attorney Swann is quoted as boldly asserting the evidence in possession of his office has convinced him that a “conspiracy to murder Mrs. Maude A. King was “hatched in this city,” and that this “conspiracy involved several persons who actually participated.” The World story follows:

District Attorney Swann announced last night, after receiving a report from Captain Jones, pistol expert of the police department, that he was convinced that Mrs. Maude A. King was the victim of “premeditated” murder when she met death outside of Concord, N.C., on the evening of August 29 through a pistol wound.

The district attorney stated that evidence in possession of his office as the result of its investigation was comprehensive and conclusive enough to convince him that a conspiracy to murder the wealthy widow was hatched in this city; that this conspiracy involved several persons who actively participated; that in connection with Mrs. King’s affairs the crimes of grand larceny, forgery and conspiracy to perpetuate a fraud had been committed.

“Captain Jones,” said Mr. Swann, “has been making exhaustive tests with an automatic pistol the exact duplicate of the one from which admittedly the shot which killed Mrs. King was fired. As far as possible he has re-enacted the tragedy. As a result of this work he has reported that Mrs. King was the victim of foul play.

“Mrs. King was a resident of this city. I have instructed Assistant District Attorney Dooling to go to Concord the latter part of this week and to assist the North Carolina authorities. I have directed that Dr. Otto H. Schultze, whom I regard as one of the best medical experts in this country on such work, to go to Concord to testify at the inquest next Monday. I have taken other steps to see that those persons guilty of the murder of Mrs. King be brought to justice.

“I am perfectly willing to bear personally the full expense involved in the steps I have taken, should this expenditure be regarded as an unjustifiable one on New York. I do not so consider it. Should the guilty persons be indicted in North Carolina for the major crime and convicted, well death ends all. New York would be saved the expense of costly trials here to convict them of lesser offenses.

“Beyond this is the principle that New York must be interested in bringing to justice any person guilty of the murder of one of its citizens. You know the old Roman saying, ‘Roanus sum’.”

Last night there was great activity in the district attorney’s office. It was evident in the statements of assistants that new and important evidence had convinced those in charge of the investigation that the chain of circumstances involving Mrs. King’s affairs and her death had been revealed.

Neither District Attorney Swann nor his assistants would give any indication as to the identities of those they believe guilty of conspiring to murder the woman and of effecting the murder. From information in possession of the World it can be said that unless the evidence in possession of the New York authorities collapses there will be startling surprises when the evidence is produced.

This evidence involves in the major conspiracy some persons among Mrs. King’s circle of friends who, so far, have not figured in the startling revelations of her affairs. It brings in new names as those playing leading parts. Unless the calculations of Mr. Swann’s office are wrong, disclosures more sensational than any yet made are due either at the Concord inquest, or at the grand jury proceeding which, it is assumed here, will immediately follow.

Adding to the mystery of the case and opening the field for unlimited speculation is the “second automobile.” This car has been rather vaguely mentioned in dispatches from Concord. The story is that it followed close behind the King automobile on the bit of lonely road on the evening of the tragedy, that occupants of this car unobserved by those in the first, were on the scene or close enough to it to be observers of all that took place from the time Mrs. King walked to the spring with Gaston Bullock Means, her confidential agent, and the time her limp form was listed back into her car again.

Assistant District Attorney Dooling positively declined to discuss this “second car” in any way. He characterized as “great mistake” these Concord dispatches which have referred to it.

Who were the occupants of that car? What was their business? Why did they stealthily shadow the King party? Where were its members when the fatal shot was fired? Above all who were they? Were they secret service men in the employ of the federal government, as has been intimated from Concord, or were they there that night for some more sinister purpose?

These questions loomed last night as the major importance. That they will be asked and that answers will be forthcoming at the inquest there is reason to believe.

Again, what had Gaston Means done for Germany which caused agents of the department of justice to dog his steps for more than two years as federal authorities here yesterday admitted? What were his activities which caused the United States Secret Service to follow him day in and day out until they turned this work over to the department of justice, as was also admitted by federal officials here yesterday?

The answers to these questions may or may not come through the pending North Carolina proceedings. Last night the district attorney’s office was working late in preparation of a mass of evidence in support of the revelations made here during their investigation of Mrs. King’s affairs. This evidence, Mr. Dooling will carry for transmission to the North Carolina officials and two district attorney detectives will guard it on the trip to Concord.

District Attorney Swann seized in the apartments of Gaston Means the carbon copies of a series of letters sent to Mrs. King. The district attorney said last night experts had compared the typing of these letters and found they were all written on Means’ typewriter, which is in Mr. Swann’s possession. Other proof satisfied Mr. Swann that the letters were all written by Means on his own typewriter and in his apartment at No. 1115 Park Avenue.

DA Feels Woman Was Mastermind Behind Maude King's Murder, 1917

“Daring Woman Directed Looting of King Estate,” from the Monroe Journal, Sept. 18, 1917

District Attorney Feels Sure of This and Wants Mrs. Melvin, Sister of Slain Woman, to Tell of Persons Latter Knew

New York World, Sept. 13th.

A woman—daring, unscrupulous, determined—was the “master mind” which directed the looting of the $2,000,000 estate of Mrs. Maude A. King, District Attorney Swann said to The World last night. Co-operation with her was the controlled and weaker mind of a man.

Mr. Swann did not name the woman of the “master mind” nor the man who assisted her. Both, the District Attorney asserted, were members of the large group of persons who derived financial gain from their association with Mrs. King.

“The seizure of that trunk full of papers in the apartment of Gaston Means, her confidential agent,” said Mr. Swann, “will prove, in my opinion, the decisive step in bring to punishment those guilty of the minor crime of looting the estate and eventually those responsible for Mrs. King’s death. Most of them are her personal papers, showing with whom she dealt and how she was dealt by. They afford, I believe, evidence of preparation and motive for the greater crime.”

Because Mrs. Melvin lived with her sister for years preceding the latter’s death, Mr. Dooling and his assistants believe that she can throw valuable light upon the various persons who in the last two years became intimate with Mrs. King. They hope that she will come to New York to aid them in finding those who wrought against Mrs. King. With her assistance the District Attorney’s office believes it can make quick progress.

Entrance of a woman as a prime factor in the case came as no surprise to persons who have been intimately in touch with the Kings. But these persons disagree with District Attorney Swann in the opinion that hers was the master mind. They assert the man dominated the woman.

A telegram sent as mysteriously as was the message which resulted in the conviction of Dr. Waite for murder, has been sent in this case, it developed yesterday.

On the night of Mrs. King’s death someone filed this message:

“Mrs. King, 1135 Park Avenue, died Concord; very peculiar circumstances. Investigate.”

Mr. Dooling declined to say last night where this telegram was filed, or who received it.

“It came to a friend of Mrs. King,” is all he would say.

But the world has reason for saying the message was filed in Concord on August 29; was addressed to the District Attorney, New York City and was assigned with a fictitious name. The telegram was in a man’s handwriting.

The New York authorities believe that if they establish the identity of the sender, they will be near an end of the death mystery.