|William L. "Willie" DeLozier (center) with sister Lillie Ivalee (on left) and brother John Cleveland|
(on right). The picture was taken circa 1885.
Source: Elise DeLozier Palmer (daughter of J.C. DeLozier)
Early on in my research, I came across this fascinating little article in a North Carolina newspaper about the shooting death of an 18 year-old young man in Swain County.
|Source: The Daily Evening Patriot (Greensboro, NC)|
16 October 1888
Various iterations of this article appeared in other North Carolina newspapers. I was intrigued, as I knew that the DeLozier family had lived in the Judson area and so attempted a great deal of additional research to see what else I could find out about this young man's death - and came up empty-handed. Then a couple of years later, I picked up the book, "Ash, Ashe, Stillwell: A Genealogy", a genealogical history of some of the families who had lived in the Judson and Almond areas of Swain County. Hidden among the book's 425 pages documenting family members and their progeny, I came across exactly what I had been looking for. As it turns out, a relative of the author, John Reid Ashe, had written to him while he was authoring the book and wanted to share an old family story with him.
It was on the death of Willie DeLozier. I'd hit the proverbial jackpot.
I hope you will enjoy Choice Stillwell Parker's letter (below) as much as I did.
"I've heard my Daddy speak of his Aunt Emmoline Delosier many, many times. Also of how her son, Willie, met his death at an early age. He told us that Willie had dated a Sandlin girl a few times, while at the same time some other boy was dating her. He said that someone gift wrapped a pocket knife and mailed it to the Sandlin girl. Now in those days this was considered an insult, so her brother Matt, carried the knife back to Willie Delosier. Willie assured Matt that he had not mailed the knife to the girl, that it was not his knife and he had never seen it before. Matt carried the knife back down to the general store and left it there. A few days later the knife was received through the mail by the Sandlin girl again, all gift wrapped as before.
On a Saturday afternoon, shortly thereafter, Matt Sandlin showed up at the general store, sat around and talked for a while, and was heard to say he was going over to spend the night with Willie and would kill him while he was there. Matt arrived at Willie's late in the afternoon and after supper they were sitting around talking and Matt asked Willie to go hunting with him the next morning. Willie agreed. Willie did not know the girl had received the knife a second time and no idea what was going on in Matt's mind.
When morning came, Willie fixed breakfast. His mother was in bed sick with mumps, I believe it was. Willie went up to see about his mother and found her with a headache. He tied a handkerchief around his mother's head and told her of his plans to go hunting with Matt. His mother didn't want him to go, she said she didn't 'feel right about it'. Willie assured her he would be alright and would be back in a little while.
|Mary Rebecca Emaline (nee' Stillwell) DeLozier, |
mother of Willie DeLozier.
Source: "Ash, Ashe, Stillwell"
Willie was brought to the house and friends and neighbors came in, bathed, dressed, and 'laid Willie out'. In the evening when the community gathered to visit with the Delosiers, Matt was among the crowd but for some reason he would not go in to look at Willie as other friends were doing. When someone asked him why, he said he would rather not see Willie dead. Now, some of the men and boys who suspected what had happened on that hunting trip got together and decided they would make Matt go in and look at Willie. When they forced Matt to look at Willie, blood started oozing out through Willie's white shirt at the spot where the heart is (Willie was shot through the heart). This, they said, was proof that Matt had murdered Willie.
They carried Matt to jail and had a sort of trial, but since no one saw what happened in that field, he came clear. But my Daddy always said, he and everyone else around there, knew Matt Sandlin had made his threat good and killed Willie Delosier."
Choice Stillwell Parker in "Ash, Ashe, Stillwell", by John Ashe
|Documentation of the inquest for Willie DeLozier|
Source: Swain County Herald, 14 February 1889
In a sad twist of fate, Willie was killed exactly three years (to the day) after the death of his father, Jesse Ridings DeLozier. Willie, his parents, and many other of his family members, are buried in the Judson section of the Lauada Cemetery.
Note: The Matt Sandlin referred to in the tale of Willie's death was almost certainly Matison W. Sandlin (alternately recorded as Madison B Sandlin) (1869 - 30 July 1894), who was related to the DeLoziers by marriage (his brother, Will, was married to Nancy Caroline DeLozier). The Sandlin girl referred to would have likely been one of Matt's sisters: Mary (born in 1873) or Rachel Annie (born in 1874). He married Mary Lawing in Cherokee County, North Carolina, in 1891. In early November 1893, Sandlin, who was then living in Clay County, engaged in a quarrel with a neighbor and drew his gun to shoot the neighbor but instead struck the neighbor's 5 year-old son, killing him. He fled and was captured in Chester County, Tennessee, in June 1894 and was brought back to Murphy. He died of typhoid fever in the Cherokee County jail on July 30, 1894, while awaiting trial for the child's death.
|Willie DeLozier Headstone, Lauada Cemetery|
Source: John L Mathis for findagrave.com
"Ash, Ashe, Stillwell: A Genealogy" by John Reid Ashe; published 1977.
Asheville Weekly Citizen, 09 November 1893
Asheville Citizen-Times, 19 June 1894
Elise DeLozier Palmer and Amy Palmer Evans
Marion Record, 17 August 1894
Swain County Herald, 14 February 1889
The Daily Evening Patriot, 16 October 1888
Wilmington Morning Star, 07 August 1894