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Heard County, GA
Genealogy • History  

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The Capture of John Smith, the slayer of Barker
Most of our readers are already familiar with the circumstances connected with the shooting and killing of Bonner Barker at his home in Heard county on the last day of 1884 by John Smith, and his brother, An Smith, and one King.

The arrest of An Smith at his place, by our vigilant sheriff, J.M. Hewitt, was mentioned in these columns last week. King had also been arrested by the sheriff of Heard, and these two were being ... ...quiry in Rockalo, the District in which the crime was committed, and after a hearing sent to jail to abide the action of the Grand Jury which will convene on the 4th Monday in March.

But John Smith, the chief actor in the terrible tragedy was still at large and while hundreds of excited and determined men were hunting him with guns and gods, day and night, Sheriff Hewitt was quietly taking his points, and believing he had him located, on Friday morning last, at twenty minutes after two o'clock, he with his f aithful deputy, Mr. John Skipper with a posse of three others, mounted and dashed off in the direction of the Alabama line.

The little party made eighteen miles in two hours and twenty minutes, only to find on arriving at the house where Smith was supposed to be and had been in hiding, that quick as they were, he had notice of their coming and had fled. In the afternoon Mr. Hewitt dismissed his posse and continued his investigations with Mr. Skipper alone, through Friday night and Saturday until early in the night, when the search was ended by the capture of Smith.

In the woods about one mile and a quarter to the west or south of west from Roopville, in this county, stands a cabin, near which two paths intersect one of them passing immediately by the chimney. By this chimney Mr. Hewitt stood, shivering in the bitter cold, waiting and watching for Smith, who he had reason to believe would pass there in order to get to the house of his friend.

He had not long to wait until footsteps were heard and soon the form of Smith was seen outlined in the darkness. As he came up Mr. Hewitt simply said as he stepped in front of the fugitive, pistol in hand, "Don't move, John." And he didn't but quietly surrendered, and the two immediately started for Roopville, Mr. Hewitt calling out, "come on boys." The "boys" consisted of Mr. John Skipper, who had been watching on the other path, and now joined them and the three made quick time to Roopville, captors and prisoner both anxious to put as much space as possible between themselves and the angry crowd who were still engaged in the search for Smith.

We had an interview with the prisoner in his cell, in the Carroll jail on Tuesday evening last. He looks anything but the desperado he is described to be. We found him seated on his bed quietly smoking a pipe. After greeting us and several others who went in with us, he resumed his seat and his pipe. He answered questions readily in regard to his pursuit and capture. He stated t hat he would gladly have surrender to Hewitt at any time for eight days before his capture and only kept out of the way because be believed the people who were hunting him would kill him. He had not slept for about fifteen days except perhaps a part of two nights. His feet, hands and nose were frost bitten. He felt relieved when he fell into the hands of the sheriff of Carroll, for he felt that he would be protected from violence. He asked nothing but a fair and impartial hearing and felt that people ought not to judge and condemn him on hearsay evidence.
brought to the web by:   Wylie Hutchins & Jan Nance
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