|Heard County, GA
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More accounts of the BARKER/SMITH story
The Franklin News gives the following account of the capture of John Smith:
Sheriff Hewitt took in the fugitive John Smith last Saturday night.
A crowd of men had been running Smith with dogs Friday evening and came
very near catching him. Saturday night, Messrs. Hewitt and Lipscomb selected
two trails which they suspected Smith to travel, each taking this stand near the
houses of Jack Hutchins and Jim Craven, and remaining perfectly still, and sure
enough late in the night Smith came along and whistled. He was answered from
Hutchins' house, and as he started in a fast walk he halted in the outstretched
arms of Carroll's efficient sheriff. He is now in Carrollton jail, but will be brought
to Franklin jail soon. We have never seen the people so much rejoiced over any
one thing as over Smith's capture. He has been a terror to the people of northern
Heard for a number of years.
* * * *
Dated: March 27 1885* * * *
Some of our local attorneys went down to Franklin this week to court.
We learn from one of them, who returned Wednesday, that the case of John Smith
was continued till next Monday.
Approximate date Aug 1885* * * *
Franklin News: Immediately after supper, a few nights since, Mr. W.Z. Barker,
of Rockalo, noticed some one approach his front gate and squat. It seemed
strange to him and he picked up his gun and started toward the gate, but as he
stepped out of the door whoever it was ran off to the back of his gin lot. He
walked back in the house, and nothing more was thought of it. Later in the night,
however, Mrs. Herrin, Mrs. Barker's mother, who was visiting her, stepped out
upon the back verandah to get water. As she approached the edge of the piazza
she was seized by someone who attempted to pull her out, but throwing herself
backward her clothing tore, and the fiend lost his grip, betaking himself to flight,
as those in the sitting room responded to the lady's creams. All the dogs were
away from the house but one, and he was still barking at the former party, and
when called away would not track the rascal. This dastardly and infamous trick
created a sensation in the vicinity and it is hard to understand the intention of
the fiends. A gentleman the neighborhood, who informed us of the occurrence,
thinks that it was some of the friends of the Smiths, and that they took Mrs. Herring
for Mrs. Emogene Barker whom they intended to kill to prevent her testimony in the
murder case against the Smiths. Mrs. B. had been visiting her father in law the day
before, but had gone. We learn that both her life and Mr. Barker's has been threatened.
Franklin News: The most novel wedding we ever heard of was solemnized at the
jail yesterday evening, the contracting parties being John W. Smith and Mit Levens.
The parties claim to have been legally married, but it was disputed; so they decided
to make the matter sure, and procuring a license, tied the loosened knot in the connubial
halter-string over. The first door to the cell was opened, and joining hands through the
feed-hole of the iron door, Dr. Chapman performed the ceremony with all the dignity of
a priest. A large crowd witnessed the ceremony. It was the most novel affair Franklin
has witnessed in some time. Smith says he wanted to be re-married as his wife has been
threatened with prosecution on the illegality of their former marriage.
* * * *
A straight-up little man with frank face and clear eyes, stood in the governor's office the
other day and received from the governor's hand two rewards for the capture of Smith,
the slayer of Bonner Barker. This was Jim Hewitt, the famous sheriff of Carroll County.
"John Smith" said a friend of Hewitt's for he's too modest to talk about it himself,
"Is a very desperate man. He had shot old man Barker and cut Bonner Barker's
throat long before the final act in the tragedy. This you remember well. He shot Bonner
down in the presence of his young wife, who attempted to throw herself between the
slayer and her husband. It was thought Smith would never be arrested. He had fled
the country and was near the Alabama line in the midst of his relatives. But Jim was on
his track. For eighteen days the hunt went on. At last Jim located him. He studied out
the paths of the fugitive through the woods and from Thursday morning until Saturday
night, he lay in wait for him. On Saturday night Jim was hid in the woods by a lonely path
which he knew Smith would cross. About midnight he heard the murderer coming, walking
cautiously over the frozen ground. Jim kicked off his rubbers, dropped his overcoat, drew
his pistol, and as Smith's form loomed before him, the little man rose and said: Smith you
must come with me. It was a big chance to take but Smith knew his man and submitted
without a word. Laying his hand on his collar, Jim led the slayer out of the heart of night to
prison". ---Henry Grady in Atlanta Constitution.
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