Murder, Mayhem & Mystery
In the Family

  Loftin  Setzer    Goble    Johnson


Michael Dale

"State vs. Hester"


"The Stat Prison
Claims Early Loftin"




"Wife Charged in the
Murder of
Christopher Goble"


"Murders of
Indian Women
& Children"

David Vanderford

"Gunshot Wound to the Stomach"



"Two Arrested
Automobile Crash"


"A Poor White Life
of the Old South"


"The Murder of
Omie Wise"


"The Rape of
Lydia Allred"




About Me:
Curtis Dean







History of
NC Counties




& High School







































































































Murder, Mayhem & Mystery


Looking Back


A look at the disreputable side of names connected to our family history
but NOT necessarily related to the family

Loftin Family
FAMILY NAMES: Beatty, Corzine, Cranford, Fisher, Givens, Harwell, Johnson, Kaiser, Lanier, Lomax, McCorkle, Rudisill, Sherrill, Upright, Washington, Work


Lafone, Michael Dale

b. 08 Sep 1970, Catawba County, NC

d. 12 May 1991, Catawba County, NC

Michael Dale Lafone was the son of Dale Lafone and Norma Lynn Coook. He was the grandson of Alvin & Frances Loftin Cook and great-grandson of Alonzo Lester Loftin & Ida Lillian Setzer. Michael was murdered on 11 May 1991 by Melvin Anthony Hester.

STATE of North Carolina, v. Melvin Anthony HESTER

Court of Appeals of North Carolina
July 20, 1993

The State's evidence showed that on 11 May 1991 Tonia Isenhour, who is defendant's ex-wife's cousin, and Michael Lafone went to a party at Cindy Lineberger's trailer. Also present were defendant, Melvin Anthony Hester, and his girlfriend, Michelle.
After remaining there for approximately thirty minutes, Tonia and Michael decided to leave and started walking toward their car. Defendant/Hester and Michelle, who were standing at the other side of Cindy's driveway, yelled derogatory comments to them, but Tonia and Michael did not respond. Defendant began following them as they continued walking to the car. Tonia unlocked the driver's side door, got in, and leaned across to unlock the passenger door for Michael who was waiting beside the vehicle. Defendant was then approaching the rear of the vehicle on the same side where Michael stood. Tonia heard defendant ask Michael if he knew who defendant was, and when Michael replied in the negative, defendant said "I am the meanest M.F. in Catawba County." Tonia then heard a loud noise "like a board hitting the car or something" and felt the automobile move. She looked out the window and could no longer see Michael, but realized that defendant was coming around the back of the car to the driver's side. She locked her door, and defendant stood beside it for a few seconds before walking to the front of the vehicle. As defendant passed, Tonia could see him putting something down inside his pants, but was unable to identify the object.
Defendant returned to the passenger side of the automobile and nudged Michael, who was on the ground, with his foot, telling him "get up man, you are all right." Rick Loftin, also at the party, appeared at that point and Tonia heard defendant say "I hit him." Rick testified that defendant's comment was "I think that I hurt him, man." After defendant spoke to Rick, the latter looked down and saw Michael in convulsions on the ground. In stooping to help Michael, Rick noticed that his head was bleeding and attempted to carry him to the porch of the trailer for assistance. Tonia, unaware of the type of injury Michael had sustained, was advised to leave the party and did so. She telephoned 911 from her cousin's house to report the incident. Approximately thirty minutes later, she went to the hospital where she was told Michael had been shot in the head. He died from his injury within a few hours.
The day after the party, Cindy Lineberger went to defendant's home to tell him Michael was dead. Defendant admitted to her he had used a gun, but stated he had lost it and did not know where it was. Other people who had attended the party found a gun in the field behind Cindy's trailer, where defendant had parked his motorcycle. Cindy identified the gun as being one she had seen in defendant's possession three or four days before the party. Forensic firearm identification expert Ronald Marrs expressed the opinion that a bullet removed from the deceased was fired from the weapon found behind Cindy's trailer. The physician who performed the autopsy on Michael determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head.
Defendant first asserts the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence of three prior convictions, later relied upon by the court as aggravating factors to support sentencing defendant to a term greater than the presumptive. We find this argument unpersuasive.
At sentencing, the court found as an aggravating factor that defendant "has a prior conviction or convictions for criminal offenses punishable by more than 60 days confinement." Specifically, the court noted convictions on pleas of guilty for assault on a female, damage to real property, and obstructing and delaying a public officer. Defendant maintains that, because the record before the court did not establish that his earlier guilty pleas were voluntarily and understandingly made, his constitutional rights were violated by the court's consideration of these convictions in his sentence determination.
In his second assignment of error, defendant alleges the court erred in allowing members of the jury to take written instructions into the jury room. Defendant concedes a lack of support for this contention in North Carolina, and we have consistently held to the contrary. "A trial court has inherent authority, in its discretion, to submit its instructions on the law to the jury in writing."
By his final assignment of error, defendant maintains the court erred in denying his motions to dismiss the charge of second degree murder for insufficient evidence. We disagree.
Defendant/Melvin Anthony Hester was convicted of the offense of second degree murder. "Murder in the second degree is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice but without premeditation and deliberation." Moreover, "malice may be presumed upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a killing by the intentional use of a deadly weapon ... absent any contrary evidence." Therefore, if the State proves that a defendant intentionally inflicted a wound upon a victim with a deadly weapon, proximately resulting in the victim's death, and no evidence is presented to the contrary, a presumption arises that the killing was done unlawfully and with malice.
Defendant contends there was insufficient evidence that he inflicted the fatal gunshot wound. This argument is without merit.
In summary, the defendant tried to provoke a response from Michael by yelling at him as he left the party; defendant followed Michael to his car; did something to Michael that made a loud noise, whereupon Michael fell to the ground; the first person on the scene observed blood flowing from Michael's head; Tonia saw defendant put an object down inside his pants; defendant admitted to Cindy Lineberger that he had used a gun, and a gun linked to defendant and identified as the weapon used in the killing was found the next day in a nearby field; and Michael died of a gunshot wound to the head a couple of hours after the incident at the car. The court committed no error in denying defendant's motion.
For the foregoing reasons, we find defendant received a fair trial, free from prejudicial error.


Loftin, Earl



Statesville, NC

1927 January 6, Thursday


The State Prison Claims Earl Loftin

Man Captured Here Returned to Raleigh to Finish Term in Penitentiary Before Answering Other Charges
     Earl Loftin, escaped convict from the state prison, Raleigh, also escaped convict from the chain gang of Bennettsville, S.S., and successful check flasher in Statesville, Mount Airy, Hamlet, Salisbury, and other North Carolina towns, who had been in the Iredell County Jail for several days, was taken back to Raleigh Tuesday morning to take up his duties in the state prison.
     Loftin is wanted in Bennettsville, S.C. to finish out a four-year term on the chain gang, but he will not be turned over to the South Carolina authorities until after he completes the term in Raleigh, according to information given out by George Ross Pou, Superintendent of the State Prison.
     The young offender's journey back to Raleigh began about 4 o'clock Tuesday morning, when Policemen Gilbert and Mills and "Red" Alexander called him out of his berth in the county jail and started on the trip by automobile.

Setzer Family

FAMILY NAMES: Aderholdt, Barringer, Bovey, Bushart, Deal, Heavner, Herman, Ikert, Miller, Motz, Rankin, Witherspoon



Goble Family

FAMILY NAMES: Babst, Bobst, Douglas, Faber, Fink, Fulbright, Hefner, Meinhert, Miller, Muller, Pabst, Robinson


Goble, Christopher

b. Oct 1828, Washington Co., VA

d. 1900


"Wife Charged in the Murder of Christopher Goble"


In the book "Appalachia Crossroads" by Clayton Cox, there is an intriguing story about Christopher GobleChristopher is in the German Goble tree and was the son of Jacob and Catherine "Kitty" (Ward) Goble.  He married Arilla Ellender "Ellen" Sellards (b. Oct. 18, 1834, d Jan 2, 1889, buried Goble Cemetery, Buffalo Creek, Floyd Co., KY) on 15 May 1853 in Floyd County, Kentucky.  They owned a farm there and had nine children. 


Children of Christopher Goble Sr. and Arilla Ellender "Ellen" Sellards

Name Birth Date Death Date Spouse
Garrett S. Goble b. 1854    
Jacob Goble b. 1856    
Lydia Rebecca Goble b. 1857   Peter Bell McCoy
Greenville Goble b. 1862    
Christopher Goble, Jr. b. 1863    
Susan Goble b. 1866   John Endicott
Catherine Goble b. 1870    
Eleander/Alexander Goble b. 1874    
Joseph D. Goble b. 1879    
After Arilla's death, Christopher married Eliza Thompson in 1892. 
At that same time, Will Skeens was a boarder with Christopher and Eliza Goble but Christopher died unexpectedly around 1900.  Eliza later married Will Skeens who raised the Goble children, Mary, Wahnetta, Roland and John Wesley.

Children of Christopher Goble Sr. and Eliza Thompson

Name Birth Date Death Date Spouse
Mary Goble May 1893
Floyd Co, KY
Waeta Goble 26 May 1901 Apr 1986  
Roland Lee Goble 8 Feb 1896 May 1976  
John Wesley Goble 3 Mar 1898
Floyd Co, KY
12 Jun 1988  
According to Clayton Cox, at one point Eliza and Will Skeens were charged in court for the murder of Christopher by poisoning. 
It has been verified that William Skeen lived in Floyd County, Kentucky in 1880.  He was listed a 63-year-old widower with 7 children.    There is also a marriage record in Floyd County for William Skeans and Eliza Goble dated 02 May 1903.

2011 Update from Kathryn Sanders

I received a great email from Kathryn Sanders who descends from Christopher Goble in Feb 2011.  Thanks Kathryn for the additional information.
"My grandfather was Roland Lee GoebelGrandpa seldom said anything about his family.  The only thing he ever said to me was that his father had keeled over dead after lunch one day and some people thought his mother had poisoned him.  He was shaking his head as if he couldn't believe anybody could believe that."
"He also told us that he had run away from home.  According to him, as a child his stepfather beat him and when Grandpa got old enough he fought back and must have knocked his stepfather out.  Thinking he'd killed his stepfather, he ran away from home across the river into Mingo County, WV.  He changed the spelling of his name to Goebel on the advise of someone.  After some time had passed, Grandpa went to answer a knock at the door one day and found his stepfather on the porch.  Surprise!  He was probably pretty happy about that because influenced by my Grandma Goebel, Grandpa had become a preacher."
"Aunt Waeta's name wasn't Wanetta.  Other places have it spelled Walta but that's flat out wrong.  Depending on who was doing the talking it was pronounced 'Wha-eat-ah' or sometimes Grandpa pronounced it 'Wha-etta' and my mother called her 'Aunt Wha-eat' for short."
"It was my understanding that Grandpa was around 8-years-old when his father died and Grandpa was born in either 1896 or 1898.  Waeta was born in 1902."
"Eliza Thompson was born in Jan 1873 in KY.  She married Christopher Goebel Sr. in 1892."

Goble, Daniel
(1641 - 1676)

"Murders of Indian Women and Children"


Daniel Goble (son of Thomas Goble and Alice Brookman), his brother Thomas and his nephew Stephen Goble (son of Thomas), were in King Philip's War, which began in 1671. This was the first and only major Indian war in the 17th century and it decided the fate of New England's Indians.


Daniel Goble fought against the Indians in Captain Manning's company; his brother Thomas Goble fought in Captain Prentice's company; and Stephen Goble fought in Captain Wheeler's company. Captain Manning commanded a contingent in the Battle of Great Swamp Fort on December 19, 1675. It was the most massive military action initiated by the colonists during the war.


Villages were burned and many people were captured or scalped. As the battles continued, great losses were accounted for by the English and the Indians.


After the war ended, the colonists feared the killing of Indians would throw them back into fierce fighting. The court records of 1676 state: Daniel Goble, Stephen Goble, Nathaniel Wilde, and Daniel Hoare were indicted, tried and found guilty for the "wanton" murders of three Indian women and three Indian children - all of whom were Christian. The killings took place on or about August 7, 1676. This was just five days before King Philip's war ended. 


Daniel pleaded "not guilty", but the Goble men were yeomen (farmers) and both received the prescribed punishment. Daniel Hoare and Nathaniel Wilde, being from more affluent families and having connections with the clergy, presented a petition to the court begging pardon for their lives, which the court granted. The court fined them and they were discharged.

Daniel Goble (age 35) and Stephen Goble were hanged.

Fulbright, David Vanderford
(1641 - 1676)

"Shot on the Streets in Statesville, NC"


David Vanderford Fulbright, the son of David James Fulbright and Sarah Jane Fulp, died 28 May 1934 at the age of 34 from a gunshot wound to the stomach and spinal chord.  His Death Certificate has his name incorrectly listed as David B. Fulbright.  His death was listed as homicide and it took place "on the street" in Statesville, NC. David was married to Vesta ScottDavid James Fulbright was the half-brother of Frances Elizabeth Douglas Goble.



Johnson Family
FAMILY NAMES: Corzine, Fink, Hamilton, Kaiser, Leslie, Lewis, Moore, Sherrill, Upright, Wilkinson

Fink, Oren


Statesville, NC


1929 October 28, Monday


Two Arrested Following Automobile Crash

     Oren Fink, of North Iredell, and June Huffman, of Statesville, who had a wreck Sunday morning about 2 o'clock, on the Turnersburg Road, five miles from Statesville, were apprehended by Deputy Sheriff R. G. Watts for being intoxicated.  The officer was called in immediately after the car crashed into a car standing near a filling station, just off the hard surface road.
     Fink appeared before Squire George Anderson this morning and paid a fine of $5 and the costs.
     Huffman, charged with driving the car while intoxicated, was bound to Recorder's Court under a $150 bond.


Isham, Edward


Edward Isham

(alias Hardaway Bone)

Little is known about Amanda "Mandy" Leslie.  She is, however, mentioned in the book The Confessions of Edward Isham - A Poor White Life of the Old South
Edward Isham, alias Hardaway Bone, was born around 1827 in Jackson County, GA, where he grew up poor and with little education.  As a child, Edward learned that the best way to settle an argument was through physical combat.  He got into his first fight after attending school for only five days and was in numerous fights throughout his life.  Edward used his fists, rocks, knives, guns, or whatever was available.
As a young man Edward earned money by working as a (gold) miner, working for the railroad, digging ditches, as a gambler, as well as any other type of work he could acquire.
Over his life, Edward Isham was involved with a large number of women, and was even married several times (including Rachel Webb, by whom he had a son named James).  He just walking away from the marriage when he was ready to move one.
In 1858 Edward Isham came to North Carolina looking for work and settled near Statesville, taking the alias Hardaway Bone
Edward was described by those who knew him as being a 32-year-old man, standing five feet ten inches tall, having light hair, a fair complexion with a smooth bony face, and blue/gray eyes.  He was further described as being "well-formed and rather good looking", having "mild eyes" that conveyed a "bold look". 
Edward had hoped to get a job with the railroad, but instead found work on the farm of James Lesley/Leslie, who hired him to dig a well.  Edward Isham married James Lesley/Leslie's daughter, Mandy (Amanda) and bought ten acres of land, planning to start a family on his own farm.  Unfortunately, Mandy died after the birth of their daughter, Margaret, and Edward started drinking.
Edward Isham (Hardaway Bone) was hired by James Cornelius, a wealthy slave-holding farmer in Catawba County, to dig some ditches.  When Edward completed the work, he demanded $8 - more than James Cornelius was willing to pay.  Edward sued Cornelius in court and eventually won a compromise judgment of $5, but Cornelius had the judgment "stayed" and never paid him. 
On Saturday, 07 May 1859, Susan Reed (at whose house he had left his infant child Margaret) heard Edward say that if Cornelius "don't pay me my money, I will cut his bowels out".
In his autobiography, Edward Isham said that when he went to Cornelius' house that the encounter between he and James Cornelius began peaceably.   He said that after exchanging greetings, Cornelius even invited him inside the house.  Edward demanded the money that Cornelius owed him - saying that he'd settle for $4.  When Cornelius told him that he only had 25 cents in the house, the two men got into a fight.  Edward eventually struck Cornelius with a stick and then stabbed him.  
Henry Cornelius, James' nephew, found his uncle covered in blood and carried his uncle to his father's (Austin Cornelius') house.  They dressed his wound, but due to the large gash on his left side (three inches long and six inches deep), they feared he wouldn't survive.  On 21 May 1859, James Cornelius dictated his last will and testament and died later that day - 14 days after the original stabbing.
On Sunday evening (08 May 1859), after his fight with James Cornelius, drinking heavily and depressed over the death of his wife, Mandy, Edward Isham ate supper at Daniel Fink's farmhouse in Iredell County.  
As soon as the moon went down, Edward fled the area.  He attempted to get back to Georgia and the protection of his family, but the Cornelius family had offered a $500 reward for his capture, and he only  managed to get as far as Tennessee.
Edward Isham was eventually captured and attorney David Schenck was appointed as his lawyer.  As Edward shared the story of his life, Schenck transcribed his life history into a leather-bound notebook.  Edward claimed that James Cornelius' death was not premeditated.
Edward sat in the Newton, NC, jail through the summer of 1859. He claimed that he could not receive a fair trial in Catawba County because of prejudice against him, so the judge ordered that the trial be moved to Gaston County.  On 26 Oct 1859 - five months after Cornelius' death - Edward Isham (Hardaway Bone) went on trial for murder.
In the fall of 1859 the jury returned a guilty verdict and ordered Edward Isham to be hanged for the murder of James Cornelius
On 25 May 1860, Edward Isham was hanged in Newton, NC.  He made no remarks at the gallows and received a pauper's burial. 
His infant child, a daughter called Margaret Bone from his brief marriage to Mandy Lasley/Leslie, survived - growing to adulthood.
James Cornelius was buried on his farm in Catawba County.  When Duke Power formed Lake Norman in the Catawba River valley area, the Cornelius family headstones (including that of James & his brother Austin) were relocated.


Lewis, John/Jonathan

Born: 23 Apr 1783
Died: 25 Apr 1817


"The Murder of Omie (Naomi) Wise"



There are several males named John in the Lewis family, but one particular Jonathan Lewis is remembered because he was accused of murdering Omie (Naomi) WiseJonathan was born 23 Apr 1783 in Randolph County, NC, the second child of Richard Lewis and Lydia Field.


Little is know about the real Omie Wise, but records indicate that she was an orphan girl who was taken in by William Adams and his wife Mary in Randolph County, NC.  Omie met Jonathan Lewis and the two quickly became lovers.  Jonathan was advised by his mother to pursue another girl whose family was "in good standing" both socially and financially.  Omie found out about Jonathan's courtship, and although jilted, she did not stop their affair.


The day itself can not be determined, but it is said that in April 1808 Omie went missing.  Mr. Adams gathered a search party and followed the horse tracks to Asheboro, NC, where they found her body in the river.  Mrs. Ann Davis, a resident close to the water, confirmed that she had heard a woman screaming the night before.  The coroner from Asheboro examined the drowned and battered body of Naomi and found that she was pregnant.


Jonathan Lewis was found and brought to jail, where he escaped a month later. Several men, including the Sheriff (Isaac Lane) were arrested for aiding Jonathan's escape.  The sheriff was cleared of guilt because he was instrumental  in returning Jonathan to jail in the fall of 1811.


Jonathan remained in jail from his recapture in the fall of 1811 until 20 Nov 1813.  Records show that he was in the custody of the Orange County Jailer and eventually transferred to Randolph County. 


A year later on 04 Oct 1813, Jonathan Lewis finally went to trial - for escaping jail - not the murder of Naomi Wise.  The jury delivered a verdict against ; it found "The Defendant guilty of breaking jail and rescuing himself as charged in the bill of Indictment, but not guilty as to the rescuing of Moses Smith (a fellow prisoner) from legal confinement.  Judgment of the Court that the Defendant pay a fine of Ten Pounds and costs and be imprisoned thirty days."


Jonathan actually spent 47 days in jail because he was unable to pay the fine and court costs.  On 20 Nov 1813 he was issued the Oath of an Insolvent Debtor, relieved of his debt and set free.


Jonathan Lewis married Sarah McCain in Clark County, Indiana, on 30 Mar 1811.  They had two children: Priscilla, born 04 Mar 1812, and Thomas Willis, born Sep 1816.  Jonathan died of unknown causes on 25 Apr 1817 at the age of 34.


Lyrics to the original version of the song were written shortly after the murder of Omie.  The first recorded version of the song was performed by G. B. Grayson, who recorded the song in 1927 in Atlanta, GA.

Omie Wise's death became the subject of a traditional American Ballad.  One version opens:
     "Oh, listen to my story, I'll tell you no lies,
       How John Lewis did murder poor little Omie Wise."

The song was also performed by Bob Dylan as well as Doc WatsonDoc Watson learned the song from his mother.


Omie Wise


To hear the Doc Watson, CLICK HERE


Oh, listen to my story, I'll tell you no lies,
How John Lewis did murder poor little Omie Wise.

He told her to meet him at Adams' Springs.
He promised her money and other fine things.

So, fool-like she met him at Adams' Springs.
No money he brought her nor other fine things.

"Go with me, little Omie, and away we will go.
We'll go and get married and no one will know."

She climbed up behind him and away they did go,
But off to the river where deep waters flow.

"John Lewis, John Lewis, will you tell me your mind?
Do you intend to marry me or leave me behind?"

"Little Omie, little Omie, I'll tell you my mind.
My mind is to drown you and leave you behind."

"Have mercy on my baby and spare me my life,
I'll go home as a beggar and never be your wife."

He kissed her and hugged her and turned her around,
Then pushed her in deep waters where he knew that she would drown.

He got on his pony and away he did ride,
As the screams of little Omie went down by his side.

T'was on a Thursday morning, the rain was pouring down,
When the people searched for Omie but she could not be found.

Two boys went a-fishin' one fine summer day,
And saw little Omie's body go floating away.

They threw their net around her and drew her to the bank.
Her clothes all wet and muddy, they laid her on a plank.

Then sent for John Lewis to come to that place --
And brought her out before him so that he might see her face.

He made no confession but they carried him to jail,
No friends or relations would go on his bail

Additional Facts:

Mothers of illegitimate children had no expectation of marriage.  They would, however, agree to name a man responsible for a pregnancy in court as required by the laws governing bastardy bonds. A gift of money and/or other "fine things" (as promised by John Lewis according to the song) was expected.

The first written account of the murder story was by Braxton Craven, under the pen name of Charlie Vernon.  It first appeared in two installments of the January and February, 1851, editions of the Evergreen Newspaper in North Carolina.  It was reprinted several times until 1962.  Folks came from miles around to visit Naomi's grave and the city of Randleman which named streets, churches, mills and manufacturing plants after Naomi Wise.
In recent years an early 19th century document has been discovered in the Special Collections of the UCLA Library which is the only contemporary account of the event. Entitled “A true account of Nayomy Wise,” it is a lengthy poem found in a penmanship copybook belonging to Mary Woody and her brother Robert Woody.  Local historian Calvin Hinshaw says that he was told back in the 1950s by New Salem resident George Newman Hinshaw that the narrative poem first printed by Braxton Craven was written by Levi Beeson and his mother soon after the event.

"To Such as here (hear) and Wants to know
A Woman Came Some years ago
Then from a Cuntry (Country) named by hid (Hyde Co, NC)
In Randolph after did reside
And by Some person was defil'd
As So brought forth a bastard Child
She Told her name Neomy Wise
Her carnal Conduct Some did despise
It was not long till She'd another
That might be Call'd a basturd's Brother"

The actual story appears to be that unmarried Naomi Wise was in 1807 already the mother of Nancy (b. 1799) and Henry Wise (b. 1804) and was probably pregnant by Jonathan Lewis, a well-to-do store clerk employed by Benjamin Elliott, the Clerk of Superior Court and future owner of the Cedar Falls Cotton Factory.  The "Bastardy Bonds" for Nancy and Henry can be found in the Randolph County papers at the NC State Archives (for years they were hidden by local historian Laura Worth, who disapproved of the facts).  Following the child support law of the time, Naomi charged each father with "begetting a child on her body;" each man then posted a bond publicly insuring that the county would never have to pay to support their children.  Apparently the argument between Naomi Wise and Jonathan Lewis arose when she revealed her pregnancy, but demanded that Lewis marry her rather than post a Bastardy Bond.  Lewis was in fact charged with her murder, jailed after the inquest, but escaped before trial.  He fled to Elk Creek, Indiana, where he was eventually re-arrested and extradited back to Randolph County, NC.  Jonathan Lewis was tried and acquitted for the murder of Naomi Wise in 1811 (all of these records are in the State Archives).


Lewis, Stephen

Born: 04 Jun 1757
Died: 1792


"The Rape of Lydia Allred"

by Linda Allred Cooper

Stephen Lewis (b.1757) was the fifth child of John Lewis (b.1720) & Priscilla Brooke.

Whenever we think of the "good ole days" we tend to forget that some of the horrors we associate with today’s world sometimes happened back then too. The story of Lydia Allred is one such case.


Lydia was born in Orange County, North Carolina in 1770. She was one of the younger children of John Allred who settled in North Carolina in the 1750’s. Lydia was raised on the family farm located near today’s Patterson Grove community just north of Franklinville, NC. In 1779 this same land became part of the newly formed Randolph County.


Most of the time Lydia’s neighbors were law abiding. Court documents from that time period show that there were occasional visits to court to complain about a missing cow or hog and a few accusations of theft of farm equipment, but, for the most part, life was peaceful. One important exception to that rule was the Lewis family.


John and Priscilla Lewis raised a large family on their land located just north of today’s Franklinville, NC. This family, especially the boys and men, were well known as mean, tough, belligerent bullies. They made their own rules, followed no laws but their own and beat or killed anyone who made them mad. One account taken from the book "The Randolph Story" on file in the Randolph Room, Asheboro Public Library states:


The Randolph Story

  The Lewises were tall, broad, muscular and very powerful men. The family were the lions of the country. Their character was eminently pugnacious. Nearly all of them drank to intoxication; aware of power, they insulted whom they listed; they sought occasions of quarrel as a Yankee does gold in California. They rode through plantations; killed their neighbor’s cattle; took fish from other men’s traps; said what they pleased; all more for contention than gain. Though the opposed had power, they were afraid to prosecute them, they knew these human hydras had no mercy; they dreaded their retaliating vengeance. Anything, man or beast, that crossed their path periled it’s life. The neither sheltered themselves under the strong arm of the law nor permitted others to do so, they neither gave nor asked mercy. Their pledge was sure as anything human could be. If they threatened death or torture, those threatened always thought it prudent to retire to the very uttermost part of the earth.  

Stephen Lewis, the fifth child of John and Priscilla, was born June 4, 1757.  Per Lewis family documents, he fought and bullied his way into adulthood. In the 1770’s he began appearing in court, charged with a variety of theft, assaults and battery. More times, than not, the court found him not-guilty, no doubt fearing retaliation from him or his family. On the few occasions he was found guilty, he was usually fined some small amount which was never collected.


This pattern continued on into the mid 1780’s. Between March and October 1786, Stephen and his brother, John, had been in court 11 different times answering a variety of charges. One of those charges was brought by Lydia’s father, John, who accused John Lewis of assault in June 1786. John Lewis was found innocent and John Allred became the target of some vicious retaliation.


The Allred family found themselves confronted by the Lewis family over the next few months. Farm equipment disappeared. Farm animals were slaughtered. When the family members went to visit neighbors, they were followed and taunted. Finally, on a sunny afternoon in October, it all came "to a head".


October 30th no doubt began as a normal day on the farm. Chores were performed, meals were cooked and served by the women while the men worked in the fields. The colorful fall leaves were falling and the weather had a slight "nip in the air". When her chores were finished, Lydia decided to walk the well worn wagon path to her sister and brother-in-law’s home, Barbara and William York. Barbara was 17, only one year older than Lydia and a newly wed. The sisters were close and no doubt missing each other’s daily company. A visit would be welcome.


The court document filed November 6, 1786 tells the story in chilling detail.

Lydia was walking along the path when Stephen Lewis rode up on his horse. He, no doubt, recognized her as one of John Allred’s daughters. Lewis got off of his horse and grabbed Lydia, pulling her to him roughly and forcing her onto his lap as he sat down on a log. Holding her tightly, he asked her to have "carnal knowledge" with him. She refused, telling him she would rather die and tried to fight her way free of his clutches. Angered, he forced his hand under her skirt and "placed his hand on her privates and forced his fingers into her body". She fought valiantly, but he was bigger and stronger than the frightened 16 year old girl. He pushed her to the ground and violently beat and raped her.


When finished, Lewis left Lydia lying on the path and rode off. She pulled herself together and somehow managed to get to her sister’s home. As you can imagine, the family reacted in horror and demanded justice. On November 6, Lydia’s father, brothers and brother-in-laws came to court to file charges  against Stephen Lewis.


Unfortunately, as in the past, the court continued to be reluctant to indict or convict anyone in the Lewis family of anything - even something as horrible as rape. Court records show that although the Allred family presented overwhelming evidence and Lydia herself was forced to testify in detail about the rape, little was done to Stephen Lewis. Finally, in December, the court agrees to indict Stephen Lewis and hold a trial. However, the intimidated jurors and court officials, fearing reprisals from the Lewis family, vote to post-pone the trial until Spring 1787. They were probably hoping that, with the new court session, they would not be chosen as jurors and would escape the Lewis family wrath.


On February 1, 1787, Stephen Lewis was back in court accused of threatening the life of Lydia’s father, John. He had already beat John, breaking his nose, and continued to harass the family every chance he got. John asked the court for protection. It wasn’t awarded until another week passed. In response, Stephen and his family increased their campaign of harassment and terror.


Finally, in March 1787, the court imposes a 100 pound bond on Stephen Lewis to guarantee his appearance in court for trial.  But, the trial was postponed once again as the Lewis family’s threats scare the jurors. By June, Lydia’s father had reached his limit and begins fighting back. He accomplishes nothing except getting himself arrested for "profane swearing in public". The humiliation must have been unbearable as John is arrested for "swearing" while his daughter’s rapist still roamed free. While in court facing the original "swearing" charge, John loses his temper again and swears at the court officials. Again he is charged and fined.

The rape trial is postponed again and again as the jurors and court officials were harassed by the Lewis family. Court documents also show that the Lewis brothers were in court many times over the next 4 years as they continued to wreak havoc in Randolph County. But, as we’ve all heard, "you reap what you sow" and eventually everyone pays for the evil they do.
When Stephen raped Lydia, he was married. Lewis family records show that he beat his wife on a regular basis, treating her no better than he did his neighbors. Finally, in 1791, Stephen’s brother, Richard, helped Stephen’s wife escape and hid her outside of the county at the home of a friend. Richard was no better than Stephen, so this unusual act of kindness was rare. Stephen and Richard argued violently about the beatings, and finally Richard agreed to return Stephen’s wife if he would promise to quit beating her. Stephen refused. Eventually he found his wife and dragged her back home, beating her severally. Stephen then went to his brother’s home intending to kill him. Richard, seeing Stephen approach, grabbed his shot gun and ran upstairs. As Stephen climbed the stairs looking for Richard, Richard shot and wounded him. The family gathered around and soon Stephen was sent back home patched up, but very angry.
As Stephen laid at home recovering from the gun-shot wound, he swore to everyone in hearing distance that he would kill his brother as soon as he was healed. Richard, knowing Stephen fully intended to carry out this threat, finally decided to end the feud once and for all. He rode to Stephen’s house, crept quietly to the back of the house where he knew Stephen was recovering. As he looked through a crack in the wall, he could see Stephen sitting up in bed having his wound dressed. Richard stuck the barrel of the gun through the crack in the wall and shot his brother through the heart, killing him instantly.
Lydia, in the meantime, never recovered emotionally from the rape. She became a recluse, painfully shy, never wanting to go out in public or leave the confines of home. Her father, John, died in 1792 knowing that his daughter’s rapist had finally paid for his crimes. After John died, Lydia moved in with her sister, Barbara, and her family where she lived until her death.




The Murder of Michael Dale Lafone - State vs. Hester - Click Here


For more information about John Lewis & Omie Wise:

Transcribed Court Documents
The Rape of Lydia Allred
Naomi Wise Story
"Confessions of Edward Isham - A Poor White Life of the Old South"

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