Archive for WCHA

The Trial of Bryant Wood

Mr. Editor:

The Spring Term of the Superior Court for West Florida, has been one of more interest, I suppose, than for many years proceeding, on account of the number of capital cases standing on the docket. The County of Walton, since its formation, has not had a murder committed within its precincts, until within the last year, and since the Fall term of their Court. If you think it will be interesting to your numerous readers, I will give a short report of the cases that have been tried this term.

On the 28th of November last, about 10 o’clock at night, as Mrs. Nancy Senterfeit, wife of Stephen Senterfeit, of Walton County, was setting by the fire in her own house, in company with several ladies of the neighborhood on a visit, some fiend in human shape, murdered her by firing a gun through the crevice of the chimney. The explosion was tremendous, and immediately, the ladies present, (thinking they were attacked perhaps by Indians) put out the fire. But on examination it was found that Mrs. S. was killed. A slug of lead or ounce ball had taken effect immediately over the eye and passing entirely through the head, and literally blew of the whole coronal region of the skull. She expired instantly without uttering a word. A young gentleman residing at the house of Senterfeit, by the name of Stokes, went out immediately, but saw no one. In the morning two tracks of barefoot persons was found near the corner of the chimney where the murderer was standing, which tracks were traced about two hundred yards from the house and then disappeared. But two tracks made by shoes were then discovered leading in the same direction, and traced upwards of four hundred yards.

Suspicion fell upon a young man, a near neighbor, by the name of Bryant Wood, who was immediately arrested by the people. He denied the crime positively, but upon examination before a court of inquiry, was committed to prison. At the Walton Superior Court in April last, he was indicted by the grand jury, and removed his trial by change of venue to the Superior Court of Escambia County, at Pensacola, which commenced its session here immediately after. Wood asked a change of venue upon the ground of extraordinary excitement and prejudices prevailing against him in his own county. The case came on for trial on the 11th inst. the City Hall was crowded to overflowing, with eager spectators. A great number of witnesses were sworn on behalf of the prosecution—and upon their examination the following testimony, as near as can be recollected, was detailed to the jury.

Mrs. Busby, was present and sitting by the fire when Mrs. S. was killed, she heard a distinct report as the bursting of a percussion cap before the gun fired.

John Stokes, was present, but did not hear the report of the cap—traced the two barefoot tracks two hundred yards from the house, found some scraps of checked cloth that looked like the wadding from the ball, which patching resembled some cloth owned by a sister of the defendant—examined Woods’ gun (a yager with percussion lock) and wiped her, and found her rusty, and perhaps blew dry dust out of her. Said there was but four percussion locked guns in the neighborhood, and that Wood’s was one of them.

Thomas Dulany, said that he took Wood’s shoe and measured it to the track found upwards of four hundred yards from the house, and that it fitted exactly, the track was a peculiar one, which answered to the shoe—he owned a percussion gun, but proved it to have been at home all the time, and himself with Mr. Senterfeit on their way home from Court. All the above witnesses, certified that no previous grudge or enmity existed between the accused and the deceased.

Mrs. Stokes, said that sometime before the murder, a sister of Wood was accused of having an illigimate child, and also of having destroyed it. Several of the women of the neighborhood, and among them the deceased, went and disinterred the child and found marks of violence upon it.

Hardy Wood, on the part of the defendant, (the father of the accused) said, that his son lived at his house—that during the accident to his daughter, his son was absent on a trip to Black Water with a market wagon—that his son did not return home till one hour after dark on the evening of the murder—that his son complained of having the tooth-ache, and was sitting by the fire till about 9 o’clock, when witness went to bed in the same room where his son was—he left his son sitting by the fire—he heard the report of a gun and got up, to go out—that his son was sitting by the fire when he went out in the same position as when he lay down to sleep. Witness thought some one had killed a deer—it was common to hunt at night.

Joseph Gonzalez, a by-stander, was then called on, who stated that he was well acquainted with percussion locks, and was under the impression that the report of the percussion could not be distinguished from the report of the gun—that when the gun fired there would be but one report.

Mr. Dulany was recalled, and was of a different opinion.

The above was the substance of the testimony as well as I can recollect. The whole case depended upon the circumstances. It was contended on the part of the prosecution, that the track found was Wood’s—that the gun that done the murder was also his—that the wadding was of a piece of the gown of the sister of Wood—that the accused feared the testimony of the deceased against his sister in the destruction of her infant.

It was contended on behalf of the accused, that he and the deceased had always been friendly—that the track found that fitted to his shoe, was not traced to the chimney corner—that the track took an opposite direction from Senterfeit’s, to the house of Wood—that the wadding found was clean and never had been discharged as such from a gun—that there were many other witnesses against his sister beside Mrs. Senterfeit—that Mrs. S. took no more interest against his sister than others, perhaps not so much.

The trial held from 10 o’clock A. m. till sun down, when the jury retired after a full charge from the Court. They remained out but a few minutes and returned a verdict of “NOT GUILTY.”

On behalf of the prosecution, W. Anderson and J. R. Barstow, Esq’rs., for the defendant, V. Butler and B. D. Wright, Esq’rs.

I will here remark, that a negro boy named Will, belonging to Senterfeit—was also indicted at the Walton Court for the murder, and was found guilty, but the circumstances in relation thereto would require another communication, which I will give you next week if you think it will be interesting to your readers. The boy Will at first charged the murder on Wood, and that he assisted, or was aiding and abetting. I understand, that since his condemnation and sentence, he confesses the crime to be his own and exculpates Wood.

AN OBSERVER.

Pensacola Gazette, May 15, 1841

[Contributed by Brian L. Rucker, Ph.D.]

Panther Attack on Choctawhatchee River

A most singular incident occurred a few days ago at Cedar Bluff, on the Chocktahatchie–so singular that we could scarcely credit it, if it were not too well authenticated to admit of doubt.

A charge belonging to Mr. Cook was lying along the bank of the river, on board of which Mr. N. Mitchell, of Holmes Valley, and his lady and several children were passengers bound hither. The screams of a panther were heard at a distance, and presently after, the ferocious animal came bounding towards the barge. All fled in consternation of course. A Mr. Bowington, living near there, was on the bank and took refuge on board the barge, closely pursued by the panther, which leaped upon him and with his claws, mangled him dreadfully in the back and sides, before any thing effectual could be done for his relief. At length a rifle was procured and the panther was shot while yet in the act of tearing and mangling his victim. We are further informed that the animal was found to have in his mouth a sharp stick of wood, one end of which was embedded in one of his jaws and the other end projecting directly against the other jaw, so that he was entirely prevented from biting. What connection this singular circumstance may have had with the strange conduct of the animal, or whether this may not be a case of hydrophobia, is all matter of conjecture. The inside of the mouth of the animal shewed signs of its having been very sore for a long time, from the wound produced by the stick, and the stick was much discolored.

Pensacola Gazette, April 19, 1845

[Contributed by Brian L. Rucker, Ph.D.]

1896 Football Team

G. Willard Shear took this studio photograph of the 1896 DeFuniak Springs Football Team. Unfortunately, the history of this team and the names of its players remain a mystery, but it may have been the Florida State Normal School team. The team played Pensacola on February 22, 1896, and won with a score of 16 to 0.

Walton High School 1937 Football Team

Walton High School 1937 Football Team

Most of the members of the 1937 Walton High School football team have been identified, but we need help with a few. Please let us know if you can identify any of these players.

(front row) All are unknown.

(middle row, left to right) 34. Buford Toole; 27. Dub Anderson; 73. Johnny Wright; 50. Clyde Moretz; 52. Angus Douglass; 51. S. L. Sims; 56. Earl Wesley (holding football); ?. Roy Cawthon; 64. Bob Hatcher; 61. Clotez Gillis; ?. Davis; 28. Unknown

(back row, left to right) Assistant Coach Grey Wilson; 55. A. D. Cosson; 53. Unknown; 60. McLeod; 70. Unknown; Assistant Coach Kenny; 63. Vernon Cosson; 72. William Anderson; Head Coach Ox Clark; 71. Hudie Bell; 66. Kenneth Sconiers; 62. “Big Red” Cawthon; 68. Buddy Lowery; 54, Dawson Cawthon

Walton High School 1937 Football Team

The photograph above shows some of the players in action near the school:

(left to right) 66. Slick Sconiers; 54. Dawson Cawthon; 72. William Anderson; 55. A. D. Cosson; 64. Bob Hatcher; 56. Earl Wesley; 63. Vernon Cosson (center); 6. Herman “Buddy” Lowery; 51. Clotez Gillis; 62. “Big Red” Cawthon; 50. Clyde Moretz

Walton High School 1937 Basketball Team

Walton High School 1937 Basketball Team
The members of the 1937 Walton High School basketball team were:

(front row, left to right) Ed Taylor, Dawson Cawthon, Gerdon Tappon, John Rutan, Jeb Stewart Gaston

(middle row, left to right) Woody Wesley, Bob Hatcher, Frank Mzwreck, Earl Wesley, Kenneth Sconiers, Charles Taylor

(back row, left to right) Buddy Lowery, Shorty Waites, Grey Wilson, Ox Clarke

Walton High School Football Team

Walton High School Football Team

The members of the Walton High School football team are identified, but we are uncertain which year this team played. Jack Little (No. 63 in the middle) graduated from Walton High School in 1944, so this team probably played in the fall of 1940, 1941, 1942, or 1943. Please contact us if you know. The players are:

(front row, left to right) 64. P. Anderson; 27. Hugh Hill; 65. A. Hinger; 56/36. George M; 11. T. H. Pullmen; 72. Louis F. Cawthon; 55. Walter Jackson

(middle row, left to right) 52. Bill Sharpe; 73. Devon Whitehead; 21. H. Henderson; 17. Wilmen Neil; 63. Jack Little; 60. Wilbur Heart; 59. Casey Jones; 68. John Sims; 69. Harold Tilley

(back row, left to right) 67. Wilmer Sutton; 54. Bill Cawthon; 58. Buford Toole; 70. A. Opry; 61. Windy Neil; 71. James Sharpe; 57. Edgar Evans; 62. Stanford Toole; 56. Edward Sutton

Others in the photograph include Coach Bob Glen, Manager Frank Weeks, Assistant Coach Fred Hacket, and Manager Sonny Woodall.

[Contributed by Sonny Yates]

Number Local Boys Enrolled In CCC At DeFuniak Camp, 11th

The Washington County News of Chipley, Florida, reported the following in its January 21, 1937, edition:

Sixteen white boys and eight colored boys from this county were enlisted in the CCC Camp at DeFuniak Springs on January 11th, through local relief agencies, it was announced this week.

These boys are new enrollees and were transfered [sic] to the Camp at DeFuniak Springs by army trucks furnished by the local CCC Camp.

[Civilian Conservation Corps scrapbook donated by Sue and Jesse Carter.]

Fixtures for the First National Bank

The Apalachicola Times reported the following in its October 10, 1908, edition:

MARSHALL & CO., are making fixtures for the First National Bank, of DeFuniak, consisting of counters, railings and cypress paneled petitions for three rooms, making altogether very handsome fittings.

Historian Mark Curenton of Apalachicola, who contributed the newspaper item, provided additional information about John Marshall & Co.: “They were a large local woodworking company that did a lot of finish work.” Unfortunately, that bank building, which was at the corner of 7th Street and Baldwin Avenue, burned down and was replaced by a brick building. The master mechanism of the McClintock clock survived, but it is not known if anything else did.

The Trial of Bryant Wood, 1841

Mr. Editor:

The Spring Term of the Superior Court for West Florida, has been one of more interest, I suppose, than for many years preceeding, on account of the number of capital cases standing on the docket. The County of Walton, since its formation, has not had a murder committed within its precincts, until within the last year, and since the Fall term of their Court. If you think it will be interesting to your numerous readers, I will give a short report of the cases that have been tried this term.

On the 28th of November last, about 10 o’clock at night, as Mrs. Nancy Senterfeit, wife of Stephen Senterfeit, of Walton County, was setting by the fire in her own house, in company with several ladies of the neighborhood on a visit, some fiend in human shape, murdered her by firing a gun through the crevice of the chimney. The explosion was tremendous, and immediately, the ladies present, (thinking they were attacked perhaps by Indians) put out the fire. But on examination it was found that Mrs. S. was killed. A slug of lead or ounce ball had taken effect immediately over the eye and passing entirely through the head, and literally blew [off] the whole coronal region of the skull. She expired instantly without uttering a word. A young gentleman residing at the house of Senterfeit, by the name of Stokes, went out immediately, but saw no one. In the morning two tracks of barefoot persons was found near the corner of the chimney where the murderer was standing, which tracks were traced about two hundred yards from the house and then disappeared. But two tracks made by shoes were then discovered leading in the same direction, and traced upwards of four hundred yards.

Suspicion fell upon a young man, a near neighbor, by the name of Bryant Wood, who was immediately arrested by the people. He denied the crime positively, but upon examination before a court of inquiry, was committed to prison. At the Walton Superior Court in April last, he was indicted by the grand jury, and removed his trial by change of venue to the Superior Court of Escambia County, at Pensacola, which commenced its session here immediately after. Wood asked a change of venue upon the ground of extraordinary excitement and prejudices prevailing against him in his own county. The case came on for trial on the 11th inst. the City Hall was crowded to overflowing, with eager spectators. A great number of witnesses were sworn on behalf of the prosecution–and upon their examination the following testimony, as near as can be recollected, was detailed to the jury.

Mrs. Busbee, was present and sitting by the fire when Mrs. S. was killed, she heard a distinct report as the bursting of a percussion cap before the gun fired.

John Stokes, was present, but did not hear the report of the cap–traced the two barefoot tracks two hundred yards from the house, found some scraps of checked cloth that looked like the wadding from the ball, which patching resembled some cloth owned by a sister of the defendant–examined Woods gun (a yager with percussion lock) and wiped her, and found her rusty, and perhaps blew dry dust out of her. Said there was but four percussion locked guns in the neighborhood, and that Wood’s was one of them.

Thomas Dulany, said that he took Wood’s shoe and measured it to the track found upwards of four hundred yards from the house, and that it fitted exactly, the track was a peculiar one, which answered to the shoe–he owned a percussion gun but proved it to have been at home all the time, and himself with Mr. Senterfeit on their way home from Court. All the above witnesses, certified that no previous grudge or enmity existed between the accused and the deceased.

Mrs. Stokes, said that sometime before the murder, a sister of Wood was accused of having an illigimate child, and also of having destroyed it. Several of the women of the neighborhood, and among them the deceased, went and disinterred the child and found marks of violence upon it.

Hardy Wood, on the part of the defendant, (the father of the accused) said, that his son lived at his house–that during the accident to his daughter, his son was absent on a trip to Black Water with a market wagon–that his son did not return home till one hour after dark on the evening of the murder–that his son complained of having the tooth-ache, and was sitting by the fire till about 9 o’clock, when witness went to bed in the same room where his son was–he left his son sitting by the fire–he heard the report of a gun and got up, to go out–that his son was sitting by the fire when he went out in the same position as when he lay down to sleep. Witness thought some one had killed a deer–it was common to hunt at night.

Joseph Gonzalez, a by-stander, was then called on, who stated that he was well acquainted with percussion locks, and was under the impression that the report of the percussion could not be distinguished from the report of the gun–that when the gun fired there would be but one report.

Mr. Dulany was recalled, and was of a different opinion.

The above was the substance of the testimony as well as I can recollect. The whole case depended upon the circumstances. It was contended on the part of the prosecution, that the track found was Wood’s–that the gun that done the murder was also his–that the wadding was of a piece of the gown of the sister of Wood–that the accused feared the testimony of the deceased against his sister in the destruction of her infant.

It was contended on behalf of the accused, that he and the deceased had always been friendly–that the track found that fitted to his shoe, was not traced to the chimney corner–that the track took an opposite direction from Senterfeit’s, to the house of Wood–that the wadding found was clean and never had been discharged as such from a gun–that there were many other witnesses against his sister beside Mrs. Senterfeit–that Mrs. S. took no more interest against his sister than others, perhaps not so much.

The trial held from 10 o’clock A.M. till sun down, when the jury retired after a full charge from the Court. They remained out but a few minutes and returned a verdict of “NOT GUILTY.”

On behalf of the prosecution, W. Anderson and J. R. Barstow, Esq’rs., for the defendant, V. Butler and B. D. Wright, Esq’rs.

I will here remark, that a negro boy named Will, belonging to Senterfeit–was also indicted at the Walton Court for the murder, and was found guilty, but the circumstances in relation thereto would require another communication, which I will give you next week if you think it will be interesting to your readers. The boy Will at first charged the murder on Wood, and that he assisted, or was aiding and abetting. I understand, that since his condemnation and sentence, he confesses the crime to be his own and exculpates Wood.

AN OBSERVER.

Pensacola Gazette, May 15, 1841

[Contributed by Brian L. Rucker, Ph.D.]

Whigs in Walton County, 1845

. . . In Walton County there was, we learn, a large and harmonious meeting of the whigs on the 6th last. Judge McLeod presided and Daniel G. McLean, Esq., acted as Secretary. The nomination of Gen. Call as the candidate for governor of the state was responded to and adopted without a dissenting voice. At the same meeting, Col. Henry G. Ramsey was nominated as the candidate for the Senate for the District composed of the counties of Walton and Washington, and Alexander Turner, Esq., was nominated for the House. We regret to learn, however, that the whigs of Walton are so confident in their strength, that owing mainly to some mere local disagreements, they have put forward another candidate, Angus Gillis, Esq. Yet our whig friends may rest satisfied that this disagreement will not affect the whig cause. Walton is nearly four to one for the whigs, and is secure of a whig Senator and Representative. The opposition have nominated Judge David Gartman, of Yellow River, for the House and Col. W. Taber, of Washington County, for the Senate. . . .

Pensacola Gazette, May 10, 1845

[Contributed by Brian L. Rucker, Ph.D.]