Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thriller Thursday - The Murder of Long John Strother

In my search for information as to the identity of my husband's great grandparents I contacted Edward L. Strother, author of  The Strother Family 300 Years from Virginia to Louisiana, published by Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, in 2002.  Along with the suggestion that I contact Laurine, who is cited in footnote 12 below, he sent me a copy of pages 169-170 from the book; many thanks to him for allowing me to copy and include them below.  It would seem that my father-in-law's "Uncle Johnny" was the son of "Long John".  But was "Long John" also the father of Joe Cecil Fowler?  Perhaps I have an idea for a Mystery Monday blog entry...

The Murder of Long John Strother

On a fall morning, 20 November 1888, John R “Long John” Strother left his home in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, on horseback. He had not gone far when three men attacked him. Long John was shot from his horse, and, after he fell, was shot in the top of the head with buckshot. Neighbors said it was a most brutal murder.[1] But what led these men to bring such a violent end to Long John Strother? 

John R. Strother was born May 18, 1834, near Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, into a wealthy family, son of Richard5 Strother (John4, Francis3, Jeremiah2, William1) and Mary Black.[2] When John was only four years old, his father died on 10 July 1838.[3] His mother raised John and his four siblings on the family plantation in Hancock County.  After the sale of the plantation in the 1850’s, family members moved to Baldwin County.[4] With the outbreak of the Civil War, John joined the Confederate forces, serving as a private in Company F, 9th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.[5]

After the war, John returned to Baldwin County and married Mary Price on 14 March 1865.[6] In January 1866 he was elected sheriff of Baldwin County.[7] On 24 March 1866, following an unknown misunderstanding, John shot Mr. W. A. Robertson in the right thigh, who died a few days later.[8] John resigned as sheriff and fled. On 2 June 1866, Georgia Governor Charles J. Jenkins issued a proclamation offering a $200 reward for John’s capture.[9] While no details are available, John later was exonerated. He returned to Baldwin County, and in 1871 next married Sarah Kenan. However, on 3 July 1871 John shot and killed Lewis Holmes Kenan, member of a prominent Baldwin County family and former state senator, on a main street in Milledgeville, Georgia.[10] Again, John had to flee. Friends put him in a crate and loaded him on a train bound for Louisiana, where his first cousin, Berry Strother, could provide refuge.
John lived alone in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, near Kimmelton. He taught penmanship and dancing. Being a fugitive from the law, he carried a rifle everywhere that he went. He had been raised as a southern gentleman, so felt superior to most people in the community. He was a ladies man, hated and feared by many. With Naluse Americe "Nettie" Johnson, he had a son, John William Strother, born 5 February 1887 at Hico, Lincoln Parish.[11]
In November 1888, John taunted Turner Bentley, saying Turner’s wife Mary was carrying a child fathered by John. A few days later Turner Bentley, Anders Lloyd and Will King killed John. Frances Jane Strother Robinett, sister of John Melton Strother, wrote John’s people in Georgia at the time. When Turner Bentley later died, he confessed the killing. Turner was son of Sophronia Robinett Bentley Strother, wife of John Melton Strother, by her first marriage. Long John Strother is buried in Buckner Cemetery in Claiborne Parish.[12]

[1] Union Recorder, 25 December 1888, Russell Library (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[2] James Jefferson Robinett Bible.
[3] Gentry, Historical Collections of the Georgia Chapters DAR, 4:54.
[4] 1860 U. S. Census Baldwin County, Georgia, page 221, dwellings and families 692 and 693.
[5] Delwyn Associates, Records of Baldwin County, Georgia  (Albany, Georgia: 1975), 88-89.
[6] Richard E. Dodd, Strother and Some Allied Lines (Marshallville, Georgia: privately printed, 1980), II: 121A.
[7] Federal Union, 9 January 1866 (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[8] Southern Recorder (Milledgeville, Georgia), 10 April 1866 (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[9] Southern Recorder (Milledgeville, Georgia), 6 June 1866 (microfilm, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville).
[10] Information on 1871 furnished by Hugh Harrington, Milledgeville, Georgia.
[11] Death Certificate 12913 of John William Strother, Louisiana Department of Health, New Orleans.
[12] Information on Louisiana life and death of John R. Strother furnished by Hazel V. Boyter Martin, Natchitoches, Louisiana, in letter to Edward L. Strother, 15 June 1987, based on story told to her by Albert Hood, Kimmelton, Louisiana. Data corroborated by Linnie Laurin Strother Adcock, Choushatta, Louisiana, descendant of John R. Strother, in letter dated 6 July 1987.

1 comment:

  1. There was a story in our paper this past Sunday about a family in VA and steeplechases and their last name is spelled Strawther.