09 October 2019

J. A. Willis Murdered. John Calhoun's Body Riddled as a Result.

Barnesville News-Gazette (Georgia)
23 May 1918
J. A. WILLIS MURDERED

Shot by Negro Farm Hand and Instantly Killed in Field.


Mr. John A. Willis, one of the most peaceable men, and an excellent citizen and farmer, living near Antioch church in Upson, was shot by a negro man Thursday morning and instantly killed. The negro also shot at Mr. Willis' brother, Mr. Arteman Willis, but fortunately did not hit him.

From the information received, it appears that the negro had recently come to this community from Jacksonville and had worked for Mr. Willis and some difference about work arose between them. Approached by Mr. Willis som words passed, when he shot Mr. Willis in the neck with a pistol.

A large posse was at once formed to hunt the negro, quite a number joining the posse from Barnesville. Every possible effort will be made to catch the murderer.

Mr. Willis...married Miss Greer Steed of this city, who, with several children, survive him...
Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Saturday, 25 May 1918 [via GenealogyBank]
NEGRO IS KILLED TRYING TO ESCAPE

Pike County Posse Locates Murderer on Tip Given by Colored Citizen -- Police Chief Wounded.

Slayer of John Willis Found in Empty House Near Scene of Crime -- Body Is Riddled.


BARNESVILLE, May 24. -- John Calhoun at 11 o'clock this morning paid the penalty for the crime he committed yesterday when he killed John A. Willis, a popular white farmer of Upson. A small posse from this city shot his body full of holes, after he had sent a .38 bullet through the leg of Chief of Police Zack Evans and made a desperate effort to get other members of the party.

Early today a respectable negro gave citizens here a tip as to the location of Calhoun. Chief Evans at once headed a posse for the place of hiding, which was an old unoccupied house near the scene of the crime.

Jumps Out of Window.
When the house was surrounded and Calhoun located, he opened fire with his pistol, the first shot hitting Chief Evans, shooting then at the other parties. The fusilade [sic] of shots from the posse made the house so uncomfortable that the negro jumped out a window and was making off when scores of bullets pierced his body, causing almost instant death.

The body was brought here and turned over to an undertaker. The news spread fast and in a few hours hundreds from the surrounding communities were viewing the dead negro.

Wanted to Burn Body.
So intense was the feeling of the people from the neighborhood of Mr. Willis' home a number from theer [sic] talked of taking the body there and burning it. At one time they had taken the body from the undertaker's room to the streets, when appeals from citizens caused them to desist...For a while much excitement prevailed.

...The funeral of Mr. Willis was held this afternoon at Antioch Baptist church, of which he was a member, Rev. L. B. Harvey, of Forsyth, conducting the service. The burial occurred in the family lot in this city. Mrs. Willis and the several small children have been given every assurance of the sympathy of the people of the entire section.

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