Posts Tagged ‘Duel’

Colonel Jones Stewart Hamilton: The Train and the Tragedies

October 12, 2010




First Train Over the Gulf and Ship Island Road Started.


Building of New Mississippi Line to New Gulf Outlet Attended by Series of Fatalities — Killing of Gambrell by Colonel Jones S. Hamilton, The Adams – Martin Duel.

The first train over the new road to the gulf of Mexico — the Gulf and Ship Island — left Jackson, Miss., at 6:30 the other morning, reaching the terminus, Gulfport at 2 o’clock, says the Chicago Times-Herald. A number of state officials, together with officers of the road, made the trip. At Gulfport a banquet was given in the evening, and many speeches were made that predict a future for the new seacoast city. Gulfport is nothing more than a village now. At Jackson, the northern terminus, connection is made with the Illinois Central and the Alabama and Vicksburg branch of the Cincinnati Southern road. It is believed that the Gulf and Ship Island will eventually be extended to Memphis, and when that is done the expectation is that some of the grain trade of the northwest will be sent abroad via Gulfport.



Gulf and Ship Island Railroad - 1903


The road passes through a section of the state that is new to civilization. Many of the inhabitants along its line had never seen a locomotive engine until the work trains appeared and awakened echoes from the hills which had heretofore caught only the cries of the wildcat, the dying groans of feudists and the piercing crack of the huntsman’s rifle. The road passes through a portion of Jones county, which seceded from the Confederacy during the civil war and set up an independent government. It traverses Wayne county, which has fewer Bibles per capita than any other county in the nation. It splits Green county almost in twain, and some of the roadbed is made of dirt on which the notorious Murrell and Copeland gang of murderers and outlaws made their rendezvous for a decade.



The road opens to the lumber trade a virgin pine forest. It is estimated that within the next five years more than 1,000,000,000 feet of timber will go to the north on cars hauled by this new line. The land adjacent is favorable for raising fruits and grapes, but it has never been cultivated. Not a painted house is to be seen between Jackson and Gulfport. The inhabitants for the most part have existed among themselves without having come in contact with the outside world. The road will make the work of the revenue agent less perilous. Illicit distilleries have flourished for years unmolested in much of the territory because officers have been afraid to penetrate its ravines, hollows and hillsides.


Jones S. Hamilton


The history of this road has been attended by more tragic deaths than that of any other enterprise started in the south since the civil war. Twenty-five years ago Colonel Jones S. Hamilton married one of the belles of Mississippi, Miss Fanny Buck. Their first child was a son, and he was named for his father, John S. Jr. On the day of the child’s baptism Colonel Hamilton said to his wife that he would build a railroad, that his heir might become its president when he had attained his majority. Colonel Hamilton selected the terminal point, and Mrs. Hamilton gave Gulfport its name. Twenty-four hours after the last spike had been driven which made the road complete between these two points Jones S. Hamilton, Jr., was killed by the cars in the yards at Jackson. That was a few weeks ago. Colonel Hamilton still holds an interest in the railway company, and it was his son’s aim to escort a number of his young friends to Gulfport on the train the other day.

Instead his grave received new flowers from those he expected to entertain.

In 1884, after a survey of the road had been made, Colonel Hamilton interested Chicago capital in pushing the road to completion. At the time he was lessee of the state penitentiary, a state senator, chairman of the executive committee of the Democratic party and the wealthiest man in the state. His home, Belhaven, was the most magnificent in the country. It sat on an eminence two miles from the statehouse and contained 600 acres in flower yards, tennis courts and fishing pools.

His reputation for lavish hospitality was known throughout the south.




In his political affairs Colonel Hamilton encountered the bitter opposition of John H. Martin, a descendant of Chief Justice John Marshall; T. Dabney Marshall, a literary and art critic, and Roderick Dhu Gambrell, who were the leaders of the prohibition movement. Bitter personalities were exchanged, and Hamilton was challenged by Gambrell to fight a duel. Attacks on Colonel Hamilton continued, and in May, 1886, he and Gambrell met on the bridge which divides East from West Jackson. There were no eyewitnesses to what followed, but when the crowd got to the place, having been attracted by shots, Gambrell was dead, and Hamilton was seriously wounded.

The affair caused great excitement. There was talk of lynching Hamilton, and the residents, about evenly divided between the factions, came so near to a clash that a call for the militia was necessary. Meantime Gambrell’s picture was being sold throughout the civilized world. Boxes of them were shipped to Australia and to Africa. Miss Frances E. Willard started a subscription for the purpose of assisting the prosecuting fund.

After spending a year in prison Colonel Hamilton was acquitted, his release being celebrated by a remarkable demonstration of rejoicing, in which Hamilton was brought into the city in a carriage drawn by 100 prominent residents. The week before the end of the trial, however, General Wirt Adams and John H. Martin killed each other under most sensational circumstances as the result of the proceedings. General Adams had testified to Colonel Hamilton’s good character and was attacked by Martin in his paper. Adams and a friend went to Marin’s office. The offensive article was pointed out, and Martin said he was responsible for its appearance — in fact, had written it.

“Then are you armed?” asked General Adams. Martin said he was not. Pulling out his watch, General Adams replied: “It is now 10:35. I will give you until 11 o’clock.” Martin ran for his home, four blocks away, while Adams took a position across the street from Martin’s office. Ten — 25 minutes passed. Then Martin showed himself around the corner. Adams advanced to meet him. When the two were within 40 feet of each other, they began firing. The first bullet struck Martin in the thigh and knocked him down. General Adams continued advancing. Martin had recovered from the stun and was firing with deliberate aim. At the third shot from Adams’ pistol Martin fell backward, mortally wounded.

Adams had one ball remaining, and he walked to where his enemy lay and looked down at him. Martin, too, had one bullet in his pistol. Meantime General Adams had been untouched. Two shots rang out simultaneously, and General Adams fell, his face striking the pit of Martin’s stomach. When the officers reached the spot, both were dead. Colonel Hamilton came out of jail with his vast estate heavily incumbered. A government land grant made to the road had been forfeited, but this was recovered through the efforts of Secretary James G. Blaine, to whom Hamilton had gone to school in Kentucky.

A little while after Hamilton killed Gambrell, a railroad tie contractor of the name of Purvis killed a man of the name of McDonald, was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. On the scaffold Purvis denied his guilt. When the know was adjusted and the trap sprung, the rope slackened, and instead of Purvis being suspended in the air he fell to the ground. In the excitement  the execution was delayed, and on Purvis’ claim that he could not be resentenced because he already had been legally hanged the case became one of the most noted in the history of the state. Purvis eventually was pardoned, and he is now in the woods along the line of the Gulf and Ship Island railroad getting out bridge timber.

Active work on the Gulf and Ship Island was resumed five years ago. About the time it seemed certain that it would be pushed to completion Colonel Hamilton fell down his steps, receiving wounds which practically have made him helpless ever since. He is little better than an invalid.

Gulfport is on something of a boom. The harbor is a natural one and will require little money from the national government. It is almost midway between Mobile and New Orleans and is touched also by the Louisville and Nashville railroad. The fact that it is the terminal of the Gulf and Ship Island will make it an important lumber shipping point for years to come. Many sawmills, canning factories, storehouses and residences are already in the course of construction.

Sandusky Daily Star (Sandusky, Ohio) Sep 5, 1900

The image and a biography of Jones S. Hamilton can be found on Google at the following link:

Title: Mississippi: Contemporary Biography
Volume 3 of Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form, Dunbar Rowland
Editor: Dunbar Rowland
Publisher: Reprint Co., 1907
pg 311

Read more about the Gambrell incident in my previous post, Roderick D. Gambrell: Death of a Hip Pocket Reformer.

The Double Death Which Disgraced Mississippi

October 5, 2010


Which Disgraced Mississippi Last Tuesday.

The Fatal Meeting Between General Wirt Adams and Mr. John H. Martin — The Cause of the Tragedy.

VICKSBURG, Miss., May 3. –[Special] — A Jackson, Miss., special gives full details of the tragedy of last Tuesday. The tragedy occurred there about 2:15 p.m. General Wirt Adams, postmaster, and one of the most distinguished citizens of the state, and John H. Martin,, editor of the New Mississippian, met in deadly combat on President street near the corner of Amite. Martin had published General Adams in several personal squibs in his paper for some weeks past, to which General Adams paid no attention. The issue of the New Mississippian, today contained another and severe personal article against him and is supposed to be the direct cause of today’s tragedy.

They met at the time and place above stated, General Adams going north and Martin south.

Mr. Farish, who was walking with General Adams, says that as they approached each other General Adams accosted Martin and said, in effect: “You damn rascal, I have stood enough from you,” and Martin replied, “If you don’t like it,” simultaneously with the remark he drew his pistol and commenced firing and got behind a large china tree on the outer edge of the pavement, two and a half feet in diameter. General Adams also fired about the same time, but Farish, thought not certain, thinks that Martin shot first.

Mr. Thomas Helm, Jr., who was sitting at his window just across the street, immediately opposite the scene of the conflict, some sixty feet distant, says “that he was looking out of the window south and saw General Adams and Farish coming up the street. They passed his line of vision and on hearing a shot he looked around and saw Martin on his knees behind the tree, and he heard him cry out and saw him fire at General Adams, and the general walking around the tree to get at him and firing at the same time. Martin scrambled to a little south of the tree and continued firing. General Adams reached the north side of the tree, following Martin, when he fell.”

Both died in less than one minute. Martin said to those who first reached the scene: “I am dead,” and died immediately. General Adams never spoke. General Adams had but one wound and that was directly through the heart. Martin was shot in the right breast, two and three-quarter inches left of the right nipple and in the upper part of the right leg, breaking the thigh bone. There was also a bullet hole in his hand. Both men used Colt’s six-shooters, Martin a forty-one calibre and Adams a forty-four. All the shells in Martin’s pistol were exploded. Three shells in General Adam’s were exploded, and one gave evidence of having been snapped upon, but failed to fire. Two of the shells were intact.

The following are the publications which are supposed to have led to the difficulty:

The New Mississippian, of March 27th, alluding to the Hamilton trial, then in progress in Brandon, said in effect: “General Wirt Adams, a witness for the defense, testified as to Hamilton’s character. The general ought to remember that character, like charity, should begin at home.”

Again, on April 3: “Nellie Dinkins’s testimony for the state has been impeached, but she has this advantage of General Wirt Adams, a witness for the defense. She never gave certificates and was forced, after they had been published a year, to admit they were utterly false.” And again, today: “People who do not receive the New Mississippian regularly will please remember that since we exposed the obliquy of General Wirt Certificate Adams, the postoffice is endeavoring to wreak its spite against the paper in every possible way. This paper has to be in the postoffice about a half or an hour sooner than the republican paper here, or it is made to lay over for another mail. It is strange how mad some men get when the plain truth is told about them in print, and yet this paper is feeling remarkably well.”

An untold gloom hangs over and the deepest sorrow pervades this community in consequence of this terrible tragedy.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 4, 1888

NOTE: This article on the Red Manifest is a bit confusing. I only found one more source mentioning it, and that source states that Wirt Adams was thought to have been the author, not John H. Martin.


Editor John H. Martin, Killed in the Street Duel at Jackson, Miss., Said to Have Been Its Author.

NEW YORK, May 3. — The Sun’s Washington special says that John H. Martin, the editor who was killed in the street duel with General Wirt Adams, the postmaster at Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, was the author of the “Red Manifesto,” issued last December, and which first conveyed to the colored people of Jackson the notice that they would not be allowed to vote at the election held on the first Monday in January. The manifesto is in evidence before the Senate judiciary committee in connection with the investigation of the alleged suppression of votes of the colored citizens of Jackson. It is printed in large type, in blood-red ink, an at the head is displayed an engraving of two pistols, two shotguns and a powder flask.

Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) May 5, 1888



Funeral Services Over the Remains of General Wirt Adams and John H. Martin — Additional Evidence to the Killing — Another Attack.

[From the New Orleans Pleayune Special.]

Jackson, Miss., May 2. — Jackson yesterday evening and last night was a seething cauldron of excitement. The mortal combat of both Martin and Adams was the entire theme of conversation. Business was practically suspended and groups of men stood on the streets discussing the sad an sudden demise of those two gentlemen.

Thee were threats passed to and from the friends and sympathizers of both sides and considerable apprehension was felt. Cooler heads reasoned, however, and are triumphant so far in


between the two factions. It may come, though, any moment. There is a perceptible feeling of bitterness on both sides today, greater than last night.
There were but few transactions of business, and the state house was deserted. The entire city was in gloom. There were great crowds of ladies and gentlemen all of to-day carrying beautiful bouquets of flowers to the residences of hte unfortunate victims of the deadly bullets. Messages of condolence crowded the wires from sympathetic friends abroad.


of Jno. H. Martin were held at the Methodist Episcopal church at 3 o’clock this evening. The coffin was of handsome mahogany and was covered with the choicest and most delicate flowers. The last tribute that Dr. C.G. Andrews, the minister, could pay to his dead friend was beautiful and touching. His remains were carried from the church to the south-bound Illiniois Central train at 5 o’clock, and thence to Brookhaven, the place of his birth, followed by several of his friends, where he was interred this evening in the little cemetery to the north of the town. The following were the pallbearers: W.D. Ratliff, C.H. Alexander, Professor L.A. Wyatt, Harry Brown and John Lizor.

The funeral services of the loving husband and father of several children and that noble gentleman,


was the largest seen in Jackson for several years. Almost every carriage and buggy in the city was in the procession which followed the remains from his home to the Episcopal church, Rev. William Short, the rector, officiating. The church was packed with the best people of the country. The services were short and impressive. Truly there was no man whom Jackson loved more than General Adams. The pallbearers were Governor Lowry, Jude T.J. Wharton, E. Voreten, G.C. Eyerich, J.S. Hamilton, Marcellus Green, Geo. Lemon, and Oliver Clifton. Strangely enough the same hearse which conveyed Martin’s body to the train also bore General Adams’ body; and then, too, both were compelled to cross the bridge that one year ago on the 5th of this month was the scene of the tragedy in which Jones S. Hamilton killed R.D. Gambrell, the special friend of Martin, and that homicide was a sequel to the terrible on of yesterday.


The terrible affair was not entirely unexpected. The New Mississippian has been characteristically bold and scathing in its criticisms of General Adams. The first attack was in connection with the late exciting city election, when the paper charged that General Adams would either vote for McGill or vote a folded ticket. Then he was sharply criticised with regard to his recent testimony in the late Hamilton-Gambrell case and the certificates given the lessees of the penitentiary.

It is said that General Adams had restrained himself, fearing that any too early movement might prejudice the interests of his friend Hamilton. And then yesterday the New Mississippian contained another scathing and sarcastic article, which the intrepid and restless general could not stand, and his fury could not be appeased until he had seen Martin.

The Clarion-Ledger will to-morrow contain the following statement of two eyewitnesses:


says: I was sitting at the second window in my room Tuesday evening, probably a little after 2 o’clock, looking eastward across President street. Saw General Wirt Adams and Mr. Ned Farish turn the corner at the Cartwaliader residence, southwest corner of President and Amite streets. They passed up President street northward on the west side of the pavement, and had barely got beyond the range of my vision when I heard a shot. I then got up and looked in the direction the noise came from and saw Mr. John Martin on his knees with his pistol in his hand firing, or in the act of firing. Martin was two or three feet north of the large china tree, and seemed to be behind it. General Adams was on the south side of the tree, probably six or eight feet from it, the tree being between Martin and Adams. Both men were firing and General Adams came from the sidewalk into the street. Martin bearing around to the west side of the tree struggled to his feet and got on the southwest side of the tree, General Adams having gotton on the north side. They were


all the time they were reversing positions. Don’t know how many shots were fired or how many each party fired. The firing was very deliberate. Heard some cry of agony that I thought came from Martin. After Martin had got out on the south side of the tree he lunged forward toward the east and fell just off the sidewalk into the street all doubled up. Adams, who was then behind the tree on the north side, seemed to ease down slightly and suddenly fell backward, apparently dead. The bodies were not more than five feet apart. I don’t think either party fired after being down, as both seemed disabled when they struck the ground. Did not see anything more of Farish till he was assisting to take the body of General Adams to witness residence. Asked if a doctor had been sent for, when Mr. Farish said

“There is no need for a doctor for he is dead.”

Saw only one wound in General Adams’ body, which seemed to be just above the region of the heart. After the body of Adams had been taken to his house friends of Martin started homeward with his body. Saw nobody engaged in the shooting but Adams and Martin. Did not see the first shot.


As seen from the foregoing statement of Mr. Helm General Adams was accompanied by Mr. Ned Farish. Mr. Farish is reported as stating that as General Adams and Mr. Martin approached each other the former addressed the latter in substantially the following words:

“You damned rascal, I have stood enough from you,” and to which Martin replied: “If you don’t like it,” at the same time drawing his pistol, he fired, says Mr Farish, and got behind a large china tree on the outer edge of the pavement. About the same time General Adams also fired. Farish, however, though not certain, thinks Martin fired first.

An examination of the wounds showed that General Adams was shot in the heart, the ball entering the collar bone. Mr. Martin was shot in the right breast, 2?/? inches to the left of right nipple, and 1 1/4 inches below a line drawn between the right and left nipple; in the right thigh (10)? inches below the thigh joint, which broke the thigh bone; marked on the right elbow with a ball and skin bruised, but flesh not entered; a bullet hole was also in his hat, entering the center of the crown and coming out at the top.


who many years before the was became a citizen of Jackson, was born in Kentucky sixty-nine years ago. For a great while he was the senior member of the banking firm of Adams & Horn. He had also been a large planter, a large capitalist and slave owner. When the war was declared he was one of the first to volunteer, and his record as a soldier will compare with that of any man who bared his breast to shot and shell. Never was produced a better or braver soldier than General Adams. The war over he returned to the life of a civilian, engaged in planting, banking, etc. When Mr. Davis’ work was issued General Adams was complimented with the exclusive southern agency. He served as state revenue agent several years, and has been postmaster at Jackson since 1885 (or 3?).


was chosen at the last Mississippi press convention as annual orator, and the convention is to meet in Grenada on the 9th instant.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 5, 1888

The Adams-Martin Duel — The Unprovoked Assaults on Adams.

The attacks of the New Mississippian on General Wirt Adams, which resulted in the death of General Adams and the editor, appears to have been unprovoked as they were brutal. Major Livingston Mims says of the affair:

“I was with General Adams two weeks ago. He was then restless under the attacks of this editor. He said to me: ‘I do not want to be forced into a difficulty with him. I have no quarrel with him, and I actually avoid the public streets that I may not meet him casually and be betrayed into assaulting him.’ The family of General Adams was entirely dependent on his petty salary, and this knowledge forced him to submit day after day to the most wanton insult. I was hardly surprised that he was at last goaded into action, though unspeakably grieved. A knightlier man never lived — a loftier or finer soul. He was very rich before the 60’s, and lived like a prince, whether at his $90,00 home in New Orleans or at one of his superb plantations. He was offered the postmaster generalship of the confederacy by Mr. Davis, and equipped a full regiment from his private purse. Truly he was a king among men.

“He came of a brave and illustrious family. General Dan Adams, his brother, killed Hogan, the editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel, and the fourth editor killed in succession on that paper. Hogan wrote an article reflecting on Judge Adams, the father of Dan and Wirt. Young Dan went to Vicksburg to get a retraction. He called at the house of Duke Gwinn, the United States marshal of Mississippi, Mrs. Gwinn found what his purpose was.

“Are you armed?” she asked.

Young Adams replied that he was simply going to have a reasonable talk with Hogan and had not thought of arming himself.

“‘Little do you know the man you are about to deal with,’ said Mrs. Gwinn, and with her own hands she buckled a pistol at his waist. Adams went out and met Hogan on the street. He introduced himself and stated his mission. Hogan, as brave as a tiger and as restless, closed with him instantly and in the fight was shot and killed. The trial of Dan Adams for the killing of Hogan was one of he famous events of Mississippi history, and ended in his acquittal. With the death of Wirt Adams this splendid and dignified family becomes but a memory — but a glorious and unstained memory!”

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 6, 1888

General Wirt Adams

An Old Mississippi Reminiscence.

To The News,

CALDWELL, Tex., May 6. — I noticed an article in to-day’s NEWS from Hon. W.J. Jones of Virginia Point, paying a tribute to the late General Wirt Adams of Mississippi, in which an error occurs. Many years ago Dr. Hagan, editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel, was killed by Daniel W. Adams, on account of a slanderous assault upon the character of his father, Judge Adams, and not by Wirt Adams as stated. Both Generals Daniel W. and Wirt Adams (brothers) were brigadiers in the confederate army. After the war General Dan W. Adams located in New York to practice law, where he died a few years thereafter. I am a native Mississippian, was well acquainted with the Adamses, and familiar with the Hagan Homicide.


Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 7, 1888

Duel at William and Mary

April 30, 2010

We learn by a gentleman from Virginia, that the college of William and Mary, at Williamsburg, is completely broken up, and the system of education there, fro the present at least, entirely discontinued.

“The circumstances of this extraordinary affair are as follows: — In consequence of a difference between two of the students, a Mr. Lee, of Norfolk, and a Mr. Yates of Fredericksburg, a duel was fought, in which the latter was wounded.

Tucker House (Image from

For this gross violation of the rules of the College, they both expelled, which so enraged all the rest of the Collegians, that they assembled, went to the church, broke and destroyed all the windows, cut down the pulpit, tore out all the leaves of the bible and gave them to the wind — from thence they proceeded to the house of Judge Tucker (whose opinions have of late been so often quoted in Congress)professor of law in the University, broke all his windows, pelted his house, abused him, and then each repaired to his own home.

Judge Tucker (Image from Wikimedia)

The Judge it is said, has resigned his office of Professor, in consequence of the outrage — and thus dies one of the oldest and wealthiest seminaries of learning in the United States of America.

These may be considered as some of the blessed effects of the modern system of religion; for party politks, instead of science, appear long since to have been the primary objects of instruction in that University; and from that soul source have flowed many of the heretical doctrines of the present day.”

The Adams Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Apr 21, 1802

From the William and Mary News and Events:

Hobson to publish St. George Tucker law papers
by Ann Gaudreaux | February 25, 2010

Tucker arrived in Virginia from Bermuda in 1771 and entered the College of William & Mary in 1772 where he studied general academics in the schools of natural and moral philosophy. He then read law under George Wythe, and was admitted to the bar of county courts in 1774 and of the General Court in 1775. His law career was interrupted by the American Revolution, but after the war he established a busy practice in the county courts around Petersburg. By the mid-1780s he was attending the superior courts in Richmond. Tucker succeeded Wythe as Professor of Law in 1790, and in 1804 he was promoted to the Virginia Court of Appeals. In 1813, he accepted President James Madison’s appointment as a U.S. District Court judge. There Tucker also sat with Chief Justice John Marshall on the U.S. Circuit Court for Virginia. He tendered his resignation in 1825, two years before his death.

Tucker conducted his law classes in between judicial sessions, basing his course around William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. He took great care to point out the differences between English law and Virginia and American practice, which required modifying or discarding Blackstone at many points. Tucker incorporated his lecture notes into his edition of Blackstone, published in 1803, entitled Blackstone’s Commentaries: With Notes of Reference, to the Constitution and Laws, of the Federal Government of the United States; and of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

***Read the whole article at the link above. Pretty interesting.