MURDER OF ISOM (ISHAM) PELTON FEB. 2, 1835
ARKANSAS GAZETTE TUESDAY. FEB. 3, 1835
The weather has been cold and disagreeable for some days past. Considerab le rain fell on Wednesday night and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday we h ad snow for several hours, on Sunday it was clear and cold, yesterday, clo udy and hazy, with a little snow in the early part of the night, this morn ing, clear, with a stiff northwesterner, and the mercury down to 17, whi ch is lower than it has been before this season.
A rencountre took place on Saturday last, at the house of Mr. Jarrot McCar y, on the Saline, in this county, between Isom (Isham) Pelton, and Mose (M organ) Williams, in which the former was shot while sitting on his hors e, and died yesterday. Williams immediately came to town and surrendered h imself to the civil authority, and has been in the custody of the sheri ff since Sunday. An examination of the affair, we understand will take pla ce today.
THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE REPRINT OF ARKANSAS GAZETTE
TUESDAY APRIL 17TH, 1835
WRITTEN BY WILLIAM E. WOODRUFF
LITTLE ROCK, ARK.
ARKANSAS GAZETTE, TUESDAY APRIL 7, (17th ?)1835.
About midnight, on Tuesday night last the jail in this town was surpris ed by several armed persons, said to be 6 in number, with blackened face s, who got possession of the keys, by threatening the only person on gua rd with instant death. Having obtained them, they opened the doors and s et at liberty the 3 prisoners confined in it, viz: Morgan Williams, a la me man, with his right leg drown up at right angles with his knee, and usu ally walks with a crutch, committed on a charge of the murder of Isom Pelt on, some 2 or 3 months since: Fielding G. Segrest, a young m an of 21 or 22 years of age, committed for stealing negroes and horses, a nd other offenses, who has already became quite nortorious as a hardened v illian for one of his age: And a negro man named Hiram, the property of M r. Emzy Wilson, of this county, committed for safe keeping.
One of them (Williams it's supposed) stole a horse in town, which he ro de to
Mr. McHenry' s, 10 miles south of here, where, on the same night, he (wi th out leave) swapped him off for the best horse in Mr. McHenry's stab le on which he continued his flight to the south and we have heard th at he has since been seen on the Washita.
Secrest and the negro, it is supposed, crossed the Arkansas the same nig ht and are making off toward the White River, or the Mississippi as we und erstand that, about sunset, on Wednesday evening last, a white man and neg ro (the latter leading a fired black pony) were seen in the edge of the b ig prairie, near 50 miles from this place, under very suspicious circumsta nces and that on the same night, a horse was stolen from
Mr. Joseph Stillwell living 5 or 6 miles from where they were seen, and t he pony left in his stead.
Secrest is one of the gang of villains who have been infesting our neighbo rhood for some time past, and is now probably safely entrenched among h is confederates in their haunts in some of the almost impenetrable swam ps of White River. From information which we have received there c an be no doubt there are spies and accomplices scattered through every pa rt of the territory, and probably in every part of it. Even in this town t here is no doubt there is accomplices, and it was probably through their a gency, in part, that the above prisoners are indebted for their rescue fr om jail. Indeed, that immediately after the rescue was known several circu mstances so strongly conspired to impress everyone with the belief that ce rtain individuals in this town had aided them that on the following mornin g, he was arrested and underwent an examination before justice Brown and H urr, which lasted the whole day, and, although it resulted in his dischar ge the proof not being sufficiently positive to justify his committal, sti ll no mitigating circumstances appeared in the course of the examinati on to weaken the strong impression on the public mind which caused his arr est, and which still exists as to his guilt.
At no time during our residence in the territory have we known so much exc itement as has been very naturally produced by the band of robbers and mur ders whom infest our county. They have already murdered one of our citize ns who had been active in arresting some of the gang, and have threaten ed the lives of several others. No man who dares to raise his voice again st them is considered safe, either in his person or property. To reso rt to the laws for protection, seems to be worse than useless; for, if app rehended and committed to prison, there are 10 chances to one in fav or of their rescue by their accomplices; and if brought to trial, wither t hrough the mercy of our petit juries, or the want of positive testimony ag ainst them, the chances is no better for their conviction and punishmen t. But one mode and the only one, suggests itself to us of getting r id of them and that is, not to trouble our courts or juries with them. The ir hands are raised against every honest man in the community, and the la ws of nature teach us that every honest man's hand ought to be raised agai nst them, they ought to be hunted down as wild beast, and their carcass es left as food for the buzzards. A company of resolute woodsmen, who a re unured to hardships and familiar with the use of the unerring rifl e, by scouring the woods and penetrating into their hiding places in the s wamps and caves, and waylaying their secret paths, could effect more in ri dding us of this lawless and organized bandits, than all the courts and ju ries in the country.
We do not know that any step of this kind, indeed, or any other will be ta ken to rid the county of these villians, but, if any should be, we would r ecommend that the upmost secrecy be observed lest their spies and secret f riends communicate it to them, and thus prevent it's being carried into ef fect. It would even be advisable, we think that all plans to circumvent th em, be only known to these selected to carry them into execution.
ARKANSAS GAZETTE APRIL 21, 1835
THE MURDERER TAKEN:
On Saturday evening last, Morgan Williams, who was committed to jail in th is town, about the 1st Feb., charged with the murder of Isom Pelton in th is county, and who make his escape, with others on the night of 31st., w as brought back and recommitted to his old quarters. He was taken at Doole y's ferry, on Red River, and brought back by
Mr. John Dooley and several other gentlemen. At the time he was arrest ed he was riding the horse which was stolen from the stable of Mr. McHenr y, on the night of the rescue, and it has been restored to the owner.
ARKANSAS GAZETTE APRIL, 28, 1835
CONVICTION FOR MURDER
The trial of Morgan Williams on an indictment for the murder of Mr. Isom P elton on the 31st, Jan., 1835, commenced before the circuit court of th is county. Judge Johnson presiding, on Thursday, last, and lasted until Fr iday morning, when the case was submitted to the jury, who in the afterno on returned with a verdict of guilty. Consel: for the prosecution, Cummins .
For the prisoner, Pike and Childress.
On Sat. a.m. the prisoner was again brought into court, where the followi ng sentence of the law was pronounced upon him from the bench in a very im pressive way.
Morgan Williams: you have committed a deed at which human nature starts a nd the mind recoils with horror. You have shed the blood of your brother m an and the offended laws have pronounced your doom. Whoever sheddeth man 's blood, with no cause, by man shall his blood be shed. The unpleasant ta sk this day devolved upon me, as the minister of the law, to pronounce th is stern and solemn sentence. To die when one is prepared to die, with t he conscience void of offence toward God or man, is not, perhaps, to be re garded as a very great calamity; for it is appointed unto all men on ce to die. But to be hurried from this world to appear before the great ju dge above, stained with crime and crimsoned oe'r with guilt, is the greate st evil that can befall to the lot of man. Sitting in this judgement sea t, we have no power to extend pardon to the guilty offender. But with Go d, there is mercy and ample stores of forgiveness. But deep repentence a nd sincere contritition, perhaps the mercy of heaven may reach your case a nd your crime, though red as scarlet may be made white as wool. That you m ay employ your few remaining days in prostrating yourself before the thro ne of the most high, and by sincere prayer and deep repentance, suplica te him to pardon your crimes and blot out your offences, and that he may t urn a listening ear to your prayer.
It now remains for me to pronounce the judgement of the law:
Morgan Williams: you have been arraigned before this court on a char ge of murder. You have been heard in your defence, by counsel you have h ad a fair and impartial trial by a jury of your country and that jury ha ve returned a verdict of guilty against you. It is my duty to pronounce t he judgement of the law.
You will be remained to the prison of this county in the custody of the pr oper officer and there be imprisoned until the 16th day of May on which d ay between the hours of 11 in the forenoon and 2 in the afternoon of th at day you will be taken by the sheriff of this county to the public execu tion and there hang till you are dead-dead-dead.
During the delivery of the sentence, the judge was very sensibly affecte d, as, indeed were the bystanders generally, except the prisoner, who we u nderstand, listened to it without emotion, and showed disgusting indiffere nce suited to his awful situation. The day appointed for his execution w as fixed at the earliest day authorized by law, in accordance with the req uest of prisoner.
ARKANSAS GAZETTE MAY 12, 1835
EXECUTION OF MORGAN WILLIAMS:
Sentenced to suffer death at the late term of circuit court of this count y, for the murder of Isom (Isham) Pelton, will take place on Sat. next agr eeably to the sentence of the court.
ARKANSAS GAZETTE MAY 19, 1835
On Sat. last, the sentence of the law was carried in effect, about a mi le south of town, on Morgan Williams, for the murder of Isom (Isham) Pelto n. He met his fate with most astonishing self-possession and coolness. Eve ncing more composure, during the two hours he remained under the gallow s, than a large portion of the numerous concourse of spectators who had co llected on the grounds to witness his ignominious punishment.