|Mary Williams Bell|
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|Death: ||May, 1891|
From The Austin Democrat, May 19, 1891:
DIED BY THE LASH.
The Young Wife of an Aged Tennesseean Whipped to Death by Her Husband's Angry Daughters and a Gang of Their Female Friends – A Feud Started and Several Men Have already Been Slain.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., May 18. – Wolf's Creek is a little hamlet nestling in the midst of the Frog mountains on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Its population is made up of mountaineers of more than average intelligence, who are all more or less, interested in illicit whisky. "Old Man" Bell has for many years been the patriarch of this community. His wife died March 18. He seemed crazed with grief then, but, though he has passed his allotted three-score years and ten, three weeks later he led to the altar Mary Williams, a handsome mountain lass of 17 summers. His family protested, his daughters raged, his sons fumed, but "Old Man" Bell asserted his right to do as he pleased. Mary Williams, though young, was not above reproach, and the Bell family determined to drive her away. She scorned their threats and clung closer to the side of her stalwart husband.
Tuesday of last week a few women induced Mary to go with them into the woods in search of strawberries. When half a mile from her house Mary found herself surrounded by sixty masked women and a few men. A committee disrobed her and while her screams awoke only the echoes from the surrounding rocks tied her to a tree. Then the step-daughters, the old man's three girls, administered alternately 100 lashes. Before the last was given Mary had fainted away and the blood was flowing freely from her mangled flesh. When she was carried home "Old Man" Bell became furious.
Among the men present at the whipping was John Ballew, who gave the names of some of the women, and the old man swore out a warrant for their arrest, but before the trial at the justice's office his young wife died, shrieking with agony. The mountaineers approved of the whipping and determined to make an example of Ballew. Forty of them went to Ballew's house. He heard the drunken mob before it reached his cabin and was prepared to receive it with his Winchester.
John Bell fell dead from Ballew's first shot. Bill Bell, Hiram Martin and John Johnson were mortally wounded, and several others were wounded before the crowd retreated. Craig Miles, of the Ducktown Reporter, wrote an account of the affair. Twenty or thirty of the Bell party, armed with Winchesters, rode into Bucktown with the avowed purpose of killing Miles, who was compelled to flee the town. The Bell faction and their sympathizers to the number of several hundred have sworn to revenge the death of John Bell, and have left their stills and fields and, armed with rifles and liberally supplied with liquor, have taken possession of the region about Wolf's Creek.
Ballew, old Bell, and their sympathizers are back in the mountains, also armed, and a conflict between the two factions is inevitable. The coroner of Polk county is unable to hold an inquest. No one is willing to serve on the jury. Polk county is in the extreme southeastern corner of Tennessee, remote from railroad or telegraph facilities. The women who were said by Ballew to have taken part in the whipping were ordered committed to jail but the constable was warned not to attempt to take any of them in charge under penalty of death. Bell declares that the murderers of his wife shall pay the penalty of their crime, even though his daughters go to the scaffold, and he vows that if necessary he will take the law into his own hands.
Created by: Janet Stephenson
Record added: Dec 18, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 102339230
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