Julia <I>Bailey</I> Bourland

Julia Bailey Bourland

Georgia, USA
Death 1 Aug 1941 (aged 79)
Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA
Burial Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA
Memorial ID 41839766 · View Source
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Illicit Love, Murder, Scandal, and a Century of Mistaken Identity

Fagan Bourland was a successful young businessman of considerable property in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Sometime around 1895, he became wildly infatuated with the beautiful Maude Avery Allen. The scandel first became public when Maude's husband sued Fagan for $10,000.00 for alienating his wife's affections.

In vain Fagan's wife, Julia Bailey Bourland, had tried upon several ocassions to break up the liasion but had failed. In 1895, Julia caught her husband in Maude's room at a boarding house (conveniently located across the street from Fagan's store) and had shot at Maude and missed.

Then in June of 1896, Julia, having learned that Fagan had an assignation to go riding with Maude, disguised herself as a Negress, and laid in wait for the pair. When Maude came up, Julia struck her over the head several times with a pistol and fired three shots at her. Two of the shots went wild, but one entered Maude's abdomen. During the scuffle, Fagan tried to separate the women, and the pistol was accidently discharged, the bullet grazing his leg.

The Van Buren Press reported: "The scene in the street just after the shooting was most effecting. Mrs Bourland with her arms clasped about her husband's neck sobbed hysterically, 'Fagan, darling, I love you!. I did it all for you! I did not shoot at you! I love you too well for that!'" Julia surrendered herself to the Chief of Police, who immediately released her on her own recognizance.

Upon her recovery, Maude left Fort Smith, but returned a short time later and bold as brass renewed her relations with Fagan. Julia was distraught. On April 22, 1897 she again armed herself and went to Maude's room to await her return. As soon as Maude walked though the door, Julia nailed her, and when Maude left Fort Smith after this encounter, it was as a corpse in the baggage car of the Santa Fe Railroad. As soon as her remains arrived in Independence, Kansas, they were taken immediately to the Mt. View Cemetery.

Public sympathy was on the side of Julia Bailey Bourland, and she was later acquitted by a jury.

Now here is where the case of mistaken identity comes in. It was a well known and publicized fact at the time that Maude's body had been shipped to Kansas. But somehow, over the years, people forgot, and the legend grew up that a mysterious grave in Oak Cemetery was the grave of Fagan's mistress.

Located in a small plot within the confines of a beautiful wrought iron fence, the grave is marked with a simple tombstone bearing the cryptic inscription "Sweet Woman" and nothing else. Fagan, it was believed, had quietly arranged for Maude to be buried there and because of the scandal had not put her name on the tombstone.

It was only a few years ago that the real identity of the lady buried in the mysterious grave was discovered. Sue Clark of Natural Dam, Arkansas, who spent over four years researching Oak Cemetery and its residents, as well as the records of Birnie Funeral Home discovered that the occupant of the grave is Laurine E. Tabor, the wife of a wealthy bank president.

The Fort Smith Elevator in its death notices of September 9, 1887 states:

"Mrs. Laurine E. Tabor, aged 35 years and eleven months, died at her home in this city on Friday morning last, after a long illness. The immediate cause of her death being softening of the brain. Her funeral took place on Saturday afternoon, and was largely attended. Deceased was the wife of B.H. Tabor, President of the American National Bank of this city and daughter of M.H. Oliver of Eureka, Mississippi. She was removed to this city with her husband about six years ago, and here resided until July 1886, when Mr. Tabor removed to Birmingham, Alabama, where they resided some nine months, and then returned here to reside permanently. She leaves four children. Mr. Tabor has the sympathy of many friends in his sad berevement."

Ms. Clark also made the surprising discovery that the plot contains not one but TWO burials. The other grave is unmarked and contains the remains of little eight-year old Nellie Tabor who died on April 27, 1898. Perhaps Nellie is Mr. Tabor's daughter by a subsequent marriage or liason as Laurine would have already been dead for several years at the time Nellie was born.

Other interesting facts in the story:

On September 25,1897, the Van Buren Press reported:

"For the killing of Maude Allen by Mrs. Fagan Bourland on the 22nd day of last April, the
plantiffs, the mother and sister of Maude Allen, are suing Bourland for $25,000.00, believing they are entitled to that amount of money. It is claimed that Maude had been in the habit of sending home as much as $20.00 per month, and this fact is dwelt upon in the complaint. It is said that Mr. Bourland isn't concerned about having to pay it."

Fagan Bourland went on to be elected to FOUR terms as the Mayor of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Evidently, the murder and scandal had no effect upon his political career.

Julia and Fagan never divorced. They are buried side by side in Forrest Park Cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas as "Mother" and "Father." A son is buried to the immediate left of Julia, and another son is buried to the immediate right of Fagan. Grandchildren and other descendants are buried at their feet.

Julia died in 1941, and in 1946 Fagan gave $21,000.00 to the First Methodist Church of Fort Smith, Arkansas for the construction of a 26 tubular Memorial Carillon and Tower in honor of his wife. The carillion to this day still rings out beautiful hymns on Sundays

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  • Created by: L Bruns
  • Added: 11 Sep 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 41839766
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Julia Bailey Bourland (15 Oct 1861–1 Aug 1941), Find a Grave Memorial no. 41839766, citing Forest Park Cemetery, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA ; Maintained by L Bruns (contributor 46890146) .