We continue with the 1906 coverage of the Will Harris murders, as reported by the The Asheville Gazette News. This week’s post begins at Pack Square. It is near midnight on Nov. 13, 1906. At the time, Will Harris has already killed three citizens and a police officer. Patrolman Bailey is seeking additional help against the gunman. Click here for last week’s piece.
The article is courtesy of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, 1906, The Asheville Gazette News reported:
Murder of Mr. Bailey
After slipping across the square he [patrolman Bailey] took up a position behind a telephone pole in front of the hardware establishment. From this stand he fought it out with the desperado until one of the bullets from the Savage rifle [Harris’ weapon] pierced the 12-inch pole and entered Mr. Bailey’s left breast, and the officer sank to the ground dead.
After killing Mr. Bailey, the negro turned and started on the run down South Main street. He continued to fire at random and [at] several persons who poked their heads out of windows in an effort to ascertain what the trouble was… In front of the British-American club on South Main street Harris stopped long enough to fire at G. Spears Reynolds and two other gentlemen who, hearing the noise, had rushed down the steps, Mr. Reynolds being armed with a pistol. The bullet from Harris’ gun went close to Mr. Reynolds’ head.
Last Seen of Him
Harris continued his flight down South Main toward Biltmore. In front of Pelham’s pharmacy Harris fired through a plate glass window. Further on and almost in front of the Southern Express company’s office a man named Kelsey Bell, who roomed on the third floor, raised the window and looked out. He saw no one coming down the street, but turning saw Harris almost directly beneath him. At the same instant Harris saw Mr. Bell and throwing the gun to his shoulder fired. The bullet crashed through a pane of glass just over Mr. Bell’s head. Harris then ran on down the street and this was the last seen of him.
After Mr. Page had secured a supply of ammunition from the police department he hurried again to the square and found that Mr. Bailey had been killed. Chief of Police Bernard [not to be confused with Mayor Barnard], had just reached his home on Chestnut street, was notified over the telephone of the fight and he hastened to the city and took charge. At once realizing that quick action must be had if the negro was [to be] caught the chief sounded the riot alarm with the fire bell. Men hurriedly responded to the call, but delay was caused by lack of arms and ammunition. After a wait in an effort to secure arms the doors of the Asheville Hardware company were broken in and rifles and shotguns were secured. Claybrook James arrived on the scene shortly after this and gave his hearty approval of the course. Already a posse had been formed and men were on the track of the negro.
Shortly after posses were formed and [led] by Patrolman William and Police Captain Taylor and also Patrolmen Adams, Lyda, Williams and Lominac. The officers were sent to the mountains east of the city and all night searched the regions round about. Chief of Police Bernard endeavored to get into communication with Mayor Barnard over the telephone but the wires were crossed and no service could be had.
Railroad men prompt
Fearing that the negro would take to the railroad Chief Bernard called the dispatcher’s office of the Asheville division. B.O. Chapman, a dispatcher, was on duty there. He was quickly acquainted with the night’s horrible tragedy and asked to render assistance. And he did. Taking the matter into his own hands Mr. Chapman notified every station on the Asheville division requesting that all trains be searched. The railroad men — always foremost in times of need — responded manfully and every conductor and every trainman went through the trains, freight boxes and passenger coaches, on the lookout for the murderer. So thorough and so prompt were searches conducted that it is certain Harris has not departed by railroad. In addition to notifying all telegraph stations and all trainmen Mr. Chapman called a special train from Spartanburg to bring bloodhounds to Asheville. … The train pulled out of Spartanburg at 3 o’clock this morning and arriving at Tryon was forced to wait there until the bloodhound could be brought in from the country. The special pulled into the Biltmore yard at 6 o’clock this morning and the bloodhound was soon set to work.
Scenes on the Streets
At an early hour this morning the main streets of the city and Pack [S]quare were thronged with people. Men armed with rifles and shotguns found their way to police headquarters, ready and eager to go on a hunt for the desperate negro. For an hour or more Asheville resembled an armed city. It was about 8 o’clock that Deputy Sheriff Williams headed a posse. Some time before that hour, however, another posse went out. Men began gathering on horseback and at 10 o’clock Chief Bernard said that the several posses … numbered perhaps 200 men. The remains of Patrolman Bailey and Patrolman Blackstock and also the victim, Addison, had been removed to the undertaking establishment of Hare, Bard & Co. on South Main Street.
Henry Clay Blackstock, father of the dead police officer, and a resident of Flat Creek township, was notified of the tragic death of his son. He came to request that he be given charge of the body. He had hurried from his home, 10 miles in the country, with a plea from the dead officer’s mother that the remains of her boy be brought to her. The body of the dead officer was taken to Flat Creek this afternoon accompanied by an escort from the Odd Fellows lodge and members of the board of aldermen.
The Place of Death
At the undertaking establishment — a veritable place of death — hundreds of people found their way for a sorrowful view of the heroic dead. The dead officers had been placed on cots one in front of the other. They still wore their uniform of blue, and pinned to their breasts were their badges of rank. Their helmets were placed on the cots just behind them. Across from the cots on which lay the dead officers was the body of Ben Addison. He was shot in the eye. Patrolman Bailey was shot through the heart and also in the mouth. Patrolman Blackstock was shot through the heart.
Next week, we will continue with the city’s search for Will Harris.