Lewis West Cornered in Swamp ~ 1911
Contributed by: Sloan Mason
Transcribed by Jane Garner
HOT ON NEGRO’S TRAIL
Lewis West Cornered in Swamp
By Determined Posse
WOUNDED BY FARMER’S GUN
Tracked To Hiding Place by Trail of
Blood—Bloodhounds Aid In
Special to The Observer.
Wilson, Feb. 7.—At midnight a posse of two hundred well-armed officers
and citizens from several surrounding towns, with a pack of bloodhounds, is close
upon Lewis West, slayer of Deputy Sheriff Mumford, who is in hiding in a Greene
county swamp, and his death or capture is expected before daylight.
The negro was identified by a farmer today, who tried to arrest him, and
failing shot him in the leg. West got away, however, and made for a swamp two
miles from Ormond’s store in Greene county, and was tracked to the swamp by the
trail of blood he left behind. Posses from Kinston and Wilson were rushed to the
scene on special trains and the bloodhounds secured from Tarboro, whence they
were conveyed to Adams bridge, on the edge of the swamp, by automobiles. The
posse was divided into two squads and let by the dogs plunged into the swamp.
The trail is hot and it is not believed that the negro can evade his pursuers, who
have practically surrounded him.
TOLD IN BULLETINS.
At 6 15 tonight the bloodhounds at Tarboro were ‘phoned for to go to Adams bridge
near the Pitt county line. The dogs were sent on special train at once to Farmville
and thence by automobile to Adams brige. The report at this hour is that the posse
is on a hot trail and it is believed that the dogs will run West down.
At 10 45 the posse was getting ready to go to swamp, one half of the Wilson
squad under command of Sheriff Warren, and his deputy; the other under command of
C. L. Perry of Wilson. Every one here is of the opinion that he is the right man. He
was seen by a lady late this afternoon about one-half mile from Mr. Frank Carr’s.
There are at least two hundred people in the posse. The people of Greene and Pitt
counties are doing all they can possibly to help to catch the murderer. All houses are
open to the posses and the people of the county are showing the men every hospitality.
OFFICERS GET THE NEW CLUE.
This afternoon telephone messages were received here from Hookertown in
Greene county, stating that the negro Lewis West, who murdered Deputy Sheriff George
W. Mumford and probably fatally wounded Chief of Police O. A. Glover, was in that
neighborhood and upon this information a special train was run from Wilson over the
Norfolk & Southern and East Carolina railroads, carrying a posse of about seventy-five
men, well-armed. This train left Wilson about 3 o’clock and reached Hookertown about
5 o’clock. Arriving at the scene your correspondent, who went with the posse, gleaned
the following facts.
This morning about 12 o’clock Mr. John Haddon, an R.F.D. carrier, and Mr.
John Ketchum saw a suspicious negro walking along the road and saw him go into a
negro house. Haddon had a gun. Ketchum did not. They went to the house where the
negro was. Haddon went to the back door and saw that the negro was shaving. Haddon
then went to the front door and told him to surrender. At this, the negro cut at him with a
razor and ran over Ketchum. Haddon fired on him, wounding him in the leg. They
followed the trail, which was bloody. He was recognized from the description to be Lewis
West. He had a wen on his neck, had on a white sweater, and a red undershirt.
PRISONERS TAKEN TO RALEIGH
Another arrest in connection with the murder of Deputy Sheriff George Mumford
was made last night about 11 o’clock, when the detail of soldiers and special police who
went to Selma yesterday afternoon located the negro Stetson and arrested him without
any resistance. Stetson was brought to Wilson this morning and placed in jail.
Stetson was found in a house at Selma, said to be his home, he at first denied
his identity but afterwards confessed that Stetson was his name, but denies having any
connection with the crime. Mary Young, in whose house the shooting occurred and who
is in jail, stated this morning to Deputy Sheriff Howard Rowe that Stetson was not in the
house at the time. Her statement is not considered of much value and as it is known that
Stetson was in the gang with West shortly before the shooting occurred it is possible that
he was in the house and may have taken part in the tragedy. The general opinion is,
however, that only Lewis West, Davie Young, Jim Sims and Mary Young were in the
house at the time.
Jim Sims, while denying he was there himself, says he heard that Lewis West,
Davie Young and Mary Young were the only ones there. The house is a large, two-story
one with several rooms, and it is probable that a half dozen or more were there at the time.
Sheriff Sharp, accompanied by J. D. Mercer, left on the train tonight for the
penitentiary at Raleigh with Jim Sims, who was arrested Sunday night, and Ed Purcell,
alias Stetson, who was arrested at Selma last night, for safe keeping. These parties are
supposed to be accomplices of Lewis West.
Chief Glover’s condition tonight is reported no so very bad.
Kinston Sends Posse.
Special to The Oberserver.
Kinston, Feb. 7.—Sheriff Nunn received a report today about noon from the sheriff of
Greene county that the negro Lewis West, who shot and killed Deputy Sheriff Mumford of
Wilson a few days ago, was surrounded in a swamp near Ridge Springs, a country village
about 18 miles from here, and asking his aid in making a capture. Sheriff Nunn quickly got
together a well-armed posse and left for the scene. At a late hour tonight none of the party
has returned and no further news has been obtainable.
Prisoners Reach Raleigh.
Raleigh, Feb. 7.—Sims and Stetson, two negroes charged with being implicated in
the killing of Deputy Sheriff Mumford of Wilson, reached here tonight from Wilson and were
placed in jail here for safekeeping. They had been incarcerated in the Wilson jail, but the
feeling was growing so strong there that if they remained a lynching was feared.
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