A Genealogy Miscellany Henderson County III
Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2001


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Murder of John H. Trice by His Negro Servant in 1860

            This article, appearing under the name of Captain Thomas M. Gates, was essentially written by James W. Anderson, brother-in-law of John H. Trice. It appeared in THE JACKSON SUN, circa 1912;the only known copy is in the T. M. Gates Scrapbook in the Tennessee Room, Jackson-Madison County Library. It has yellowed so much that it doesn't reproduce well, hence its basic information has been given below.

            "Mr. Jno. H. Trice, whose life was taken, was the father of the Hon. Jno. H. Price and brother-in-law of Mr. Hu C. Anderson, both honored citizens of Jackson.


            Jo, the murderer of his master, was born in Anderson County, Tennessee. His age was about 22 years. He weighed about 165 pounds; as regards his general appearance there was nothing very peculiar or impressive.... His muscles were full, round and very hard, giving unmistakable evidence of great strength, which will hereafter be clearly shown. Jo, who was called Jo Harrison by his mother ... used good language ... replied quick and with some wit to those of whom he had no fear....

Confession of Jo

            Murderer of his master, John H. Trice, at his late residence in Henderson County, Tennessee, on the 8th of December, 1860; given with the fear of God before his eyes and in view of the fate that awaited him on this, the day upon which he is to be hung.

            On being asked if he did murder his master, he replied, 'I did' and on being further enquired of as to the circumstances, he proceeded to state the following, "Me and my master disagreed about the splitting of some rails and he told me he was going to whip me and tied me with his suspenders and I walked with him to the head of the hollow but the suspenders came untied or broke and then we got into a scuffle, during which time I found his knife on the ground which I took up with my right hand and put my left to his chin and cut his throat from ear to ear at two licks. When he attempted to rise and while on his hands and knees, I thought him not yet dead, I picked up a chunk of wood and struck him on the head which I concluded would do the work. During the time we scuff led, he told me not to kill him and said if I did my old master /Trice's father/ would hang me. He begged me twice to quit and called a little boy, Frank, to come there."

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            "I waited some three or four minutes and before he was quite dead, I took him upon my shoulder with his head to my back, walked down the hollow, through a skirt of woods in the farm, to the opposite side, crossing five fences, during which I did not stop nor rest, except at once lone! fence I let him fall; when outside I walked straight to the road leading from his house to Esq. Fry's - laid him down by the side of it and then took him by the feet and dragged him about ten steps upon his face. I then laid his hat and some corn by the road in order that when he was found no one would think the deed was done on the side of the farm upon which I worked. Before I left the place which I think is about one and a half miles from where I killed him, I threw the knife about twenty-five steps off, which place I have since carried my old master to; I can further state my master was always good and kind to me - I always had plenty to eat and good clothes to wear and now I do not know what reasons I had for killing him. I know that I have to die. I want my life, conduct and death to be a warning to all who may hear me. I freely forgive all my enemies and ask both friends and foes to remember one who is no longer worthy to live but soon must go and meet the great and powerful God in the skies. I am thankful to Sam for his words of comfort in these, my last hours." /Perhaps Sam was a black preacher/

Decision of the Jury, State of Tennessee, Henderson County, December 10, 1860.
            "We, the undersigned, citizens of the state and county aforesaid, having been called upon and selected to investigate the case of the murder of John H. Trice, said to have been committed on Saturday, the 8th instant, by a negro by named Jo Harrison, the property of said John H. Trice, deceased, after having heard all the evidence adduced in the case, have come to the following conclusion, to wit: That the said Jo Harrison is guilty of the murder of his master, Jno. H. Trice, by his own admission, and from other evidence; and that the murder was committed by cutting the throat of the said deceased with his own pocket-knife and that our verdict is that for the offense aforesaid, the boy Jo Harrison be hung by the neck until he is dead, on Tuesday, the 11th instant, at 2 o'clock p.m. And we hereby take the responsibility of our acts. Given under our hands, on this the 10th of December, 1860."

James Thomas, W. B. Hall, W. C. McHaney, O. F. Hendrick, R. J. Barham. Thomas McGill, Elisha Bond, J. S. McCollum, William Thomas, J. S. Burrow, John McCall, Elijah Bray, L. F. Cawthorn, Ton Hart, B. F. Dickinson, William Priddy, Willis C. Dickie, Mc. Watlington, R. L. Hendrix, W. B. Skinner, A. McGee

          From the foregoing it will be clearly seen that the case had a fair and quiet investigation; and in no case was there any attempt to wring or force the negro, by punishment, to the implication of some one else in order to screen himself from the penalty while living.... But I cannot think that if any other man but the father of the lost had had the matter in hand, that the infuriated hundreds who were there on the 10th would have torn, tortured burned and by a very slow process of infliction, killed the inhuman wretch by degrees.... And then think that the old man /Trice's father/, with his gray hairs, stood by the murderer of his dearly beloved son, amid this theatre of grief; and all the time so well balanced in mind as not to suffer any un-Christian conduct, I mean that kind of conduct which the laws of our beloved Christian land do not tolerate.

            "Thus passed to his long home, JOHN HARRISON TRICE. He was born in Henderson County, Tennessee, on the 12th of November, 1830. He grew to manhood amid the association of his friends and made fewer enemies than anyone. His occupation was that of an honest and patriotic farmer.... His marriage was con-

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summated. with Susan Anderson on the 12th of July, 1857. They lived peacefully and happily together to the day of his departure. Their first born, Hugh Kirk, was born April 28th, 1858 and died on May 2nd, same year. Their next son, which since its father's death has been called John Harrison, was born 7th of November 1860.... He has quit the walks of life and the sorrows of the fleeting years; he tries the realities of eternity while his body sleeps in the cold and silent tomb. Qur friends thus departed can never come to us again, but soon all must follow them and go far beyond the rolling sun and burning world, and meet the regular Judge of all the earth. Be ye therefore ready."

            The DAILY GAZETTE, Nashville, Tennessee, December 21, 1860, page 3:
MURDER AND EXECUTION OF THE MURDERER. - We learn from the McNairy Whig Banner that John H. Trice, Esq., living in the South-eastern portion of Henderson county, in the state of Tennessee, was murdered in one of his fields on Saturday, the 8th last, by a slave named Joe, belonging to Mr. Trice. The negro was arrested, confessed the murder, and on Tuesday following was executed over the spot where the murder was committed, in the presence of one thousand persons, all of whom approved his doom. Mr. Trice was a man of intelligence and honor, and leaves a sorrow-stricken widow and one child to mourn his untimely loss. His parents were among the wealthiest people of Henderson county.

The DAILY APPEAL, Memphis, Dec. 18, 1860 carries the same notice of the Trice case.


Henderson County, Tennessee
Slave Schedule, 1860 (July 2) U.S. Census, page 18:


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            From Jacks Creek, Tennessee travel north of Highway 22-A, one and two tenths mile to Smith Road, turn left (west) onto it, go a tenth of a mile and turn right (north) into a driveway, from which it is a tenth of a mile to the burial ground. Among the tombstones there:

Born Nov. 12, 1830
Died Dec. 8, 1860

Ah! though it ever is that virtuous worth for which we lived and love, is rudely torn just as it binds our hopelit hearts to earth, tis snatched away and leaves our souls to mourn.

T. White
Cin. O. (stonecutter)

Born Jan. 23, 1804
Died Apr. 30, 1895
He is at rest.

wife of Jno. C. TRICE
Born Nov. 10, 1805
Died Oct. 12, 1887


            John Harrison Trice, son of John H. and Susan (Sue) Trice, was born November 7, 1860;died April 16, 1936; served in the Tennessee House of Representatives, 1891-1895; had a namesake son and a daughter, Anne. See, BIOGRAPHICAL DIRECTORY OF THE TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, volume 2, edited by Robert M. McBride, Nashville, 1979, volume two, pages 921-922.

            Susan (Sue) Anderson Trice (January 30, 1833-August 5, 1909:buried Hollywood Cemetery, Jackson, Tennessee) was remarried, to John R. Murchison (1839-1872), October 5, 1869 and lived most of the rest of her life in Madison County, Tennessee. Their only child, Susie Estelle (Suzelle) Murchison (1870-1953), married Thomas B. Carroll, 1894 and had sons Raymond, John, Thomas, Kirk and Harris. (Eddie M. Ashmore of Jackson has written of another tragedy in this family connection. "During the second week of May 1925, state bank examiners discovered a shortage of $342, 000 at the People Savings Bank /in Jackson/. In the days before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation such news resulted in a 'run on the bank' by frightened depositors. When the news broke in Jackson, a 'run' started on a Monday morning and the flood of checks and passbooks continued until by Wednesday the bank's cash had dwindled to less than $5,400. The next day the state bank examiner 'hung out the closed sign.' The Peoples Savings Bank had failed.

            "Bank officers T. B. Carroll and his son John M. Carroll were charged with bank fraud. The depositors' money had been lost as a result of a business venture gone bad, reputedly Florida land speculation. T. B. Carroll pled guilty to 'fraudulent breach of trust' and was sentenced to three years in prison.

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            In a typewritten genealogical account, FAMILY GENEALOGY, by Addle Timberlake McCall, 1936, with limited access to the broad public, the TRICE family is covered at some length. Regarding Harrison Trice and his wife, Gillie, who migrated from Orange County, North Carolina to Henderson County, Tennessee in the 1820s, most of whose family settled in the Jacks Creek vicinity which later became part of Chester County, Tennessee. On page 50:

            The following record from old Timberlake Bible now in my possession:

Harrison Trice died July 28, 1840.
Gillie Trice Barbee died Dec. 3, 1843.

            Following record copied from family Bible of Harrison Trice, was in possession of descendants of Harrison Trice's son, Edward Johnson Trice. Whereabouts off bible now unknown:

George Trice, born 11, 16, 1796, married Zilpha. _________
Polly Moore Trice, born 12, 8, 1798, married Joseph White.
Nancy Cain Trice, born 7, 28, 1800, married Hezelciah Bradbury.
Tabitha Trice, born 4, 8, 1802, married Richard Timberlake.
John Calvin Trice, born 1, 23, 1804, married Betsy Crook.
Elizabeth R. Trice, born 9, 3, 1805, married Thos. Gatewood.
Rita Moore Trice, born2, 1, 1807, married Stephen Eason,
Gray Harrison Trice, born 1, 8, 1808, married. /SARAH/ Whitley.
Verbon H. Trice, born 1, 16, 1810, married Ariadne Utley.
Gillie Webb Barbee Trice, born 1, 10, 1812, married Norwood Kirby.
Tennie Moore Trice, born 2, 10, 1816, married /JOSEPH/ Lisles.
Edward Johnson Trice, born ______ 1817, married 11, 9, 1843 to Martha Jane Boren.

            Harrison Trice, Sr., had a mill south of Lexington, 8 or 10 miles from his home, probably what was afterward known as. McHaney's Mill. When Harrison and Gillie came to Tenn., they brought with them from N.C., a slave woman named "ANAKY", who was given to Gillie by her father, Gray Barbee, Sr., and is mentioned in the will of Gray Barbee.

            JOHN CALVIN TRICE, father of the murdered John H. Trice, moved from North Carolina to Henderson County, Jacks Creek vicinity, about 1822; there he married Elizabeth (Betsy)Crook, January 28, 1828 and had children: John Harrison Trice, born 1830;William Crook Trice, born 1833;died 1915 (married Eliza Brown, 1856); Florina Elizabeth Trice, born 1837, died 1907 (wife of Joel F. Hamlett); Damarius C. Trice (born Dec. 4, 1831), md. J. Howard.

            NOTE: A photographic copy of the sixteen page encomium written by James W. Anderson in honor of John Harrison Trice, quoted by Captain Thomas M. Gates, is on file in the Trice family folder in the Tennessee Room, Jackson-Madison County Public Library, Jackson, Tennessee.


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