The Death of Luther Williams

Winston Herald, October 10, 1902
Submitted by Robin Sterling

Luther Williams Cut To Death. By Van Alldredge, a Prominent Merchant at Addison.-The Testimony. On last Saturday night, Oct. 4th, Mr. Van Alldredge, a prominent merchant of Addison, and Mr. Luther Williams, a young farmer of the same section became involved in a fight which resulted in Williams being killed with a knife and Alldredge receiving severe scalp wounds inflicted with a piece of plank or scantling. The particulars are best given by the testimony of the witnesses in the preliminary trial before Judge Blanton at this place on Tuesday following. The prosecution, or State, was represented by Senator Hipp and another lawyer from Cullman, and Mr. Alldredge was defended by Esq. Hudgins. Judge Blanton presided in a way worthy of his position. We heard many compliments passed on his fairness and evident desire to arrive at the true facts. The amount of Mr. Alldredge's bail was fixed at $3,000 which he has made.

S.M. Hyde testifies: My name is S.M. Hyde. I live at Addison, Winston County. Lived there 2 years. I know Van Alldredge. I knew Luther Williams. I know of a difficulty between said Alldredge and Williams happening on Saturday night, Oct. 4th, 1902, at Addison. Quarrel began about midnight Saturday night in my presence. They were talking politics and J.V. Alldredge told Luther Williams that he had spit in his face several times and Williams said he meant no harm by it. I was not drinking. Alldredge said he was not drinking, and he did not appear to be drinking. Williams appeared to be drunk and to the best of my knowledge he was drunk. After the first difference, Alldredge and Williams agreed to make friends and I proposed we all go and get a drink and have no more trouble. I and John Williams and J.V. Alldredge went off down the road together. Next I heard Luther Williams say, "Pa, he is cutting me." John Williams is the father of Luther Williams. As John Williams, Van Alldredge and I went down the road Luther Williams was somewhere behind us.

This fight occurred 10 or 12 steps behind us from where we stopped to talk back towards where we had left Luther Williams and the crowd I heard a few licks struck after Luther Williams hollered and I immediately ran back to where they were. (After the first difference had been adjusted Alldredge told John and Luther Williams that he had one request to make; do not know what it was). When I got to where they were fighting they were both lying on the ground face to face. I pulled Alldredge up and told him to come away and carried him to his gin house and set him down. I then went back to where Luther Williams was lying, still living but struggling. I then went back and carried Alldredge to his home about 300 yards from there and upon returning found that Williams was dead. All this was done in about 20 minutes. About 10 minutes after I reached Williams, I and L.M. McPherson, General Burns and possibly other persons removed Williams' body to McPherson's residence. Shortly after we stripped him, I saw his wounds. I noticed where he was wounded in the lower part of his bowels-looked like a stab an inch wide and was bleeding.

When I speak of fighting before in my testimony I refer to licks I heard. I did not see any fighting. It was dark.

Cross Examination-When I carried Alldredge home he had blood on his head and on the side of his face. He complained as we went on that his head hurt him. The licks I heard sounded like a cutting. Did not hear licks that sounded like a club was used.

J. Allen Box testifies: My name is J.A. Box. I live at Addison, Winston County. Know Van Alldredge and Luther Williams and I know of a difficulty these parties had at Addison last Saturday night. I was with a party fox hunting near Addison that night. Lute Williams came to where we were hunting. After finishing hunt we came to Addison where we met Van Alldredge. Alldredge and Williams became involved in a political discussion. Lute Williams said that a speaker at Addison that day asserted in his speech that the New Constitution disenfranchised the negroes and the poor whites. Alldredge disputed the assertion that the speaker said this, and they disputed awhile. They proceeded to discuss the Beef Trust as mentioned in the speech that day. Williams said to Alldredge that if beef was only two cents a pound, as Joshua Legg had stated, that Legg was a d____ democrat and could not eat a square meal of beef at two cents. To this Alldredge replied "don't you throw that in my face any more, or I'll beat ___ ___ ___ out of you." This was the first time that I discovered that Alldredge was mad. Williams did not seem to be mad. Lute Williams said to Alldredge "I have nothing against you, there is no use of it; let us quit this foolishness." I left them near Dr. Kiker's store and went to Bill Williams'. When I returned they had moved farther up the road toward G.B. Lester's house which in the direction of Lute William's home and were standing in the road talking. They made friends. There were in the crowd besides myself, Bud Hyde, Lute Williams, Van Alldredge, two little Hyde boys, John Williams, Tobe Alldredge. Jim Cantrell was in a buggy 12 or 15 feet from the crowd and was drunk. On my return to the crowd Lute Williams and Van Alldredge made friends and Bud Hyde proposed that we all go and drink a bottle of bitters. We started for the bitters and reached a white oak tree at a chicken house about 15 or 20 steps from Kiker's store where we stopped, and in a conversation between John Williams and Van Alldredge referring to the adjustments of their recent differences, John Williams said to Van Alldredge that they had settled their trouble and in the future they would be apart, or words to that effect. Alldredge replied, "That's all right; we've settled that; but there is one thing more I've got to say: You and your son have acted the ___ ___ rascal with me." At this Luther left the crowd, went back to a plank fence and tugged at a plank. V. Alldredge was in the center of the crowd-part of the crowd was between Alldredge and where Williams was at the fence. Tobe Alldredge, who is a brother to Van, said to me, "You had better stop Luther, he is gone after a stick and if he gets it the hair will fly." He failed to get a stick from the fence and went on the other side of the road and came back with a stick about 10 feet from the crowd, and said, "Van Alldredge, you are a ___ ___ ___ liar." This was in reply to Alldredge's remark. I was not quite on a line between Lute and Alldredge when Lute said this. Alldredge ran out of the crowd towards him and when within a few feet of him Luther Williams struck Alldredge with the stick. When the stick struck, Alldredge dropped as though squatting and ran under him, then it was not more than two seconds before it was all over with. I did not hear any more licks except as the cutting of a knife and the scrambling. After the fight I saw that Luther Williams was cut and was dying.

During the difficult, Van Alldredge said, "Your son (Luther) has treated me wrong and if you want to take it up, I say ___ you." To this John Williams replied, "That is a broad word," and said or did nothing else.

Cross Examination-When I started off to Bill Williams' the buggy started off up the road towards B. Lester's. Jim Cantrell was in the buggy drunk. I do not know who was in the buggy with Cantrell. The buggy was Van Alldredge's-his big black mule was pulling it and going towards Cantrell's house. While I was gone to Bill Williams' the buggy proceeded about 35 steps. I do not know why it was stopped.

Luther Williams never spoke from the time he left the crowd going toward the fence, until he returned and called Alldredge a ___ liar.

Re-direct-I cannot testify positively that the buggy was Alldredge's.

Tobe Alldredge testifies: My name it Tobe Alldredge. I am a brother to J.V. Alldredge, the defendant in this case. I know Luther Williams whom he killed. I witnessed the difficult in which he was killed, Saturday night Oct. 4th, 1902, at Addison, Alabama.

Van left his store house some time after dark on that night and told me that he was going up the road after Jim Cantrell, at John Williams' request; that Cantrell was lying at the side of the road drunk. Not long after this I went to my home. About 10 o'clock p.m. Van's wife came to my house and told me that she heard some one cursing down towards Addison, which was a little more than 150 yards distance. She asked me if I knew anything about Van, and whether I knew if he had come back. I told her to go on back home, that they were just having a little fun at Addison-that she need not be uneasy. About 30 minutes later I heard cursing at Addison, and went down there. There in the crowd Van Alldredge, John Williams, Allen Box, Bud Hyde, his two little boys, Will Box, and Jim Cantrell was lying in a buggy asleep, in or near the crowd. He was asleep from excessive drinking.

Shortly after I reached the crowd a discussion arose about politics, and a political speech which had been made at Addison that day. This was soon settled and the parties made peace. The buggy in which Cantrell was lying asleep belonged to McPherson and was being drawn by a mule which belonged to Van Alldredge. After the discussion Van and I started with Cantrell in the buggy toward Cantrell's home which was out the road running past Lester's house. Van proposed that we would carry Cantrell part of the way home and he would then be able to get home, and we would return. We went about 40 or 50 yards when John Williams stopped us by "hollering" at us. He came up to the side of the buggy and said, "By ___! I'm not satisfied about this thing." Van asked him, "Why, what's the matter?" he said. "I heard that you said that Lute Williams was a ___ ___ rascal." Van asked who told him and he would not say. Van told him, "You have said it or some one else had said it." Then and there Jim Cantrell got out of the buggy to hunt his mare. We went on to a tree near Dr. Kiker's store and the growling was started up again. They proceeded me to the tree by about 30 or 40 steps. When I reached the place they were in a right smart "jower."

I cannot tell every word that was said there. I know about the substance. Van and John were in a right smart quarrel. John Williams told Van that they had been passing and re-passing for 2 or 3 years, but called his attention to some old grudge and that they would not associate any more. About that time Lute Williams left the crowd. He passed close to where some one was holding some stock and crossed the ditch and went towards the saw mill. I told Allen Box that I was satisfied that he had gone after something to fight with and not to let him come back. It was only about a minute when Lute Williams hollered out, "Van Alldredge, you are a ___ ___ liar!" and ___; and when he said that Van just faced around towards him a step or two and Luther W. came with a scantling and struck Van. As far as I could see Van fell down to his knees. I am not sure but it appeared to me that Van's left knee touched the ground. The next lick Lute Williams struck he brought the stick overhanded and the stick went over Van-do not think it hurt Van much, they were too close together and may have struck the ground with the stick. As Van straightened up, Luther fell on him and they clinched and fought and just then Mr. Hyde passed close by and Lute said, take him off, he is cutting me. Hyde passed right by me and grabbed my brother and they were separated. After they were separated, Van left. I left soon after. Williams said after the fight, "I am cut to death." That is all he said while I was there.

Then follows a lengthy cross examination, but the answers thereto are only a reiteration of the above; except when he saw Williams coming with the scantling. A little boy, Hardy Hyde, was also examined but he did not see the fight. He was 50 or 60 yards off.

Some data on the parties involved: Luther Williams was born 14 Jul 1874. His tombstone in the Cantrell Cemetery near Addison recorded he died 3 Nov 1902. John Williams was born 27 Dec 1853 and died 7 Jan 1940. He was buried in the Fairview No. 2 Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery. Allen Tony "Tobe" Alldredge was born in Sep 1868 and died in 1914. He was buried in the Sardis Baptist Church #2. The 1900 Winston County Federal Census for Looney's Tavern recorded Allen Box was born in Alabama in Aug 1876. Bud M. Hyde was born in Georgia in Jul 1863. Harley Hyde was born in Georgia in Mar 1892. James Cantrell was born in Alabama in Apr 1870. General Burns was born in Alabama in Aug 1868. John V. Alldredge was born in Alabama in Nov 1866. Monroe McPherson was born in Alabama in May 1847.