Murder Trial of George Edwards

Transcribed from original case file and submitted by Rene Williams Larson

9/19/1885 Arraignment
To the Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, and to the keeper of the United States Jail - - - Greeting: Whereas,. George Edwards has been arrested and this day brought before James Brizzolara, a Commissioner appointed by the District Court of the United States, in and for the Western District of Arkansas, under the laws of the United States, charged with Murder in Indian Country and there not being sufficient time to hear and decide upon the charge against him on this day he was committed.
Wherefore command you, the said Marshal, forthwith, to convey the said George Edwards to the United States jail at Fort Smith and him deliver to the keeper thereof, and you the said keeper, are hereby required to receive the said George Edwards into your custody in said jail, and him there safely keep until he shall be discharged by due course of law.
Given under my hand this 19th day of Sept A.D. 1885, in the 110th year of our Independence.
/s/ James Brizzolara, U.S. Commissioner

9/23/1885 Pretrial Hearing
I do solemnly swear and believe, from reliable information in my possession that, George Edwards a white man did in Indian Country within the Western District of Arkansas, on or about 15th of October 1884, feloniously willfully premeditatedly and of his malice afore thought kill and murder one Frank Love with a pistol. Against the peace and dignity of the United States, and I pray a writ:
/s/ Jno. G. Farr
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 23rd day of September, 1885.
/s/ James Brizzolara, U.S. Commissioner
William Pitts
Eli Bradford
Walter Thomas
Bob Morris
Henry Lucker

& one other

9/23/1885 Prosecution Witnesses

On this 23rd day of September 1885, came the United States of America, the Plaintiff in this case, by WM. H. Clayton, Esq., U.S. Attorney, and the defendant in his own proper person, in custody of the Marshal and by his attorney, Thos. H. Barnes Esq. when the following testimony was heard and proceedings had to-wit: Walter Thomas being duly sworn deposes and says: I reside at Choctaw Nation and know the defendant in this cause I knew Frank Love. He is dead. Charley Johnson brought word to church house that Love had been kill: this was on the ? Sunday of last October: I was at church I staid there until church was out & I went home: from there I went down to old man Si Shoals: while I was at Shoals Bob Morris came and got me to go along with him with wagon and get him: I & Bob went over to Josiah Fields and there we took Fieldses wagon and went down after him: we went down to Bill Pitts store on Hunters farm after Love: he was lying down south of the store right by a little tree: when we came along by Mr. Edwards George Edwards & his father got in the wagon and left. Told us he hit Love over the head with his pistol and Jay Meyer shot him: he said he did not know Jay would have done it: he was lying south right in front of the door of store: his head was kind of to the east: he was lying on his back: he was shot through the body: he was knocked right on top of his head: his head was bleeding: there was a little hole knocked on top of his head: there was no pistol around him: he was in his shirt sleeves: his hat was lying by him: when I got thee with wagon there were twenty-five or thirty men around him: we got there a good little bit in the night: heard of it at church at about three or four o’clock: it is about a mile from church to where we found Love: we put him in wagon and carried him on to Josiah Fieldses and we buried him the next day.: we found him dead: I never seen any blood: Love was a colored man: Deft. is a white man: Jay McGee is a white man: this was on Choctaw Nation.

It is about a quarter from old man Edwards to store: Edwards was living then on Hunters farm: Deft. said Love was not doing anything when Jay shot him: do not know where McGee is: I never missed Deft. away from there: he left.

Bob Morris duly sworn says: knew Deft. knew Frank Love he is dead. I and Walter went down in Fields wagon to get Love: when we passed old man Edwards Deft. & his father went down with us: on the way there Deft. told us that he struck Love with his pistol back of the head because he had holt of his brother and after he hit him Jay McGee shot him: when we got there we found him dead: Love was shot through body: and he had a hole knocked in his head: we put body in wagon and took him to Josiah Fields: this was on the fourth Sunday in October last: there was blood running out of hole.

I did not look closely to see if any brains protruding out of hole: I seen wound back of his head: seen his head when I raised him out of wagon: I took hold of his head: I seen blood but no brains running out: I did not take him in the house: there was a light there: the light was at end of the wagon Josiah Field or old man Lucker had light: I seen him once when in house: seen blood by his head: it was from his head: I noticed no blood from his body in house: noticed blood in wagon from body: did not examine his head: Deft. said he did not knew McGee was going to shoot him: Deft. made some remark about a scuffle between Love and McGee over a pistol but cannot remember his words: I never examined ??? closely what was in his head.

Henry Lucker duly sworn says: this is the first time I ever seen Deft.: I was at Josiah Fields when Love was brought there in wagon: me and mat Jones washed and dressed him: he was shot by right nipple: and shot came out under his left breast: there was a place on top of his head where he had been struck with something: I ran my finger in the hole for about an inch and a half: it must have gone in through the scull: the brains were running out of this hole when we were washing him: and brains ran out when we went to put him in coffin: we buried him the next day.

The hole was big enough to take my finger:

9/24/1885 Information filed & subpoenas issued
Whereupon the further examination of this cause is continued to Oct 28/85.

October 28, 1885:

Comes Deft. In custody of the Marshal and by his attorneys Wm M. Mellette Esq. when the following proceedings were had: William L. Pitts duly sworn on behalf of plaintiff says: knows Deft. Knew Love. I was running the store at Shady Grove C.N. J. McKee was with Deft: McKee had been there all day from the fore part of the day: Deft I think came in the evening sometime before t??? diff???????: Love came in the evening after Deft: Eli Bradford Jerry Hampton & Mat Brown were with him: I knew nor heard of any quarrelling between any of the parties: I did not see the shooting I was in the road twenty or thirty yards from store: I was talking to Jerry Hampton I was trying to get him to go home: he was drinking and cutting up a little: at the time of the shooting Jerry was not there he was with me: did not see Deed Love or Mat Brown cutting up any: they all came up n???: they stopped about ten steps from house nearly in front: Love and Hampton got down h?? their horses & came into store: Hampton was armed do not know if Love was or not: when I seen Brown he was on the ground & stepped from behind the brush pile: this was the first time I seen Brown: he had a double barreled shot: he cocked it and presented it at me: he never said a word at this time I was in the road standing facing Jerry Hampton holding to the muzzle of Jerrys ??? heard a shot gun presented at me: McGee and Deft I suppose were at the house: I suppose Love was at the house: I left him at store: I caught his urnelrester in the house& he backed out of the door with me this is how I came out there: Love had passed out of house before this took place: I did not see Love as I went out: Love took no part in the transaction between Hampton Brown & I: when I seen the gun presented I called to some of the boys to shoot Brown to keep him from shooting me: John Pitts my nephew who was working for me & who had started to me when I called presented his pistol at Brown & Brown ran: my nephew came up and told Hampton he must go home& Hampton went home: seen no more of Brown after he run: after or just before we started Hampton home: I heard the report of a gun or pistol from behind me towards the house: heard no one say anything: when heard the pistol did not see Deft or McGee: I did not see Love: when they came Love came in store bought a piece of tobacco & went out I seen him no more: until I seen him dead: when he went out Hampton came in with Love and remained when Love went out about the time he went out Hampton fired his gun off in the house: threw out the hull and put another cartridge in: I did not see when Love or McGee and Deft were when shot fired as I kept watching Hampton & followed Hampton some fifteen steps& got behind a tree when he walked off: he went off on foot and so did Brown: when Hampton left I went back to house: as I stepped into house someone made the remark about Love being dead& I looked around & seen Love lying near ten steps from house partly behind a wood pile on his back: I passed on in the house: seen Deft in the house: when I went in house McGee handed me a five dollar bill saying pay yourself & give me the change as he was going away that evening: I then went out to Love to see if he was dead or wounded: he was dead: but I did not examine him to know what caused his death if he was struck or where he was shot: they carried him off that night after night awhile: seen Eli Bradford when I came out of the house with Hampton he was on his horse: he came at the same time or about the same time as the others: Eli was there close about the house at time f the shooting: there were two shots there: the shot in the house and the other shot: the shot in the house was done by Hampton: he did not shoot at any body: this was in November 1884: in Choctaw Nation: Love was a colored man and so were the others.

I knew nothing about the shooting

Eli Bradford duly sworn says: know Deft: knew Love: I was on my way to Texas: Jerry Hampton, Mat Brown & Love was with me: they said they were going down to the river: in passing by Jerry & Love got down to get some cheese Brown road on down the road & was sitting on his horse I was sitting on my horse in front of store door: Love came out think Jerry fired off his gun in the store: I got to talking to someone about my horse & the next I seen was Mr. Pitts trying to get Jerry off home & telling him to go on home: I was sitting on my horse and I heard someone telling Love to leave there & then Deft hit him with his pistol & then one J. McKee shot him after Deft struck him: after Deft hit him he let him alone: when Love was struck he stepped off: I did not see Love have any arms: when Def struck him he was standing still: when he was shot I got off my horse and stood there holding my horse: Love walked towards where his horse was and fell on his back: did not hear Love say anything when he was shot or when he was struck: this happened between twelve and night.

Had gotten with the other parties at church house about a mile and a half away: all the others had been drinking some besides myself: I seen o arms on Love: It was about five minutes from time he was struck until he was shot: do not know where Deft was when Love was shot: Deft struck Love on back the head some where.

Whereupon the further examination of this cause is continued to Oct 29/85.

October 29, 1885:
A. L. Lorrence duly sworn says: know Deft: knew Love when I seen him: I was there when Love came to store: Eli Bradford Jerry Hampton & Mat Brown were with him that I knew there were others with him but I did not know them: All these parties came in the store: Love came in the store & bought a little piece of tobacco: do not know who came in with him: think Love left tobacco lying on the counter & it was lying there after he was killed: Jerry fired his urnelrester off in store: never seen Eli down off his horse: they were all out& in store they were buying some little things: after Jerry shot in house Pitts took holt of his urnelrester and put him out of doors: they went on out on the other side& I staid in the house: as I came to door Love came on from the other side of the house & he had a holt of Billy Simmons the first I seen of him: Deft asked him to turn him loose& caught holt of him & tried to pull him loose & Love would not let loose& he hit him with his six shooter but did not knock him down: Love started off and said he would go home then and went off four or five steps towards his horse when McKee shot him then he walked a few steps towards his horse& fell dead: Deft was standing right where his step brother was when he made Love turn him loose: he was standing there with his pistol in his hand: saying nothing to no one: McKee was two or three steps from Deft when he shot: when McKee started to shoot he said damn you I will put a stop to you & shot & walked in store: Love never said a word but threw his hand up to his heart: Love was taken away after dark: Deft struck Love with pistol on the head do not think Love staggered at all: did not see Love with any arms

I was standing close to him when ?? was struck & saw no blood fly from his head& noticed no blood on his head when I was on the jury: he was shot in the back as he was walking off: there was no connection between Deft and McKee: McKee was not present as Deft struck Love: McKee came up as Love was walking off: Love had a hat on when he was struck on the head

Whereupon the further examination of this cause is continued to Oct 30/85.

October 30, 1885:
John ? Simmons duly sworn on behalf of Deft says: Deft & I were up at my father’s about four hundred yards from store: there were four darkies came to house and they were all drinking they were Jerry Hampton Love: Mat Brown & Eli Bradford ???? ???? do these men but we had to go down to store with them: we went down with them: we had been there about ten or fifteen minutes when these darkies raised the row: they first commenced ??? with a man by the name of Vaughan: then they walked into house and demanded whiskey of Pitts when they done this Pitts told my brother to take the East counter & Jerry shot his gun off in the house threw the hull out & the another in the gun& threw the gun down on Pitts behind counter: Love was in the yard at the door: Jerry said then he would get whiskey or anything else out of the store: then Pitts caught hold of his gun and they both went out of the door together Pitts holding gun from him: Pitts told Jerry that if he did not leave he would kill him& pulled his pistol out: this is the last I seen of them: they were down the road about fifteen steps: I was standing by door & Love came running from around corner of the house & caught me around ?? with his left arm put his right hand in his pocket & said he was going to kill some man before he left there: I said it aint me you want to kill Love: he said it don’t matter who I kill I am going to kill some man before I leave here: Deft was standing right by me& he said Love turn him loose some three or four times & then my brother drew his six shooter & struck him across head it sort of staggered him back enough to knock him loose from me: Love said now I will go home: I said you ought to have done that some time ago & you would not have been hurt: he walked about four or five steps from me: he was going to his horse said he was going home this J. McKee came running from behind house came from west side and said I guess you will go home: he had a six shooter in his hand as he came around the house: he said I guess you will go home I will put the dobbing to you and he dropped the pistol on him and it fired: they were about five steps apart: Love just walked on to his horse until he got to his horse he caught around a little sapling that his horse was hitched to and eased down with his head towards south east: he did not live over three minutes: then McKee he ran off: Mr. Pitts called all the neighbors there was no doctor near & held sort of an inquest over him: he was shot in the back right under the left shoulder blade and ball came out right under left nipple: I examined wound on his head it was about an inc and a half long cut very shallow: then these darkies came and hauled him off: Love had a coat on & a hat: had hat on the time he was struck: there was no brains oozing out: there was a little blood: there were colored men on jury.

Do not know if Love had any arms: I am half brother of Deft: when Love caught hold of me Eli Bradford was sitting on his horse about ten or twelve steps east of the house in the road: Eli was drinking right smart

Simpson Bennett a witness for the United States, being first duly sworn says: I live 2 miles East of Muskogee: am not acquainted with the defendant. Have seen the Aquilla Fleetwood the deceased, but was not acquainted with him. Knew nothing of the killing of Fleetwood. Have had no talk with Edwards about the case. The general talk among the people is that the Fleetwoods are doubtful citizens. There seems a general disposition to consider the Fleetwoods colored people.

The Fleetwoods are scattered??? Of them that I know of live in 20 miles of me. I am not personally acquainted with any of them. Have seen Ed frequently. This all I know in the case

Arch Elliott deposes and says: Live in Delaware District, 8 miles south of Vivietra. Knew deceased – Aquilla Fleetwood. Am a little acquainted with Edwards, the defendant. Know nothing of the killing. Have been raised in the Cherokee Nation. Born in Georgia and came West with the first big migration that came on – knew the deceased about 2 years. Heard Edwards say he never had drawn any money or any of his family. The Fleetwoods have never been recognized as citizens of the Cherokee Nation. The old man has been dead a good while. The citizens there are of the same opinion – that any the Fleetwoods are not citizens of the Nation.

I expect the Fleetwoods have been there a long time. I heard of them before the war. They have lived without any permits. I know nothing of Fayette Teal riding as a deputy murder ???? cup. They never had permits – none ever employ them. They live there and have places thee and do as they please in our Nation. I never heard of one being under a permit. If a person employs a non-citizen he is responsible unless he gets a permit for them. A non-citizen cannot lawfully own and improve a place there. There are lots of people who have been rejected as citizens, but still remain. Edwards told me he had applied for admission as a citizen but he did not know how it would come out. This is all I know in any way about the case, either as to facts or jurisdiction.

We agree that the above testimony may be read in evidence on the trial of the case of U.S. vs. Edwards, for murder of Aquilla Fleetwood, subject, however, to objections for want of competency and relevancy. /s/ Geo. A. Grace, Ast. U.S. Atty

“Defendant is discharged.”
/s/ Jas Brizzolara, U.S. Comm