Thursday, May 30, 2013

Edward "Ned" Tilley : A "Bad Man" of "Desperate Character"?

In a facebook genealogy group, someone posted a link to the Chronicling America Newspaper Archive online from the National Archives. (I totally forgot about the site, as searching newspapers online had previously yielded little for me on other searches... )... I decided to see if I could find out more about Edward Tilley's murder case & I hit the jackpot!

This is concerning the murder of Joe Mcgee, the case that Ned was sentenced to life for.
Rolla Express, Feb. 8th, 1873

So from this I learned that the murder occurred during a drunken quarrel at a dance, both Ned and Ed had already been in the penitentiary, and according to this Ed Bryant did the stabbing while Ned was his assistant. I wonder why Ed Bryant was released and given a lighter sentence if this was the case? Hmmmm... I also learned that they were some "desperate characters" which I can only assume meant thugs, bad men, dangerous. After all it says "armed to the teeth -carbines and revolvers, " and they had the guts to run.

But wait there's more....
The State Journal, Aug. 4, 1876
State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia, Mo

(Its not as clear so I'll transcribe it:)

A Convict On A Rampage - Makes a desperate Assault on a Guard
    Tilley is the name of a negro convict, sent up from Green County, for life, for killing a man.
He is regarded as a bad man-one that will bear constant watching. Yesterday it became rumored that he has a knife in his possession, and John Wiley, his guard questioned him about it. He was at work at the time- in the stone-shed. He denied having the knife about his person, but had it concealed somewhere in the prison. He said he had use for it.That he had given on of the prisoners, whom he named, some money for some outside use, but instead of using the money as directed and promised, the prisoner claimed to have lost it. But if the prisoner did not return it he intended to kill him with the knife.
   After further controversy Tilley said to the guard Wiley that he would go and get the knife. Wiley replied that he would go along. Tilley objected to this and as Wiley was turning away, with the purpose of reporting the matter to headquarters, perhaps the negro STRUCK HIM ON THE HEAD and felled him to the earth with a stone pick.
   The negro then ran across the yard and got his knife and started on the hunt for the prisoner he charged with keeping his money, threatening vengeance on him. While he was rampaging around, Pat Crump, Yard Boss, came in on him and at the persuasive presentation of a revolver SURRENDERED.
    During the disturbance Zwinger, one of the wall guards fired his gun.This caused considerable excitement. Otherwise it would have been a very quiet affair.  Wiley is not much hurt. Tilley the prisoner will likely get fifty lashes and a season in the blind cell.
     Ned Tilley was most definitely a character! Needed his OWN guard?... He wanted justice for his money, and he intended to get it. Reminds me of his father, suing a white man, in a slave state just 2 months after slavery ended. How he did it definitely differs, but the intent is the same. The fact that he told the guard what he had planned, and he didn't kill the guard with the stone pick-though seems he could have - shows he was not just crazy or violent without cause, but strong willed and a man of his word, even though his words were about a murder.....
    Fifty lashes? A season in the blind cell? I can't help but wonder if all those scars mentioned previously were from beatings during slavery? He doesn't seem like he'd make a good slave... Probably got punished quite often. No telling what he endured as a young slave and the short time he was free after slavery ended....
Perhaps whatever happened to him contributed to making him a "murderous bad-man of desperate character"...He definitely caused quite a ruckus....

And he wasn't done.....

Edward "Ned" Tilley: Locked Up....But Why?

So, after finding my 3rd Gr. Grand Uncle, Ned Tilley, in the 1870 U.S. Census in the State Penitentiary, I knew I had to find out what he did to land himself in prison of all places! I wasn't sure where to go, and google took me to the state archives site that mentioned a Penitentiary inmate register book. I then turned to one of the Missouri Genealogy Facebook groups hoping someone had access to this book, and someone gave me the email on how to request a look - up from the archives.  Someone else gave me a link to the newspaper database on the Missouri Digital Archives website where I found this:

Apparently, this was a clipping from a scrapbook full of clippings about the History of Springfield. No date was listed. I thought I solved part of the mystery. I now knew what he went to jail for, yet many questions remained...Was it self defense? An Accident? Did he really do it? Why I wanted him to be innocent, I do not know... That thinking went out the window when I got an email response from the archives telling me they found him in the register, not once but twice! I requested copies of the records, and here's what I found out:

First Offense:
Edward "Ned" Tilley, just 16 yr old- was sentenced to 5 years in prison on December 25, 1869, for felonious assault. He is described as: Height: 5ft 5/2 in,
                                                        Length of foot: 9 inches ( Strange they noted it?)
                                                        Complexion : Dark Copper (Never seen this before!LOL!)
                                                        Trade: Laborer

Marks and Scars: Two small scars on left side of forehead, scar on forehead, small scar on right arm, scar on right knee, scar over left (?), scar on front of left thigh.

He was pardoned by Gov. Brown on September 25, 1871 and released December 25, 1871 after serving 2yrs of the 5yr sentence.

I'm thinking perhaps he wasn't so bad after all if they let him out early...

2nd Offense:
 Here Ned and Ed (HA!) were both charged with 2nd Degree Murder June 10,1873. Ed Bryant was sentenced to 15 yrs, and Edward "Ned" Tilley was sentenced to Life. This was for the murder mentioned in the previous clipping, but notice Ed Bryant was "Out on Writ of Habeas Corpus-( by) Feb. 20, 1874"

 Ned Tilley was not so lucky... It says he " Died in Hospital April 15, 1881" at only about 27 years of age...

This seems like it should have been enough. I found out what he went to jail for, when and where he died. What he may have looked like...but I still didn't feel like I knew enough about the case. Perhaps because the last name of the victim - Mcgee- may have been related to me on the same line, perhaps even an  in-law of Ned Tilley as in the 1876 Census, a Peter Mcgee is living with Ned's niece's future husband's Family, and Bryants are always listed close by.

That deep curiosity that a new genealogical find causes wouldn't leave me alone!! So I followed it...

To be Continued......:)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Became Of The Tilleys?

I wondered if my 4th Gr- Grandfather ever received the money from the judgement he won against John M. B. Dent. I think he did!

The Tilley's mentioned in the court case were: 
Joseph &  Elizabeth Tilley

Their children:
Mariah Tilley
Edward Tilley (Ned)
Frank Tilley
Charlotte Tilley
I found the family in the 1870 Census:.

"United States Census, 1870," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 May 2013), Joseph Smith, .
Here, Joseph, Elizabeth and their daughter Charlotte are living next door to their son Frank and his wife Edith(Eda).  Joseph's real estate was valued at $500. He managed to own land just a few yrs after being destitute.  He either used that $150 judgement wisely or he worked very hard or both! Awesome to see them doing well.  His youngest daughter Charlotte also was in school, and while she couldn't yet write, she was reading!  

They initially were difficult to find because I was searching for Tilley's while they were going by the last name Smith. Why? I have no clue. Perhaps they received backlash for suing a white man immediately after slavery? Or maybe it was just an error? All just wild guesses, could really be anything. I do know that they go back to using Tilley by the 1876 Missouri Census. 

My 3rd Gr- Grandmother Mariah was on the very next census page go figure! 

She had already married My 3rd Gr-Grandpa William Jackson and started a family. 

This left me with one Tilley left to find in 1870 (or so I thought! But that's another blog!), my 3rd Gr. Grand Uncle Edward "Ned" Tilley.   I found him in Jefferson City, Missouri in the Penitentiary of all places. 

I immediately wondered what he did to get sent to prison. Until this, I haven't found much scandal in my family history. I must say it was kinda exciting!LOL! What I found out was kinda fascinating... 

                                            To Be Continued ........

Joseph Tilley Papers: Judgement Day

This is the 5th and final posts concerning the court case of Joseph Tilley vs. John Dent that I blogged about previously. Here are the links to the previous post: 

Recap: In March of 1865 my 4th Gr-Grandfather Joseph Tilley, a former slave, sued a white man named John Dent just two months after slavery ended in Missouri.  He was too poor to pay for the fees to sue, so he petitioned the court to execute his claim as a poor person. John Dent responded to the suit by claiming that my grandfather, Joseph, actually owed him money for moving and boarding him and his wife & kids. The spring court session ended at the end of May.....

Later on that year when the court resumed, on December 5th a judgement was made. I had already made a pretty strong assumption that my 4th gr-grandfather would lose the case. Just didn't seem likely to me that a black man- suing a white man-in Missouri- 2 months after slavery ended would get a victory or justice...

8th day- Dec 5th

Joseph Tilley Plaintiff
John Dent Defendant
                                                                               Now at this day comes the plaintiff by atty(attorney) and it appearing to the court that the defendant has been duly served with process at least fifteen days before the first day of the present term of this court, and having failed to plead answer or ? to plaintiffs petition the same is taken as confessed, and this action being founded on an open account whereby the defendants indebtedness is ascertained on examinations of the same the court doth find that the said defendant is indebted to plaintiff in the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars, for his debt, it is therefore considered, adjudged and decreed by the court that the plaintiff have and recover of and from the defendant his said debt together with his costs laid out and expended in this behalf and that he have therefor execution.

I was wrong...He won!  Even though it was because John Dent didn't return to court for the second term, the fact that he won, was still a pleasant surprise. He didn't get the full $208.00 he sued for, but $150 in 1865 was probably a small fortune for a recently freed slave who in his petition stated that he was destitute.I am proud to come from such strong willed people. What became of Joseph & his family? Stay tuned.....

(Sidenote: I stated in an earlier blog I hadn't been able to find the family in 1870...Since then I have found them in the same place, but under the last name Smith. Why? I have no idea. My imagination wonders if he had to change his name because of backlash from this case(?), but that's just my imagination for