Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Edward "Ned" Tilley: The Man of "Desperate Character" Strikes Again

In previous post, I've shared how I discovered how Edward "Ned" Tilley, my 3rd Gr-Grand Uncle, already serving a life sentence for murder (after serving previously for aggravated assault), had knocked a prison guard out and caused a stir when he ran around the penitentiary with a knife attempting to find and kill a man  over money. He apparently was not done handing out his own form of  "justice" to those he had contempt for.

The Jefferson City Tribune, Nov. 29 1879

Stabbing Affray At The "Pen"
St. Louis, Nov. 29th.- Ed. Tilley, a convict in the penitentiary at Jefferson City, attacked David Hogan, another convict, with a shoe knife,  yesterday, and before he could be secured, inflicted eleven stabs on his victim, wounding him mortally.  Both were negroes, the former sent up for life for murder.
     What motive Tilley had for making the attack we had not learned. Sometimes since he was Hogan's cell mate, but as Tilley was disagreeable and quarrelsome, they were separated.  He seems to have harbored some ill will against Hogan, and to have planned the deed of yesterday some time ago.  Whatever led him to it does not matter much, as he bears the reputation of being a desperate character, and it needed very little provocation to arouse the devil in him to a sufficient extent to lead him to again stain his hands in the blood of a fellow being.  If his victim dies, he will in all probability find his life sentence much shorter than he has been accustomed to look upon it.- Jefferson City Tribune

 Once again he is described as a desperate character, this time it mentions he has a reputation of needing "very little provocation" to become violent. Again, I couldn't imagine what slavery must have been like for him if his behavior was like this. Here is an article from a few days later that gives a more vivid description of what went down in the David Hogan stabbing incident.

The Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, Dec. 2, 1879

A Dark Deed
     The Penitentiary yesterday morning was the scene of one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty attempts to take human life that our city has known for a long time.  A convict already serving out a life sentence for murder has in all probability added another to it, as it is doubtful that his victim can recover form the wounds he received at the hands of his infuriated assailant. We have gathered up the following facts in regards to the occurrence: Yesterday morning, just after breakfast, while the gang employed in Grinecks Shoe Shop were entering the building, and as the file were passing between two large piles of leather, Ed. Tilley, a negro under  life sentence for murder, from Greene county, attacked David Hogan, also a negro, from Marion county, with a shoe knife which he had concealed about him, and before Hogan had time to turn and see who was his assailant, he received two stabs in the back, the blade of the knife, penetrating to the cavity and cutting the lung, causing an internal hemorrhage, which it is thought will prove fatal.  After Hogan turned, and while attempting to ward off Tilley's attack, he received nine other stabs and cuts, mostly about the head and shoulders.  A convict who undertook to take the knife away from Tilley had his hand badly cut by having the knife drawn through it.
Why they would permit Ned to use a knife or anything else that could be used as a weapon baffles me since he had an apparent reputation for being quarrelsome and trying to stab people.  Again- he hurt someone for trying to stop him from killing someone else. I tried to find out if David Hogan lived or died. I found a David Hogan in Jefferson in the 1880 census listed with a bunch of men so I assume he survived if only for a little while, but my ancestry account is on the fritz, so I cannot view the record to verify it's the penitentiary just yet...

I can only wonder how many violent episodes Ned had in the penitentiary that didn't make the local papers (or that I have yet to find). I do know that he died in the hospital in April 15, 1881. The cause of death I haven't uncovered, but I can only wonder if he died from injuries caused in one of his rampages...

Finding my first "criminal" ancestor was quite exciting.  I must admit, strangely I kind of feel empathy for him even though he was clearly a murderer. Can't really explain why, but I'm okay with that.... Perhaps it's knowing he was a slave, not knowing exactly what his life may have been like, what he experienced. While it may not be a valid excuse for becoming a man of  "desperate character", it opened my mind to what may have became of some after slavery. I suppose not all of my slave ancestors could go on and live decent or successful lives despite the hardships they faced during reconstruction ans thereafter...Something I never really thought about before finding Ned's post slavery story.

 In my quest to find out What Became of the Tilley's , I broadened my own thinking of the possibilities of what became of African Americans post slavery. I also I learned that Ned was NOT the only Tilley to visit the pokey....

To be Continued..... :)


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