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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday’s Obituary~Lewis Melton, Assassinated

A South Carolina Equity Court record states that Lewis Melton, Sr. died intestate on or about 25th day of June, 1851, leaving widow, Rebecca Melton; and children:
Miriam, who intermarried John W. Gregory
Massey, who intermarried Farr Crawford
Daniel Melton
Catherine, who intermarried Ferguson Smith
Jaminia, who intermarried Philip G. Hinson
Lewis Melton, [Jr.]

[#28] Smith, Rilah & Rebecca Melton vs. Philip G. Hinson & wife - Bill for partition of land & Negroes & c 1852

Lewis Melton, Sr. died intestate on or about 25th day of June, 1851, leaving widow, Rebecca Melton; and children: Miriam, who intermarried John W. Gregory; Massey, who intermarried Farr Crawford; Daniel Melton; Catherine, who intermarried Ferguson Smith; Jaminia, who intermarried Philip G. Hinson, and Lewis Melton.1

This one record not only gives us his death date, it also lists his children and their spouses and names his wife Rebecca.  Rebecca was Rebecca Lewis, daughter of Thomas Lewis and Susannah Clothier Thomas.

Without any additional research we would take from this that Lewis died; his estate was probated and the story of his life ended with his burial.

But, it’s not that way at all. Yes, all the facts in this document are true. What the document does not tell you is how Lewis Melton died. Further research revealed that:

Lewis Melton was assassinated by an unknown assailant.
Daring Assassination. –On Wednesday night last, [25 June 1851] about eleven o’clock, Mr. Lewis Melton, of this district, was most brutally assassinated near his residence, which is in the neighborhood of the Court House. The particulars as far as we have been able to learn, are these:
Early in the morning of that day he left home and went into another neighborhood, where he spent the day with company, driving. Late in the evening he killed a deer, soon after which he parted from company, with his gun empty and started for home, and was found within about one hundred yards of his house, shot dead. He was shot through his heart, the load entering at his back and coming out at his breast leaving a large tow wad in the breast, which was pulled out by the Coroner. So close was the gun to his back, that the shot all entered at one hole, and all but two came out at his breast together. One of his negro women heard the gun, and soon after the tramping of a horse feet, which caused her to go out, when she found her master’s horse without a rider. She then awaked her young master, who upon search found his father shot, as above described. From the tracks of the horse, and other circumstances, it is evident that whoever committed the deed, first stopped him and had a conversation with him. Suspicion has not, as yet, fastened upon any one. 2

I looked for a followup article but was unable to find one in the newspapers I had access to.  
[1] James C. Pigg, Cheraw/Chesterfield District Wills, 1750-1865: Abstracts from the Court of Common Pleas 1823-1869 (Tega Cay, South Carolina: Self-published, 1995), page 118.
[2] Daring Assassination - Lewis Melton obituary, The Charleston Courier, Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, United States, 3 July 1851, Page 2, Column 3.

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