Thanks for reading and commenting about my blog postings. My goal is to accurately document the genealogy of my family and allied families living in Chesterfield County, SC and Anson County, NC. If you have a Chesterfield County surname you are interested in please send me an e-mail.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thriller Thursday~Helton Joe Sellers Assassinated

June 8, 1932 began as a normal day in the home of Helton Joe Sellers and his wife Annie Bittle Sellers at their small farm near the Pee Dee River. 

While Annie remained in the home taking care of her daily household chores; her husband Helton Joe went about his duties on the farm. 

By mid-afternoon, Helton Joe could be seen plowing a field about a quarter of mile or less from his home. He had reached the end of the row and was turning his team when the quite of the afternoon was shattered with the sound of a single gunshot. 1 2    

His family sensing something ominous rush to the field to find Helton Joe lying on the ground. Helton Joe was still alive but gravely injured. The remote location of the farm resulted in some time lost before his son, Clifton, was successful in finding transportation to take his Father to the local hospital in Wadesboro, approximately 12-15 away.   

Helton Joe died about  an hour later while en route to the Anson Sanatorium by his son and son-in-law. 

Sheriff J. Flake Martin and his deputy, W. C. Mangum, rushes immediately to the Sellers farm to begin an investigation. Meanwhile, the body of Helton Joe Sellers was taken to Dr. J. H. Bennett for post mortem examination.

Sheriff Martin found where the killer had hidden in bushes at the edge of the field. Bloodhounds from Fayetteville was brought in to assist with the investigation. 

Dr. Bennett determine that Mr. Sellers was shot with a rifle with the bullet had entered his back below the right shoulder blade passing through the lungs and liver then exiting the upper right breast. He died of internal hemorrhaging.   

Helton Joe Sellers was survived by his wife, Annie Bittle Sellers, his son, Clifton and three daughters, Mildred V. Sellers and her husband Jack Stewart; Anna Naomi Sellers and her husband Craven Smith Staton and Mary Elizabeth Sellers and husband William E. Huntley. 
W. J. “Bill’ Tarlton  was convicted by the courts for killing Helton Joe Sellers.  Mr. Tarlton, died in prison, at Raleigh, North Carolina in October 1933 from cirrhosis of the liver. 3

Helton Joe Sellers was buried at Hopewell Baptist Church cemetery, Chesterfield, South Carolina on  10 June 1932. Annie lived another 25 years dying in 1957 and is buried beside her husband at Hopewell. 4

Helton Joe Sellers was my 2nd cousin 3 times removed.

[1] H. J. Sellers is Killed by Skulking Assassin, The Messenger and Intelligencer, Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina, USA, 8 June 1932.
[2] Helton J. SELLERS obituary, The Chesterfield Advertiser, Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, South Carolina, 6 June 1932, page 1, col. 5.
[3] W. J. ”Bill’ Tarlton Dies, The Messenger and Intelligencer, Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina, USA, 11 October 1933.
[4] Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, database and digital images, ( : accessed 11 January 2014); Memorial page for Helton Joe Sellers; (8 September 1858–8 June 1932); Find a Grave memorial # 57338589, Citing Hopewell Baptist Church Cemetery; Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, South Carolina, USA.


  1. Charlie, have you uncovered any reason for the murder?

  2. I need to do some more newspaper research, Unfortunately, it's a 100 miles trip one way to the Anson County Library. You might find this interested. Helton Joe is the unnamed Sellers in this story.

  3. Helton Joe was my great-great grandfather. My family believes that the man who murdered him was operating a moo shine still on his property and that Helton Joe either destroyed it or contacted the sheriff. We cannot verify this and there remain many unanswered questions about this family tragedy.

  4. Bryan,
    I agree with you and your relatives. Thanks for visiting my blog and letting me hear your story.

  5. I have heard this story all my life. Helton Joe Sellers was my great-grandfather. My grandmother was Mildred Violet Sellers, mentioned in the story. I remember visiting the farm in the late 1960s with my grandmother and mother (who was born there in 1931).

    I was told that the moonshiners Tarlton was associated with were using a farm road on Mr. Sellers property to bring their moonshine out to market. Mr. Sellers was a supporter of prohibition. He built a fence across the road blocking their use of the road. That was why he was killed.

    His being killed in the depression left the family in a bad way. Soon thereafter the farm was lost to his creditors.

  6. Nat,

    Thanks for your comments and the additional information adding to the story. Greaty appreciated.