Continuing Chronicle coverage of event over 114 years ago. CHRONICLE. July 12, 1905. W. L. TOLLETT MURDERED. Shot from Ambush Last Saturday Morning While Driving to His Home in Pikeville.
W. L. Tollett was shot and killed last Saturday morning from ambush a short distance below Stony Point, in Sequatchie Valley. Mr. Tollett was going from his farm near Litton to Pikeville, where he lived, being proprietor of the Ferguson hotel. He was fired upon by some person concealed in a field on what is known as the Hamilton place.
The weapon used was a shot gun, the lead striking him in the left side of the head and neck, killing him instantly. Some person was near the scene of the murder, and stopped the team and took Mr. Tollett from the wagon.
Bloodhounds were sent for and arrived at the scene of the murder about nine o'clock at night and the trail of the assassin was taken. The investigation resulted in the arrest of Charles Swafford and his two brothers, Ease and Sam. It is stated that the circumstantial evidence is very strong against Charles Swafford. The suspects were lodged in the Pikeville jail to wait the preliminary hearing which will be had today. The suspects are nephews of the murdered man.
Deceased is a brother to Senator E. G. Tollett and Samuel Tollett of this county, and was well known in this and Bledsoe County. He was prominent in both business and political circles in his own county. And every effort will be exerted to apprehend and punish the assassins.
CHRONICLE. August 16, 1905, article completed. SHOT DOWN FROM AMBUSH. W. L. Tollett, who was killed, was a brother of State Senator E. G. Tollett, and was one of the prominent men of Pikeville, the town in which he lived. On the morning of the murder he had been out in the country a few miles and was on his way back to Pikeville. He was driving along slowly within a few miles of the town when suddenly a shot was fired from some bushes behind him and he fell headlong towards the ground. His clothing caught on part of the wagon and he hung there with his head swinging down between the wheels and blood dripping from his body until he was found a short while later.
BLOODHOUNDS USED. Word was sent to Detective Phipps, of this city, asking that he send his bloodhounds to Pikeville to trace the assassin. Constable Dave Walker was sent to the place and in a short time the dogs traced the tracks to the home of Charley Swafford. Swafford was placed under arrest and carried to the jail. Later it was thought that Ease and Sam Swafford were also implicated in the murder and were arrested. At the preliminary hearing Charley Swafford was held on a $7,000 bond, Ease on a $3,000 bond and Sam was discharged. The bonds were soon made and the boys released.
SHERIFF'S PECULIAR POSITION. In the meantime the old feud which had been in existence for over forty years between the Swaffords and Tolletts seemed to be fully revived and it began to look as if great trouble would result. The friends of the murdered man were so incensed over the treacherous way in which he had been killed that many threats were made as to what would be done to the assassin.
After the boys had been indicted for murder and the judge had decided to send them to jail at Dayton it became the duty of the Sheriff to remove the boys. However, the sheriff belongs to one of the Swafford family, and his father having been killed by Tolletts, he asked that he be relieved. The youngest who is said to have fired the fatal shot was only 17. They did not seem to be excited over having to go to jail with such a charge hanging over them. They all refused to talk about the shooting.