25 September 2007

The Irrepressible Levi Poe (1906 - 1910)

As told by the Chatham RECORD...

1906, OCT 25, "Notice":

I will be in Pittsboro on Thursday, November 1, 1906. All that I hold papers against will be there to settle with me, as I shall be there only one day. After that day the papers will in 'Squire Burns' hands for collection. Please don't ask for any more time.

I have 80 young mules that I want to put out on twelve months' time, good papers, better than I have brought to the county.

B.B. Wagner.

1906 NOV 22, "$25 Reward":
$25 Reward

I will pay $25 for the arrest and delivery to the sheriff of Chatham county of Levi Poe.

He is a tall white man, about 26 or 27 years old, spare built, no beard, light colored hair.

B.B. Wagner,
Pittsboro, N.C.
November 22nd, 1906

1907 MAY 2, "Local Records":
Sheriff J.R. Milliken received a telegram from Norfolk Tuesday stating that Levi Poe, a young white man of this county who is wanted here for disposing of mortgaged property, had been arrested and would be held until sent for.

1907 MAY 9, "Superior Court":
The May term of Chatham superior court began on last Monday. The judge is Hon. Robert B. Peebles, who arrived on the train after 1 o'clock on Monday and opened court as soon as he had dinner.


State against Levi Poe was a novel case, the first of its kind we have ever known in this county. He had been indicted for disposing of mortgaged property, and when the case was called for trial his attorneys insisted that he was insane and could not plead to the indictment. The following issue was then submitted to the jury: "Has the defendant sufficient mental capacity to understand his defense?" After hearing the evidence the Solicitor said he would not resist a verdict for the defendant, and the issue was answered "no," and the defendant was ordered to be sent ot the hospital for the dangerous Insane for treatment.

1907 MAY 16, "Commissioners' Meeting":
The county commissioners held their regular monthly meeting last week and audited the following accounts:


Chas. B. Wright, for conveying Levi Poe from Norfolk to Pittsboro .... 40 45 [$40.45]

1907 MAY 23, "Local Records":
Mr. Levi Poe has escaped from the hospital for the dangerous insane at Raleigh, whither he was carried at the last term of our court.

1907 SEP 26, "Local Records":
At last May term of our superior court Levi Poe, of Hickory Mountain township, was sent to the department for the criminal insane at Raleigh, from which he escaped shortly thereafter and returned home. He had been having all right until a few days ago when he again became violent and dangerous, and made desperate resistance when deputy sheriff James T. [illegible] and a posse went to arrest him. He not only tried to kill them but also tried to kill himself before they could secure him.

1907 NOV 7, "Local Records":
Levi Poe, a young white man who was put in jail here about six weeks ago to await trial on the charge of disposing of mortgaged property, escaped from jail here last Tuesday night by breaking the lock to his cell with a cold chisel which he had secured in some way and forcing an entrance throught the ceiling of the building.

1907 NOV 21, "Local Records":
Levi Poe, who escaped from our county jail two weeks ago, was captured last Saturday at Raleigh and was returned to the insane department at the penitentiary, from which he escaped several months ago.

1907 DEC 19, "Local Records":
The irrepressible Levi Poe has again escaped from custody, being the third time in less than six months. Last May he was sent to the criminal insane department of the penitentiary, from which he soon escaped. In October he was arrested in this county, after a desperate struggle, and confined in our county jail, from which he soon escaped. He was again arrested at Raleigh last month and returned to the penitentiary, from which he escaped last week and with him three others.

1908 AUG 19, "Superior Court":
The August term of Chatham Superior Court was held last week for the trial of civil actions only ....


The next case tried was that of H.G. Kime against L.N. Womble, which was a suit for the value of a horse alleged to have been bought of plaintiff by Levi Poe, who gave a mortgage on it and then sold it to the defendant. There was a good deal of evidence as to the identity of the horse, as to whether the horse bought by the defendant from Poe was the same on that had been mortgaged to the plaintiff. The jury decided that it was the same horse and rendered their verdict in favor of the plaintiff for the amount of $100. The moral, or lesson, to be learned from this suit is to be careful with whom you trade horses and to be sure that there is no mortgage on the horse you get.

At this point, Levi Poe seems to disappear for some time from the pages of the Chatham RECORD. Chatham County marriage records show Levi Poe, age 24, marrying Eula Jones, age 20, at Hickory Mountain Baptist Church on August 15, 1909, John R. Blair, J.P., officiating. His parents are listed as James W. and Anna Poe, while Eula's are deceased. Then Levi and Eula make one final appearance in the newspaper:

1910 FEB 16, "Levi Poe's Suicide":
From a Jacksonville, Florida, paper of February 2nd, we copy the following account of Levi Poe killing himself:

"Taking deliberate aim with a 44-calibre Colt's revolver held tightly clutched in right hand, Levi W. Poe, a young white man 25 years of age, sent a bullet crashing through his heart yesterday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock.

The tragedy took place on a vacant lot on Myrtle avenue, only a short distance from Kings road and there were no witnesses to the suicide.

Having grown despondent over a nervous affliction, and having battled with odds against him with fickle fortune, Poe calmly and deliberately planned his self-destruction without giving the slightest intimation to the few friends he had here, or to his wife, that he contemplated putting an end to his life.

Poe came to Jacksonville in August, accompanied by his wife, from Goldston, N.C.

The couple had just married and with light hearts and a future that seemingly had much happiness in store for them they came to Florida to live. But all did not go well with Poe and his young bride. He soon lost his health and day by day he saw what money he had gradually dwindling away.

Recently Poe was driven to the last extremity, and through the kindly offices of a friend he secured the position as an attendant of an old invalid gentleman that resided on Kings road. His wife secured the position of assistant house-keeper at the Duval county experiment station. With the small stipend that each received they managed to keep the wolf from the door. But as the days wore on Poe's heart grew heavier, and yesterday, having reached the breaking point, the young man put an end to it all by snapping out his life.

How long Poe had planned to end his existence is not known as he appeared, or tried to appear, to the friends he had made since coming to this city, and to his wife, as being in a hopeful and happy mood. It is said that Poe could have obtained financial aid from his parents who are reputed to be well off, but this he persistently refused to do.

Yesterday afternoon at three o'clock, Poe walked into the grocery store of R.D. McCormick, at the corner of Myrtle avenue and Kings Road, and after chatting a few moments, walked from the store. That was the last seen of him alive. Five minutes later a pistol shot was heard, and on an investigation being made the lifeless body of Poe was found lying in the center ofa vacant lot adjoining the store he had just left. In his right hand was clutched a brand new 44-calibre Colt's revolver. The bullet had done its deadly work, for Poe did not move, nor did he utter a word after the shot was fired.

There was no farewell message, no note, nothing left by the suicide to his wife or relatives telling them why he had committed his rash act. But it was known to all who knew him -- he died because he could no longer withstand the disappointments that seemed to completely engulf him."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So odd. How did he get a new colt pistol if they were out of money. Strange place to choose as your last place, a vacant lot next to a market. Just does not seem to add up. Perhaps someone else he wronged with shady horse trading did him in. Call the History Detectives!