Ne'er-Do-Wells a Plenty in 1894-1897


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilms of the Calhoun Chronicle dates as indicated.

About the time of the election, 1892, Mr. Warren Johnson had a steam saw and grist mill burned at Chestnut Grove, this county, the work of fire bugs.  Suspicion rested upon some parties, but at no time a sufficient amount of evidence could be procured to warrant the arrest of the parties suspected.  So matters have drifted along since, until one Daniel Welch was arrested and lodged in jail to await the coming of his Honor, when Daniel will be called to account for the larceny of a jar of snuff, the property of Samuel Ayers.  Now it seems that Daniel, who is 6 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds, was indicted jointly with one John Thomas Richards for the larceny of said jar of snuff, and Welch not wishing to see an innocent man suffer, took upon himself all the sin of stealing and carrying away the same, and the indictment against Richards was, on motion of the prosecuting attorney, nollied.

Welch has been in jail for about a week, and in the goodness of his heart, decided to make another confession.  He confessed to being present at the burning of Mr. Johnsons mill, also implicating Will Richards, Thomas Richards, Wes Knight and others.

Upon the evidence of Daniel, G.W. Ritchea, a Justice of the Peace for Calhoun county, issued a warrant for the arrest of the above named parties and they were arrested and brought to town Wednesday evening, and committed to jail to await a preliminary examination.

Witnesses for the State and defence were procurred and on Thursday at 1 o'clock, Squire Ritchea and Jasper Ball heard the evidence and held the parties to answer an indictment and fixed their bond at $1,000 each.  With little effort a satisfactory bond was procured and the prisoners went on their way rejoicing.

During the trial Daniel, the principal prosecuting witness, was very restless and very much inclined to prosecute the case, asking for several consultations with the prosecuting attorney.  He also changed positions on the floor of the court room several times, finally decided he wanted a high seat in the synagogue; so he took up a chair, carried it up and sat down along side the court, where he sat facing the audience, looking as wise as an owl.

One thing was clearly proven in the trial, and that is that Daniel Welch was there and saw the mill burning.  As to the other parties, if guilty, they ought to suffer the penalties of the law, and if not guilty it is to be hoped they will prove themselves innocent.

Circuit Court Proceedings - State vs Perry Conrad and David Welch, petit larceny, Welch confessed and sentenced to four months in the county Jail, Conrad, continued.


Goliath and Sampson

The jail at this place was the scene of another bloody and maybe fatal conflict last Saturday morning.  One, David Welch, who stands 6 ft. 10 in. tall in his bare feet and Harvey George Sampson got into an altercation over some trifling matter and David decided to knock Sampson out.  So the first round was fought without any special damage to either, but in the second round Sampson got hold of a good sized rock and proceeded to demolish the pimple that surmounts David's body, commonly called his head.  Several bad gashes were cut about his head and face.  It is claimed by some that the skull was fractured and that the physician that dressed his wounds had taken out a small piece of the skull.  We are not prepared to say whether the tax payers of the county could afford to pay the funeral expenses if they had killed each other or not, especially if they had to pay for the ground necessary for Welch's grave.


The Blackshire Quartette

Owing to recent developments Charley Blackshire, the jailer, has decided to do his own serenading hereafter, and for this purpose he has organized from among his prisoners a vocal club which is destined to become one of the most famous quartettes that has ever given public performances on the American stage.  The renowned and gigantic pugilist, Dave Welsh, noted for his bravery and daring deeds in recent combats, has developed into a prodigy of wonder as a soloist and leader of the quartette.  When joined by the other members of this band their discordant strains swell upon the ears of passers by like the Stygian voices of pandemonium making the night hideous by their unearthly howls and render the midnight gloom more awful to Will Stevenson than the nocturnal prowlings of Tim Hagerty and Mel McCroskey as seen in his troubled dreams, the deep base notes of the aforesaid David's voice turning the mattress in Will's virtuous couch.  Immediately after the June term of court this wonderful band of vocalists whose fame is spreading like wild fire over the country will startle the natives into admiration and wonder by their public performances at Grantsville and other large cities of this nation and Europe.  Their initial step in the musical arena will be marked by the rendition of the "immortal David's" first composition.

Court News - Indictments - Will Richards, Tom Richards, Wess Knight, David Welch and Perry Conrad, felony.

Tilton Welch returned from the Reform School a few days ago and came over to see his brother Dave who is held for a felony.  The courteous manly and all around improved disposition of the boy speaks well for the institution and its management.  It is said by some that a reform school is only a prepatory department for the penitentiary, but we hardly see how this can be possible.

The immortal Dave Welch concluded to do a little business on his own account a few days ago and skipped out for taller timber, but they laid for him and he now languishes in solitary confinement.  A very good place for him to be the balance of his life.

Circuit Court  - State vs Thos. Richards, Al. Richards, Dave Welch, Perry Conrad and Wess Knight, felony.  Thos. Richards guilty, 3 years in the penitentiary and continued as to other defendants.

After the preliminary examination of the parties charged with burning Warren Johnson's mill we suggested that a witnesses always made a mistake by showing so much interest or feeling in the case while giving their testimony.  During the recent trial at which Thos. Richards was convicted and sentenced to three years in the penitentiary the matter was more forcibly pressed upon our mind than before.  It is not good policy for one accused of crime to prove too much, and especially they should not use as witnesses members of their own family.  We must say there was some very remarkable testimony given in the case referred to above.

Dave Welch is acting as court house janitor.

Notwithstanding the good advice Dave Welch has given his brother Tilden, Tilden is prone to wander in paths of sin and folly.  But a short time ago he returned from a term at the Reform School of this State, and the little education he received at that institution seems to be a curse instead of a blessing, for it only serves to help him carry out (illegible) fully his evil inclinations.  He is now in jail awaiting the action of the grand jury, for forgery, in two cases.  The charge is that he forged two orders on Wm. Jackson and passed them on J.J. Thomas, a merchant of this place, one of the orders being for about $7.50 and the other for fifty cents.  It is said that in the preliminary examination before Squire Snider he virtually convicted himself by making some statements.

Judge Armstrong discharged Dave Welch from custody during court and Dave with his mother and sister started to Marion county.  But before going far Dave turned his course and came back to town with a woe begone tale about being met and chased by a gang of the Richards, but no one seemed to give the report much credit, and upon inquiry it was found that the whole thing was a fabrication.  The truth is, Dave has been having such a good time laying around here at the expense of the State, he is loathe to give up the place.

Tilden Welch was wielding a wheelbarrow for C.J. Blackshere a day or two last week.

Wonder if the county court house is to be ornamented by a Welch standing in the hall door for  the next decade?  That has been its condition for a long time, and there is no visible prospect of the nuisance being abated.
Later - The bird has flown.  About 5 o'clock Friday evening Tilden decided to look for greener pasture, and walked out of town and up to this writing has not been heard from.  If his walking away so unceremoniously has the effect of keeping prisoners locked up in the jail where they should be instead of loitering around the court house and other public places, and if he should be re-arrested and given a trial and convicted, if guilty, we shall always feel a little glad he ran away.  We don't know how other men feel, but to us it is a terrible eye sore to see some worthless cuss laying around living at the expense of the public under the pretense of being a prisoner, while we have to work 12 to 16 hours a day and then can hardly pay our taxes.  Keep them in jail where they ought to be or turn them out on their own recognizance and let them go.

The famous Richards felony case was continued again at the instance of the defendants.  It is wonderfully strange that they are unable to get their witnesses to attend.

"King" David Welch has been a conspicuous character about the court house for several terms of court.  So far as we are concerned we would be glad to see him stand aside for awhile, that is to say, if he has finished his mission.

The remarkable statement made by Dave Welch to Worth Kelly sometime ago and given in evidence by Kelly in the Wes Knight case, has been the subject of many comments among the bystanders.

Circuit Court Proceedings
State vs Wes Knight, felony, tried by jury, verdict not guilty.

Some time ago we promised to hunt up and publish the State's cost in the famous Richards-Knight felony case, better known as the mill burning case.  But for the fact that a petition is now being circulated asking for the pardon, by the Governor, of Tom Richards, who was found guilty of the burning, and is now serving a sentence of three years, we would probably have forgotten it.  Following is an itemized statement as furnished by Clerk Hall:

Attorney, $10.00
Sheriff, $114.60
Clerk, $113.37
Witnesses, $746.15
Juries, $48.00
Jailor, $149.50
Stenographer, $15.00

Total $1196.62

From this deduct Attorneys fee, $10.00, and Clerk's cost, $113.37, which has not, nor never will be paid, and we find the amount actually paid by the State to be $1073.25.  In addition to this the county paid for bringing the Welch women from Marion county, $32.00.

There were as many, if not more, witnesses for the defendants, none of whom received a cent of compensation so far as appears from the records, but their hotel and traveling expenses were doubtless heavy, to say nothing about the loss of time.  The parties are now all free except Tom Richards, and we understand nine of the jurors before whom he was tried have signed a petition asking for his pardon, an we understand Judge Armstrong also urges his pardon.

Our readers doubtless remember one Tilden Welch, who was arrested and lodged in the jail of this county for forgery and made his escape a short time afterward, a little more than two years ago.  We believe we have reliable information as to his present whereabouts, and that is that he is in the Penitentiary of this State, having been sent there from Marion county.