Matilda Gudger

The Cartersville Courant
Cartersville, Georgia
November 18, 1886, page 1
Transcribed by:  

A Horrible Murder.
A Young Girl, Betrayed By Her Lover, Follows Him to Dalton,
Where, by False Promises, He Decoys Her to Death –A lynching in Prospect.

The foul murder of the young woman in Whitfield county, a few miles from Dalton, which was published in last week’s Courant has thrown that section into the wildest excitement. Two men passing through the woods had occasion to cross Mill creek, and saw the dead body of a woman lying in the creek.  When it was removed, to their horror, they found two ugly holes in her skull from which the brains were oozing.

The woman’s body was clad in an old wrapper tied on with twine, and her feet were bare.  The chestnut brown hair of the murdered girl was in disheveled locks over her shoulders.  A great mystery surrounded the affair for a while, as no one could identify the girl and she had never been seen in that section.  About the time it had been decided to bury her body, Robert Springfield, liveryman, made a startling discovery.  He had started out driving in a buggy, when, to his horror, he found one side of the seat covered with fresh clots of blood and hair.  He remembered having hired the buggy the night previous to a young man named Charles Patton.  The suspicion dawned on his mind, quick as thought, that he had obtained a clew to the horrible murder, and he notified the officers.  They went to Patton’s room during his absence, and found a valise filled with woman’s clothing, covered with blood.  Within ten minutes Patton was arrested, and a little later, he and his chum, Will Hallman, were in jail, charged with the awful murder.  The web of evidence began to draw closer and closer around the men as the mystery unraveled, and an angry crowd gathered in the streets.  The two men begged Sheriff Poarch not to allow them to be lynched, protesting that they were innocent of the crime.  Patton came to Dalton recently from Indiana, and being a young man of good address soon secured employment.  The girl followed Patton to Dalton, hoping that she might induce him to carry out his promise and marry her.  When she met him in Dalton he professed the greatest love for the girl, and took her out riding in the buggy on which was found the blood.  When they reached a secluded spot, Patton took a hatchet and deliberately split her head open.  The murderer then stripped his victim, placed the old wrapper on her body and threw it into the creek.  The name of the murdered girl is Matilda Gudger, and was said to be very pretty.

The prisoner’s have been carried to Calhoun’s new jail for safe keeping, threats of lynching being freely made in Dalton.  The town is fearfully excited and “the Murray county regulators” will probably take a hand in the dreadful affair.


The Cartersville Courant
November 11, 1886, page 3

Mysterious Murder.
A Woman Murdered and Thrown Into a Mill Creek, Near Dalton.

The body of an unknown white woman was found this morning in Mill Creek, about three miles from Dalton.  The coroner’s inquest evidence developed the fact the woman had been murdered and thrown into the creek, blood having been found on the banister of the bridge.  From the condition of the body it is evident she had been dead several days, but was thrown into the creek late Monday night.  A buggy was hired from a livery stable upon which blood was found.  Charley Patten, who hired the buggy, and a man named Holman, were arrested, and are now in jail.  The evidence against the men is very strong.


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