Bryant Strickland

 
The Cartersville American
Cartersville, Georgia
July 20, 1886, page 3
 
Transcribed by:  
 

An Awful Tragedy.
Bryant Strickland Shot and Killed by Deputy Town Marshal Will Puckett—Cartersville Has a Day of Intense Excitement.

On last Sunday morning as the church going people of our usually quiet and orderly little city were repairing to the house of God, they were startled at hearing a number of pistol shots in rapid succession, and soon the news spread throughout the town that Will Puckett had shot and killed Bryant Strickland. Everything was in a furor of excitement and many were the rumors as to the cause of the terrible deed.

The shooting occurred almost immediately in front of the post office, and as the mail from Atlanta had arrived only a few minutes before that time, quite a crowd happened to be on the scene of action.  But in the midst of the firing, most of them sought refuge in different directions.  There are conflicting reports as to the origin of the difficulty.

It seems that Mr. Strickland was drinking Saturday night.  He was not drunk, but was sufficiently under the influence of liquor to be quarrelsome.  While in this condition, about half past nine o’clock, he came out on the street and was inclined to be boisterous, when Mr. Puckett approached him and reproved him, and advised him to go home.  Though some what angered at Mr. Puckett’s reproof, he promised to go if he (Puckett) would go with him.  This he consented to do, and they both proceeded up the street together.

As they passed Mr. Albert Johnson’s office and sleeping apartments, Strickland said to Puckett that he wanted to step into Mr. Johnson’s office for a few minutes.  The door to the bedroom being closed, Mr. Strickland attempted to force an entrance, and finally succeeded.  Mr. Johnson informed Mr. Strickland that he was bathing, and did not care to be bothered, but that if he wanted to spend the night, there was his bed.  To this Strickland made no reply, but began playfully to slap Johnson, and use language that angered him.  A difficulty followed, and Mr. Puckett came into the room.  Strickland was again advised to go home, or else keep quiet.  Puckett finally succeeded in getting him to the front door, when the difficulty was renewed.  Puckett, in attempting to separate them, again angered Strickland towards him, which involved him in a scuffle with Strickland.  Puckett found it necessary to strike Strickland with his club.  This so enraged Strickland that he threatened to kill Puckett before nine o’clock next morning.  At this juncture Marshal Forrester came upon the scene and succeeded in getting Mr. Strickland off home.

About nine o’clock Sunday morning, Mr. Strickland procured a saddle horse at Anderson Bros.’ livery stable.  He then seemed to be considerably excited, and remarked to Mr. Anderson that he intended to kill Bill Puckett at sight.  He made the same threat to several others.  After getting his horse he rode down to Ben Akerman’s, and repeated the threat to him, who counseled with Strickland, and advised him not to have anything more to do with the matter, and to go with him to the country and spend the day.

Mr. Strickland soon came back up to town, accompanied by Mr. Akerman.  After reaching town, several of his friends, joined by Mr. Akerman, again made an effort to get him off the country; believing that if his passion had time to cool, his reason would assert itself and all would be right again.  But before they could get him off, he gave a small negro boy five cents, telling him to go find Bill Puckett, and say to him that he wanted to see him.  The negro boy soon returned, and said: “Yonder is Mr. Puckett.”  Whereupon Strickland pulled loose from his friends and rushed in the direction of Puckett with his pistol in hand.

As soon as the partied got within good pistol range, they began emptying their death-dealing weapons.  They had not exchanged many shots before two other parties, James Puckett and Tobe Jackson – one a brother and the other a cousin of Bill Puckett, it was said were seen shooting at Mr. Strickland.

They were standing or advancing at his right side, while William Puckett poured in a rapid fire immediately from his front.

It is supposed that about fifteen shots had been fired before any damage was done—when Strickland, shot through the heart, sank to the pavement, and died in a few minutes.

The news of his unfortunate condition was carried to his parents.  The aged father immediately went to his son’s side and found it hard to reconcile to himself the fact that death had laid its claims there.

The lifeless body was at once borne to the home of the parents, where the scene was heart-rending.  Who can describe a mother’s woe when her children are taken from her!  Oh, the depth of that love which watches over our childhood, encourages us in boyhood, and prays for us from our cradle to our tomb!  And that man who can find it in his heart to furnish his fellow man (who has but one fault—that of drinking liquor,) soul-destroying liquor –contrary to law and good order, without any regard to good society, or for a mother’s tears and prayers, to that man there is nothing left but the fiery indignation of an angry God.

Coroner John Rowland was notified of the killing about 12 o’clock.  He immediately came to town and summoned a jury for the inquest.  The post mortem examination was made by Drs. Johnson and Young.  The examination disclosed the fact that the fatal bullet entered the left side from the front, and passed to the right of the left nipple, then taking a downward course, went directly through the heart, and struck the spinal column, glancing to the right it passed through the liver and lodged in the right side.  Without further action, the jury adjourned until next Friday.  This was done to allow both sides to prepare for the inquest.

Mr. Puckett and his brother Jim and Tobe Jackson are now in jail, awaiting a preliminary hearing, which Judge Neel has set for four o’clock Thursday evening.  No one seems to regret the affair more than Mr. William Puckett, who says that he was forced to shoot Mr. Strickland in self-defense.

Bryant Strickland was a man of many noble impulses and magnetic social qualities.  When not under the influence of intoxicating liquors, was quiet and inoffensive.  He had many friends who mourn his death and feel sad at his untimely end.

The remains left at 12:30 o’clock Monday evening for interment at Lawrenceville, accompanied by the family of the deceased, and Messrs. Ben Akerman and James Field.

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