According to news articles in the Atlanta Constitution, W. R. Wells stabbed and killed a blind man named Franklin Pierce on Decatur Street, near Butler. Pierce died in Grady Hospital. Later the newspaper changed it to Frederick Pierce (and later Frederick Pearce!).
W. R. Wells was convicted or murder and sentenced to be hanged July 21 (same year). A prison commission was asked to commute his sentence by a "representations of attorneys" on July 17. A number of well known citizens signed a petition as well although no reasons were given why, that is, any mitigating circumstances. There was an article the same day about how the gallows were being made ready.
Apparently no pardon was issued though. The newspaper had a long article about the church service for Wells at the prison the day he was to be hanged. He had a wife and six children. The next day, the newspaper reported that Wells had been executed at 11:05 o'clock.
The initial report on Feb. 3 about the stabbing was that it was the result of a fight about 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon. Wells had been drinking, went into a store, came out, met Pierce, and Pierce was said to have struck Wells with a stick, unprovoked. Wells then pulled out his knife and stabbed Pierce in the back.
On Feb. 4 though, a different version came out from eyewitnesses. They said that Pierce was being led by his little 8 year old son, Charlie. Wells, who had been drinking, came out of a meat store, stopped Pierce and asked why he had quit buying wood from him (he had a wood yard). Pierce replied that he didn't buy wood for the family. At this, Wells became angry and began to curse the blind man. The two men began to grapple; Wells threw Pierce to the ground and was choking him, at which point Charlie seized his father's stick and hit Wells on the back of the head. Bystanders pulled the two men apart. Pierce got up, brushed himself off, and started walking away. Wells started to walk away too, but then he turned, ran up behind Pierce and stabbed him in the back, piercing his lung.
Pierce was taken to Grady Hospital where he died the next morning. The article also noted that he left six children.
Wells was immediately arrested. He had actually been in trouble just weeks previous, locked in "the Tower" on charges of assault with intent to murder and resisting an officer.
Sorry, but this was all that the newspaper seems to say about your ancestor. I could not find any mention of the funeral or burial of Pierce in the Atlanta Constitution.
Sue Ellen Fealko
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