Turning The Pages

By: Paige Cline

I caused myself some work. 
Earlier I wrote about the time in 1939 when the body of Fuzzy Stewart, after 41 days in the water, surfaced in the Fligger Hole near the bridge. I told you about some suspects being indicted for the crime since they were the last ones to see Stewart alive. And there had been an argument. 
Anyway, some folks who admit to reading this column asked me what became of the accused. I didn’t have the answer. I bluffed a little by saying the information would be given in a subsequent issue. 
Now I had to dig in the archives again to see what the disposition of the case was. I found where the case ha been placed on the docket for the fall term of court.
Four people were originally indicted for the crime and would stand trial. Indicted were Mr. and Mrs.. Roscoe Stewart, Roma Mullins and Arnold “Slick” Morgan. However, before he trial was held, Morgan was found dead on the railroad tracks near his home. It was thought he had been hit by a train. 
Well, I followed the stories that led up to the fall term looking for any mention of the trial. It took me right up to the opening of court and the first few trials. An article in one issue said the trial would get underway the following Monday. I was closing in. 
Then, in the next issue there were mentions of other cases but not a word about the Stewart case. Nor in the following issues. I was stumped.
The docket consisted of a few murder cases and other felonies. The list was under what was called “Chancery Proceedings” and a whole gang of bastardy proceedings. That was a big deal back then.
So, I made a trip to the office of the circuit clerk. I learned that the stuff pertaining to the trial in question was indeed there, but in the basement. The dungeon if you will. 
I was not quite ready to search the profundities of the judicial burial grounds, nor to take the clerk up on his offer to do it himself. So I decided to get a good night’s rest and try again in the old newspapers. 
On the off chance that I might find something, I wiped the dust off the 1940 journal. There it was. Right smack dab in the middle of February. The case had been “nollied”. The prosecuting attorney had indicated that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the trial. 
So there. And you thought I had a pie job. 
One of the good things to come out of my search for truth was that I found out a lot of things in pre-war Wyoming County that might dispel any thoughts that ours was strictly a backwoods, behind-the-times area. In fact, there are some things that might suggest that we have gone backwards in that department.