Who Did You Think You Were ?

MANY BRANCHES OF THE HARRIS TREE IN OUR NECK OF THE WOODS

The Taylor – McQueen Tragedies

 

The Murders of Sudie McQueen & James Marion Taylor, Jr. 1898 – 1905

Transcribed from original records by T. D. Hudson

Sudie McQueen is my 1st cousin, 2x removed. Or, the daughter of my great grandfather's brother on my mom's side of the family.

INTRODUCTION

 

The records transcribed herein contain information relating to several tragic incidents involving the Union Parish couple, Sudie McQueen and James Marion Taylor, Jr. McQueen and Taylor married in Union Parish on 27 December 1898, and both of them descended from these pioneer Union Parish families: the Taylors, Wards, Aulds, Lees, and Albrittons.

 

According to court testimony, in about 1895 when Taylor was only seventeen, he had “improper relations” with a Daniels woman who was at that time twenty-five years old. The affair somehow became public, and Taylor feared for his safety, so he left Union Parish for a while. However, he returned by December 1898 and married Sudie McQueen.

 

Sometime in the latter part of 1899, Jim and Sudie McQueen Taylor moved from Union Parish Louisiana to Collin County Texas, now located just north of the Dallas metropolitan area. According to a newspaper account, they lived together unhappily until April 1900. According to Sudie’s deathbed confession, on April 18th, Jim Taylor jerked her from bed and beat her. Taylor forced his wife to tell the neighbors that her badly bruised condition resulted from a fall down a flight of stairs. As Sudie’s condition worsened, Taylor disappeared. Sudie McQueen Taylor died on 16 May 1900 as a result of her injuries.

 

Taylor had fled back to Louisiana, and obtained work in Monroe under the assumed name of Andrews. The Collin County sheriff located and arrested him, and Taylor stood trial for murdering his wife that October. After the jury convicted him of second degree murder and sentenced him to five years in the Texas State Penitentiary, the court set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial. Before the new trial, the court ruled that Sudie McQueen Taylor’s deathbed deposition was not admissible as evidence in court. Since the remaining evidence against Taylor was circumstantial, the court ordered that the case be dismissed. Afterwards, Taylor returned to Union Parish.

 

Sometime during the trial or afterwards, Sudie’s father, Willis F. “Doc” McQueen, had sworn vengeance upon Taylor. Apparently, the four brothers of the Daniels woman with whom Taylor had the scandalous affair that precipitated his departure from Union Parish in 1899 also wished to settle their grudge against him. At six o’clock on the morning of 23 August 1903, the Daniels brothers and Doc McQueen apparently ambushed and waylaid Taylor as he went to work about six miles northeast of Farmerville, pummeling his body with at least ten bullets. The Union Parish sheriff arrested McQueen and the Daniels brothers and they spent several months in the Farmerville jail. However, due to a lack of evidence, the court ordered them released that fall.

 

New evidence surfaced two years later, so the Union Parish sheriff again arrested the Daniels brothers. However, when the deputy went to McQueen’s house, he asked to shave and change clothes. Based upon his calm demeanor, the deputy sat on the porch and watched McQueen slowly shave. After a lengthy wait, the deputy realized he had been watching an imposter pretend to shave while McQueen absconded. McQueen claimed that he fled since he did not wish to spend more time in jail awaiting a trial. So when he learned that preparations were underway for a speedy trial, he returned on the stagecoach from Choudrant to Farmerville and turned himself in to the sheriff. At the trial held in July 1905, a jury acquitted both Sudie’s father and the Daniels brothers of Taylor’s murder. It remained officially unsolved, although local sentiment was that vengeance had been served.

 

FAMILY BACKGROUND of SUDIE MCQUEEN TAYLOR

 

Sudie was born in eastern Union Parish about 1878, the daughter of Elizabeth Holland Auld (25 June 1858 – 19 June 1928)and her husband Willis F. McQueen [Doc] (10 July 1848 – 6 Nov 1915); Elizabeth and Willis had married in Union Parish on 4 March 1874, and they settled near her parents, John Jordan Auld [Jurd](15 Oct 1831 – 3 Jan 1905) and Louisa Ann Lee [Louann, Lucie Ann] (27 Sept 1837 – 26 Apr 1888).

 

Sudie's grandfather John J. Auld was the son of Elijah Michael Auld

(c1811 - 1877/80) and Margaret Jane Ward (c1812 - 1880s). Elijah Michael and Margaret Jane Auld had settled in Union Parish in 1838 with their parents, John Fields Auld and his wife Mary Jackson, as well as Elisha Ward, Sr. and his wife Jane Washington Neeland.

 

Sudie's grandmother Louisa Ann Lee Auld was the daughter of Martin Batte Lee and Lavincy Albritton, who had moved from Snow Hill, Wilcox County Alabama to eastern Union Parish in 1847.

 

FAMILY BACKGROUND of JAMES MARION TAYLOR, JR.

 

James M. Taylor, Jr. (29 Dec 1878 - 26 Aug 1903) was the son of James Marion Taylor, Sr. (8 Aug 1847 - 14 July 1916) and Ophelia Dawkins (12 Oct 1852 - 25 Sept 1926). The Jim Taylor, Jr. was the grandson of another early pioneer Union Parish couple, Alexander Marion Taylor and Winifred Matthews, and the Taylors, Aulds, Wards, Lees, and Albrittons all lived very close to one another in the central Alabama region of Butler, Lowndes and Wilcox Counties in the 1820s and 1830s. Alexander Taylor’s brother John helped lead the first group of Alabama settlers to what later became Union Parish, and he served as the parish judge for many years. Alexander Taylor served as a justice of the peace in Alabama prior to following his brother John Taylor Union Parish in 1841. During the antebellum era, brothers John and Alexander Taylor were among the wealthiest men in the parish.

 

All of the Taylors were buried in the Taylor/Liberty Hill Cemetery, together with Jim Taylor's brother, Robert Burford Taylor (24 Mar 1873 - 17 Apr 1940) who is also mentioned in the following articles.

Newspaper Article Transcriptions

 

23 May 1900: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette":

 

Arrested for Wife Murder

 

Last Saturday night Sheriff Pafford, of Collin County, Tex., assisted by Sheriff Johnson, of Monroe, arrested Jas. M. Taylor, Jr., formerly of Union parish, on the very grave charge of murdering his own wife.

 

It is said that about April 5th Taylor dragged his wife from bed and kicked her in the side, breaking two of her ribs and otherwise inflicting injuries, from the effects of which she died about ten days ago. She was a daughter of Mr. W. F. McQueen, of our parish, and was married to Taylor a year or two ago.

 

Taylor doubtless expected a serious termination of the affair, so he left Texas and went to Monroe where he was employed by the Acme Hardwood Co., in getting out wood on the Ouachita River, going under the assumed name of Andrews. Taylor claims that the injuries sustained by his wife which resulted in her death, were the result of a frolic and an accident.

May 1900: Transcription of article published in two McKinney, Collin County Texas newspapers: the Democrat "Gazette" and "The Democrat":

 

Arrested for Uxorcide

 

Sheriff Pafford Captures J. M. Taylor in Louisiana, His dying Wife’s Confession

 

Sheriff J. W. Pafford arrived Monday morning from Monroe, La., having in custody J. M. Taylor, aged about 21, who is wanted in this county to answer the very serious charge of wife murder. Taylor and his wife were married about a year ago near Celina and it is reported lived rather unhappily together since in the Cross Roads community. Two or three weeks ago Mrs. Taylor appeared in a badly bruised condition which she explained to neighbors, she had sustained by falling down stairs. As her condition grew more serious her husband disappeared. On her dying bed the unhappy young wife made a deposition to the effect that Taylor had dragged her out of bed when she was in a very delicate condition and beat and maltreated her fearfully and then made her promise to tell the neighbors the story about falling down the flight of stairs. She died shortly after making the terrible accusation against her husband and was buried Thursday of last week. A warrant was immediately sworn out for Taylor’s arrest and Saturday evening Sheriff Pafford wired from Monroe, La., that he had his man in custody and arrived with the prisoner as above stated Monday morning. Considerable excitement was caused in the Celina and Roseland communities over the deposition of the dying woman.

11 Nov 1900: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette"

 

Messrs. W. F. McQueen, J. M. Taylor and J. G. Taylor returned from Texas last week, where they went to attend the murder trial of Jim Taylor. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to five years in the penitentiary.

 

NOTE: Soon after this, Taylor appealed the verdict, and it was thrown out and a new trial ordered. The basis for the appeal was that the deathbed confession of Sudie McQueen Taylor was the main state evidence. Preparations for a new trial began in March and April 1901. However, given that the state had no witnesses or any other evidence besides Sudie's dying statement (that was now inadmissible),the county attorney petitioned the court to dismiss the case.

 

Thus, although convicted of murdering his wife, James Marion Taylor, Jr. was released and he returned home to Union Parish Louisiana. However, in those days when the regular judicial system failed, vigilante justice prevailed.

 

26 Aug 1903: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette"

 

The news reaches THE GAZETTE just as we are going to press that about six o'clock this morning near the home of Mr. Bufford Taylor about six miles northeast of Farmerville, J. M. Taylor, Jr. was waylaid and killed. Mr. G. E. Taylor who brought the news states that about ten gun shots were heard, indicating that there was more than one assassin. Mr. Burford Taylor was about 150 yards from the shooting and his wife who was at the house was about the same distance and saw one man run away from the scene of the shooting. Further particulars cannot be given for want of time and space.

 

2 Sept 1903: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette"

 

The coroner’s jury has not yet returned a verdict but is still investigating the killing of J. M. Taylor, Jr.

 

23 Sept 1903: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette"

 

Joe Daniels, Floyd Daniels, Will Daniels, all brothers, and Doc McQueen, have been arrested and placed in jail charged with the murder of J. M. Taylor, Jr., who was assassinated a few weeks ago about six miles northeast of Farmerville. The grand jury is now in session and will investigate the matter and if indicted the parties will possibly be tried in October.

7 Oct 1903: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette"

 

Card of Thanks

 

We desire to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation for the many courtesies shown us by the officers while confined in jail, and to our many friends throughout the parish for their expressions of sympathy and offers of substantial help. We will never forget you.

 

W. F. McQueen,

The Daniel Brothers

17 May 1905: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette":

 

The Daniels in Jail

 

Sheriff Taylor returned last Saturday night at a late hour with the Daniel brothers (Floyd, Joe, Wil and Guthrie) in charge, whom he arrested in the northwestern portion of Webster parish, under an indictment returned by the late grand jury charging them with the killing of James Taylor, who was shot down on the roadside near the residence of R. B. Taylor, on the Loutre, about two years ago this coming summer.

 

The facts of the killing were atrocious and caused considerable public indignation at the time, Taylor, who was engaged in helping R. B. Taylor build a new house at the time, shot down in the road near the building in the early hours of the morning, as he was proceeding to begin his days’ work. His assassins concealed nearby and literally [sic] riddled his breast with buckshot; one of the murderers running up and emptying his gun in his body as he lay dying on the ground. Mr. Taylor, with whom the deceased was working and who was coming on behind, heard the reports of the guns and saw two or more persons running away from the scene of the murder as he hurried forward to investigate the shooting. An old grudge had obtained between the Daniels and the dead man and this directed suspicion to them at once, but as evidence was lacking at the time the matter was left to rest until the late grand jury obtained sufficient testimony upon which to base the indictment. It will be remembered that one McQueen, of Calhoun, the father-in-law of the deceased who had enmity against him due to family troubles, and who was in this section at the time, was arrested for the killing, but was turned loose on the evidence he was able to produce relative to his whereabouts at the hour. The Daniels left this section about a year ago, and having located them in Webster, Sheriff Taylor left here with the warrants for their arrest last Thursday and with the assistance of Sheriff B. F. Griffith, of Webster, was enabled to make the arrests without any trouble, and he is loud in his praise of the kindness and valuable assistance rendered him by the Webster official, Sheriff Griffith accompanying him to make the arrests and contributing everything in his power to facilitate his business.

24 May 1905: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette":

 

"HIT THE GRIT"

 

W. F. McQueen, of Calhoun, who together with the Daniels (now in jail) was indicted by the late grand jury for complicity in the killing of Jim Taylor, by a little trickery fooled Deputy Browning, of Ouachita (who was sent to arrest him) and as a consequence is in parts unknown, out on "leg-bail."  When the Ouachita Deputy approached him with the warrant, he cheerfully acquiesced to the situation but asked as a favor to be allowed to enter his house to shave and change his garb. He seemed so complacent that he completely deceived the officer, who consented to the arrangement and seating himself in view waited while the prisoner went about his toilet. But growing impatient of the delay he at length entered the room to hasten operations, and was surprised to find a strange man, (whom he had been observing all the while as McQueen) standing before the glass pretending to be shaving himself, the bird having flown and was then far away in his flight. McQueen, who was Taylor's father-in-law, had sworn vengeance against him as the result of family trouble and being in this country at the time of his assassination, certain suspicious circumstances pointed to his connection with the crime. But there was not being sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment it was left to the late grand jury to work up a case against him and as a result the present true bill followed although he has been able to avoid its consequences for the time being.

14 June 1905: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette"

 

MCQUEEN SURRENDERS

 

W. F. McQueen, charged with complicity in the killing of James Taylor, together with the Daniel brothers, and who gave the Ouachita deputy the slip after he had arrest him at Calhoun, evidently tired of evading the law, came in on the Choudrant mail hack last Friday evening and surrendered to Sheriff Taylor and is now in jail awaiting trial. mcQueen's purpose in running off was to avoid a long period in jail, but learning of the arrangements for a speedy trial he resolved to come in and give up.

5 July 1905: Transcription of article from the Farmerville "Gazette":

 

ACQUITTED

 

The trial of the Daniel brothers and W. F. McQueen, charged with the murder of James Taylor, was called last Thursday morning, Judge Allen Barksdale presiding over the court, Judge Dawkins recusing himself on proper grounds. Judge W. R. Roberts, of Bernice and assisted by Price, Roberts & Elder, appearing for the accused, District Attorney Preaus representing the state in prosecution of the case. The jury was secured by noon, the evidence adduced all of a circumstantial nature, the district attorney laboring under a great disadvantage, one grand jury having passed the case over without returning a true bill, the indictment found by a subsequent body, the two main witnesses for the state having died in the meantime. In view of this note evidence was offered by the defense and no argument made, the case submitted in this shape to the jury, which after a lucid charge from the judge explaining the law and their duties in the premises, retired to return shortly with a verdict of not guilty whereupon the accused were discharged by the court. This was an atrocious crime; the victim shot down in cold blood while on his was to his daily work, but while the accused had strong suspicions pointing to them as the perpetrators of the crime, still nothing but disconnected circumstantial evidence was obtainable, hence nothing was left the court but to let them go leaving the crime to the unlasted eye of God for detection and the punishment to his infallible hand.

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