Murder of John M. Dickson

                              "A PROCLAMATION"                               
                        By the Governor of Arkansas                          
Whereas, satisfactory information has been communicated to me, that on       
the 2d. day of July (inst.), a most deliberate and wilful murder was         
perpetrated, at Murfreesborough, Pike County, on the body of Mr. John M.     
Dickson, by a certain E.K. Williams, and it appearing that the said Williams 
has made his escape, and is now going at large.                              
Now, therefore, I, William S. Fulton, Governor of Arkansas, do hereby offer  
a reward of TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS, to any person or persons who will apprehend 
the said fugitive murderer, E.K. Williams, and deliver him into the custody  
of the Sheriff of Pike County, and I do, moreover, hereby require all        
officers, both civil and military, and exhort all the good people of         
Arkansas, to use their best exertions, to apprehend and bring to justice     
the said fugitive, that he may be dealt with according to law.               
Given under my hand and the seal of Arkansas, at Little Rock, this 25th day  
of July, 1836.                                                               
                             William S. Fulton                               
The said Williams is between 35 and 40 years of age, about 5 feet 10 or 11   
inches high, blue eyes, light hair, beard rather inclined to be sandy, large 
underlip and a sore generally about the middle of it, tolerably well-made,   
and generally looks fresh and rather inclined to be red-faced. He is a very  
good scholar, and it is believed is either from Kentucky or Ohio.            
Arkansas Gazette, July 26, 1836.                                             
                         $290 REWARD FOR A MURDERER.                         
Whereas, an unjustifiable and most unprovoked murder was committed, in the   
town of Murfreesborough, Pike County, Arkansas, on the 2d. day of July       
(inst.), on the body of my husband, John M. Dickson, by a certain E. K.      
Williams, alias Ezekial Williams Kerr, I will therefore give the above       
reward  to any person or persons who may apprehend, and deliver the above    
named E.K. Williams, alias Kerr, to the proper authorities of said County of 
The said Williams, alias Kerr, is between 35 and 40 years of age, 5 feet 10  
or 11 inches high, blue eyes, light hair, beard inclined to be sandy, under
lip large and generally a sore about the middle of it, tolerably stout       
built, very fond of ardent spirits, and very noisy when drinking. He has     
a brother-in-law near Golconda, Illinois, and another near Fort Jesup,       
Louisiana. This same villain, it is pretty well ascertained, murdered a boy, 
a few years since, in the State of Kentucky, by stabbing him.                
                               Lucinda Dickson                               
Murfreesboro, July 8, 1836.                                                  
Editors in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio,       
Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, will confer a favor on a           
distressed widow, and perhaps benefit society by contributing to the         
apprehension and punishment of a cold-blooded murderer and notorious         
villain, by giving the above an insertion in their respective papers.        
Arkansas Gazette, August 2, 1836.                                            
                                        Clark County, November 1, 1836.      
Mr. Editor - Pleased to give the following statement an insertion in your    
paper. Jacob Brindley, of Pike County, who lives at the ferry on Little      
Missouri, has maliciously propagated, rumored, and charged me with harboring 
a certain Eli W. Kerr, alias E.K. Williams, (who has been charged with the   
murder of John M. Dickson, of Pike County). Some most infamous individual,   
taking advantage of the sudden flight and absconding of Eli W. Kerr, alias   
E.K. Williams, from this County, personated him at my house in order the     
better to accomplish his homicidal or furtive design. The same individual    
has exhibited himself at and about my house, at all times of the night,      
striking on the fence, whistling in chargers, and making various other       
noises and pranks, which caused me, together with my neighbors, to believe   
that the above-named murderer of John M. Dickson was at my house, until      
contradicted and ascertained by the following statements: This Eli W. Kerr,  
alias E.K. Williams, was seen and met by John W. Williams, a highly          
respectable gentleman who lives on the Military road seven miles from        
Washington, Hempstead County, on the road seven miles from Golconda,         
Illinois, the 22nd. day of August last (on his way from this country). The   
said Eli Kerr, alias E.K. Williams, was seen also by Wiley A. Berry, of      
Livingston County, Kentucky, William Berry, and Nathaniel Gray, of the same  
County, six hundred miles from this County, about the last of August; not    
withstanding, this other base rascal, who was essaying to pass himself, for  
some malicious design, for Eli W. Kerr, alias E.K. Williams, was seen on the 
28th. of August by Elijah Kelley near my house, and by Samuel Hasley, and by 
Amos Wilson on Wednesday night the latter part of August; and on Thursday    
following by Moses Guice; on Friday, by Dr. Long, told Jacob Brindley, that  
this supposititious (sic) individual had been seen by many persons, and that 
he did not believe it was Eli Kerr, and that several men were watching and   
lying in wait for him and that I wished him either taken or killed. Since    
Dr. Long had that conversation with Jacob Brindley, that villainous          
individual has not been seen nor heard at my house or about my plantation.   
The said Jacob Brindley has used every exertion in his power, by his base    
culumnies, to injure my standing and reputation; and by his multifarious     
lies, fabrications, and equivocations, has left no dubiousness on the mind   
of  the public as to that individual who attempted to pass for Eli W. Kerr,  
in order to evade justice in the execution of his murderous design,          
detraction or villainy. For evidence you will see the following              
                                 John Speer                                  
I, John W. Williams, of the County of Hempstead, Arkansas, do hereby         
certify, that, on the 22nd. day of August, 1836, whilst on my way home from  
the State of Kentucky, I met, in the road, a few miles from Golconda,        
Illinois, a certain E.K. Williams, who committed a murder on the body of     
John M. Dickson, on the 2d. day of July last, in the County of Pike, and     
that he was then on his way from this country.                               
                                J.W. Williams                                
This day, personally appeared before me, Isham Clement, a Justice of the     
Peace, in and for the County of Livingston, Kentucky, William Berry and      
Nathanial Gray, both citizens of said County, (who, being duly sworn,        
depose and say), and, on or about the 1st. day of September, 1836, E.K.      
Williams, as he called himself, when in Arkansas, was in the said County of  
Livingston, Kentucky, at the said Berry's and Gray's house.                  
Sworn to, and subscribed before me, this 2d. day of October, 1836.           
                             Isham Clement, J.P.                             
Attest: Nathanial Gray, William Berry.                                       
Commonwealth of Kentucky,                                                    
Livingston County.                                                           
I, James L. Dallam, Clerk of the Court for the County and Commonwealth       
aforesaid, do hereby certify, that Isham Clement, whose name is attached to  
the foregoing certificate, is, and was, at the time of signing the same,     
a duly qualified and commissioned Justice, within and for said County; and   
as such, full faith and credit are due and should be given to all his        
official acts.                                                               
Given under my hand, this 3rd. day of October, 1836.                         
                          James J. Dallam, Clerk.                            
I, Wilie A. Berry, of Livingston County, Kentucky, do hereby certify, that   
I am personally acquainted with a certain Eli W. Kerr, alias E.K. Williams,  
the individual who is charged with the murder of John M. Dickson, of the     
County of Pike, Arkansas; and that some time in the latter part of August,   
in the present year, I saw the said Eli W. Kerr, alias E.K. Williams, in     
Livingston County, Kentucky, and was informed by him, that he had come       
directly from Arkansas.                                                      
                              Wilie A. Berry                                 
Sworn to and subscribed before me, this 7th. day of October, 1836.           
                            J.W. Williams, J.P.                              
We the undersigned, do certify, on the night of the 28th. of August, or      
about that time, we were in the company of John Speer, at his dwelling       
house, watching for E.K. Williams, murderer of John M. Dickson, and near     
about twelve o'clock of said night, we saw a man appear three times, in the  
distance of eighty yards, as nigh as we can guess, and from the action of    
the person we saw, we think he either wanted to see some one privately, or   
to steal, rob, or murder.                                                    
                              Elijah Kelley                                  
                              Samuel Hasley                                  
October 8th., 1836.                                                          
Arkansas Gazette, November 15, 1836.                                         
                              To The Public                                  
A certain "Major" John Speer, who keeps a house of entertainment in Clark    
County, near the Antoine Bridge, on the road leading from Little Rock to Red 
River, in order to get into a newspaper controversy with me, or to give the  
public a specimen of his very extraordinary talents for writting, (sic) has  
published, in the Arkansas Gazette, a lengthy and windy communication, over  
his own signature, dated November 1st., 1836, in which he charged me with    
having "maliciously propagated, rumored, and charged" him with harboring     
(his brother-in-law) Eli W. Kerr, alias E.K. Williams, who stands charged    
with the crime of murder, in Pike County; which communications has attached  
to it the certificates of certain persons, certifying that the fact of       
Williams, alias Kerr, have been seen, after the perpetration of the crime    
above mentioned, in the States of Illinois and Kentucky. The said            
communication also charges some person with endeavoring to personate the     
said Williams, by "striking on the fence, whistling in chargers, and making  
various other noises and pranks, at and about the house of the said John     
Speer." Not wishing to trouble the public with my grievances about the above 
named communication, I would barely remark, that circumstances as strong as  
holy writ, establish the fact of John Speer having harbored the said Eli     
W. Kerr, alias E.K. Williams, "at and above" his house, after the            
perpetration of the murder above named; and the "suppositious individual"    
mentioned in said communication, who endeavored to "personate" said          
Williams, at and above the house of said John Speer, is generally believed   
to have been the servant of this John Speer, or some other person induced to 
come there for him, for the purpose of screening him from the charges of     
harboring said Williams. Circumstances go strongly to show this fact to      
every unbiased mind. I have never "maliciously charged" John Speer with the  
commission of an act. I have spoken of the affair in common with those whom  
I have heard conversing on the subject, but not with the view of injuring    
him. He has no laurels that I wish to take from him. His reputation,         
whatever it may be, he is welcome to enjoy. I would barely remark, in        
conclusion, that this Major John Speer has admitted that E.K. Williams,      
alias Kerr, ate at or near his house, after the commission of the murder     
mentioned in his communication. This admission, therefore, puts him at issue 
with his communication. Add his admission, therefore, to the circumstance of 
a stolen horse being found in his possession, and it will show whether he    
is the man he has cracked himself up to be, in his garbled communication,    
or not.                                                                      
                               Jacob Brindley                                
Little Missouri, Pike County, Arkansas, 1st. December, 1836.                 
Arkansas Gazette, December 13, 1836.                                         
                          For The Arkansas Gazette                           
Mr. Editor - I notice in your paper of the 13th. of the present month,       
a publication over the signature of one Jacob Brindley, of Pike County,      
bearing the date the first of the same month, in which he denies any         
purpose  of doing me injustice, at the same time making as false assertions  
against me as ever were made against a man, when he charged me with having   
harbored E.K. Williams, and of having the horse, (stolen by Williams), in my 
possession, if he had stated that I arrested the horse in his possession,    
and informed the proper person of it, who was authorized to receive him, he  
would have stated the truth. The fact of my having taken the horse from the  
possession of the thief, can be proven by a gentleman by the name of Swink,  
living at Judge Barkman's, and the fact of me having sent word that I had    
taken possession of a horse, supposed to be stolen, can be established by    
Moses Grize (Guice), who lives with Col. Wilson. This took place on the      
15th. or 20th. of July last - and he was personated at my house in the later 
part of August last. The charge of this having been done by my servant, or   
at my request, that I might not be suspected, is one of the vilest things I  
have ever seen or heard of. If it was done through my influence, (and not    
through Brindley's), why did that villain stop on the very same day, that    
Dr. Long told Jacob Brindley of, the danger that Williams was in? The        
evidence and circumstances all go strong against Brindley himself. Now, Mr.  
Jacob Brindley, a word or two with you, and I am done. Your false assertions 
against me, make it my duty to call your attention to a few facts in regard  
to your being a man of truth. Did you not, some time previous to the         
expiration of the preemption law, swear before Almighty God, that there did  
not exist a preemption on a certain tract of land. I allude to the tract of  
land on which Francis Bittick has his farm, - and did you not deny in the    
presence of James Ward, Senior, that you were sworn at all? - and after      
denying that you were sworn, did you not admit to the same person that you   
were sworn, but did not take the oath prescribed by law? Now sir, if there   
was no preemption, why did you deny swearing at all? And did you not state   
a falsehood, between Col. J. Wilson and James Ward, concerning a load of     
salt sent by Col. Wilson to Ward. Now, sir, if you are not guilty of the     
above charges, Mr. Ward is your neighbor and will acquit you. Were you not,  
sir, called on by Samuel Hasley for having made too free use of his name?    
And did you not deny the facts in the most positive terms, and did not the   
said Hasley call on John McLaughlin, and prove positively that you did use   
the words denied by you - and did you not contradict McLaughlin? - or was    
your plea that you were in a state of insanity? Now sir, if you are not      
guilty, these are men of truth and will do you justice. If you fail to       
clear up these charges, your base statements will not be noticed.            
                                 John Speer                                  
Little Rock, December 23, 1836.                                              
Arkansas Gazette, December 27, 1836.                                         
                   To the Editor of the Arkansas Gazette:                    
SIR - In a recent number of your paper, "John Speer" has published a         
communication, purporting to be an answer to my defence, published in your   
paper a short time since, but which is in fact an evasion of the issue       
between us. Knowing himself to be guilty of the charges which are against    
him, and which he has so solemnly and equivocally denied, he now seeks to    
shield himself from public indignation and contempt, by charging me with     
the commission of acts, which are as derogatory to the character of a        
gentleman as those of which he himself is guilty. I am at all times prepared 
to defend myself successfully against the poisoned tongued slanderer.        
I am well known to the citizens of the county in which I reside, and nothing 
that John Speer can say, will have any effect upon that community. He is a   
common disturber of the peace and quite of the neighborhood in which he      
lives - a news carrier, a yellow-tongued slanderer, a defamer of private     
character, and a man destitute of the attributes of a gentleman. In relation 
to the slanderous charges he has published against me, I have only to say,   
that I can settle my own affairs with my neighbors without his officious     
interference. The charge of my having sworn about Bittick's preemption       
claim, is false and destitute of truth. If this man Speer can say the same   
in relation to all the oaths which he has taken about preemption claims, he  
must be a fortunate man. I have no disposition to expose his character, or   
to prefer charges against him. If I had, perhaps I might say something       
about good fat beeves, which would make John Speer feel a little curious.    
But to the horse story. On the night that the traveler's horse was stolen    
from my stable, John Speer has admitted that he was at my ferry until a late 
hour of the night, and from there, he went to Mr. Thomas Milson's and stayed 
the balance of the night. After this, the stolen horse was found in the      
possession of John Speer. If this is not strong evidence of his guilt, I am  
much mistaken. I again repeat, that it is generally believed that John Speer 
did procure his servant, or some other person, to personate Williams, alias  
Kerr, the murderer of Dickson, at and about his house, in order to give him  
a chance to make his escape, and to screen him from the punishment which the 
law had meted to his offence; and I have no doubt that through the low       
cunning and management of John Speer, that the murderer of Dickson made his  
escape from justice.                                                         
                               Jacob Brinley                                 
Little Missouri, Pike co., Jan. 13, 1837.                                    
Arkansas Gazette, January 24, 1837.                                          
A more striking exemplification cannot be found of the folly and weakness of 
human passions, than the correspondence which has been carried on in this    
paper in the shape of advertisements between John Speer and Jacob Brindley,  
Esqs., one of Pike County, and the other of Clark County. They have been     
endeavoring to persuade the world, (each other), that they are the most      
corrupt mortals alive, when in fact we have no better citizens in the        
country than both of them. They ought from shame, to discontinue the affair  
where it stands.                                                             
Arkansas Gazette, January 24, 1837.                                          
David Kelley 1996