Henry Thomas (Tom) LEE was born 14 August 1882 to Hosie LEE (1848-1936) and Mary Jane BRAZELL LEE (1849-?). He was the oldest of their six children.
Tom’s maternal grandmother, Rachael FUTRELL BRAZELL was the sister of my 2nd great-grandmother, Margaret FUTRELL MARTIN. This makes Tom my 2nd cousin twice removed.
Tom moves from his father’s house
Hosie LEE was a farmer, and Tom followed in his footsteps. I don’t know much about Tom’s young life since I can’t find him in the census and other records, but I do know that he could not read or write. This was recorded in the census records I could find.
Tom married Dora BRAZELL (1890-1976) around 1900. Their first child, Vera, was born in 1906. They went on to have 10 children.
I know Tom and Dora lived and farmed on Old Camden Road about ten miles from Columbia in Richland County, South Carolina. Their second child, Gladys, married Ernest GOFF around 1925.
Gladys returns home
On 12 March 1929, Gladys had returned to her father’s home because ‘she was not satisfied living in the community where she did, about eight miles farther on the Old Camden Road,’ according to The State newspaper. She ‘did not like to live with his people.’ Gladys also said there had been no dispute had arisen when she left. Ernest came to Tom’s home twice that week to speak to Gladys, but the content of the conversations was not given.
Ernest comes to visit
On the evening of 14 March 1929, Ernest came to the house about 9:20 p.m. to talk to Gladys. Tom and Dora’s 15-yeard old daughter, Sudie Mae, answered the door and ‘saw a pistol in his overcoat pocket.’ Gladys had gone to a store four miles distant, in company with her sister and Lonnie Peek, a young man of that neighborhood.’ Upon hearing this, Ernest insisted on talking to Tom, who had to be called out of bed.
Ernest accuses Tom of interfering
Tom and Ernest went to the side porch to sit and talk. Dora and Sudie Mae listened from the kitchen door. Ernest accused Tom of ‘writing letters in an attempt to part Goff and his wife.’ Tom denied he’d written the letters saying he couldn’t read or write or even sign his name.
Dora reported later that ‘the two men were talking in ordinary tones and neither seemed to be angry,’ according to The State. Ernest accused Tom of ‘writing letters in an attempt to part Goff and his wife.’ Tom denied he’d written the letters saying he couldn’t read or write or even sign his name.
The article in The State continues: ‘Goff said the he could prove that Lee had written the letter in question and that he “was going to have satisfaction” and that “I am either going to kill somebody or get killed.” ‘ Sudie said that Goff talked sassy to her father. (I loved her description!)
Tom told Ernest that he was treating him badly to come to his house and talk to him like that, and that he would make Ernest prove that he had the letter.
Ernest loses control
Dora turned for a moment to tell the children to hush, and while she was turned ‘three shots were fired in rapid succession.’ Tom ‘started walking to the door of the front room but fell after taking a few steps and Goff ran from the porch.’ Tom ‘said nothing about the affair except to exclaim of the pain which he was in.’ He died soon after.
The next day, Ernest surrendered to the county sheriff. He said he believed Tom was about to pull a gun on him, but no gun was found when Tom’s body was examined. Three months later, Ernest was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for the murder of Tom Lee.
Tom is laid to rest
Tom was 48 when he was murdered. He left behind his wife, Dora, and nine of their ten children. I’ll write later about the child they’d already lost. Tom is buried at the Old Macedonia Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina.
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