Friday, August 21, 2015

"He Needed Killing"

Sometimes you turn up some rotten apples hanging on certain branches of your family tree.  And oh man!, have I turned up a wormy doozy!

Among my family lines on my mother's side is one with the surname REDMOND.

The first American Redmond on this line was William Redmon or Redman.
The only known facts are that this line was originally from Scotland and William was born in 1715(maybe Scotland, maybe Virginia) and died in June 1779 in Charlotte County, Virginia.  William would be my 6x Great Grandfather.

William is thought to have married 4 times including Sarah Dickson.  She is thought to be the mother of their son, Thomas Redmond, born in Charlotte County in 1733. 

It is known that this Thomas married Letitia "Letty" Williams who was 22 years his junior.  Their oldest surviving child was William Redmond(born in 1777)and their youngest child was James Redmond(born in 1796).  My 4 x great grandfather was Thomas and Letty's third youngest child, Robert H. Redmond(born about 1792 in Charlotte Co.)

Robert Redmond married Clarissa "Clara" Smith.  Clarissa is my mitochondrial DNA lineage(My mother's, mother's, mother's etc. line).  Clara was born in 1802 in Charlotte County and died 11 Apr 1862, living her entire life in Charlotte County, VA

Robert Redmond and Clarissa Smith married 20 Oct. 1819.  There were 7 known children from this union--Angelina, Louisa, Whitfield, Benjamin, Susan Elizabeth "Fannie", Robert and Abraham(known as "Abb").

My direct ancestor is their daughter Susan Elizabeth, born 1837 Charlotte County, VA and died 27 Sept 1873 at the age of 36.  She is my 3 x Great Grandmother.
"Fannie" married Wesley Baxter Foster 14 Oct. 1857 in Charlotte County.  Their oldest child was Luretta Louise "Lou" Foster, my 2 x Great Grandmother, who I have written about before, born in 1858.

Susan Redmond Foster's daughter, Lou Foster, is on the far right. 

But let's back up to  Susan's parents, Robert and Clarissa Smith Redmond, shall we?

According to records, Robert died from a shotgun wound in Nov. of 1859 and was believed to have been 67 at the time of his death which would put his birth date as 1793 or 1794.

His death is recorded in the Federal Mortality Schedule for 1860 Charlotte County.  His death date is Nov. 1859 and he lived out all his life in Charlotte County, VA.
The cause of death is listed as "shot by his son Abner". 
Abner was yet another nickname for the youngest Redmond son, Abraham, also called Abb.

This plot just got thick......

While digging through documents there was very little information on Robert Redmond.  The only federal censuses he is listed in are 1820 and 1840 and neither of those go into detail with names of additional family members, just the name of the head of household and number of people in the household. 

In 1850 Robert's farm/holdings are listed, the non-population schedule goods like cows, sheep, acreage, etc. but there is no reg. federal census in 1850 listings him or his family members.  In 1840 the ages/sex/race of the members of Robert Redmond's household lines up with what we do know about the make up of his family--8 "white" family members(2 adults, 6 children-the 7th child was born after 1840)and 14 "black" members(slaves).  By 1850 the Redmond farm consisted of 570 acres of land and was valued at $9K+ per 1850 dollars(In today's money that could be anywhere from $300K to $500K.)

The next record for Robert is his death in 1859 in that Mortality Schedule of 1860. 

Connecting back to Robert's generation and filling in the children of Clarissa and him has been problematic for me as the records are few and far between.  I can't find a single census with their family unit intact in 1850 or 1860-the first ones that list family members by name.

 So I had to rely on other family trees at first.  When I found Susan's death record I finally had her parents name's but filling in the names of her siblings was a long process of trial and error.

Fleshing out the 7 known children of Robert and Clarissa has been slow and tedious. Most I only have a death or a marriage record for them but  I have been able to piece together their lives or at least parts of most of their lives.

Abb was especially hard to pin down.
Given his approximate birth date of  1841 he would have been of age to enlist in the War Between the States yet no record can be found that he ever served in the military.

Unless he was disabled in some way and was exempted from service in the military most Southern men between the ages of 15 and 40 served either in the regular troops or in a home guard of some sort and records were kept.  As the war dragged on and casualties mounted the younger and older men were called to serve due to the substantial inequity in the numbers of men in the Confederacy compared to the North.

No land transactions came up either for Abb.  The lone federal census he is listed in is for 1880.
Abb is listed alone with no other family members.  His birth date is 1834 and he is 46 years old.   He is listed as married and his occupation is farmer.
But then it says he's a prisoner.....what?

Then I found him on a 1880 Schedule of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes which confirmed for me that on 1 Jun of 1880 Abb was indeed in jail in Charlotte County.

I figured he had a run in with the law, how bad could it have been, right?  Nothing led me to believe that he wasn't anything except a model citizen otherwise and this imprisonment was a lone incident in his life.

Next I found a death record which confirmed his parents, the name of his wife and his birth date and death date.

He died on 31 Oct. 1893.

No kind of research turned up a marriage record for Abb and E.S. nor any federal census record with them living in the same household.
Why of why doesn't this guy turn up in any records I kept asking myself?!

And then the other shoe dropped when I found a newspaper article someone had posted online.
And it explained quite a lot about my Abb Redmond!
When I read it my jaw about hit the floor.

Let me just post the article word for word here----you HAVE TO read this!

The Notorious Abb Redmond Taken From His Captors
He is alleged to have been the worst man that ever lived in Charlotte County.
Some of his crimes.

Notorious Abb Redmond, the worst man that ever lived in Charlotte County, came to his death last night at the hands of a mob.  He was arrested yesterday at daybreak by an officer and a dozen assistants, which was one of the few times he was every captured without trouble.  He mistook the officer for a friend.  A few days ago, he was after a negro to kill him and caught the wrong one by mistake, but did not let him go without having beaten him nearly to death.  He was taken before a justice of the peace, but for want of evidence was acquitted.  Later, after threatening some of the best citizens in the vilest manner, he acknowledged he was the man who served the negro so shamefully and only waited an opportunity to kill the right one.  The prisoner was taken to Dupres and was tried by Justices Boothe and Crafton, and after a day spent in looking up witnesses he waived the trial by the Justice and was sent on to jail.
It being night, Constable Crutcher was ordered to take the prisoner to his house, which was on the way to the court-house, under the guard of three men, Messrs. Hamilton, Driggs and Haynie.  they arrived safely at Crutcher's house without any sign of disturbance.

About 11 o'clock two of the guards were asleep and one on duty, when all at once the door was broken in with a crash and all hands were covered with guns and pistols.  Without a word the prisoner was taken out.  It was a thoroughly organized crowd, every one knew his place, and in less than a minute everything was a quiet as before the mob came.  One of the guards when asked the number replied: "Don't know: they came into the light like men coming up out of the ground and disappeared in like manner."
This morning the body was found by a negro on Crutcher's place swinging from a tree, white with frost.  A coroner's inquest was held and the verdict was "Redmond came to his death by the hands of a mob of unknown men.".

His life was full of deeds of the blackest hue, with but few good ones to counteract the bad.  The community was in a state of terror while he lived.  Everyone feared his fiendish ways, and no one knew when he would become his victim.  Punishment seemed to have no effect on him.  He would come back from prison as soon as his stripes were off and would return to his fiendish ways.  No one felt safe around him.  If a cow or a horse crossed his place he would often shoot it down.  Redmond was a man of means, and his whole fortune was spent in paying lawyers.  This man's bad career began when he was but a boy.  Some hot words passed between him and his old father.  Shortly afterwards the old man was walking along with his gun on his shoulder, when he was suddenly shot dead by Abb from behind the corner of a fence.  With the aid of the ablest lawyers this was proven to be in self-defence. 

Later a negro was missing, and after a short time his body was ploughed up.  This was proven to be the work of Redmond, and with the aid of the ablest lawyers in the state he got off with a few years in prison.  Then came the burning of the house of one of our best citizens. Redmond confessed to the burning, but through technicalities proved that it was his own house.  Shortly after this the same man had a number of his barns burned.  Later a neighbor had a few words with Redmond, and in a day or two, four of his horses were poisoned.  An old negro was cut almost to death by Redmond, and for this crime he got two years in prison.  When he came back he professed religion, joined the church, and pretended to lead a new life, but no sooner were his disabilities removed then he went back to his old ways. 
He had a way of putting his neighbor's hogs into his field and killing them, along with his own, and everyone was too much afraid of him to attempt to regain them.  These are but a few of his many crimes. 
This morning, while but few think his last deeds justified death, all agree it is a good thing to be clear of such a character.  Many of the old citizens say now they can live in peace, a thing not known to them for years.  While all good citizens deplore the horrible deed, yet all admit that it is a happy riddance.


Holy Cow!

If the phrase "He needed killing" was EVER true, it applies to my 3 x Great Grand Uncle Abb Redmond.

I have since learned that Abb's wife's name was Emma Redmond and she was his cousin.  Emma was the daughter of Ab's older sister Louisa Redmond and her husband Thomas Redmond which means that Abb was his wife Emma's uncle and Abb's sister, Louisa, was his mother in-law and he was a cousin of his wife's father Thomas as well.
Emma's parents, Louisa and Thomas, were also cousins as well as husband and wife.

*Tune up "I'm my own Grandpa" here.....*

The theory is that Abb and Emma had to leave the state in order to marry as their bloodlines were too close.  The closest state was North Carolina, Granville County area.  And one or both of them lied on the marriage license too to avoid being questioned about their consanguinity, so we'll never find that document for sure.

So far no children have been found for Abb and Emma Redmond.  They'd probably all have 9 toes and 3 eyes anyway with all their shared genetics.  ;-)

Now given Abb's predilection for murder and/or torture one could go so far as to say that he was a racist of the first degree.
But then again, I sort of feel that if all things were even he'd had murdered/tortured anyone no matter their race.  At the place, in that time in rural Virginia it was just probably much easier to get away(even in court)with killing a negro.
I do think that Abner Redmond was just a bonafide homicidal sociopath.

And what I find so ironic in all this is that Abner Redmond is listed in a book, "Lynchings in the New South" and in various other databases online of documented lynchings, along side mostly African American victims of this crime.
He is immortalized as a victim along with countless other "true" victims of heinous crimes when, in his case, his punishment fit his crimes.

I feel I need to get to Virginia and do some poking around at the local courthouse there for more details of the sordid life and times of Abb Redmond.
Who knows?.....there may be a book in all this.

Sometimes when you start looking into your ancestry you find way more than you bargained for!




  1. Yikes! I think that's why I haven't dug too much into my own ancestors... Afraid of what I might find! ;)
    Or maybe I'm just lazy.

  2. A BOOK?! Goodness you could make a hit movie out of this guy! Yeah, start with a book. Books are always better than movies anyway. And I'm going to have to agree, the punishment fit the crimeS. He was a villain and who needs to even call him a racist (although obviously he was) he killed his own dad for crying out loud! He was just evil.

    Neat story Sluggy! Thanks for sharing that one.

  3. Yes, being only the most amateur student of history, (I'm admitting to being an ignoramus - everything is news to me while it may be old hat to more educated people) some things I have found while doing research (that go against some of the oversimplifications promoted by some): White people were tried, convicted, and hanged for crimes against blacks. Well, I'm sure you've seen the story I posted; I'll post it again. It's someone in my family history, but in this case, it was not my relative by his employee who harassed a black person and my relative is the one who died while trying to intervene. No one was convicted or punished for the crime; the murderer got away. I'll post it if everyone hasn't seen it already.

    As I read, I was thinking the same thing you did: sociopath/psychopath. Apparently a menace to the whole county.

  4. Now who to play him if this was a movie? I don't know if I would be excited or worried to uncover someone like that.

  5. I thought my family was fun, I was at the funeral of a great uncle in the late 1970's, and both of his wives showed up. They seemed to like one another - one hadn't seen him in 25 years.

  6. I admit, sometimes I gloss through your genealogy reports. This one held my attention! Great share Sluggy, thank you.

  7. You find the most interesting ancestors, Cuz! Love reading about your most notorious one!


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