The Tracy Family History
Unusual Deaths

Michael Woods Sr., of Blair Park married Lady Mary Campbell. They had a son...

Colonel William Woods married Susannah Wallace. They had a son..

Archibald Woods married Mourning Shelton.
    Capt. Virginia militia; At Ft. Watauga; Fought Shawnee Indians; At surrender of Cornwallis; To Estill Station, KY in 1782. Later built Woods Fort near Richmond, KY. (There was more than one Woods Fort.) Gov. Patrick Henry appointed him Justice of the Peace for Madison Co., KY. They had a daughter...

Lucy Woods married William Caperton. They had a son...

Wm. Harris Caperton married Eliza Estill, granddaughter of Capt. James Eliza was who fell at Estill’s Defeat. (chapter 23)
Served under Gen. Andrew Jackson at 16. Husband was not only handsome and graceful but a gifted orator and lawyer. He was appointed US Dist. Attorney for Dist. of KY., by President Fillmore. Many times associated with Henry Clay and John J. Crittenden at the bar. They had a son...

Woods Caperton
“...was murdered in Richmond, Kentucky by the notorious Frank Searcy.”

    The word “murder” caught my attention, but what made me pursue the story was the word “notorious.”
    I contacted the librarian at Eastern Kentucky University in the same city. The librarian is Jackie Couture. She does a good job of research and comes up with the following:

    Frank Searcy killed anywhere between 4 and 20 people. Searcy made the mistake of blaming one of the murders on the Ku Klux Klan. Not taking very kindly to being framed, the KKK hung Searcy in 1869, apparently without due process.

    “I can’t image why he was not imprisoned then (1860). It was very common for a prominent citizen to commit murder and get away with it, but it was not common for a poor citizen to do the same. In fact Woods’ brother J.W. Caperton shot and killed a man in 1848 and it was called self defense and not even brought to trial. The other man was armed with a chair.”
– Jackie Couture

Woods Caperton, upon his face
is the look of depression.

    His brother James, was a famous lawyer, banker, capitalist and landowner. He named his plantation Blair Park.

“Woods Caperton was a brilliant young man, studied law but never practiced, and died at an early age, unmarried.”
– Neander Woods (A slightly different version.)

"John Williams Woods; went to Mississippi, where he was killed in a riot of Negros in 1876.”
I thought this might be an interesting story. I figured that there could not be that many Negro riots in Mississippi in 1876, in which white men were killed. Research shows my premise to be correct.
    There were riots in Mississippi over a period of years. For the year of 1876: In Wilkinson County and Chapel Hill Church “...these affairs, which caused the deaths of seventy-five to one hundred Negros and of one white...
    This has to be our man.

    As long as the institution of slavery existed, the slave was the property of the master. The masters, by definition, were upper class, of money and political influence. You did not mess with the slave owners property! The slave was protected. It was not unusual for some slaves to live better than their neighboring poor whites. When the Civil War ended, this protection ended.
    This brought anarchy and guerilla bands of whites to Mississippi. There were large numbers of young white men and boys with nothing to do. So they did something against the Negros. They were the nucleus for the riots. Mississippi was not a good place to live if you wanted to be free of violence.
    There were frequent rumors that the Negros were about to riot. Then the Negros refused to renew their work contracts, which made the whites even more jittery. This gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan terrorized and killed Negros indiscriminately, and the whites that tried to help them, and the Jews who had business dealings with the Negros. (Report spells "Negros.")
    It was the policy of the times to keep these stories out of the newspapers; thus it was a little hard to research them.
A good book that provides factual information on this subject is The Negro in Mississippi 1865-1890, by Vernon Lane Wharton.

“David C....He was elected magistrate of the County (Madison Co. KY) and was assassinated one night in his own barn by a gang of negro thieves and desperadoes.”

“John Pennington Briscoe was killed by assassins while out hunting during the political troubles about 1876.”

“William Reid, born December 13, 1828. Married Mourning Thorpe... Lived in Elliston, KY, and there on June 18, 1861, he was murdered in cold blood by a man named Burgess, on account of his political convictions. Issue: Surname Wallace:”

“Mourning Woods, born March 15, 1818, died in April, 1889. Married on June 4, 1839, to Robert C. Smith, who was murdered during the Civil War.”

“Humphrey, born in Madison County, KY. Never married. He was a soldier in the Mexican War. Was assassinated.”

Calvin Wallace, June 15, 1848 – June 16, 1890. (Shot and killed by his son-in-law.)

“Samuel Rutherford Lapsley...a confederate soldier and received a fatal wound at the battle of Shiloh in 1862, while bearing the colors of his regiment.” (The greatest honor in battle was to carry the colors (flag.) It was also sheer suicide, for the first man to be shot down was the Color bearer. Then the flag would then be taken from the fallen comrade and carried by another, until he was shot down, and another, and another.)

Wm. S. Woods 22 June 1864 “...fell in battle in a charge near Marietta, Georgia. Last words, “Forward boys, forward.”

“Sidney, killed in infancy by kick of a horse.” “Thomas P., married Mary Gentry. He was killed by a runaway horse.” “William Woods...Drowned on December 14, 1814, while attempting to swim the Tennessee River on horse-back.” Rare today, but not unusual for the frontier times. With the coming of the automobile these common occurrences all but disappeared. When reading old newspapers you will find, with every issue, the stories of the deaths of your friends and neighbors by horse accidents; being kicked or thrown, or by runaway horse as a rider, runaway with a wagon.

“Polly Miller was born in Albermarle Co, Virginia, October 19, 1794. Polly died may 24, 1795 in Madison Co, Kentucky at age unknown. Her death was caused by a violent attack of whooping cough. Her parents were traveling to Kentucky and she was buried by the wayside under a large tree.” Again, I don’t think unusual for the times. If Polly had lived, her brothers yet to be born were Colonel Robert Miller, General John Miller, Major James Miller. Ours was a military heritage.

“William Cassius, married Mary E. Mann. He was a State Senator and one time Minister to Belgium. Engaged in a duel with Armistead M. Swope in the post office at Lexington, Kentucky, on November 9, 1889, and both men were killed."

Footnote: Strangely, as to the KKK affair, lynching was legal in the United States until 1893. In that year Georgia passed the first anti-lynching law. The maximum penalty for stringing up someone without permission was four years in prison.

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