Sunday, June 29, 2014

Heirs of Joel Tillman Harless, Madison County, Alabama

On 8 September 1847, Joel Tillman Harless, along with his wife, Sarah, sold 80 acres of land in two parcels to Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Caroline. Unfortunately for Benjamin, the deed was written incorrectly and he needed to have it corrected. I do not know when he first noticed the error, but by the time he got around to getting it put right, Joel T. Harless had died. Benjamin's misfortune is our good fortune, because now he had to bring suit against the heirs of Joel T. Harless and his own children (as the error in the deed had made the property over to them).

On 6 November 1854, Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Caroline A. E. Harris (nee Vann), brought a bill of complaint against: Thomas Harless, John W. Harless, Charles Harless, Tib Allison, and his wife, Matilda, formerly Matilda Harless, Thomas Harris, Martha S. Harris, Nancy Harris, and Rosaline Harris [the 4 children of Benjamin and Caroline], of the county of Madison, State of Alabama, Andrew J. Middleton and his wife Rebecca, formerly Rebecca Harless, of the county of Jackson in said state, Sarah S. Harless of the county of Marshall in said state, and David Harless of the county of Marengo in said state.

The complaint goes on to explain how the errors with the deed came about and why it has not been corrected:

"...since the making of the conveyance, the said Joel T. Harless has departed this life, intestate, leaving the following named persons, his heirs at law, viz: Thomas Harless, David Harless, John W. Harless, Charles Harless, Matilda Allison formerly Harless, Rebecca Middleton, formerly Harless. The said Matilda has intermarried with and is not the wife of one Tib Allison, and the said Rebecca has intermarried with and is not the wide of one Andrew J. Middleton. The said Joel T., also left surviving him, a widow, one Sarah T. Harless."

The heirs at law listed for Joel Tillman Harless are his siblings and, as mentioned, his widow. In my records, I have that Sarah gave birth to a posthumous son of Joel and remarried a year or so later. BUT I believe that an unborn child would have been entitled to a share of the estate (if they lived). Eldrid Harless is listed in the 1850 Census in the household of Sarah and her second husband, Willis Kirkland, showing that if he was the son of Joel he had indeed survived and would be the lawful heir. Unfortunately for us there is nothing in the chancery case to show whether or not Benjamin R. Harris was mistaken in his listing of heirs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Live By The Sword... or gun

The newspaper headline was tantalizing - "Twists of Fate. Man Slew Ex-husband First Wife; Slain Himself" and the article didn't disappoint, but it left me confused.
Birmingham, Ala. Jan. 21. (UP) -
The first time Charlie C. Graham, 45, married a divorcee, he killed her former husband.
He went to prison on a life sentence, but was paroled and married another divorcee.
Friday night the second husband killed Graham.
Eleven years ago Graham walked up to the automobile in which Glenn Harless was seated and shot Harless after an argument.
Friday night Graham walked up to the automobile where J.B. Rylant, 45, was seated, got into an argument, and Rylant killed him. They had been friends since boyhood.
Coroner __ M. Evans reconstructed the shooting today, and ordered Rylant held under $2,500 bond in a murder charge.
I was unsure who had married whom and when. All I really knew was that Charlie seemed to argue a lot and he was killed in circumstances very similar to those in which he had killed Glenn Harless. This is what I found out.

The murdered Glenn Harless was, in fact, Glen George Harless, son of Benjamin Franklin Harless and Sarah Fannie Leonard. Glen was born in Calera, Shelby County, Alabama on 28 November 1890. On 13 June 1915, he married Cory May Smith, it would prove to be his undoing. The marriage lasted until at least 1920, but on 31 May 1928, Cora married Charles Crisp Graham in Blount County, Alabama. Her name is given in the record as Miss Cora May Harliss, but the newspaper article calls her a divorcee. I wonder if Charles was aware of this prior to the marriage, but he certainly knew it afterwards. Just five months after the marriage, Charles Crisp Graham shot and killed Glenn George Harless. Charles was sentenced to a life term and he can be found in the 1930 Census in Kilby Prison. I do not know when he was released.

In 1934 Cora and Charles were divorced and on 23 December 1938 Charles married Bessie L. Haley in Anniston, Calhoun County, Alabama. Bessie had been married twice previously. Her latest marriage, to J. B. Rylant had ended in divorce in 1938.

On 20 January 1939, Rylant killed Charles Crisp Graham in Birmingham, Alabama.

I do not know what happened to Cora or Bessie, or even Rylant, but Glen George Harless did not appear to have had any children with Cora.