Testimony of Mrs. Selina Wallis, 1883

Citation Information:  “Testimony of Mrs. Selina Wallis, 1883,” Senate Report No. 512, 48th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 69 ff.

[Mrs. Wallis was from Copiah County, Mississippi]

Question: You live in Copiah County, do you?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: You are the widow of Thomas Wallis?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Thomas Wallis was killed, was he?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: When?

Answer: Friday morning before the election.

Question: Friday morning before the last election?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Who killed him?

Answer: I don’t know.

Question: Tell the committee what you saw in regard to the matter.

Answer: The men came there to my gallery and hailed.

Question: How many men?

Answer: I don’t know, sir, how many there was.

Question: A dozen?

Answer: I think there was more than a dozen.

Question: Twenty?

Answer: I reckon; I couldn’t tell how many there was.

Question: Did they come on horseback?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Did they have guns?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: What time of the day was it?

Answer: It wasn’t in the day; it was in the night.

Question: What time in the night?

Answer: It must have been between one and two o’clock.

Question: You and your husband were in the house.

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: In bed?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Who else was in the house?

Answer: None but my baby and my other little son in that end of the house I was in.

Question: What did you first hear?

Answer: They hailed, and I heard them when they hailed.

Question: What did they do?

Answer: They called and told him to get up and open the door and kindle a light, and he was trying to kindle a light up and couldn’t kindle it up as quick as they wanted, and they told him to make haste; he told them to give him a little time, and they said “damn little time,” and they told him to open the door, and I told them the door wasn’t fastened, and they shoved it once, and it didn’t shove open because a chair was against it, and they shoved it again, and that time it flew wide open and knocked the chair from behind it, and two come in, and, as well as I could see, there was about five or six on the gallery; I couldn’t tell how many there was—me in the house and them out-of-doors.

Question: What did they do after they got in?

Answer: They asked Tom who he was, and he told them he was Wallis; they asked him which one of the Wallises, and he told them old man Wallis; they asked him what was his given name, and he told them Tom Wallis; then they told him he was the man that they was after; that they had a writ for him. But when they hailed, my other son asked them who it was, my son that was in the little back room, and he said it was the sheriff from Brookhaven; he said, “which Sheriff?” and he told him “Mr. Cummings from Brookhaven.” When Tommy told them he was Tom Wallis, they said he was the man they was after; he said, “All right, you are the very one I am after,” and Tom says, “All right”; and when they said they had a writ, one of them pulled a line out of his pocket and started to put it over his neck.

Question: A rope, you mean?

Answer: Yes, sir. When he went to put it over, he throwed up his hand and said, “Hold on, gentlemen,” and as soon as he said that, one of them shot him. Then they hollered to them that was outside to come in, and they came in from the gallery and pulled him out, and when they got him to the door, his axe was lying at the door, and he catched at the axe, and got hold of the handle.

Question: Who did, Thomas?

Answer: Yes, sir. And another one shot, and he shot sort of up inside of the house and it went through the ceiling of the house, and another one shot and it went up through the gallery and up in the top of the house, and another one shot right through the door and that went through his neck.

Question: It went through your arm and through his neck?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: And then he was dead?

Answer: Yes, sir; he fell right on my dress-tail behind.

Question: How long did they stay there?

Answer: They didn’t stay a minute after they shot him.

Question: Did they do anything more?

Answer: They just went and jumped right on their horses and went right off.

Question: Are there many colored people living around in that neighborhood?

Answer: Yes, sir; right smart.

Question: Did they threaten them?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: What did they do, take to the woods?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: How long did they stay away from their houses at night?

Answer: Two or three weeks.

Question: Do you know where they went to?

Answer: To the woods, most of them did.

Question: Where did you stay?

Answer: Sometimes in the woods and sometimes over to my sister’s house.

Question: How long was your arm sore?

Answer: It ain’t quite well yet.

Question: Which arm was it?

Answer: The left arm. I can’t do a thing with my arm now.

Question: How many children have you?

Answer: … I think I got nine.

Question: How many at home with you there?

Answer: I ain’t got but two.

Question: What did you do with them when you were sleeping out in the woods?

Answer: Carried them with me.

Question: What did you do with your wounded arm?

Answer: I carried it with me.

Question: Did you have anybody to take care of it?

Answer: No, sir; nobody but my baby.

Question: How many nights did you sleep out of the house?

Answer: Four weeks.

Question: Do you know whether they visited your house again?

Answer: They came the night before the election again. They didn’t go in the house that time; they came out in the road and shot all over the house, and all around, and went right on up the road.

Question: Firing their guns?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: How many times should you say they fired?

Answer: I don’t know; I couldn’t tell you that.

Question: Were they firing around there occasionally?

Answer: Yes, sir …

Question: Was your husband a Republican?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Did he take an interest in politics? Did he generally vote?

Answer: Yes, sir.