Murder in Marble Hill 1879

Perhaps I could have picked a better title for this particular blog post. Technically when L.B. James killed Charles Whitworth it was murder but it was murder in self-defense.

It seems that Mr. Whitworth had drifted into town a few days earlier, stayed drunk and was harassing citizens. In short I get the impression he was a bully.

But as the July 18, 1879 Poplar Bluff Citizen reported, at the time Whitworth drifted into town there was no officer of the law present, so L.B. James was deputized to arrest Whitworth.

What makes this story unique is that the weapon Whitworth was using to terrorize the citizens with was a cane that also served as a gun.

By all accounts of the article the newly deputized James seemed to be a peaceful man and a local business owner.

When word got out that James had been deputized, Whitworth made it his mission to find him.

L.B. James was sitting in front of his store when Whitworth approached him. James informed Whitworth that he didn’t want any trouble and that he had recently suffered enough trouble at home (the Poplar Bluff Citizen suspected that the trouble James was referring to was the loss of one child, and the near death of another).

James walked away and went into the store and Whitworth followed him. He struck James with what the paper described as “the small end of the stick”. Whitworth was in the process of turning “the loaded end” of the cane towards James at which time L.B. James fired several shots into Whitworth killing him.

Whitworth picked the wrong man to harass on the wrong day which makes me wonder if I should have entitled this article “Suicide in Marble Hill.”

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2 thoughts on “Murder in Marble Hill 1879

  1. This is a neat look at history…but you have the part about the loaded cane incorrect. A loaded cane wasn’t also a gun, it was a regular cane that had a weighted end, usually made of lead.


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