Old newspaper articles are always interesting to read, and the following crime information came from The Dayton Star dated October 5 and 12 of 1911. These two items were copied from those newspapers without any of the original paper showing. This was done by Bettye Broyles, our former County Historian. During that time, it seems that reporters did not just write the facts, but also wrote to influence others! I have included both articles exactly as they were copied from the newspaper.
McDonald and Wylie
Held for Murder
The Dayton Star,
October 5, 1911
Sheriff J.F. Parham arrested Dr. W.P. McDonald and T.H. Wylie and arraigned them before Squire M.S. Holloway Saturday for shooting Herbert Cain to death on Wednesday night. The preliminary trial was continued until Monday Oct. 8, and the defendants held under $5,000.00 bonds.
This is one of the most uncalled for murders that has ever clouded Rhea County and a strong sentiment for a thorough investigation has stirred the county from end to end. The law firms of Rhea & Locke and Miller & Swafford have been retained to prosecute the investigation.
That those charged with the crime stand high in society and are influential in politics and business should not and will not shield them. One man who goes with a deadly gun in his pocket ready to shoot down a defenseless victim is no better than another. The ignorant and vicious can never be made to respect and obey the laws so long as those of means and influence be permitted to escape penalty for crime.
Charley Nixon and Cleveland Eastland are now under penitentiary sentences for no worse murders than this.
If Rhea County fails to protect the lives of youths who come here from other places, how can our fathers and mothers hope for protection for their boys who are away from the paternal roof in other sections of America? This poor, helpless, defenseless boy for ought we know, was good, loving and dutiful to his heart broken mother as our boys who are out in the world among strangers.
Herbert Cain was buried at Spring City Monday. His blood cries aloud to the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the citizens of this good county for vengeance. Doubtless the great God is haunting his murderers day and night with the remorseful query put to Cain of old, “Where is thy brother?” “Where is Herbert Cain?” “His blood osieth to me from the ground.” (Note: osieth is not a word; ooze means to disappear gradually or flow out slowly.)
Ten Thousand Dollars Bond for McDonald and Wylie
The Dayton Star,
October 12, 1911
At the preliminary investigation of W.P. McDonald and T.H. Wylie at Spring City Monday, the defendants waived examination on the charge of killing Herbert Cain and were held to the grand jury under the bonds of $10,000.00. This puts the prosecution up to Attorney General Fairbanks and all who know him are assured that a full and thorough investigation will be had.
While Rhea County is wrought up over this indefensible outrage, nobody wants McDonald punished simply because he is McDonald, neither do they want him to escape investigation simply because he is McDonald; and the same applies to Wylie. Citizens of the county are determined that because the accused men stand high in a social, business and political way they shall not escape as thorough and impartial investigation as the most ignorant and degraded denizen of the county.
About Dr. McDonald. . . . . . .William Paine McDonald, son of Roland F. and Orpha J. (Paine) McDonald, was born near Dayton on September 22, 1868. He attended the University of Chattanooga and attained his medical degree around 1888 from the Louisville, Kentucky College of Medicine.
McDonald married Cora Earle Davidson of Tunnel Hill, Georgia on May 19, 1891; by 1900 the couple had four living children. Dr. McDonald practiced medicine and surgery in Spring City for over fifty years, retiring several years before his death on May 22, 1953. At the time of his death, Dr. McDonald was the oldest living past master of Rhea Springs Lodge 310, F& AM. He was also a member of the First Baptist Church of Spring City, where he had served as a deacon. McDonald was also a charter member of the Spring City Kiwanis Club, Mayor of Spring City, former member and chairman of the County Court, and Spring City recorder. His wife died on July 1, 1945; both are buried in the Spring City Cemetery.
These news articles were written one hundred and eight years ago about a crime, which is much like those of today. The newspaper writer seems to be hinting at gun control, just as some do now. However, these are the only articles I have found relating to this crime; therefore, the punishment for this offense is not known. It seems that the writer of these news articles was very excitable over this crime, and definitely had an opinion about it! Therefore, we must remember to study the past in order to live in the present and prepare for the future.
Pat Guffey can be reached at email@example.com