April 13, 1916
Circuit court and the school election made things lively in Marlinton last week. Edray district decided by an overwhelming vote to take a small portion of its wealth and build a high school at the county seat. This was a wise decision. The money will be expended for a permanent improvement and it is not money that is to be spent in living expenses. It is a great difference in a man spending his savings for a house instead of eating them up. Just so it is with the investment of public money.
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Well, we have the real thing at last. Col. Roosevelt is the candidate of the hour for nomination at the Chicago conventions and considering the fact that some four million voters who supported him in 1912, went back into the republican party, it is hard to see why he could not be considered the logical candidate. He has played his cards with consummate skill. He undoubtedly demonstrated in 1912 that more than half his party wanted him nominated. He cost the republican party the election that year in order to make his argument clear. When he got through, the fact was apparent that his diagnosis was right, but the party was beaten. He has got the party to about the point that he can say: “They will either have to take me or have trouble.”
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The story comes to us from Dallas, Texas, that a head of a department in the public service was asked by a young man for an advance in salary. He was told that he did not deserve an advance because he had not done any work at all during the year. He proceeded then to prove his assertion. We are not told whether he convinced the applicant. The figures seem logical at first glance, or until you begin to dig for the flaws. Can you find them? His argument runs: Each year has 365 days. You sleep eight hours each day, which equals 122 days. This leaves 243 days. You rest eight hours each day, which equals 122 days. This leaves 121. There are 52 Sundays that you do not work, or 52 days. This leaves 69 days. You have one half day off each Saturday, or 26 days. This leaves 43 days. You have one and a half hours each day for lunch, or 28 days. You get two weeks’ vacation each year, or 14 days. This leaves one day, and this being the Fourth of July, we close on that day, so you’ve done no work at all.
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At this court, the law and evidence warranting it, a jury found for the railroad in the case of a cow that had been killed on the track. The railroad attorney got a similar verdict at the last court and it is pathetic to see how much confidence he has in his fellow man. He is more than willing to trust his quarrel to a Pocahontas jury. It has almost restored his confidence in human nature. Much can be done with a railroad attorney if caught young.
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The courthouse has not been as crowded in ten years as it was last week at the trial of Norman Wilfong for the killing of his neighbor, Kenny Elliott. We did not know that there were as many people in the county that we did not know. All of Buffalo Mountain must have been there. Two men going about their usual avocations met on a steep mountain path, and renewed a quarrel that had been breeding for some time. Elliott was a strong, peaceable man, and Wilfong was a weak man with an ungovernable temper. He had a shot gun loaded with small shot. Wilfong shot Elliott there in the lonely woods and whatever may be the whole truth about the matter, it is apparent that within a minute after the killing Wilfong had what they call remorse, and has been truly penitent ever since. The last words that Kenny Elliott was heard to say by a disinterested witness was just as he left a friend to start on his last lonely walk and they were uttered in a jocular manner: “I may run up against Norman, and I reckon he will lick me.” Within twenty minutes after that, the fatal meeting had taken place.
Wilfong is about as ordinary looking a man as you would meet in a day’s journey. He has been a powerful hard worker and has come up from a laborer to own a couple of good farms. But his real jewels consist of a good wife and a large family of bright nice looking children ranging in ages from three years up to maturity. People who had seen this homely looking little man around the courthouse since the law had gathered him up, were perfectly astonished to see such a fine family appear at court to undergo the ordeal of a trial with him. Wilfong had two splendid jury lawyers in Messrs. N. C. McNeil and F. R. Hill, but we think that his bulwark of strength was in his devoted wife and his interesting children.
A special prosecuting lawyer appeared in Hon. Ben Hiner, the leading lawyer of Pendleton county. He is a famous orator, whose resistless eloquence wielded at will, shook the courthouse and fulminated over the jury box. We are rather inclined to the opinion that as men read more that they become impervious to loud and vehement expression, weighing the words rather than the manner in which they are delivered. Anyway, though the visiting lawyer volleyed and thundered, it had no appreciable effect further than to dissolve the prisoner’s family into tears. by the time the great speech had ended, we do not think that we ever saw a more miserable looking set of young folks, with tears caked and dried on their faces.The great orator was answered. “Tears! the awful language, eloquent of infinite affection.”
The jury went out and after a time returned into court with a verdict os involuntary manslaughter which carries with it a jail sentence, and the defendant had escaped the gallows and the pen. The presiding judge’s trained mind was startled t the verdict, because the elements that go to make up that degree of homicide were singularly absent from the case. Killing in sudden passion may constitute the crime of voluntary manslaughter, but involuntary manslaughter is practically confined to killing as the result of criminal carelessness, or as an incident in the commission of some wrongful act. But there is another provision that may sustain the members of the jury in after years when they have a clearer vision. It is the seventh section of another code: “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.”
A good deal of time was taken up one day in hearing a case Mrs. Alex McChesney against Mr. Alex McChesney for non-support… It appeared that the defendant owned a country estate, a sawmill and an automobile. Also that a divorce proceeding was pending between the parties. The court heard a good deal of the evidence on both sides, and taking the view of the matter that all questions of support and alimony would come up in the divorce case, as well as the custody of the five children, he stopped the case, and following a rule of making peace whenever possible in marital troubles, he took the parties into an ante-chamber to see if a truce could be patched up. One of the witnesses said later: “The Judge married them again and turned them loose. Anyway the jury trial was stopped and if the case goes on it will be in the divorce proceedings. In this case there was much evidence both as to the high cost of living and the cost of high living.
WILLIAM J. SMITH
William James Smith was born December 25 1883; died March 28, 1916, aged 33 years, three months and three days. He united with the Methodist Episcopal church at Edray May 16, 1909, where he attended all services punctually as long as his health permitted. Since the death of his mother and sisters, he lived alone, doing his work in the house and out with one hand until about a year ago, his health failed and he has since lived with J. W. Jackson, who attended to his every want like a father to the end.
His remains were laid to rest in the Moore burying ground.