APPENDIX D - TESTIMONY OF KEY WITNESSES
The following transcription is of the testimony of key witnesses in the 5th Circuit Court Case The State vs. Joseph Braswell alias Jo Braswell and George A. Braswell alias Teek Brassell and W. B. Bates alias Dol Bates.A copy of this manuscript can be obtained from the Tennessee State Library and Archives Manuscript Room (the case is approximately 150 pages long).
A complete transcription can be found in the book The Brassell Hangings of Putnam County Tennesseeby Donald E. Spurlock, available at the Putnam County Library and Tennessee State Library and Archives
Spelling and punctuation is as in the original document except that paragraphs are introduced for readability.
Evidence of Mrs. Isbell: Deposed that She was formerly the wife of Joseph Allison deceased & lives nine miles west of Cookeville on the Nashville Road - On the night of 29th November 1875. Some persons came to her house and killed Russell Allison (her Step Son).
Amanda Pippin was at my house that night.
Some time in the night I thought I heard some persons walking out side of the house - presently some person called for me two or three times. I heard them walking in the Hall before they called. They called for me 2 or 3 times. I asked who it was, or who are you. The one that spoke said it was Mansfield Howell & three other men By God. I told him Mansfield Howell did not swear. He said they wanted supper. Russell Allison was sleeping up stairs over my room. He hollowed down and said don't be frightened it was Teek & Jo Braswell or that it is the Braswell boys. I told him that he'd have to come down and let them in. Russell then came down and opened the door. Before he opened the door he lighted a candle & set it on the table. When he opened the door the men came in and one of them took hold of Russell & they scuffled. they went back across the house toward the door that went into the dining room. The man that had hold of Russell was Teek Braswell. When he took hold of Russell, Russell said don't do that Teek. As they went back across the house, I saw Russel's hand go up and a pistol fired, A ball went through the ceiling. I saw where it had went - Several shots were then fired. I raised up in the bed & screamed & hollowed. Russell & Teek were clinched when the first Pistol fired. When I raised up, Jo Braswell was near the foot of my bed. He had a pistol presented at me. I fell back in the bed & jerked the cover over my head. Heard a pistol fire.
Next morning a bullet (the one here presented) fell out of my bed clothes. One of the quilts which was padded with cotton had a bullet hole through it. The blanket had a hole through it (Here shown in the corner of the blanket). After some firing, I don't know how many shots Russell ran into the dining room. As he went through the door Joseph Braswell fired at him. He returned in a little time. As he came in the Braswells went out, and a pistol or two fired out of doors. As he came in from the dining room, he said "Angie, I'm shot & Teek & Jo Braswell are the ones that shot me," The other two men were strangers to me. They were right about the door. He showed me where he was shot -- was shot in the bowels. He died from the wound, about 36 hours afterwards. The ball went in about the hip & came out in the Bowels. It was Putnam County that he was shot & died & was shot on the night of 29 November 1875 or morning of 30th November 1875 -- was not far from midnight. I looked at the clock after they were gone and it was not one o'clock.
When Russell came in the door and told me he was shot, he said he was hurting. Defendants could have heard it. They were right about the door. They went out easy. Don't know whether they ran off or not. I think they shot 3 times after they went out. One ball struck floor and glanced up or seemed to have done so from the sign. I know it was Jo & Teek Braswell there that night.
They were disguised some way, their faces were not naked. They had on some sort of disguise. Don't know if whether it was blacking or not. Their clothes looked whitish to me. Their faces looked dark. I was alarmed when Russell was shot. I was well acquainted with Joseph & George A. called Teek Braswell. It was them. I know their voices. My former husband was Joseph Allison. I am the Step-mother of the deceased. My present husband is James Isbell. He is the father of W. J. Isbell, who was Revenue Collector of Putnam County at the time Russell Allison was killed. He frequently stopped an stayed all night at our house in passing. The Braswells had been living in our neighborhood 5 or 6 years.
On Cross Examination witness stated the ball that struck in the floor glanced up and went in the ceiling about a yard from the plate. It first struck the lower floor next to the road. Russel came out of the dining room before the firing in the yard. Siad I am shot. SAid it was Teek & Jo Braswell. Defendants could have heard him say this.
Re-Examination by the State
Our house is a double house. The door of the room Russ was killed in is next to the Hall. Another door went back into the dining room where Jo Allison slept that night. The bed in which I and Manda Pippin were sleeping was to the right of the door & the door open back against foot of the bed. I only saw three men. Jo & Teek Braswell . The other I did not know. I could see in the door from the bed, because the sutter came back against the foot of my bed. Miss Amanda Pippin was sleeping in the same bed with me that night. She was behind on the bed. The bullet here shown somewhat mashed. I think is the bullet that killed Russel Allison. It was picked up just inside the dining room door.
The witness said she screamed and hollowed all the time but was not so excited that she did not know what was going on. Amanda Pippin screamed all the time and for an hour after they were gone. Witness said that she believed one of the men was Jo Braswell from his size, shape and appearance.
Evidence of Dobson Johnson
Dobson Johnson deposed that he lives in Dekalb County in the 11th District about two miles from Doll Bates. That he came up to Braswells in Putnam County with Doll Bates on the 29th November 1875 -- Came by the way of Mosses Ferry and the house of James Isbell. We got to James Braswell's a while after dark where he and Bates got supper. They met Jo Braswell before they got to James Braswell's between sundown and dark. Joe Braswell and Bates went off about twenty steps and had long talk. Joe Braswell then told them to go on to Jim Braswells and he would go down to the Still house and get Teek Braswell and something to drink - Joe Braswell and Teek Braswell came a little while after night to James Braswells. They had a lantern that Teek brought from the still house.
Some after their arrival, Bates, Jim Braswell, Teek Braswell, and Joe Braswell and himself went out and sat down on a log and the Braswell said they knew where there was four thousand dollars. Six hundred of it in the clock -- he told them to put it off. James Braswell said he thought the money was there that they were looking for the tax collector at Allison's that night. Bates said that it must be done now as he could not come back any more -- and they agreed to go. James Braswell said that he would go back to the house if he stayed away long his wife would mistrust something - They then started from the log. Jim went back to the house. They went a path about one fourth of a mile and struck a large road. Jo Braswell, Teek Braswell, Bates and himself were along. These defendants are the Jo Braswell and Teek Braswell that were along. We got to the corner of the field and Jo & Teek said they had to go by their Father's for some blacking to put on their faces. Bates and he waited until Jo & Teek came back -- they had some blacking and disguises or short coats. They spit in the blacking and rubbed it on their faces with their fingers - Bates helped black Teek some. Teek had two pistols, one large and one a small one or derringer. Joe had a large pistol. They waived their pistols and said they were bullies. They also done this when we first left Jim Braswell's. The short coats or disguises were red and opened in the front like a coat.
We struck the main big road two or three hundred yards before we got to Mrs. Isbell's. We went down to the house, the house is a double log house with a hall between the houses. Teek went into the yard in front and Jo Braswell and himself followed. Teek hollowed and said he wanted supper for four men from the railroad, he then heard some one answer in the house like the voice of a boy or some one crying or hollowing like they were alarmed & someone said not to be alarmed, it is only the Braswell boys. The boy opened the door. Jo & Teek went in with their pistols presented at him. Teek and the Allison boy got into a scuffle, the boy said Teek don't do so. The first pistol fired during the scuffle -- the boy got loose and went through the west door. Teek fired another shot as he went through the door -- Jo fired during the scuffle.
He witness was about a step from Teek, two or three shots were fired by Teek and one by Jo, don't remember of seeing them shoot toward the bed -- we then left and as we went out of the Hall Bates shot one shot, he said at a dog. As we went up the road a short distance from the house, Teek proposed to go back and kill the old lady and the rest of the family to keep them from being witnesses against them -- Bates and he (witness) had their coats turned wrong side out -- his coat was lined with white and the back & sleeves, and red on tail.
We went up towards the forks of the road. Before we got to the forks of the road we met a man driving an ox wagon with one of the steers white looking. Teek said he must have killed him the shot Russell went through the door. Jo said he shot one shot. -- They said they would not be arrested. When we got some piece down the road Jo & Teek said they was going to their fathers, he and Bates went on to Jim Braswell's and went to bed. got there about one o'clock in the night and stayed their all night or until early in the morning, when Jo & Teek came over and they went to the still house & stayed until 10 or 11 o'clock - Teek went to one of his brothers to get our breakfast. While we were at the still house, a man by the name of Gentry came in. There was a gun and some pistols at the still house. There was two loads out of Teek's pistol. I saw a large pistol there. Teek had it around him at the still house. Said he would not be arrested.
Bates & himself went home the same way they came. Teek & Jo proposed at the still house to go into the spurs of the mountain & rob passing people. I stood between Teek and Jo at Allisons. Saw two women in the bed -- they were screaming and hollowing. Can't say which way the door opened. Bates was at the Hall door.
I don't recollect that I have told any of the witnesses about it -- before I went before the grand jury but have since. There was no proposition made about dividing the spoils. Has been indicted for robbing a store in Smith County, which I did. Have been in thief tried to steal some hogs and knew about the stealing of Foutches bacon and agreed to help steal it. Have been accused of the Allison murder, but not until I had revealed it.
Teek and Jo carried the lantern to the corner of the field. I saw their pistols that night by the light of the lantern.
Don't recollect anything being said about Howell it might have been said.
I had no pistol. Teek was right at Russ as he fired the last shot.
I have had no promises of pardon from anyone. Bates and I had no blacking on because Teek & Jo said we were strangers and they would not know us.
I never did say that Bates was not along. I never told Dr. Campbell or Kersey so.
Teek & Jo were arrested about one month as I understad before I told about the murder of Russel Allison.
I stated on the trial that Scott & Farmer had bacon at the time, Fouches bacon was stolen and they did have bacon.
I have reformed & have told the truth before this court. The reason that Jo & Teek did not try & rob Allison's house was, they said that they were recognized.
Evidence of Amanda Pippin
Was at James Isbell when Russel Allison was killed. I lived there at that time. I was sleeping on the bed with Mrs. Isbell. Sleeping on the right hand of the door -- was sleeping behind -- was asleep when they first came, they called for supper for four men. I thought it was Teek Braswell that called -- I have seen him frequently & heard him talk frequently and know his voice. Russel hollowed down the stairs and said it was Teek Braswell - He came down, lit a candle, set it on a table, & opened the door. They came in near the middle of the floor. I thought they were playing until I saw their pistols. Teek had hold of Russell's arm, and he fired one time and I don't know who fired the other shots -- I was in bed. thought it was Teek from his voice. They were disguised. looked like their clothers were turned wrong side out & looked white. His face was not naked, and was covered with something or was not naked. I did not see but two, they were close together -- Teek fired first and the second man then fired. I was acquainted with Jo Braswell and that man was about the size of Jo but cant say it was him. I had my hands up to my face. I saw the ball hole in the corner of the blanket. Russell went into the dining room & then came back and said I am hurting and then looked and said back here I am shot. he then laid down. I was excited. The gate is not more than fifteen yards from the Hall. There was a hole in the Hall floor. looked like a shot. Allison's or Isbell house is on the Walton Road. I was there when he died. Mrs. Isbell was not crying. If they said anything about Rail Road hands I did not hear it. Their disguises were of a whitish look.
Evidence of Arch Bryant
Was living at Isbell's when Russel was killed, was sleeping up stairs with Russell -- had been asleep. They waked me hollowing. I took it to be Teek Braswell -- he was out on the walk. I thought I heard him say we want supper for four men She said boys you must get up. Russell said it was Teek Braswell. I did not come down until the shooting was over. I got out at the window and held with my hands. There was three shots fired in the house & three or fours shots out of doors. I saw them by the light of the pistols out side. Saw a bullet hole in the Hall floor the next day.
Russell was shot on Monday night. He told me the next morning that it would kill him. He said Teek shot him & said something about Jo -- I could not tell what he said -- It is between two and three hundred yards from the house to the Sparta Road. The father of Jo & Teek Braswell lives one & a half or two miles on the Sparta Road towards Sparta.
Evidence of Joseph Allison
Was a brother of Russell Allison who was shot on the night of 29th Nov 1875. I was sleeping in the dining room. I saw no one. They called & said they wanted supper for four men, Mansfield Howell & three others. Russell came down and opened the door. heard Teek say turn my pistol loose, another said, I think it was Jo, dam him I can make him turn it loose & a pistol fired. I met Russell at the dining room door, he came back into the house & said I am shot. Said he did not know that he was shot until he came back from the dining room. He said that he would die and afterwards he said Teek & Jo killed him -- Some body fired out in front of the Hall. Russell was well acquainted with the Braswells. had gone to school with them. lived near them. This occurred in Putnam County in Nov 1875 - I recognized Teek and Jo's voices when they said they wanted supper for four men. Witness went to school with Teek & Jo & they had been at their house often. lived 1 1/2 or two miles from them on the Sparta Road.
Evidence of W. J. Isbell
Is a son of James Isbell and often stayed at the house where the killing was done. Am the Trustee of Putnam County. Was Tax Collector of the county, and at the time of the killing, had large sums of money - Often passed through the Section - I frequently, came up through the Buffalo Valley Road.
Amanda Braswell for Defts Said: - I am Sister of Defendants. I was at home the night Russel Allison was killed. We lived a mile & a half from Allison's - The defendant Jo Braswell stayed at our house that night. We lived a mile & a half from James Braswell. I was not well that night. I was suffering with toothache or neuralgia and was up & down all night. Dr. Patton afterwards extracted the tooth. My father and mother and I and Jo Braswell stayed in the same room. There was one bed & a lounge in the room. Father and mother slept in the bed & I lay on the lounge, as I was often up & down during the night. Jo came in about two hours in the night. It was not under two hours nor over three hours in the night. He said he had gotten his feet wet, about the mill & wished to sleep with his feet to the fire. There were beds in the room. I did not go to bring in a bed for him, because I did not feel like it. He brought it in and laid it down and slept on it. I know he was there the ballance of the night. My father was tired & went to bed early & mother went to bed afterwards.
Upon cross examination. She said the night before this James Braswell and his wife Harriett Z. Braswell stayed there the night before. They all stayed there in the other room. Buck Braswell did not stay there so far as I recollect. Jo & Teek Braswell slept in one bed & James & his wife in the other. It was a cold clear night and star light. I could see it because there were no curtains to the windows. There was a large frost next morning. She knows he was there because she kept up a fire all night and put on wood often. There was no lamp or candle in the room.
Mary L. Braswell for the Defts. Says: I am the mother of Defendants. I remember well the night that Russel Allison was killed. Jo Braswell came to our house that night, not under two hours in the night & not over three hours in the night. He stayed there the balance of the night. My husband had been at work & was tired and went to bed early. I went to bed afterwards. My Daughter, Amanda, had the toothache, that night & was up & down all night and by being thus up kept me awake I feel sure that he stayed there the ballance of the night. Jo Braswell said he had gotten his feet wet about the mill & wished to lay on the floor with his feet to the fire. He brought a feather bed from the other room. I don't remember whether I took it back next morning.
It was a cold star light night. I could se this, because the windows had no curtins. There was a heavy frost next morning. Amanda had a lamp burning part of the night. There was a lamp there to burn petroleum in. Don't know how long the lamp burned that night. She thinks Buck Braswell stayed there on Sunday night because she head Jo & Teek requiring a consideration for his sleeping with them.
Samuel G. Braswell alias Buck Braswell for Defendants: Says - I know Dol Bates. I had see him once or twice before, the next morning after Russel Allison was killed, between James Braswells and the mill, near the Bradford house. I saw Dol Bates and a man who called himself Anderson. This man who called himself Anderson is Dobson Johnson. I did not know him at the time. They inquired the way to the Still house, and said they had been lost, and had been over on the Creek or had found themselves over on the creek near Edmons. This was in the morning I told them to go down the hollow and they could not miss the way. Jo & Teek ate supper the night before at William Braswells, Teek ate breakfast at William Braswell's next morning.
Harriett Z. Braswell, for Defendants. Said: I am the sister in law of Defendants. I married James Braswell, their brother three years ago the 3rd day of last March. I was at our home on the night of the night of the 29th Nov 1875, the night Russel Allison was killed, my husband had gone that evening to Noah Deerings and did not return till an hour and a half or two hours in the night. About an hour & a half in the night, Jo & Teek Braswell came to my house. Teek was drunk and Jo had been drinking. Jo did not stay longer than twenty five or thirty minutes and went off. Teek went to bed. He pulled off one boot and asked me to pull off the other for him, which I did. One hour & a half or two hours in the night my husband ame home and we retired for the night. About, eleven o'clock Teek groaned and my husband asked him if he was cold and got up and put covering on him. My babe which was then small was unwell, and kept me awake. It was afflicted with croup -- Witness was asked whether she was sure that Teek Braswell stayed there all night. She said she was, that he was there the next morning and could not have gone out without her knowledge. Between midnight and day, two men rode up to our house and wanted breakfast and their horses fed and said they wished to get off by day brake. My husband told them he had no stable and to turn their horses in the year, and they would be fed. They inquired if they could not hitch their horses over the back of the field and feed them there. My husband answered them and said, if you have horses which you wish concealed. I don't want you or your horses either, and they went off. She was asked here what the men said their names were, and upon objection of the State the witness was not allowed to answer to which Defendants excepted. The objection was with drawn and the witness stated that one said his name was Anderson and the other Bate.
The rest of the testimony for Harriet Brassell consists of questions concerning a conversation that happened at a dinner that a week after the murder.