Tennessee State Library and Archive
Region: Middle
Range: 20
Section: H
Shelf: 4
Box Number: 56
Approximate Pages: 100+


On the 14 Sep 1887, J. S. Clifton was working in McGarr's Store in White County, TN. He was sitting by the window working on the books when W. S. Saylors walked into the store. They got into a verbal argument over some money that Saylors owed the store. When Clifton felt threatened by Saylors, he reached under the counter and grabbed an ax. Abe Saylors came between the men. After W. S. Saylors left the store, Clifton grabbed a paperweight and lobbed it at him hitting him in the shoulder. The next morning about 9-10am, Clifton was sorting mail when he spotted Saylors outside the store. Saylors threw a rock into the store knocking letters out of Clifton's hands. Saylors continued to throw rocks in the store at Clifton. When John Green, Saylor's son-in-law, came to the door of the store, Clifton threw rocks at him. Green entered the store and grabbed Clifton around the neck and a physical struggle ensued. Green drew a knife, and Clifton grabbed a pistol and shot Green in the mouth. The struggle continued until Jim Tollison entered the store and intervened.


Saylors, Clifton, Green, Baker Cope, Sims


McGarr's Store in White County, Tennessee


  • John Green and Garden Green are brothers.
  • John Green is the son-in-law of W. S. Saylors. He lived on the property of Saylors.
  • William Green is the father of John Green.


  • Lewis Baker lives on the land of W. S. Saylors. He belonged to Dr. Baker before the War.
  • Rena/Reva Baker is Lewis Baker’s wife.
  • Albert Baker is Lewis Baker’s son.
  • Albert Baker is the son of Lewis Baker.
  • Sam Baker is a brother to Lewis Baker. He belonged to Widow Baker before the war.
  • George Cope is Albert Baker’s uncle.
  • George Cope is the brother of Cela Sims.
  • Rena Baker is a sister to George Cope.
  • Cela Sims lives at Loss Lidas and makes it her home.
  • A. J. Sims belonged to A. J. Sims before the war.


  • J. S. Clifton lived in Atlanta, GA in 1879, but he lived in White County, TN in 1877.
  • Rose Lida (colored) is the wife of Lawson Lida. Lawson Lida was sick and could not come to court.




  • 14 Sep 1877 (Although 1879 is clearly the year, the clerk probably meant to write 1877): J. S. Clifton was sitting in the window at his desk writing in books at the store owned by Thomas McGan - styled in the name of McGan & Clifton - when Saylors entered the store and asked where that thiefing Tom McGan was. Clifton responded that Mr. McGan was down at his shelter and had never stolen anything from him. Saylors then asked if he remembered him [Saylors] paying McGan or Clifton a certain sum of money. Clifton said that he did not see it. Saylors began cursing and pulled out a $10 bill and offered to pay his account. Clifton refused to take it. W. S. Saylors began cursing again when Abe Saylors told him to talk easier. Clifton told him that a man who was not disposed to do right could say what he pleased. Saylors jumped up and said “if you say I have acted the rascal or wrong you are a God damned liar.” Clifton reached under the counter to get an ax handle when Abe Saylors got between them. Abe told Clifton to lay down the ax handle - which he did. Clifton went to the other side of the store to measure pepper for another customer when he spotted W. S. Saylors trying to throw a brick through the window. Clifton took a four ounce weight, stepped out on the platform and threw it at Saylors as he passed around the corner. W. S. Saylors stumbled and fell. Saylors then showed Clifton a bar of iron - which Clifton told him to drop. Clifton returned to his business when later warrants were issued.

    When the trial was over, W. S. Saylors continued to issue threats that he would have Clifton whipped or killed. When Clifton apologized for throwing the weight, Saylors responded “I would be a damned site sorrier by tomorrow night or some time the next day.”
  • 9-10 o’clock 15 Sep 1877: Clifton was sorting mail at McGan’s store when he heard yelling down the road near the blacksmith’s shop. W. S. Saylors and Mr. Pippin stopped in front of the store. Both were on horseback. Saylors had his arm in a sling. Mr. Pippin asked if Clifton had any corn to sell. After hearing the answer no, Saylors and Pippin started along their way. John Green came upon them and asked someone if he was not going to settle up with with these men. Saylors galloped up to the store window and screamed at Clifton “You want to throw another weight you Clifton - goddamn your soul!” And then he threw a rock which knocked the letters out of Clifton’s hand. He then threw another rock which knocked the windows shutters out of Clifton’s hand as he was trying to shut the window. Saylors continued to throw rocks in the store. John Green came to the door. Clifton threw a couple of rocks at him. John Green threw his right arm around Clifton’s neck and tried to trip him up. As the two men struggled, Clifton tried to explain. Green dragged him to a space between the counter and wall. Clifton saw Green attempt to remove a knife from his pocket and he shot Green in the corner of his mouth. He then shot Garden Green. Jim Tollison came in and the shooting ceased. John Green scream don’t shoot me anymore, you have already killed me. Garden Green cried don’t shoot any more, I believe that you have killed him. Jim Tollison laid John Green on the counter.

    Clifton went from the store to McGan’s residence. On his way, he passed W. S. Saylors who said don’t shoot me.

    When Clifton returned to the store, he saw John Green, Gardener Green and W. S. Saylors leaving the store. Simpson Saylors was at the front door holding a rock screaming “kill him John! Kill him! Kill the son of a bitch!”

    W. S. Saylors mounted his horse. He did not go far before he turned around and began throwing rocks at Clifton again.
  • 15 Sep 1877: W. S. Saylors & John Green assaulted and beat with sticks, stones and knives J. S. Clifton.
  • 4th Monday, Sep 1877: 5th Judicial Court held in Sparta, TN - Grand Jury Hearing. A True Bill of indictment was returned. Cause was continued to next term of Court.
  • 4th Monday, Jan 1878: Cause contined to the next term of court due to the absense of J. S. Clifton, an important witness for the State.
  • 4th Monday, Jun 1878: Cause continued to the next term of the Court.
  • 4th Monday, Oct 1878: Cause continued to the next term of the Court
  • 4th Monday, Feb 1879: Saylors and Green failed to show up for court. Therefore, they forfeited $500 bond.
  • 23 Jun 1879: 7th Judicial Court set the date for hearing 25 June 1879.
  • 25 Jun 1879: Hearing about their failure to appear at the October Proceeding. Each defendent was required to post $1000 bond to insure their personal appearance at court each day. If either failed to appear, the bond was forfeited.
  • 30 Jun 1879: Saylors and Green were arraigned upon indictment. Both plead Not Guilty
  • 01 Jul 1879: The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty. They are to be confined in the State Penteniary for a period of three years. Defendants attorneys moved for a new trial. Motion was continued for arguments.
  • 03 Jul 1879: Testimony in Affidavits was taken.


  • W. S. Saylors
  • John M. Green
  • L. D. Cunningham
  • J. K. Wamack
  • W. L. Wood
  • Lewis Baker
  • Cela Sims
  • A. J. Sims
  • G. H. Fraley
  • Sam England (colored)
  • H. L. Holmes
  • L. C. Sims
  • J. M. Baker
  • G. Baker
  • Richard D. Baker
  • S. F. Saylors
  • T. C. Saylors
  • Albert Baker
  • Sam Baker
  • Rena Baker
  • Wm Green
  • Gardener Green
  • John McCauley
  • James Quarles
  • John S. Rhea
  • G. H. Hutson
  • Anny/Amy McClauley
  • J. W. Lida
  • Rose Lida (colored)
  • D. T. Smith, Deputy Sheriff
  • H. C. Snodgrass
  • James Randles (colored)
  • Mary Baker
  • W. S. Saylors


  • J. S. Clifton, Prosecutor
  • James Tollison
  • Wm McCawley
  • C. Marchbanks, Attorney for Defendants
  • J. J. Williams, Judge
  • Grand Jurors (* indicates those men selected to serve)
    • *Vance Carrick, Grand Juror
    • *A. O. Jett
    • *John Herd
    • S. M. Parker, Juror
    • Samuel Willson
    • *N. W. Story
    • *M. M. Goddard
    • Seth Right
    • *J. P. Anderson
    • Thomas Winston
    • *W. M. Anderson
    • J. K. Fancher
    • Benj Humphrees
    • *W. L. Hitchcock
    • *W. A. Dove
    • *Manly Sorell
    • *Alex Jarvis
    • Thomas Shugate
    • *C. B. Crook
    • Emery Pennington
    • David Officer
    • *Richard Maudlin, Foreman of the Grand Jury
    • A. Townsend
    • James Hill
    • Elijah Randolph
  • J. H. Holman, Attorney General
  • J. S. Clifton - Witness for the State at the Grand Jury
  • Mary Baker - Witness for the State at the Grand Jury
  • James Tollison - Witness for the State at the Grand Jury
  • Lewis Baker - Witness for the State at the Grand Jury
  • George Saylors - Witness for the State at the Grand Jury
  • Thomas McCann - Witness for the State at the Grand Jury
  • M. C. Dibrell, Court Clerk
  • James Quarles - Security for Saylors & Green
  • C. D. Gracy - Security for Saylors & Green
  • Robert Cantrell, Judge of the 7th Circuit Court
  • E. Brock, security for W. S. Saylors and John GreenT. B. Biles, security for W. S. Saylors and John Green
  • Elijah Randolph, Constable of White County
  • Abe Saylors
  • Mr. Pippin
  • Thomas “Tom” McGan
  • Garden Green
  • John Green
  • Jim Tollison
  • Loss Lydia alias Lawson Lidas
  • George Cope (colored)
  • James Randles
  • Bill Fraley (colored)
  • Sam England (colored)
  • Albert Fisk
  • Henry McCauley
  • John McCauley
  • John Glenn
  • R. F. Pippin
  • C. Marchbanks, Power of Attorney for R. F. Pippin
  • W. J. Farris
  • W. G. Davis, Security for John Green and W. S. Saylors
  • C. Marchbanks, Security for John Green and W. S. Saylors


  • H. C. Snodgrass, attorney
  • A. Saylors, justice
  • Jas Hitchcock, Constable
  • Jas Hickey
  • States Witnesses: James Tollison, Geo Saylors, Sam Baker, Lewis Baker, A Saylors, Sandy Hickey, Bart Mannus,
  • G. M. Hill
  • D. L. Smith
  • J. Winston
  • E. N. Green
  • J. W. Carr
  • Riley Green
  • P. Cody
  • S. Walker
  • Thos McGan
  • Bart Mannus
  • Joseph W. Glenn
  • A. Martin
  • Sam Baker
  • Lewis Baer
  • John McCauley
  • Wm McCauley
  • D. Hutson
  • J. H. Mitchell
  • Melvin Bussell
  • W. H. Gracey
  • W. D. Millsap
  • W. L. Hitchcock
  • Thos. Smith
  • G. W. Saylors
  • J. F. Clifton
  • P. A. Hennessee
  • T. Brown
  • Geo Cope
  • America McGarr
  • A. P. Irwin
  • W. M. Dinges
  • C. H. Vickers
  • Martha Vickers
  • Lou Vickers
  • Tap Baker [??]
  • Geo Hutson
  • J. K. Wammack
  • M. B. Bussell
  • Defense Witnesses: R. F. Pippin, Gardener Green, Wm Green, Rena Baker, Sam Baker, Abner Baker, S. F. Saylors, T. C. Saylors, John McCauley, J. M. Baker, Good Baker, R. D. Baker, G. H. Hutson, Ann McCauley, J. V. Lyda, Rose Lyda, L. D. Cunningham, Lewis Baker, Cela Sims, A. J. Sims, G. D. Fraley and S. England
    Dibrell, Clerk