Edward M. Tart

- September 19, 1914

Article copied from the “Horry Herald” newspaper, Conway SC, Thursday, September 24, 1914


A serious shooting affray took place at Aynor last Saturday evening late in the day. It is stated that Ed. Tart was reported to Hub Johnson, the town marshal, as being drunk and disorderly. An attempt to take him was resisted. A little later it appears that Pearson Speers (sic) was pressed in by the authorities to assist the marshal in making the arrest. The difficulty in which Ed. Tart got the shot from a fire arm in the hands of Pearson Speers (sic), took place while Hub Johnson and Speers (sic) were trying to put him under arrest and it is said this occurred somewhat out of the main business section of the town.

In the scuffle Pearson Speers got cut in the arm by a knife in the hands of Tart. His suspender was cut in two as a result of another swipe made at his person but which fortunately did not penetrate deeper than the elastic in the suspender. Finally Speers shot Tart who had hold of Hub Johnson, the Marshall. The ball entered the forehead of Tart and ranged backward and upward, and it was taken out by a physician who was summoned to go to Tart from Conway. It was uncertain whether Tart will live or not. A quantity of brain came out at the ugly hole made by the bullet. The bullet did not penetrate deeply into the brain, but made a rather gancing (sic) blow upward through the front of the head.

The marshall and Pearson Speers were arrested by the deputy sheriff, D. C. Johnson and were lodged in jail here on Sunday morning. On last Monday, it was reported that while at first it was not thought that Ed. Tart could possibly live, he later appeared to be getting along much better and he was likely to recover.


Edward M. Tart, who was shot at Aynor in this County about 8 o’clock on Saturday night, September 19th, contrary to the expectations held out at first by his physicians, died on Wednesday of last week from the effects of the wound in the head. Hub Johnson, the Town Marshall of Aynor, and Pearson F. Speers, the latter it was said having been pressed in to assist the Marshall, were both placed in Jail on Sunday following the killing and on the same day made bail in the sum of $1,000.00 each, the charge against them at that time being assault and battery with intent to kill. Later, on Tuesday of last week, when hope of Tart’s living was given up, they were re-arrested by D. C. Johnson, Deputy Sheriff, and placed again in jail. Sometime during the night of the day on which Tart died, Coroner V. D. Johnson was notified to hold an inquest and the Coroner went with Sheriff J. A. Lewis to Aynor last Thursday morning where the inquest was held, the Jury returning a verdict that Edward rM. (sic) Tart came to his death from a pistol shot at the hands of Pearson F. Speers, Hub Johnson being an accessory thereto.

On the night preceding the holding of the inquest, Coy McKenzie had been arrested and placed in jail, it is supposed as an accessory, but when the Coroner’s Jury failed to implicate McKenzie in the killing, it is stated that he was released by the Sheriff. The inquest was held by the Coroner in the open lot near the store of J. T. Shelly, in the presence of a large crowd of people who gathered to hear the proceedings; most of those there seemed to be shocked by the terrible occurrence. No expressions were heard by any of these people either for or against the parties charged with the crime. There seemed to be some impression among the people that Edward Tart had probably used profane language while on the streets that day and that there had been some previous ill feeling between Johnson or Speers and the deceased, and it was known that the only ground upon which the Town Marshal had to put Tart under arrest was a mere charge of disorderly conduct. It also appears that Tart in company with his brother and his father had started for home and were on their way out of town when they were halted by the Marshall by the side of the road.

The story of the sad affair may be found in the following report of the witnesses sworn by the Coroner and the substance of what they said:
J. R. Crawford, sworn, said: Heard the report of the pistol and went down there, went from Powell’s store to place where it occurred. Found Hub Johnson standing in the road, Ed Tart lying in the edge of the road, Coy McKenzie and Pearson Speers were on the other side kicking in sawdust, hunting a pistol they said. Hub Johnson said to me Ed Tart was shot down, that Pearson Speers was the man who did it. Pearson asked if I had any matches. I handed him some matches and struck one myself and looked at him. There were no cuts on his shirt. No sign of Pearson Speers’ clothes. They were not torn. Pearson did not deny it when Hub Johnson said he did the shooting. Saw Speers five minutes later at a different place. He walked up to me and said: “Ain’t I in a fix?” His shirt was cut, his necktie cut in two and left suspender was cut in two. None of these was done when I saw him first at place where Tart was shot.

Preston Tart sworn said: Am first cousin of Ed Tart. Shooting occurred on September 19th, about 8 o’clock at Aynor. I was ten or fifteen feet away and heard pistol fire. I was standing near Powell’s store with Coy McKenzie and another man. Lonnie Roberts came up and said that Hub Johnson said for Coy McKenzie to go down there. Coy broke and ran in that direction. Me and the other man walked on down there. When in ten or fifteen feet of place I saw flash of pistol. Hub Johnson had hold of Ed Tart’s hand. Just before the pistol fired I heard Hub Johnson tell Pearson Speers to shoot him, then Speers shot and I saw flash of fire. Ed Tart was lying with head in the edge of bushes. Coy McKenzie and Pearson Speers were standing just on the other side of Tart. Hub Johnson was standing on the side near the feet of Tart. Pearson Speers was stooping down over Tart as I struck a match to see, did not see anything cut about Speers’ clothes. Jasper Tart was leaning down to see if he was dead, I think. Before shot was fired I heard Hub Johnson call Ed Tart out of buggy, saying Ed would have to give bond before he left town that night.

Dr. W. E. King, sworn said: Came for me about 8:15, said Tart was shot. They were bringing him across road into light. Saw he was shot in head, ball went in just above the corner of the right, eyebrow was powder burned, brains were coming out and blood. After getting into house found that left side of the head was splintered or crused (sic) about the size of a silver dollar. Ball ranged upward, backward and to the left. Wound caused his death on September 23rd. I and Dr. J. S. Dusenbury took ball out about noon on last Sunday. (Ball produced by witness and delivered to Coroner.) Skull was crushed from the inside by the ball.

C. F. Powell, sworn, said: Heard pistol fire between 75 and 100 steps in the road from shooting. Going home with Mr. C. K. Gerrald down to my place, his horse trotting. We locked buggies with Mr. Gore just before this, I heard gun, we broke the single-tree and stopped. We passed place where shooting took place before it took place. There was a buggy there and a man in the road we liked to run over. Heard no loud talking, no disorder of any kind. Fixed single-tree, we went few steps and John Tart ran up behind us and said stop. Said Hub Johnson had shot his son Ed. I got out and talked with Mr. Tart. Gerrald went back to place. Mr. Tart said give me a pistol, I had none, said he would get a gun from Mr. Floyd. I told him he had no use for gun then, and Tart went on with me and he came back down to the place.

C. K. Gerrald, sworn, said: I started home with C. F. Powell. We passed those men, looked like several men standing in road, did not notice buggy. Did not see any disorder or hear loud talk. Drove on and few yards beyond heard pistol fire. John Tart came up and said Ed was shot and wanted me to go and see. He asked me for gun, but I had none, and advised him he did not need one. When I got there they were carrying him up to the restaurant. Don’t know whether pistol fired before or after collision with Mr. Gore. When I had seen Tart laid down, I went back to place of shooting, saw Speers and Coy McKenzie with lantern. I asked them who shot Ed Tart. Said Pearson Speers shot him. Asked Spears what he shot him for, he said you see how my clothes are cut up. His tie was cut in two, pocket cut nearly in two. Saw no weapons around there. I saw the clothes after a time and not just after. It was over five minutes after that I saw rents in clothing of Speers.

W. R. Singleton, sworn, said: I was in Powell’s store and heard the report of the gun and I stepped out on the street, went down there. Hub Johnson was standing on this side of Ed Tart, Pearson Speers was on other side next his head. Coy McKenzie was standing off to one side. Pearson Speers asked J. R. Crawford for a match. Ed Tart was trying to crawl in bushes. Speers looked like trying to hold him out of the bushes. Speers struck match and stooped down. Speers shirt at this time was not cut, if it had been I would have seen it. It was fifteen minutes after that I saw him up the street and saw shirt cut. Piece of tie was cut and he took piece of tie out of his pocket or had it in his hand. Did not see that he was cut anywhere except his clothes. W. L. Roberts, sworn, said: I was with Hub Johnson on the street. This buggy was stopped beyond the stalls when shooting was done. They were John Tart and two sons, Ed and Jasper. Mr. Tart lost some meal, or said so. The two boys told him it was in the buggy. Mr. John Tart cursed an oath or two. Hub Johnson told me to get Coy McKenzie. I got him and he ran, as I went up. I heard Hub Johnson tell John Tart not to come on him, he had done made his threats. About that time I heard the gun fire off. Did not see who shot. Heard Coy McKenzie say: “Listen to me, boys.” Half an hour after that I heard Speers say he had done the shooting. Could not tell Ed Tart had hold of Speers or not. Hub Johnson was close enough he could have had hold of Ed Tart. I saw no violence at all except shooting.

J. C. Tart, sworn, said: We had got things at store and did not know if all were in buggy, we stopped to see, me and Eddie, as we were about to get into buggy. We started on, while we were stopped, Coy McKenzie passed along in a run on up the road ahead of us. We went on for fifteen or twenty steps, we were stopped by Hub Johnson saying ‘Halt.” We stopped. Hub said to us, I want you to give bond for your misconduct in town today. Ed Tart said if I have done anything Hubbie disorderly, I’ll pay for it. Hub said by G---, you’ll give bond before you leave here tonight. When he cursed that way, Ed got out and walked toward Johnson extending his hand, saying if he had done anything, he’ll pay for it. Hub took his hand, when Hub took his hand Pearson Speers knocked Ed in the face with his pistol. Hub said, ‘Shoot him.” Then Jasper got out on the side where Ed was shot. He shot when Hub said to shoot. After Jasper got out, I got out on the off side from all of them. All three of them, Hub, Pearson and Coy, were standing together. Soon as pistol fired and Ed fell, Coy got down over him. I ran till I caught up and found C. K. Gerrald and C. F. Powell. I saw Pearson Speers shoot Ed, and I heard Hub tell him to shoot him. Pistol was about a foot from Ed’s head when fired.

The remains of the deceased were taken from the inquest to the place of burial.

Article copied from the “Horry Herald” newspaper, Conway SC, September 1914:

NOTICE OF SALE Under and by virtue of the decree and judgment of the court made by His Honor J. W. DeVore, Presiding Judge, in the case of George J. Holliday, Plaintiff (sic), vs. O. E. Johnson and Martha Johnson, Defendants, and dated the 4th day of November A. D. 1914, I, the undersigned J. A. Lewis, Sheriff of Horry County, will sell at public auction to the highest bidder before the Court House door at Conway, in Horry County, and State of South Carolina, during the legal hours of sale, on salesday in December next, it being the 7th day of said month, all and singular those certain lands situate in Horry County, and described as follows, to-wit:

All and singular (5-6) five-sixths interest in one certain plantation containing One Hundred and Fifty acres, known as the residence place of I, the said O. E. Johnson, said plantation is in Horry County, Galivants Ferry Township, and State of South Carolina. – Bouded (sic) as follows: North by lands of Lewis Cannon land, East by estate lands of J. I. Johnson, West by lands of Peter Calder and South by lands of Geo. J. Holliday, or the M. L. F. Johnson place, said land was conveyed to me, O. E. Johnson, by A. T. Johnson, Dec. 7th, 1891. Reference to a plat of same will more fully show. Terms of Sale CASH. Purchaser to pay for papers.

J. A. Lewis, Sheriff Horry County
H. H. Woodward, Plaintiff’s Attorney

Contributed by Beverly Cole.

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