A Shocking Killough Incident
This incident was written up in the CABARRUS COUNTY HERITAGE NORTH CAROLINA 1998 by a Killough descendant, Larry Washam, of Hudson, New Hampshire.
Willis Washam, born in Mecklenburg Co., 1800, and an early resident of Cabarrus County, followed a path from North Carolina through Tennessee to rural Missouri. The Missouri Ozarks attracted the east to west pioneers, where land was cheaper and similar to the eastern uplands. Willis' life as a poor farmer was one that would end in the tragedy of a wild west hanging. . . . . Willis moved near Forsyth, Taney Co., Missouri, where Margaret accused him of killing their fourteen year old son, June 27, 1854, in nearby Bee Creek. Quickly, Willis was arrested and imprisoned at Forsyth and only one week later in Taney Circuit Court, was indicted for murder. After a change of venue to Greene County, 90 miles away, the jury found Willis guilty, July 21, of murder in the first degree for "willfully premeditatably and deliberately killing Anderson." All motions for postponement were overruled and Willis was hanged August 25, 1854. An immense crowd saw the northeastern Springfield execution at "gallows near the elm tree on which a Negro ravisher was hanged." Willis made a short speech, denying his guilt: "My old woman has sworn my life away but I am ready to die. I never done it though, boys, I never done it." Sheriff Samuel Fulbright, elected sheriff of only a few days, was the executioner. After his execution, Margaret lived in Swan, Missouri, 1860 and Linden, MO, in 1870. Newspapers reported that Margaret, on her death bed, confessed to drowning her son, tying a stone to his neck and sinking the body in Bee Creek. She had born nine children from the time she was 21 to 40 years of age. Anderson was her last child.