Floyd Allen (1 Viewer)


Floyd Allen

Hillsville massacre

Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Courthouse shootout - American landowner and patriarch of the Allen clan of Carroll County, Virginia
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: March 14, 1912
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: July 5, 1856
Victims profile: Thornton Lemmon Massie, judge / Lewis Franklin Webb, Carroll County sheriff / William McDonald Foster, Commonwealth's Attorney / Augustus Cezar Fowler, juror / Nancy Elizabeth Ayres, witness
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Hillsville, Carroll County, Virginia, USA
Status: Executed by electrocution in Virginia on March 28, 1913

Floyd Allen (July 5, 1856 – March 28, 1913) was an American landowner and patriarch of the Allen clan of Carroll County, Virginia. He was convicted and executed for murder in 1913 after a sensational courthouse shootout that left a judge, prosecutor, sheriff, and two others dead, although doubt has been expressed about the validity of the conviction.

He was accused with triggering the shooting at the Carroll County Courthouse in Hillsville, Virginia on March 14, 1912, in which five people were killed and seven wounded. The affair represents one of the rare incidents in American history when a criminal defendant attempted to avoid justice by assassinating the trial judge.

Earli Life and Activity

Allen was born in 1856 and spent much of his life living in Cana, below Fancy Gap Mountain in Carroll County, Virginia. Floyd Allen was the chief patriarch of Carroll County's leading family, which in addition to owning large tracts of farmland and a prosperous general store, were also active in local politics, illegal liquor manufacture, and bootlegging. A fixture of the community, Floyd Allen was noted for his generosity, quick temper, and easily-injured pride.

The Allens were proud Democrats and were active in local politics in Carroll County. As a result many of the Allens held local offices such as constable, deputy sheriff, tax collector, or deputy sheriff, and supported various political friends for office.

Floyd had a history of violent altercations, including shooting a man in North Carolina, beating up a police officer in Mount Airy, and later shooting his own cousin. In May 1889, Floyd's brothers, Garland and Sidna Allen, were tried for carrying concealed pistols and assaulting a group of thirteen men.

In July 1889 the Carroll County court indicted Floyd for assault as well, but in December of that year the Commonwealth's Attorney dropped the case. In September 1889, after pleading no contest to the assault, Garland and Sidna were fined $5 each plus court costs, and the prosecutor dropped the weapons charges.

Judge Robert C. Jackson, an attorney in Roanoke and Judge Thornton Massie's predecessor in the Carroll County courtroom, stated that "Floyd Allen was perhaps the worst man of the clan--overbearing, vindictive, high tempered, brutal, with no respect for law and little or no regard for human life. During my term of office Floyd Allen was several times charged with violations of law. In several instances he escaped indictment, I am satisfied, because the witnesses were afraid to testify to the facts before the grand jury."

Judge Jackson recalled a trial in 1904 in which Floyd was convicted of assaulting a neighbor, Noah Combs. That year,Floyd wanted to buy a farm owned by one of his brothers, but could not agree on a price. Noah Combs wanted the land badly enough to pay the asking price and bought it despite Floyd’s warnings not to “butt in.” Not long afterward Floyd shot Combs (who recovered), and was indicted and tried on charges of assault. Sentenced by the jury to an hour in jail and a $100 fine, plus costs, Floyd immediately posted bail pending an appeal. His defense team included former Commonwealth's Attorney Walter Tipton and recent County Court Judge Oglesby. At the next term of court, Floyd produced a pardon from Governor Andrew J. Montague suspending the jail sentence.

In another instance, arguing over the administration of their father's estate, Floyd Allen got into a gunfight with his own brother, Jasper (Jack) Allen, a local constable. In a fusillade of shots, Floyd hit Jack in the head, which struck a glancing blow on Jack's scalp, while one of Jack's bullets hit Floyd in the chest. His pistol empty, Floyd proceeded to beat Jack with the butt of his empty revolver. Sentenced to a $100 fine and one hour in jail for wounding his cousin, Floyd refused to go, saying that he "would never spend a minute in jail as long as the blood flowed through his veins". Floyd's body bore the scars of thirteen bullet wounds, five of them inflicted in quarrels with his own family.

Despite their history of violence, the Allens held considerable political power, and Floyd had a reputation for courage. In 1908, while serving as special deputies, Floyd and H.C. (Henry) Allen, a relative of Floyd, were charged with unlawful assault upon prisoners held in their custody who had reportedly resisted arrest. On February 1, 1908 the Allens were convicted of the charge and sentenced to ten days in jail and a fine of $10. Only a month later, their petition for executive clemency was granted by Governor Claude A. Swanson, restoring their political rights to hold office.

In 1910 Sidna Allen, Floyd's brother, was tried in the United States court at Greensboro, N. C., for making twenty-dollar counterfeit coins. The federal court in Greensboro, North Carolina found him not guilty, while Sidna's alleged accomplice, Preston Dickens, was found guilty and sentenced to serve five years in federal prison. Sidna was retried and found guilty of perjury in his trial testimony, and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Sidna promptly appealed and gained a new trial on the perjury charge. The next year, after the Allens complained that they could not expect justice from William Foster, the Republican Commonwealth Attorney of the county (who had recently switched parties), Judge Thornton L. Massie had appointed both Floyd and H. C. (Henry) Allen to the post of police officer for the New River section of the county.

However, times were changing. Virginia's judicial structure was altered in a series of legal reforms, particularly the county court system, which was replaced by circuit courts. The new system appointed a full-time judge to hold court at scheduled intervals in a circuit of several counties. While the state legislature still appointed circuit judges, the new system reduced the ability of individual delegates to ensure that their own preferred judge was selected for their particular county. Furthermore, Judges could no longer practice law for private clients while on the bench, and as regional judges their susceptibility to local influence and public opinion was reduced.

Arrest of the Edwards Brothers

One night in December 1910 (some sources say 1911), two of Allen's nephews, Wesley Edwards and Sidna Edwards, attended a corn shucking bee in Hillsville. While there, Wesley kissed a girl who was romantically linked to a local youth, Will Thomas. This soon led to an altercation between Thomas and Edwards.

At a church service the next morning conducted by Wesley Edwards' uncle, Garland Allen, Will Thomas reportedly called out Wesley Edwards into a fight. According to Wesley Edwards, Thomas and three friends assaulted him and he defended himself with the help of his brother Sidna, who rushed to join the fight.

Following a complaint lodged by Wesley Edwards' father, George, Wesley and his brother Sidna Edwards were charged with disorderly conduct, assault with a deadly weapon, disturbing a public worship service, and other violations. Rather than face arrest, the two men fled over the state line to Mt. Airy in Surry County, North Carolina, where they found jobs in a granite quarry. The Deputy Clerk of Carroll County, Dexter Goad, obtained a new warrant for the brothers' arrest, notifying the sheriff in Surry County, who soon arrested both men. Deputy Clerk Goad then sent a deputy (Thomas F. Samuel) with a driver (Peter Easter) to the North Carolina border to receive the Edwards brothers.

Upon reaching the state line, Deputy Thomas F. Samuel and Peter Easter traveled in Easter's four-seater buggy to the state line and received the Edwards boys from Sheriff Haynes and Deputy Oscar Monday, who had arrested the brothers at work. There was only one set of handcuffs, and because Sidna Edwards had tried to escape a couple of times, Wesley was handcuffed in the front seat of the buggy beside Easter and Sidna was tied in the back seat beside Samuel.

On the way to the courthouse, the buggy passed by several properties owned by the Allens. Floyd Allen met the buggy south of Sidna Allen's home as he was on the way to his own home. Deputy Samuel pulled a gun (later determined to be inoperative) and ordered Floyd to move away, and Floyd rode back past the buggy to Sidna's store where he then blocked the narrow road with his mare. Samuel again pulled his gun on Floyd. A fight ensued and Floyd beat Samuel with his own pistol. Wesley Edwards tried to grapple with Easter, but Easter got away and fired a shot at Floyd as he did so, wounding Floyd in the finger. Floyd then released the Edwards brothers. Easter escaped on foot to the home of an acquaintance, where he telephoned the sheriff at Hillsville. Deputy Samuel was left lying unconscious in a ditch, and his horses were run off.

Floyd Allen later stated that he never intended to have the boys set completely free, he just wanted them to be released from their manacles and treated as humans instead of animals. Some say that the boys were not only manacled but being dragged behind the buggy.

On the following Monday, Wesley and Sidna Edwards were turned over to the court by Floyd Allen, and the two Edwards brothers were soon tried and convicted of their crimes. Wesley was sentenced to sixty days and his brother thirty, which were served outside jail on work-release. Floyd Allen, Sidna Allen, and Barnett Allen were all indicted for interfering with the deputies, and Floyd Allen was indicted for assault and battery. Sidna Allen was never tried for his part in the altercation, while Barnett was tried and acquitted. Floyd Allen's case was set for trial.

Shortly before trial, a rumor that the Allens were intimidating witnesses was called to the attention of the court. Judge Massie called Constable Jack Allen and Floyd Allen to the bar and proceeded to question them about the alleged intimidation. Jack Allen denied all responsibility for the allegations of intimidation, which he stated were not true and both he and Floyd were not guilty of any wrongdoing. In response, the judge told the two men that if the law could not be enforced in Carroll County by the county officers (meaning Jack and Floyd) that he would get rid of the officers and bring in state troops if necessary to maintain order. A witness later testified that Floyd Allen had remarked that he "would not let any man talk to me that way."

Trial and shooting

After close to a year of delays, Floyd was finally brought to trial on March 13, 1912. The trial was presided over by Judge Thornton L. Massie, the same judge who had appointed Floyd to the post of county police officer six months before. Floyd Allen was well represented by a team of two attorneys, Walter Scott Tipton and David Winton Bolen, both of whom were retired Carroll County judges.

Rumors arose in the community that Floyd Allen had reportedly sent word to Deputy Samuel that he would kill Samuel if the deputy testified against him. Allen later denied this, but the threat, whoever sent it, was sufficient to cause Deputy Samuel to leave the state the same night the threat was delivered.

Samuel's departure forced the state's Commonwealth's Attorney (prosecutor) William M. Foster to rely on testimony from Deputy Easter. Foster had been Commonwealth’s Attorney of Carroll County for eight years, having been first elected on the Democratic ticket. Later, he changed to the Republican party, and by 1912 was a prominent leader in the GOP in Carroll County, being elected the last time on the Republican ticket. Foster was a political enemy of the Allens, as they had supported Constable Jack Allen's son Walter as Democratic candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney against Foster in the last election last (Walter had lost in a bitterly-fought race). In the grand jury testimony, Floyd Allen admitted 'roughing up' Samuel, but not with the intent of releasing the prisoners: "That there Samuel was abusing the boys. He had them handcuffed and tied up with a rope. I just can't bear to see anyone drug around."

Fearful of the Allens' reaction, and having received death threats, many officials of the court armed themselves. At least two of the participants, Judge Massie and Sheriff Webb, had told friends that they expected trouble. There were many of the Allen clan among the spectators in the courtroom, most of them armed with pistols. Sidna Allen and Claud Allen were in the northeast corner of the courtroom, standing on benches to see over the crowd. Friel Allen sat in the back of the room, and the Edwards boys stood on benches next to the north wall. When the jury returned a guilty verdict against Floyd, sentencing him to one year in the penitentiary, Floyd Allen is reported to have said to Judge Massie: "If you sentence me on that verdict, I will kill you." Judge Massie at once proceeded to sentence Floyd to one years' imprisonment.

According to Floyd Allen's defense attorney, David Winton Bolen, "[Floyd] hesitated a moment, and then he arose...He looked to me like a man who was about to say something, and had hardly made up his mind what he was going to say, but as he got straight, he moved off to my left, I would say five or six feet, and he seemed to gain his speech, and he said something like this, 'I just tell you, I ain't a'going.'" At this point, shots broke out in the courtroom.

Accounts differ as to who actually fired the first shot. Many accounts claim that Allen initiated the confrontation by pulling a gun in court. In his defense testimony, Floyd Allen stated that Sheriff Lew F. Webb fired first, but that the shot missed Allen, at which point Deputy Clerk Goad, the Clerk of Court, fired and hit Allen, causing him to fall. (When Floyd fell, wounded, he landed on top of his lawyer David Bolen, who is reported to have said, “Floyd, they are going to kill me shooting at you!”) Floyd Allen stated that only then did he draw his own revolver and begin shooting. After a fusillade of shots, the Allen clan left the courthouse, armed with both pistols and 12-gauge pump shotguns, and shooting as they ran.

Judge Massie, Sheriff Webb, Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, the jury foreman (Augustus C. Fowler), and a nineteen-year old girl (Elizabeth Ayers) were all hit and died of their wounds sustained in the crossfire. More than fifty bullets were later recovered from the shooting scene. Elizabeth Ayers, a subpoenaed witness who had testified against Floyd Allen, was shot in the back while trying to leave the courtroom, and died the next day. Seven others were wounded, including Deputy Clerk Goad and Floyd Allen. Floyd, wounded too badly in the hip, thigh and knee to leave town, instead spent the night in the Elliott Hotel accompanied by his eldest son, Victor, who was later found not to have been involved in the shootout. Upon his arrest by deputies at the hotel, Floyd attempted to slash his own throat with a pocketknife, but was overpowered before he could complete the job.

Virginia law held that when a sheriff died his deputies lost all legal powers, so Carroll County was left without law enforcement by the shooting. Recognizing the need for immediate action, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney S. Floyd Landreth sent a telegram to Democratic Governor William Hodges Mann which read:

Send troops to the County of Carroll at once. Mob violence, the court. Commonwealth's Attorney, Sheriff, some jurors and others shot on the conviction of Floyd Allen for a felony. Sheriff and Commonwealth's Attorney dead, court serious. Look after this now.

Governor Mann immediately called on the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to find those responsible for the shootings and arrest them. Rewards ($1000 for Sidna Allen, $1000 for Sidna Edwards, $800 for Claude Allen, $500 for Friel Allen, and $500 for Wesley Edwards) - dead or alive - were posted by the State of Virginia. Within a month, all parties were in custody, save for Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards. A manhunt then commenced for the remaining Allen fugitives, and several posses of detectives and local deputies searched the surrounding countryside. The U.S. Revenue Service sent an agent, Deputy Agent Faddis, to investigate reports of illegal liquor trafficking by the Allens. Agent Faddis and four men raided Floyd Allen's property, seizing illegal stills and fifty gallons of moonshine. Two more illegal stills were found at Sidna Edwards' house.

Claud Allen and Sidna Edwards were placed into custody after a brief search. Friel Allen gave himself to detectives in the company of his father Jack Allen, who was apparently concerned his son might be killed while being apprehended. However, Sidna Allen and his nephew Wesley Edwards fled the state. After several months' chase, the two were located by Baldwin-Felts detectives in Iowa after a tip from an informant. Sidna Allen maintained until the end of his life that this informant was Maude Iroller, Wesley's fiancee, who provided information on the fugitives' location in exchange for $500 from the detective agency. Others state that Miss Iroller’s father, who had never approved of his daughter’s romance with Wesley Edwards, tipped off the detectives that Maude was going to Des Moines to marry him. Knowing the two men were now in Des Moines, Baldwin-Felts detectives soon located the men, arrested them, and returned them to Carroll County to stand trial.

Investigation of the Shootout and Subsequent Trials

Floyd Allen was the first to be brought to trial on a charge of murdering Judge Massie, Sheriff Webb, and Commonwealth's Attorney Foster. Judge W.R. Staples presided over the courthouse shooting trials, which were prosecuted by State's Attorney General Samuel W. Williams. The prosecutor's case was based on the formation of a conspiracy by the Allens to kill the trial judge, local law enforcement, and others who had wronged them in the event of a guilty verdict. J. E. Kearn, a travelling salesman from Roanoke, testified to having sold Sidna Allen a lot of ammunition at the March term of the Hillsville court. He sold the defendant 500 each of .32 and .38 caliber pistol cartridges and 500 12-gauge shotgun shells.

There remains considerable dispute even today over who fired the first shot. The prosecution attempted to show that Floyd and Claud Allen prompted the gun battle by standing and pulling their pistols and opening fire. One of the prosecution's witnesses was none other than attorney Walter S. Tipton, who was in the court at the time of the shooting, and was representing Floyd Allen at the time. Tipton testified to seeing Claude Allen in the court house and saw him with a pistol raised in both hands as if he had just fired it. Looking at him the second time he again saw Floyd with his pistol raised, and holding it in both hands, saw Floyd Allen fire his pistol.

For their part, Floyd Allen and his relatives claimed that it was Deputy Clerk Dexter Goad who fired first, prompted by a long-standing vendetta he and Foster held against the family. The defense next attempted to show that Deputy Clerk Goad shot Elizabeth Ayers in his exchange of fire with the Allens, a charge Goad denied. Years later, an allegation surfaced that Deputy Clerk H.C. Quesinberry confessed on his deathbed to starting the shooting; two men swore an affidavit to that effect in 1967 (for which each man was reportedly paid $25.00). Others hold that the hearsay affidavit, made years after the event transpired, is worthless, and that Floyd Allen probably began the shooting. Still others claim that Sheriff Webb accidentally discharged his own revolver, instigating the fusillade.

Former judge David Winton Bolen, who had been present during the shooting as one of Floyd Allen's defense attorneys, was the first witness examined by the prosecution at Floyd Allen's murder trial. Bolen had been standing next to Floyd Allen, and was facing Judge Massie when the first shots struck the judge's robes. Bolen testified that the first shot fired was by Claud Allen, and that Claud Allen's pistol shot, together with a second shot fired by Sidna Allen killed Judge Massie.

Yet another lawyer who witnessed the shooting, W.A. Daugherty of Pikeville, stated that several young men were standing on court benches at the back of the room firing their pistols "like Custer's cavalrymen at the Little Big Horn".

In his testimony at his murder trial, Floyd Allen admitted that he had fired at Deputy Clerk H.C. Quesinberry and again twice more at other unknown persons once he had left the courthouse.

Deputy Sheriff George W. Edwards, who became the sheriff of Carroll County after Sheriff Webb's death, was a deputy sheriff at the time of the shooting. He testified that in a conversation with Floyd Allen just after he been indicted, Floyd said that Commonwealth's Attorney Foster would not give him a show; but that if he did not there would be a "big hole put in the court house." The next witness was Sidney Towe, who largely corroborated the testimony of Sheriff Edwards, his statements being along the same line. On a different occasion, he heard Floyd Allen make the same threat of putting the biggest hole in the court house that any man ever had seen.

By his own admission in court, Deputy Clerk Dexter Goad fired the second shot at Floyd, striking him in the pelvis. His stated reason was that he thought Floyd's fumbling with his sweater buttons was a prelude to drawing his pistol. However, he denied firing the first shot in the fusillade. Though wounded by four bullets himself, Goad recovered.

S. E. Gardner, a Hillsville undertaker who prepared the body of Sheriff Webb for burial, testified that the Sheriff was shot no less than five times. One bullet entered the back and ranged upward, lodging directly under the collarbone. A second shot entered the back about four inches lower, while a third shot cut the sheriff across the chin. Another entered the body at the cap of the left hip and passed through the abdomen. The last and fifth shot went into the calf of the leg and when his trousers were removed, a .32 caliber bullet was discovered.

Attorney Howard C. Gilmer, of Pulaski Virginia, was at Hillsville Courthouse at the time of the sentencing. He was in a room adjoining Judge Massie's courtroom when the shooting broke out. Gilmer testified he heard two shots in quick succession, after which there was a slight interval and then a great volley of firing. He also testified that he saw the crowd come out of the court house, and recognized Floyd and Sidna as the last to leave the court room, both of them following and firing as they backed out, apparently in response to fire coming from within the courthouse. Gilmer stated he heard Floyd Allen say two or three times, "I am shot, but I got the damn scoundrel."

County Treasurer J. B. Marshall testified that when the shooting started he turned to escape the courthouse. After getting down the steps he leaned against the window of his office when two girls, Dora and Elizabeth Ayers, passed him. He testified that one of the girls pointed out some of the Allens leaving the court house, when Sidna Allen came toward him, pointed his pistol toward him, and fired. Marshall then related that Sidna Allen's bullet buried itself in the window about six inches above his head. Marshall also testified before leaving the court room he was standing near Sheriff Webb, but did not see any pistol in the Sheriff's hand.

A witness to the courtroom shooting, Walter Petty, also testified that the first shots were fired from the northeast corner of the courtroom, where Claud Allen was standing, and that he witnessed a pistol duel between Sidna Allen and Deputy Clerk Dexter Goad.

At Claude Allen's trial for the murder of Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, Judge David W. Bolen was again the star witness for the prosecution. Judge Bolen confirmed his prior testimony that he saw Claud Allen fire the first shot at Judge Massie from the northeast corner of the court room, whereupon Claud advanced in the direction of the court officers to where Commonwealth's Attorney Foster was standing.

For his part, Claud Allen admitted to firing his pistol while in the courtroom. Claud testified that he saw Sidna Allen firing just about the time he saw Deputy Clerk Goad fire.

According to Victor Allen, whose pistol was used in the courthouse shooting, he saw Wesley Edwards from outside the courtroom firing a revolver through the courthouse window and over the heads of spectators just after the shooting began, and later saw him run from the courthouse together with Sidna Allen. Victor Allen also asserted that Claud's shooting must have done with his gun, since Claud had taken possession of Victor's handgun as the two were leaving their hotel in Hillsville on the morning of the tragedy. Claud Allen verified this part of Victor's testimony.

Sidna Edwards testified that he was not armed the day of the shooting and that he did not like to carry guns. Sidna Edwards denied firing a gun during the courthouse shootings, and stated that he did not see who fired the first shot, but thought that it came from the vicinity of Deputy Clerk Goad's desk. Sidna Edwards had scalded his foot some years before and was partially lame, and limped out of the courthouse, riding his mother's horse back to his home.

Sidna Allen denied that he shot Judge Massie, or that he fired at Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, Sheriff Webb, or at Juror Fowler. Sidna claimed that when the shooting commenced, he drew his own revolver and fired five times at Deputy Clerk Goad and Deputy Sheriff Gillespie, for the reason that both men were firing at him. After shooting five times he dropped to his knees and reloaded his revolver. Sidna stated that when he left the courthouse, Deputy Clerk Goad followed behind him, shooting him through the left arm, the bullet lodging in his left side. He stated that he fired back at Goad on the court house steps, but denied shooting at Treasurer J. B. Marshall. After the shooting Sidna stated that he went to Blankenship’s Livery Stable, where he met the other members of the family, leaving Hillsville in the company of Claude Allen, Wesley Edwards, and Sidna Edwards. They did not travel the public roads, but returned to their homes by traveling cross-country through the farm fields. Sidna Allen later left the state in the company of Wesley Edwards, eventually reaching Des Moines, Iowa.


Floyd Allen was tried for the first-degree murder of Commonwealth's Attorney Foster. On May 18, 1912, Floyd Allen was found guilty by the jury. His stoic exterior gone, Floyd Allen wept freely as the verdict was read. In July 1912, after three separate trials, Claud Allen was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, and for second-degree murder for the killing of Judge Massie.

For their roles in the shooting, Floyd and Claude Allen were sentenced to death by electrocution. Sidna Allen received a total of 35 years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter of Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, and for second-degree murder of Judge Massie. Sidna Allen also pled guilty to second-degree murder for the shooting of Sheriff Webb, and was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment. Wesley Edwards drew nine years for each count of murder for the slaying of Foster, Massie, and Webb for a total of 27 years' imprisonment. Sidna Edwards pled guilty in August 1912 to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 15 years in the penitentiary. Friel Allen was tried in August 1912 and after confessing to shooting Foster, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Friel Allen and Sidna Edwards were pardoned by Democratic Governor Elbert Lee Trinkle in 1922, while Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards were pardoned by Governor Trinkle in 1926. Victor Allen and Barnett Allen were acquitted. Burden "Byrd" Marion, a cousin and neighbor, had all charges against him dropped. Accounts differ as to whether this was for a lack of evidence, or because Marion became a state's witness and admitted his role in aiding the Allens. Shortly after the Allen trials, law enforcement officers found a still in an old house on Burden Marion's farm, and he was arrested for making illegal liquor. He was tried in federal court, found guilty, and sentenced to a year in federal prison at Moundsville, West Virginia. He began his sentence in August 1913, and died (officially) of pneumonia in prison on November 25, 1913.

Allen's death sentence was deeply unpopular with Allen supporters in the county, but many other residents were shocked by the deaths of so many people over Floyd Allen's refusal to serve a year in prison, and were not sympathetic. Governor Mann, who had received death threats in the same handwriting as the threats previously delivered to the trial judge, had to cut short a trip to Pennsylvania after learning his Lieutenant Governor, James Taylor Ellyson (1847–1919), had attempted to commute the Allens' sentences in his absence, instigating a brief constitutional power struggle between the two men. Governor Mann refused a request to commute the death sentences to life imprisonment, and Floyd Allen was electrocuted on March 28, 1913 at 1:20PM, with his son going to the electric chair eleven minutes later.

After a public display of the bodies at Biyle’s Funeral Parlor, the Allens were buried in the Wisler Cemetery in Cana, Virginia. For years it was alleged that the men were buried under a headstone that read in part, "Judicially Murdered By The State Of Virginia Over The Protests Of More Than 100,000 Of Its Citizens." However, photographic proof of this headstone inscription has never surfaced, though hundreds of photos exist of other items relating to the event, and despite a reward offered for a photograph of the inscription.

The Carroll County prosecutor placed liens on all property owned by Floyd and Sidna Allen for the heirs of the victims. As a result of three wrongful death lawsuits by the victims' estates and survivors, the property of Sidna and Floyd Allen was confiscated and sold at auction, forcing Sidna Allen's wife and two small daughters to live in rented quarters and work at menial jobs until Sidna's pardon. Floyd Allen's son, Victor, bought his father's house so that his mother would not have to move. In 1921, however, he moved his family to Tabernacle, New Jersey.

Floyd Allen's brother Jasper (Jack) Allen lost his job as constable as a result of the Hillsville shooting, but that did not end matters. On March 17, 1916, Jack Allen had stopped for the night in a roadhouse near Mt. Airy, North Carolina where he encountered Will McGraw, a moonshine hauler. A dispute between McGraw and Jack Allen arose about the Hillsville tragedy and during the confrontation McGraw drew a gun and shot Allen twice, killing him on the spot. Jack Allen was buried near his home in Carroll County, in the presence of a thousand mourners.

List of the dead and wounded


Thornton Lemmon Massie, judge

Lewis Franklin Webb, Carroll County sheriff

William McDonald Foster, Commonwealth's Attorney

Augustus Cezar Fowler, juror

Nancy Elizabeth Ayres, witness


Floyd Allen, defendant

Sidna Allen, defendant

Dexter Goad, Clerk of Court

Christopher Columbus Cain, juror

Andrew T. Howlett, spectator

Elihue Clark Gillespie, Deputy

Stuart Worrell, spectator

Cultural impact

Both Claude and Sidna Allen were the subject of ballads for their actions; Sidna was referred to as "Sidney". In addition, Virginia State Senator Joseph T. Fitzpatrick reportedly once wrote the screenplay for a film based on the case.

The Sidna Allen House still stands in Fancy Gap, Virginia; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Hillsville massacre


Nobody knows who fired the first shot that cold, gray day, but before it was over, four lay dead, one was dying, and Carroll County would never be the same again.

Perhaps the hardest thing for an outsider to understand is the frequently heard claim that the subject is dead. “The Courthouse Massacre? Don’t nobody talk about that much any more,” says the young workman in Druther’s Restaurant on Main Street in Hillsville. Motioning with a French fry in the direction of the Carroll County Courthouse, he continues, “When I was a little boy there used to be groups to tour that old barn every week. But nowadays the whole thing is pretty much forgotten, I’d say.”

That was disappointing news. The Allen Clan’s blazing courtroom shootout that left five dead earned international headlines in 1912 and became the stuff of legend—and violent controversy—for decades afterward. Only a few years ago State Senator Joseph Fitzpatrick was planning a motion picture based on the events that led to the electrocution of Floyd Allen and his son Claud. Could it be that the topic was now pretty even in Hillsville?

“But as long as you’re doing another story on it, you may as well get it right,” the young man says. Smoothing out a paper napkin, he proceeds to make a ballpoint diagram of the courtroom as it was on that cold and wet March day 70 years and seven months ago, complete with the positions of Judge Massie, Sheriff Webb, Common-wealth’s Attorney Foster and Clerk of Court Goad. “Now if you’ll just look at this, you’ll see that there was no way Dexter Goad could have fired the first shot like the Allen s claimed . . .”

This is a dead subject?

Folklorist Roddy Moore, director of the Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College, believes the issue of the Allen Clan’s shootout is still alive and kicking in Hillsville. “We are familiar with the story, but we decided not to get into it. There’s just too much controversy about it even today. Besides,” Moore says, “it’s too hard to get people to speak on the record."

To those not born and raised in Carroll County, it may seem incredible that fundamental issues of fact can be raised about an event that was witnessed by over a hundred spectators.
Nevertheless, the issue of just who fired the first shot in the courtroom massacre is a live one yet. But if disagreement is still festering, is it possible—seven decades later—to discover the ultimate truth? Moore says, “All you can do is record both sides.”

So that’s what we’ll do.

The most important thing to remember about the Allen family of Carroll County is that they were not your standard-issue outlaws. Jeremiah Allen , born in 1818 and a Civil War veteran, was a prominent landowner, farmer and local officeholder. He was also, many claim, a big-time maker of moonshine whiskey and brandy, or “blockade liquor,” as it was known in Carroll County. He had a big family of seven boys and three girls, most of whom did quite well by the standards of the day. Of Jeremiah’s large brood, the most important to this story are Floyd, Jasper (or “Jack”), Garland, Sidna (pronounced as “Sidney”), and their sister Alvirtia, who married a man named Jasper Edwards.

Jeremiah Allen and his sons were of a type that is peculiarly American. Freed for generations from the social and legal conventions of European society, the Allens cherished an individuality that would have been inconceivable back in the British Isles. The pioneer families who settled Virginia’s Blue Ridge grew or made nearly all of life’s necessities. They learned to depend only on themselves and a few close neighbors, and grew up with a kind of freedom and self-confidence unknown to Europeans of the same class. Government, to the Blue Ridge mountaineers, was something to be tolerated grudgingly and suspiciously. The Federal Government in far off Washington, D.C., received their theoretical support, except when it made obviously ridiculous laws like those taxing whiskey and brandy, which the mountaineers believed themselves entirely justified in flouting.

The pioneer strain of radical independence seemed to persist longer in the Allens than most of their neighbors, side by side with a strong drive to get on in the world. Floyd Allen, a farmer, storekeeper and part time moonshiner, said on more than one occasion that he would “die and to go hell” before he spent a minute behind bars. Sidna was a successful storekeeper at Fancy Gap who had once gone adventuring in Alaska and Hawaii, been tried for counterfeiting, and later built the finest house in Carroll County. Garland was a respected farmer, schoolteacher, and Primitive Baptist preacher, and Jack Allen was a wealthy farmer and sawmill operator. Whatever else they were, the Allens clearly were not the band of ignorant hillbilly outlaws that some Northern newspaper accounts made them out to be.

On the other hand, they were not a race of mild country squires. One is struck, when reading accounts written by the Allens or their defenders, by the numerous unsavory incidents that have to be explained away. According to their claims Floyd’s shooting of a black man in North Carolina was self-defense; Sidna was unaware that his employee and close friend Preston Dickens was using the plating machine Sidna ordered to counterfeit coins; it was self-defense when Floyd shot a man in the leg in 1904; Floyd got in a brawl with revenue officers because they got drunk and abused his hospitality; Sidna’s nephews, Wesley and Sidna Edwards were prosecuted for disturbing public worship because they were not “members of a privileged clique.” All the Allens deny numerous contemporary accounts alleging that Jeremiah and at least some of his sons made blockade liquor. Some of the smoke may be slander, but it is difficult not to suspect at least a little fire.

The train of events, which culminated in the execution of Floyd and Claud Allen, began on a Saturday night in the spring of 1911. Alvirtia Edwards’ 20-year-old son, Wesley, had an argument with a man named Thomas at the local school. The following day, when Wesley and his 22-year-old brother, Sidna, were attending services at their uncle Garland Allen’s church, Wesley was supposedly called out of the service and attacked by Thomas and some friends. Sidna then rushed out of the church and came to his brother’s aid. As a result of the fracas in the churchyard, Wesley and Sidna were indicted for disturbing a public worship service. When they heard of the indictments, the brothers left Carroll County and went to nearby Mount Airy, where they would technically be out of reach of Virginia law officers without extradition papers.

But the Edwards didn’t count on the per-sentence of the commonwealth’s attorney and the sheriff. Despite his lack of jurisdiction in North Carolina, Sheriff Webb dispatched deputies Pink Samuels and Peter Easter after Wesley and Sidna, who were arrested without a struggle in Mount Airy. The deputies evidently didn’t trust the boys to stay put in the back of the wagon, so they were handcuffed and tied to the wagon posts as the party crossed Fancy Gap on the way back to Hillsville. The road passed by Sidna Allen’s store and Floyd Allen’s house, and when Floyd saw his nephews “trussed up like hogs,” his notorious temper flared.

Floyd was already angry because the other young men involved in the churchyard brawl escaped without punishment, a fact he attributed to his own previous fight with Commonwealth’s Attorney Foster and Foster’s resulting enmity. Sidna Allen summarized the Allens’ side of it in his Memoirs: “Wesley and Sidna had never been in trouble before, were neither dangerous nor desperate, and were charged only with committing a misdemeanor; yet they were not only handcuffed but also tied to the buggy in which they rode with ropes, despite the fact that they were in the keeping of two strong and well-armed men.”

What happened next, like nearly every-thing else in the Allen saga, is disputed. Deputies Easter and Samuels claimed that Floyd, Sidna and Barnard Allen attacked and beat them and freed Wesley and Sidna Edwards. The Allens claimed that Floyd re-quested his nephews be untied, was threatened with a gun, and single-handedly disarmed the deputies without harming either one. Whatever happened, the following day Floyd took his nephews to Hillsville, where they served 60 and 30 day sentences? For his pains, Floyd was charged with “illegal rescue of prisoners,” as the Virginia law of the time put it. After several continuances, trial was set for March 12, 1912.

There were many in Carroll County who believed that trying Floyd Allen on any charge was asking for trouble. Floyd’s biggest fault, said his brother Garland, was his “uncontrollable temper.” Garland said that their mother had more than once been forced to tie Floyd up with rope when he was a child, and by the time he was a grown man his temper was legendary. It wasn’t reserved just for outsiders, either. Floyd and his brother Jack got into a fight once over some barrels of brandy in their father’s estate and shot each other. Jack recovered, but it began to appear as if Floyd had fought his last brawl, and he sent for his brother Jack, “to make his peace with him,” he said, “be-fore crossing the divide.” Jack heeded the pitiful request and sorrowfully approached his brother’s deathbed.

He should have known better. When Floyd saw the grief-stricken Jack shuffling slowly to his bedside, he grabbed for a revolver he had concealed under his pillow and attempted to give his brother a ticket to cross the “divide” with him. Jack was saved by another brother who grabbed Floyd’s arm before he could squeeze off a shot. Floyd recovered from his own wounds shortly thereafter. “He was too damned mean to die,” said an acquaintance.

Then there was the Combs incident. In 1904 Floyd wanted to buy a farm owned by one of his brothers, but they could not agree on a price. A man named Combs wanted the land badly enough to pay the asking price and bought it despite Floyd’s warnings not to “butt in.” Not long afterward Floyd shot Combs (who recovered), and was indicted and tried on charges of assault. Contemporary reports say that Floyd let it be known that if convicted of the charge, he woul4 kill the judge and jurors. It seems likely the court was influenced by such threats because, despite the gravity of the charge, Floyd was fined a mere $100 and sentenced to a symbolic one hour in jail.

But even an hour was too much for a man who had sworn he would “die and go to hell” before serving a minute in jail. Floyd’s lawyers managed to have the 60-minute sentence dismissed, and Floyd reportedly forced Combs to pay the $100 fine. There were some in Carroll County who believed that Floyd Allen was a law unto himself, and the Combs decision reinforced that belief. G.M.N. Parker, who wrote about the incident in The Mountain Massacre, said Carroll County had “two governments, one by the county and one by the (Allen) Clan.”

In 1912 Floyd Allen was again scheduled for trial. It was a perfect time, believed many county officials, to demonstrate just who really governed Carroll County.

According to a prominent Carroll County citizen who is a repository of local history, about three weeks before Floyd Allen’s trial, Commonwealth’s Attorney William Foster received a letter promising he would die if Floyd Allen was found guilty. Foster took the letter to Judge Thornton Massie, who was scheduled to try the case, and requested not only extra deputies but a search of all who entered the courtroom during the trial. Judge Massie denied the request: “1 think that would show cowardice on our part,” he is reported to have said. Judge Massie never changed his mind, and when his body was re-moved from the courtroom on March 14, Foster’s letter and another similar one were found in his coat pocket.

The jury in Floyd Allen’s case was unable to reach a verdict on March 13. Judge Massie, in his only concession to warnings of trouble had them sequestered in Thorn-ton’s Hotel that night, and scheduled the next morning’s proceedings for 8 a.m., an hour early. Floyd Allen, still free, rode home with his brother Sidna and spent Wednesday night at his house.

Thursday morning dawned cold, wet and foggy. A bone-chilling drizzle was falling from the slate-gray clouds, but it wasn’t doing much to melt the snow that still lay on the ground. Despite the miserable weather, over a hundred spectators had crowded into the courtroom by 8 a.m.; a lucky few were warming their hands over the wood stove in the rear of the room. The Allen family was well represented: Floyd; his sons Victor and Claud; Sidna Allen; Jack Allen’s son Friel; Sidna and Wesley Edwards, and a sprinkling of other relatives.

At 8:30 the jury filed back into the courtroom with a verdict. Floyd Allen, his attorney W.D. Bolen, and assistant clerk of court S. Floyd Landreth were sitting in the small fenced dock facing the judge and jury. Sidna Allen and Claud Allen were in the northeast corner of the courtroom, standing on benches to see over the crowd. Friel Allen sat in the back of the room, and the Edwards boys stood on benches next to the north wall. The sheriff, commonwealth’s attorney, clerk of court, and several deputies were standing at the south end of the courtroom. The room was hushed as the jury foreman announced the verdict: guilty as charged, with a recommended sentence of a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. A motion to set aside the verdict was denied, as was a request for bail. Judge Massie instructed Sheriff Webb to take charge of the prisoner, and Webb began to move toward the dock.

What happened next will never be known with absolute certainty. The issue of who fired the first shot has divided Carroll Countians for the past 70 years and, in the words of one Richmond researcher into the case, has caused the county to “shut itself off from the rest of the world.”

Most witnesses agree that Floyd Allen stood up and announced to the court some-thing like, “Gentlemen, I just ain’t a goin’.” A shot was fired, and for the next 90 seconds the courtroom became a shooting gallery as the Allens, Dexter Goad, William Foster and the law officers, all produced guns and began to exchange fire. A screaming, shouting mass of spectators tried to leave the courtroom at once as bullets whizzed over their heads and thumped into the courtroom walls. Attorney Bolen dropped to the floor and the wounded Floyd Allen fell on top of him. Bolen is said to have screamed at his client, “Floyd, they are going to kill me shooting at you!” The battle moved down the courthouse steps and out onto the streets of Hillsville, with some of the Allens hiding behind the statue of the Confederate soldier while reloading their pistols. The Allens headed for the livery stable. Back in the courtroom. Judge Massie, Sheriff Webb, Commonwealth’s Attorney Foster and a juror named C.C. Fowler lay dead on the floor. A witness in another case, Betty Ayers, walked back to her home and died the following day. Dexter Goad had been shot in the mouth but recovered from his wounds.

Floyd Allen was wounded too badly to escape, and he and his son Victor, who had taken no part in the violence, spent the night at a local hotel and were arrested the next morning. Wesley Edwards, Friel Allen and Claud Allen escaped together, and were soon joined by Sidna Allen. Sidna Edwards hid out for a few days before surrendering himself to the authorities.

According to Virginia law in 1912, when a sheriff died all his deputies lost their legal powers. Carroll County, therefore, was now without law enforcement. Assistant clerk of court S. Floyd Landreth, realizing the imperative need for some sort of civil authority, rushed down the street to the telegraph office. Landreth sent the following telegram—collect—to Governor William Hodges Mann:

Send troops to the County of Carroll at once. Mob violence, the court. Commonwealth’s Attorney, Sheriff, some jurors and others shot on the conviction of Floyd Allen for a felony. Sheriff and Commonwealth’s Attorney dead, court serious. Look after this now.

Governor Mann phoned the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency in Roanoke and asked them to hunt down the Allens who were still at large. A special train bound for Galax left Roanoke late Thursday night with Baldwin-Felts men aboard. Prevented by swollen creeks from making the last leg of the journey by wagon, the detectives trudged the last few miles in a chill, insistent rain.

The weather that greeted the Baldwin-Felts men was an omen of the way things were to be for the next five weeks. There was some initial good luck: Claud Allen was captured not long after Sidna Edwards surrendered. Friel Allen was reported to have surrendered also, but a local historian who has made a study of the case claims that Friel’s father, Jack, turned him over to the detectives in exchange for their efforts to avoid his execution.

But unfortunately for the Baldwin-Felts men, Wesley Edwards and Sidna Allen were far more difficult to track down in the rugged mountain country surrounding Hillsville. Knowing the terrain well, the pair easily eluded the frustrated detectives, who spent a good deal of their time posing for dramatic horseback photographs. The fugitives frequently had hot meals and warm beds in the homes of friends and relatives while the Baldwin-Felts men slogged down mountain roads in weather that remained almost consistently bad.

After five weeks of hiding, Sidna Allen and his nephew decided to leave Carroll County for the west. Passing through Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Winston-Salem, which were plastered with wanted posters bearing their faces, they walked to Salisbury and bought train tickets for Asheville. From there they went to Des Moines, Iowa, where they found jobs as carpenters and lived together in a boarding house.

Six months to the day after the courthouse massacre Sidna and Wesley were arrested by the persistent Baldwin-Felts detectives. Sidna Allen maintained until the end of his life that he and his nephew were sold out by Wesley’s sweetheart, Maude Iroller, who supposedly led the detectives to them in exchange for $500. But a local expert on the case says that Miss Iroller’s father, who had never approved of his daughter’s romance with Wesley Ed-wards, tipped off the detectives that Maude was going to Des Moines to marry him.

The wheels of justice turned far faster in 1912 than today. Floyd Allen went on trial in Wytheville on April 30, charged with the slaying of Commonwealth’s Attorney Foster. On May 18 he was convicted and sentenced to death in the electric chair. In July, after three trials, Claud, too, was sentenced to death for Foster’s murder. Friel Allen was tried in August and confessed to shooting Foster; he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards were sentenced in November to 35 and 27 years respectively.

After three stays of execution, Floyd and his son Claud became the 47 th and 48 th victims of Virginia’s relatively new electric chair. Floyd was electrocuted at 1:22 p.m. on March 28, 1913, and Claud died 11 minutes later. The execution was accomplished despite some last-minute technical delays related to Governor Mann’s absence from the state, which were resolved when the governor returned from Pennsylvania for the express purpose of allowing the execution. In the final weeks prior to the execution date, petitions with thousands of signatures were delivered to the governor requesting commutation of Claud’s sentence, who, it was said, had been shooting only in his father’s defense. The petitions failed to convince Governor Mann.

The governor was also unmoved by a number of death threats mailed to him, at least one of which was in the same hand-writing as the original threat to Common-wealth’s Attorney Foster. Baldwin-Felts detectives were never able to prove who wrote the threatening letters, and those mailed to Governor Mann are stored with his papers today in Richmond.

The deaths of Floyd and Claud had a morbidly bizarre aftermath. The bodies were taken to Biyle’s Funeral Parlor where, over the bitter protests of Victor Allen, thousands of gawking spectators gathered to view the remains. Richmond newspapers reported that schoolchildren with books, mothers with babies in arms and young men and women out on the town filed past the bodies, laughing and talking. Victor Allen was not permitted custody of his kinsmen’s bodies until 11 p.m., shortly before they were shipped by rail to Mount Airy.

Among the questions still debated in Carroll County on long nights before the wood stove, the most persistent is, “Who fired the first shot in the courtroom on March 14, 1912?” The Allens claimed it was Dexter Goad, who, along with William Foster, had supposedly engaged in a politically motivated vendetta against them. The most vociferous proponent of the vendetta theory today is Rufus Gardner, author of a book on the subject and the flamboyant owner of a flea market, package store and souvenir shop on Route 52 at the state line.

Gardner has a one-room museum devoted to the Courthouse Tragedy in the back of his souvenir shop, and he will expound to whoever is willing to listen his ideas on the massacre, which consist largely of praise for the Allens and bitter denunciations of their enemies. “Hell yes it was Dexter Goad shot first at Floyd Allen. Everybody knows it,” says Gardner. “It was politics, just politics—the Allens was good Democrats and the courthouse crowd was Republicans, and they had it in for the Allens ‘cause they was so popular and well liked.” Gardner’s book is a patchwork of newspaper accounts, legal documents (“I stole’em out of the Carroll County Courthouse and there’s not a damned thing they can do about it.”), letters, and sections lifted whole from the books of others without attribution. Gardner is a Courthouse Massacre entrepreneur. In addition to his museum, his book and his souvenirs, he now publishes and sells the Memoirs of Sidna Allen, which read far more coherently than Gardner’s own volume. “The Allens have been a great family since 1476, the finest in Virginia,” crows Gardner. Around Hillsville it is commonly reported that Gardner is related to the Allens, a connection he denies.

In the back of Rufus Gardner’s book is a copy of an affidavit he obtained in 1967, in which two men who were with Woodson Quesinberry when he died swear that Ques-inerry claimed responsibility for the first shot. But a local historian who has done much work on the case says that one of the deponents listed on the affidavit told him that swearing out the document “was the easiest 25 dollars 1 ever made.” About all Gardner’s affidavit accomplished when it was made public 15 years ago was to fan old resentments. “That document is worthless, let me assure you,” said a prominent local citizen.

The same local historian also says there is little doubt that Claud Allen fired the first shot in the courtroom that day: “There’s no question in the world, none whatever.” Not only is this theory backed up by the bulk of the trial testimony, but it is certainly less implausible than the Goad hypothesis. Why would a prominent local figure who had just seen his enemy put away for a year decide to open fire in full view of over a hundred witnesses? And if Goad indeed fired the first shot and the Allens were merely shooting in self-defense, why wouldn’t Goad have been the first victim? Not only did Dexter Goad survive, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Foster and Sheriff Webb, both of whom were standing near Goad, received many more wounds.

Yet another mystery surrounds the tombstone of Floyd and Claud Allen. The original stone supposedly read something like the following: “Judiciously Murdered by the State of Virginia Over the Protest of 40,000 of Its Citizens.” Most Carroll Countians will tell you that the stone was removed as one of the conditions for the pardon of Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards in 1926. Although a local person of great credibility claims to have seen the stone, there are some doubts that it ever existed. Not only are several different versions of its inscription recorded, but—amazingly—no photograph of it has surfaced. There are hundreds of photos of every other item relating to the massacre, but apparently none of the apocryphal tombstone, despite a $500 reward Rufus Gardner offered for a photograph of it. Says courthouse custodian and massacre buff Bill White, “I have to doubt that it ever existed to begin with."

Few people are now alive in Carroll County who can remember that fateful March day in 1912. One of the few is Mrs. Viola Harrison, a frail but alert woman in her 80’s who is Jack Allen’s daughter. She is accustomed to being asked about the tragedy, but has talked little about it to outsiders. “I just don’t like to give out information because you don’t know how you feel about it yourself,” she says. She has good memories of her uncle Sidna Allen: “I remember that people liked him very much. He was a good neighbor and kind to people; everybody that worked for him liked him.” Mrs. Harrison contends that a political feud played a part in the events of March 14, 1912, and also believes that public opinion in Carroll County is swinging around in favor of the Allens. “But whatever you do,” she says, “please write only the truth. People here have never really known what hap-pened because of distortions in what they read.”

Truth is always a scarce commodity, and nowhere more so than in the interminable wrangles over the infamous Hillsville Court-house Massacre. But the story of the Allen Clan has taken on a life of its own these past seven decades and it may be that the ultimate truth has very little to do with the tale’s fascination. It seems unlikely that the case will ever be settled to the satisfaction of everybody in Carroll County. What does seem certain is that they won’t quit talking about it—not now, and not for some time to come.

Floyd Allen

Sidna Allen (left) and his nephew, handcuffed, after their arrest in Iowa.

The gun battle, which erupted inside the courtroom, spilled out into the streets with some
of the Allens hiding behind the Conference soldier statue while reloading weapons.

Carroll County Courthouse custodian and massacre buff Bill White
points out bullet hole still visible in the courthouse steps.

A wounded Floyd Allen is arrested by Roanoke's Baldwin-Felts Detectives,
Thomas L. Felts (left), Charles Patton (back), and Dan O. Baldwin.

Posed reenactment of the infamous courthouse shootout probably was used as a trial exhibit.
The photo, which belongs to Rufus Gardner, contains no identification, but it does give a rare
view of the courtroom as it looked at the time of the shooting.

Storekeeper Sidna Allen's house- "the finest in Carroll County" - as it appears today.
Floyd Allen spent the night here before hearing the jury's guilty verdict the next morning.

A great photo postcard of Floyd Allen and his son Claud Allen and other Allen cousins involved
in the Hillsville, Carroll County Virginia, Courthouse Tragedy.

Sidna Allen

Floyd Allen

Claud Allen

Friel Allen

Wesley Edwards

Sidna Edwards

Victor Allen

Bird Marion

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