Monday, June 22, 2015

#24 of 52...Charlie Henry Waller...Moonshiner and Murderer?

Charlie Henry Waller was my 2nd great grandfather. He is my grandmother Alice Bussey Curran's maternal grandfather.

Charlie was born 27 July 1880 in Henry county Georgia to Samuel Waller and Elizabeth Serene Lee Knowles.  Charlie was their first child.  They also had the following other known children:

1). Charlie Henry Waller (1880-1955) *my great great grandfather
2). George W. Waller (1886-uncertain) 
3). John Waller (1883- 1944) 
4). Lula Waller (1889-uncertain)
5). Samuel L Waller JR. (1896-1961)

With the years between the children I would suspect that there were others and these were the only five to live through childhood; however Serena answered in both the 1900 and 1910 census as to having given birth to 5 children and having 5 living children.  My speculation could very well be off on that one.  

Charlie's father Samuel lived in Fayette, Fulton and Clayton Counties in Georgia.  He was always listed as a farmer in the census records.  Charlie married Ina Brown 13 October 1907 in Fulton County, Georgia.  You can see photos of them here.

Charlie and Ina had the following known children:
1). William Henry Waller (1908-1986)
2). Troy Eugene Waller (1909-1991) **my great grandmother, I called her Maw-maw
3). Bobby Gladys Waller (1911-1980)
4). Estelle Waller (1913-1942)
5). Lois Waller (1916-1979)
6). Clara May Waller (1917-1995)
7). Josie Lee Waller (1920-1995)
8). Herbert Albert Waller (1922-1995)
9). Ina Myrtle "Daisy" Waller (1924-1997)
A photo of all the children as adults can be found here.

My Maw-maw, Troy Waller Bussey used to tell me stories about bootlegging and that her father would run moonshine over the state line into Alabama.  She told me a story once about how they would put the liquor under the seat and then she would sit on top of the seat and hold the sleeping baby (it could have been anyone of her younger siblings) so the revenuers wouldn't make her get up and search under her when they crossed the line.  These types of stories fascinated me as a child.  My Nana was surprised that my Maw-maw would share such stories with me.  It seems that she was sharing with me a secret of the family.  

A few years after my Maw-maw passed away the stories of Papa Waller and the "Waller Gang" resurfaced and that once long held secret was out in the world.  Not only was The Waller brothers involved in moon-shining, but also there was a murder and relatives spent time in prison.  

In 1997 Bruce L. Jordan wrote a book called "Death Unexpected The Violent Deaths of Fayette".  Mr. Jordan's book has an entire chapter called "Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow... James Langston, October 28, 1922.  This is Chapter 5 of the book and it details the murder of Mr. Langston, a mail carrier.  The story is laid out very well in this book and if you want to read it, I have it to let you borrow.  Mr. Langston was found murdered in the vicinity of Kite's Lake.  A few weeks prior to Mr. Langston's murder the sheriff had located and destroyed a fifty gallon unit still.  My great great grandfather Charlie Waller and his brother John were caught headed in the direction of the still with a a wagon full of jugs.  Coincidence?  Not likely.

On October 31, 1922 my 2nd great grandfather Charlie Waller, his brother John Waller and a man named George B. Samuels were taken to jail on suspicion of murder but no charges were filed.  

To make a very long and quite intriguing story short; the Waller brothers and others involved in the still wanted the person that told on them to die.  The people, Ora Whittle and Oscar Dutton were sent out to do the deed.  They killed the wrong person.  Mr. Langston was not the person that turned in the still.  It was actually a fella named Ab Davis that was a fruit peddler and John Waller's own daughter Iula Waller!  

Oscar Dutton admitted to doing the actual deed and was convicted July 1925 to life in prison.  Ora Whittle was also convicted while always saying he was innocent.  He too was sentenced to life in prison.  Ora Whittle was likely the look-out.  The Oscar Dutton trial offered much fanfare and was a spectacle. 

John Waller, my great great Uncle was also tried.  His trial was on 7 July 1925.  Author Bruce Jordan describes it as "quietly, and with much less fanfare."  There were no defense witnesses and he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.  His daughter, Iula (Eula) testified against her father.  He was sentenced to life in prison.  

Even more people were caught up in the conspiracy to commit murder and were tried and sentenced to life in prison.  They were Melvin Windham and Rainey Cauthen who implicated Melvin Brown.  My great great grandfather, the subject of this blog post, was also convicted in December 1925 in the Superior Court of Fayette.  He was convicted of accessory before the fact and sentenced to life.  Though he is not listed in the book by Mr. Langston, a third Waller was convicted as well.  John and Charlie's brother George Waller.  

So there you have it.  Charlie Waller was both a moonshiner and also sort of a murderer.  While he didn't actually do the killing he was in on the idea of and set for the actions that caused the death.  So what happened next?  

see source at the end
The listing above is from the Central Register of Convicts for Georgia, 1817-1976 found on  The listing is for Charlie Waller, convicted of Accesory before the fact to murder, received into custody 12 April 1926 convicted by Fayette County, paroled July 25, 1932.  There is an interesting story that goes along with his parole for another post.  It has to do with his youngest child.

George Waller, convicted of murder, 11 Apr 1926 by Campbell County, paroled May 25, 1933. 

Above is John Waller, accessory before the fact to murder, convicted Dec 6, 1925 by Fayette County and paroled 13 Nov 1935.  
Ora Whittle (two cases), convicted of murder, Dec 6, 1925, Fayette and Cambell County.  Way over on his line it says that he escaped on 10 May 1930 and was not recaptured (at least on this document there is no record of it)!
Melvin Windham, convicted of murder, 19 Dec 1925, Fayette County, paroled 10 Sept 1933. Further over on his line however it states that he escaped twice.  Once 2 Nov 1928 to be recaptured 4 Nov 1928 and again 13 Aug 1931 and recaptured 23 Aug 1931. 

Rainey Cauthen convicted of murder, 19 Dec 1925 by Fayette County, paroled May 8, 1934.

Melvin Brown, who by the way was my great great grandfather Charlie Waller's brother in law.  Melvin was Ina Myrtle's brother.  Melvin was convicted of murder 13 Mar 1927.  It appears he escaped three times being returned twice.  Escaping 12 Nov 1927 recaptured 17 Nov 1927.  Escaped again 7 Feb 1930 and not being recaptured until 27 Aug 1932. The final time listed in this document is 2 Aug 1933 with no return listed.  

Charlie Henry Waller went on to live his life after he was paroled.  He passed away 16 Sep 1955 at the age of 75. 


Jordan, Bruce L. Death Unexpected: The Violent Deaths of Fayette. Atlanta: Midtown Pub. Corp, 1997. Print.

Volume Title : Central Register of Convicts, 1889, 1902-1951
Source Information Georgia, Central Register of Convicts, 1817-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Prison—Inmate Administration—Central Register of Convicts, 1817–1976. Series 21/3/27. Georgia State Archives, Morrow, Georgia.
Source Description
Get the facts on time served by these inmates in the Georgia prison system.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#23 of 52...John Curran

John Curran was my great great grandfather.  He was born 8 Sep 1856 in Athens, Ohio.  We are not sure why his family was in Ohio at that time, but it is assumed they were there for work.  His parents were Terrence Curran and Margaret McManus.  Terrence and Margaret had the following children:

1). Ellen "Nelie" Curran (1852-1932)
2). Mary A. Curran (1854-abt 1935)
3). John M. Curran (1856-1921) ***my great great grandfather
4). Catherine Curran (1858-1942)
5). Thomas Jacob (1860-)
6). Hugh Francis Curran (1862-1864)
7). William S. Curran (1864-1940)
8). Edward Curran (1866-1939)

John M. Curran
photo taken of large framed photo owned by Donald V. Curran, my grandfather.

John M. Curran (I wonder if his middle initial was for McManus?  I've only ever seen the M and I'm not even sure where I saw that) married Elizabeth Ella Martin 13 Dec 1886 in Wood County, West Virginia.
They had the following known children.

1). John W. Curran (1886-1962)
2). Clara "Clarie" Ellen Curran (1888-1954)
3). Margaret "Maggie" Curran (1889-unknown)
4). Charles Terence Curran (1891-1918)
5). Laura "Laurie" Esther Curran (1893-1975)
6). Thomas James Curran (1896-1934)
7). Nora "Norie" Victoria Curran (1898-1976)
8). Cora "Cory" May Curan (1900-1969)
19).  Miner O. Curran (1901-1992)
10). Lewis Wade Curran SR (1903-1972) **my great grandfather
11). Alice Florence Curran (1906-1999)
12). Letha I. Curran (1908-1983)
13). Ralph E. Curran (1911-1990)

John M. Curran was a farmer and a father.  As you can see, he and Ella, as she was called, had 13 children.  He passed away at the age of 65.  His obit speaks of kidney problems, but his death certificate indicates that he died of prostate cancer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#22 of 52...Elmer Jack Laycox

Elmer Jack Laycox is my husband's maternal grandfather.  Elmer Jack was born 16 June 1921 in Tennessee to Jackson Monroe Laycox & Bonnie Fevel Swafford who were married 27 Jan 1909 in Monterey, Putnam County, Tennessee.  They had the following known children:

1) Johnnie Pearl Laycox (1911-1987)
2) Georgia Jewell Laycox (1913-1981)
3) Chester Vomner Laycox (1915-1986)
4) Leva Mae Laycox (1917-2001)
5) Elmer Jack Laycox (1921-1996) **my husband's maternal grandfather
6) Robert Esau Laycox (1924-1956)
7) Macie E Laycox (1933-1996)

Elmer Jack Laycox married Mamie Capitola Tucker, daughter of William "Tex" Tucker and Minnie Hudson in Tennessee.  They had the following children:

1) Jack Laycox (still living)
2) Larry Laycox
3) Gloria June Laycox (still living)
4) Patsey Faye Laycox (still living) ***my husband's mother

Elmer Jack served in the United States Army and then when the Air Force was formed he served in that branch.  He retired from the service.  He and his family were stationed in Tripoli, Libya and in Spain overseas.  Jack was a cook.

Elmer Jack Laycox and Mamie Capitola Tucker
Copy of photo owned by Patsey F. Laycox Schaal
Elmer Jack Laycox passed away 9 Sept 1996 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee at the age of 75.