Tri-Counties Genealogy &
History by Joyce M. Tice
Local History Articles Section
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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||Tioga County Court House and Jail in Wellsboro
Wellsboro Agitator [Wellsboro, PA] 1928 June 14
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Sunday Tragedy Shocks County
Justin C. Beach Kills Self and Wife at Sabinsville Home - Neighbors
Six crashing shots which rent the silence of Sabinsville's Sunday morning
sleep sounded the knell of Justin C. Beach, aged 60 years, and his wife,
Azella Chisom Beach, aged 52 years, and overshadowed one of the bloodiest
tragedies in the history of Tioga county. Afflicted with softening of the
brain, and possessed of a groundless antipathy for his wife, who had recently
left him, Beach shot her through the body with a high powered rifle, while
she slept, turning the gun on himself a half hour later, when he had wandered
through the house and about the premises, calling his wife's name and discharging
the gun. Interference on the part of neighbors would have been dangerous
and probably unavailing, since Beach was heavily armed and desperate.
Information came to Coroner Wm. White, and Sheriff
John Wilcox soon after daybreak Sunday morning when the tragedy had been
discovered and reported by a Sabinsville milk man. Their investigation
revealed that Beach had been a drinking man, of ugly disposition and that
recently he had betrayed symptoms of a disordered mentality. Mrs. Beach,
fearing bodily harm from threats of murder and mistreatment by her husband
had been spending some time with relatives in Buffalo. Her visit to the
home at Sabinsville was to have been for the purpose of collecting her
goods before returning to Buffalo.
Before Mrs. Beach's arrival, Saturday afternoon,
Justin Beach was seen in Westfield, where he drew a large sum of money
from the bank, and after experiencing difficulty in counting the bills,
stated that if his wife returned that day "there would be a wedding."
The early part of the evening seems to have been
spent in peace, Beach seeming to be in excellent spirits and of more friendly
disposition than usual. It appears that he had but lately regained possession
of his firearms, he wife having hid them in self protection.
Evidence of the mute, jagged bullet holes in the
bed room and about the house indicates that Beach stood over the bed, shot
at his wife and missed. As she arose, horrified, he fired again and she
fell back, dead upon the bed. William VanDusen, a neighbor, states that
he heard the first shot about 1:30. The murderer seems then to have come
to the realization of his crime, attempted first aid and in crazed despair
wandered the premises until he turned the rifle upon himself and fell prostrate
in the living room. The shot entered Beach's body.
The gaunt, barren old house at the edge of the village
is empty. Justin Beach's vicious eccentricities are at an end, and his
considerable wealth will be distributed among those outside his family,
since no close relatives survive.
Mrs. Azella Chisom Beach was born 52 years ago at
Little March. In 1892 she was married to Justin C. Beach, a native of Sunderlinville.
Mrs. Beach leaves two brothers, John Chisom and Frank Chisom, of Sabinsville.
According to a request of Mr. Beach, the Elks' Lodge,
of Hornell had charge of the rites at his burial on Tuesday.
Perhaps no man was better known throughout Tioga
and Potter counties than "Judd" Beach. He covered this territory, selling
cigars for 18 years. The first automobile in Tioga county, a Cadillac was
his proud possession. For a number of years he was Buick dealer in his
community, Upright and honest, Mr. Beach was esteemed by his business associates.
All who knew Mrs. Azella Beach loved her for her
fine womanly qualities. Until the worry over money seemed to affect her
husband's mind, they were a devoted couple. It is believed that she went
to Buffalo, fearing to stay in the home with him longer.
Wellsboro Agitator [Wellsboro, PA] 1928 June 14
Deplorable Condition Corrected by Court
Eleven Adults and Children found living in Two-Room Shack
A family by the name of Burgess, consisting of a
father, mother and five children, ranging in age from 2 to 11 years living
on Armenia mountain, Sullivan township were brought into court on Tuesday
afternoon by Sheriff Wilcox. The children were found delinquent due to
improper home conditions. Neighbors, Dr. G.A.Meikle, of Lawrenceville,
and Assistant County Superintendent E.E. Marvin, of Covington, testified
that the Burgess family and four men were living in a two room shack, under
unspeakable conditions. The court ordered all the children to the Blossburg
Hospital for medical supervision. As soon as in a fit condition they will
be sent to Bethel Orphanage.
Eldon Kurtz, ages 19 years, of Linden, Pa., who
had been confined in the county jail after having pleaded guilty to a charge
of driving while intoxicated, was paroled by the court June 6 for a period
of two years, after he had served a part of his two months term of imprisonment.
Relatives, friends and the employer of the defendant interceded in his
behalf, stating that he was a temperate, hard working young man who had
fallen into bad company on the day of his arrest.
Samuel Rosencrantz, fruit truckster, of Buffalo,
who has been confined in the county jail for a period of one month, after
pleading guilty to possession and transportation of liquor, was paroled
for one year by the court on Saturday.
Max Keesler, aged 40 years, of Corning, pleaded
guilty before the court on Monday to a charge of driving while intoxicated
and was sentenced to pay the costs of prosecution, a fine of $200 and undergo
imprisonment in the county jail for a term of two months. Keesler was arrested
this week by Patrolman Ralph Day in the vicinity of Richards bridge.
Andrew Zabiega, of Blossburg, who was arrested this
week in the vicinity of Richards bridge by Patrolman Ralph Day on a charge
of possession and transportation of intoxicating liquor, brought to Wellsboro
where he waived a hearing before Justice of the Peace O.H. Davis and committed
to jail, entered a plea of guilty on Monday afternoon and was sentenced
by the court to one year in the county jail and a fine of $500 and costs.
Zabiega has been before the Tioga county courts before, charged with a
Andrew Bubacz, of Blossburg, who had completed his
term of imprisonment for the possession of intoxicating liquor, was paroled
by the court on Monday, in order that he might pay the fine imposed and
the costs of prosecution. The last two weeks of his imprisonment was served
in the Blossburg Hospital, where the defendant was removed because of ill
William Boom, hotel proprietor of Knoxville, who
was convicted by jury on a charge of possession of intoxicants and released
on bail while his case was being appealed, was brought before the court
on Monday for sentence, the appeal having been refused. He was fined $500
and the costs in the case and sentenced to a term of three months imprisonment
in the county jail, in spite of the fact that several reputable citizens
of Knoxville appeared in his behalf and a petition asking the court for
leniency was offered. This was Boom's second offense of liquor law violation.
In court chambers on Monday a divorce was granted
in the case of Harry C. Severson vs. Rozella Severson, both of Wellsboro.
Wellsboro Agitator, Tioga, PA - Wed., Dec 6. 1899,
Strong Drink Made Men Quarrelsome - Murderous Knife Nearly Causes Mattison's
Gaines, Dec. 5 - A serious stabbing affair occurred in the basement
of the hotel last evening, when Johnnie Mattison was stabbed by G. H. Furman.
He was struck back of the ear with a knife and three arteries were severed
and the murderous blade only just missed the jugular vein. He was
at once removed to Dr. Bentley's office where three doctors worked over
him until midnight. He seems a little stronger this morning, and
may recover. Furman and Mattison had been drinking some through the
day and had had some trouble. In the evening both met in the pool
room and Mattison commenced to strike at Furman. Furman either had
a knife in his hand or drew one from his pocket and struck Mattison in
the neck, inflicting a wound three inches long and about two inches deep.
Mattison would have very soon bled to death but for the prompt attendance
of Dr. Bentley who happened to be in and was stanching the flow of blood
within five minutes after it happened. Furman was allowed to go without
being arrested, although it was thought at the time that Mattison could
not live an hour.
Another item on same page:
Furman was arrested yesterday afternoon and, after an examination before
Justice M. W. Atwell, was committed to the county jail. Constable
G. R. Black brought Furman to jail last evening. Furman is about
25 years of age. Mattison was still in a dangerous condition last
In the 4/6/1900 Wellsboro Gazette, Pg 4, the case is being brought before
the Commonwealth against Bert Furman for a trial for his recent Gaines
stabbing of John Mattison. The article says John Mattison is a bad
egg and had assaulted Furman during the day and that the stabbing that
evening might have been in self defense.
Wellsboro Gazette, Tioga, PA - Thur., Sept. 15, 1910 Pg 5
The remains of George Furman, who was killed by a shot wound in North
Carolina, were taken to Gaines last Saturday for burial. A correspondent
says that the saddest part was that the parents of the deceased and the
other immediate members of the family are in Wyoming and could not be present
at the funeral.
Wellsboro Agitator from Sept. 21, 1910, Pg. 1:
"The remains of George Furman, who was killed by a shot wound in North
Carolina, were taken a few days ago to Gaines, where the funeral was held
in the M. E. church. Rev. Charles Howard officiated."
Wellsboro Agitator, 4 December 1888
The November Term – Reports by the Grand Jury
On Tuesday morning the case of the Commonwealth against George S. Bailey,
charged with assault with intent to kill Serena A. [Bowdish] Bailey, his
wife, was called for trial. The case was fairly under way when Mr. Henry
Starkey, of Richmond Township, one of the jurors hearing the case, received
a dispatch stating that a member of his family was sick and that he must
come home. After considerable argument by counsel on both sides of the
case it was finally decided to allow Mr. Starkey to retire from the box
and go home, and the trial proceeded with eleven jurymen. The case terminated
suddenly on Wednesday afternoon when the defendant withdrew his plea of
not guilty and pleaded guilty, whereupon Judge Wilson immediately sentenced
him to three years and three months imprisonment at hard labor in the Eastern
Penitentiary and to pay a fine of $100. It the case had gone to the jury
for a verdict the defendant would undoubtedly have received a much heavier
sentence, as the full extent of the law would have been seven years. The
story of the crime is familiar to the reader of the Agitator, having been
published at the time of the preliminary hearing last summer.
The parties are from Farmington. The man and woman had been living
together for nearly six years as husband and wife, the marriage ceremony
being performed August 28, 1882. A little boy just past 5 years is the
fruit of this marriage. Something over two weeks prior to the shooting,
which took place on the 28th of July last, the couple separated. Allegations
that the man had two or more living wives became current and trouble began
to grow out of the situation. The man and woman after a short separation
met clandestinely and talked over their affair. They agreed to meet again
on the Babcock road on the morning to July 28 last and there make final
preparations to live with each other again.
In the meantime James A. Bowdish, brother of the woman, had sworn out
a warrant for the man’s arrest on the charge of bigamy. Officer Frank VanDusen
was given the warrant and directed to the spot on the road where the defendant
and his wife had arranged to meet. As the officer came up and began to
read his warrant the defendant took a large quantity of opium in his mouth
and began to chew it. Mrs. Bailey informed the officer that Mr. Bailey
had taken opium, and an effort was made to get him to spit it out of his
mouth, but refused, saying he wanted to die. VanDusen started for help,
and Mrs. Bailey went to Mr. Finch’s for assistance. Coffee was offered
the defendant as an antidote for the poison, but he refused it. Preparations
were then made to get the man to some place where medical aid could be
procured, but upon the defendant positively declaring on the way that he
had only taken plug tobacco and not poison the plans were changed an it
was decided to go to officer VanDusen’s house and see if some fix-up could
not be made releasing him from the charge of bigamy.
Bailey asked his wife if she was afraid to have him ride with her up
to the Constable’s house. She replied she was not, and offered to let him
ride with her. The Constable objected, desiring the defendant should ride
with him; but defendant insisted upon riding with his family, and so the
Constable yielded, and the man, wife and little boy drove together, the
Constable following closely behind. The woman drove the horse at the request
of the defendant, and just as they neared the residence of John R. Weeks,
and she had started the horse into a trot Bailey pulled a revolver from
his pocket, pointed it at her and fired, the ball taking effect in her
left shoulder. She fell forward and her feet became fast in the wagon-box,
while her head and shoulders hung down under the wagon. The horse started
to run, dragging the woman in this position some 15 to 20 rods before it
stopped. Almost immediately after Bailey shot his wife he placed the pistol
to his own head and fired, the ball passing obliquely through the right
side of the head and coming out about two inches from where it entered,
making simply a severe scalp wound. When the horse stopped, the defendant
extricated his wife from her perilous position. Mrs. Bailey said to her
husband, “George, you have shot me and I am dying.” He replied, “I have
shot myself and am dying, too.” She said, “George, why did you shoot me?”
He answered, “I shot you to kill you.” The officer placed Mrs. Bailey in
his wagon and drew her by hand to Mr. Weeks’ house, and then came back
for Mr. Bailey, whom he found wholly unconscious, lying upon the ground.
He was also removed to Mr. Weeks’ and physicians were called.
Dr. Rumsey, of Nelson, was first to arrive, but shortly afterward Dr.
W.D. Humphrey and his son William arrived from Osceola. Dr. Humphrey said
it was his impression that the defendant had taken some 90 grains of opium,
and that 30 grains would ordinarily cause death; that when he arrived the
defendant was so low that it was thought hardly possible to resuscitate
him. Large doses of belladonna were injected into his arm, and, contrary
to all expectations, the man rallied and was able to be brought to Wellsboro
the next day. Mrs. Bailey, however, remained for seven weeks on the lounge
where she was placed in Mr. Weeks’ house. She says she has not seen one
hour since she was shot that she has been free from pain. She told her
story in a slow impressive way and exhibited to the jury her wounds.
The defendant went upon the stand in his own defense, and claimed that
he did not remember anything after he took the opium at the time of his
arrest. He said he had no recollection of shooting his wife or of any one
of the attending circumstances.
Tri-Counties Page 16404
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 11 October 2008
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M.
Relocated fromteh Main Articles page 11 Oct 2008