Skip to main content

Bradford Houser was Murdered in 1914. Was His Case Ever Solved?

If it was, I haven't recovered the final verdict. Which makes me wonder, did someone get away with murder?

Bradford Houser, born 31 May 1893, was a son of Emmett Houser (1868-1932) and Mary Mathews (1869-1929). For the 1910 US Federal census, the family was in Fort Valley, Houston County, Georgia. [Note: Fort Valley became part of Peach County when the latter was formed in 1924.]

Following is a series of news articles I did find regarding the killing of Bradford Houser in the fall of 1914.

Augusta Chronicle
Saturday, 7 November 1914 - pg. 1
Emmet Houser's Son Found Murdered, Fort Valley

Macon, Ga., Nov. 6. -- Bradford Houser, 23 years old, son of Emmett Houser, well-known newspaper man and manager for Hon. Thomas M. Felder in the last senatorial campaign, was found murdered at Fort Valley late tonight.

Young Houser had been attending a carnival that was in progress at Fort Valley, thirty miles from here. He was not missed by the merry-makers, however, and it was mere accident that Marshall Murray stumbled upon his body 150 yards from the carnival court.

No one had heard a pistol shot. Houser was unarmed.

Bloodhounds were obtained from Crawford County at once and an effort is to be made to clear up what the police are satisfied is a case of murder.
An article from the Houston Home Journal (Perry, GA) adds the following under the headline, "MR. BRADFORD HOUSER KILLED."
...The bullet had entered the heart and death was almost instantious. [sic]

The inquest Saturday did not disclose any positive evidence of the murderer, though suspicion was directed to a negro man who was drunk and threatening.

...The motive for the shooting has not been established, unless it was for robbery. The authorities are satisfied that Starke, who is considered a desperate negro is the one who fired the shot.

...The burial was in the cemetery at Fort Valley Sunday morning.
This next one is no shocker.

Augusta Chronicle
Sunday, 8 November 1914 - pg. 2

To Prevent Mob Violence He Is Taken From Houston County to Macon.

Macon, Ga., Nov. 7. -- To prevent a possible lynching in Houston County, a negro, Claude Starks, who is alleged to have shot and killed Bradford Houser, at Fort Valley last night, was tonight placed in the county jail in this city...Tonight county officials [at Fort Valley] heard of a new plot to lynch the negro and they immediately put the negro in an automobile and brought him here.

Houser belonged to one of the most prominent families in Houston County...He was a nephew of Judge H. A. Mathews, of the Macon circuit.
This one was published the following month. So the first arrest might have been a rush to judgment. (I have yet to find another mention of Mr. Claude Starks/Stokes/Starke.)

Houston Home Journal (Perry, GA)
17 December 1914 - pg. 6 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]


...In the city court last Tuesday morning Mr. Roy Anthine of Fort Valley was placed on commitment trial on the charge of killing Mr. Bradford Houser at Fort Valley about six weeks ago. The trial was not concluded when the HOME JOURNAL went to press at noon Wednesday.
Two months to the day after the murder, there's this. So the second arrest proved to be fruitless, as well?

Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)
Thursday, 7 January 1915 - pg. 3
Special to The Chronicle.
Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 6. -- A regard [sic] of $250 for the arrest of the unknown party who last November assassinated Bradford Houser, of Fort Valley, was offered Wednesday by Governor Blease...
Well, not so fast. According to an article published in the Houston Home Journal three months later, "the case of the state vs Roy Anthoine charged with murder of Bradford Houser was called..." And the following day brought this from the Vienna News (Georgia):

Fort Valley, Ga., April 19. -- Roy Anthoine, charged with the murder of Bradford Houser on the outskirts of a carnival here several weeks ago was set free by the grand jury in Perry Thursday. The tragedy occurred sometime about 10 o'clock at night and the only eyewitness was a negro woman who told several conflicting stories accusing different parties of the murder and finally implicated Anthoine.

The case has attracted considerable attention on account of the prominent connections of Mr. Houser who is a nephew of Judge Henry Mathews and grandson of Captain J. W. Mathews...
The end. I guess. I did notice Roy Edgar Anthoine "registered in accordance with the Selection Conscription Law on June 5th" of 1917. Nothing else connecting him to the killing of Bradford Houser, though.

Buried alongside Bradford in Oaklawn Cemetery are his parents.

"The Father of Peach County" was a title given to Bradford's father, Emmett Houser. I was very surprised to discover the elder Houser tried to commit suicide in 1929. The newspaper article which proclaimed this intimated ill health was the reason the prominent lawyer shot himself. "The bullet entered the body close to the heart and came out through the left shoulder." Nine months after this incident, Emmett's wife died.

Emmett Houser lived another two and a half years after losing Mary. 

Houston Home Journal (Perry, GA)
12 May 1932 - pg. 1

Emmett Houser, 63, of Fort Valley, died at his home there at 6:30 o'clock Saturday morning. He had been unconscious since late Friday afternoon. Cancer of the throat caused his death.

Mr. Houser represented Houston county in the legislature and and [sic] served as Ordinary of the county before the county was divided.

After the establishment of Peach county, Mr. Houser was elected clerk of superior court, serving a four-year term. He was defeated in the 1928 primary, when he offered for re-election. At that time his health had begun to fail, and his condition gradually became worse.

...Interment was in Oaklawn cemetery.

Mr. Houser was a son of the late Jeff Houser...He was born in July, 1868, in Fort Valley, and had lived there all his life. Survivors include three sons, Claude Houser, of Atlanta and Fort Valley, secretary to Chief Justice R. B. Russell; Roderick Houser, Fort Valley; Lieut. Harold Houser, U.S.N. Panama Canal Zone; four daughters, Mrs. Walter Steinbaer, Washington, D.C.; Mrs. Helen Houser Woodall, Fort Valley; Misses Clifford and Janie Houser, Fort Valley; a brother, R. M. Houser.


Popular posts from this blog

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you. Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here." Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. H

Southern Cross of Honor

I'm late to this discussion, but it's one I'd like to join. :-) Terry Thornton at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country started with Grave Marker Symbols: The Southern Cross of Honor and UCV (link no longer available). Judith Shubert at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges continued with Hood County Texas: C.S.A. Veterans & Southern Cross of Honor Symbol . [UPDATE, 1 June 2009: Judith has moved this post to the blog, Cemeteries with Texas Ties . The link has been corrected to reflect this move. You may also link to her article via her nice comment on this post.] Wikipedia states: The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Arm

Thursday Link Love: EyeWitness To History

Yesterday, a link was added to the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo. The link was to the website titled EyeWitness to History through the eyes of those who lived it . It's a great site, and I encourage all to visit it. Here are several items I found while snooping around. - Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944 : "Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of "undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others." - Crash of the Hindenburg, 1937 : "Radio reporter Herbert Morrison, sent to cover the airship's arrival, watched in horror. His eye witness description of the disaster was the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast and has become a classic piece of audio history." [You ca

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)