Monday, September 26, 2011

From Murder in the Second Degree to Innocent...John Sidney Irvine, 1885

This entry into the genealogy blog started off completely different from where it ended up.  I scanned the images of John Sidney "Sid" Irvine and his wife, Blanche Boulware.   Sid was born in Dresden, TN August 1862. His parents were Benjamin Dabney Irvine and Agnes Moran.  He was the third born in a group of nine children.  Census records show him living in Dresden TN till 1880.  He moved to Bowie Texas soon after 1880.  I haven't been able to find out who Blanche's parents are but then I've only been searching for about 9 hours!  She was born in Texas about 1870.  By the 1900 census she and Sid have two sons, Sidney (b. 1891) and Harry Clinton Irvine (b. 1897). Blanche and Sid married sometime between 1880 and 1890.   

Blanche Boulware Irvine
b. abt 1870 - d. Dec 13 1939
That was basically going to be the blog entry today but I thought no, let me do a bit of searching to see if I can come up with something else.  And I did. 

It seems that Sid and his brother Thomas "Tom" E. Irvine ran into a bit of trouble while living in Bowie Texas.  Tom, one of Sid's older brothers, owned a Furniture business and Sid was working with him in the business.  It appears there was an incident between the Irvine brothers and a local attorney named J.W. Kerr.  According to Tom, Mr. Kerr was trying to collect money on debts before they were due and that he, Tom, would not pay them until they were due.

Tom confronted Mr. Kerr on July 1, 1885.  His brother Sid was not there at the confrontation.  On July 2, about 5 or 6pm Tom and Kerr were arguing again.  This time Sid was there but according to witnesses he did not have a gun.  Tom and Kerr had the guns and they started shooting.  At some point in the fracas Sid hit Kerr with a board and held him.  Tom approached and shot Kerr.  Kerr lingered through the evening and died of his wounds around 10pm that night.  In addition C.W. Easley was injured during the shooting when a bullet went through his right hand which may have required the amputation of his thumb according to newspaper sources.

Tom fled immediately and avoided arrest.  I have not located if Tom was ever brought to justice in Texas.  I do know he went back to Tennessee.  In 1894 he married Mettie May Gardner and had a daughter, Annie A. Irvine.  He remained in Weakley County until his death October 20, 1918. His occupation, according to the death certificate, was "decorator."  He died from stab wounds that became infected and his death was ruled a homicide.  I'm sure there must be an interesting story there!  He's interred at Sunset Cemetery in Dresden.

Sid was arrested immediately.  Over the next four years he went through four trials.  The first trial found him guilty of second degree murder and he was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary.  He appealed.  The second trial found him guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary.  He appealed.  The third trial ended in a hung jury.  The fourth trial the jury found him not guilty.  Sid remained in Bowie till his death in 1927.

If you are interested in more about the case of Sid and Tom Irvine be sure and read Irvine vs the State of Texas.

John Sidney "Sid" Irvine
b. Aug. 1862 - d. 1927


  1. Did you know that Thomas was murdered. He died of infested stab wounds. A copy of his original birth certificate is available on Contact me if you need help.

  2. Hi Jean, I had to go back and look at my tree on ancestry to refresh my memory. Yes, I knew his death was deemed a homicide. I have the death certificate on the family tree. I'm not sure if I found that later but am going to add the information to the blog entry because it certainly does make for interesting reading. You wouldn't by any chance know the story behind his murder do you?