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The Atlanta Georgian - In Lawrenceville People Whisper of the 1910 Triple Killing.

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

Written on Wednesday November 2, 1910

Editor's Note: Portions of the story, obtained on microfilm, were illegible and, in those instances, were as closely edited to the original text as possible.

Lawrenceville, Ga., Nov. 2, 1910 - The tragedy of Tuesday morning, the double murder by Joseph D. Wallace, a prominent merchant, and his own suicide, has inspired a hundred rumors as to his motive. He shot his wife dead in frenzy after a nightmare, and insanity followed, is the theory of the surviving members of the family. The older citizens say that Wallace was a peculiar man and that several years ago he killed a negro with but little provocation. Some of the gossips say that Wallace and his second wife did not get along well. That the catastrophe grew out of a quarrel with her is strengthened in their minds by Wallace's shooting only the children of his second wife, while his three daughters by his first wife were in the room pleading with him not to shoot again.

"I have killed your mother," Miss Estelle Wallace heard her father say as he jerked little Cline, a nine-year-old boy, away from his dead mother's breast. "And now I will kill you." With that he shot the boy twice thru the heart.

The story that Miss Wallace tells is a reality more horrible than any nightmare.

The Daughter's Story.

"About 2:30 o'clock," she said, "my sisters, Lena and Lollye Belle, and I, who were sleeping in another room, were awakened by mother's screams. Then we heard three pistol shots. We rushed to mother's and father's room door and found Felton, Garland, and Cline there, knocking for admittance. We thought there was a burglar inside.

"Father unlocked the door and there was the expression of a demon in his face. He grabbed Felton, who is fourteen years old, by the arm and shot at him twice, wounding him once in the shoulder. Then father rushed out of the house with trousers in his hands. We ran to mother's bedside and little Cline, putting his arms around her neck, begged her to speak to him. But she was dead.

The Second Crime.

"In a few minutes father returned, jumping around the room and chattering like a gorilla. He jerked Cline from mother's bed, and saying, "I have killed you mother and now I will kill you," fired twice at him.

"When father took hold of Cline we all, wildily excited, pleaded with him to stop. But he did not seem to hear. After he had shot Cline he started for the door and shot into it. I hope I amy never see such a face again as his when he turned and, pointing the pistol at his own head, fired and fell back-- dead.

"We girls screamed and ran into the night. I did not know whether I was dreaming or in hell."

J.W. Montgomery and his family, who live next door, were awakened by the pistol shots and the scream of the children in the night. They ran out to see what the trouble was. They were directed to the chamber of the tragedy. On the bed was the dead mother's body, covered with blood; by the side of it on the floor was little Cline, his body crumpled up in a heap; near the door Wallace himself, lying on his back, his dead eyes staring wildly at the ceiling, and Felton writhing in agony near him.

All Buried Together.

The funeral services were held at 12 o'clock Wednesday, one service for all three, and they all three were buried side by side in the little cemetery.

The people of the town were gathered in groups Tuesday in the central streets. The home of the tragedy was crowded with friends, relatives, and the morbidly curious. A hundred rumors of the motive were being whispered but no one would openly say the provocation was anything but insanity.

One of the whispered stories was that Mrs. Wallace would not get up and unlock the door for her husband when returned home from his lodge Monday night. It was said that his temper was uncontrollable when he was upset.

A Dream of Three Coffins.

Mrs.George C. Sweeney, of Buford, a sister of Mr. Wallace's first wife, told of a dream she had the night before when three coffins were brought to her mother's home.

Mr. Wallace was prosperous and well thought of in Lawrenceville. His first wife died many years ago and he had three children by his second wife, Felton, aged fourteen, being the oldest.