Murder in Rafter, Monroe, Tennessee ~ 19 September 1911

Murder in Rafter, Monroe, Tennessee ~ 19 September 1911


When I was 16 years old I had been told about a tragic shooting incident involving my paternal grandmother, Ora Lee ELLIS, or "Sissy" as she was called, in Monroe Co., TN when she about 17 years old. We had been talking about the nightmares she had and whether anyone knew what caused them. I was told she had witnessed the murder of a young man who was walking her to Church one Sunday and that possibly that triggered her nightmares. I don't recall asking a whole lot of questions about who it was, who did it, etc., until about 40 years later, and then I could not remember who it was that told me the story, nor could I find any relatives who had ever heard about it, including my own father. This would launch me into a personal search for the truth, as well as a genealogical quest for something I might be able to share with my family about our grandmother and a part of her life.

Pistol Duel At Dance Cause Of Three Deaths

  • Abilene, Texas

The Abilene Daily Report, September 20, 1911
Abilene, Texas

Incident: Murder
Date: Place: 19 September 1911
Place: Rafter, Tennessee
Persons Involved: Miss Elsie (Sissie) Ellis, Obie Butler, Olney Phillips, John Heading

~ Quarrel Began Over Refusal of Girl to Allow Sweetheart to Take Her Home ~

Because Miss Elsie Ellis refused to accompany obie Butler home from a dance at Rafter, Tenn., last night, three men are dead.  Olney Phillips, seventeen years of age, who was with the girl, was shot dead by Butler.  John Heading, who interfered, was shot five times and instantly killed.  An unknown person shot Butler, the ball piercing his brain.

Phillips Was Prominent

Olney Phillips was prominent in this section.  Obie Butler was thirty years of age.  The affair cause much excitement here.

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