The Killing of Benj. F. Willis

Banks County Journal

Thursday, September 26, 1889

The particulars of the killing of Ben F. Willis are briefly as  follows;  Robt. Morris, John Morris, Ben Willis, Jas. Willis, John Crenshaw, and Charley Wilson, were together in Homer on the afternoon of Tuesday, and being neighbors and friends, they started home together after dark.  They had not proceeded more than a mile or so before Robt. Morris and Ben WIllis became engaged in a dispute of a trifling nature and of no importance, but both of them being somewhat under the influence of liquor, it led to a "fist and skull" fight.  They were separated by friends, and it was thought to be settled.

But about ten minutes after the fight was over, Morris again approached Willis and fired a No. 38 Calibre pistol at him, the ball taking effect in the left side passing through the lungs and entirely through the body and lodging under the ninth rib on the right side.  The shot produced almost instant death.  The body was removed by Mr. Raymond Emmett up to his house, where an inquest was held the next day by Coroner Smith and a jury of six men.  After a full investigation of all the facts and circumstances, the jury returned a verdict of "murder in the first degree".

Willis was a young man, of about 25 years of age.  Morris is about 23.

The writer was not acquainted with either and has no comments more than it is the duty of the law to have its course and be protected in having Morris brought to justice at once if possibly it can be done with safety to all law-abiding people of a civilized, moral, peaceful and religious community.

The Funeral of Benj. F. Willis

Banks County Journal

Thursday, Sept. 26, 1889

The funeral of Benj. F. Willis took place last Thursday evening.  The gathering was large.  The sorrowing, weeping relatives and friends presented a heart-rending scene.  Some were so afflicted as to faint and summon medical aid.  Mr. Wells delivered a short eulogy over the body, after which the coffin was opened and a last look at the palid face of a young man wrapped in death.  Then the lid was tightly closed and the remains interred at the Presbyterian Cemetery.

Grand Jurors Presentments

Georgia, Banks County;-We the Grand Jurors selected, chosen and sworn for the September Term 1889 of the Banks Superior Court..............

We recommend the governor offer a reasonable reward for the arrest of Robert Morris and John Morris for the  murder of Benj. F. Willis;....

Executive Minutes (01 Jan. 1890-31 Dec. 1891)

Microfilm Reel 50-60

Georgia Archives

Executive Order from Governor offering reward to the capture of Robert and John Morris for the murder of Benj. F. Willis issued 15 January 1890

Report of Robert Morris' Death

Banks County Journal

March 03, 1906

County Treasurer W. F. Morris received a message from Reno Nevada last Saturday stating that his brother Bob was killed at that place on Friday.  No particulars were given.

Transcribed by Jacqueline King

Copy and Copyright 2003 by Jacqueline King

Background by Donna Brand