Thursday, September 24, 2009

Benella (Norris) Henthorn(e)


The mother of Patty Pardee, Serena (Henthorne) Miller, had recorded in her notes: Bennie Ellen Norris Henthorne, b. 25 Mar 1869, d. 2 Nov 1899 in Ironton, OH.


Descendant Robert Lott Henthorne reports that Bennie Norris was killed by a stray bullet during a gunfight in the street while she was knitting inside their home. Robert was told this by his father's mother and years later by Serena Eloise, the daughter of Bennie (Norris) Henthorn.

A Fugitive's Bullet
Cuts Short the Life of Mrs. Lot Henthorn

One of the most sensational occurrences in the history of Ironton [OH] was enacted on South Third street about 2 o'clock this afternoon.

Ironton officers attempted to arrest W.C. Moore, of Green River, Ky., for disorderly conduct, and he resisted. Officers Mayne and George used their clubs, and Moore drew a big 48-caliber Colt revolver and began shooting.

On south Third street, between Vernon and Washington, the officers took refuge behind buildings and telegraph poles and returned Moore's fire, but apparently without effect.

Officer George Mayne was standing behind the corner of Jones' livery stable and one of the balls from Moore's revolver struck him in the little finger of the right hand, making a wound which may necessitate the amputation of the first joint. Another bullet passed through his coat collar, tearing a big hole in the cloth.

One of the officers, Ed. Rafferty was standing behind a telephone pole, just above Lot Henthorn's residence on Third street, between Vernon and Washington. Moore opened fire on him.

Mrs. Lot Henthorn and a young lady who was in the house, heard the shooting. The young lady ran outside to see what occasioned the fusilade and Mrs. Henthorn stepped to the south window of the upper front room of her residence.

When the young lady returned to the room, Mrs. Henthorn was lying unconscious on the floor with the blood streaming from a bullet wound just below her mouth. A small bullet hole in the window and a shattered pane, indicated that one of Moore's bullets had gone wild and struck the unfortunate woman.

The young lady gave the alarm and willing hands soon rendered assistance. Dr. W.E. Pricer was hastily summoned and did all that medical aid could accomplish to bring the lady to consciousness but she died in a few minutes.

In the meantime, the authorities and an infuriated crowd of citizens gave chase to the renegade whose bullet had accomplished its work of destruction. It was a running fight. Moore emptied his Colt at his pursuers, reloaded and emptied it again. The officers returned the fire and as the fusilade continued the wildest excitement prevailed.

Running out of ammunition the officers secured shot-guns and continued the pursuit. In the alley above Gills's saloon at Third and Quincy, Officer George run in on Moore and knocked the fight out of him with a club. He was taken in charge by Officers George and Rafferty, who escorted him down Fourth street to Vernon and towards the Mayor's office.

An immense crowd, attracted by the shooting and enraged at the news of Mrs. Henthorn's death, followed the officers and their prisoner, and the frequent cries of "lynch him!" "string him up!" and like expressions induced the officers to change their plans and take their prisoner to the county jail.

Moore is from Green River, Ky. He has been here at different periods for some time and is rated as a bad citizen. This afternoon he was at Furlong's saloon, where he got some colored boys to dance for him and then refused to pay them. The proprietor remonstrated with Moore and the latter drew a revolver on him. Thus originated the complaint to the authorities and the tragedy which followed.

During the excitement the report was started that the gun user was a Hatfield, and then again that he was one of the Chatfields, and this seemed to add to the fury of the crowd which had gathered. However, the officers stayed firmly with their prisoner and landed him in jail.

Officer George said, "I don't know when Mrs. Henthorn was shot, but should judge it was when Mayne was behind the post in front of her residence. It could hardly have been when he was behind Jones' stable, where he was shot."

Officer George Mayne substantiates his statement, and says he received his wound when he was behind the livery stable corner.

Officers [sic] George emptied his gun at Moore and was handed a shot-gun by some unknown party. This also was emptied at the fugitive. He did not strike Moore, but the latter voluntarily surrendered his revolver. He cannot account for the wound in the back of Moore's head, unless it was caused by a bullet or club of one of the officers.

Mrs. Henthorn was the wife of Mr. Lot Henthorn, a salesman at Brumberg's clothing store. She was 30 years of age last March, and besides her husband, leaves four small children. She was one of the most active members of the Christian church and a lady respected by all.

The Register is informed that Moore has been working at the steel plant in Ashland, Ky., and has a wife and four children in that city. He expressed the deepest regret over the occurrence and begs that he be protected against any violence on the part of the citizens of this community.

Sheriff Dovel, while not entertaining serious fears that an attempt would be made to secure possession of Moore, had taken precautions to protect the prisoner. The jail residence was lighted up during the entire night and it was understood that sworn deputies held vigil behind the closed doors, ready to sustain the strong arm of the law should an assault be made.

The prisoner had his preliminary hearing, Tuesday, and was remanded to jail without bond.

Mrs. Henthorn's Funeral

The funeral of Mrs. Bennie Ella Henthorn, wife of Mr. Lot Henthorn, and the unfortunate victim of Monday afternoon's tragedy, will take place from the Christian Church, corner of Third and Washington streets at 2 P.M. Wednesday. The funeral services will be conducted by Rev. J.W. Maddux, assisted by Rev. W.H. Hampton.

The family of the deceased desire it announced that there will be no viewing of the remains at the church. After the services the remains will be laid to rest at Woodland cemetery.

Mr. and Mrs. Norris of Columbus, mother and father of the deceased and her brothers and sister from that city, are here to witness the last sad rites.
(Source: The Ironton Register, Thursday, November 2, 1899, Vol. 50, No. 15, page 1 - furnished by James Fathbruckner)
[Note: The shooting took place on Monday, 30 Oct 1899. The funeral was held on Wednesday, 1 Nov 1899. The newspaper article about the incident and the funeral appeared on 2 Nov 1899.]


After their mother's death the 4 Henthorn children went to Columbus, OH to live with the Norris grandparents. They were there at the time of the 1900 census.

Census: 1900, in Franklin Eo., OH, Columbus, 54 127, 13 99

  • Joseph B. Norris, b. Mar 1841 VA VA PA teacher, married 33 years, 6 children 4 living;
  • Serena E., b. Aug 1846 KY VA VA;
  • George B. b. Jun 1872 KY VA KY;
  • Mary S., b. Aug 1876 KY VA KY;
  • John S., b. Aug 1879 KY VA KY;
  • Evett P., b. Apr 1883, KY VA KY;
  • Clifford Henthorn, b. Mar 1888, OH OH KY;
  • Norris Henthorn, b. Mar 1891, OH OH KY;
  • Will Henthorn, b. Jul 1893, OH OH KY;
  • Serena Henthorn, b. Nov 1897, OH, OH, KY
(Census data furnished by James Fathbruckner)


Email Dick Henthorn:
Posted: 24 Sep 2009
File: Benella.txt

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