Sunday, May 3, 2009

How Not To Get Married

In 1928, two articles appeared in The Washington Post regarding miscreants from North Carolina getting involved in a shootout with the police chief at Alex Buda's restaurant in Newport. Buda, whose sons Bill and Z would also be well-known in the area, ran the establishment for many years.

I am not entirely sure of the exact location of the restaurant in 1927; the article mentions that the shootout occurred on Main Street, but, for many years, his son Bill ran a restaurant called Bill's Restaurant on Broadway next to Newport Hardware:

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Bill's Restaurant on East Broadway

However, Alex's World War 1 draft registration card indicates a connection to the Busy Bee Restaurant, which, at least in the 1937 Newport Phone Book was on Church Street, which would explain the Main Street mention:

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Church Street: Location of the Busy Bee Cafe in 1937

Although the full story is not clear from the two articles below, Wash Turner, also known as B.C. Cline, had been serving time for bank robbery at the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, North Carolina, and escaped. He and two other men, including Wade Davis, also known as Wade Price, then robbed a bank in Norman, North Carolina.

About a month later, Turner and Davis drove up to Buda's restaurant and ordered sandwiches to go. Newport Police Chief Bill Bell apparently recognized Davis from information issued from Knoxville. He started to arrest Davis, placing him in handcuffs. About that time, Davis's wife, Lois, as well as Turner's girlfriend, Essie McDonald, all from North Carolina, drove up in a second car about the time that Alex Buda walked outside his restaurant.

Turner pulled a gun an open fire; Chief Bell returned fire, and, at the end of the melee, all four North Carolinians were wounded along with Bell and Buda. Turner escaped, abandoning his car nearby and fleeing into the woods; the others were apparently captured and sent to the hospital. Turner soon, though, turned up in the local hospital with pneumonia, apparently contracted from exposure while he was hiding out after being wounded.

Under his alias, B.C. Cline, Turner married McDonald in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, the sheriff from Norman, North Carolina, identified him as the bank robber. Although described as "gravely ill", there is no 1928 death certificate in Tennessee for him, so he perhaps survived. Cocke County marriage records, though, indicate that the marriage record was voided and the money for the license returned.

The Washington Post, March 23, 1928, page 1:

Police Chief, 2 Women and 3 Men Victims in Newport, Tenn., Affray.

Newport, Tenn., March 22 (A.P.) – A Newport police squad today sought B.C. Cline, of Asheville, N.C., believed to be hiding in the woods nearby, wounded in the chest, following a shooting affray on Main street here which sent five persons to the hospital late last night.

Cline fled in his automobile after engaging in a pistol dual with Chief of Police Bill Bell, but deserted the car on the outskirts of town.

The wounded in the hospital here today are Police Chief Bell, shot in hip; Wade Price, of Pleasant Garden, Tenn., leg fractured by bullet; Mrs. Lois Price, his wife, shot in abdomen and thigh; Miss Ruth Johnson, Asheville, N.C., bullet in skull, and Alex Buda, an innocent bystander, shot in left side.

Chief Bell said the shooting started after he had attempted to arrest Price on advices from Knoxville, when Price and Cline drove up to Buda’s restaurant and ordered sandwiches sent out. Cline, he said, opened fire as Price was handcuffed, just as Mrs. Price and Miss Johnson drove up in a second machine. Bell emptied his pistol, and in the cross-fire all were wounded including Buda, who had just stepped out of his restaurant.

The Washington Post, March 26, 1928, page 1:

Bridegroom Identified as Bank Robber and as an Escaped Convict.

Newport, Tenn., March 25 (A.P.) – Within a few hours of being married in a hospital here today, a man who physicians said was “gravely ill,” was identified as a member of a trio which robbed a North Carolina bank. He also was declared to be an escaped convict from the North Carolina Penitentiary.

Wash Turner, alias B.C. Cline, of Marion, N.C., and Miss Essie McDonald, also of North Carolina, and undergoing treatment for bullet wounds, were married, and a short time later, Sheriff J.S. Braswell, of Norman, N.C., identified the man as one of three who robbed the bank of Norman February 21.

Turner and his bride and W.E. Davis, alias W.E. Price, and his wife were wounded here Wednesday night during a pistol battle with Chief of Police W.I. Bell, who was also wounded, as was Alex Buda, a bystander. Davis also was identified by the sheriff as implicated in the Norman robbery.

Turner, physicians said today, was gravely ill with pneumonia as a result of exposure following the battle.

Sheriff Braswell said Turner was an escaped convict from the North Carolina Penitentiary at Raleigh, where he was serving a term for bank robbery.

Turner’s bride probably will be blind in her left eye as a result of her wound.

Both Davis and his wife, physicians said, will recover.

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