Richmond Times Dispatch
Richmond Times Dispatch
Contributed by Susan

Description: Branham Is To Be Hanged The Wise County Wife Murderer Must Pay Penalty

Date: August 7 1903

Newspaper published in: Richmond, Va.

Page/Column: 3

Branham Is To Be Hanged The Wise County Wife Murderer Must Pay Penalty

Clintwood, Va., August 6. Clifton Branham, on trial for his life at Wise, the County Seat of Wise County, for the murder of his wife has been convicted of murder in the first degree and has been sentenced to be hanged. The death sentence will be executed September 25th.

With the execution of the sentence of death the career of a remarkable man will end. The story of the crime and of the career of Branham, as printed herewith, are taken from the Sandy Valley News published at Grundy, Va., and make an interesting story.

The Story of His Crime

Branham is only about 40 years old, but in that time he has been a farmer, a trapper, a woodsman, a preacher and twice a murderer. He was sentenced at one time for serve 99 years for murder in the State of Kentucky but was pardoned by Governor Beckham.

About 20 years ago Branham shot and killed "Long Henry" Vanover in Letcher County, Ky., for a trivial offense. He was tried and got the limit sentence in the penitentiary, as stated above, 99 years. He served a dozen years in the penitentiary, professed repentance of his deed, and began evangelistic work on the inside. He had influential friends, and they took an interest i him and presented his case to Governor Beckham, who pardoned the man conditionally.

Took His Wife At Her Word

Branham then returned to his home in Wise County where, during his absence he found that one of his daughters, a beautiful and blushing mountain lass, had wedded David Fleming, and almost the first thing that happened with the advent of the convict preacher to his old home was a row between the son-in-law and the father-in-law. In this little diversion, Branham pulled his gun and shot a lock of hair from the head of the son-in-law. Mrs. Branham, who had become totally blind since her husband had been in the Kentucky penitentiary, interceded for Fleming saying: "I would sooner you would kill me than to hurt Dave."

With these few remarks, Branham turned around and fired at his wife, who was standing within a few feet of him, the woman's clothing taking fire from the revolver. Mrs. Branham sank to the ground, dying in a few minutes. Branham then decided to spend a few years in the State of Kentucky and made his way to the home of his brother near Lexington, and at an unguarded moment he went into the city. The officers were on the lookout for him and they proceeded to take him in. He was brought back to stand trial with the result as told.

Branham is a fine specimen of manhood, physically a stranger to fear and has always been noted for the handy use of firearms.

His Former Incarceration

He was first arrested in the county of Dickenson for the crime committed in Kentucky, and while in the jail at that place gave no end of trouble. He was for a long time the solitary man in the prison, and he collected all the straw mattresses in the jail, placed them in his room, called the jailer, showed him a box of matches, and said that if he was not released he proposed to set fire to the jail and burn it down. The jailer, a broad shouldered and good-natured mountaineer is said to have replied: "Why go ahead Clif. Burn her down and be d - -d. The county will get rid of you at the same time that she loses a jail."

The man reconsidered and the jail is standing today.

The Dickenson County jailer mentioned in the story is said to have been none other than the well-known capital policeman of today, Mr. Thomas Haynes, popularly known by his sobriquet of "Long Tom" Haynes.

Submitted: 11/15/14

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