Monday, April 25, 2011

Talley murder

We've spent some time digging deeper into the newspaper account of Elias O'Neil's murder in Shreveport. Martin Talley, Jr. shot O'Neil in April of 1871, an act of retribution for O'Neil's murder of Fred Talley, Martin's father. Fred Talley's murder occurred just 8 months earlier, in August of 1870.

Fred Talley has a violent history of his own, with the Ouachita Telegraph reporting on Talley's killing of EB Huff in November of 1866. "The difficulty originated at a gaming table." Fred Talley had nine children, but his third daughter, Lou, died at age 9 on August 10, 1870, just 7 days before Talley was fatally shot by O'Neil. Talley's wife, Elizabeth M. Fite, was left to raise her remaining 8 children alone.

According to the memorial obituary for 39 year-old Talley placed in the Southwestern on 24 August 1870, "Though fearless and calmly resolute in danger, it could never be said of him that he was a quarrelsome man; and it was a source of consolation to him in his last moments to know that he had received his death wound while acting the peacemaker."

Elias O'Neil, was confined upon the charge of killing Talley, but was supposedly too unwell to be brought into court right away. The Southwestern reports that "in the difficulty, he was several times struck on the head by a large walking cane, and as erysipelas [infection] has supervened, his physicians regard him in a somewhat critical condition." This diagnosis did not stop the trial and on the 30th of August, O'Neal was "brought before Judge Levisee to undergo a preliminary examination upon an application for bail."

According to the Southwestern's 7 Sept 1870 article, within the week, "the application to be admitted to bail by Mr. Elias O'Neal, charged with murder in killing Mr. FW Tally, was finally argued yesterday, the examination of witnesses having occupied three days. The arguments of cuonsel, pro et con, were able and exhaustive, though not so ornate and flowery as usual, being limited in time. After a lengthy, impartial, and thorough investigation, Judge Levisee decided that the accused be admitted to bail in the sum of $20,000."

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