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Person, Emily
Section 28.1
ID # 280590


Person, Emily
Bedford, Lucinda

Nashville Banner
July 27, 1889

Death of Emily Persons
Illness of her aunt Lucinda Bedford caused by poisoning.

After 2009 Restoration

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Work of Poisoner.
Emily Person, Colored, Killed with Rough on Rats.
Her Aunt, Lucinda Bedford
Also Gets a Dose.
Catherine Small, a Cook, Makes a Full Confession.

Emily Person, colored, aged sixty-five years, died about 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon from the effects of poison placed in some coffee which she drank at the home of her aunt, Lucinda Bedford, colored, on South Vine street, near McGavock, and Lucinda Bedford, the aunt, aged eighty-five years, was herself poisoned, though not fatally, in the same way. On Saturday morning Emily Person took breakfast with her aunt, Lucinda Bedford. The cook, Gracie Hunter, aged over seventy years, had brought in the breakfast. Both Emily Person and Lucinda Bedford became very sick and were seized with a vomiting spell immediately after drinking the coffee, and Emily Person died as stated at 3 o’clock.

Gracie Hunter stated in her testimony before the coroner’s jury that Catherine Small, another colored woman, who was cook for Lucinda Bedford until about three weeks ago, when Gracie Hunter was put in her place, was in the kitchen cooking bread while she (Gracie) was cooking breakfast. Some of the coffee from the cups out of which the women drank was analyzed by Dr. J.C. Wharton and was fount to contain arsenic.

The coroner’s jury, impaneled by Deputy Coroner Cornelius, returned a verdict to the effect that Emily Person came to her death from arsenic administered in coffee by unknown parties.
The police, Saturday afternoon arrested Gracie Hunter, Catherine Small, Johnson Small, husband of the latter, and Eddie Carneal, a relative of the Smalls. All of these are colored, and the last-named three have been living in a house in Lucinda Bedford’s yard. Johnson Small worked about the place.

Chief of Detectives Porter and Detectives Turner and Sidebottom worked on the case yesterday. Under the staircase leading from the outside of the log house in Lucinda Bedford’s yard, occupied by the Smalls and Carneal, to the upper portion, they found a box of “Rough on Rats,” nearly empty, which investigation proved to have been purchased from E.B. Davis and Co., corner of Broad and Spruce streets. Mr. Davis said a negro woman, whom the police suspected was Catherine Small, had bought it Friday evening, but when taken to the police station where Catherine Small was incarcerated, he could not say positively she was the purchaser of the poison, though she looked like her, and she positively denied having bought the poison of Mr. Davis.

Catherine Small yesterday afternoon made a confession in the presence of Captain D.U. Burke and Detective Turner. She signed it herself. It is as follows:

“I, Catherine Small, acknowledge, in the presence of Sam Turner and D.U. Burke, that I bought rough on rats at the store, corner of Broad and Spruce, Friday night. A portion of it was intended to poison mice and a portion of it was to make Aunt Gracie sick, because she had my place as cook. After putting bread in the stove I went upstairs. I waited until I thought the bread was done. I came down and got some of the stuff from under the house, where I had placed it the evening before. I put some of it in a paper; came into the kitchen and dropped the contents of the paper into the coffee-pot while Aunt Gracie was beating biscuit. I make this confession because I think it is right to do so. I did not intend to harm those old people. I thought their coffee was poured out in the small coffee-pot. I have not been promised anything or threatened by any one to make this confession."
                                                             “Catherine Small”

Gracie Huntley [sic] was released when this confession was made.
Catherine Small is a woman of small stature and is twenty-three years old.
Lucinda Bedford is quite wealthy, having been bequeathed about $75,000 by her former master.
Emily Person was well-to-do, though not rich.
Catherine Small will have her preliminary trial before Justice Hinton at 8 p.m. today.
Johnson Small and Eddie Carneal are still in custody.



Person, Emily

Nashville Banner
July 30, 1889

Without Bond.
Catherine Small Jailed and Carneal Small Released

Catherine Small alias Bibb, colored, who confessed that she put the poison in the coffee which killed Emily Person, colored, and sickened Lucinda Bedford, colored, with the intention of making the cook, Gracie Hunter, colored, sick, was tried before Justice J.M. Hinton yesterday and committed to jail without bond. Eddie Carneal, colored, was released yesterday afternoon, there being nothing to show that he had anything to do with the poisoning. Catherine, after her trial, made a statement to the effect that she was persuaded to use the poison to make Aunt Gracie sick by Johnson Small, colored, who was also arrested Sunday. Johnson was therefore held at the police station. To-day, however, after consulting lawyers, Chief Clack concluded that Small could not be convicted by the unsupported testimony of the woman, and as corroborative proof could not be found, he, too was released. It is said that he is not the husband of Catherine, with whom he has been living.

The funeral of Emily Person took place this morning form the residence of her aunt, Lucinda Bedford. The latter is out of danger.



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