From the Tazewell Republican, Thursday, November 5, 1903
HUMAN BLOOD SPILT AT POLLS.
Two Killed, one Fatally and one Seriously Wounded in Scott County.
Bristol, Tenn., Nov 3. — A fatal row occurred in an election booth at Fairview, Scott county, Va., today. Two men were killed, one fatally injured, and one seriously. The dead:
Wounded: J. H. Catron, shot through the neck; will die. Alexander Keys, shot in the right hip.
The trouble arose over objection being made to C. P. Roller serving as a Republican judge. Roller, it is claimed, had been selected by Democratic election commissioners for service. Osborne and Nickels, the two dead men, were Democratic judges and were brought into the quarrel on account of the official connection with the election. It is believed that Catron fired the shots that killed Osborne and Nickels. The two men who were killed shot Catron and Keys.
The Bristol News of the 3rd inst. gives the following:
“According to the meagre details received over phone from Dufflied, Va., by The News this afternoon the battle to death was brought about over a disscussion as to who should be the Republican judge at the Fairview voting place.
The Democrats, who control the appointment of election judges, had selected C. T. Roller, a Republican, to serve as the representative of that party, along with Deputy Sheriff Nickols and John Osborne, the Democratic judges. Just before the polls opened early this morning some Republicans objected to Mr. Roller serving as a judge.
This brought on a discussion, each side arguing pro and con. The discussion waxed warm and soon hot words passed between those implicated. Following the cross fire of angry words a blow was struck and a general battle ensued. During the scramble and mixup revolvers were drawn and the firing began. Many shots rang out and excitement was high. When the smoke ad cleared away and men’s senses returned to them, both Osborne and Nickols were lying on the ground dead in their own blood while Catron and Key’s were staggering off, wounded men. The prompt efforts of the cool headed men checked the battle and kept more human blood from being spilled. The bodies of the dead men were removed to the respective homes where loved ones in tears awaited the coming.
Physicians were summoned and medical aid administered to the wounded men.
Just who fired the fatal shots is not known, but it is generally believed that they came from John Catron’s revolver.
Fairview is in Scott county, Va., and is near the Tennessee line, with Hancock county, Tenn., on one side and Lee county Va., on the other. It is at the foot of a mountain and is considered a rough territory. It is about twenty miles from Gate City, the county capital of Scott, and is ten miles distant from Clinchport. The Powell precinct polls a large vote and is a Republication stronghold, there being but few Democratic Voters in the precinct.”
Transcribed (misspellings intentional) from an article in the Tazewell Republican, by Patty Jones, December 29, 2018
It is possible that the C. P. Roller mentioned in the beginning of the article is the same Calloway Patton Roller shown on this page, although later in the article he is listed as C. T. Roller.
See another article posted about this same incident, with corrections of some details.
Carol Shaw says
My name is Carol Shaw. I have been researching the Nichols family for 40 years. Long ago, my great uncle told me a story about his uncles , the Nichols brothers-Eck and Nul. My grandmother told me the same story. Their story was a bit different than this one. After reading this rendition of the event, I am inclined to believe this story. I have questions about your article. Where did you get the details of this riot? Was it from a person who was there at the time? Are you related to any of the principles in the story?
I would really like to talk with you about this story. If you want to talk with me , you can reach me through My email firstname.lastname@example.org looking forward to hearing from you!
I look forward to hearing from you! You are helping to solve a mystery of what happened to at least one of the Nichols boys!
Hi Carol, the information contained in this post, and the two others related to this incident was transcribed directly from newspaper accounts published at the time. I am not related to anyone mentioned in them and only posted them because they were interesting. I am glad you got something out of them.