This article appeared in the Newberry Observer in 1879. Fannie Frances Dickert Banks, wife of Pierce Butler Banks, was the first cousin of W. H. Long. Her father, William T. Dickert and Sarah Ann Dickert Long were twins. W. H. Long and his brothers were suspected to be part of the group of Regulators involved. After this event, they fled to North Carolina for three years.
Trouble In Smokey Town
James C Banks Shot Down By Butler Banks. The house of Butler Banks Burned Down and His Wife and Little Children Left Out in the Cold Without Shelter
For three or four years past, frequent deeds of lawlessness and violence have occurred in the extreme southern portion of the county in the settlement long known as Smokey Town, now called O’Neal. There have been several cases of incenderism varied with occasional shootings. There was some trouble down there in 1876 which left bad blood between neighbors; but the first act that attracted public attention was the burning of the barns and stables of Mr. Jacob H Boozer one night three or four years ago. The purpose was to make a clean sweep of his premises, but the winds shifted at an opportune moment and drove the flames from the dwelling/house and it was saved. After that, Mr. Orlando Dickert had two horses taken from his premises and killed. Later on, Mr. Walter Wise’s barn and stable were set on fire and burned. There were various acts of lawlessness of a more or less serious nature. All these acts have occurred in a radius of not more than four miles.
A few months ago, Butler
Banks was shot at by someone in ambush on the roadside, and was slightly
wounded. He thought that James C Banks was the man that shot him or had it done
and vowed vengeance upon him. Butler Banks is regarded as a man of desperate
character *** ****** ***** *** * ******* ***** ****.
Butler Banks lived in a log
cabin of one room on a small tract of nine acres that belonged to his wife.
Banks has acted the part of an invalid for a good while. He is a small man,
small and sallow, quiet and reserved in his general demeanor, with nothing of
the bully or desperado in his appearance. He hunted a great deal and has the
reputation of being a crack shot and of being a fighter and shooter, and a bad
man to fool with. Mrs. Banks, a hard working woman, tended the farm, her only
help being an ox with whose aid she made last year 2 bales of cotton and 65 or
70 bushels of corn, besides a good crop of peas and potatoes. The cotton had
been sold and a small portion of the corn had been used, the balance, about 60
bushels, was in the barn with a quantity of fodder and the peas, and two banks
of potatoes were in the garden. These things formed the means of living for the
family of eight for the year, and were nearly their whole worldly possessions,
the furniture of the house being of the rudest and simplest kind, but there were
enough to keep them comfortable in their humble way. The children are too young
to be of any assistance on the farm, the oldest being 13 and very small for his
age, and the youngest, 2- the five oldest, boys, the youngest a girl, such was
this little household on Saturday last.
Butler Banks was not a desirable neighbor, at least to some members of the community. It is quite likely that the fault was not all on his side. Lately he had received several written notices from anonymous sources, ordering him to leave. One of these notices, signed ‘Regulator’, he attributed to his neighbor and distant cousin, James C Banks. It is said the he was heard to remark after receiving this, that he would ‘fix that regulator.’ There is no evidence that his suspicion was correct- this is non to the public. Mr. James C Banks is well known in the county, having frequently attended the county convention as a delegate where his occasional sallies of wit, made him a conspicuous figure. Six or eight years after he was a candidate in the primary for county commissioner, he was 47 years old and appears to be a peaceable, jolly, good-natured man. He has 4 grown sons.
Whether moved by the threats
of the ‘regulators’ or for other reasons, more likely because he had been
offered a good price for his little farm, Butler Banks decided to sell out and
leave Smokey Town. He had bargained his place to Mr. John Henry Koon, whose land
adjoins his, for $20 an acre, and the sale was to be completed and the deed
executed at Prosperity on Saturday last, but early that morning, an event
occurred that knocked all the neighbors into ‘pi’ and culminated in the most
diabolical deeds of this bitter feud.
Shooting of James C Banks
Butler Banks left his cabin that morning- armed, as was his custom. He and James C Banks came in sight of each other by accident, at a point near O’Neal Academy. James C Banks went into the house of Dorothy Holman- the house formerly occupied by Mr. M. L. Lon- to sell some pictures or papers or something else of the kind. As he came out of the house, Butler Banks, who had taken a position in a large pine tree in front of the house, blazed away at him with a double-barrel shotgun, discharging both barrels at him in a quick succession and following them up with two shots from a pistol. The shotgun was loaded with buckshot.
James C Banks was wounded in
four places. One buckshot struck him on the right hand, one struck him in each
shoulder, and one entered the forehead just above the left eye. The wound in the
forehead was the only serious one. Dr. Wyche, who was called to see him, probed
for this ball to a depth of about 2 inches, but could not find it. It ranged a
little downward and is a very serious wound. Butler Banks, after the shooting,
fled in the direction of Edgefield.
Banks’ House Burned
On Saturday night, about midnight, a pair of men went to Butler Banks’ residence, where his wife and six young children were. They set fire to the dwelling/house, after saturating the timbers with kerosene oil. Mrs. Banks came out and extinguished the fire. They drove her back into the house, and again set it on fire, and this time, burned it down. Mrs. Banks got out with her children, but saved very little else. The party then fired the other houses on the place and burned down every one of them, leaving nothing but a chicken coop.
After the burning of the
house, the mother and children, who had escaped with scant clothing and two old
quilts, and part of a bed tick, huddled together with no other protection from
the winter’s cold, than the smoldering embers of their little cabin. There
they remained until Sunday morning. All the children were barelegged, only two
had on shoes, and only one a hat, and all were thinly clad. On Sunday morning,
Mrs. Banks went off in search of some friend or relative and the children were
left alone to make out as best they could in the open field around the fire. The
neighbors were afraid to interfere, lest they might involve themselves in the
deadly feud. Mr. John Henry Koon, sent the children some dinner, and this, with
the potatoes they roasted in the ashes, they satisfied their hunger. Three men
who went to the juvenile camp on Sunday afternoon, found the children making
themselves as comfortable as possible. Their philosophy being somewhat of the
Mark Topley order, they were quite jolly, no whimpering or complaining. They
talked quite freely and intelligently about the events of the preceding night;
said there were about 20 persons in the crowd that burned the houses; but no
doubt in their excited condition, that a few figures flitting about in the
firelight would appear to be many. They said it was the Banks crowd and
mentioned one by name. Sometime during Sunday night, Mr. James Albritton, the
stepfather of Mrs. Butler Banks, carried the mother and her children to his home
and gave them shelter.
What next? That is the question in the minds of the people in that neighborhood, for few, if any, believes that the matter will stop here. Some new development is expected every day. The parties concerned are not likely to appeal to the law. They have that rude border notion that a man should be able to take care of himself and it is cowardly *** **** **** *** personal difficulties **** *** *** **** appears to **** *** * *** **** desire the intervention of *** *** * *** * *** reported in the neighborhood.
Butler Banks has vowed retaliation for the burning of his house and that he threatens a ‘clean sweep’ for his enemies. The people of the community are naturally very much excited over this new outlook. There are many excellent, law-abiding citizens in the community who deeply deplore these repeated acts of violence but heretofore they have been powerless to prevent or punish them. It is hope that these new acts will be thoroughly investigated and sifted and that the guilty parties will all be brought to the bar of justice to answer for their crimes.
Trial justice Hair has made out a warrant for the arrest of Butler Banks on the charge of shooting James C Banks but no efforts have been made to execute it. No warrants have been executed for the burning of Butler Banks’ house.
The following article ran in the State Newspaper in 1893. Thanks to Dena at http://genealogytrails.com/scar/newberry/index.htm for posting this article. Please visit her site and contribute any Newberry County, South Carolina info you may have.
Work in Newberry; Butler Banks Proves Himself a Very Bad Man; He Resists Arrest
at the Hands of Four Men, Stabs Two of Them, and Puts the Quartette to Flight
State - February 20, 1893
Feb. 19 - What may prove a very serious cutting affray too place in this county
today. Two men are very seriously, if not fatally cut. Butler Banks, a white
man, residing about four miles from Newberry, some two years ago was interested
in a prosecution in the Sessions court, both as prosecutor and defendant. The
case was never terminated, but is still on the contingent docket. There seems to
have been some understanding that if all parties left the county the case would
never be pressed for trial. The others interested in the case have gone, but
Butler remained and has been out of jail on bond. Yesterday, it seems, he had an
interview with one of his boundsmen, and as a result this bondsman decided to
turn Butler over to the custody of the court and relieve himself of liability on