Rutherford County, NC

David Weston
Silas Weston
Theodosia Weston
William Herbert Steadman

Alleged offense: None (testimony against bootleggers)
Race: Black (Silas, Theodosia), White (Polly, William Steadman)
Gender: Both
Age: Unrecorded, Infant (Steadman)
Legal intervention (in alleged offense): No
Legal intervention (following lynching): Yes
Mob size: 3
Mob members: Govan Adair; Columbus Adair; Martin Baynard
Alleged victim: N/A
Household Status: Various
Occupation: Unrecorded

Susan Barringer Wells covers this case in great detail in her book, A Game Called Salisbury. On the evening of April 26th, 1871, three alleged Ku Klux Klan members named Govan Adair, Columbus Adair, and Martin Baynard broke into Silas Weston’s home. The three men shot Weston, his wife Polly, and three of his children, and then burned the house down. Only Weston’s wife and youngest child survived the attack. At trial, the Adair brothers were found guilty of orchestrating the murder even though their motive was unclear. Some accounts suggested that the men, who identified as Republicans, wanted the killing to be blamed on the KKK for political reasons. Other accounts, which were eventually repeated many years later as part of colorful stories about bootlegging alcohol, suggested that the motive of the lynching was to prevent Silas Weston from testifying against the men for the illegal distillation of alcohol. Govan and Columbus Adair were executed for their crimes.


Death certificate:

News coverage:

Horrible Outrage in Rutherford County

A Terrible Tragedy

Execution of the Two Murderers at Hendersonville, NC

Execution of the Two Murderers at Hendersonville, NC cont.


Town: Dysartsville, North Carolina
Latitude/Longitude: 35.628321, -81.836361
Rationale:  Nearest city or town

Additional Resources:

Researcher’s Note: