Captain S Deatherage

Male 1890 - 1932  (~ 42 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    Event Map    |    All

  • Name Captain S Deatherage 
    Born Oct 1890  Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died Nov 1932  Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I272008479120  Eby/Aebi and Bernethy Family
    Last Modified 27 Aug 2012 

    Father James Phillip Deatherage,   b. 29 Aug 1867, North Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Nov 1928, Surry (Later Stokes) County, North Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 61 years) 
    Mother Mary Nancy Cloud,   b. Abt 1875, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 30 Oct 1884  Patrick County, Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location 

    • Virginia Marriages, 1851-1929 about J. P. Deatherage
      Name: J. P. Deatherage
      Spouse's Name: Nancy Cloud
      Marriage Date: 30 Oct 1884
      Marriage Place: Patrick County
      Age: 18
      Birthplace: Patrick County, Virginia
      Father: W. H. Deatherage
      Mother: L. Deatherage
      Spouse's Age: 18
      Spouse's Birthplace: Patrick County, Virginia
      Spouse's Father: J.D. Cloud
      Spouse's Mother: L. Cloud
      Marriage Performed By: M. D. Hill, Min:
      Original Source Page: 124
    Family ID F246729424499  Group Sheet

    Family Unknown Unknown,   b. Unknown 
    Last Modified 27 Aug 2012 
    Family ID F246729424516  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Oct 1890 - Virginia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Nov 1932 - Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Carter 'Cap' Deatherage
    Carter "Cap" Deatherage
    Article by Laura Bien. Found in

  • Notes 
    • 1900 Census Mayo River, Patrick, Virginia as Captain S DEATHERAGE; divorced living with his parents.
      1910 Census Mayo River, Patrick, Virginia s Lap DATHRAGE
      1920 Census Mayo River, Patrick, Virginia as Cap DEATHERGAGE

    • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 about Cap Deatherage
      Name: Cap Deatherage
      County: Patrick
      State: Virginia
      Birthplace: Virginia,United States of America
      Birth Date: 1890
      Race: Caucasian (White)
      FHL Roll Number: 1984914
    • Forgotten Confession Saves Accused Detroit Slayer

      The Detroit Branch of the NAACP added another significant victory to its Michigan chapter in the general fight of the National Association for justice for the Negro before the courts. One of the hardest fought cases of the association closed last Friday in the Washtenaw County court, at Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a verdict of not guilty after a twenty-four-hour deliberation by the jury in the cases of Carey BAYLIS, accused of participation with Thomas BRITTON, confessed murderer, in the slaying of Cap DEATHERAGE, white, World War Veteran , at Ypsilanti, Michigan. Harold E Bledsoe of Bledsoe and Dent defended BAYLIS.

      The killing of DEATHERAGE climaxed day and night of drinking in an old dance hall which had been converted into living quarters. Those who participated in the drinking orgy were Helen HARVEY, white, housekeeper for Frank POWELL, Negro, Cap DEATHERAGE, white, Carey BAYLIS and Thomas BRITTON, who later confessed killing DEATHERAGE giving as a motive the fact that DEATHERAGE had called him a "dirty damn nigger." In his confession he told in gruesome detail how on the night of the murder he beat DEATHERAGE senseless with a club and then castrated him. He told several conflicting stories, among them that Carey BAYLIS instigated and participated in the murder with the motive of robbery. Carey BAYLIS denied any knowledge of the crime. ..................................................................... the trial from Monday December 12, and lasted through Friday, December 16 at which time the verdict of "not guilty" was returned.

    • Note to readers: This article contains graphic details about a murder, and quotes newspaper articles whose language reflects the racial attitudes of the 1930s.

      Cold Off the Presses: the murder of Carter Deatherage
      By Laura Bien

      Farmhand ?Cap? Deatherage woke from a stupor.

      He blinked and squeezed shut his eyes a few times. The barn?s hayloft was cold. Snow was falling outside the loading door.

      Deatherage stretched and slowly sat up. Farm work was over for the season; he?d have to overwinter in Ypsilanti.

      As he shuffled to the hayloft ladder, his foot hit an empty whiskey bottle.

      It was the Friday after Thanksgiving, 1932.

      A few hours later, in a dingy Ypsilanti ?dance hall,? Deatherage ?ate, drank, and danced during the afternoon hours,? said the Dec. 1, 1932 Ypsilanti Daily Press. He ?drank excessively and finally lost consciousness. He fell across a dirty bed in the living quarters of the dance hall, where he slept as [several people] shuffled about in their dances without benefit of music.?

      Next morning, at 8:15 a.m., Ypsilanti South Side resident William Jones headed for the well in the back of his yard to get water. He walked past his chicken pen and a few dead tomato stalks sticking out of the snow. What he found at his well led to an investigation and trial that dominated city news for almost two weeks and caused an uproar in Jones? neighborhood, called ?The Hill.?

      In an area roughly enclosed by Hamilton, Michigan Avenue, and the modern-day I-94, stood streets of small homes alternating with run-down houses serving as blind pigs and so-called ?dance halls.? The neighborhood held a tense mixture of struggling poor residents and a shifting population of drifters and criminals, who preyed on their more settled neighbors.

      Jones? ?chicken yard has been robbed, on several occasions attempts have been made to enter his house; everything has to be kept under lock and key,? said the Dec. 1 Ypsilanti Daily Press. ??The Hill? is getting to be a place where respectable residents are obliged to carry arms. Three times in the last two years Mr. Jones has shot into the air to frighten away intruders.?

      This morning was far worse. Jones found a dying man at the well. His body lay on blood-soaked snow. Tire tracks led from the road to the well and back. The man?s overcoat was torn up the back seam and his collar, shirt, and pants were ripped. As Jones approached, the man groaned. ?By marks easily distinguishable, it is certain that the man was slashed at the spot where he was found,? reported the Nov. 26 Press. ?He had been fiendishly attacked and a portion of his flesh was found 10 feet from the body.? Jones called the police. The man was taken to Beyer Hospital with bruises and lacerations, a possible broken skull, broken neck and jaw and severe loss of blood. There he died.

      During a search of the man?s clothing, officers found the title and keys to an old Model T. The title indicated the car had been transferred to a Carter Deatherage, from an Ed Wagner in Dundee. Police chief Ralph Southard contacted Wagner and found that Wagner had bought the car from a Glen Evert, who in turn had bought it from a Mr. Sedimier. A clue came when an acquaintance of Sedimier's told police that a man matching the victim?s description had worked for Milan-area farmer William Woolsey. Police found that Woolsey?s son?s employee, farm laborer Charles Garner, had seen the car?s owner two days earlier.

      Police arranged for Garner to view the body, which was undergoing an autopsy in Ann Arbor at the University Hospital. Garner confirmed that the body was that of Carter Deatherage. Garner told police that he?d seen Deatherage on Thanksgiving Day, visibly drunk and complaining that he?d been beaten by a woman. Deatherage apparently had no local relatives with whom to spend the holiday. He slept in John Woolsey?s barn on Thanksgiving night, said Garner, and disappeared some time on Friday.

      Police learned that on Friday, Deatherage had driven to Ypsilanti and returned to John Woolsey?s farm with Hill resident O.D. Hall. At the farm, they collected Deatherage?s clothing and the run-down trailer he had lived in, which Deatherage gave to Hall. Deatherage had arranged to overwinter in Ypsilanti, in a shack on the Hill?s Watling Street. Returning to Ypsilanti, Deatherage dropped off Hall. He bought some meat and headed for an abandoned house that now served as a dance hall at First and Jefferson. Already drunk, he wanted a ?feed? and more liquor.

      On the afternoon of the discovery of Deatherage?s body, police took Hall in for questioning along with three other Hill residents: a white woman, Ellen Harvey, and African Americans Tom Britten and Frank Powell. Powell lived near and used to own the dance hall where Deatherage spent Friday afternoon. Recently released from the Detroit House of Correction for a liquor violation, Harvey was described by police chief Ralph Southard as Powell?s housekeeper. Hall was released on Saturday afternoon, but the other suspects remained in custody over the weekend.

      By Monday, Nov. 28, after questioning the suspects, police learned that Deatherage had spent Friday afternoon in the dance hall. He was with Britten, Tom Kersey, Ed Talbert, and Talbert?s half-brother Carey Hunt, also known as Casey Baylis, who was the current owner of the dance hall. Baylis had been released from the county jail on Thanksgiving after serving 10 days for disorderly conduct. The men told police that Deatherage had passed out drunk and slept for most of the afternoon, and had left at 5 pm. Britten and Powell insisted that Ellen Harvey had not been there.

      By now police had found that Deatherage was a former Army private in the 125th infantry. He had entered the army in 1918 and was honorably discharged a year later after fighting in France. Police also found that Deatherage had a brother Arthur, living on Terminal Avenue in Detroit. Arthur traveled to Ypsilanti for questioning. He disagreed with the police?s theory that the crime was due to jealousy over a woman. Before returning to Detroit, Arthur said, according to the Monday, Nov. 28 Press, that ?his brother had shown no interest in women since he became involved with one accused of burning his home in Virginia.?

      On Monday afternoon, Deatherage was buried in Highland Cemetery. ?There will be no mourners as the brother from Detroit is destitute and unable to finance a second trip to Ypsilanti,? said the Press. ?The expense of the funeral is taken from the county fund for soldier?s burial. Brief rites will be conducted at the grave and there will be no pallbearers.?

      On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the police again questioned Powell, Britten and Harvey. They also brought into custody and questioned Casey Baylis. ?Their stories did not coincide and all repeatedly were trapped in lies,? said the Tuesday, Nov. 29, Press, ?but up to a late hour this afternoon, officers had been unable to obtain an admission of guilt. . .?

      Contrary to Britten and Powell?s earlier testimony, Ellen Harvey said she had indeed been at the dance hall, but left at 5:45 p.m. She said that Deatherage had been there. Britten, late on Monday, amended his story to say that Deatherage had been at the hall until 7 p.m., instead of 5. On Tuesday, he changed his story again, to say that Deatherage had been there until some time between 10 p.m. and midnight. Britten was grilled throughout Tuesday by police officers and prosecutor A.J. Rapp. Officers also combed the crime scene. ?Deatherage was not killed, officers are certain, on the Jones property. Automobile tracks near the pump house, and blood at the roadside, indicate he was brought there after the first attack had been made,? said the Tuesday, Nov. 29, Press. ?If he was killed in the [dance hall], it had been well cleaned up before officers arrived. . . Robbery is now considered the likely motive. Deatherage had money and had been spending it for liquor during the day. Police believe the gruesome lacerations about his abdomen may have been an afterthought, in an effort to send investigators off on a false clue.?

      On the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 30, Britten confessed to murder. His confession detailed the last night of Deatherage?s life. Britten said that he, Baylis, and Deatherage had been in the dance hall late into the evening. Baylis urged Britten to rob Deatherage. But robbery wasn?t the motive for the attack, claimed Britten. It was because Deatherage had flung a racial epithet to ?the men of the race he had been taught to command at his home in the South,? said the Dec. 1 Press.

      Britten said Deatherage left the dance hall around midnight. As Britten followed him down the steps, he picked up a cudgel about 3 feet long. Britten said he followed Deatherage to the well and struck him twice, once on his head with the cudgel and once with his hand. ?It is the opinion of Prosecuting Attorney Rapp that Britten, who is known to have a violent temper, struck Deatherage more than twice,? said the Wednesday, November 30 Press. ?Officers describe Britten as of a ?mean? disposition and recalled that on one occasion he had bitten a piece out of the arm of his wife, Edith. He has been arrested for desertion of her and their children and for disorderliness, but has not previously been implicated in a major crime. He has lived in Ypsilanti practically all his life.?

      On Wednesday, after signing his confession, Britten was taken to court. Pleading guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Marquette prison. Baylis, who with Britten was jointly charged with the murder, pleaded not guilty. He headed to trial.

      Baylis? Ann Arbor attorney, Louis Burke, told Ann Arbor?s Judge Sample that the law allowed for a 10-day waiting period before the trial and that he needed time to prepare a defense. ?Judge Sample stated that he was absolutely not in sympathy with delays and that it was his policy to mete out swift, sure justice,? said the Thursday, Dec. 1, Press, ?but because of the legal technicalities cited by Baylis? attorney, he allowed him until Saturday morning to determine at what time the case should be heard.? Ellen Harvey was to be a witness. She did not face charges but did not make a favorable impression. The Thursday Press reported that ?arrangements are being made to keep her from remaining in Ypsilanti.?

      Thursday?s paper also contained an article headlined ?Colored People of City Want "The Law" to Clean Drifters Out Of ?The Hill?.?

      The article attributed trouble on The Hill as due to transient residents ?asking no questions, giving and taking what they have or can find or steal in the way of food or clothing ... Mr. Jones hopes the [murder, an] outgrowth of moonshine whiskey and disreputable mingling of the races, will bring about the needed reform. The respectable Ypsilanti colored people have had enough.?

      Two days later, the paper published a plea from Hill residents for Ypsilanti police to clean up the area. Chief of police Ralph Southard agreed to monitor the neighborhood and responded by asking residents to watch their neighborhoods and inform police of suspicious characters. Three days later, Bertha Robinson was banned from the city after creating a disturbance at another dance hall, and sent home to Flint. The watchfulness continued. The Dec. 30 Press reported that police were patrolling The Hill and questioning strangers to make sure they had legitimate business there.

      On Monday morning, Dec. 12, five witnesses testified in the Baylis trial. First was farmhand William Garner. He described his identification of the slain man and speculated as to how much money Deatherage had had on his person. After Garner, Dr. F.B. Williamson described being called to Beyer Hospital to tend to the dying man. Next was Dr. E.C. Ganzhorn, Ann Arbor coroner. He corroborated Williamson?s description of the injuries, described the autopsy procedure, and gave as cause of death concussion of the brain and loss of blood.

      Next on the witness stand came two officers, Coy Rankin and Ernest Maddux. The men described the scene where they?d found Deatherage and called an ambulance.

      Shortly before noon, testimony was given by Tom Kersey, who lived in Casey Baylis?s dance hall. He said Deatherage asked Hall for help in moving his trailer to Ypsilanti. Kersey said he ended up going as well, along with Britten, Baylis, and Talbert, to the spot where the trailer had been left by the side of the road. Later, at the dance hall, Kersey testified he had been called, by a person and for a reason he didn?t name, into the rear section of the hall where Baylis had living quarters, at about 10:30 or 11 p.m. He denied that he went there for liquor. Ellen Harvey followed him on the witness stand and testified that she had been at the dance hall and had had two drinks while there.

      The following morning, Tuesday Dec. 13, Sheriff Jacob Andres offered testimony about a new confession Britten had given the day before. The officer said Britten claimed that Baylis had helped Britten commit the crime. Prior to this claim, Baylis had been regarded only as an accessory. Andres reported that Britten confessed that both he and Baylis had pursued Deatherage. Baylis, said Britten, had a broken ax handle and he himself had a club; they had killed Deatherage together. According to Britten, Baylis then gave his knife to Britten and told him to disfigure the body. Baylis stole $38 from the body and gave Britten $3. Britten threw his club into the night. The two returned to the dance hall, where Baylis hid the ax handle under some potatoes and apples in a bin. They talked over the crime for three hours, agreed to keep quiet, and went to sleep.

      Britten next took the stand. He described the movements of all the people who had been at the dance hall Friday night. Other witnesses on Tuesday included George Randall and William Dailey, who were two deputies of Sheriff Andres; William Woolsey, justice Jay Payne; who had first examined Baylis; and chief of police Ralph Southard, who said he had found Baylis?s stick hidden in the dance hall.

      With testimony concluded, after closing arguments the case went to the jury on Thursday, Dec. 15. ?It was decided not to force the jury to remain in the courthouse overnight,? said the Dec. 16 Ypsilanti Daily Press, ?when it was discovered that beds kept in the building for that purpose were coated with nearly an inch of dust.? Twenty-four hours later, the jury returned a verdict: not guilty.

      The sad and sordid case was apparently over, but questions remain.

      Why did Baylis and Britten insist that Ellen Harvey was not at the dance hall on the Friday Deatherage was there, although she herself said she was?

      Why were there tire tracks leading to the well house, and blood on the snow some distance from the well house, when Britten said he had been ?following Deatherage [on foot] to the vacant lot where the well is located, [and] struck him . . .?? The Nov. 26 Press had reported ?It is evident by tracks that Deatherage was not killed near the spot where he was found. . . he had been apparently carried from a [car] to the side of the small well house.? William Jones reported hearing a car ?pass his house, turn the corner, and stop? between 4:30 and 5 a.m. on Saturday morning but didn?t bother to investigate.

      Why did police not search Deatherage?s Model T? Where was the car? Although Deatherage had a set of keys on his person, suggesting that without them no one could drive his car, it was not only possible but easy to hotwire Model Ts, or, for the older models, jjuryrig a substitute key. When Deatherage came to town on Friday, with money and presumably a car, did the impoverished criminals on The Hill view him as easy pickings for car and bankroll theft?

      Deatherage?s existence was grim, lonely, and short. It must be hoped that, in death, after his hardscrabble life, he at last found peace.

      "Cold Off The Presses" is published every Wednesday on

Home Page |  What's New |  Most Wanted |  Surnames |  Photos |  Histories |  Documents |  Cemeteries |  Places |  Dates |  Reports |  Sources