One hundred years ago, the most impactful event in Hillsville history took place.
On March 14, 1912, during the trial of Floyd Allen, a gunfight broke out, leaving five dead and creating legends that still resonate today.
A group in Carroll County felt the need to mark the occasion with academic discourse, a somber memorial service and wreath layings at the gravesites of seven individuals who were either killed as a result of the gunfight or electrocuted in the aftermath.
“This symposium is the first academic analysis of the culture and the environment of which this history erupted,” said Centennial Chairman Gary Marshall. “Our speakers are academic historians who can help us understand the culture, environment and atmosphere that was gathered in this courtroom in 1912.”
A number of topics were analyzed on Monday, including a look at violence in the New South, the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency that was charged with finding the Allens after the shootout, the culture of citizens carrying weapons into court and a look at how the story has been forever portrayed in folk music.
Tuesday’s topics included a viewing of Rick Bowman’s award-winning film “Hillsville 1912: A Shooting in the Court,” a discussion by “The Red Ear of Corn” author Bill Lord, an in-depth look at that first shot, how the tragedy impacts court security today and how the families were affected.
On Tuesday evening, VFW Post 1115 was the site of a somber memorial service with music by The Church Sisters and special remarks from Congressman Morgan Griffith, State Senators Ralph Smith and Bill Stanley, Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark and former Congressman Virgil Goode.
On Wednesday, graveside wreath layings are planned at the burial sites of Judge Thornton L. Massie, Commonwealth Attorney William M. Foster, Sheriff Lewis Webb, juryman Augustus Fowler, spectator Bettie Ayers, and Floyd and Claude Allen.