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Job Was Not the Safest

Looking Back with Lloyd Mathews, originally printed in 1979? (exact date unclear)


“Hear me my friends while a tale I tell,

Of the cold-blooded murder of John Caddall.

In a dastardly crime, he was shot from the back,

At the Thornspring Crossing on the railroad track.

John left Newbern at a half past four,

After charging goods at Barker’s Drug Store.

He was riding home at a steady gait,

With not a notion what would be his fate.

Just before reaching the railroad track,

A shot rang out with an awesome crack.

John pitched from his horse, and fell to the ground

Where he lay in pain ‘til he was finally found.

They took him home and lay him abed,

With the coming of nightfall, John Caddall was dead.

For a few worthless coins, and a watch of gold

They took the life of this servant bold

All of the people he had served so well,

Mourned the tragic death of John Caddall.”


Being County Treasurer has not always been the safest of professions in the County of Pulaski. On April 1, 1890, John H. Caddall went about the duties of his office in the normal manner. In the morning of the day he had made a trip into Dublin where he had checks cashed at the bank there.

The county seat was Newbern, and of the people there Caddall was perhaps among the busier ones. Besides being County Treasurer he was president of the Pulaski National Bank. He was a man of means for that day, and was well respected by his peers.

Caddall entered Newbern in the early afternoon, and took care of the business of his office until around four o’clock. Before leaving town on his horse, he stopped at Barker’s Drug Store and made a purchase, which he had to charge because, as he explained, “I am out of money entirely.”

The road to his home followed what has locally and erroneously been called the Slaughter House Road, crossing the railroad tracks, and continuing west to the intersection of Route 11 at Gus’s Market, and ending in the area of Thorn Spring at the present C. E. Richardson Farm.

Mounting his horse after his purchase, Caddall rode down the hill from Newbern heading for his Thorn Spring home. About a mile and a half northwest of Newbern the Thorn Spring Road and the railroad crossed each other at right angles. It was at this intersection that Caddall was waylaid by one or more assailants, and shot in the back of the head, by what was later described as a .38 caliber rifle or pistol ball.

Passenger train Number 16 was due in Dublin at 5:01 that day. When passing Thorn Spring Crossing the train’s engineer sighted a riderless horse speeding across the tracks in front of him. The horse was discovered a mile or so farther north by the Rev. Amos Akers and his son, Wash. Thinking the horse must have thrown its rider, the two went in search and found the almost lifeless body of John Caddall a few hundred yards east of the crossing. A large rock, that was likely used to finish the job that the rifle ball had failed to do, lay nearby.

Speculation was that the crime was committed by people familiar with the habits of Caddall; that it was known that he had had checks cashed that morning and was likely to have cash on him. What little money he had was taken along with his gold watch. Could the watch have been found, maybe the murderers would have been too. As it turned out, no one paid for the cowardly murder of John H. Caddall.

A note of irony – when the Civil War started, John H. Caddall and all three of his brothers joined the Pulaski Guards and served in the Confederate Army. Two brothers were killed and two were spared. But for John it was only a reprieve because the bullet meant for him took 15 years to find its mark.

In the game of life, fate deals many strange hands.



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