Welcome to Mug Shot Monday Special Edition. This is the third post focusing on records at the Library of Virginia related to the “Hillsville Massacre.”
In August 1912 in the Wythe County Circuit Court, Sidna Edwards, nephew of Floyd Allen, plead guilty to second-degree murder for his involvement in the Carroll County shootout. He was sentenced to 15 years in the Virginia Penitentiary and admitted on 18 September 1912. By all accounts Edwards was a model prisoner. The 27 April 1922 issue of The Beacon, the inmate-run penitentiary newspaper, contained this observation of Sidna Edwards by a fellow prisoner:
“[I] noticed a stalwart looking man standing on the prison hospital steps. He had a young, though sad looking face, his hair was beginning to silver and his general expression showed much pain and worry for a young man of his seeming age. I remarked to another prisoner that the big, young fellow seemed rather under the weather. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘that is Sidna Edwards. He has rheumatism and has been in the hospital a long time, although not confined to bed. He has the duty of nursing the other patients.’ To describe him takes only a few words, he has one of the most gentle, accommodating, kind and truthful dispositions that I have ever met in any man. He is generally liked and trusted by offiicials, as well as inmates.“
Governor E. Lee Trinkle agreed and granted Edwards a conditional pardon on 6 October 1922. “I find that the prison record of Sidna Edwards has been without a mark against him,” Trinkle wrote in announcing the pardon. “I further find that he has made a model prisoner and from the best information that I can get he is a reformed man and worthy of a new trial in life.”
On 26 March 1928, Sidna Edwards applied for the removal of political disabilities (restoration of his voting rights) and an absolute pardon. “I herewith make my humble appeal to you,” Edwards wrote Governor Harry F. Byrd, “you being the only person in the world who has the power to grant it, is that you restore me my citizenship which I forfeited 16 years ago when I entered State Prison.” Edwards added that since he was conditionally pardoned in 1922, he has “led an exemplary life ever since and enjoy the confidence and respect of all that I come in contact with, but I feel so humiliated and depressed when I remember that I cannot read my title clear to citizenship in my own beloved Virginia.” Edwards included letters of recommendation from his two employers, The Little Oil Company and Bradshaw’s, a clothing store, both located in Richmond. Governor Byrd granted both requests on 10 April 1928.
Sidna Edwards died in Washington, D.C. on 15 March 1933. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
Monday: Sidna Allen, No. 11217
-Roger Christman, Senior State Records Archivist
*Update – 21 March 2012*
The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce a new blog, Fit to Print: Dispatches from the Virginia Newspaper Project @ The Library of Virginia. The first post, 100 Years Ago – Law and Disorder, is about the Allen’s and the Carroll County Courthouse shooting.
Wow. Nice to hear a positive coming out of our penal system!