The Shooting of Western Hardy by Willis Alston Hawkins (1857-1932)
All articles from The Constitution: Atlanta

Sunday May 4, 1884

A Tragedy In Anniston, Alabama, in Which two Georgians are the Principals. Special to The Constitution

ANNISTON, May 3 - Willis A. Hawkins, Jr, formerly of Americus, shot and killed Mr. Wes hardy, formerly of Cartersville, Georgia, last evening at 7 o'clock. The dispute arose over a game of pool when Hawkins gave Hardy the lie. Hardy retallated with a blow from a billard cue, Hawkins left the _____ came back in fifteen or twenty minutes when the attack was renewed by Hardy striking Hawkins with his fist. Hawkins retalliated by shooting Hardy in the abdomen. The ball entered his intestines and lodged in the cavity. Hardy died this evening at three o'clock. Hawkins was committed to jail for trial on Wednesday. Both parties are unmarried young men and well liked. Hawkins was considerably affected when his victim died, remarking: "I would I were in his place." The public seem to think the shooting was somewhat justifable. Mr. Hardy is the brother-in-law of Hon. E.N. Broyles, of Atlanta. He and his wife have been telegraphed for and are now on the way here.

Tuesday May 6, 1884

How the Killing Took Place - The Coming Trial of Hawkins Special to The Constitution

ANNISTON, May 5 - Willis A. Hawkins, Jr., who killed Mr. Hardy Friday evening was taken to jail Saturday. He is a son of Hon. Wissis A. Hawkins of Americus, a former judge on the supreme bench of Georgia. Mr. Hawkins telegraphed his son Saturday night that he would arrive here Wednesday in time to be on hand at the commitial trial. The public generally are of the opinion that Hawkins was acting in self defense and that he will be committed, but when his case goes before a jury they will turn him loose. He cam here two or three months ago from Americus for the purpose of locating as an attorney. He was a visitor to the billard hall where the difficulty started, and prior to the killing was on intimate terms with the victim of his bullet, asd well as the older Mr. Lou. Hardy, proprietor of the hall. The sympathies of the citizens go out to both families. Willett & Brothers are conducting Hawkins' case until the arrival of his father. Colonel Saffold Burney has the prosecution in hand. Hardy was a young man, well liked by his associated, and about twenty-one years of age. The bullet struck the abdomen through the vest pocket, striking a pair of scissors and a piece of thin brass. It split in two pieces, both entering the body in half an inch of one another. Drs. Davis, Sexton and Hunger, made a post mortem, finding the ball in cavity as described in Saturday's special. The remains were carried as soon as possible to Cassville, Ga., where they will be interred, as decomposition set in almost immediately after death.


Hastening to the place, the Hot Blast reporter found Mr. Wes Hardy lying on a bed with his hands across the pit of his stomach, and vomitting quite freely. He was very sick from the wound, "sicker than ever before in my life," he said when interrogated as to how he felt. From what could be learned, it seems that Mr. Willis A. Hawkins, Jr., formerly of Americus, Ga., but more recently of this city, and another party were engaged in a game of pool in the billard saloon of Mr. Lou hardy, brother of the victim. During the game a dispute arose about how many games the parties had played, and from one word to another Hawkins called young Hardy a "---- ----- ----" whereupon Hardy retaliated by giving his opponent a blow with a billiard cue. Hawkins left the saloon with the remark: "This is not the end of this." A few minutes afterward Hawkins returned to the Red Light restaurant, next door to the billiard room and was speaking of the difficulty to Mr. Lon Hardy and other gentlemen present. Mr. Wes Hardy was standing near while Hawkins was talking, and as natural the disputed was renewed Hawkins received a slap on the side of the head from Hardy, whereupon he pulled his pistol and fired, the ball striking its victim in the region of the stomach, hitting the second rib, glancing and entering the cavity. After firing Hawkins turned and walked down Tenth street toward his room, where he was found by Marshal Hunter and arrested. Drs. Davis and Sexton attended the young man and pronounced his wound not necessarily dangerous.


In reply to ur question, Mr. Hawkins stated that he regretted the difficulty very much, and that it happed in this way: "Ever since I have been here I have frequented the billiard room, and grew quite intimate with Mr. Hardy. We have been in the habit of calling each other liars just for fun, and this afternoon we had "run in a jug," and had taken a drink or two. I called him a liar about a pool score, and he didn't like it. I told him I did not mean anything more than usual. This did not satisfy him, and I told him he could take it as he pleased. He then struck me with a billiard cue and beeat me up badly. I left and went ot my room and after awhile returned, and was standing in front of the Red Light restaurant telling is brother about the difficulty, when he came up and slapped me and his brother drew a chair to strike me. As I recovered from the blow I drew and shot at him and then went to my room."

Mr. Hardy was not allowed to talk by his physicians, but said to us that he had whipped Hawkins in the afternoon for calling him a liar, and that he met Hawkins in front of the Red Light restaurant, when Hawkins again called him a liar and he slapped him, and Hawkins shot him.


Special to the Constitution.
CARTERSVILLE, May 5. - The remains of Mr. Western Hardy, who was killed Friday evenign lst in Anniston, Alabama, by Willis A. Hawkins, Jr., were buried in the family lot in the Cassville cemetery yesterday. Mr. Hardy formerly lived in this county, and was a most excellent and exemplary young man. He has many friends here who sincerely regret his untimely end.

Thursday May 8, 1884

The Hawkins-Hardy Tragedy.

ANNISTON, May 7 - Colonel Willis A. Hawkins, of Americus, is in the city to take part in the defense of his son, who killed young Hardy. The coroner's jury returned a verdict "that deceased cause to his death from a pistol ball fired from a pistol in the hands of Willis A. Hawkins, Jr." Hawkins and the body of his victim were on the same train Saturday night - the slayer going to jail and the victim to his last resting place. The prosecution, as well as the defense in the case, are preparing some strong testimony, and the trial will excite considerable intest, as the young men are well and prominently connected in Georgia. The weapon that did the deed is supposed to have been a 35-calibre. Hardy was in a half-stooping position when he received the wound, which accounts for the direction the ball took.

May 9, 1884

The Preliminary Trial of Willis Hawkins, Jr., for Killing of Hardy.

ANNISTON, May 8 - [Special] - The preliminary trial of Willis A. Hawkins, Jr., for killing Western Hardy last Friday, was concluded today before Judge H. L. Jeffers. Several witnesses were examined for the prosecution. The defense only introduced one, but they had several in waiting if they had been necessary. Eloquent and exhaustive speeches were made by Mesers Willot ______, counsel for Hawkins, who used every effort to convince the judge that he killing was justifable, while Messrs. Berney, Caldwell & Broyles for the prosecution left no stone unturned to show that the killing of Hardy was murder, pure and simple. After adducing all the testimony, the judge decided that though Hawkins killed Hardy, the testimony did not sustain the charges in the warrant which had been for murder, though he thought it best to bind the prisoner over in the sum of one thousand dollars to appear before the next term of Calhoun circuit court.

Judge Hawkins, father of the prisoner, immediately gave the bond, and he and his son left for home via Atlanta.


In a conversation with Hawkins just before the decision of the judge, he said:
"I have no fears as to what the judge will do. He will doubtless put me under a small bond, though I regreat as mcuh as any one this said affiar. I could hardly avoid doing as I did. I was protecting my own life and think I was perfectly justifable."

"Will YOu remain here?"
"I don't know yet, I think I ought to, but father desires me to go home with him, and I will do as he says."

This is Anniston's first tragedy and it is sincerely regretted by every one. The sympathies of the whole city go out to Mr A. C. Hardy, brother of the dead young man, both of whom were generally liked. Opinions differ as to the decision of the judge, some thinking Hawkins should have been turned loose, while others ___ that the justice was doing exactly right in the premises The trial before the jury will come off in August.

August 10, 1884

The Trial of Willis Hawkins.

ANNISTON, Ala., August 9. - [Special] Hon. Willis A. Hawkins, E. G. SImmons, and Willis A. Hawkins, Jr, of Americus, Ga., have arrived in the city to be ready for the trial of young Hawkins, which comes off at Jacksonville next week.

For more on this murder, click here and here.

Read about the acquital here.

More articles on this trial can be found on this usgenweb site.