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Family Murder Mystery?

Researching family history is fun and rewarding.

Cleghorn Family/Turner County, GA.
circa early 1900's


A Cleghorn Family Mystery

Before you read these articles I want to say I am so sorry for The Marchman family who lost part of their heritage when this young lady was taken from them far to soon. I pray that my Granddaddys name was cleared and I assure you my Granddaddy grew into a fine man whose family loved him. I plan to continue to do research on this and I will post my findings. Again to the Marchman family I am so sorry for your lose.
Jane Tucker Gentry

The Cleghorn Family came to America from Scotland, According to records they were a close knit clan of highlanders. They were reasonable wealthy when they arrieved here and aquired land through land grands and the purchase of lands in Virginia. They went from Virginia to Rutherford County, North Carolina still land owners and aquired more land there. As you go through records you began to see a pattern of buying a little and selling a lot. From North Carolina they moved into Hall County GA. still large families with some land titles. From Hall County my direct line of Cleghorns came to Irwin County, GA.

My Great Granddaddy was Alexander Clay Cleghorn he married Nancy Marthany Pirkle in Hall County, Ga. They had 11 children my GreatGrandmother wanted a girl very badly when she was pregnant with my Granddaddy, he was her 10th child, and she made herself a promise that no matter what gender this child was to be she would name him Tandy Jane. To my Granddaddy's surgrin she did just that, so he always went by
the name Tan. In older pictures of him he was never smiling always very serious looking.

Now for the mystery, this newspaper clipping from 1912 was sent to me by my sister it had appeared in a 1912 issue of The Turner County Banner.
Aimee, a new dear friend that I met on the internet, was kind enough to go to the Turner County library and read these to me over the phone, I apologize that we did not get exact dates, as soom as I find them I will post it. Note as you read Tan Cleghorn was shot at two different times,
one being Sunday and one being Tuesday. And the amazing thing is all my families lived close to each other and in none of the families have I ever heard this story. All the other families say the same thing. It was on the front page of The Atlanta Constitution for all the world to see
and none of us knew it!

ATLANTA CONSTITUTION PIC from family picture collection

The Turner County Banner

The death of Miss Minnie Marchman last Thursday night at the home of her father and mother, six miles from Town has been the source of much notoriety.

It is claimed by the relatives of the dead girl that she and Tan Cleghorn came to Ashburn two weeks ago for the purpose of marriage. But for some excuse it was postponed. It is

claimed that some fruit and candy was eaten by the girl after which she was taken ill and died just six days later. Dr. Dixon of Rebecca was called and in only a few minutes she died. In the absence of a Coroner, Judge Pate of Amboy was summoned and an inquest was held. The verdict was the deceased died a violent death. and he ordered that Tan Cleghorn be arrested and held awaiting an expert examination of the girls stomach which was sent to Atlanta. No warrant has been issued.

The Turner County Banner

Cleghorn was injured by Flight not Bullet Cleghorn fleeing from Cochran's gun crashed into tree. Cocran arrested for assault and carrying a pistol A bullet through his hat another shot which grazed his head and flight that plunged him head long into a tree gives rise to many rumors here Sunday that Tan Cleghorn, a friend of Minnie Marchman,

who died recently had been either killed or dangerously wounded by J. W. Cochran, the brother-in-law of the dead girl. Cleghorn was not injured to any more serious extent than his crash into a tree which happened to be growing in the path of Cleghorns flight. Cochran was arrested for

assault and caring a concealed weapon. But was released when Cleghorn was found alive and unharmed. No warrant has been issued for Cleghorn or his brother who was with him when the shots were fired. According to reports Cleghorn and his brother met Cochran on the Highway Sunday and the two brothers attacked Cochran who succeeded in knocking Cleghorn

down. Cochran is being alleged to having drawn a pistol and shot at Tan Cleghorn as the latter runs. One bullet passed through Cleghorn's hat and another grazed his head the fleeing man plunged into a tree and fell as though dead. Cochran was later released on a $500 bond for assault

and a $200. bond for concealed weapon. The bonds were given by James Rainey of Rebecca. It is said the trouble Sunday originated in the presence of the Marchman home of one of the sons who lives in Albany.

Cleghorn Brothers Are Shot By W. J. Cochran

Cochran Meets Cleghorn Brothers on Streets of Ashburn and Shoots MarionCleghorn in Face and Tan Cleghorn in Thigh

Tan Cleghorn, finance of Miss Minnie Marchman, whose strange death created by poison aroused a sensation throughout this section, wasTuesday afternoon again shot by the dead girls brother-in-law, W. J. Cochran, who also sent a bullet in Marion Cleghorn, a brother of Tan.Tan Cleghorn received only a flesh wound, the bullet striking him in the thigh, Marion was hit on the right side of the face, just blow the eye.

The bullet, which traveled toward the ear, has not yet been removed, but the doctors say the wound is not serious. The shotting occured when Cochran and Lee Marchman, brother of the dead girl, ran into Tan, Marion and two other brothers on the streets of the city. All are said to have

been armed, but Cochran it is said did all the shotting. Both Cochran and Marchman were released under a bond of $500. for assault and $200. for carring a concealed weapon. The bonds were given by James Rainey of Rebecca. Peace Warrents have been sworn out for the arrest of the five

Cleghorn brothers.

My Heart Is Broken

She Wrote Cleghorn

Ashburn, Ga. Nov. 12, special

Tan Cleghorn today gave himself up to the Justice of the Peace Pate, in Amboy and with his reapperance the mystery of Minnie Marchman;s death took a new turn. The relatives

still believe that she died from some drug, possibly given to relieve her condition, but are looking for others that administered it, and the person who supplied it. W. J. Cochran. brother-in-law of the girl stated

that when the body is exhumed this week for farther investigation he hoped to have something definite to go on, and hoped to have important facts soon. Ceghorn has not been under arrest and there is no warrant for him contention is he did not run away and that he was absent at the

time he is supposed to be with the girl is supported by a letter from the Miss Marchman to him while he was in Buford to visit It is as follows, despondent in tone but betraying a devoted friendship.

Minnie's Letter To Tan Oct. 31. 1912

Mr. Tan Cleghorn,

Kind Friend I will drop you a few lines to let you hear from me. Say, Tan you don;t know how my heart is broken this morning to think how I have been treated. Say, Tan I have heard something about us the day we went to Ashburn,

so come down here tonight if you can. I know you would like to know what it is. Well I will ring off for the time as I haven't the heart to write much. So hope to see you soon.

From Your Friend Minnie

The following signed statement has been given out by

Mrs. A.P. Spradley, who was the first to reach the girl when she was took by convulsions.

Miss Minnie Marchman did not make any dying statements at all, accusing anyone or anything and Cleghorn;s name was not mentioned I held the dying girl in my arms from the first convulsion to the last.

Mrs. A.S. Spradley

Cleghorn has issued the following signed statement, which is the first authorized statement made by him since his name was mentioned in the case.

I do not know anything about her death. We had been friends about eight months, had never been engaged to be married, but her death has been a shock and surprise to me, as I had left her well and seeming to be happy. Eleven days before her death I had gone ona visit to friends and relations in Northeast Ga. some thirteen days before her death.

Story of Trip To Ashburn

We did go to Ashburn some thirteen days before her death, I did not purchase any candies or fruit as stated in the papers heretofore. Miss Minnie did insist on us going to Sycamore Ga. that day. We left her house at two p.m. and returned at six p.m.. I did not get out of the buggy but one time and that at the express office where I got a package

for Farris Odom, colored, and she did not get out until we had reached home at six p.m. I am at home with my widowed mother and will be found there if I am wanted. I will surrender at any time I am called on. Cleghorn gave himself up before the statement could be printed.

The Atlanta Constitution

this was taken from the newspaper archives at

*The article is not very percise but I with the help of others plan to research this farther.

Dead Girls Family Awaits Poison Case Development

Belief Strengthen That Minnie Marchman Died Of Overdose

Admisistured By Other

Ashburn, Ga. Nov. 15, 1912 (Special)

Smoldering excitement all over Turner County will be fanned to fumes with new developments expected tomorrow in the case of the pretty Minnie Marchman and the strange disappearance of her fiance, Tan Cleghorn. Friends and relatives

generally believed the girl died of some dose administered to her by other persons, but whether it was given with intent to commit murder or to relieve her condition is not known. As soon as the Atlanta chemist makes the report of the expiation of the girl's stomach for traces of poison, her relatives will start a vigorous search for the druggist who sold the poison and for the person who administered it.

Marriage Planned but Postpones Meanwhile her sweetheart is still missing, and no trace of him has been formed nor any word heard from him. It was with Cleghorn that Miss

Marchman who lived in Amboy district, six miles of Ashburn mde her last trip to this place and the details of that trip only became known today.They had intended to be married here and come to town to get the lisence, it is said the ceremony was postponed because Cleghorn did not have suitable clothing. After spending some time in the city they

returned home while there they bought a quantity of fruit which they are.

Taken Ill After Ashburn Visit

When she reached home Miss Marchman was taken ill. Lockjaw developed and she was seized with convulsions and after lingering for four days she died. A doctor was not called until death was near. Her conversations and several signcant facts have been recalled by Mrs. Marchman, the girls aged mother, since her daughters death. Minnie was very sad and

wept a great deal of the time and had very little to say to anyone says Mrs. Marchman.I tried to get her to tell me what was the matter, but she would only shake her head and moan, about the other thing she was willing to talk of was her sweethearts absence. We did not see him during the four days that she was sick and it seem to worry her a great


Denounces Sweetheart Before Death

Finally just before she died she turned to me and said " I never want to lay eyes on Tan Cleghorn again. He has wrecked my life and I want him to reap his just rewards." I asked her what she meant and why she said it but she only turned her face to the wall and never mentioned him again.

All the evidence before the coroner's jury which investigated the death was concerning the intimacy of the girl and her sweetheart and the fact that during the past year she had kept company with him almost to the complete exclusion of all other friends. As a pretty girl coming of a

respected and substantial family, she is in much demand at all social activities, but since her attachment to Cleghorn, which commenced a year ago she had attended but few parties or picnics.

No Warrant For Cleghorn

In this evidence the jury decided Cleghorn was responsible for the death of the girl but no warrant was issued, it is stated on the advise of an attorney who counseled, until the chemist had made his report on the examination of the stomach. It was also recalled that three months ago there was a rumor that a prominently connected young man would be married to Miss Marchman. This marriage never took place and it is said to have been broken up my relatives of the girl.

The residence of the Marchmans and Cleghorns are only about a quarter of a mile apart but the friendly intercourse has been interrupted by the developments of the last week. Members of the Cleghorn family will not discuss the case, nor Tan's absence except that one brother admitted they do not know where he is.


This is an example of the old newspapers I had to read through to find this story. My sister sent me a clipping from the Wiregrass, a Turner County paper that was doing their Old News of years ago findings from The Banner and old paper of Turner County. And from there this SURPRISE about our Granddaddy lead me to all this searching!

from my family picture collection

Zachary Taylor (Zack) Cleghorn 1878-1908
Zack was the fifth child born to Alexander Clay Cleghorn and Nancy Marthany Pirkle Cleghorn.

In gathering research I wondered why Zack did not come to South Georgia with the family, I knew he had died early but was not even sure of the date. In talking with older family we found he had been murdered in Hall County, Georgia. These are the articles we found in The Atlanta Constitution concerning his death.

Maughon Appealed Case and Got 3 Years Extra
Lawrenceville Ga. Mar.15 (special)

In Gwinnitte Superior Court J. W. B. Maughon was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and Judge C.H. Brand imposed a sentence of 5 years in the penitentiary.
The case grew out of the killing of Zack Cleghorn in Cains District in Dec. 1908. Maughon was tried once before and convicted to involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years, but appealed the case and was given a new hearing. Kelly Elrod was indicted for the same offence but his trail has been postponed pending the disposition of that against
Maughon. The two men had gone to the Cleghorn's house to arrest him when the killing occured. Both parties come of prominent families. Maughon has asked for another trail. The two young Cash boys who have been on trail for the killing of a man named Bagly at Buford several months ago has been acquited.

Queer Legal Traingle Follows
Conviction and Acquital
Lawrenceville GA. May 5, (special)

Judge Brand has refused a new trail to J.W.B. Maughon convicted as accesory in the killing of Zack Cleghorn two years ago.
An intensive situation has been brought about in the case. Maughon and Kelly Elrod were indicted by the Grand Jury. Elrod as the principal.Maughon was first put on trail and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in the penitentary His attorney appealed to the higher Court for a new trail which was granted. And on
the second trail he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, thesentence being five years. Elrod wa then placed on trail charged with firing the fatal shot and was acquited, the defence claiming that Cleghorn was shot by his brother. Maughons friends claim that he stand convicted as accesory to a crime which the Elrod jury says was not
committed and the case will again be appealed.


This is a picture of Shade Pirkle Cleghorn, wife of Zack Cleghorn, two of the children in the picture are their children.

Chick here for a Bit Of It All