The True Story of the Murder of William "Clark" White
Christmas Eve, 1864
Giles County, Tennessee

As sent to me by my cousin, Lloyd Nolan Jackson, a descendant of William Clark White

William �Clark� White  married Eliza K. Wilkerson

Son, James Monroe (Bud) White married Amanda Tennessee Warren

Dau., Lota Ethel White married Edward Elmore Neely Sr.

Dau., Mable Etha Neely married Nell Jackson

Son, Lloyd Nolan Jackson married Kathryn Jean. Grissom .They live at Muscle Shoals, AL in 2002. Lloyd hired a genealogist in Washington, D.C. who located the voluminous file in that city about the murder of Clark White. I have extracted the important sections for this story printed here. It is interesting how the two newspaper stories in Giles Co. and family traditions differ from the actual event.


War Department, Bureau of Military Justice, January 29, 1867

To the President.

William F. Heron/Herrin was convicted of murder by a military commission at Pulaski, Tennessee, in July 1865, and sentenced to be hanged. This sentence was approved and confirmed by Maj. Gen. Thomas, and ordered to be executed but was commuted by the Executive, to imprisonment for life. He is now confined in the penitentiary at Nashville, Tenn.

Hon. Ed. Cooper presents a petition for the full pardon of the accused, signed by thirty two citizens of Tennessee, with letters from prominent citizens in aid thereof. Mr. Cooper states that he knows nothing of the facts in the case, but is satisfied from the earnest appeals made in his behalf by the worthy, and loyal men who sign his petition, that it is one fit for clemency.

The petition sets forth that the accused is the infant son of an esteemed citizen and that when he committed the murder for which he is undergoing punishment, he was but fifteen years old, that he was of a very tractable disposition, and was in company with some very corrupt men, one of whom was an officer, and all neighbors who had an old grudge against the deceased; that they gave young Herrin drink, and then incited him to the commission of the act. It is set forth that the officer who commanded the squad has left the county, or wanders unknown in consequence of the deed. It is stated that the accused was mild, gentle, and generous towards Federal officers in Southern prisons.

The record of his trial has been carefully examined, and shows that, if he was as young in years at the time of the commission of the murder, as is alleged, he has fully matured in criminal capacity, as the act was surrounded by circumstances of peculiar atrocity.

It appears that the accused was one of a band of desperadoes, who, on the 24th of Dec. 1864 visited the house of the deceased, Clark White, who was a loyal citizen of Giles County, Tenn., for the purpose of robbing him of his stock. The story of the murder and its attendant circumstances, is thus narrated by the wife of the victim.

� I heard a gun fired and went to the door and saw the parties mentioned coming up toward the house. They stopped and drank whiskey in the lane, and rode up to the gate where they drank whiskey again. They all rode up to our stable except two; Jim Tucker and another man staid at the gate. They rode around the stable hunting for stock, and called a darkey to them, and tried to make him tell them where my boys and the horses were, - and my husband. They cursed, and jabbed their pistols against his breast, and into his face, and swore they would shoot him if he did not tell him where they were. Geo. David, Buck Pugh, and Tom Greyson were the most active around the Negro. My husband started to go out of the house, and I begged him not to go out. The Negro told them when asked by George David �where the D�d old Tory was�, that he was in the house. Bill Skelton said, let us go and fetch the old Tory out and kill him.

Geo. David said let us ask the nigger a  few more questions and make him tell us where the boys and horses are. I told my husband I would go out and talk with them. He said I must not as they would frighten and perhaps harm me- he said he would go out if they killed him as he would not be trampled upon in any such way. I started our and went into the yard and I heard Jenk Walls order the nigger to throw down the fence, and told the accused to go and kill the D�d old Tory.

Accused charged up towards the house on horseback- my husband was following right behind me and met the accused about ten steps from the door. The accused had a revolver cocked in his hand and as he charged up my husband said � come Gentlemen, do not scare my wife�. The accused leveled his revolver upon him and said as he shot him

 (G-d  D--n you, you have good horses�. I was within two steps of my husband when he was shot. After the accused had shot my husband, he charged around the yard and cursed and swore and acted as if he had intended to kill all of us. He did not get off his horse at all. He staid at least an hour-as soon as my husband was shot, he fell forward upon his face, and died immediately. The ball entered near the right shoulder in front and came out on the left above the hip. I implored them to help me get him into the house. I begged them on my knees and they would not do it. 

I sent my oldest girl after the neighbors. The accused chased after her with his pistol cocked and swore he would shoot her if she attempted to go, that no-body should come. I sent another girl in another direction for the next nearest neighbors, and the accused chased her some 200 yards and I got Jim Tucker to run through the field and turn him back. He brought him back and the girl went on. I think about half an hour after my husband was shot, four of them helped me take him into the house. The four were; Buck Pugh, Tom Greyson, John Tucker and Jim Tucker. My husband was an uncle to the Tucker boys. I asked Jim Tucker who the man was that killed my husband. He refused to tell at first, but finally said his name was Heron. I looked at him long and well that I might know him if I ever saw him again. The accused is the man who killed my husband. The party rode off laughing and seemed in fine spirits over the deed. I was pregnant at the time and was confined within forty- eight hours afterward.

The testimony of Mrs. White is fully corroborated. Indeed, the prisoner, by his counsel, admitted that he killed the deceased, and pleaded the absence of malice. In view of such a record which so clearly discloses the brutal nature of the accused, exhibited, in the case under consideration, by the murder of an unarmed man, whose loyalty to his country furnished sufficient justification in the eyes of the murderer- it is recommended that there be no interference with his sentence as mitigated.


It may be remarked that owing to the disturbed state of affairs at the time of his trial, there were no civil courts in the section of the country where the military commission sat, as appears by the terms of the order convening it.

                                                                                           J. Holt

R24.259                                                                 Judge Advocate General



September 23, 1902                     (mailed Sept. 24, 1902)





Acknowledging receipt, by reference from the White House, of your letter addressed to the President  (Theodore Roosevelt), under date of June 26th last, urging, for reasons stated, a pardon for William F. Herron, who was convicted of murder by a military commission, at Pulaski, Tennessee, July, 1865, and was sentenced to be hanged- which sentence was commuted by the President to imprisonment for life, the prisoner subsequently escaping and remaining at large, I beg to inform you that if view of the long time which has elapsed, and the desire on the part of all good citizens to forget the horrors of the period when this offense was committed, the recommendation of the Judge-Advocate General of the Army that the unexecuted part of Herron�s sentence be remitted but that a full pardon be not granted , has this day been approved.


                                                                       Very Respectfully,


                                                                 William Cary Lenger


                                                                       Acting Secretary of War


Mrs. John A. Jackson

P. O. Box  188

Pulaski, Tennessee


Pulaski, Tenn   October 8, 1902


Mr. Wm. Cary Langer;

Acting Sec. Of War


My Dear Sir;

I am made happy and grateful this morning by your letter bearing the glad tidings for William F. Herron !

Thank the Judge Advocate for me a thousand times for his decision.


Gratefully Yours,


Mrs. John A. Jackson



Please note that William Frank Herron was actually 17 years old [ not 15] at the time he murdered William Clark White as the Washington D. C.  papers go on to state.  Wm. F. Herron hired Lolon/Colin? E. Rose, Esquire, as his attorney at the Pulaski Court case.

James (Bud) Monroe  White and his sister, Charlotte, were both witnesses for their father against Mr. Wm. F. Herron and both saw their father murdered.  Bud said he had seen Wm. F. Herron the previous Sept. in town but did not know him. He said the Herron family lived about 30 miles away in Lawrence Co TN. He said all the other men were neighbors of the White family in Giles County and known.  His real name as seen in the censuses was Benjamin Franklin Herron and he was called Frank Herron by the citizenry of his county.

Andrew J. Pickett, and 7 or 8 others were lying in the woods about 300 feet from the murder scene and saw it happen. They scrambled away to safety. Andrew testified at the trial. He said Jack Wallz? and Bill Skelton were part of the murderous thieves. The name Jenk Walls is also mentioned and appears to be the same as Jack Wallz?

Clark White Cemetery
The photo above is of William Clark White's final resting place. A descendant, Lloyd Nolan Jackson of Muscle Shoals, AL, purchased the beautiful Civil War era fencing in the fall of 2002. With the help of his sister and Mr. Hartsell, (the present owner of the William Clark White farm) Mr. Jackson installed the fencing with double gates in the spring of 2003. Funds for the fencing came from descendant cousins.

Submitted by: Virginia (Ginny) Keefer
a great, great granddaughter of William Clark White.