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Wayne County News
March 25, 1926


Harry Sawyers, a Negro of Williamson, will pay the death penalty in the penitentiary at Moundsville on April 19th. Wednesday of last week Sawyer confessed to the robbery and assault of Mrs. Cullen Amburgy, wife of a Williamson dentist. Within a few minutes a special grand jury was empanelled, Sawyer entered a complete confession to the crime and was sentenced to hang in the penitentiary.

Sawyer's trial was one of the speediest held in Mingo County in many a year. He was in the court room less than five minutes from the time he entered his plea of guilty until the death sentence was passed by the judge.

A special grand jury was empanelled and an indictment was returned charging him with criminal assault.

When asked by Judge Bailey whether or not he was guilty of the crime as charged, Sawyers admitted his guilt. Sentence was then passed, and it ended with the words, ". . .you shall remain in the Moundsville penitentiary until five o'clock in the morning of April 19, when I sentence you to hang by the neck until you are dead."

The grand jury deliberated only half an hour before it returned its indictment. Only one witness appeared, that being Capt. J. R. Brockus, who presented the signed confession of Sawyers.

Immediately following the sentence by Judge Bailey, the convicted man was taken back to the county jail, and preparation was made for his departure for Moundsville. He was taken to the state prison Wednesday night.

The crime for which Sawyers will pay the death penalty was committed about nine o'clock the night of the 18th. After beating and choking Mrs. Amburgy into unconsciousness, Sawyers admitted that he assaulted her after robbing her of jewelry worth about $1,000.

In his confession, he said that as Mrs. Amburgy passed the several camp cars on a switch near Williamson Ice and Cold Storage Company, he attacked her and robbed her of the jewelry. He also admitted that after she lapsed into unconsciousness he committed the crime for which he shall pay with his life.

Sawyers had been working in Williamson since March, 1924, on the extra force of the Norfolk and Western. His home was originally in Grim, W. Va., though he had been in North Carolina just before coming to Williamson.

Within a few hours after he was sentenced, Sawyers was placed on a train handcuffed and in the custody of the state police who immediately took him to Moundsville, where he was at once placed in the death cell to await his execution before sunrise on the 19th of April.

Most men who have been hanged in the West Virginia penitentiary in the past several years have paid the death penalty on Fridays. The case of Sawyers is an exception to the rule. He will die on Monday morning, April 19th.


The indictments against the following defendants were dismissed in Circuit Court of Wayne this week on motion of the State and with the assent of the court, and the defendants ordered dismissed. The indictments against the defendants were dismissed for various causes. In some instances the principals of the cases had died or were convicted on other indictments, and in nearly all instances the cases dismissed represent charges that have long been carried on the docket. Following are the cases dismissed:

Robert Coffin, having moonshine liquor; Walter Ferguson, revolver; Clyde Holbrook, moonshine liquor; Grover Lester, selling liquor; Roy Lycan, revolver; Sherman Marcum, having moonshine liquor; Charles McCoy, selling liquor; Lewis McCoy, selling liquor;

Elba Davis, non-support; John Ferguson, revolver; John Lancaster, having liquor; Bill lett, having liquor; Sherman Marcum, having liquor; Charles McCoy, revolver; Charles McCoy, selling liquor; Lewis McCoy, revolver; Lewis McCoy, selling liquor;

Golden Spaulding and John Koger, having liquor; Thomas A. Adkins, obstructing public officer; Warney Collinsworth, appeal for revolver; W. B. Ferguson, appeal for traffic violation; Seymour Marcum, assault and battery; Sam Marcum, revolver; E. E. Nutter, having moonshine liquor; George Payne, appeal for having liquor; Monzola Vinson, sellng liquor; Everett Blankenship, felony; Eskeline Davidson, felony;

Wetzel Queen, revolver; J. M. Ward, trespassing on Railroad property; Gilbert Brooks, revolver; Marion Stepp, assault and battery; Golden Maynard, appeal for non-support; E. E. Nutter, transporting liquor; Henderson Payne, appeal for having liquor; Hayes Adams, felony; Abb Counts, felony; Bill Lett, felony; Thomas Davidson and Eskeline Davidson, felony; Roy Lycan, felony; Charles McCoy, felony; Uland McComas, felony; Silas Mills, felony; Carson Spence, felony; George Stedham, felony; Elmo Houchin, felony; Charley McCoy, felony; G. C. McCoy, Charley Fraley and Flora Maynard, felony; Silas Mills, murder; J. H. Newman, felony; and Klerzont Spence, felony.

Transcription by June White

Wayne County News