Saturday, August 17, 2013

I Must Get Back in the Habit of Writing, and Quit Procrastinating.

I have finally realized I need to resume writing on this blog.  It is obvious that I am not very prolific.  Maybe I'm just lazy.  Since I have been back to work, I just really haven't paid any attention to my attempts at writing.  There is more to tell about the Gainer/Collins murders.  I know quite a bit more about the subject and I guess I need to get back to it.  There is still much research to be done.  The real story may never be told.  I think I know what happened, but with no proof, I hesitate to name names.  Anyone involved is long dead, but I wouldn't want to offend any descendants of the participants.
   Milton has such an interesting history during the 1925-1935 time period.  Sheriff Mitchell was suing the county for money to reimburse him for expenses he had paid out of his own pocket to run the jail.  At the time of his death, Babe Collins was in the process of suing the county for money he felt was owed to him for the construction of the Florida portion of the Milton-Brewton Highway.  At the time it was known as Hwy 37.  He sued for $15,000, and the county wanted to settle for $2,600.  After his death, his lawyer, L.V Trueman settled for the $2600.
   I have much to tell about Trueman also, and I wonder if he was the, "Mr. X", that Bebe Morrell wrote about in his pamphlet.
   I will attempt to get my thoughts in order and scribble this down in the near future.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mystery in Milton, Part 3. S.G. Collins Murdered


S. G. Collins drove out to East Milton to talk to J. E. Estes.  They sat on the curb in front of the Estes home and talked for about 40 minutes.  When finished, Collins began to cross the road to his car, when he hesitated, and turned as if to say something else, or maybe to wait on a slow moving car to pass.  When the car drew close, a shot was fired, and Collins fell to the ground.  Estes ran to his side, and Collins said, "He got me, get the tag number, and call the doctor!"  Estes looked to see the car, but it was already half way across the bayou bridge, and all he could tell was that in was an A-Model Ford.
     Collins didn't last very long.  Ten pellets from a 12-guage shotgun had entered at the shoulder, and ranged down through his body.   There was a coroner's inquest, and testimony given, but no arrests for the crime, and no suspects named. 
     Collins was a well-known, and popular man in Santa Rosa County.  His road construction business was busy building roads in Northwest Florida, South Alabama, and in South Carolina.  His home on Berryhill was packed with business men from all over paying their respects.  He was laid to rest in the Milton Cemetery.  The murders of Aubrey Gainer, and S.G. Collins, were never to be solved to anyone's satisfaction.  Through the efforts of Collins' older brother, Long John Collins, there eventually was an arrest, and trial in 1934.  That will be covered next time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mystery In Milton, Part 2

William T. Wolfe, and Webb Allen were arrested and their bond was set at $25,000 by Judge W. A. McLoed. Attorney's for Wolfe, and Allen claimed insufficient evidence, and excessive bond in a writ for Habeas Corpus before the Supreme Court in Tallahassee. After the ruling, Wolfe was set free, and Allen's bond was reduced to $5000. After about a week, Allen was able to raise the $5000, and was released from jail. The shotgun that was found near the scene of the crime, had been bought at a pawn shop by S.G. Collins, and he had reported it stolen. Apparently, this shotgun was the only circumstantial evidence against Collins. Of course, Collins was suspected of hiring someone to kill Gainer, and he made sure he was out of town at the time the crime was committed. That was the theory. Collins was one of the wealthiest, and powerful men in the County, surely if he was going to have someone killed he would not use a shotgun that once belonged to him, and leave it near the crime scene to be discovered by the authorities. The whole investigation went off the rails when S. G. "Babe" Collins was assassinated across the bridge in East Milton on the evening of 11 Sept 1931. To Be Continued....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mystery In Milton, Part One

On the 26th of February, 1931, there was a fire across Henry St. from the Railroad Depot. The building was owned by S. G. "Babe" Collins, and consisted of an Ice Factory, a warehouse, and a store. The building was a total loss, but after the fire was out, the safe in the office was discovered to be open, and empty. Aubrey Gainer was the bookkeeper, and secretary for Collins, and he was suspected as the arsonist. Gainer was indicted for the arson, but on June 3rd, he was acquited in circuit court. On Saturday, the 18th of July, around 10 pm, Gainer, his wife, and daughter returned from a drive. Gainer parked the car in the garage, and as he rejoined his family to enter the house, someone fired a shotgun, and struck Gainer in the side, and back, killing him. Later, a shotgun was found with 2 spent shells about a 100 yds away. It was discovered that the shotgun had belonged to Babe Collins, but had been stolen at some point in the past. At the time of the murder, Collins was in South Carolina working. Collins was a road construction contractor, and was one of the wealthiest men in Santa Rosa County. H.R. Covington of Naval Air Station, Pensacola, was arrested early Sunday morning, but was released Wednesday afternoon by Sheriff Mitchell who stated that Covington had no connection to the shooting. On Monday afternoon, Webb Allen, and Will T. Wolfe were taken into custody on suspicion of murder. To be continued...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Like Milton, FL. part two

I also played football. I played two years in what was called the "midget league". We played our games on the Milton High School field, and we practiced in the field behind the Catholic church across from Winn-Dixie. The first year I played mostly on the kick-off team, and receiving team, and substituted on the offensive, and defensive line. Our coach was Mr. Peacher. We were undefeated, with a 0-0 tie against Brent. I played the following season, but this time there were so many wanting to play that we were split in to two teams. I played Defensive tackle, and sometimes end, and on offense I played guard. The coach of the previous year got to choose the first 20 players for his team. Then the new coach for the second team got to start picking. I think his name was Mosely. I ended up on his team, and even though we tried really hard, we lost every game we played. After one of the seasons, the team got to go to the Senior Bowl game in Mobile. We sat in end zone seats, and I got to see Jack Youngblood, and Jim Plunkett play.
After two years at Hobbs Middle School, We moved to a small house on Sanders St., so I got to go to the brand new King Middle School. It was the eighth grade, and we got to pick the school nickname. We picked the "Cougars". I noticed recently, that sometime over the years the nickname was changed to the "Wildcats". I wonder why.
Good Times. I never understood just how good they were.

I like Milton, Florida

Many people who live in the panhandle of Florida think of Milton being the poor redneck cousin of the cooler, bigger Pensacola. That's ok with me, it's getting too crowded here anyway. I know our crime rate here is pretty low, and I, (mostly), like the people I run into.
I like the history here, especially the early 1930's. I've been doing research by using the 1930 US census for District One of Santa Rosa Co., which is downtown Milton. I've also been reading old issues of the MIlton Gazette. I've spent a lot of time looking through the Milton and Bagdad Cemeteries, which are both full of the early personalities who built this area.



My Dad, Adrain V. Wood, was assigned to Whiting Field in early 1970. When we moved here we had to wait to get a house in the Capehart housing area, so we rented a small two bedroom house from a Milton oldtimer named Mack Williams. 41 years later, the house is still there, and it is up for sale. It was only a short walk to Oakhurst, (now Rhodes), Elementary School, and I finished the 5th grade there. We moved to Capehart into a duplex on Avenger Dr., (funny, how I remember the street name), and I went to Hobbs Middle School for the 6th, and 7th grade.
There was a Little League Baseball diamond in Capehart where I played two years of baseball. My Dad also coached for two years there. I remember the league President's last name was Fisher, and one of our umpires was Mel Fuller. My Dad coached with Morris Land, and I was friends with the Land boys, J.M, William, and Jerry.



A few years ago when I discovered that the Little League Field no longer existed, I was a little sad about it. Me, my Dad, and my friends spent so much time there, and I had such great memories from there, that It actually put me into a mild depression. I guess the only thing that never changes, is change itself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

May 5, 1945 Don't Touch That!!

A woman named Elsie Mitchell of Lakeview, Oregon, and 5 neighborhood children found a balloon in the woods, and while dragging it out of the woods, it exploded killing all Six. The balloon had come from Japan, and was armed with explosives. FOUR YEARS later Congress awarded $5000 to Elsie's husband and $3000 to the parents of each child as compensation. I guess wives, and children just weren't worth that much in those days.

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The first pistol with a revolving cylinder was invented by Samuel Colt in 1830. He whittled a wooden model while traveling onboard the S.S. Corlo. He patented it in England in 1835, and in the U.S. in 1836. He formed the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, NJ with $230,000 to manufacture them. The first ones he produced were .34 caliber.

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The first ball-point pen was patented by John Loud of Weymouth, Mass., in Oct 1888.

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The very first recorded strike by workers took place in New York City, (of course), in 1741, when a group of Master Baiters, I mean Bakers, (I couldn't resist), protested against municipal regulation of the price of bread. They were found guilty of "unlawful combining", but received no sentence. UNLAWFUL COMBINING!