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(58,725 posts)
Thu Mar 28, 2024, 06:17 AM Mar 2024

On this day, March 28, 1913, Floyd Allen was electrocuted for the crime of first-degree murder.

Floyd Allen

Portrait of Floyd Allen

Born: July 5, 1856, Carroll County, Virginia
Died: March 28, 1913 (aged 56)
Criminal status: Executed by electrocution
Conviction(s): Murder
Criminal penalty: Death

Floyd Allen (July 5, 1856 – March 28, 1913) was an American landowner and patriarch of the Allen clan of Carroll County, Virginia. He was convicted and executed for murder in 1913 after a sensational courthouse shootout the previous year that left a judge, prosecutor, sheriff, and two others dead, although the validity of the conviction has been source of debate within Carroll County for decades. Allen, who was before the bar for sentencing after being convicted of taking a prisoner from a deputy sheriff, allegedly triggered the shooting at the Carroll County Courthouse in Hillsville on March 14, 1912.


Trial and shooting

After close to a year of delays, Floyd was finally brought to trial on March 13, 1912. Judge Thornton L. Massie, who had deputized Floyd six months earlier, presided. Floyd Allen was well represented by a two-attorney team. Both Walter Scott Tipton and David Winton Bolen, were retired Carroll County judges.

Samuel's departure forced Commonwealth's Attorney William M. Foster to rely on testimony from Deputy Easter. The jury could not agree on a verdict immediately as the trial ended, and were sequestered in a local hotel overnight.

Fearful of the Allens' reaction, and having received death threats, many officials of the court armed themselves. At least two of the participants, Judge Massie and Sheriff Webb, had told friends that they expected trouble. Many of Allen clan members spectators in the courtroom, most of them armed with pistols. Sidna Allen and Claud Allen stood on benches in the courtroom's northeast corner to see over the crowd. Friel Allen sat in the back of the room, and the Edwards boys stood on benches next to the north wall. When the jury returned a guilty verdict against Floyd, sentencing him to one year in the penitentiary, Floyd Allen is reported to have said to Judge Massie: "If you sentence me on that verdict, I will kill you." Judge Massie at once proceeded to sentence Floyd to one year's imprisonment.

According to Floyd Allen's defense attorney, David Winton Bolen, "[Floyd] hesitated a moment, and then he arose...He looked to me like a man who was about to say something, and had hardly made up his mind what he was going to say, but as he got straight, he moved off to my left, I would say five or six feet, and he seemed to gain his speech, and he said something like this, 'I just tell you, I ain't a'going.'" At this point, shots broke out in the courtroom.

Accounts differ as to who actually fired the first shot. Many accounts claim that Allen initiated the confrontation by pulling a gun in court. In his defense testimony, Floyd Allen stated that Sheriff Lew F. Webb fired first, but that the shot missed Allen, at which point Deputy Clerk Goad, the Clerk of Court, fired and hit Allen, causing him to fall. ( When Floyd fell, wounded, he landed on top of his lawyer David Bolen, who is reported to have said, "Floyd, they are going to kill me shooting at you!" ) Floyd Allen stated that only then did he draw his own revolver and begin shooting. After a fusillade of shots, the Allen clan left the courthouse, armed with both pistols and 12-gauge pump shotguns, and shooting as they ran.

Judge Massie, Sheriff Webb, Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, and the jury foreman (Augustus C. Fowler), were all hit and died of their wounds sustained in the crossfire. More than fifty bullets were later recovered from the shooting scene. Elizabeth Ayers, a 19-year-old subpoenaed witness who had testified against Floyd Allen, was shot in the back while trying to leave the courtroom, and died at home the next day.

Seven others were wounded, including Deputy Clerk Goad and Floyd Allen. Floyd, wounded too badly in the hip, thigh and knee to leave town, instead spent the night in the Elliott Hotel accompanied by his eldest son, Victor, who was later acquitted of involvement in the shootout. Upon his arrest by deputies at the hotel, Floyd attempted to slash his own throat with a pocketknife, but was overpowered before he could complete the job.



Floyd Allen was tried for the first-degree murder of Commonwealth's Attorney Foster. On May 18, 1912, the jury found Floyd Allen guilty. His stoic exterior gone, Floyd Allen wept freely as the verdict was read. In July 1912, after three separate trials, Claud Allen was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of Commonwealth's Attorney Foster, and for second-degree murder for the killing of Judge Massie.

For their roles in the shooting, Floyd and Claude Allen were sentenced to death by electrocution. Allen's death sentence was deeply unpopular with Allen supporters in the county, but many other residents were unsympathetic, surprised by the deaths of so many people over Floyd Allen's refusal to serve a year in prison. Governor Mann, who had received death threats in the same handwriting as the threats previously delivered to the trial judge, had to cut short a trip to Pennsylvania after learning his Lieutenant Governor, James Taylor Ellyson (1847–1919), had attempted to commute the Allens' sentences in his absence, instigating a brief constitutional power struggle between the two men. Governor Mann refused a request to commute the death sentences to life imprisonment, and Floyd Allen was electrocuted on March 28, 1913 at 1:20PM. Eleven minutes later, his son Claud followed Allen to his death in the electric chair.


Tue Mar 28, 2023: On this day, March 28, 1913, Floyd Allen was electrocuted for the crime of first-degree murder.

Sat Mar 28, 2020: On this day, March 28, 1913, Floyd Allen was electrocuted.

I was clearing out old papers, and I ran across a brief account of this story.
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On this day, March 28, 1913, Floyd Allen was electrocuted for the crime of first-degree murder. (Original Post) mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2024 OP
Reading the full Wiki post, this guy would have been among the peaceful visitors to the capital on Jan. 6. 3Hotdogs Mar 2024 #1


(12,799 posts)
1. Reading the full Wiki post, this guy would have been among the peaceful visitors to the capital on Jan. 6.
Thu Mar 28, 2024, 08:26 AM
Mar 2024

What a piece of work.

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