Submitted by Jerry D. Roseberry, g-grandson of William Stith Nicholson, Jr. - April, 2012
William Stith Nicholson, Jr. was reported to be a farmer in Paulding, Jasper County, MS, in 1893,
although there is no information still available that indicates what he produced on that farm.  His
farm was on the outskirts of what was left of Paulding and Nicholson had a house in town, as well.
The Nicholson Murder Mystery
The old graveyard at Paulding, Mississippi
Paulding, the former "Queen City of the South," had been in rapid decline from the effects of the
Civil War and Reconstruction, in addition to an important new railroad having been routed through
Bay Springs, MS on the western side of the county, rather than through Paulding.
Stith, Jr., or "Stiff," as he was nicknamed at the time - possibly a simple mispronunciation of his
middle name - might have been struggling to make ends met, due to the failing local economy.
He was the father of two young girls by his second wife, having been left with four children in 1889
from his first wife who had died, possibly in childbirth.  Other than his murder in May, 1893, no one
knows much about
Stiff Nicholson.
We do know that at some point after his first wife's death his four older children went to live with
Stiff's mother, Susan S. Nicholson, and his brother, who was a Methodist minister.  News accounts
state that, after his empty wagon was found, neighbors began a search for him and Nicholson's
body was found about 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, May 7, on a road about 2 miles from his farm.
He had been shot twice, one bullet had grazed the right side of his head above his cheek and the
other - apparently the fatal wound - entered just below his left shoulder and punctured his heart.  
Stiff was found lying on the ground in a pool of blood.  Ironically, his father-in-law, A. F. Herrington,
and one of his friends found his body and then notified the sheriff.
Although two James boys - unrelated to the famous James brothers - named Charley and Walter,
who were seen and heard by witnesses in the vicinity at the time of the murder, were also heard to
have admitted killing someone the evening of the murder.
"We have killed that s.o.b. and if you tell it, we will kill you."  They were allowed bail a few days after a
preliminary hearing and allowed to go free after initially having been accused of the crime.
To this day, no evidence has been found to indicate that the James boys were ever indicted,
sentenced or punished for this crime.  Nor is there any hard evidence to explain why they, or anyone
else, would have killed Stiff, irrespective of the possibility that he was not a victim worthy of great
Family lore has it that Stiff generally mistreated his second wife, the former Candace Herrington, and
was rumored to have kept company with "loose" women, and might have had an interracial
relationship, either of which could have raised the ire of residents or family in the area, given the
sentiments of that time period.
This version of the story also implies that a brother of Candace did not appreciate Stiff's behavior
toward his sister and was complicit in the murder.  There is documentation that a brother of
Candace was, in fact, married to a sister of one of the James boys, providing a possible connection
to them and the crime.
There is, also, some documentation that the two James boys accused of the crime left for Texas
after provided bail and that their sister and her husband, Candace's brother, all lived in east Texas
together in the years shortly after the murder.
Jasper County jail, Paulding, MS - listed on the National Register of Historic
Places in the 1990's, the building has deteriorated badly since that time.
"The Old Store" - Paulding, MS
The photos on this page are credited to Beverly at Tombstone Travels and Alan Huffman.