Cumberland History: The Garrett Brothers trial and what came after

Published 10:32 am Monday, July 8, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Cumberland County Historical Society and the Museum have been fielding some recent inquiries about the Garrett Brothers trial that took place a century ago here in Cumberland County House. With that in mind, it seemed like a good idea to dig through the archives and share that information with everyone. 

The Historical Society has a scrapbook of many articles from the local papers, the Herald included, which were printed at the time of the trial. And even so, there are several different ideas as to why the Garrett Brothers went to the home of the Baptist minister here at the time, the Rev. E.S. Pierce, on that fateful morning. But what is known for certain is that on June 5, 1923, the men visited Pierce, saying they were there to talk about remarks he made in church about one of their wives. At the end of the conversation, Pierce had been shot, along with one of the brothers. 

Numerous articles were written on that incident and what followed in their trial at Cumberland Court House. Headlines in the papers brought much attention to Cumberland County as the trial progressed: Special Grand Jury Called to Heart Evidence, Feud Due to Embrace of Sweetheart, Cumberland Boiling As Grand Jury Sits, Says Preacher First to Fire and Strike, Relatives Put Up Bail After Two Indicted, The Change of Venue, Fight on Venue Begins as Court Opens, Auto Responsible for Garrett Feud, Say Fair Trial Can Be Secured, Audience At Garrett Trial Passes Breath Test to Gain Admittance to Court House, Garretts Fear Will Lose Fight, Judge Denies Change of Venue in Garrett Case: Selection of Jury will be Begun on Monday, State Wins Point for Separate Trial, Garretts will make Plea of Self-Defense, Call Judge Smith As Court Witness, Mrs. Pierce Tells How Husband Slain, Doors of Prison Shut on Garretts. 

Email newsletter signup

These are only a few of the many articles in the scrapbook, put together by Cumberland citizens over the years. After being convicted and then serving their respective prison terms, the Garrett Brothers returned home to Cumberland, with one becoming an undertaker and the other turning into a judge himself. 

Beyond the Garrett Brothers trial

The Cumberland Museum is open at different times during the week. To be sure that someone is there, please call or make an appointment to come by. The phone number is 804-492-3348 or go to the Facebook page and leave a message. The museum will be changing exhibits this month also, so plan to come by and visit before that happens. Meanwhile, the Historical Society will be going to the home of Vivian Blanton Dunn in Cartersville the last Sunday of this month. Mr. Henry Bradbury will be the speaker. You do not have to be a member to attend, come and bring a friend.