Chronology of
Isaac Lewis Berry’s
Trial for the Death of J.P. Rauls

The Wetumpka Times, Wednesday, July 9, 1879

914. The Buyckville Tragedy - A terrible tragedy occurred at the church in Buyckville, last Friday night, the 4th Inst. in which one of the most highly respected citizens of our county, Dr. J. P. RAWLS, lost his life, at the hands of Mr. I. L. BERRY. The circumstances, as far as we can

ascertain, after diligent inquiry, were about as follows:

On the night previous to the difficulty, at the closing exercises of Prof. OLIVER's school, at Sykes' Mill, about four miles from Buyckville, the wife of Dr. J. P. RAWLS was present, but the Doctor himself was not there. During the entertainment, it is alleged that Mr. BERRY addressed

insulting language to Mrs. RAWLS, and that, on the day of the difficulty, Dr. RAWLS sued out a warrant before a magistrate for the arrest of BERRY. As no Constable could be found up to the evening of that day, Dr. R. proceeded to the church, learning that he could find one there.

BERRY and his wife were both at the church at the time of Dr. R. 's arrival, BERRY having started to his father-in-law's, his wife being on a visit there, and halting at the church, which was on his way, he found his wife at the church, and concluded to remain through the service. Upon

the dismissal of the congregation, BERRY passed out by RAWLS, and seeing him, one version of the affair states, that BERRY remarked; " I understand you have a warrant for me." To which RAWLS replied, "The Constable will attend to that matter, sir," pointing to Mr. SEARS, the

Constable, who was standing by. Whereupon, BERRY drew a knife and stabbed Dr. RAWLS to the heart, the Doctor walking about 30 steps and falling dead. There are other statements to the effect that when BERRY saw RAWLS, he approached RAWLS and said, "I expect I owe you an

apology." To which RAWLS replied, telling him to go away from him, that he did not want to have anything to do with him, that he was a d______d dog. The Doctor was in the act of mounting his horse, one-foot being already in the stirrup, when BERRY called him a coward.

RAWLS immediately dismounted and struck at BERRY, whereupon, BERRY stabbed him as above stated. The foregoing are the different versions as we have heard them, and as such we lay them before our readers, but as the case must undergo a thorough judicial investigation, and perhaps in this county, we refrain from making any comments at all upon the sad affair. I BERRY was at once arrested, and was taken before Justices I. C. HALL and J. P. BAZEMORE, at Buyckville, last Saturday, and after a preliminary examination, was committed to the County Jail

at about 10 o'clock that night. We cannot give expression to our regret that this homicide should have occurred in our peaceful and law-abiding county. Far better would it have been for all parties interested, had the original matter of difference been permitted to take its regular course through the channels of the law. Dr. RAWLS leaves a wife with several children. BERRY has a wife but no children. *

Wednesday, July 16. 1879

915. Messrs. James and Charles HOLMAN, brothers of I. L. BERRY'S wife, who had been committed to jail as accessories to the murder of Dr. RAWLS, had examinations before Judge LANCASTER last Thursday, one a preliminary and the other on a writ habeas corpus. They were

allowed bail in the sum of seven hundred dollars each. Up to yesterday, bail had not been procured by either. *

918. I. L. BERRY, who was committed to jail in this place last week, charged with the murder of Dr. J. P. RAWLS, on the 4th inst., was removed to the Montgomery jail for safe keeping last Saturday. He was taken down on the train by Sheriff KIDD and Jailer BALDWIN.


The Wetumpka Times, Wednesday, October 1, 1879


961. In the circuit court last Thursday, I. L. BERRY, James HOLMAN, and Charles HOLMAN were arraigned on a charge of murder. They plead "not guilty". The trial of these cases is set for today. The sheriff was ordered to summon one hundred persons qualified to act as

jurors, and to serve each of the prisoners in jail the names of the persons so summoned and also of both panels of petit jurors for the week. Jno. D. MOON was also arraigned and entered the same plea. One hundred persons to be summoned in this case also, and today set for the trial. *

966. The jury acquitted the HOLMAN boys but found BERRY guilty of murder and assessed his punishment at imprisonment in the penitentiary for 50 years. His counsel have appealed to the Supreme Court. *


The Central Alabamian, Tuesday, October 7, 1879

1073. The trial of Isaac L. BERRY, James HOLMAN and Charlie HOLMAN, charged with the killing of Dr. J. P. RAWLS, on the night of last July, the 4th, commenced last Wednesday morning. Ex-Gov. Thomas H. WATTS, Col. Oce KYLE, and Thomas L. BULGER, appeared

for the defense. Solicitor Fred S. FERGUSON and Col. W. H. BARNES for the prosecution. The jury, after being out several hours,- brought in a compromise verdict of murder in the second degree against BERRY and 50 years imprisonment in the penitentiary, and a verdict of "not

guilty" as to the HOLMAN boys. The public expected a different verdict of course, but it is an old adage that omnisience itself can scarcely tell what will be the verdict of a petit jury. BERRY appeared to be composed when the verdict was read and when called up to receive the sentence

of the Court, the Judge asked him what he had to say for himself, he simply referred him to his counsel, who stood with him. BERRY's case will be carried to the Supreme Court on a bill of exceptions.

The Wetumpka Times. Wednesday, March 31. 1880

1140. The case of the State vs. Isaac L. BERRY, which was tried at the last term of the Circuit Court of this county, and carried to the Supreme Court on the record, has been reversed; and the prisoner ordered to be kept in custody until discharged by law, in consequence of which a new

indictment has been found by the present Grand Jury, and the case may again be tried at this term. The reversal by the Supreme Court was not on account of any error in the record sent up, or in the minute entries made here - for these entries were all correctly made up by the officer whose

duty it is to make them - but, from an order made by the Court increasing the number of Grand Jurors from 15 competent persons, who were actually present, and made no excuse, to a greater number. (There is another longer article explaining the reason for the difference in the number of jurors.)

Wednesday. April 7, 1880

  1. The following cases were tried at the late term of our Circuit Court:

State vs. Isaac L. BERRY, James HOLMAN and Chas. HOLMAN, murder. BERRY found guilty of murder in the 1st degree and sentenced to the penitentiary for life.

Wednesday, July 7, 1880

1174. Isaac BERRY has been lying in jail here since last April, under sentence to the Penitentiary for murder, and awaiting the result of an appeal to the Supreme Court. Our Sheriff removed him to Montgomery jail last Thursday to secure his greater safety. *

The Wetumpka Times, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 1880

1260. The Supreme Court has rendered a decision in the case of I.L. BERRY vs. the State of Alabama, which was appealed, from our Circuit Court last fall. The judgment of the lower Court was reversed and the case remanded for a new trial. This is the second reversal in this case, and

shows the tedious delays of the law, to which of course, we presume the appellant does not object, as the case stands at present. It will probably come up for a rehearing before our court next May.

The Wetumpka Times, Wednesday, May 11, 1881

139. The following State cases will be tried at the coming term of the Circuit Court, commencing on Wednesday the 18th inst. Parties, defendant, and witnesses will take due notice:

State Vs: Jere FITZPATRICK, Aleck WRIGHT, Ransom LIGHTFOOT, Aleck HILL et al., Henry SIMMONS, Thos. A. HAINS, Jas. PENICK, Frank MORAGNE, Frances LEWIS, Dick BILL, John TOWNSEND, Isaac L. BERRY, Fed FISHER et al, James WALKER, T. L. BALDWIN, Lewis PENICK, Peter PETERS ,Win. TRIMIBLE, Wm. GOREE et al, Wess PANNELL, Mark WARRICK, Grif FITZPATRICK, Sigh BASS, Marston

CABOT, Sam PARKER, Thos. ALEXANDER, Munroe NIX, Bud COX et al, Henry CARPENTER, Josh REEVES, Jeptha R. GRAHAM. *

The Wetumpka Times, Wednesday, May 18, 1881

145. Sheriff GREENE sent Jailer BARNES to Montgomery last Sunday morning with orders to bring here for trial Isaac L. BERRY, charged with murder, who has been in the Montgomery jail for the past year. BARNES got his prisoner in the afternoon and took him on the train with him,

but having indulged in liberal potations during the day, BARNES soon dropped asleep, and BERRY got up and left the train before its departure, taking up his line of march for the jail followed by a caravan of small boys and a policeman in sight, protesting that he would not come

up here with a drunken man. He was locked up again in jail and BARNES, we are informed, was properly taken care of. The Sheriff, being advised of the condition of things, sent Mr. Geo. ENSLEN, the city Marshall, down Monday morning, who brought BERRY up in the afternoon. ENSLEN saw BARNES and got him aboard the train, but BARNES did not change cars at Elmore station, going on to Birmingham from which point he returned to this place yesterday morning. BERRY was lodged in jail here Monday evening. *

The Wetumpka Times, Wednesday, May 18, 1881

150. The trial of Isaac L. BERRY, charged with the murder of J. P. RAWLS, is set for next Friday. This case has already been tried twice in the Circuit Court of this county, and reversed both times by the Supreme Court, and now comes up for a third hearing. His counsel applied for a change of venue, yesterday, which was not granted. A special venire 75 men has been ordered from which number to select a jury. *


155. The case of I. L. BERRY charged with the killing of Dr. J. P. RAWLS, occupied the Circuit Court last Friday and Saturday. This case had been tried twice before in this court, the first trial resulting in a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree, and the punishment assessed at fifty

years in the Penitentiary. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court, and a reversal obtained. The second trial resulted in a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, with ninety years in the Penitentiary. An appeal was again taken and another reversal and remand obtained. The State was represented at this trial by Hon. Wm. ODEN, and L. E. PARSONS, Jr. Esq., of Coosa, the Solicitor being disqualified by having been engaged for the defense in a previous trial. Ex-Gov. WATTS and Col. Osce KYLE represented the defense. / A plea for acquittal was offered by the eminent counsel for the defense, based upon various decisions of the Supreme Court which involved some, nice points of law, and were presented in able arguments. Judge COBB, however, ordered the trial to proceed. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty of murder in the second

degree, affixing the penalty at thirty-five years in the penitentiary. The sentence of the court was suspended pending the decision of the Supreme Court upon another appeal, which will probably be heard during the present term of the Appellate Court.

June 1, 1881

156. In our last issue we neglected to state that Capt. J.H. JUDKINS was one of the attorneys for the defense in the case of the State vs. BERRY.

157 State vs. I. L. BERRY - Murder second degree. 35 years in Penitentiary. Appeal taken and sentence suspended.*


August 3, 1881

222. The Supreme Court has affirmed the judgment of the Circuit court of this county in the case of I. L. BERRY, charged with the murder of Dr. J. P. RAWLS. The prisoner was taken to the Penitentiary yesterday, his sentence being for 35 years. *


The Elmore Express. Thurs., August 18, 1887

403. Notice is hereby given that after thirty days, application will be made to the Governor for the pardon of Isaac L. BERRY, convicted in the Circuit Court of Elmore County, of the murder of Dr. J. P. RAWLS.

April 17, 1884

967. An application to the Governor, for the pardon of I. L. BERRY, who killed Dr. J. P.RAWLS, a few years ago, is now being circulated by a brother of Mr. BERRY. *


Isaac L. BERRY did finally join his family in Texas and lived out his days without further trouble with the law. The fact that Isaac L. BERRY was a teenage Civil War participant could have contributed to his violent nature as it relates to this chronology.


Materials provided by Hugh Goodman and formatting by Marvin Schubert ă April 1998, contact me at for comments.