Done To Death Doing His Duty

Jailer Hilton Smith Died From the Wounds.


“Bud” Rabb Surrendered at Blaney Yesterday to Chief Cathcart.

Hilton T. Smith, city jailer, died last night at the Columbia hospital. Others in public service have died as the result of illness, contracted through exposure, but this is the first time in many years that Columbia has had an officer of the peace killed in the discharge of duty.

The city was greatly shocked yesterday by the news that Jailer Smith had been shot by John or “Bud” Rabb, a notorious negro. From the very first no hope for recovery was entertained, and there was sorrow in the large circles of friends of the wounded map. There was a great deal of feeling against the negro, but there was never any effort to organize to do him bodily harm. The very officers who were closest to the dying man and were most loyal to him were the ones detailed to find the fugitive, to protect him, to bring him safely to prison that he might have a speedy trail.

John Rabb was arrested by chief Cathcart at Blaney yesterday afternoon, at 2:15, and within two hours was safe within the walls of the police barracks. Blaney is a flag station on the Seaboard, 20 miles east of Columbia. He admitted that he had shot, Jailer Smith and declared that he was at the time irresponsible. He laid the blame on whiskey.

Had Beat His Wife.

Jailer smith lived in a cottage in the yard adjoining the county jail. Frequently he is called upon to do police work in that part of the city, is the quarter where the Seaboard’s main line enters, Sidney park from the south. Tuesday night about 10:30 the wife of John Rabb came for Jailer Smith to arrest the negro. He had been beating his wife and had thrown a lamp at her. She had endeavored some time before to get away to notify the police, but the man observed her intentions and prevented her.

She managed to elude the man and ran to the home of Jailer Smith. He went with her and made the arrest, Rabb sumbitting without resistance, though stubbornly.

The Officer Shot Down.

As they were coming up the Taylor street hill on the way to the call box, whence the officer intended to send in for the patrol wagon, Jailer Smith and the man in custody passed a dark place, made by the shadow from overhanging trees. The negro stealthily got possession of Jailer Smith’s revolver and fired three shots at the officer. One of these struck Mr. Smith in the abdomen and he fell to the street. The negro dashed back the way that they had come.

The noise of the firing attracted the attention of a flagman of a shifting freight train, not half a block away, and he saw the negro running. The flagman halted when he came to the form of the wounded man, who said that he was badly hurt. The pursuit of Hall was then abandoned, while the flagman ran to a telephone to get medical attention for Jailer Smith.

Rabb ran past his house, where a party of neighbors made a feint to intercept him. But the negro flourished the revolver and drove them back. He skirted the Hebrew cemetery, went around by the “overhead Bridge” where Elmwood avenue crosses the Columbia and Greenville road, doubled back through the State farm to the Seaboard main line, and followed the truck to the Hyatt Park road at Smith branch. Here he concealed himself in the deep woods and slept until about 4 o’clock, when he began his flight out of the State.

The Police Active.

His arrest was not spectacular, for he had sold the revolver, was unarmed and made no resistance. But he would have been coaught yesterday or today. The country was bing scoured for him. Detective Forde was at Winnsboro, Detective Richardson at Prosperity, where he could watch both the Southern and the Columbia, Newberry & Laurens tracks and Chief C. C. Haile of Camden was keepinga sharp lookout there. The Charleston, Augusta, Savannah and Spartanburg lines of railroad were also uner strict surveillance.

Tuesday night Chief Cathcart sent a general alarm to all of the officers of the force and got bloodhounds from the State prison. It was impossible to get the dogs to take the rail, as there had been so many people standing around the place where Mr. Smith had fallen. The dogs were taken to Columbia, Newberry and Laurens bridge, and it was made certain that he had not left the city in that way.

The first clue as to Rabb’s course of flight was received here yesterday morning at 11:30. The negro had met a white man in the road and offered to sell the revolver for $1.50. No sale was made, but the weapon was disposed of to a white man living near Jacobs. This man told of it at the railroad station at Jacobs later and the persons who had read The State summoned that the negro was Rabb. A passenger coming into the city on the morning train accordingly notified the police on his arrival.

At 12 o’clock Officers Thorne and Rogers left in an automobile driven by A. E. Jenkins. At 13:10 Chief Cathcart left in a touring car driven by J. T. Harth. Accompanying Chief Catchart were Officers Duncan, special agent, Southern railway and Special Officer Tyler Starling.

The Negro Pursued.

The public highway is in sight of the Seaboard nearly all of the way from Jacobs to Blaney. Three miles south of Blaney Chief Cathcart came upon Mr. Jenkins and Officers Thorne and Rogers. They had caught a glimpse of a negro walking the track and his general appearance fitted the description of the fugitive. They had passed the man about half a mile and had hid their car in the woods. It was their car in the woods. It was the intention to get upon the top of a deep cut and capture the negro as he came through.

Chief Cathcart ordered the officers to do so, and he proceeded with his party to Blaney. The negro got through the cut and out upon the open track before the officers could get to the cut. They feared to follow him, for if he once caught sight of his pursuers, the negro might turn into the almost impenetrable blackjack of the sand hills. Unsuspecting, Rabb went on to Blaney.

The fugitive Trapped.

In the meantime, Chief Cathcart and his party had rolled their car out of sight and were waiting in a store at Blaney, which is but a village of less than 100 persons. They thought the negro might not have had breakfast or dinner – it was then 2:15 p.m. – and that he would enter the first store he reached.

Their surmise was correct./ Rabb entered the store and bough a small sack of tobacco. Immediately the negro was covered with four revolvers and it was all over with him. He announced that he was unarmed; that he had sold the pistol and that he was ready to be arrested.

The negro did not know of the condition of Jailer Smith, and as soon as the handcuffs were put on him he evidently suspected the gravity of the case, for he inquired if Mr. Smith were badly hurt. Chief Cathcart gravely informed him that Mr. Smith had no chance to recover. The negro showed neither fear no remorse, but admitted everything and declared that liquor caused him to shoot the officer.

There Was No Demonstration.

Chief Cathcart came immediately to Columbia, arriving at the police headquarters at 10 minutes to 4 o’clock. There was a rumor yesterday that a party of persons, hearing that Rabb had been captured at Blaney, had gone to take vengeance upon him. Chief Cathcart denies this. The party met no one with any such intentions. The prisoner was brought to the police headquarters, and a few minutes later was removed to the State penitentiary, in order that there could be no possible temptation to mob violence.

As he was leaving the negro in the penitentiary walls, Chief Cathcart said: “John, your mother died at 3 o’clock this afternoon,” but the man was so absorbed in his own fate that he seemed to care naught for anything else. His mother, a negro woman of the respectable type, is said to have been kept unaware of her son’s terrible crime. Rabb has been a thoroughly bad man. He has served several sentences for wife beating. He was once on the county chain-gang and escaped and was captured in Savannah.

Capt. Owen Daly, who has served the city long in its police department, was asked last night if he knew of any other police officer of the city having been killed in the discharge of his duty, replied: “Not one. None during my service and none that I ever heard of before my service.”

Court Meets Monday.

Rabb will be given a speedy trial. As soon as he was informed that Officer Smith was desperately wounded, he pleased with Chief Cathcart to guarantee him a fair trial. The court of general sessions meets next Monday, and his case will be one of the first to be tried. A person indicted for murder can not plead guilty, and the court usually assigns a lawyer to a defendant who has no means to employ one.

The Late Jailer Smith.

The body of the deceased was taken last night to McCormick’s, where the coroner viewed the remains and an autopsy was held. It was found that but one bullet entered the body, passing through, perforating the intestines in several places and severing the spinal cord. The wound was a terrible one and Officer Smith was paralyzed in the lower part of the body from the moment he was fired upon. The inquest will be held this morning.

Hilton Smith, the dead officer, is a native of this county, having been born in the Cedar Creek community 31 years ago this month. He was a grandson of Capt. W. H. Sligh, one of the honored citizens of the county, and his wife is a granddaughter of he late Capt. Jno. H. Kinsler, one of the last survivors of the members of the Secession convention.

Mr. Smith’s father, Augustus Smith, also met death in a tragic manner, having been killed by collapse of a roof of a porch during a storm. In addition to other relatives, Jailer Smith is survived by his wife and two children, a boy of 2 and a girl of 4 years. Heyward and Newton Smith of this county are uncles. The deceased leaves two brothers, Julian Smith of Norfolk, Va., and J. B. Smith of this city; and three sisters, Misses Marvin and Ethel Smith and Mrs. Albert Eargle. His wife was Miss May Kinsler, daughter of Charles Kinsler, of this county.

He was a member of the Woodmen of the World, which order will attend his funeral. The burial will be at Pisgah church Friday.

May 19, 1910 State (published as The State) Columbia, South Carolina News Article Issue 6795 Page [1] & [2]

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