Made His Wife Swear a Life Away

June 22, 1901


A woman retracts her false testimony that would have sentenced an innocent black man to death.


Camden, Ark., June 4th.—Great excitement prevailed on the street yesterday by a subdued rumor that Mrs. Tom Watson had retracted her statements relative to the guilt of Will Bussy who was convicted two weeks ago upon her evidence. There had been lingering doubt in the minds of many citizens as to the guilt of the colored man, although the jury returned a verdict of guilty fifteen minutes after retiring. The verdict was based upon the evidence of Mrs. Tom Watson. Yesterday Sheriff R. D. Newton and Circuit Clerk C. C. Gordon went out to Mrs. Watson’s house where they found her and her husband. Mrs. Watson made to them a written statement and swore to it. In this statement she says the whole affair was a put up job on the colored man, concocted by her husband for the purpose of doing away with him because he would not help them in their crop. She says she gave her evidence in the matter under dire threats: that her husband threatened desertion and death and that she took the part she did on his account. Mr. Tom Watson now admits the innocence of the colored man but beyond that makes no further admission. The colored man was sentenced to be hung June 29th. It was this undercurrent of doubt in the minds of the best citizens that kept Bussy from being mobbed. Steps will be taken as early as possible to have the prisoner released.
About this article

Location on Page

Upper Right Quadrant

Contributed By

Nathan Lyell


“Made His Wife Swear a Life Away ,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed October 27, 2020,