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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Sat., Feb. 22, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

May Nance, the young wife of Mitch Nance – who was on trial for killing his brother John during a drinking session in their Mica Peak cabin – provided the court a different version of the evening’s events.

She said they had all been drinking “a mixture of alcohol, sugar, water and cinnamon.” At some point in the evening, John got out his banjo. He and Mitch attempted, without notable success, to sing a few songs.

Before long, said May, John was so drunk that he was lying on the floor and crying.

Mitch, too, ended up on the floor. He was so close to the red-hot stove that he burned himself – but he didn’t even realize it until later.

At some point, said May, someone announced that mysterious strangers were “coming up to kill us all.” May said she handed Mitch the rifle, and he went outside and loosed off a few rounds. On the way out, he stumbled on the rug, she said, and the gun went off by accident. She guessed that must have been when John was hit.

However, nobody knew John was shot until the next morning.

“We thought he had fallen and hurt himself,” she said.

She claimed the brothers were “boon companions” who worked together “stump-grubbing” for nearby farmers.

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