The Murder of Elzy McClister, 1903

Adair County News, Wednesday, December 23, 1903



Ade Willis, a Son of Mr. Tim Willis, Charged With the Crime.


It is almost impossible to get the particulars of the above named killing which occurred near the reisdence of Jo Berpo, in the neighborhood of Fairplay, last Sunday afternoon about sun set. We gather the following from parties who reached Columbia Monday morning.

Elzy McClister, son of John McClister, and Ade Willis, both young men, were upon the highway drinking and from Mr. Berpo's residence they were discovered to be angry. Presently shots were fired and at the second shot McClister fell, then three others shots were heard.

We take it that no one went to the scene, as McClister's body was not removed until Monday when Coroner Dr. C.M. Russell was notified. It is also stated that Willis was cut several times with a knife. We have no information as to what brought about the trouble, and conclude that whisky was the cause.

The verdict of the Coroner's jury was, that the deceased came to his death from a pistol shot, fird by Ade Willis. Willis has not yet been arrested. A young man named Webb, who it is said was with the parties, has been arrested.

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Adair County News, Wednesday, December 30, 1903

(no headline)

Abe Willis, charged with killing Elzy McClister, at Fairplay, about ten days ago, was brought in last Thursday [January 24.] His examining trial was set for last Saturday, but several important witnesses failing to appear, the case was continued until to day (Wednesday.) Willis will be defended by F.R. Winfrey and Gordon Montgomery. County Attorney [James] Garnett will be assisted in the prosecution by J.F. Montgomery and Rollin Hurt.

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Adair County News, Wednesday, January 6, 1904


The examining trial of Mart Shelton, charged with being an accessory to the murder of Elzy McClister, who was killed near Fairplay two weeks or more ago, was begun last Wednesday and terminated Thursday morning, resulting in holding the accused in the sum of one thousand dollars. A man named Webb, who was also thought to be implicated was discharged.

Abe Willis, who killed McClister, waived an examination until circuit court, which begins the third Monday in this month. 

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Adair County News, Wednesday, February 3, 1904

(no headline)

Ade Willis, charged with the murder of young Willis, was before the court last Thursday and his case continued until the May term. Willis was remanded to jail. The case against Frank Shelton, as accessory to the crime, was also continued.

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Adair County News, Wednesday, May 25, 1904

Ade Willis, who was charged with killing Elzy McClister, was given a trial last week, the jury getting the case about 2:30 Saturday afternoon. After deliberating several hours a verdict was returned fixing his punishment at twenty years confinement in the penitentiary. The case was argued by Judge W.W. Jones and Mr. F.R. Winfrey for the defense, and Mr. Rollin Hurt and A.A. Huddleston for the state. It is our understanding that the case will be appealed.

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Adair County News, Wednesday, June 1, 1904

(no headline)

Albert Burton and Ade Willis, one [Burton] convicted for a life term, the other [Willis] to twenty years, were conveyed to Frankfort last Tuesday...

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Adair County News, Wednesday, January 26, 1910 (two entries)

(no headline)

Mr. Ade Willis, who killed Elmer McClister eight or ten years ago and was given a long term in the penitentiary, and subsequently paroled on account of declining health, died at the home of his parents, this county, last Wednesday.

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(in the Glensfork community newsletter)

Ade Willis, son of Tim Willis, died Jan. 19th. He had been very low with consumptiopn for quite a while.

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The 1900 Adair County census stated that Ellmore "Elzy"McClister was born November, 1884, the son of John W. & Manda J. McClister; that Adrian "Ade" Willis was born February, 1883, the son of Tim Willis (Ade's mother was deceased by 1900); that Murt Shelton was born March, 1882. (Shelton was in the houlsehold of his older brother James. The 1880 census indicated James' father was James A. Shelton.)

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Adair County News, Wednesday, January 27, 1904


A sadder message was never received than came to Mr. J.W. McClister and wife telling them of the murder of their son and only child, Elzy, who was shot by Ade Willis near Fairplay on Sunday evening at 7 o'clock, Dec. 20, 1903.

Sad indeed it was to his dear father and mother who slumbered sweetly in their cozy cottage until the dawn of day, while their darling boy, the idol of their hearts, on bended knees, with his face buried in the frozen earth, was sleeping his long sleep unknown to them.

Elzy was a boy whom everybody liked. Alwayscheerful, smiling and happy, not a trouble of this life had marked his youthful brow--taken away so young, being only            20 years of age. Then sadly we say:

Dearest Elzy, thou hast left us, / Here thy loss we deeply feel

But 'tis God that hath bereft us, / He can all our sorrows heal.

There was a time not long ago / When 'round his form were thrown

The thosand comforts, dear delights / And guardian cares of home.

The manhood happiness of life / Shone on his carefree brow,

And love and light and warmth were there, / Where are those blessings now?

T'was not the ocean's raging storm / That sank him 'neath its wave,

Nor was it any foul disease  / That laid him in his grave.

But it was the murderer's bullet / That took his life away

And left his lifeless body / On the frozen ground that day.

While drop by drop the life blood  / Oozed from his wounded heart

He was left with no one near him / Through the long night, cold and dark.

Yes, all alone with freezing form / Beneath the wintry sky

He kneeled upon the frozen earth, / And there alone, did die.

When moring with her streaming light / Came o'er the eastern hill

And flashed her beams across the fields, / She saw him kneeling still,

But from his cold and frozen lips / Came not a trembling word,

The weeping friends that gathered 'round / Were the only sound to be heard.

Then peaceful be his silent slumber, / Peaceful in the grave so low

He no more will join our number, / He no more our tears shall know.

Let us ever hope to meet him / When the cares of life have fled,

Where's there's joy and peace and gladness, / Where no farewell tears are shed.

Broken hearted, sorrowing parents,  / Hear God's promise, pure and blest,

"Come to me ye heavy laden, / I will surely give you rest."

Cast your cares on loving Jesus, / Until life's hard toils are done,

Sweetly then go come to glory / Home, sweet home, that you have won.