Shots Rang Out in Cashiers NC

On a wet, overcast, hot, August afternoon in 1901, 50-year-old Evan F. Pell, a well-known and highly respected Cashiers resident, was shot and bludgeoned to death in the road outside the front door of his general store.  The following details of this event are taken from the testimony of witnesses to the crime, found in the records of the Macon County, North Carolina Superior Court.

Evan Pell’s wife, Elizabeth Coats Bryson Allison Pell, was the first person questioned by the prosecutor.  Since the Pell home was right across the road from the store, she could see and hear what was going on that morning at the store and it was obvious to her that several local men were coming and going, drinking liquor, loudly arguing and cussing each other and she also knew they all, including her husband, had loaded pistols in their pockets.  She walked across to the store and told Evan his dinner was ready.  She told the men, including Javan Long and his father Columbus Long, to go on home and don’t come back. 

But they did come back in the early afternoon and soon everyone had their pistols out and Columbus Long also had a large steel slingshot, which he used to hit Evan Pell on the head.  Then shots rang out.  Javan Long with pistols in each hand, shot Evan at least twice, causing Evan to stumble backwards down the road where he was hit again by the steel slingshot.  Doctors testified that the two gunshots were the initial cause of death but had there been no gunshots, Mr. Pell would have died from the blows to his head.

Javan Long testified that he fled the murder scene, left the state and changed his name to Bill Foster, but was later caught and returned to Jackson County.  Local rumors said that Javan had dressed in women’s clothing to make his escape and many women in town feared he would return and kill someone else.  His trial was moved to Macon County where he was found guilty and sentenced to five years in state prison.  The picture accompanying this article, taken by Laura Brown, is the small building that was once Evan Pell’s general store, which is now part of the Cornucopia Restaurant’s complex located not far south from the Cashiers Crossroads on Highway 107 South.  And, across the street still stands the building which was once the home of Evan Pell and his wife – now occupied by McKee Properties.