The purpose of writing this is to, hopefully, "lay to rest" a few rumors and half-truths that have been passed down in the oral tradition over a period of 100 years. Many older Sweet Valley natives know fragments of how one poor soul was not allowed to lie in peace even after his burial. They've heard how someone dug him up and tossed him into Grassy Pond. They may not know his name, the names of who he shot or his relationship to them, or where the burial took place. Others who know nothing of the tale will, I hope, find it quite enlightening, for it shines a spotlight on social conditions a century ago. Although some details may never be known, through diligent research I hope to make the story as factually accurate as possible.

Before becoming an "amateur historian", I began with an interest in genealogy. I couple with that a lifelong interest in all things legal. I'm an avid Court TV watcher. Please excuse the instances where I deviate from a strict "just the facts, ma'am" approach and add my opinions and observations against that background. I will endeavor to place such instances inside brackets ( [ ] .)

I first became interested in this poor soul when I ran across his name while running the title of a piece of land that once belonged to my grandfather's sister, Ida M. Hontz Nafus Bealer. I subsequently learned that the entire story took place within a half mile of my grandfather's farm and of the farm on which I lived in the early 1960's. I also found out that I have a minimal connection to the White family as far back as my birthplace in Mooretown, a "suburb" of Sweet Valley.


Research was done in the land and wills records of Luzerne County, PA. The judge's 12- page charge to the jury in the murder trial was obtained from the Luzerne County Clerk Of Courts. That office also supplied documents from the assault trial. US census sheets were studied. Contemporaneous articles from the Wilkes Barre Record (hereafter "the WBR"), the Dallas Weekly Post ("the DWP"), and other newspapers were read. I interviewed a grandchild of one of the three nephews involved in the shooting and have talked to descendants of others who were peripherally connected to it.

Who was he?

Winston Churchill once called Russia a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." That can also be said of our subject. His true name may never be known for, on at least two official documents, it varied. At deed Book 182, Page 452 on November 9, 1874 he was called Josiah R. White. That conveyance was from a father (Sylvester White) to his son and, as such, may be the truest citation of the son's real name. In 1877, he sold a parcel to Susan Kitchen, again using the name Josiah R. White. The man convicted of murder in 1901, however, was Ralph J. White. He was born on July 19, 1852 in Ross Township, the eighth of eleven children of Sylvester and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Warner Mann White.

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"Juber's parents, Sylvester and Elizabeth White. Courtesy of Elvin Birth."

There simply are no birth records from that far back. For simplicity, I will use the nickname most familiar to the community---Juber White.

Was he ever married?

To tell the truth, dear readers, I have had to rewrite this section. Initially, I intended to use what apparently were Juber's own words to the WBR when he surrendered. The WBR said, in its initial article on October 30, 1900, that he was married and "it is alleged that several years ago he quarreled with his wife and she left him." The very next day the same newspaper called him a widower whose "wife and child died a few years ago, the former of consumption." The DWP also listed him as a widower. Both newspapers were most likely speaking directly to Juber and one must conclude that he changed his story from day to day. Those accounts supported the idea that he was mentally deficient and led to the supposition that perhaps he had never been married at all. None of the White descendants to whom I've spoken to date have any knowledge of Juber having been married. HOWEVER, I have since discovered another source. In support of Juber's sister's standing in the fight to bury him, no lesser source than the PA Superior Court said, in its 1904 ruling in a civil case, "the evidence shows that White had not been living with his wife for a substantial time." That's good enough for this humble scribe.

Like birth records, marriage records from that time period are virtually nonexistent. Unless I eventually hear from descendants of Juber's other siblings, I may never know to whom he was married or what became of their child(ren).

His early life

Beyond the two real estate transactions cited above, the only details of his early life are found in the various US censuses.

On the 1860 Ross Township census Juber was seen (as Josiah), at age 7, living with his parents and 8 siblings, one of whom was his twin sister Mary Ann. (Also living in their household was 4-year-old Elizabeth A. Lavalley, who was probably the daughter of a neighbor.)

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Mary Ann White Kitchen, twin sister of Juber White. Courtesy of Elvin Birth.

Henry Kitchen, husband of Mary Ann White Kitchen. Courtesy of Elvin Birth.

Mary Ann figures prominently later on in this story. His brother Alanson is also mentioned. My great grandfather, Jacob Hontz, Jr., unmarried at the time, was seen on the same census page.

On the 1870 Ross Township census (as Josiah R.), at age 18, he was unmarried and still with his parents.

Juber's father died in 1877. On the 1880 Ross Township census (as Josiah), at age 28, he lived with his widowed mother, Lizzie, who was then 69. Just the two of them lived there—there were no children in the home who could possibly have been his. His sister Arminda was married to "M. M. Sutliff" and they lived immediately next door. The name of Miles "Mallory" Sutliff will appear later in this story. My grandfather, Luther Brittain Hontz, had been just born (in 1879) and lived just up the road on the same census sheet.

Lizzie White died in 1884 and her son, Alanson, died in 1895.

The major portion of the 1890 US census was lost in a fire.

The 1900 Ross Township census was taken in their neighborhood in June. Juber's brother Alanson had 3 sons who became involved in the fatal dispute with their Uncle Juber:

Joseph T. White (hereafter just "Joe"), age 27, lived with his wife, Laura "Cassie" Sutliff White and their two children. Daughter Sarah was 3 and baby Lyle was only 1.

Joe's brother, James S. White (hereafter just "Jim") was 35 and lived nearby with wife Ollie "Anna" Rittenhouse White and their seven children. The children ranged from 10 to less than I year old.

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"James S. White, John Palmer Hontz, and Jacob Nafus. Courtesy of Elvin Birth."

Everett A. White, the youngest son of Alanson, lived just down the road in Lake Township as an unmarried 22-year-old "servant--teamster" in the household of one Walter Allen, who operated a mill.

On the 1900 census there was no trace of Juber, either as Josiah or Ralph, anywhere in Luzerne County !! One might hazard a guess that the census enumerator never thought to look for him in the tool shed next to Jim's home. How he came to live there is unknown. It is apparent that, despite having owned at various times at least 2 parcels of land, he was left at age 48 without a home of his own. The reason for that situation, again, may only be surmised. It could have resulted from simple financial misfortune or it may have been indicative of a lifelong slide into mental instability.

Initial legal troubles

By October, 1900 Juber was working for his nephew Jim and had been living in Jim's tool shed (with rent of 25 cents a month) since May of that year. A falling out occurred to the extent that Jim sued Juber (before a Justice Gregory, location unknown) to recover on a note. Juber counter-sued (before Squire P.W. McKeown of Grand Tunnel, Plymouth Township) for lost wages. It's uncertain if either was awarded monetary damages but, more importantly, Juber was ordered evicted from Jim's shed. The WBR cites Squire McKeown as having described Juber as "acting strangely" to the extent that the Squire "would not be surprised to find that he is partially demented."

The confrontation---Monday October 29, 1900

At 10 AM Jim, having won the eviction suit, approached his tool shed. The shed was hardly fit for animal, let alone human habitation, but Juber was living in it. Jim brought a harrow to place in the shed, likely intending to store it there for the approaching winter. Loaded for transport onto a wagon drawn by a team of horses, it would have been a 2-man job to move it. Jim brought his brother Joe to help him. Anticipating that Uncle Juber would give them trouble, their brother Everett came along as a witness.

The tool shed, which already held some farm implements, had two doors. Juber had boarded up the front, or south-facing door, and apparently just used the back door for access. Finding the front door barred, Jim and Joe initially entered the back door and , despite Juber's protestations, carried in half of the harrow. They then returned to the front door, tore down the board blocking their way, and proceeded to carry in the second half of the harrow.

Juber, seeing that they were totally ignoring his wishes to keep the harrow out, produced a .32 caliber revolver from under his pillow. Jim and Everett immediately took flight out the door but Joe did not leave. A series of three shots was heard and Jim ran back inside to see if Joe needed his help. Everett, who stayed outside, heard two more shots and then saw Jim stagger out, crying "I am shot !!" Reports from the subsequent trial say that one of the poor horses that had pulled the wagon carrying the harrow was also struck by one of Juber's bullets. It is not clear, however, if that bullet had initially passed through either Joe or Jim or been aimed at a fleeing Everett. Joe was dead. Jim and the horse were wounded. Everett escaped without a scratch.

The specific events that rounded out that day have not been chronicled but it's most likely that Everett went for help. Jim's wife, Anna, would have stayed home to comfort her children. At that time, she had 4 children younger than school age, including 3-year-old twin boys (Earl James and Ervin Elansing) and a 10-month-year-daughter (Ethel.) Juber disappeared into the woods on foot. Squire George F. Wesley rounded up a posse of farmers but, by day's end they had not found Juber.

The day after—Tuesday, October 30, 1900

Juber turned himself in to Squire S. B. Adkins down in Shickshinny. Having escaped the wrath of the posse, he was placed in the custody of Constable Swisher of Shickshinny, happy to be safe in the arms of the law. Jim White had been shot in the side with the bullet piercing his lung. He was not expected to live. Juber was originally charged with 2 counts of homicide and remanded to the Luzerne County prison. Coroner McKee assigned Dr. Charles A. Long of Muhlenburg to perform a postmortem examination of Joe's body. Squire George F. Wesley of Sweet Valley was directed to empanel a jury for a coroner's inquest to take place in Sweet Valley three days later, on Friday, November 2, 1900.

Reporters from the WBR described Juber's appearance thusly: "He is of medium height and looks like a typical farmer…. White was dressed in a soiled dark colored shirt, with a ragged and soiled blue silk handkerchief knotted around his neck, a faded brown coat, and a pair of new drilling overalls. He had on a pair of well worn gaiters and a slouch hat, which almost concealed his small eyes. White is quite deaf. His manner and dress gave the appearance that he is not mentally well balanced." [from the Merriam Webster online dictionary: "GAITER: 1 : a cloth or leather leg covering reaching from the instep to above the ankle or to mid-calf or knee 2 a : an overshoe with fabric upper b : an ankle-high shoe with elastic gores in the sides.]

Pressed by reporters to give a reason for the shooting, Juber initially declined to respond. He eventually stated "Joseph grabbed me by the neck and bent me back over the table. Then Jim hit me and I thought they were going to do me harm, so I drew my revolver and shot them in self defense." He told them he had wandered about and then spent the night at the home of his sister Arminda and her husband, Mallory Sutliff in Shickshinny.

The trial of Ralph J. White

The trial of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania versus Ralph J. White began roughly 3 months after the shooting, on Monday, January 28, 1901. It is not known how the name became the reverse of Josiah Ralph White as he had been known up to then. [Quite unlike the trials with which we are familiar in the year 2005 (can you say O.J. Simpson?), White's lasted only 3 days.]

As case number 376 of the November Session of 1900, it was held in courtroom # 2 of the Court of Oyer and Terminer in the Luzerne County Courthouse which was then located on Public Square in Wilkes Barre.

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"Luzerne County Courthouse on Public Square in Wilkes Barre. 
Taken from the Internet."

Given that Jim White had survived his wounds, just a single charge of first degree murder for the death of Joe White was tried. The possibility of conviction on "lesser-included" charges of second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter was permitted.

Presiding was Judge P. J. Lynch. The Commonwealth was represented by District Attorney Jones, Assistant District Attorney John H. Williams, and former county detective C. B. Johnson. Defense counsel consisted of former DA Frank A. McGuigan and Attorney B. W. Davis.

DAY ONE – Monday, January 28, 1901

DA Jones conducted the voir dire and, by noon, 8 jurors had been empaneled. The remaining 4 were selected by 3 PM. [Despite the efforts of Susan B. Anthony and others as early as 1872, women in the USA did not gain the right to vote until passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. Thus, it is doubtful there were any females in the jury pool.] The jury selected was comprised of:

John Law of West Pittston
Charles McHenry of Plymouth Township
J. R. Morris of Bear Creek
Murray Root of Kingston
Ellsworth Hoffman of Foster Township
George Brandon of Exeter
H. J. Seeley of Salem Township
William McHale of Hazleton
J. W. Patten of Luzerne Borough
Jesse Peters of Nescopeck
J. W. Keck of Salem
W. D. Goss of Nanticoke

The courtroom was crowded with interested locals from Ross and surrounding townships and Shickshinny Borough.

The first witness was amateur photographer William Henry Post, who identified photographs he had taken of the scene of the crime on the day following the shooting.

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"James White's outbuilding where Juber shot his nephews. Pictures taken by William Henry Post the day after the shooting and presented as evidence in the murder trial. The harrow can be seen in the left frame, lying at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Courtesy of Margaret White Kummerer, granddaughter of Joseph White."

[This speaks to the state of the constabulary in 1900. Had the police employed their own official crime scene photographer, they wouldn't have needed Post's testimony. According to his daughter, Lois Post, William was at the time a 19-year old farm boy with an avid interest in all things technological. Beyond an interest in railroading (the NASA of the time), he delved into photography with a vengeance, developing his own photos. Hearing of the shooting, he simply showed up at the scene the next day and, likely with the consent of Jim's widow, Anna, snapped away with impunity. He was later greatly shocked to learn that he and his photos had been subpoenaed for the trial. A callow youth in the presence of so many learned elders and under oath, the witness stand proved a formidable seat. Lois doesn't think he ever took photos of a crime scene again.]

Everett White testified next. He related how he, Joe, and Jim had gone to Jim's tool shed to put away the harrow and other tools and to also order Juber to leave. He said they had carried in the first part of it, ignoring Juber's protest. As they were bringing in the second part Juber headed for his bed and Everett cried out "He's getting his revolver!" Everett and Jim immediately ran out the door but Joe lingered inside. They'd only reached the corner of the shed when they heard three shots in rapid succession. Jim ran back inside to check on Joe while Everett continued fleeing. Two more shots rang out and James stumbled out the door, clutching his chest and crying "I am shot!" Juber appeared in the doorway, revolver still in hand, but he fired no more shots, allowing Everett to lead the wounded Jim to Jim's house next to the shed. Juber took off for the woods. Everett was, per the WBR account, subjected to strong cross-examination by defense attorney McGuigan but none of those specific questions were cited in the article. Everett stated that, at the time, Joe was 28 and Jim was 36.

The next witness was Dr. Charles A. Long of Muhlenburg. He testified that he had conducted a postmortem examination of Joe's body the day after he was killed. One bullet had entered an eye and exited through an ear. [This would explain the widely-held belief that Joe had had "half his head blown off." Joe had an open-coffin funeral, but a photo of him in his coffin has been judiciously excluded from this recounting. Suffice it to say that the undertaker made a masterful use of makeup.] A second bullet had grazed a forearm, entered the chest, and penetrated a lung. Each of those first two bullets, said Dr. Long, were fatal by themselves. The third bullet apparently missed Joe and was likely the one that hit the horse. Dr. Long also stated that he had examined Jim, found him to have gone insane and recommended that he be sent to Retreat State Hospital. [Jim, the only eyewitness to the crime was, therefore, not available to testify.] On cross examination, Dr. Long opined that Jim had been a strong, robust man in good health when he was wounded.

Jim's wife, Mrs. Anna Rittenhouse White, followed Dr. Long to the stand. At the time the shots were fired she had been standing between their home and their barn. She supported Everett's account of why the nephews went to the tool shed, the number of shots fired, and the extent of Jim's wound. During cross-examination she said she had heard angry words spoken in the shed. On re-direct, she testified that Jim had never owned a revolver. She also spoke of the lawsuits that preceded the shootings.

Dr. J. A Davenport of Sweet Valley was next to testify. He described the wound to the left side of Jim's chest and concurred with Dr. Long's assessment of the trajectory of bullets in Joe. He also had examined Jim's mental condition and, like Dr. Long, found him to be insane.

Sweet Valley blacksmith George M. Roberts told of arriving at the scene of the crime accompanied by two other men. They had found Joe's body lying face-down in a pool of blood about three feet inside the door, with his feet closest to the door.

Frank Smith, who had gone with George Roberts to the crime scene, confirmed finding Joe's body as Roberts described and further stated that he had seen no sign of a struggle. Smith had also extracted a .32 caliber bullet from the horse and he produced it as evidence.

Squire S. B. Adkins of Shickshinny told of Juber's surrender and that Juber had admitted the killing, claiming self defense.

Constable Jeremiah H. Swisher of Shickshinny, who had taken Juber to jail, confirmed that Juber had admitted the shooting.

Squire George F. Wesley of Sweet Valley, who had formed the posse and later empanelled the coroner's inquest jury, was the next witness. The prosecutors proposed that he would tell of Jim's visiting his office two days before the shooting, seeking advice on evicting Juber. Wesley would say that he had advised him to, in the presence of witnesses, order Juber to leave. However, that testimony was not allowed by Judge Lynch.

Squire P.W. McKeown of Grand Tunnel, Plymouth Township then spoke of the lawsuit wherein Juber had been the plaintiff seeking back wages.

[It is simply astonishing to learn that all of that preceding testimony was given in the space of a single hour!!! It has taken this author twice that long to type it. Remember—the twelfth juror had been seated at 3 PM and the WBR article states that the defense began its case at 4 PM !]

[Is it customary today for both the prosecution and defense to offer their opening statements before the prosecution opens its "case in chief" and starts presenting witnesses. That is not an absolute requirement, however. While the WBR article from January 29, 1901 doesn't mention the prosecution having given an opening statement at all, it may be that they DID and the paper just didn't cite it. From what follows, it's apparent that the defense deferred its opening statement, as was their choice back then and is even now, until AFTER the prosecution had presented its last witness.]

Defense counsel B. W. Davis delivered a brief but eloquent statement. They would state, as had the prosecution witnesses, that the nephews did go to Juber's "house" [the WBR's word.] They did attempt, despite the defendant's protests, to place a harrow and some other tools inside and to thus acquire some "quasi-possession" [the WBR's words.] The defense would further show that Joseph White had acted in a threatening manner, causing Juber to secure his revolver. Joseph had then grabbed Juber by the throat and one hand and threw him violently to the floor. While Joseph was choking the life out of Juber, Juber had fired the revolver with his free hand in defense of his life.

The defense then called the following character witnesses: Squire S. B. Adkins and Miles Mallory Sutliff of Shickshinny, and Jeremiah Wandall, Frank Morris, George Thomas Sprague, and Dana Hontz, all of Sweet Valley. With the exception of Adkins and Hontz, the others were all related by either blood or marriage to the defendant and the nephews. As a body, the witnesses attested that, prior to the shooting, Juber had been a peaceable, law- abiding citizen.

The defendant then took the stand. He was wearing an old ragged brown coat and a pair of blue overalls. It was said that his general appearance did not "indicate a very high type of intellect." He was said to be quite deaf so that his attorneys had to shout their questions. He spoke so softly that his answers often had to be repeated for the benefit of the court and the court stenographer. On direct examination he testified that: he was 48 years old; the boys had come to "his house" about 9 o'clock on the morning in question; they tried to force their way in the front door and they eventually did start to bring in part of the harrow through the back door; he told them they'd have to get it back out and they told him that HE had to get out; he then went to his bed and drew his revolver from under his pillow; Joe grabbed him by the left hand and by the throat and, after a brief struggle, threw him to the floor. He further testified: prior to then he hadn't spoken to Joe in the past four or five months and that, at that time, Joe had threatened to "lick" him the next time they met; and, on the morning of the shooting he had been in bad physical condition and was also suffering from a crippled knee.

District Attorney Jones then subjected Juber to a rigorous cross-examination. Juber admitted that, despite his reportedly bad physical condition, he had been able to walk to Shickshinny. He had bought the gun a year earlier to protect himself from mad dogs. When the boys first came to the house, Jim had said "You have to get out of here, You have to get out tomorrow." They brought in the second half of the harrow and then he had reached for his gun. Seeing the revolver, Jim and Everett ran out of the house. Joe grabbed him by the hand and the throat, thew him to the floor, and "Joe was lying on top of me when I shot him. Joe was still on top of me when I shot James. I threw Joe off when I got up. He never spoke a word to me after I fired. I did not see either of the boys have a gun." Juber said he had marks on his neck where Joe had grabbed him and that his throat had hurt for two weeks following the shooting. He had left the scene travelling in a direction from the shed opposite from the direction to Jim's house. He had initially gone to the home of a brother-in-law, George Thomas Sprague. [Sprague had married Juber's sister Rebecca and, on the 1900 census, they lived just two homes away from Joe White. The general area became known as "Sprague Hollow" and lie near where the "Iron Bridge" was built to cross Huntington Creek.] He then left for Shickshinny. Once in that area, he hid in some bushes along a creek until dark and then, at around 10 PM, went to the home of his other brother-in-law, Mallory Sutliff. The following morning [Tuesday, Oct. 30, 1900], he turned himself in to Squire S. B. Adkins.

Juber was still on the stand when the court recessed at 5 PM.

DAY TWO– Tuesday, January 29, 1901

[The account reported by the WBR gets a little confusing based on the order in which their reporter presented the facts in the Wednesday, January 30 edition. Your author has done his best to put them back in chronological order. The reader should always bear in mind that no official transcript of testimony was provided. As such, there was obviously some testimony given that the newspaper didn't print. We are, luckily, able to infer some of what must have been said from reading the 12 typewritten pages that constitute the judge's charge to the jury. If the judge cited certain things in his charge, we can rest assured that __someone__ must have testified to them.]

[In that Juber had not been excused at 5 PM the prior day, one would infer that the DA had initially intended to continue his cross-exam on day two. Because he didn't, we may imagine that he had changed his mind overnight.]

David Hontz [no relation to your author] was the day's first witness called by the defense. He stated that he had seen the defendant around 11:10 on the morning of the shooting, at the Sprague home. Juber's entire right side, from his breast to his knee, was covered in blood. He had a scratch on the left side of his neck, his throat looked red, and there was a bruise over his eye. Under cross-exam, he said that the defendant had a revolver in his hip pocket.

The defense then recalled Juber to the stand and he reiterated the marks on his body as described by David Hontz. Under cross-exam, he said that at the time of the shooting he weighed about 140 pounds, Joe weighed about 160 pounds, and Jim was about 150 pounds.

The brothers-in-law, Thomas Sprague and Mallory Sutliff, were recalled and they bore out the scratches and bruise on the defendant.

Everett White, who had fled the scene, was recalled. He said that his brother Jim had told him that Joe was on top of Juber when the shooting was done.

John Devons and L. W. Fiske then appeared as character witnesses, each testifying as to the defendant's prior good character and reputation.

Frank Morris [married to Juber's niece Emma], who had previously testified only as a character witness, was recalled. He said that, after the shooting, he had examined the tool shed and found eleven marks on the door. [Which door was not specified by the reporter but it is assumed to have been the front door which Juber had fortified with a board.] The marks appeared to have been caused by an axe. Morris admitted that he hadn't been on good terms with Jim White.

Thomas Sprague and Dana Hontz [a second cousin, once removed, to your author] confirmed having seen the marks on the door.

The defendant was recalled and said that there had been no marks on the door the day before the shooting and that he had heard pounding on the door that day. Under cross-exam, he admitted that he hadn't seen an axe in the hands of any of the three nephews.

The defense then rested. It was 11 AM on day two.

Defense counsel Frank A. McGuigan began his closing argument and spoke until 12:30. He basically contended that the shooting had been done in self defense.

District Attorney Jones presented the prosecution's closing argument, speaking on both sides of the lunch break. He held that the killing had been unprovoked; not in self defense, but with malice. The evidence, he said, clearly showed the defendant's guilt and he asked that the jury return a verdict of guilt of first degree murder.

The defense's proposed instructions for the charge to the jury

The defense proposed six points that it wanted Judge Lynch to include in his charge to the jury:

1. The evidence showing the defendant to have been, prior to the shooting, of good character should, in and of itself, raise reasonable doubt.

2. That the structure where the shooting occurred was the defendant's dwelling.

3. That the right of self defense extends beyond one's person to a defense of one's "castle."

4. That, if the jury should find that the defendant had reason to believe himself to be in imminent danger, he had a right to defend himself with any power within his means, even if it resulted in the death of his adversary.

5. That, if the jury should find there to have been a great physical disparity between the defendant and his attacker, the defendant had a reasonable fear of imminent harm.

6. That, if the jury should find that the first shot killed the attacker and that if said shot was fired in self defense, the additional two shots had no bearing on guilt or innocence.

Judge Lynch's actual charge to the jury

[Readers, please allow a bit of literary license here. The jury charge is taken directly from a 12-page typewritten copy provided by the Luzerne County Clerk Of Courts office. Unlike the preceding testimony which relied on newspaper accounts, the judge's precise words are known and it will be simpler to express many of them in the first person. Your author reserves the right to interject commentary inside of brackets ([ ]) ]. In some cases Judge Lynch refers to items of testimony (such as "How far apart was each shot?") that must have been given by someone but the newspaper didn't mention those items and we have no full transcript of the proceedings.

Judge Lynch began by citing from the 1860 criminal code the distinction between first and second degree murder. He then continued "The kind of murder charged here is a willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, the essential difference between murder of the second and murder of the first degree. Murder of the first degree is where a felonious and malicious homicide is committed with the specific intent to take life. Murder of the second degree is where a felonious and malicious homicide is committed but without the specific intent to take life. For example, the malicious and specific intent to take life must always exist at the time in order to convict of murder of the first degree. In murder of the second degree it is sufficient if the jury believes from the evidence the specific and malicious intent was not to take life but do take grievous harm and death ensues from the shot. He who uses a deadly weapon must be presumed to have done so with a badness or wickedness of the heart. This presumption, however, rises no higher than murder of the second degree and, to raise it to murder of the first degree, it is essential the Commonwealth shall show circumstances sufficient to produce conviction in the mind of the jury. In a brief way, I call your attention to the facts so that you may apply this law."

He then laid out the circumstances of how Juber had been working for Jim and had, since May, 1900, been living in Jim's tool shed for a rent of 25 cents a month. The three nephews had come to put away the harrow and, at the same time, evict their uncle. "Defendant testified that when they entered he said to James 'good morning' and none of them made reply. Now, is it shown that the accused was at that time excited, in a passion or fear? Did these men do or say anything to disturb his mind? He testifies that the only word spoken he said to James, who did not reply, 'good morning.' " Judge Lynch then described how Juber said he wanted the first half of the harrow removed and that the boys had refused to do so. "Picture to yourselves fairly and honestly the condition of all these people at that time, their age, relationship, the feeling, if any, which existed between them, the place, in an agricultural district. The accused testifies he felt from their manner there was going to be trouble. That he then went to the bed which was on the same floor, and took from under the pillow his revolver so at to be prepared to defend himself. Gentlemen, following it step by step, to your mind is there anything so far which would justify this uncle in taking from the pillow a deadly weapon and being prepared to defend himself? Everett says about that time the accused went for the revolver he and James fled and soon he heard a shot. You should view all the circumstances. Do you believe, through malice, hatred, and ill will, not towards Joseph especially, but that sort of wicked heart which disregards all social duties, that this man felt because these people were there intruding on him he would punish them even to death or do you believe as testified to by him that Joseph, had attacked him, had him by the throat and left wrist? "

The judge then proceeded to lay out the idea that perhaps the true cause of the struggle was Joseph trying to protect himself from a man with a gun. "If you believe such to be the case and this man did that deliberately, premeditatively, and with malice with the specific intent to take life, he cannot be excused by saying there was a grapple, or a tussle, or a fight with Joseph. If he was the aggressor and provoked the quarrel by attacking Joseph with a deadly weapon, he cannot be excused for a scuffle that subsequently ensued."

"But suppose you take the view that Joseph did take him by the neck and, while so held, the accused which caused death, do you believe the defendant had reason to believe that he was then in imminent peril of his life or of great bodily harm being done to him and had no other means of escape except by taking the life of his assailant? If you believe such to be the case, the man should not be convicted of anything. Upon this question, how many shots were fired? How far apart was each shot? Where were they fired? Did the accused come to the door of the shanty or stand near the door and fire a shot at the fleeing men, which struck the horse? If you believe so, it will assist you in arriving at the condition of this man's mind as to whether he used malice, premeditation, deliberation and intent to kill. It is not every blow which warrants a killing. It is only sufficient and adequate provocation which will excuse or lower the degree of the crime. If the accused was the aggressor, if he brought on the attack with a deadly weapon, he can not afterwards be excused by saying there was a scuffle."

"For many hundred years a defendant in a criminal case was not permitted to testify in his own behalf, but the legislature of this and nearly all other states, and the Parliament of England of late years, have deemed it a wise and true policy to permit all parties charged with a crime to testify in their own behalf. Upon the theory that that court and jury will judge truly of the man and his testimony, and better ascertain the truth by seeing him upon the stand, learning what sort of man he is and comparing his testimony with the other witnesses in this case. The Supreme Court has instructed the trial court to say to the jury that because of the severe punishment that may be in case of conviction, a defendant's testimony should be scrutinized with the greatest care, but his interests in the result of the verdict are so great it is the duty of the jury to not only carefully scrutinize the defendant but his testimony."

"Do you believe the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, shows Ralph J. White feloniously, maliciously, and with intent to take the life of Joseph White, shot and killed? There is no question of sympathy for the accused nor for the family. Our duty is to administer the law fairly and justly as it is laid down in the books and upon the evidence adduced."

Judge Lynch then proceeded to explain the definition of at what point doubt becomes reasonable doubt. He also defined voluntary manslaughter as being different from murder in that it lacks the malice required for a murder charge and said that voluntary manslaughter is commonly called "killing in hot blood." He concludes that section of his charge by pointing out "But the accused does not say these men had arms of any kind, they did not threaten to strike him or say a rough or unkind word previous to or during the attack made by Joseph."

He next discusses what must have obviously been forensic testimony given by Dr. Charles A. Long of Muhlenburg, who performed the postmortem examination of Joe's body. If, as Juber had testified, Joe had him by the throat and by his left wrist and, in the struggle had fallen atop Juber, then Juber, with the gun in his right hand, could not have, from such a position, fired the shot which entered Joe's right side. Judge Lynch then referred to the testimony of David Hontz who had said that he had observed Juber at the Sprague residence with his entire right side covered in blood. Left unsaid but implied was that Juber had, after firing the first shot (which may have been the shot that entered Joe's eye and exited his ear) stood up and shot Joe at least once more after Joe was already dead or dying, i. e, helpless. Both the bloody clothing and gun had been left at the Mallory Sutliff home where the defendant had spent the night before surrendering and, for some reason, those items had not been seized to be entered into evidence. [The court stenographer who wrote the judge's charge appears to have made a clerical error or two at this point and I choose not to speculate as to exactly what the judge said.]

The judge then addressed items that the defense had asked him to present within his charge to the jury.

1. The defendant is a competent witness to testify in his own behalf. The judge concurred on this point and referred to his earlier instruction as to the scrutiny they should attach to a defendant's testimony.

2. Evidence of previous good character of the accused is substantial testimony in his behalf and may of itself raise in the minds of the jury a reasonable doubt of his guilt. Judge Lynch agreed with that point, too.

3. That under all the evidence the jury should find that the building within which the killing took place was the dwelling and home of the defendant. The judge agreed with this, too. [This point surprises me. I am not a lawyer but it would seem that something was overlooked here. The WBR had reported that the boys were attempting to 'secure possession' of the tool shed, implying that they had been granted a legal right to evict him. I was unable to get court records of that previous suit but, assuming there WAS such an eviction order, it would seem to this non-lawyer that, at the time of the shooting, Juber no longer HAD a legal right to be there. Ergo, it was no longer technically, HIS dwelling and home. I must conclude, sadly, that either I or the judge and the prosecutors missed a point here.]

4. The right of self defense extends not only to the individual himself but it also extends to his house, called also in law his "castle", the defense of which he may make effectual from all attacks. And, if, in making this defense it becomes necessary to take the life of the aggressor, it will not be felonious but excusable homicide. On this point the judge heartily disagreed. He said "Gentlemen, I do not see that this has anything to do with the case. I suggested to counsel when they presented the point. If the accused had shot this man or any one of them when they, as he alleges, were trying to break in the door against his remonstrance, the point might have force. But he did not do so. They went to the north door and entered without resistance."

5. If the jury should find from all the evidence that the defendant had reason to believe himself in danger of serious bodily harm or that his life was in danger, he had a right to use any force within his power even if, in the use of it, it resulted in the death of his adversary. The judge stated "This is correct, it is the law. But I again call your attention to the question of whether the accused was the assailant. If Joseph were the assailant, this man, if you believe as stated in the point, would have a right to defend himself."

6. If the jury should find that there was a great disparity between the size and physical condition of the deceased and of the defendant, the deceased being the larger and stronger man, and the defendant was attacked by the deceased, thrown upon the floor, caught by the throat by the deceased, the deceased was choking him, that from all circumstances, the defendant had a right to believe himself in great danger or serious bodily harm and his shooting was justifiable. Judge Lynch affirmed that theory.

7. That if the jury should find that the deceased was killed by the first shot fired by the defendant and that shot was fired in self defense, then what was done afterwards by the defendant cannot affect his guilt or innocence under the indictment under which he is now being tried. Judge Lynch agreed.

[In a move at which I, as a non-lawyer, raise an eyebrow, defense counsel then interrupted the judge's charge. They asked him to comment to the jury that Everett White had testified as to Joe having been on top of Juber. Judge Lynch, recalling that testimony, disagreed, pointing out that Everett had not said that HE had seen that. Rather, Everett had testified that Jim had told him that.]

Judge Lynch then concluded his charge by reminding the jury that they had four choices: conviction of either first or second degree murder, conviction of voluntary manslaughter, or acquittal.

The jury was then given the case. It was only 3 PM on the second day of the trial.

As might have been expected, opinions as to the likely verdict varied greatly from one side of the case to the other. The WBR reported that Assistant DA John H. Williams believed it would be a conviction on one of the two murder counts. Defense attorneys McGuigan and Davis expected either acquittal or, at most, conviction of voluntary manslaughter.

DAY THREE– Wednesday, January 30, 1901—the verdict

[It is unknown if the jury was sequestered or not and the assumption is that they were not. Also left unsaid is how long into Tuesday afternoon they deliberated or at what time court reconvened on Wednesday morning. In any case, by 3 PM on Wednesday, just 24 hours after receiving the case, they returned with a verdict.]

Ralph J. White was convicted of second degree murder. The WBR reports the sentence to have been 15 years but, luckily, I was able to obtain a copy of the court docket sheet.

juber-4.jpg (682108 bytes)

"Docket sheet summarizing the case of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Ralph J. White.
Courtesy of the Luzerne County Clerk Of Courts office."

Not only does it clarify the sentence to have truly been 14 years and six months but it also adds conditions not mentioned by the newspaper. He was to serve "at labor" and in "solitary confinement." The sentence was to be served at the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

The aftermath

On Friday, February 2, 1901 the defense filed a motion for a new trial. The copy of that motion is barely legible and I cannot lay out all their reasoning other than faulting Judge Lynch for having favored the prosecution case in his charge to the jury and having ignored their side. Judge Lynch took it under advisement and did not issue a ruling.

By Tuesday, February 12, 1901 Juber had not yet been transported to the penitentiary to begin his sentence and was still being held in the Luzerne County prison. At 10:45 PM that evening, night watchman Frank Meehan, who had just come on duty, noticed a white cloth hanging from Juber's #18 cell. He discovered that Juber had, using his bed sheet, hung himself in his cell. Meehan notified a fellow watchman named Kearney and they cut him down. It was clear that he had fully intended to commit suicide because he, in hooking one end of the sheet-turned-rope to the cell door and placing all his weight against it, could have changed his mind at any moment and regained his feet. When found, his face was a mere 8 inches from the floor.

Closer examination of Juber's body revealed a gash on his right wrist, one that likely had been caused by a blunt instrument. Blood was found on his pillow and the cell walls. A spoon with blood on it was found on a stand, so obviously Juber had first tried to cut his wrist using the spoon but that it proved to be too dull.

Warden Jackson, Assistant Warden Detro and watchman Gibbons were all said, by the WBR, to have believed Juber "insane" and that they had quoted his actions to illustrate that opinion. He had generally spent his time preaching, saying that Jesus was coming for him soon and that he hoped his friends had all been baptized. He had been quite ill for the past week and had often told fellow prisoners that he wanted to die. At other times, however, he had asked watchman Gibbon to intercede on his behalf and to get him a job on the farm at the penitentiary.

Ghouls, dynamite, lawsuits, and a strained social atmosphere

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much !!

Those lyrics were written by Sheldon Harnick for the Kingston Trio's song, "The Merry Minuet", which appeared on their 1959 album, "From the Hungry I." Harnick might well have been describing the social atmosphere in Sweet Valley that prevailed following Juber's suicide in 1901. One newspaper article politely described it as "strained" but then went on to say that it needed to be "fumigated." The town was severely divided between White and anti-White factions.

The task of burying him fell to his twin sister, Mary Ann White Kitchen, because his wife, whoever she may have been, was not around. Juber had hung himself on February 12, 1901 and the trouble may have started as soon as word of that event got out. 

Prior to 1894, there had been only one church in Sweet Valley.  We have come to know it as the Church of Christ or the “white church” due to the color of its exterior but my research has just turned up yet another name.  According to an article about the civil trial in January, 1902, it was also called the “Church Of the Disciples.” Prior to 1894, there was also just one cemetery in Sweet Valley.  Across the road from what was known as “Ord Tumbower’s store” in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a public burial ground and both church members and non-members alike (including members of Juber’s family) had buried their loved ones in it. For our purposes we will call it the Sweet Valley cemetery, for that is how it is known in 2005. 

In 1894, a great schism occurred due to, no doubt, some ecclesiastical differences. The "rebels" broke way to found the Pleasant Hill Christian Church (a\k\a "the brick church" because of its construction) less than one hundred yards away from the Church Of Christ\Church Of the Disciples (known for long time as “the white church” because of its color.)  Asa M. Smith had, in March,1894 donated 2 acres of land for the sanctuary and cemetery (which became known as the “Smith Cemetery”) for the newly-formed Pleasant Hill Christian Church. Asa was a friend off the White family. At Mary Ann's request, Smith undertook the job of digging a grave for Juber, but he dug it in the old public “Sweet Valley” cemetery so that Juber could lie next to his family.  Juber’s parents, Sylvester and Elizabeth, were there, along with his brother Alanson (father of the 3 nephews involved in the shooting) and two of Alanson's other sons.

juber-6.jpg (218291 bytes)
"Fence surrounding Sweet Valley Cemetery.
Photo by Ron Hontz."
juber-7.jpg (99367 bytes)
"Tombstone of Juber's
father, Sylvester White in the Sweet Valley Cemetery. Photo by Ron Hontz."
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"Tombstone of Juber's brother, Alanson White, father of the three nephews involved in the
shooting, located in the Sweet Valley Cemetery. Photo by Ron Hontz."
juber-9.jpg (68214 bytes)
"Tombstone of Juber's mother, Elizabeth White, in the Sweet Valley Cemetery. Photo by Ron

I'm guessing that the trouble began not long after Juber's suicide on February 12, for it was not until a week later, on February 19, that the first attempt was made to bury him.  Undertaker Pealer of Shickshinny had proceeded to prepare the body only after consulting with legal counsel. Undoubtedly, community resentment had been raised and, following the preparation, Juber spent several days at Mary Ann’s home.  Asa Smith needed several helpers to try to dig the grave, as the February ground was quite frozen.  Their first attempt, on the 19th, was repelled by order of the “constable” who, in light of later developments, I take to have been another name for Squire\Justice Of the Peace George F. Wesley.

Asa and his helpers then sought legal counsel and made a second attempt to dig the grave three days later, on February 22. Seeing that his “order” had been overruled, Squire Wesley this time had 4 accomplices.  As Asa and his helpers dug, they found themselves surrounded by a gang of 5 men who insisted that they stop digging. A scuffle ensued that later became the basis for a criminal trial (see below.) Juber was simply not welcome next to their loved ones already buried there. [There are two bits of irony in the makeup of the gang. It consisted of: a father-and-son team (George F. Wesley, the squire who had formed the posse to look for Juber; his son Eugene Bruce Wesley; Avery Long, whose son, Dr. Charles A. Long had performed the postmortem exam on Joe White just weeks earlier; a Thomas Lyons, and William "Marion" Edwards. None of this gang was a juvenile engaged in teenage pranks—they were all full-grown men of at least 50 years of age except for Eugene Wesley, who was 29. Gravedigger Asa Smith was 52. Secondly, it has long been said that, upon the great schism, the Wesley family stayed with the white church while the Edwards family left for the brick church. Irony lies in the fact that, despite their ecclesiastical difference, two Wesleys and one Edwards had found unity in the cause of preventing Juber's burial.]

On Tuesday, February 26, 1901, there was no further interference because a deputy sheriff stood guard as the grave was dug.  Following a service at Mary Ann’s house, the funeral procession arrived at the cemetery at 2:30 PM.  Poor Juber was finally laid to rest a full two weeks after his death, having spent 12 days in his sister’s house.  Reverend J. R. Laird officiated at the burial.

Armed guards were posted at the gravesite for a time, but, sometime following their removal, it was learned that Juber's remains had not REMAINED buried ! By mid-May, 1901, Juber was missing ! Unknown "ghouls" (as the newspaper called them) had found the digging easier in May and had dug him up ! [It has never been proven who did this dastardly deed but I imagine that the gang who assaulted Asa Smith would be a good place to start rounding up suspects.] Tracks left by a wagon in the spring mud lead quickly to Grassy Pond, a mere quarter mile over a hill from the cemetery.

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juber-11.jpg (802657 bytes)

"Grassy Pond as seen from the backyard of the residence that once belonged to Russell Kitchen, grandson of Mary Ann White Kitchen. 
Photo by Ron Hontz."

Mary Ann White Kitchen's barn across Grassy Pond Road from land she gave to her grandson, Russell Kitchen. Her house stood to the left of the barn but has disintegrated over time. In the 1960's it belonged to Ed Eckhart. 
Photo by Ron Hontz."

Good citizens (including, possibly, Corey Foss) searched the pond for several days using a mirror to reflect sunlight below the surface for better visibility. They found Juber near the middle of the pond where his coffin had been weighted down with chains such as those used in wells to haul up buckets of water.

Having found Juber, one would think, the good citizens were able to quickly retrieve him. NOT SO FAST! The newspaper says that the "authorities" of Sweet Valley refused to allow him to be raised and re-buried. Reportedly, they feared that further violence between the two sides might even end in a fatal quarrel. [Let's stop to consider exactly who the "authorities" in Sweet Valley would have been. I doubt that the township supervisors would have gotten involved, for this was not truly a municipal matter. I can think of only one "authority"—Squire George F. Wesley. Given that he was one of the men who assaulted Asa Smith to stop the burial, Squire Wesley would have certainly had no reason to see him re-buried.]

Mary Ann stuck to her guns, as it were, and declared that she would re-bury her brother even at the point of a rifle. Apparently she succeeded, for he was brought up from the bottom of Grassy Pond with a grappling hook and returned to the grave whence he had been so unceremoniously removed. This time precautions were taken. Two bags of cement were used to form an impenetrable barrier over his coffin and the barrier performed up to expectations.

juber-17.jpg (294996 bytes)

 "Freda Kaylor Baer Kitchen holding the grappling hook used to retrieve Juber from Grassy Pond. She married Russell Kitchen, grandson of Mary Ann White Kitchen. Courtesy of Leonard Baer."

In July, 1901, the ghouls returned for a second try. This time they used dynamite to try to extract Juber. They only had time for one blast, for the sound obviously brought neighbors from all over the middle of Sweet Valley to investigate. [Let me add some educated guesses here. Such ghoulish affairs are best performed under cover of darkness. It is doubtful the ghouls would even have used a lantern to light their grim task lest it be seen. Haste would certainly have been on their agenda. The proper way to dislodge the cement cover would be to dig beneath it and be sure to fully tamp closed the hole dug to insert the dynamite. More than one stick of explosive should be placed around the grave's perimeter and set off simultaneously. The resultant upward force would be enough to dislodge the cement. My guess is that, working hurriedly in the dark, they dug only a hole above the cover and then forgot to tamp closed the hole. The full force of the single explosion would have shot back up through the hole. This theory is borne out by the fact that they managed only to somewhat damage the cover. Juber's coffin was not affected and they may have left the scene without even bothering to check the results.] At this point the ghouls gave up.

The civil trial, originally set to begin in October, 1901, was delayed until January, 1902. Nearly 100 Sweet Valley residents were subpoenaed as witnesses and most of them, I expect, did testify. Unfortunately, the Wilkes Barre Record gave no names or what they said. 

Judge Dunham of the Wyoming-Sullivan judicial district came down to hear the case and it is believed he did so himself, without a jury. The defendants alleged that Mary Ann White Kitchen had no "legal or equitable right" to bury her brother in the Sweet Valley cemetery "against the wishes of the trustees and members of the First Christian Church (a\k\a The Church Of the Disciples) or against the wishes of the people who had friends and relatives buried in the cemetery."  They felt that is was a desecration to have a murderer and a suicide buried in the same ground as their loved ones.

The plaintiff responded by pointing out that prior to the split in the churches, the Sweet Valley Cemetery had been open to the public. Members of the only church in town HAD buried their families there but so had many people who were NOT church members.   Following the 1894 split, members of the new church could bury their people in the new Smith Cemetery that was part of Asa Smith’s grant.  Members of the OLD church were not welcome there so they more or less “adopted” the Sweet Valley Cemetery as theirs.  Apparently they had been allowed to informally “adopt” it and apply their own set of rules for it for some 6 years up until the Juber case arose.   Trying to bar Juber, as Mary Ann’s attorney, John T. Lenahan cited, violated all principles of mercy, humanity, and dignity. He found it inconceivable that such had taken place in a Christian community

Judge Dunham ruled in Mary Ann’s favor.  He basically told the old church members that they could not simply take over what had been a public cemetery and starting applying their own rules.

The defendants persisted, appealing to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Philadelphia. It took over two and a half YEARS for that final decision to be handed down, arriving at the Luzerne County Prothonotary's Office in August, 1904.

While awaiting the ruling of the Superior Court on the civil case, a criminal trial on the assault charge was finally held on January 2, 1903. It had been delayed by legal maneuverings. The jurist again was Judge P. J. Lynch. All five men were acquitted on the assault and battery charges but they were ordered to pay half of the court costs. An article states "The case was before the courts so long and continued so often that the costs are enormous, there having been at some times as many as fifty witnesses from Sweet Valley present at the court." The defendants appealed to Judge Lynch but, on February 7, 1903, he affirmed the verdict—they would have to pay half of the costs. I do not know if defense counsel filed an appeal on the criminal case to the Superior Court.

In August, 1904, word finally came down from the Superior Court in the civil case. It affirmed the lower court ruling and stated, in part:

"No authority has been shown in support of the position of the defendants that the body of Ralph J. White was not entitled to decent burial in this cemetery because of the fact that he was a murderer and suicide. The harshness that once marked the treatment of a body of a suicide in England has found no place in the legislation of this Commonwealth. Nor is it consonant with the spirit of the age or the moral sense of the people.

A decent burial is the right of everyone. It is a right springing from the necessities of the case and is recognized in all well-ordered communities. Consideration of propriety and public health require that the dead be decently disposed of. This does not imply the right to Christian burial with the service of a religious organization, but to an orderly interment in a suitable place.

It cannot be successfully contended that the plaintiff might not lawfully bury the body of her brother. The evidence shows that White had not been living with his wife for a considerable time. What the cause for their separation was is not material in the present inquiry.

There was no administrator or executor upon whom the law would, in the first instance, cast the duty of burial. Upon this sister, under the circumstances, as one of his near kindred, devolved the right, if not the duty, of burial. The law has been recognized and approved in numerous cases.

No person having an interest in the body objected or now objects to the action of the plaintiff in burying her brother and the defendants are not in position to question her right to do so. None of the property rights of the defendants have been invaded nor has there been any interference with the burial places of their friends or kindred. We are of the opinion, therefore, that, under the law applicable to the case, a correct conclusion was arrived at by the trial judge. The decree is therefore affirmed."

With that ruling came the official end to the legal cases involving Juber. I would imagine that strong feelings on both sides persisted in the Sweet Valley for many years to follow. Two generations have now followed the youngest people cited in this legend and the members of that second generation are now, themselves, 65 years of age and older. At this late date (2005), I'd imagine that 98% of living persons NOT related in some way to persons in the story have no inkling as to exactly who was on which side. Through my research, I hope I have been able to lay down a re-telling that will last as long as there is an internet. In the hope of yet finding out to whom Juber was married and what became of his wife and any children, I add the following in the hopes that a descendant of the following will some day, by "Googling", run across their surname in my tale and get back to me with more information. Juber's sister, Ruth Alma White, married Thomas G. O'Mealy. His brother, William Henry White, married Martha Williams. His brother, Alanson A. White (father of the three nephews involved in the shooting), married Sarah Adeline Birth. His sister, Rebecca White, married Hiram Birth, Joseph P. Williams, and George T. Sprague. His brother, Alonzo Fayette White, married Sarah Angeline Adelman. His sister, Lavina Dorinda White, married Amos Reed. As previously stated, his sister, Arminda White, married Miles Mallory Sutliff; while sister Mary Ann White married Henry Kitchen. Two other siblings, James W. and Elizabeth A. White, are not known to have married.

Family followups

The family of Joseph T. White who was killed:

As cited above, Joe's 1900 murder widowed Laura "Cassie" Sutliff White and left her to care for one-year-old Lyle and three-year-old Sarah. Cassie then married Ben Leonard and bore him a son and daughter named George and Lulu. Unfortunately, Cassie died, at only age 29, in 1907 while giving birth to another daughter, Alta. Alta was put up for adoption and was killed in a sledding accident at age 9. When Cassie died: Lyle White was 8 and he went to live with his aunt and uncle, Martha (Sutliff) Hontz and Jasper J. Hontz (my first cousin, twice removed)

juber-18.jpg (826800 bytes)

 "House where Lyle White lived in 1910. Built by Jasper Hontz, it was sold to Albert Morris in 1920. Owned in 2005 by Don Stroud. Photo by Ron Hontz."

10-year-old Sarah White went to live with her uncle, Barney Thompson Sutliff. She married twice, lived in Maryland, and died in 1964. Lyle White grew up to own a farm in the Nescopeck area, lived to be 67, and died after he was kicked by a cow in 1966.

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"Lyle D. White, son of Joseph White.
Courtesy of his daughter, Margaret White Kummerer."

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 "Sarah White Buck, daughter of Joseph White.
 Courtesy of her niece, Margaret White Kummerer."

The family of James S. White who was wounded:

Following his being wounded in 1900, Jim was never quite the same. He was in and out of Retreat State Hospital but, by the 1910 census, he was living with the family of his nephew, Albert Morris. Their home was less than half a mile from the site of the shooting. During his hospitalizations, however, his family had been split up.

juber-14.jpg (811341 bytes)

"House where Jim White lived with his nephew, Albert Morris, in 1910. From the 1960's until present it has been owned by the family of Leo Roginski. Below it lie the area known as Sprague Hollow where Juber first fled following the shootings. Photo by Ron Hontz."


On the 1910 census, daughter Cora (then 18) was employed as a servant in the household of Orion Edwards in Ross Township and her 12-year-old brother, Ervin (one of the twins) lived there, too, as a "hired boy." Cora also had given birth to a daughter named Miltona.

Jim's sons, Oscar Olan White (then 17) and William Walter "Willie" (15), and daughter, Ethel (10) lived with their Aunt Emma White Morris and her husband, William Franklin "Frank" Morris.

His two oldest children, daughters Eva Adeline and Jennie, may well have been married by 1910 but to whom is not known. Neither have I been able to learn what became of his wife, Anna Rittenhouse White.

Jim eventually moved to the Binghamton NY area and is buried in Owego NY.

The family of Everett A. White who escaped:

I cannot locate Everett anywhere on the 1910 census for either Pennsylvania or New York but, by 1920, he had moved to Tioga County NY. Like his brother Jim, he is buried in Owego, NY.

When Everett moved to NY, his son Fred stayed behind. Fred married Isabelle Traver. They were my next door neighbors from when I was born in 1946 until I turned 11 and left the Mooretown area. As early as age 5, I had a habit of heading for Fred's house to eat the wonderful biscuits Isabelle had baked, hot from the oven and dunked in cocoa. Fred and Isabelle's son, Everett D. White, was a playmate of my older half-brother Bob.

juber-15.jpg (60211 bytes)

juber-16.jpg (158292 bytes)

Circa 1936. Everett D. White, grandson of Everett A. White and Robert Hontz, half-brother of author Ron Hontz. Courtesy of Everett D. White.

Circa 1951 or 1952. Author Ron Hontz at the home of Fred and Isabel White.
Courtesy of Everett D. White.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I would like to sincerely thank the following people and institutions who aided me on this story. They are (alphabetically): Leonard Baer, Elvin Birth, Sheila Brandon, Jack and Gladys Foss Chapple, Bill and Shirley George, Theron Jeffery, Dean Long, Dorman Long, Gloria Long Davis, Beatrice Newberry Hall, the Luzerne County Clerk of Courts, Register of Deeds and Register of Wills offices, Lester Lynn, Freece Morris, the Osterhout Library, Lois Post, Louise Sheldon Lord, Don Stroud, Sharon Strzelczyk Robinson, and Margaret White Kummerer.

Written by:

Ronald E. Hontz
33 Whitcraft Lane
Shrewsbury PA 17361
(717) 235-5791
cell phone (717) 309-1402
e-mail: Sweetvalleykid@gmail.com

October, 2005