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The Southwest Pioneers Florida Historical Society


THE FORT MYERS PRESS, November 14, 1885

      A terrible tragedy was quickly enacted on the streets of Fort Myers on Wednesday morning last. Jacob Daughtery, a citizen living on the north side of the river, was fatally stabbed, and died weltering in his blood, within two hours after the mortal blow was struck. Daughtery, about 10 o'clock, approached a young man named William Guess, standing at or near the entrance of the Parker & Blount store. Seizing him with his left hand, he struck repeated blows about the head and shoulders with a club, consisting of a strip of white pine board, perhaps a little more than three feet long, an inch or nearly so in thickness, and two or three inches wide. He brought Guess to his knees once or twice, and Guess stabbled him twice with a very sharp pocket knife, once in the back, directly over the region of the kidney, and once a deep thrust into his chest on the left side directly in front of the shoulder blade. From the wound, blood spouted freely and Daughtery at once declared himself killed. Rising to his feet once after he had fallen, he struck Guess a final blow, even after he felt himself to be mortally hurt. But he at once grew weak, fell a second time and rose again and was supported by Dr. T. E. Langford and his brother, N. L. Langford, while he walked with weak and faltering step to the Parker & Blount store, where he was put in a reclining position and where he lay till his life ebbed away. The loss of blood was very heavy. It could not well be staunched, and he sank away rapidly. Though extemely feeble, his mind was clear to the last. He inquired if his family had been sent for, and expressed the conviction that he should not live to see them.

The cause of his assault on Guess is said to have been the fact that Guess had made slanderous reports concerning his daughter. His motive was therefore the indignant feeling of a parent for the injury done to his child. Guess, we are informed, was aware of Daughtery's design toward him and had sharpened his knife to be ready for the fray. He succeeded in perpetrating a frightful butchery.

A coroner's jury empaneled by Justice C. H. Braman, H. B. Hoyer, foreman, henry L. Roan, O. R. Blount, Elias Edward, C. T. Tooke, J. B. hollingsworth. Their verdict was that Jacob Daughtery came to his death by knife wounds inflicted by one William Guess.

Jacob Daughtery was a man not far from fifty years of age and a Tennesseean by birth. He was a soldier for some time in the Confederate service; but left the service and took the oath of allegiance at Key West. After the war he married near Miami a Miss Yeomans, a sister of S. P. Yeomans, who resides in his neighborhood on the north side of the river. He leaves a family of six or seven children, mostly girls, and several of them young children. He was industrious and attentive to his business, paid his debts and endeavored to lead an honest and upright life. His death is a great loss to the neighborhood in which he lived, and especilaly so to his family. He had a homestead of 160 acres of land, on which he had made considerable improvement, and where he raised prolific crops. His death is generally and deeply regretted.

Wm. Guess is a young man, supposed to be not more than twenty-five years old. He has resided at Fort Myers more or less for the last three or four years. He has no regular business, and no friends or relatives hereabouts that we have heard of, except a sister, married and residing in Manatee county, and a brother at Fort Meade, Polk county. On his general character we have no comment to make.

The whole tragedy illustrates the fearful wrong of taking the law into our individual hands. Violence begets violence, and is almost sure to leave further wrong for further vengeance. Guess seem to take the matter rather lightly, says "he had to do it," and probably relies on an easy acquittal on the ground of self-defence. Perhaps he will not be disappointed, but he should not be too quick to free himself from anxiety.

A preliminary trial was held on Thursday, Justice Braman presiding. H. A. Parker, Esq., appeared for the people and P. O. Knight, Esq., for the defence. The result of that trial was that Guess was bound over to await the action of the grand jury. He will be taken to Key West at the earliest opportunity.

THE FORT MYERS PRESS, April 10, 1886

On Wednesday morning early the steamer Chimo left our docks with a large number of passengers en route for Key West, where they are to put in their appearance at the April term of the Circuit Court. There were several witnesses for the people in the case of Will Guess, indicted for manslaughter in the second degree for the killing of Jacob Daughtery a few months since. There are also several other cases for which witnesses were subpoenaed from this section.

There were one or two counts against parties for carrying concealed weapons and one against Wm. Lafitte for attempting to kill our city marshal, who committed the act on Tuesday evening, was found over the same night and left for his trial the next morning. This is the way business is attended to in Fort Myers.

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