Dispatch, January 22, 1889


Weather -- Northeast stormsMoral -- Vandalism

Eastville, Va., January 21. -- A cyclone passed over the central portion of this county last night, doing considerable damage. Fences and trees were blown down in every direction. A large barn on the farm of Dr. R. B. Taylor was blown down and utterly demolished, and two valuable horses were killed and buried beneath the ruins. Considerable damage was also done to the small craft on the bay-shore.

On Friday night last an attempt was made to burn the town of Cape Charles. The large block comprising the Arlington Hotel, six stores, and a boarding house, all adjoining each other, was fired in the central building in the stairway leading to the Masonic Hall. Fortunately it was discovered by an employee of the railroad company before it had gained sufficient headway to cause much damage.

A large crowd soon assembled, having been awakened by the shrieking of a locomotive whistle, which was standing in the yard at the time, and by their superhuman efforts extinguished the flames. The guests of the hotel left their rooms in their nightdress. It was evident the fire was the work of an incendiary, and the day following several clues were obtained which led to the proprietor being suspected.

A detective was secured and successfully worked up the case, and to-day arrested J. J. Bunting as the incendiary, who confessed the deed when confronted with the proof. Prior to this Bunting has been held in high esteem and has been considered one of the most progressive men in the town. He owned four large stores in the block that was fired, besides several other buildings not far distant. The arrest and confession is a surprise to every one who knew him. The buildings were insured in several companies.


Moral -- Other violent crimeMoral -- Other

Onancock via Tasley, Va., January 21 -- The most searching investigation has thus far failed to clear up the mystery surrounding the Ashmead-Kellam shooting affair that occurred in Craddockville last week. The Dispatch correspondent has visited the scene of the occurrence and interviewed numerous persons in the locality without finding one who is absolutely certain of the cause or manner of the shooting. Ashmead and Kellam were the only witnesses of the affair, and they cannot be induced to tell what they knew. Among the neighbors there are two theories -- one that Ashmead, burning with disappointment because Kellam would not marry him, tried to kill him, as he had been heard to say he would do; the other that Kellam being tired of Ashmead's attentions, and not being able to shake him off otherwise, determined to put him out of the way. The majority incline to the latter belief.


Ashmead, who is the only one of the parties that has made anything like a probable statement of the case, says that Kellam came to his house early on the night of the shooting and asked him to accompany him to the house of Tobe Kellam, his elder brother, about one mile from Craddockville. Ashmead at first refused to go, because Tobe Kellam had threatened to kill him if he ever caught him on his premises, but he finally consented to go as far as Tobe Kellam's outer gate. As they were crossing a ditch in the midst of a pine forest, on the way back to Craddockville, Ashmead says he was shot in the back and believed that his companion, John Kellam, had shot him. He wheeled around, seized Kellam, and wrenched the pistol out of his hands. This is the substance of Ashmead's statement to his father and before Justice Blackstone.

Kellam says he was shot first, but thinks he may have been shot by some one lying concealed along the roadside and Ashmead was shot by the same party.


There are many stories current of Ashmead's queer conduct. He is very fastidious in his dress when in the company of men, never allowing himself to be seen in their presence without having his coat on. He always wears a double-breasted Prince Albert, which he buttons up from the waist to the throat in the company of men. He has been known when working in the fields in the hot summer to run with all his might for his coat on seeing a man approach. He cares nothing for the society of women. Though his father and the other members of the family live in Craddockville, Andrew Ashmead insists on living in a little shanty which he has fixed up in nice style. Here he lives by himself, cooks his own food, and makes his own clothes.


For the last two years he has confined his attention almost exclusively to John Kellam, who is said to have been absolutely under his control. Kellam's mother and older brother were violently opposed to his association with Ashmead, and had tried in every way to break it off. Tobe Kellam going so far as to threaten Ashmead's life. Ashmead has expected to be married to John Kellam at Christmas, and he had actually rented and furnished a small house in Craddockville for them to live in, having painted it in fancy colors. When Christmas came Kellam refused to marry him because, as he said, Ashmead insisted on being married in a red Mother-Hubbard dress. Ashmead was terribly disappointed and dejected at this, and he was heard to threaten on more than one occasion that if Kellam did not marry him he should never marry any one else, and some of the neighbors saw Ashmead not long ago lying concealed along the roadside near Kellam's house where it was supposed he was lurking to kill him. At the trial before Justice Blackstone both Ashmead and Kellam managed to tell as little as possible, and after the trial was over they shook hands and went arm in arm to a bar-room, where they took several drinks together. The case is regarded as one of the queerest that ever happened here.

Richmond, Va.
January 22, 1889