Norfolk Virginian, November 26, 1890


Architecture -- Historic preservationMoral -- Other violent crime


The Eastern Shore Historical Society met at Accomac Courthouse yesterday. Hon. John S. Wise was not present as expected. In the absence of the president, Mr. G. C. Callahan, of Philadelphia was elected president pro tem., and Dr. G. T. Scarburgh elected to fill permanently the position of secretary, Dr. G. P. Moore's resignation being handed in. T. P. Bagwell, Jr., was elected corresponding secretary.

After transacting some bagatelle matters, Hon. J. W. H. Parker, one of the best posted men in the State on the ancient and modern history of Eastern Virginia, was unanimously selected to deliver an address on that subject at the next meeting, to be held at Eastville February court day.

Thomas Willett alias "Grey-Goose," the half-witted white man who murderously attacked his mistress and her mother during a jealous fit some months ago, was tried yesterday under the first indictment, which was for the stabbing of the young girl (his concubine), Bettie Archer. Great difficulty was found in procuring a jury, which being obtained, the trial was proceeded with. The evidence showed that Willett had deserted his family and lived with the girl and her mother, Mahaly Watson, for a number of years, and that during that time frequent quarrels took place between them which ultimately resulted in an open rupture, when they parted. The climax was reached when Willett came to the home on the day of the tragedy, and failing to cement a peace, followed the two women down the road, near their home, about two and a half miles from Onley station, where he, broaching the matter again, met with a stinging rebuff, which so enraged him that, drawing a large dirk from his breast, he ferociously rushed upon the Archer girl, slashing her right and left, inflicting terrible wounds in the back, on the face, and almost completely disembowelling her, after which her mother, interfering, he attacked her in the same way. Then leaving the two women for dead he went to Accomac Court-house and gave himself up to the authorities.

The jury found a verdict of guilty, (as he plead, the defense being insanity), and fixed his sentence at six years in the penitentiary. He was defended by Hon. J. W. G. Blackstone. His trial on the second indictment will follow. It is alleged that Willett is a son of the notorious "Jim" Ames, the terror of Accomac, in by-gone days, who is said to have stabbed two women under identical circumstances and in the same way.

Norfolk Virginian
November 26, 1890