A series of newspaper articles from 1890 concerning the killing of Edward Finger by his brother-in-law George Turner. George was married to Edward's sister Sue, but he attacked Ed's other sister Clara. George was found guilty on August 10, 1890 and put to death by hanging on August 29, 1893.
COLUMBIA, S. C., March 10. - George I Turner, the wealthy owner of the Valley Falls cotton mill in Spartanburg shot and killed Edward Finger, his brother-in-law.
Finger became abusive and advanced at Turner, but was held back by a negro. Turner said: "let him come; I'll fix him," and threatened to shoot the negro if he did not turn Finger loose. The negro did so and Finger tried to draw his weapon, when Turner fired, killing his opponent instantly.
There had been bad blood between a the two men for some time on account of Turner's alleged undue intimacy with his wife's (Finger's) sister. The men are said to have had several quarrels over this matter, one of which shotguns played a part.
Turner was tried some months ago for the murder of Julius Metzger, an inoffensive and friendless German laborer, and was convicted of manslaughter. Appealing to the supreme court he procured a new trial and was then acquitted. - Buffalo Evening News March 10, 1890
SPARTANBURG S. C. Sept. 2.- George R. Turner was hanged here at noon Friday. Turner was a handsome man, 59 yeas old, weighing over 300 pounds.
He was the owner of a cotton factory and was worth $50,000. Several years ago had killed two men at different times, but got clear through false witness. In a quarrel with Ed Finger, Turner killed him with a pistol while a negro was holding him. For three years he spent his wealth trying to escape the death penalty. - The Eaton Rapids Journal September 8, 1893
Spartanburg, S. C. August 9, 1890. - The trial of George S. Turner for the murder of his brother-in-law, Ed Finger, which has excited so much interest on account of the sensational character of the case, and of which so many interesting details have been given in the HERALD, was concluded today and the prisoner adjudged guilty. Turner accepted his fate calmly. The jury returned their verdict after three hours' deliberation.
The case is one of shocking details, and all through the trial there was great fear of Turner being lynched. Turner became acquainted with Clara Finger, a young School girl, and sister of his wife, whom be betrayed. Her mother sued him for damages and obtained a judgment for $5,000.
The killing of Edward Finger took place in March last. Turner claimed that the act was done in self defense, as Finger had threatened to shoot him for the wrong done his sister.
At the time of Turner's arrest a party of lynchers attempted to storm the jail in which be was confined, but through the prompt action of Mayor Henneman the crowd was dispersed. For security Turner has since been confined in the Columbia Jail. - New York Herald August 10, 1890.
Aug. 8. - George B. Turner, a handsome man of magnificent physique, sat in the Spartanburg Courthouse yesterday charged with the murder of Edward Finger, his brother-in-law, in March last. He sat smiling beside his wife, a sister of his victim, and glared at the Prosecuting Attorney. Clara Finger, of lovely personal appearance, whom Turner betrayed, swore that "Mr. Turner told me that if my brother Ed found out what he had done to me he (Turner) would have to kill him." Other like threats were proved, making the evidence very damaging against Turner.
Public feeling is very much against him. A futile attempt was made to lynch him some time ago.
The court-room was jammed this morning when the second day's proceedings opened. Turner sat seemingly unconscious of his impending danger. By his side sat his wronged wife, dressed in black lace end flowers, who smiled occasionally at her unfaithful husband and then on the jury. She resembles Emma Abbott very much.
Turner was a picture. Stolid, impassive, immovable, he sat, his head well up, his hands resting on the arms of his chair, his eyes on the Judge, his countenance as placid as though he were the most guiltless man there. The looks cast at him by the crowd might have made the stoutest heart quail. He was surrounded on all sides by men thirsting for his blood. Some of them were men who had made two desperate attempts to lynch him, men who had dragged a loaded cannon before the jail: who had howled with disappointed rage when defrauded of their prey.
Turner was reared in Spartanburg County. He was a poor boy and fought his way up by hard labor. Marrying into a most highly reported family, he was esteemed until a few years ago as a dangerous but an honest man.
In his testimony to-day Turner put in a plea of self-defense and swore strongly in his own behalf. His ten-year-old boy swore: "I quit visiting Ed Finger, for he threatened to kill my pa." Handsome Clara Finger did not enter the courtroom, but public sympathy is with her and against her betrayer.
"My husband believes in God: he is a changed men since he's been in jail", affirmed his handsome wife.
Nothing of a startling nature was developed to-day. The trial will be concluded to-morrow. Turner will either be convicted of murder or manslaughter. In any event he is in serious danger. If he is liberated people say it will be for a short time only.
This affair is a part of a family history shocking in its details. George S. Turner is the proprietor of the Valley Falls Cotton Factory. He is the same man who about three years ago killed a poor foreigner named Metzkies at his mills. The trial made a great sensation. The community was very much excited over the homicide, but Turner, after two trials, was acquitted after having been convicted of manslaughter on the first trial.
Some time after this event Clara Finger, then a school-girl became a mother, her mother sued Turner for damages and obtained a judgment for $5,000.
A crowd 400 assembled on the day Turner was arrested and avowed that they had come to take Turner out of jail. An organized party from North Carolina were expected, but did not appear. Sheriff Nichols took prompt measures to defend the jail, and had it made known to the crowd that he intended to protect his prisoner whatever might be the conseqnences.
The would-be lynchers thought to make their onslaught more effective by the use of a cannon, so some of them went to the encampment grounds with a pair of mules and hauled from there a twelve pounder fieldpiece. This they planted 400 feet from the jail. The cannon had just been placed in position when Mayor Henneman mounted the gun, ordered the crowd to disperse and directed the police to clear the streets. This was done, and the crowd, then reduced to about seventy-five met the drawn revolvers of the policemen. The firmness and coolness of tbe police prevented serious trouble.
A policeman then spiked the Cannon and several of the mob rushed in to gain posession of the piece, but were driven off by Sheriff Nichols and his posse, who had by this time arrived on the scene. The lynchers, lacking organization and leaders from the first, were badly demoralized by the failure of their attempt to bombard the jail and they soon scattered and the trouble was over for the time-being. Turner was secretly taken from the Spartanburg jail to that of Columbia, where be has since been confined.
On the trial of Turner for killing Metzkiss Ed Finger swore to a preposterous story of having seen a pistol in possession of Metzkiss, which was spirited away and afterwards found in the bottom of the creek by him. On the second trial this story was not indulged in. He gave this evidence to support Turner's defense. Miss Finger also gave evidence which lacked corroboration. In spite of this effort on their part to save their brother-in-law he ruined the sister and took the life of the brother. The World August 9, 1890