The Testimony of John Harrison Mullins: Killing Rock the Trial Part 5

This is a record of the testimony as given by John Harrison Mullins, the son of Ira and Louanza Mullins

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This is a record of the testimony as given by John Harrison Mullins, the son of Ira and Louanza Mullins who stood as a witness at the Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor trial.

Special Note

Wise County Courthouse in Wise, Virginia   The date and the photographer are unknown.
Wise County Courthouse in Wise, Virginia The date and the photographer are unknown.

Please Note— Part of this story, the questions asked of the witness are fictional. Because at the time of the Taylor trial, short-hand reporting had not come into popularity nor was court reporting efficiently done. In making a transcript of evidence, to be used in an appeal to the State Court of Appeals.

The Judge would write the appeal. The lawyers would write out the evidence or testimony given by each witness, in a narrative style. These transcripts were not done in the present-day question-and-answer style as only the answers given by the witness were recorded.

If the lawyer’s transcripts did not agree with a testimony given by the witness. The judge would then write the questions which caused the disputed evidence in the transcript of the trial. This is done only once in this transcript. But according to Mr. Johnson, there were 12 exceptions that were supposed to be sent to the appellate court with the transcript. These exceptions, whatever they were, never made it to that court and have now been lost to time.

TESTIMONY OF JOHN HARRISON MULLINS, witness for the commonwealth.

The Place and time frame where the Killing Rock Saga took place.  The Photograph, Source and Date are unknown at this time.
The Place and time frame where the Killing Rock Saga took place. The Photograph, Source, and Date are unknown at this time.

Because of the circumstances, the testimony of John Harrison Mullins was very limited. It consisted of who he was, the makeup of the party, and establishing a timeline for the events leading up to the massacre. He continued his testimony by relating the story about what he saw as the ambush began. This included seeing Wilson stagger and one of the horses falling as he started running down the mountain.  

John also testifies that his suspender had been shot nearly in two and that he had run all the way to the little town of Pound. He goes on to tell the court that the first people he had talked to was George Francisco and Jemima Harris. 

John Mullins is then asked about the shooters to which he replies that he did not see any of them.  

The prosecution then asks John Harrison to describe how the party was arranged when the shooting began. It is of interest to note that his answer contradicts the testimony of his aunt, Jane, when she is later asked the same question. For the most part, John’s testimony matches the testimony given by Robert Mullins as to where the bodies were found, and Jane’s does not. This will be covered in greater detail in our video about the testimony of Jane Mullins. 

A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia By Charles A. Johnson Pub. 1938
A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia By Charles A. Johnson Pub. 1938

John’s testimony was that at the time shooting began, He and Greenberry Harris had been walking just behind the wagon. His father mother and John Chappell were in the wagon and his uncle Wilson was before the wagon.

An interesting point here is that some sites report that Wilson had, like Jane, been on horseback. He then states that his aunt, Jane Mullins, was on horseback just behind the Harris boy and himself. Another interesting point to make here is that there are many stories about Jane and her horse, including several that Jane had told herself.

Several of the stories state that Jane had fallen behind and that John and Greenberry had noticed this and had “just been wondering where Jane was” when the shots began. Although we could find no corroboration for these versions of the story, one must wonder if this was something that John had related to people later in life. From all accounts, it seems that john and his aunt had become estranged after the shooting.

The land and cabin of Wilson and Jane in Camden were either returned to the widow Vanover or were soon sold. In October of 1892, just 10 days after Jane was released from protective custody, Jane and her new husband Isaac Belcher would move into Ira Mullins’s cabin in Pound Virginia. This would have left John Harrison Mullins homeless.  

The prosecution finishes the questioning of John Mullins by asking him about the number of shots fired and if his father had had any money. To this John answers that he thought there must have been 100 shots fired and that his father did have money.

He goes on to tell the court that his mother was carrying part of it in a belt under her dress and that the rest was in a little handbag in the wagon. He also tells that the pocket was cut from the belt his mother had been wearing. That the handbag was missing and that he thought there was about $1,000 or more between the two. 

The Defense asked no questions of John Harrison Mullins.

Thank You

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We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains. We must remind everyone that the story names Killing Rock: The Oft Told Tale (s) and Killing Rock: The Untold Story and Killing Rock: the Trial are all under Kentucky Tennessee Living copyright.

Source Information

A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia By Charles A. Johnson Pub. 1938.

Copyright and Other Information

All photos are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. This includes photos dated before 1923. All other photos are used with permission or under the education fair use statute of the US copyright law.

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