Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Shot Rang Out and Tore Apart a Family

One day a shot rang out and Lizzie Tolles was wounded. In 1895 a Douglas County, Oregon, grand jury determined there was enough evidence to charge Edward "Ned" Trent Bridges, Jr. with assault with the intent to kill. Justice seemed as slow then as it does today because the final judgment in the case was not rendered until 1899.

Douglas County, Oregon, Courthouse; courtesy of Genealogical Society of
Douglas County

Perhaps in preparation for being found guilty, Ned Bridges and his brother-in-law, Enon Lilly, did some fancy land trading. Ned sold his land to Enon and then, in turn, Enon deeded the land to Ned's wife, Mary Etta (Lilly) Bridges. My supposition was these transactions were to ensure the land could not be taken as a result of Ned's legal troubles.

Ned must have held out some hope that he would not have to go to jail because he was enumerated in the 1900 census with Mary and three of their children. Their son, Edward Trent Bridges, III, must have died sometime after his birth in 1891 and before 1900 because he was not included in the enumeration of the family. But sometime after the census, Ned did a runner.

He simply disappeared.

He and Mary had married on 7 January 1886 in Mercer County, West Virginia. Ned was son of Dr. Edward Trent Bridges, Sr., and Sarah Pope Claytor, daughter of Harvey Claytor[1] and Adeline Walker. He was 25 years old and Mary was 15. She was the daughter of Johnson Keatley Lilly and Alabama Gore. Ned and Mary had four children in Mercer County before Ned's grandmother, Adeline (Walker) Claytor, died. She made her grandson, Ned, Jr., the executor of her will. The Walker and Claytor were families prominent Virginia families and owned large plantations. Though the Civil War wrecked havoc on their financial position, there was still plenty of money.

Ned's inheritance enabled he and his family, along with his brother-in-law and his family to move to Oregon. The brothers-in-law bought a tract of land together in Douglas County on 9 May 1891.

Ned and Mary's oldest daughter married Authur O. Parks in 1907. Mary and the two youngest children, Bruce and Lucy, lived at 441 Fowler Street in Deer Creek, Oregon. Mary worked as a dressmaker to support her family. Her children also contributed to the family coffers as Bruce worked for the railroad as a fireman and Lucy was a clerk for a dry goods establishment.

And Ned, well, he was still alive and kicking. His runner had taken him almost 700 miles south to Butte County, California, where he boarded with Nathaniel and Clara Burns and worked as a hired man for a blacksmith. I don't know if he kept in touch with Mary and his children or not, but Mary had clearly had enough of her absentee husband. She was granted a divorce on 24 March 1919.

News-Review, 24 March 1919; courtesy of

Ned Bridges, Jr. died on 22 June 1928 in Butte County, California, and was interred in the Old Oroville Cemetery.

[1] Harvey Claytor (1800-1871) was my first cousin five times removed. This is the second new branch I've been able to add to my family tree as a result of DNA matches with other people who are related to Harvey Claytor, including:

In Celebration of Black History Month (or More DNA Discoveries)
Savior of the USS Indianapolis Survivors


  1. Schalene, I am a direct descendant of Edward Trent Bridges Sr. He was my g’g’grandfather. I had been chasing down Ned Jr out here in Oregon and along with my cousin Kermit, placed a proper headstone for Ned in Oroville. Would
    Be interested in sharing stories

    1. We actually spoke and traded emails several years ago. Thanks to you I was able to order a package of information about the incident. However, I received it after I wrote this post but never went back and updated it. Currently, we're moving but I will update it at some point.