UPDATED WITH PODCAST – This Baldwin County, Alabama feud went all the way to the Supreme Court

The Bryars/Hadley Feud

Bryars Hadley Feud (Taken from actual court documents exactly as it was written, and exactly how spelling and words were used) Supreme Court: Hadley v. The State. From the Circuit Court of Baldwin. Tried before the Hon. H. T. Toulmin. The defendants in this case, James Hadley and James M. Hadley, were jointly indicted and tried, together with Jesse Hadley, Thomas Stewart, and Howell Pitcher, for the murder of Green B. Bryars; pleaded not guilty to the indictment; were convicted of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary for the term of ten years, while a verdict of not guilty was returned as to the other defendants.

Evidence at trial

The circumstances attending the homicide, as disclosed by the evidence adduced on the trial, are thus stated in the bill of exceptions:

There was evidence tending to show, on the part of the State, that the parties lived about seven miles apart in the northern part of Baldwin county, and were stock-raisers; that on the Saturday before the killing they (that is, James Hadley, James M. Hadley, Jesse Hadley, and Green B. Bryars) were together at the house of said Green B. Bryars, and were friendly, and parted friendly, to meet again on Monday morning, and to go to a fork two or three miles from the house to drive out some sheep belonging to Hadley, and separate them from the sheep of said Bryars.


Armed with guns

On Monday morning, all five defendants came to the fence of one of Bryars’s lots, which was near the road leading from, and about one hundred yards from his house. All of them were mounted except one, and all armed with guns, and were first outside of the fence, opposite said Green B. Bryars, who stood by his plow, just inside of his lot, where he had been plowing before the defendants came up. Larry Bryars, one of his sons, had been to the house for water, and had just returned to his father, whom he had been helping to plow, as the defendants came up, and was standing outside of the fence, a few steps from his father. Wiley J. Bryars, another son, came from the house towards the place where his father and the defendents were; and when he came within about thirty steps of them, the deceased had left his plow, and got over the fence, and walked a few steps in the direction of the house, when he called out, ‘Boys, come here.” This call attracted the attention of John and Joseph Bryars, who were at the house, and of his wife and daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Bryars and Bettie Bryars, who were in the yard, near the gate.

Shot him with both barrels

Immediately on the deceased calling for his boys, the defendants dismounted from their horses, and James Hadley, being about five steps from the deceased, leveled his gun at the deceased, and shot him with both barrels. The deceased fell instantly; and about the same time, James M. Hadley shot him with one barrel of his gun, and then shot the other barrel at Larry, who stood near his father; from which shot Larry fell.

About the same time, all of the other defendants pointed their guns in the direction of Larry and Wiley, who were in the same direction from the defendants, and fired; Larry being then down on the ground, and Wiley going towards the house. Wiley was shot in the back and the thigh and head. The deceased, Green B. Bryars, Larry, and Wiley, were dressed in their working clothes, were in their shirt-sleeves, and had no arms or weapons of any sort. The evidence tended to show that the deceased, at the time he was shot, had in his left hand a small stick, about two feet long, and an inch and a half in diameter.

The Killings

Very soon after this shooting, Joseph Bryars started from the house, with his gun, and reached within about fifty yards of the defendants, when he was shot in the head, and killed; and the evidence tended to show that he did not fire his gun. John Bryars was advancing a short distance behind Joseph, with two guns, and he received a shot in the arm. He immediately returned the fire, discharging both barrels of his gun, and turned to get the other gun, which he had put down, when he received a second shot in the foot. Green B. Bryars, Larry Bryars, and Joseph Bryars were all killed, and Wiley and John wounded, in a few moments of time, and with a short time, not exceeding ten minutes, after the defendants arrived there. The defendants remounted their horses, and left in the direction whence they came; and the evidence tended to show that they went towards the house of James Hadley, and from there to the woods. One Renfro (???) testified, on the part of the State, that the defendant Pitcher was in his employ, getting timber, and came by his camp about sunrise on the morning of the killing, and told him that he was going to fight a duel with old man Bryars that morning and would be back to his work about twelve o’clock that day; that said Pitcher then left his camp, with a gun, and went in the direction of Bryars’s house, which was two or three miles distant. The killing took place about eight o’clock in the morning.

“The summary of the affair is a father and two sons murdered and two sons wounded, on one side; and on the other, a father and son wounded. We are told that Mr. Bryars was much respected, being a leading man in religious affairs in the neighborhood, and that Hadley had always been deemed a respectable person. The dead were buried on Tuesday, a large assemblage being present. Tuesday, a posse of men, provided with warrants for the arrest of the murderers, went to the Hadley settlement but found their residences deserted.”  –  From the 1875 edition of the Birmingham Iron Age

Transcribed from:ANCESTRY.COM by (Name:John B. DeanE-mail address:[email protected]

——— Bryars and Hadley at Ft. Mims 1813——

I see where the Bryars and Hadley are listed as killed at the Ft. Mims Massacre 1813. I don’t know exactly how those names got put in the list but neither were present at the time. I will say Lazarus John Bryars (the first Bryars to come to Tensaw abt-1804) did have a property damage claim. I am a descendant of his son Charles Bryars born 1802 died 1844 Stockton Baldwin Co. Al. He also had a son Lazarus (BRYARS) Jr. born 1799 who married Harriet McDonald and had four children, the last one born 1835. He, Lazarus (BRYARS) Sr. also married his second wife Mary McDonald and had two children born 1809 and 1810. Both Stephen (BRYARS) and Ethelbert (BRYARS)lived out their lives way past 1853 and the other 1858. Lazarus (BRYARS) Sr. then married his third wife Mary (Granny) Smith and had Green Berry Bryars born 1817 and Red Berry Bryars born 1819. So you see all the Bryars are accounted for and none were killed in 1813.

Now I will say that 1873 there was the Bryars/Hadley feud where as Green Berry Bryars was killed.
Now for the Hadley’s. The first Benjamin (Ben) Hadley that came to Alabama first went to Mississippi. He is found there in 1810 and later with his first son Joshua (HADLEY) by his first wife Betty King who has deceased in NC sometime earlier. Joshua went on to Texas from there so he wasn’t at Ft. Mims at any time. Ben Hadley married his second wife Betty Kenderson/Kinderson abt-1808 in Mississippi. He has most of his family there and moved them to Ga. All accounted for. Jane (HADLEY) b-1810 Jesse (HADLEY) b-1812, Simon (HADLEY) b-1816, James (HADLEY) b-1813, John (HADLEY) b-1820, W’m (HADLEY) b-1808 and Cynthia (HADLEY)b-1817. All lived past 1813 and none were ever there. In 1819 Ben (HADLEY) was found by himself (and Slave) at the Alabama River (Above where the Tombigbee and Alabama River join) by a US Naval Survey team. There is a record of it and also Ben mentions about his family being in Georgia and he will soon move them there where now the Hadley Home place and cemetery is located. Seven Miles Springs. It’s a few miles West of the Lottie Store on Baldwin County Rd. 61. So you see the Hadley family, except Ben, didn’t come to the area until after 1819.
John B. Dean


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  1. George B. Haughton – thought you might find of interest some of the names in this famous feud.

  2. tell Ripp Report some things never change

  3. Greenberry Bryars, murdered in this incident, was my great-great grandfather on my mother’s side. John Bryars was my great-grandfather. One of the Hadley’s was caught, convicted, imprisoned and later released around 1908.

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