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How would you like to decide this interesting court case from 1905?

Transcribed From the Florence Times October 6, 1905 – Lauderdale County, Alabama

Doctor Pitt Will Take An Appeal

Florence Postmaster Tried and Fined Fifty Dollars

The trial of Dr. J. T. Pitt, postmaster, charged with threatening John T. Sego, a substitute mail carrier with a deadly weapon was held before Justice Henry D. Smith, Justice C. W. Lemay sitting as associate.

No Eye-witnesses

There were no eye-witnesses to the transaction which occurred at Dr. Pitt’s residence, and the only direct evidence was the statement of Dr. Pitt and young Sego, the decision being rendered on their statements and circumstantial evidence.

u-s-post-office-florence-ala-ca-1930-alabama-department-of-archives-and-historyU.S. Post Office – Florence, Ala, ca. 1930 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Sego’s testimony was to the effect there was due him $7.66 for substitute services performed for regular carriers. Pamplin and Sims, which he had asked for several times, but being put off with various excuses he wrote the Department in Washington and the letter was referred to postmaster Pitt, who told him he would settle the matter as soon as he could get the carriers together; but the matter dragged along, and Sego wrote the Department the second letter of complaint, whereupon Dr. Pitt called to him as he was driving a delivery wagon by the Doctor’s residence, and invited him into the house, telling Sego he could see him there without going to the office.

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Sign the Document

Sego entered the house, where the Doctor showed him a paper with a request to sign it, but, reading it, Sego refused, saying it was not true. The paper was a contradiction of his statements written to the Department in Washington. Upon his refusal to sign it the Doctor picked up a Winchester rifle and placing it to his shoulder, said,

“Sign it, or receive what all character thieves get!” Sego signed the document. He further testified that the Doctor said, with a harsh oath, after he signed the paper, ” —– —– you, I have a mind to kill you anyhow.”

Doctor gave his version

The Doctor in giving his version of the affair, stated that the service was not due Sego anything and if there was anything due him for service rendered the carriers, Sims and Pamplin, were individually responsible to Sego for it. That he did request Sego to sign the document, that he signed it voluntarily and without the duress of intimidation, and that he did use some emphatic language in his indignation. The Doctor admitted coming downtown carrying a Winchester rifle, saying he had been warned to do so by a city officer. In explanation of carrying the gun, Dr. Pitt stated the warning was given after trouble with another man and previous to this difficulty

Appeal to Circuit Court

The trouble has aroused a great deal of interests among our people, and quite a large crowd attended the trial in the court room of the court house.

Mr. Sego is a young man who bears an excellent reputation among his acquaintances.

Dr. Pit has been active in efforts to improve the postal service and facilities here, and his friends regret the trouble.

Justices Smith and Lemay rendered their decision in the case at 4:30 p. m., assessing a fine of $50 against Dr. Pitt, from which decision he took an appeal to the circuit court.

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Interesting to see the photo of the post office when no trees were there.

  2. The charge was the Threat with a Deadly Weapon and had nothing to do with the dispute. The good doctor admitted to carrying a gun during another situation. The decision of the lower court was probably upheld.

    The dispute about payment for services was a separate issue.

  3. What was the outcome of the appeal?

  4. I would not refuse to hear this case if it came before me, and based on the testimony of the individuals, I believe the judges made the correct ruling.

  5. He said – he said. But Sego documented his case to authorities – twice. Ruling was correct.

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