A Fatal Encounter
[ April 14,1839]
My dear E[lizabeth],
That horrid tragedy with which we have been threatened, and of which I was writing to you almost jestingly a few days ago, has been accomplished, and apparently without exciting anything but the most passing and superficial sensation in this community. The duel between Dr. H[azzard] and Mr. W[ylly] did not take place, but an accidental encounter in the hotel at Brunswick did, and the former shot the latter dead on the spot. He has been brought home and buried here by the little church close to his mother's plantation; and the murderer, if he is even prosecuted, runs no risk of finding a jury in the whole length and breadth of Georgia who could convict him of anything. It is horrible.1
It is with pain we lay before our readers an account of a fatal affray, which took place in this city on Monday last, between Mr. John A. Wylly and Dr. Thomas F. Hazzard, both of this county, which resulted in the death of the former. Most of our readers in this section are no doubt aware that a dispute has existed between these two gentlemen for some time past. It appears, however, that Dr. H[azzard] had recently addressed a letter to the mother of the deceased which was the immediate cause of the attack. They met on the piazza of the Oglethorpe House, and after exchanging a few words, Mr. W[ylly] struck Dr. H[azzard] with a cane. Judge [Charles S.] Henry, who was here holding a term of the Superior Court, and Col. [Henry] DuBignon happening to be present, immediately interfered and succeeded in separating them. A short time after, Mr. W[ylly] again met Dr. H[azzard] in the entry of the house and spat in his face, when the latter drew a pistol and fired, the ball of which passed directly through Mr. W[ylly]'s heart. He reeled a moment, at the same time striking at the doctor with his cane, then fell and expired instantly.
The case, as was natural, excited a great deal of local discussion, a lot of which Fanny must have heard and participated in during her visits to neighboring homes, especially as she was on St. Simons Island as the time set for the trial--the April term of the Superior Court--drew near. For a further discussion of this incident and of its place in the Journal, see Margaret Davis Cate: "Mistakes in Fanny Kemble's Georgia Journal," Georgia Historical Quarterly, XLIV ( March, 1960), 6-17, and the Editor's Introduction, pages lv- lvii.