HILLSVILLE, Va. — Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of deadly shots resounding in the Carroll County Courthouse, and on Tuesday night a memorial service will quietly honor the victims.
The service is set for 6 p.m., but not at the actual place where five people were killed — the historic courthouse. Instead, it will be held at the nearby Grover King Post 1115 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on U.S. 58.
Limited seating and lack of handicapped accessibility at the courthouse prompted the move to the more-spacious facility for an event to feature federal and state elected officials, music and special tributes to the shootout victims. The public is invited.
The keynote speaker will be Morgan Griffith, a member of Congress who represents Carroll County and other parts of Southwest Virginia.
Other scheduled speakers are Anne Crockett-Starke, a member of District 6 of the Virginia House of Delegates, which includes Hillsville and Wytheville; state senators Ralph Smith and Bill Stanley, who serve Carroll County in the 19th and 20th Senate districts, respectively; and Virgil H. Goode Jr., a former congressman and present presidential candidate of the Constitution Party.
Those killed on March 14, 1912, during the trial of Floyd Allen were Judge Thornton Massie, Commonwealth Attorney William Foster, Sheriff Lewis Webb, juror Augustus Fowler and Bettie Ayers, who was present as a witness in another case.
“This memorial service (Tuesday night) aims to provide solace to the sorrow of remembering the slain,” said a spokesman for the Citizens’ Committee for the Centennial of the 1912 Courthouse Tragedy that has spearheaded various events surrounding its 100th anniversary.
“Its focus will be tribute to the fallen, homage to their memories, thanksgiving for their sacrifices and appreciation for their legacies to families and friends.”
Tuesday’s service also will remember two members of the Allen-Edwards family who later were executed for their actions in the courthouse shooting, Floyd Allen and his son Claude.
Descendants of all seven people who died are expected to be in attendance at the memorial service.
“The planning committee for this centennial has kept balance, sensitivity, conciliation and sympathy as guiding principles,” added the spokesman for the group.
A central part of Tuesday night’s program will be the dedication of memorial wreaths to remember all seven people, whose roles will be briefly recounted by speakers. The wreaths will be laid at their grave sites Wednesday morning on the actual centennial date.
The Church Sisters, a bluegrass-gospel group from Danville which is composed of twin sisters and their older brother, will perform during Tuesday’s program.
It will conclude with a candlelight service and prayer.
Donations to underwrite the costs of the centennial will be received at the door.