Murder by Shotgun Blasts in the Face & the Back

Then Beaten in the Head with the Stock of the Shotgun

My first cousin once removed whom I never met and never knew existed until 80+ years after he was murdered.

The Haston Lineage of Charles Gordon Haston

It’s ironic that people who knew Gordon said of him, “His agreeable manner could never result in anything other than friends.” But on March 26, 1938 he met some hoodlums who were not looking to make a new friend.  They were only looking for Gordon’s money, his car, and ultimately his life.

The Story Summarized From Newspaper Articles & More

Charles Gordon Haston, the son of Carroll (my Dad’s “Uncle Carroll”) and Pauline Brady Haston, was born on June 4, 1903.  According to the 1910 census, the family was living in the 3rd Civil District (Doyle) of White County, TN.  Gordon’s mother was the youngest daughter of Colonel Hugh James Brady, a Federal officer in the Civil War who commanded the 206th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  Her mother was Cherokee Deloniga Wilcher Brady.

In 1920, the Carroll Swafford Haston family was living in “Jacksonville” (now Hermitage) of Davidson County, TN.  Carroll was apparently working as a guard in the Old Hickory Munitions (DuPont) Plant, the largest munitions plant in the world in 1918-1919 with 50,000 workers at its peak of operations.

At some point in the 1920s, Gordon’s family moved to Albany, GA, then later to Atlanta.  Gordon’s name appears in the 1925 and 1926 (and probably subsequent years) editions of the Georgia Institute of Technology (now known as Georgia Tech) Blue Print (yearbook).  In 1930, Gordon was a senior civil engineering major at Georgia Tech.  As you can see from the featured image at the top of this page, he was highly regarded by his peers.

After graduation from Georgia Tech, on February 26, 1934, Gordon married Frances Lassiter (born May 10, 1912) who was from Selma, AL but had lived in Atlanta for two years.  A Catholic priest performed the ceremony in Atlanta.  They honeymooned in Nashville, TN, perhaps revisiting where he lived as a teenager, and continued by touring in the Carolinas.  A year later (July 1935), they visited Cuba onboard the S.S. Cuba.

At the time of death, Gordon was a salesman.  One source says that he sold refrigerators.

The Robbery and Murder of Gordon Haston

The Atlanta Constitution, March 27, 1938, page 1

The Accident that Caught the Killer

The Atlanta Journal, March 29, 1938, page 14

Later, George Thomas changed his story and confessed that he, not Willie Westley, was the assailant.  

Gordon Haston Died Eight Days Later in the Emory Hospital

The Atlanta Journal, April 4, 1938, page 1

I’m not sure where the reporter got G.Q. Haston as being Gordon’s parents. 
Gordon’s age is also incorrect.  He was age 34 when he died.  See his death certificate below. 

R.B. (Ralph) Carkuff, the informant for the death certificate, was the husband of Gordon’s wife’s (Frances’s) aunt. He was mistaken about the state in which Gordon was born, Van Buren County, TN not GA.

Burial in the West View cemetery of Fulton County (Atlanta), GA - largest civilian cemetery in the South East United States. Methodist minister Rev. Lester Rumble conducted Gordon's funeral.

The Murder Trial

The Atlanta Constitution, April 19,1938, page 12

Killer George Thomas Executed

In a trial on April 18, 1938, eye witnesses (negro woman and her son) described what they saw happening during the brutal attack on Gordon.  Also, George Thomas’s (the killer’s) confession was presented in court.  Thomas was sentenced to die in the electric chair on Friday, May 13.

The Atlanta Constitution, May 14, 1938, page 4

Many more newspaper articles are available through, with more details about this case.

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