Dolly Williamson

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The grave of Dolly Williamson, while it was still intact.

Dolly Pitts Williamson (sometimes Dollie Pitts Williamson) (March 16, 1867 - October 31, 1891) was the first murder in Hattiesburg at the age of twenty-four. She was originally Dolly Pitts, from Jackson, and married J.M. Williamson in late 1889 around the age of twenty-two. Her husband became the mayor of Hattiesburg in 1891.


According to contemporary accounts, on the night of Friday, October 30, 1891, J.M. Williamson was in Atlanta attending a conference. Dolly Williamson's friend, Susie McLeod, was staying with her. Early the morning of October 31, shortly after midnight, someone entered the bedroom where the two women were sleeping through an open window and began searching a drawer. Dolly Williamson woke up, awoke McLeod and told her someone was in the room, then got up and went to her baby who was sleeping in a crib at the foot of the bed. As the burglar attempted to flee he shot Williamson with a pistol, fracturing her collar bone and severing her jugular. McLeod called for help.

Williamson died less than an hour later, reportedly saying she did know know the man that had shot her. Dr. S. J. Stevens did not arrive until after she had died.


Later McLeod told investigators that she knew the identity of murderer, but the man that she accused was able to prove his innocence. Suspicion then turned to McLeod and her lover, a brakeman for the railroad named Stray, and they were both arrested. Many believed that Stray, who said he was in Meridian on the night of the murder, had entered the bedroom looking for McLeod, that Williamson had recognized him, that he shot her to prevent a scandal, and that McLeod was trying to protect him.

Hattiesburg posted a reward of $1000 for the capture of the murderer. Ellisville and another unknown town both offered awards of $100. The governer of Mississippi at the time, J.M. Stone, offered a $500 reward, and J.M. Williamson offered another $500 reward, bringing the total reward to $2200.

McLeod and Stray were released after a few days, and the murder has never been solved.


Meanwhile, on Monday, November 2, at 2:30 PM, businesses were closed and an overflowing crowd attended the funeral at a Methodist church (probably Main Street Methodist) by Rev. J. S. Parker and Rev. J. M. Smith. According to one account the funeral was attended "by nearly everyone in the surrounding country." Later that afternoon she was buried at Oaklawn Cemetary.


  • Hinds County Marriage Records
  • Mayor Williamson's Wife Killed by a Burglar, Daily Picayune, New Orleans, November 1, 1891
  • Brutal Murder, The Mississippi, Jackson, November 4, 1891
  • Funeral of Mrs. J. M. Williamson - Two Arrests Made in Conjunction With the Murder, Daily Picayune, New Orleans, November 2, 1891
  • Suspects in Jail, Clarion Ledger, Jackson, November 5, 1891
  • Particulars of the Killing of Mrs. J. M. Williamson, Clarion Ledger, Jackson, November 5, 1891
  • Additional Particulars Which Will Interest Her Many Jackson Friends, Clarion Ledger, Jackson, November 5, 1891
  • Daily Picayune, New Orleans, November 6, 1891

Newspaper gallery