May 15, 2016

George T. Johnson (1911-1941) Killed by Ambrose Shepherd

George was a son of Leander Vance "Lee" Johnson and his wife, Ella Elzina Coffey.  Lee was born in Wilkes Co., NC in 1879 to George and Eliza Whittington Johnson.  He was married in 1904 to Ella, also born in Wilkes Co. in Apr., 1883.  He died in North Wilkesboro in 1959, Ella having preceded him in 1957. Both are buried at the Reddies River Baptist Church cemetery in Wilbar, Wilkes Co.

To them were born at least four children: William Thomas, Sarah Virginia; George T. and Arthur Franklin.

George was born in 1911, the third in order.  His parents were tenants on the farm of Ambrose Shepherd in North Wilkesboro and, according to a news report of 1941, George was born and raised on the Shepherd farm.  Several years prior to 1941, George had lived away from the farm and had been working as a truck driver..

On the morning of June 15, 1941, George, age 30 years,  was shot and killed by Ambrose Shepherd.

At the trial, testimony of an eyewitness to the shooting reported that Johnson had removed Shepherd's glasses and struck him, then picked up a couple of rocks.  It was then that Shepherd retreated to his home and retrieved a gun with which he shot Johnson as he was preparing to leave.

George was buried at the Reddies River church cemetery.

Shepherd was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to the NC State Penitentiary for a period of three to five years. The verdict was upheld on appeal. He died in 1956 at the age of 73 and was also buried at the Reddies River church cemetery.

Sources: The Greensboro [NC] Daily News and Greensboro Record, period newspapers.

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