Rainwater Murder, Accidental & Self-inflicted Death

Accidental & Self-inflicted Death
Abner F. Rainwater, 1913, Georgia
Adolphus Bernard Rainwater, 1881-1920, Georgia
Mrs. Georgia Webb Rainwater, 1877-1938, Georgia
James M. Rainwater, 1841-1894, Texas
Lando P. Rainwater, 1902-1936, Texas
Miles Rainwater, 1922, Kentucky
Paul Edward Rainwater, 1904, Georgia
Robert Lee Rainwater, 1935, Georgia
Van Rainwater, 1894, Texas
William Rainwater, 1946-1959, Washington
William Wright Rainwater, 1951, Texas

Murder – Rainwater victim
Adam Benton Rainwater, 1860-1932, Missouri
Benjamin Franklin Rainwater, 1858-1886, Mississippi
Bob L. Rainwater, 1945-1974, Arkansas
Clarence Ora Rainwater, 1925-1948, California
Franklin Pierce Rainwater, 1892-1925, South Carolina
Howard Rainwater, 1875-1894, Alabama
James Rainwater, 1856, Indiana
James H. Rainwater, 1881-1904, Missouri
Zebulon M. Rainwater, 1823-1858, Georgia

Murder – Rainwater perpetrator
D. W. Rainwater, 1877, Tennessee
G. W. Rainwater and W. M. Rainwater, 1866, Mississippi
Paul E. Rainwater, 1900, Atlanta, Georgia
Ransom Edward Rainwater, 1857, Texas
William & Loretta Rainwater, 1921, California
William Brashear “Bee” Rainwater, 1858-1897, Missouri
William Henry Rainwater, 1829-1880/1900, Texas

Obituaries A-K
Obituaries J-Z

Miles Rainwater, 1922, Kentucky

The Hickman Courier, Hickman, KY, 7 Sep 1922

Miles Rainwater, who lived on the farm of Jim Hunt, north of town, died last Thursday night from the effects of drinking “white mule” liquor. Rainwater had been in a critical condition ever since drinking the poison stuff about three weeks ago and his death was not unexpected.

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Note: No Kentucky death record corresponds to this event.

Adam Benton Rainwater, 1860-1932, Missouri

Jefferson City Post-Tribune, Jefferson City, MO, 6 Jul 1932

Recluse is slain near Springfield
Springfield, MO., July 6 — (AP) — A. B. Rainwater, 72-year-old bachelor recluse, was found shot to death in his lonely farm home three and a half miles southeast of Pittsburg, Mo., Hickory County, at 11 o’clock last night. Coroner L. A. Glasco estimated that the old man had been dead 48 hours. A shotgun was found nearby.

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Adolphus Bernard Rainwater, 1881-1920, Georgia

Spartanburg Herald, Spartanburg, SC, 9 Nov 1920

Macon, GA — A. B. Rainwater, a switchman was instantly killed and three other white men were injured when two switch engines side-swiped each other in the Southen railroad yards here late tonight. Rainwater, who was standing on the pilot of one engine, was thrown under the engine wheels and his body badly mangled.

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Abner F. Rainwater, 1913, Georgia

Rainwater Killed
Struck by a Georgia Southern Freight at Cycloneta
Walking Railroad Track
And did not hear the thundering train behind him. Remains sent to North Georgia.

A. F. Rainwater, a farmer employed on the farm of E. O. Hood in northern Tift county, was struck by a through freight train on the Georgia Southern and Florida Saturday afternoon at 1:55 o'clock and instantly killed.

Rainwater had been to the Cycloneta store for a small purchase and was returning to his home, about a mile north of that place. He was about 150 yards from the store when struck by the train, which was northbound and approached him from the rear. Those who were near say that the engineer did not blow his whistle, and as the train did not stop it is though that he did not know that he had struck a man. Rainwater was thrown about fifty feet, his neck and both legs were broken and skull crushed.

He was partly deaf and it is thought that he never knew that the train was approaching until the big engine struck him.

Mr Rainwater had been in Tift county a little over a year, coming from Green county, and had been employed on the Hood farm all of that time. He was a hard working, conscientious man and a good farmer. He was about 35 years old and leaves a grief-stricken wife to mourn his loss.

A short funeral service was conducted at the home Sunday by Rev. C. W. Durden, the remains being taken to Veazey, Ga., on the midnight train for interment.

Benjamin Franklin Rainwater, 1858-1886, Mississippi

Waynesboro News, Wayne Co., MS, and The Clarion, Jackson, MS, 18 Aug 1886

Frank Rainwater, a farmer, found near Waynesboro last Friday not ten feet from his house, his body all riddled with buckshot.

Transcription provided by David Sprinkle

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Bob L. Rainwater, 1945-1974, Arkansas

Unknown Arkansas newspaper, June 1974

Funeral services for Bob L. Rainwater, 29, of Charleston were held Saturday, June 29, at Mt. View Freewill Baptist Church with Rev. Earl Storey and Rev. Boyd Allen officiating. Burial was at Mt. Hope Cemetery under the direction of Smith Mortuary.

Rainwater was found dead near Jasper, Mo., Tuesday night, June 25, in the cab of his truck. The shooting was an apparent homicide, authorities said.

Cash and personal belongings of Rainwater were believed to be missing when the body was found.

He was a driver for C and C Leasing of Lavaca.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth of Charleston; his mother, Mrs. Alma Rainwater of Charleston; one brother, Bill Rainwater of Charleston; four sisters, Mrs Betty Knight, Mrs Mary Little, Mrs. Martha Watson, and Miss Becky Rainwater, all of Charleston; five nieces and one nephew.

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Franklin Pierce Rainwater, 1892-1925, South Carolina

Because of the length of these articles, they are being offered in scanned versions. These articles do not present a conclusive theory, other than murder, and do not include coverage of the trial. The basic facts are these:

On 19 August 1925, Franklin P. Rainwater was found dead by passers-by in an auto on the side of the road. He was believed to have been returning to his home in Cheraw from a business trip to Society Hill. He had been shot four times and the gun thrown some distance from the car. [2395]

The first theory published in newspaper articles covering the death was that Rainwater had run afoul of “rum runners.” This idea came to nothing.

The August 28th article in The Spartanburg Herald suggests that Rainwater was drinking and fooling around with a mixed race girl, Micklin Chapman Douglas, described as a quadroon indistinguishable from white. A red-faced white man named Jack Mitchell was described as having quarreled with Rainwater over the girl. [2397, 2398, 2399, 2401] Douglas and Mitchell were arrested, but the charges dropped for lack of evidence. [2801]

The police eventually gave up on solving the murder, and John Howard Rainwater, the victim’s brother, hired a private detective agency. After two years’ investigation, charges were brought against three men – Dol Chapman, Elmer McKay, and John Spencer. They are listed as "safekeepers," meaning they were begin held in the federal penitentiary in Columbia, SC, because their presence in Chesterfield might insight violence. [2511, 2523, 2801] The motive for the murder and whether the three men were convicted is unknown (by me).

Franklin Pierce Rainwater’s business was carried on by his brother Glenn, and two nephews, in Rock Hill, SC, and two Georgia communities.

The articles are from The Spartanburg Herald, The Evening Herald, The Observer, and The Camden Chronicle.

Some readers may find offensive the obsession with race in these articles.

George W. Rainwater and William M. Rainwater, 1866, Mississippi

Southern News Column, The New Orleans Times, New Orleans, LA, 26 June 1866

Mississippi – Murders Overtaken
On Sunday last, Mr. Joseph Loper arrived in town with George and William Rainwaters, the young men who brutally murdered his old father some time in April last in Wayne County. They were overtaken on Jorden River, near Thompson’s Mill. Before the committing officer, they confessed the deed, but said they were hired to do it. — Handsboro Democrat, 23.

Southern News Column, The Thibodaux Sentinel, Tibodaux, LA, 7 July 1866

Mississippi – Murders Overtaken
On Sunday last, Mr. Joseph Loper arrived in town with George and William Rainwaters, the young men who brutally murdered their old father some time in April last in Wayne County. They were overtaken on Jorden River, near Thompson’s Mill. Before the committing officer, they confessed the deed, but said they were hired to do it. — Handsboro Democrat, 23.

View the two versions of the story in the original.

While it is clear that these two men were accused of murder, it is not clear who was killed, whether they were prosecuted, and whether they were guilty. George W. Rainwater changed his name to Randle and moved to Texas. William is said to have done the same. See the entry on the myths page for the details of the controversy surrounding these issues.

Howard Rainwater, 1875-1894, Alabama

The New York Times, 12 July 1894

Fatal Duel in Alabama
Birmingham, Ala., July 11 — James Spears and Howard Rainwater, aged seventeen and nineteen years respectively, fought a duel in the woods near Liberty1 early this morning. The trouble grew out of a rivalry for the affections of a young woman. Rainwater was killed and Spears locked up. Both young fellows had been drinking.

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1 Dekalb County

James Rainwater, 1856, Indiana

On the 4th day of September, 1856, Prettyman Meuse murdered James Rainwater. The murder occurred in front of Lot No. 8 on Washington Street in Bloomfield. Meuse was a physician who had recently located at Bloomfield. Rainwater was a young man, a day laborer, who had recently come to the town. Dr. Meuse became incensed on account of some remark that he heard Rainwater had made about him, in connection with his conduct at a camp meeting. Without saying anything to Rainwater, Meuse approached him with a rawhide and revolver and commenced striking him with the rawhide. Rainwater turned and started to run down the street away from him. Meuse shot at him as he ran. The first shot struck him, and he expired in about fifteen minutes. The bystanders were so amazed at the suddenness and manner of the assault, that for a few moments they stood appalled at the scene before them. After the second shot, however, Thomas Patterson, a cool, resolute man, seized the murderer, and called upon some of the bystanders to assist in his arrest.

He (Meuse) was tried before James D. Knap, a Justice of the Peace, adjudged guilty and remanded to the county jail to await the action of the grand jury. At the October term, the Grand Jury returned an indictment against him, and on account of the excitement against him in Greene County, the case, on application of the defendant for change of venue, was sent to Monroe County. He was tried in Monroe County, and found guilty, and sentenced to State Prison for life. Some years after he was pardoned, but never returned to Greene County. The last heard of him he was a surgeon in the rebel army.

From History of Sullivan and Greene Counties, Indiana, 1884, Goodspeed Publishing. View the original Goodspeed article.

The identity of this individual is not absolutely certain. Two strong candidates have been proposed: James Washington Rainwater, son of Elisha Gentry Rainwater and his first wife, Elizabeth Grant; or, James B. Rainwater, son of William Howard Rainwater, Sr., and his first wife, Nancy Ann Hodge.

James H. Rainwater, Jr., 1881-1904, Missouri

The Evening News, San Jose, CA, 7 Nov 1904

Young Man is Fatally Shot; Girl fires pistol from satchel
Carthage, MO, Nov 7 — Just as he was about to leave on the Missouri Pacific train for Kansas City this morning, Jim Rainwater was fatally shot through the stomach, by Pearl Sykes, a young girl. The shooting took place at the depot. Rainwater’s uncle having just purchased a ticket for his nephew to go to Kansas City where he was to enlist in the Navy. The girl fired her pistol from within a small satchel that she carried in one hand by putting the the other inside, raising up the satchel and pulling the trigger. She was arrested and is now in jail.

James M. Rainwater, 1841-1894, Texas

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, pg 3, 18 Jul 1894

J. M. Rainwater
Brenham, Tex, July 16 — The dispatch in yesterday’s papers from Corsicana announcing the death of Mr. J. M. Rainwater by jumping in a well at that place was read with sorrow by many of the old citizens of this county, as Mr. Rainwater resided here prior to the war, enlisted in Company E, Fifth Texas Cavalry, Green’s brigade, as a private, and made a good soldier, and was universally esteemed by all who knew him, especially by the members of his company, who in 1864 elected him the position of second lieutenant which he held to the close of the war. Soon after the war he left Brenham and accepted a position with commission merchants at Navasota and remained with them for a number of years, until his mind became impaired, rendering him incapable.

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This is James M. Rainwater, husband of Ella Sampson, son of Addison Franklin Rainwater and his first wife, Susan Wallace.

Paul E. Rainwater, 1900, Atlanta, Georgia

The Sandersville Herald, Sandersville, GA, Page 1, 8 Mar 1900

Boy Slayer Bound Over — Fifteen-year-old criminal charged with voluntary manslaughter

Atlanta, March 8 — Paul Rainwater, the 15-year-old schoolboy who killed his playmate, Frank Slappey, last week, has been bound over on the charge of voluntary manslaughter. His bond was fixed at $500, which was readily given.

The father and mother of the dead lad appeared as witnesses, as did Willie Slappey, a brother, Mrs. Mattie Lewis, and two negro girls, Queenie Thomas and Cornelia Hood, and others.

Queenie Thomas, who said she had witnessed the affair, delivered the most startling testimony of the trial. She said she saw Paul Rainwater when he stabbed Frank Slappey and saw the latter fall to the ground.

Young Slappey was stabbed a week ago and died Sunday morning. It seems that he and his brother were playing marbles in their front yard when Paul Rainwater and a companion, Berry Langford, passed along the street. The younger Slappey boy said that the other two lads appeared to make fun of him and his brother, and they stopped the game and went around in the back yard.

The Articles

Ransom Edward Rainwater, 1857, Texas

Cherokee Sentinel, Cherokee Co., TX, 28 Mar 1857

Murder of Findley and Trail of Rainwater
The facts of the case as reveled by the investigators seem to be about as follows: H. M. Findley was a man about 60 years old, in easy circumstances, in Mississippi, where he had a family. In view of emigrating hither, he had purchased or rented a place and brought R. E. Rainwater with him, for which Rainwater was to make crop. Findley had told several persons of his intimacy with Rainwater’s wife, and finally made advances and propositions to her, using threats of violence to both her and her husband if she did not submit, of which she informed her husband on Thursday, and Saturday morning Rainwater rose from the table, took a double barrel shot gun and walked out, he said, to kill a squirrel. Findley finished his breakfast and walked out and sat upon the fence, preparing his pipe to smoke, when Rainwater discharged both barrels of his gun at him, which took effect and killed him instantly. He [Rainwater] has been tried and sentenced by a jury of his countrymen to fifteen years hard labor in the penitentiary.

Transcription contributed by David Sprinkle

Rusk Inquirer, Rusk Co., TX, 23 Mar 1857

A man named Findley was lately killed by Rainwater at Connor’s Mill about 10 miles below Alto in Cherokee Co., for boosting of having an intimacy with Rainwater’s wife.

Transcription contributed by the late Len Rainwater

“Another Murder,” (Ransom Edward Rainwater’s murder of H. M. Findley), The Texas Republican

Robert Lee Rainwater, 1935, Georgia

News Summary of the Week in Georgia, pg 8, The Butler Herald, Butler, GA, 19 Sep 1935

Atlanta, Georgia — Robert Lee Rainwater, 9 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Rainwater of Atlanta, was fatally crushed Sunday when a scooter on which he was riding smashed into the side of a truck and threw him under the wheels of the moving vehicle. Witnesses reported that the child’s plaything carried him down a driveway directly against the truck, making it impossible for the driver to avoid the tragedy.

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Van Rainwater, 1894, Texas

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, pg 1, 19 Jan 1894

Fatal Fall — His Head Was Crushed
Arlington, Tarrant Co., Tex., Jan. 18 — Van Rainwater, recently a mail carrier between Eagle Ford and Estelle, was found dead near the tracks of the Texas and Pacific Railway, about one and one-half miles east of this place, last night. He bought a ticket at Eagle Ford to Fort Worth and is supposed to have fallen from the train at the place where his body was found. Some people think he was struck by someone on the train. He had started to his brother in Johnson County. Sixty cents was found in one of his pockets and the other pocket is said to have been turned wrong side out. He was buried today in the Arlington Cemetery. After the burial, a few friends arrived from Eagle Ford. His brother, to whom he was going, is expected to-night or to-morrow. He is said to have been a peaceable and industrious boy.

Additional Details
Fort Worth, Tex., Jan 18 — People residing in the vicinity of Arlington found the dead body of a young man, apparently about 16 years of age, lying beside the track, with the crown of his head crushed in. The alarm was given and the excitement quickly became intense, especially as rumor had it that he had been murdered. A crowd quickly surrounded the spot, one and one-half miles west of Arlington, and in the gray light of morning discussed the grewsome [sic] find.

It was some time before the body was identified, but some hours after it was discovered, a visitor identified it as that of Van Rainwater, a young man 16 years of age, who had been working near Eagle Ford.

The agent at Eagle Ford states that he sold young Rainwater a ticket for Fort Worth last night and that he started for the city on the train which arrives here at 7:50 p.m. Nothing more was seen or heard of him until the identification of his dead body this morning.

The entire crown of the head was crushed, as one would crush an eggshell, but no other injuries appeared on the body. It is thought that he was either standing on the platform or attempting or attempting to pass from one car to another, and either fell, or was thrown off by the motion of the train, alighting on his head and meeting instant death. Deceased’s only relative is a brother named J. T. Rainwater, who is employed on a farm near Cresson.

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William Rainwater, 1946-1959, Washington

Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA, 6 Jul 1959

Asphyxiation death cause
Everett (AP) — An autopsy showed that William Rainwater, 13, of Rt. 4, Everett, died of asphyxiation as he was being taken to the hospital on Sunday, Ken Baker, Snohomish County coroner, said Monday.

The boy’s mother, Mrs. Harold Rainwater, found him unconscious in a small shed near their home. The shed is used as a clubhouse by the youngsters in the neighborhood.

Baker said the circumstances of the boy’s death had not been determined. Young Rainwater’s mother said he had gone to the shed, presumably to play, after eating lunch.

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William Brashear “Bee” Rainwater, 1858-1897, Missouri

The New York Times, 23 March 1897

Whole family murdered: jealous farmer kills his wife, her relatives, and then himself

Kansas City, March 22 — Bee Rainwater, a farmer living in Orrick, Ray County, murdered his wife, his mother-in-law, Mrs. William Artman; Ethel Gentry, his step-daughter, and John Thurman1, a step-brother, and then blew his brains out, Saturday evening.

Saturday night, Rainwater went over from his place to the Artman house to visit his wife and children. He was annoyed by some dogs barking in the orchard, and said to Thurman: “Johnny, lets kill those dogs.” Thurman took a shotgun and Rainwater a revolver and they left the house. When they had gone about fifty yards Rainwater without having said a word, shot him dead.

Rainwater then hurried back to the house. He had brought back the gun which Thurman had taken out, and this he leveled at Mrs. Artman’s head saying: “D— you, I’ve got you all.” Mrs. Artman threw up her hands as Rainwater fired, the charge of the shot carrying off every one of her fingers and the right side of her head.

He then shot his wife and stepdaughter. Afterward he reloaded the gun, and, going to the front of the house, shot himself.

Jealousy and a belief that his mother-in-law was interfering with his domestic affairs is believed to have been the cause of Rainwater’s crime. He and his wife had frequently quarreled.

1 One article gives John’s surname as Thurman; the other article as Artman. Thurman is correct – he was W. B. Rainwater’s brother-in-law.

William Henry Rainwater, 1828-1880/1900, Texas

Jefferson Journal, Jefferson Co., MS, 21 Nov 1856 Vol XV #7
Fayette Watchtower published every Friday by Thomas Harper, editor and propriortor

MURDER — James East was killed at Caseyville, Copiah, Miss yesterday by William H Rainwater. No difficulty or hard feeling was known to exist between the parties. Rainwater took East aside to have a word and a gentleman who was near them had no intimation of any quarrel until the report of the pistol, when turning to the parties he saw East fall and Rainwater run off. The ball entered East’s head just above one of his eyes.

William was the husband of Mary Angeline Bailey, 1840-1912. Born in Mississippi, his parents are not currently known. Transcription provided by Glidie Rainwater Mobley from Mississippi State Archives Newspaper Collection Roll #M 106

Another article on the same murder from The Daily Sun, Columbus, GA, 5 Mar 1857

Zebulon M. Rainwater, 1823-1858, Georgia

By Joseph E. Brown, Governor and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of this State (Georgia) and the Militia thereof,

Whereas, I have received official information that a murder was committed on the body of Zebulon M. Rainwater, in the county of Campbell, in this state on the 14th day of January, 1858, by Benjamin F. Rainwater; and it being represented to me, that the said Rainwater has fled from justice, – I have thought it proper to issue this, my proclamation, hereby offering a reward for $100 for the apprehension and delivery, to the Sheriff or Jailer of said county the body of the said Rainwater; and moreover I do charge and require all officers, civil and military, to be vigilant in endeavoring to apprehend and bring to trial the said fugitive, in order that he may undergo trial for the offense with which he is charged.

Printed in The Union Recorder, Baldwin Co., GA, Tuesday 24 Apr 1858
#783 Baldwin Co., GA Newspaper Clippings (Union Recorder), Vol. 8, 1858-1862, Tad Evans

D. W. Rainwater, 1877, Tennessee

Sixty Murderers
D. W. Rainwater, murder of John Fox, Obion county, September 20, 1873 — $200

View the original in the The Memphis Daily Appeal

William & Loretta Rainwater, 1921, California

Man and wife found dead in their home
San Diego, Oct 27 — Neighbors whose curiosity had been aroused because the doors to the house had been open and the lights burning for two days, this morning discoverd the bodies of a man named Rainwater and his wife in their home in San Ysidro, near here. Both Rainwater and his wife had been shot, and in the right had of Mrs. Rainwater was found a revolver. Neighbors stated that the couple had a violent quarrel Tuesday, and late that night they heard shots, together with a woman’s screams.

The Sacramento Union, Vol. 222, No. 25790, pg 6, 28 Oct 1921, Sacramento, CA

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Based on the California Death index, these individuals are William M. Rainwater, 46, 25 Oct 1921, San Diego Co., #39696, and Loretta Rainwater, 31, 25 Oct 1921, San Diego Co., #39695.

Clarence Ora Rainwater, 1925-1948, California

Newspapers.com

Rites set for stab victim
26 May 1948

Funeral services for Clarence Rainwater, 23, allegedly stabbed to death by his 14-year-old brother Lyle at the family home in Duarte on Sunday during the course of a quarrel, will be held Friday at 2:30 pm at the chapel of the W. B. Temple Mortuary, interment to be made in Live Oak Cemetery.

Inquest into the death will be held tomorrow at 9:30 am at the coroner’s office in Los Angeles.

Clarence Rainwater was born in Roseville, California and was a veteran of World War II. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Norma Rainwater; a daughter, Linda K; his mother, Mrs. Della Rainwater, and the following brothers and sisters: Arthur, Glenn, Lyle, Ralph and Jack Rainwater, Mrs. Evelyn Messick, and Eleanor, Ellen, and Edith Rainwater.

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