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January 13, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: William J. Plauf

Following the January 6, 2022 post at Slate River Ramblings, Bob Flippen commented that the Appomattox and Buckingham Times had misidentified William J. Phaup as W. J. Phauk.  Click here to read the post: Buckingham Notables: S. R. Morris

Bob kindly gave permission to share his transcription of a much lengthier report in The Farmville Herald, published on August 11, 1894.

Mr. Phaup’s Mournful Death

August 11, 1894

Not in the memory of the writer has there occurred in this locality a more tragic and distressing death than the one which accidentally befell that good man, Mr. William J. Phaup, near Buckingham Springs late Saturday evening. Mr. Samuel R. Morris was hunting not many yards from the roadside and had just shot at a squirrel, Mr. Phaup rode up, with one of his little boys riding behind him on a horse. “Hello, Sam,” exclaimed Mr. Phaup, “I’ll bet you didn’t kill him!”

“Look up the tree and see,” replied “Sam”, at the same time breaking his gun to reload, and as he brought the stock and barrels together, one of the shells went off, the load entering Mr. Phaup’s left side, one or two shot taking effect in the little boys face. As soon as the shot was fired the mortally-wounded man reigned in the frightened horse and reeled in the saddle. Mr. Morris caught him, and let him down as easily as he could to the ground, and as this was being done he spoke his last and only words. They were: “Lord have mercy! My friend, you shot me to the heart and killed me.” It appears that one of the hammers to Mr. Morris’ gun would not stand half-cocked, and hence the premature discharge.

Mr. Morris leaned the dying man against a tree and as tenderly cared for him as it was possible under the circumstances, but he lived only two minutes. A colored boy, named Philip Gray, who witnessed the whole occurrence, was sent after a wagon, and the body taken a short distance to Buckingham Springs, from which place the awful news was dispatched to the family of the deceased, only a few miles off.

Mr. Morris then sent for Mr. P. M. Jones, who is a magistrate of that district, and requested a coroner’s inquest. A jury was at once summoned, and after the evidence of Mr. Morris, G. W. Carter (brother-in-law of Mr. Phaup) and the negro boy who saw the accident, render the following verdict: “We, the jury, find that William J. Phaup came to his death from a gunshot wound, caused by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of Samuel R. Morris, and we, the jury fully exonerates said Samuel R. Morris from all blame for the accident.”

The deceased leaves a wife and seven little children. He was the son of Mr. J. J. Phaup, who dropped dead on Main Street in this place last September, and the brother of Rev. Leroy J. Phaup, of the Virginia Methodist Conference.

Mr. Phaup was very highly thought of by not only the people of his immediate community but by all who knew him. He was a valued and valuable man, and the church, in which he was a useful officer, the neighborhood and the state lose an upright and worthy Christian and citizen in his untimely death.

The little son who was also shot at the time of his father’s accident, at last reports was doing very well, and it is hoped no serious results will come of his wound.

The funeral of Mr. Phaup occurred at 5 o’clock from Smyrna church, conducted by Rev. Mr. Proctor, the pastor, assisted by Rev. L. B. Spencer, of Lunenburg, and Rev. R. H. Bennett, of Farmville, and his remains laid to rest by the side of his father in the church yard cemetery. The procession was one of the largest ever seen in that county which attested the high regard in which the deceased was held by those who knew him. A large number of friends from Farmville attended the sad rites. The stricken and greatly bereaved widow and fatherless children, and the neighbor and friend from whose hands the heart-rending accident occurred, all have the unfeigned sympathy of good people.

Robert G. Flippen compiled two volumes of newspaper articles concerning Buckingham County which originally appeared The Farmville Herald: Historical Notes on Buckingham, 1890-1899 and Historical Notes on Buckingham, Volume II, 1900-1909.

To learn more, click here: Buckingham County News: The Farmville Herald


Leave a Comment
  1. L. D. Phaup / Jan 28 2022 6:58 pm

    William J. Phaup is my great grandfather. My grandfather was his oldest child and he and his mother Lucy Virginia Carter Phaup managed to provide for the younger children with their help. My grandfather J.J. Phaup was rewarded as he lived to be almost 101 years old. He had good health both mind and body until his death. His life was from 1879-1979.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 29 2022 5:13 am

      Many thanks for adding these details!


  2. Danny Newton / Jan 16 2022 5:54 pm

    Does Mr. Flippen have information about my great uncle’s William and Charlie Thomas, my grandmother Newtons brother’s who were quite the characters?

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 17 2022 4:36 am


      Can you tell us a little more about your grandmother’s brothers? Where they lived? Dates?


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