There were once two brothers who just could not get along with each other. The oldest brother was born 23 June 1872 and his mother and father named him Jesse Samuel. The youngest brother was born 29 July 1875 and was named Cyrus Field. There were also two other sons and two daughters in the family. All of them were able to play together, but those two just couldn’t seem to like each other. Their father, John T Edwards, was a wealthy planter whose farm stretched over rolling hills and creek bottoms where Union, Stanly, and Anson counties NC came together. Because they were looked on with trepidation by the community, they never married and lived with their mother and father in the family home.
Jesse was shorter than his brother by 6 inches and was always scowling and looking out of half-hooded eyes over a beaked nose. Pete was a handsome fellow – tall, fun-loving, an accomplished fiddle player and ladies’ man who loved to dance. However, underneath all of his beauty and likeablity, he was a mean man.
The two brothers were the talk of the community with their knock-down, drag-out fights which became more and more violent. The neighbors wagged their heads and remarked that they would end up killing each other.
Both carried guns. Jesse was quick to fire in Pete’s direction, just for fun. One morning Pete was late for breakfast; Jesse slammed open his door and fired several rounds just above Pete’s head into the headboard of the bed. Another time Pete was in the yard talking to a neighbor when Jesse put up an upstairs window and began firing several shots around Pete’s feet. Not to be outdone, Pete fired back breaking several window panes while Jesse jumped out of the way to avoid getting hit.
The Edwards boys had such a bad reputation that, when Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church burned, a committee set out to call on them as prime suspects. Word got to the committee that an ambush was awaiting them in a cotton field and that the Edwards boys had new Winchesters.
Jesse’s moods grew progressively darker and even Pete began to avoid him. But in the end, Jesse’s behavior turned on Pete. Jesse got word that Pete was involved with a female that Jesse had marked as his property. On the third Sunday morning of August in 1910, while Pete saddled his horse to go to church, Jesse rushed back to the house in in a maddened state.
The congregation at Rocky Mount Baptist Church must have been astonished to see Pete attending services. They were even more astonished when Pete walked down the aisle after the service to ask the preacher to pray for his soul.
…….to be continued