Newborn may look like a sleepy little town but we’ve had our share of excitement. About this time of year, back in 1916, a tragic incident occurred according to a story recorded in Town Hall, one of the landmark sites on our tour. Mr. John Estes and Mr. Clifford Childs had been arguing over land lines, not an uncommon occurrence in an era when most land had not been surveyed but relied on references like a “large rock” or “creek bed.”
Mr. Childs’s store (now known as the Zeigler Childs Building) was the scene of the crime. Clifford and his brother Otis Lee were eating sardines and crackers. They had heard Estes was in town, and that he’d been drinking. (This was at noon). Estes came in the door. Otis Lee saw him, and his eyes alerted his brother Cliff, whose back was to the door. Cliff started to swear, and defamed Estes in a loud voice. Estes whipped out a 38. Cliff whirled around, leveling a 9 mm German Luger at Este’s chest, but the cartridge failed! In a panic, Estes started firing at Cliff and wounded him severely. Cliff tried frantically to return fire but the ammunition was faulty. Clifford sank to the floor, his brother cradled Cliff’s head in his arms, and Estes staggered out the back door.
Dr Pleasant (“Scrub”) Wilson’s office was just upstairs from the store, and he determined that the wounds were fatal. Townspeople gently carried him down the street to the hotel where he died that night. Estes was exonerated because witnesses had heard Cliff threaten his life.
The store has changed hands over the years and at one point in the 1990s stood vacant, crumbling, with trees growing inside. Colorful Newborn Character Jeannette Zeigler started a Friends of Newborn campaign and raised the money to beautifully restore the building. It now features mahogany doors and the upstairs gallery and arched brick windows that characterizes the best of rural small town buildings. It houses our Town Hall and the Newborn Branch of the Newton Library – you’ll see it on our tour along with three other landmarks and six lovely homes! Inside one wall features photos of many Newborn Characters, past and present.
The “Shoot Out at the Childs Store” is one of many, many tales in the book being released on October the 19th in conjunction with the Newborn Tour of Homes – above is just a shortened version of the exciting tale. To order the book just see www.newbornga.com for details.