March 10,1891, 275 Main Street, Memphis – An article in the New York Times for March 11, 1891 was headlined "LAWYER KING'S REVENGE." It told the story of a love-struck lawyer, an affair gone wrong and murder. According to the article:
Henry Clay King, one of the brightest lawyers at the Tennessee Bar, is pacing a cell in the county jail, his hands still wet from the blood of a fellow attorney whom he murdered today in the open street in the presence of scores of people, and he knows only the strong walls and the iron frame work of the prison save him from the summary vengeance of the victim's friends. The murder was for a woman who lured him from the path of honor, wrecked his family and fortune, and left him to add to his folly the guilt of assassination.
The woman is Mrs. Mary J. Pillow, widow of Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, who won distinction in the War with México and fifteen years later a conspicuous soldier of the Confederacy. Mrs. Pillow is about forty-five years old, but of looks only thirty. She is a woman of queenly presence, finely educated, and of the most fascinating manner. She was known to be "risky," and women of her own social rank gradually drew themselves away from her after her husband's death; but nothing was positively proven against her until she met H. Clay King four years ago. It was a chance meeting in King's own office where she had called to consult his partner on a matter of business, and King was captivated at first sight. From that moment he was her slave. Finally his infatuation caused him to throw off all disguise. He deserted his wife and children to go and "board" at her house and when the scandal became so notorious that it could no longer be outfaced, he took the widow to his plantation in Lee County, Arkansas where they kept house together. Mrs. Pillow's youngest child, a girl of twelve years was the only other white member of the household. They claimed to be partners in interest of the plantation and it was given out that Mrs. Pillow had furnished $10,000 with which to run the place.
In the course of time Mrs. Pillow gained such an influence over King that he deeded to her all his property, not even excepting the house in this city occupied by his deserted family. She took the deeds and privately had them recorded. When King found this out he was wild with rage, and there was a terrible scene between the two. The result was that Mrs. Pillow ordered him off "her plantation," and he was forced to go. Even after this he tried to renew his relations with her. Shed refused his advances, and then he brought suit in the Arkansas court, and at the chancery court at Memphis to recover his property. There the whole wretched story came out in the pleading. The Avalanche and the Appeal published it, and King sued both papers for $50,000 damages. The suits, however, never came to anything.
Mrs. Pillow's counsel are Poston & Poston, a law firm composed of Edward H. Poston, and his younger brother Frank. They are also counsel for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad …and are among the leading members of the Tennessee Bar. The older brother conducted the defense for Mrs. Pillow, he is of an aggressive nature, and though not quarrelsome at all, is given to plainness of speech. In the conduct of the case he was very severe on King, and the latter became deeply incensed. He was drunk a good deal since his break with Mrs. Pillow, and became very irritable. Last night he was drinking in a saloon and said publicly he intended to kill Poston on sight. The threat was repeated to Poston, but being naturally courageous, he paid no attention to it.
Today, at about 11:30 A.M., he came down the street swinging his big burly form from side to side, as is his habit. When he was passing the door at 275 Main Street, where King stood, the latter stepped out and presented his left hand as if in a friendly greeting. : Poston halted and was in the act of extending his hand when King whipped a revolver out of his pocket. Placing the muzzle within a few inches of the victim's body, he pulled the trigger. The ball entered Poston's abdomen cutting his entrails. He staggered forward with both hands on the wound from which the blood was gushing, crying "My God, I'm shot! Help me in somewhere." Two of the bystanders who had stood their ground, caught him and carried him into a shop, whence he was soon removed to an infirmary and surgeons called to attend him. He has been sinking ever since, and there is no hope of his living through the night.
Meanwhile, King had replaced the pistol in his pocket and stood facing the angry crowd that had begun to gather and make threats of summary vengeance. A Deputy Sheriff came up and placed him under arrest. "All right," said King, "I'll go with you, but don't touch this yet," looking down on his pistol and then at the threatening crowd. The Deputy let him keep his pistol until they reached the jail. There was so much talk of lynching the murderer that Judge DuBose, ordered the sheriff to place an extra guard at the jail gate to prevent any attempt at violence to-night.
The whole city is boiling over with indignation over the cruel murder. Daniel H. Poston is one of the most popular lawyers in the community. He was a gallant soldier and in every respect a valuable citizen. He has a wife and several children. King also has a good war record. He commanded a battalion of Kentucky cavalry and did excellent service. His first request upon reaching the jail was for a bottle of whisky , his second for his much wronged but loving wife. She visited him and an affecting scene took place between the two, thus reunited under the shadow of the gallows.
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