The Murder of Will Bolin

Sunday, August 16th 1896
A small church in the northern part of Iredell county called Smith Chapel is having several “protracted meetings”, or what southern congregants today would call a multi-day “revival”.

Edward Clinton Van Hoy and William T Bolin are first cousins, and the two men must have been attending the revival that night.
What passed between them afterwards to cause such an altercation as was had is unknown, though some rumors from the time suggested that it had to do with a woman.
Whatever the case, when the dust settled Edward had stabbed Will in the side with a knife and fled.

The church as it appears today. In 1896 the original wood building would have sat in roughly the same place as the new building.

In true southern fashion, the revival meeting continued on, with distressed members of the family apparently being “converted”.

Will had died from his wounds by the next day and the law went looking for Edward Van Hoy, but they never managed to find him.
As it turned out, his family had taken him to the county line, given him a change of clothes and a small amount of money and his father told him to get out of the state. Edward fled to Kentucky, changed his surname to Mason, started a family, and lived a fairly uneventful life there.

Bolin’s grave at Moss Chapel.
Article from the time which misidentifies “Van Hoy” as “Vannoy”.

His family in Kentucky eventually found out that the name Edward had taken on wasn’t his true name. Edward confessed on his death bed the truth to them.
For whatever reason, his Kentucky family never did anything with the information, maybe out of misplaced shame at his past, maybe because at the time it would have been hard to track down their Carolina cousins.

None of his family in North Carolina ever knew what happened to Edward. Not until about five years ago.
That’s when some members of the Kentucky family came looking for their distant cousins. This all culminated in a reunion of both sides of the family at the same church where Will Bolin was murdered 120 years before.

In addition to this story, I have recently posted about the murder of Claude Warren, which happened on the same road 20 years later and 2 miles away. In looking for info on Warren’s story I have come across several interesting tales from this rural road in Iredell county which I will be posting about in the future.

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Published by Abandoned NC

I went back to my old home and the furrow of each year plowed like surf across the place had not washed memory away. -A. R. Ammons

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