George Sylvester Lee Genealogy Notes

NOTES: George Sylvester (Syl) LEE and Family

Syl was a victim of murder.......come on in and read about his life and his tragic death. He and his wife Martha (HEATH) LEE are buried in the beautiful little Ruddick Cemetery just outside of Garfield, Benton Co., AR. Related surnames: Lewis HEATH of Bedford Co., TN & Benton Co., AR and his wife Elizabeth RAY. Click here to visit the HEATH page.

Compiled by Janice Mauldin Castleman

BACK to main tree - GO to the MURRY family - VIEW notes on John W. Lee - NOTES on Syl's siblings - VISIT Syl's maternal grandparents here: SHELTON - See the LEE surname at ROOTSWEB

NOTES for George Sylvester LEE: Syl's Civil War Military Pension Records indicate that he was born in Butler County., Kentucky. The 1850 Greene County, Missouri census shows the relationship of George S. Lee to his father and mother, and to his siblings.

Vol. 7 #1, page 20-21 of the "Benton County Pioneer" shows that G. S. Lee was a director in District 21, with his name found on the school financial records of Benton County, Arkansas.

There are many deed records in the Benton County courthouse for this man and his wife, but only a few are listed here. Deed records show that Martha Lee and her (step) son George S. Lee sold the family house at Lee Town to S. H. Mayfield dated Sept. 22, 1858, Book G, page 397. The deed recorded May 8, 1860 shows indenture made between these parties in the consideration of the sum of $1400 in hand paid. The tract was to wit: the west half of the SW quarter in Section 34 in Twp 21N of range 29W, also the NE quarter of the NE quarter of the NW quarter in Section 3 Twp 20 range 39 which includes 1/3 of the spring. This was part of Martha R. Lee's dower.

Sam and Sarah Orbisan of Newton Co., MO., sold G. S. Lee, for $600, the west half of the SW quarter of Section #34 Twp #21 and the east half of the NE quarter of the NW quarter, and the NW quarter of the NE quarter of Section 3 Twp 20 all in Range 29 containing 140 acres. This being found in the reverse deeds dated Oct, 31, 1854 or 1859 Book E, page 83.

In Book D, page 517, G. S. Lee, received 40 acres from John W. Lee for $100 "in hand paid" for NW quarter of SE quarter of Section #30 in Twp #21 of Range #27, testified by J. T. Ford.

Syl LEE tin-type

George Sylvester (Syl) LEE was a Confederate Veteran - Co. F, Div. I, 22nd or 35th ARK Infantry, Fagan's Division, with the records indicating he was from Butler Co., KY, serving from Aug. 15, 1862 to 1865, as a Sgt. He was in the hospital at Ft. Smith, AR on Dec. 27, 1862, and again was sick in the Ft. Smith hospital and absent until Aug. 31, 1863. There is also some indication that his father, John Wesley LEE served in the Confederate Army in Arkansas.

The census records indicate Syl's occupation was as a merchant. In 1867, his name is on a marriage record as Justice of the Peace. On page 301 of "Obituaries of Benton County, AR 1923-1925" Vol. 7, in 1875 Syl was a deputy sheriff under John W. Simmons. In house 817/811 is Sylvester Lee 25, a Merchant, $600-$2000 born KY and Martha 23 b. TN, Nancy 4 AR, Burr 1 AR and Syl's step-mother Martha Lee 58 b. KY and his brother John 18 a clerk and sister Antha Lee 16. The next house, 818/812, is Elizabeth Morgan, 56 a widow, $1200-$100 born KY and William 28 KY, Nancy 23 KY, Lucinda 18 AR, Malinda 16 AR and Ervin 14 AR. The Mayfield family lives on the other side of his home.

There is an entry for John W. LEE's line in World Family Tree: Volume 27, Tree # : 0276 which gives the following regarding Syl Lee: He was a farmer, carpenter,and community activest. Not long before his death he had run for the State legislature. While making a good showing, he still lost the race. The paper said "He stood high as a citizen of the county."

Criminal Court records in Bentonville, AR indicate that Syl Lee was not immune to trouble. While he was called a respectable citizen, he was was arrested for assault in 1886. He was charged, convicted, and, as a note from the jury foreman, J. M. Vandover indicates "We the jury find the defendent gilty (sic) as charged in the indictment and asses the fine at one dollar". The charge was unlawfully using violent, abusive and insulting language toward Bryant Royster. Syl wrote a letter to the court through his attorney, J. M. Peel, who explained that the accuser, Bryant Royster drew a knife on Syl and in order to defend himself, Syl punched out the accuser. In a motion for a continuance filed April 1887, it was further explained that a witness would testify in Syl's behalf regarding the incident where Mr. Royster, in an angry manner, within striking distance of Syl, drew a knife from his pocket, opened the same, and turned towards Syl with the opened knife drawn and that Syl imediately struck Royster.

His obituary from the Benton County Library in the Fayetteville Sentinel dated 1893: Sylvester Lee, known among his friends as Syl Lee, a citizen of Benton County, who was attending court here as a witness in the Wishon forgery case, was shot to death Saturday night, by Sam Dilsworth, a night watchman. The crime was committed at the wagon yard opposite Kelly and Davenport's livery stable, East Mountain Street. It seems Lee had been "joking" Dilsworth when the latter offered Lee ten dollars to knock off his star. Lee did so when Dilsworth commenced firing on him, killing Lee instantly. Lee was about 65 years old and a peaceable citizen, given to joking. Our circuit court is now in session and the grand jury will no doubt make a special investigation. We forbear further comment. The body of Mr. Lee was taken to the depot by his friends here Sunday evening and shipped to Garfield where it was taken in charge by his family for interment. Mr. Wade Sikes of Rogers, Lee's brother-in-law, and several other friends came down on the morning train and accompanied the body to Garfield.

In the Benton County Democrat: "Resolutions of respect from Masonic Lodge" gives his name as G. S. Lee. Other records are found in "Obits. of Benton Co. AR 1884-1898" compiled by B. P. Easley, page 227 (Probate Court), Thomas F. Marshall was admx. of G. S. Lee, first annual settlement (Benton County Democrat 8/29/1895).

From the Weekly Newspaper, 10 May 1894 (found on microfilm in Fayetteville, AR library): "No case tried at the present term of court has attracted so much attention as that of Sam Dilsworth charged with murdering Sylvester Lea. The case was called Monday morning and a day and a half was consumed in getting a jury. Deputy Sheriffs had to be sent to distant parts of the county and summon men from their farms and at least 100 were examined before 12 were secured who had not formed an opinion and who were satisfactory to the state and the defendant. The testimony did not occupy much over half a day and the greater part of yesterday was consumed in the argument of the counsel, the defendant being represented by J. V. and J. W. Walker and the state by Proscecuting Att'y Tillman. The case was given to the jury about 4pm yesterday but a verdict was not returned until court opened this morning, which was that Dilsworth was guilty of murder in the second degree and his punishment fixed at 21 years in the penitentiary. Two members of the jury at first contended for murder in the first degree and this caused the delay in returning the verdict. The evidence showed that Syl Lea and several other witnesses from Benton county who were in attendance upon the last term of our circuit court, were camped in a wagon yard and slept in a small house just across the street from Kell's livery stable. About 11 o'clock on the night of Oct. 28th when some of the party had gone to bed and the others were preparing to retire, Sam Dilsworth, who was city nightwatch, went into the house and joked a few minutes with old man Lea who was about 70 years of age. Finally something was said about the star Dilsworth was wearing and Lea remarked that he had seen the time he could take the star off. Dilsworth told him he would give him five dollars to take it off and went out of the house. He went across the street into a negro barber shop where he remained only a minute and then started back. In crossing the street he passed Quincy Black whom he told to stand where he was a minute. Black saw a pistol in Dilsworth's right hand and saw him put it on the inside of his coat on the left side. He also saw money in his left hand. Dilsworth entered the house and addressing Lea whose back was toward him said: 'you said you could take this star off for $5.00 but here is $10.00 you can have if you will take it off--it is not a $5.00 star.' Lea asked him what he meant--if he was trying to tantalize him. Dilsworth replied that he meant just what he said and walked close up to Lea throwing himself back and pushing the star out. Lea reached his hand out and Dilsworth asked him if he had hold of the star. He said yes and Dilsworth said, 'I will send you to hell in a minute.' With that he pulled his pistol and commenced firing. One shot took effect in the arm and two others in the breast. Death was instantaneous. Five shots were fired. Dilsworth then went to the jail and called Mr. Duggan telling him that he guessed he had killed a man and wated to surrender. It has been regarded as one of the most wanton, reckless and uncalled for killings that ever took place in this county and yet Dilsworth has never looked on the matter seriously, always seeming to regard his action as perfectly justifiable. He was almost a total stranger to Lea and his strange action has always been an enigma. He appeared to have a mania for notoriety and wanted to be regarded as a dangerous man. Very few, if any will think his punishment too great."

The actual criminal court records are in the Washington Co. Courthouse in Fayetteville, AR in the Circuit Court Book, page 555, 557 and 558. On Thursday morning, May 10, 1894, the State heard Samuel Dilsworth's "not guilty" plea. The jury being sworn, considered the evidence and delivered the following verdict to-wit "we the jury find the defendant Samuel Dilsworth guilty of murder in the second degree and fix his punishment at 21 years in the State prison at Little Rock, AR", per juror foreman James F. Wilson. On Saturday morning, at the courthouse, the defendant was ask if he had anything to say about why the judgement and the sentence of the court should not be pronounced against him, and Dilsworth had nothing to say. The related law was read to him and he was remanded to the custody of the Sheriff of Washington County, AR, and delivered to the Keeper of the AR State Penitentionary at Little Rock to be confined at hard labor for 21 years.

Probate record can be found for G. S. Lee in Probate Book E, p. 436 dated 1894. Administrator was T. F. Marshall who petitioned the court for an order authorizing him to sell a town lot in the State of Missouri, property belonging to said estate which petition was granted and authorization was granted to employ Peel and Rice as his attorneys.

There is an listing in Benton Co., AR Obituaries Vol. 2 1899-1904 by Easley which mentions the death of Ed G. Lee, former resident of the county and SON of G. S. LEE, deceased, who died of smallpox at Chijuajua, Mexico June 29, 1899. It said Mr. Lee had been a resident of Boise City, Idaho for a number of years where he was engaged in the newspaper business. He left that place about a month before his death, to prospect for minerals. He attended school at the Pea Ridge academy, graduating in 1884, since which time he has been engaged in business in various cities of the west (from Benton Co., Democrat 8/3/99). This Ed G. Lee is not listed as a child of G. S. and Martha Lee on the census.

NOTES for Martha RUSHING HEATH LEE: Martha's middle name is believed to be RUSHING or possibly RUSHAN. There are several RUSHING families in Bedford Co., TN in the 1820-30 era. One was Abraham Rushing, born 1739 who married Sarah Mariah Meadow c1770. Their descendants: Thomas, Wilson, Minos, Henry, and Harry RUSHING. This information comes from Glenn McAnarney in a post to GenForum in Feb. 1998. He said Thomas was born 1783 and married Elizabeth Unknown in 1802. They moved to Bell Buckle, Bedford Co., TN where they died. Wilson Rushing was born 1803, and married Patricia Jane Manley, then Nancy C. Davis, Minos was born 1834 and married Josephine Brher and moved to Wright Co., MO in 1857. Henry was born in 1861 and married Sarah Jane Stogsdill in 1884. They moved to Whitewright, TX where they both died. It is unknown just how Martha is connected, if at all, to this family.

On the 1900 Washinton Co., AR census (soundex) Winslow Twp., Martha lives with her son Seth Bates Lee. The census card said she was 63 years old and born in Tennessee. Martha applied for a Confederate Veteran's Pension, as allowed from her husband's service in the Civil War, filed from Garfield, Benton Co., AR. It was approved Aug 4, 1902 for $50.00. At this time she was living in Glade, Benton Co., AR., which is no longer on the map and may possibly be under the lake.

On the 1910 Benton Co., AR census, she lives with her son Jessie V. Lee. This census shows her father and mother were born in Tennessee.

The probate records in the Benton County Courthouse were filed September 6, 1920 by S. B. Lee (Seth Bates Lee). These records give Martha R. Lee's death date and place of residence at the time of her death, the value of her property was about $100, and the heir's names and places of residence were as follows: Mrs. Ann Murry of Winslow, AR; Mrs Sallie Wade of Mulberry, KS; John Lee of Paden, OK; J. V. Lee (residence not readable); D. W. Lee of Winslow, AR; S. B. Lee of Rogers, AR. Martha R. Lee died leaving no will and S. B. Lee was made admx. of her probate. He and a James Horn paid $200 to the court to be named administer to settle her estate.

Her death certificate in the vital records office at Little Rock, AR show her birth date, Feb. 16, 1836, death date at age 84 years 4 months 5 days, listed as a widowed housewife, born TN, died July 11, 1920 from apoplexy (contributory: arterio- seloscis) signed by C. E. Jones, MD. The undertaker was J. F. Black of Winslow, AR and she was buried in Ruddick Cemetery, 3 miles south of Garfield, AR on the Lost Bridge Road. The person who signed this certificate of death was John Murry of Winslow, AR, her son-in-law. He listed her father's name as HEATH, birthplace unknown, and mother's maiden name unknown and place of birth unknown.

In the 1850 Benton Co., AR census, Osage Twp., PO Pea Ridge, dwg. 420: Lewis Heath 49 b. NC, Elizabeth 47 b. SC, Martha 14, Lucinda 14. Marriage records in Benton County and the census indicate this man was a minister of the gospel. Also in Osage Twp, in dwg. 421: John Heath 31 b. TN, Anna 34 b. TN, James 14, William F. 12, Lewis 9, Henry D. 7, Thomas 4, Sarah J. 4, Robert 2. The actual 1850 census does appear to show the age of Martha Heath as 14 years old, making her a good candidate for being the correct wife of Syl Lee. Absolute proof has not yet been located which proves she was a daughter to Rev. Lewis HEATH and his wife Elizabeth RAY. Jessie Murry Garrison's genealogy notes indicate her father WAS Lewis HEATH, but that her mother's name was Elizabeth LAMB. Since the 1850 census doesn't indicate relationships, it is difficult to know if she and Lucinda are twins or cousins, but Martha's name is listed first. In an E-mail dated June 5, 1998, updated information on this couple comes from John Wolcott (E-mail - He says that Martha is indeed a child of this couple and adds the names of other children in this family (notes continue on the Heath webpage).

See 3 generations of Sylvester & Martha's family here

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Updated Oct. 12, 2004

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