Themed Set: The Spectacle of Private Execution in America 1936: Albert Fish

1943: Sue Logue, George Logue and Clarence Bagwell

January 15th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1943, as the New York Times laconically led the story, “[t]wo men and a woman died in the electric chair … bringing to eight the number of deaths in ‘The Logue Case,’ which started over a dead calf.”

This culmination to an operatic South Carolina feud has a book all its own, and that scarcely seems equal to the events.

The dead calf in question* belonged to the Logue family, and (your headsman wouldn’t make this up) had been kicked to death by a mule of the neighboring Timmermans. Perhaps mistaking themselves for a cartoon parody, the two leading families of rural Edgefield County, S.C., used the incident to escalate a long-simmering feud.

Killing higher up the food chain soon followed.

The Timmerman patriarch wasted the Logue patriarch — Sue Logue’s husband and George Logue’s brother — but claimed self-defense and was acquitted. (Body Count: 1)

So Sue and George hired (via nephew Joe Frank Logue) a down-on-his-luck plasterer to even the score. Clarence Bagwell said he’d kill everyone in the county for $500, but he earned his fee just by gunning down old man Timmerman. (Body Count: 2)

The investigation brought the law to the Logue doorstep, and the requisite gun battle ensued. A sharecropper on the farm was killed. So was the sheriff — he was Sue Logue’s cousin — and the sheriff’s deputy. (Body Count: 5)

“[T]he only circuit court judge in South Carolina history to have made love to a condemned murderess as she was being transferred … to Death Row.” (Source)

The officers’ death necessitated the appearance of the man who now became the senior law enforcement official in the county: Strom Thurmond, still a local judge and a few years away from his vault into national prominence as a segregationist presidential candidate and 46-year South Carolina Senator.

Thurmond waded through the posse and talked the trio into surrendering. His warning that they were liable to be lynched must have been compelling in any circumstance, but the old goat was a uniquely qualified ambassador: he’d been having an affair with Sue Logue.

Small wonder the trial venue was moved. “[N]o section of the county could be found that did not include a relative of theirs.” (Source)

And small good it did the Logues, who died with their hireling in the early morning hours this day. (Body Count: 8)

For such an outlandish case, it earned only muted national coverage — a pittance reckoned against the feeding frenzy latterly occasioned by such relatively meager gruel as Scott Peterson. World War II stole its thunder, although local interest was intense.

Yet it lives on for the involvement of Thurmond in a second guise that rates as quite possibly the juiciest slice of death row gossip in American history. According to Ol’ Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond:

Randall Johnson, a black man who supervised “colored help” at the State House and often served as driver and messenger, drove Sue from the women’s penitentiary to the death house at the main penitentiary in Columbia.** In the back seat with her, he said many years later, was Thurmond, then an Army officer on active duty. They were “a-huggin’ and a-kissin’ the whole day,” said Johnson, whom Thurmond later as governor considered a trusted driver… In whispered “graveyard talk” — the kind of stories not to be told outsiders — the word around SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) was that Joe Frank said his aunt Sue was the only person seduced on the way to the electric chair.

* A “prize calf,” to be fair.

** On Christmas Day, according to Dorn.

Part of the Themed Set: The Spectacle of Private Execution in America.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Electrocuted,Execution,History,Milestones,Murder,Notable Participants,Scandal,South Carolina,USA,Women

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17 thoughts on “1943: Sue Logue, George Logue and Clarence Bagwell”

  1. What an extraordinary case.

  2. S. Lee Tucker says:

    I see my comments, from some time back, were published.
    I only repeated the story as I heard it as a child. The feud started over a teacher, not qualified, one fraction wanted hired. Mrs. Logue had adopted a boy off the streets, who was a policeman in Spartanburg, who came to help his Mother, he brought with him a hired gun from Spartanburg. Back in those days, Spartanburg, SC was a mill town with lots of just mean people. He was convicted. I remember Grandfather saying he didn’t think he should be put to death for defending is mother. His sentence was commuted and his prison job, was taking care of SLED’s bloodhounds.
    I understand the “politics” of the time.
    Part of the story, I haven’t confirmed, is Strom’s father got my Grandfather and another man off a murder charge in Edgefield, SC. Mr. Thurmond also, so the story goes, killed a black man on Edgefield’s Courthouse steps who was suing him over a pig, or something like that.

    I listen to all these stories sitting on the front porch steps of an old two story farmhouse on Hwy 28, about 10 miles out of McCormick, SC, listening and looking the back waters of Clark Hill Lake. I still call it Clark Hill Lake, as should everyone.

    So the story goes, when the actual story got changed, part of it was “paying back” the Thurmond family for Grandfather.

    Is all this true? Well, I only repeat the story I heard sitting on those steps long ago.

  3. Selva Lee Tucker says:

    My grandfather was Sheriff Brown, from McCormick. One of the official witnesses. I grew up hearing a different version.
    After the sheriff was killed, they called over to McCormick for help. My Grandfather, as he was getting into his car, told my uncle Edward to stay but Edward followed in another car. When they arrived at the scene, Strom was no where around. My grandfather knew her, and called out to her from the yard (no AC back then so the windows were open), she replied something to the effect, “Is that you Willie”, he said yes and she told him to come into the house, she was done fighting. He went it, took her to jail, and that was it. No Strom talking them into surrendering or, another version, Strom walked thru a hail storm of bullets and disarmed them with his bare hands. I met him once and when I asked, after introducing myself, he would not answer me and his aid pushed me along the line.
    Strom did ride with Logue when they were talking her to Columbia and it was always reported they had sex in the back seat. There were also stories about this also being a local power struggle and Strom backed the Logues and he could have stopped it all.
    Within a week the Augusta Newpaper reported the story as is told today. When asked about it, Strom never denied it or said he did it, he would just say something like, “you know how people like to talk” and walk off.
    As is with most stories, it is more legend than truth. The truth is so simple and not heroic except my Grandfather, when he went there, did not know what to expect.

  4. DeLana says:

    Any word on where Clarence Bagwell was buried? We found some graves – unable to find his.

  5. George Logue says:

    Eerie, my wife’s name is Susan, we’re in Texas (both born in the late fifties).

  6. Elaine S says:

    Read The Guns of Meeting Street by T Felder Dorn – it was published by USC Press in 2001. It will give you the facts. The article published here is close, but has multiple errors and misrepresentations — more sensationalism than accuracy..

  7. Brandy C says:

    My great-grandmother passed away in January and Sue Stidham Logue was her aunt. Before she passed she would tell us (the family) stories of Sue as a teacher.

  8. deidra says:

    I was turned on to the story by my grandmother . My great great uncle married Ruby Logue. Would love to talk with ppl and learn more about the story. My grandmother is dying and won’t be able to answer questions or tell me more

  9. shirron spivey says:

    my family was and is the blockers of this incident, now i am interested in this case because my mother would tell me about the day meeting street was shot up and she and her dad hide in the willow spring baptist church

  10. Mary says:

    Joe Frank Logue was married to my first grade teacher, Flora Logue. I remember the day he got out of prison. We had a substitute teacher when Flora went to get him.

  11. granny says:

    Sue (Stedim) Logue was my grandmothers Aunt. her father changed his last name to Davis when he left S.C.

    1. JIM DAVIS says:

      My grandfather was James Davis. He moved to Oklahoma in 1906 from SC.

  12. ben dorn says:

    i am kin to sue, the late jolly owdom is my great gradad.

  13. Andy says:

    Great group today. The story behind it makes the daily trip here worth it!!

    Thank you Headsman!

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