Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
NameThomas Jefferson Chandler
Birth2 Sep 1886, Simpsonville, Greenville, Greenville, Greenville Co SC
Death1 Feb 1924, Richland Co SC3234 Age: 37
FatherJames Riley (Jim) Chandler (1848-1917)
Spouses
Birth7 Feb 1889, Greenville, Greenville, Greenville Co SC
Death25 Feb 1922, Greenville, Greenville, Greenville Co SC3234 Age: 33
FatherJohn A. Bramlett (1847-1915)
MotherRosa Jane (Rosie) McDaniel (1853-1922)
ChildrenRosa Thelma (1917-)
 Jefferson Douglas (1914-1993)
Notes for Thomas Jefferson Chandler
1910 Census of Dials, Laurens Co SC

Name Age
James R Chandler 62 SC SC SC
Lula Chandler 20 SC SC SC dau
Virone Chandler 15 SC SC SC son
Jeff Chandler 23 SC SC SC son

He filled out two WWI draft registration cards.25 On one, dated 5 Jun 1917, he reported his birthday as 2 Sep 1886 and the form carries the notation “lost left leg.” On the other one, dated 12 Sep 1918, he gave his birthday as 2 Sep 1885 and the form carries the notation “lost left foot.” Both forms reported him to be of medium build and height, with blue eyes and dark hair. He worked for E. I. dupont de Nemours & Co and lived in Dupont City in Hopewell, Prince George Co VA. His occupation was munition worker.

Hopewell, part of the Eppes' plantation, was developed by DuPont Company in 1914 as Hopewell Farm, an incorporated area in Prince George County. DuPont first built a dynamite factory there, then switched to the manufacture of guncotton during World War I. Nearly burned to the ground in the Hopewell Fire of 1915, Hopewell prospered afterward and became known as the "Wonder City". Unlike most cities in Virginia, Hopewell was never incorporated as a town but was incorporated as an independent city in 1916. It was abandoned by DuPont after World War I and briefly became a ghost town.3236 It was possibly in a 1916 accident at the DuPont Hopewell facility that Jeff Chandler lost his left foot. Following is a brief news article from the January 20, 1916 Palm Beach Daily News: “Hopewell, Virginia, January 19, 1916.--One man was killed and a dozen severely injured in an explosion at the DuPont Plant. Fire followed the explosion. The loss is said to be about fifteen thousand dollars. The cause is as yet undetermined.”

However, family tradition is that Chandler lost his foot in a train accident: “The family story has it that he was working on the railroad as a brakeman. His job was to check that all the cars in the long freight train were correctly hooked up. He would kick the coupling to be sure it was locked in. Then, on this day, towards the back of the train, he kicked, and the coupling clamped down on his foot and locked in. The train was starting and he knew he would be dragged to death if he didn't get loose. He used a long knife and amputated his own foot. Thereafter, he was unable to walk well, and though he tried farming, he couldn't make it work.”3237

Thomas Jefferson Chandler would have married Theodus Bramlett in about 1913. Two children were born to the couple, Jefferson Douglas Chandler in 1914 and Rosa Thelma Chandler in 1917. He has not been located in the 1920 census. He and his family may have become estranged before then. On 25 Feb 1922, he shot and killed his mother-in-law, Rosie Bramlett, and his wife, Theodus Bramlett Chandler. A family tradition is that both women were killed with the same bullet.3237

Thomas Jefferson Chandler was charged with the murder of his wife and mother-in-law. He was found guilty and on 27 Mar 1922 was sentenced to die in the electric chair on 21 Apr 1922. After various appeals, the sentence was carried out and he was executed by electrocution in the South Carolina Penitentary at 11:12 am on 1 Feb 1924 (see death certificate and newspaper articles in his multimedia file).

Details of the tragic 1922 incident, are based on a family tradition, related by his grandson, Walter Douglas Moorhead:3237 “When I was 13-14, I came home to Kyushu from boarding school, and was idly looking though parent's library. I found, tucked behind Mom's college or junior college diploma, two short clipped out newspaper articles. One was on the shooting, one the execution. The articles were stunning to my young self, I didn't even know how to bring them up with my parents, but did eventually. The year before, on my parents second furlough in the US, I had speculated with my cousins -- Douglas Chandler's kids -- about the deaths of our shared grandparents. They were also in the dark. Clearly they had both died, nobody was talking and we wondered about an accident, about illness, etc. After high school, my Mom worked to try and earn money for college, and she was informally adopted by a couple in SC. I grew up calling them Papa and Mama Dill. Papa Dill remembered the shooting very well. His observation was that Jeff Chandler would not have been found guilty by a jury of murder had he only killed his mother-in-law. This was because it was common knowledge that she was 'meddling' in their relationship and trying to get her daughter to leave him. The story is that he came home drunk and 'called out’ his mother-in-law, and she came out onto the porch. He took out a pistol. Then his wife, Theodus, also stepped out onto the porch and saw what was happening. She stepped in front of her mother, presumably thinking he would not shoot. But he did, and hence the one bullet story in our family. I don't know where my Mom or her brother Douglas were at the time of the shooting. They have never told me, and may have repressed the traumatic memory altogether.”

This family tradition does not agree with various contemporary newspaper accounts, which were that the murders took place not on the front porch but in the second-floor dwelling, that he discharged six shots from his revolver, and that he shot and killed his wife first, then his mother-in-law. Also, the newspaper accounts state that his daughter Thelma was standing next to the chair where her dead mother was seated.
Notes for Thomas Jefferson Chandler
JEFF CHANDLER TRIAL IN GREENVILLE COURT UNDER WAY TODAY3238

AFFIDAVITS THAT DEFENDANT WAS IN A DISTRESSED STATE OF MIND WHEN HE KILLED WIFE AND MOTHER-IN-LAW UP TO JURY

Greenville, S. C., Mar. 22 – After Introducing the testlmony of three witnesses this morning and only six witnesses In all, the state rested at 11:06 In the trial of T. Jeff Chandler, Indicted for the murder of his mother-In-law, Mrs. Rosa Bramlett and bis wife, Mrs. Theodus Chandler.


Greenville, S. C; March 22. - The trial of T. Jeff Chandler who killed his wife and mother-in-law February 5, last, proceeded in the court of general sessions today after Judge Frank B. Gary, overruled a motion by Solicitor J. Robert Martin that the defendant be committed to the state hospital for the insane for a period of 30 days for observation.

Chandler is being tried on the indictment which charged him with the murder of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Rosa K. Bamlett, aged 68. He was also indicted tor the murder of his wife, Mrs. Theodus Bramlett Chandler, aged 30, the double killing take place at the Chandler home.

In making the motion that Chandler be committed to the state hospital tor the Insane for a period of 30 days, Attorney Martin cited an act of the legislature as his authority, he presented two affidavits in defense of the motion, one signed by himself, one by J. Arch Chandler, brother of the defendant, who stated that he knew his brother was in a distressed state of mind when he committed the crime with which he is charged.

In overruling the motion the court held that it was a matter in the end for the Jury to decide whether or not Chandler was sane or insane,

Insanity is the plea of the defense. Chandler Is alleged to have shot and killed pis wife and then turned his pistol on his mother-in-law and killed her instantly, The shooting followed a period of domestic troubles. Chandler shot his wife following their return irom a motion picture theatre, where claimed a atrunger talked and flirted with his pretty young wife.
Notes for Theodus (Spouse 1)
Theodus Chandler and her mother Rosie Bramlett were killed on 25 Feb 1922 by Thomas Jefferson Chandler, the husband of Theodus and son-in-law of Rosie.3237

Apparently Jeff and Theodus were already estranged in 1920, as shown by the census:

1920 Census of Austin, Greenville Co SC

Name Age

Rosa J Bramlett 66
Theodus Chandler 28
Douglas Chandler 5
Thelma Chandler 2
Last Modified 8 Jan 2020Created 15 Jun 2022 using Reunion for Macintosh
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