End Family Dispute With Blazing Guns

Winona Times, Friday, December 28, 1956.  P. 1.



A family dispute Tuesday night between W. Dewitt Welch, 61-year-old Vaiden farmer, and J. Norris Wilkes, 40-year-old Durant farmer, outside the former’s home on the Kilmichael-Vaiden Road, over the spanking of the latter’s small son, ended in a blazing pistol battle fatal to both men.


According to reports from Deputy Sheriff H.R. Michie of Vaiden, Welch was hit three times and Wilkes, his son-in-law, four times, with both dying almost instantly.  The body of Welch was brought to Oliver Funeral Home in Winona, and that of Wilkes was taken to Southern Funeral Home in Durant.


Wilkes had driven to his father-in-law’s home to get his child, who had been taken there several days before Christmas, as a result of a family argument over the spanking of the youngster, it is reported.


He took the small boy and led him to the car, according to accounts of the affair, and Welch and a son, Dennis, followed him.  The argument was resumed, pistols were drawn, and the deadly shooting resulted.


Welch’s entire family, including 12 children, witnessed the incident, it is stated.  Welch, a native of Carroll County, is survived by his wife and 12 children:  Walter and Dewitt, Jr., of Greenville; Albert of Jackson; Dennis, Vernon, Watt, Misses Lorene and Florence, twins, all of Vaiden; Mrs. Delton Cook, of Greenville; Mrs. Mae Miller, of New York; and Mrs. Mildred Branch, of Winona.


Wilkes is survived by his wife, Mrs. Martha Welch Wilkes, and two small children; and his mother, Mrs. James Wilkes, Sr., of Durant.




Argument Over Child Ends In Death For Two Men Near Vaiden

The Conservative, December 28, 1956.  P.1.


W. Dewitt Welch, 61, Vaiden farmer and his son-in-law, J. Norris Wilkes of Durant, shot each other to death late Christmas day at the Welch home east of Vaiden in an argument over the spanking of Wilkes’ young son.


Mrs. Wilkes said she spanked the child several days ago and her mother-in-law, who lived with them, objected.  The mother said she then brought her son to the home of her father, Welch.


About dusk Tuesday, Wilkes came to the Welch home, got his son, and had gotten into his car with the child when Welch came out.  An argument ensued and the men began shooting at each other with .32 caliber pistols and both were killed.


Welch, a native of this county, is survived by his wife and the following children: Walter and Dewitt Welch of Greenville; Albert Welch of Jackson; Dennis Welch of Shreveport, La.; Vernon and Watt Welch of Vaiden; Mrs. Martha Wilkes of Durant; Lorene and Florence Welch of Vaiden; Mrs. Mildred Branch of Winona; Mrs. Delton Cook of Greenville; and Mrs. Mae Miller of New York; three brothers, Charlie and Vassar Welch of Vaiden and Lonnie Welch of Greenwood; and a sister, Mrs. Mary Gant of Drew.


Funeral services for Welch were held Thursday from the Vaiden Baptist Church and were conducted by the Rev. Joe Cooper.  Interment was in the Vaiden Cemetery.