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Today in Johnson City History: December 31

Rebecca Henderson and Johnson City Press • Dec 31, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Dec. 31, 1896: The Comet reported the mysterious murder of Nat R. Campbell in Kenova, West Virginia. Campbell had been connected with the ET&WNC Narrow Gauge Railroad since its construction, spending several years as a popular conductor. He left behind a wife and five children in Johnson City. His body had been found under the C.&O. bridge across the Big Sandy River earlier in the week.

Dec. 31, 1914: Fred Hoss, “the human arithmetic,” had compiled a calendar good for 1,200,000 years, going or coming, a copy of which he delivered to The Comet. “Before the calendar expires we hope to be able to unravel its mysteries,” the editor stated.

Dec. 31, 1933: Johnson City residents Henry Iddings and Marie G. Gaunt had taken out a marriage license across the state line in Gate City, Virginia.

Dec. 31, 1969: Former Johnson City policeman Admiral “Dewey” Daniels Jr. was sought for wounding a sheriff’s deputy during an armed robbery at the Wright’s Supermarket in the Pinecrest area. Authorities said Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy H.B. Humphries was undergoing treatment at Johnson City Eye Hospital for damage from a sawed-off shotgun blast. Authorities said Humphries recognized the holdup man shortly before he was shot in the face. Five months later, Daniels, who also had served the Erwin Police Department and the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office, was one of three men implicated in a Weaverville, N.C., bank robbery. As Daniels posed as an FBI agent, the robbers had handcuffed the town’s police chief to a tree in a cemetery before taking his patrol car and using it in the robbery. After his capture in Knoxville in 1971, Daniels was sentenced to 44 years for the Pinecrest robbery and assault. He assaulted a jailer and a dispatcher with a knife as he escaped from the Carter County Jail in December 1973 and was never recaptured. Daniels was the subject of an FBI manhunt until a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was dismissed in 2010.

Sources: The Comet; Kingsport Times; Johnson City Press-Chronicle; Johnson City Press; FBI.

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