We are called upon to record one of the most causeless, unprovoked, and revolting murders that has ever appeared upon the pages of criminal history. The account we give is true. It has received the attestation of those present, and witnesses of the awful scene.
On Monday, April 11th, at 3 o'clock P. M., Mr. Provo, in company with another gentleman and a boy, went from Jonesboro to Anna in a wagon. As they were passing through the village of Anna, opposite to a saloon, Mr. Provo was shown to the murderer, who rushed immediately into the street, revolver in band, and discharged it twice at Mr. Provo as he was standing in the wagon, without effect. Mr. Provo then left the wagon and entered a store. — He had scarcely taken a seat, when the murderer entered, revolver in one hand and a dirk in the other. As he approached Provo he said, "You are the man that wanted to arrest me," and presenting his revolver at his head. By this time, another soldier came in to assist the murderer. Provo replied, "I have never wanted to arrest you; keep away from me." No sooner had these words been uttered than Mahon shot him, the ball taking effect in in his temple, and killing him instantly. — Mahon now left the store in consultation with other soldiers, and until evening, walked unconcerned the streets of Anna.
Mr. Provo was unarmed and defenceless. He visited Anna upon business, expecting no difficulty, and prepared for none. All was causeless and unprovoked. A Coroner's inquisition was held in the evening, after which few citizens of Jonesboro, accompanied by the Sheriff of Union county, went after the corpse, and to arrest the prisoner. Previous to an extensive search at Anna, the authorities were informed that the murderer had been conveyed to Cobden, where he was arrested and brought to Jonesboro. About 8 o'clock next morning, a military force of nearly sixty armed men marched into Jonesboro from Anna (where they had just arrived from different points), and ordered the prisoner from the Sheriff, and returned to Anna.
This is a brief account of the murder, and arrest of the prisoner. The excitement produced was not as great as might have been expected. There was but one course left for law-abiding citizens, namely, to arrest the murderer, and prevent further difficulty. This was done. Notwithstanding multiplied and false reports of those who desired to inaugurate a scene of bloodshed and desolation, all was peaceable and quiet. The strong military force ordered from different localities came upon a fruitless mission, and expressed their astonishment at the peace and quietness of the citizens. What disposition will be made of Mahon we are of course unable to say. We find that he was considered guilty before the military authority at Cairo, and sent to prison. We have every reason to expect that whether tried by a civil military court, justice will be done and the murderer receive the punishment prescribed by the law.
The murdered, James J. Provo, was in his fiftieth year, and had resided at Jonesboro during the greater portion of his life. He began life poor, but by ambition and industry, had obtained a position of wealth. His business engagements were very extensive, and received his punctual and correct attention. He possessed a charitable character — kind, benevolent, and liberal to the poor. He usually employed those in need. He was never reluctant in acts of merit and kindness, especially to those in want. To those made orphans and widows by the war, he has been exceedingly charitable; and if his murderer escapes justice and returns to the position he has disgraced, he may meet many that have been the recipients of acts of kindness at the hands of Mr. Provo. He lost two sons in the war — one at Fort Donelson, and the other, at Vicksburg; and now leaves a wife and four children to mourn his loss. On Wednesday his remains were conveyed to its resting place, in the Jonesboro cemetry accompanied by a very large circle of relatives and friends.