Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem in the Old North State
Major General Bryan Grimes, Target of Hired Killer
Returning home from a political convention in Beaufort County in August of 1880, Bryan Grimes was murdered by a hired assassin near Bear Creek, about five miles from his family’s plantation, “Grimesland.”
Born in 1828 in Pitt County, Grimes signed North Carolina’s secession ordinance, enlisted in the Confederate army soon after, rose to the rank of Major General and served until Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
After the Civil War, Grimes returned home and worked to rebuild his family’s plantation to its former prosperity. He became one of the most successful planters in North Carolina and one of the state’s most respected sons at the time.
In 1880, two local brothers hired William Parker to assassinate Grimes. The murder was apparently ordered to prevent Grimes from testifying in a criminal trial. Parker was captured and tried, but found not guilty of the murder.
Several years later, Parker, while drunk in a bar, boasted of killing General Grimes. A mob gathered that same night and hanged the assassin from a Pamlico River bridge. No one was ever indicted for Parker’s murder.
The coroner’s report said that it was “death by hanging at the hands of parties unknown.”