Henry Taylor and Edward Sewell were arguing over their mutual interest in Mrs. Martha Stone when they entered a saloon owned by S.P. Lockett at 3059 Penn Avenue on August 12, 1901. Once inside, Taylor shot Sewell four times at close range before fleeing.
After initial reports that he might survive, Sewell died two days later.
While the nation’s attention was focused on President McKinley’s struggle to survive assassination in Buffalo, N.Y., Taylor was arrested September 9, 1901, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, after police learned that Stone was sending letters there.
Both men were Virginia-born laborers. Taylor, a puddler’s helper in the Black Diamond Steel mill, the first Pittsburgh steelmaker to employ Black workers, boarded in a company home Stone managed. Sewell, a hod carrier, had previously been involved with Stone, though she denied any such relationship.
After a short and unremarkable trial at which Taylor claimed he acted in self-defense, he was convicted of first-degree murder on January 18, 1902. Due in large part to his inability to invest in his defense, Taylor’s post-conviction efforts to avoid execution were easily turned aside.
Henry Taylor was hanged on June 24, 1902.
In a written statement made just prior to his execution, Taylor denied that the killing was related to Martha Stone.
Characteristic of cases with Black defendants and victims in this era, the case received little newspaper or public attention.