A Crime of Passion

Written by Dr. Tim Hudson

William R. Manning arrived in Ouachita City in the latter 1860s with his wife, Virginia, and he obtained employment as a grocer. By 1875, they had two young children. For some time, Manning suspected that a local widower, a Mr. W. R. Reese, was engaging in “improper relations” with Manning’s wife. Known as a fearless and dangerous man of strong will, when angered, Reese became passionate and violent, “full of fire and unyielding”. The conflict caused the Mannings to separate in the fall of 1875, with Virginia keeping the children. Manning took them to Mississippi and came back to work in Monroe. Hearing that his wife had returned to Ouachita with the children, Manning went there to claim them. Reese made it known to Manning’s friends that “there would be war” before Manning would get the children, demanding that Manning deposit $25 for the children’s support. Learning that Reese intended to attack him, Manning went to the back room of one of Ouachita City’s saloons to wait. Reese came to the front door of the saloon, standing in the doorway looking outward with a small pistol in hand with his arm hanging down, unaware that Manning was behind him. Manning calmly got up and walked towards the door with a friend at his side. He started out of the saloon and as he came upon Reese’s rear, Manning put his pistol to Reese’s head and fired. Reese staggered and fell, and Manning fired a second time, this time hitting Reese in the left eye. Manning spent a few days with friends, then went to Farmerville to surrender himself for trial. After an investigation, he was released on the grounds of self-defense.

 

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Dr. Tim Hudson is the mathematics department head at Southeastern Louisiana and an avid historian on Union Parish. Hudson is a Union Parish native and graduate of Farmerville High School.

 

 

 

 

 

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