The Court Lesters

Edmond Lester had two brothers; Andrew and Winbush. He married a woman named Anne and they resided in Madison county during the early 1820’s. The three Lester brothers worked as laborers. It appears that Andrew and Winbush lived together while Edmond and Anne owned their own house. The Lesters were more boring than a pile of wood.

Until August 4, 1823, when neighbors found Anne Lester’s badly beaten corpse.

Naturally, the sheriff came to speak to Edmond Lester. He pleaded his innocence in the matter and his brothers said that they spent the whole day with him and had seen nothing. The sheriff hauled all three of the boys in and their trial began on the last Monday in October.

The jury heard testimony from the state that between one and two o’clock in the afternoon, Edmond “did strike beat and kick the said Anne Lester… upon the head breast back belly side and other parts of the body,” before throwing her down to the ground repeatedly. Court documents stated that whoever examined her corpse found an inch deep wound on the left side of her head and a six inch long gash near the base of her skull. Taken together these wounds meant that she probably “instantly died” upon receiving them.

After killing her, Edmond Lester dragged her corpse for several miles and “did put and cast to conceal and hide the said Anne Lester,” by dumping his wife’s body in the Flint River. Witnesses stepped forward to say that they’d seen Edmond commit his horrendous crimes.

Yet, none of these witnesses saw Andrew or Winbush. It emerged during the trial that neither of the men participated in the murder or concealment of Anne Lester, but instead spent the entire day at “a place of election to wit Griffins,” to witness the outcome and spectacle of raucous local democracy. Although both men testified that they’d gone to the house of Edmond Lester during one or two in the afternoon and saw nothing amiss there, multiple witnesses managed to put them at “Griffins,” until the “going down of the sun.”

The simply lied to protect their vile brother. Fortunately, the jurors found the truth and Edmond Lester swung from the gallows on the first Friday in January of 1824. Andrew Lester went to prison for perjury and Winbush Lester went home.


The State of Alabama v. Edmond Lester, Andrew Lester, & Winbush Lester, Madison County Alabama Circuit Court State Cases, 1819-1823. p. 218-219 (1823).

The State of Alabama v. Andrew Lester, Madison County Alabama Circuit Court State Cases, 1819-1823. p. 244-245 (1823).

The State of Alabama v. Winbush Lester, Madison County Alabama Circuit Court State Cases, 1819-1823. p. 246-247 (1823).

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