Judson Reel
City Mail Carrier Fatally Wounded

Judson F. Reel, born in North Carolina, July 17, 1894, came to Glendale from Old Fort N. C.

Coming to Spartanburg County, SC, he entered the postal service before World War 1 and had a large family connection in the area. Judson married the local native, Miss. Ellen Belle Morris, born November 18, 1898, the daughter of Gus and Jennie Morris of Glendale.

The 1920 Spartanburg County/Glendale Census shows that they were living with Ellen’s mother and father and that she had 3 or more siblings. The household was listed as;
Gus M. Morris 57, husband/head of household                     Wife; Jennie 55
Children; Wilton 27                         Herman 25
Lillian L. Morris LeMaster 29
Her children; Earl LeMaster 10     Sara LeMaster 5
Ellen B. Morris Reel 22                                             Her husband; Judson F. Reel 25
Their child;      Susie Mae Reel 1 year, 8 months.

Judson Reel was shot to death by a disgruntled, confused, drunken woman while delivering mail on his regular postal route in Spartanburg.

Excerpts from news articles relating to the death of Judson F. Reel published February 16 & 17, 1932;
Judson F. Reel, 38 year old Sunday School Superintendent and postman, died in the General Hospital Monday night after being shot three times by Mrs. Gussie Fine, 39. She had purchased the gun with the intent of ending her own life. She had also attempted to take her own life by drinking poison a few months before. She was confined to the hospital for several weeks before being released.

She confessed to the police that the shooting of Mr. Reel was like a dream to her and asked about the condition of Reel and expressed hope that he would not die. When told that Reel was dead, she broke down sobbing in the jail cell where she was being held. She told the officers that she would not have been in this plight had they not interfered with her when she had taken poison. She questioned if she would be permitted to go to the Funeral Home and view the body.

The shooting occurred near the corner of Hampton and Erwin Street in Spartanburg where Mr. Reel was delivering mail. The woman admitted to the police that she had drunk part of a pint of whiskey to get up the nerve to shoot Reel. She told the police how she had driven to the corner of Irwin and Hampton Ave where she waited for Mr. Reel who she knew was delivering mail in that section. When Mr. Reel came up, she said they exchanged a few words and she shot him in the back as he passed on up the street. At the first shot he turned and grabbled with her for the gun after which she shot him once in the chest and once in the abdomen. At this point a young man came across the street and took the gun from her.

A Coroner’s jury returned a verdict “that J. F. Reel was shot three times and killed by Mrs. Gussie Fine and recommended that she be held for further investigation.”

Funeral services were held in the Glendale Baptist Church where he was a member and Superintendent of Sunday School. Interment took place in the Glendale Community Cemetery. Survivors were; his wife, Ellen Belle Reel; four children, Susie, Jane, James, Harold and Franklin Reel.

Following the untimely death of her husband, Ellen Belle Reel married Mr. Boyce Jones, a local native. She died in 1979.

Excerpts from the Obituary of Ellen Belle Reel Jones published Friday October 26, 1979;
Ellen Belle Morris Reel Jones, 81, wife of Boyce Jones, died Thursday in the Spartanburg General Hospital.

A native of Spartanburg County, she was the daughter of the late Gus M. and Jane Lockman Morris and was a member of the Glendale Baptist Church, a retired textile worker. Survivors were; sons, James W. Reel, Spartanburg, Harold J. Reel, Greenville, Franklin M. Reel, Marieta, Ga. ; daughters, Mrs. Susie Gosnell of the home, Mrs. Jane Snite Martinson, Asheville, N. C.; nine grand and nine great grandchildren. Funeral services were held at M. W. Bobo Funeral Chapel with interment following in the Glendale Cemetery alongside of Judson.

Writer’s comments; Obviously Mrs. Fine was a sorely disturbed woman. She told police that she shot Reel because “he had wrecked her life”. Just before he died, Reel made a statement to the police but to my knowledge what Reel said to the police or how Reel had wrecked the life of Gussie Fine has never been released or explained.

The Reels lived in a large two story house on the corner of Glendale/Whitestone-Glendale/Ben Avon road and were highly respected and much loved in their church and community. They had a large family connection in the area. The whole community was set aghast and could hardly believe the news of the untimely death of Mr. Reel.

It has been with great reluctance that I have released this sad story to the web site. Realizing that it was a part of Glendale history which I have been trying to preserve for future generation, I have come to feel that honesty demands the heart warming and the sad both, be recorded.

All Census and Spartanburg Herald Obituaries courtesy of Spartanburg County Library.
Clarence E. Crocker, March 2014

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This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Glendale. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is Mary McKinney Teaster.  Contact her at:
marylee@glendalesc.com or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See more information about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary McKinney Teaster.