Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani : Fighting over a Girl May 6th, 1923

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

Fighting over a Girl May 6th, 1923

In 1923 Bessie Herman had moved to Flint from the south. Unfortunately, an African American, it was hard to secure a place to stay because most motels and apartments were for whites only.

Her family secured her a room with a friend of a friend on Durant Street. As soon as Bessie found a job, she moved into her own place. Two brothers, who were friends of the family, were very protective of their family friend.

On that May evening Earl and Cornelius Howard had Bessie and their good friend Eevee Butler and his wife over for dinner.  Eevee proceeded to make passes at Bessie all evening. He even offered to let her stay with them and sleep in the bed with him and his wife. This was making Bessie really uncomfortable so she left early.

Shortly after she left the Howard’s, Earl and Eevee got into a heated argument. Cornelius joined the fight and Eevee panicked. He pulled out a pistol he had in the back of his trousers and started to shoot.

Earl was hit with the first bullet. It entered his head, killing him instantly.

Cornelius turned to leave the room and was shot in the back. The bullet went right through him and into Eevee’s wife.

Both Cornelius and Mrs. Butler survived.

Eevee Butler was convicted of murder and sentenced to fifty years. His wife filed for divorce during his trial.

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

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