January 17, 2018

Dan Kyle Kills Railroad Clerk E. W. Prentiss, Pulaski, 1876

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[March 24, 1876] -

Last Thursday morning a Mr. Prentiss, the "head clerk" on Smith's work, on the C. S. Railway, was very severely, if not fatally, cut in the abdomen, by a negro named Dan. Kyle. Kyle ran off, but was subsequently captured at King's Mountain, and brought back to this place [Somerset] and lodged in jail Thursday night. Since the above has been put in type, the unfortunate man has passed into another world -- his death occurring last Monday evening, inflammation having set in. We learn that his home was in Virginia. His remains were deposited in the cemetery at this place [Somerset], last Tuesday evening. Rev. J. R. Peeples and Elder D. Wilburn, visited Mr. Prentiss just before his death, and prayed and sung with him. He was asked if he was a christian, to which he replied in the negative, but he had been brought up in a religious family, of the Episcopalian Church. -- [Somerset Reporter.

We were well acquainted with the deceased for several years and can testify to his many virtues. Always unassuming and polite, his death by the hands of a worthless negro, was to us a very great surprise. Mr. Prentiss was from Norfolk, Va., and comes from a time honored family, whose hearts will be wrung at the news of his untimely death. --[Editor Interior Journal. [1]







January 15, 2018

Wesley McFerran Kills Railroad Hand, Pulaski, 1874

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[October 9, 1874] -

Wesley McFerron, who was brought to our town [Somerset] from Mt. Vernon, one day last week, upon a warrant for stabbing a railroad hand in our county [Pulaski], a few months since, made his escape from the guards and is now running at large. [1]



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[September 24, 1875] -

Wes. McFerrin, lies in jail under a charge of killing a negro on Cummings' work. [2]


January 10, 2018

William Austin Hanged for the Murder of Betsy Bland, Garrard, 1882

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[January 24, 1882] -

Our Lancaster correspondent gives an account of another horrible murder in Garrard. The devil seems to have been turned loose again in that county. [1]



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[January 24, 1882] -

The blood had scarcely dried on the axe which murdered the Wilmot family, before the tale of a most brutal murder, scarcely less bloody than its predecessor is brought to our ears. The victim this time is Miss Betsy Bland, aged 85; the murderer, is Wm. Austin, a young man about 24 year old. Jos. Bland, an old widower, lives about one-and-a-half miles from town, near the Danville pike. His sister, Miss Betsy, kept house for him. For about three months, Wm. Austin, a grand-nephew of theirs, has lived with them, helping about the work on the small farm. He is a wild, drunken fellow, and altogether his reputation is not of the best. Friday, January 20th, Jos. Bland came to town on business, and remained till about 5 o'clock. Austin also left home and was seen last (previous to any knowledge of the murder,) at Herring's still house, which place he left about 4 o'clock, for home. As a party of men were returning from town, they were met by Austin at the mouth of a lane leading to Bland's house, and he told them Aunt Betsy (as she was familiarly known,) had been murdered. At first they laughed at his story, but were finally induced to go to the house where they found the old lady lying on the floor with her head nearly severed from her body. They did not disturb it, but hastened back to town to inform her brother and the officers. As soon as they were notified, Sheriff Higginbotham, with Marshal Singleton, and a posse, went out to the scene of the murder, where they encountered Austin standing in the door, apparently very much affected. Suspicion had already pointed to him as the murderer, and when a little scrutiny revealed stains of blood on his pants and boots, he was arrested and put under guard. The Coroner not being convenient, Esquire Boyle, who is the nearest Magistrate, was summoned to hold an inquest. The Court was in session till near 10 o'clock, P. M., at which time sufficient circumstantial evidence had been obtained to confirm the suspicion that Austin was the murderer. The Court adjourned, how ever, without a verdict till next day. In the meantime, Austin's pants and boot had been taken from him. After supplying him with these articles from Mr. Bland's wardrobe, he was mounted behind the Sheriff, brought to town and lodged in Jail. Had the citizens been fully convinced of his guilt it is quite probable an attempt would have been made then and there to administer justice on a speedier plan than the one by which that article is usually obtained. The body of Miss Betsy was still warm when the officers arrived, which, with the fact that she had made a fire in the stove for the purpose of getting supper, goes to prove that she was killed only a short while before. Her head and face bore several deep gashes from an axe, three of which, beside the lick across the neck, which severed the vertebra would have been instantly fatal. Her face also bore marks of a boot heel as if the wretch had stamped her. When the Court of inquest convened the next day, several witnesses were examined as to the relative time of Austin's being seen on the way home, and his first appearance after the murder. All this testimony strengthened the chain of circumstantial evidence which, with the addition of another link furnished by his clothing has bound him so closely that his life will no doubt pay the forfeit. When his pants were produced in Court, besides the blood on the legs, the right hand pocket was found to be bloody. An inspection of the boots revealed clinging to the heel of one of them several long gray hairs which corresponded exactly with the hair of the murdered woman. Austin told several tales in regard to the blood on his clothing. One was that when he opened the door his aunt in her death struggle threw the blood on him -- another to account for the blood and gray hair on his boot, was that he caught a rabbit on his way home, put his foot on its head and pulled it off, the blood spurting on his boot, He did not produce the rabbit, however. But one reason can be given for the perpetration of such a cruel murder. It was generally known that Miss Betsy kept some money in the house, never less than fifty dollars, and some time more. This she kept in the drawer of a sideboard, the keys to which she carried. The keys were found lying on the floor near her. The drawer had been forced and it is presumed, robbed as but about two dollars were found which in his haste or purposely, the murderer had left. No money was found on Austin, with the exception of twenty-five cents, which he proved by a negro to have been paid him that day. Austin was not brought into Court Saturday, whether from an apprehension of a mob or not, I don't know. But there was a crowd in town and excitement was very high. A leader could in a few moments have organized a mob, but whether he could have got hold of Austin or not, is another question. Beside putting Austin in a cell, no other precaution against a mob has been taken. The fact that Circuit Court convenes today, and that the Grand Jury might attend to his case as it deserved, may have something to do with preventing an outbreak of popular indignation. [2]


January 9, 2018

Eb Cooley Kills George Scott, Garrard, 1886

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[October 5, 1886] -

On last Wednesday about two miles from Lynchburg, this county, Eb Cooley killed George Scott with an ax. The particulars as we learn them are as follows: Cooley and Scott were at the home of a neighbor and became engaged in a difficulty, probably over a woman. Cooley to avoid trouble left the place and went some distance away, but was followed by Scott, who renewed the trouble, when Cooley struck him several times with an ax, inflicting wounds from which he died the next day. There were no eye witnesses to the deed and the above is Cooley's own version of the affair. He surrendered himself to Esquire Walker and will have his examining trial Tuesday, when it is quite likely he will be acquitted. Both men were drinking at the time of the difficulty and both were reputed to be fearless men. Coroner A. O. Burnside held an inquest on the remains last Friday, when the jury returned a verdict that George Scott came to his death from wounds inflicted by an ax in the hands of Eb Cooley. [1]




January 7, 2018

James Wilmot Kills His Wife, Mother, Two Children, and Himself, Garrard, 1882

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[January 19, 1882] -


BUTCHERED.

A Garrard County Farmer Kills His Wife, Mother and Two Daughters

With An Ax, and Then Swings Off Into Hades at a Rope's End.

Worry Over the Payment of a Security Debt the Cause of the Dreadful Crime.

...

(Special to the Courier Journal.)

LANCASTER, Jan. 18. -- This town was shocked this morning by the reception of the news of the most horrible tragedy that has ever taken place in Garrard county, or, in deed, in the State of Kentucky. About 7 o'cock a negro man came to town bringing the information that Jas. A. Wilmot, a farmer living about two miles and a half from Lancaster, near the Danville pike, had murdered his wife, mother and two daughters and then culminated the awful act by hanging himself. Esquire R. Boyle, acting as Coroner, immediately repaired to the scene of the tragedy, accompanied by a large number of people eager to gratify their morbid curiosity with a glimpse of the horrible sight. On arrival several of the nearest neighbors were already found there, but none had dared to touch the dead bodies of the parties named; and the truth of the information was substantiated by finding the lifeless body of Jas. R. Wilmot hanging in his barn, the dead bodies of Elizabeth Wilmot, his mother, aged eight-nine years; Mattie and Mary Wilmot, his daughters, aged about nineteen and fifteen, lying in their beds, with one awful cut across the neck and breast of each, made by terrible blows from a sharp, new ax, found lying on the floor of the room, and also the body of Elizabeth Wilmot, his wife, lying on her face on the floor with three or four horrible gashes in her head and back, made by the same death-dealing ax. A jury was immediately impaneled by 'Squire Boyle, who, after taking all available testimony, rendered the following verdict:

VERDICT OF THE JURY.

"We the jury find that the bodies lying before us are the bodies of James R. Wilmot, Elizabeth Wilmot (his wife), Mattie and Mary (his daughters) and Elizabeth Wilmot (his mother). We find, from the evidence before us, that his wife, daughters and mother came to their death from blows from an ax in the hands of James R. Wilmot. We further find that, after killing the above named persons, said Wilmot committed suicide by hanging himself. J. H. Bruce, Foreman. January 18, 1882."

MISS CALVIN'S TESTIMONY.

The first wintess was a yong lady of the neighborhood, Miss Alice Colvin, who had been doing some work for Wilmot, and was sleeping in a room up-stairs during the commission of the deed. Her testimony was that the family retired last night as usual, Mr. Jas. R. Wilmot, his wife and little boy, about eight years old, occupying one bed in the family room, and his two daughters another in the same room. In an adjoining room slept the man's aged mother, and in one room upstairs a son, Jas. I. Wilmot, in the other the witness. About 5 o'clock this morning she was attracted by some noise below, and, going down, met Wilmot coming out of the room where his mother slept. It was too dark for her to see any of the objects distinctly, but she noticed something in his hand, supposed to be the ax. She asked Wilmot what he was doing. He replied that he had killed the whole family and was going to kill himself. Horror-stricken, the young girl rushed through the other room and meeting the young boy caught him an took him out of the house with her and went to a colored man's house near by. Just as she was leaving the family room the older son, James I., who is about twenty years old, attracted by the noise below, came down stairs in his night clothes.

HIS SON'S ESCAPE.


He testified that, as he reached the foot of the stairs, he came in contact with his father, who had a gun in his hand. He asked him what he was doing, and his father replied that he was going to kill himself, and would kill him, too. Instantly his son grappled with him and threw him down, but was unable to hold him. The old man rose, grabbed the gun, aimed to shoot, but his son knocked it up and the ball went into the ceiling. The young man then broke loose, and ran for his life, the old man followed him to the steps over the yard fence, then turning toward the barn. The boy continued running until he had aroused some of the nearest neighbors, who hastily repaired to the scene. None were bold enough to enter the house until daylight revealed the dead body, dressed only in a shirt and drawers, of Jas. R. Wilmot swinging under the shed of the barn. He had taken a plow-line, fastened it around his neck, climbed up the side of the crib, fastened the other end to a beam or joist under the shed, and then jumped off. The hanging was carefully done, and showed a determination to avoid failure. The horrible act which ushered so many souls into eternity in a few brief moments was undoubtedly that of an insane man. For some time past Wilmot has been brooding over a security debt of $450, which he had to pay for a brother-in-law, and this had so worked upon his mind that it is believed he finally went crazy. Day before yesterday he talked rather strangely to his family, saying the stock was all going to die, and himself and family also, of starvation. Two or three times in the last few days he expressed a fear of death from starvation, and acting under this hallucination, it is believed that he arose from his bed this morning, took the ax and with a single stroke to each of his daughters struck them dead in in their beds, they never knowing from whence the blows came. His wife, [n]o doubt, was awakened, and getting out of bed doubtless attempted to restrain him, but was knocked down and terribly mutilated. He then went into the adjoining room and, there raising the bloody ax on high, sunk it deeply into the breast that had nurtured him in infancy, taking away from her that she had given him -- life. Happily that aged and devoted mother never awoke to realize from whom the cruel blow came.

WHO HE WAS.

James R. Wilmot, the man who, by his insane act, sent four of his nearest and dearest kin on earth to their eternal home, was about sixty years old, a farmer by occupation. He was an honest, close, economical business man, and had owned a farm of about 250 acres, on which he lived. He was in good circumstances -- being worth $8,000 or $10,000 -- and it seems strange that he should have become so worried over a small debt of $400. He was kind and affectionate to his family, and to his old mother he was the most devoted of sons. It is supposed that with the hallucination in his mind that all his family were to die with starvation he resolved to murder them and kill himself to avoid that fate.

It is singular that the little boy escaped his insane purpose, but it is supposed he hid while his father was engaged in the awful work. The bodies of the four victims, with that of the murderer, will be buried tomorrow in the family burying-ground, a few hundred yards from the house where the awful tragedy took place. [1]



January 2, 2018

David Lockett Kills Ben Goss, Lincoln, 1875

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[September 10, 1875] -


On Monday morning last, a little altercation took place between the wives of Ben Goss and David Locket, colored. Goss interfered, either to assist or separate, when Locket struck him with a stone, from which he died in less than two hours. Locket surrendered himself to the proper officer. His trial is set for Wednesday, at 9 o'clock.


LATER. -- The examining trial of David Locket for killing Ben Goss took place Wednesday before Squire Burch and Judge Pollard. He was pronounced guilty of murder, and is now in jail awaiting the sitting of the next term of the Circuit Court. [1]




December 26, 2017

David Dishon Kills George Austin, Garrard, 1877

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[January 19, 1877] -

It is also our painful duty to sully the page with a fresh murder in the annals of Garrard. On Saturday morning a man named Dishon met, and shot dead, George Austin, of this county, on the Crab Orchard turnpike, in front of Mr. John Lusk's residence. A grudge, of some months standing, seems to have made Dishon afraid to move about unprotected, and the affair culminated as above. He has not yet been arrested. Mr. Austin was united in marriage a few months ago, to Mrs. Belle S. Anderson. [1]





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