May 25, 2017

Joe Taylor Hanged for Killing of Dan Design, Rockcastle, 1876

Previously:

Click here for a list of my other Pulaski/Rockcastle/Laurel County KY articles

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[November 3, 1876] -

KILLED. -- A man named Jones, while in a drunken condition, went into the house of a colored woman, at Mt. Vernon, last week, and seeing a pistol on the table commenced fooling with it. The woman attempted to take it from him, and in the scuffle it was discharged, the load taking effect in the abdomen of Jones, killing him in a short time. The coroner's verdict was in accordance with the above facts, and exhonorated the woman from any blame in the matter. The woman is the wife of the man now in jail under a sentence of death for the murder of another colored man. [1]




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[November 4, 1876] -

Interior Journal: A man named Jones, while in a drunken condition, went into the house of a colored woman at Mt. Vernon last week, and seeing a pistol on the table commenced fooling with it. The woman attempted to take it from him, and in the scuffle it was discharged, the load taking effect in the abdomen of Jones, killing him in a short time. The woman is the wife of the man Taylor, sentenced to be hung in Rockcastle county next Friday. [2]





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[May 12, 1877] -

Within the past five or six years there have been several hangings in Kentucky. In fact, no longer ago than the 10th of last November, a white man by the name of Joe Taylor was hung at Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle county, of whose execution the newspapers seem to have taken but little if any notice. Indeed, no one with whom I have conversed seems ever to have heard of it until a day or two ago, when, looking over the Auditor's books and papers, I stumbled upon the Rockcastle Sheriff's itemized account for services rendered as hangman on that interesting occasion. The document is so interesting and unique that I copy it entire for the benefit of those who may contemplate making their exit from these sublunary scenes in the same public, earth-defying, heaven-soaring manner:

NOVEMBER 10, 1876.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky, to James Houk, Sheriff of Rockcastle county.

For services rendered in executing death penalty on Jo. Taylor, who was convicted for murder at September term of the Rockcastle Circuit Court. $6.00
To cost for same. $4.50
To amount paid for one pair pants for same. $3.50
To amount paid for one shirt for same. $1.25
To amount paid for one vest for same. $1.50
To amount paid for 1 pair socks for same. $0.35
To amount paid for hauling said Jo. Taylor to the gallows. $2.00
To amount paid for making coffin for same. $10.00
To amount paid for boards to cover same. $0.40
To amount paid for preparing gallows. $3.00
To amount paid for digging grave. $3.50
To amount paid for one pair of shoes. $2.00
To amount paid for one cup. $0.25
To amount paid for one rope. $0.50

Total. $38.75. [3]



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[April 28, 1879] -


Dan. Design, colored, killed by Joe Taylor, colored, for which he was hung. [4]





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[August 23, 1973] -


Three years later another colored boy, Joe Taylor, was hanged on the same gallows. C. C. Williams, then a young man approximately the same age as Joe, vividly remembered the entire affair. He said Joe was well liked and accepted by white boys his age (21) and was engaged with a group of them in a game of marbles just back of where the L&N depot used to stand when the game was interrupted by another colored man, Dan Design, who was under the influence of liquor at the time. An argument between the two resulted in Joe pushing him down and Dan coming up with a rock in his hand with which he struck him. Joe then produced a cheap little pistol and Dan started running. Chasing him around a haystack which stood at about the spot now occupied by the former Oscar Bryant residence, Joe finally succeeded in firing a shot which killed him. For this he was sentenced to hang and Williams was present at his execution. He often declared that he would never be able to erase from his memory his recollections of that horrible scene. It seems that the rope stretched, or possibly had not been properly adjusted in the first place, because Joe's toes touched the ground and he tried to save himself by standing on tiptoe. The scaffold began near the edge of a bank, the sheriff pushed him out into space and held him at arms length until he slowly strangled to death. [5]





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[1] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 3, 1876. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[2] Excerpt from "Kentucky News." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. November 4, 1876. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[3] Excerpt from "Frankfort." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. May 12, 1877. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[4] Excerpt from "A State of War." Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Cincinnati, OH. April 28, 1879. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

[5] Excerpt from "Rockcastle Recollections." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. August 23, 1973. Page 12. http://www.rockcastlelibrary.org/libraryarchives/mvsignal/1973/MVS19730823A12.pdf


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