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Title: Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies - Authentic History of the World Renowned Vendettas of the - Dark and Bloody Ground
Author: Mutzenberg, Chas. G
Language: English
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                           Kentucky's Famous
                          Feuds and Tragedies

           Authentic History of the World Renowned Vendettas
                     of the Dark and Bloody Ground

                          CHAS. G. MUTZENBERG

                         R. F. Fenno & Company
                     16 East 17th Street, New York

                          Copyright, 1917, by
                         R. F. Fenno & Company




Origin of the feud.--Fight near the Hatfield Tunnel.--Killing of
Bill Staton.--Killing of Ellison Hatfield.--Butchery of the three
McCoy brothers.--Murder of Jeff McCoy.--The tell-tale bloody
lock of hair.--Quarrel of the Governors of Kentucky and West
Virginia.--Official correspondence between them.--Frank Phillips,
the daring raider, appears upon the scene.--Capture of members of
the Hatfield clan.--Night Attack upon the McCoy home.--Burning of
the McCoy home.--Cowardly murder of his daughter Allifair.--Brave
defense of old man McCoy and his son Calvin.--Death of Calvin
McCoy.--Wounding of Mrs. McCoy.--Heroism of little boy.--Escape
of Randall McCoy.--Retribution.--Frank Phillips gives battle to
the outlaws.--Death of brutal Jim Vance.--Battle of Grapevine
Creek.--List of casualties.--Kentucky and West Virginia on the verge of
war.--Phillips, the raider, arrested.--His trial in the United States
Court.--His acquittal.--Phillips' pluck.--Triple tragedy at Thacker,
W. Va.--Cap Hatfield and his "boy" in the toils.--Their escape from
jail.--Defying arrest.--Battle of "Devil's Back Bone."--Destruction of
the stronghold with dynamite.--Execution of Ellison Mount.--Conclusion.


Introduction.--The two chief causes of the feud.--Politics and
whiskey.--Judge Hargis the innocent cause of the political
strife.--First blood.--Pitched battle at Morehead.--Murder of
Soloman Bradley and wounding of John Martin and Sizemore.--Martin
arrested.--Mob violence threatened.--His removal to Winchester
jail.--Craig Tolliver and his clan lay plans for Martin's
assassination.--Forged order for delivery of prisoner
presented to jailer at Winchester.--Martin turned over to his
murderers.--Assassination of Martin on the train.--Intense excitement
at Morehead.--County Attorney Young shot from ambush.--His removal
from the county.--Assassination of Stewart Baumgartner.--Judge
Cole and others charged with conspiracy.--Investigation of the
charges.--The Tolliver clan captures the town.--Riots.--Cook Humphrey
becomes the leader of the Martin faction.--Treaty of peace at
Louisville.--Violation of treaty.--Confession of Ed. Pierce.--Humphrey
and Raymond located at Martin residence.--Siege of the Martin
home.--Attack.--Craig Tolliver wounded.--Humphrey's escape.--Raymond's
death.--Burning of the Martin home.--County Judge's weakness.--Troops
sent to Morehead.--Tollivers and others arrested.--Farce trials and
acquittals.--Jeff Bowling goes to Ohio.--His finish there.--Humphrey
resigns as sheriff.--Conditions in Rowan County.--Humphrey and
Sheriff Ramey fight.--Sheriff and son badly wounded.--W. O. Logan
killed.--Soldiers at Morehead the second time.--Second treaty of
peace.--Articles of agreement to cease hostilities.--Humphrey departs
from Rowan County.--Craig Tolliver violates treaty.--Reign of terror
at Morehead.--Wholesale exodus of townspeople.--Murder of the Logan
boys.--Burning of their home.--Mutilation of the corpses.--The
avengers.--Boone Logan to the front.--His interview with the
Governor.--Logan declares his intention to retake his fireside or to
die in the attempt.--Purchase of arms at Cincinnati.--Surreptitious
shipment.--Preparations for battle.--The Battle of Morehead.--Killing
of Craig, Bud, Jay Tolliver and Hiram Cooper, wounding of
others.--Incidents of the battle.--Troops at Morehead.--Indictment of
Logan, Pigman, Perry and others.--Trials and acquittals.--Return of


Causes leading up to the war.--Assassination of Silas Gayheart.--The
gathering of the clans.--Scouting through the country.--Compromise
and treaty of peace of Big Creek.--Treaty violated.--Murder of
Gambriel in the streets of Hazard.--Assassination from ambush
of young Nick Combs and Joe C. Eversole, leader of the Eversole
clan.--Brutality of the murderers.--Pursuit of the outlaws.--Discovery
of the ambush.--Escape of Judge Josiah Combs.--Campbell becomes
chief of the Eversoles.--Hazard in a state of siege.--Campbell's
tragic death.--Killed by his own men.--Assassination of Shade
Combs.--Assassination of Elijah Morgan near Hazard.--Correspondence
between the Circuit Judge and the Governor.--Troops ordered to
Hazard.--Report of Capt. Sohan and of Adjutant-General Sam E. Hill on
conditions in Perry County.--County Militia organized.--Resumption of
hostilities on retirement of the troops.--Battle of Hazard.--Killing of
Ed. Campbell.--Fusilade continued throughout the day and night and the
following morning.--Thrilling escape of Fields and Profitt.--Murder of
McKnight.--Court house riddled with shot.--Withdrawal of the Eversole
forces.--Wounding of Fields.--Burning of the court house.--"Blanket"
court.--Troops again at Hazard.--The "lions" caged.--Murder of
Cornett.--Assassination of Judge Josiah Combs.--Exciting pursuit
of outlaws.--Wounding of one of the outlaws.--Their escape.--Their
indictment, capture, trial and conviction.--Acquittal of French and
Fields.--Murder of Dr. John E. Rader.--Execution of Bad Tom Smith.


The Strong-Amy feud; the Strong-Callahan feud.--Conditions during the
eighties; official correspondence between Circuit Court Judge and
the Governor.--The murder mills keep grinding.--The beginning of the
Hargis-Cockrell-Marcum-Callahan vendetta.--Political contest cases
create bad blood.--Hargis assumes office as county judge.--Callahan the
sheriff of the county.--Trouble between Marcum and Judge Hargis.--The
Cockrell brothers.--Murder of Ben Hargis by Tom Cockrell; killing of
John Hargis.--The clans arm.--Dr. Cox assassinated at night while
on a professional call.--Marcum informed that he was marked for
assassination.--Laying plots for his death.--Mose Feltner, Marcum's
friend in the enemy's camp.--Marcum gives out a dramatic statement of
the many attempts made upon his life.--Murder of Jim Cockrell in broad
daylight from the court house.--Escape of murderers.--Judge Hargis
and Sheriff Callahan make no effort for their apprehension.--Marcum
again warned of his coming assassination.--Murder of Marcum.--Escape
of assassins.--The county judge and sheriff spectators of the
murder.--Tragic incidents of the assassination.--Reign of terror
at Jackson.--Schools and churches closed.--Public pressure forces
investigation.--Troops place Jackson under martial law.--Capt.
Ewen tells the story of Marcum's assassination and identifies
the murderers.--Ewen threatened with death.--Burning of his home
while troops are at Jackson.--Indictment of Judge Hargis, Sheriff
Callahan, Curtis Jett, and Tom White for the murders of Jim Cockrell,
Dr. Cox and Marcum.--Change of venue to other courts.--Determined
prosecution.--Conviction of White and Jett for life.--Description of
Jett.--Manufacture of fake alibis.--Confession of a witness convicted
of swearing falsely for the defense.--Accuses high officials of
Breathitt of intimidation.--Release of the convicted perjurer because
of his confession.--Hargis and Callahan escape conviction.--Semblance
of order finally restored in the county.--Murder of Judge Hargis by
his son, Beach Hargis.--Details of the fratricide.--Caustic dissenting
opinion of one of the judges of the Court of Appeals.--Conviction
of Beach Hargis for life.--His release from prison.--Assassination
of Ed. Callahan, the last of the feud leaders.--Details of the
assassination.--Conviction of his assassins.--Comments.


The feudal wars of Kentucky have, in the past, found considerable
publicity through newspapers. Unfortunately, many newspaper reporters
dealing with this subject were either deprived of an opportunity
to make a thorough investigation of the facts, or permitted their
imagination to supply what they had failed to obtain. At any rate, the
result was distortion of the truth and exaggeration.

Exaggeration is not needed to make Kentucky's feudal wars of thrilling,
intensely gripping interest to every reader.

More than a score of years were spent in the collection of this
material, involving tedious and painstaking investigations. The
greatest difficulty was experienced in separating truth from falsehood.
Often the most vital facts could be obtained solely from the actors
in the bloody dramas. The feudists and their relatives proved, quite
naturally, partial or prejudiced, and at all times were reluctant to
admit any fact detrimental to their side, or favorable to their enemies.

I believe, however, that I have succeeded, with the aid of court
records, legislative investigations and official military reports, in
my task of producing a strictly authentic history of Kentucky's Famous
Feuds and their attending tragedies.

I trust that the publication of this volume will serve its designed
purposes:--to make crime odious; to illustrate the havoc that may be
wrought anywhere through the lax, inefficient or corrupt administration
of justice; to arouse the people, not of Kentucky only, but of the
country at large to the necessity of dealing sternly with crime and
faithless officers.

                                                   CHAS. G. MUTZENBERG.

Harlan, Ky., September, 1916.


A brief review of the history of Kentuckians may assist the reader to
understand why they, a kind, hospitable people to the stranger, have
so long borne the reputation of ready fighters who often kill upon the
slightest provocation, and deserve that reputation in a large measure.
It is "bred in the bone" for a Kentuckian to quickly resent an insult
or redress an injury.

Long before the advent of the white man Kentucky, then Fincastle
County, Virginia, had been the vast hunting grounds of the Cherokees,
Creeks, Chickasaws and Catawbas of the South, and of the more hostile
tribes of Shawnees, Delawares and Wyandots of the North. These tribes,
when chance brought them together on their annual hunts, engaged in
conflicts so instant, so fierce and pitiless that the territory became
known as the Dark and Bloody Ground.

It was indeed a hunter's paradise. Dense forests covered the mountains.
Cane brakes fringed the banks of numerous beautiful streams, while to
the west lay immense undulating plains. Forest, cane brake and plain
were literally alive with bear, deer and the buffalo; the woods teemed
with innumerable squirrels, pheasants, wild turkeys and quail.

The fame of this hunting ground had attracted bold and adventurous
hunters long before Daniel Boone looked upon one of the most beautiful
regions in the world from the crest of Cumberland Mountain.

These hunters, upon their return home, gave glowing accounts of the
richness and fertility of the new country, and excited powerfully the
curiosity and imagination of the frontier backwoodsmen east of the
Alleghenies and of North Carolina.

To the hardy adventurers the lonely wilderness, with its many dangers,
presented attractions not to be found in the confinement and enfeebling
inactivities of the towns and little settlements. Daniel Boone visited
the new territory. He found that the descriptions he had received of
it were by no means exaggerations, and decided to remove thither with
his family. After some delay amid many difficulties the first white
settlement, Harrodstown (Harrodsburg) was established. Within a few
years other stations sprang into existence and population increased
with amazing rapidity. Immigrants crossing the Cumberland mountains
settled in the eastern and central parts of Kentucky, while those
traveling down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, generally located in
the northern, western and southern portions of the state.

This invasion by the white man was not accomplished, however, without
long-continued, bloody struggles with the savages. To maintain the
slender foothold Boone and his companions had gained, required great
courage and tenacity of purpose.

The man who shivered at the winter's blast, or trembled at every
noise, the origin of which he did not understand, was not known among
those hardy settlers with nerves of iron and sinews of steel, who were
accustomed from earliest childhood to absolute self-dependence and
inured to exposure and dangers of every sort.[1] Man in this connection
must include the pioneer women who by their heroism illustrated their
utter contempt of danger, and an insensibility to terrors which would
palsy the nerves of men reared in the peaceful security of densely
populated communities. Even children of tender years exhibited a
courage and self-composure under trying circumstances that at this day
seem unbelievable.

The life of the Kentucky pioneer and backwoodsman was one of long and
bitter struggle. Hunting, clearing the forest, plowing and fighting
were his daily occupations. Every "station" had its conflicts with
the savages who fought with relentless desperation when they found
themselves gradually but surely driven from their beloved hunting

These armed hunters and farmers were their own soldiers. They built
their own forts, they did their fighting under commanders they had
themselves chosen. They fought the foe in his own style, adopted his
mode of warfare, and proved generally more successful than bodies of
troops who battled under time-honored military tactics.

The Indian understood the advantage of cover, and the white man copied
his methods. Thus most of the Indian fights became nothing more nor
less than ambuscades in which the side displaying the most skill in
placing them, won the victory. Boone, Kenton, Brady, Wetzel--all that
galaxy of pioneers and Indian fighters of the early West fought the
enemy from ambush.

There were few courts, and the justices presiding over them knew
but little law. If the law proved too slow, or courts were too far
away, the settlers tried criminals and inflicted the punishment. The
backwoodsman was prompt to avenge a wrong. He was grim, stern, strong,
easily swayed by stormy passions, and always a lover of freedom, to the
core. He had suffered horrible injuries from the Indians and learned
to retaliate in kind. He became cruel and relentless toward an enemy,
but was loyal to the death to his friends and country. He was upright
and honest. These pioneers were indeed cast in the heroic mold. Many
of them fell in the struggle; but there was no time for sentiment and
wailing. Over the prostrate bodies of the fallen civilization marched
triumphantly westward and gave to America one of the most attractive
regions, to the nation heroic soldiers, brilliant lawyers, men of
science and of art, and a womanhood whose beauty and accomplishments
are a byword everywhere.

With the close of Indian hostilities came rapid development of the more
easily accessible portions of the state. Intercourse with the East
and North obliterated old habits and customs and primitive notions.
The fertility of the soil created wealth and with it came comfort.
With increasing prosperity came that high intellectual development
so essential to a sound, moral public sentiment, respect for the
law, and love of peace and order, the foundation stones of a happy
social structure. Schools and churches demonstrated their all-powerful
influence by the refinement and social purity of the inhabitants. The
_code duello_ which had formerly been resorted to almost universally in
settling personal differences, was made a crime by law and completely

In the mountains, however, development was slow. That section remained
isolated and practically cut off from intercourse with the more
populous and advanced portions of Kentucky and surrounding States.
Only in recent years have railroads begun to spread their iron network
through the mountains, tapping the almost inexhaustible coal veins,
mineral deposits of various kinds, wonderful forests of timber, until
now that section is become the richest in the State.

Education and refinement distinguished the Blue Grass Kentuckian at an
early date; he had long enjoyed the advantages of modern civilization,
while his mountaineer brother yet lived in the primitive fashion of
his forebears, and still remained a backwoodsman. He suffered the same
privations and possessed the traits of character of the early pioneers
of the Blue Grass.

For long years the mountain section remained a wilderness, with here
and there a small settlement. The inhabitants lived the lives of
frontiersmen and were generally poor. While many of them owned large
tracts of land, its productiveness scarcely repaid the labor spent in
cultivation. The great majority of these people were honest, upright
and hardworking, but the wilderness, the frontier, unfortunately
attracts the vicious, the violent, the criminal, the shiftless, the
outcast of better communities. Such characters have a pernicious
influence upon those with whom they come in contact, especially upon
the young and thoughtless fellows with a taste for viciousness.[2] The
mountains of the surrounding states of Virginia, West Virginia and
Tennessee offered admirable asylum to fugitives from justice of those
States. As like seeks like, individuals and families of that stripe
settled near each other, intermarried, and thus formed a dangerous
element in an otherwise good population.

Life in the wilderness, the frontier, is apt to bring out the true
nature of the man, and his qualities, good or bad, are accentuated.
The history of every frontier of this country is the same. The man who
leaves the restraining influence of civilization behind him, becomes
either _man_ or devil. If there is "dog-hair" in a man, the wilderness,
the frontier, will sprout it.

When the wicked element in a community had once gained a foothold,
it organized against possible interference. Once organization was
complete, all attempts to enforce law and order were promptly stifled
through terrorization which intimidated courts and overawed the
officers of the law. Under such circumstances the good element has but
one alternative--to lie supinely on its back and ask to be killed, or
to organize and strike back at the enemy, to destroy the vicious with
powder and shot, in open fight, if possible, from ambush if necessary,
as their sires fought in the days of the Indian. Herein lies the secret
of the long-continued, bloody internecine strifes which have made the
dark and bloody ground of the Indian days more dark and more bloody.
Herein we find the ready and clear explanation of the fact that many
men of unquestioned integrity and honor were thrown into the vortex of
bloody strife from necessity, to fight for preservation of themselves,
their families, their firesides.

Immigration into these remote mountain regions was almost nil and
intermarriage between the settlers became the rule. In this wise the
population of any county comprised but very few distinct families.
Everybody was of kin to everybody else, and therein we find the key to
the difficulties encountered by courts in dealing with crime.

The murderer, if a member of a prominent family, was certain to have
kinsmen among the officers. (We may as well use the present tense in
speaking of this, for the same conditions exist to-day, though less
pronounced.) His "family," man, woman and child, stand by him, aid his
escape or his defence in the court house. If the criminal, conscious of
the supporting influence surrounding him, disdains flight and boldly
faces trial, the next move is to secure a jury which will acquit him.
It often happens that those interested in the prosecution secretly come
to an agreement with the accused and his friends to cease prosecution
provided he and his in their turn would do the same to them in cases of
their own. It is merely a case of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch
yours." Citizens who love peace are loath to antagonize an outlaw clan
so long as they or theirs are not directly concerned. They have no
desire to assist officers in doing their duty, should these wish to do
it. To indict men for crime is often a risky thing.

The criminal who has succeeded in defeating justice grows more bold,
continues to pursue his career with an enhanced contempt of the law,
until, at last, the cup runs over, and men, good and true, rise above
self, and for country's and humanity's sake take upon themselves the
task of restoring peace and order, and summarily cut short the life
cycle of the outlaw.

How far such organized bands of murderers have succeeded in overawing
the constituted authorities, is illustrated by instances recorded in
this volume, where the law, the government itself, actually compromised
with the outlaws, promised, yea, granted them immunity from past
crimes, only exacting a pledge of better behavior in the future. If a
man had committed but one little murder, he was in some danger of a
short term in the penitentiary. If he understood his business, instead
of stopping at one assassination, he simply continued his murder
mill in operation and the authorities would send special ministers
and envoys to "treat" with him as a power entitled to respect.
Exaggeration? No![3]

Officers of the law have actually aided in assassinations, or stood
idly by while murders were committed in their presence. Investigation
has proven that in every feud-ridden section the entire legal machinery
was rotten to the core, perverted to the end and purpose of protecting
particular men and of punishing their enemies. Is it any wonder, then,
that in such times and under such conditions preaching respect for law
is breath wasted?

Sifting the matter down, we find that the chief contributing causes
of these feudal troubles, wherever they have occurred, or may again
occur, are due directly:--to inefficient, corrupt and depraved
officials; to a want of a healthy moral public sentiment, through
lack of _proper_ education and religious training; to the fact that
the law-abiding element of the feud-ridden counties had so long
been domineered over by the criminal class and their parasites and
supporters in secret, that they are incapable of rendering any valuable
assistance in maintaining the law save in few exceptions, and these few
so much in the minority that a reformation is not to be hoped for if
left to their own resources; that during all the social chaos attending
feudal wars the promiscuous, unrestrained and illegal sale of whiskey
added fury, fire and venom to the minds and hearts of murderers. It
dragged into the terrible vortex of bloody crime many not directly
connected with the feud, but who took advantage of the disturbed
social conditions, the state of anarchy, to satisfy their own vicious
propensities without fear of interruption and punishment.[4]

The clannishness of the mountaineer has been the subject of much
comment. The student of sociology must, therefore, be interested in
learning that in a great measure the people of the Kentucky mountains
descended from the same stock that formed the noted Scottish clans
of old. One need only run over the names of the principal mountain
families to recognize their Scot origin. The Scots love the highlands,
and to the "highlands" of Kentucky many of them drifted. Scotland had
her feuds--those of the Kentucky mountains are nothing more nor less
than transplanted Scottish feuds, their continuation having been made
possible by the reasons heretofore given.

We believe it germane to the matter under discussion to add that not
only feuds, but mobs and the like, are, and ever have been, the direct
outgrowth of a lack of confidence of the people in their courts. The
shameful nightrider outrages in the western part of Kentucky a few
years ago, in a section which had boasted of a civilization superior by
far to that of the mountaineers, where schools and churches are to be
met with at every corner, were the outcome, so it is claimed, of the
failure of the law to deal sternly with the lawless tobacco trust, the
"original wrongdoer" in the noted tobacco war. If this were true, if
this justified the destruction by incendiaries of millions of dollars'
worth of property, brutal whippings, the indiscriminate slaughter of
entire families without regard to age or sex, the butchery of little
children (for aiding the tobacco trust, no doubt) then, indeed, is the
mountaineer feudist also innocent of wrongdoing; more so, for he, at
least, never made war upon suckling infants, nor have women suffered
harm, except in one or two instances. Nor is the cultured Blue Grass
citizen free to censure him, when he calls to mind the outrages of the
toll-gate raids, or takes into account the numerous lynching bees,
proceedings from which the mountains have always been practically free.

In view of all this we cannot go far from wrong when we say that the
law's delay, the failure to punish promptly, impartially and severely
its infractions, must shoulder the responsibility for all social
disturbances, and this is true in New York, in the West, as well as in

Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies


Perhaps no section in the whole United States has ever been the
scene of more crime and long-continued defiance of the law than that
contiguous to the Tug Fork, one of the tributaries of the Big Sandy
river, and which forms the boundary line between West Virginia and
Kentucky, separating Logan County, W. Va., from Pike County, Ky.

Many feuds have been fought there, but none equalled in ferocity the
bloody Hatfield-McCoy war, during which crimes of the most revolting
nature were perpetrated. Indeed, it will be difficult for the reader to
believe that the devilish deeds related in this chapter are actually
true and did occur in the midst of a civilized country, peopled
with Christian men and women, and governed (?) by wholesome laws.
Yes, citizens of a common country fought a struggle to the bitter
death without hindrance, if not with the actual connivance of those
entrusted with the enforcement of law and the maintenance of order,
who looked idly upon bloodshed. The flag of anarchy, once unfurled,
fluttered unmolested for years. Had the feud broken out suddenly and
been quickly suppressed, we should abstain from strictures upon high
officials entrusted with the administration and execution of the law.
But this American vendetta covered a long period, abating somewhat at
times, only to break out anew with increased ferocity. Utter disregard
for human life, ruthless, savage cruelty, distinguish this feud from
all others and easily give it the front rank.

To add to the horror of it all, came the bitter controversy between the
governors of West Virginia and Kentucky, nearly precipitating civil
war between the two States, and effectively paralyzing all attempts
at concerted action looking toward the capture, trial and punishment
of the outlaws, at least for a long time. That the feud is ended now
is due largely to the fact that the material upon which it had been
feeding for so many years, became exhausted through the pistol, rifle
or the knife. But few died of disease, only _one_ was hanged, perhaps
the least guilty of them all, for he was a moral degenerate of such
little intelligence that under other circumstances he might have
escaped the gallows on the ground of mental irresponsibility. The
leading spirits of the war were never punished, but rounded out their
lives at home _unmolested_.

The region along the Tug Fork is mountainous, and has not until
recently come in touch with the outside world. Its inhabitants for many
years knew nothing of schools, or churches. Ignorance prevailed to a
truly astonishing degree. Courts exercised no authority; their decrees
were laughed at and ridiculed. If a man thought himself aggrieved he
sought redress as best suited him. The natives tried cases in their own
minds and acted as executioners, using the rifle or the knife. When
trials, in rare instances, were resorted to, they more often fanned the
flame of hatred than smothered it.

The contending factions in this internecine strife lived on opposite
sides of the Tug Fork, a narrow stream. Randall McCoy, the leader or
head of the McCoy faction, resided on the Blackberry Branch of Pond
Creek in Pike County, Kentucky. Near him, but on the opposite side of
Tug Fork, in West Virginia, lived Anderson Hatfield, who had adopted
for himself the nom-de-guerre of "Bad Anse" or "Devil Anse," the
controlling spirit of the Hatfield clan.

Both families were large, extensively related throughout the two
counties and composing the greater portion of their population. The
McCoys and Hatfields frequently intermarried and thus it happens that
we find McCoys arrayed on the side of the Hatfields and Hatfields
friendly to the Randall McCoy faction.

While the feud proper did not break out until 1882, it is necessary to
go back further. For the enmity between the Hatfields and McCoys dates
back to the Civil War, during which the former maintained an organized
company of raiders, ostensibly for the purpose of protecting property
against invading marauders of either army. The McCoys supported a
similar force on the Kentucky side. These bands frequently encroached
upon and entered each other's territory, resulting in clashes and bad
blood, though both factions adhered to the same political party. After
the war the older heads tried to maintain a show of friendship in their
intercourse, but the younger generations allowed their passions a free
hand. Difficulties grew in frequency; still no lives were lost.

A few razor-backed, long-legged, sharp-nosed porkers are the
indispensable adjunct of well-regulated mountaineer families. In
those days the farmer marked his hogs and turned them loose in the
woods. They soon fattened on the abundant mast and were, late in the
fall, driven home to be killed. If one of those marked hogs happened
to turn up in the possession of another, woe unto him. Vengeance
was visited upon him swiftly, though not as severe as in the case
of rustlers in the West. A circuit judge of Kentucky once remarked,
very appropriately, that a hog seemed of more value in his district
than a human life. There was truth in this bit of sarcasm. More men
have been acquitted of murder in Kentucky than of hogstealing. It
seems ridiculous that a few of the unseemly brutes should have become
the innocent promoters of a feud, but it is true. Innocent or not,
the facts are against them. Sometime during the seventies one Floyd
Hatfield, afterwards known as "Hog" Floyd, drove a number of hogs
from the forests and confined them in a pen at Stringtown. A few days
later Randolph McCoy of Kentucky passed the pen in question and upon
examination of the animals claimed them as his property and demanded
their delivery to him, which Hog Floyd refused to do. McCoy brought
an action for their recovery. The trial was held at Raccoon Hollow, a
little village some miles down the valley. Deacon Hatfield, Floyd's
relative, presided. The McCoys and Hatfields attended the trial in
force. Every man was armed. During the short trial many things
occurred that convinced those acquainted with the characters of the men
composing the factions, that bloody hostilities must result. Randolph
McCoy made an impassioned speech to the jury, openly charging several
Hatfield witnesses with perjury. Among those so accused was one Stayton
who, incensed by the charge, attempted to strike his traducer, but was
prevented by Randolph McCoy's son. McCoy lost his case. The Hatfields
exulted, jeered and sneered; the McCoys returned home grumbling and

Fists and rocks now gave place to the rifle and repeated long-range
shooting matches occurred between the factions. When meeting in the
forests, they treed and fought for hours with their old-fashioned
muzzle-loaders and cap and ball pistols, without any appreciable result.

In 1880 occurred the first battle in which blood was drawn. It happened
about a mile below the Hatfield tunnel, between Bill Stayton, Paris
and Sam McCoy. They had met by accident. Stayton rightly guessed that
the boys would show him no mercy after the many injuries and insults
they had received at his hands. Instantly he leaped behind a bush,
broke off the top of it, rested his gun in the fork of two limbs,
took careful aim and fired. Paris McCoy fell heavily to the ground.
Although severely wounded in the hip he managed to regain his feet and
shot Stayton in the breast. The two then came together in a fierce hand
to hand combat. Having thrown down their empty and useless rifles they
fought with their hands and teeth, ferocious as wild animals. Paris'
cheek was frightfully bitten and lacerated. Weakened from loss of
blood and suffering excruciating pain from his wounds, he was about to
succumb to the superior strength of his powerful adversary, when Sam
McCoy, armed with a pistol, came to his rescue. He had been afraid to
fire while the men were locked in their deadly embrace. Now came the
opportunity and he sent a ball crashing through the brain of Stayton,
who fell back and instantly expired. The body was found some days later.

Suspicion at once pointed to the two McCoy brothers. Paris promptly
surrendered himself to the authorities, and was given an examining
trial before Magistrate Valentine (Val) Hatfield, who released him from
custody. Sam McCoy fled to the hills, but after eluding the officers
for a month or more was captured by Elias Hatfield, indicted by the
grand jury of his county, tried and acquitted.

In the summer of 1882 it happened that a relative and friend of both
factions ran for office in Pike County. The clans met on election day,
August 7th, to work for their man.

It was the custom then, as well as now, although the law has placed
serious restrictions upon the practice, to supply voters with copious
quantities of whiskey. A candidate who failed to do his duty in this
respect was certain to lose many votes, if not the chance of election.

On the occasion in question "moonshine" liquor was plentiful. Both the
Hatfields and McCoys and their adherents imbibed freely and during
the day grew boisterous and belligerent. The immediate occasion for
beginning a fight was furnished when Tolbert McCoy approached Elias
Hatfield, commonly known as "Bad Lias," and demanded payment of an old
debt. A quarrel ensued and the fight was on. "Bad Lias" got the worst
of it.

The fight had attracted the attention of the friends and kindred of
both men. Officers attempted to separate them without avail. Then "Big"
Ellison Hatfield took a hand. Enraged and on fire with copious drinks
of whiskey, he challenged the victorious Tolbert McCoy to fight a man
of _his_ size. Hatfield was a powerful man. Straight as an arrow, he
stood six feet six in his stocking feet, and weighed considerably over
two hundred pounds. The fight now went against McCoy from the start.
He resorted to his knife and during the struggle stabbed Hatfield
repeatedly and with frightful effect. Again and again he plunged the
cold steel into the body of his adversary. Though horribly slashed
and losing much blood, Hatfield yet retained strength. With a final
effort he threw McCoy upon the ground, sat upon him, seized a large
jagged stone, raised it on high to strike the fatal blow, when Phamer
McCoy, who had been patiently waiting for the opportunity, fatally shot
Hatfield with a pistol.

It was also charged by the Hatfields that Randolph McCoy, Jr., a youth
of fifteen, had stabbed Hatfield once or twice.

As soon as Phamer McCoy saw the effect of his shot he dropped the
weapon and sought safety in flight. He was pursued by Constable Floyd
Hatfield and captured. Tolbert and young Randolph were also immediately
arrested. The wounded Hatfield was removed to the house of one of his

The prisoners remained on the election ground under heavy guard, for
some two hours. Then they were taken to the house of Johns Hatfield for
the night. Tolbert Hatfield and Joseph Hatfield, two justices of the
peace of Pike County, Kentucky, Mathew, Floyd and other Hatfields had
charge of the prisoners. The father of the three, old Randolph McCoy,
remained with them through the night.

Early on the following morning the officers proceeded with their
charges on the road to Pikeville, the county seat. Scarcely had they
traveled half a mile, when they were overtaken by Val Hatfield, the
West Virginia justice of the peace, and "Bad Lias" Hatfield, brothers
of the wounded Ellison. They demanded of the officers that they return
with their prisoners into the magisterial district in which the fight
had occurred to await the result of Ellison Hatfield's wounds. The
officers complied with the demand. Randolph McCoy, Sr., remonstrated,
but was laughed at for his pains. He then started alone to Pikeville
for the purpose of consulting with the authorities there. That was the
last time he saw his three sons alive.

After being turned back by Val and Bad Lias Hatfield the prisoners
were taken down the creek. At an old house there was a corn sled. Val
directed the three brothers placed in it, and in that manner they
were conveyed to Jerry Hatfield's house. Here Charles Carpenter,
who, together with Devil Anse and Cap Hatfield, Alex Messer, the
three Mayhorn brothers, and a number of other outlaws, had joined Val
Hatfield and the other officers at the old house, procured ropes
and securely trussed and bound the prisoners. In this condition they
remained until they were murdered.

At noon the crowd stopped at the Reverend Anderson Hatfield's for
dinner. After the meal was over, Devil Anse stepped into the yard and
there cried out: "All who are friends of Hatfield fall into line." Most
of those present did so from inclination or through fear.

From there the prisoners were taken to the river and across into West
Virginia to an old, dilapidated schoolhouse. Here they lay, tied, upon
the filthy floor.

Heavily armed guards at all times stood sentinel over the doomed
brothers. Cap and Johns Hatfield, Devil Anse and his two brothers,
Elias and Val Hatfield, Charles Carpenter, Joseph Murphy, Dock Mayhorn,
Plyant Mayhorn, Selkirk McCoy and his two sons, Albert and L. D., Lark
and Anderson Varney, Dan Whitt, Sam Mayhorn, Alex Messer, John Whitt,
Elijah Mounts and many others remained at or about the schoolhouse,
awaiting news from the bedside of Ellison Hatfield.

Along toward night arrived the mother of the unfortunate prisoners, and
the wife of Tolbert McCoy, to plead with the jailers for the lives of
the sons and husband. The pleadings of the grief-stricken women fell
upon deaf ears; they had no other effect upon these hearts of stone
than rough admonitions from Val Hatfield and others to "shut up, stop
that damned noise, we won't have no more of it."

Night had fallen. The women were told to leave and thrust from the
house into the inky darkness. It had been raining hard and the creeks
were swollen. Wading streams, drenched to the skin, the miserable women
felt their way through the dark, stumbling and falling along the road,
or trail. Along about midnight they arrived at Dock Rutherford's house.
Bruised, shivering, ill and shaking from exposure, fatigue, grief and
terror, they could travel no further, and were taken in for the night.

Morning came and again they hastened to the improvised prison of their
loved ones. There they were viciously taunted with the uselessness of
their endeavor to obtain mercy. They were told that if Ellison Hatfield
died of his wounds, "the prisoners will be filled as full of holes as a
sifter bottom."

Along about two o'clock Val Hatfield curtly commanded Mrs. McCoy to
leave the house and to return no more. She pressed for the reason of
this order and was told that her husband, Randolph, was known to be
at that moment attempting to assemble a crowd to rescue his sons. "Of
course, you know," sneered the heartless wretch, "if we are interfered
with in the least, them boys of yours will be the first to die."

Mrs. McCoy denied the truth of the report, but her protestations were
in vain. The two women saw themselves compelled to abandon the utterly
useless struggle to save their loved ones and departed. It was the last
time they saw them alive.

All along throughout their confinement the brothers had shown a brave
spirit. Now they lost all hope of rescue as from hour to hour the band
of enemies increased until a small army had assembled.

Through the open door they saw them sitting or standing in groups. Some
were idly playing cards; others singing ribald songs or church hymns,
whichever struck their fancy; all of them were drinking heavily. They
heard an animated discussion as to the manner of death they should
be made to suffer in the event of Ellison Hatfield's death. Some had
suggested hanging; then one proposed that they make it a shooting
match, with live human beings for a target. The idea was adopted by

Along in the afternoon of the 9th of August, the third day since the
wounding of Ellison Hatfield, the assembled band was suddenly startled
and every man brought to his feet by the sounds of a galloping horse.
Instinctively they realized they were about to have news of Ellison
Hatfield. The stir among their guards had aroused the attention of the
prisoners. They easily guessed its portent. It was not necessary to
tell them that Ellison Hatfield was dead. His corpse had been brought
to the home of Elias Hatfield, who, together with a number of others
that had been waiting at the bedside of the dying man, now augmented
the Hatfield forces at the old schoolhouse.

A mock trial was had and sentence of death passed upon the three McCoy
brothers. These helpless, hopeless creatures, tied to one another like
cattle about to be delivered to the slaughterhouse, were now jeered,
joked and mocked. They were not told yet when they must die, nor where.
To keep them in uncertainty would only increase their suffering and
that uncertainty lasted to the end.

It is nine o'clock at night. They are taken to the river, placed on a
flat boat and conveyed to the Kentucky side. Within 125 yards of the
road, in a kind of sink or depression, the three doomed brothers are
tied to pawpaw bushes.

Around them stands the throng of bloodthirsty white savages, reared
in the midst of a Christian country, and from which every year go
missionaries and fortunes in money to foreign lands to make man
better and rescue him from savagery. But somehow this region had been
overlooked. Not one voice is raised in pity or favor of the victims, an
unfortunate man, a youth and a child.

The monsters dance about them in imitation of the Indian. They throw
guns suddenly into their faces and howl in derision when the thus
threatened prisoner dodges as much as the bonds which hold him will

Alex Messer now approaches closely to Phamer McCoy and deliberately
fires six shots into different parts of his body. This is not an act of
mercy, to end the man's suffering. No, he has taken care to avoid the
infliction of any instantly fatal wound. Messer steps back, views the
flowing blood and pain-distorted face and--laughs.

Ellison Mount, supposedly the most savage of them all, now proves more
merciful. He carries a long-barreled, old-fashioned hunting rifle; he
throws it to his shoulder, takes careful aim, and blows out the brains
of Tolbert McCoy who, immediately before the shot fired, had thrown his
arm to protect the face. The bullet penetrated through the arm into the

Only the little boy, Randolph McCoy, Jr., is left unharmed, as yet.
Will they spare him? Some favor his release, one or two demand it. But
this idea is hooted down upon the ground that he is as guilty as the
others, and even if he were not, now that he knew the assassins of his
brothers, it would be utter folly to leave such a dangerous witness
alive to tell the story. "Dead men tell no tales," cries one of the
heartless wretches, and impatient of the useless delay, approaches the
boy and with a double charge of buckshot blows off his head.

The entire band then fires a farewell volley into the bodies of the

We said "the entire band." This is not correct. For one of the
Hatfields had remained on the other side of the river. "The Bible
condemns murder," he had said. But this good man volunteered to stand
guard and prevent any interference or interruption of the butchery.

The foul deed accomplished, the murderers recrossed the river and
entered West Virginia. Then Val Hatfield, the justice of the peace,
this officer of the law, with solemn formality administered to the
murderers the oath never to betray the name of a member of the band
even should death stare him in the face. What is an oath to such
depraved creatures? There, standing on the banks of the river,
surrounded by that throng of midnight assassins, in sight of the spot
that bore the frightful evidences of the dastardly work, Val Hatfield
commanded them to raise their bloody hands to heaven. Each and all
solemnly swore to stand by each other, never to reveal the secret of
that night's work, asking God to witness their oath. What supreme

After their return to West Virginia, parties who saw them and noted
they were without the prisoners, asked what had become of them. Val
Hatfield replied with a smile that they had "sent them back to Kentucky
to stand the civil law."

As soon as the assassination became known, the brothers and relatives
of the dead untied the torn and mangled bodies, placed them in a sled
and conveyed them to their home.

Have we exaggerated in the telling of this story? Let us see. Years
afterwards some of the assassins were brought to trial. During the
hearing of the case against Val Hatfield, the West Virginia justice
of the peace, Mrs. Sarah McCoy, the mother of the slain brothers,

    "I am the mother of Phamer, Tolbert and young Randolph McCoy.
    They are dead. They were killed on the night of August 9th, 1882.
    I saw them on the Monday before that, at Floyd Hatfield's, while
    they were under arrest. The next time I saw them was over on Mate
    Creek, in Logan County, West Virginia, at a schoolhouse. When I got
    there, Val Hatfield was sitting by them with a shotgun across his
    lap. I was talking, praying and crying for my boys. While over at
    the mouth of Mate Creek I heard Val Hatfield say that if Ellison
    Hatfield died, he would shoot the boys full of holes. Tolbert was
    shot twice in the head and three or four times in the body. Phamer
    was shot in the head and ten or eleven times in the body, maybe
    more. The top of one side of the little boy's head was shot off. He
    was down on his knees, hanging to the bushes when they found him.
    Tolbert had one arm over his face. Tolbert was 31, Phamer 19 and
    Randall 15 years old. They were hauled home on a sled and buried in
    one coffin.

    "When Val Hatfield was sitting by them with a double barreled
    shotgun in his lap, the boys were lying on something on the floor,
    tied together with a rope. I fell on my knees and began praying and
    begging and crying for my children. Some one said there was no use
    of that, to shut up. Then some one came in and said that my husband
    was on the way with a large party to rescue his sons. I told them
    that there was nothing of it. They said for us to leave. Tolbert's
    wife was with me. They said that if they were interfered with my
    boys would be the first to die."[5]

The day following the murder the coroner of the district, also a
Hatfield, held an inquest in which the jury reported a verdict to the
effect that the three McCoy brothers had been shot and killed at the
hands of persons _unknown_.

In affairs of this kind, where many men are engaged, men whose acts
prove them without honor, without respect for law, man or God, truth
comes to light in spite of oaths to reveal nothing. The parties had
been seen with their prisoners by many people and had been seen
returning to West Virginia without them. Neighbors heard the shots
fired; saw the band of cutthroats, armed to the teeth, led by the
brothers of Ellison Hatfield, the dead man. Aside from that, Mrs.
McCoy and Tolbert McCoy's wife had recognized and knew personally all
of the men that guarded the boys at the schoolhouse. They had heard
the threats repeated time and again that if Ellison Hatfield died, the
boys would be murdered. The officers who had at first arrested them
and taken charge of them, testified that at the house of the Reverend
Hatfield's the boys were tied, and that then they, the officers,
were informed by Devil Anse, Val and Cap Hatfield, to "vamoose."
Twenty-three of the Hatfield clan were indicted in the Pike Circuit
Court (Kentucky), each one charged with three murders. The indictments
were returned into Court on the 14th day of September, 1882, but none
of them was tried until seven years later.

Although heavy rewards were offered for the apprehension of the
murderers, not until years after the crime was it that an actor stepped
upon the scene whose intrepidity and shrewdness finally led to the
undoing of many of the murder clan. However, through the law's delay,
many other horrible outrages followed this one, and many lives were
lost before an end was put to bloodshed.

Much speculation was indulged in, after the assassination of August
9th, why old man Randolph McCoy had made no attempt to rescue his sons.
The explanation is simple. When he left them on the morning following
the fight they were in charge of Kentucky officers and guarded. When
turned back by Val and Elias Hatfield, he was told by these men that
the boys should have an examining trial in the magisterial district
in which the fight had taken place, that the witnesses for both the
State and the defence would be more easily accessible there than if
the trial were had at Pikeville many miles away. At the county seat
McCoy conferred with lawyers and engaged them in the defence of his
sons for the killing of Ellison Hatfield, should he die. He _could_
not believe that Val Hatfield, a sworn officer of the law, would so
far forget and violate his solemn oath of office so to condone or
aid or to participate in such a wholesale butchery. Aside from this,
the arresting officers, also Hatfields, would see to the safety of
the prisoners, as it was their duty to do. He feared, too, that
interference might endanger the safety of the sons and thought it best
to remain passive. He placed his trust in the law. We have seen the

After the indictment of the Hatfields they maintained their armed
organization under the leadership of Devil Anse and "Cap," his son.
Devil Anse was a man of fine physique, tall and muscular, as were his
sons, Johns and Cap. Randolph McCoy described Cap as "six feet of devil
and 180 pounds of hell!" Neither of these men suggested the outlaw and
the desperado. All of them possessed regular features, but the strong
jaws, the rectilinear foreheads with angular, knotty protuberances
denoted according to the physiognomist firm, harsh, oppressive
activity. In their intercourse with friends they exhibited a jovial
disposition and their eyes beamed kindly. But once aroused to anger
there took place an instant metamorphosis. At such times Anse Hatfield
justified the sobriquet "Devil" Anse. Then the glittering eyes told of
the fires of rage and hate within, the veins in his forehead bulged and
knotted and corrugated; the quivering lips, thin and straight, bespoke
the cruelty of which he was capable of inflicting upon all who dared
oppose him or his. His whole countenance at such times impressed one
with awe and fear. It had that effect upon strangers ignorant of his
record of blood. And--like father--like sons.

Old man Randolph McCoy, at the time of the murder of his three sons,
was sixty-three years old. He was by no means a strong man. His
features wore a kindly expression. He was quiet in his talk, and one of
the most hospitable citizens of Pike County. That he was brave, when
necessity demanded it he had demonstrated on many occasions. But he
was not, and never had been a bully, nor was he bloodthirsty. He made
all possible efforts to effect the capture of his sons' assassins and
sought to punish them through the law. His efforts in this direction
exasperated the Hatfields still more. Not satisfied now with eluding
the officers, they assumed the offensive, invaded Pike County in force
at any time they saw fit, harassed the McCoy family in every possible
manner with the evident intention of eventually driving them out of the
country, and to thus remove the main spring of the prosecution against
them in the Pike County courts.

Finding themselves baffled in this purpose, the death of the old man
was decreed. In the month of June, 1884, the murder was scheduled to
take place.

McCoy had been summoned to appear in court at Pikeville in some case.
Of this fact the Hatfields had prompt information, for even in the
county seat they had their spies and supporters. Knowing well the route
the old man must take to reach Pikeville, an ambush was prepared at a
suitable spot.

A mistake saved the old man's life. Two of McCoy's neighbors, also
witnesses at court, started for town on the same day. They were clad
almost precisely as were Randolph McCoy and his accompanying son
Calvin. Accident belated the McCoys and so they rode far to the rear of
their neighbors who, on approaching the ambush at nightfall, were fired
upon. In the fusilade both men were wounded, one of them crippled for
life. Their horses were shot dead on the spot.

The assassins, confident that the hated old man McCoy was no more,
returned to West Virginia, jubilant and rejoicing, celebrating the
supposed death with a grand spree. We may imagine their chagrin and
disappointment on discovery of the mistake and the consequent escape
of the hated enemy. Discouragement, however, was a word not included
in their vocabulary. Failure only spurred them to renewed and greater

In 1886 the feud branched off. One Jeff McCoy, brother of the wife of
Johns Hatfield, was accused of murdering Fred Walford, a mail carrier.
Finding the officers hot on his trail in Kentucky he fled, and sought
safety in West Virginia, at the home of his brother-in-law. Hatfield,
formerly an active member of the murder clan, had, however, of late
ceased to participate in their lawless raids. Although he had not
forgotten his hatred of the McCoys, for his wife's sake he sheltered
her fugitive brother.

Near Johns Hatfield lived Cap Hatfield, who had in his employ one
Wallace. Jeff McCoy had been at the home of his brother-in-law but a
short time when he became aware of the presence of Wallace at the farm
of Cap Hatfield's. Trouble started at once.

As we have seen, attempts upon the life of old man McCoy had thus far
proved abortive. Somehow, all the best-laid plans of the Hatfields
had miscarried. Suspicion grew that there must be a traitor in their
camp, and this became more strong as time rolled on, with the result
that the wife and mother of one Daniels were accused of furnishing
information to the McCoys. One night, while Daniels was absent from
home, the house was surrounded, the door broken open and the two women
were cruelly beaten. Mrs. Daniels subsequently died from her injuries;
the old lady was rendered a cripple for life.

Daniels' wife was a sister of Jeff McCoy, who had somehow secured
information sufficient to regard Wallace as the instigator and leader
of the outrage. He hunted for him high and low, but had lost all trace
of him until, to his great joy, he discovered his whereabouts--at the
home of Cap Hatfield.

On November 17th, 1886, accompanied by a friend, he went in search of
Wallace. Cap Hatfield was absent; his wife lay ill in bed. When McCoy
approached the house Wallace was busily at work in the yard. He was
called upon to surrender. On looking up he saw himself covered by two
guns. McCoy pretended to arrest him for the purpose of taking him to
Pikeville for trial of the indictments returned against the assailant
of the Daniels women. Wallace, however, readily surmised the true
intention of his captors. He expected no mercy at the hands of the man
who believed and knew him to be guilty of beating the sister to death,
and attempted escape. On the first opportunity, while the vigilance of
his captors had momentarily relaxed, he started to run, but was shot
down, although not seriously wounded. He gained the house, barricaded
the door, and through the window opened fire upon McCoy and his
associate. These returned the fire, shot after shot they drove through
the windows and door, for, at this time, the heavy repeating Winchester
rifle had come into general use. While other modern inventions found no
market there, the most improved guns and pistols might have been found
in homes that had not learned the use of a cook stove.

The fusilade continued for some time, but Wallace, in his fort of log
walls, drove the enemies from the field.

Immediately upon Cap Hatfield's return Wallace was told to swear out a
warrant against Jeff McCoy and his companion Hurley. The papers were
taken in hand by Cap Hatfield, who had secured the appointment of
special constable. He was not long finding the men. With his accustomed
coolness he covered them with his guns, ordered Hurley to throw his
weapon on the ground and to disarm McCoy. This capture of two armed and
dangerous men single-handed proved the daring of Hatfield. He started
for Logan Court House, W. Va., with his prisoners. On the way he was
joined by Wallace, doubtless by previous appointment. Together they
proceeded to Thacker, a small village on the way. There a short halt
was made, and the prisoners were left to themselves. This opportunity
McCoy used to cut the thongs that tied his hands by means of a knife
held between his teeth. As soon as his hands were free he started on a
run for the Kentucky side. He reached the Tug Fork, plunged into the
stream and swam for life. But his captors were marksmen. He had reached
the bank of the river on the opposite side and was climbing the steep
slope, when a well-directed shot from Cap's gun tore through his heart
and he fell dead upon his face.

It was common knowledge that the opportunity to escape had been
given him deliberately. Hatfield and Wallace enjoyed to the full the
fruitless effort to escape death. It was sport, nothing more.

Hurley, strange to say, was liberated. Wallace escaped, but in the
following spring was captured by two of Jeff McCoy's brothers, Dud and
Jake, and delivered to the jailer of Pike. Before trial he broke jail
and returned to Cap Hatfield, who supplied him liberally with money and
a mount to aid his escape.

For some time thereafter all trace of him was lost. At last he was
heard of in Virginia. Unwilling to turn his hands to honest labor, he
had engaged in the illicit sale of whiskey. For this he was arrested
and fined. In this wise his name became public and in the course of
time his whereabouts became known back in Kentucky. Jeff McCoy's
brothers offered a reward for his capture and two men started upon the
trail of the much desired fugitive. Within a short time they returned
to Kentucky and claimed the reward. Where was the prisoner? The answer
was given by the exhibition of a bloody lock of hair--the reward was

Came the year 1887. Still not one of the twenty-three murderers of
the three McCoy brothers had been apprehended, although they were
frequently seen on the Kentucky side. Attempts to take them had been
made from time to time, but the officers always found them in such
numbers and so perfectly armed that an attempt to force their arrest
would have resulted in much bloodshed without accomplishing the arrest.

Then Governor Proctor Knott of Kentucky took a hand and offered
tempting rewards. His successor, General Simon Bolivar Buckner, renewed
them, and issued requisitions for the twenty-three murderers upon the
governor of West Virginia, appointing as agent one Frank Phillips to
receive the prisoners.

Weeks passed and no attempt was made on the part of the West Virginia
officers to execute the warrants for these men so badly wanted in
Kentucky, and, to the utter surprise and indignation of Governor
Buckner, the West Virginia Executive, Governor Wilson, refused to
honor the requisitions, assigning various reasons and excuses for his

Governor Buckner, the old "warhorse," as his friends and
comrades-in-arms in the Civil War affectionately dubbed him, took the
West Virginia governor to task for his lack of coöperation in the
apprehension of the murderers. An exceedingly salty correspondence
followed. The controversy grew so bitter that, for a time, a
declaration of war between the two States would have surprised no
one. And while the governors fought each other on paper, the murder
mill ground on uninterrupted, the bloody warfare continued without

Now enters upon the scene Frank Phillips, Governor Buckner's Kentucky
agent, to receive the persons named in the requisition upon the
Governor of West Virginia. He was a deputy sheriff. Though of slight
stature, he was as brave a little man as ever trod the soil of
Kentucky, so noted for her brave sons. He was rapid as lightning, and
would have made an ideal quarterback for any college football team.
With all his bravery he was cautious, circumspect and shrewd. A terror
to evil-doers, he was the general favorite throughout Pike County among
the law-abiding citizens.

An incident which occurred during the summer of 1887, illustrates the
utter fearlessness of the little, keen-eyed deputy sheriff. Warrants
for the murderers of the three McCoy brothers had been issued upon
the indictments repeatedly and as often returned by the sheriff "not
found," notwithstanding the presence of the fugitives on the Kentucky
side on various occasions was common knowledge. Having so long remained
unmolested, the Hatfields grew bold, and in 1887, took great interest
in the Pike County election. Such was their contempt of the officers
that as election day approached, the sheriff of Pike County was
notified to instruct his deputies, that had warrants against them, to
be certain and stay away from the voting precinct at which they, the
Hatfields, would appear on election days, or, if the officers should
attend, to leave the bench warrants for their arrest behind.

The election following the appointment of Frank Phillips as a deputy
was one of deep interest to the Hatfields. Desiring to attend it, they
sent word to Phillips to remain away, or to come unarmed and without
warrants. He was threatened with sure death if he violated these
injunctions. Frank, however, was cast in a different mold from that of
his predecessors. He replied, in writing, that business demanded his
presence at that election precinct on election day; that he would be
there; that he would bring along the bench warrants, would come fully
armed and that he intended to either take or kill them.

The Hatfields were amazed at the nerve of the man, but finally came
to regard it as an idle boast. True to his word, Phillips went to the
election ground. The Hatfields approached within gunshot distance and
fired a volley through the brush and bushes, stampeding all but some
eight or ten persons. The plucky little deputy sheriff remained till
late in the afternoon, but the Hatfields withdrew. Inspiring example
of what a brave, determined officer may do and it proves that with all
their contempt for law and order deep down in the hearts of outlaws
there is the fear of retribution and punishment. The little man had
called their bluff because he had _right_ on his side, and the nerve to
contend for that right, and wherever there is a genuine determination
to put an end to outlawry, it can be done, it matters not how
desperate and vicious the outlaws may be.

Late in the fall of the same year Phillips, with three other men,
crossed over into Logan County, W. Va., to receive the prisoners who
had been arrested, as he supposed, on warrants issued by Governor
Wilson after the issuance of the Kentucky governor's requisitions.

After crossing the line between the two States he, for the first time,
learned that no warrants had ever been issued, at least that no arrests
had been made or even attempted. Then something happened. He and his
men suddenly came upon Selkirk McCoy, Tom Chambers and Mose Christian,
three of the murder clan that slew the McCoy brothers, and who were
included in the requisitions. The opportunity to nab them was too good
to resist the temptation to capture them, even without warrants, and
it was done. He hurried them back and across the line into Kentucky,
served them with Kentucky bench warrants and delivered them to the
jailer at Pikeville.

The rage of the Hatfields over this "unlawful" arrest knew no bounds.
It was an outrage, and a shameful violation of the law, they cried.
They sought an outlet for their pent-up indignation and decided to make
another attempt upon the life of old man McCoy.

For this purpose the leaders selected the most dangerous and desperate
members of the clan.

At midnight, January 1st, 1888, this band of desperadoes, led by Cap
Hatfield, heartless cutthroats all, surrounded the house of Randolph
McCoy. On New Year, when every man and woman in the land should reflect
regretfully upon the many follies and errors committed during the year
gone by and good resolutions should fill every heart, on New Year's
night this outlaw band prepared to and did inaugurate another year of
bloodshed and of horror.

Silently, with the stealth of Indians, the phantom shadows moved about
the doomed homestead. They were in no hurry. It was far from their
intention to break into the house and with a few well-directed shots
put an end to the old man whom they had sworn to destroy. No! Such a
death would have been too quick and painless. He must burn; they must
maim and torture. What mattered it that women were in the house. "They
will serve him for company," chuckled the heartless Jim Vance. They
must first be made to feel the impossibility of escape; to entertain
their tormentors with their distress and horror. They must furnish
sport, the sport the savages so much delighted in.

Within all was quiet. The inmates were all wrapped in slumber, utterly
unconscious of the fate that was in store for them. Without, through
the gloom of the cold January night, shadows flitted to and fro, busily
attending to their hellish work.

The McCoy homestead was a double log house, separating the two houses
was a wide passage, and all under one roof. On one side of the building
a match is struck. The next moment a pine torch casts a lurid glare
into the darkness. The hand that holds it reaches upward and touches
the low board roof. It sets it on fire in a dozen places. The family is
suddenly awakened by the yells of exultation from the savages without.
Shots pour into the houses through doors and windows. Calvin McCoy,
the son, who slept upstairs, dresses hurriedly, grasps his rifle and
cartridges and descends to the lower floor. He approaches the bed
of his terror-stricken, aged mother, pats her gently on her cheek,
cautions her to lie still, telling her to fear not, though in his heart
he has no hope. He returns to his room and opens fire upon the outlaws.

His father, cool and undaunted, fights the flames devouring the roof
from the loft. The water becomes exhausted. He resorts to buttermilk,
of which there happened to be large quantities in churns. The fire is
about conquered. An outlaw hand reaches up to rekindle it with another
torch. Randolph McCoy takes up his gun, aims and shatters the hand that
holds it. A curse and loud imprecations come to his ears, and tell him
that the shot went true.

In the room across the passage between the two houses slept the rest
of the family, two daughters and two grandchildren. The unmarried
daughter, Allifair, frightened and dazed, hears a knock at the door and
opens it. She is requested to make a light. She replies that she has
neither fire nor matches. The command is repeated; again she refuses to
comply. Jim Vance, Sr., the grey-haired outlaw, commands Ellison Mount
to shoot her. She prays for them to spare her, but their hearts were
strangers to pity. Mount fires point-blank at her breast and she falls
to the floor with a cry.

The mother from her own room across the passage hears the expiring
scream of her child, the dull thud upon the floor. Oh, the horror of
it! Surrounded on every hand by devils in human shape; the house on
fire over their heads; the husband and son fighting heroically, but
only prolonging the useless, inevitably useless struggle; in the other
room lies the body of Allifair. She hears the others screaming for
help. Will she dare to go to them? Yes. A true mother's love fears no
dangers. Where men shrink back in fear and terror a mother will rush
into the jaws of death to defend and save her offspring. She opens the
door wide and is greeted with bullets. She cares nothing for their
vicious hiss. She goes on. Already she has crossed half the space that
separates her from her children, when she is confronted by the wretch
Vance. He orders her to return to her room. Upon her refusal he strikes
blow upon blow with the butt of his gun upon the head and body of the
grey-haired woman and frenzied mother. She falls badly injured upon the
floor. He kicks her into merciful insensibility.

In the meantime, Calvin and his father had maintained a spirited fire
upon the assassins that encircled the house. But the flames roar
and feed unchecked. The smoke prevents good aim. Calvin is driven
down-stairs by the heat and flames and acrid smoke. He suggests to his
father to attempt a sortie. He remembers the corn-crib, a heavy log
structure. He would attempt to reach it. Once there he might cover
his father's retreat thither. Once there, they might yet drive their
assailants off.

He opens the door and starts on his perilous journey, running with the
swiftness of the deer to get beyond the betraying circle of light from
the now fiercely burning homestead. He is seen and instantly shot at.
Unharmed by this volley, he runs as he has never run before. The balls
whistle above him, around him, and plow the dirt at his feet. Already
he has covered more than half the distance, now three-quarters of it.
Yet he is untouched. He is within three or four feet of the little
house he strives so manfully to reach. At the threshold of the refuge
he throws up his hands, staggers, sinks to his knees, rises to his feet
again, then plunges heavily down upon the frozen ground, dead.

After his son's fatal attempt to escape, old man McCoy grasped a
double-barreled shotgun, sprang from the door, discharged both barrels
with telling effect into the gathered clan, and before they could
realize what was happening their intended victim had disappeared in
the darkness beyond the firelight, a darkness intensified by the glare
of the flames, making aim impossible. Not a shot of the many vicious
volleys that were fired after him touched him. Providence had once more
decreed to spare the old man. But at what cost!

Finding that the main object of their hatred and vengeance had again
been baffled, the assassins withdrew, leaving behind them their work
of destruction, the burning home of Randolph McCoy; the old mother
groaning, unconscious and dangerously wounded on the ground; the
daughter Allifair lying in a pool of blood; the son Calvin dead at the
corn-crib; the remaining children crazed with terror and sorrow.

The house was rapidly burning to the ground. Before the murderers
withdrew, they had carefully closed the doors and window-shutters with
the avowed purpose of cremating the entire family yet in the house. The
insensible mother they had dragged back into one of the rooms, that
she, too, might perish by fire.

The sister of Allifair, immediately upon the withdrawal of the cowardly
wretches, regained her courage and self-possession. She placed the body
of her dead sister upon a feather bed and dragged it from the house.
She then returned for her mother, whom she also rescued. The little
grandchild, a boy seven years old, also exhibited heroism, for one so
young, for when he ran from the burning home, which then, in fact, was
momentarily threatening to fall in, he thought of his little sister.
The little hero braved the fire, was swallowed up for a few minutes
in the smoke, but emerged triumphantly leading the little cripple by
the hand. Nor did the boy cry once, it is said, during that night of
horror. The daughter ministered to the suffering mother as best she
could. Barefooted, in the cruel cold of a January night, she gave
no thought to herself. Her feet were badly frost-bitten. Not until
daylight came assistance.

The Hatfields had scored another victory. True, the man whose death
they craved beyond all else, had escaped them, but they had broken his
spirit. They had murdered, sent to eternity two more of his children
and terribly injured, almost killed, his aged wife.

The blood of the victims cried out to God. This time not in vain, for
retribution followed swiftly on the heels of the murderers. From this
night on their star of success was on the wane. One by one they were
struck down; one expiated his crime upon the gallows; others found
opportunity and time for reflection on their past deeds within the
narrow, gloomy cells of the State prison.

The news of the dastardly, cowardly, savage night attack spread like
wildfire. Newspaper accounts of the tragedy were everywhere received
at first with doubt and considered as the figments of imagination of
sensation writers. East, West, North and South newspapers began to
make inquiries. It seemed beyond the possibility of belief that such
horrors could occur in our day of enlightenment, in a land which boasts
of a superior civilization and culture, and arrogates to itself the
proud distinction of the "first Christian nation in the world." As days
passed, the story was verified. Its truth might no longer be doubted.
Then followed a deluge of editorial comments. The authorities of
Kentucky and West Virginia were mercilessly assailed for their failure
to cope with crimes of such magnitude. Yet, even after this last
horror, West Virginia refused to join hands with Kentucky in delivering
the criminals to justice. The murderous clan continued unmolested and
was free to commit new crimes, invading Kentucky at will, defying the
entire legal and governmental machinery of that State. They felt secure
with the governor of their own state apparently taking their part.

Then Frank Phillips started out to do, on his own responsibility,
what West Virginia should have done. Kentucky had done all that could
possibly be done to settle and arrange matters through the regular
channels of law and constitution. Nothing remained now but to act
without the consent and authority of West Virginia and the redoubtable
Frank Phillips, chafing at all this delay like a restless mustang,
decided to act.

When the news of the night attack and assassinations of January 1st
were brought to him, he threw all caution to the winds. He formed a
band of trusty followers, men that, like himself, would do and dare.

"If the governor of West Virginia is determined to continue the
protection of his murderous pets, I will protect the citizens of
Kentucky, or die in the attempt!" he declared. From that day there was
no longer rest, peace or safety for the Hatfield clan of West Virginia.

Phillips had a system entirely his own. He quickly demonstrated his
superiority of cunning and courage.

A few days were spent in equipping and organizing his band of
raiders. Then swiftly they crossed the border into West Virginia and
commenced their dangerous operations. Always on the move, they struck
a rapid blow here and another there, always dashing upon the enemy at
unexpected times and places. To describe those raids in detail would
fill a book and furnish thrilling reading. But we shall select only
a few incidents to illustrate the daring and determination of Frank
Phillips and his devoted band.

On January 8th, 1888, Phillips ascended the steep slopes of Thacker
mountain. Suddenly they came in sight of Cap Hatfield and the brutal,
but desperately courageous Jim Vance, Sr. Hatfield at once saw the
uselessness of engaging in combat and precipitately fled across the
mountain on foot, escaping the bullets that were sent after him. Cap
continued on his retreat without one thought for his pal. At "Hog
Floyd" Hatfield's, Cap stopped long enough to secure a mount. From
there he rode, at breakneck speed, without bridle or saddle, to the
camp of his followers.

Vance, thus abandoned and alone, stood his ground. He opened fire upon
the Kentuckians without a moment's hesitation. The near presence of his
enemies infuriated this grey-haired man, grown old in bloody crimes,
beyond measure. But one desire, paramount, possessed him, the desire to
kill, kill, kill, as long as life remained in his aged body. To attempt
escape never for a moment entered his mind.

He dropped behind an old tree stump and with vengeful eye drove shot
after shot into the ranks of the astonished raiders, who were forced
to take cover. Several of them had already been wounded. Vance, behind
his natural rampart, remained unharmed. He laughed aloud, taunted his
assailants with cowardice, and continued firing. His mortal hatred of
the men before him inspired him to a heroism worthy of a better cause.
At last a flank movement deprived him of the protection afforded him by
the stump. His body now became exposed to fire from three sides, and
a Winchester rifle bullet brought him to the ground. As he struggled
to rise shot after shot penetrated him. Full of lead, wounded unto
death, the blood streaming from his many wounds, he yet attempted to
use his pistols. Then Phillips stepped forward and approached the dying
desperado, the man who had given the heartless order to Ellison Mount
to shoot the innocent Allifair, the heartless wretch that had pounded
savagely the aged Mrs. McCoy and had laughed and tittered in the doing,
the man who had incited Cap to the burning of the McCoy home and of all
its inmates. Phillips raised the Winchester to end the outlaw's life.
But the man was down. He could not do it. Vance saw his hesitation. He
slowly raised upon his left arm and in his dying moments pressed hard
upon the trigger of his Colt's pistol. Warned by companions, Phillips
saw the motion and sent a ball crashing through the outlaw's brain.

Immediately after Cap Hatfield's arrival at the camp of "Devil Anse"
the entire available force was summoned and divided into detachments.
Plans were discussed and perfected by which Phillips was to be enticed
into an ambush and annihilated. This force remained under arms for many

About ten days after the raid of January 8th, which had resulted
in the killing of Vance, Phillips suddenly appeared on Grapeville
Creek, where he encountered the Hatfields in force. A severe battle
immediately developed.

The Kentuckians outnumbered the West Virginia outlaws. The latter,
however, were on foot and had the advantage of position from the
start. From it they fired upon Phillips with telling effect, killing
and wounding many horses with the first volley. These, maddened with
pain and frightened by the sudden fire, reared and plunged and threw
the column into confusion. The keen eyes of Frank Phillips cast about
for a spot of vantage and discovered a stone fence a few hundred yards
away, affording a strong position. With his accustomed quickness of
determining an action, he prepared to seize it. The command was given
to dismount all those yet mounted. Bending their heads to the bullets,
they rushed on and over and behind the stone wall. Only one of their
number had dropped in the essay. Another assisted him to his feet, and
all reached the wall in safety.

Now the tables were turned. Volley upon volley was fired into the
ambushed Hatfields with the result that after two hours and fifteen
minutes of long range fighting the outlaws retreated, taking along
their many wounded, but leaving William Dempsey dead on the field.

In this battle the Hatfields fought with the best rifles that money
could procure, heavy calibre Colts and Winchester rifles. The
Kentuckians were armed less perfectly, about half of them using rifles
and shotguns of the old pattern. Phillips and two others, only, fought
with repeating rifles. It was due to this superiority in armament that
the Kentuckians suffered such heavy losses in horses and wounded men.

Among the most severely injured was Bud McCoy. Among the Hatfield
wounded was Tom Mitchell, shot in the side; "Indian" Hatfield, wounded
in the thigh; Lee White, shot three times. Many minor casualties

The battle of Grape Vine Creek was the last serious fight between the
Hatfield outlaws and the Kentucky officers, although sporadic killings
occurred at frequent intervals.

In the several forays made by Frank Phillips and his party nine of the
outlaws were captured and landed in jail at Pikeville.

In the meantime the quarrel between the two governors continued. The
correspondence between them was exceedingly pithy and acrimonious.
We shall quote one or two letters from Governor Buckner of Kentucky
to Governor Wilson of West Virginia, which will fully explain the
attitudes taken by these two gentlemen in this matter.



                                    Frankfort, Ky., January 30th, 1888.

    His Excellency, E. W. Wilson,
        Governor of West Virginia.

    On the tenth day of September last, in the discharge of what I
    conceived to be my duty as Governor of this Commonwealth, I issued
    a requisition upon your Excellency for the rendition of Anderson
    Hatfield and others, charged by indictment with wilful murder
    committed in Pike County, Kentucky, on the 9th day of August, 1882.
    On the 30th of September, 1887, said requisition was returned to
    me with a letter from your Excellency, calling my attention to
    a law of West Virginia, a copy of which you were kind enough to
    enclose, and which you seemed to think prevented a compliance on
    your part with my demand, until it should be accompanied by the
    affidavit indicated in the law above referred to. Without then
    stopping to discuss the correctness of your construction of the law
    in question, or its validity, even conceding your construction to
    be correct, the desired affidavit having been obtained was attached
    to said requisition, which was again enclosed to your Excellency on
    the 13th of October, 1887.

    Having thus complied with every condition which your Excellency has
    indicated that should be necessary, I had every reason to suppose
    that steps had been taken for the rendition of the fugitives named,
    and I knew nothing to the contrary, until early in the present
    month, when I was advised by the authorities of Pike County that
    your Excellency had, for some cause, declined up to that time,
    to issue your warrant for the arrest and delivery of the parties
    referred to, and that, in addition to the crime for which they
    stood indicted, they had recently perpetrated other crimes of the
    most atrocious character in the same locality.

    Accordingly, on the 9th inst., I wrote your Excellency, advising
    you of the information which I had received, and requesting to
    be advised whether there was then anything which prevented the
    rendition of the criminals. In response to this letter I received,
    only a few days since, your letter of January 21st (1888) in which
    you did me the honor to state your reasons for not complying
    with my request, and in which, among other things, you say: "and
    although the application for the requisition does not appear to be
    made or supported by any official authority of Pike County, etc."

    I confess myself at a loss to understand how your Excellency
    _could possibly know anything whatever about the character of the
    application made to me for a requisition in this case_. I did _not_
    attach it to the requisition enclosed to your Excellency, for the
    obvious reason that the law governing the extradition of fugitives
    _nowhere requires it_, or in any way intimates _that it would even
    be proper to do so_. On the contrary, it seems to contemplate, the
    papers being correct in other respects, that the Executive making
    the demand, must be the sole Judge of the circumstances under which
    it would be proper for him to issue his requisition. I, therefore,
    had no reason to suppose that your Excellency would feel it your
    duty to inquire into this point, especially as you had in your
    first letter, returning the requisition, given no such intimation.

    But if your Excellency desires to be advised as to that branch
    of the case, I certainly have no objections to telling you that
    the application for the requisition and rewards in this case was
    made by the County Judge of Pike County, indorsed by the Judge of
    the District Court, and urged by the Commonwealth's Attorney of
    the district, who was personally present when the application was

    In referring to Elias Hatfield and Andrew Varney, your Excellency
    is pleased to say: "The many affidavits of reliable persons
    showing that these two men were miles away at the time of the
    killing of the McCoys induced me to withhold, for the present, the
    warrant as to them, believing that when your Excellency was made
    acquainted with the facts their rendition would not be demanded."
    The indictment accompanying the requisition charges that these
    two men were present and aided in the killing; this being so, _I
    respectfully submit that the guilt or innocence of these men is
    a question which it is not the province of your Excellency or
    myself to decide_, but one which the court, having jurisdiction
    of the case can alone rightfully determine. And if, as you seem
    to suppose, the innocence of these two men can be so easily
    established, it would seem strange that they have not long before
    this voluntarily appeared in the court where they stand accused,
    and which is so convenient to their homes, and in which they might,
    if such be the case, be triumphantly vindicated against this grave

    From my knowledge of the enlightened and upright Judge of the court
    in which they stand charged, I feel assured that they would be
    awarded a speedy and fair trial; but if they think otherwise, and
    have fears, either as to the impartiality of the Judge, or as to
    the prejudice of the community in whose midst they are to be tried,
    they can, under our laws, not only swear off the Judge, but can, on
    proper showing, easily obtain a change of venue to another county
    in which no prejudice whatever exists. Under these circumstances,
    your Excellency can readily see that they would, in any event, have
    no difficulty whatever in obtaining a fair and impartial trial.

    Before receiving your letter I had been fully apprised of the
    efforts on the part of P. A. Kline to secure a withdrawal of the
    requisition and rewards in this case; in fact, the cool proposition
    made to me by the indicted parties through their attorney, to the
    effect that they would obligate themselves not to come again into
    Kentucky, provided I would withdraw the requisitions and rewards
    named, was endorsed by Mr. Kline, who had previously shown an
    active interest in their apprehension. But this proposition, I,
    of course, declined to entertain, much less to agree to; and even
    admitting the truth of the affidavit enclosed by your Excellency,
    which charges in terms that the friends of the indicted parties
    succeeded in bribing Kline, their former enemy, to urge the
    acceptance of their proposition, I cannot see why this should
    cause your Excellency to hesitate about issuing your warrant for
    the rendition of these parties to the proper authorities, upon
    whose application the requisition was issued, and whose conduct is
    not even questioned. Indeed, it seems to me that the questionable
    means which the friends of the indicted parties have been employing
    to secure a withdrawal of the requisition and rewards of this
    case ought, of itself, to induce your Excellency to regard with
    suspicion the efforts which they seem to be making to prevent the
    issuing of your warrant for their apprehension and delivery.

    My information as to the history of these troubles, briefly stated,
    are as follows: On the 9th day of August, 1882, Anderson Hatfield
    and twenty-two other desperate characters of Logan County, West
    Virginia, residing near the State line, crossed the river into
    Pike County, Kentucky, arrested three sons of Randolph McCoy,
    and having tied them to trees, deliberately shot them to death.
    It was for this cruel and inhuman murder that the parties named
    in my requisition were indicted in the Pike Circuit Court, three
    separate indictments having been found against the parties named
    for the murder of the three McCoy brothers, respectively; though
    it is possible that only one of these indictments was attached to
    the requisition issued upon your Excellency on the 10th day of
    September last.

    So far from "no move having been made in this matter for more than
    five years after the finding of the indictments," as stated by your
    Excellency, the fact is, that bench warrants have been all the
    while in the hands of the officers of Pike County, in the hope that
    these parties, who lived near the State line, and were frequently
    seen in Kentucky, could be arrested by the authorities of the
    State without the necessity of applying for a requisition upon the
    Governor of West Virginia; and my predecessor at one time offered a
    reward for those who were supposed to be most responsible for the
    murder. But the indicted parties, knowing the efforts which were
    being made for their arrest, though frequently seen in Kentucky,
    always came in crowds, well armed, so that it was impossible to
    arrest them before they could return to the West Virginia side of
    the river. They have, on several occasions, while in Kentucky,
    _unmercifully whipped defenseless women_ and inoffensive men, whose
    only provocation was some alleged remark in disapproval of their
    lawless conduct.

    The names of the various persons, who, at different times, have
    been thus brutally assailed, and the circumstances connected
    therewith, have been furnished me, but it is not deemed necessary
    here to mention them in detail.

    Finally, on the 10th day of September last, upon the application
    of the local authorities, as heretofore indicated, I issued my
    requisition for all the persons named in the indictment for the
    murder of the McCoy brothers, and offered suitable rewards for four
    of the number, represented as being the leaders of the party and
    most responsible for their conduct.

    Thus matters stood until the latter part of December (1887),
    when Frank Phillips, named as agent in the requisition for these
    parties, having sent the required fee, and being unable to hear
    anything from your Excellency, went into West Virginia in company
    with two others, and without any disturbance or conflict of any
    kind, succeeded in capturing Tom Chambers, Selkirk McCoy and Moses
    Christian, three of the persons named in the indictment for the
    murder of the McCoy brothers, who were brought to Kentucky and
    lodged in the jail of Pike County. This so incensed the Hatfield
    party that on the night of January 1st (1888) a company of twelve
    men, headed by Cap Hatfield and James Vance, Sr., came from West
    Virginia into Pike County (Kentucky) and having surrounded the
    house of Randolph McCoy, the father of the three McCoy brothers,
    who had been murdered in 1882, commanded him to surrender, saying
    they were the Hatfield crowd. They then forced their way into a
    room where the daughters were sleeping, shot one of them through
    the heart, and set fire to the house. The old man and his son,
    Calvin, seeing that they intended to kill them, made the best
    defense they could, but the flames soon drove them from the house.

    The son, in his efforts to escape, was riddled with bullets, and
    the old man, who ran in an opposite direction, was fired upon by
    several of the party, but escaped unhurt. His wife, had, in the
    meantime, come out of the house and begged for mercy, but was
    struck on the head and side with a gun, breaking her ribs and
    knocking her senseless to the ground, after which she was thrown
    back into the house to be burnt, but was dragged out by her
    daughters as they left the burning building. Some days thereafter,
    twenty-six men armed themselves and went into West Virginia in
    pursuit of the perpetrators of this atrocious crime, and on
    reaching the house of Anderson Hatfield, so far from abusing or
    mistreating his wife, as has been represented to your Excellency,
    they treated her kindly, and at her request left some of their
    party there with her to quiet her fears; but after leaving there in
    search of the men, they were fired upon by James Vance, Sr., Cap
    Hatfield and others, and in the fight which followed, James Vance,
    Sr., was killed, having on his person when killed two pistols and
    a repeating rifle. Old Randolph McCoy was not with this raiding
    party, as has been represented to your Excellency, but was at that
    time in Pikeville, Kentucky, as the citizens of that place will all

    The pursuing party then returned to Kentucky, and being reinforced
    by ten additional men, went the next day and succeeded, without the
    firing of a gun, in capturing six more of the men indicted for
    the murder of the McCoy brothers, in 1882, bringing them back to
    Kentucky, where they were lodged in the jail of Pike County.

    Eight or ten days thereafter, Frank Phillips and eighteen others
    went again into West Virginia in pursuit of the remaining parties,
    belonging to what is known as the Hatfield crowd, and only a short
    distance from the State line were met by Cap Hatfield, Anderson
    Hatfield and ten armed men, who fired upon Phillips and his posse
    from ambush before they were aware of their presence. Phillips and
    his party returned the fire, killing Dempsey and putting others
    to flight. Phillips and his party then returned to the Kentucky
    side, but went back on the following day, and as to what has since
    occurred I have no information.

    The foregoing account, which differs so widely from that received
    by you, was obtained from the County Attorney of Pike County, who
    claims to have taken great pains to ascertain the real facts,
    and who seems to have no doubt about its correctness; but I, of
    course, understand how difficult it is to arrive at exact facts
    in an affair of this kind from the statements which he may have
    heard from the parties on either side. I regret exceedingly that
    any portion of the citizens of Pike County should have attempted,
    under any circumstances, to arrest citizens of West Virginia for
    crimes committed in the State without first obtaining the requisite
    authority therefor. I am satisfied that Frank Phillips, the agent
    appointed by me to receive the fugitives named in my requisition,
    is not the murderous outlaw your Excellency seems to suppose;
    but as he has undertaken to arrest some of the parties in West
    Virginia, without your warrant, and is, therefore, objectionable
    to you, I will, when your Excellency indicates your readiness
    to surrender the persons demanded, take pleasure in designating
    another agent for that purpose.

                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                         S. B. BUCKNER.

Governor Wilson still refused to honor Kentucky's requisition for the
indicted outlaws, asserting that the requisition of Governor Buckner
had been and was being abused and prostituted for base purposes; that
a warrant issued by the Governor of West Virginia would be used for
the same purpose. He would withhold the warrants for more positive
proof, maintaining that a warrant issued by him before the return to
the State of West Virginia of the persons kidnapped in his State and
thrown into prison in Kentucky, would be construed as a ratification of
acts of lawlessness on the part of Kentucky officers, which neither the
peace nor the safety of his people could permit or approve of. "Instead
of the Phillips raid into the territory of a sister State being
allowed to stand as examples for the invitation of like occurrences,
I am impressed with the belief that they should be made examples of
judicial determination, which would discourage their repetition either
to or from this State." Governor Wilson further announced that he had
instituted proceedings in the United States Circuit Court for the
District of Kentucky for a settlement of the questions involved.

Comment on this attitude of West Virginia's chief executive is
unnecessary. Yet we feel that a few paragraphs of Governor Buckner's
response are in place.

    "Your Excellency," answered Governor Buckner (in part), "seems to
    have forgotten that, long before any of the Phillips raids referred
    to had occurred, a band of armed men from West Virginia came into
    Pike County, Kentucky, violently seized three citizens of the State
    who were at the time in custody of the local authorities of that
    county, forcibly took them to West Virginia, and after detaining
    them there for some time, brought them back to this State and
    deliberately shot them to death; that, as early as the tenth of
    September last, I demanded the rendition of the persons who then
    stood indicted in the courts of this State for the perpetration
    of this atrocious crime; and that it was not until _after_ your
    Excellency had refused to surrender any of the persons so demanded,
    and until _after_ said persons, or a portion of them, had committed
    other crimes of the most cruel and revolting character, upon
    unoffending men and helpless women in this State, that Frank
    Phillips and other citizens of Pike County, were guilty of the acts
    of violence and bloodshed complained of.

    "If Frank Phillips and other citizens of this State have been
    guilty of crimes against the laws of West Virginia, however great
    their provocation, I quite agree with your Excellency that 'they
    should be made examples of judicial determination' and up to this
    time there has certainly been no refusal, upon a proper demand,
    to surrender them to the authorities of West Virginia for that
    purpose. On the other hand, however, your Excellency has, for
    months past, steadily failed and refused to surrender any of the
    persons who stand charged, by indictment, with the perpetration of
    the most atrocious crimes against the laws of this Commonwealth,
    although the demand for them is accompanied by every requirement
    which your Excellency has indicated that you thought necessary. And
    you now indicate that you will not in the future surrender any of
    the persons thus demanded until certain citizens of West Virginia,
    who you think, are illegally detained in this State, shall be
    released from custody and set at liberty.

    "With all due respect I fail to see that the 'honor' of your State
    will be maintained, or that the 'peace and safety of its people'
    will be preserved, by a refusal on your part to surrender persons
    charged with the most flagitious crimes against the laws of this
    State, simply because certain citizens of this State, acting on
    their own motion, and without the knowledge or approval of the
    authorities of this State, have, in a violent and unauthorized
    way, _done that which it was the duty of your Excellency to have
    done_ in the manner required by law; or because I have not felt
    authorized to interfere with the administration of justice by one
    of the coordinate branches of State Government, by attempting to
    release prisoners over whom I had no control whatever. On the
    contrary, I respectfully submit that the honor of both States can
    be better maintained, and the peace and safety of their respective
    citizens can be better preserved, by a prompt rendition of the
    persons charged with the perpetration of crime in either State, in
    all cases where such rendition is demanded in the manner prescribed
    by law" etc.,

    For complete correspondence and exhibits filed therewith, see
    Documents (Ky.) 1888, No. 1.

Immediately upon the institution of proceedings in the United States
Circuit Court for the District of Kentucky, the prisoners captured by
Phillips and his men were removed to the Louisville jail pending trial.
A great legal battle followed. Kentucky was ably represented by General
P. Watt Hardin and former Governor Proctor Knott. The best counsel of
West Virginia represented the interests of that State.

Phillips was charged with kidnapping citizens of another State and
was taken in charge by the United States marshal. Phillips, on the
stand, assumed personal responsibility for all his acts, and exonerated
Governor Buckner from any connivance therewith.

The case was argued at length for days. Judge Barr, who presided,
decided, in an exhaustive opinion, that the Court had not jurisdiction.
The prisoners were therefore returned to the Pike Circuit Court to be
tried there for their crimes.

As a matter of retaliation Phillips was indicted in West Virginia with
kidnapping citizens of that State without warrant or authority of law.
After a long continued legal battle the redoubtable raider, the captor
of as dangerous and desperate a lot of men as ever trod American soil,
won his fight in the courts as he had won the many battles with the

For years afterwards Phillips traveled in West Virginia wherever he
desired. Although the Hatfields did their "trading" at Matewan, W. Va.,
he visited that town frequently and alone, though always well armed.
None ever molested him. It is significant, however, that the Hatfields
and Phillips were never seen in that town on the same day.

For some time no further arrests were made or attempted to be made
with the result that those of the Hatfield clan who had never been
arrested, again issued forth from their hiding-places and appeared
more boldly. Kentucky officers had long and patiently waited for an
opportunity to apprehend Bill Tom Hatfield, for whom there was a
large reward. Learning that his partners in crime, Devil Anse and
Cap Hatfield, remained at home unmolested, he, too, had returned to
the scene of his evil deeds. The officers kept a sharp eye upon him,
however, and succeeded in decoying him near the Kentucky line, the
scheme being accomplished through a pretended friend of Bill Tom
Hatfield. When he reached the spot designated, he was surrounded and
disarmed. The officers attempted to cross into Kentucky. But before
they could do so, the news of the capture had spread into the Hatfield
neighborhood. A strong force rushed to the rescue of the prisoner.
Sheriff Keadle of Mingo County, W. Va., being near, summoned a posse
and started in pursuit. He prevented a bloody encounter by prevailing
upon the Kentuckians to release their prisoner. The Hatfields, of
course, accused the McCoys of being at the bottom of this affair, which
the latter stoutly denied.

Bill Tom Hatfield was, however, later in the year, again taken and
finally convicted for his participation in the murder of the three
McCoy brothers.

After the return of the prisoners from Louisville to Pike County a
number of the parties were put on trial. Ellison Mounts was sentenced
to hang for participation in the murder of Allifair McCoy during
that infamous night attack, while Johns Hatfield, Valentine (Val)
Hatfield, the "Justice of the Peace of West Virginia," Plyant Mayhorn,
and others, were convicted to the State penitentiary at Frankfort,
Kentucky, for life.

Val Hatfield set up the remarkable defense that the brothers were
killed on the Kentucky side, and that at the time of the _shooting he_
was on the West Virginia side. This was the gist of his appeal to the
Court of Appeals of Kentucky. This Court, however, in a very pithy
opinion, among other things said, confirming the judgment of the lower

    It is not pretended here that the State could enforce its laws
    beyond the State boundary, but it is well settled that if either
    of the appellants had stood on the West Virginia side and shot
    the deceased in Kentucky, the offense would have been against the
    laws of Kentucky. (I Bishop on Criminal Law, III.) Regarding the
    appellants Mayhorn the Court expressed itself in emphatic language,
    when it said:

    "The law has been enforced in this case, and in its administration
    the appellants (defendants in the lower court) can truly say to the
    jury that in inflicting punishment by imprisonment for life 'it has
    tempered justice with mercy.'"

The Kentucky Appellate Court affirmed each and every one of the cases

Ellison Mounts, sentenced to die on the gallows for shooting and
killing Allifair McCoy, appealed on the ground that he pleaded _guilty_
to the charge, and having done so he was entitled to a sentence of
confinement in the State prison instead of hanging. It was claimed
for him that the State, in introducing the wife of Randolph McCoy,
so brutally beaten that night of January 1st, 1888, had taken unfair
(?) advantage of his condition and that, therefore, the case should
be reversed. As in the other cases, the Court of Appeals refused to
disturb the judgment of the lower court, maintaining that all the
authorities agreed that unless a tacit agreement between the State
and defendant had been entered into to reduce the punishment, the
State had a right even under the plea of guilty to introduce testimony
_illustrating the atrocity of the crime_.

On February 19th, 1890, Ellison Mounts was hanged. For some time
previous to the day of execution the sheriff had on duty a guard of
from fifty to seventy-five men, armed to the teeth, and in addition
had appointed and sworn an additional force of some twenty deputy
sheriffs for the special occasion. Repeated reports had come to Sheriff
Mayward that the Hatfields of West Virginia would attempt a rescue. In
view of what had transpired in the past, the precaution of the Kentucky
sheriff was entirely warranted.

On the day of the execution the largest crowd ever brought together in
Kentucky on a similar occasion assembled at the little country town
of Pikeville, careful and conservative estimates judging the number
to have been nearly eight thousand. They came from all directions, on
horseback, on foot, in wagons drawn by oxen. They came long before
daybreak and from that time on until the time of the execution, after
noon, the stream of visitors poured into the town. Little children even
were brought along by mothers who had come to see the hanging with
an eagerness with which they would have attended a circus. Is it not
strange how morbidly curious most of us are? How we jostle each other
so as not to lose a glimpse of misery or death? Not strange, after
all--the savage of the stone age is not yet eradicated from our natures.

While the crowd collected, an incident marred the generally peaceable
behavior of the mass of people. Frank Phillips was "in his cups." With
a revolver in each hand he walked the streets of the town, announcing
that he had run the Hatfields down and that now he proposed to run the
town of Pikeville. Sheriff Mayward remonstrated with Phillips, who
showed fight. A number of deputy sheriffs soon disarmed him and the
trouble passed without serious casualty. In the scuffle the sheriff had
been severely injured. As soon as he recovered from the shock he called
the guards and from that time on matters progressed without any other

At that time executions were public, not behind walls or enclosures as
now. A mile and a half from the town, in a natural amphitheatre, the
old-fashioned gallows had been erected. The hills overlooking the scene
were black with people. A few minutes past twelve the sheriff repaired
to the jail and read the death warrant. Keen-eyed guards scanned the
people around to detect any possible attempt at rescue. None was made.
The condemned criminal listened to the reading of the warrant with the
same stoicism that had marked the commission of his crimes. He claimed
conversion, and hoped that "all men and women would lead good lives and
to meet him in heaven, where he was going."

A short time after one o'clock his lifeless form dangled from the
gallows-beam. Ellison Mount had ceased to be a dread to humanity.
Ignorant as the savage of interior Africa, he had no conception of the
magnitude of his crimes. A criminal by nature, he was easily influenced
to obey the command of those who used him as a tool. Shedding human
blood was a pastime with him. However, according to orthodox teaching,
he consorts now with the saints. A life of crime seems to have some
compensation, after all.

Many of the criminals being still at large, wanted in Kentucky
or elsewhere, the Eureka detectives now took a hand. Among these
were A. W. Burnett, W. G. Baldwin, Kentucky Bill, Tom Campbell and
Treve Gibson. To the credit of these brave men be it said that they
apprehended many of these outlaws to answer for crimes other than
those recited in connection with this feud. They effected the capture
of John Norman, Joe Frank Smith and John B. Dodson, all of whom were
put on trial before Judge T. H. Harvey in Logan County, West Virginia.
Johns and Cap Hatfield went West for a time, and, though hounded from
place to place, Cap was never caught. Johns Hatfield afterward served a
short term in the State penitentiary at Frankfort for participation in
the night attack on the McCoy home and murder of Allifair and Calvin
McCoy. Life's cheap, isn't it?

The feud was at an end. Some years later, however, in 1896, Cap
Hatfield, still at large, residing unmolested in West Virginia,
committed a triple murder under circumstances quite in keeping with
his former record of bloodshed. While this killing is only indirectly
connected with the feudal troubles, an account of it and the attempted
capture serves, however, to illustrate the daring and recklessness of
this outlaw.

On November 3rd, 1896, it being the day of the Presidential election,
Cap Hatfield and his stepson, Joseph Glenn, whom he affectionately
called "his boy," went to the voting place at Thacker, West Virginia.

Both were heavily armed with Winchester rifles of large calibre and
braces of Colt pistols. They had been at the polls but a short time
when they began a dispute with John and Elliott Rutherford, two natives
of that county, and who, according to Hatfield's story, had been
members of the McCoy clan, and had fought with them in various battles
against him and his relatives.

Cap Hatfield's menacing threats and flashing eyes boded evil. The
Rutherfords, knowing well the desperation of the man in anger,
attempted to leave the polls, when Cap Hatfield threw the gun to his
shoulder and instantly killed John Rutherford. The "boy" fired upon
Ellison Rutherford, who dropped to the ground, gasped and expired.
Hence Chambers, a prominent citizen, rushed forward just as the lad
fired. The boy, presuming Chambers to be a friend of the Rutherfords,
turned upon him, fired, and the triple murder was complete.

The murderers retreated very deliberately toward the mountains. Indeed,
there was no necessity for hurry. Every man upon the voting ground
appeared dazed, dumbfounded, paralyzed with astonishment and fear. The
tragedy had started and finished so suddenly and unexpectedly that
it was impossible to realize in a moment the magnitude of the crime.
Even after the men regained their power of speech and action, pursuit
was not thought of. No one dared attempt the arrest of the fugitives,
knowing that it would result in more bloodshed, and there had been
enough for one day.

But on the following morning, over one hundred armed and determined men
answered the summons of Sheriff Keadle, and started on their perilous
task to arrest the outlaws. This force was augmented by another, which,
on the night following the tragedy, kept a close watch over the "Rock
Fort," a retreat in mountain wilds, much in favor with the Hatfields
when pursued by officers.

During the night Deputy Sheriff Clark and one Daniel Christian were
informed by a spy that the fugitives had stolen away from the fort
and were going in the direction of Kentucky. Clark at once followed
the trail indicated and located the two near the house of one of the
Hatfields where they had gone for food.

Clark and Christian, in following the trail, on passing a large rock
or cliff on the hillside, came upon the two men, who were fast asleep.
Cautiously approaching, the officers recognized the murderers. The
hazardous pursuit was at an end, and the capture effected without the
shedding of blood.

The excitement attending the arrest of the criminals was great
throughout the county. Officers feared mob violence. To avoid it the
prisoners were taken to Huntington, but were returned within a few days
to Mingo County and lodged in jail, which was heavily guarded.

Cap Hatfield's version of the tragedy is interesting and characteristic
of the man. It was a total contradiction of the statements made by all
the eye-witnesses.

Cap Hatfield said: "I believe it to have been a prearranged attempt to
take my life. Rutherford was jealous of me years ago. Some two years
ago he said I had done him an injury and demanded an apology. I told
him I had not wronged him, but if he thought I had, I regretted it. He
seemed to accept this explanation and I thought the matter ended. On
the day of the killing he was quarrelsome and I avoided him, telling
him that I had enough trouble in my time and wanted no more. Late in
the evening Joe and I started for home. Rutherford renewed his quarrel
and suddenly drew his revolver and began firing at me. I threw my gun
up to get it in position and the first ball from his revolver hit
here" (showing a heavy indentation on the underside of the heavy steel
gun barrel). "The gun prevented the ball from entering my breast. He
fired twice more before I could get my gun in position, then I fired
my gun twice and drew my revolver. At the third shot he fell, and some
one, Ellison Rutherford, I think, was firing on me from behind, and
getting very close to me, as you can see" (exhibiting a nick in his
left ear and a grazed place or scratch in the neck). "Chambers was shot
by accident, I suppose. When I reached the railroad they were so hot
after me I reloaded my revolver. Young Rutherford was shot purely in
self-defense, either by me or the boy, I don't know which. We made for
the woods."

"Yes," he said, in answer to a question, "Clark and Christian got the
drop on us. I was doing picket duty and sleep overcame me. The boy
would have shot Clark had I not stopped him."

An organized band of the Hatfields attempted a rescue of the prisoners,
but the celerity with which the officers acted, frustrated the attempt.
Devil Anse Hatfield and others were arrested for this, taken to Logan
County and placed in jail there, but were soon afterwards released.

Deprived of a leader, the famous clan dispersed and the country
breathed freely once more. Although a reward had been hanging over
Cap Hatfield for many years without effecting his arrest, the tragedy
of November 3rd, at last brought him behind prison bars. But the good
fortune, which always attended this man, did not leave him even in this
dire extremity. He was tried on one of the cases, fined and sentenced
to imprisonment in the county jail for one year. Two other indictments,
both for murder, were still pending in court. He was to be tried on
these the following term.

In the little county jail at Williamson, West Virginia, Cap Hatfield
now posed as a hero, receiving his wife, friends and relatives daily.
One evening he held a "levee" and was the gayest of the gay. His gayety
was explained when, on the following morning, the jailer made the
discovery that the man who carried eighteen scalps at his belt, was a
prisoner no longer. At midnight the crowd of visitors at the jail had
gone. At three o'clock in the morning Hatfield was in the mountains. A
hatchet, given him by some of the visitors, did the work of liberation.
A large hole through a sixteen-inch brick wall caught the attention of
the village policeman, who gave the alarm.

A crowd of men soon collected and started in search of the fugitive. It
seems that Cap Hatfield, though getting off easy in one of his cases,
was afraid to stand trial on the others, fearing a death sentence. But
a few days before his escape he had remarked that he preferred death at
the mouth of Winchesters to being made a show subject on the scaffold.

By noon of the following day the whole country was in motion. Like
the gathering of the clans of old the sturdy citizens poured into the
county seat and offered their services to bring back into the hands
of justice the man who had for so many years defied the laws of two
States. The county offered rewards, private citizens contributed to
defray the expenses of the posse. Governor Atkinson of West Virginia
promised aid; the State of Kentucky, through Governor Bradley, tendered
assistance, and Virginia's executive declared that the outlaw should
find no asylum in that State.

The banks of the Ohio river were lined with armed men for many miles
to prevent his escape into that State. It was generally believed that
he would be apprehended within a day or two. But days passed and yet
the outlaw had eluded his pursuers. He was no longer alone now. To his
aid came his relatives, Johns, Elias and Troy Hatfield, Clark Smith,
Henry Harmon and others, each heavily armed, and amply supplied with
ammunition. Familiar with every nook and corner of that part of West
Virginia, he was secretly assisted by other friends and henchmen, bound
to him by ties of relationship or forced to render assistance through
fear of incurring his enmity.

This condition aroused the entire State of West Virginia. On Wednesday
the sheriff, with a considerable force of "militia," composed of men to
be depended upon, again took to the mountains. Within three hours of
their departure old Randolph McCoy came into Williamson, West Virginia.
He was clad in the homespun of the country. His large-brimmed hat
was adorned with a squirrel's tail. Carrying an old-fashioned,
muzzle-loading rifle, he looked worthy of the comradeship of Daniel
Boone or Kit Carson. Years before that, three of his sons had been
foully murdered while being tied to bushes; some years afterwards
another son and a daughter were shot down in cold blood, his wife
brutally beaten, his home reduced to ashes, himself escaping only
by a miracle, and now the old man is on the trail of one of the
participants, if not the actual instigator of these outrages. He had
come, said McCoy, to aid in the capture of "six feet of devil, and 180
pounds of hell," as he always described Cap Hatfield.

Seven miles below Williamson, McCoy overtook Sheriff Keadle, and
united with him. Stretching over as much country as possible, the
force scattered and advanced in skirmish lines. Nothing was seen of
the fugitive on that day. At night camp was made on lower Beech Creek.
The posse was now in the very heart of the Hatfield country, on Cap
Hatfield's native heath.

Some years before in this locality Charles McKenney, a cousin of the
McCoys, a lad of only eighteen, had been riddled with buckshot by Cap
Hatfield and two others.

During the night, after the moon had risen, guards reported a column
of smoke further up on the creek. This was not unexpected. The
stronghold of the Hatfields was on a decided elevation some four miles
away. The smoke suggested that they were there. The rumor served to
keep the camp awake until daylight, when the march was resumed, the
posse heading direct for the old palisade. The advance was made with
caution. When within a quarter of a mile from the "fort," the first
glimpse of the outlaw was had. His oft repeated boast that if once he
gained the mountains, he would turn his back on no man, proved idle
talk. He and his comrades rapidly retreated toward another mountain
stronghold. When the log cabin was reached it was empty. No time
was lost here. The men, elated at being so close upon the outlaws'
trail, marched with spirit and rapidity. The direction these had taken
indicated that they were straining every nerve to reach the mountain
crag known as the "Devil's Backbone." It is said that from this point,
some years previous, Devil Anse Hatfield had fought single-handed a
considerable force of men. It was then that the summit was christened
and received its weird name, and where old man Hatfield won his "nom de
guerre" of "Devil Anse."

The mountains in this section are very steep to the southeast;
Beech Creek cuts and winds through the hills until it empties into
the Tug Fork. Huge walls of rock fringe the stream on each side. The
strata is tilted until it stands on edge, a remarkable, interesting
geological formation. Approach is impossible except from one direction.
A slender footpath at that point clambers laboriously upward. At no
place is there room for two men abreast. Two sharpshooters on top
might successfully defend the place against a regiment. It was this
stronghold that Cap Hatfield and his companions were so anxious to
gain. He finally reached the foot of it, but at a loss. Old man
McCoy was among the first of the attacking party, forging ahead with
grim determination. Intuitively he seemed to know his old enemy's
destination. McCoy and six or seven men at last separated from the main
body of the sheriff's force and followed a cattle path. Sheriff Keadle
pursued the other trail. It was along in the afternoon that the quiet
of the forest hills was suddenly broken by a shot. Before another was
heard, the armed posse was in a clearing which commanded a view for a
mile or more toward the "Devil's Backbone." Nothing, however, could be
seen except that the summit of the citadel was yet unoccupied. Then
a white puff of smoke, followed instantly by a rapid fusilade, told
that the battle had begun. McCoy and his party had intercepted the
Hatfields. At that distance it was impossible to see the actors in
the drama then being acted. Shot followed shot. Both parties were in
ambush. Ever and anon old Randolph McCoy's rifle could be heard. Then
there came a lull. By the aid of his field-glasses the sheriff saw
that Hatfield was flanking McCoy. It was plain that the old man must
either retreat or perish. But the old fox had not lost his cunning. He
quickly saw the danger and effected a safe retreat, while the Hatfields
stopped at the foot of the coveted fortress. It was seen that two of
the Hatfield crowd were wounded.

The sheriff and his posse now pressed forward with speed. Within a few
minutes they joined McCoy. It was almost dark, now, when the forces
were once more united, and approached within range of the Hatfield
guns. Bullets whistled and cut the twigs of limbs over the heads of
the pursuers. The sheriff commanded his men to seek cover. Instantly
every man "treed." Then began a fight after the fashion of Indian
battles of old. The moment a body was exposed from a protecting tree,
it was certain to become a target for many guns. Gradually, carefully,
nevertheless surely the posse forged ahead, always under cover, yet
advancing, concentrating and getting closer. Escape for the Hatfields
seemed now impossible, unless they could put into effect one of their
wonderful dashes which in the past had extricated them out of many
dangers and difficulties. Cap Hatfield directed the fire of his men
with utter disregard for their own safety. He seemed to bear a charmed
life. The target of every sharpshooter in the sheriff's posse, not
once did a bullet touch him. The Hatfield rifles did better execution.
The posse, which had left Williamson the previous morning with flying
colors and full of hope, was now decimated. Two of the deputies were
fatally wounded and seven members of the posse more or less severely.

As night drew near the battle ceased. The posse camped. A council of
war was held. Some were for pressing on in the night. Others, with
cooler judgment, suggested that it was safer to starve the outlaws into
submission. The latter opinion prevailed.

Early on the following morning (Friday), there was a short but hot
skirmish during which another of the posse was wounded. At noon the
sheriff was reinforced by a force led by J. H. Baldwin. This man had,
for some time, led the Hatfields a hard life. Ever on their trail,
he either captured them or drove them from the country. Cap and his
band were those who had given him the most trouble and had constantly
eluded him, thus far. Now he had another opportunity to try conclusions
with them. Baldwin was a splendidly courageous man, and a crack shot
with the rifle. He at once took the lead. "When I was a boy," he
said, "I smoked many a rabbit out of a hollow tree." With this remark
he despatched two men to Williamson for a supply of dynamite. The
besiegers sat down to wait.

Late on Friday evening Baldwin "winged" one of the Hatfields. The man
had attempted to reach water.

At nine o'clock Saturday morning, the dynamite arrived and preparations
were made to place the mine. By eleven o'clock the work was complete,
the match applied and the command given to retire.

Until now the besieged had apparently been in utter ignorance of what
was being done. But the flashing of the train of powder leading to the
dynamite, brought them to a full realization of their peril. Men sprang
from cover and rushed hither and thither in full view. Cap Hatfield was
seen to start for the path, heedless of the bullets that spitefully
hissed about his ears. Then they made a sudden rush down the mountain.
In this "sortie" three men went down. This convinced the rest of the
uselessness of an attempt to escape by the path thus guarded. The
trapped desperadoes returned to the "fort" and began to throw stones
and bowlders upon the train of powder in the hope of breaking it. Then
came the explosion. It sounded as though the mountains were slipping
from their sockets. Pieces of rock and portions of trees flew in every
direction. The atmosphere was surcharged with dust and smoke. When the
air cleared at last, it was seen that more than half of the "Devil's
Backbone" was torn up and blown down the mountain-side into a small arm
of the Tug Fork, changing the course of the stream. Hatfield was still
unharmed. In the excitement of the moment, Dan Lewis, Steve Stanley
and Jack Monroe of the posse had left the shelter of the trees and
were wounded. Another charge of dynamite was placed, and the besiegers
retreated still further down the valley. The second explosion shook the
earth--the Hatfields seemed doomed. But the moment the smoke cleared
away rifle shots poured into the flank of Baldwin's men. Cap Hatfield
had again successfully foiled the plans of his pursuers. His retreat
had been made possible under cover of the smoke from the explosion.
Thus the dynamite charge had effected nothing except the destruction
of one of nature's unique works.

The chase was renewed, and though hampered by the wounded members
of his clan, he made his escape. The spectacular attempt to capture
the famous outlaw bore no fruit save wounds for many of the posse.
Cap Hatfield, the man who is said to have a record of having killed
eighteen men in his life, was gone. He was never apprehended.

Some years ago he lived in Virginia, apparently peaceably, but engaged
in the sale of whiskey, a vocation which is almost certain to get him
into trouble again, as it did two of his brothers, Elias and Troy,
during October, 1911. They were shot and killed in a pistol duel at
Cannelton, W. Va., by Octavo Gerone, an Italian, with whom they had
a dispute over saloon property. The Italian opened fire upon the two
Hatfields, fatally wounded both, and was himself instantly killed,
riddled with bullets from the dying men. When the brothers were found
by neighbors, the expiring Troy Hatfield made the characteristic
remark: "You need not look for the man who did this, he is dead."

Years ago the prophecy was made that "Devil Anse" would inevitably die
with his boots on. But he has confounded the prophets. He still lives,
from last accounts. The daring feudist, who, with his sons, defied the
law and authorities of three States, for twenty years, the chieftain of
as daring a band of outlaws as ever trod American soil, has more than
lived his "allotted three score years and ten." He is approaching the
nineties. But a few days before the killing of Elias and Troy, just
mentioned, he was converted and baptized, declaring that henceforth
he would lead a Christian life. It was high time, a resolution
unfortunately long deferred.

Randolph McCoy also passed the four score mark. He seemed to have borne
a charmed life. Marked for assassination a hundred times, he had always
escaped bodily harm. But his heart almost broke when three of his sons
were slaughtered in one night; his spirit was crushed when another son
and a young daughter were foully slain, his aged wife was brutally
beaten and the home burned.

After all, he had the questionable satisfaction of assisting a few of
his tormentors to a temporary berth in the penitentiary. One and only
one was hanged, Ellison Mount, the slayer of Allifair, and he was the
gainer at last, for he went straight to heaven. So he said. Perhaps he
knew, perhaps he didn't.

Somehow, it seems difficult to believe that murderers should have a
monopoly of heaven. The murderers' band there must be very large. Let
a man be sentenced to death for a heinous crime, let his attempt to
obtain a commutation to imprisonment prove abortive, and straightway he
repents and away he goes--to heaven, so 'tis said. His victim, snatched
into eternity without the formal preparations which orthodox religion
prescribes for candidates for heaven, must suffer an eternity of hell.

They tell us "we shall know each other there." Will Randolph McCoy
and his wife thrill with pleasure and be overcome with ecstatic
spasms of happiness on beholding among the saints the slayers of four
sons and a daughter? Will they join in the anthems warbled by these
celestial birds, whose victims-- But let that be. We did not mean to
be irreverent. We simply cannot help differing from the approved and
established conception of God's justice.



The royal murder at Serajevo was the spark that set the world on
fire. It would be silly, however, to place the blame of the world war
upon it. To find the real causes of the appalling tragedy one must go
further back.

So it is with the great Rowan County war. There were many agencies at
work that contributed, little by little, but none the less surely, to
that state of anarchy which disgraced Rowan County and Kentucky during
the eighties. The evil influences which initiated it were: Politics
and Whiskey. A weak-kneed, yea, corrupt administration of justice
permitted its continuation. The reign of terror which continued so long
unhindered could have been crushed in its infancy with any sort of an
honest, determined effort at law enforcement.

A verse or two of Mulligan's "IN KENTUCKY" finds excellent application

    "The bluegrass waves the bluest
        In Kentucky;
    Yet, bluebloods are the fewest (?)
        In Kentucky;
    Moonshine is the clearest,
    By no means the dearest,
    And yet, it acts the _queerest_
        In Kentucky.

    "The dove-notes are the saddest,
        In Kentucky:
    The streams dance on the gladdest
        In Kentucky:
    Hip pockets are the thickest,
    Pistol hands the slickest,
    The cylinder turns quickest
        In Kentucky.

    "The song birds are the sweetest
        In Kentucky:
    The thoroughbreds are fleetest
        In Kentucky:
    Mountains tower proudest,
    Thunder peals the loudest,
    The landscape is the grandest,
    AND POLITICS--the damndest
        In Kentucky."

In the long continued struggle which brought Rowan County into
disrepute, many families of high reputation, men of wealth and
influence, as well as men of reckless, undaunted, desperate character,
were pitted against each other. Officers of the law, lawyers, judges
and politicians of more than ordinary ability and reputation,
quarreled, disputed and excited such unreasoning passion as to result
in bloodshed. After that the dogged, stubborn determination of the
different factions admitted of no other settlement of the controversy
save by the arbitrament of arms, a war to the death.

Patrick Henry cried out before the Virginia Convention: "Gentlemen may
cry peace, peace, but there is no peace." In Rowan County, too, men
cried continually for peace, yet there was to be no peace until anarchy
had almost depopulated the county and its name had become synonymous
with outlawry. The only alternative left was to leave the country or
fight. Some did leave, most of them remained and fought, fought with a
courage worthy of a better cause.

The courts appeared powerless. The officers were themselves bitter
partisans. The government of the State, when applied to for troops
to assist in restoring order, sometimes refused aid, owing to a
technicality in the law, and thus was precipitated the famous bloody
battle at Morehead, in which many men were killed and wounded.

It may be well to add that Rowan County was not a remote, inaccessible
region where civilization had made but little progress, as was the
case along the border of West Virginia and Kentucky, the scene of
the Hatfield-McCoy war. Good roads and railroad communication had
introduced to Rowan County even then a civilization which should have
made the bloody conflict impossible; it certainly made it inexcusable.

It is difficult to produce a fair picture of the political upheavals
and complications which eventually led to and resulted in so much
bloodshed without going behind the actual outbreak of the feud. While
this necessitates the narration of incidents of purely local interest,
and may, therefore, not grip the interest of outsiders, a patient
reading of it will develop the fact that it is indispensable to a true
understanding of the history of this war, and also that it teaches a

As early as 1874 political quarrels arose, engendering bitter hatred,
between prominent, wealthy and influential men of Rowan and surrounding
counties. At that time it was hoped and generally believed that the
difficulties would be forgotten as soon as the heat of the political
contests had abated. But as the years passed factional division grew
more and more pronounced. Citizens who had theretofore held aloof
from the disputes, were gradually and surely drawn into the vortex
of strife. As is usual and unavoidable under such circumstances, many
desperate, degraded characters attached themselves to the various
factions. These would commit deeds for pay, from the commission of
which the more circumspect employers of them shrank in fear. In such
wars the hired assassin always finds lucrative employment. He becomes
the blind tool of the coward with the money, and the greater the
compensation the more horrible his crimes.

The innocent but direct cause of the political struggle to which we
must refer, was the Honorable Thomas F. Hargis, who, in after years,
rose to the highest judicial position in the State. His father, before
him, served in the constitutional convention of the State in 1849 and
was a very distinguished Kentuckian.

When the great rebellion broke out, Kentucky soon began to suffer the
distress and horrors of civil war. It at first declared its intention
to remain neutral. Governor McGoffin refused to furnish troops to
the Union army and attempted to enforce neutrality by maintaining a
"Home Guard." This brought on many conflicts with the State Guards.
It became at once apparent that the two bodies of troops were nothing
more than partisans. The Home Guards often employed their military
power and authority in harassing and mistreating actual or suspected
sympathizers with the cause of the South. The State Guards, on the
other hand, used their influence and made every exertion toward turning
the tide of public sentiment in favor of the Confederacy.

The sudden invasion of Kentucky by the federal troops was greeted with
joy by the Home Guards, who made no attempt to repel it or to preserve
the State's neutrality for which purpose they had been organized. The
larger portion of the Home Guards, in fact, at once joined the Union
army. The State Guards disbanded and a majority of them joined the
Confederates. The division of Kentucky was now complete.

In the general rush to opposing armies we find Thomas Hargis donning
the grey and fighting for the "Lost Cause" as captain until the close
of the war.

Returning home, he studied law and was admitted to the bar. The date
of this admission, an unimportant point it may seem, was nevertheless
responsible for the internecine strife of after years.

In the year 1874, Captain Hargis, who had already won prominence as a
lawyer of ability and sagacity, was nominated by the democratic party
as its candidate for judge of the circuit court. Opposed to Hargis
in this race was Geo. M. Thomas, afterwards United States District
Attorney for the District of Kentucky. He was the nominee of the
Republican party. The race was exceedingly hot and spirited from the
beginning. The contest became bitter. It was charged by the friends
of Thomas, among whom were not only the Republicans whose nominee and
choice he was, but enemies of Hargis in the ranks of his own party,
that he was not eligible to the office because he had not attained
the requisite age, and that he was still further disqualified from
holding the position of Circuit Judge because he had not been licensed
as a lawyer for a sufficient number of years. These reports were
industriously circulated against him. Appreciating the danger of such
a rumor in a contest like this was, and knowing that only a prompt
refutation and repudiation of the charges could prevent his signal and
disastrous defeat, he hastened to obtain copies of the records of his
age, and of the date of his admission to the bar from the records of
the Clerk's office.

At the time of his candidacy Hargis was a resident of Carlisle,
Nicholas County, but when admitted to the practice of the law had
resided in Rowan County. So the records of his admission to the bar
must be obtained there. He, therefore, went at once to Morehead and
instituted an examination of the records, but to his consternation
it revealed the astounding fact that the only record and evidence of
his admission to the bar had been mutilated and destroyed; the pages
containing them had been cut out from the books. Added to this was the
unwelcome discovery that the family Bible had also been mutilated in so
far as it contained the record of his age. The charges of ineligibility
had been widely circulated and published in the newspapers and Hargis'
inability to refute them for lack of record evidence now gave them the
stamp and color of truth. The Republicans, and the personal enemies of
Hargis among the Democrats, were jubilant, while his friends flatly and
broadly accused Thomas' friends and supporters of the crime of stealing
and destroying public records. This further increased the already
bitter feeling. The friends of Thomas now charged that if any such
records had ever existed Hargis himself had stolen and destroyed them.
The result of it all was that Hargis was defeated by his Republican
opponent, and this in a district theretofore always safely Democratic.
The close of the contest brought out another truth no longer to be
denied or overlooked. Every circumstance and condition existing after
the election pointed clearly to the fact that something more than
factional, political animosity, common in all hotly contested races
for position, had been awakened and that in the hearts of many, malice
had taken deep root. Each succeeding election only augmented the bitter
feeling. Desire for revenge, and, what at first seemed but political
excitement and zeal for the favored candidate, now caused friends of
old to cancel their friendship and the most prominent leaders of the
opposing factions regarded each other no longer as merely political,
but as personal enemies.

In the year 1876 the Legislature of Kentucky created a Circuit Court
for Commonwealth proceedings alone, the new district being composed
of the same counties as the old. Hargis again announced himself a
candidate for judge of the newly-organized court. This time he was
elected with an easy majority. He continued in this office, which he
filled with signal ability, until in the spring of 1879, when an event
took place which opened to him the road to still higher honors, and
also still further fanned the flame of political and personal strife.

The event referred to was the vacancy created on the bench of the Court
of Appeals as the result of a tragedy enacted upon the streets of the
capital of the State, at Frankfort,--the assassination of Appellate
Judge J. M. Elliott, by one Thomas Bufford. The tragic death of this
able jurist horrified all Kentucky.

His slayer pleaded insanity. The trial jury on first ballot stood
six for conviction and six for acquittal on the ground of insanity.
Finally, the verdict of the whole jury declared him insane. He was
transferred to the Asylum at Anchorage where he remained but a short
time. He escaped to Indiana where he remained because our requisition
laws were then not sufficient to enforce his return to Kentucky.

Immediately after the death of Justice Elliott an election was ordered
for his successor and Judge Hargis again became a candidate before
the Democratic convention. A number of able and distinguished jurists
opposed him before that body, many of these much older and experienced
than he. In spite of the powerful opposition brought to bear against
him, Judge Hargis again succeeded in obtaining the nomination, another
proof of his political influence as well as of his talents and
abilities as a lawyer and politician.

This last and most important success of Hargis aroused anew the malign
hatred and envy of his numerous enemies in the camps of his own party.
The old charges were renewed, remodeled, rehashed, renovated and added
to, as the occasion demanded. The story of his wilful, felonious
destruction and mutilation of court records was republished and more
extensively circulated than ever. Newspapers, circulars, hand-bills
and letters telling the story were scattered throughout the district,
posted up at all public places, on fences and trees along the highways,
thus increasing factional enmity to a dangerous intensity.

Opposed to him in this race was Judge Holt, a Republican politician and
lawyer of prominence, and of unassailable purity of character.

The contest between these men was waged with spirit with the result
that the mantle of Judge Elliott fell upon Judge Hargis. During
the canvass Judge Hargis, through the _Courier Journal_ and other
newspapers, had denounced the persons over whose signatures a number
of the scandalous accusations and derogatory charges had been made, as
liars, calumniators and villains.

Thomas M. Green, editor of the Maysville _Eagle_, also correspondent
of the Cincinnati _Commercial Gazette_, had been most persistent in
industriously keeping the disparaging accusations against Hargis in
the columns of the Republican press of the country. Editor Green was,
in consequence, singled out by Hargis in his card to the _Courier
Journal_ as the chief offender, assailing him in most bitter terms.
Green applied to the law for redress and instituted suit for libel in
the Jefferson Circuit Court at Louisville, asking for a large sum in

Early in the spring of 1880 the case came on for trial. Hargis waived
all questions of jurisdiction which it had been expected he would
use as a defense. He somewhat staggered his enemies by admitting
responsibility for the article upon which the suit was based, and
declaring his ability to prove the charges made against Green as true.
The trial lasted for many months. It was minutely reported in the press
of the country and read everywhere. Even now the angel of good fortune
did not desert Judge Hargis. He won the case.

During this period the controversy between Green and Hargis had very
sharply aligned the friends and enemies in Rowan County. So complete
was the breach that the thoughtful ones looked forward to open, actual
hostilities. Hope of compromise disappeared as time passed.

A storm so long brewing is apt to accumulate extraordinary force. A
fury long pent up will break loose with greater fierceness. The strife
had penetrated every neighborhood, almost every household. Any public
occasion, especially the biennial election, was looked forward to with
dread. Minor political contests, waged in these elections, served
to open old sores and to inflict new wounds, adding material for the
spirit of revenge to feed upon.

At that time the Australian ballot system had not yet been introduced.
The _viva voce_ system was in vogue, and bribery in elections was,
therefore, much more common than it is now. Candidates practically
bought their offices. The voter cast his vote publicly; it was recorded
publicly, and cried out publicly. In this wise the buyer of the vote
controlled the seller, and, very often, vote sellers were driven _en
masse_ to the polls like so many sheep, a cause of innumerable election

Another successful instigator of trouble on election day was the
free and promiscuous use of liquor with which candidates treated and
influenced the voters. Election contests frequently excite the most
staid and conservative citizens, but when whiskey is added it is
certain to arouse passions which might, otherwise, have slumbered on.

Such were conditions in Rowan County on the day of election, August,

A hot political race was on between one S. B. Goodan, the Democratic
nominee for sheriff of the county, and W. C. Humphrey, commonly known
as Cook Humphrey, the Republican nominee. The county being almost
equally divided politically, the contest was close. Each of the
candidates was wealthy, influential and extensively related. Money was
used without stint, barrooms were thrown wide open at Morehead, the
county seat, and principal town of the county, as well as at most other
precincts in the county.

The town was crowded with excited, angry, drunken men and all through
the day there were fist fights and brawls. During one of these, the
prelude to the conflict which afterward attracted the attention of
the American press, John Martin, son of Ben Martin, a wealthy farmer,
was struck down and seriously injured. He immediately sprang to his
feet, drew his pistol and a general pistol battle followed. When the
smoke had cleared away, Solomon Bradley was found dead, Adam Sizemore
severely wounded.

The death of Bradley, a good citizen, who had taken no part in the
fighting, and the wounding of Sizemore and Martin proved of fatal
consequences. Bradley was one of the most influential Republicans of
the county. He and John Martin were members of the best families and
extensively related even in adjoining counties. The Martins were known
to be ambitious and brave men. It appeared that Martin received his
wounds at the hands of Floyd Tolliver, a brother of Craig Tolliver,
who afterwards attained such unenviable notoriety and bore the
distinction of being one of the most cruel, bloodthirsty desperadoes
Kentucky ever had the misfortune to own as her son, and whose tragic
death on the day of the memorable battle at Morehead some years later
was heralded throughout the country.

John C. Day, the then acting Sheriff of Rowan County, was charged with
the shooting and wounding of Sizemore.

The first blood had now been spilt; more was bound to follow. Even the
most hopeful became convinced that a long and bloody conflict could
no longer be averted. Those best acquainted with the state of affairs
knew, and rightly predicted, that the law would not be invoked to
settle the trouble and punish the offenders. "A life for a life" was
the motto that henceforth governed the factions, now arrayed against
each other in open, desperate warfare.

The wounding of Martin by Floyd Tolliver placed the latter and his
friends and relatives in a dangerous position. They knew the Martins
would not pass lightly over the matter. Their numbers and influence
made them dangerous adversaries. Floyd Tolliver lived at Farmers, a
small village on the Licking river, a station of the Chesapeake & Ohio
Railway, which traverses the county and passes through Morehead. The
Tollivers also were a large family. Floyd, believing himself in danger,
now turned to his relatives and friends for assistance. They responded
promptly, armed and organized. The Martins, the Sizemores and the Days
did likewise, thus dividing the county into four factions, composed of
determined, courageous and desperate men.

During the Circuit Court following the murder of Bradley the grand jury
returned indictments against John Martin, Floyd Tolliver and Sheriff
John C. Day for malicious shooting and wounding and murder. Bail was
granted, bonds were readily executed and the cases continued until the
next term of court.

In December following the fight of August, 1884, Floyd Tolliver and
John Martin, who had recovered from his wounds, came for the first
time face to face outside of the court room and when not in custody
of the officers, since their fight. They met in a barroom, a place
never suitable for enemies to meet. Had both men been duly sober
trouble might have been averted. But, flushed with liquor, the old
grudge soon got in its work, a dispute arose, their hands reached for
their pistols, the shining weapons flashed for a moment, then belched
forth fire and flame,--a cry, the dull thud of a falling body--Floyd
Tolliver lay prostrate upon the floor--dead.

Martin was immediately arrested and conveyed to the county jail. To
his friends the killing was a shock. They were fully convinced that
Craig Tolliver and the other brothers of Floyd Tolliver would seek
summary vengeance. Grave fears were entertained for the safety of John
Martin in the old jail. Rumors of the organization of a large Tolliver
mob increased anxiety and apprehension with each fleeting hour. But,
as much as the Tollivers were feared, and the more they threatened,
Martin's friends bravely prepared to protect him at all hazards. Thus
the aggressiveness of the Tollivers was counteracted by the bold
defiance of the Martins.

The County Attorney, Mr. Young, was one of the ablest and most
fearless Commonwealth lawyers in Kentucky. By his enemies, and they
were numerous, he was regarded as wholly unscrupulous. They refused
to credit him with even one pure thought, or action, emanating from
a noble impulse. But unbiased investigation of the facts of this
matter clearly shows that Mr. Young did his duty in this particular.
He was perfectly acquainted with the character of the men arrayed
against Martin, and was not the man to be deluded by their repeated
declarations that the law would be permitted to take its course. At
the risk of antagonizing the Tolliver faction against himself Mr. Young
promptly directed the removal of John Martin to the Clark County jail
at Winchester for safekeeping. County Judge Stewart saw the wisdom of
it and issued the order for the removal, which was accomplished without

As soon as it became known that their intended victim had escaped them,
the Tollivers, furious and raging, gathered in large force, spreading
terror wherever they appeared. "We can wait--" they said, "there is
another day coming. John Martin must be brought back to Morehead for
trial and then--just wait."

December 10th, 1884, was the day set for the examining trial before
County Judge Stewart at Morehead. Before that day arrived, the unusual
activity of the Tollivers, the ominous collection of all the members
and friends of that family, the frequent but secret meetings, had been
quietly, but nevertheless keenly observed by Judge Stewart. He was
convinced that if Martin were brought back to Rowan County at this time
of ferment and excitement he would suffer a violent death at the hands
of his enemies, and that any attempt on the part of the officers and
friends of the prisoner would precipitate a conflict the magnitude of
which could not be foretold.

In this opinion Judge Stewart was sustained by Attorney Young. After
a careful investigation of the state of affairs the court decided on
an indefinite postponement of the trial. The order to the jailer of
Clark County, directing him to deliver Martin to officers of Rowan
County, was suspended on the 9th day of December, but unfortunately
(fateful neglect!) the order of suspension was not communicated to the
Clark County jailer. The wife of John Martin had been advised of the
postponement of the trial. The faithful woman who had already suffered
untold anxiety and fear for the safety of her husband, felt relieved
and hastened to Winchester to inform him of the action of the Court of
Rowan County.

As soon as the Tollivers were informed that the trial would not take
place, and that, therefore, Martin would remain at Winchester for an
indefinite time, they convened in a council of war to discuss plans of

A raid upon the Winchester jail was suggested, but the leaders, though
desperate and brave enough to have attempted and dared anything, did
not believe that such an undertaking would meet with success. They
advised strategy instead of force.

On the 9th of December, on the same day that Judge Stewart canceled
the order for delivery of the prisoner by the jailer of Clark
County, an order was delivered into the hands of A. M. Bowling, town
marshal at Farmers, directing him to demand Martin from the jailer
at Winchester and to convey him to the county jail at Morehead. The
order also directed the jailer of Clark County to surrender Martin
into the custody of Bowling. The plot was shrewdly planned. The order,
forged, of course, would open the doors of the Winchester jail without
difficulty, and the prisoner must, therefore, become an easy victim on
his way to Rowan County.

Bowling, a Tolliver clansman, engaged four other members of it to
accompany him to Winchester,--Hall, Eastman, Milt and Ed Evans. Four
men to convey a handcuffed prisoner! It was deemed best to send a
sufficient number to prevent outsiders from interfering in the final
act of the inhuman drama staged by Craig Tolliver and his henchmen.

On arriving at the jail at Winchester, Bowling presented his order,
which was signed (?) by two Justices of the Peace of Rowan County
and which directed the delivery of Martin to Bowling. The order
was carefully drawn in the usual form, and had every appearance of
genuineness. A few minutes after John Martin's wife had bidden her
husband good-bye at the Winchester jail, Bowling presented his order
for the delivery of Martin.

While the wife was at the station awaiting the arrival of the train
which was to carry her homeward, little dreaming that she had clasped
the hand of her husband warm with life for the last time, the prisoner
was aroused by his keeper and told to prepare for his removal to
Morehead. Martin at once became suspicious. He remonstrated against
the transfer, but the jailer produced the order. The prisoner pleaded
long and earnestly. He explained to the official that he had received
definite information through his wife that on account of the danger
that awaited him at Morehead the county authorities of Rowan County had
indefinitely postponed his removal. He insisted that Bowling and his
companions were his deadly enemies; that every surrounding circumstance
pointed to treachery, and that his delivery into the hands of Bowling
meant nothing more nor less than assassination.

The jailer turned a deaf ear to his entreaties. He argued that a
refusal to comply with the imperative order of the Rowan County Judge
would involve him in trouble. He had no right to believe the order
forged. It bore the stamp of genuineness. It seems to us, however,
that a more circumspect officer, informed of the conditions and
circumstances surrounding the prisoner, acquainted with the dangerous
state of affairs in Rowan County as the result of which Martin had been
removed to Winchester, would have held the prisoner until he could have
communicated with the authorities at Morehead. Disobedience to the
court's orders, intended for the protection of a helpless prisoner,
could not have been subject to censure, especially when the forgery
of the order was later on established. He might easily have verified
the genuineness of the paper by telegraph. Blind obedience often works
injury. Threatening disasters through blunders of commanding officers
have often been averted by the disobedience of inferior officers, who
preferred facing court martial rather than become a party to useless
slaughter and defeat.

John Martin was delivered to Bowling and his companions. Securely
shackled, he was marched to the train. Doubtless he suffered the
same mental agony as does the man on the way to the scaffold. It was
pathetic chance that Mrs. Martin boarded the same train. She entered
another coach, entirely ignorant of her husband's presence in the next

While this occurred at Winchester, Craig Tolliver and his band had
already assembled at Farmers, ready to play their part in the cowardly
deed. Armed to the teeth, they were posted at and near the railway
station, impatiently awaiting the arrival of the train. The night was
dark and disagreeable, perfectly suited for a hold-up.

Presently the flash of light pierces the gloom, the shriek of the
engine whistle echoes mournfully through the night. The train bearing
John Martin thunders toward the station. The air-brakes wheeze, the
train slows up; the conductor cries "All out for Farm--" He does not
finish the call of the station. A pistol is thrust into his face. Armed
men board the engine and cover the engineer and fireman. Others enter
the coach in which Martin is sitting, handcuffed, utterly helpless,
surrounded by Bowling and his confederates.

Martin sees the men enter and instinctively realizes that his end has
come. He attempts to rise to his feet. Instantly shots are fired.
Martin sinks back upon his seat, lifeless, his "protectors" calmly
witnessing the murder.

Martin's wife, in another coach, had up to this time believed her
husband secure in his cell at Winchester. But the moment she heard the
shots, unaccountable, undefinable dread seized her. Instinctively she
rushed to the scene of the tragedy and found her suspicions realized.
There lay the blood-covered body of her husband, literally torn to
pieces and perforated with leaden messengers of death. All that the
faithful, grief-stricken wife could do was to order the remains taken
on to Morehead. Martin was buried amid a large concourse of sorrowing
friends and relatives. The solemnity of the occasion accorded ill with
the many suppressed, yet none the less ominous threats of terrible and
swift punishment of the murderers.

The news of the cowardly assassination spread like wildfire over the
county. The war had begun in earnest. From the day John Martin's body
was consigned to the grave, the angel of peace departed from Rowan
County. For more than three years a reign of terror was to sweep over
it with all its attendant horrors, cutting a wide path of desolation
and misery. Deeds of violence now occurred at frequent intervals. All
manner of crime went unpunished by the law. The whole machinery of the
law was rotten, the officers of the courts being themselves partisans,
in some instances very active as such.

Mr. Young, the county attorney, was the first to feel the wrath of
the Martin faction. While riding along the road on Christi Creek he
was shot from ambush and painfully, but not fatally, wounded. The
perpetrators of this deed were not definitely known, but Young's
friends claimed to have certain information that the men who attempted
his assassination had acted under instructions from the Martin faction,
which had openly accused Young of playing into the hands of the
Tollivers, and had even gone so far as to allege that he had with them
connived in the murder of John Martin.

Whether he was or was not a Tolliver sympathizer, another murder
committed soon afterwards was laid at the door of the Tollivers,
to avenge, it was charged, the wounding of Mr. Young. Under the
circumstances this gentleman determined to and did remove from the
county where his life was evidently no longer safe. He located in an
adjoining county. At the succeeding election his son was elected to the
office his father had vacated.

The murder above referred to was that of Stewart Baumgartner. Cook
Humphrey, the Republican Sheriff, had appointed him a deputy. On the
17th day of March, 1885, Baumgartner rode along Christi Creek, when,
almost at the identical spot where Mr. Young had been fired upon, he
was shot and instantly killed--from ambush. No one was ever indicted
for that killing, but it was generally believed, charged and never
denied that Craig Tolliver's subordinates were the murderers.

Shortly after the death of Baumgartner, and during the month of April,
1885, Cook Humphrey and a stranger, afterwards ascertained to have been
Ed. Pierce of Greenup County, Ky., appeared on the streets of Morehead,
heavily armed and followed by a number of Martin sympathizers. This
act of defiance called forth bitter denunciation from the Tollivers
and their friends, among whom was ex-Sheriff Day and Jeff Bowling, men
of reckless courage. The leaders of the opposing factions assembled
every available man, and provided them with arms. The most determined
preparations were made to fight out their differences on the streets
of Morehead. Humphrey's headquarters were at the Carey House, a hotel
owned and operated by James Carey, an ex-captain of the Union army
and a very influential citizen. The Tollivers occupied the Cottage
Hotel near the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway depot, then owned by Dr. R.
L. Rains. As quickly as possible a message was forwarded to Craig
Tolliver, absent from Morehead at the time. He came, accompanied by a
number of Tollivers from Elliott County. The battle opened fast and
furious. A continuous fire from many guns kept the citizens of the
town in terror for many hours. The balls whizzed through every portion
of the ill-fated village. Storehouses and dwellings were riddled. None
dared to enter the streets, or expose his body for an instant.

The Carey House apparently bore the brunt of the firing. Hundreds of
balls struck and shattered the slight frame structure. The Tollivers,
beside superior numbers, had the advantage of position. Their
marksmanship was better, too. Humphrey and his clan soon realized that
a charge upon their position would mean their annihilation. So at
an opportune moment the Carey House was abandoned and the Tollivers
remained in undisputed control.

In spite of the long-continued, heavy firing, an unremitting fusilade
of many hours' duration, there were no casualties. The battle, however,
exercised such a terrifying influence over the peaceable citizens of
the town that all that could left.

Morehead, in fact the county, was now in a state of anarchy. The
matter was reported to the Governor, who immediately ordered General
John B. Castleman, then Adjutant General of Kentucky, to Morehead
to investigate conditions there and to discover the causes of this
shameful lawlessness. General Castleman, in company with others, went
to Morehead and interviewed the adherents of the different factions
and leading citizens of the county. This commission, on completing its
mission, reported its findings to the Governor. The result was that the
leading spirits in the feud were summoned to Louisville, Ky., where
a _compromise_ was patched up between the belligerents. Both sides
pledged themselves to return home, to lay down their arms and to cease
to molest each other. This proceeding brought into prominence H. M.
Logan, Judge James Carey and Cook Humphrey as adherents of the Martin
faction and Craig Tolliver, Dr. Jerry Wilson and others as the Tolliver
faction leaders.

The agreement entered into at Louisville, intended to restore peace,
effected the opposite result. It prevented prosecution of either side
for the Morehead riot. The leniency extended by the authorities merely
emboldened and encouraged the warring parties--the truce was violated
by both sides within a short time after it had been agreed to.

The factions charged each other with insincerity, of secretly
maintaining armed bands and preparing for renewed hostilities. Within a
few weeks after the compromise at Louisville, conditions in Rowan were
as bad as ever, nay--worse.

As we have stated, the shooting of Young, the County Attorney, had
been charged to the Martin faction. In retaliation for this crime
the Tollivers had murdered Sheriff Humphrey's deputy, Baumgartner.
Subsequent developments then seemed to directly implicate Cook
Humphrey in the shooting of Young, and this led to a renewal of
active hostilities. It appears that immediately after the treaty at
Louisville, Ed. Pierce, the man who had so mysteriously appeared on the
streets of Morehead in company with Cook Humphrey on the day of the
riot, was arrested in Greenup County and taken to Bath County for trial
on a charge of robbery. A jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to
the penitentiary for a long term. While confined in jail previous to
his trial, he admitted his participation in the shooting of Mr. Young,
implicating also Ben Rayborn of Carter County, a man but little known
in Rowan County. In his confession Pierce claimed to have been employed
to kill Mr. Young by the sisters and family of John Martin, and that
Sheriff Humphrey and Baumgartner, his deputy, had aided and assisted in
arranging the details of the plot.

Humphrey and the Martins indignantly denied every word of Pierce's
confession, and asserted that he had been bribed by Mr. Young to make
it for the purpose of destroying the prestige of the Martin family in
the county, and to furnish the excuse for further outrages.

Humphrey and the Martin family were now put under constant surveillance
by the Tollivers. The Martin homestead, situated about one mile from
Morehead, became an object of special vigilance. Finally, on the
evening of the 27th day of July, 1885, the Tolliver spies reported
to their leader at Morehead that two men had been seen around the
Martin home. Instantly everything was in commotion at the Tolliver
headquarters. Craig Tolliver, Jeff Bowling, T. A. Day and others, all
sworn enemies of the Martins, surrounded the homestead in the dark of
night and remained on watch until morning.

Shortly after daylight a stranger, afterwards recognized as Ben
Rayborn, in company of Sue Martin, a young woman of much native sense
and energy, emerged from the house and "robbed" a beehive in the yard
without having discovered the enemy. Rayborn was heavily armed. His
presence convinced the Tollivers that Cook Humphrey was in the house;
they now determined upon open attack. But to avoid possible failure of
the plot it was deemed necessary to increase the force. A messenger was
hurriedly dispatched to Morehead.

A short time afterwards the Tollivers had assembled a force of
twenty-five or thirty men, among whom were many of the most violent men
of Rowan County.

At nine o'clock Craig Tolliver had stationed this force at every
point of vantage. Then he and Bowling appeared at the front door with
Winchester rifles gleaming in the sunlight. For the first time the
inmates of the house seemed aware of the presence of the enemy. There
was apparently no chance of escape. Every door was securely guarded.
Tolliver was met at the door by the brave Martin girls who demanded
an explanation for the intrusion. Tolliver demanded the surrender of
Cook Humphrey and any other man or men that might be with him. The
girls stoutly denied the presence of any one save the members of the
family. Tolliver knew this to be false. With his own eyes he had seen
Rayborn that morning. He charged the girls with duplicity and forced
his way into the house. No one was found on the first floor. Then they
attempted search of the upper story. At the stairway a shotgun suddenly
belched forth fire and flame into the faces of the Tollivers. Craig's
face and part of his body was filled with shot, the gun stock shivered
to pieces in his hand. He sank upon the steps and rolled helplessly at
the feet of his companions. Bowling miraculously escaped unhurt.

Craig Tolliver was immediately placed upon a horse and sent to Morehead
for repairs. The others, not daring to force the stairway, went outside
and contented themselves with firing through the doors and windows. The
fusilade continued incessantly for a long time. Black smoke hung like a
cloud over the premises. If the Tollivers hoped to force the surrender
of Humphrey and his companion by mere intimidation, they soon saw their
mistake. These two men were brave to the core. Besides, they preferred
to die fighting rather to being mercilessly butchered as helpless
prisoners. They remembered the fate of John Martin.

Finally Humphrey managed to make himself heard through the din and
crash of battle. He informed his assailants that he was there in the
house and that by virtue of his office as sheriff of the county none
but the coroner had the legal right to arrest him. The Tollivers
sneered at this speech. They had not come to uphold the law; they had
succeeded in trapping the enemy, and meant to use the advantage they
had gained. Hours thus passed. All day the guns roared into and from
the house. The sun was sinking rapidly toward the western horizon;
the shades of evening grew longer. As long as daylight lasted the
assailants had kept covered and protected, held at bay by the brave
defenders. But in the dark of night, the end must come. They could not
prevent a simultaneous attack from the entire force of the assailants.
Surrounded on every side, escape seemed well-nigh impossible. Yet
Humphrey essayed to make a sortie with his companion, hoping thereby to
draw the fire of the enemy upon themselves and to thus at least relieve
the women in the house of further danger of death which had threatened
them every moment throughout that long day. It was a desperate
undertaking, with ninety-nine chances in a hundred against its success.
But Humphrey was brave, and so was Rayborn. As expected, the instant
they emerged from the house a shower of balls greeted them. They ran
for their lives. Rayborn sank, rose and fell again, to rise no more.
His body was riddled. Humphrey, however, seemed possessed of a charmed
life. Though his clothing was torn to shreds, his body received not a

Satisfied now that there were no more men in the house, the Tolliver
clan crowned their infamous day's work by setting fire to it. The
inmates escaped without even necessary clothing. The body of Rayborn
was left lying where it had fallen until the next day, protected from
mutilation by dogs and hogs by a rail pen which had been built around
it by the heroic Martin girls.

The excitement that prevailed in the county when the news of the
cowardly attack upon the Martin home became known, can better
be imagined than described. The lover of law and order was
terror-stricken. The question was asked in whispers--"Where will it all
end?" The County Judge was a well-meaning man, but utterly incompetent
as an officer, possessing none of the qualifications for such an office
in a county like Rowan at such a time of lawlessness and anarchy. He
was weak and timid. Always in fear for his life, he completely lost his

Warrants were at last issued upon the affidavits of the Martin girls
against Craig Tolliver, Jeff Bowling and a number of others, charging
them with murder and arson. An examining trial followed. At that time
such trials were held before two justices of the peace. One was said
to be a Martin sympathizer; the other stood accused of being under the
thumb of the Tollivers.

The court's decision gave color to these suspicions. One of the
magistrates decided for commitment of the prisoners to jail without
bail; the other declared that no offense had been proven. Under
the law then existing this disagreement of the court permitted the
murderers to go _free_.

The trial was a pronounced farce. Afterwards some of the parties were
indicted by the grand jury for arson, but none was convicted and the
murder charges against them all fell.

Jeff Bowling, one of the most desperate of the Tolliver faction,
removed from the county of Rowan a short time afterward, and settled
in Ohio, where he continued his career of crime, evidently believing
that there, as well as in Kentucky, none dared molest him. He saw his
mistake too late.

It appears that his mother-in-law had married a wealthy farmer named
Douglas, of Licking County, Ohio. It had been due to the persuasion
of Douglas that Bowling left Kentucky and settled in or near his Ohio
kinsman. Bowling had resided there but a short time when Douglas was
found one morning in his barn--murdered. The finger of suspicion
pointed to Bowling as the only one who had a tangible motive for the
commission of the crime. He was promptly indicted, tried and sentenced
to death, but the sentence was finally commuted to life imprisonment.
He served seven years of his time and moved to Texas.

Humphrey, after his miraculous escape from the Martin house, had
become thoroughly convinced that it was impossible for him to longer
continue in the office of sheriff and resigned, William Ramey being
appointed and qualified in his stead.

Craig Tolliver for a time absented himself from Rowan County. He turned
up in jail at Cincinnati, imprisoned on the charge of robbery. He was
tried, acquitted and returned to Rowan County, when trouble started

Several killings occurred in the county during the year, some of which
had, however, only remote connection with the feud. John G. Hughes was
killed by a mob styling themselves "regulators." Wiley Tolliver, son
of L. H. B. Tolliver, was killed about Christmas, 1885, by one Mack
Bentley, during a drunken row.

Early in 1886, the murder of Whit Pelfrey, at Elliottsville, Rowan
County, came near precipitating another outbreak. He was stabbed and
killed by Tom Goodan, brother of S. B. Goodan, a prominent Tolliver man
and brother-in-law of Jay, Bud and Wiley Tolliver. Pelfrey, known as
a strong Martin sympathizer, was an influential citizen and wealthy.
Goodan was tried for this murder, but acquitted.

The year 1886 brought with it an annual election at which all county
officers were to be chosen. Each faction had its candidates in the
field. It may, therefore, be easily imagined that neutral citizens
remained in a state of constant anxiety and apprehension.

Cook Humphrey and Craig Tolliver roamed through the county at the head
of large forces, frequently entering the town of Morehead and parading
the streets in defiance of each other.

On July 2nd, 1886, it being County Court day, a warrant of arrest was
placed in the hands of Sheriff Ramey for the arrest of Humphrey, who
was in town that day. The officer went in search of and found him
near the store of H. M. Logan. An altercation ensued between the men,
both drew their pistols and began firing. Friends of both parties
became involved and the shooting became general. When the fight was
over it was found that the sheriff and his son and deputy, were both
dangerously wounded, while W. O. Logan, H. M. Logan's son, a youth
hardly twenty years of age, was killed.

Immediately after the fight the factions retired to their headquarters
and prepared for another conflict. The County Judge was prevailed upon
to demand troops. His request was readily granted and a detachment of
State Guards, commanded by Major K. W. McKee of Lawrenceburg, hastened
to the scene of the trouble.

When July 3rd came, the citizens, women and children, trembled with
fear of a bloody conflict. At the quarters of the factions guns and
pistols were cleaned, oiled and loaded, cartridge belts filled--every
preparation made for battle.

Then the long-drawn notes of a bugle floated in the morning air--the
astonished people peered through the windows and beheld in the court
house yard a long line of soldiers, their guns and bayonets glistening
in the morning sun. There was a sigh of relief--danger had passed for
the moment.

The troops remained at Morehead until some time in August. It was
due to their presence that the election passed off without violence
and bloodshed. When Circuit Court convened, the Commonwealth was
represented by the Honorable Asher C. Caruth, Commonwealth Attorney of
the Jefferson Circuit Court, and afterwards member of Congress from the
Louisville District.

As at this time practically every citizen in the county was aligned
on one side or the other, it seemed impossible to secure juries that
would try cases impartially and without prejudice. This state of
affairs did not escape the attention of Mr. Caruth. The result of
his investigations of affairs in Rowan County resulted in a _nolle
prosequis_, qualified by certain conditions, of the charges against
the Tollivers and Humphrey. His proceeding in this respect is contained
in the following report to Judge Cole, presiding judge of the Circuit

    Hon. A. E. Cole,
        Judge of the Rowan Circuit Court.

    Under your appointment I have acted as Commonwealth Attorney pro
    tempore at the special July and present August term of the Rowan
    Circuit Court. I have given the felony docket, over which alone,
    under the present law, I have jurisdiction, careful study and
    attention. I have also investigated as thoroughly as a stranger
    to the people of Rowan County could do in the limited time of my
    service, the causes which led to the present unhappy condition of
    affairs, and have sought to find a remedy for the evils afflicting
    this people.

    I find it to be the opinion of the law-abiding citizens of all
    parties that the public peace could be best secured by the
    continued absence from the county of Rowan of the acknowledged
    and recognized leaders of the two rival factions--Craig Tolliver
    and Cook Humphrey. Against the former there is now pending one
    felony charge, that of false arrest and imprisonment. Against
    Humphrey there are three indictments for felony on the docket,
    each for conspiring, etc., to commit personal violence. I have
    the written request of each of these persons accused to suspend
    further proceedings in their cases, coupled with a promise on the
    part of each to leave the county of Rowan never to return unless,
    temporarily, to attend the funeral of some immediate relative....
    The persons charged to have been injured by their acts also
    request this disposition of the pending cases. It is the opinion
    of the members of the grand jury now in session, and of the vast
    majority of the citizens of the county, that this disposition
    of the cases will do much to restore peace and confidence to
    the community. After full consultation with the members of the
    bar residing here or practising here, with the commander of the
    forces now stationed at the county seat, and with citizens of high
    position and authority in the Commonwealth, and considering the
    _uncertainty of the criminal trials_, I am convinced that this is
    the best available method to secure the end in view. No harm can,
    by this means, be done the State, because, should the agreement be
    violated, the cases can at once be set for trial and prosecutions

The following written agreements were then signed and attested:

    Asher G. Caruth,
        Commonwealth's Attorney pro tempore,
            14th Judicial District:--

    I request you to suspend any further proceedings in the cases now
    pending in the Rowan Circuit Court against me, and promise that I
    will remain away from the county of Rowan permanently. Should I
    ever return to said county I am willing that the cases shall be
    redocketed and the trials proceed. I will leave said county on
    or before the 8th day of August, A. D. 1886. In this agreement I
    reserve the right, in the event of the death of any of my immediate
    relatives, to return to attend their burial, but I must immediately
    thereafter leave the county to permanently remain away.

                                               (Signed) CRAIG TOLLIVER.

    Attest: D. B. Logan.

A similar agreement was prepared and signed by W. C. Humphrey, attested
by G. A. Cassidy.

We do not wish to criticise Mr. Caruth's course in this matter, but
it occurs to us, and must occur to the reader, that the practice of
compromising with outlaws proves a weak-kneed administration of the
law. It seems that a man or set of men may terrorize a community as
pleases them, then demand of the authorities immunity for crimes, on
certain _conditions prescribed by the criminals_. Mr. Caruth acted for
the best interests of the community, as he believed. Aware that juries
were partial or prejudiced, he realized that trials in Rowan County of
either of the factions would result in injustice one way or another.
The Grand Juries were corrupt and accustomed to wreak vengeance on
some and whitewashing others. The selection of trial juries was so
palpably unfair that visiting lawyers commented upon it and afterward
testified before the legislative committee to that fact. Several court
officers were undisguised partisans. It seems to us, however, that
these cases might have been removed from the county and tried elsewhere
upon a change of venue. At any rate, the compromise effected by Mr.
Caruth proved not only unsatisfactory, but ill-advised. The success
of his scheme was founded upon the belief that the parties to the
agreement would adhere to the pledge to leave the county. He did not
understand the character of Craig Tolliver. To secure his signature
to an agreement that would put an enemy out of his way was one thing,
to make him keep it, another. Tolliver remained absent from Morehead
long enough to assure himself that the indictments against him were
dismissed, when he promptly returned. Although the compromise was
based upon the understanding that if either returned except under the
conditions recited in the agreement that the indictments against the
party so returning should be redocketed and revived, _this was never
done_. Tolliver was free to continue his career of crime. Humphrey
kept his word, and never violated his pledge. He sold out his earthly
possessions in Rowan County and bade farewell to his native State.

Previous to his election as sheriff Humphrey had been a highly esteemed
citizen, a man of exemplary character, of amiable disposition. His
fatal connection with the feud was mainly due to his unfortunate
selection of Stewart Baumgartner as his deputy. The latter was a
citizen of Elliott County, where he had a reputation for violence and
desperation. Pursuing the same course in Rowan, Humphrey's association
with him made him many enemies. Baumgartner's connection with the
Martin faction compromised Humphrey; thus step by step he was thrown
into the whirlpool of trouble. The formerly quiet, inoffensive citizen
grew dangerous and violent; the dormant, unholy passion of revenge was
aroused. Humphrey became for the time being a character dreaded by
those that opposed him. At the time of his participation in the feud
he was yet in his twenties and unmarried. After leaving Kentucky he
went West, never to return to his native heath until after the death of
Craig Tolliver and his followers, and then only on special business.

With Humphrey gone, the Martin faction practically disbanded. Had
Tolliver observed the treaty stipulations as faithfully and honestly as
did Humphrey, this chapter might end here. The writer would be spared
the unpleasant task of continuing the record of violence, murder and
anarchy. It is evident that Tolliver had entered into this agreement
with the avowed purpose of violating it. He had every reason to believe
that Humphrey would observe it. He out of the way, there stood no one
to dispute Tolliver's undisputed sway in the county, especially at
Morehead. His adherents remained faithful and joined him. They did as
they pleased, in fact had things their own way. If the authorities
did not dare molest them, who should? A few of the citizens who had
attempted a mild protest against Craig Tolliver's dictatorship, were
easily intimidated by keeping them in constant fear of death or
destruction of their property.

Saloons were opened and operated without license. Magistrates refused
to issue warrants, knowing that such an act would forfeit their lives.
Had the warrants been issued, no officers could have been persuaded to
execute them. The residences and grog shops of the Tollivers resembled
and were arsenals. An effective and favorite method of Craig Tolliver
to rid himself of any, to him, undesirable citizens, was to send a
written communication to them, setting forth the fact that Rowan County
could dispense with their presence, and that on a certain day in the
near future certain funerals would take place unless they were gone
from the county. A funeral is not a pleasant function at any time, and
the prospect of one's own set for a definite time, has a tendency with
many persons to try hard to avoid it, if possible. It was, therefore,
not surprising that parties thus notified preferred absence from the
county to being principals at funerals. A few regarded those letters as
idle and meaningless threats, but the sincerity of the advice could no
longer be doubted or questioned when several prophesied funerals did
take place.

To detail the circumstances of the various killings that occurred
during that stormy period of Rowan County would prove tedious. Suffice
it to say, that from the first Monday in August, 1884, to the 22nd
of July, 1887, twenty-three men were killed in Rowan County. No
convictions were secured for any of these murders. But of this later on.

On October 20th, 1886, H. M. Logan was shot from ambush in the streets
of Morehead, while walking from his place of business to his residence.
The wound was dangerous but not fatal.

Judge Carey came in for a full share of the enemy's hatred and
vengeance. His hotel was frequently fired into at night by parties
armed with needle guns and large calibre Winchesters. His house assumed
the appearance of having been struck by a cyclone. Windows and doors
had been completely shot away and the walls perforated in a thousand
places. It required neither doors nor windows to admit daylight.

The Exchange Hotel shared a similar fate. It was managed by H. C.
Powers, another Humphrey adherent.

This kind of argument was convincing, more forcible than words or
letters. Powers and Carey both felt a sudden desire to remove from the
atmosphere of Morehead, concluding that Covington, Kentucky, possessed
greater allurements for the time being than did their home town. Both
remained away from the county until after the bloody, final battle at
Morehead in 1887. Unfortunately, we have no authentic account of the
leave-taking between the Tollivers and Carey and Powers. It must have
been very affectionate, since the Tollivers had exhibited such concern
for their safety, comfort and health as to persuade them so urgently to
remove to a happier and better land.

Howard Logan (H. M.) too, had enough of this joke about funeral
predictions. He could not see the point of it, and concluded that
Ashland, on the banks of the beautiful Ohio, would be the proper place
to recover from his labors and see the world. He also remained away
until after the annihilation of the Tollivers. There were a number
of others who seemed suddenly seized with a fever to emigrate. Among
them were John R. Powers, James E. Clark, a prominent lawyer, who
found a more congenial home at Unionville, Clark County, Missouri;
James Brain, a brother-in-law of Judge Carey; R. C. Humphrey, brother
of Cook Humphrey; both of whom settled in Missouri. Many others
"scouted" in neighboring counties until the return of peace. Judge
Tussey, brother-in-law of the murdered John Martin, on the advice and
persuasion of his wife, remained absent in Carter County and returned
only to take part in the final drama.

Nearly all of the parties who were thus driven from the county, were
men of wealth and business capacity. Removals continued. The magnitude
of the exodus may be realized by examining the figures giving the
population of the county seat, Morehead, from 1885 until the early
part of 1887. In 1885 Morehead was a flourishing town of more than
seven hundred inhabitants. Within two years this figure was reduced to
less than three hundred. More than _half_ the population had removed.
Private residences and storehouses stood empty, with windows nailed
up or were taken possession of by the Tollivers whenever it suited
their fancy. The Tollivers made up the population. The offices of
police judge and town marshal were filled by Tollivers. On June 1st,
1887, Craig Tolliver had the entire town under absolute control. He was
elected police judge without opposition. He did a driving business,
selling whiskey, without license, of course. The law as to obtaining
license to sell liquor applied not to him. He was above the law. He
took possession of the Exchange Hotel, which H. C. Powers had left
without a tenant, by right of conquest. Why should he have troubled
himself with renting property when houses stood empty, and he was
monarch of the town! The property of his enemies was his--the spoils of

The Central Hotel was placed at the disposal of Tolliver by its owner;
the former leased it to Bunk Mannin and his brother, Jim Mannin. These
two were Craig Tolliver's constant associates. He had brought them from
Elliott County. Knowing their reputation as desperadoes, he created
them his body-guard. Bunk Mannin, bloodthirsty, brutal, but courageous,
believed he could serve his chieftain best by capturing the office of
town marshal. He set himself up as candidate and was elected without a
whisper of opposition. As town marshal and hotel keeper, he opened a
saloon at the Central Hotel, operating it in the manner of the one run
by Craig Tolliver, in violation of the law. Bud Tolliver was made a
member of the town council. Craig Tolliver's triumph was now complete.
The midnight carousals, the continuous discharges of Winchester rifles
and pistols, made night hideous. Persons of unquestionable courage grew
nervous. At this period the exodus of the inhabitants was greatest.

Social functions were out of the question. Adjutant-General Hill says
in his report to the Governor, after the final battle of July, 1887:

    "One night while I was there the young people of Morehead had a
    social at the home of a prominent citizen, and I was told that it
    was the _first event of the kind which had occurred in the little
    town for years_."

The Tollivers controlled the court and the grand juries. A witness
daring enough to indict them for their many offences was certain to be
indicted for some imaginary offense in return for his audacity. Thus
during one court, shortly after the "shooting up" of the Carey House,
two daughters of Howard Logan testified before the grand jury and
indicted one Dr. Wilson for participating in the riot. The same evening
the grand jury returned indictments against the two young ladies for
"false swearing."

The secrets of the grand jury leaked constantly. Every word of
testimony uttered before it was promptly and minutely reported to
the Tollivers. Mrs. Martin, who had been a witness against them on
several charges, was indicted for sending a poisoned turkey to a
Tolliver sympathizer. Is it a wonder that Attorney-General Hardin
stigmatized the whole machinery of justice in the county as "rotten"?
Is it a wonder that crime was rampant and of daily occurrence? Is it a
wonder that outraged manhood at last took the law in its own hand and
annihilated the outlaws?

Sometime in the latter part of 1886, or early part of 1887, H. M.
Keeton, constable of Morehead precinct, was shot and killed by Bud
Tolliver. Keeton, too, had been duly served with notice of the date of
his funeral. Remaining in the county, he furnished the body.

W. N. Wicher was shot and killed by John Trumbo, a Tolliver man.

At the February term of the Rowan Circuit Court (1887) Dr. Henry S.
Logan, R. M. McClure, John B. and W. H. Logan and Lewis Rayborn, were
indicted for conspiracy to murder Circuit Court Judge A. E. Cole, James
H. Sallee, Commonwealth's Attorney, and Z. T. Young. All the parties
indicted were prominent citizens and of such a character that those
not prejudiced against, and acquainted with them, at once declared the
charges false. The entire transaction bore the ear-marks of a shrewdly
laid plot to rid the county of these men, who had become objectionable
to _Czar_ Craig Tolliver because they had dared to criticise his rule.
The indicted parties were arrested and confined in jail, their bail
having been placed at an exorbitant sum. They were hustled off to
Lexington for "safekeeping." John B. and W. H. Logan gave bond and
returned to their home, about four miles distant from Morehead. Their
father remained in prison.

When it became known that James Pelfrey was the chief witness against
them, it seemed easy to see through the whole affair. Pelfrey's black
character was well-known by some of the Tolliver clan, and to this
unscrupulous man they had turned to effect their villainous conspiracy.
A suitable story was concocted and rehearsed. With it Pelfrey appeared
before the grand jury, and loaded upon his sin-stained soul the
dastardly, black crime of perjury. After their return home the Logan
boys lived quietly and alone, taking charge of the farm in their
father's absence. W. H. Logan (Billy) was a consumptive, twenty-five
years old, and almost reduced to a skeleton by the dread disease. His
brother, J. B. Logan (Jack) was a youth of eighteen.

On the 7th of June, 1887, a disreputable character named Hiram Cooper,
who lived in the neighborhood of the Logan boys, came to Morehead and
swore out a warrant against the Logan boys and their cousin, A. W.
Logan, charging them with confederating and banding together for the
purpose of murdering him (Cooper). This act was in pursuance of the
original plot to rid the county of the family, which, however, had
failed to some extent when the boys had succeeded in giving bail and
were released from prison.

Craig Tolliver, the police judge, issued the warrants. They were placed
in the hands of his confederate, Town Marshal Bunk Mannin, who summoned
a posse of _ten_ men to assist him in the execution of the warrants
against the two boys. Among these _brave_ officers were Deputy Sheriff
George Hogg, Bud Tolliver, Jay Tolliver, Cal Tolliver, Hiram Cooper and
one Young.

Completely ignorant of the impending danger, the boys were found at
home. The first warning they had of the approach of the assassins,
under the guise of officers, was the rapid firing of guns. The boys,
terrified, ran up-stairs, Mannin and Craig Tolliver rushing after
them. Jack Logan seized a shotgun, and over the earnest protest of his
brother Billy, fired into the body of Mannin, inflicting a painful,
but, unfortunately, not fatal wound. Mannin and Craig Tolliver
retreated from the house, while the boys waited tremblingly, with bated
breath, for developments. They saw there was no hope for them. The
smell of burning wood and clouds of smoke told them of their peril. By
order of _Judge_ Tolliver the posse comitatus had built a fire on the
porch intending to burn the house, and thus force the boys to come out.
The crackling of flames, the shouts and cruel, derisive laughter of the
brutal band outside presented a scene such as we read of with horror
in the stories of the Indian wars. Deputy Sheriff Hogg then _requested
permission_ to extinguish the flames. The other "representatives of
the law" consenting, a parley was held. Hogg went into the house and
offered the boys the alternative of surrender or death by fire. They
naturally chose the former, hoping against hope that some miracle might
yet save them, or that, perhaps, their appearing unarmed, might move
the band with compassion and mercy. However, before leaving the house,
they wished assurance that their lives should be protected. Deputy
Sheriff Hogg reported to Craig Tolliver, and that redoubtable officer
of the Commonwealth authorized him to _promise_ them protection. This
assurance was then communicated to the boys, supplemented by the
personal guaranty of Sheriff Hogg. The boys determined to leave the

Billy Logan went down-stairs in company of Hogg. The younger boy was
yet reluctant to trust himself into the hands of Craig Tolliver and
Bunk Mannin, the town marshal, but being again assured that no harm
should come to him, he, too, followed and emerged into the yard. They
were led away some fifty feet from the house to near a spring. There
John Mannin opened fire upon the elder boy, shooting him in the back.
This was the signal for a general fusilade by Craig Tolliver, Bunk
Mannin and others. The boys fell dead. Not satisfied with their deaths,
the heartless assassins, among whom Town Marshal Mannin was the most
ferocious, trampled the prostrate forms, stamped them, and poured
volley after volley into the dead bodies, thus mutilating them beyond

They were left lying where they had fallen, a gory, shapeless mass, the
glassy eyes upturned to the sky, in mute appeal to God to avenge this
horrible assassination. God saw, and retribution followed close upon
the heels of the inhuman wretches.

Deputy Sheriff Hogg testified afterwards that he ran away as soon as
the firing began. The murderers joined him, however, before he had
reached town. On the brow of a hill overlooking Morehead Craig Tolliver
halted the red-handed band and instructed them all to tell the same
tale--that the boys were killed in resisting arrest, and that their
killing had been an absolute necessity.

On the following day D. Boone Logan, a cousin of the murdered boys,
accompanied by H. M. (Hiram) Pigman and Ap. Perry, went to the
Logan homestead, and found and cared for the mangled remains of his
relatives. On that evening, upon their return home, they were warned
that they would share a similar fate in the event they attended the

Up to the time of the murder of the Logan boys neither D. Boone Logan
nor Pigman had taken any active part in the feudal strife, indeed they
had carefully kept aloof from any act or speech that might in any way
connect them either directly or indirectly with the faction. Boone
Logan had attested the agreement signed by Craig Tolliver to remove
from the county. But beyond this he had remained neutral. Not content,
however, with foully murdering his young relatives, Craig Tolliver
sent to Boone Logan the exasperating message that he must leave, that
he, Tolliver, would rent his house, and hire Logan's wife out to make
a living for her children. By threatening D. B. Logan, Craig Tolliver
made the mistake of his life. He conjured up a storm which passed soon
beyond his power to control. When it broke loose in all its fury on the
22nd day of June, and the streets of Morehead ran red with blood, the
desperadoes experienced at last the lash of an avenging God.

Boone Logan made futile efforts to have the murderers arrested. After
several days had elapsed, Bunk Mannin, the town marshal, went to Logan
and told him that he wished to have a trial, and that the Tollivers
were also ready for trial. "But," said Mannin, "it must be understood
that we attend court with our Winchesters." Judge Stewart was also
notified by the Tollivers that they wished a trial, to which request
Judge Stewart made answer that he "would not hold a bogus trial" and
refused to try the case.

Logan, Pigman and Ap. Perry, in danger of their lives, yet burning
with indignation, entered into a solemn compact to effect the arrest
and trial of all the parties engaged in the murder of the Logan
boys. A resolution made by such men as Boone Logan and his friends
meant something more than mere words. They, too, were men of action.
They went to work in the preparation of their plan with coolness and
circumspection. Caution was needed indeed. They first attached to their
cause a number of men upon whom they could rely. Meetings were held
at secret places. Boone Logan was at once chosen as the leader in the
enterprise. In the prime of manhood, of fine physique and intelligent,
he was just the man to place at the head of such a hazardous
undertaking. Combining indomitable courage with prudence, sagacity and
coolness, he was also a man of unflinching determination. Such was the
man with whom the Tollivers now had to deal. Educated, a lawyer of
prominence, and a polished, quiet gentleman, one would scarcely have
picked him out as the man to oppose the outlaws, to attack them in
their very stronghold and give them battle.

Logan and Pigman avoided being seen in each other's company, yet the
Tollivers by some means had learned of their secret meetings, and,
growing suspicious, began hunting them high and low. To relate the
many narrow escapes these two men had from death would fill pages.
Every road was patrolled by the Tollivers, passing trains were
searched, inquiries made everywhere, and insulting messages sent to
Logan's family. Shrewdly he avoided any encounter, but with dogged
determination continued his preparations.

On the 16th day of June Boone Logan eluded the vigilance of the
Tollivers and succeeded in reaching Frankfort, Ky., where he asked
for, and was accorded, an interview with Governor Knott. To him
Logan related the existing conditions in Rowan County, the despotism
exercised by Craig Tolliver and his associates in crime, the horrible
murder of the Logan boys, for which no one had as yet been molested,
and asked for troops to effect the capture of the outlaws. The Governor
listened attentively to Mr. Logan's representations, but replied that
he had already sent soldiers to Morehead at the cost of many thousands
of dollars to the State, with no other result than aiding courts in
committing travesties of justice; that under the circumstances he could
not see his way clear to repeat his experiences with that county. He
then asked Logan what per cent of the population was actually engaged
in the trouble, and on receiving reply, answered that the good citizens
being so largely in the majority, they should be able to themselves
put down lawlessness. Logan admitted that he could find a number of
citizens who would be willing to aid him in arresting the outlaws if
they could secure the necessary arms. He asked the Governor for the
loan of a few guns from the arsenal at Frankfort, offering to give
satisfactory security for their safe return. The Governor explained
that such a course was unwarranted and a matter beyond his control.
Logan's face turned almost livid for a moment. He did not blame the
Governor, who acted under the law. But he became exasperated at the
thought that a band of murderers were under the law permitted to remain
in undisputed possession of his county, his home, while the Governor
seemed without authority to come to the rescue of order and to maintain
the dignity of the law. Courts had refused to do their duty; officers
championed openly the cause of the murderers; peaceable citizens had
been driven from their homes--anarchy reigned supreme. These thoughts
filled his brain. Before his mind's eye appeared the mangled remains
of his cousins. He feared for his wife and children at Morehead. His
home might at this moment be reduced to ashes and its inmates burned
or shot. The young man's eyes gleamed with a dangerous fire. His lips
quivered while the strong heart beat almost audibly with excitement,
indignation and utter disgust. At last he spoke, slowly, firmly, every
word full of meaning. It was then he made his famous reply, so often
repeated and commented upon:

"Governor," he said, "I have but one home and but one hearth. From
this I have been driven by these outlaws and their friends. They have
foully murdered my kinsmen. I have not before engaged in any of their
difficulties--but now I propose to take a hand and retake my fireside
or die in the effort."

Future events proved that these words were uttered for a purpose
other than mere dramatic effect. The flashing eye told plainly of the
passions that had been kindled in his heart, and the Governor could not
but admire the man's just indignation and determination to do what the
highest authorities in the State could not do.

The action of Governor Knott in refusing to send troops to Rowan County
has been criticised by those ignorant of the law and the powers of the
Governor in such cases. The law lays down the scope of his authority.
The power of the county had not been exhausted in bringing about, or
attempting, the apprehension of the criminals. He had already responded
with troops to protect the court only to find that the authorities
showed the white feather; that compromises with criminals had been
entered into; that juries and officers were corrupt, and when trials
had occurred had proved a farce. No doubt in his heart he wished for
Logan's success. The man had made futile attempts to live peaceably.
Now he intended to act in self-defense. The government cannot help
him--he must therefore help himself. A man's home, no matter how humble
it may be, is sacred as the King's palace in the eyes of the ancient
common law. To defend it from intrusion and attack is man's God-given
right, his duty; Boone Logan set about to retake his fireside.


JUNE 22ND, 1887.

After leaving Frankfort, Logan hastened to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he
purchased several hundred dollars' worth of Winchester rifles, pistols,
shotguns, and an ample supply of ammunition. These were boxed and
shipped as saw-mill fixtures, and consigned to a small station (Gate's)
in Rowan County, some miles from Morehead.

Immediately upon his return to Rowan County Logan summoned his
friends. They responded with a will. Many came from the neighboring
counties, except Elliott County, which section sympathized strongly
with the Tollivers, whose relatives were strong there. Sheriff Hogg
was placed in possession of the warrants against Craig Tolliver and
his confederates, charging them with the recent murders of the Logan
boys (June 7th). It was definitely and explicitly agreed upon and
arranged that the sheriff should demand the surrender of the Tollivers,
and only in case of their refusal to comply were the citizens to take
a hand. This, of course, was a mere matter of form. It was easy to
predict to a certainty that the Tollivers would not obey the demand of
surrender by the officers. That had been tried too often before. Yet
the Logan faction desired to exhaust all lawful means before resorting
to bloodshed.

Sheriff Hogg was instructed to demand the surrender and upon its
refusal to retreat in order to insure his personal safety, and to give
the forces under Boone Logan an opportunity to enforce the demand.

Thus far all went well. When the morning of June 22nd came, bright and
beautiful, everything was in readiness for the coming struggle.

Logan, with some of his men, was stationed near the Chesapeake & Ohio
Railway Depot. Just across, at the business place of Vinton & Pigman,
Hiram Pigman, with six or seven men, stood in readiness to act in
concert with Logan. On the opposite side of the town another detachment
was carefully posted in concealment. The Tollivers were completely

Strange to say, with all their vigilance, they had remained in utter
ignorance of Logan's final preparations. Logan was despised by them.
His frequent absences from home had been attributed to fear. Of his
visit to Frankfort and his purchase of arms at Cincinnati they knew

It was late in the morning of the 22nd, when an accident revealed to
them their danger, though the knowledge came too late to enable their
escape. The wife of a railroad man was visiting friends at Morehead.
Her husband had noticed bodies of armed men closing in upon the town.
He also knew of the large shipment of arms to Gate's station. Anxious
for the safety of his wife, after his suspicions had been aroused, he
telegraphed her to leave Morehead at once, that a battle was impending
without doubt. This information was conveyed to the Tollivers, who
immediately prepared for the attack. Thus it happened that when the
battle commenced, Logan and his men were put upon the defensive instead
of the offensive, as they had anticipated.

The Logan forces awaited the appearance of the sheriff to demand the
surrender of the Tollivers. He failed to arrive. The sheriff afterward
testified that he had been prevented by armed men from entering the
town. Be that as it may, the fight opened without him, and during the
battle neither he nor his son participated.

Logan, unaware that his plans had been betrayed to the Tollivers,
attempted to communicate with his friend Pigman at the latter's
store. He despatched a young man, William Bryant, with a note. To his
surprise, the Tollivers suddenly appeared, armed to the teeth, and
opened fire upon Bryant. The boy fled for life and escaped without a

Logan and Pigman, finding their plans discovered, and the sheriff
having failed to put in his appearance, now commenced the work they
had cut out for themselves and their friends to perform. Firing began
from every direction--every man fought independently, as best he could.
Each part of the town became a separate battlefield. The non-combatants
sought safety in flight or in the shelter of their homes. Black clouds
of smoke hung over the ill-fated town; the air was stifling with the
smell of sulphur. The grim monster of civil war raged in all its fury.
Well might we say with Chalmers:

    "O, the miseries of war! We recoil with horror at the destruction
    of a single individual by some deed of violence. When we see a man
    in the prime of health suddenly struck down by some deadly aim, the
    sight of the lifeless body haunts us for days and weeks, and the
    shock experienced, only time can wear away.

    "The scene stands before us in daytime, is the subject of our
    dreams, and spreads a gloom which time can only disperse.

    "It is painful to dwell on the distressing picture of one
    individual, but multiply it, and think of the agonies of dying men,
    as goaded by pain, they grasp the cold ground with convulsive
    energy, or another, faint with the loss of blood, his pulse
    ebbs low, and the gathering paleness spreads itself over his
    countenance; or, wrapping himself round in despair, he can only
    mark by a few feeble quiverings, that life still lurks and lingers
    in his lacerated body; or, lifting up a faded eye, he casts a look
    of imploring helplessness for that succor which no sympathy can

The moment the battle opened, Logan became the target for many guns
from the concealed Tollivers. The balls fell all around him; plowed
up the ground at his feet and hissed by his ears. Craig Tolliver and
his confederates instinctively singled him out as their most dangerous
adversary and made every effort to kill him.

The details of the battle are authentically recorded in the report of
Ernest McPherson, captain of a detachment of the Louisville Legion,
to the Adjutant-General of Kentucky, Sam E. Hill, which report was
transmitted to the Governor and reported to the Legislature. (See
documents 1887, No. 23.)

As the Tollivers were coming back, Boone Logan commenced firing. He was
at once deserted by the men with him, but continued the fire which was
returned by the two Tollivers, Craig and Jay, until their Winchester
rifles and pistols were empty. They ran from below the depot to the
American House, Craig Tolliver's hotel, and obtaining a fresh supply
of ammunition, were joined by Bud, Andy, Cal and Cate Tolliver, Cooper
and others. All then started on the run for the Central Hotel. Andy was
the first to reach that building by going through alleys and back ways.
Bud Tolliver, Cooper and the rest went by way of Railroad Street, under
constant fire from the bushes. Halting near the drug store they fired
upon the concealed enemies and wounded one Madden. Bud Tolliver was
here shot in the thigh. Cal and Cate, who were mere boys, assisted Bud
up the lane and secreted him in the weeds back of Johnson's store. They
then rejoined their comrades. Cooper presently emerged from the Central
Hotel and fired upon some of the Logan men, but was himself shot
through the breast. He retreated into the hotel and secreted himself in
a wardrobe, up-stairs, and in this place of fancied security was again
hit by a bullet and killed.

The Central Hotel was surrounded, a cessation of firing ordered and
Logan called upon the Tollivers to "come out and they should not be
hurt." A message of the same purport was delivered to the Tollivers
by a woman. She returned with Cate Tolliver, a boy fifteen years of
age, who was disarmed and allowed to go unmolested. The others in the
house refusing to surrender, Logan resorted to the tactics employed
by the Tollivers against his cousins and directed his men to fire the
building. The Tollivers broke cover and started for the bushes. Before
leaving the house Craig Tolliver coolly pulled off his boots, saying
that it had always been prophesied he would die with his boots on, and
that he intended to disappoint the prophets. He emerged in his stocking
feet. Jay Tolliver got out the rear way, ran about fifty feet, was shot
three times and fell dead. Craig and Andy broke from the hotel on the
south side and were greeted with a hail of bullets. Andy was wounded
twice, but not seriously, and under cover of the smoke succeeded in
reaching the woods. Craig Tolliver's former good luck at last deserted
him. He ran, firing at his enemies, down a lane which leads from the
hotel to the railroad track. At the corner of the drug store already
spoken of, Pigman, Apperson Perry and three others were posted. They
instantly opened fire on Tolliver, the score or more still at the
hotel, also continuing their fusilade upon the fleeing outlaw. Craig
Tolliver ran a few steps beyond the corner of the store, fell, rose
again and, running toward the switch, sank to the ground to rise no
more. He was riddled with balls and buckshot. To the great regret of
the Logan men, the man whose death they most desired, was not injured.
This man was Bunk Mannin, the town marshal, who so brutally maltreated
the dead bodies of the two Logan boys.

There were undoubtedly some bad men in this fight against the Tollivers
to whom may be ascribed some excesses which occurred on that memorable
day. But they do not appear to have been actually connected with the
Logans. One of these men admitted that he fired three shots into the
body of Jay Tolliver after he was down. This same man afterwards
became a willing witness for the prosecution against the slayers
of the Tollivers. It was this band of guerillas that shot Cooper
while secreted in the hotel, dying from a wound in the breast. After
completing their inhuman butchery, this same guerilla band sacked the
American Hotel and committed other outrages.

The firing was continuous for two hours, except while the Logans made
proposals to the Tollivers to come out and surrender. Over fifteen
hundred shots were fired.

There was a general sense of relief among the inhabitants when the
battle was over and the dreaded Tollivers were wiped out. A public
meeting was held and largely attended. A party, styling itself the Law
and Order League, took possession of the town and held it until the
arrival of troops.

Boone Logan had faithfully kept his word and retaken his fireside. The
sinking sun witnessed his return to the home from which he had been
banished. His enemies had crossed over the great divide.

For the first time in many months the town was quiet. The yells and
defiant curses of the drunken desperadoes were heard no more. The lips
that had uttered them were still. Peace entered Morehead once more. It
had been purchased at the price of much blood.

The battle of June 22nd, 1887, was the last bloody clash between the
various factions of Rowan County. The Tollivers, deprived of their
leader, gave the town a wide berth after this. It soon resumed its
former appearance of thrift and prosperity. Many of those who had
removed from the county, now returned and took possession of their
abandoned property. Business houses, closed for many months, were
reopened, the illegal saloons closed tight, and law and order have been
reasonably well maintained in the county ever since.

Several of the Logan men were indicted for murder, Hiram M. Pigman, who
had been Logan's right hand man, and of whom the latter spoke as the
bravest and most circumspect man on the field that day, was indicted
jointly with Apperson Perry. They were tried by a jury of Fleming
County and promptly acquitted. Logan was never tried.

"The court was held under the protection of State troops. The trial
lasted for seven days. Pigman and Perry were shown to be men of
excellent character, neither of them had been parties to previous
killings in Rowan County. The evidence being concluded, the court
instructed the jury. Briefly summarised, these instructions were
'Convict these defendants.' The jury, however, were really 'good men
and true' and to the evident surprise of the court, and the chagrin
of the prosecuting attorney, returned a verdict of not guilty. These
jurymen had been summoned from the adjoining county of Fleming. Their
names deserve the thanks of all good citizens of the Commonwealth.
Obedience to the law and protection from the law, are reciprocal rights
and duties, and this jury really decided that where those to whom it
is delegated to administer the laws, and to protect the lives, liberty
and property of the citizens, wilfully disregard, or timidly refrain
from discharging their duties, the citizen has the right to protect and
defend himself." (Capt. McPherson's report. Documents 1887. No. 23.)

The glaring partiality of the court and corruption of most of its
officers he illustrates in the following language:

"Not infrequently a witness would apply to an attorney the epithet of
liar, and when questioned relative to some crime charged against him, a
witness would defend his credibility on the ground that his questioner
was guilty of offenses similar in character, which he would proceed to

"Even the court would express his opinion in words of abuse and very
plainly exhibited his partiality or prejudice. Indeed, when the case
of the Commonwealth against John Keeton was called for trial, and the
affidavit of the defendant and two reputable housekeepers, asserting
the belief that the presiding judge would not afford the defendant a
fair and impartial trial was by the defendant handed to the judge,
he remarked, after reading the instrument aloud, that he was not
surprised; that John Keeton would swear anything; that he had sworn to
so many lies already that it was not astonishing that he (the judge)
would not give him a fair trial. This observation of His Honor was
delivered in the presence of the jury selected to try John Keeton."

Reverting to the excesses committed by the guerillas during the battle
and afterwards, Adjutant-General Hill says: (Documents, Ky. 1887.)

    "Almost every one with whom I talked, heartily approved the day's
    work, barring some excesses, which were committed, such as the
    killing of the two wounded men after the fight was over, and the
    disposition on the part of certain members of the posse to abuse
    their victory by manifesting some disregard of property rights,
    which conduct was bitterly lamented by the more conservative
    members of the posse, notably Boone Logan himself. The victors
    of the 22nd of June were in the main, singularly moderate and
    forbearing, and it is denied by none of the people there that they
    rendered a most valuable service to the county in overthrowing the
    outlaws who had so long terrorized the community."

During Circuit Court the commanding officers of the troops noticed
one of the sheriffs and several Tolliver sympathizers in secret
consultations. So suspicious were their actions that they were
watched. In the afternoon these parties disappeared from Morehead.
The next afternoon they brought a box of Springfield rifles, calibre
fifty, by train. One thousand rounds of ammunition accompanied the
guns. Col. McKee promptly seized the arms over the vigorous protest
of the Tolliver faction. The court had directed their shipment "for
the purpose of securing peace and quiet and preventing a fight among
citizens of this community." Another order of the court declared "arms
and weapons are kept or hidden or concealed, with the intent and
purpose of being used by partisans of the factional war or strife now
disturbing the peace, quiet and good order of said county of Rowan or
being delivered to said partisans" etc., and directed the seizure of
all arms. The officers complied, collecting all arms discovered in
the possession of the Logan faction, and, of course, retaining the
box of Springfields consigned to White, a Tolliver sympathizer. Then,
strange to say, on August 24th, an order was issued by the Circuit
Court directing the Colonel commanding the troops, or rather the
Adjutant-General, to immediately deliver to the sheriff the box of
Springfields and ammunition to arm a posse of citizens of Rowan County
to make an arrest, and demanding a reply in writing should the officer
refuse to comply with this strange order. The Adjutant-General replied
that he could not comply with the order for the reason that the arms
could not be released except under direction from the Governor.

The effect of obedience to this order would have been to restore the
arms to the Tolliver faction, while retaining those of the Logan
party, and to arm a posse, perhaps to be guided by Deputy Sheriff Hogg,
with its recent infamous history still in mind, would scarcely have
been consistent with the duty of an officer sent to Rowan County to
preserve peace. A day or two afterwards the court severely censured
the Governor for not permitting His Honor to arm such sheriff's posse
as he might select. Before departure from Rowan the officer commanding
restored the guns and pistols taken from private individuals during the
term of court.

The box of Springfield rifles was retained and loaded upon the cars
for shipment to Frankfort. The Tollivers were incensed. Deputy Sheriff
Hogg and Andy White sauntered through town breathing threats and dire
vengeance if the guns were not left behind. The soldiers loading them,
however, were not disturbed, and the guns were deposited in the arsenal
at Frankfort.

The presiding Circuit judge was soon afterwards, the following January,
brought before the Legislature on impeachment proceedings. During
the long-drawn-out investigation many witnesses were examined, whose
testimony fills an entire volume. The result of the investigation
was censure, a quasi whitewash, and a recommendation to abolish the
county and attach it to another. But this would have meant nothing
more nor less than to saddle upon innocent people the settlement of
a controversy. To have transferred the county to another district
would have resulted in involving other sections hitherto not affected
by the trouble. To have abolished the county would have been an open
acknowledgment of the weakness of the State to execute its laws and to
cope with crime. It was this confidence of the lawbreakers that their
crimes would never be punished, and the belief of many good citizens
that the machinery of the law was set in motion only in the interests
of certain parties, that was responsible for the long-continued,
shameful disorders in Rowan County.


The scene of this war was Perry County, Kentucky, one of the most
mountainous sections of all Southeastern Kentucky. Hazard, the county
seat, was then a small, but very thrifty and enterprising village. It
was called a town. Rightfully it ought not to have aspired to that
title. It is situated on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, and was
built in scattered fashion, between abrupt hills in the rear and the
river, with but a single street running through it.

Here at Hazard was the cradle of the feud which for years filled
newspaper columns and furnished most sensational reading. Many of
the stories which have gone out to the world had, however, no other
foundation than a lively imagination of newspaper writers who were
anxious to fill space and to please the readers that loved the
sensational. In this purpose they have succeeded admirably.

Here at Hazard resided the chieftains of this war--Joseph C. Eversole,
and Benjamin Fulton French.

Both were men of fine business abilities, successfully engaged in the
mercantile business; both were prominent, able lawyers of the Perry
courts; both were in easy financial circumstances.

Eversole was extensively related in Perry and adjoining counties.

French had originally come from the State of Tennessee, but had married
a Kentuckian and by marriage had become related to influential families
of Breathitt, Leslie and other counties.

Prior to the difficulties which eventually arrayed them against each
other, Eversole and French had been apparently close friends.

A misunderstanding over a rather trivial matter furnished the basis of
their future enmity, an enmity to the death.

The bird on the snowy alpine slope starts an insignificant slide. It
increases as it rolls downward and becomes an avalanche; thundering
into the valley below, carrying everything before it and leaving a path
of desolation, destruction and death behind it.

So a trivial difference over a business transaction opened graves for
many brave and generous men, desolated happy homes, and for a long time
heaped shame upon the name of Perry County and the State at large.

French and Eversole disagreed and quarreled. At each subsequent
meeting the quarrel was renewed with ever increasing bitterness;
menacing threats were freely indulged in until the vials of hate became
filled to overflowing. A theretofore existing sharp business rivalry
materially assisted the estrangement from the start. As stated, both
were engaged in the mercantile business in which each tried to outdo
the other, often at a material loss.

Serious trouble might yet have been averted through the interference of
honest friends but for an unfortunate circumstance, which involved them
to such an extent that the breach became irreparable.

The circumstance referred to might, however, never have had serious
consequences had it not been for the pernicious activity of the
slanderous tale teller. In this feud, perhaps more so than in any
other of the internecine strifes which, during the eighties added
to the significance of the title, the "Dark and Bloody Ground," and
intensified the crimson hue of its history, we find those who shunned
battle, feared to oppose their breasts to the shock of bullet, but
gloried in pouring oil upon the flames, without danger to themselves.

In such a struggle the tale-bearer is more dangerous than powder
and shot. Morally and legally, he who instigates a murder, even by
indirection, is as much a murderer as the man who fires the gun and
accomplishes the bloody deed. With the countenance of the saint such
a man will seek the confidence of both sides. He loves to pose as a
peacemaker; he preaches brotherly love. Yet, when the trouble is about
to abate, he seems to regret it, for then he seizes upon every chance,
uses every opportune moment to convey some confidential intelligence
to the party or parties for whose ears it had been least intended. The
strife is renewed; passions are rekindled; yet, while men welter in
their hearts' blood, widows mourn and orphans cry, the traitor, the
tale-teller, the scandal peddler, maintains his saintly countenance and
bewails the fate of the unfortunates.

Yet it is not always the spoken slander, the spoken tale, that hurts.
The old adage that "silence is golden" is not to be applied in all
cases. Silence is often even more dangerous than spoken words.

_Silence_ may become a greater liar than the tongue. We often hear the
expression "if you cannot speak good of any one, say nothing!" Yet
silence is the most bitter, poisonous, insidious traducer. Silence may
convey contempt more completely than a torrent of spoken words. Silence
is most treacherous because it places the burden of its interpretation
upon the other side. That interpretation may be wrong, but the silent
slanderer does not correct it.

Silence is also many sided. It may mean consent; it may mean denial.
It does incalculable harm without being in the least responsible or
actionable. One cannot horsewhip one for injury to character through
silence. Silence and innuendo are closely related; both are the most
dangerous weapons of the moral coward.

Spoken lies are soon forgotten. They "rile" the blood--but that passes.
Spoken lies are tangible, as it were, and may be met. Silence and
innuendo are like enemies in invisible ambush. One cannot attack an
invisible foe.

What we have reference to might best be illustrated by the following
dialogue the writer once overheard:

A. "Tell me truly, did he make that charge against me?"

B. turns away and refuses to answer.

A. "I heard he had made that charge against me to you and threatened my
life--is this true?"

No answer.

A. "I may then presume by your _silence_ that it is true what I have
asked you about?"

No reply.

Result of _silence_: A homicide, and the destruction of two families.

Asked later on why he did not nip the trouble in its incipiency by
resorting to a white lie, B. answered with asperity that A. had put
his _own construction_ upon his silence and refusal to have anything
whatever to say in their controversy. On the stand B. admitted that the
third party in question had not told him what A. had inquired about.
Ergo: B. was morally responsible for the homicide, as much so as the
man that pulled the trigger.

Reverting to the circumstance which completed the breach between French
and Eversole: A certain friend (?) of French conveyed information to
Eversole that he, French, sought his life.

This informant was a clerk in the store of French and known to be in
his confidence. Naturally, under such circumstances, Eversole gave the
report credence. Why not? We are ever ready to believe and accept as
true anything that is spoken of an enemy, and French and Eversole had
already become such in their hearts, if not outwardly.

The tale-bearer, who shall be nameless, related how French had planned
to rid himself of his business rival and thus make for himself a clear
field for mercantile operations; that French expected to accomplish his
purpose with the aid of trusty, hired assassins, and that one part of
the plan, the employment of reliable murderers, had been entrusted to
him, the informant, who had been promised any amount of money necessary
for this purpose, and a partnership with French in the business as a
further reward for his services.

Whether for real or imaginary causes, this tale-bearer had become
intensely jealous of French over a woman. He sought consolation in
revenge; one of the first steps toward the consummation of his desire
to ruin his "rival in love" had been the bearing of the tale referred
to to Eversole.

Eversole, after weighing carefully the statement, seemed to have
entertained some doubt of its truth, and requested a sworn affidavit
containing the statements made. This the tale-teller readily prepared
with such clearness of detail as to cause Eversole to dismiss all doubt
of the truth of the revelations and at once prepared to meet his enemy

French saw the ominous gathering of the Eversole clan, fully armed, and
surrounded himself with an equally strong force.

Both of the belligerents kept busy recruiting among their friends
and kindred in Perry and even adjoining counties. Man after man was
added to the clans, some joining them bound by the strong ties of
relationship or friendship, the most, however, were attracted by
promises of good steady pay, and an opportunity to violate the law on a
grander scale than they would have dared to do single-handed.

The first murder occurred shortly after the gathering of the clans.

One of French's staunchest friends, one Silas Gayhart, was shot and
killed--from ambush.

This mode of warfare was resorted to in this feud perhaps more
generally than in any of the others. It must not be attributed
altogether to cowardice--this murdering from ambush. It has many
advantages. Of course, killing an enemy from ambush puts the slayers
out of danger. That is one consideration, but the chiefest one is
that it is almost impossible to fasten the guilt of the crime upon
the proper person. When men are banded together for the purpose of
committing crime, the sanctity of an oath is easily laid aside when an
alibi becomes necessary. The entire population of the county may _know_
the assassins, point them out to you as they stalk proudly along, yet,
when it comes to trials by jury, the evidence seems to signally fail
to connect them. The very men that might have told you in confidence
the most damaging circumstances connecting the accused with crime,
will, on the stand, disclaim all knowledge, or so soften down their
statements that no jury could, under their oaths, find a verdict of

In this murder of Gayhart at least a dozen white men and some negroes
participated. It is unfortunate that circumstances do not permit us
to give the names of them. They should be preserved for posterity,
and added to the list of feud heroes. As no one was ever indicted for
that cowardly assassination, although its perpetrators were well-known
throughout the county, history must necessarily remain silent in so far
as the publication of their names is concerned.

It has been stated and contended that the killing of Gayhart was an
affair entirely disconnected with the French-Eversole controversy;
that the man had fallen as the victim of a quarrel with persons not
members of the clan. This may be true and it may not. It is difficult
in such social upheavals to get at the unvarnished truth. When crimes
are committed under cover of black night, from well-secreted places,
suspicion might point in the wrong direction and accuse the innocent.
For this reason it is best to abstain from charges not definitely
established beyond any sort of doubt. The result of the Gayhart murder,
however, was the same as if he had been publicly assassinated by the
Eversole clan, for French believed that Gayhart lost his life because
of his friendship for him.

French sent out more recruiting officers. The increase of his "army"
forced the Eversoles to do likewise. How similar is this to the
struggle of nations to maintain superior armies and navies. It is not
strange, after all. Communities stand relatively in the same attitude
as do nations. A community is a miniature state, nothing more.

The little village of Hazard, with its one hundred inhabitants, was
now thrown into a state of perpetual excitement which continued
uninterrupted through the summer, fall and winter of 1887.

That no battle was fought was due to the extreme caution with which the
clans watched each other's every move.

Then early one morning the Eversole faction learned to their
astonishment that French and his army had evacuated the town during the

Many theories were advanced in explanation of this singular action.
Some attributed it to fear. Those better acquainted with the temper and
make-up of the French clan scouted that idea and suggested that French
was seeking reinforcement in the country, and that at an opportune
moment he would sweep down upon the village, trap the hemmed-in
Eversoles, and annihilate them with overwhelming forces.

This seemed a rational conclusion. With French gone from town, Eversole
declined to be caught in such a trap, as trap it would have been, and
to prevent the execution of French's plan the Eversoles themselves
retreated to a section of the country peopled with their sympathizers.

However, Eversole did not leave Hazard open to undisputed occupation.
He left a bait there, a small force. If French should learn of the
weakness of the garrison he would be tempted to sweep down upon it. In
doing so he would find Eversole striking in his rear. French himself
was shrewd and refused to fall into the trap.

Eversole scouted everywhere, frequently on the trail of French. During
the month of June, in the dark of night, the latter reentered Hazard,
took possession of his fortified places where most of his men remained
secreted, while the more daring of them walked the streets the next
morning, bantering the Eversoles that had been left in town. Their
leader was at once notified by messenger to the country of the state
of affairs. He had but few men with him at that time, but with these
started for town. Seven or eight men, fortunately for him, joined his
ranks on the way.

It was late in the day when Hazard was reached, but the lateness
of the hour did not defer attack. From well selected positions the
Eversoles opened a plunging fire upon the housed-up French men. These
replied to the fusilade with equal spirit. Hundreds of shots were fired
at a great expenditure of ammunition and without appreciable result.
Only one man was seriously wounded on the side of French. No casualties
were admitted by the Eversoles.

The darkness of the night brought the engagement to a close. French
withdrew from town.

This kind of almost bloodless warfare continued throughout the summer
with no decisive result. Both clans grew weary. Great expense had been
incurred in keeping a large, paid army. The leaders were threatened
with bankruptcy. So when the friends of both sides interceded,
French and Eversole seemed more than willing to appoint and send
representatives to a conference, which was held on Big Creek in Perry
County. It was attended by prominent citizens of both Perry and Leslie
counties, who were anxious to bring about a settlement of the war.

Articles of agreement were finally drawn up, in which the belligerents
agreed to return to their homes, to disband their armies, and to
surrender their arms and ammunition.

This agreement was duly signed by the representatives of the clans and
duly witnessed.

In accordance with this agreement, French surrendered his arms to the
county judge of Leslie County, while Eversole placed his guns in charge
of Josiah Combs, county judge of Perry County.

The clans disbanded. Still, there were but few who promised themselves
lasting results from the Big Creek Treaty of Peace. It was nothing more
_than a scrap of paper_. The compromise had not been prompted by any
desire for friendship.

Its underlying motive was mercenary. The chieftains sought merely to
avoid financial outlay. The welfare of the country, respect for the
law, these were considerations of secondary importance only, if taken
into account at all. This may be fairly deducted from the fact that the
old distrust of each other never vanished. _The grudge was there_, it
rankled still.

Indeed, it was but a short time after the conclusion of the treaty
that French claimed to have unquestionable authority for the charge
that Eversole had violated the stipulations by repossessing himself of
the guns. These, as we have seen, had been turned over to Judge Josiah
Combs, who, by the way, was the father-in-law of Joe Eversole.

When Eversole was confronted with this breach of a solemn treaty he
attempted to justify it by declaring that at no time had it ever been
observed by French, who, he maintained, had never in fact disbanded his
army, and that the surrender of arms had only been partial, a blind.

Whether these reports had been actually brought to the ears of the
chieftains, or had been invented by them in order to manufacture some
sort of pretext upon which to renew hostilities, must ever remain in
doubt. Future events seem to prove rather clearly that neither of the
parties was in very good faith toward keeping the peace. Both French
and Eversole appeared singularly well prepared to re-enter the war. The
ink had hardly dried on the treaty when Perry County was again thrown
into turmoil and strife.

What had the authorities been doing during this period of quasi
warfare? We find absolutely no record of any sort of any attempt to
maintain the dignity of the law.

As in Rowan County, many of the court officers were rank partisans, who
used their power to protect in outlawry their own particular friends
and kindred. Those not in their favor had little cause to appeal to the
law, had they been inclined to do so, which they were not. It seemed to
suit both sides perfectly to let justice sheath her sword and stand
idle, and--blind as usual.

On the 15th of September, 1887, Joe Eversole and Bill Gambriel, a
French sympathizer, met in the streets of Hazard, when a quarrel
ensued. This was followed by a most sanguinary duel in which Gambriel
was killed.

Gambriel was a minister of the gospel, a typical mountaineer, tall,
powerful and game. He would fight at the drop of a hat and drop the
hat himself. It was said of him that he considered moonshine whiskey
of much benefit for the stomach, and a game at cards an agreeable
diversion from the cares and toils of life. It was said of him, too,
that he carried a testament in one pocket, a deck of cards, a bottle
of liquor and a pistol in the others. This had been told in a joke;
but straightway this description of him was accepted as a fact and was
widely published in the papers at the time.

The truth of the matter is that he was a man who entertained rather
singular, independent and free ideas of the duties of a preacher. He
was a good man, and had a wide circle of friends.

Joe Eversole was physically a small man, of slight stature, but quick
and agile as a boy. Certainly he was fearless.

When such men engage in combat blood is sure to flow. As to who began
the difficulty there is but little doubt. Official reports to the
Governor, which will be found later on, place the blame upon Eversole.

After a short exchange of blows between the men, Gambriel was fired
upon by secreted friends of Eversole. Attempting to escape by running
around a house, Gambriel was fired upon from another quarter and
fatally wounded. Staggering and reeling, he turned upon Eversole, who
fired into his head, instantly killing him.

Several parties were indicted for the murder, but one only was tried.
The trial resulted in a hung jury the first time, and in an acquittal
on the second trial. It has always been an open secret about town that
the man who fired upon Gambriel while he attempted to escape death, has
never been indicted, and that he was an officer at that time.

The killing created intense feeling. Gambriel had many friends. He
was a staunch French adherent and it was well within the course of
reason for French to regard the killing of the man as a challenge.
The Eversoles themselves believed that Gambriel's friends would not
pass lightly over the homicide and prepared to meet all danger. The
clans, disbanded (?) but a short time before, reassembled and for
several months roamed the ill-fated county at will, terrorizing its
inhabitants and defying the law.

But little fighting was done. It seems that they contented themselves
with manoeering, marching and counter-marching. In such warfare, if
warfare it was, the innocent were made to suffer more than the warriors.

Such an armed vagabondage was as useless as it was silly. It furnished
material for the sensational newspaper, but even these failed to
discover anything of the heroic about this campaign.

The leaders must have felt something of that themselves, for during the
winter the armies were again disbanded. Permanent restoration of peace,
however, was not to come to Perry County yet for a time.

The apparent calm through the winter was suddenly disturbed in the
following April, when the news of the brutal assassination of Joseph C.
Eversole and Nick Combs excited and horrified Hazard.

On the morning of April 15th, 1888, the valley of Big Creek, Perry
County, became the scene of a tragedy which might well cause one's
blood to run cold with horror, one's cheek to blush with shame.

On the Sabbath day, when human hearts should turn to God in prayer,
when nature even seems to bow in reverence, the birds of the forests
sing His praises with more than usual sweetness, two lives were hurled
into eternity without warning, murdered, butchered from ambush.

When a man resents an insult, when passion clouds all reason, and in
momentary frenzy, under the impulse of hot, red blood, he shoots his
fellow man, there is yet some excuse. But when men with the savage
instinct of beasts of prey fall upon their unsuspecting victims from
ambush, like the tiger that glides noiselessly through the thick jungle
and suddenly springs upon its prey, then the word man becomes a mock
and devil is the proper epithet.

Nowhere in the valley of Big Creek could a more suitable spot have been
selected from which to accomplish such a hellish crime as was committed
on that fatal Sunday morning, than the one chosen by the red-handed

The valley is narrow, the hills enclosing it are steep, rugged and
covered with dense forest. The spot where the murderers were in hiding,
commanded an uninterrupted view of the road up and down the valley.
Nothing short of a lynx's eyes could have penetrated the leafy,
thicket-grown murderers' retreat.

On the day of the murder, Joe Eversole, in company of his father-in-law,
Judge Josiah Combs and the latter's youthful nephew, Nick Combs,
bade a last farewell to his family and the host of friends at Hazard
and started for Hyden where the regular term of the Circuit Court was
scheduled to begin the following morning. This court Eversole and Judge
Combs had always attended, having been practising members of the bar
there for years. Of this fact the assassins had been well informed.

They seemed to have feared that their intended victims might possibly
leave for Hyden a day or two in advance of court, which they had done
on several occasions in the past, so the murderers prepared for such
an exigency and stationed themselves at the ambush for at least a day
before that memorable Sunday.

Their patient waiting was rewarded on Sunday morning by the appearance
of the victims. On the way the three travelers were joined by one Tom
Hollifield, an officer, who was conveying a prisoner, Mary Jones, to
Hyden. Judge Combs rode by the side of the officer, well in advance of
Eversole and young Nick Combs.

They had passed the ambush some forty yards or more, when suddenly the
roar of rapidly fired guns echoed and re-echoed through the valley. At
the sound of the shots Judge Combs turned and saw, to his horror, that
the messengers of death had accomplished their cruel mission, saw Joe
Eversole and Nick Combs fall from their rearing and plunging horses,
saw them struggle in their blood and then lay still.

Paralyzed with horror and agony, he gazed upon the scene. He had no
sense or realization of his own danger, for in danger he had been. It
was purely accident that he had ridden in advance of his kinsmen.

One of the assassins climbed down the steep hillside and approached the
body of Nick Combs, who was then in his death-throes. He had fainted,
but upon the approach of the assassin, opened his eyes.

The murderer, finding life still lingering in the mangled, bleeding
body, raised his rifle to finish the bloody work. The youth begged
piteously to shoot him no more, that death would claim him in a few
moments. Mountains might have been moved by his pleadings, but not the
heart of the cowardly assassin. "Dead men tell no tales," he exclaimed,
with a smile of derision upon his lips. Slowly he raised the Winchester
rifle, placed the muzzle against the boy's head and fired, dropping the
eyeballs from their sockets.

The murderer then calmly rifled the pockets of Eversole of their
contents and retreated, thus adding the crime of robbery to that of

Judge Combs, brought to himself, spurred his horse to utmost exertion
and dashed like a maniac into Hyden to bring the news.

The scene of the crime was within about three hundred yards of a house.
Shortly after the shooting one Fields, the owner of the house or cabin,
and one Campbell proceeded to the scene of the tragedy.

They found the dead in a pool of blood, lying within a few feet of
each other. They discovered Eversole's pockets turned inside out. Nick
Combs' horse was found, shot, in a little meadow by the side of the
road, while Eversole's horse was afterwards caught some miles further
down the stream.

The news of the tragedy aroused the people to instant action. A force
of men was assembled, who started upon the trail of the murderers.
The place of ambush was found. It was located exactly sixty-one feet
from the point where the bodies had been found, in a dense spruce-pine
thicket. Several of the pine bushes had been bent over and the tops
tied together, thus forming a complete screen and shelter.

Behind this blind or screen they found a considerable depression in
the earth, a natural rifle pit. This had been filled with leaves
and appeared packed and trodden into the ground. Numerous footprints
were plainly visible. Remnants of meals were also found. Everything
tended to confirm the theory that the assassins had been there for
at least two days before the killing. From this screen the trail was
followed up the hill until it divided. One of the trails led to the top
of a high ridge, one turned to the right, another to the left. This
discovery proved that there had been at least three assassins. When
this fact became known the pursuers retreated, seemingly afraid of an
ambush. They reasoned that three or more men so desperate as to commit
a cold-blooded double murder in the broad-open light of day, almost
in sight of human habitation, would and could, in this wild mountain
region, successfully fight an even larger force than was at the command
of the pursuers.

The bodies of Eversole and Combs were conveyed to Hazard in the
afternoon and consigned to their graves amid a great concourse of
sorrowing people.

Thus the bloody drama ends. The sombre curtain of mourning falls. The
story of the brutal assassination is finished. Justice hides her head
in shame for no one has ever been punished for it.

The French faction was at once openly charged with responsibility for
the outrage. French himself was indicted. So boldly and undisguised
were these accusations circulated that French feared for his safety and
again surrounded himself with men. He almost immediately withdrew from
town and scouted through the country.

If those who committed the murder of Eversole, or their accessaries,
had hoped to thereby crush the enemy, they found themselves sadly
mistaken. The vacancy created by the death of Joe Eversole was quickly
and ably filled by John Campbell, a man of acknowledged bravery, as
well as caution, and well-fitted as a leader in such a struggle.

He surrounded the town with guards; squads of men patrolled the
streets; his force made repeated scouts into the neighboring hills. No
man not in possession of the password could enter town. An unauthorized
attempt to do so drew upon the rash one the fire of many guns. Campbell
had been for days in hourly expectation of an attack by French.
He, therefore, believed it wise to resort to military methods and
discipline. The rigid order to shoot any one who dared to pass into
town without first giving the pass-word resulted in his own death.

He was returning one night from his usual rounds when, on approaching a
sentry, he found him asleep. He ordered him harshly to arise, when the
man, half asleep, and dazed, threw the gun to his shoulder and fired.
Campbell uttered a groan and fell heavily to the ground.

The sentry, on perceiving his mistake, gave the alarm; the wounded
chieftain was carried to his home, where an examination of his wound by
the surgeons disclosed the fact that he had been fatally wounded. He
lingered, however, for more than thirty days in intense agony before he
died--the victim of his own precautions.

During Campbell's leadership one Shade Combs conceived the grand
idea that he was the man who might summarily end the war by killing
off certain obnoxious members of the French faction. He communicated
his plans to Campbell, who furnished him the required men. But by
some means Combs' intended victims had gotten wind of his scheme and
forestalled it in such manner that the hunter now became the hunted.
One fine morning, while saddling his horse, a well-directed shot from
ambush ended his life.

Such were conditions in Perry County during the summer and fall of
1888. People who had continued entirely neutral, grew exceedingly
nervous. One never knew when his turn would come next to die from a
shot from the bushes. The law had utterly failed to give the citizens
the protection to which they were entitled. The state and county
government enforced the collection of taxes but seemed unable to
enforce the law. Had the people of Perry County withheld their hands
from their purse-strings and refused to pay taxes, we honestly believe
that the high authorities would very quickly have found or invented a
remedy for the lawlessness which was depriving the State of revenue.
The citizens of Perry County would have been justified in a rebellion
against taxation, unless the government protected them in their rights.
When people are taxed, they in turn are supposed to have their lives
and property protected. When one consideration of a contract fails, the
other may be avoided.

On the 9th of October, 1888, the news of another assassination
increased the terror of the people. Elijah Morgan, a French adherent, a
man of courage and unswerving determination, was shot and killed within
less than two miles of Hazard--shot from ambush.

On the morning of his death he and one Frank Grace were on their way
to town in pursuance of an agreement that had been entered into by him
with members of the Eversole faction. Morgan was the son-in-law of
Judge Combs, but in spite of all efforts from that direction to throw
his influence with the Eversoles he had continued to remain loyal to
French and for this he was promptly slain.

His death had been decreed some time before this, but his shrewdness
and knowledge of the tactics of his enemies had made him a very
slippery proposition. A ruse was, therefore, resorted to. For a short
time previous to his death Morgan had frequently expressed his desire
for peace, an earnest wish to lay down his arms, and to be permitted
to return to peaceful pursuits. This commendable desire on his part
assisted his enemies in the formulation of plans for his destruction.
They assured him with every pledge of sincerity that he should not be
molested; that he might freely come to town whenever he wished; that on
a certain day (the day of the murder) if he would meet them at Hazard,
they would all renew the friendship that had existed until the feud
tore them asunder.

Morgan promised to attend the proposed peace jubilee. Little did
he dream that the pretended friends were cold-blooded, calculating
enemies, seeking his life under the miserable mask of friendship; that
to be certain of success, to avoid any possible miscarriage of the
plot, every avenue of escape had been carefully considered and guarded

Assassins were placed at various points along the road and at
convenient spots in town.

The actors in the tragedy were all at their posts when Morgan stepped
upon the scene, unknowingly playing the chief role.

Within less than two miles, in fact, but little more than a mile from
town, at a spot where the road is flanked by large overhanging cliffs
on one side and the steep river bank on the other, Morgan was fired
upon. With a bullet in his back he sank to the ground. A number of
shots followed the first one. Grace was driven to cover. Morgan, in his
death struggle, rolled over the river bank where a small tree arrested
further descent. Grace, not daring to abandon his place of comparative
safety, remained a helpless spectator of the agonies of his dying

Country people, traveling toward town, at last came to Morgan's relief,
but he died within a few hours.

As soon as the alarm had been given, a posse of his friends started in
pursuit of the murderers, but nothing came of it.

The French faction openly charged the Eversoles with the murder. The
Eversoles expressed indignation at the imputation. They had no right
to complain. On other occasions they had themselves preferred similar
charges against French upon no better authority than suspicions based
upon suspicious circumstances. The murder of Morgan had followed
closely upon the heel of the assassination of Shade Combs for which the
Eversoles held the French faction responsible. Certainly there were
some well-grounded suspicions that the slaying of Morgan was an act of
retaliation on the part of the Eversoles.

Now the State government and the circuit judge began to take a hand
in the matter. It was time. Circuit Judge Lilly, a gentleman of the
highest type, an able jurist, had somehow or other seemed unable to
inspire the district with respects for his courts. This district
embraced the counties of Breathitt, Letcher, Perry, Knott and others.
In each of those lawlessness had spread to such an extent that the
judge found himself defied on every hand and felt himself compelled to
request the State to furnish troops for his courts.

This led to the following spirited correspondence between the Governor
and Judge Lilly:

                                            Hazard, Ky., Nov. 13, 1888.

    To the Governor of Kentucky:

    Sir:--Captain Sohan has succeeded in organizing a company of
    about 45 State Guards in Perry County. He informs me that he has
    no orders and does not know whether he will be ordered back to
    Louisville or to go with me to Whitesburg, thence to Hindman and
    thence to Breathitt; but, in any event, expects to be ordered away
    from here very soon. Mr. B. F. French is here with 15 or perhaps
    more men, well armed, and the people are so much alarmed, fearing
    that they will be left to the mercy of these men, that I have
    decided that I will take the responsibility upon myself to order
    the Perry Guards on duty, hoping that you will approve my action
    and order them on duty, and let their pay begin on the 17th instant.

    I will not attempt to hold courts at Letcher, Knott, or Breathitt
    unless you send guards along. No good can be accomplished by
    holding courts in any of those counties without a guard. If a
    sufficient guard is present, I think that much good will be
    accomplished in and by the moral effect it will have on the people
    by showing them that you are determined to have the courts held and
    the laws enforced, and to give protection to the good citizens.

    Please write me and send by way of Manchester, as I shall return
    that way, and if I do not receive your letter here, can get it on
    the road. If you order the guard to go with me I will go and hold
    the courts if not Providentially hindered.

                                                 I remain, Yours truly,
                                                           H. C. LILLY.

The Governor answered in rather caustic manner.

    _Governor Buckner's Reply._


                                            Frankfort, Nov. 27th, 1888.

    Hon. H. C. Lilly, Judge, Irvine, Ky.

    Dear Sir:--I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your
    communication of the 13th inst. from Hazard, Perry County, in which
    you say "Mr. B. F. French is here with 15, or perhaps more, men,
    well armed, and the people are so much alarmed, fearing that they
    will be left to the mercy of those men, that I have decided that I
    will take the responsibility upon myself to order the Perry Guards
    on duty, hoping that you will approve my action and order them on
    duty, and let their pay begin on the 17th inst."

    At the time I received your communication I was in communication
    with the sheriff of Perry County. I inferred from his statements
    that there was no immediate danger of an outbreak or opposition to
    the civil authorities; and, second, that but slight effort had been
    made by him to arrest violators of the law.

    Your own statement does not inform me of anything more than a
    vague apprehension in the public mind, and does not advise me that
    the civil authorities cannot suppress any attempts at disturbance
    by employing the usual force of civil government. _I assume that
    if danger had been imminent, both you and the sheriff would have
    remained on the ground_.

    The object of furnishing troops on your application was to protect
    the court in the discharge of its duties, and not to supercede the
    civil authorities by a military force.

    Under the circumstances I do not feel authorized to call the local
    militia into active service.

                                   Respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                         S. B. BUCKNER.

The letter of Judge Lilly is significant as an admission of the
cowardice of the entire population. He says "Mr. B. F. French is here
with _fifteen_, or perhaps, more men, well-armed, and the people are so
much alarmed fearing that they will be left to the mercy of those men"
and so on.

Had Judge Lilly been correctly informed? If so, what had become of the
boasted bravery of Kentucky mountaineers that the manhood of an entire
county, containing many thousand inhabitants, should shiver and tremble
like frightened sheep and tamely submit to the intimidations of a band
of _FIFTEEN_, or perhaps more, men.

Was it possible that in this land of the free and the brave the
proportion of brave men stood fifteen to one thousand cowards? Oh no!
The authorities had simply never put the law-abiding, the true citizen
element, in a position to show its mettle; it had never been given a
proper test. The attempt to restore order had not been made at all;
if it had, it would have succeeded. No outlaw band, however strong,
can, or will, long defy the law when a firm and _determined_ move is
made to enforce it. Why is it that one courageous blue-coat policeman
can scatter a crowd? It is not his bulk, his figure, but the uniform
he wears, the badge of authority--the law. If he is a credit to that
uniform he may, single-handed, disperse a mob. The consciousness of
having the law behind him makes him dauntless; the thought of duty
steels his nerves. If those entrusted with the execution of the law
in Perry County had made _one_ firm, unflinching effort to uphold its
dignity, the period of assassinations would have ended then and there.
The history of lawlessness in Perry County furnishes ample lessons to
other counties, and to other states, for that matter.

Governor Buckner aptly expressed his opinion of the situation when he
terms the "fears and alarms" of the people as "anything more than a
vague apprehension in the public mind."

Judge Lilly probably accepted the trembling cowardice of a few as the
criterion by which to measure the manhood of an entire county.

However, on the 29th of October, the Governor notified the
Adjutant-General to forward troops to Hazard. His report to the
Governor later on furnishes interesting reading, as does the report of
the commander of the expedition, Captain J. M. Sohan.[6]


                                         Frankfort, Ky., Nov. 14, 1888.

    To his Excellency, Governor S. B. Buckner.

    Dear Sir:--Pursuant to Executive order, bearing date the 29th ult.,
    I left Frankfort on 31st and proceeded to Hazard, the county seat
    of Perry County, arriving there noon of Sunday, the 14th instant,
    where I remained till Thursday, the 8th, when I left on my return,
    at 10 o'clock A. M., arriving here Saturday morning. Hazard
    contains near 100 inhabitants, when they are all at home, but I
    was told that not more than about thirty-five people were at home
    when I reached there, the rest of the population having refugeed in
    consequence of the French and Eversole feud which has distracted
    the people of the town and county for more than two years, and
    during which some ten men have died by violence as the result
    thereof. Many of the refugees returned before I left there, a
    number having joined the troops en route, and returned under their
    protection to Hazard, arriving there on the afternoon of Sunday,
    the 4th, while others returned Sunday night and others as late as
    Wednesday night.

    Among those who had sought safety in flight were George Eversole,
    county judge, and brother to Joe Eversole, the leader of the
    faction of that name; Ira Davidson, circuit and county court
    clerk, a sympathizer with that faction, Josiah Combs, late county
    judge and father-in-law of Joseph Eversole, and his son ----
    Combs, who is an officer of the circuit court, and Fulton French,
    the leader of the French faction, together with the families of
    each, except Davidson, who is a single man. These all returned,
    except the elder Combs, either with the troops or after their
    arrival, and before I left. The killings above referred to were
    mostly assassinations from ambush, which seems to have been the
    favorite method of warfare adopted by both factions for ridding
    the community of the presence of persons who, from causes real or
    supposed, had made themselves obnoxious to the slayers, though
    one killing, that of Mr. Gambriel, was committed in the town
    of Hazard, in broad daylight, by two Eversoles and two of his
    henchmen, and was witnessed by a number of people; was committed
    without anything like adequate provocation, but for which no
    indictment had ever been found. Grand juries and witnesses seem
    either to have sympathized with the law-breakers or to have been
    intimidated by them; but it is not improbable that both of these
    causes have operated to paralyze the administration of the law,
    and to correspondingly stimulate crime. As is usual in such cases,
    I found that the county authorities failed to act with any degree
    of promptness and vigor at the inception of the difficulties and
    the result was the inevitable one--the troubles soon grew beyond
    their control. Josiah Combs, the father-in-law of Joe Eversole,
    was county judge at the beginning of the feud and Eversole and
    his friends were evidently the aggressors--at least were first to
    resort to violence--and when the county judge was appealed to by
    outsiders to issue warrants for their arrest, positively declined
    to do so, saying that Eversole had done nothing to be arrested
    for, and that French ought to be driven away from town. Thus the
    inaction of the authorities stimulated the friends of each faction,
    and each sought safety in arming such persons as would take service
    with them, and setting at defiance the law instead of looking to it
    as their best protection. Finally, one Sunday morning last April,
    Joe Eversole, in company with Nick Combs, his brother-in-law, and
    Josiah Combs, started from Hazard to Hyden to circuit court, and
    when about five miles out from Hazard they were fired upon from
    ambush and Eversole and young Combs were instantly killed.

    Fulton French was indicted for that killing, and while he may have
    instigated it, he certainly did not participate in the shooting.

    The killing of Joe Eversole seems to have demoralized his friends,
    the most prominent of whom soon after left Hazard.

    The last assassination was that of Elijah Morgan, who was shot
    from ambush, near Hazard, on the 9th of last month. His only crime
    appears to have been that he sympathized with French. Morgan was
    also a son-in-law of Josiah Combs and brother-in-law of Eversole.

    And now, perhaps, you are ready to ask what it was all about?
    Well, I cannot say, although I very naturally sought to learn the
    cause. Some of whom I enquired thought it was business rivalry,
    while others said there was a woman in the case, and I think it
    attributable in part to both those causes. French and Eversole were
    both merchants and lawyers, and I was told that some three years
    ago a man who was clerking for French accused French of deflouring
    his wife, and quit French and took service with Eversole, and told
    the latter that the former had offered him five hundred dollars
    to murder him, and soon afterwards Silas Gayheart, who was a
    friend of French, was murdered, as it is charged, by Eversole and
    his friends, and from that time on the troubles have grown and
    assassinations multiplied, the victims being first from one side
    and then from the other. I thought it advisable to call out 44 of
    the reserve militia, all that I had arms for, and selected these
    from the best, non-partisan people that I could.

    The list was not complete when I left, but I authorized Capt.
    Sohan, whom I found to be an excellent officer, to muster them
    in, and gave him similar instructions to those you gave me on the

    Judge Lilly is very anxious that the troops go with him to Knott
    and Letcher Counties, but I heard of no organized band of outlaws
    in those counties too strong for the civil authorities, if the
    latter will do their duty. The troops, officers and men comprising
    the detail, conducted themselves in a soldierly and appropriate
    manner, and I apprehend that they will have no trouble in
    protecting the court from violence should any be offered, which I
    think improbable.

                                                     Very respectfully,
                                                           SAM E. HILL,

Captain Sohan's report contains additional facts of interest; the
difficulty in reaching the remote, mountainous section, and facts
connected with the conduct of the court.



                                  Louisville, Ky., November 27th, 1889.

    To the Adjutant-General, Frankfort, Ky.

    Sir:--Under instructions contained in your letter of March 8th,
    1888, handed me at Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky, I have the honor
    to submit the following report:--

    Pursuant to General Orders Nos. 38 and 39, issued from regimental
    headquarters, and authorized by Executive Orders, I left Louisville
    October 30th, at 8.05 P. M. with a detail of four commissioned
    officers and 63 non-commissioned officers and privates, and 1
    gatling gun, under instructions to report to Hon. H. C. Lilly,
    Judge of the 19th Judicial District, at Hazard, Perry County,

    The detail occupied 2 passenger coaches and 1 baggage car, which
    were attached to the regular 8.05 P. M. train on the Knoxville
    Branch of the L. & N. Railroad. We arrived at London, Ky., about
    two o'clock, and there our cars were sidetracked and the command
    occupied them until daylight, when we disembarked, had breakfast
    and started for Hazard, which is about 75 miles distant. We
    traveled in wagons, which had been provided by Lieutenant J. H.
    Mansir, Acting Quartermaster, who had preceded the command to
    London for that purpose. To transport the command were required 14
    wagons and teams, and 1 team for gatling gun. The officers were
    mounted. Owing to the condition of the road, in places almost
    impassable, the march was very tedious; the men had frequently to
    dismount and help the teams up the hills or over rough places.
    About 4 o'clock we went into camp for the night, and resumed the
    march next morning at good daylight. We continued the march in this
    manner from day to day, going into camp between 3 and 4 o'clock,
    and resuming the march between 6 and 7. We reached Hazard at three
    o'clock Sunday afternoon, November 3rd, 1888, it being the fifth
    day out from London. On the second day of the march we were joined
    by Judge Lilly, when about 25 miles from London. He remained with
    or near the command until we reached Hazard. At various points
    along the route we were met by the officials of the Perry Circuit
    Court--the circuit court clerk, sheriff and deputy sheriffs--all
    of whom were awaiting escort, and who accompanied the troops into

    Arrived at our destination, I found the court house unsuitable
    for a camp-ground, and selected for that purpose a hill in rear
    of the court house, and about 200 yards distant. It proved an
    admirable site, being dry, easily picketed, in a manner secluded,
    and affording good opportunity to command the town in case of
    difficulty. We were comfortably encamped before dark, and entered
    at once upon the routine of camp life, the full particulars of
    which have been made known to you in my daily reports. I reported
    for duty to Judge Lilly at the court house on Monday, the 5th
    inst., at 9 o'clock A. M. He instructed me that he would not
    require a guard at the court house or town just then, not deeming
    it necessary, as but few people were in, and that in any case he
    did not intend to try to do anything until after the election,
    which occurred on the 6th, and that when he wanted a guard he would
    let me know. I returned to camp and the judge adjourned court
    until Wednesday, the 7th. Upon resuming Wednesday, the town being
    well filled with people, the judge required a guard in the court
    room as a precautionary measure, and entered formally upon the
    business of the term. I noticed that in charging the grand jury he
    dwelt at considerable length upon the crimes of illegal selling
    of liquor and gaming, but passed murder with the remark that "it
    was unnecessary for him to call the attention of the jury to the
    fact that murder was a crime," and also when one of the attorneys
    at the bar wanted to introduce a motion to reorganize the grand
    jury, in order to get a jury that would indict certain persons
    for murder, the judge informed him that he would overrule any
    motion to that effect: "That if commenced, there would be no end
    to it; that the jury was carefully selected, and was as good as
    could be had in the county." The business of the court proceeded
    slowly, the great majority of the cases having to be passed, owing
    to the absence of the accused, or of important witnesses, whose
    attendance it seemed impossible to secure. A few convictions for
    minor offenses were secured, the penalty inflicted generally being
    the lowest prescribed by law; besides these, but one important
    case was decided, one man being sent to the State prison for one
    year for shooting and wounding, receiving the lowest penalty. The
    judge, in finally dismissing the jury, reprimanded them for their
    leniency, and called attention to the light sentence imposed as
    indicative of the state of feeling throughout the community. As
    far as I could judge the court officials used every endeavor to
    promote the ends of justice, but were effectually hampered by their
    inability to make arrests and secure the attendance of witnesses
    and get juries to convict. About the third or fourth day of the
    court, B. F. French, one of the principals in the French-Eversole
    feud, was brought into town by the sheriff of Breathitt County.
    He was surrounded by a posse of about twenty men who rode in in
    good order, in column of twos, each man holding his rifle at
    an "advance." They went at once to French's residence, where
    they remained during the court. I believe French was nominally
    surrendered to the sheriff of Perry County, but was permitted to
    remain in his house and was constantly surrounded by the Breathitt
    County posse, which was made up of his friends and followers, and
    which was represented to me as containing some of the worst men
    in Breathitt County. So threatening was their appearance that the
    judge commanded them to surrender their arms to me. They at first
    refused, but finally brought nine rifles into camp, and, I suppose,
    hid the balance, as they did not appear any more under arms. The
    rifles surrendered to me were the 50-calibre Springfield, exactly
    the same gun as the State Guard was formerly armed with. I returned
    them to the posse, on an order from the judge, when they left town.
    French, although under arrest, went constantly armed, and seemed to
    be under no restraint. A day or so after his arrest he went into
    court, gave bond for himself and several of his followers and was
    released from arrest, but remained in town until near the end of
    the term, when he left for Breathitt County, surrounded by an armed
    guard similar to that which brought him in.

    Perhaps the most important event of the trip was the formation of a
    military company at Hazard, the organization of which was commenced
    by yourself during your stay there, and completed by me, acting
    under your instructions. I have made full reports of this event
    to your office, with roster of company and report of election of
    officers. I respectfully recommend that this company be encouraged
    in every way possible, as in my opinion it will have a quieting
    effect upon the turbulent element in Perry County. The company is
    largely made up of the men selected by yourself, and who are, as
    near as possible, unbiased in the feuds of the county. The officers
    appear to be good men for the positions to which they were elected,
    and enjoy the respect of the community.

    As the end of the term approached, and being without orders to
    govern my further movements, I despatched Lieutenant Gray, who
    volunteered for the service, to London, on Saturday, the 9th inst.,
    with a telegram to your office asking for instructions. I waited
    until the last day, knowing Judge Lilly had asked the Governor
    for troops over his entire circuit. You had instructed me that
    definite orders would be sent me in time to act. The order did
    arrive Monday afternoon, having been delayed two days in the mail,
    and was to return to Louisville. I immediately made arrangements
    to break camp, and Lieutenant Gray having returned Tuesday night
    with telegram confirming the above order, the command left Hazard
    Wednesday, the 20th. Judge Lilly remained in Hazard, awaiting
    action of the Governor in regard to his application for troops,
    and his request for these being refused, he decided not to go any
    farther on his circuit, and left Hazard with us. He parted with us
    finally the next day, a few miles out from Hazard, and I believe
    returned to his home.

    I desire to express my thanks to Judge Lilly for the uniform
    kindness and courtesy of his bearing toward myself and my command.

    The return trip was made in the same manner as the outward one, and
    by the same means, but was even more trying on the command, as the
    weather was colder and the roads worse. We reached London Sunday,
    27th, about three o'clock P. M. We found cars ready for us, and at
    once occupied them. They were attached to the one o'clock A. M.
    train and arrived at Louisville Monday morning, the 28th inst.,
    where the command, having disembarked, were marched to the armory
    and disbanded.

    This ended a service somewhat unique, even in the varied experience
    in the Kentucky State Guard.

    That it was productive of good there can be no doubt. It impressed
    the people of the community that the State was determined to assert
    her power and majesty, and that they would no longer defy the law
    with impunity. The officials of the court and residents of the
    town and county were unanimous in the assertion, which was made
    to me repeatedly, that the term of the court could not have been
    held without bloodshed, except for the presence of the troops, and
    I believe this to be true. On the day of the national election
    there was not the slightest disturbance, although several murders
    and affrays were reported from adjoining counties, in Hazard,--a
    thing almost unprecedented in its history. We had here the same
    experience that the State troops have always had on similar
    service, that is, the police power of the State is universally
    feared and respected. That there will be more bloodshed before
    this feud is settled was the opinion of all to whom I spoke on the
    subject. The men engaged in it are vindictive and daring, and will
    use any means to escape punishment or gratify their revenge. That
    the people really believe this, is shown by the fact that many of
    them had left the town permanently. The circuit clerk and county
    judge, both residents, left when we did with the intention of not
    returning. Half the houses in town were unoccupied, and one of the
    citizens lamented to me the fact that whereas they formerly had
    150 inhabitants they now had but seventy. The moral condition of
    many of the people of this section is indeed deplorable. There is
    not a church of any kind in the county, but few schools, and they
    of the most primitive sort; not half of the murders committed are
    ever made known to the public; many of the people live in the most
    squalid poverty and social degradation; incest of the vilest sort
    is frequently practised, and the marriage ceremony is constantly
    ignored. I have counted as many as fifteen children, who, with
    their parents, occupied a small cabin, containing one room. It is
    from such conditions that the disordered state in the community
    arises, and in my opinion they cannot be fully removed until
    advancing civilization and development bring new people and new
    incentive to labor.

    This state of affairs renders it very difficult for the civil
    officers to perform the duties satisfactorily, as a majority of
    the people seem to have sunk into a kind of apathy regarding crime,
    and hold aloof from any effort to enforce the laws. The fear of
    secret assassination or "bushwhacking" hangs like a pall over the
    entire section, so that those who would otherwise aid in enforcing
    order do not care to risk their lives in the attempt. I will state
    an instance showing how widespread this fear is: Several of the
    men in French's body guard were wanted in Knott County, and the
    warrants for their arrest were brought to Hazard by a _woman_.

    Neither is this fear groundless, as is shown by the fact that more
    than twenty men have been killed in the French-Eversole feud,
    most of them being shot from ambush. This is the secret of all
    the troubles. The people are held in terror by a few desperadoes.
    The peaceable and respectable citizens largely predominate in the
    county, and could they be assured of protection, would soon put an
    end to the disorders. In closing this report, it gives me great
    pleasure to refer to the conduct of the detail under my command.
    Perhaps no part of the State Guard has ever passed through more
    severe test of discipline and endurance. Certainly none have ever
    responded more gallantly and faithfully to the demands made upon
    them. The march from Louisville to Hazard and back was particularly
    trying, the camp each night being but temporary, the men could not
    make themselves comfortable and suffered severely from the cold.
    The road is simply indescribable, being so rough that most of
    the command preferred walking to riding in the wagons provided.
    We frequently marched for hours in the water, the natural bed of
    the creeks being the only available way through the hills, and
    this was generally the best part of the road; at other times it
    took all hands to help the teams up the hills, or keep them from
    falling over precipices. Through it all the men were cheerful and
    uncomplaining, and though allowed every possible liberty, there
    was not a single serious breach of discipline, and but few even of
    a trivial sort. This, I think, speaks well for the training and
    reliability of the command from which the detail was taken.

    The health of the detail....

                                            Very respectfully,
                                                Your obedient servant,
                                                    J. M. SOHAN,
                                                    Captain Commanding.

With the departure of the troops returned the same chaotic conditions
which had characterized the county previous to the term of court which
they had been sent to protect. During the spring term, however, a
number of indictments were found against law violators. This would, of
course, bring the accused, their friends and many witnesses to court,
at the following November term.

Judge Lilly refused to share the belief of the Governor that the Home
Guards would be able to suppress disorders and properly protect the
court. He failed to appear. An election for special judge resulted in
the seating of Hon. W. L. Hurst as judge pro tem.



Court had proceeded with unimportant business until the fourth day of
the term.

Considerable disorder had occurred on the night of the third day of
court, but actual hostilities did not open until the following morning.

During the forenoon a heavy volley of shots suddenly rang clear and
sharp in the cold November air and echoed through the valley.

There was a momentary silence in the crowded court room. Every man
looked at his neighbor, questioningly and uncertain. Then with one
impulse judge, lawyers, jurors, officers and bystanders sprang to their
feet, rushed for exits and into the street. There the crowd scattered
like sheep in all directions, some to seek the protection of the walls
of buildings, others to depart from town without the ceremony of a

Not until after the first stampede had somewhat abated was it that the
factions began to take cognizance of the situation and prepare plans
for concerted action.

When the first volley fired, no one about the court house knew what
had really happened. No one took the time to ask. It was instinctively
assumed that it was the beginning of the long-expected general battle
between the French and Eversole forces.

The shooting had been done by the owner of a glorious jag, and if
cooler heads had prevailed a battle might have been averted, but once
the factions had reached their arms and assembled, peace was out of
the question. The instigator of the trouble, one Campbell, had been
engaged with several others of his friends, in a game of cards, on a
hill overlooking the village. The hill is known as the Graveyard Hill.
In a spirit of excessive hilarity, produced by over-indulgence in
fire-water, he had stepped to the side of a tree and fired his pistol.
At the upper end of town one Davidson kept a store. At the reports
of the pistol Davidson looked out of a rear window of his place of
business. He saw Campbell standing on the hill waving his still smoking
gun. Davidson procured his Winchester rifle, took deliberate aim, then
fired. Campbell sank dead to the ground.

As soon as the panic-stricken crowd had left the court house the
Eversoles rushed into it and took possession of it.

Two French men, Jesse Fields and Bob Profitt, found themselves isolated
in a jury room on the second floor, while the court room proper was
already occupied by their enemies, the Eversoles. The two were in a
precarious situation and thoroughly realized it. There seemed but one
chance for escape open to them--a leap through the windows into the
yard below. They saw themselves outnumbered twenty to one. Resistance
would have been folly and surrender did not appeal to them. Neither
side had thus far in the "war" exhibited much respect for principles of
civilized warfare.

The moment the Eversoles took possession of the rooms beyond, Fields
and Profitt locked the door of their room and as noiselessly as
possible hoisted one of the windows. On looking into the yard below
they hesitated. It was a high jump, with many chances in favor of their
breaking their necks, or at least a limb or two. But when the enemy
attempted to break through the door all hesitation vanished. Both
leaped and landed on the ground below without sustaining injury.

This daring leap had been perceived by the Eversoles. The two men were
fired upon as they ran for life toward and into the jailer's residence
for cover. This building, as well as the court house, was of brick.
The two structures stood within fifteen feet of each other and fronted
the same street. The Eversoles now passed their time in ventilating
the thin brick walls of the little building. Fields and Profitt began
to feel uncomfortably warm, but held the fort. They had an ample
supply of ammunition and continued to pour volley upon volley into the
windows and through the walls of the court house. All through the long
afternoon the guns roared. Clouds of smoke hung low and heavy over the
unfortunate town. Constant was the clatter of firearms. The incessant
hiss of leaden missiles was interspersed with shouts and defiant curses
while the silent terror of women and children was pitiful to behold.
The whole presented a scene not easily forgotten by those who were
compelled to witness it.

Thus far the battle had proved bloodless, notwithstanding the
tremendous expenditure of ammunition. Neither of the belligerent armies
had dared an open attack. They fought now as they had practically
always fought during the war--from well-secreted places. Fortified in
their quarters, they took care not to expose their persons. It was
no senseless caution, for upon the appearance of an object anywhere,
behind, in or under which a human being might be suspected, it became
at once the target of many guns and received very close attention

With the approach of night Fields and his comrade felt that they must
evacuate the premises or succumb to an attack by superior forces under
cover of darkness, but to join their friends some distance away they
must necessarily run a dangerous gauntlet. However, they preferred
dying in the open to being caught like rats in a trap.

It was dark when the two desperate men started on their perilous
journey. With heads bent down upon their breasts, like men facing a
beating hail, they ran for their lives. Every gun of the enemy was
trained upon them, and fired. Presently defiant yells from the French
position announced to the crestfallen Eversoles that their prey had
escaped them.

When the battle started French was absent from town. He arrived during
the night.

All night long the battle continued with scarcely an intermission in
the firing.

During the night Tom Smith and Jesse Fields succeeded in eluding the
vigilance of the Eversoles and occupied the Graveyard Hill. When the
first ray of dawn approached, Fields and Smith opened a terrific fire
upon the Eversoles in the court house, the balls crashing through the
windows, driving the occupants to seek safety by throwing themselves
upon the floor.

During the early morning hours two of the Eversole men attempted to
cross a street near the court house, when Fields and Smith opened fire
upon them. One of the men, J. McKnight, was instantly killed, while
his companion escaped. Smith and Fields used a sunken grave as a rifle
pit and from a tombstone Smith took the rest for the shot that killed

The strategic advantage of French's men perplexed the Eversoles, who,
penned up in the court house, were rendered practically helpless. The
fusilade was so continuous that an attempt to return the fire from
the windows would have meant certain death. The balls crashed through
the windows, tearing the wood casings to splinters and the shutters
were completely shot away. The furniture in the court room was thrown
about and knocked into atoms. The building, from which the Eversoles
had expected so much as a point of vantage, proved a death trap. To
retire from it the Eversoles appeared as anxious as they had been to
take possession of it. Their retreat to the river bank was effected in
safety, but to prevent attack while crossing the river, Green Morris
and a companion remained concealed under the banks of the river. Fields
and Smith on the Graveyard Hill were the first to see the Eversoles
in retreat and started in pursuit. Approaching the hiding-place of
Morris, the latter fired, wounding Fields severely in the arm and thus
effectually checked further pursuit. If Smith and Fields had reached
the river unharmed, the record of the fight might present an increased
list of casualties, as both were men of great courage and good

On the records of the Perry Circuit Court appears an order of Special
Judge Hurst, giving his reason for the unceremonious adjournment of
court. It is an interesting document. Certainly Judge Hurst's reason
for adjournment seems a valid one:


                                               4th day Nov., Term 1889.

    At this term of the Court there were two armed factions in the town
    of Hazard, the French and Eversole factions, antagonistic to each

    On the second night of the Court, the acting judge was shot but not
    wounded (?) in the French end of the town, French not being in the
    town at the time, but some of his men were and the next evening at
    dusk a "dinamite" or other cartridge with burning fuse attached
    was thrown over the judge's room or house in which he stayed and
    exploded heavily on the other side of the house.

    Court continued till the evening of the 4th day, when the two
    factions began heavy cross-firing at each other in earnest about
    and near the court house, which completely "correlled" the court,
    the jury, the officers and people in court for some time, and
    before the firing abated, the judge plainly seeing, that it was not
    intended that court should be further held, and it being impossible
    to further progress with the business and live, the court ordered
    the clerk to adjourn the court, and the non-combatants to save
    themselves as best they could. They did so, but one shot was fired
    at them from the Eversole quarters as they left.

    The fighting continued through the next night and until about 9
    o'clock the next day excepting some intervals of rest. The French
    side received reinforcement from Breathitt County. During this
    fight two men, friends of Eversoles, were killed in the battle, and
    it was rumored that one of the French party was badly wounded and
    perhaps killed and another one wounded.

    The Eversole party claimed that they were destitute of ammunition
    next morning and retired from town without being injured thereby.
    The clerk left with his keys, the jury left, the judge remained
    till the next morning in the town and after the retreat of the
    Eversole party, when he received news as coming from the French
    side that he and the women and children could leave the town
    unmolested provided he did not go back to the court house,
    whereupon the court and some of the women and Commonwealth's
    attorney quietly marched away and in pursuance to the court's
    orders this court is hereby adjourned in course.

    This order was signed at the August Special Term of the court 1890
    and on the 11th day of August, 1890.

       *       *       *       *       *

Immediately after the battle the factions scattered through the
neighboring counties, scouting in small detachments, and continually
shifting quarters.

A special term of the Perry Circuit Court was called for August, 1890.
On the night of July 4th, however, a deed was perpetrated which was
intended to and did block the business of the court.

The town was awakened by the shrill cry of "fire," the crackling and
crashing of burning and falling timbers--the court house was a seething
mass of fire, and the people could only look on as the structure
succumbed to the consuming element. There was never any question as to
the origin of the fire. It was the work of incendiaries. Fortunately,
most of the records were saved.

Many of the feudists now began to tire of the constant scouting.
There was not enough real fighting to make it interesting. Occasional
ambuscades had lost their charm. Many longed for peace and home. Among
these was Robin Cornett, an Eversole man. Pretending friends encouraged
him to return to his home. He did so, and as day after day passed
without the least mishap, he often visiting Hazard in apparent safety,
he relaxed his vigilance, and fell,--a victim of relentless assassins.

One morning (July, 1890) Cornett, in company of his little brother,
started to the field to cut oats. Finding the grain not ripe enough,
he abandoned the field work and proceeded to the woods to peel logs. A
tree, which he had cut, fell across a narrow ravine, elevating portions
of the trunk several feet above the ground. He leaped upon it, ax
in hand, when shots from the near bushes accomplished another foul
assassination. Cornett sank dead upon the log, while his little brother
ran for life and escaped.

There can be no doubt that Cornett's doom had been sealed the instant
he returned home. The murder had been planned and was executed with
cruel cunning and occupies a front rank among the many infamous
assassinations, which have given this feud such notoriety.

At the special term of the Circuit Court, Judge Lilly appeared,
accompanied by a detachment of State Guards, commanded by
Adjutant-General Gaithers of Louisville, Ky. The court house had
not been rebuilt and a large tent served the purpose. It soon became
evident that the court meant business. A large number of deputy
sheriffs were sworn in to supplant the inefficient Home Guards. These
were at once disbanded and ordered to return the accoutrements they
had received, but the few articles turned over were hardly worth the
shipping expenses, many of the guns being broken.

Within a few days after court had begun, prisoners were brought into
court as fast as indictments were found. The jail became so crowded
that many prisoners were kept in a strongly guarded tent. As rapidly as
the cases were called up and the accused were presented in court, they
were transferred to the Clark County Circuit Court for trial. It was a
wise and necessary step indeed. Not only would it have been impossible
to secure qualified jurors in Perry County, but the attendance of the
accused, their friends and witnesses would most probably have invited a
clash between the contending factions.

The last days of the term of court, commonly called the "Blanket Court"
had come and gone without the least disturbance, and the removal of the
prisoners to the Winchester jail was also effected without mishap. The
backbone of the war was at last broken. A strange, but welcome, calm
succeeded turbulence, bloodshed, and anarchy.

A great change had come over the caged warriors. Disarmed and crowded
in the narrow confines of a prison, they faced each other but the
deadly Winchesters were no longer in reach. Fast in the clutches of
the law, the law which for so long they had disregarded, evaded,
shamefully violated, they now had ample opportunity for reflection and
sober reasoning. The absorbing and very pertinent question: How to
escape the punishment of the law worried them. It was a knotty problem
indeed. The lions, made captives, were now tame and submissive. For
the first few days after these foes met in prison, hatred and bitter
feeling found vent in abusive epithets and fistic encounters, but the
realization of helplessness reminded them of the need of making friends
out of enemies. They realized their power to destroy each other in
the courts, but would not the destroyer himself be destroyed? Revenge
could only open more cell doors, or furnish culprits for the gallows.
It was this prospect of conviction, of punishment, which effected at
last what bloodshed could never have accomplished--it reconciled in a
measure the enemies of old, some of them actually becoming friends, and
thus again effectually clogging the legal machinery. The necessity of
self-preservation brought matters around in such shape that we find
men who had opposed each other in deadly combat, fighting side by side
the legal battles in court. None of the prisoners was allowed bail,
but after removal to Clark County, one after another of the accused
demanded examining trials and upon being allowed bail, readily executed
bonds and returned to their homes and families, which many of them had
not seen for months.

With the removal of French, Judge Combs and others of the feudists
returned an era of peace which continued uninterrupted until 1894, with
the exception of a street fight in the town of Hazard between some of
the Eversole faction and Jesse Fields, a French follower.

In this battle some of the Eversoles and Fields were wounded, and a
colored bystander was killed by a stray bullet.

In 1894 occurred the last assassination as the direct outcome of the

Tired with a life that now separated old Judge Combs from his family
and friends, he determined to and did return to Hazard to round out the
declining years of his life.

He might have lived in perfect peace and security elsewhere, but the
humble mountain home in the village of Hazard, so dear to him through
the associations of his youth and manhood, now attracted him more than
any other spot on earth. He could not bring himself to desert it once
and for all, in the chilly winter of old age.

Notwithstanding his faults, and his record during the feud shows him to
have been at fault on more than one occasion, he had a host of friends,
and these tried hard to dissuade him from his purpose. But he had
formed his resolve, and refused to be guided by well-meant advice.

There is something very pathetic in this old man's attachment for a
home which, for years, had offered him danger instead of peace, sorrow
instead of happiness.

He had visited his home surreptitiously on several occasions since his
removal therefrom. On one of these visits he had narrowly escaped death
by assassination. This attempt upon his life should have convinced
him that his doom was sealed, that his death had been decreed. Yet,
notwithstanding all this, Judge Combs returned to Hazard to reside. But
a little while afterwards he succumbed to the assassins' bullets.

The murder was committed in broad-open daylight, in plain view of many
townspeople, and, also from ambush.

At the moment the fatal shot was fired, the old man was engaged with
several of his friends and neighbors in commonplace conversation.

Within a few feet of the group of men stood a fence enclosing a lot
planted with corn, which, together with the thick and tall growth
of weeds and bushes, offered the assassins admirable opportunity to
approach their victim to within a few feet without danger of discovery.

No one noticed the slight rustling of the corn blades. No one saw
the hand that parted them skilfully to make way for the gun which
accomplished its deadly work. There was a puff of smoke, a loud report
and Judge Combs reeled. Suddenly he straightened himself up, stood
apparently undecided for a moment, then walked across the street toward
home. At its threshold he sank to the ground and expired without a

The murderers had evidently been determined to guard against any
possible blunders which had, on former occasions, saved the old man's
life. For from the moment the shot was fired up to the time the old man
fell dead, the murderous gun continually covered him, ready for instant
service should it appear that the first shot had not been fatal.

After the victim had fallen to the ground, the principal of the
assassins deliberately walked to the rear of the lot. Here he was
joined by one of his confederates. A third had already opened fire and
continued a fusilade from across the river for the evident purpose of
pretending the presence of a large force and thus by intimidation to
prevent pursuit.

The three confederates then proceeded calmly down the river. Their
retreat was deliberate. At no time did they exhibit the slightest
apprehension of danger or fear of pursuers.

The utter recklessness and boldness with which the crime had been
committed completely stupefied the townspeople. Intelligent, prompt
action was out of the question for a time. Not until the murderers had
had a long start did it become possible to organize a posse.

At last the fugitives were sighted by the pursuers. A general exchange
of shots followed. One of the outlaws was wounded. He continued his
flight with difficulty.

A running fight was now kept up for a great distance. Then the
fugitives disappeared in the dense mountain forests and the chase was
given up. But one member of the posse was wounded.

Several of the eye-witnesses of the tragedy and members of the pursuing
posse had recognized Joe Adkins, Jesse Fields and one Boon Frazier as
the fugitives. Joe Adkins was the man who had fired the fatal shot
which took the life of the old man Combs.

The three parties mentioned were in due time indicted. Adkins and
Fields were arrested. Frazier was never caught.

The cases against Adkins and Fields were transferred to another
district in Kentucky for trial. The best legal talent of the state
participated in the famous trial. Honorable W. C. P. Breckinridge, a
lawyer and orator of national fame, had been retained as counsel for
the defence.

Fields and Adkins had been French men all through the feud, in fact,
had been among his most trusted lieutenants since its commencement.
Rumor, therefore, quickly associated the name of French with the
murder of Judge Combs. French stoutly denied any complicity in this
affair. Then, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, came the startling
intelligence that Tom Smith, another French warrior, had given out a
confession which seriously compromised French.

Smith was then under sentence of death at Jackson, Breathitt County,
for the murder of Dr. John E. Rader. As is usual with doomed felons, he
became converted and sought to wash his sin-stained soul whiter than
snow by a confession. It set forth that he had been present at the
home of Jesse Fields on Buckhorn Creek, Breathitt County, at a time
when French, Adkins and Fields discussed and perfected plans for the
assassination of Judge Combs; that he, Smith, would have assisted in
the dastardly murder but for a wound which he had a short time before
received in a pistol duel with Town Marshal Mann on the streets of

This confession resulted in French also being indicted.

The confession itself was of no importance from a legal standpoint.
It, however, materially assisted and strengthened the prosecution by
uncovering certain circumstances of which it might otherwise have
remained in ignorance. The friends of the murdered judge pointed
out with emphasis and logic that Smith had always been a French
confederate, had fought for him, taken life for him; that he had told
the truth about his participation in the murders of Joe Eversole, Nick
Combs, Shade Combs, Cornett, McKnight and Doctor Rader. Was there any
reason, they asked, why Smith should have lied in regard to French's
complicity in the murder of Judge Combs, yet had told the truth
concerning all things else. Why, they argued, should Smith desire
the ruin of his friend, his companion in arms, his chieftain, and
accomplish it by false statements, when the truth would save him?

French was indicted, tried and acquitted. On the first trial of Adkins
and Fields both received life sentences. The cases were taken to the
Court of Appeals and there, in an exhaustive opinion, reversed.

The second trial resulted in a life sentence for Adkins and the
acquittal of Jesse Fields. Adkins, however, has been a free man again,
lo--these many years. A life sentence in Kentucky is not what it seems.

Thus ended the last act of the bloody drama--the assassination of
Judge Combs. He was murdered because he had espoused the cause of Joe
Eversole at the breaking out of the war. Joe was his kinsman. As has
been said, Judge Combs undoubtedly contributed to the state of anarchy
which continued for so long in Perry County and disgraced American
civilization. As a sworn officer he had no right to permit love for his
kinsman, his friendship and affection for Eversole, to swerve him from
plain duty. Judge Combs' partiality in the discharge of his duties as
judge of the county doubtlessly hastened the conflict, for while it
protected one faction, it furnished good and sufficient reasons to the
other side to place no confidence in his administration of the law,
and roused them to savage, retaliatory crimes. Notwithstanding all
this, this last assassination was cowardly, as all the others, for that
matter. If Judge Combs deserved death, we may well ask how many of the
other participants in this feud ought to have shared a similar fate at
the hands of the law?


Several bloody feuds, innumerable assassinations, demoralized courts,
the purchase with money of slayers, anarchy in its most atrocious and
hideous forms--such has been the history of Breathitt County since the
days of the Civil War.

Breathitt County is not a remote section, out of touch with
civilization, where ignorance might be pleaded in extenuation of the
shameful lawlessness. Breathitt County has furnished men of brains, of
power, and of the highest integrity.

In Breathitt County, as well as in all the other feud-ridden sections,
the good citizens are in the majority.

Yet there, as in the other lawless communities of which this history
treats, the good element suffered itself to become intimidated to such
an extent as to eliminate it as a factor to be employed and relied upon
in restoring order.

It may also be stated that Breathitt's chief feudists, murderers,
conspirators and perjurers have counted men of brains among them,
who, however, delegated their work of bloody revenge for real or
fancied injuries to persons of a lower degree of mentality. Ignorant,
half-savage tools serve better.

The murder lust has been rampant there for many years, and it is there
yet. The outside world has heard only of the most important tragedies,
that is, tragedies which involved men "of brains and power." The
"little fellow" is murdered without much attention being paid to it.

Within eleven months during the years 1901 and 1902, nearly forty men
had been slain in cold blood, and for which crimes not one has suffered
the extreme penalty of the law.

Why is it, then, that since the good citizens are in the majority, they
are willing to submit to terrorization by a few? Why do they stand idly
by instead of rising in their might and punish?

Will the reader answer another question: Why is it that an entire
train load of men will tremble and shake in their shoes, throw up
their hands, and allow one or two bandits to take possession of their

It has happened in a few instances that bandits have come to grief
through the intrepidity of an individual who acted in spite of any
fear of impending death. We remember an incident of that kind during
a hold-up on a western road a few years back. The engineer, fireman,
conductor and brakesmen were lined up and held under the guns of one
of the bandits. Two of his confederates went through the coaches.

The engineer, a small but determined man, watched his chance, made a
sudden lurch forward, with his head butted the bandit in the stomach,
crumpled him up and put him out of commission. The train crew then
possessed itself of the guns and started for the coaches, firing a few
shots as they went. This disconcerted the robbers within. They made for
the doors to see what the shooting outside meant. It was their finish.
Several of the passengers who had been standing, trembling, with their
hands in the air, believing help had come, regained their courage,
sprang upon the outlaws, disarmed and securely tied them. No one was

It is the fear of the bushwhacker that prevents concerted action of the
law-abiding element in a community where assassinations from ambush
are the common methods employed to rid one's self of an enemy. And it
is no idle fear. For one man to set himself up as the champion of law
and order and to defy the outlaws to do their worst, is equivalent to
signing his own death-warrant. He is liable to be picked off as an
undesirable citizen.

Assassinations from ambush are always difficult to prove and alibis
are manufactured at small cost. Perjury, too, is common. It is the
favorite weapon of the defense in such cases.

Then the successful assassin is shrewd enough to conduct himself
usually, though not always, in such manner as to have friends among all
classes of people, even among the best.

Many of the worst men have used the cloak of religion, or
church-membership, to hide their black hearts. The masonic lodge has
been prostituted by such men of shrewd deceit.

It is no assurance of a man's goodness to find him sitting in a church
pew on a Sunday, with the Bible in his hand, for even within the holy
sanctum of the Lord the foulest conspiracies and crimes have been
hatched in the brains of men. This does not apply to Breathitt County
or Kentucky alone.

Some of the most noted feudists never fired a gun themselves, but in
their daily intercourse kept themselves unspotted before the world,
and used willing, paid tools to accomplish their bloody ends. Such men
always indignantly deny any imputation of wrong-doing. They have been
known to condemn in the loudest and the most emphatic terms outrages
against the peace and dignity of the State, the result of their own

The writer once pointed out to a gentleman from another state a certain
chieftain of murderers. He shook his head. "That man a murderer?" he
said. "Why, he is the most amiable person with whom I have come in
contact with in a long time. That man has brains, he has education.
That man is wrongfully accused, I know. No red-handed murderer could
look you in the eye like that, or counterfeit the innocence imprinted
upon his countenance."

The truth was, this particular outlaw had never murdered any one with
his own hands, but he had been the directing, managing spirit of foul
conspiracies and of wholesale assassinations.

This adoption of the mask of deceit serves another purpose. Since you
can never tell by a man's looks what is in his heart, citizens grow
suspicious of one another, and fear to express their opinions. That
this vastly increases the difficulty of concerted action looking toward
the eradication of crime, is apparent.

Reverting again to the murder lust: What is it's origin? What keeps it
aflame? What inspires it? Is it that the savage of the stone age is not
yet dead? That the veneer of civilization has in all those thousands of
years not become thick enough to prevent its wearing off so readily?
Perhaps. At least, it seems so.

Let us quote a recent example of this fearful blood lust:--

                                           Jackson, Ky., Aug. 29, 1916.

    "Don't you want to see a nigger die," witnesses report were the
    introductory remarks offered by Breck Little, who Sunday shot and
    killed Henry Crawford, colored, 17 years old, on Old Buck Creek
    in Breathitt County. The shots were fired from a barn door which
    Crawford was passing while going up the road, and the victim fell
    dead in the road.

This illustrates the lust for blood. "Don't you want to see a man
killed?" If you do, say so and you may be accommodated.

We have pointed out heretofore in a former history that there is much
similarity between the old Scottish feuds and those of Kentucky; that
the clan spirit is yet alive; that Kentucky feuds are nothing more
nor less than transplanted Scottish feuds. This view has been adopted
by other writers and sociologists as furnishing the solution of the
riddle: What is the cause of these feuds?

But can such incidents as the one cited above be attributed to the
clannishness of the people. No. Such individual acts of savage ferocity
can have but one source--an inborn, natal craving for blood. This and
this alone can furnish us any sort of explanation why men slay without
provocation or purpose.

Bad Tom Smith, of Perry County feud fame, slew to satisfy this craving
for blood. According to his own admission, it had made itself felt when
he was a mere youth. He was a degenerate pure and simple. His last
murder, that of Dr. Rader, was committed without any motive whatever.
"I just raised up and killed him while he was asleep!" That was the
only statement he would ever make concerning that bloody deed.

Environment has, of course, much to do with it. Yet if we look about
us, we find that counties in the very midst of feud-ridden sections
have remained free of the murder craze.

Many years ago Breathitt, along with practically all the other mountain
counties of the State, decided to abolish the saloon. Local option has
been in force there now for years. It was hoped that the elimination
of the legalized liquor traffic would eradicate crime, or, at least,
enormously diminish it. Prohibition is supposed to exist in Jackson
and the county at large. It will not do to say that notwithstanding
the local option law is in operation, liquor is still at the root
of the evil. We must presume that the prohibition of the sale of
liquor is enforced. To presume otherwise would be to acknowledge the
inefficacy of prohibition laws. Doubtless the local option law is
enforced in Breathitt as much so as anywhere else where similar laws
prevail, or, better said, the laws in this respect are enforced as far
as is possible with interstate shipment of whiskey into local option
territory remaining unobstructed.

The "liquor argument" is no solution of the sociological question in
hand. During all those years that prohibition has existed in Breathitt,
ostensibly so, at least, without apparent diminution of crime, without
any receding of the murder wave, other counties, neighbors to it, we
might say, have rejected local option laws, and permitted saloons
without any apparent increase in the crime rate.

Reverting again to the spirit of the Scottish Highlander as responsible
in part for the murder lust: Nearly all of southeastern Kentucky is
peopled by the same stock. Jackson and Laurel counties have never been
contaminated with the feuds which have raged on their very borders.
Jackson County in all its history has not seen as many murders
committed as have stained the soil of Breathitt in less than one year.
Jackson County has never had a feud; its chief lawlessness has been the
promiscuous sale of whiskey, illicitly, of course.

The argument has been advanced that the lawlessness which has disgraced
Breathitt and other mountain counties is directly traceable to the
contempt for law instilled in the growing up generations during the
period immediately following the Civil War.

It doubtless furnished the foundation for the deadly feuds which have
in times passed ravaged the border counties of Bell and Harlan. These
counties were frequently subjected to invasion by rebel and Union
troops, with their attendant elements of lawless camp followers,
deserters and guerillas.

Kentucky attempted to remain neutral at the outbreak of the war.
But the people divided sharply. The State Guards and Home Guards
frequently clashed. They ravaged the country without regard to military
proprieties or discipline. The civil authorities had been superseded
by military courts which often dealt more harshly than wisely with the
people they attempted to govern. In Harlan and Bell Counties bad blood
was caused by these retaliatory invasions of rebels and Home Guards.
Many men took advantage of the opportunity to wreak vengeance upon an
enemy they had feared to attack single-handed and did so under the
protection of the mass. Crimes went unpunished because committed under
the guise of military operations. But in Breathitt County there did not
exist a border war.

After all the matter sifts itself down to what has been pointed out
in the introduction: Lawlessness can exist only so long as the good
element of a community refuses to rise up against it, and suffers
itself to be intimidated.

It should be needless to say that in a republic the people must rule
supreme. By their formation of republican form of government they have
declared themselves capable and willing to govern themselves, and
to enforce the laws they have themselves made. If a people fails to
discharge the duty of properly governing themselves, they forfeit their
right of citizenship.

If a community persists in its refusal to avail itself of the right
of self-government, that right should be abrogated until such time as
it shall be able to guarantee not only willingness, but capability
for self-government. Where anarchy exists, government has fled. Where
a people supinely lay upon their backs and permit anarchy, are they
longer entitled to the citizenship of a great state and of a greater

The people of Breathitt County, by their long years of inaction and
submission to terrorization by a few, have shown that they do not or
did not consider themselves longer the most potent factor in the
conservation of order in society. Public sentiment had lost its health.
The people of Breathitt County owe it to their manhood, their county,
their state, to the nation, to redeem themselves. For the horrors of
strife there have been published broadcast to the world. "Breathitt"
has become synonymous with blood, murder, anarchy, the world over. We
have read of it in foreign newspapers.

The United States only recently demanded of Mexico that the disorders
there, especially along the borders, must cease. The Federal government
threatened that republic with war even, unless citizens of this country
and their property are protected. Government might have found as good
grounds for intervention in Breathitt during the past, and may yet--if
the murder mills there do not some of these days shut up shop.

America demands of foreign governments protection of the lives
and property of our citizens. Yet, owing to the complexity of our
governmental structure, it may not extend that protection to its
citizens within her own territory.

The outlawry along the Mexican border within the last three years has
not been as great in proportion to size of territory and population
involved as has been the destruction of lives in Breathitt County
at intervals for years. Yet with regard to Mexico this government
has seen fit to say that conditions along the border had become
"intolerant" and must cease even at the risk of war.

The people of Breathitt County are citizens of the United States,
as well as of their State and county. As such they ought to hasten
to restore the good name and the honor of the country to which they
belong, and of which they should be proud. The murderous, lawless
Mexican bandit is no more a knave than the American guilty of similar

There did come, a few years ago, a wave of reaction, an upheaval
which brought into the limelight of publicity the fearful state of
affairs existing there. Murders in the streets of the county seat and
throughout the county had occurred with such frequency and boldness as
to at last attract the attention of the press of the entire country.
At last a man of wide prominence in the State was struck down. This
man was J. B. Marcum, a United States Commissioner, and a trustee of
Kentucky State College, as well as lawyer of prominence and a leading

The circumstances attending this murder and the prominence of the man
slain aroused at last a storm of indignation throughout the land.
Newspapers of other States condemned Kentucky so severely that public
sentiment within the State itself became aroused and forced the
investigations which revealed Breathitt County's history of blood and

In spite of the most strenuous efforts from certain quarters to hush
the matter up and to block investigations of the damnable plots and
murderous conspiracies by men entrusted with the enforcement of the
law, the public was at last made acquainted with conditions of affairs
in Breathitt County, which presented a picture so harrowing and
degrading that the civilized world stood aghast and for a time refused
to believe.

       *       *       *       *       *

Breathitt is a beautiful mountain county along the Kentucky River,
scarcely forty miles distant from Lexington, the metropolis of the
Kentucky Bluegrass, famous the world over for the refinement of her

Jackson is the county seat, a small but thriving town on the Kentucky
River, built upon numerous hills, which give it an irregular, though by
no means displeasing appearance.

Commercially, Jackson is prosperous, surprisingly so under the
circumstances. How much more rapid and greater might have been its
progress but for the deplorable epidemics of murder, none can tell.

Jackson is also the terminus of three railroads. The town has good
schools and several churches, but church-going, schools and trading
were sadly interrupted and at times completely stopped during the reign
of terror which held Breathitt in its bloody clutches during the first
decade of the present century.

It is impossible in a limited space to give more than passing
notice to all of the feudal wars which have been fought from time
to time in Breathitt County. To do so would fill a volume. What the
reader finds detailed in this chapter relates principally to the
Hargis-Cockrell-Marcum-Callahan vendetta. It is the most recent feud.
What transpired during it is but a repetition of what had occurred in

The first widespread feud in Breathitt County originated immediately
after the Civil War. In that national conflict the county furnished
soldiers to the South and to the Union. John Amis and William (Bill)
Strong raised a company for the Federal cause. It became a part of the
so-called "Greasy Fourteenth," and was commanded by Col. H. C. Little.

It was in this regiment that the noted Amis-Strong feud arose. It was
the first of a series of bloody internecine strifes in that county.

The hatred engendered during the Amis-Strong feud was more bitter than
the sectional strife between the armies of the North and of the South.
A feud between the two factions was not recognized to have existed,
however, until about 1878.

In that year open and serious hostilities were precipitated by a fight
during Circuit Court. In the battle Bob Little, a nephew of Captain
Strong, was killed, and an Amis seriously wounded.

From that time on fights grew more numerous. Charges and countercharges
were made on both sides. The county was in a ferment. Finally, nearly
every family became involved in one way or another.

How many men were killed in this feud will, perhaps, never be known,
but many graves were filled. In this connection it may be well to state
that the county has rarely had a coroner and no records were kept of
deaths. It is thus an impossibility to ascertain the number of violent
deaths which have occurred in the past.

John Amis himself, the head of the faction of that name, was killed in
1873. The feud finally "burned itself out."

A few years after the termination of this one another started, under
the name of the Strong-Callahan feud. Some of the members of the
factions in the Strong-Amis feud also participated in this one. In this
war Capt. Bill Strong headed his faction. Wilson Callahan, the father
of Ed. Callahan, who figures so prominently in the Hargis-Cockrell
feud, commanded the opposing forces.

A number of men were killed off before Wilson Callahan's death by
assassination put an end to it.

The Jett-Little feud next stained the history of Breathitt County. It
was brought to a close about fifteen years ago, and after the principal
participants therein had all been killed off. As bad as conditions
had been prior to 1878, they grew decidedly worse in that year, when
Judge William Randall, the presiding judge of the Criminal Court of
the district, was compelled to desert the bench in the midst of a
court session to seek safety in flight. The county was in a state of
revolution brought about by the assassination of Judge John Burnett,
then the county judge. This crime was laid at the door of the Gambles
and Littles. The uprising of the factions was precipitated by Judge
Randall's declaration that his court would see to it that the criminals
were punished. Judge Randall never returned to Breathitt County during
his term of office.

During the latter part of the eighties another reign of terror was
initiated, and continued until the close of the decade.

Lest we might be accused of exaggeration and sensationalism, we insert
here the acrimonious, bitter correspondence between Governor Buckner
and Judge Lilly, the presiding judge of the Criminal Court of the
district which included Breathitt.

The letters are a matter of public record, and are instructive,
interesting, and will no doubt materially aid the reader to understand
the nature of frequent clashes between state, district and county

    _Judge Lilly to Governor Buckner._

                                          Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 5, 1888.

    To his Excellency, the Governor of Kentucky.

    Dear Sir:--From a full investigation and inquiry into the condition
    of the affairs in Breathitt County, I am fully satisfied that the
    civil authorities cannot hold a circuit court in that county and
    enforce the law without the aid of the State Guard. That the people
    are divided to such an extent that a sheriff's posse will not be
    sufficient. Several murders have been committed in the county since
    the last term, and the offenders are not yet indicted, and cannot
    be, unless the witnesses can be protected. Charges are made against
    a brother of the sheriff, and the son-in-law of the jailer, and the
    witnesses cannot be induced to go before the grand jury unless
    they have assurance of protection. There is a number of felony
    cases in the court, which I think will be ready for trial....

    _Governor Buckner's Reply._

    Hon. H. C. Lilly, Judge 19th Judicial District,
        Irvine, Kentucky.

    Dear Sir:--I have fully considered your letter of the fifth inst.
    in reference to the condition of affairs in Breathitt County in
    which communication you say that you are "fully satisfied that the
    civil authorities cannot hold a circuit court in that county and
    enforce the law without the aid of the State Guard; that the people
    are divided to such extent that a sheriff's posse will not be
    sufficient; several murders have been committed in the county since
    the last term, and the offenders are not yet indicted, and cannot
    be, unless the witnesses can be protected; charges are made against
    a brother of the sheriff, and the son-in-law of the jailer, and the
    witnesses cannot be induced to go before the grand jury unless they
    have assurance of protection." And you further say: "I, as judge
    of the Breathitt Circuit Court, call upon you to furnish fifty of
    the State Guard, properly officered and equipped, to aid the civil
    authorities in holding said court and in enforcing the law."

    It is needless for me to say that in a republic the employment of
    the military arm in enforcing the law is of rare necessity, and
    the occasion for its use should not be of doubtful propriety. The
    law invests the civil authorities with ample powers to enforce
    the observance of law, and expects those officers to exert their
    authority with reasonable diligence. When this is done there is
    seldom an occasion when the military arm can be employed without
    detriment to the public interests and without bringing the civil
    authorities into discredit. When a people are taught that they
    are not themselves the most important factor in the conservation
    of order in society, and that they must depend upon the exertion
    of extraneous forces to preserve order among themselves, they
    have lost their title to self-government, and are fit subjects to
    a military despotism. I do not believe that any portion of this
    Commonwealth has reached that degree of political degradation.

    As far as Breathitt County is concerned, while there have been
    acts of individual lawlessness, I do not find in your statement,
    or from any other source, an evidence of any organized opposition
    to the civil authorities. On the contrary, I am convinced that
    a reasonable exertion of their legitimate power would cause the
    masses of the people to rally to their support more effectually
    than could be done in the presence of the military force. The
    latter, whatever their numbers, could not influence, and ought
    not to influence, the character of the testimony of a single
    witness before the grand jury, but their presence would be a
    confession of weakness on the part of the civil authorities before
    they had made any attempt to discharge their duties, and to this
    extent would lessen respect for their authority, and render the
    subsequent discharge of their duties more difficult. A healthy
    public sentiment, and not the presence of an armed force, is the
    best support of government; and the powers conferred upon a circuit
    judge, both as a judge, and as a conservator of the public peace,
    are so unlimited that a firm and judicious discharge of his duties
    will almost invariably mould public sentiment in support of his
    judicial actions.

    Under all the circumstances, I do not believe that the presence of
    troops in Breathitt County is necessary to maintain the laws. With
    every purpose to support the judicial tribunals in the effective
    discharge of their duties, I feel constrained to decline the
    request which you make to order a detachment of the State Guard to
    Breathitt County. But if my own presence will be of any service
    to you, I will take pleasure in accompanying you to the Breathitt
    Circuit Court if you conclude, on reconsideration, to hold it.

    In your letter, November 13th, you say: "I will not attempt to
    hold courts at Letcher, Knott or Breathitt unless you send guards
    along." This is a matter on which the Executive can take no action.
    It is for the legislative department of the government to judge of
    the facts which will justify an official in thus abdicating the
    duties imposed upon him by law.

    But on this subject I trust you will permit me, without obtruding
    on your consideration any views of my own, to invite your attention
    to an act passed by the General Assembly at its last session, and
    approved March 9th, 1888. Amongst other things this act provides
    that "if, at any term of circuit court, the presiding judge thereof
    shall be absent ... it shall be lawful for any other circuit judge
    of this Commonwealth to attend and hold such term of court, and
    while so engaged he shall have and exercise all the powers and
    authority of the regular judge of such court."

    I am informed that under authority of this act, some circuit judges
    have already interchanged courts, and if there are any reasons why
    you prefer not to hold the court in Breathitt, I have no doubt that
    many of the circuit judges would be willing to interchange with
    you. I happen to know that Honorable Lucius P. Little is willing
    to hold the Breathitt Circuit Court for you, if you will hold the
    McLean Circuit Court for him....

                                                 Your obedient servant,
                                                         S. B. BUCKNER.

    _Judge Lilly to Governor Buckner._

                                       Irvine, Ky., February 4th, 1889.

    Governor S. B. Buckner.

    Dear Sir:--Your letter dated 14th December, and postmarked on the
    18th, was received by me on the night of the 25th, at Jackson,
    Breathitt County. On the third page you proposed to accompany me
    to Jackson in the following words: "But if my own presence will be
    of any service to you, I will take pleasure in accompanying you to
    Breathitt court, if you conclude, on reconsideration, to hold it."
    You were advised that the Breathitt court would begin on the 17th,
    and I suppose your Adjutant-General had informed you that I had
    decided to go and hold court if I could do so. I told him on the
    morning of the eighth that I would go to Breathitt court. You must
    have believed that I would leave Irvine for Jackson as early as the
    morning of the 14th, and before you wrote your letter. Why did you
    make such a proposition to me at the time you did? I fear you will
    have a little trouble in making people believe that you made the
    offer in good faith.

    On page 4 of your letter you say "I happen to know that Hon. Lucius
    P. Little is willing to hold the Breathitt Circuit Court for you,
    if you will hold the McLean Circuit Court for him." I thank Judge
    Little for his kind offer, and believe he made it in good faith,
    but why did you withhold the information from me until it was
    too late for me to confer with him. He lives in the western part
    of the State. You must have known that I had no time to make any
    arrangements with him. You must have known that the offer was
    futile, and that it could not be carried into effect. Can you make
    the public believe that you were acting in good faith?

    In speaking of the application made to you on the 5th of December,
    you failed to make any reference to the papers filed with it. Why
    did you conceal from the public the fact that a majority of the
    attorneys who practice at the Breathitt Circuit Court ... and
    divers other prominent men, had requested you to send a guard, and
    gave it as their opinion that the court could not be held without
    a guard? I am at a loss to know why you sought to throw the whole
    responsibility upon me.

    That the public may know something about the condition of Breathitt
    County at the time, it is only necessary to say that between the
    first day of August and the fifth day of December, 1888, the
    following men were killed, to wit: Lewis Taulbee, James Shockey,
    David Barnett, and Isaac Combs, "Shooting Ike;" and the following
    men were shot and wounded, viz: Crain Flinchem, John Smith, Jeff
    Smith, Marion Lawson, Curtis Spicer, Luther Abner, John Campbill,
    Jack Barnett, Pearl Strong, Wm. Frances, and Breck Miller. There
    were also a large number of other felonies committed in the county,
    and all this, in addition to the old docket, which shows a large
    number of felony cases. Knowing their system of combining their
    strength to help one another, to prevent any one being punished by
    the law, I submit to you if it would not have been better if you
    had sent a guard there to encourage the good citizens to attend
    court. I held court there three weeks, and there was no outbreak,
    that is true, and it is also true that we got no verdicts in
    important cases. We tried four murder cases and had hung juries
    in each case. Except those required to be in attendance, the good
    citizens of the county were not there. Why were they absent? I
    think it was because they thought it unsafe to be there. For the
    same reason nearly all the attorneys who practice at that bar
    failed to attend the court.

    Theories look well on paper, but when you come to put them in
    practice they often fail to work well. What do murderers and
    outlaws care for theories. I hope you will not think I put it too
    strong when I say that your course has given comfort, if not aid,
    to those who are charged with crime. They feel that they are able
    to prevent the civil authorities from enforcing the law, and, in
    view of your letter, they feel that no help will be given the civil
    officers, and hence they will do as they please.

    Judge W. H. Randall, Judge Robert Riddle, Judge Cole and Judge
    Jackson and other judges have thought it advisable to have a guard.
    Judge Finley failed to attend his courts in Letcher, Perry and
    Knott for several terms before his term of office expired. They,
    like myself, had better opportunities of knowing the real status of
    affairs in their counties than people who live far away, and do not
    understand the people.

    It has been published in the newspapers of the State that a certain
    judge of the State held his courts in Breathitt County and had no
    trouble. That judge, previous to his election, had been employed
    as counsel for nearly every one charged with high crime in that
    county, and, as a consequence, did not have to try them. On the
    contrary, he was doing all he could to prevent their conviction
    and to prevent the laws being enforced upon them. He is yet the
    employed counsel of six persons charged with murder and other high
    crimes in that court. Of course, he had no trouble. Who can say,
    whether, if he had tried to bring them to justice, he would have
    gotten along so easily. As the papers pretty generally throughout
    the State have published your letter to me, I hope they will do me
    the favor to publish this, my answer.

    Hoping you will find it easy to answer the interrogations
    propounded to you in this letter, I remain,

                                                    Yours respectfully,
                                                           H. C. LILLY.

_Governor Buckner's Reply._



                                                          Feb. 8, 1889.

    Hon. H. C. Lilly,
        Judge Nineteenth Judicial District,
            Irvine, Kentucky.

    Dear Sir:--Your letter of the 4th inst. reached me yesterday. You
    seemed to impute want of good faith on my part in offering to
    attend you to the Breathitt Circuit Court. This charge on your
    part is based on the erroneous and gratuitous assumption that
    the Adjutant-General had doubtless informed me that it was your
    intention to hold the Breathitt Circuit Court on the regular day.
    The Adjutant-General informs me to-day that he did not himself
    know that it was your determination to hold the court, and that
    the remark you made to him on the subject left him in the belief
    that you had not reached a determination as to what you would do in
    the premises. You wrote me that you would not hold court in Knott
    or Letcher, and in your conversation with me gave me no ground to
    believe that you had concluded to hold the court in Breathitt.

    My conclusion was therefore logical and necessary that you would
    not hold the court.

    Your assumption that I knew that you would hold it is therefore
    entirely erroneous, and the decision you reach in consequence of
    this assumption is fallacious.

    You ask me a number of questions in your letter, but as you
    proceed to make replies to suit yourself, and to reach conclusions
    favorable to your own views, you spare me the necessity of giving
    them any response. I limit myself to stating what alone is relevant
    to this question, that having concluded that there was no necessity
    of sending troops at great expense to the State, I offered to
    accompany you so that, if my views should have proved erroneous,
    I would have been on the ground to have called to your aid such
    assistance as may have been needed.

    As the session of court was to continue during three weeks, and as
    you could have taken your seat on the bench at any time during the
    term, there was ample time, after writing my letter, for you to
    have reconsidered your determination, if you had been at Irvine,
    where I supposed you were, and to which place I addressed my
    letter to you, and to have gone afterwards to Breathitt long before
    the term of court should have closed. So far from knowing that it
    was your purpose to hold court, I had not the slightest idea that
    you would do so, until I learned after the adjournment of the court
    that you had held it. I am gratified that you did so, for it was a
    demonstration that troops were not necessary for your protection.

    In like manner there would have been time for you to have made an
    interchange with Judge Little, by telegraphic correspondence, if
    such had been your desire.

    You seem to charge that I have aided and abetted criminal classes
    by declining to place troops at your disposal in Breathitt County,
    and attribute to their absence the non-conviction of criminals. If
    their absence produced such a result in Breathitt County, their
    presence at your court in Perry County should have produced,
    according to your logic, a large number of convictions. But I am
    advised that the result was the same in both counties. We must,
    therefore, look for some other reason than the presence or absence
    of the military to account for such uniformity of results. I
    believe myself that the court is and ought to be, an important
    factor in the administration of justice, and that the presence or
    absence of the military should have no weight in its decisions, and
    ought not to influence its actions.

    You ask why I throw "the whole responsibility" of making an
    application for troops upon you? It was because you were the judge
    who made the application; who demanded protection, and averred you
    would not hold court unless I sent guards along. There was no one
    else with whom the responsibility could be divided, and as you must
    have acted from your convictions of duty, I do not see why you
    should seek to avoid the responsibility, or desire me to place it
    where it does not belong.

    I have no criticisms to make in reference to other judges who have
    asked for troops, or in reference to Judge Finley, who, you say,
    failed to attend certain courts.

    These were occurrences under former administrations, and were
    doubtless considered by the Executives of the time in the light
    of facts, which I do not pretend to know. Much less will I offer
    my comment upon the grave charges you insinuate against another
    judicial officer in connection with the Breathitt court. But I
    cannot refrain from expressing regret at what seems to be the
    manifestation of feeling on your part, which does not impress me
    as strictly judicial, but, notwithstanding this, I beg you to rest
    assured of my desire to support your authority in every way that
    the Executive can do, consistent with the public welfare. I have no
    objection to your giving the fullest publicity to your letter.

                                                    Respectfully yours,
                                                         S. B. BUCKNER.

The last feud in Breathitt County, during which the most horrible
assassinations were committed, was the Hargis-Cockrell-Marcum-Callahan

The Hargises and the Cockrells claimed that the name is a misnomer--that
no feud existed.

Capulet once said: "The Montagues are furnishing all the trouble and we
are only innocents slaughtered."

Montague said: "The Capulets are making the war. We are only defending
our lives and property."

An apt quotation, here.

A political race first engendered the bitterness which led to the
murders narrated later on. In this race the Democratic candidates were
elected, at least declared to have been elected. Their ticket was
headed by James Hargis for county judge and Ed. Callahan for sheriff.

The fusion ticket, which was defeated _in toto_, contested the
election, alleging fraud.

At that time one J. B. Marcum and O. H. Pollard were partners in the
practice of the law. Marcum had accepted a fee for the contestants, the
fusionists, and Pollard for the Democratic contestees.

Marcum and Hargis were said to have had a difficulty about a year prior
to this contest, but the breach between them seemed to have been
healed. Marcum had been attorney for the Hargises for a number of years.

It appears that during the taking of depositions in the contest case
the first open rupture occurred. What actually transpired has been told
in conflicting stories. It seems that Marcum, Pollard, James Hargis and
Ed. Callahan were in Marcum's law office. They differed in regard to
some testimony of certain witnesses and nearly came to blows. Pistols
were drawn by some of the men and Marcum ordered each and all from his

Police Judge Cardwell issued warrants. Marcum at once surrendered and
paid his fine.

Hargis declared his refusal to appear before Judge Cardwell, whom he
regarded as an enemy, and had so considered him for years. He therefore
surrendered to Magistrate Edwards, a personal friend. A controversy
arose as to Justice Edwards' jurisdiction in the matter. The dispute
threatened to create still further trouble, to allay which Mr. Marcum
moved the case against Judge Hargis to be dismissed, which was done.

Here starts the war. In making the arrest of Judge Hargis, the town
marshal, Tom Cockrell, assisted by James Cockrell, his brother, were
said to have drawn guns on Hargis and that only the intervention of
Sheriff Callahan prevented the two from killing Hargis. This the
Cockrells indignantly denied. They asserted that in making the arrest
of Judge Hargis they had used no more force than was necessary. Hargis
swore they would pay for their audacity in drawing a gun upon his
person, and he made good his threats, that is, others did make it good
for him.

Numerous unsavory charges now began to be made first on one side
and then the other. Marcum at one time charged Ed. Callahan with
assassinating his, Marcum's, uncle, Capt. Bill Strong, who was shot
from ambush in front of his home in either 1898 or 1899.

Callahan in turn charged Marcum's uncle, the deceased Capt. Bill
Strong, with the assassination of Wilson Callahan, the father of
Sheriff Callahan. Each faction charged the other with the murder of
some one.

Shortly after this occurred a pistol duel between Tom Cockrell and Ben
Hargis, in which the latter was shot and killed on the spot.

The two had met at a "blind tiger" saloon in Jackson and quarreled,
with the result that both drew their pistols and fired upon each other.
Before Hargis sank dying to the floor, he had succeeded in seriously
wounding his antagonist.

The Hargises at once began an active prosecution of Cockrell and kept
it up.

Dr. Cox had married a kinswoman of the Cockrell boys and had also
become their guardian, both of them being under age. The Cockrells were
also related to Marcum, who had volunteered in Tom Cockrell's defense
for the killing of Ben Hargis. Marcum also was an intimate friend of
Dr. Cox, who practised in Jackson and vicinity.

Not long after the killing of Ben Hargis another brother of Judge
Hargis met his death at the hands of a man charged by the Hargis clan
as being a Cockrell man. John Hargis was the man slain; "Tige" was his
nickname. He was killed by Jerry Cardwell.

Hargis had boarded the train at Jackson on his way to Beattyville.
Cardwell was the train detective. It is claimed that Hargis had been
drinking and became disorderly. The conductor in charge of the train
asked Cardwell to preserve the peace. As soon as Cardwell entered the
car Hargis sprang to his feet and drew his gun. Cardwell and he fired
simultaneously. Cardwell was wounded, Hargis shot through the heart.
The Hargis clan always claimed that the killing of John Hargis was the
issue of a well-laid conspiracy with the Cockrells at the bottom of it.
They attempted to connect them with the shooting, but nothing ever came
of it.

Dr. Cox, guardian and kinsman of the Cockrell boys, and J. B. Marcum,
their cousin, were intimate friends and frequently discussed the
foreboding aspect the community was taking on. Rumors came to them
frequently now that they were marked for assassination. At first
neither Dr. Cox nor Marcum gave them much credence. Finally, about the
first of April, 1901, Marcum went to Washington on business. While
there, Dr. Cox was assassinated. Marcum was convinced that he, too, was
marked for death.

The proof in the case shows that Dr. Cox had left his home about eight
o'clock one night to make a professional call. The conspirators had
for many nights been watching his movements. He had almost reached
the corner of the street diagonally across from the court house, and
directly opposite Judge Hargis' stable, when he was fired on and he
fell dead, riddled with small shot. After he had fallen to the ground
the assassins fired another volley into his body and easily escaped.

There was persistent rumor at the time of the killing that the shots
had been fired from Hargis' stable, but witnesses were afraid to swear
positively about anything. Indictments against parties for the murder
were not returned until some time afterwards.

It has been told that Judge Hargis had been heard to laughingly say,
after the fall of Dr. Cox, "Great Scot! didn't he bellow like a bull
when that shot hit him?"

While people in town entertained their own opinions as to the guilty
parties, but refused to express them, the Cockrells openly charged
Hargis with complicity and of having hired the assassins that committed
the cowardly murder, and maintained, seemingly with good reasons,
that Dr. Cox's only offence had been his friendly relation with the
Cockrells and his interest in the defense of Tom Cockrell on the charge
of the murder of Ben Hargis.

The next victim of the assassin's bullets was Jim Cockrell. He was
murdered in 1912, in broad day, from the court house.

Jim had been active in collecting evidence for his brother in his
coming trial for the Ben Hargis murder. Rumors had come to him that
he would be killed if he did not desist. He continued, however, and
ignored the warning.

By this time the Cockrells, Marcum and many other residents of the town
kept closely within doors at night. No one traveled the streets without
a lantern. This might have been some protection for absolute neutrals,
but must have been only an increasing source of danger to those who
had grounds to fear for their lives. Confinement at home was therefore
the best and the only reasonably safe policy.

Cockrell was shot at noon, July 28th, 1902, from the second floor of
the court house.

He was standing on the opposite side of the "Temple of Justice,"
talking to friends, when the shots were fired that took his young life.
He was not dead when taken from the street. He was hurriedly removed
to a hospital at Lexington the same afternoon, where he died on the
following morning. Cockrell was town marshal at the time of his death.

Curtis Jett was later on indicted for the murder, together with others,
and convicted, but not until after the death of Marcum was it that
these prosecutions were set on foot. Marcum had repeatedly declared
before his death that he had ample evidence to prove that Jett and two
others fired the shots that killed Cockrell, and that the assassins had
remained concealed in the court house the remainder of the day and made
their escape at nightfall.

Jett and Cockrell had been enemies for some time prior to the murder.
The week before the two had fought a pistol duel in the Arlington
Hotel's dining-room. Neither was wounded, friends interfered, and the
affair ended without arrests being made. Curtis Jett was a deputy
sheriff under Ed. Callahan.

Capt. John Patrick, a fugitive "from injustice," as he put it, went to
Lexington and there gave out a statement to the effect that he, one
McIntosh and others had seen and recognized the Cockrell murderers.
Patrick then left the country, but offered to return and testify if
sufficient protection was afforded him. He did return and testified in
the succeeding trials, although he dodged the officers sent after him
for some time.

McIntosh was taken before the grand jury, but refused to testify. He
was remanded to jail for contempt of court and remained there for four
days. When finally he made up his mind to talk, he testified that he
knew nothing whatever of the matter.

In the meantime, Jim Cockrell's brother Tom had secured a change of
venue to Wolfe County, to be tried there for the murder of Ben Hargis.
The trial was to take place at Campton. Cockrell was taken there under
an armed guard of twelve men. He was himself given a gun for defence.

When the trial was about to begin Judge Hargis refused to have anything
further to do with the prosecution of the case, alleging that the
transfer to Campton was but a scheme to assassinate him on the road

In the meantime Marcum had become a voluntary prisoner at his home.
Clients that wished to see or consult him went to his house to do so.
He appeared on the streets of the town but few times.

His fears were laughed at by some; the Hargis faction, including
Callahan, pronounced him a coward. His end proved the correctness of
his judgment and how well founded had been his fears.

The story of plots and conspiracies against his life, his many
marvelous escapes from assassination, were graphically told by himself
but a short time before his death. The interview occurred in Lexington
on November 14th. He told the same story to the writer with whom he had
been on intimate terms of friendship.

The story told to the Lexington reporters and given out in the press
was as follows:--

    "I will begin my story with last March (1902) when persistent
    rumors had it that Doctor Cox and I were slated to be assassinated.

    "Dr. Cox and I discussed these rumors frequently and I finally came
    to the conclusion that they were groundless. I went to Washington
    and stayed a month. While I was there Dr. Cox was assassinated.

    "I was attorney for Mose Feltner. On the night of March 30th he
    came to my home in Jackson, and stated that he had entered into an
    agreement with certain parties (naming them) to kill me and that
    his accomplices were to be three men whom he also named.

    "He said that their plan was to entice me to the office that night
    when they would kill me. He said he had been provided with a
    shotgun and $35. to get me. He displayed the gun which was a new
    one, had never been shot, and also exhibited to me the money. I
    know he did not previously have the money.

    "A few mornings later Feltner took me to the woods near by and
    showed me four Winchester rifles concealed there, and stated that
    he and three companions had been leaving them there in the day time
    and carrying them about at night to kill me with.

    "Of course he did not intend to kill me, but by pretending that he
    would assassinate me certain persons, he said, would guarantee him
    his acquittal in the coming trial for the killing of Jesse Fields.

    "He continually led them on in this belief to secure his own
    protection and immunity in the Fields murder case against him.
    At the same time he continually warned me of the various plans
    perfected to kill me.

    "On the following morning after Feltner first warned me of my
    danger, I sent my wife and little boy by way of a deep ravine two
    hundred yards from my house in good rifle range. This was the only
    place where assassins could conceal themselves and kill me at my
    house, for by this time I had ceased visiting my office, and their
    only chance was to kill me at my house. It was early in the morning
    when my wife and little boy arrived at the ravine. They saw four
    men carrying guns run away. My son recognized two of them, but did
    not recognize the other two, one of the latter, Feltner told me
    afterwards was himself.

    "Finally, I decided to leave Jackson. In the early evening I went
    to the Arlington Hotel with my wife and made arrangements to be
    rowed across the river to the tunnel early the next morning and
    board the train unobserved. Later in the day Feltner came to my
    room and stated that the party I had seen had told them that I was
    preparing to leave town, and that thereupon certain high officials
    of the county placed four men at the depot, two men at the tunnel
    and two men at the railway station to kill me.

    "I took his word and did not attempt to leave town. I sent the next
    morning for my wife and baby, and carried the baby in my arms to my
    office, and at noon from there to my home.

    "I was later informed by Feltner that a party was waiting in the
    upper rooms of a store to kill me. He wanted to shoot me with a
    rifle, but others insisted that he use a shotgun, saying that
    Doctor Cox had been killed with a shotgun. After I passed by they
    asked the man with the shotgun why he didn't shoot, and he answered
    that with a shotgun he would have killed the baby, but if they had
    let him have his way and he had been given a rifle, he would have
    shot me through the head without endangering the baby.

    "The night previous to my decision to leave Jackson my sister came
    to me and warned me that another plan had been formulated to kill
    me. Her informant was Mose Feltner, who was engaged until at a late
    hour in discussing the best plan. When this meeting had adjourned
    it was then too late to come to my house. So he went to my sister's
    house in his sock feet and told her.

    "I was awakened at daybreak Sunday morning, June 15th, by a
    messenger who had ridden eighteen miles that night to bring me a
    note from a friend who was also a friend of my enemies and who was
    in their counsels. The note stated that two men would come to town
    the following Tuesday morning; that court would adjourn at noon
    and that an attempt would then be made to assassinate me in the
    afternoon. I knew the men had been out of town but was inclined to
    disbelieve their statement because I had not heard that court would
    adjourn on Tuesday, in fact, I had every reason to believe that it
    would not adjourn until Saturday. I asked every member of the bar
    in regard to this and their unanimous opinion was that court would
    not adjourn until Friday evening or Saturday morning. This also was
    the opinion of the circuit court clerk.

    "Tuesday morning I sent my friends ahead and slipped out to Day
    Brothers' store near the court house, they having reported that the
    coast was clear. Then I found out that the men selected to kill me
    had sure enough arrived in town.

    "I returned home at ten o'clock, for it was then getting too close
    to my funeral time, if reports I had were true. _Court adjourned
    just as the clock struck twelve on Tuesday._

    "I do not mean to cast any reflections upon the judge. You can
    explain it to suit yourself. But I assure you I kept to my room
    that day.

    "On another occasion I slipped away to visit my sister's house. On
    the way I met a sympathizer of those whose enmity I had incurred. I
    decided not to return and sent my two sisters and wife ahead. They
    passed a ravine on the way and there saw two men with guns. Later,
    after they had turned out their lights, they observed one man take
    his station in front of my house, and the others, all heavily armed
    and dressed as women, below my window in an adjoining garden.

    "Last Sunday morning a messenger came to my house at daylight. He
    had been sent by a neutral party who did not want me killed. He
    told me that two men had arrived the night before and were to have
    taken a front room in a house near by and from there ambush me. The
    next morning I observed the window raised about four inches and the
    curtain drawn, in which position the curtain and the window have
    remained since. The men occupy rooms in that house and I suppose
    the front rooms. I have not been even on the porch since I received
    that message."

Marcum at one time had succeeded in escaping from Jackson. He
remained away for some time. But when the leading officials of the
county laughed at the idea that he would be in the least danger if he
returned, he believed them. Lured by the reports that he would not be
molested, and having considerable interests at stake, he returned home
and went to his death.

Both Judge Hargis and Callahan gave out statements to the press to
the effect that Marcum would be as safe at Jackson as anywhere. In
the light of what occurred, this statement may have been true. The
statements were ambiguous, susceptible of various constructions. He may
have been as safe at Jackson as elsewhere, for it is quite possible
that assassins were at his heels wherever he went.

On Monday morning a messenger from a distant part of the county rode
hot haste to Jackson to warn him of renewed attempts upon his life. The
messenger did not reach him in time. When he found him the bloody work
had been accomplished--Marcum was dead.

The story of the assassination is horrible and pathetic. As has been
said, despite all warnings Marcum had begun to feel safe again and
resumed his interrupted law practice. He had business at the court
house in connection with the reopening of the contest cases.

At eight o'clock Monday morning, May 4th, 1903, he proceeded to the
court house with affidavits for filing. From the clerk's office he
walked to the front door of the court house, and, facing the street,
engaged in conversation with his friend, Capt. B. J. Ewen.

The corridors stretching out at his back were full of men. Marcum
was leaning on Ewen's shoulder. The two men had been conversing for
possibly three minutes, when, at 8.30 A. M., a shot rang out in the
rear of the corridor. Marcum staggered and as he sank to the floor
another shot fired. The first shot entered his back and the ball came
out through the breast. The next shot passed through the top of his
head and was doubtlessly aimed as he reeled.

Just before the shots were fired, one Tom White passed Marcum at the
door and gazed into his face in a manner calculated to draw Marcum's
attention. As White had passed, Marcum turned to Ewen and said: "That's
a bad man and I am afraid of him."

The body of Marcum lay where it had fallen for at least fifteen minutes
before any of his friends dared approach it.

Marcum's wife, on hearing of the murder of her husband, rushed to the
court house, knelt by the side of the body and in the blood and brains
that had spattered the floor, drenched her handkerchief. What sort of a
vow she made then may be imagined. We shall draw the curtain over the
scene of sorrow and grief at the home of the murdered man. He left a
wife and five children.

Marcum had been a practising lawyer for seventeen years. He was, at the
time of his death, a trustee of the Kentucky State College, a United
States Commissioner, and represented the Lexington & Eastern Railway
Company as well as other large corporations in a legal capacity.


Immediately after the assassination of Marcum, and for a long time
afterwards, conditions at Jackson were terrible.

There was consternation among all who had in the least degree
incurred the enmity of the tyrants who now controlled both county
and town. Judge Hargis appeared in the newspapers with a lengthy
accusation against the dead man Marcum, practically declaring that the
assassination was a good deed and deserved.

Many relatives of Marcum, the Cockrells and their sympathizers, left
town and sought refuge elsewhere.

No one dared travel the streets of Jackson at night who was not sure
of the protection of those who held it in their grasp. Churches were
deserted; for many months no services were held.

It was with the utmost difficulty that any person could be brought
to even speak of the matter in any way. Everybody was suspicious of
everybody else.

In the meantime the murderers were still at large. No earnest effort
had been made by the "authorities" to apprehend them. It would not have
been difficult to have done so, for it was an open secret as to who
they were. The difficulty lay in getting witnesses to talk. Some of
these left town and placed themselves beyond the jurisdiction of the
court, and absolutely refused to return unless protected by troops.

B. J. Ewen, who was with Marcum at the time of the murder, had at first
declared that he did not know who the assassins were. Judge Hargis and
Sheriff Callahan admitted that they saw the slayer in the court house
corridor but had failed to recognize him. Then, like a thunderbolt from
a clear sky, came the announcement that Capt. Ewen had decided to tell
the facts as he knew them, even at the risk of his life. He did so,
charging Jett with the actual shooting of Marcum, and Tom White as an

The Hargis faction laughed at this declaration, hinted broadly at
perjury, pointing to the fact that Capt. Ewen had already stated he
did not know the assassins, and that therefore his declaration was not
entitled to belief.

Ewen explained his change of attitude in the matter by saying that, at
first, he had decided to keep his knowledge to himself, for his own
protection, but that since then he had come to the conclusion that it
was the duty of a citizen, who respected the law, to tell what he knew,
even if he risked his life in doing so. He told the story, time and
again, without a tremor,--outwardly at least.

Jett was arrested at Winchester without a struggle and taken to
Jackson. The Governor at once forwarded troops to the ill-fated town
and martial law continued there for several months.

The presence of the troops somewhat reassured the citizens. Many of
those who had departed returned. The grand jury assembled and jointly
indicted Curtis Jett and Tom White, who had also been arrested.

Many exciting events took place during the presence of the troops
at Jackson, but order was gradually restored and people took heart.
Services at the churches were resumed, after months of suspension.

In the midst of one of the trials Capt. Ewen, who lived in camp with
the troops, not daring to return to his own fireside, saw his house,
his home, the fruit of many years of labor and saving, go up in flames.

It was not accident. It was the reward for his fidelity to good
citizenship and his willingness to tell the truth.

Ewen also declared that bribery had been attempted by certain parties.
Later on the matter was aired in the courts, but nothing ever came of
it. Ewen removed from Jackson after the trials.

No one acquainted with the situation in Breathitt at that time doubted
for a moment that Jett and White were but the tools of men higher up.
It is not our province to make charges based upon mere rumor, but this
may be said without fear of contradiction--that the testimony brought
out at the various trials which followed established utter corruption
on the part of those whose duty it was to see to it that the guilty
parties were brought to justice.

These "officers" stood idly by, permitted men to be shot down while
calmly watching the proceedings, and made no attempt whatever to arrest
them. When outside pressure and extraneous influence and help at last
forced investigations and the criminals were apprehended and brought
to the bar of justice, these "officers" visited the murderers in
jail, supplied them with delicate food, money and counsel, consulted
witnesses, hunted up persons willing to serve as defense witnesses for
a consideration, drilled them, tutored them, and through intimidation
and threats of death forced men to commit the crime of perjury to save
the necks of the assassins.

Let us cite an example: A young man of previously good repute, a school
teacher, was indicted in the Harrison Circuit Court at Cynthiana, where
the trials of Jett and White occurred, for having sworn falsely as a
witness for the defendants. He was found guilty as charged. When the
judge pronounced sentence, the convicted man broke down completely and
admitted his guilt, but pleaded in extenuation of his crime that high
officials of Breathitt County, enemies of Marcum and Cockrell, had
coerced him into becoming a witness for the defense and had drilled him
for hours so he would make no blunders in the prepared testimony.

His story had the true ring about it. So pathetic was the story told by
the young man, that both judge and State's attorney instantly released
the man on his own recognizance, although he asked to be sent to the
penitentiary, where he might be reasonably safe from assassination.

Let us see where the County Judge Hargis, and Sheriff Callahan were at
the time of the Marcum assassination. Let us examine their actions;
they speak louder than words. The reader may draw his own conclusions
and arrive at them without assistance.

Both the county judge, Hargis, and Sheriff Callahan hated Marcum and
had been his sworn enemies for a long time. The statements of Feltner
made by him to Marcum from time to time implicated both these officials
as the chief conspirators, although Mr. Marcum at the time he gave out
his statement to the press, refrained from quoting their names. He had,
however, done so to the writer on several occasions.

At the time of Marcum's assassination Judge James Hargis and Sheriff
Callahan were seated comfortably in front of the Hargis store.
(Probably the seats had been reserved in advance so as to be certain of
not missing any scene or act of the tragedy.)

They had an unobstructed view of the court house door, were bound
to have seen what occurred there, yet continued to sit unmoved, and
never made the least effort to locate or ascertain the assassins. They
appeared not in the least disturbed, certainly exhibited no surprise.
Why should they? The conclusion is irresistible--but we shall let the
reader draw it.

Capt. Ewen testified that he was standing at the side of Marcum when he
was killed. Marcum was leaning heavily upon his shoulder. Just before
the shots were fired Tom White passed by the two men, turned and gazed
into Marcum's face. Marcum said "that's a bad man, and I'm afraid of
him." The next moment the shots were fired.

As White passed Marcum the latter turned his back to the rear of the
corridor and the witness Ewen turned with him. This put his face to the
rear of Marcum and he recognized Curtis Jett and saw him standing there
with a pistol in each hand.

Marcum having fallen to the floor, Capt. Ewen stepped out of doors
to save his own life. The position of Jett and of his gun made Ewen
believe that he would be shot next. A few moments later Jett appeared
at the side door of the court house, looked out, then walked calmly
down the steps and mingled with the crowd.

Tom White, so the testimony of other witnesses shows, was standing in
front of Day Brothers' store just before the murder. An acquaintance
invited him to take a drink. He refused, saying he had not time, that
he was looking for a man. He caught sight of Curtis Jett, motioned to
him, and the two entered the side door of the court house. White then
passed on through the corridor to the front door, and in the manner
detailed attracted Marcum's attention, while Jett took his position
behind him. White immediately turned to the side of the front door to
escape the bullets he knew would be coming.

After the murder Jett and White came immediately together again at or
near the jail and walked down the street unmolested.

Tom White had come to Jackson several days before the murder,
ostensibly to secure work, but only one man was introduced to prove
that he made any sort of attempt to obtain employment. Jett and White
were seen together before the shooting and immediately afterwards.

It was the contention of the Commonwealth that the defendants had been
hired to do the murder. One need only read the statement of Marcum to
see with what hellish coolness and deliberation these plots had been

The defense was precluded, of course, under the circumstances, from
relying upon the plea of self-defense, so it proceeded at once to
hatch up an alibi. This, however, proved so transparent a fabrication
that the jury ignored it altogether and promptly returned a verdict of
guilty against both of the accused. The sentence was for confinement
in the penitentiary for life. But for the persistency of one juror,
who refused to join in a death verdict, they would have been hanged,

Curtis Jett was a sworn officer of the county at the time of the murder
of Marcum, _a deputy under Sheriff Callahan_. He was proven guilty also
of the assassination of Cockrell by shooting him from the court house,
the temple of justice, prostituted and turned over to the service of
murderers by those in control of it.

Jett's record previous to these assassinations was bad. Twice he had
been accused of rape, had repeatedly been confined in jail on various
other charges, for shooting at persons with intent to kill, for
malicious shooting and wounding and had been indicted for the ruin of a
young girl. He was a moral degenerate. His very appearance proclaimed
to the physiognomist the cruel, heartless nature of the man. His chin
was short and receding, the cheek bones prominent, hair bristly red,
eyes deep set and countenance scowling and bad.

Jett had been for a time confined in the Louisville jail until his
trial at Cynthiana. While in prison he had given the jail officials no
end of trouble on account of his violent disposition toward the other
prisoners. One and all feared him.

After his removal to the penitentiary he pursued similar tactics for a
time, but there they broke him. He is still confined and is now said to
have become a model prisoner. It is said he intends to preach after his
release,--it must be remembered that a life sentence in Kentucky does
_not_ mean confinement for life.

Judge Hargis and Callahan were in due time arraigned for various
murders in connection with the feud. Although Curtis Jett, John Abner,
John Smith and Mose Feltner (who figures so prominently in the Marcum
statement), confessed in one way or another that the accused were the
leaders in the assassinations of Dr. Cox, Cockrell and Marcum, the
chief conspirators, for whose benefit the murders were done and who had
furnished the sinews of war--money and ammunition--they were acquitted.

The widow of James B. Marcum, regardless of the verdicts of acquittal
rendered in the various murder trials of Hargis and Callahan, brought
suit in the civil courts and secured a judgment against them for
several thousand dollars for having been the instigators of the murder
of her husband. The judgment was paid without appeal.


"He that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." This
threat was fulfilled to the letter in the cases of both Judge Hargis
and Sheriff Callahan. Both men died with their boots on.

Judge Hargis was shot and killed at his store in Jackson in the winter
of 1908 _by his own son_, Beach Hargis. The young man was indicted for
murder February 18th, 1908, tried and found guilty. He escaped the
death penalty, and received a life sentence, but is already at large,
having been paroled 1916.

The judgment of the court was appealed from and strenuous efforts were
made by the widow of the slain man to secure a new trial and save her
son from conviction for the murder of her husband. Hers was indeed a
pathetic situation. Mrs. Hargis employed the best counsel obtainable.
Senator William O. Bradley, a lawyer of national fame, argued the case
exhaustively before the Court of Appeals. The judgment of the lower
court was affirmed.

The case was one of widespread interest. The facts and circumstances
attending the murder appear at length and are commented upon in an
opinion of the Court of Appeals, written by Judge Hobson, and reported
in 135 Kentucky Reports.

Judge Hobson, in his statement of the case, says:--

    "The proof for the Commonwealth on the trial showed in brief these

    "On the night before the homicide Beach Hargis had gone to his
    father's store and asked one of the clerks for a pistol. The clerk
    declined to give him a pistol out of the stock, but told him that
    his father's pistol was there in a drawer of his desk and he could
    take that. The defendant secured the pistol, but said nothing to
    his father, although he was then in the store. The next morning
    between nine and ten o'clock the defendant was sitting in the
    barber shop. His face was swollen. He told the barber that his
    father had hit him in the mouth and hurt him there. A man who
    looked like his father passed. He raised up in the chair, threw
    his hand back and said: 'I thought that was the old man.' About
    an hour later he drank a bottle of Brown's Bitters, and said to a
    bystander: 'Did you hear about the old man mashing my mouth?' and
    added that it was hard to take. Some two hours later he appeared
    at a drug store kept by his brother-in-law, Dr. Hogg, drew his
    pistol, and was waving it about, pointing it in the direction of a
    bystander and his brother-in-law. From this drug store, after a few
    minutes, he went to his father's store. It was a double storeroom.
    His father was in one room and he entered the other and took a
    seat in a chair not far from the front door. While he was sitting
    there in a chair, a man in the other room asked his father where
    Beach was. His father pointed him out to the man and said: 'There
    he sits. I have done all I can for him and I cannot go about him or
    have anything to do with him.' A few minutes later his father said
    to another man who was in the room: 'I don't know what to do with
    Beach. He has got to be a perfect vagabond, and he is destroying
    my business, and if Dr. Hogg let's him stay there he will ruin his
    business.' After saying this to the man the father walked in the
    direction of where the defendant was sitting. There were a number
    of persons in the store. As his father approached, the defendant
    got out of his chair and walked around behind a spool case that was
    setting on the end of the counter. No words were spoken. The first
    sound that anybody heard was the report of a pistol. His father was
    then about three feet from him. A struggle ensued between them,
    during which the pistol was shot four times more, all five of the
    shots taking effect in the father. Persons in the store ran up,
    and when they got to them the father had the son down and had the
    pistol, which he handed to one of them, saying: 'He has shot me all
    to pieces.' The father died in a few minutes.

    "The proof for the son was in substance that the father came up
    to him, struck him in the face, and began choking him. When he
    felt his eyes bulging out, he drew his pistol and shot him, and
    his father continuing to choke him, he fired the other four shots
    in the struggle; the last two being fired from the floor. The
    proof for the defendant also showed that the father was drinking.
    Taking all the evidence, we think it reasonably clear that the
    father was unarmed and that he was shot by the son while he was
    approaching him, and before he had touched him. Two witnesses who
    were on the outside of the store, were looking through the windows,
    and their testimony, as well as the testimony of persons in the
    store, confirms this conclusion. We think it also reasonably clear
    that the son was maudlin drunk, and but for this the unfortunate
    homicide would not have occurred. He showed that he was under the
    impression that his father had left the store, and that he went
    there to meet an uncle, but expecting no difficulty. He also showed
    that about a week before his father had beat him unmercifully with
    a ramrod, that previous to this he had whipped him with a rope, and
    on the last occasion had struck him in the mouth with his fist,
    and got upon him on the floor and churned his head against the
    floor; that he had taken his pistol from him, and had threatened
    to shoot him with it and had been prevented from doing this by the
    interference of bystanders, and that he had then declared he would
    kill him. There was also evidence that the son had said that the
    old man had beaten him up, but that he would never get the chance
    to do it again. Also that he had declared when his father had taken
    the pistol from him when drunk, that every time he got drunk and
    was having a good time, they had to do something to him, and that
    he aimed to kill his father and certain other persons whom he named.

    "The defendant offered to prove by his grandmother and others that
    his father had taught him to carry a weapon, encouraged him to
    drink whiskey, and had caused him to associate with disreputable
    men, thus rearing him in a manner calculated to bring about the
    result which followed."

The lower court refused to permit this testimony and the Court of
Appeals affirmed the ruling in this as in practically all other

To the opinion of the court Judges Barker and Nunn dissented. Certain
excerpts of Judge Barker's opinion are of prime importance here and
corroborate what has been said concerning Judge Hargis in even stronger
language than we have employed.

This opinion says (in part):--

    "James Hargis is shown in this record to have been a savage, cruel
    man; that he had a high, vindictive temper, and allowed neither
    fear, nor remorse, nor pity to come between him and the objects of
    his passionate resentment.... James Hargis was a man of violence
    and of blood. He had established in the county of Breathitt a reign
    of terror under the influence of which the law was paralyzed and
    its ministers overrun. He is pictured as a man of gigantic frame,
    savage temper and indomitable courage. He had surrounded himself
    with armed mercenaries, whose minds he inflamed with drink, and
    who seemed to be willing to do his bidding even to the point of
    assassinating his enemies without fear of the consequences of their
    crimes and without remorse or pity for the result.

    "He had not only broken down the law and terrorized its officers,
    but he had made the temple of justice itself the rendezvous for
    assassins who, sheltered behind walls, reddened its portals with
    the blood of its votaries. _He literally ingrafted upon the
    civilization of the twentieth century the savagery of the fifth,
    and introduced into a community of law and order the merciless
    ferocity of the middle ages._"


The other leader of the Hargis faction, Ed. Callahan, died as violently
as did the victims which he has been accused of sending to their deaths.

The assassination took place Saturday, May 4th, 1912, in the middle
of the forenoon, at Crocketsville, a village some twenty miles from

Some two years before a similar attempt had miscarried, although
Callahan was then seriously wounded.

It has already been stated that Mose Feltner, John Smith and others
had in their confessions implicated Ed. Callahan and Judge Hargis in
various murders. After the confession John Smith had been released from
custody on the murder charges against him, and he became the bitter,
unrelenting enemy of Callahan and Hargis. John Smith was accused with
several others of shooting and wounding Callahan from ambush. Callahan
escaped death then by a narrow margin. From that time on he felt that
his end was near. He had been heard to say on several occasions that
his enemies would eventually get him, and they did.

After this attempt on his life he fortified his home and yard with a
palisade. It was so arranged that he could pass from the store to his
home under the protection of this stockade. But just two years later
even these precautions failed to save him. He was shot from an ambush
across the narrow valley while in his store. He stood practically on
the same spot when killed as he had been standing two years and one day
previous when he was shot from the same place and seriously wounded.

After the murder the Commonwealth found much difficulty in ferreting
out the murderers, or to secure proof which would convict them in a
court of law. Rumor readily pointed out the guilty men, but the State
could not rest its case on rumor alone. It must have competent evidence.

In the difficult task of securing it the Commonwealth was ably assisted
by a daughter of the murdered man. She, in fact, had taken the
initiative in the matter, rode fearlessly and untiringly night and day
making inquiries, listening, watching, employing spies to assist her,
until at last a number of men were arrested and held in the toils of
the law.

The men indicted were "Fletch" Deaton, Dan Deaton, James Deaton, Dock
Smith, Elisha Smith, Asberry McIntosh, Andrew Johnson, Abe Johnson,
Billy Johnson, Abe's son, Willie Johnson, John's son, "Red Tom"
Davidson, John Clear and Tom Deaton, Bill's son.

The story of the conspiracy which resulted in Callahan's final removal
from earthly activities, is a long one. It reads like a dime novel. The
setting of the story is dramatic. The court's opinion traces almost
step by step the various movements of the conspirators.

There are about seven principal places that figure in this tragedy
(quoting in substance the opinion): The home of Ed. Callahan on Long's
Creek, about one mile from the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River; Abe
Johnson's residence on the same river, about three or four miles above
the mouth of Long's Creek; the town of Buckhorn on the Middle Fork
River, about two miles above Abe Johnson's home; the home of John E.
Deaton, at the mouth of Caney on the North Fork of the Kentucky River;
James Deaton's home on Caney Creek, about two miles above its mouth,
and the town of Jackson, the county seat of Breathitt County, located
further down the North Fork, are the principal places referred to.

Fletch Deaton resided in Jackson; Callahan conducted a general store
next to his residence on Long's Creek, twenty miles from Jackson.

Two years and one day before the killing of Callahan he had been shot
and dangerously wounded by unknown persons concealed on the hillside
directly across the creek from the store.

The palisade built after that extended from his residence to the rear
of his store so that he could pass from one to the other without being
seen from the mountain across the creek.

The murder occurred on Saturday, May 4th, 1912, about the middle of the
forenoon. On the Sunday before he went from his home in a gasoline boat
in company with Clifton Gross, his son-in-law, to Athol, a railroad
station on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River, and thence on the
following Monday he went to Jackson, which was the home of Fletch
Deaton and of his codefendants, Red Tom Davidson and Govan Smith.
Callahan was seen on the streets of Jackson on that day by several
people. He left Jackson on the train at 2.20 P. M. for Louisville to
buy a spring stock of goods for his store. His presence in Jackson, as
well as his departure for Louisville and the purposes of his visit,
were well known in Jackson. Several of the defendants who lived on the
Middle Fork, had gone down the stream on timber rafts and on their
return by way of Jackson saw Callahan at the railroad station at
Beattyville Junction on his way to Louisville. It was Callahan's habit
to ship his goods to Elkatawa, on the Lexington & Eastern Railroad,
where he would place them on freight boats and take them up the river
to the mouth of Long's Creek, thence on wagons to his home. He usually
accompanied the goods in person.

Several years ago Fletch Deaton's brother, James Deaton, was killed
at the mouth of Long's Creek in a fight, and Ed. Callahan and several
other persons were jointly indicted for that killing, but with his
usual luck escaped punishment for he was acquitted. Fletch Deaton aided
in the prosecution of Callahan, and bad blood had existed between them
since that time.

Furthermore, shortly before the killing of Callahan in May, 1912,
John Davidson, a nephew of Fletch Deaton, and a brother of "Red Tom"
Davidson, and Levi Johnson were killed at Buckhorn, in Perry County.
Four men were jointly indicted for these murders. Fletch Deaton and
several of the others indicted with him for murdering Callahan assisted
and took an active part in the prosecution of the men charged with
the murder of Davidson and Johnson. Callahan was accused by them of
complicity in those murders and of aiding the defendants to escape
punishment. Fletch Deaton had been heard to say on various occasions
that it would be impossible to secure the conviction of the slayers of
Davidson and Johnson so long as Callahan was alive, and that he must be
killed before those cases came up for trial.

Again it developed in the proof that Jase Deaton, Fletch Deaton's
nephew, and Red Tom Davidson, also accused of killing Callahan, were
tried in the Bourbon Circuit Court on the charge of killing John Abner
in the town of Jackson several years before, and that Callahan had been
active in the prosecution against them, employing counsel and supplying

It further appears that Jase Deaton referred to above had been killed
at the home of Anse White, some while before the killing of Callahan,
by Anse White. White was tried for this killing in the Montgomery
Circuit Court and also acquitted. This acquittal had been attributed to
the activity in behalf of White on the part of Ed. Callahan.

The proof on the trial of Fletch Deaton and of Andrew Johnson showed
that Callahan came to his death at the hands of three men, who had
concealed themselves on the mountainside across the creek from
Callahan's store. One of the witnesses for the prosecution testified
that he recognized Dock Smith and Andrew Johnson as two of the
assassins, that he saw a third, but failed to recognize him. Dock Smith
himself testified that the third man was James Deaton of Caney Creek, a
son of Fletch Deaton.

All the trials of the men accused of the murder of Callahan were held
at Winchester, Clark County. In each of the cases, with the exception
of the one against Red Tom Davidson, the defense relied upon alibis,
claiming that they were in Jackson on the day of the killing.

Dock Smith and Govan at the critical moment, realizing their situation,
made a full and voluntary confession of all they knew regarding the
murder of Callahan.

As heretofore stated, Callahan was shot on Saturday forenoon. On the
preceding Wednesday, about two o'clock P. M., Dock Smith met Andrew
Johnson on the Middle Fork just below the mouth of Gay's Creek. Johnson
there told Dock Smith that James Deaton wanted Dock and Andrew Johnson
to help kill Callahan, and for Dock to go to Deaton's house that night.
Smith says that Johnson asked him if he had a gun, and he told Johnson
that his gun was at his father's; that Johnson then told him he would
go back home to Granville Johnson's, and would meet Smith there that
night; that Smith went to his father's, got his gun, ate his supper,
and then went to the mouth of Orville's branch and there met Andrew
Johnson, Willie Johnson, Tom Deaton and Billie Johnson. From that point
Smith and Andrew Johnson proceeded to the house of James Deaton on
Caney Creek, which they reached late in the night, finding James and
Dan Deaton there. That night the four discussed the proposed killing
of Callahan. James Deaton told his confederates that on the next
morning he would go to his father's at Jackson, and learn from him,
Fletch Deaton, what definite plans had been made about the killing of
Callahan, and would get "Red Tom" Davidson's Savage rifle. The next
morning, Thursday, James Deaton and Dan Deaton left James Deaton's
house and went down Caney Creek towards John E. Deaton's, Dock Smith
and Andrew Johnson remaining at James Deaton's.

Late on Thursday evening James Deaton came home from Jackson riding
"Red Tom" Davidson's mule, and brought along a gun which he said
belonged to Red Tom. After supper Smith, Johnson and James Deaton left
the latter's residence, Dock Smith riding and carrying the gun, Johnson
and Deaton on foot. They proceeded to the home of John E. Deaton, where
they met Bob Deaton, another of the accused. Here Bob joined them in
the expedition. The four then went to Abe Johnson's, on the Middle
Fork, about three miles above the mouth of Long's Creek, arriving there
after midnight on Friday morning.

Friday was spent around Abe Johnson's. At noon they sent for Dan
Deaton, whom they had left at the home of James Deaton on the morning
of Thursday. Dan responded, and all of them again discussed plans
for the murder of Callahan. James Deaton told Abe Johnson and Billy
Johnson that his father, Fletch Deaton, wanted them to come to Jackson
on the train Saturday morning, so they could be there as witnesses to
prove the alibi, and that Willie Johnson was to come with them. It was
arranged that Dock Smith, Andrew Johnson, Bob Deaton and Dan Deaton
were to go down to the Grand Sire Rock on the Middle Fork, below the
mouth of Long's Creek, to watch for Callahan and Anse White, who were
expected to come up on Callahan's boats on that day. This arrangement
was carried out.

Before starting, however, they procured two quarts of whiskey, and
drank about half of it before they left Abe Johnson's, about two
o'clock on Saturday morning. Abe Johnson, Billie Johnson and Willie
Johnson went to Jackson; and the other five men, Dock Smith, Andrew
Johnson, James Deaton, Dan Deaton and Bob Deaton, went toward Long's
Creek. All had guns. Before leaving Abe Johnson's they procured a
bucket of provisions, and went by the home of Granville Johnson,
where they procured another bucket of provisions. There they boarded
Granville Johnson's boat and started down the river, but the boat began
to leak, and being too small to carry them all, they procured another
boat. At the mouth of Long's Creek the boats were abandoned. From there
they went to the home of Willie Deaton, son of James Deaton, to inquire
whether Callahan had returned home, and were told that Callahan had
left the boats and gone home the evening before. After borrowing a gun
from Willie Deaton, Dan and Bob Deaton went to the Grand Sire Rock for
the purpose of watching for Callahan's boats and to kill Anse White,
who had remained in charge of them.

In the meantime Dock Smith, Andrew Johnson and James Deaton went to
the hillside across the creek from Callahan's store, arriving there
shortly before daylight on Saturday morning. They placed themselves at
a point where they could see the front of Callahan's store. Two of them
prepared forks about 18 inches long, which they drove in the ground to
use as rests in shooting, one of them piling up some rocks upon which
to rest his weapon. They watched for Callahan until between nine and
ten o'clock, without catching sight of him.

The front of Callahan's store contained a glass window, and they could
see the outline or form of a man passing behind the window on the
inside of the store. Concluding that the shadow thus cast must be that
of Callahan, they fired six shots through the window, three of them
taking effect and mortally wounding him. Then the assassins became
panic-stricken and left the places of concealment hurriedly, going
through the backwoods to the home of Abe Johnson, where they got their

After dinner "Trigger Eye" Deaton carried them across the Middle Fork
River, and from there to John E. Deaton's home, where they arrived
shortly after dark. By devious routes the three assassins reached
Jackson and the home of Fletch Deaton shortly before daylight Sunday
morning. There they found a number of the men present who were to serve
as witnesses to establish an alibi for the slayers.

The alibi was, however completely broken down by witnesses for the
Commonwealth, with the result that a number of the conspirators are now
doing time in the State penitentiary. This closes the chapter on the
Hargis-Cockrell-Marcum-Callahan feud, one of blood, terrorization, Dark
Age savagery in the twentieth century; in the very midst of our country
which prides itself upon a civilization superior to that of other

But for the blunder the despots committed in slaying Marcum, whose
prominence and the peculiarly atrocious circumstances of his murder at
last forced a thorough airing of conditions, they might have gone on
unmolested, continued the record of assassination, and have added many
more pages of blood to the county's history.

The prosecution of the slayers of Marcum, Dr. Cox, James Cockrell,
Judge Hargis and Ed. Callahan was prompt and energetic. It shows a
return of a more healthy public sentiment. Yet, murders are entirely
too frequent in Breathitt, and in Kentucky at large, for that matter.

Breathitt has been termed "the plague spot of the Commonwealth." It
cannot wipe out the past; what has been done is done. But it may
yet redeem itself by making such horrors as we have depicted here,
impossible in the future.

There is a fine citizenship in the county. It has suffered much, and
deserves sympathy along with censure. It is up to the good people
to see that peace and order return and is maintained henceforth and
forever. We trust they will never more submit to unbridled crime and
anarchy. It is up to them to prove themselves American citizens by
exerting true patriotism at home.


It would be erroneous to conclude that the history of Kentucky's
famous, or notorious feuds is completed here. The material at hand has,
unfortunately, not been exhausted by any means.

While the Hatfields and McCoys fought to the death in Pike County,
Kentucky, and along the borders of West Virginia, a bloody drama
was being enacted in Rowan County. While the French-Eversole war
raged in Perry County, many other counties suffered similarly during
identically the same period. The eighties were a decade of blood, for
during those years Harlan was in the clutches of murderers and anarchy
reigned supreme. Letcher, Bell and Knott passed through like bloody
experiences. In Clay County feudal wars raged for years and never
disappeared completely until the close of the last century. The list
of counties drenched with the blood of their citizens might yet be
extended. To describe all the feuds in detail would, however, prove
repetitive, even monotonous, and be only cumulative. To lengthen the
list of assassinations could serve no beneficent purpose.

Some years ago we published an edition of Kentucky's Famous Feuds and
Tragedies. We closed the volume in the belief that feuds had ended once
and for all times. But the worst period in all the bloody history of
Breathitt was since then.

At the time of the publication of the first edition (from which some
writers have quoted freely without giving us credit), we were charged
with defaming the State, although it was admitted that the truth had
been faithfully portrayed. It was not our intention then to malign the
State, nor is it now.

We have simply compiled from facts a history of past events. Of what
use is any history but to record past events that future generations
might take lessons therefrom and be guided thereby?

Ignorance of true conditions does not, and never did bring about
correction of evils.

The crusade against commercialized vice, the liquor traffic and other
body and soul destroying evils can succeed only through full and
complete publicity.

This history furnishes a study for the psychologist as well as for the
criminologist. We cannot study crime and its manifold phases or point
out remedies by studying the lives of saints. To find the original
causes of social and political diseases we must go where these have
existed or still exist. It would be silly to attempt to prove the
result of the drink habit by the lives of teetotalers.

There are those who would be overcautious, who believe in the policy
enunciated by the proverb: "Never mention a rope in the home of a man
that has been hanged." Had this principle at all times been adhered to,
reforms would have been few. People will not rise to battle against
evils until they are first made acquainted with the fact that the
evils exist. It was due to the publicity given by the newspapers of
conditions in Breathitt County that a thorough clean-up was inaugurated

If it be proper and right to publish nothing of a criminal or degrading
nature, then we must of necessity put the ban upon the Bible.

What was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ but a bloody tragedy. The
Bible gives us a detailed account of the awful, cruel, lawless
conspiracy to do murder upon an innocent being. Judas prepared the
ambush, as it were. He had the decency to go and hang himself, although
he had nothing to fear from the authorities who had hired him to betray
the Master.

The story of David and Absalom is the bloody history of a family feud
on a large scale.

The murder of Abel by his brother Cain is taught the children at Sunday
school, not for the purpose of entertaining them with bloodshed, or to
encourage them to go and do likewise, but to make crime odious.

The history of the Moabites and other races and tribes is one long
chapter of outrages. Crimes of unnamable character are recited at
length in the Holy Book.

The history of the reformation is one of blood and crime. To exclude
secular or sacred history because they narrate crimes and bloodshed and
horrors, would mean the withdrawal of the greatest weapons with which
modern progress fights its battles in shaping the minds of men.

We may gain invaluable lessons from this history if it be read with
that intention. It is an appeal to people everywhere to be true to
their citizenship. That Kentucky has furnished suitable material with
which to illustrate and demonstrate the results of a weak, unpatriotic,
disloyal citizenship, is not the fault of the historian. The facts were
at hand, they were apt, and were used.

Just now there is a nation-wide appeal made for a true Americanism. The
fact that the appeal is being made, seems to us an acknowledgment that
true Americanism has deteriorated and needs ingrafting anew.

We join in this appeal, and shall add that had true Americanism
prevailed in the feud-cursed sections of Kentucky, this bloody history
could never have been written--there would have been a total absence of
material for one.

What is true Americanism? It is not place of birth. It is nothing more,
but nothing less, than undivided loyalty to country.

What is loyalty? When is a citizen loyal to his country? Waving his
country's flag and cheering it on a Fourth of July is but an outward
demonstration of loyalty. A citizen is never loyal until he becomes and
is faithful to the law; when he upholds and assists others in upholding
the lawful authorities unswervingly. That is loyalty. There is no other
definition for the word. So the citizen who refuses to obey the law
himself in the first place, and makes no efforts to assist others in
its enforcement, is not loyal to his country. When he has ceased to be
loyal he becomes disloyal, and disloyalty is treason.

The true American, therefore, is loyal and has the courage to prove
that loyalty whenever occasion arises.

One need not put on a uniform and fight battles against a foreign
enemy to prove his patriotism. The patriot--the truly loyal citizen
serves his country well by exercising that loyalty at home.

Good citizenship carries with it more than the simple right to vote.
That right has obligations attached to it. The chief obligation is

The moment loyalty weakens, a wedge of social and political corruption
enters; once that wedge is driven deeper government must totter and
fall, and anarchy steps in its place.

During the Civil War hundreds of thousands of Americans gave up their
lives "that the nation might live." The nation is an aggregation of
States, the State a union of communities, and communities are formed by

To preserve a nation healthy that it may live, the States must also
be so. But a State cannot be so if portions of it are diseased with
social and political corruption. When a sore spot appears it ought to
be cauterized at once without waiting for it to develop into an eating,
destroying cancer.

The spirit of loyalty must be revived and kept alive in the minds and
hearts of all citizens. Only through it can the evil impulses of the
criminally inclined be controlled.

The citizen who is loyal should always reflect, when he begins to lose
courage, that the good citizens are in the majority, and that the
vicious element is almost universally cowardly. The criminal has the
fear of the law although he defies it for a time.

We have narrated at great length the stealthy preparations made by the
murderers of Callahan. The cool and apparently deliberate manner with
which their plans were executed would lead one to believe that they
feared no law.

Yet we have seen how a moment after the crime had been committed and
its perpetrators realized that they were murderers in fact, they
"stampeded," the proof shows; they trembled with fear, though no one
was on their tracks then. Their hearts turned to water. What did they
fear? Punishment.

The bloody dictators of Breathitt County had abrogated the law, as
they believed, yet feared the law they pretended to despise. This is
clearly established by the methods with which they killed off their
enemies. They resorted to secret assassination in each case because it
would make discovery and punishment difficult, if not impossible. Each
assassination had been shrewdly and carefully planned. Notwithstanding
their temporary power and supremacy they lived in constant fear and
dread, believing that punishment would and must sooner or later
overtake them. This belief was strengthened by the fate of other
criminals elsewhere.

If, then, the criminal fears the arm of the law, it requires very
simple reasoning to come to the conclusion that the criminally inclined
can, by the sure guaranty of swift, condign punishment be intimidated
and forced into abstaining from following that inclination, and be so
put in fear that he will think twice before he gives his atavistic
tendencies free rein.

This history was written to teach a moral. The remedies suggested here
for lawlessness and contempt for the law, may be applied with equal
benefit where mob spirit is rampant. The mobist, to coin a phrase,
that starts out to do murder upon a defenceless prisoner, is on a
par with the bushwhacker--even inferior to him in courage. For mobs
are courageous only through mass numbers; or when under strong and
aggressive leadership. Mobs have been known to slink away ignominiously
when confronted by one or two loyal citizens.

Disloyalty has been at the bottom of all great social disturbances.

Let the spirit of true Americanism, which is loyalty to country,
return and with it will come the courage to uphold the law at whatever
cost. Then and not till then is our flag the true symbol of American
liberty; then and not till then will the phrase "American citizen"
cease to be a banality, as it now is with many, and become what it is
intended to be, a badge of honor, the most precious a man can wear on
this earth.


[1] Collin's "History of Kentucky."

[2] Roosevelt's "Winning of the West."

[3] "Rowan County Feud," Chapter 2.

[4] Documents (Ky.) 1888.

[5] Records Pike Circuit Court, Commonwealth versus Val Hatfield, etc.,
opinion of Court of Appeals, No. 9, 1889.

[6] These reports corroborate my own investigation and statements in
every particular.--Author.



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    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.
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