The Killing of James Dooley, 1906

The Adair County News, Wednesday, April 4, 1906 (Vester community newsletter)

Our merchants here are enjoying a splendid trade, and Mr. E.M. Burton is receiving a handsome line of Spring Goods, and Mr. Dooly will leave in a few days for the market to get a new line. 

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, August 29, 1906.

Fatal Shooting


Elijah M. Burton Shoots and Kills James Dooley. Two Other Persons Also Seriously Wounded.


Vester the Scene of the Tragedy.


A feud covering a period of several years, came to an end

last Sunday morning about sunrise.

Elijah M. Burton and James Dooley were rival merchants at Vester, a village five miles east of Columbia. Saturday they were both in this place and trouble was expected, but friends kept them from meeting.

Late in the afternoon they left town, going to their respective homes. About dark trouble arose and there are two statements as to which one was the aggressor.

Burton says he was entering his store in company with John Powell, and a boy, about twelve years old, also named Powell, when Dooley fired at him, using a shot-gun. Burton was not hit, but both Powells were shot, the boy supposed to be mortally wounded.

Dooley's friends say that he was at his home and that Burton fired at him without warning, missing him. It is said that at this meeting three shots were fired. In a short time after the shooting Dooley left his home and quiet was restored. He returned Sunday morning, gun in hand, and was entering his yard gate when Burton fired on him, killing him instantly. A daughter of the deceased say she witnessed the killing of her father, and that he was making no effort to shoot.

A message came to Judge Hancock as soon as Dooley was killed. He went to the scene and held an inquest over the remains, and the following is the verdict:

We the Coroner's jury, summoned and sworn to investigate into the killing of James Dooley, which took place about sunrise on Sunday morning, August 19, 1906, having viewed the body and other evidences, and summoned and examined witnesses, find and report in our verdict that the deceased came to his death at the time stated above, by a gun-shot wound fired by E.M. Burton, and that the said E.M. Burton, Gracie Dooley and the deceased were the only witnesses to the shooting, so far as the jury is able to determine. /s/ G.D. Harman, Foreman.

Burton has surrendered and will be guarded until his examining trial.

Both sides have friends and the affair is greatly deplored in the neighborhood.

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, September 5, 1906

(no headline)

E.M. Burton was held over for killing James Dooley, his bond being fixed at $3,000, which he readily gave.

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, October 3, 1906

Burton Case Continued

The case against Elijah M. Burton for the killing of James Dooley which was set for last Wednesday was continued until the January term of court. There are over fifty witnesses to testify and the trial will last several days. Mr. Burton has retained Messrs. James Garnett and Rollin Hurt and the prosecution will be conducted by States' Attorney, and Hon. M. Ray Yarberry and W.L. Malone, of Campbellsville.                                    

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, October 17, 1906

(no headline)

Mr. E.M. Burton informs us that in the notice concerning the lawyers retained by him, we failed to mention the name of Judge W.W. Jones.

[James Garnett, Rollin Hurt and W.W. Jones were three of the best --perhaps the best three--attorneys in Adair County.]

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, January 23, 1907

(no headline; paper torn, parts of two words missing)

The trial of E.M. Burton charged with the murder of James Dooley is s[et] for today (Wednesday) and we unde[rst]and both parties will answer ready.

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, January 30, 1907

The Burton Trial

The case of the Commonwealth vs., E.M. Burton was called last Wednesday, and both sides answered ready. The work of selecting the jury was begun, but until Thursday evening was the panel completed. More than one hundred witnesses were summoned, and up to the hour of going to press the defense had not finished their work. The case will probably go to the jury Thursday or Friday.

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, February 6, 1907

Two Years For Burton


The Jury Only Out About Three Hours And Returns Verdict As Above.


After being in their room three hours, the jury the jury in the case of the Commonwealth vs Elijah M. Burton for the kiling of James Dooley, returned a verdict of manslaughter, fixing the defendants punishment at two years in State penitentiary.

It will be remembered that on Sunday, August 19th, of last year, Dooley was shot and almost instantly killed by Burton at the former's home near Vester. The circumstances which led up to the shooting were about as follows:

The principals had been at outs for several years, and never lost an opportunity to cast epithets at each other. On Saturday, the trouble was renewed, both sides using many vile names, until Dooley fired at Burton, hitting two of Jim Powell's sons. It is claimed that Burton fired into Dooley's home, breaking window lights but injuring none of the occupants. The trouble quieted down at that time, but early Sunday morning as Dooley was entering his yard gate, Burton fired, inflicting the death wound. Both sides tell a different story at this point. The defense claims that Burton opened his store door as Jim was entering his gate, and the former noticed that Dooley was raising his gun to fire. The prosecution, through Miss Grace Dooley, the only eye witness, says that the deceased was shutting his gate when Burton appeared in his store door, firing the fatal shot.

The trial was begun on January 23rd and occupied eight days. Probably no trial in the past several years has been witnessed by a larger audience or with greater interest--the court room being filled at every session.

Both sides were represented by able counsel and the case was hotly contested at every point. The defense was represented by Judge W.W. Jones, and James Garnett and Rollin Hurt and the prosecution by Commonwealth Attorney Huddleston, County Attorney Smythe, Winfrey & Winfrey and W.L. Malone, of the Campbellsville bar.

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, February 6, 1907

Court Adjourned


Last Saturday After Busy Session of Two Weeks.


At the term of court closed last Saturday at noon a number of important cases were disposed of, besides several minor matters.

The most important case and the one that attracted most attention was the Burton murder trial... On the last day of court Judge Baker sentenced the convicted man and the first of the week Burton was conveyed to Frankfort.

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The Adair County News, Wednesday, August 28, 1907 (in the Personal column)

Messrs. J.B. and E.M. Burton are in Louisville, purchasing goods, this week. [If this is the same E.M. Burton, no information of his release from prison appeared in the extant editons of the 1907 News. However, several mid-years issues are missing, to wit: June 12, 19, & 26; and July 3, 10 & 17.]

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Death certificate abstract:

Certificate # 06327, deathvol 1937.

E.M. Burtin, male, white, married.

Date & place of birth: April 17, 1865, Adair Co., Ky.

Date & place of death: February 27, 1937 @ 8 a.m., Christine, Adair Co., Ky.

Age: 71 years, 10 months, 17 days.

Occupation: Farm work.

Father's name & birth place: Sirenus Burtin, Pulaski Co., Ky.

Mother's maiden name & birth place: Julia Burtin, Adair Co., Ky.

Informant: W.R. Sinclair, Christine, Ky.

Cause of death: Chronic my--carditis.

Attending physician: B.J. Bolin, M.D., Columbia, Ky.

Date & place of burial: February 28, 1937, Bearwallow cem.

Undertaker: Stotts & Cheatham, Columbia, Ky.