C O N F E S S I O N
The author of this confession and exposure of a band of marauders located in and near the little town of Lockport, on the Kentucky River, is a native of Henry County, Kentucky.
I was born in the year 1851. My parents, though possessed of but a limited education, were honest and frugal, and obtained the comforts of life by industry and perseverance, on the small farm on which they have resided for many years. Unfortunately, but few of the qualities that prompted them in their course through life seemed to descend to their son. At an early age I showed that I far excelled all the rest of the family in a peculiar low cunning, especially in the faculty of invention, which enabled me to have a story ready for any emergency.
Being guilty of many acts of disobedience, I was sharply reprimanded by my parents, and often received the lash. At an early age the remarkable talent for living without work seemed to overbalance all others, and I resolved that, when freed from the control of my parents, I would adopt some mode of obtaining a support other than digging it out of the ground.
Time passed slowly away, bringing me nearer and nearer manhood. Temptation after temptation presented itself, and I often engaged in the evils practiced by the gambler and visitor of drunken hovels, regardless of the constant rebukings and warnings of my parents to shun bad company, as a persistence in such practices would result in my ruin. But I was incredulous, and gave but little heed to their appeals; and now, with a heart ready to overflow with sorrow, I acknowledge their predictions verified. Disobedience to my father and mother is the parent stem from which sprung all the crimes I have committed, or been associated with other in committing. Had I given heed to their persuasions and advice, I would have escaped the untimely and ignominious death that now awaits me; the consummation of which will render the remainder of their days a burden, and bring their gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
About the time I arrived at manhood, the notorious Ku-Klux came into notice in my neighborhood. It being an institution that invited all grades of persons into its ranks, an opportunity was soon afforded me to become a member. I joined them in the year 1871, but had little to do with their raids, excusing myself on account of the health of my wife, to whom I was married during the same year. This was an eventful year of my life. It was in this year that, by accident, I became associated with the band heretofore spoken of. Being out squirrel hunting on Six-Mile Creek, I suddenly came upon Joseph Goodrich and Robert Goodrich, who were about completing the murder of a peddler, the name of whom I cannot tell. It was the first murder I had ever witnessed, and it made me shudder and the blood to almost chill in my veins. I asked them what was the matter, or what had happened. They replied, it was none of my business, and ordered me to get away from there damned quick, which order was immediately obeyed; but desiring to see the termination of the act, and to learn the cause of the murder, I crept round on the hillside near them, but concealed from their sight, to a point commanding a full view of their work. I watched their maneuvers; saw them dispose of the body by throwing it into a ravine, and then secrete his goods in a hollow log. I then started for home, and passing near the corpse where the murder was committed, I came upon the same parties again. The first thought that entered my mind, on meeting them again, was that they would take my life, in order to prevent me exposing them. But they had no weapons except an axe, and I resolved to use my gun for protection. They spoke to me friendly, and said: "Dick, we are good friends of yours, and if you wish to escape trouble, you must become a member of our band. We killed that peddler for his money; and we will give you twenty-five dollars now, and it you divulge anything we have told, or that you have seen us do, your life will pay the forfeit." They told me when I was ready to be sworn in to let them know and they would have it attended to. I accepted the proffered twenty-five dollars, promised secrecy, and started for home. I went directly home; remained there some time; but nothing seemed to enter my mind but the scene that I had just witnessed.
I thought of the dangers attending the situation in which I then stood, and the probable dangers to which I would be exposed after becoming a member of such a band; and the more I thought about it, the more fearful I became. It seemed that I had lost my natural mind. Imaginary fear took full possession of me, and I said to my wife that I did not feel like staying at home that night, and if she was willing, we would go to a neighbor's and stay. She consented, and we made the necessary preparations and started. On the way I told my wife what had happened, and the threats the Goodrichs had made against me if I divulged it. She was surprised to hear it, but told me to never say anything about it, as they would certainly kill me if I did. A long and weary night was passed, during which my sleep was broken and interrupted by the cries and appeals for mercy of him who had met an untimely death. I tried every means for some time to control my feelings, and to rid myself of contemplating the dangers to which I was exposed, by being cognizant of the murder, and the parties that perpetrated it; but nothing seemed to quiet me, and I resolved to leave the neighborhood.
I went to Eminence, Henry County, rented a house, and moved immediately; but I had not been there long before Jos. Goodrich visited me, and told me he knew I had left his neighborhood through fear; and if I would return and become a member of their band, I would not be molested, and I could make money by doing so. I consented; went down and was sworn in by their chief, and immediately made preparations to move on my father's farm.
The sudden and mysterious disappearance of the peddler was the general talk of the surrounding country. The supposition was that he had been murdered by the Ku-Klux, which was gratifying to the Goodrichs. The facts connected with the murder, as related to me by Robert Goodrich, after I became a member of the band, are as follows: He states that they were clearing some land near the creek, the name of which has already been given, and saw the peddler at a distance coming down the road. They immediately resolved to kill him, if he seemed to have any money. They started for the road on which he was traveling with an axe to do the work, but by a route that hid them from his sight. The plan agreed upon to draw from him some information relative to the amount of means in his possession was to introduce the subject of Ku-Klux, and the depredations committed by them; and if it drew from him the desired information, they were to carelessly walk along with him to near the entrance of a certain thicket, and then ask to purchase some of his goods. Bob said the plan acted like a charm. After being told of some of the depredations done by the Ku-Klux, the peddler remarked that he would not like to meet them in his present situation, from which it was evident that he had money. They were then nearing the place sought for as a suitable point to carry their plans into effect. Joe asked him what he was peddling. He replied that he had a variety of articles. Telling him they would like to purchase some things, he found a convenient place to sit down on a log, which was near the edge of the copse spoken of above, and began to unfold his goods. Joe got his attention closely directed to the sale of some article, while Bob carelessly stepped to his rear and prepared to strike him with the axe, dealing him a blow that served only to stun him. He threw up his hands and implored for mercy, beseeching them to take all he had, but to spare his life for the sake of his wife and children. A second blow was dealt him, which had the desired effect -- mashing his skull, and causing instant death. They hastily carried the body to the ravine near the centre of the thicket, searched his pockets, and obtained three hundred and seventy-two dollars. They hid the goods, and after the mysterious disappearance ceased to be talked about, used them in their families.
Such was the murder of an unsuspecting man; and, to eternal disgrace of American Justice, neither of the perpetrators has yet been punished; but the vengeance of heaven will not spare them. The crime was committed in daylight, under a clear sky and a bright October sun. The weather was pleasant, and the leaves were yet hanging on the trees, but bad begun to assume the hue that saddens the feelings of the natural man at the recession of summer; with now and then one loosing its hold of the parent stem and slowly gliding to the earth, seeming to announce the awe of the Maker of heaven and earth that the workmanship of his hands could become so utterly void of humanity as to commit deeds at which the demons of hell would revolt.
I have given you the facts, as near as I can remember, that made me a member of this notorious band. From that time I became reckless, not caring what I did so I could evade the law. The drinking-saloon and the card-table were my constant resorts, depending almost entirely on the means accumulated by robbery and murder for a support; resorting to labor only enough to keep the people from suspecting that I was obtaining a living by theft or robbery.
My father, I think, suspected I was acting badly, and often told me he was fearful I would come to some bad end. I would reply: "O hush, Father; do not talk to me now."
Having now given you a brief history of my life from boyhood up to the time of my becoming a member of the band referred to, and the means that caused me to become connected with a murder as replete with atrocity as any now on record, I will try to give you a brief history of the workings of the institution after I became associated with it.
But I know the reader's heart is growing sick at the depicting of this murder committed in cold blood. I will therefore give you some facts relative to its author, and then turn my pen to the relation of one still more daring and heinous.
Robert Goodrich is a native of Henry County, State of Kentucky; is about 35 or 40 years of age; is about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high; is of fair complexion, with auburn hair, and has something in his appearance that depicts cowardice; but when possessed of power over any one's life, he commits the most inhuman murders without compunction.