MURDER OF JOHN O'NAN
On Friday night, during the latter part of July or the first of August, 1871, a collection of some ten or twelve, including myself, gathered near Harper's Ferry, where the proposed victim had been decoyed for the purpose of disposing of him, and, after consultation, it was agreed that we would take him to the Kentucky river, kill him, and tie a rock to him and feed him to the fish. This agreed upon, we started on our journey to complete the hellish design. The night was one of unusual darkness, and before we had proceeded far on our way one of the most fearful clouds that ever curtained the heavens began to arise. But little wind being connected with it, it rose slowly and steadily and every moment seemed to grow darker, until nothing could be seen save the flashes of lightning that so vividly lit the heavens, followed by peal after another of thunder that seemed to be speaking the disapproval of the choir of heaven, in tones that were truly appalling; so much so, that any other than heaven-daring demons would have relented, gave up their purpose, and sought safety in some secluded place, where they might have asked pardon at the hands of Him who seeth all things. But nothing daunted, having our brains well charged by whisky, we feared nothing, but pressed on to complete the mission for which we started. Having arrived at the destined place, preparation for the completion of the work began. The night was so dark we had some difficulty in finding a suitable rock for the purpose; and how to obtain a rope, not having brought one, was another perplexity. But we soon found one; and now for dispatching the victim. How should it be done was then the question. Should he be killed by a lick, or should he be shot? At that juncture some of the party said: "Shoot the damned son-of-a-bitch, and make quick work of it." At that moment flash went a pistol; but the shot was not aimed right, and struck him on the arm and broke it. Then began the most touching imploring that ever I heard fall from the lips of man to spare his life. He begged that if we could not spare his life to give him time to pray. This was only answered, "Damn you, there is no time for praying now."
It was then concluded, that as the shot had not killed him, they would put him into the river alive. The rock being already tied to the rope, it was speedily lashed around his neck, and he was roughly hauled into the boat and carried to as near the centre of the river as could be guessed, and plunged headlong into it. His last words were appeals to us for mercy, and that we ought to give him time to pray. He sank suddenly, and the rising bubbles seemed to cry to God for mercy.
This crime was perpetrated by some, the names of whom I do not now remember. Some of the band of which I had lately become a member were officiating, and I think that Jackson Simmons, David Carter, assisted by myself, were the ones that put him in the river. Our work being completed, we started for our homes. The clouds had broken, with now and then a star peeping from the clear spots in the sky, whose dazzling brightness seemed to bespeak our guilt. The wind that was whistling through the forest appeared to be telling in more than audible accents the disapproval of heaven, and sealing us as demons not fit to be the associates of the damned in hell. But I know the reader is weary. I will therefore direct his attention to something that will perhaps get his mind in a measure suited to listen to the revolting scenes of a murderer's life.
On Saturday, during the month of August, in the year 1871, there being a number of the Ku-Klux at Lockport, Henry County, and, as was their custom, imbibing freely of intoxicating liquor, it was decided that something must be done the ensuing night. What should it be? Many ideas were advanced before the final conclusion was reached. There lived a man in the Six-Mile hills who was indolent and addicted to drunkenness, giving his family but little of his attention, and of which they greatly stood in need. We concluded that we would wait upon him that night, and see what he had to say. The place for meeting agreed upon, we all left for home, made ready, and met according to arrangement We took up our march for the place designated, having no detentions on the way save that of stopping a few times to assuage our thirst with a little Old Bourbon made in Owen County. We soon arrived at the place, found the family at home but asleep. The door was easy to enter, being fastened with an old-fashioned wooden latch raised by a string. We entered, walked quietly to the bed, and caught him by the nose to raise him. The sudden checking of his breath, and the hasty manner in which we brought him to a sitting posture, alarmed him so desperately that he roared for help. We placed our hands over his mouth and told him he must not halloo. He then began to beg, and asked us if we were going to kill him. We told him no, that we were only going to paint his back a little. He wished to know what for, as he had been quiet in his neighborhood. We told him he had been a little too quiet in some respects; we wanted him to be more active; it would be good for his health. We wanted him to go to work and earn something with which to feed and clothe his family. In the meantime his wife had gotten up and was mad and becoming abusive. We told her to be quiet, or we would paint her a little too, which brought her to a stand-still.
We escorted the man about twenty or thirty yards from the house and began to strip him. He implored us not to lash him; that he would certainly go to work and do his duty if we would excuse him that time. We told him his promises were reasonable, but we thought a little trimming would buoy him up a little, and cause him not to give us any more trouble. We had prepared some willows for-the purpose. We appointed two to hold him, while another did the whipping. The work began, with the understanding that it should not be severe. It was soon completed, and we retired, leaving him to soliloquize upon what should be his future course of life. The chastisement had a good effect, causing him to quit the tippling-shops and give himself to industry, which was the means of causing him to prosper. The Ku-Klux did some good acts, but overbalanced their good ones with some too damnable to be countenanced by the heathen.
MURDER ON SIX-MILE
I presume the reader's mind has, by the relation of the preceding, become sufficiently composed to hear the relation of another of the deeds of atrocity in which the author of this confession assisted. During the year 1872, I think, I was at Louisville, in company with Robert Goodrich, Jackson Simmons, and David Carter, three of the band of which I was a member, and there fell in company with a gentleman who had been transacting some business for his widowed sister with the Government and had drawn a considerable amount of money, and was then on his way to pay the same to her. This was just such information as we were waiting for and seeking. We put our wits to work to devise a plan by which we could obtain it and escape detection. To rob him in the city would be a risk that would probably result in our detection; consequently the work must be done at some other point. Knowing that it was his design to come up on the train the following morning, and if he did, there would be but little chance for such work from the depot to his home in daytime, we proposed to him to remain until evening, and we would all go together. Being his acquaintances he readily consented, and remained. That much accomplished, we then fixed our plans as opportunity offered so as not to excite his suspicion. The usual time of the arrival of the train at Pleasureville, at which point we expected to get off, was about four o'clock in the evening, and the distance from that point to the home of his man was some eight or nine miles, entirely on the public road; but we, being afoot, would bring dark upon us before we could reach Six-Mile Creek. We therefore planned our work in the following manner: On the southeast side of the said creek, and near the side of the road where we had to pass, was a noted cavern, and that was the place selected to accomplish our design. We landed at the depot at the usual hour, disembarked, and started on our journey. Having a good supply of whisky, we drank and traveled slowly, night coming upon us before we reached the creek. Now to rob him and let him escape with his life would not do, as he was acquainted with us all, and would certainly have us arrested; so it was determined to kill him, and cast his body, satchel, and all except his money, into the cavern, which was to be done in the following manner: When we came near this cave we were to feign that we heard something in it, and get him to looking down into it, and while he was in that act shoot him, rifle his pockets, and get away quickly.
The plan was complete, and worked as we anticipated it would. Arriving at the cave, we made a sudden halt as if surprised, and remarked that we heard something in it, which drew the attention of all, and some of the boys said "Let's look in it;" and so we marched up to it, accompanied by this man, and while he was in a stooping posture, Jackson Simmons, being by his side, slyly placed a pistol near the rear of his head and killed him dead at a single fire; after which his pockets were hastily relieved of all that was valuable, and the body, with his valise was cast headlong into the yawning abyss. It fell with a crash that echoed back, and inspired an awe that would have made the blood run chill of any but such as had had their consciences seared by the repetition of crime. Of such men were the few who had launched another of their fellow-men into eternity without a moment's warning, and while, as he thought, in the company of his friends. Having completed the well-planned work, we set out for home. The night was clear and unusually calm. The stars seemed to shine with more than usual brightness. Naught could be heard but the bark of the sleepless watch-dog which saluted our ears with its familiar sound. And the owls and night-hawks seemed to be unusually full of glee, saluting our ears with "Wa-o-o" and chantings that spoke in tones of solemnity the disapproval of heaven. But being accustomed to imbruing our hands in our fellow-man's blood, we even dared the very hosts of our Maker, and frowned at the dire punishment which is to be awarded the wicked as being a farce and wholly untrue; harboring the unreasonable notion that there is nothing of man after he closes his career on the present earth; and the one that lives the easiest, no matter how he procures the means, enjoys the most happiness, But ah! my thoughts have chanced, which will be fully met forth in another chapter.
Having given the reader as near as practicable a true delineation of the murders committed during the years 1871 and 1872, in connection with some other incidents suitable to amuse and draw his mind from the horrid reflections that must certainly characterize it at the rehearsal of such daring and damning deeds of inhumanity as the three just described, I will call his attention to one even more dire, and one that will throw a stigma on Henry County that nothing but the stream of time can erase or wash away.
Between Lockport and Hardin's Bottom--the two places being about six miles apart--meanders a small rivulet, running almost directly east, and flowing from the west. At the season when the crime was committed the scenes presented along its shores were exceedingly picturesque. The trees, with leaves almost full size, and myriads of flowers with variegated tints, would seem to direct the mind of man from everything that had the least semblance to exult in thanks to an all-wise Creator who had made them, and placed him as a sojourner in their midst; and blessed him with the gifts requisite for their enjoyment. Let us carry the reader's mind a little nearer the scene to which I propose directing him.
At or near the source of this little stream lived a man who, though not possessing the industry and perseverance that should characterize one who proposes to get his living by the sweat of his brow, yet lived in a frugal and quiet manner. Having been married the second time, and his second wife not filling the place of a stepmother as she should, in a Christian point of view, the son of the first wife being some seventeen years of age, felt unwilling to bear the impositions of the stepmother, and resolved to run away. Being destitute of means by which to defray expenses, he disclosed his designs to Robert Goodrich, David Carter, and Jackson Simmons, two of whom were brothers-in-law to his father. They were cognizant of the fact that the father of the boy was the possessor of fifty-six dollars, and induced him to steal the same from his father. They promised to assist him in making his escape. The boy consented, and knowing the money was deposited in a bureau drawer, sought an opportunity to get it, which soon presented itself. He thought it would be too bad to rob his father of the whole amount, and therefore only took fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents, and started immediately to seek the company of those that were destined to be his murderers. Finding them at the appointed place, he told them he was ready They told hem they would see him safe to a point that would prevent his father overtaking him, and immediately made preparations to start. It was then dusk or twilight in the evening.
Having decided upon a plan during his absence, they set off to make a boy only seventeen years of age the victim of an untimely death, he having not the least apprehension of his destined fate. The route" selected was along the public road, which traversed the meanderings of the little stream before spoken of, until near its source. Here they left the stream, and ascending the hill to its summit, a few moment's travel brought them to the place selected to do the deed. The route was now along a narrow ridge, on which was a road used principally for neighborhood purposes, enclosed on each side by a dense forest. Skirting the edge of the forest, they soon reached a place well adapted to the wishes of men who were want to commit deeds of atrocity such as was now meditated.
But I hasten to the scene, for I know the reader's mind is becoming anxious. We arrived at the point chosen, and it being understood that we would shoot him and make sure work of it, Robert stepped one pace in his rear, made ready to accomplish the hellish purpose, and at a suitable point, he being at rather quick step for a walk, the shot was discharged, and the youth fell upon his face and died without a groan, The sound echoed through the surrounding hollows with a solemnity that would have brought terror to the hearts of any other than such as were led captive by the wiles of the devil, and prompted by a spirit that bid defiance to the retributions of eternity. On examining his pockets, imagine our chagrin at finding but fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents, when we expected to get fifty-six dollars. Had we known that he possessed but that amount, he might have escaped; but it was our sworn motto to not let a chance escape in which there was any money. We could hardly believe that we were deceived, and searched every part of his person and clothing. After carrying him some distance from the road, and finding no more, we hastily placed his body in a sink-hole, which was sufficient to hide him from the passers-by, threw some leaves over its entrance, and started for our home.
The night was calm, with a clear star-lit sky, beaming forth with, seemingly, more than ordinary splendor, and which seemed to tell of the utter astonishment of the heavenly hosts, that man could become so utterly reckless and destitute of morality as to commit such barbarous and unprovoked murders for the pitiful sum of fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents. Can it be that the good citizens of Henry County, in the old State of Kentucky, with her boasted chivalry, will, after the disclosure of these facts, though given by one who is soon to be suspended between the heaven and the earth to make restitution for his crimes, suffer such characters as the ones engaged in this terrible deed to remain unmolested in the community. But I will not trouble the reader with a further recital of this case, as my heart has grown heavy with thoughts that have crowded upon my mind during its rehearsal. I know he is weary, and feels like seeking the associations of the good, in order to relieve his heart of the pangs which the above recital has inflicted.
On the bank of the Kentucky River is situated the little village of Lockport, in which resided a few of the Ku-Klux party, who thought that the very appearance of masked men would cause common citizens to succumb to their demands, be they what they might, without resentment. The past season having been productive of abundance of fruit, some eight or ten of the boys concluded to visit the overseer on Brown's farm, which lay opposite the little town, carry some sacks, and demand a supply of apples. Preparations being made, they set out on their journey to have a little fun, as they thought, and to return with the apples. They arrived at the destined place, found the man at home, but not yet retired to his bed. They called upon him and made their demands; but he, being one that could not be intimidated at every little thing that came in his way, tried to reason the case with them, and induce them to believe that the apples were the property of another person, and that he would be held accountable for the disposition of them. But the boys, not willing to take a refusal, ordered him to come out and comply with their demands, or they would force him to do so. This was more than a brave man was willing to bear. He seized a double-barreled shot-gun that stood near the door, well charged with bird shot, and made rather a circular fire at the company, which so alarmed them that they scattered and made for the river, where they had left their boats. Some of them were so badly scared they missed their boats, and ran pell-mell into the river. This incident will show the utter cowardice that pervaded the Ku-Klux party, even when taking advantage of unarmed and unsuspecting persons. But I will change the scene, and return to the relation of some other acts completed by me and the band with which I was most intimately connected.
Along the banks of the beautiful Kentucky River, and leading from the lead mines on said river, runs the county road, which, for a space of about two miles, commencing one mile below said mines, is skirted by a dense forest, with here and there a notch through which you get a glimpse of a farm on the opposite side of the river, or a view of the waters as they flow along its channel. This uninhabited waste was chosen as a suitable point for the robbery of a wool-trader named Baer, from Madison, Indiana. Robert Goodrich, Jos. Goodrich, and Jackson Simmons were in Lockport at the same time with the trader, in the month of April, 1874. Having obtained information relative to his business, and where he intended to travel on that day, they immediately arranged a plan to relieve him of whatsoever means he possessed. Ascertaining that he was going down the river by the route before described, they decided to intercept him on the lonely portion of the road spoken of above. They disguised their person so as to escape recognition by Baer, with the intention of robbing him and letting him escape with his life, if it could be done without attracting the attention of persons occupying the farms on the opposite side of the river. They hastened to the place designated, and selected a suitable point for their operations. They secreted themselves in a thick copse, and awaited the arrival of their victim. Time passed slowly, until at length, through the small openings in the undergrowth, they saw him come into sight, traveling with that alacrity and vigor characteristic of the German people. When he reached the point selected, they suddenly sprang from their hiding-place, knocked him down, searched his pockets, and found seventy-two dollars and a gold watch....a watch that was known by many citizens in Lockport and the surrounding country. This fact being known to Robert Goodrich, so enraged him, because he could not possess himself of it and escape detection, that he threw it upon the ground and stamped upon it. He then gathered it up and handed it to the owner, saying: "There, take the damned thing; it will not do you any good in the future." They then quickly entered the woods, leaving him to wonder who were his assailants.
These facts ware made known to me by Robert Goodrich, who said that "The d--d fool was so badly scared that he could hardly keep his mouth closed, and I came very near shooting him and leaving him a prey to the buzzards."
I know the reader is somewhat disappointed in not finding the above robbery end in murder, after reading what I have heretofore said in regard to the parties engaged in it. The writer must himself confess astonishment that they should let one escape with life who was able to pay them seventy-two dollars, when they could venture to take the life of a boy only seventeen years old for the paltry sum of fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents.
I will now direct the reader's attention to a point a little higher up the river, and give the details of a robbery committed by myself, Robert Goodrich, Joseph Goodrich, and David Carter, on the road leading from Lockport to Gratz, and almost in the suburbs of the little town just named. This was one of the most daring adventures of my life, being done in daylight; but it had to be done then, or the chance would be lost. Knowing that our victim was going to take that route, we sought a secluded spot on the road, and, disguising our persons, as was our custom when operating in such business, waited for his approach. This was not long delayed. When he arrived at the point desired, we sprang from our hiding-place, which alarmed him so that he threw up his hands and begged for mercy. We told him to keep quiet, or we would shoot his d---d brains out. We demanded his money. Ha implored us to let him keep it, an he had a family to support, and was needy. We told him we could not do it, and Robert Goodrich presented a pistol at him, when he quietly surrendered his pocket book, which we hastily relieved of its contents, and sought our homes in haste. After counting the amount obtained, we found it to be seventy-eight dollars.
This was the second robbery committed by our band upon the persons of men with families at home awaiting their return with the means to procure the necessaries of life. What must have been their grief and surprise to see them return without a dollar, having the last cent torn from them by a party of masked cut-throats, for the sole purpose of gratifying their appetite for intoxicating drink, or to spend in revelry at the saloon or round the card-table, fit haunts for such hell-deserving beings as these engaged in such atrocious murders and robberies?
I will now direct the reader's mind to another point on the Kentucky River, and to the perpetration of a crime even more damnable than those already related. About two miles above Lockport empties into the Kentucky river a small brook known by the name of Pot Ripple. Near its junction with the river, and below its mouth, rises from the brink of the river a hill, in height resembling a mountain, and seamed with ledges too precipitous for the foot of man to traverse, with two or three ravines, and water constantly trickling and falling from precipice to precipice, which, when viewed from below, strikes the beholder with awe. Near the bottom of this elevation meanders a bridle-path, used by the citizens of the surrounding country for visiting the little town below. The hill is covered with shrubbery and trees of almost every size and kind, which give it a romantic and picturesque appearance.
Among these wilds, and near the path described, was the point chosen by myself and Robert Goodrich, Samuel Goodrich, David Carter, and Jackson Simmons, for murdering a man from Indiana. I think his name was Galligan, and he was acting as agent for fruit trees. He had been in our vicinity several days. The above named parties were in Lockport the week succeeding the August election, saw this agent, and learned something about the amount of money he was supposed to have, and also the route he expected to take on leaving there. Having obtained all the information necessary for the arrangement of the plan to accomplish our design, and knowing that he was going by the route called the river route, we left the town, one at a time, to avoid suspicion, and met at the appointed place, which was in one of the ravines in the hill described above, and secure from the sight of anyone that should chance to pass. We waited until the dusk at of evening appeared, and then changed our position to near the verge at the road. Our victim soon appeared. On his approach we suddenly stepped from our hiding-place and seized his horse by the bridle. We determined to make quick work. We ordered him to dismount and deliver his pocket-book, which he seemed reluctant to do. Then was the time for Samuel Goodrich to show his hand as a murderer. He drew his pistol and shot him. But one fire was needed. Being in possession of his money, we hastily drew him to the river's edge and cast him in, and then tied a rock to his saddle and threw it in. The amount of money obtained was two hundred and twenty dollars; also a silver watch, which I took to Eminence, in Henry County, and sold to a silversmith. Robert Goodrich kept the horse some time, keeping him concealed, and then made some disposition of him, but I never learned what.
Not long after the commission of this brutal and inhuman murder --to find the equal of which we must cast our imaginations back to the days of the Crusaders, when the hellish Inquisition was exterminating the Christians, and laying waste their homes and possessions--done, too, Just at nightfall, when the sound of voices could be distinctly heard on the farms and at the dwellings on the opposite side of the river--we sought our homes. The night was calm and the sky clear, studded with an innumerable number of stars, that seemed to be crowding its canopy to get a gaze at a part of God's workmanship degenerated beneath the level of the brute. We wended our way to the presence of our families, our pockets filled with the means obtained by the sacrifice of the life of one, the mysterious disappearance of whom left many hearts to wonder; yet they entertaining a hope that, like the long lost son, he would again unexpectedly greet them with his presence. But long years have rolled away, and that anxious desire, characteristic of those united by the ties of nature and bonds of relationship, still clings to them. Perhaps a fond mother is, from time to time, kneeling at the altar, and pouring out her soul in prayer to God for the protection and final return of her son, with that earnestness of pleading which none but a mother can possess. A sister may be watching and waiting for the return of a brother with that anxiety and solicitude that none but a sister feels. But their suspense will be charged to deep mourning when the sad information greets their ears that their long absent son and brother has fallen victim to the Henry County cut-throats, and been ushered into eternity without a moment's warning, and who awaits their coming in a world where the cares of a sinful life will not burden them, and where their union will be final and unbroken.
As the reader will no doubt expect to hear of some remarkable things done by the Ku-Klux, I will quiet their expectations by telling them that but little was done while I was with them, save the whipping of a negro occasionally, and one or two white men who were indolent and would not provide for their families.
While speaking of the Ku-Klux, I will relate one little thing that occurred during one of our raids. We were returning from visiting some negroes on Flat Creek; and having notice of a certain lady immediately on our way who kept a very unclean and illy-regulated house, we determined to stop and clean up for her. We were not disappointed in our information relative to the house. We allotted the work in proportion to the number we had in our company. Some were to scour the floor, some the cooking vessels, others the milk vessels, while others were to attend to the washing and cleansing the woman's face, neck and ears. They procured some corn-cobs and commenced the execution of their allotted work. The lady heartily protested, and begged leave to attend to her person herself; but the boys were determined that she should at least once have a clean face and neck. They went to work with their cobs and soon completed their task. In the meantime the other work was progressing, and was soon completed. We then parted with her, leaving her with many good wishes and hope of her future prosperity.
During the year 1874 a proposition was made to me by two of the Goodrichs and Jackson Simmons to murder William Wainscott, who was then residing in Brown's Bottom, Owen County, near me, to which proposition I refused to accede. I informed them that said Wainscott had brought about eight hundred dollars from the city. They replied, "We will go to him to-night." I told them I would not assist, as I lived so near him. This was early in the morning, and during the day some of the party learned that he had paid all his money out to some man in Gratz. This was the cause of his life being spared. William Wainscott is yet a resident of Owen County, and I have no doubt that he feels thankful that he was at that time the object of God's special providence.
It was during the year 1874 that my wife died. This hurt me worse than anything that ever happened to me. She died happy, imploring me to become a Christian, and try to meet her in heaven. Her appeals had a good effect upon me, and I resolved to change my course of life; but temptation soon presented itself again, and I yielded, and became reckless, which has, as you see, resulted in my ruin.
Nelson Parish was murdered on the 26th day of July, 1876. It was a beautiful day. The sun shone brilliantly, and there was not a cloud in the sky. About ten days previous to this, Sam Goodrich and Joseph Goodrich had proposed to me to murder Parish, and then take possession of his crop. I refused to do this, and told them I would have nothing to do with it. I told them that Parish was my father-in-law, and I could not be guilty of such a horrible crime as to murder the father of my wife and the grandfather of my little children. They then told me I must get out of that bottom, and stay out of it. From this time on I felt a great uneasiness on account of Parish; and though my oath had bound me not to reveal anything which was said or done by the clan, and I knew they would kill me if I told anything, still I told Parish he was in danger, and begged him to leave, although I did not tell him what the danger was.
On that fatal 26th of July Parish, his son Wesley, and I went into Parish's tobacco patch to work. Parish and I left the patch and went to the house for some water. He asked the time. I went up stairs and looked at my watch in my trunk. It was ten o'clock. I took some apples and went down stairs. Parish and I went to the barn and stayed there five or ten minutes talking. Then I returned to the house and got a lot of clover, which I had cut that morning for my horse. Then I again entered the house, Parish was putting on a clean shirt. He brushed his coat, and told me that he was going to Henry County. This was the last I saw of him.
On that morning Parish and I had had a settlement, and he had fallen in my debt $72, and he had given me a note on Jack Johnson Sor $65 as part payment; and he also paid me $10 in money. The $5 counterfeit note I had had for some time previous to this, and therefore I did not get it from Parish. Robert Goodrich gave me three counterfeits at one time, and I passed them all but this one. Parish agreed to sell his crop to me for $250 and leave. I agreed to do it. After Parish left I went to Gratz, arriving there about 11 o'clock, and spent the day there drinking. I concluded to go to Owenton that evening to see if I could sell the Jack Johnson note, for I wanted money to pay Mr. Parish for his crop of tobacco. I passed Jim Kemper's on my way, and arrived there about one hour before sunset, and took supper there. I stayed there about half an hour, and then started for Owenton. I was taken sick on the road, and went into an orchard on the roadside, hitched my horse, sat down and went to sleep. When I woke it was late in the night and my horse was loose. I found him after awhile, and then started on to Owenton, and arrived there between 11 and 12 o'clock the night. On my way I saw the light from a burning building, but did not know at the time it was the school-house, which it turned out to be. The next morning I returned home and heard about the school-house near Gratz being burned, and that the remains of a man had been found in the ashes of the building. I went over there and found a lot of persons collected, one of whom was John Weiser. He called me on one side and told me that Sam Goodrich had done the shooting. He told me that he, Sam Goodrich, and Ben Goodrich, were in Sam Goodrich's tobacco patch at work, Parish came along, and stopped and talked with them awhile, and then they all went to a spring near by to get a drink of water. There Parish and Sam Goodrich got into a quarrel when Sam Goodrich went to his house and got a pistol and came back and shot Parish. Parish was sitting town breaking up little sticks and talking to the others when Sam Goodrich slipped up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. The spring where the murder took place was in a little ravine about 500 yards from the river, in Brown's bottom. After the murder, they left the body there till night, and then Weiser, Sam Goodrich, and Joe Goodrich carried the body to the school-house--which was about 300 yard distant, and put it into the house and burned the building. Parish's remains were found to be almost entirely consumed, or so badly disfigured by the flames that he could only be recognized by a couple of teeth that were missing, and an old knife and a pair of suspender buckles.
After the inquest, I started to go home, when I was stopped by one of the crowed and told I was suspected of the crime. I did not feel much apprehension at the time, as I believed the clan would get me out of it, as they were bound to do by their oaths. I was arrested there and taken to Owenton, and had an examining trial before the County Judge. When I was searched they found the Jack Johnson note and a.counterfeit five dollar bill, which was identified as having belonged to Parish. This, however, was a mistake, as I before said. Parish never had had this bill, and it had been in my possession for a considerable time. None of the clan appeared in my defense, and I was held over in a bond of $5,000 which I was unable to give, and consequently had to go to jail. At the fall term of the Owen Criminal Court I was indicted and tried on the charge of murder. The case was hurried through very rapidly, I had no counsel, and no money to employ any, consequently the court appointed counsel to make my defense. Counsel was also employed by some one to assist the Commonwealth's Attorney in the prosecution.
The Jack Johnson note being found in my possession, and the counterfeit five dollar bill, which was identified (wrongfully) as Parish's being also found in my possession, and my late trip to Owenton that night, were circumstances I could not possibly explain, except by my own testimony, which, of course, was not allowed. The case was submitted to the jury with the evidence all on one side, who retired, and in a very few minutes returned a verdict of guilty, and fixed my punishment at death. Being thus deserted by the clan, who were the only men upon whom I could rely, with the public strongly incensed against me, as nearly everybody seemed to think me guilty, it was thought I would be lynched, and therefore I was sent to the jail at Frankfort to remain until my execution. It is proper here for me to say that this clan were men, none at whom were under the tongue of good repute. Old Jim Simmons, the organizer and chief, is a very bad man and has been noted all his life for his evil deeds. He has pretended to be crazy for the last fifteen years and boasted to me that he had merely pretended so in order to deceive the people, and better carry out his villainies.
My case was taken to the Court of Appeals. I did not have money enough to pay the tax on the appeal, which was one dollar, and consequently a subscription was made by several of the lawyers of Frankfort to give me a chance to file the record. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower Court, and overruled a petition for rehearing. The jury refused to sign my petition for a commutation of the sentence, the Governor refused to pardon, and I found myself at last a doomed and ruined man.