Image from Historic Bridges website. This is not the bridge mentioned in this post, but it is in the same county. The linked website has tons of historic bridges with lots of photos and information about them, including the one above.
A Man Shot Dead in Hydetown.
Shortly after six o’clock on Saturday night, a fight took place a few yards west of Fulmer’s bridge in Hydetown, between two teamsters named respectively George Turner and Rowland Kightlinger, which resulted in the latter being shot dead. The affair appears to have been the result of a family feud. It is stated that George Turner worked for William Kightlinger, the uncle of the deceased, last spring, and during that time William Kightlinger had a quarrel with his wife and deserted her. George took part with the wife, which so incensed the Kightlinger family that they persecuted and abused George whenever opportunity offered. On Saturday morning last, John Kightlinger, another uncle of the deceased, and Rowland Kightlinger (the deceased,) started for Titusville with separate teams, and stopped at Brawley’s hotel on Spring street. About the same time George Turner and William Turner, his uncle, together with Frank Brown, from started Hydetown to Titusville with another team; but before leaving the former place they stopped at Ridgeway’s tavern, where William Turner traded a watch for a rifle with John Gesellchager, the barkeeper. The stock being broken off the rifle, he brought it to Titusville and had it repaired. This party also stopped at the Brawley hotel. On the return trip it seems the two conflicting parties met, about half way on the road between this city and Hydetown. George Turner was at once attacked by Rowland Kightlinger, which resulted in the former having a new suit of clothes torn from his back, and Rowland receiving a gash on the left side of his face. The Kightlingers then drove on, as also the team in which George had been, and which contained Doctor Gage of Hydetown and Frank Brown; George Turner was left behind.
Meanwhile, William Turner, the uncle, and another William Turner, a younger brother of George, came up and found the latter in a pretty bad condition. They took him into their wagon and drove directly to Fulmer’s bridge, in Hydetown. The Kightlingers had stopped at Edgeway’s, some distance this side the bridge, where they gave an account of the fight. Rowland was drunk and abusive, and with oaths he threatened to whip George again as soon as he came past, but it appears George had gone another road to reach the bridge. After a while, Frank Brown came into the tavern, and Dr. Gage being intoxicated (according to report) drove forward to Sink’s hotel at the upper end of Hydetown. Brown started after him, and meeting George Turner at the bridge asked him to go with him for his (Brown’s) wagon. The two started off together, and William Turner, the uncle, followed, leaving William Turner, the younger brother of George, alone in the wagon near the bridge. In a few minutes the Kightlingers came to the bridge and asked William where his brother was, and were informed that he had gone up to Sink’s. Rowland said they would “wait for him and lick him, or that he should lick them.”
They then drove their horses across the creek and deliberately hitched them to two trees at the edge of the road. Rowland’s team was ahead, John Kightlinger’s team in the rear. After hitching the teams they took off their overcoats and engaged in conversation. In about half an hour after this, George Turner came down from Sink’s in Brown’s wagon. Brown was driving; nobody being in the wagon but Brown and Turner. They drove directly past Rowland’s team, when Rowland hailed them to stop. Brown got out and attempted to pacify Rowland, but received a black eye for his answer. Rowland then rushed towards George Turner and made several efforts to pull him out of the wagon, but George pushed him back with his rifle and refused to get out and fight. Rowland then put his foot on the fore wheel of the wagon and seized hold of the barrel of the gun. In the midst of the struggle he pulled the barrel from the stock which was in the hands of Turner, and the piece went off, the ball passing through Rowland’s heart, killing him instantly.
Justice Daniel Burgher, of Hydetown, was notified and proceeded to the place where the body lay. He also procured the services of Dr. Abraham Titus to examine the body. All the parties present at the affray had meanwhile disappeared, and nothing remained but the body and the wagon of deceased, his coat, hat and gloves, and the stock of the gun, which was found about four feet from his head. A jury of six men were impaneled, as follows: H.G. Swift, foreman; D.T. Titus, G. Spaulding, I.L. Hubbard, P.H. Powers, and I. Stetson.
The body was then removed from the mud to a grass plot a few yards distant, and the physician made a thorough examination, and ascertained that the ball had entered the left side just above the heart, but he could not detect that it had passed through the body. There being no witnesses present, the jury were requested to hold themselves in readiness to be called upon as soon as the former could be obtained and the body was sent home to the father of the deceased, Mr. Abraham Kightlinger, who resides about three miles from Hydetown. The father was also notified not to inter the remains without a proper permit. Mr. Curtis, of Titusville, coroner of Crawford county, notified Justice Burgher that he would hold an inquest this morning, and the case will probably be handed over to him.
Our reporter is greatly indebted to Justice Burgher for his valuable assistance in obtaining the above information. The deceased was a single man, 23 years of age, and weighed 170 pounds. The general impression appears to be that Hydetown has got rid of a notoriously bad character. No warrant has been issued for the arrest of George Turner. Policeman Giles Sanford and special James Haren endeavored to find him on Saturday night, but it was supposed by his relatives that he intended going to Meadville to surrender himself there, and had left for that purpose. He is only 23 years of age and a much lighter man than his adversary. He bears a good reputation among his neighbors. The barrel of the gun was found at John Turner’s house by the officers. The bullet is also said to have been found, having passed through the body. The vest of deceased bore evidence of having been scorched with powder. Our reporter obtained the above information from parties who claimed to have been eye-witnesses, and none of the statements appear to conflict, excepting that of John Kightlinger, who asserts that he did not see either of the parties fighting, although there are plenty of witnesses who heard John calling upon Rowland to kill Turner. The coroner’s investigation will probably elicit all the facts.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 5, 1870
CORONER’S INQUEST ON THE KILLING OF KIGHTLINGER
The inquest on the body of Rowland Kightlinger, who was shot in Hydetown last Saturday, was resumed on Monday morning by Coroner T.L. Curtis of this city, at the residence of Mr. Abraham Kightlinger, the father of the deceased. After viewing the body, a permit was granted for its interment. On repairing to the school-house at Hydetown, the testimony of a large number of witnesses was taken, developing substantially the same facts which have already been narrated in our published account of the catastrophe on Monday last. The following is an abstract of the extended verdict which was rendered last night at seven o’clock. That the death of Rowland Kightlinger resulted from an accidental gun shot wound; that one Geo. Turner is supposed to have used said weapon or gun in self defence while being attacked without just cause or provocation, and while traveling in his wagon in the public highway; that the firing of the gun by the said George Turner, and the accidental killing of Rowland Kightlinger was a justifiable homicide in self defence.
This is an extraordinary conclusion to arrive at, and seems to involve some confusion of ideas as to the force of language, and the signification of legal terms. If the killing was accidental, it could not have been in self defence it would have been excusable homicide not justifiable homicide, according to the accepted definitions of criminal law.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 7, 1870
THE HYDETOWN HOMICIDE.
In our report of this case on Monday, it was stated that the general impression was that Hydetown had got rid of a notoriously bad character. We received a call yesterday from Mr. Abram Kightlinger, father of the deceased, who informs us that this statement does great injustice to the reputation which his son sustained in the community. Rowland Kightlinger (the deceased) was about twenty-two years of age. He had resided all his life in Troy township, with the exception of four months, last winter, while he was employed as teamster at Powers’ lumber mill. He was a steady and industrious workman, and always conducted himself in a proper manner, except when he visited Titusville or Hydetown, and fell to drinking with his associates, and such sprees wee very unfrequent. He had a good many personal friends, and was not of a quarrelsome disposition.
The funeral of deceased took place on Monday at 2 p.m., from the residence of Abram Kightlinger, in Troy township, two miles west of Hydetown. It was attended by a very large number of people from all parts of the country. Rev. Mr. Hoyt of the Diamond conducted the services, and preached a very impressive sermon. The Kightlinger family have been settled in this section nineteen years, and have a very extended connection, embracing fully seventy-five persons, who reside in Troy and Plum townships within an area of five or six miles. Nothing has been heard of George Turner since the homicide. The rifle with which he shot Kightlinger is the same implement with which Joel Ridgeway fractured an Irishman’s skull about a fortnight ago at Hydetown, during a little theological discussion in the bar-room.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 8, 1870
SURRENDER OF GEORGE TURNER.
We learn that George Turner, who shot Rowland Kightlinger at Hydetown on Saturday last, has surrendered himself to the custody of Sheriff Ellsworth, and is in jail at Meadville. It has been ascertained that Turner remained concealed for some time in the barn of Justice Green, in Troy township, and during the search for him by officers and Kightlinger’s friends, they visited the barn, but he escaped detection. He is said to have expressed a wish to the Sheriff that he would prefer to remain in custody till the Grand Jury have acted upon the case.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 10, 1870
THE HYDETOWN HOMICIDE.
We stated on Monday that a warrant had been issued by Justice Strouse for the arrest of George Turner, who shot Rowland Kightlinger at Hydetown. Turner had surrendered himself to the Sheriff at Meadville, and been released on his recognizance; but last evening telegraphed to Chief of Police Rouse that he would arrive here on this morning’s train. The examination will be held before Justice Strouse to-day at 2 o’clock, if a suitable room can be procured. Officer Miller was dispatched to Hydetown last evening to supoena witnesses.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 15, 1870
The Kightlinger Homicide.
The Kightlinger case kept the city yesterday in a lively ferment. Justice Strouse procured the use of a large room on the second floor of a building on Diamond street, in which to hold the examination. Frank Brown, who was arrested as an accessory, was on hand, together with the witnesses from Hydetown, but George Turner, who is accused of the murder, did not put in an appearance. A.B. Richmond, Esp., telegraphed that George Turner had started from Franklin for Titusville on Wednesday last. Some of his friends here entertain fears that he was been waylaid on the road; this, however, we can hardly credit under the circumstances. By others it is supposed, that being short of funds, he is footing it to Titusville, and may come to hand at any moment. A preliminary examination of Frank Brown was held by Esq. Strouse, yesterday afternoon, F.B. Guthrie appearing as attorney, for the Commonwealth, and Messrs. Barry and Johns for the defense. Owing to the latter gentleman not having time to attend the case, it was postponed until nine o’clock this morning. The following witnesses for the commonwealth were held to appear in the sum of $100 each: Robert Davidson, J.A. Reed, Deforest Ross, Benjamin Ross, James Arters, Patrick Griffin, Miles Griffin, Wm. Wilkinson, John Kightlinger, John Turner, Matt. Reddy, David Baugher, William H. Marsh and James Marsh. Frank Brown was placed in charge of officer Miller.
Below we present a communication from Frank Brown, giving his version of the transaction:
STATEMENT OF FRANCIS BROWN.
Editors Morning Herald: — Having been arrested upon a warrant issued at the instance of Abram Kightlinger (father of Rowland Kightlinger, deceased) upon a warrant charging me with “abetting and assisting George Turner in shooting Rowland Kightlinger,” I purpose to give your readers a full and unprejudiced statement of the affair, so far as my personal knowledge of it is concerned.
On the morning of Saturday, December 3d, I started for Titusville with a load of wood. On reaching Ridgeway’s tavern, I stopped a few moments, and found there Wm. Turner and his nephew, George Turner, bargaining with John Gelsinger, the bartender, for a rifle. The rifle was not loaded — at least Gelsinger said it was not — and the trade was effected by Wm. Turner giving a watch in exchange for it. William and George Turner then rode with me to Bucklin’s tavern, where we took a drink a piece and left the rifle “up the spout.” We then came on to Brawley’s tavern, where we stopped and I sold my wood. John and Rowland Kightlinger and George Turner seemed to exchange the time of day. No difficulty occurred between them. After unloading the wood, I drove into Titusville, hitched my team at the wood-yard on Martin street, and went about other business. The Turners also sent about private business.
About 3 o’clock p.m., I started for home. I met Dr. Gage near Brawley’s and persuaded him to ride home with me, as I wanted medicine for my family. We drove on to Bucklin’s tavern, and there stopped for a few minutes. While there, the Turners came along with Riley Fisher’s team which young Wm. Turner was driving. Wm. Turner, senior, and George were also in the wagon. George Turner asked if he could ride with me, as he wanted to go to Green’s, which is adjoining my farm. I consented, and he got into the wagon and we drove along. Shortly afterwards the Kightlingers overtook us, with their own team, and requested me to stop. After stopping, I looked around and saw Rowland Kightlinger clinched with George Turner, who was at the back of my wagon. Rowland tore off George’s coat, cap and vest, and left them lying in the road.
We drove on and left the Kightlingers behind. Soon afterwards, George Turner said he would go back and see if he could find his clothes. He got out of the wagon and started into the woods, as I supposed to avoid the Kightlingers; I then drove on with Gage to Ridgeway’s tavern, but before reaching there the Kightlings passed me on the road. I found them at the tavern and left them there; I then went to Ewing’s store and stopped there to get some resin; upon coming out I found that Gage had driven off my team; I started to look for the team and found William and George Turner riding in the Fisher wagon. I asked one of them to go with me, and George got out of the wagon. He then had the rifle in his hands, the first that I had seen of it since it was left at Bucklin’s in the morning. We found my team at Sink’s tavern, where I bought a glass of whiskey to apply to a cut on my horse’s hoof. After getting into the wagon we drove on, and upon reaching the forks of the road leading to Powers’ mill we saw a number of men and teams at the side of the road. One asked, “Is that you, Frank?” and I replied “Yes.” I think it was Rowland Kightlinger’s voice. He asked where George Turner was. I got out and replied that George was in the wagon. Rowland then came up and struck me twoice severly in the face. I said: “This in not George.” He then left me and started for the wagon. The next thing I heard was the report of the rifle. IT was then between six and seven o’clock, and quite dark. As soon as the rifle was discharged, the horses started at a rapid pace. I ran after them, jumped into the wagon, and found that George had the lines. I asked him to let me drive. He refused and I think he said he “had shot Rowl.” He rode with me perhaps a mile or more and then got out, and I have not seen him since.
This is a plain matter of fact statement of the whole affair, so far as my connection with it is concerned.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 16, 1870
The Kightlinger Homicide.
The Kightlinger killing case was brought before Justice Strouse yesterday morning at nine o’clock. The examination was held on the second floor over J. Hoenig’s store on Diamond street, and a large crowd of spectators from the country and city were present. George Turner did not appear, as was expected, but A.B. Richmond, Esp., of Meadville, hs counsel, was present, and stated that he would probably have him there at one o’clock. The case was therefore adjourned till that hour, as also to give Mr. Richmond opportunity to consult with his other client, Frank Brown. George Turner did not come to hand at the hour indicated, and about half-past one o’clock Messrs. Richmond, Barry, and Johns appeared for Francis Brown, and Mr. F.B. Guthrie for the Commonwealth. Mr. Guthrie commenced by requesting the Justice to exclude the reporters of the press. as the evidence, if published, might injure the cause of the Commonwealth.
The opposite consel had no objection to the reporters remaining, but thought that the publication of the evidence might render it difficult to empannel an unprejudiced jury, when the case was tried at the Court of Sessions. Justice Strouse also coincided with this view, and requested that the evidence should not be published.
The case was then proceeded with, and eight witnesses were examined, as follows:
John Kightlinger, Robert Davidson, J.A. Ried, Deforest Ross, James Marsh, Wm. H. Marsh, Matt Ruddy, and John Turner.
No further evidence of importance was elicited, other than what was contained in our original statement of the affair. There was, however, some pretty hard and contradictory swearing, which will doubtless eventually recoil on the heads of those who rendered it. The examination was concluded about five o’clock, when the case was summed up on the part of the defense by A.B. Richmond, Esq., and on the part of the prosecution by Mr. Guthrie. The Justice committed the prisoner to await the action of the Grand Jury.
In the course of the examination, Mr. Hoenig, the proprietor of the room, sent for Mr. Van Ulrich, architect, as the building appeared to be settling from the immense weight on the floor above. Mr. Ulrich discovered that one side of the building had settled three inches, and there was considerable danger of the floor giving way. The Justice requested all the small boys and those who were not personally interested in the case to leave. The crowd rapidly dispersed and the room remained about half full until the close of the examination. George Turner may be expected here daily.
Francis Brown left here for Meadville last night in charge of officer Miller, and accompanied by a large number of his relatives and personal friends.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 17, 1870
Letter from George Turner — His Account of the Kightlinger Homicide.
TITUSVILLE, Dec. 17, 1870.
Editors Morning Herald:
I have seen a letter in the MORNING HERALD signed by Francis Brown, giving an account of the circumstances attending the death of Rowland Kightlinger, who was accidently shot on Saturday night, Dec. 8d, while committing a murderous assault upon me at Hydetown. I have been arrested upon a charge of murdering him, and as so much misrepresentaton has been made in regard to the case, I have been requested by some of my friends to give you a correct statement of the whole affair. I have referred to the statement published by Francis Brown, for the purpose of saying that it contains all the material facts relating to the occurance, excepting so far as the actual collision is concerned. The rifle with which Rowland Kightlinger was killed was purchased by my uncle, Wm. C. Turner, of the bartender at Ridgeway’s, on the morning of the tragedy. Mr. Titus Ridgeway was present at the time, and my uncle consulted him in regard to the rifle for the purpose of ascertaining what it was worth. Finally, my uncle traded a watch for the rifle and we both rode with Frank Brown to the city. We stopped at Bucklin’s as Brown states, and all took a drink, and my uncle left the rifle at the bar, intending to call for it on his return.
On reaching Brawley’s we stopped for a few moments, and there saw Rowland and John Kightlinger. Rowland spoke to me and I replied pleasantly; there were no harsh words between us. In the afternoon I started back from the city with my uncle and my brother William, who had come to town with Firsher’s team. On reaching Bucklin’s we found Frank Brown and asked if I could ride home with him, as he lived near Green’s, where I have been at work. My uncle took the rifle from the bar and put it in the Fisher wagon, and I drove on with Brown and Dr. Gage, leaving my uncle and brother with the Fisher team at Bucklin’s. When we reached Connelly’s farm we were overtaken by John and Rowland Kightlinger, who were driving their own team. The called upon Brown to stop, which he did. Both the Kightlingers then jumped out of their wagon and started for me. Rowland tried to jump into the wagon, but I kept him out. He seized me by the coat and tore it off, and then tore off my vest. I then struck him once or twice and knocked him back into the road. Brown then drove on, and after going a few rods I got out and started back for my clothes, going into the field to avoid meeting the Kightlingers. I found my coat, vest and cap scattered about the road, and just then my uncle and brother drove up, and I got into their wagon.
My uncle had the rifle. I had previously agreed to buy it of him, and he consented to let me take it home. We drove on to Hydetown, and saw the Kightlingers in Ridgeway’s tavern. We drove on to Fulmer’s bridge, where we saw Frank Brown in the road looking for his team. He said that Gage had driven off with it, and insisted on my going to help find it. I got out and started with him, taking the rifle with me. We found the team at Sink’s, and Dr. Gage in the bar-room. There we took a drink apiece, for which I paid, and Brown bought a glass of whisky to pour on his horse’s foot, which was corked. Then we started for home. On reaching the trees below Fulmer’s bridge, we saw three teams at the side of the road, and several men standing. Rowland Kightlinger asked if that was Frank Brown, and called on him to stop. He then asked if George Turner was in the wagon. Brown stopped the wagon and was immediately assaulted by Rowland Kightlinger.
The next thing I knew, Rowland and John Kightlinger attacked me in the wagon; John was urging Rowland on, telling him to pull me out and lick me. Rowland jumped on the wheel and I repulsed him with the rifle. He then called for a pistol to shoot me, and attempted to get into the wagon. I had the rifle in my hand; he seized it by the end of the barrel. I held it by the barrel and stock, the lock being under my right arm. We struggle for the posession of it, and in that way, I suppose, the cock was pulled back by catching my shirt sleeve in my armpit. Then the rifle was unexpectedly discharged. At the same moment I receive a blow on the neck from John Kightlinger with the butt of a heavy whil. It is proper to say that the lock of the rifle was so arranged that it would not [stay cocked' unless the trigger was set. Hence the accidental discharge.
I have very little to add. I went to Meadville and surrendered myself to the Sheriff, and was released on my own recognizance. I have since been visiting among my friends, holding myself in readiness to answer the charges against me whenever called upon by the authorities. I hear that threats have been made against me by some of the Kightlingers, and hence have considered it prudent to keep out of their way.
I go to Meadvilee on Monday next with Chief of Police Rouse, to await the finding of the Grand Jury, and feel very confident that I shall be promptly acquitted of the charges upon which I have been arrested.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 19, 1870
Court of Quarter Sessons
MEADVILLE, Jan. 4, 1871.
TRIAL OF TURNER.
The next case put on trial was that of the Commonwealth vs. George Turner, indicted for the murder of A.Rowland Kightlinger at Hydetown on the night of December 3rd, 1870. As the calling of a jury for a murder trial differs from any other and is peculiar, we will briefly describe the modusoperandi. Each juryman is called into the jury box separately, and interrogated as to his conscientious scruples regarding the death penalty. First, however, the prisoner is arraigned by the District Attorney reading to him the indictment, and asking if he is guilty or not guilty. Upon his reply “not guilty,” he is asked how he wishes to be tried. He replies, “By God and my country.” Then a juryman is called, and the Clerk say to him:
“Juror: Look upon the prisoner. Prisoner look upon the juror.” The clerk then say to the counsel, “Challenge or no challenge.” The District Attorney then asks the juror the following questions:
Are you related to the prisoner?
Have you any conscientious scruples, such as would prevent you from giving a verdict of guilty where the sentence of death would follow?
Have you formed and expressed and opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner?
If the juryman answers these questions negatively the prosecution may waive a challenge or may challenge peremtorily, and the juryman withdraws, or they may accept him and he is then sworn in by the Clerk of the Court.
After calling thirty jurymen, a jury of twelve was drawn as follows: E.J. Dailey, W.D. Johnson, William Mumford, John Hood, Charles Saeger, Thomas Clements, S. Boyd Espy, James Scowden,? William McCormick, R.H. Sturtevant, Sebastian Cahappotin, K. McArthur.
The District Attorney, J.W. Smith, Esq., then stated the case to the jury, and recited to them what the Commonwealth expected to be able to prove. The District Attorney is assisted by F.B. Gurthie and Pearson Church, Esqs., and the case is defended by A.B. Richmond, A.O. Barry, W.C. Johns, W.R. Bole, and others.
The trial will proceed immediately.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Jan 6, 1871
The Kightlinger Homicide.
ACQUITTAL OF GEORGE TURNER AND FRANCIS BROWN.
The trial of George Turner and Francis Brown, indicted for the willful murder of Rowland Kightlinger at Hydetown, on the evening of the third of December last, was commenced at the Court of Oyer and Terminer at Meadville on Wednesday, and concluded on Friday evening. The incidents of this homicide, occurring so near this city, and involving parties well known in this section, are familiar in the recollection of our readers, as they have been presented in all their phases in these columns from time to time. The attendance at the Court House, during the progress of the trial was very large. We present in another column an abstract of the material testimony on both sides, accompanied with the theory of the prosecution and defense. The jury, it will be seen, returned a verdict of acquittal of both Turner and Brown, after a brief consultation, a result clearly justified by the evidence, and required by the law.
Great credit is due to the indefatigable and learned counsel for the defense, Messrs. Barry and Johns, of this city, for the preparation of the case for the defense, and the skillful conduct of the trial.
Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Jan 6, 1871