Old Feud Supplies Hogs with a Fresh Meal


Hogs Partially Devoured Dead Body.


Greenwood, Ind., Nov. 8. — William Pherson, living five miles southeast of here, who killed Milton Knapp, has made a full confession.

A grudge had been existing between the men for some time. The farms of the two are side by side, and Knapp went out on his farm, where his son lives, to look after some work.
Pherson saw Knapp crawling through a fence, and, picking up a cudgel of wood, attacked him.

Knapp drew his knife and defended himself as best he could, but he was beaten to death with the club and left lying in the fence corner. When discovered the hogs had devoured much of his body.

Pherson, it is claimed, came to Greenwood and made a confession to his daughter, Mrs. Charles League.

He was arrested by marshal Dunlavy and taken to the office of the prosecuting attorney, where he is said to have made a full confession.
He was taken to jail at Franklin. Pherson is about 70 years old.

The Evening News (San Jose, California) – Nov. 8, 1900


In the Tragedy Resulting in the Death of Milton Knapp.

Franklin, Ind., Nov. 5. — the tragic death of Milton Knapp near here last week was the sequel of a feud. the men were brothers-in-law and both aged. Knapp long since retired from active life and occasionally visited his farms from his quiet home in the village of Whiteland. Saturday he went out to his Harbert farm, and it was here that Pherson came upon him just at dark. The quarrel commenced years ago was briefly renewed. Pherson, though 70 years, was the younger and stouter of the two. Seizing a heavy stick, he felled his defenseless antagonist and literally mauled him to death.

No one was near to witness the struggle, and when Pherson had done his work he mounted his horse, rode home and remained there during the night. When the body of Knapp was discovered by a farm hand early Saturday morning it was being torn to pieces by hogs. The ravenous swine had gnawed the old man’s head away and almost stripped the flesh from his bones and had to be beaten away from their victim.

The Carroll Herald (Carroll, Iowa) – Nov. 7, 1900

1900 Census - Johnson Co. Indiana

On this census record, you can see that the Pherson family lives next door to Milton Knapp’s son, who, according to the article, lived on his father’s farm.

1900 Census - Pleasant, Johnson Co. Indiana

This 1900 census record shows Milton Knapp living in town, and listed (not shown here)  as a landlord.

Elizabeth Pherson and Catherine Knapp were apparently sisters, their father being Oliver Harbert.

Indiana Marriage Records:

Name: William H. Pherson
Spouse Name: Elizabeth Harbert
Marriage Date: 13 Feb 1865
Marriage County: Johnson
Source Title 1:     Johnson County, Indiana


Name: Milton Knapp
Spouse Name: Catharine Harbut
Marriage Date: 16 Oct 1860
Marriage County: Johnson
Source Title 1:     Johnson County, Indiana

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4 Responses to “Old Feud Supplies Hogs with a Fresh Meal”

  1. Valerie Harbert Haggerty Says:

    Elizabeth Harbert and Catherine Harbert were first cousins, their fathers being brothers (John and Oliver Harbert, respectively). Do we know yet what this feud was about?

  2. Lois J Says:

    This feud seems to have been about the alleged attentions of Milton Knapp to Ruth Pherson, William Pherson’s daughter. The trial brings up accusations of insanity for William.

  3. Lois Johnson Says:

    Update, the attentions were not alleged:
    Ruth Pherson on the Stand.
    Special to the Indianapolis Journal.
    FRANKLIN, Ind., Dec 31.–The defense in the Pherson murder trial introduced sever important witnesses to-day. Ruth Pherson, daughter of the defendant, was placed on the stand, and testified that Knapp, the murdered man, had been intimate with her, the relations having begun six or seven years ago, at which time she was about twelve years old. Her father caught Knapp and her together in the orchard, the afternoon of the tragedy, and as she went into the house her father was following Knapp. The defendant testified that he caught Knapp with the girl and taking a club pursued him. In the hog lot Knapp, seeing that he could not get away, turned on his pursuer and struck at him with a knife. Pherson said he warded off the blow receiving a slight cut on the hand and then struck Knapp with the club.

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