Kentucky Feuds: Bailey – White

Image from the book: Days of darkness: the feuds of Eastern Kentucky – by John Ed Pearce (Link below with book image)

Commenter, M. White, asked for information regarding those that killed Bev White, (what happened to them,) and below is what I was able to find. I found no newspaper articles about the trials/outcomes for: John Bailey’s father, William Bailey, or his brother, James Bailey, or the sheriff, Perry, that are named in one or two of the articles.  Based on the outcome of John Bailey’s appeal, I would guess they all got off scott free.

NOTE: The Whites were involved in the Howard-Baker feuds, which I posted about here. Now, in that post, a Beverly White was killed by Tom Baker. That is a different Beverly White. There were several with that name living in that area, all related, I am guessing.

NOTE: Several of the news articles have Bev White’s name listed as Beverly D. White, instead of Beverly P. White.



Bev. P. White Has Located Near Lexington.

Lexington, Ky., May 5. — (Special)

Bev. P. White, the famous sheriff of Clay county, is now a resident of Fayette county, having recently located here.

White resigned his position as sheriff of Clay county on April 1st by an agreement with the authorities of that county, and at first intended to take up a home in Clark county, but changed his mind and has secured a lease in the Dabney Carr farm, on the Winchester Pike, eight miles from Lexington.

Sheriff White was one of the leaders in the bitter feuds of Clay county, and his resignation and departure from the county was one of the results of the recent all around agreement reached to abandon bloody warfare and engage in peaceful pursuits. He says he will next year buy him a farm and he may enter the ranks of trotting horse breeders.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 6, 1901


Posses Searching for Alleged Kentucky Killer.

Lexington, Kentucky, April 8 —

A posse of citizens, armed with high-powered rifles, scoured the mountain districts of Clay and Knox counties, for John Bailey, Clay county farmer, who, late Thursday, scored a point in a lifelong feud between his family and that of B.P. White, wealthy farmer and coal operator of Barbourville, by shooting and killing White as he landed from a train, near Barbourville.

Meager reports reaching Lexington, today, indicate that friends of both families are arming and a battle is feared when the feudists on the White side attempt to take sides with the searching posse.

Marion Star, The (Marion, Ohio) Apr 8, 1921

Shot Dead.

Mrs. Edward Baute of this city received word last Friday that her father, Beverly White, was shot and killed by John Bailey, of Clay County.  The shooting occurred at Heldrick Depot of the Cumberland and Manchester Railroad shortly after Mr. White arrived at the depot.  Bailey is said to have opened fire without a word being spoken.  The shooting was the outgrowth of a family feud which started twenty-five years ago.  Mr. White moved away from the scene and had not been back since that time.  Bailey had been captured and is in jail at Harlan.  Feeling against him is high.  Mr. White was one of the wealthiest and most respected farmers in Central Kentucky.
Somerset, Ky., Friday April 15, 1921.

Pulaski News Apr 1921 (LINK to Ky Kinfolk, where article was posted)


William Lee Shot Dead by Bart Reid, Former Army Officer, Who Is Said to Have Given Offense by Talk about Indictment of Lee’s Brother — In Family War of Many Years.


State troops were called out here tonight to stop a threatened outbreak following an affair today in which William Lee, of upper Knox County, was shot and killed by Bart Reid, former army officer.

Lee is said to have threatened Reid because of statements the latter is alleged to have made in connection with indictments returned against Jim Lee, his brother, charged with shooting Josh Faulkner last week. It was feared that Lee’s friends might try to avenge the killing.

Old Feud Feared.

LOUISVILLE, Ky., June 7. —

Reports reached here today that the Bailey-White feud had broken out afresh in the vicinity of Barbourville, Ky., today and that one man had been killed.

Another report from Frankfort said Governor Edwin P. Morrow had been asked to send state troops to the scene of the trouble.

Meanwhile John Bailey, who on April 7 was credited with renewing the feud of twenty years between the Baker and White families when Bevereley White was shot and killed in Knox county, remains in jail in Louisville. He was brought here, authorities say, to remove him from the jurisdiction of friendly court influences at Mt. Vernon, which the state said it had reason to believe, would have released him on motion for bail and habeas corpus proceedings.

Reports of a second renewal of the feud are widespread, but verification is difficult owing to meager lines of communication.

The Bridgeport Telegram (Bridgeport, Connecticut) Jun 8, 1921

Soldiers Keep Disorder Down At Mt. Vernon

John Bailey, Jr., Alleged Slayer of Beverly White, Goes To Jail.


MOUNT VERNON, Ky., Aug. 22 —

Bailey-Lee and White rival clansmen numbering 100 are under arms here today for the opening trial of John Bailey, Jr., alleged slayer of Beverly White.

A detachment of the London cavalry troops, K.N.G., are camped on the court house grounds, dispatched here by Governor Morrow, upon request of the Mount Vernon authorities who fear trouble before the trial ends.

No trouble occurred yesterday. Incoming trains brought reinforcements of the opposing factions and many other feudists are arriving this morning.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Aug 22, 1921

Armed Men Flock To Feudist’s Trial

MOUNT VERNON, Ky., Aug. 22. —

With twenty-five National Guardsmen from London and twenty special deputy sheriffs on guard, the Rock Castle courthouse presented a martial appearance, when the trial of John Bailey, Jr., alleged slayer of Beverly White, was called here today. Approximately 100 members of the Bailey-Lee clansmen factions, in the most bitter mountain feud that has torn eastern Kentucky in recent years and which is said to have resulted in a score of killings in almost as many years, were present for opening of the trial.

Major James L. Dillon, in charge of the guardsmen, has issued warning to the clansmen against carrying concealed weapons during the trial.

The killing, for which Bailey is to be tried, occurred on April 7 last at Heidricks Station.

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Aug 22, 1921


Baileys and Whites Face Each Other Today.


Force Prepared To Preserve Order During the Trial of John Bailey for Murder.

Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, Aug. 23 —

Baileys and Whites sat facing each other in the drab circuit court-room of Rock Castle county, today.

Had they met under different circumstances, everything might not have been so calm.

But here automatic guns of the state troopers helped to inspire a respect for the law and to frown on feud methods of settling conspiracies.

And the enmity of the member of the feud factions was masked behind expressionless faces.

Court routine took its customary monotonous course. Attorneys for John Bailey, accused of the murder of Beverly White, asked for continuance of the trial on account of a witness. Circuit Judge B.J. Bethurum appointed a special bailiff, to be accompanied by two soldiers, to arrest four missing witnesses.

The Whites and Baileys left the court-room and went their respective ways. The London cavalry troopers and twenty special deputies kept a center course. Realization that the slightest dispute, even between minor members of the clans might precipitate a general clash, kept the troops vigilant to keep the factions apart.

Every person entering the court-room was searched. But the warning of Major James Dillon, commanding the troops, had been heeded. Weapons had been left in the rooms.

A few knives were collected.

Marion Star, The (Marion, Ohio) Aug 23, 1921


Mount Vernon, Ky., August 22.–

With twenty-five national guardsmen from London and twenty special deputy sheriffs on guard, the Rock Castle county courthouse presented a martial appearance as the case of John Bailey, Jr., alleged slayer of Beverly White, was called for trial here today. Bailey’s case was brought here on a change of venue from Knox county, where the slaying occurred. Approximately 100 members of the Bailey-Lee clan and the Whites, opposing factions in the most bitter mountain feud that has torn eastern Kentucky in recent years, were present for the opening of the trial. The troops and special deputies were summoned to keep down any possible flare up of the feudal spirit that in the last few years has caused a number of deaths on both sides of the mountain war and which in the last quarter of a century has resulted in possibly a score of killings.

Judge B.J. Bethurum, who is conducting the court here, asked for special guards for the courtroom.

Major James L. Dillon, in charge of the guardsmen, has issued warning to the clansmen against carrying concealed weapons during the trial.

The killing, for which Bailey is to be tried, occurred on April 7 last at Heidrick’s station near Barbourbille.  Bailey was with his father, William Bailey; a brother, James Bailey, and a deputy sheriff named Perry, took to the woods but surrendered two days later and was taken to the Harlan county jail. Later he was transferred to Mount Vernon and then to Louisville and finally granted bail at Mount Vernon. John Bailey was indicted on the charge of wilful murder and for this he is to be tried. His father, brother and Perry have been indicted on the charge of conspiracy to murder Beverly White and their cases already are set for this term.

Although the best of order is being kept here by the state troops and special deputies, the White and Bailey-Lee clans present somewhat the appearance of wrestlers preparing to leap at one another. The Whites have made the Rock Castle hotel headquarters for their adherents, while the Baileys and Lees are putting up at a boarding house. On the street one seldom sees a member of one clan on the same side with members of the other.

When court hour approached this morning, according to officials, there was no indication of a continuance of the case.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Aug 23, 1921

Mountain Feud Calls For Drastic Measures

Mount Vernon, Ky. —

The first day of the John Bailey murder trial, growing out of the Bailey-White mountain feud, was productive of nothing more than the search of every person who entered the court room for weapons. Soldiers and deputy sheriffs stopped each clansman as he entered the door. None resisted the search and no weapons were found except a few pocket knives. Even the women were not exempt from search.

When the case was called both the commonwealth and the defense asked for a continuance because essential witnesses were absent.

The prosecution asked for attachments for four and the defense for nine material witnesses. Circuit Judge Bethurum appointed Sheriff Walker to deputize two soldiers and bring them into court, and adjourned court until Tuesday.

The sheriff was also ordered to establish a censorship of telephone wires and instructed to prevent the transmission of any messages which might inform the missing witnesses of his order.

The Kingsport Times (Kingsport, Tennessee) Aug 23, 1921

More Jurors Are Needed in Trial

MOUNT VERNON, Ky., Aug. 23.–

With eleven men in the jury box and no more available for duty until they can be summoned by Sheriff Tip Langford, the trial of John Bailey, mountain feudist, charged with murder of Beverly D. White of Versailles, was adjourned this afternoon until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning. The sheriff and his deputies spent the afternoon and night summoning a special venue of one hundred men, ordered by Judge Bethurum from which to obtain a jury.
Bailey tonight was free under a new bond executed this afternoon before the county clerk.

Logansport Morning Press (Logansport, Indiana) Aug 24, 1921


Mount Vernon, Ky. —

Watt Norton died last night, after having been shot by James Winstead at Norton’s home, ten miles from here.

Winstead is a bondsman for John Bailey, on trial for slaying Beverly White. Winstead surrendered and is in the county jail, charged with murder.

The tragedy is the renewal of an old quarrel growing out of a suit to locate a roadway across Norton’s farm.

The jury to try John Bailey was completed before the noon adjournment of court today.

The Kingsport Times (Kingsport, Tennessee) Aug 26, 1921

Reports of Civil and Criminal Cases Decided by the Court of Appeals of Kentucky– Volume 195
Authors    Kentucky. Court of Appeals, Kentucky. Supreme Court
Publisher    S.I.M. Major, 1922

You can read the whole appeal record at this Google book LINK, starting on page 485. It gives the testimony of both sides. Evidently, Watt Norton lived long enough to tell others what happened.



John Bailey, mountain feudist, who has been on trial here for more than a week, on Wednesday was found guilty of murder and sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Bailey shot and killed Beverly D. White, last April. The tragedy was the outgrowth of a feud of 20 years between the Bailey and White families, whose kin and clansmen gathered here in large numbers for the trial.

State troops guarded the courthouse.

Eau Claire Leader (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) Sep 2, 1921


Precautions Taken as Kentucky Feudists Go on Trial


Baily Family Accused of Plot to Kill B.D. White

FRANKFORT, Ky. — (By Associated Press)

Thirty Kentucky national guardsmen and three commissioned officers, armed with pistols, rifles and two machine guns, today went on duty at Barbourville to guard the Knox circuit court during trial of members of the Bailey family on the charge of conspiring to murder Beverly D. White of Versailes.

White was killed by John Bailey, who now is in jail at Danville, Ky., awaiting final disposition of his life sentence by the court of appeals.

Orders for the guardsmen to proceed to Barbourville were issued here. This is the third time that the militia has been called out in connection with the Bailey-White feud.

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Dec 6, 1921

In 1922 John Bailey had trouble with Beve White and shot and killed him. He was tried in Rockcastle Co., KY and was sentenced to Life in prison, but after only 1 year, his brother Jim got him out of prison.

Trouble continued between the 2 famlies for several years . On May 2, 1927 Beve Bailey was waiting to board the train at Rodonald Station, though he knew the Whites were going to be aboard, he boarded anyhow. Someone threw Beve a pack of Cigarettes and when he bent over to get them , a Jim Lyttle , brother in law to the Whites, shot Beve 3 times in the back. Beve returned fire, hitting Jim Lyttle in the shoulder. Beve then walked a few steps, sat down and asked for a smoke and then died.

With Beve Bailey now dead, that only left John and Jim and on March 30, 1931 they killed each other in Harlan. So I suppose you can safely say that the feud between these two families, whose boys used to be the best of friends and got in an argument over trading horses lasted from 1915 to 1931. As the Baileys and the Whites had trouble between them until they were all gone.


Note: This article is written based on facts from various newspaper articles on the troubles between the 2 families.

Posted on Rootsweb by CuzSmith – LINK

This is the book where I found the Feud Counties Map: Google Book Preview LINK

The following newspaper transcription can be found at TNGenWeb – Hancock Co. under the Hopkins surname HERE.

Sheriff J. H. Blair had a run in with George Lee and Bev Bailey, in the office of the County Judge Howard, in Harlan, last week, when Lee refused to surrender his pistol to the sheriff.

Lee and Bailey had some trouble with Chief of Police Pearl Noe, early in the day, when they drew their weapons on the officer and later forced him to go to the court with them.

When the sheriff came into the office, Judge Howard suggested that the men be searched, to which Lee objected, and when he reached for his front pocket, as if to draw a gun, Sheriff Blair grabbed his hand and stuck him, finally taking from him two large revolvers.  Lee and Bailey were then remanded to jail, in default of a peace bond of $5,000.00 each.

Lee shot and killed Neal Christian, a deputy sheriff, at Wallins Creek, two years ago.  Bailey was mixed up in the White-Bailey feud, in Knox County. several years ago, in which six or seven men were killed, including two sons of John C. White.

The Corbin Times-Tribune Oct 24, 1924



Bev Bailey was shot and killed in Clay County Monday morning in what is reported to have been a resumption of the old Bailey-White feud of long standing, according to information received here.  Bailey, whose brother John Bailey killed Bev White sometime ago, was shot about ten times.

The Pineville Sun May 5, 1927



Reports Reach Here That Bev Bailey is Shot to Death On Train by White Boys

Monday Morning


Reports have reached here that Monday about 9 o’clock, at Roadon- ald, Ky., four miles out of Manchest- er, in Clay county, on the C. & M. railroad, a shooting affray occurred between Bev Bailey and three White boys, in which Bailey was killed.  This is considered an outbreak of hard feeling which has existed be- tween the Bailey and White families for a number of years.  About five years ago two or three members of the White family were killed by the Baileys, and the feud since that time has been quiescent until the out- break Monday morning.

Details of the shooting are lacking, it being said that  John  C. White, Jr., J. E. White, Jr., and another White were on the train as it came from Manchester to Barbourville, and at the Roadonald station, the shooting took place, with Bev Bailey, who was at the station, being killed.  As to the number of shots fired and who started the fray, it is not known.

The report is that on the excursion train the day before, when some thousand Clay countians visited Cumberland Gap and the Pinnacle, Bev Bailey stuck his pistol in the ribs of one of the White boys and made some threats.  No fight occurred, however, on the train.

One of the train officials said that the coach in which the White boys were riding, was shot up consider- ably.

The Corbin Times, May 6, 1927

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22 Responses to “Kentucky Feuds: Bailey – White”

  1. Geneva Ann Bailey Says:

    Where do I find more information on the Bailey & Lee family
    Thank You,
    G Bailey

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      Depending on what kind of information you are looking for, you could try or, but both require a subscription. You could also try googling the names you are interested in, in the news archives or books.

  2. m.white Says:

    Thanks for looking up all that info. I do appreciate your time. I did learn a few things but would still like to know why he was released. Is there any way you could send me the death certificate image so I can enlarge it ? Thanks again, Mark

    • James Bailey Says:

      Mark, I just now read your note. If you don’t have death certificates, I have them for Perry White, Letcher White, Beverly White and Beverly Bailey.

  3. James Bailey Says:

    I have done considerable researc on the Bailey-White feud and its association with Levi Lee’s murder. I wrote a novel about it titled Bailey’s Blood. I would be glad to sent some documents if you remain interested. JimBailey

    • Bob Fentress Says:

      Mr. Bailey,

      I have long been intrigued by the White-Bailey feud, but have never pursued any research on the matter. My interest comes from conversations with a now-deceased local resident who claims to have spoken with the Bailey that was killed in Clay County at the train station. Can you suggest any reading materials that would enlighten me regarding the feud. There also may be some very distant family connection with the Bailey family.

      Thank you,

      Bob Fentress

    • Clara Says:

      Hello my name is clara koethke maiden name, Woods married name. Daughter of Catherine Bailey, she is daughter of James Enoch Bailey son of John Riley Bailey. I’m interested in any copies of documentation u may have on the bailey- white feud or about the Bailey family. Any info or copies of anything u may have would b appreciated. Iam willing to reimburse u for any info mailed to me. My email is and # is 707 499-5357

  4. James Bailey Says:

    Mr Fentress,
    It was Beverly Bailey who was killed at the train stop in Bluehole, Kentucky. I have collected a gt=reat many newspaper aerticles and oral histories about the William M bailey family. Please establish a E-mail contact and I will try to share them with you.
    Thank you

  5. The Bailey-White Feud Revisited « YesterYear Once More Says:

    […] book about the family. Many of these newspaper articles may be repeats of my previous post, Kentucky Feuds: Bailey-White, but he has added some additional information, which is quite interesting. I am presenting it as he […]

  6. Cassy Sommers Says:

    This is really interesting to read if you are a BAILEY!!! Okay I had to say that. My GGG Aunt had two grandchildren killed by the Baily clan. How I heard it started this feud but I’m not sure that is the actual case. In 1915 both William and Perry White were killed by Jim Bailey. It is such as shame because they were all good friends until this time. Look what alcohol can start.

    Cassy Sommers

    • James Bailey Says:

      Sir, I just now read your question about John Bailey who was my father’s cousin. His brothers were Beverly and James. His parents were William and Martha. My father told me John killed Beverly White from a cab. I don’t know if these stories match but I’m interested in any story ypu may have abo
      ut that family. JimB

      • Miss Bailey Says:

        I know this Is an old post but I personally know the person that killed the cab driver. You see I am too a Bailey. It was not John Bailey who was my great uncle, but it was John’s son. Liege Bailey…who was my cousin and my uncle. And yes he killed him for 3.00. He served time in prison but not a lot of time. He got out and raised a family. He was my dad’s cousin that married my mother’s sister. I knew him as a child into adulthood. My dad always told me that his father told him to stay away from his brothers (John) because they were bad . hope you find this post it is the straight of the story.

      • oldnews Says:

        Thank you for sharing your personal knowledge in regards to this story!

  7. Bailey Says:

    Mr. Bailey

    What were John Bailey’s brothers name? I believe one of the brothers murdered a cab driver for $3.00.

    I am interested to know if you know anything about this story?

    You see I am a Bailey and I know the brothers were always in trouble (from the stories my dad told me). If I am correct about this set of Bailey’s (in your book) they are my cousins.

    I just found this information and am ordering your book.

    Did you also write the book of Bailey’s history? ..I am not sure of the title but I am looking for it as well…..

    looking forward to your reply

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      I am not the author of the book, maybe you were replying to one of the comments? James Bailey wrote the book mentioned in the following post, if that is the one your are talking about:

    • Clara Says:

      Hello my name is clara koethke maiden name, Woods married name. Daughter of Catherine Bailey, she is daughter of James Enoch Bailey son of John Riley Bailey. I’m interested in any copies of documentation u may have on the bailey- white feud or about the Bailey family. Any info or copies of anything u may have would b appreciated. Iam willing to reimburse u for any info mailed to me. My email is and # is 707 499-5357. I would also like to know name of Bailey family history book

  8. jeremiahwann Says:

    I have a picture of the Bailey’s standing in front of their distillery dated 1915. My Gram gave it to me and told me I am related to them. Trying to post the pic but have not figured out how to do it yet.

    • oldnews Says:

      If you want to email it to me, I can post it for you. Email anything you know about the picture as well.

  9. James Bailey Says:

    I wrote two books about the Baileys.on SE Kentucky. One is a genealogical study from Edwarde Baillie in England 1529 through the Baileys in Clay, Harlan and Knox County, It contains all the newspaper articles, court records and oral histories that I could find regarding the Bailey White feud. The other is Bailey’s Blood, a fictional account of the many killings in the William Bailey Family. I’ve used all the copies of the former book but would send an E-copy to anyone who is interested. The later is available through me or Amazon. JimBailey

  10. Judy palmer Says:

    I would like a copy of your book on e-book. I am researching the Bailey’s of clay county.

  11. Leslie smith Says:

    I would like information on the white Bailey feud. I’m interested in the White side if there is any. I know some of the Whites moved to superior, Nebraska. But my great grandmother Lena White married an Elder from the other side of the feud somehow related. Her brothers took her away after she had a daughter (my grandmother). Does anyone have White information?

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