Murdered by a Moonshiner


Frank Moon Pays Penalty for Acting as Guide on Chestnut Ridge.


By Strange Man While Drinking in A Scottdale Bar — Died This Morning at the Cottage State Hospital — Deputy Collector Dixon’s Statement.

Frank Moon, who was shot by an unknown man in the bar room of the Scottdale House at Scottdale last Thursday evening, died at the Cottage State Hospital this morning at 3:30 o’clock. Septic peritonitis caused his death. This afternoon a post mortem examination and inquest will be held by Coroner A.S. Hagan of Fairchance. The remains will be buried by friends.

With the death of Moon comes light on the mysterious circumstances which surround his murder. It is believed in police circles that he was killed by a moonshiner sent down from the mountains. This morning United States Deputy Collector W.J. Dixon of Uniontown was here, and said: “I believe it probable that Moon was shot by a man specially sent down from the mountain for the purpose. We revenue men do not tell the names of our guides, but I will say that three years ago, when Frank Campbell was United States Marshal, we had a guide who lived at Broad Ford. He had a long standing feud with the moonshiners and several times when excursions into the district were planned, he backed out at the last moment, fearful of his life. He has worked for us, off and on, for the past three years. He realized that his life was in danger. That’s all I’ll say about it.”

On Thursday night, Moon, with some companions, was drinking in the bar of the Scottdale House. At the hospital Sunday he told the following story: “I had been drinking and chatting with my friends in the bar when a young looking stranger came in and walked the length of the room, evidently looking for some one. After a time he asked me to take a drink. He said all bar room whisky was impure; that the mountain dew, made on Laurel Hill, was the only pure stuff. Talk rambled on, the subject of moonshine and moonshiners keeping prominent. I mentioned the name of a well known moonshiner several times, perhaps not in a complimentary way, and the stranger seemed to resent this. Then the talk lagged and my companion seemed to be thinking of something else. He suddenly pulled a revolver from his pocket and twirled it around his hand as if familiar with the weapon. ‘That’s a dangerous thing for a young fellow,’ I remarked, and staring at me he answered ‘I’m a moonshiner and we need protection.’ Then he suddenly dropped the weapon to the level of my breast, and without a word, he fired.”

The stranger said “Someone from the outside shot him through the window.” The smoke of the shot was still wreathing in the room, but none contradicted his statement as they crowded around the wounded man. Then the stranger walked the length of the bar, out into the street and was gone.

Moon was hurried to the office of Dr. Rogers of Scottdale, who pronounced his wound fatal. Then he was brought to the Cottage hospital to die.

Frank Moon was a coke worker, 38 years old, a widower, who for some months past has lived near Broad Ford. He was born not far from Confluence.

The man who shot Moon is described as small in stature, perhaps 23 years of age; wearing a light suit and a rough, slouch hat.

The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Nov 10, 1902

Confluence, PA (postcard image from ebay)


Post Mortem Held on Frank Moon.

Inquest Later.

Acting Surgeon Dr. L.P. McCormick and Coroner A.S. Hagan on Monday held a post mortem examination on the body of Frank Moon, the story of whose tragic death has already appeared in these columns. A very complete dissection of the affected parts was made, but the surgeons were unable to locate the bullet that claimed Moon’s life. It penetrated the upper portion of the abdomen, passing through one lobe of the liver and the kidney, and then, taking a slightly downward course, lodged in the intricate muscles of the back. The inquest will be held by Coroner Hagan as soon as the necessary witnesses can be secured.

Undertaker J.E. Sims this morning shipped the remains of Moon to his former home, Draketown, back of Confluence and near the Somerset county line. The remains will be interred at the Jersey Church Cemetery. Several Connellsville people relatives of the dead man, attended the funeral.

The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Nov 11, 1902


The only new development in the case of Frank Moon, who was shot at Scottdale, comes from a friend of Moon, who says that the name of the man who did the shooting is Rankin. He said that some time ago Moon caused the arrest of Rankin and another man for “moonshining,” and that Rankin threatened to get even with him.

The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Nov 19, 1902


In Murder Cases of Frank Moon at Scottdale and James Leonard.


Verdicts Rendered on Thursday That Both Victims Came to Their Deaths by Hands of Unknown Persons — Testimony Before Coroner Hagan

Coroner Arthur S. Hagan of Fairchance held two inquests yesterday in City Hall. One was on the death of William Frank Moon who was shot down in the bar room of the New Scottdale House in Scottdale on the evening of November 7th and the other long delayed was on the death of James Leonard a young man of town who was assaulted by three strangers on the North Side on the night of July 21st and who died eight days later as a result of the injuries he received.

In the Moon inquest a number of witnesses from Scottdale were present. Among these were Jorn O’Neil, the bartender on duty when the shooting occurred, Joseph Ghrist a mill worker who knows more about the case than all the others combined, John Sellers, A.C. Bell and others who were in the bar at the time, but who know little or nothing of the circumstance of the shooting. Constable Everhart of Scottdale testified that he had investigated the case in Scottdale and had taken a statement from Moon while he lingered at the Cottage State Hospital but had utterly failed to find an explanation of the mystery.

Joseph Ghrist was the star witness and furnished a tip which if it is followed out may locate the slayer of Moon. Ghrist was passing through the bar when the shot was fired and was sober. He helped raise Moon from the floor and later asked him who shot him. Was it the man who was with you? asked Ghrist, and Moon groaned Yes, yes. Then William Keffer of Summit mines commonly known as Rats said “Why I know that man. He is ________ and I used to work with him. He was with Moon all afternoon. Ghrist does not remember the name Keffer said but thinks it sounded like Rankin or Larkin. If Ghrist’s story is true, then the secret of the killing rests with Rats of Summit mines.

Other testimony brought out the fact that Moon and his murderer were standing in the rear of the saloon behind a big refrigerator when the shot was fired and that no one save Moon and his slayer actually witnessed the tragedy.

Bartender O’Neil explained how in the excitement that followed the shooting, the murderer escaped through the front door saying the shot was fired from the outside.

After the evidence was in Coroner Hagan said that no more witnesses would be called, that if the Westmoreland county officers wanted to interview Keffer they could do so.

Then a verdict to the effect that Moon was shot by a party unknown was signed by the jurymen: J.H. Risbeck, C.W. Patterson, L.W. Port, David Blackburn, A.W. Hood and S.K. Ree.

The Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Nov 21, 1902


Scottdale Witness Retracts What He Said at Coroner’s Inquest

Another feature of the mysterious murder of Frank Moon in the bar room of the New Scottdale House a month ago came to light Friday in a communication sent to The Daily Courier by J.B. Ghrist of Scottdale, who was a witness before Coroner Hagan at the inquest held here after the killing. On the stand Ghrist said that a man named William Keffer of Summit Mines knew Moon’s assailant and mentioned his name. The following letter was received from Ghrist by The Courier today.

‘Having been quoted in the Connellsville papers as saying that William Keffer of Summit Mines knew the man who shot Frank Moon in the Scottdale House on November 7, I wish to make a correction. I said that Keffer mentioned the name of the man who was with Moon on the afternoon of the shooting. Mr. Keffer informs me that he did not say the words attributed to him but that they were said by some one near him. I make this correction in justice to Mr. Keffer for I made the mistake in the excitement of the moment. I want to set Mr. Keffer right in the eyes of the public. I have apologized to him personally. I hope the community will forgive me for the mistake I made.’

The Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Dec 19, 1902

"Old Jersey Church, Turkeyfoot Baptist Cemetery," located on the south side of the Jersey Baptist Church, commonly called the "Old Cemetery." (Photo, Nov 2006, by Glen Swartz)

Cemetery image from Find-A-Grave.

An Ill-Fated Family.

William Moon is dead at Confluence. He is the last of three brothers to died within a year. Two others met violent deaths. Elmer Moon was killed in a railroad accident last September. About two months ago Frank Moon was mysteriously murdered in the Scottdale House. Hemorrhage of the lungs was the cause of William Moon’s death.

The Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Dec 30, 1902


I don’t know if they ever found Frank Moon’s killer; I couldn’t locate any news articles stating they did, so maybe he got off Scott Free.

As an aside, while looking for a picture of the Scottdale House (which I never found) I ran across three articles about it catching fire. Here they are:



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