Posts Tagged ‘Feud’

A Bully Gets His Due (The Kightlinger Murder)

October 12, 2009
Plank Road Bridge ( Crawford Co., PA built 1895)

Plank Road Bridge ( Crawford Co., PA built 1895)

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



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



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



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



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:


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.

Respectfully yours,


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.

Respectfully yours,


Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Dec 19, 1870


Court of Quarter Sessons
MEADVILLE, Jan. 4, 1871.


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.

Yours, H_______.

Titusville Morning Herald (Titusville, Pennsylvania) Jan 6, 1871

scales of justice

The Kightlinger Homicide.


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

Baker-Howard Feud

July 20, 2009
Boys and men stand around George Baker's dead mule in front of Oneida Baptist Institute. The mule was killed when two men on opposite sides of the Baker-Howard feud clashed and opened fire. Charlie Roberts intended to shoot George Baker, but missed and shot George's mule instead. Bystanders are dressed for Commencement Day at the Oneida Institute in 1915.

Boys and men stand around George Baker's dead mule in front of Oneida Baptist Institute. The mule was killed when two men on opposite sides of the Baker-Howard feud clashed and opened fire. Charlie Roberts intended to shoot George Baker, but missed and shot George's mule instead. Bystanders are dressed for Commencement Day at the Oneida Institute in 1915.

Image from University of Louisville Digital Collections. *If the photograph date is correct, this must have been a different George Baker, maybe his son or some other relative.


Barboursville, Ky., April 13. Five more murders resulted from the Baker-Howard feud. On Saturday George Baker was shot and killed by members of the Howard faction while on his way to town. On Sunday Al Baker and his brother went to Howard’s home, called the old man out and shot him to death, and then killed his wife and two children.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Apr 13, 1898


Howard-Baker Feud Reopened.

BARBOURVILLE, Ky., June 4. — The Howard-Baker feud broke out again Thursday night, when Tom Baker shot and instantly killed Beverly White, a member of the Howard faction. They met on the highway several miles north of Manchester.

Naugatuck Daily News (Naugatuck, Connecticut) Jun 4, 1898



PINEVILLE, Ky., June 4. — (By Associated Press) — Six men have been killed in the past ten days in the Howard-Baker feud. Judge Brown will not be allowed to hold court on Monday, and has sent to the governor for troops. The governor has none to send, and the civil authorities are powerless.

The Massillon Independent (Massillon, Ohio) Jun 6, 1898


A Collision Is Feared Before Troops Can Come Upon the Scene.

MIDDLESBORO, Ky., June 10. — The news from the Howard-Baker feud in Clay county is startling. Howard’s party, 50 strong, has taken possession of the town of Manchester. The Baker following, consisting of 40 well armed men, have rendezvoused three miles from the town. Judge Brown is wholly unable to proceed with holding court. Although he expects troops sent by Governor Bradley it is feared the two parties will come into collision before the troops can arrive.

Eau Claire Leader (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) Jun 11, 1898


Trouble in Kentucky.
(By Associated Press.)

MIDDLESBORO, (Ky.), June 10. — The news from the Howard-Baker feud in Clay county is startling. Howard’s party, fifty strong, has taken possession of the town of Manchester. The Baker following, consisting of forty well-armed men, have rendezvoused three miles from town. Judge Brown is wholly unable to proceed with holding court. Although he expects troops sent by Governor Bradley, it is feared the two parties will come into collision before the troops arrive.

A company of State troops arrived at Rowland, Clay county, to-day and left in vehicles for Manchester, the site of the Baker-Howard feud, where Judge Brown is attempting to hold court. Judge Brown is with the troops and has warned the Whites and Howards, who are holding the town, that if a demonstration is made against the troops serious trouble will follow. The Bakers, who are surrounding the town, broke into a warehouse and secured six barrels of whiskey last night and a messenger from the scene this morning says they are all drunk and will attempt to follow the troops into the place. The State troops are new volunteers and are green, having only received their uniforms and guns a week ago.

The Weekly Gazette And Stockman (Reno, Nevada) Jun 16, 1898


Principal in Kentucky Feud Is Shot from Ambush.

Thomas Baker, principal in the famous Howard-Baker feud, was shot from ambush and killed near his home at Winchester, Ky. Baker was alleged to have said there were four men in Clay County he was going to kill, after which he was willing to be hanged. Baker has a great number of friends, and the bloody war between his faction on one side and the Howards and Whites on the other is expected to result in other murders.

Carroll Sentinel (Carroll, Iowa) Jun 1, 1899


Troops to End a Feud.

Chicago, June 1. — A special to The Tribune from Frankfort Ky., says: One hundred troops will be sent to Manchester, Clay county, to aid the civil authorities in capturing and bringing to trial the leaders in the Baker-Howard feud that has been carried on with bitterness for several years, resulting in the killing of nine or ten men. Two of the Baker faction are now in jail, and when the troops attempt to arrest the guilty Howards more bloodshed is expected.

The Evening Democrat (Warren, Pennsylvania) Jun 1, 1899


Life in Kentucky.

Lexington, Ky., — June 3. — The Lexington battalion of the first regiment left this morning for Manchester, where the participants of the Baker-Howard feud will be tried. The troops are sent to prevent a possible outbreak during the trial.

All member of the battalion are dead shots. A gatling gun was also taken along. It is feared an attempt to ambush the troops will be made.

Daily Iowa State Press (Iowa City, Iowa) Jun 3, 1899

Tom Baker

Tom Baker

Image from Feuds of Clay Co., Ky on rootsweb. They authors provide a good amount of information that is worth reading.

Thomas Baker Killed.

Louisville, Ky., June 12. — The Howards and Whites have kept their word, and Thomas Baker, the recognized leader of the Baker faction in the Baker-Howard feud, is a dead man. He was shot through the body and instantly killed a moment after he had obtained a change of venue in his trial on the charge of killing one of the Howards. The killing was done in the Court House yard, with a battalion of militia all around at the time. The rifle shot was fired from a window in the house of Sheriff Beverly P. White, directly across the street from the Court House. White is one of the Howard faction.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Jun 13, 1899

Manchester Courthouse - Clay County, Kentucky

Manchester Courthouse - Clay County, Kentucky

May Be More Bloodshed.

Manchester, Ky., June 13. — Sheriff White has been arrested and charged with the murder of Tom Baker, who was the leader of the Baker faction in the Baker-Howard feud. The sheriff is under the same military guard that was sent here in a vain endeavor to protect Baker’s life, but Col. Williams has taken every precaution to see that his new prisoner, if found guilty, shall pay the penalty without the premature fate of his alleged victim. Nevertheless, blood for blood is the cry of Baker’s relatives, and those who know them say they are sure to get it.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Jun 14, 1899


Hidden Assassin at Manchester, Ky., Kills Tom Baker, Leader of a Famous Faction.

Manchester, Ky., June 12. — Tom Baker, the recognized leader of his faction, was shot and killed in the courthouse yard Saturday evening. The shooting was done after Special Judge A. King Cook had granted the Bakers a change of venue and the prisoners were to have been taken to Barbourville, bail having been refused. Manchester is wild with excitement. The Bakers and Howards have scores of friends in the country and there is no telling now where the trouble will end.

It has not been ascertained who fired the shot that killed Baker, but the consensus of opinion seems to be that it was fired from the house of Sheriff Beverly White, directly opposite the courthouse.

When the court adjourned Saturday afternoon Judge Cook had rendered his decision and there was no indication of trouble. The crowd was orderly and there was no visible excitement. At 5:30 o’clock the correspondent mounted his horse and set out for London. When about a hundred yards down the road from the courthouse the crack of a rifle was heard and a thin cloud of smoke hovered in the air behind the house of Sheriff White and the courthouse.

There was a sudden quiet. The lull was of short duration. A cry went up that Tom Baker was killed. It was true. Tom Baker lay dead flat on his back in front of the guardhouse tent. There was no need of sounding the assembly.

Instinctively the soldiers loomed up with fixed bayonets and charged across the street and surrounded the White residence. At the same time the gatling gun was hurried out and brought to bear on the place.

Meanwhile the wildest confusion prevailed. A rush was made for the courthouse, but the soldiers were already out and fearing a volley, the crowd hurriedly pushed down the hill again.

Up to the time the correspondent left Manchester no arrests had been made. It will be a difficult matter to ascertain who fired the shot, and the belief that it was aimed from the White residence is itself conjecture, though the position of the smoke seemed tell-tale evidence.

London Depot, Ky., June 12. — The Howards and their allies, the Whites, are in possession of the ground at Manchester in the Baker-Howard feud and few Bakers or Baker sympathizers are left to molest them. After Tom Baker, the head of the Baker faction, met his tragic death Saturday at the hands of an assassin whose deed stands alone the coldest-blooded in the history of Kentucky feudal wars, the state militia, under Col. Williams, with Wiley, Jim Dee and Al Baker, shorn of their arms, left over the mountain road for Barbourville, where there the charges of murdering Burch Storrs and Wilson Howard will be tried on a change of venue granted by Judge Cook.

Baker, when shot, was in his tent and within 75 feet of the assassin who fired from the porch of Sheriff Beverly White’s house, diagonally across the street. Baker told his wife that he was tired and would stand up for fresh air, and when he did so a bullet pierced his breast. Col. Williams sounded the assembly and the battalion of militia charged White’s house. They found the gates locked and the doors barred, but the boys in blue broke the locks and bars and found inside nothing save a stock of Winchester rifles.

Upon examination one of these guns was found to contain a freshly exploded cartridge, and it is this which sent the leaden missile through the heart of the fearless feud leader.

The people of this place and along the road to Manchester are wild with excitement. Sympathy for the Bakers is expressed on every side. The troops are powerless under Kentucky law to protect or execute the simplest duty, being subject to the orders of the county sheriff, who in this case is not in sympathy with their purpose. John G. White, of Winchester, Ky., a brother of Sheriff Beverly White, with two guards passed through here Sunday, going to the scene. It is stated that special Judge A. King Cook will order a special grand jury and attempt to indict the slayers of Tom Baker, but the fact that Judge Cook is not the regularly elected judge may delay this matter.

Barbourville, Ky., June 12. — Since the change of venue was granted at Manchester, Clay county, Saturday for the Baker murder trials to be held here in the Knox county courts, this city has been in a state of excitement. It will be impossible in this place, which has a population of between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants, with good officers, for such a tragedy to occur as that at the village of Manchester Saturday under the shadow of the court, when Tom Baker, the principal defendant, was shot dead while a prisoner of the court. As Tom Baker had killed William White, a brother of Sheriff Beverly White, of Clay county, and as the crowd saw the rifle fired from a window in the sheriff’s office at the time Baker fell dead into the arms of his wife it is thought that there may be another trial soon for a change of venue to this place.

Stevens Point Journal, The (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) Jun 17, 1899


Another Victim of the Feud

London, Ky., June 16. — News was brought here late Thursday night to the effect James Howard, a member of the celebrated Baker-Howard feud, was shot from ambush and killed near Manchester Thursday evening. Howard belonged to the White and Howard’s faction of the Baker-Howard feud and has been suspected of having fired the shot last week that killed Tom Baker while under guard in the courthouse yard.

Stevens Point Journal, The (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) Jun 24, 1899

Column of Courthouse at Manchester. Holes and chips off are result of a feud fight in which 5 were killed and a number wounded.

Column of Courthouse at Manchester. Holes and chips off are result of a feud fight in which 5 were killed and a number wounded.

White Disperses Deputies.

Manchester, Ky., June 26. Sheriff B.P. White, Jr., is much disturbed over the turn of affairs in the Baker-Howard feud, because of the killing of Tom Baker while a prisoner in charge of the State troops and the determination of Gov. Bradley to call an extra session of the Legislature which will probably abolish the county of Clay. White had retained twenty-six men as deputy sheriffs, who usually did the fighting. These deputies have now been dispersed, it being the aim of the officials to quiet the town as much as possible until the danger is past.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Jun 27, 1899


A Cincinnati paper comments on a remarkable coincident in the famous Baker-Howard feud in Kentucky. On June 2 1859, 40 years ago, Gov. Owsley ordered out the state troops to quell the feud between the Baker and Howard factions. ON June 2, of this year, Gov. Bradley ordered out the state troops for the same purpose. Forty years is long enough for any family row, and it is hoped that the end is in sight.

Stevens Point Journal, The (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) Jul 8, 1899


The Watterson idea of ending the Baker-Howard feud by letting the opposing families exterminate each other, is precisely the idea that some folks have of ending a street car strike. The public, however, has rights that both contestants are bound to inspect.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Jul 25, 1899


The Feud in Clay County Settled.

Frankfort, Ky., July 28. State Inspector and Examiner C.W. Lester, Gov. Bradley’s special agent sent to Clay county to make an investigation of the Howard-Baker feud, has returned and filed his report with the Governor. He states that the feud is at an end and says that the presence of troops is not necessary. Neither does he recommend an extra session.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Jul 29, 1899


No Trial.

London, Ky., Feb. 8. — Owing to the absence of witnesses for the defense, the trial of James Howard for the murder of George Baker two years ago, or of the results of the Baker-Howard feud of Clay county, did not begin.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Feb 8, 1900

William Goebel (Image from the Atlantic Constitution article)

These are the headlines from the full front page coverage in the  Jan 31, 1900 edition of the Atlantic Constitution:


Climax of a Dark, Well Laid Plot Stirs Kentucky to Its Very Center.


Senator Goebel Was on His Way to Senate Chamber in Company with Colonel Jack Chinn. Taylor Expresses His Regrets.

“They have got me this time,” said Mr. Goebel. “I guess they have killed me.”



The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Jan 31, 1900



Convicted at Frankfort of the Murder of William Goebel.


Howard and His Friends De—– Witnesses Who, It is Charged, Were in Goebel Conspiracy and Who Gave Evidence to Save Themselves.

Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 27. — James B. Howard, who has been on trial for the past ten days charged with being a principal in the assassination of William Goebel, was found guilty yesterday, the jury fixing his punishment at death.

The fact that the jury had deliberated all of Tuesday afternoon without reaching a verdict led to the belief that it was hopelessly divided, and this fact made the verdict shocking to Howard and those who hoped for his ultimate acquittal.

Howard did not lose his composure when the verdict calling for the extreme penalty of the law was read in the crowded court room. He glanced at his attorneys and smiled, but said nothing. After the jury had been discharged Howard was taken back to the jail, and here for the first time he betrayed emotion. He called for a pen and paper and wrote a ling letter to his wife, during which tears coursed down his cheeks. He was joined later by his attorneys, who spent a good part of the day in conference with him in regard to the motion for a new trial, which will be filed today, and other matters in connection with the case.

W.H. Culton, who is under indictment as an accessory to the Goebel murder and who gave damaging evidence against both Howard and Caleb Powers, was released on bail yesterday afternoon and his case was continued until the January term. His bond was fixed at $10,000, and his brother-in-law, E.E. Hogg, of Owsley county, and J.F. Halcombe and John Johnson, of Jackson county, became his sureties.

Howard and his friends are very bitter in their denunciation of witnesses, who, it is charged, were in the conspiracy to murder Goebel, and who have since been manufacturing testimony against others in order to obtain immunity for themselves.

Howard was represented by ex-Congressman W.C. Owens, of Georgetown, and Carl Little of Manchester. The prosecution was represented by Acting Commonwealth Attorney Williams, T.C. Campbell, of Cincinnati, and H.E. Golden of Barboursville.

“Jim” Howard as he is commonly known in the mountains, is a strikingly handsome man, 44 years of age, and would be one of the last to be pointed out by a stranger as the man on trial. He had the record, however, of being the leader of the Howard-White faction in the Baker-Howard feud in Clay county, in which numerous lives were taken.

He had killed George Baker, and was suspected of the assassination of Tom Baker, who was killed after the same fashion as the Goebel murder, and Howard’s friends believe that these facts had very much to do with the making of the verdict sentencing him to the gallows.

The trial of Henry E. Youtsey, of Newport, will be called next at Georgetown next Monday.

The Tyrone Daily Herald (Tyrone, PA) Sep 27, 1900


Two Dead and Four Wounded.

Lexington, Ky., Sept. 6. — One of the bloodiest encounters in the history of Kentucky feuds took place on Saxtons creek, in Clay county, and as a result two men are dead and four dangerously wounded. The fight occurred between the Griffin and Philpott factions, the former being allies of the Howards while the Philpotts were identified with the Baker faction in the famous Howard-Baker feud of three years ago.

The Newark Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Sep 6, 1904

scales of justice

Life Imprisonment for the Murder of William Goebel.

(Bulletine Press Association.)

Frankfort, Ky., Feb. 2. — James Howard, convicted of the murder of William Goebel, arrived at the Frankfort penitentiary today to spend the rest of his life there, unless some unexpected turn of fortune liberates him. He is one of the most interesting characters that ever crossed the threshold of the penitentiary and his arrival caused considerable stir among the people of this city in general and the prison officials in particular. After spending nearly six years in jail, standing three trials and fighting his case through the supreme court, Howard was defeated in his struggle for liberty and the supreme court confirmed the judgement of the Kentucky courts. Howard never lost his nerve for a single moment. He was as cheerful on his way to the penitentiary and upon his arrival as he was on the first day of his arrest and said he was confident that he would eventually be vindicated and liberated.

In many ways Howard is the most picturesque figure of the Goebel murder cases. The commonwealth represented him as the typical mountain feud fighter and dead shot who went to Frankfort to kill Goebel in return for a pardon for having killed George Baker in a feud. Personally Howard does not fill the idea of such a person at all. He would never have been taken for a desperate man from the mountains. He is handsome and of distinguished appearance, of fine physique and unusually graceful, with easy manners. He looks like a man of fine intellect and a student. Indeed, he has been a student for five years, as during his imprisonment he has devoted his time to perfecting himself in the law.

Howard was born in Clay county forty years ago. His father was a school teacher. Howard lived in the mountains all his life and early became an expert shot, like all Kentucky mountaineers. He was first a deputy sheriff of Clay county, then school teacher, lawyer, general storekeeper in the government revenue service and finally assessor of Clay county, which he held when he became involved in the Goebel trouble.

Howard is a victim of a Kentucky feud, whatever were the circumstances of the killing of Goebel. He was in Frankfort the day Goebel was shot, trying to procure a pardon for killing George Baker from W.S. Taylor, then governor of Kentucky. The prosecution maintained that he was to get the pardon for killing Goebel. Howard has maintained that in this seeming connection he was a victim of circumstances. The Baker-Howard feud broke out in 1897. The Bakers one day ambushed Jim Howard’s father and two brothers, killing the brothers and desperately wounding the father.

Jim Howard, as soon as he heard of it, mounted his horse and rode to the scene. He claims the Bakers tried to ambush him and that he escaped by using his horse as a shield. In the encounter he shot George Baker to death.

Howard was indicted for the murder of Goebel in April, 1900. He was then in Clay county, where he might have remained indefinitely, as the mountaineers are Republicans and would have afforded him protection against an army. But in the month of May Howard went to Frankfort and surrendered. His first trial resulted in a sentence of death, his second of life imprisonment, both being reversed. The third verdict was life imprisonment and was sustained by the supreme court.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Feb 2, 1906


This site has newspaper article images covering a variety of items, including this feud and others.

Here is some additional information about the William Goebel assassination and his rival, Governor Taylor.