May 20, 2011

Three Men Reportedly Killed While Whipping Old Woman, Rockcastle, 1887


Click here for a list of my other Pulaski/Rockcastle/Laurel County KY articles


[June 11, 1886] -

Saturday night at Wildie, Ky., the ku-klux had another "hickory tea party." This time it was given in honor of "Trib" Bryant, Bud Pruit's wife and mother, Jennie Pruit; Bob was not present to partake of the refreshments. It is supposed if he had been he would not only have had tea, but a more delicate viand--rope. [1]


[February 11, 1887] -

It is generally supposed that when a person is whipped by the ku klux or regulators for an offense, that the parties so treated would desist from repeating the offense, but it seems that Bale Prewitt, at Wildie, will never take heed and profit by past experience, but must move in the same path for which he has been flogged for on more than one occasion.  The trouble with Bale is he had been running a doggery in Wildie for about two years and often has rows and general disorder in his establishment, thereby annoying and disturbing his neighbors; and his wife, too, it is said, is not what she should be, often appearing on the street under the influence of whisky and raising old Cain generally.  Saturday night the regulators paid Bale their fourth visit.  By some means he managed to make his escape by a back door.  The visitors paid their respects to Mrs. Prewitt and mother-in-law in the usual manner by a sound flogging.  Bale in his flight failed to remember a seven strand barbed wire fence not far from his door and ran headlong into it and made rags of his clothes and got mixed up with the wires and had to be released by his friends after the committee had left.  It will be remembered that on a former occasion when the regulators had visited Bale he made his escape by crawling into an old sugar hogshead, in a vacant lot, which rolled down a little hill with him after the visitors had given up the search. Possibly he is prepared for any emergency and may crawl up the stove pipe when the band calls again. [2]


[February 18, 1887] -

Seven witnesses summoned appear to before Judge Colyer in the Wildie regulator case, gave no testimony, as far as we can learn, to implicate any one in the whipping that took place there a short time since. [3]


[March 18, 1887] -


Three Knights of the Switch Shot While Whipping an Old Woman.

CRAB ORCHARD, Ky., March 17. -- [Special.] Near Wilde, a small station on the Kentucky Central railroad, in Rock Castle county, last night, three men were shot to death while doing "vigilance duty" by whipping Mrs. Eliza Fish, a woman 70 years of age, who had incurred the displeasure of the so-called law and order society.  Mrs. Fish had a foster son named Pruitt, who had a bad reputation.  Some time ago this young man was whipped by the ku klux and run out of the county for selling beer.  The old lady took up the business abandoned by her son and this is the cause of the outrage.  She had been warned to abandon the business, but had paid no heed to the warning.

Details of the killing are meager.  As near as can be ascertained the "law and order switchers" or ku klux went to the old lady's house late last night about a dozen strong.  She was awakened from her sleep and taken into the yard where she was held by some of the men while others beat her with switches.  In the  midst of this performance there was a sudden fusilade from the road side of the fence, and when the smoke cleared away John Long, Walter Turpin and John Hasty were found dead in the yard.

Who did the firing is an absolute mystery, although it is intimated that several of the most reputable citizens of the town of Wilde know more than they care to tell.  Rock Castle is a prohibition county.  For years there has been ku klux on her borders who have, under the guise of a law and order club, kept up a reign of terror.  Last summer the Moore brothers were killed by them, and numerous other crimes are traceable to the same source. [4]


[March 19, 1887] -

Didn't Kill Those Ku-Klux.

MOUNT VERNON, Ky., March 19.--The report of the killing of three vigilantes at Wildie, a small station on the Kentucky Central railroad, in this county Thursday evening, proves to be false. John Long, John Hasty and Sam Rose engaged in a drunken row and exchanged a few shots, without doing any damage. [5]


[March 21, 1887] -


Three Vigilantes Shot While Whipping an Old Woman.

CRAB ORCHARD, KY, March 17. -- Kuklux are still at large in Rockcastle.  Mr. Lair, from the vicinity of Wilde, a small station on the Kentucky Central railroad, between Berea and Livingston, Rockcastle county, reports that three men were killed at that place last night in the yard of Mrs. Eliza Fish, who is over seventy years old, while they were whipping her; that twice before she has been whipped.  A boy she raised, named Prewitt, said to be a bad character, was whipped and run off for selling beer.  The old lady continued the business, and this is the supposed cause for the whipping.  Mr. Lair says whether others were wounded or not is unknown.  The firing on the kuklux was from parties outside of the house.  The killed are John Long, Walker Turpin and John Hasty.  All live in that section.

Rockcastle county has for many years been a prohibition county, but the law has long been openly violated, the county authorities being powerless to enforce it.  Wilde is a small railroad station on Roundstone, in the northern part of the county.  The man Bob Prewitt, above mentioned, is a worthless, half-witted creature who was a tenant of Mrs. Fish's.  He was visited several times by the vigilantes, and finally run out of the county.  About a year ago, it will be remembered, these vigilantes whipped a man named Ramsey int he same neighborhood.  Ramsey was found dead shortly afterward, presumably having committed suicide.  The Huff boys were accused of belonging to the vigilantes, and out of their attempted arrest resulted the terrible tragedy in Mount Vernon last summer, in which the Moore brothers, Tom and Jack, were killed by Lee Carter.  Carter has since been acquitted for killing one of the Moore, and his trial for killing the other comes up next week in the Lincoln Circuit Court.

Mrs. Eliza Fish, who was being whipped by the vigilantes at the time of the wholesale killing last night, is a very old lady of somewhat erratic mental organization.  She is fairly well-to-do and is respectably connected.  Certainly none but a pack of ruffians could have attempted violence on this old woman, and if the story is true the three men met a deserved fate.  Long was a farmer in the neighborhood.  Hasty was a day laborer, generally regarded as a harmless fellow of very little account.  Turpin was probably a railroad hand. [6] 


[March 22, 1887] -

A report was telegraphed from Crab Orchard Thursday night saying three vigilants were shot and killed at Wildie while whipping an old woman.  Messages were received from the various papers to their correspondents at this place asking for particulars.  It turned out to be nothing more than a drunken row between John Hasty, Sam Rose, and John Long, when one shot was fired accidentally, no one being hurt.  It is hard to understand why such reports are made when there is no truth in them.  It is claimed that a man named Lair, living near Wildie, gave the information.  Some of the papers and many of the citizens would like to interview Mr. Lair or the person guilty of such mean misrepresentation of facts. [7]


[1] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 11, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[2] Excerpt from "Mt Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 11, 1887. Page 1. LOC.

[3] Excerpt from "Mt Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 18, 1887. Page 1. LOC.

[4] "Ku Klux Come to Grief." Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH. March 18, 1887. Page 1.

[5] "Didn't Kill Those Ku-Klux." Elkhart Daily Review, Elkhart, IN. March 19, 1887. Page 6.

[6] "KuKlux Killed." Wheeling Register, Wheeling, WV. March 21, 1887. Page 3.

[7] Excerpt from "Mt Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 22, 1887. Page 1. LOC.


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