July 26, 2014

Lynch Mob Targets the Mayor of Somerset, Pulaski, 1892



[January 6, 1892] -


May Get the Mayor of Somerset, Kentucky.

His Awful Crime On a Demented Girl.

While Drunk He Attempts to Outrage Her.

The Prisoner Taken Out of Court to Avoid an Angry Mob.

SOMERSET, Ky., Jan. 6. --[Special.]--A most revolting attempt to criminally assault a young woman occurred early this morning at the C. N. O. & T. P. Depot by Mayor Barney Higgins. Great excitement prevails, and the accused may be hanged by a mob.

The victim is a young lady of the highest character, and of one of the best families in the State.  She is Miss Vina Woods, about 23 years old, and a sister of the wife of Deputy United States Collector F. V. Logan, of this city.

Miss Woods has been in delicate health for some months, and her mind was seriously affected, so that her family sent her to an infirmary in New York for treatment. She had greatly improved, so that her physicians advised her to visit her friends in Kentucky and Ohio.

She had gone to visit her brother, Humboldt Woods, at Cleveland, O.  She started from Cleveland to visit her sister, Mrs. F. V. Logan, and was expected yesterday afternoon, but missed connections at Cincinnati and arrived here at 2 a.m.

While waiting in the ladies' waiting-room alone, at the depot, for the omnibus to start, Higgins, who was drunk, entered the room, took her by the arm and forced her to leave the room with him, saying he would give her some breakfast.

He took her to the back of a frame house, up a back stairway and into a room, and when there he tried to force her to submit to his brutality. 

The omnibus driver saw what was going on, and, obtaining assistance, went to the room and demanded of Higgins to desist, but he threatened the party, slammed the door in their faces and held the young lady.

Finally further assistance was procured, and the young lady was rescued about 7 o'clock this morning in a demented state of mind--frightened almost to death.  She was taken tot he home of her sister.  As the news spread the people became furious.

The Sheriff with a posse of men went and arrested Higgins and brought him to jail, taking him through a back street.  A mob rushed to the jail, but not until Higgins had been placed behind bars.

He was afterward brought out to the County Court room for an examining trial, but as arrangements were being made for his trial, a report was received that some of Higgins' friends had threatened to come and take him from the Court, and he was then returned to jail to evade the mob.

Higgins was very drunk when in Court, and did not seem to realize the awful nature of his crime, nor the threatening excitement of the people.  The young lady is prominently connected here, having many relatives in the county.

Higgins has been Mayor of this city two years, and has conducted himself very badly.  He is also an employee of the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway, being the foreman of the wrecking train.

Whether Higgins really outraged the girl or not, has not yet been made public, as she is demented from fright and exposure, and is generally in poor health.

Higgins is about 50 years old and a married man with several children, some of whom are nearly grown.

Mayor Higgins has been removed to Lexington, KY, to prevent a mob from executing him. [1]


[January 7, 1892] -


Arrest of Somerset's Mayor On a Serious Charge.

Alleged To Have Attempted To Outrage a Demented Woman.

For Fear of Mob Violence the Sheriff Takes the Prisoner to Danville.


Somerset, Ky., Jan. 6. -- (Special.) -- Somerset was this morning thrown into an intense state of excitement. Her Mayor is now in the Danville jail charged with one of the most outrageous deeds in the catalogue of crimes. This morning when the south-bound passenger train pulled into Somerset it carried as a passenger a Miss Woods, who was en route to this place to visit her sister, who is well-connected at this place.

Barney Higgins, the Mayor of this place, was on a spree last night, and was at the depot when the train came in. He at once accosted Miss Woods, who has been demented for some time and who was returning from an asylum in New York. Higgins took the young lady to a room on the opposite side of the street form the depot and there he debauched her until 6:30 o'clock this morning, when she was rescued by her relatives at this place.

A warrant was at once secured for Higgins' arrest, charging him with attempted rape, and he was brought before Judge S. Hicks, who remanded him to jail, as his condition was not such as to allow of his trial.

Mob violence was threatened at one time. Higgins was elected Mayor two years ago through a disgruntled faction. He is wreck master on the Cincinnati Southern road and is a most efficient train man. This afternoon Higgins waived examination, and was remanded to Danville for safety.

The young woman is suffering from nervous prostration, and her sister is in hysterics. Public indignation has never run so high as at the present time, and there is no doubt that the removal of Higgins saved him from personal violence. His term as Mayor will expire Monday, when the recently elected Mayor, James L. Colyer, will succeed him. [2]


[January 7, 1892] -


Mayor Higgins' Excuse for His Beastly Conduct.

DANVILLE, KY., Jan. 7.-- [Special.]-- Barney Higgins, Somerset's Mayor, who was brought here yesterday for safekeeping, was sober enough this morning to be interviewed.

Higgins went to Somerset nine years ago from Cincinnati to enter the employ of the Cincinnati Southern Railway and became prominent in politics sufficiently as to secure his election as Mayor.

He failed to stand for re-election, and in the municipal contest Monday used all of his influence to defeat Judge Hicks.  Hicks was beaten, and the party feeling ran high, almost resulting in a riot.  This, says Higgins, led to the prosecutions he is now the victim of.  He denies having attempted to outrage the lady, and says that he took her under his care because there was no friend at the depot to meet her, and no way for her to get to town at that hour of the night. [3] 


[January 8, 1892] -


He Says He Merely Offered the Young Woman Protection.

Danville, Ky., Jan. 7. -- (Special.) -- Barney Higgins, Mayor of Somerset, who is in jail here, says in regard to the charge against him:

"The young lady got off the cars in my presence, and seemed to be in a demented condition and unable to inform any one of her destination. Being Mayor of the city, I thought I had a perfect right to offer her protection, there being no person at the depot to meet her. I took her into a room at the depot and asked her where she was going. She replied that she was on her way to Cleveland, O., but on questioning her further I learned that she was from Cleveland and was on her way to visit her sister-in-law, Mrs. Float Logan, in Somerset. The depot is a mile from town, and the young lady could not walk that distance, so I telephoned for a buggy, but could not procure one. There was nothing to be done then but await for daylight.

"As for the report that several attempts were made to take the lady from my care by force, it is incorrect. Two men did open the door, and one of them came just as Miss Wood was eating the breakfast I had provided.

"Yes, I had been drinking, but the whisky which put me in the condition in which I arrived here I got after my arrest."

When asked about the charge of criminally assaulting the young lady, the prisoner pronounced that absolutely false, and said: "I can establish my innocence by the testimony of any competent physician. The young lady talked incoherently, and from what she told her friends on being questioned may have led my enemies to believe that I have acted in an improper manner toward her.

"The truth of the matter is, there is a great deal of politics connected with the affair. Monday we had the most exciting municipal election ever held in Somerset, and I was greatly instrumental in defeating Judge Hicks for Mayor. Things got red hot, and a terrible fight was narrowly averted. My arrest was made by members of the other faction, and the mob-talk was caused as much by friends of mine who wanted to secure my release as by persons clamoring for revenge. All I ask is a fair trial, and I will have no difficulty in securing an acquittal." [4]


[January 8, 1892] -


Miss Woods Still Unconscious and Suffering Greatly.

Somerset, Ky., Jan. 7. -- (Special.) -- Miss Linetta Woods, whom Mayor Higgins is charged with attempting to outrage, has been unconscious since her rescue, and it is feared the shock will prove fatal, as she is very weak.

Friends are trying to quiet her, but she has convulsion after convulsion, and her story can not be obtained. If Higgins had remained here he would have been lynched. He will be discharged by the railroad.

Higgins is a native of Cincinnati, and has been living at Somerset for about nine years. He is about forty-five of age, and an intelligent man. He was popular enough to be elected Mayor of Somerset, and filled the office acceptably until recently, when he began drinking excessively. On New Year's day he took a pledge before a priest, but his appetite got the better of his oath and it was but a day or two until he was drunk again. [4]


[January 9, 1892] -


Physician's Examination of the Alleged Victim of Mayor Higgins.

Somerset, Ky., Jan. 8. -- (Special.) -- Somerset has again gained her usual quiet state, and there is no manifestation of trouble. Miss Finetta Woods, the victim of the Mayor Higgins affair was to-day examined by Dr. Scott, an old and respected physician of this place, and he says: "The only sign of even a struggle or bodily injury that I could discover after a thorough examination of Miss Woods was a slight scratch on the wrist; otherwise she had not been molested." She is better to-day. [5]


[January 10, 1892] -


She is Resting Easy and Higgins Now Charged With Robbery.

Somerset, Ky., Jan. 9. -- (Special.) -- The alleged victim of Mayor Higgins' outrage, Miss Finetta Woods, is resting easy at the home of her sister, on Crab Orchard street. While she has not entirely recovery from the recent excitement, her case looks more hopeful than it did two days ago.

Judge Hicks has issued a warrant against Higgins charging him with robbery, the allegation being that he not only took Miss Woods watch, but her purse also. [6]


[January 12, 1892] -

Claim Strong Evidence.

Somerset, Ky., Jan. 11. -- (Special.) -- Friends of Miss Finetta Woods, the alleged victim of Mayor Higgins, now claim that they had sworn statements at hand which will insure his conviction. Every effort is being made to shield Higgins by his friends and to create a reaction in his favor by claiming that this prosecution is due to political excitement. [7]


[January 17, 1892] -

Higgins Does Not Give Bond.

Danville, Ky., Jan. 16 -- (Special.) -- The Barney Higgins matter was revived here to-day by the arrival of Judge Denton, County Judge of Pulaski, on one train, and Deputy Collector F. V. Logan on the following. Logan thought an attempt would be made to bail out Higgins, and came down to prevent it, if possible. The bond was not given, but the Sheriff of this county served a warrant on Higgins, charging him with grand larceny. Logan has collected much damaging testimony in the case, and will employ the best legal talent obtainable to prosecute Higgins when the trial comes up in April. [8]


[January 26, 1892] -

Miss Finnetta Woods, the alleged victim of Mayor Higgins, of Somerset, has grown hopelessly insane, and has been sent to the asylum at Lexington.  Higgins has been released on $1,200 bond. [9]


[February 2, 1892] -


Somerset's Ex-Mayor Released From the Danville Jail After a Month's Confinement.

Danville, Ky., Feb. 1. -- (Special.) -- Barney Higgins, the ex-Mayor of Somerset, Ky., whose arrest for unlawfully detaining Miss Woods caused such great excitement at Somerset about a month ago, necessitating his removal to this city to escape lynching, furnished a satisfactory bond this afternoon, and was released from the Danville jail by order of Judge Denton, of Somerset. His bondsmen are T. R. Griffin, W. J. Sheridan, W. S. Bates, B. J. Watkins, J. C. Anderson, Beecher Smith, James W. Freeman, G. W. Harrison, A. J. Catoon, Thos. Kendall, S. Q. Gover, Dennis McCullough, M. Crane, R. T. Welsh, M. V. Owens and Samuel Owens.

All the bondsmen, except one, are employees of the Cincinnati Southern railroad. Higgins said he would return to Somerset to-night and resume his duties with the railroad, and that he expected an acquittal at his final trial. There is some apprehension of trouble if Higgins does not keep very quiet at Somerset, as the relatives of the young woman in question are confident of his guilt, and entertian a decidedly unfriendly feeling for the ex-Mayor. [10]


[February 6, 1892] -

Miss Woods' Assailant Captured.

Mayor B. P. Higgins, of Somerset, Ky., who fled from his home, after making a brutal attack upon Miss Kate Woods, the sister of Humboldt Woods, of this city, was arrested at Cincinnati Thursday night, and held until Kentucky officers should arrive.  Copies of Cincinnati papers containing accounts of the assault were found in his pocket.  Miss Woods became insane as a result of her fright and ill treatment. [11]


[February 12, 1892] -

Ex-Mayor Higgins returned to the scene of his alleged crime at Somerset the other day and that night a body of men called at his house with the evident intention of lynching him.  He happened not to be in and when he heard of it he struck for tall timber and has not since been seen. [12]


[February 12, 1892] -

Higgins Skips Out.

SOMERSET, KY., Feb. 11.-- Ex-Mayor B. P. Higgins, who was arrested a few days since in Cincinnati, was released and returned here.  Early this morning a party of men went to his residence, claiming to be officers from Boyle county, with a writ for his re-arrest.  Higgins was not in the house.  They remained a short time and then left.  Higgins' brother-in-law, James Judge, says there were six or eight men, but he did not recognize any of them.  Higgins' friends say it was a party whose design it was to kill him, and Higgins has left for other parts until the excitement subsides. [13]


[April 22, 1892] -

An Ex-Mayor in Jail.

B. P. Higgins, ex-Mayor of Somerset, is in jail, having been surrendered by his bondsmen. His trial was postponed until next Monday, as he claimed he could not get his witnesses here from Chattanooga. He could not give bond again, and was sent to jail.

The Grand Jury returned two indictments against him, one for robbing and the other for unlawfully detaining Miss Finetta Woods in January last. The young lady is yet in the Lexington Insane Asylum, where she has been ever since the attack made upon her by Higgins. The feeling is intense, but it is believed that no violence will be attempted by the people, and it is generally believed he will be sent to the Penitentiary for a term of years. [14]


[April 27, 1892] -

The Higgins Case Continued.

Somerset, Ky., April 26. -- (Special.) -- The case of Barney P. Higgins, Somerset's ex-Mayor, for detaining Miss Finetta Woods at this place last January, was to-day in the Circuit Court continued until the October term. The continuance was caused by the absence of several of the witnesses. Higgins will give bond in a few days. [15]


[April 29, 1892] -

When the case of ex-Mayor Barney Higgins for attempted rape on Miss Finetta Wood was called at Somerset this week, he gave the name of two men, supposed to be fictitious, and swore that he could not go to trial without them. The case was continued till October and Higgins remanded to jail in default of $1,200 bail. [16]


[June 16, 1892] -


Sad Plight of Miss Woods, the Victim of Ex-Mayor Higgins, of Somerset, Ky.

SOMERSET, June 16. -- Miss Finetta Woods, the young lady victim of the brutal attack of ex-Mayor Higgins, in January last, has just been removed to the Binghamton (N.Y.) asylum. One of the physicians there pronounces her case a hopeless one, but another thinks there may be some hope for her recovery on account of her youth. [17]


[July 8, 1892] -

B. P. Higgins, Somerset's ex-mayor who is charged with assaulting Finetta Woods, has been released from jail on a $1,200 bond. [18]


[October 14, 1892] -

Ex-Mayor Higgins of Somerset, was given two years int he penitentiary for detaining Miss Finnetta Woods. [19]


[February 11, 1893] -

Court of Appeals of Kentucky.


February 11, 1893.


DISPOSITION: Reversed and remanded with directions.




The appellant was tried, convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of two years, upon an indictment under section 9, article 4, chapter 29, of the General Statutes, which provides that "whoever shall unlawfully take or detain any woman against her will, with intent to have carnal knowledge with her, shall be confined in the penitentiary not less than two nor more than seven years."

On this appeal he urges as ground for reversal, first, the omission of the word "feloniously" in the indictment.

To this it is sufficient to say that the acts mentioned in the statute quoted, when unlawfully done, constitute the whole of the crime denounced therein.

It need not be charged of the accused that he acted maliciously, willfully or feloniously; if he be charged in the language of the statute creating the crime and in the manner required by it, then the charge is complete, and includes all that is required to be established in order to constitute the guilt of the accused. In common law felonies the rule is different. (See Kaelin v. Commonwealth, 84 Ky. 354, 1 S.W. 594; Cundiff v. Commonwealth, 86 Ky. 196, 5 S.W. 486.)

Secondly, the appellant's counsel contend that the statute has no application in this case, because of the insanity of the victim alleged to have been unlawfully detained; that the crime must be committed against  [*57] a woman having a will, capable of exercising it, and "against her will." But the authority relied on happily stops far short of supporting such an inhuman and unreasonable doctrine. The generous principle of the law governing the case was aptly illustrated in the instruction of the lower court, whereby the jury was told that any act done toward the alleged victim by the defendant, other than acts of kindness, courtesy of friendship, were done "against her will."

But the appellant, after due notice, filed his petition for a change of venue, alleging that on account of the prejudice against him and the excited state of public opinion he could not have a fair and impartial trial in Pulaski county. He supported his petition with the affidavits of two credible witnesses, all in strict accordance with the requirements of section 2, article 4, chapter 12, of the General Statutes. No other testimony was introduced or offered by either party. The court overruled the motion, dismissed his petition and application for removal, and of this he complains.

For the Commonwealth it is insisted that since the statutory amendment of April 1, 1880, the question of removal is one of discretion with the court, whereas, theretofore it was absolutely incumbent on it to order the change whenever the defendant complied with the requirements of the statute. The amendment reads: "And the court shall, on said motion, hear all witnesses that may be produced by either party, and from the evidence determine whether or not the applicant is entitled to change of venue."

It is evident that the object of this amendment was [*58] to give the State an opportunity of combating the prima facie case presented by the petition of the defendant and the affidavits of his friends. If this opportunity is not embraced, the court has no discretion. While the question [*232] was not directly presented, Judge Holt, in delivering the opinion of the court in Wilkerson v. Commonwealth, 88 Ky. 25, says: "Undoubtedly, if an accused, under the law as amended, presents his petition, accompanied by the two or more affidavits, and no witnesses are introduced in court by either party, the change of venue should be granted."

We think that the appellant was clearly entitled, on the state of case presented, to have his petition for removal granted.

While the same proof may not be offered in the case on its return, it is proper to say that the testimony of Trimble as to the condition of the room on the day following the trouble in question was improper. This room was exposed and used at all hours of the day and night, and its "torn up" condition twenty-four hours after the occurrence proves nothing, but, in view of Clark's testimony, might be misleading and prejudicial.

We perceive no error in the instructions of the court, and think they embrace the law of the case.

For the reasons indicated the judgment below is reversed, and cause remanded with directions to grant the appellant a new trial, and for proceedings consistent with this opinion. [20]


[February 14, 1893] -

The Court of Appeals reversed the sentence of the Pulaski circuit court against Ex-Mayor Higgins, charged with detaining a young woman against her will, because of the error in not allowing him a change of venue.  The sentence was two years in the penitentiary. [21]


[March 31, 1893] -

Ex-Mayor Higgins, for detaining Miss Woods, will not be tried this court, but will get a change of venue, it is thought. One of his attorneys told me that he would either be tried in Lincoln or Boyle. [22]


[May 5, 1893] -

L. D. Woods, of Cleveland, O., shot Barney E. Higgins, ex-mayor of Somerset, in the court-house Tuesday afternoon, in the presence of a crowd of spectators.  Higgins was standing at the foot of the stairs about ten feet from the door talking to Somerset people, when his companions were startled by a shot from a pistol in the hands of a man who was a stranger to most of them.  The first shot was fired within two feet of Higgins' face, which grazed his nose.  Woods fired again and Higgins was struck in the left breast.  He fell to the floor and Woods fired three more shots at his prostrate form, the pistol snapping several times between each shot, only one of which struck Higgins.  By this time the hall was filled with excited people and officers, who rushed down from the crowded court-room, where a trial was in progress.  An officer asked who did the shooting, when Woods replied: "I did.  Higgins ruined my sister.  She is now in an insane asylum as a result of his work."  Higgins was unconscious when first seen, but in a few moments became rational and being asked if he knew who shot him said, "No, I did not see the ------ --. He did not give me a chance."  Higgins, while mayor of Somerset and during a spree, assaulted Miss F. O. Woods, a sister of Woods, in the depot at Somerset.  He was tried for unlawful detention and sent up for two years.  The Court of Appeals granted him a new trial and he was given a change of venue to Boyle.  His lawyers were not present when the case was called and it was continued till September.  When Woods, who came as a witness, heard of this he seemed to become desperate, but his friends knew nothing of his intentions until they were startled by the shooting.  In an interview Woods said: "I did not come here to kill Higgins, thinking that the law would take its course, but when I approached him in the court-house and heard him say that he had succeeded in having the case postponed again, my feelings were beyond control and I tried to kill him before I scarcely knew what I was doing." Woods was liberated on $10,000 bail to await the action of the grand jury, now in session.

Woods, who did the killing, was raised in Casey county, but is now a resident of Cleveland, O., where he has a family.

After a restless night, during which he grew constantly weaker, B. P. Higgins died at 6 o'clock Thursday morning.  The Interior Journal has been advised that he made no statement in regard to the matter in which Miss Wood figured other than has been given the public.  Indeed since Wednesday morning, when he seemed slightly better, he was in no condition to talk or think long in regard to anything.  The remains will probably be interred in Cincinnati, if friends come to the aid of the distressed wife, who is here without money.  At 10 1/2 o'clock the grand jury returned an indictment for murder against L. D. Wood, who did the shooting.  He was brought into court, when Mr. J. W. Yerkes, of his counsel, asked for bail.  This Judge Saufley said, as he was then advised, he must deny.  He then remanded the accused to the custody of the jailer.  It is possible that a trial may be asked for and granted during this term, which must close Saturday.  At present O. H. Waddle, of Somerset, and J. W. Yerkes, of Danville, are the only counsel retained for the defense.

DANVILLE, May 4, 3:30 P.M. -- Woods has been released on a $15,000 bond. [23]


[May 4, 1893] -


"The Bell Rope Is Broken,"

Muttered Barney Higgins When Death Came,

While Weeping Wife and and Children Stood By,

DANVILLE, KY., May 4.--[Special.]-- "The bell rope's broken," muttered Barney Higgins early this morning in his delirium as he talked of his railroading days, and at 6 o'clock he died, blood poison having set in yesterday afternoon.  This rendered his recovery impossible.

Once the Mayor of Somerset, and even day before yesterday surrounded by admirers, Higgins' friends can not be found; and telegrams asking what disposition shall be made of the body remain unanswered at this writing.  He leaves a faithful wife and four little children.

At no time during the night did he refer to the shooting, or his experience with Miss Woods, and when asked if he thought he would recover, smiled and replied: "What a foolish question."  L. D. Woods, his slayer, was taken in charge by the Sheriff this morning, as his bondsmen could not hold him under the charge of murder, before a legal examination was made.

At 10 o'clock the Grand Jury returned an indictment of murder against Woods, and his counsel made a motion that he be allowed bail.

The Judge overruled the motion, but gave the defendant until 2 o'clock this afternoon to produce evidence that his offense is not a capital crime.  If he is not given bail, he will have to remain in jail here for three months. 

A Pauper's Grave.

DANVILLE, KY., May 4.--[Special.]-- Barney Higgins died this morning at 6 o'clock after spending a night of unrest and delirium.  A priest was sent for at 4 o'clock, but Father Brady was in Louisville, and Higgins died without receiving the last ordinances of his faith.  All of his friends seem to have abandoned him, and it is possible that he may be buried in a pauper's grave. [24]


[May 5, 1983] -


Go the Remains of Somerset's Ex-Mayor, Barney Higgins.

Barney Higgins, ex-Mayor of Somerset, Ky., who was killed at Danville, Ky., by the brother of the girl he was reported to have assaulted, will be buried in West Covington Friday.

The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. from the Catholic Church in West Covington.  The arrangements are in the hands of the relatives of Mrs. Higgins. [25]


[May 9, 1893] -


The Slayer of Barney Higgins Returns to This City.


He is Kindly Received by His Employers and Office Associates.

He Maintains Silence Concerning the Details of the Tragedy--One Correction is Made and a Few Questions Answered.

Had the passengers on a Big Four Railway train, which arrived in this city late on Sunday night, been told that among them was one who had been indicted on the charge of murder, perhaps the last person they would have picked out as resting under so serious a charge was a reserved young man of quiet appearance, who left the coach in which he had been riding from Cincinnati at the Union Depot. This particular passenger was Lincoln D. Wood, of Cleveland, who avenged an outrage committed upon his sister by killing Barney Higgins, ex-Mayor of Somerset, KY., in the court yard at Danville, Ky.  Yesterday morning he was at the desk in the office of the William Bingham Company, which he left a week ago in order to attend the trial of Higgins for the assault upon Miss Wood. the young man met with a kindly reception when he appeared at the office, not only from his employees, but from his fellow clerks.  None felt like commending him for taking life, but no one in the store felt disposed to censure him for doing as he did under such terrible provocation.  Most of his coworkers took occasion in the course of the day to find their way to his desk and give him a cordial


expressive of sympathy and support.  His friends, not only in the establishment of the William Bingham Company but throughout the city, now feel that he had no thought of shooting Higgins when he went to Kentucky, but did it upon seeing the machinery of the courts apparently operating to secure the acquittal of the man who had done his sister such a terrible wrong.  Wood is twenty-nine years old.  He is a quiet man, apparently of pleasant disposition.  He is tall and fair, and wears a blonde mustache.  His habits have always been good.  Up to the time of the assault upon his sister by Higgins he had saved a little money.  Since that terrible affair his slender resources have to a great extent been crippled.  In addition to the burden of helping to care for his sister since her misfortune, he has prosecuted the case against Higgins, which involved


as the least part of the expense.  When a Leader reporter called at the office of the W. Bingham Company, yesterday, Wood was engaged in writing from the dictation of one of his employers.  The reporter was permitted five minutes' conversation with him.  "I have been instructed by my attorneys not to talk at all about this affair," said Wood. "There is one correction you might make, however.  Such newspaper reports as I have read are, in the main, fairly correct, but in one regard wholly wrong.  they say that my brother-in-law, Mr. Logan, stood by and prevented Higgins' friends from coming near.  That is not true. Mr. Logan was not on the spot at the time of the shooting. I wish you would make that correction. Further than that I have nothing to say."

"Did Higgins have a following of friends there? was he a popular man in the neighborhood?" was asked. 

"I will only say," responded Wood, "that when the last breath left his body he had not a friend in the world."


"Did your wife join you in Kentucky after the shooting?"

"She did not. I telegraphed her explicitly not to do so. We are both at our home on Clark avenue now."

"Were the published reports concerning the shooting correct as to how it occurred?"

"I had rather not talk about that. My attorneys have advised me not to do so. As I said to you before, the published reports were very fair and correct except as to Mr. Logan, in which particular they were wholly wrong. Of course, I could tell you the whole story only I think it would be wise to do as my attorneys tell me."

"Who are your attorneys?"

"Mr. George W. Yerkes, of Danville, Ky., and Hon. O. H. waddle, of Somerset, Ky."

As the reporter left the office Wood calmly resumed the transcription of his stenographic notes.  He did not seem particularly agitated at any time during the interview. [26]


[September 12, 1893] -


Gov. Brown Pardons L. D. Woods, the Slayer of Barney Higgins.

Petitions Asking For Executive Clemency Signed Wholly By Women.

The Governor Says Higgins Deserved Death For His Fiendish Crime. 


Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 11. -- (Special.) -- A murder trial set for to-morrow in the Boyle Circuit at Danville will not be called. L. D. Woods, of Cleveland, O., who shot ex-Mayor Barney Higgins, of Somerset, has been pardoned by the Governor. The most remarkable delegation, with the most remarkable petition ever seen in the executive office, called on the Governor this morning. The delegation was composed of Miss E. H. Pearce, of Danville; Mrs. M. H. Gibson and Mrs. O. H. Waddell, of Somerset. They carried with them a half dozen big petitions signed by hundreds of people as prominent as themselves. There was not a man's name on any one of the petitions. The women of that section had taken the matter in hand. They asked for the unconditional pardon of Woods. Their reasons for asking it, and the Governor's reasons for promptly granting it, are told in the following statement which accompanied the pardon, and which is as unusual as all the other circumstances surrounding the remarkable case:

Executive Department, Frankfort, Sept. 11, 1893. -- I have received petitions signed by hundreds of mothers and daughters residing in the vicinities of Boyle and Pulaski asking for the pardon of L. D. Woods, who stands charged with the killing of Barney P. Higgins. All of the signatures to the application are those of ladies of as reputable families as any in Kentucky.

The facts as presented to me are that on the arrival of a train at Somerset the conductor thereof left Miss Fion O. Woods there in charge of the night clerk of the agent at the station. In her then condition they were unable to learn who she was or where she was going. It was finally ascertained who she was and that she desired to go to her sister, who lived in Somerset about one mile from the depot. About this time, Barney Higgins, who was the Mayor of Somerset, appeared and in his official capacity, assumed her custody under the representation that he would take her to her sister. He left the depot with her, presumably for this purpose, but instead to her to a private room, through a dark alley, [...] the street, in the rear of a saloon frequented only by men, and [...] inflicted or attempted to inflict upon her a [...] crime.

After daylight they were found in this room, Higgins beastly drunk and Miss Woods a raving lunatic--with all the evidences of the terrible struggle that had occurred between them--he to accomplish his purpose, she to protect herself. After her rescue she had intervals of returning reason, when she told of the horrible indignities she had suffered. Her condition grew worse, and she was finally taken to an asylum and is yet confined therein.

Higgins was arrested, and taken to the Boyle county jail to prevent mob violence, was afterward tried and convicted. He case was reversed for a technical error, and upon its return he secured a change of venue to Boyle county. At the first term thereafter of the Boyle Circuit Court, the accused for the first time met the destroyer of his sister face to face, and at once shot him to death. Higgins had not only forcibly violated the person of Miss Woods, but by innuendoes sought to traduce her character as a defense for conduct of which he protested his entire innocence. I believe that every father, mother, son and daughter in the Commonwealth will say that Higgins deserved death, and I now pardon the brother of the outraged girl for having slain him.

JOHN YOUNG BROWN, Governor. [27]


[September 12, 1893] -


Lincoln D. Wood Will Not be Placed on Trial.
Barney Higgins' Slayer Pardoned by Gov. Brown.

Friends Were at Work for Him.

Prominent Citizens of Danville and Somerset Pleaded With the Chief Executive of Kentucky for His Release--A Sensational Shooting Affray Called to Mind.


(Special to the Plain Dealer.)

Louisville, Ky., Sept. 11.--Gov. Brown at Frankfort today issued a pardon for Lincoln D. Wood, indicted for murder. His trial was to have come up at Danville tomorrow.

The case is rather sensational.  About two years ago the feeble minded sister of Wood arrived at the depot at the town of Somerset on her return from a short visit.  Barney Higgins, mayor of the town, was at the depot.  It was midnight when the train arrived and few others were about.  Higgins induced the Wood girl to accompany him to a vacant house, where he kept her under threat of death until morning.  The girl has since lost her mind entirely.

Higgins narrowly escaped mob violence at the time and when indicted for his offense had the trial transferred to Danville by a change of venue.

L. D. Wood is a citizen of Cleveland.  He came to Danville to attend the trial and as he started to enter the court house on his arrival he saw Higgins coming out.  Drawing a revolver he fired, wounding Higgins so badly that he died two days later.  Public sympathy was much against Higgins and, though Wood was in a strange town, he was released on bond ten minutes after he had surrendered.

He was indicted for killing Higgins but the people worked so hard in his behalf that Gov. Brown today pardoned him, though there was no doubt that he would be acquitted before a jury.

A delegation of the most prominent citizens of Danville and Somerset came in person to Frankfort and asked that a pardon be granted. [28]


[September 14, 1893] -

That Barney Higgins, the ex-mayor of Somerset, deserved death for the outrageous assault on Miss Wood, which left her a raving maniac, no one will deny, though some sticklers for the letter of the law may claim that it and not her brother should have been his slayer.  If the law could always be depended upon to punish such crimes and not be used as in Higgins' case to prevent or delay punishment, we should emphatically agree with the latter class.  But unfortunately the written law cannot always be relied on and the unwritten must in such instances take its place.  Just as Higgins was congratulating himself on a continuance and another chance to thwart the justice that he feared, L. D. Wood, outraged and defied at further delay, sent a ball into the lecherous body of the destroyer of his sister's reason and it did the deadly work intended.  This occurred at the last term of the Danville circuit court and Wood was held to appear at the present term in bonds of $15,000.  His trial was set for Tuesday, but Gov. Brown anticipating a verdict of acquittal, ended the case so far as the courts are concerned by a document which concludes with these words: "I believe that every father, brother, son and daughter in the Commonwealth will say that Higgins deserved death, and I now pardon the brother of the outraged girl for having slain him."  The ladies of Somerset and Danville took great interest in the case and it was mainly through their efforts that the petition for pardon was signed by so large a number of influential and law abiding citizens. [29]


Findagrave entry for Barney Higgins, buried in Saint Joseph New Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH.  Date of birth unknown; Date of death May 4, 1893.

Findagrave entry Lincoln D. Wood, buried in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, OH. Date of birth unknown; Date of death Jan 19, 1928.


[1] "Judge Lynch." Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati, OH. January 6, 1892. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[2] "An Ugly Affair." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 7, 1892. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[3] "Tame Talk." Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati, OH. January 7, 1892. Page 4. Genealogybank.com.

[4] "Higgins Denies The Charge" and "In a Difficult Condition." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 8, 1892. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[5] "She Was Not Harmed." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 9, 1892. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[6] "Miss Woods' Condition Hopeful." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 10, 1892. Page 9. Newspapers.com.

[7] "Claim Strong Evidence." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 12, 1892. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[8] "Higgins Does Not Give Bond." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 17, 1892. Page 16. Newspapers.com.

[9] Hopkinsvi
lle Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. January 26, 1892. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069395/1892-01-26/ed-1/seq-2/

[10] "Higgins Gives Bond." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 2, 1892. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[11] "Miss Woods' Assailant Captured." Cleveland Leader, Cleveland, OH. February 6, 1892. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.

[12] Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 12, 1892. Page 5. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1892-02-12/ed-1/seq-5/

[13] "Higgins Skips Out." Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IL. February 12, 1892. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[14] Excerpt from "Our Daily Mail." Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. April 22, 1892. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069117/1892-04-22/ed-1/seq-4/

[15] "The Higgins Case Continued." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. April 27, 1892. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[16] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 29, 1892. Page 5. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1892-04-29/ed-1/seq-5/

[17] "Driven Insane By An Assault." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. June 16, 1892. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[18] Excerpt from "Newsy Notes." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 8, 1892. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1892-07-08/ed-1/seq-2/

[19] Excerpt from "Newsy Notes." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 14, 1892. Page 2. LOC. h

[20] Higgins v. Commonwealth, 94 Ky. 54, 21 S.W. 231 (1893). 

[21] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 14, 1893. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-02-14/ed-1/seq-3/

[22] Excerpt from "Some Notes From Somerset." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 31, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-03-31/ed-1/seq-1/

[23] Excerpt from "Danville." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 5, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-05-05/ed-1/seq-1/

[24] "Wrecked." Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati, OH. May 4, 1893. Page 3. Genealogybank.com.

[25] "To The Grave." Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati, OH. May 5, 1893. Page 7. Genealogybank.com.

[26] "Wood is Home Again." Cleveland Leader, Cleveland, OH. May 9, 1893. Page 3. Genealogybank.com.

[27] "Before His Trial." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. September 12, 1893. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[28] "Set Him Free." Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH. September 12, 1893. Page 3. Genealogybank.com.

[29] Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 14, 1893. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-09-15/ed-1/seq-2/


Other articles that also reference this case, but are not reprinted here, include:

- "A Brutal Kentucky Mayor." Bridgeton Evening News, Bridgeton, NY. January 7, 1892. Page 3. Genealogybank.com.
- "He May Be Lynched." Cleveland Leader, Cleveland, OH. January 7, 1892. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.
- "Crime of a Mayor." Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, IL. January 7, 1892. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.
- "Higgins' Crime." Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, MI. January 7, 1892. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.
- "Menaced By A Mob." Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH. January 7, 1892. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.
- "Higgins' Crime." Repository, Canton, OH. January 7, 1892. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.
- "Ought to be Lynched." State, Columbia, SC. January 7, 1892. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.
- "Narrow Escape of a Kentucky Mayor From Lynching." San Diego Union, San Diego, CA. January 14, 1892. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.

- "In Blood." Cincinnati Post, Cincinnati, OH. May 2, 1893. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.
- Excerpt from "News of the Day." Alexandria Gazette, Alexandria, D.C. May 3, 1893. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025007/1893-05-03/ed-1/seq-2/
- "Avenged His Sister." The Sun, New York, NY. May 3, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030272/1893-05-03/ed-1/seq-1/
- "Shot Him in the Courthouse." Charleston News and Courier, Charleston, SC. May 3, 1893. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.
- "Shot His Sister's Betrayer." Duluth News-Tribune, Duluth, MN. May 3, 1893. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.
- "Avenged His Sister." Evening Star, Washington, DC. May 3, 1893. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.
- "Higgins' Victim Insane." Jersey Journal, Jersey City, NJ. May 3, 1893. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.
- "Shot Down When Leaving Court." New York Herald, New York, NY. May 3, 1893. Page 14. Genealogybank.com.
- "Avenged His Sister's Wrong." The Austin Weekly Statesman, Austin, TX. May 4, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86088296/1893-05-04/ed-1/seq-1/
- Excerpt from "General News Notes." Belmont Chronicle, St. Clairsville, OH. May 4, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85026241/1893-05-04/ed-1/seq-1/
- Excerpt from "Telegraphic Brevities." Evansville Courier and Press, Evanville, IN. May 4, 1893. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.
- Excerpt from "Abbreviated Telegrams." Rock Island Daily Argus, Rock Island, IL. May 5, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92053945/1893-05-05/ed-1/seq-1/
- "Higgins is Dead." Cleveland Leader, Cleveland, OH. May 5, 1893. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.
- Excerpt from "Abbreviated Telegrams." Daily Illinois State Register, Springfield, IL. May 6, 1893. Page 7. Genealogybank.com.
- "Good Riddance to a Scoundrel." Worcester Daily Spy, Worcester, MA. May 7, 1893. Page 7. Genealogybank.com.
- "Home Again." Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH. May 9, 1893. Page 6. Genealogybank.com.
- "A Brother's Revenge." The Hartford Herald, Hartford, KY. May 10, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84037890/1893-05-10/ed-1/seq-1/
- "Pardoned by the Governor." Saginaw News, Saginaw, MI. September 12, 1893. Page 3. Genealogybank.com.
- "Pardoned." Crittenden Press, Marion, KY. September 14, 1893. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069457/1893-09-14/ed-1/seq-2/
- Excerpt from "The News in a Nutshell." The Princeton Union, Princeton, MN. September 21, 1893. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016758/1893-09-21/ed-1/seq-2/


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