August 6, 2014

Double Fratricide in the Snodgrass Family, Rockcastle, 1890-1892



[April 11, 1890] -

Another tragedy to report.  This time it's one brother who slays another.  Wednesday afternoon Emmett Snodgrass shot and killed his brother Squire.  The shooting took place at Wm. Collier's, the home of Squire Snodgrass.  The brothers had a dispute last Monday over some business matters and when they parted it was agreed that they would not speak to each other afterward. Wednesday afternoon Emmett, who lives a short distance from Mr. Collier's, went over there.  When he arrived Squire was at the barn.  His mother, fearing that the brothers would meet, had the Squire to go around by the back way before entering the house.  While they were standing on the porch talking Emmett came around and called to Squire and opened fire upon him.  Squire returned two shots and fell, expiring instantly.  One ball entered his left and one the right breast.  Emmett was hit in the leg and shoulder.  He got on his horse and rode home.  Squire Snodgrass was a young man aged about 22 and unmarried.  Emmett is about 32, married and has 5 children.  The shooting cast a gloom over the neighborhood and the people are dumbfounded.  Emmett Snodgrass, it will be remembered, killed Jas. Bethuram near this place in 1878.  He afterward moved to Illinois but returned here two years since.  He is a brother of Mrs. J. J. Brown, of this place, and of Rev. E. Snodgrass, a missionary at Tokyo, Japan. [1]


[April 11, 1890] -


A Fatal Shooting Affray Between Brothers in Kentucky.

MT. VERNON, Ky., April 11.-- About eight miles from this place yesterday afternoon Emmet Snodgrass shot and killed his brother Squire.  They had a dispute last Monday over a horse trade.  Yesterday afternoon Emmett went to William Collier's where Squire was living.  Mrs. Collier, the mother of the boys, fearing they would meet and have trouble, was taking Squire in the back way, when Emmett followed and opened fire.

Squire drew his pistol and fired twice.  Emmett shot six times.  Squire fell dead, shot through the right and left breasts.  Emmett was shot in the leg and right shoulder.  He got on his horse and rode home. 

It will be remembered that Emmett Snodgrass shot and killed James Belhuram near this place in 1878.  He is a brother of Rev. E. S. Snodgrass, a Christian missionary at Tokio, Japan. [2]


[April 22, 1890] -

A message from our Mt. Vernon reporter says Emmett Snodgrass for killing his brother, Squire, was tried before Esquire Elder Friday and held without bail.  He was jailed there that evening. [3]


[March 13, 1891] -

The trial of Emmett Snodgrass, for killing his brother, was called Wednesday.  Four jurymen were secured and the court is still engaged in getting a jury. [4]


[March 15, 1891] -


A Garrard County Jury Finds Emmett Snodgrass Not Guilty of Murder.

Public Opinion Against the Man Changes Rapidly and the Verdict Gives Satisfaction.

Mt. Vernon, Ky., March 14.-- (Special.)-- Emmett Snodgrass was to-day acquitted by a jury for the killing of his brother, Squire Snodgrass, one year ago. The examining court sent him to jail without bail. At the September term of the Circuit Court Judge Morrow refused to grant him bail, but a jury to-day, after a few hours' deliberation, sent him out of the court-house with his wife and three little children a free and happy man. The proof showed that the two brothers were very bitter enemies; that they met at their mother's house on the evening of April 8, 1890, when only one word was spoken, and that by Emmett, which was "look here, Squire," or "howdy Squire," and the shooting commenced. The witness for the prosecution, the mother and step-father, stated that Emmett fired twice before 'Squire drew his pistol. The defendant testified that 'Squire fired twice before he hit his mark. Snodgrass was ably prosecuted by employed counsel, in addition to the State's attorney, while he was penniless, the court having to appoint counsel for him. Among the counsel appointed was Hon. W. O. Bradley, who made one of the best speeches of his life in defense of his client. Until the trial began public sentiment had been very bitter against Snodgrass, but the past few days it was changed in his favor, and the verdict, while not giving universal satisfaction, is favorably received. Emmett Snodgrass is the same who, in 1878, killed James Bethurum, at this place, for which he was also acquitted by a jury of this county. [5]


[March 17, 1891] -

ACQUITTED.--Emmett Snodgrass, who killed his brother, Squire Snodgrass, about a year ago, was acquitted by a Rockcastle jury Saturday. [6]


[March 20, 1891] -

The case of Emmett Snodgrass, charged with killing his brother, Squire, in April, 1890, was called in court here last Wednesday.  A jury was completed by Thursday afternoon.  The case was given to the jury Friday night.  A verdict of acquittal was returned Saturday morning.  It will be remembered that at the examining trial Snodgrass was refused bail.  Later applications were of no avail.  The evidence went to show that the brothers had been bitter enemies for some time and had had several disputes and quarrels.  When they met on the day of the tragedy shooting was opened as soon as they caught sight of each other.  Emmett's mother testified that he began the shooting.  The wound received by Emmett in his shoulder was such as to indicate that it was possible he received the ball before he fired.  This was the line on which the principal argument was based by the defense. [7]


[March 7, 1892] -





The Man Who Had Slain One Brother is Shot Dead by Another.


Special Dispatch to the CHRONICLE.
MOUNT VERNON (Ky.), March 6.-- Emmett Snodgrass, Town Marshal, was shot and killed yesterday by his brother, Isaac Snodgrass.  It was the result of Emmett having killed his brother "Squire" Snodgrass two years ago.  At that time Isaac sent word to Emmett that he had killed his favorite brother, and requested him not to speak to him.

At Crab Orchard, some time last year, the two first met.  Emmett drew a pistol and attempted to shoot Isaac, but bystanders interfered. Emmett then apparently settled down to lead a peaceful life and was elected Town Marshal of Mount Vernon.

Isaac had been in town a number of times, but always avoided Emmett.  The latter a number of times hunted him up, threatening to kill him.  Last week Isaac was in town.  Emmett met him and began the usual abuse, when Isaac told him to go away and not bother him, saying: "You killed one of our brothers; don't add another to the list.  I don't want to be killed or to kill any one."

Yesterday they met, but bloodshed was averted by the interference of citizens.  Isaac went home, armed himself with a double-barreled shotgun and started to the house of William Cash, a neighbor.  Emmett left with the intention of going to the same place.  Cash's house is off the main road, and the two brothers met at the turning-off place.

Isaac says when they met Emmett jerked out his pistol and he raised his gun.  Emmett fired one shot, missing Isaac.  The latter fired, bringing Emmett and his horse to the ground.  Isaac then fired again, killing Emmett.

Emmett Snodgrass in 1878 killed James Bethurum.  He was acquitted for this killing and left the State, going to Joliet, Ill., where he killed a negro who failed to get off the end of Snodgrass' wagon when commanded.  After returning to this county his brother "Squire" built a house on his own land and allowed Emmett to occupy it and cultivate the land free of charge.

They frequently quarreled.  One day in 1890 Emmett went over to where "Squire" was living, at his mother's, and when he met him both began firing.  "Squire" fell at the second shot.  His mother rushed up and placed "Squire's" head upon her lap, when Emmett remarked: "Three out of four is pretty good marksmanship, ain't it mother?" Emmett was arrested, but finally acquitted. [8]


[March 8, 1892] -

A FRATRICIDE SLAIN BY ANOTHER BROTHER. -- Near Mt. Vernon Emmett Snodgrass was shot and killed by his brother, Isaac Snodgrass. It will be remembered that Emmett killed his brother Squire over some difference about their father's estate, but was acquitted, after a long time. Isaac was in the West at the time, but he returned at once and refused to have anything to do with Emmett, whom he asked not to speak to him. This angered Emmett and he has on several occasions tried to raise a row with his brother. The final meeting was in the road, when Emmett jerked out his pistol and fired at Isaac missing him. Issac then fired two shots at Emmett with a shotgun, hitting him each time and reloading sent 15 buckshot through his head. Isaac then gave himself up. Emmett had killed two other men besides his brother, James Bethurum and a negro, and deserved the death he died. For some time he had been marshal of Mt. Vernon. He leaves a wife and three children, who will probably be better off without him. [9]


[March 8, 1892] -


The Victim Had Killed Another Brother Two Years Before.

LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 8.-- Near Mount Vernon Saturday evening Emmett Snodgrass, town marshal, was shot and killed by his brother, Isaac Snodgrass.  It was the result of Emmett having killed his brother, "Squire" Snodgrass, some two years ago.  Emmett Snodgrass in 1878 killed James Bethurum.  The quarrel leading up to the killing of Bethurum began in 1876, when Andy Cummins, a brother-in-law of Bethurum, with three other men charged with various crimes from burglary to murder, were taken by a mob from the Mount Vernon jail and hanged to one of the old gallows west of the town.  Snodgrass was finally acquitted for this killing but left the state, going to Joliet, Ill., where he killed a negro who failed to get off the end of Snodgrass' wagon when commanded. [10]


[March 9, 1892] -


Who Attempted to Take His Life and Then Surrendered.

MOUNT VERNON, Ky., March 9. -- Isaac Snodgrass shot and killed his brother Emmett.  The latter's body was literally filled with buckshot and his horse was shot and killed from under him.

Emmett was a tough man, who had killed three men--the last one being his brother Shire Snodgrass, with whom Emmett quarreled on account of a land claim.  This murder caused a coolness between Isaac and Emmett, the former telling the latter not to speak to him.  Emmett had tried several times to provoke a quarrel, but Isaac always evaded it.

The men met while Isaac was going along the road with a shotgun.  Emmett drew his revolver and fired, but missed.  Isaac then let go both barrels of his shotgun, Emmett falling from his horse.  He attempted to fire again, when Isaac reloaded his gun and fired again, putting out his life.  Isaac surrendered. [11]


[March 11, 1892] -

Isaac Snodgrass slew his brother Emmet, in self defense, near Mt. Vernon, Ky., last Saturday.  Emmet had previously killed three men, one of the another brother, Squire Snodgrass, and this circumstance caused bad feeling that brought on the present fratricide, as Isaac sympathized with his murdered brother.  Still another brother, Eugene Snodgrass, is a foreign missionary, stationed in Tokio, Japan.  It looks like the godly member of the family made a mistake in selecting a field for his missionary work.  He should have remained at home. [12]


[March 18, 1892] -

As mentioned in your Tuesday's issue, Isaac Snodgrass was acquitted at his examining trial Saturday for the killing of his brother Emmett on March the 5th.  The case was called Saturday afternoon before Police Judge J. G. Carter, Judge Lair being detained at home on account of the death of his son.  After the examination of probably 40 witnesses and the case argued by G. W. McClure for the Commonwealth and C. C. Williams for the defense, it was submitted to the court, who found the defendant justifiable in what he did.  The evidence showed an ugly state of affairs between the brothers had existed for some time, at least so far as the deceased was concerned.  It showed that Emmett had been attempting on every occasion to pick a quarrel with Isaac and on the day of their fatal meeting on the highway Emmett fired the first shot. [13]


[March 18, 1892] -

James Ballew, who has been in jail for some time charged with shooting at Town Marshal Snodgrass, has been released, there being no witness since the death of Snodgrass. [13]


[March 22, 1892] -

The grand jury of Rockcastle failed to indict Isaac Snodgrass for the murder of his brother, Emmett. [14]


[1] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 11, 1890. Page 1. LOC.

[2] "Fight in the Family." The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. April 11, 1890. Page 1. LOC.

[3] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 22, 1890. Page 3. LOC.

[4] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 13, 1891. Page 1. LOC.

[5] "Acquitted of the Murder." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. March 15, 1891. Page 9.

[6] "Acquitted." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 17, 1891. Page 3. LOC.

[7] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 20, 1891. Page 1. LOC.

[8] "A Kentucky Feud." San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA. March 7, 1892. Page 2.

[9] "A Fratricide." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 3, 1892. Page 3. LOC.

[10] "Murdered His Brother." Muskegon Chronicle, Muskegon, MI. March 8, 1892. Page 6.

[11] "Killed His Brother." The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. March 9, 1892. Page 1. LOC.

[12] Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. March 11, 1892. Page 3. LOC.

[13] Excerpts from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 18, 1892. Page 1. LOC.

[14] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 22, 1892. Page 3. LOC.


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