September 24, 2014

Murders Involving Mary Sigman, the Scarlet Woman of Roundstone, Rockcastle, 1880-1882

Previously:

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

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These are articles relating to murders involving Mary Sigman, the "scarlet woman of Roundstone." Some of these articles claim that as many as 8 to 11 men were killed in fights over her. However, I could only find articles for three (Wat Bishop, Adam Hysinger, and James Rhodus), as well as articles about the murder of Mary Sigman herself, and her mother Bettie Sigman. 


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[May 28, 1880] -

Last Saturday night a most terrible double homicide occurred in this county.  The tragedy was enacted about 11 o'clock at the bagnio [def: bordello/brothel] of the notorious Mary Sigman in the Big Hurricane on the head of Roundstone. The participants were Albert T. Fish, Jr., who figured as the slayer, and Wat Bishop and Adam Hysinger, the parties who were slain. The spectators were McClellan Williams and Mary Sigman.  The particulars, as I have been able to gather them are from the statement of Williams, and are as follows: Fish and Williams went to the house of Mary Sigman about 10 o'clock.  After they had been there perhaps an hour Bishop and Hysinger came in. Nothing passed between them except the ordinary salutations.  In a little while Bishop, who was drunk, left his seat, staggered out to the door and fired off a pistol.  Williams went out and begged him not to shoot any more, lest he should frighten the horses.  This enraged Bishop, who began to curse Williams, and to tell him that if "he had anything to draw it and defend himself."  Williams responded that he was unarmed, and almost immediately Bishop turned and fired at Fish who had come out of the house.  Hysinger had also come out and was standing near.  Fish drew his pistol and returned Bishop's fire, sending a ball through the brain of the latter, who fell to the ground and died in a short time. Fish then opened fire on Hysinger, who dropped at the first shot, but rose to his feet and ran for his life.  Fish continued firing until he had emptied his pistol, a five-shot Smith & Weston, 38 calibre.  Hysinger ran about two hundred yards and fell dead. His body was found the next morning lying in the bushes above the house.  Fish left in a short time and surrendered himself to Sheriff W. H. Albright, who brought him before Judge McClure, Monday, and his trial was set for Wednesday.  The bodies of the dead men were brought to the residence of Samuel Hysinger, the father of one of them, and buried on Monday.  Before burial a post mortem examination was made by Drs. W. P. McKee and J. J. Brown.  They found that the ball which killed Bishop entered the left temple and passing back through the brain shattered the back of the skull.  On Hysinger there were two wounds, one entering just below the mouth, and ranging round till it severed the jugular vein; the other entered in the small of the back and passing through the bowels.  At the calling of the trial on Wednesday the witness, Mary Sigman, was absent, and an adjournment was had until yesterday (Thursday).  Fish is defended by Isaac Stuart and Hon. W. O. Bradley.  This terrible affair has thrown a gloom over the entire county.  Fish is the son of Albert T. Fish, who is one of our wealthiest and most prominent fathers, and is about twenty years of age, and has heretofore been a quiet, well-behaved boy.  His father seems almost heart-broken.  Wat Bishop had no immediate relative here, except Hysinger whose cousin he was. Hysinger was a quiet, honest, industrious young man.  His father is a good citizen, and an old man who is bowed down with anguish over the death of his boy. The sympathies of the community are freely shared with these fathers, and whatever the result of this trial, I hope the great shock which this killing produced will operate to restrain the commission of crime in the future.

[Special Dispatch to the INTERIOR JOURNAL.]

Fish was acquitted for killing Bishop and held in two thousand dollars bail for killing Hysinger. [1]




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[August 20, 1880] -

The Grand Jury returned about 25 indictments, mostly for misdemeanors, the smallest number that has been returned by any Grand Jury for years. They failed to indict A. T. Fish, Jr., for killing Hysinger about two months ago. An affidavit of some sort was filed, however, and Judge Owsley held the defendant to await the action of the next Grand Jury. [2]




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[September 24, 1880] -

James Rhodus, of this county, was killed at a house of ill fame in Rockcastle last Sunday night, by James Hardin.  It was all over a woman by the name of Mary Sigman. This makes the fifth man who has poured out his blood for her in her own house. [3]




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[October 1, 1880] -

Another man has been killed in Rockcastle.  Last Sunday a week ago, at the bagnio of that most notorious prostitute, Mary Sigman, Jim Rhodus, of Madison county, and Jim Hardin, of this county, engaged in a difficulty about the woman, which resulted in Rhodus receiving a stab through the heart.  It is supposed that the wound was inflicted by Hardin, though many believe that Mary Sigman herself did the murder.  Rhodus about three years ago became infatuated with the strumpet, forsook his wife and family, and spent all his time at her bagnio.  He had squandered all his means, and it is known that Mary has for sometime endeavored to rid herself o fhim.  This victim makes in all nine (some reports say eleven) men who have been killed over this woman.  There is, however, about her nothing attractive that is visible.  She is about 25 years of age, and is the other of five children--a girl and four boys.  For ten years she has led her life of shame, and in that time she has been the mistress of more men than any other woman in Kentucky.  When once she assumes control of a man, it is rare if his infatuate does not lead him to his death.  Her face is blank, expressionless; her lips are thick, and she has a flat, boneless nose; her eyes are a dull, pale blue, though occasionally a devillish light flashes in them, making their expression peculiar.  She is low in stature; her voice is low and sometimes soft; she is modest in her manners, though she is nervous in her movements.  That is Mary Sigman, for whom so much blood has been shed.  James Hardin is a young man, and has always borne is good character.  He and the Sigman are both under arrest.  Their trial has already been twice called and continued because of the absence of an eye-witness to the difficulty.  The day now fixed for the investigation is next Tuesday.  The killing of Rhodus has caused considerable excitemant in the Berea neighborhood, of Madison county. [4]







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[October 8, 1880] -

James Hardin and Mary Sigman had their examining trial for the murder of James Rhodus before Esquires Cook and Taylor at Reedville last Tuesday.  The theory of the defense was that Rhodus killed himself by falling on his own knife.  The defendants had separate trials and testified for each other.  Mary Sigman alone swore that Rhodus was fighting with a pocket-knife.  The other witnesses all swore that he used a table-knife, and consequently could not have killed himself.  The wound on Rhodus' person, the dying exclamation of Rhodus, the testimony of Betsy Sigman and all the facts and circumstances in the case utterly disproved the theory of the defense, a`nd fastened a clear case of guilt on Hardin. But Mary Sigman came to his relief, and though she confessed on the witness stand that she had made different statements of the affair to various parties, and admitted that she thought Rhodus ought to be killed, yet she made sufficient impression on the Court to afford Hardin temporary freedom.  After the testimony was all heard,  and the case had been argued pro and con, the Court retired for consultation.  'Squire Taylor though there were reasonable grounds sufficient to hold the prisoner, but 'Squire Cook thought he ought to be discharged from custody.  The Justices wrangled with each other for about an hour and a half, and finally brought in a "verdict" of not guilty.  The prisoners were thereupon discharged.  Hardin will hardly escape indictment by the grand jury. [5]







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[March 8, 1882] -

MT. VERNON, KY., March 8, 1882.-- Mary Sigman while sitting in a room with her five children and her mother, was shot and killed by an unknown man.  The murderer afterward returned and sent a bullet through the body of the mother.  James Bishop, a rough character from Tennessee, was arrested charged with the crime.  Two men were killed some time ago at the Sigman house, and this last murder it is believed, was committed for revenge. [6]







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[March 10, 1882] -


A. S. Henderson and Wm. Hysinger have been arrested as accomplices in the Sigman murder at Mt. Vernon, Ky. [7]




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[March 10, 1882] -

A crime, so atrocious as to be without parallel, was committed in this county last Monday night.  All black with crimes of the very worst sort has been the history of the county heretofore, but the horror of Monday night has added a page of hellish blackness.

About seven miles from this place, and North of here, in the head of a hollow that leads into Roundstone Creek is a little cabin, situated in the woods, wherein have dwelt for the past twelve months, Mary Sigman and her family. Mary has long been widely known as the celebrated courtesan of Upper Roundstone. Her family consisted of her mother, Bettie Sigman, aged about seventy years, and five children - two boys and three girls - whose ages range from fifteen to six years. Mary has, for some months, been enceinte [def: with child], and the arrival of another baby would have been among the events of the next few weeks.

Last Monday night the inmates of the little cabin retired to bed as usual. There is only one room in the house and this was made to contain three beds. Mary occupied one bed, her mother and the twin girls slept in another, and the two boys and youngest girl were tucked away in the trundle bed. Mary was restless, complained of being sick and none of the family slept well.

About midnight there came a knock at the door and a voice saying, "open the door."

"Who is that?" inquired Mary.

"Never mind who it is; open the door," was the answer.

"It's Ham. Brannaman," said old Bettie Sigman, who doubtless thought she recognized the voice.

"Is that you, Ham?" said Mary, getting up and opening the door. A man entered holding his hands up before his face.

"Who are you and what do you want?" Mary inquired again.

"Never mind who; I want to see you a minute," answered the man.

There was very little light in the room, save that made by a few flickering flames from some chunks in the fire. Mary lighted a lamp. The man blew it out, but not till the older boy and the twins had seen him sufficiently well to be able readily to recognize him afterwards. Mary asked the man to have a chair, and to excuse her for not staying up that she was sick. She returned to her bed. After sitting awhile the man got up and came to Mary's bedside.

"I am awful drunk," he said; "what is good for a drunk man?"

Mary laughed. "The best thing is to get sober, I reckon," she said lightly. She could not have suspected the man's evil mission.

"Get up, said the man, "I want to talk to you."

"I can't," said Mary "I'm sick, I don't know who you are; please go away and let me alone."

The man insisted on her getting up. "I want to talk to you a while," he said.

At last Mary told him to go to the fire and she would get up. He returned to his chair and she arose and took a seat beside him. The man sat in a stooping position, his face buried in his hands.

Directly Mary said: "If you want to say anything to me, say it now, for I am sick and must go back to bed."

"Wait," said the man, "until I get a drink." He got up and went towards the door where a bucket of water sat upon a shelf. Just as he reached the door he turned, and pointing a pistol at Mary, fired.

She sprang to her feet and rushed down between the beds shouting: "For God's sake, don't kill me and my little children!"

Another shot followed the first in quick succession. The woman dropped to the floor. Death must have been instantaneous. But the assassin continued to fire amid screams of the children and old Bettie Sigman. After emptying his pistol into Mary's body, he went out. In a little while he returned. Old Bettie was standing between the beds, wringing her hands and uttering cries of anguish, her daughter's corpse lying at her feet. The assassin leveled his pistol again and a bullet sped through old Bettie's brain. She fell across the bed a corpse. Other shots were fired at her and then the fiend turned the weapon again on the lifeless body of Mary. He fired about fifteen shots in all, and then left the house.

The frightened children did not stir for a long time. At last the older boy told the others to keep still and he would go and fetch the neighbors. With the first streaks of dawn a large crowd of men and women had gathered at the cabin.  The spectacle which met their gaze was horrible beyond recital. The floor was spattered with blood and strew with brains. There was blood on the walls and ceiling, blood everywhere.

On Mary's body were nine wounds. One ball entered her body behind between the shoulders and came out through the right breast; another passed through the left breast, through the heart, lodging in the back; another passed in at the small of the back lodging in the front part of the abdomen; two balls went thro' the brain. Any one of those five wounds was necessarily fatal.  A ball had gone through each wrist; another passed thro' the right arm, between the elbow and shoulder, and still another had passed through the left breast, making a flesh wound. Two wounds only were found on old Bettie, both in the head, and either of them fatal.

The women prepared the bodies for burial; the men began to make investigations. Just outside the door were found a number of empty cartridge hulls. Some tracks were discovered, one made by a fine boot, with small heel, and a plate on the heels, fastened evidently with large screws or tacks.

The older boy, whose name is Jason, and the twins, Lucy and Mary, aged eleven years, told their story of the occurrence. They gave the account which has been here written, with the additional information of a description of the man, and that he was followed into the house by a little dark, brindle dog, which old Bettie had driven out.

From the description given by the children, Bob Lear, a neighbor present, recognized the assassin.

"It's Jim Bishop, a brother of Wat. Bishop, who was killed at Mary's house more than a year ago," he said; "I saw him riding behind Sam. Hysinger. They were going to Wm. Hysinger's."

A consultation was held and it was decided on to arrest Bishop. Constable James Lear and two other men went to Wm. Hysinger's where they found Bishop at breakfast. He was taken into custody.

His pistol was found in a table drawer in the house. It was a Smith & Wesson, double-action, No. 38 calibre. Four of the chambers were loaded and one was empty. Into this empty chamber was slipped one of the cartridge hulls picked up before Mary Sigman's door. It fitted exactly.

Bishop wore a pair of fine boots, with small heels. On the heels were metal plates, fastened with large screws or tacks.

He was taken by his captors to Mary Sigman's cabin. The children all recognized him as the man who had killed their mother. This, before they knew he had been arrested.

He was brought to town, taken before Judge McClure, and his trial fixed for today (Friday). About the time he reached town, Wm. Hysinger (Bishop's cousin), and A. S. Henderson (Hysinger's brother-in-law), came in and said that they would swear that Bishop stayed at Wm. Hysinger's the night before; that Henderson and his wife also stayed there and Henderson and Bishop slept together.

This speedy vindication of Bishop had an effect contrary to what was expected. Later in the day a warrant was issued for Hysinger and Henderson, charging them as accomplices of Bishop in the murder.

A Coroner's inquest was held over the dead bodies of Bettie and Mary Sigman. The testimony of the children and that of Drs. McKee and Brown was heard and the verdict of the jury was that they came to their death at the hands of James Bishop. The tracks of three persons were found leading from the barn near Wm. Hysinger's house to Mary Sigman's cabin and back again. Wm. Hysinger has a little dog which answers very well the description of the dog at Mary's cabin the night of the murder. There are other circumstances that point towards the guilt of the parties accused. A full and fair investigation will be had and if they are innocent they will be vindicated; if guilty they will be punished, no doubt, as they deserve.

It will be remembered that in May or June, 1880, Wat. Bishop and Adam Hysinger were killed at Mary Sigman's one night by Ab. Fish. The Hysinger's have ever been unrelenting in their hatred of Fish and Mary Sigman. James Bishop came here last Friday from near Jonesville, Tenn. It has been said by the Hysinger's, so the report goes, that when Bishop came here the trouble about Wat and Adam's death would be settled.

James Bishop is about 5 feet 10 inches high, broad-shouldered, big-boned, and well-muscled. His age is 23 years, and he weighs 138 pounds. His eyes and hair are black, and he has a light, black mustache. His voice is course and the tones are drawling. He is in jail--Hysinger and Henderson are under guard. Bishop says he came here on business and intended to go West in a few days. It is supposed he gratified his vengeance for his brother's and cousin's death by this cowardly assassination of weak, helpless, defenseless women. Why, if it was vengeance he sought, did he not seek the man who killed his brother and cousin?

Mary Sigman has had a strange, eventful history. She was seduced at 14 years of age. At that time she was pretty, intelligent and promising. She has always lived in the country 'round about the upper Roundstone. For the past 15 years she has been the acknowledged queen of the courtesans in that section. She inspired men with a peculiar infatuation. It is said that, first and last, she has been the cause of the death of 8 men, and she has certainly been the mistress of more men than ever paid homage to one of her class in all this section of the State. She was a little woman of good form, active and compact. Her hands and feet were small and well fashioned. She had a small, round face, plain and expressiveless. Her eyes were a light hazel, and her hair was auburn. Her mouth might be considered pretty. The lips a trifle thick and decidedly sensual. Her eyes when she was animated, had a peculiar semi-fascinating lustre. She must have been about 33 years of age, but she did not look a day older than 25. The poor Sigman! To have been thus cruelly shot to death by a cowardly assassin! Surely, she deserved a different fate, even if a bloody one. For 'spite her long career of sin and the many blood stories in her history, there was something of the romantic in this woman and her life. She had a good heart, they say, and was never known to go back on a friend. Her disposition was quite a happy one, for she was always gay, except when she was in temporary mourning for some fellow who had killed some other fellow, or had been killed himself for her sake. And in all the difficulties that have been over and about her, it is not known that she ever handled a weapon. They say, too, that she was as truthful as the most truthful. She would not tell a lie, and her veracity was never called in question. After all, perhaps, she was not so bad as she was painted by some. It may be, she was only unfortunate. At any rate, now that she is dead, and her fate was so horrible, can we not all find it in our hearts to say, God, pity her?  [8]



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[March 10, 1882] -

An unknown man walked into the house of Mary Sigman, a woman of bad repute near Mt. Vernon, Ky., and shot and killed her and her mother, aged eighty years.  The assassin fired thirteen shots in all, nine of which took effect on the younger woman.  James Bishop  has been arrested, and warrants are out for A. S. Henderson and William Hysinger, as confederates. [9]







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[March 14, 1882] -

MARY SIGMAN, a famous scarlet woman of Roundstone, seven miles from Mt. Vernon, Ky., and her mother, Rhoda Sigman, were assassinated at their cabin home the past week.  There were nine wounds in the body of Mary, five of which were singly fatal.  The assassin fired fifteen shots in all. After the assassin's departure, Mary's children gave the alarm to the neighbors.  James Bishop has been arrested for the crime, and A. S. Henderson and William Hysinger as accessories.  James Bishop is a brother of Wat. Bishop, who was killed at Mary Sigman's house more than a year ago. Wm. Hysinger is brother of Adam Hysinger, who was killed at the same time with Wat. Bishop.  The Bishops and Hysingers are cousins.  The circumstantial evidence against these men is very strong.  Henderson is brother-in-law of Hysinger.  The general opinion is that Mary Sigman was murdered as a gratification of vengeance for the death of Wat. Bishop and Adam Hysinger, who were killed by Ab. Fisher. [10]



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[March 14, 1882] -


An unknown assassin, murdered Mrs. Mary Sigman and her aged mother, while they were sleeping in their beds near Mt. Vernon, Ky., last week. [11]






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[March 17, 1882] -

On Tuesday the trial of James Bishop, A. J. Henderson and Wm. Hysinger, alleged murderers of Mary and Bettie Sigman was called before Judge McClure.  The defendants were represented by the following array of counsel: Judge Geo. Denny, Jr., Col. W. O. Bradley, J. K. McClary, J. W. Brown, F. H. Reppert.  The County Attorney was assisted by J. B. Fish and N. D. Wilmot.  The Court-house was filled with people.  The County Attorney announced that the Commonwealth was ready to proceed with the investigation.  Col. Bradley then stated that the defense desired to use Judge McClure as a witness, and in view of this fact he presumed the Judge would not care to preside in the case.  The County Attorney remarked that the air had been well charged for several days with a rumor that Judge McClure would be sworn off of the case, and he hoped the Judge would insist on an affidavit before he vacated the bench; that the prosecution were willing for Judge McClure to preside in the case even though he was a witness for the defense. Judge McClure then announced that if the defendants objected to his trying the case they must file their affidavit and follow the course prescribed by law.  The affidavit was at once made and presented. A new court was organized immediately, consisting of 'Squires A. J. Pike and H. D. Burnett. The Court Attorney stated that he had no power to object to 'Squire Pike, but that relatives of the deceased preferred that he would not sit in the case. 'Squire Pike desired to withdraw from the case, but the defendants' attorneys insisted that he should remain.  He finally consented to stay in the case.  It is generally believed that the Court will do what is right.  The defendants filed an affidavit asking for a continuance of the case, which was granted.  The trial was set for yesterday (Thursday), and it was expected that it would certainly begin as soon as the Court convened.  Since the adjournment of Court on Tuesday, Col. W. G. Welch and Judge M. C. Saufley, of Stanford, have been employed for the prosecution.  They came up Wednesday evening.  The horrible murder of Mary Sigman and her mother, and the consequent trial of these parties are the all-absorbing topics among our people who are determined that the affair shall be fully investigated. [12]



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[March 17, 1882] -


THE ROUNDSTONE MURDERS.


First Day of the Trial of Bishop, Hysinger and Henderson for the Sigman Killings.

THE TESTIMONY MAY CLOSE TO-DAY.

[Special to the Courier-Journal.]

MT. VERNON, KY., March 16. -- The first day of the trial of Bishop, Hysinger and Henderson, alleged murders of Mary and Bettie Sigman, is over. When court opened this morning the house was again full of people, many of whom were witnesses, and others drawn thither by an eager curiosity to hear the details of the bloody murder of the Roundstone courtesan and her mother. The counsel for the prosecution had been materially strengthened since the previous adjournment by Col. W. G. Welch and Judge M. C. Saufly, who have been employed to assist the County Attorney. In numbers the attorneys for the prosecution and defense are even, there being five on either side. After some preliminary skirmishing both sides announced themselves ready to

BEGIN THE INVESTIGATION.

at which there was a great sigh of relief from the crowd of spectators. This was destined soon to be changed to a howl of dissatisfaction, however, for Judge Denny, of defendants' counsel, at once arose and asked, on the part of the defense, that all spectators be excluded from the court room. The Court granted the request, though no reason for it was shown. The witnesses being first sworn and placed under rule, all the spectators be excluded from the court room. The Court granted the request, though no reason for it was shown. The witnesses being first sworn and placed under rule, all the spectators were sent out of the court-room. The doors were then closed.

Judge Denny now moved that each defendant have a separate trial. This motion was discussed at some length, and finally overruled by the Court, who decided to try all three defendants together.

THE TESTIMONY

then began, and up to the time of adjournment this evening eleven witnesses for the Commonwealth had been examined. Their testimony in substance showed the killing of Wat Bishop and Adam Hysinger at Mary Sigman's house, nearly two years ago; the arrival of James Bishop at this place from Tennessee on the 3d of this month; his staying at old man Hysinger's until Sunday; afterward his going on that day in company with the old man and William Hysinger to the latter's house; his being at William Hysinger's on the evening of the murder; the fact that Henderson went over to William Hysinger's on the same evening to spend the night; the finding of the tracks of three men on the next day leading from William Hysinger's to Mary Sigman's cabin; the ownership of the little dog, which was proven to be the property of William Hysinger;

THE ARREST OF BISHOP,

his description by parties who saw him on Sunday and Monday before the murder, which corresponds exactly with the description given of the murder by Mary Sigman's children at the Coroner's inquest, and other circumstances heretofore published and already familiar to those who have read the history of this terrible crime. In fact, the testimony, so far as it has gone, is almost identical with the details of the killing as heretofore published.

The trial will probably run into Saturday, though it may be finished tomorrow.

M. T. J.  [13]



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[March 21, 1882] -

The trial of Jas. Bishop, A. S. Henderson and Wm. Hysinger, for the Sigman murder, closed last Saturday.  It resulted in Bishop being held without bail; A. S. Henderson held in the sum of $1,000 and Wm. Hysinger $500 for their appearance on the first day of the next August term of the Circit Court.  Henderson and Hysinger gave the bonds required, after a great deal of trouble.  Samuel Hysinger, David Hysinger, A. J. Henderson, W. O. Bradley and J. K. McClary are their bondsmen.  Bishop's attorneys requested that he be sent to Lancaster for safe keeping, whereupont he order was made directing him to be taken to that place.  The Sheriff and his deputies started with him on Monday. [14]




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[March 24, 1882] -

It is currently reported here that Harve Mink met James Bishop in Laurel county as he was coming out.  Bishop asked Mink if he knew the Hysingers, where they lived and all about them.  Mink told him all he knew, and then Bishop asked him if he knew Mary Sigman and where she lived.  He told him he knew in the neighborhood of where she lived.  Bishop then told him that he had a brother killed at the house, and that he was going out there to settle with her for it.  How true this is I am not prepared to say; but it is known upon good authority that James Bishop had a difficulty with his brother-in-law in Tennessee about 5 weeks ago, in which he shot at the latter and had to leave the State to avoid arrest. [15]







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[March 24, 1882] -

Jas. Bishop, the supposed murderer of the Sigman woman in Rockcastle county, is in our jail [Garrard] for safe keeping. [16]



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[August 18, 1882] -

The grand jury returned two indictments for murder against James Bishop, A. S. Henderson and William Hysinger.  One indictment is for the killing of Mary SIgman, the other for the killing of Betty Sigman.  The defendants asked for separate trials which was granted. The trial of Bishop was set for to-day (Friday). [17]



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[August 22, 1882] -

MT. VERNON.--The trial of Bishop, for the murder of the Sigman woman, was continued for the defense, his counsel, Mr. W. O. Bradley, claiming that he was physically unable to go into it.  The case of Nunneley, for the murder of an unknown man in Pulaski, was continued by the Commonwealth because of the absence of Sam Wood, the important negro witness. [18]






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[January 12, 1883] -

James Bishop and A. S. Henderson, two of the defendants charged with the murder of Mary Sigman, made application to the Court for a change of venue in their trials.  The application was resisted by the prosecution and testimony was heard pro and con.  After hearing the evidence Judge Alcorn decided that while it was apparent a jury could be obtained in this county, yet from the evidence it was also apparent that there would be considerable pressure brought to bear on them by the public, the evidence showing that public sentiment was very decidedly against the defendants, and believing the defendants could not here obtain such a fair trial as the law contemplates, he therefore granted the application.  The case goes to Garrard county for trial.  William Hysinger, the other defendant, will have his trial here. [19]





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[January 12, 1883] -

James Bishop and A. S. Henderson, two of the three individuals who were made famous by being charged with the murder of Mary Sigman, the celebrated Roundstone courtesan, applied to the court for a change of venue from this county. The application was resisted by the prosecution, and testimony was heard pro and con. The court granted the application, and the case will be sent to Garrard county. Wm. Hysinger, the other defendant, will have his trial in this county. [20]  (See this post for image)


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[March 30, 1883] -

Circuit Court begins at London Monday, when the Sigman murder trial comes up.  There is a large number of witnesses, and if it is tried will consume about all of the first week of the court.  James Bishop, one of the men accused of the murder, is in the London jail, where he was removed from Lancaster last August. [21]



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[April 6, 1883] -

The case of the Commonwealth vs. James Bishop and others, is being tried at London this week. The attorneys from this place are J. K. McClary, J. W. Brown and Isaac A. Stewart for the defense; Col. Sam M. Burdett for the prosecution. The trial began Tuesday and will probably last all this week. About 100 witnesses have been summoned in this case. [22]





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[April 17, 1883] -

Jas. Bishop got off with a hung jury at London. This was a surprise to a great many persons who thought the proof was so positive against him that no jury could fail to bring in a verdict of guilty. Hard swearing by his witnesses, some of whom were his attorneys, succeeded in raising the "reasonable doubt" in the minds of the jury, hence their failure to agree. The jury stood 8 for acquittal 4 for conviction. The court fixed Bishop's bail at $3,000, which he has not yet given. The case against Henderson was continued until the next term. [23]





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[May 1, 1883] -

James Bishop has given bail and been released from the London jail. James and S. F. Brongton and Galion Sowder have been released on $300 bail each. [24]



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[March 30, 1883] -

Circuit Court begins at London Monday, when the Sigman murder trial comes up. There is a large number of witnesses, and if it is tried will consume about all of the first week of the court. James Bishop, one of the men accused of the murder, is in the London jail, where he was removed from Lancaster last August. [25]




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[September 21, 1883] -


The Laurel Circuit Court begins next Monday.  The Bishop-Sigman murder case is to be tried again this court. [26]




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[October 9, 1883] -

The trial of James Bishop, for the murder of Mary Sigman, which had been going on at London for several days terminated just as it did before, with a hung jury; 8 for acquittal and 4 for conviction.  Bishop's bond was allowed to remain the same as before, $3,000. [27]




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[November 6, 1883] -

A report comes here of a shooting scrape on Roundstone Saturday. It is said that Ebb Cooley and a young man named Rogers came to James Hardin's and threatened to kill the little dog, which is an important witness in the Bishop case.  Ben Lear was present and picked the dog from the ground and ran and as he did so he was fired at by Cooley and Rogers.  Bullets passed through his hat and coat, but failed to hit his body.  Lear went before a magistrate and swore out a writ against them.  No arrests have been made yet. [28]







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[April 4, 1884] -

The Bishop-Sigman murder case came up at London Wednesday, and owing to the absence of Col. Burdett, who is assisting the Commonwealth's Attorney, and several witnesses was passed until Tuesday next. [29]





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[April 11, 1884] -

The selection of a jury in the case of the Commonwealth against James Bishop, was commenced Tuesday at London.  We learn that the jury was obtained from the men who were summoned from Whitley county.  The opinion is pretty general that that [sic] there will be no more hung juries in this case--that they will either acquit or convict at this term of court. The following attorneys from this place are engaged in the case: J. K. McClary, J. W. Brown and I. A. Stewart, all for the defense. [30]





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[April 1, 1890] -

Henderson, it will be remembered, was arrested some years since with Bishop, charged with murdering Mary Sigman, "the scarlet woman of Round Stone," and her mother, in the house where a brother of Bishop and young Hysinger were killed in a row.  No positive evidence being adduced at the trial Henderson was released, though there is no doubt he was along when the killing occurred.  Henderson's has been a chequered career.  He is accused of having burned a number of houses in Rockcastle and having killed Charles Krieger from the roadside some three years ago while on his way to Jackson county to buy walnut trees. [31]

(This is an excerpt from an article regarding the murder of Henderson by his brother-in-law James Burdin.)





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[1] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 28, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-05-28/ed-1/seq-2/

[2] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 20, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-08-20/ed-1/seq-2/

[3] Excerpt from "Madison County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 24, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-09-24/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 1, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-10-01/ed-1/seq-2/

[5] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 8, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-10-08/ed-1/seq-2/

[6] "Horrid Murder." Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. March 8, 1882. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069125/1882-03-08/ed-1/seq-3/

[7] "News Brevities." Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. March 10, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069125/1882-03-10/ed-1/seq-2/

[8] (Paragraph breaks added.) Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 10, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-03-10/ed-1/seq-2/

[9] Excerpt from "Around the Circle." The Bourbon News, Millersburg, KY. March 10, 1882. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069871/1882-03-10/ed-1/seq-4/

[10] Excerpt from "Current News." The Bourbon News, Millersburg, KY. March 14, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069871/1882-03-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[11] Excerpt from "State News." The South Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. March 14, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069392/1882-03-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[12] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 17, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-03-17/ed-1/seq-2/

[13] "The Roundstone Murders." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 17, 1882. Page 5. Newspapers.com.

[14] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 21, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-03-21/ed-1/seq-2/

[15] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 24, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-03-24/ed-1/seq-2/

[16] Excerpt from "Garrard County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 24, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-03-24/ed-1/seq-2/

[17] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 18, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-08-18/ed-1/seq-2/

[18] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 22, 1882. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-08-22/ed-1/seq-3/

[19] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 12, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-01-12/ed-1/seq-3/

[20] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. January 12, 1883. Page 5. Newspapers.com. (See this post for image.)

[21] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 30, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-03-30/ed-1/seq-3/

[22] Except from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 6, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-04-06/ed-1/seq-3/

[23] Except from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 17, 1883. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-04-17/ed-1/seq-2/

[24] Except from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 1, 1883. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-05-01/ed-1/seq-2/

[25] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 30, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-03-30/ed-1/seq-3/

[26] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 21, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-09-21/ed-1/seq-3/

[27] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 9, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-10-09/ed-1/seq-3/

[28] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 6, 1883. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-11-06/ed-1/seq-2/

[29] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 4, 1884. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1884-04-04/ed-1/seq-4/

[30] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 11, 1884. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1884-04-11/ed-1/seq-2/

[31] Excerpt from "Another Murder in Rockcastle." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 1, 1890. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1890-04-01/ed-1/seq-1/.  Full article transcribed here

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