September 28, 2014

Woman Drowned By Her Seducer in the Rockcastle River, Rockcastle, 1883

Previously:

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

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[April 24, 1883] -

[Special to the Interior Journal.]
MT. VERNON, April 23. -- Th[e] woman found in the river was named Mamie Bryant. She was brought to Dan Ball's by Bill Dunnegan, from Jackson county. Dunnegan had threatened to kill her if he could not get rid of her any other way. She had been missing since April 6th, Dunnegan left for Texas on the 9th. All the above was developed at the Coroner's inquest.     J. B. FISH [1]





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[May 11, 1883] -

CAUGHT.-- Wm. Dunegan, the scoundrel who is charged with seducing the drowning Nannie Bryant, in Rockcastle river, has been captured in Madison, Ark., and will be brought back for trial.  Larkin Bird, who was sent here for safe keeping from Laurel, says he heard Dunegan say he intended to kill the girl if he could get rid of her in no other way. [2]







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[May 15, 1883] -

William Dunigan, the man accused of murdering Nancy Jane Bryant on the 6th of last April, was arrested near St. Paul, Madison county, Ark., on the 3d inst., and brought back here Saturday. There is great excitement about this case and threats have been openly made against him. [3]





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[May 22, 1883] -


The examining trial of Wm. Dunegan, for killing Nancy Jane Bryant on the 6th of April last, took place Friday the 18th inst., and lasted nearly two days. The proof shows that Dunegan had seduced the girl and promised to take her to the West with him.  He lived in Jackson county; the girl also lived in that county. He got ready to go West, and met Dan Bales, who lived in Rockcastle, and who was selling out his things, and persuaded him to go also and they agreed to go together. Dunegan said he would wait for Bales. He went back to where the girl was staying and told her to stay there till he came for her on the next Wednesday, it being too muddy for him to walk so far, and if he did not come for her to come to Livingston station. He did not go for her, as he promised, and she started on foot to the depot. She had to pass Wm. Bales', a brother of Dan Bales, and when she got there it was about dark, Thursday night. Dan Bales and his family were staying at his brother's and he and Wm. Dunegan had gone to Livingston that day and when they came back Wm. Bales' wife told Dunnegan that his girl had come. He asked what her name was, and when told it was Nannie Bryant he pulled off his hat and coat and threw them on the ground saying: "If that girl has followed me down here I will kill her." Then he took his gun and started towards the house. The girl heard him coming and ran out the back way and down to Mrs. Nancy Bales' about 300 yds. below on the river.  They got his gun away from him and went down to Mrs. B.'s with him. The girl had heard him coming and ran down under the river bank to hide. It was raining and she was found leaning against the fence, very wet, when she was searched for by Mrs. Bales' girls. they brought her back to stay all night. Dunegan in the mean time had gone across the river to John Bales' to stay all night. Next morning he came over to Mrs. Bales' in company with John Bales and inquired if "that girl had been there," and looked all over the house, barn and out-houses. The girl had run out when she saw him coming and gone down toward the branch, where it runs into the river. Dunegan either saw her or her tracks and started after her in a fast run. He had a stick in his hand about the size of a man's thumb; he said he did not want to hurt her, but just wanted to hickory-whip her a little. He was seen to run the way the girl had gone by Ed Redmon and John Bales, who said they would go down there and not let him hurt her if they could help it. There was a point of a hill and some bushes between the house and the branch and Dunegan had got behind these before they followed in pursuit. It is about 600 yards from Mrs. Bales' to the river at the mouth of the branch, and about 30 yards to the bushes where D. got out of sight. When the men got to this place they saw D. coming back about 50 yards from the branch. They told him to come and go back to the house and let the girl alone. He said, "I will go back, but say, boys, don't say anything about my running the girl off, for it would hang me!" They all three went to the house, and Redmon and Dunegan went into the kitchen where Louisa Cundiff and Sara Bales (two daughters of Mrs. Nancy Bales) were. Dunegan said to them, "girls hold up your hands before the Good Lord and swear that if I should kill that girl you would never tell it, as it would hang me and it would be a pity to hang as good-looking a young man as me for such a thing as that." Before he said these words he asked the girls if they knew where Nancy Bryant was. Louisa told him she guessed she was in the river, and he said, "I hope she is," and made the above remark. Louisa Cundiff, her sister and Ed Redmon went down to look for her after D. had gone. They found but the two tracks, a man's and a woman's. When they got to the bank it looked like there had been a scuffle, and the woman's track was seen no more. Dunegan wrote a letter to Tom Bales from Arkansas asking if "he had seen anything of the lost girl, or have you seen any buzzards flying up or down the river? If you have, say nothing about it." He acknowledged that he had not heard from Kentucky since he left, when he was arrested. Probably the largest crowd that ever attended a trial in Mt. Vernon was present at this examination. Dunegan's wife was present and clung to him until he was put on the cars. His attorney offered to waive an examination, but was refused the privilege by the Court. The Commonwealth closed her testimony at 11 o'clock Saturday. The defense did not introduce any. Mr. Reppert argued for the deft. to be allowed bail, and Mr. Stewart, the county attorney, argued against it. The Court refused to grant bail, and the deft. was ordered to be taken to the jail at Stanford for safe keeping. He was conveyed to that place by Deputy Sheriffs White and J. W. Miller on the 12 o'clock train. [4]



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[August 17, 1883] -

The case against Dunnegan, against whom an indictment was found for the murder of the girl in Rockcastle, was continued till next Tuesday. A change of venue will be obtained if possible, which no doubt is well enough, for the feeling in this county is very strong against the prisoner. The evidence, which is altogether circumstantial, is very strong and many predict a pulling of hemp as an expiation of his crime. The witnesses for the defense and Commonwealth are on hand and constitute a good crowd in themselves. [5]






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[August 24, 1883] -


The Court granted a change of venue in the case of the Commonwealth vs. Wm. Dunnegan to Laurel, where there are two other cases of the same character, from this county. Is Laurel a refuge for all evil doers? [6]





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[September 7, 1883] -


JAIL DELIVERY.-- Our new $15,000 jail don't seem to hold them when they are disposed to get out, for on entering the establishment Tuesday morning, Jailer Newland found that four of his worst birds had flown. Their names are William Dunnegan, the scoundrel who, it is alleged, murdered and threw into Rockcastle River, the young girl Nannie Bryant, whom he had debauched; James Rainwater, under a life sentence for murder in Whitley county; Larkin Bird, charged with car breaking at London, and Wm. Dyehouse, a young horse thief. Five other prisoners remained in their cells, including William Johnson, from Bell county, who, after serving a year in the penitentiary on a life sentence for the murder of a man named Owens, had his case reversed by the Court of Appeals.  He says that ever since Mrs. Dunnegan came to see her husband, Sunday before last, he and the other prisoners have been filing away on the bars, and that they had been out of their cells once or twice, without being able to get outside the jail. Dunnegan got out of his cell by filing out a bar, which let him into the prisoners' walk. Another had to be filed to let him to the Jailer's walk and a third to get outside the jail. The hole that he squeezed through was so small that Johnson says he had to strip himself and rub his body with soap before he could make it. The other prisoners tied a string to a broom handle and succeeded in pulling the crank that bolts their cells and with a wooden key unlocked the other cell.  After they had gotten outside the building the next thing was to scale the wall which they did by means of a rope made from their bed ticks. The Jailer will give a liberal reward for the return of any of the rascals. [7]






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[September 7, 1883] -

ON THEIR TRAIL. -- J. B. Fish, who with a squad is in pursuit of the escaped prisoners telegraphed us last night from Livingston as follows: "Dunngan and Rainwater have arrived at the house of a brother of Dunngan, about 15 miles in Jackson county. All sound. Larkin Bird is at home on Moores Creek, in Laurel county. He says he will be at London court on third Monday of this month. All parties are well fortified at resent and say they will not be taken alive." [8]




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[March 15, 1887] -

A young man, almost the image of Wm. Dunnigan, who is charged with the murder of a girl at Livingston some years since, boarded the train here for Crab Orchard, a few nights since, claiming to be going there to visit relatives. He says he is a cousin of William and lives in the same neighborhood in Jackson county and has been often chased by officers of the law under the impression that they were after the alleged murderer who, he claims, is still about home and will never be taken alive. It will be remembered that after the killing Dunnigan escaped to Arkansas, where, after some months, he was captured and returned to this State and lodged in the Stanford jail, from whence with other prisoners he made his escape. It is believed by many here that it was Wm. Dunnigan himself who took the train here claiming to be a cousin to that person. [9]







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[June 30, 1893] -

The man Dunnigan who was in the Stanford jail for safe keeping, accused of killing a young woman and throwing her body into Rockcastle river several years ago, and who escaped from your jail finally came to the end he deserved. Dunnigan and Dan Bales left this country together and a brother-in-law of Bales gives the information that Dunnigan and Dan Bales were hung in Arkansas, charged with murdering a man for his money. [10]





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[1] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 24, 1883. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-04-24/ed-1/seq-2/

[2] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 11, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-05-11/ed-1/seq-3/

[3] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 15, 1883. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-05-15/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 22, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-05-22/ed-1/seq-3/

[5] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 17, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-08-17/ed-1/seq-3/

[6] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 24, 1883. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-08-24/ed-1/seq-2/

[7] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 7, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-09-07/ed-1/seq-3/

[8] "On Their Trail." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 7, 1883. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1883-09-07/ed-1/seq-3/

[9] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 15, 1887. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1887-03-15/ed-1/seq-2/

[10] Excerpt from "London, Laurel County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 30, 1893. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-06-30/ed-1/seq-1/

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