October 17, 2014

Pine Hill Coal Company Worker Kills Former Miner, Rockcastle, 1879

Previously:

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

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[November 14, 1879] -

On Tuesday, Robert Randall had his examining trial before Judge McClure, on the charge of the murder of Price Price, at Pine Hill, last Saturday. (An account of the killing is furnished by your Pine Hill correspondent.) There were fifteen witnesses examined for the Commonwealth and five for the defendant. The testimony conduced to show that while Randall had considerable provocation from Price, still it was not sufficient to warrant his shooting him. The Court held him in a bond of $1,000 to answer any indictment which may be found against him by the next Grand Jury. He gave the bond and was discharged from custody. [1]






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[November 14, 1879] -

Pine Hill was the scene of a bloody tragedy yesterday evening about 4 o'clk., wherein Price Price, a coal digger was shot and instantly killed by Robt. Randall, a nephew of Circuit Judge W. H. Randall, and book-keeper and manager for Robert Diamond, a coal dealer at this place. The facts of the case, which I have gathered by careful investigation, are about as follows: Price had been employed as a miner by Diamond to dig coal, and a few days since was discharged by Randall for some cause not stated. Since that time Price has borne considerable ill feeling against Randall, and yesterday evening, being somewhat on a spree, made some threats about Randall.  About two hours before the killing he went into J. W. Goff's house and took a pistol lying on the mantel and put it in his pocket. Randall doubtless became aprised of this fact, and likewise armed himself. Later the two men met near Ricketts' store, and as they came together they grabbed each other, Randall remarking, "we will settle this matter now," drawing his pistol fired four times in rapid succession, two shots entering his breast, not an inch apart, and two others entering his side. The weapon was so close to the victims body that his clothes were set on fire. Price fell dead without uttering a word. whether he got his pistol out before he fell or not, is a question of doubt, but it was picked up on the ground beside his body. Randall was immediately arrested by Sheriff Albright, placed under guard and sent to Mt. Vernon. Price was an Englishman, about thirty-five years old, unmarried, and had been here about two years. The whereabouts of his friends and family are not known. He was a drinking man, but not regarded as a dangerous one. He was buried here this afternoon in the little graveyard on the mountain side, and a great many miners followed him to his last resting place. The funeral ceremonies were conducted by Rev. Mr. Van Nuys, Presbyterian missionary. Apropos of this killing which may be attributed to whisky in the main, I learn that there is a petition circulating in this county to have the law which now imposes local option upon this county, repealed, and strange to say, this petition is getting numerous signers, and men too, who claim to be leaders in the Church and in the cause of reformation. The veteran Murphy, Hon. Alex. Lusk, is opposing this move with all his power, and has a counter-petition also in circulation, but I observe the one at this place has recieved few signers so far. It is bad enough as it is, but woe be unto Pine Hill and other mining towns when anybody and every body is licensed to throw open a grog-shop and deal out their vile stuff to the reckless, mixed crowd of men who are found at these places. It is to be hoped that this move will fall through. [2]


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[May 7, 1880] -

When the case of the Commonwealth vs. Robert Randall, for murder, was called Tuesday, Judge Randall being a relative of the defendant retired from the bench, and an election for special Judge was held which resulted in the selection of Hon. Granville Pearl. The case was continued to the next term and the prisoner allowed bail in the sum of $1500 in default of which he was committed to jail. [3]




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[January 14, 1881] -

On Tuesday the case of the Commonwealth vs. W. A. Owens, for the murder of James Langford, was taken up. The killing occurred in December, 1879, and the details are familiar to the public. Both parties announced themselves ready, and the selection of the jury began. About 75 persons were examined touching their qualifications as jurors, from whom the jury was selected. Their names are as follows: Hugh Edwards, Tazwell Huff, James Hardin, Wm. F. Baker, J. W. Pinkston, Monroe Bailey, James Crawford, D. A. Winsted, Wm. Wallin, Elias Prewitt, James Lawrence, Owen Allen. The taking of testimony began Wednesday morning. The case of the Commonwealth vs. Robt. Randall for murder was continued till the next term. Same vs. Emmett Snodgrass, for murder, is set for Monday next. In the case against Owens, Mr. Warren is assisted in the prosecution by Judge B. K. Bethurum, R. M. Bradley, B. F. Holman, W. O. Bradley and Isaac Stuart represent the defendant. This trial will probably occupy the time of the Court for two days. [4]





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[August 12, 1881] -


The cases against Robert Randall and W. A. Owens for murder were continued till the next term. [5]




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[January 13, 1882] -

A terrible, but bloodless riot occurred at the Court-house Tuesday afternoon. The cause of the Commonwealth vs Robert Randall, for murder, was in progress, Hon. W. O. Bradley sitting as special Judge. A witness for the prosecution was testifying, when John Mullins, a witness who had been placed under the rule, came into the Court room in an intoxicated condition and leaning against the bar. Several persons had just been fined for leaning on the bar. Judge Bradley spoke to Mullins, asking him if he was not a witness, and receiving an affirmative reply, inquired what he was doing in the Court room. Mullins responded that "he was standing there, he reckoned." "Fine him $10 Mr. Clerk," said the Judge. "I'd like to see you get it," said Mullins. "Fine him $10 more," was the Judge's comment on the insulting remark. "Yes, and twenty more," said Mullins, starting toward the door. "Take him to jail, Mr. Houk," said the Court, addressing the jailer; "Summon the Sheriffs to help you." Mullins then ran out of the Court room, followed by the two deputy Sheriffs, J. C. and G. H. Albright. They pursued him to the railroad, when J. C. Albright fired a shot toward Mullins, and Mullins returned the fire discharging two shots, one of which came near doing the business for the deputy sheriff. Mullins was finally captured by the officers and a posse which had been summoned to assist, and was brought back to the Court room. His father, Champ Mullins, who was also intoxicated, came in with him. John Mullens spoke to the Court, saying he was ready to pay his fines. The Court ordered him to be removed to the jail. He and his father then 'rose and swore he should not go to jail. "Take Champ Mullins to jail, also," was the response which the Court gave to this defiant announcement. When the officers undertook to rem[o]ve them they resisted, and the scene that  ensued can not be described. The Cour[t]room was crowded. John Mullins made a demonstration, as if he was drawing a pistol, and his father picked up a chair. The officers seized them and undertook to overcome them. Champ Mullins is one of the most powerful men, physically, in the county, and it takes a  half dozen ordinary men to handle him. The scuffle became terrible. Men were knocked down, tables and chairs kicked over, pistols were drawn, guards rushed in with shot guns, oaths and yells came from the surging mass around the officers, and the rush for the doors and windows was tremendous. Judge Bradley left the bench and shouted, "I call on every man in this house to help arrest these men, and I will assist, myself." Some one handed him a pistol, and he advanced into the struggling crowd, rendering what assistance he could. The two Mullins' fought their way out of the Court room, down the stairs and into the street. When they reached the street some one handed John Mullins a pistol, and he fired two shots, in what direction is unknown. The officers seemed powerless, or inefficient. The posse kept up the pursuit, however, and both men were finally arrested and placed in jail. In the struggle on the stairway, the jailer, Mr. Houk, received a severe choking. The excitement was at white heat for about half an hour, and when quiet was restored, every body breathed more freely after the closest search failed to discover any corpses. The jury in the Randall case were scattered in the confused crowd, and after order emerged from chaos, and the Court resumed its session, the attorneys for Randal moved to discharge the jury and continue the trial till next term. Mr. Attorney Warren resisted this motion, but Judge Bradley being satisfied that a judgment of conviction would not stand, after the separation of the jury, discharged the jury from any further consideration of the case, and granted the continuance. Wednesday morning, the grand jury were brought into Court and Judge Bradley delivered a very solemn and impressive charge on the scenes of Tuesday and Tuesday night. He told them the riot of Tuesday was a foul stain on the fair name of the county, which it would take years to efface. He charged them to make a searching investigation and indict every offender. Champ Mullins and John were then brought from the jail into Court. Both apologized for their conduct of the preceding day, and expressed the deepest humiliation. The Court required of Champ Mullins a bond of $500, and of John Mullins a bond of $1,000 as security for their good behavior during the next twelve months. They gave the bonds, John Owens, J. S. Calloway and J. W. Goff, becoming their securities. John Mullins replevied the fines imposed the day before, amounting to $20, and they were then discharged from custody. In the afternoon they went to their homes at Pine Hill. When sober, Champ Mullins is one of the most peaceable, respectable, well-behaved gentlemen in the county. He has many friends who feel as much mortification as he, over the matter, John Mullins is also a quiet well-behaved young man, except when whisky gets the better of him. Both of them greatly regret the affair, and it is the common wish that henceforth they may steer clear of the awful whirlpool of intoxication. Judge Bradley's promptness and firmness has been highly commended by all the good citizens, who, though a little slow at first to come to his assistance, finally saw their duty and come up boldly to assist in maintaining law and order. [6]


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[January 13, 1882] -

Tuesday night, about 1 o'clock, a party of young men, whose names are unknown to the writer, but probably not to the grand jury, paraded the streets while the rain was falling in torrents, discharging their pistols. About one hundred shots were fired, but no body was scared except a few timid, nervous ladies, and some little children. Judge Bradley supposed the shooting was meant to intimidate him, and if his supposition is correct, the action of the young men appears to have been very foolish. [6]



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[January 13, 1882] -

Amid the exciting scenes of Tuesday, and the popping of pistols Tuesday night, Judge Randall seemed perfectly serene. In response to a remark expressing surprise at his calmness, the Judge said that a man who had been through his experience in Breathitt county, could not very well become unruffled until he could see two or three freshly butchered men. [6]



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[August 18, 1882] -


The case against Robert Randall, for murder, was continued. [7]




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[1] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 14, 1879. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-11-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[2] Excerpt from "The Pine Hill Coal Company." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 14, 1879. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-11-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[3] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 7, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-05-07/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 14, 1881. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-01-14/ed-1/seq-3/

[5] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 12, 1881. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-08-12/ed-1/seq-2/

[6] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 13, 1882. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1882-01-13/ed-1/seq-2/

[7] 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/

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