October 11, 2014

Tennessee Man Murdered and Robbed Near Somerset, Pulaski, 1888



[March 29, 1888] -

Thomas Wilson, of Tennessee, Found Murdered and Robbed Near Somerset, Ky.
A Villainous Character Named Sidebottom Arrested on Suspicion as Being the Murderer.
Excitement is Running High and There is Strong Talk of Lynching the Wretch. 

Special to The Courier.
Somerset, Ky., March 28 -- A frightful murder and robbery took place near here yesterday evening about dark.  A middle-aged man named Tom Wilson, of Oliver Springs, Tenn., was found in an old field near the Stanford road, about a mile and a half north of this place this morning dead and cold, lying with his face buried in the mud and his head terribly battered and cut and partially mashed in, and his hands, which he had evidently thrown above his head for protection, were also badly broken. The killing seems to have been done with some heavy instrument, and the ground above him indicated a long, hard struggle between him and his murderer. His pocketbook and pin were found in the mud under his body, and there was nothing valuable left on his person. He had come to this place from his home in Tennessee to procure some evidence with regard to his service in the army, and to secure a pension. He was a soldier of the late war, and was a member of Capt. W. H. Cundiff's company, of this place. While in town he got in company with one Newt Moore and one Manny Sidebottom and got to drinking.

Late in the evening he was seen to go out of town in company with Sidebottom, and the two men were seen together going up the road not far from the place where Wilson's body was found.

The body was brought here this morning and an inquest held by 'Squire Sallee.  Sidebottom was seen in town late last night with money, and buying clothing and other things, and was at the depot early this morning. He lives near town, and Sheriff Elrod and W. F. Tomlinson went there, arrested him and brought him to town.

Wilson was known to have $60 or $70 and spent some small part of it in town yesterday. Sidebottom is a tough, suspicious character, and is never known to have money honestly.

There is much excitement among the people, and as the circumstances seem to point conclusively to Sidebottom as the murderer there is strong talk of lynching him. [1]


[March 29, 1888] -

Murdered by His Companion.

LOUISVILLE, KY., March 28. -- A special from Somerset, Ky., says: Tom Wilson, of Oliver Springs, Tenn., was found near the Stanford road, a mile north of this place, this morning dead. His face was buried in the mud and his head terribly beaten up. Yesterday he was seen here in company with a man named Sidebottom. Both were drinking heavily at that time. It is believed that Sidebottom committed the deed and there is talk of lynching him. He is a hard character. Wilson had about $50 with him when he left. [2]


[March 30, 1888] -

Good Subject for Judge Lynch.

SOMERSET, Ky., March 30.--Thomas Wilson, an old soldier who came here to collect proof to aid him in getting a pension, was found by the roadside dead, his body beaten to a jelly. He had lain in a driving rain all night. M. H. Sidebottom, a hard character, was arrested, and confessed to the murder and to robbing the dead body. He cooly told how they quarreled and he knocked Wilson down with a rock and stamped on his head. The people are wild and threaten lynching. [3]


[April 20, 1888] -

The case of H. M. Sidebottom, murderer of James Wilson, was begun at Somerset Wednesday. [4]


[April 23, 1888] -

H. M. Sidebottom will be roofed in by the Kentucky penitentiary for the murder of James Wilson at Somerset. [5]


[April 24, 1888] -

The Boyle county jurors who gave Sidebottom, the Pulaski county murderer, a life sentence, say since their return home that they do not doubt but what the convicted man richly deserved hanging, but that under the strictly impartial ruling of Judge Morrow the confession was excluded and that with that left out only strong circumstances connecting Sidebottom with the murder could be gotten before the jury. As oft times happens the officers who undertook to work up the case got entirely too "smart." After Sidebottom was arrested it is said that the officers in order to induce him to confess told him that it would be much better for him to do so, and even went so far as to tell him that they would go on his bond and that he could then leave the country if he would only confess. It is time that officers and all others should know that the law permits no such "shenanigan" with a person under duress and that Judge Morrow in protecting the rights of an ignorant individual, even though he be a red-handed murderer, is observing no more closely than he ought to do  the law as he finds it and his oath of office. [6]


[May 5, 1888] -

At Somerset, Ky., a few nights ago Manny Sidebottoms, who was convicted of the murder of Thomas Wilson, a veteran Federal soldier, and sentenced for life, barely escaped a mob. They had gathered, but as they were on the way to the jail the Methodist Church caught fire, and they stopped to help put it out. Meantime the jailer got word, and with his prisoner escaped. [7]


[1] "Murdered and Robbed." Evansville Courier, Evansville, IN. March 29, 1888. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[2] "Murdered by His Companion." Wheeling Register, Wheeling, WV. March 29, 1888. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[3] "Good Subject for Judge Lynch." The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. March 30, 1888. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87060190/1888-03-30/ed-1/seq-1/

[4] "News Condensed." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 20, 1888. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1888-04-20/ed-1/seq-2/

[5] Excerpt from "Pointed Paragraphs." The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. April 23, 1888. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87060190/1888-04-23/ed-1/seq-4/

[6] Excerpt from "Danville, Boyle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 24, 1888. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1888-04-24/ed-1/seq-2/

[7] Excerpt from "Southern Gleanings." Huntsville Gazette, Huntsville, AL. May 5, 1888. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.


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