November 5, 2014

Soldier Kills Teenage Boy For Hurrahing for Jeff Davis, Rockcastle, 1861


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


[June 29, 1867] -

Stephens vs. Brooks.


65 Ky. 137; 1867 Ky. LEXIS 35; 2 Bush 137

June 29, 1867, Decided


DISPOSITION: Reversed and remanded for a new trial.

COUNSEL: T. N. LINDSEY, For Appellant.

JOHN M. HARLAN, For Appellee,


Chap. 16, Rev. Stat., vol. 1, pp. 240-1. 





Logan Sigmun, being indicted in the Rockcastle circuit court for murder, the Governor of this State, by his proclamation, offered a reward of two hundred and fifty dollars for his apprehension and delivery to the jailer of Rockcastle county. He was afterwards arrested near the city of Lexington and placed in jail, and shortly afterwards, by order of two justices of Fayette county, was delivered to the appellee, Brooks, at Lexington, to be delivered by him to the jailer of Rockcastle--Brooks, at the time, being a deputy sheriff of Rockcastle county. The prisoner having been taken by Brooks to Rockcastle and delivered to the jailer of that county, the following  [*138]  order was subsequently made by the Rockcastle circuit court:

"William A. Brooks produced to the court an account against the Commonwealth for the apprehending of Logan Sigmun, for the murder of Dock Hickenbotham,  [**2]  amounting to two hundred and fifty dollars, the reward offered by the Governor, which was supported by the affidavit of James S. Fish, John A. Mann, certified by the jailer, and sworn to by said Brooks. It is therefore ordered by the court that the said Brooks be allowed the sum aforesaid for the apprehending and delivery of said Sigmun to the jailer of Rockcastle county, which is ordered to be certified to the Auditor for payment."

The appellee having received the two hundred and fifty dollars as allowed to him, the appellant, Stephens, brought this action to recover the money, alleging that he in fact apprehended Sigmun, and was entitled to the reward which the defendant received as for his use.

It was not claimed by the appellee, in his defense, that he apprehended Sigmun, or was entitled to the reward; but that two men, named Allen and Walden, at whose instance he saw Sigmun at Lexington and identified him as the person for whom the reward was offered, delivered the prisoner to him to be taken to Rockcastle, claiming at the time to have arrested him; and that said order of allowance was afterwards made at their instance in his name, because he delivered the prisoner to the jailer, [**3]  and, supposing them entitled to the reward, he accepted it for their benefit, and paid it over to them, except a small sum retained for his trouble and expenses paid in conveying the prisoner to Rockcastle county.

It was not proved on the trial that Allen and Walden either arrested Sigmun or caused it to be done; but the proof conduces to show that the pursuit, resulting in the  [*139]  arrest of Sigmun, was caused by information communicated by John Warmack to the city marshal, and perhaps to others; and Sigmun having fled, pursued by many citizens of Lexington, was arrested by the appellant while attempting to escape or conceal himself in an orchard near the limits of the city. There is proof also conducing to show that the custody of Sigmun remained with the appellant and the jailer, to whom he delivered him, till the order was made by the justices committing the custody of the prisoner to Brooks with the assent of the appellant.

The court gave the jury a peremptory instruction to find for the defendant, and a verdict and judgment were rendered accordingly; and a motion for a new trial being overruled, Stephens has appealed to this court.

As there is no proof of the alleged [**4] agency of Allen and Walden in making the arrest or identification of Sigmun, or of the payment of the money by the appellee to them, the propriety of the peremptory instruction given must be considered alone with a view to the relative rights of the parties themselves, as admitted by the pleadings and disclosed by the evidence.

The Revised Statutes, chapter 16, article 1, sections 1 and 5, volume 1, page 241, provide that "the reward offered by the Governor of this State, not exceeding five hundred dollars, for the apprehending and the delivery into the custody of the proper officer named in the proclamation a fugitive from the justice of this Commonwealth, upon the production of the officer's receipt of the fugitive, approved and certified by the circuit court of the county of his residence, shall be paid by the Treasurer to the persons entitled to the same."

It is insisted for the appellee that there was no evidence conducing to show that the appellant was entitled to the  [*140]  reward agreeably to the Governor's proclamation and the provisions of the statute, because, conceding the arrest to have been made by him, he did not himself deliver the prisoner [**5]  to the jailer of Rockcastle county; nor, as is contended, did he so make the delivery by an agent.

We think a fair and liberal construction of the statute is especially required by the beneficial objects of its enactment, and that, generally, a substantial compliance with its requirements in apprehending a fugitive criminal and bringing him to justice should entitle the party rendering this important and often dangerous service to the reward offered by the Governor in accordance with law; and if, as there is evidence tending to show in this case, the custody of the prisoner after the arrest is changed by the interposition of lawful local authority, or the party making the arrest shall deliver the prisoner to the proper officer by the agency of another, actual or constructive, so that the object of making the arrest is accomplished in bringing the criminal to justice, the party rendering this valuable service to society should receive the reward.

Whether the evidence authorized the jury to find for the plaintiff or not, is not a question now before us for decision; but the question involved in the peremptory instruction given is--was there any evidence conducing to show a right of [**6]  recovery? We are clearly of the opinion there was such evidence, the weight of which it was the province of the jury and not of the court to determine.

Wherefore, the judgment is reversed, and the cause remanded for a new trial, and for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. [1]


[October 10, 1879] -

The Grand Jury adjourned Thursday evening, after reporting 65 indictments, all of which, with one exception, were for misdemeanors. The exception was an indictment against Logan Sigmon, charging him with the murder of William Higginbotham in the year 1862. Sigmon had previously been indicted, was arrested and gave bond, which he forfeited. Since then he has been a fugitive in justice. In 1873, when the Clerk's office here was burned, the indictment was destroyed, and no attempt has ever been made to reinstate the matter until the present Grand Jury investigated it. Sigmon's whereabouts are known, and he will be apprehended. [2]


[January 15, 1886] -

If the facts of the murder are as the family of the murdered man report, John Sigman, who was recently captured in Missouri and returned to Rockcastle county, to answer for the cold blooded murder of William Higginbotham, a brother of the Sheriff and ex-Sheriff of Garrard county, ought to atone with his neck the cowardly deed, though it was committed near a quarter of a century ago. As we learn them the facts are these: Young Higginbotham, who was a boy of 15, was riding up the road approaching Sigman's, when that individual and a soldier spied him. The soldier said he would shoot him, but Sigman declared that he wished to do the killing himself and when the youth came in gun shot, he banged away at him, wounding him so that he died in a few days. The coward then fled the country and for nearly 25 years has been a fugitive from justice, tortured by his conscience for the brutal deed, if he has any of the feelings of a man.  The brothers intend to prosecute the criminal to the bitter end and have secured for that purpose the best counsel in the section. Sigman is a close relative to the notorious Sigman woman, for whose favors so many men were killed in Rockcastle, and who was finally murdered by one of her victims. By putting up a pitiful tale,  Sigman succeeded in securing a fund at his late home in Missouri to assist him in his defense. His trial will come off at the special term of the Rockcastle Circuit Court in March. [3]


[January 19, 1886] -

THE SIGMAN CASE.-- We have received a copy of the Trenton, Mo., Star, which contains letters from P. P. Ballard, of Madison, R. D. Cook, of Rockcastle, and a citizen of Mt. Vernon. The first calls upon the Missouri friends of Sigman to assist him all they can; Cook says that young Higginbotham had abused a Union soldier and was hallooing for Jeff Davis, when some words passed between Sigman and him. Mr. H. drew a club to strike Sigman, when he fired at him wounding him so that he died in a few days. The citizen says that Higginbotham and the soldier had a row at a house of ill fame; that H. shot at him and that when he ran to where Sigman was, the latter furnished him with a pistol and told him to defend himself. Just as HIgginbotham halted in front of the house Sigman was in and saw him he fired first, according to one report, the other that he tried to shoot, but Sigman got the drop on him. We give these extracts so that the prosecution may know the line that the defense will take as well as for the sake of fair play. [4]


[January 22, 1886] -

The man Sigman, who murdered young Higginbotham, and who is now in jail at Richmond, seem to have many friends at his late home near Trenton, Mo. A committee of federal soldiers publish in the Star that they have investigated the case and find their old comrade a regularly discharged solider, guilty of no crime that ought now to be atoned and call upon the Grand Army Posts throughout the land to contribute for his defense, adding, "Mr. Sigman and his relatives in Kentucky are all poor and unable to raise the necessary pecuniary assistance he now needs. We believe it to be the mission of the G. A. R. to render all deserved aid to an old soldier in distress, and trust the appeal my strike a responsive chord in the breasts of all who read it. To those whose breasts were targets for rebel bullets in the defense of the country they saved, are certainly due all the aid they need when their lives are endangered by rebel prosecution and persecution. [5]


[January 24, 1886] -




Charged with a Murder Committed Before the War.

Unjust Charges by Newspapers Disproved by Reputable Witnesses.


Special to the Commercial Gazette.
MT VERNON, KY., January 23 -- The Sigman case has created but little sensation in this small mountain town, and the rearrest of Logan Sigman for the killing of Wm. Higginbotham more than a score of years ago merely created a little surprise--nothing more. Last Monday week the Circuit Court convened, but the cold weather precluded the possibility of continuing court, and Judge Mike Owsley, having a horror of cold days since his defeat for the Gubernatorial chair, adjourning court until March.

Regarding the arrest of Sigman the facts are well known the Governor of Kentucky and the Governor of Missouri, both Confederates, attending to the affair and lending their aid to imprison a Union soldier for an alleged crime long since dismissed from the courts. Governor Knott issued a requisition for the arrest of Logan Sigman for the murder of Wm. Higginbotham, committed in 1861. Why these two dignitaries should lend their assisstance to this disgraceful act is a matter for conjecture.

Perhaps they have not forgotten the bitter feeling that existed then, perhaps the old wound rankles still. They might have been deceived by false statements, but there is no excuse for them not investigating the affair before causing a man a arrest after the Court had discharged him for the alleged crime. Sigman was brought to trial, but from the reasons stated above Court adjourned, and Sigman was remanded to jail to await trial in March. Men living in Mt. Vernon today were there and in that section when the shooting occurred, and each and every one condemn the arrest of Sigman.

Among the first persons I met was the veteran jailer, James Houck, who has been keeping the keys for many years. He was residing near Mt. Vernon in 1861, and with his father kept a blacksmith shop and also kept a grist mill. His statement regarding the affair was as follows. "During the year 1861, and ever since, I lived at Mt. Vernon, and at the time stated was residing four miles from North Vernon, on the road leading to Crab Orchard. The Sigman family lived north from our place about six or seven miles distant. Our families were on good if not intimate terms, my father and Mr. Sigman both having moved from North Carolina, and knew each other there. The same good feeling existed when they renewed their acquaintance. The Sigman family were pleasant, good natured people and I had never heard of any of them being in trouble, neither the father nor any of the boys, of whom there were several, I had forgotten how many. Logan Sigman, one of the boys, was in the habit of coming to the mill, and to my father's shop to have his horse shod and I knew him very well. He was a tall, good looking young fellow, pleasant mannered and sociable as any family around. About this time the party feeling between the Norther and Southern sympathizers was very strong, the Higginbotham family, residing not far from where the Sigmans resided, were with the South, and their neighbors on the other side. I was at home when the fight occurred but heard of it the same day it happened. I was told that Sigman had killed Higginbotham, and that Tom Clark, who resided near where the shooting occurred, brought in the remains. Sigman was arrested and put in jail, and was refused bond by County Judge Bethurum. At the term of Circuit Court following Judge Granville Pearl had Sigman brought before him and after examining him released him on a $300[?] bond given by Jas. Crawford, Jesse Lair and Jim Coffee. Sigman left here and joined the Union army, returning several times for trial, but the case never came up.

After interviewing Mr. Houck, I called on Mr. W. M. Fish, the present Circuit Clerk, and was informed that the Court records had all been destroyed by fire in 1873. He said that the records now in his possession showed only the reissue of the indictment in 1879 which went to show that John M. Higginbotham (brother to the deceased) swore out the following paper:

Rockcastle Circuit Court,
Commonwealth }                            .
against Logan Sigman and }  Murder affidavit
Godfrey Isaacs. }                            .

The affiant, John M. Higginbotham, states that during the war there was an indictment pending in Rockcastle Circuit against the above named defendants for the murder of Wm. Higginbotham, that said indictments and the records of Rockcastle Circuit, as he is informed, were burned and destroyed and said case never was tried. The witnesses are living and reside in Rockcastle County, and he is satisfied a conviction can be had if said case is now resubmitted to the grand jury.


Sworn to before me by John M. Higginbotham, September 24, 1879.
G. W. McCLURE, J. R. C. C.

The following indictment was then rendered by the grand jury:


The Commonwealth of Kentucky against Logan Sigman

The grand jury of Rockcastle County, in the name and by the authority of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, accuse Logan Sigman of the offense of murder, committed as follows viz: the said Sigman did on the 1st day of October, 1879* in the county aforesaid, feloniously and with malice aforethought kill and murder Wm. Higginbotham by shooting him, said Higginbotham, with a gun loaded with powder and leaden ball or other hard and explosive substance, against the pace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

J. H. [???]
Attorney for the Commonwealth.

Wm. H. Cooks[?], Foreman

*The date marked in the above gives the act as committed in 1879, but the date refers to the time the indictment came up before the grand jury. A bench warrant was issued in December, 1879 and at the April (1880) term of court was continued and again and again continued at the succeeding terms of court until in August, 1882 it was filed away with leave to reinstate. Mr. Fish could not give any information regarding the first indictment previous to the burning of the records, and referring me to other parties. Among those whom he referred me to was Judge Granville Pearl, residing in London, in county-seat of the adjoining county of Laurel, and twenty eight miles distant. Going to that place I found the venerable Judge, old and feeble, but with memory and intellect unimpaired. Regarding the Sigman affair he said 'I was then Circuit Judge, and had been for a number of years continuing until 1869 when I quit the circuit. Sigman was arrested and placed in jail. He was brought before me for examination, and as there was literally no evidence against him, I admitted him to bail in the sum of $1000. He was regularly indicted by the grand jury, and the case came up at the regular term of Court, and was continued by the Commonwealth for several years, Sigman appearing regularly for trial, and the Commonwealth each time failing to be ready. After several terms of Court had been held, Sigman's case not coming to trial, he insisted on being tried, and the Commonwealth still not being ready, the Court mad a rule for them to be ready at the next term of Court. When that term came up Sigman appeared for trial, but the Commonwealth were still not ready, and a nolle prosequi was entered by order of the Court and the case dismissed.

I have not as yet seen the Commonwealth Attorney who acted[?] in the case, but will get his statement, and have no doubt but what it will verify Judge Pearl's statement, should verification be necessary.

At Mt. Vernon I met several parties who know both Sigman and Higginbotham's families. Among them was Captain James Hiatt, one person that I especially wished to see. The Lancaster News, in an article a few weeks ago, stated that Sigman attempted to join Captain Hiatt's company, but was refused admission after hearing the story of the killing. There is not an iota of truth in this statement, and evidently originated in the editor's fertile brain. Captain Hiatt stated to me this evening that there was a meeting of volunteers for "Union service" at Brodhead, seven miles from Mt. Vernon, and a large number agreed to muster in three days later. In the party was Logan Sigman, and he with the others agreed to meet at the rendezvous and join, but he failed to do so and the company started without him. The newly organized company camped at Camp Dick Robinson, in Garrard County, and shortly after one of the members (Godfrey Isaacs by name) obtained a furlough, permitting him to go over to Mt. Vernon and other places. He returned shortly afterward and reported that he and Sigman had killed young Higginbotham, giving as the impression that they had killed the first man. Isaacs was afterwards arrested, but proved that he had been boasting, and had actually no hand in the killing. Captain Hiatt did not see Sigman since the time they met at the first rendezvous. Regarding Sigman himself, Captain Hiatt knew nothing against him except the killing of Higginbotham that before that time he was a wild, jolly fellow, but had never been in trouble, and bore as good a name as any young man. He knew Sigman, and others knew him, and no one had ever heard the charges made against him, that he was either a member of a gang of horse thieves or had robbed a store, made by the editor mentioned above. I have endeavored to get the truth of the mentioned charges from those who knew Sigman up to the time he left Mt. Vernon, but they had heard nothing of these trumped up crimes until I read them from the paper referred to and others. The Stanford Journal's account of the affair is similar to the others filled with vituperation and abuse, and giving the statement that "when Higginbotham approached, Sigman and a soldier [?] him. This probably arose from the Godfrey-Isaacs story, exploded above.

Another party I met was Joshua Bowen, who said he belonged to Company D, Forty ninth Kentucky, and was at Irvine, Ky., at the time Sigman was there. Sigman was a member of the Fourteenth Cavalry, under command of Major Alf Smith. He was a witty, lively and agreeable and a great favorite with every one in the camp. The companies seperated at Irvine, and he (Mr. Bowen) did not see him again for some time. Interrogated about the trouble between Sigman and Higginbotham, Mr. Bowen said: 'It was understood at the time that Sigman and young Higginbotham had a difficulty on the morning of the day the latter was killed, that the combatants were separated, that afterward Sigman received word that the Higginbothams and their friends intended to do him injury and that he had better prepare himself. Sigman went home, and while there, ti was said young Higginbotham came down the road, firing his pistol and hallooing for Jeff Davis and, arriving near the house, Sigman shot him. This was as far as Mr. Bowen's story reached. Neither he nor any one else knows what trouble occurred or what words took place when young Higginbotham arrived near Sigman's home,f or there were no witnesses except Sigman's sister. So far all the charges made against Sigman by the Kentucky press have turned out untrue, and from the interviews above given, from well known and respectable parties, it will be seen that Sigman is a much abused man. He came for trial term after term of Court that insisting on a trial the Commonwealth's Attorney failed to make a case against him, and the indictment of murder dismissed. [6]


[February 12, 1886] -

Bloody shirt papers have taken up the Sigman matter and are denouncing it as a persecution because he was a Union soldier. The screacher of the Cincinnati Commercial asks pathetically: "Are the men who fought for it in the transition times of the war, to be hunted down and hanged now, because they were on the side that won the military victory?" The absurdity of such nonsense can only be appreciated by those who know or believe that in shooting young Higginbotham down, Sigman committed a cruel, cowardly and unjustifiable murder, for which he ought to atone, no matter how long ago the crime was committed. [7]


[February 23, 1886] -

Mistaking some articles that we had copied from a sympathizing Missouri paper in regard to the Sigman matter, for the expression of our own sentiments, Mr. John M. Higginbotham, whose young brother, Sigman so foully murdered, was disposed to accuse us of a leaning towards the murderer, but he should have known that we are never in sympathy with that class of criminals, everyone of whom we would like to see hung when proven guilty as charged. [8]


[March 10, 1886] -

The much talked about case of the Commonwealth against J. Logan Sigman for killing young Higginbotham will be called this evening. It does not seem to cause as much feeling up here as some of the Northern papers imply. The killing was done in 1861. [9]


[March 12, 1886] -

Sigman, the murderer of young Higginbotham, was brought through here yesterday by Sheriff Deatherage, of Madison, en route to Richmond, where he will be confined in jail until the next session of the Rockcastle Circuit Court. His trial was postponed at the present term and he was not allowed bail. Sigman is a man of about 40 years of age, with dark eyes and hair, very neatly dressed and altogether is a man of good appearance. The case was continued for the defendant on account of the absence of Judge Pearl, and Judge Finley, by whom he proposes to prove that he was ready for trial on several occasions and that the indictment was finally filed away and he claims that matters were in this shape when the requisition was obtained for him. [10]


[March 20, 1886] -


The Facts In the Sigman Case, Which the Commercial Gazette Has Distorted For Political Effect.

A Beardless Boy Shot Down by a Ruffian, Who Took Refuge Under a Soldier's Coat.


[Special Correspondence of the Courier-Journal.]

LANCASTER, KY., March 18.-- The Cincinnati Commercial Gazette has for some weeks been continuously and arduously engaged in attempting to prejudice the prosecution of Logan Sigman in Rockcastle county, charged with the murder of Wm. Higginbotham, by persistently charging that Sigman is being persecuted because he was a Union soldier.

Candidly, I desire to make a statement of the facts and appeal to all honest men for my vindication. In 1861 my brother William--who was a lad of fifteen years of age--peaceable, quiet, inoffensive and sober, went from Garrard to Rockcastle county to buy some lard kegs for my father. After he reached Rockcastle, while passing the house of Sigman, the latter came out near the fence, without saying a word to him, and shot him with a musket, inflicting a wound from which he died. My brother did not know him, and never saw him before. Sigman was arrested and tried before Judge B. K. Bethuram, a prominent Union man and now a leading Republican, who, owing to the enormity of the crime, refused him bail and incarcerated him in the county jail. Afterward he was promptly indicted. Up to this time Sigman


In 1862, Kirby Smith invaded Kentucky. He, Sigman, was then allowed bail (not because he was thought to be entitled to it, but to prevent his falling into the hands of the Confederate soldiers) by Judge Granville Pearl, of that Circuit. The prosecution never was dismissed from the docket, as stated by Sigman's admirers, but remained, and from time to time was continued, he having joined the army after he was bailed. In the meantime political excitement waxed warmer in Rockcastle, and Sigman, returning from the Union army, banded himself with a lot of horse thieves and robbers in Rockcastle county, carrying terror to all well-disposed citizens in that neighborhood. Owing to these facts our family did not dare to go there to prosecute the case, for their lives would pay the forfeit, and they were totally unable to employ a resident attorney, on account of fear of Sigman and his crowd.


Sigman gave for killing my brother was that he was a "damned rebel," not withstanding my brother was a mere lad and had never taken any part in politics. My brother Joe and myself, fearing we might meet a similar fate, went into the Confederate army. He (Joe) was killed and I did not return until the 27th of May, 1865. In the meanwhile, some time in 1864, Sigman, fearing the consequences of his evil act, left the State and went to Indiana. After living there awhile he moved to Illinois and from there went to Missouri. He lived at different places in those States. In 1873 the Clerk's office of Rockcastle Circuit Court was burned and the indictment was destroyed.

From the time of my return I had been diligently laboring to find Sigman's whereabouts and time and again heard of him, but on each occasion he moved his headquarters. Finally, in 1879, learning that the indictment had been destroyed by fire in 1873, 


and, as in the State of Kentucky it is only necessary to charge and prove a killing prior to the finding of the indictment, it was stated in that indictment that the murder was committed in 1879. That this indictment was for the indentical crime of 1861. Sigman, himself, stated in an affidavit, filed a few days since in the Rockcastle court. In 1882 the latter indictment was file away "with leave to reinstate," without my knowledge or consent. At the time I obtained a copy of the indictment upon which to ask requisition. I did not know that it had been filed away. Common sense will teach I did not else I would, to have prevented all cavil, ahve had the case replaced on the docket.

In a counter affidavit filed in the court mentioned I charged that I was ignorant of such steps and procured a copy of the indictment in good faith, and although Sigman filed an affidavit in response to it traversing many of the allegations he nowhere denied my good faith. Since Sigman was delivered to the jailer of Rockcastle county said indictment has been reinstated and process order to issue has been issued and he been arrested thereunder.


Now the facts are simply these in a nutshell: Sigman murdered a fifteen-year-old boy--not under color of military authority, or because he was a soldier, for he was then a citizen. No prosecution of him could be had during the war, owing to the suspension of courts, the excitement and prejudices of the times, and the band of horse-theives which he raised after he left the army.

He left the State before the war ended, and roamed from place to place, pursued by a guilty conscience, which refused to give him a moment's rest, until at length by a most determined perseverance--a perseverance that never tired--I was enabled to bring him to justice. Circulars have been sent out by the Grand Army of the Republic to ask for means to defray the expenses of his defense, and that organization,


and foul misrepresentation, has rallied to his support. Had they known the truth and further fact that Sigman is not a member of their organization, and above all the manner of man that he is, I feel assured that his appeal would have been refused. If my brother had been killed amidst the vicissitudes of war, if he had lost his life at the hands of a soldier under color of authority, I might have borne it in silence; but when I remember that he was shot down without excuse by a man without character, a private citizen, actuated by the most hellish malice, his form covered with the warm and innocent blood of childhood rises before me, and had I done otherwise than pursue his murderer, my slavish failure would have awakened and justly merited the contempt of every brave and honest man. the prosecution is not based on hatred of Sigman as a Union soldier. I have 


I met them on the field of battle, and although I was unsuccessful, admire their courage and manly bearing. As between me and them the past is buried forever, and i meet and greet them as friends and brethren. But I can not (nor do I believe they would ask it) entertain such feelings for a character like Sigman, who was indicted for robbery and other crimes, who appeals to his uniform, made honorable by victorious war, to conceal his deeds of darkness both before and after it covered his recreant limbs.



[March 29, 1886] -





Fraudulently Extradited by the Governor of Missouri.

To Answer for a Crime Dismissed from the Kentucky Courts Twenty Years Ago.

Special to the Commercial Gazette

LEXINGTON, KY., March 27 -- In a Louisville paper ten days ago appeared a communication headed "A lie laid open," referring to the case of J. Logan Sigman, the Union soldier charged with the killing of William Higginbotham. The letter or communication under the title of special correspondence is signed by J. M. Higginbotham, brother of the deceased, and whose anxiety to have Sigman punished is but natural with him, though to others it seems unjust.

The charges made by this gentleman have been already refuted by the Commercial Gazette time and again, and by the statements of men above suspicion, who were familiar with the affair and the attendant circumstances. Among the misstatements made in the communication is that the prosecution never was dismissed from the docket when the fact is known throughout Rockcastle County, and Sigman's attorneys have the affidavit of the then presiding Judge that the case was dismissed from the docket. The writer has a verbatim statement from Judge Pearl, which has already appeared in these columns, but used again for the purpose of setting the facts before the public.

Judge Pearl's Statement.

"Sigman was regularly indicted by the grand jury, and the case continued for several years. He was present at several terms of Court ready for trial, but the Commonwealth always continued the case. After several terms of Court had gone by Sigman insisted on a trial and the Commonwealth failing each time to be ready, the Court made a rule for it to be prepared for the next term of Court. When it came up and the Commonwealth again not ready, the Court ordered a nolle prosequi entered and the case dismissed."

Did this statement need any further proof it would be an easy matter to republish the several other statements already given in the Commercial Gazette, or Mr. James Houck, now jailer of Rockcastle County, the bondsmen of Sigman who were released and many others who have stated to the writer their recollection of the dismissal of the case and the regularity with which Sigman appeared for trial. A second charge was made in the communication that Sigman banded himself with a gang of horse thieves after he left the Union army and carried terror to all well-disposed people when the truth of the matter is that Sigman, after he was mustered out, remained at home until his sale at which he publicly disposed of his land, stock and crops and in open day left for his Western home a free man, not as a fugitive from justice nor seeking an asylum. And so on, the charges made covering every possible ground to prejudice the minds of the public against the persecuted soldier who, though at ready loaded with indignity, is being deprived of his liberty and taken from jail to jail, must  [?] suffer further by having his good character attacked and taken from him. Since the publication of the communication of Colonel T. Z. Morrow to Governor Marmaduke, of Missouri, several letters have passed between them which, for executive ability on the part of the former and heartless disregard for the safety of the former and heartless disregard for the safety of one of his citizens, on the part of the latter, can not be equaled. The following is an extract from the published brief.

Extract from Brief.

'What steps your Exellency will take in this matter is not for us to advise. A motion to remand the prisoner would probably be effectual in the Court before which he is called to answer, so far as his rights are concerned, but this, it seems to us, does not reach the whole case the dignity and sovereignty of the State, over whose affairs you have been called to preside, have been violated in the person of this prisoner, who has been kidnapped from her territory under color of law. The honor of Missouri has been deeply wounded. * * * The mode and manner of rectifying this wrong, in so far as the State of Missouri is concerned, lies with you.

State of Missouri.     }
JEFFERSON CITY, March 8, 1886  }

Messrs Thomas Z. Morrow and J. K. McClary. Mt. Vernon, Ky.,

GENTLEMEN-- In reply to your several communications asking Governor Marmaduke to interfere in the behalf of one Sigman now in the custody of the authorities of your State, it is alleged unjustly. I am directed to say that the Governor declines to do as requested, and will neither ask Governor Knott nor the trial Judge to set free said Sigman without trial and surely it is neither necessary nor proper for him to ask that the defendant be fairly and impartially tried. That your constitution, laws and good people guarantee it is true that the copy of the indictment produced before the Governor with the requisition for said Sigman, charged him with murder continued in 1879 and hence may not have correctly represented the facts in the case. But he is now in the hands of the Court having jurisdiction of the case, and having no reason whatever to believe that the defendant will not have a fair trial, Governor Marmaduke will not undertake to interfere in the case. Very truly yours,
[?] YANTES, Private Secretary.

SOMERSET, KY, March 13[?], 1886.
John S. Marmaduke Governor of Missouri,

SIR--Yours of the 8th inst in reference to Sigman's case, addressed to us at Mt. Vernon Ky., has been received. While the cold and merely formal matter in which you decline to interfere in the matter precludes farther appeal to you in his behalf, there are portions of the contents of your communication we can not allow to pass unchallenged. Even the most casual reader of that State paper could not fail to notice that you nowhere in it pretend to base your refusal on a want of power to interfere, and that successfully, in his favor had you been disposed to exercise your authority. Your response to the appeal to you as his Chief Magistrate is a simple 'declination,' et praeterea nihil, sub silentio, at least you concur in the opinion of Chief justice Gibson, of Pennsylvania, in [?] a case, and admit that it was competent for you to make on the Governor of this Commonwealth a demand for the release of Sigman, which that Governor could not lawfully have refused.

You concede the right, but 'decline' to apply the remedy. You do say you will neither ask Governor Knott nor the trial Judge to set Sigman free without a trial, and surely it is neither necessary nor proper for me to ask that the defendant be fairly and impartially tried. Neither Sigman nor his counsel requested that you ask the trial judge to set Sigman free without a trial, or to ask that he be fairly and impartially tried. Our brief, filed[?] with you, is susceptible of no such construction. On the contrary, you were informed in terms clear and positive, that his rights merely as a person could be amply protected in the trial court. All that was sought in his petition was your interference in so far, and only in so far as his rights as a citizen of Missouri might be involved. No doubt was expressed as none was entertained as to his obtaining a fair trial in this State, and how you have managed to put such an inerpretation on our brief as to place us in attitude of appearing to have asked you to see that Sigman had a fair and impartial trial passes all comprehension. No more was requested of you, than that if concurring in our views, you should take such steps with in the scope of your authority as the Chief Executive of Missouri, as would secure his release as a person improperly extradited. Why you injected in your answer a response to two petitions neither of which was presented to you is a mistery unfathomable, unless it be true that you intend still further to emphasize the peremptoriness[?] of your declination by assuming that there were modes of relief additional to that suggested by us and then declining to adopt any of them. We had no thought that you could appropriately interpose before the trial Judge. Did you? And if so, did you propose to give point to the fact that with full knowledge on your part or your ability to obtain Sigman's release, you arbitrarily; and without a reason expressed or implied, allowed him to languish in the jail of another State. For your action in this matter you are responsible alone to the people of Missouri. Would the course you have seen proper to pursue been taken by a Roman Consul when Rome was free? and had you and not the gifted Marcy, been Secretary of State wouldn't the fate of Martin Kosta been an Austrian dungeon? 
Yours respectably,

Counsel for Sigman.

To this letter Governor Marmaduke vouchsafed no reply and the matter rests as it did before. Sigman is paying the penalty for being a Union soldier, and the heartless Governor of his own State refusing to interfere presumably for no other reason than that the imprisoned man was a Federal. As for Sigman receiving a fair and impartial trial, no one for a moment doubts, but that he should be tried for a crime dismissed from the Courts more than a score of years ago, no fair minded or just person will admit. The few persons who are familiar with the circumstances of the rearrest of Sigman who did not condemn the action as an outrage are fewer still now since Governor Marmaduke's acquiescence seems, to say the least, very much like connivance knowing as he does and acknowledging the same that Sigman was extradited by irregular if not fraudulent motives. His refusal to interfere is in violation of all principles of decency, and if his reasons are any other than hatred of a Union soldier, an explanation is in order, an the explanation can not be too full. Nothing can be expected of the man who occupies the Gubernatorial chair in this State, for not only was he a Confedrate but is yet, and is not even alive to the interest of his own party or State, and he is not to be expected to care for the indignities heaped on a defenseless Union soldier. With neither of the Governors to interfere, the case should be brought before the U. S. authorities to decide whether such a high handed outrage should be perpetrated on one of the men who fought to defend his country against those now persecuting him. [12]


[October 19, 1886] -

A special term of Circuit Court convened here yesterday for the trial of Sigman for the murder of Higginbotham, with Judge Owsley on the bench. [13]


[October 22, 1886] -

The trial of J. Logan Sigman for the murder of young Higginbotham, committed more than 20 years ago, is at last in progress at Mt. Vernon. [14]


[October 26, 1886] -

A man named Sigman, who is being tried at Mt. Vernon for killing a young man named Higginbotham in 1862, stated on the stand that he killed him because he came down the road hurrahing for Jeff Davis. [15]


[October 28, 1886] -

About the time that the President was shaking hands with Miss Winnie Davis, a man named Sigman, of Mt. Vernon, Ky., was confessing that he had killed another man named Higgenbotham for hurrahing for Miss Winnie's father. [16]


[October 29, 1886] -

J. Logan Sigman executed bail last Tuesday evening, with about 10 persons as his securities. He is staying with his brother, John Sigman, in the Copper Creek country. [17]


[January 14, 1887] -

The celebrated case of the Commonwealth vs. Logan Sigman for a crime committed 20 years ago, was continued in the court here on account of the absence of important witnesses.  Several other cases were continued for the same reason. But little is being done and court will probably adjourn to-day (Thursday). [18]


[January 11, 1888] -

The famous Sigman case is on trial at Mt. Vernon. Sigman killed a boy during the war for yelling for Jeff Davis. He moved to Missouri afterwards, and was not indicted until two years ago, when he was brought back to answer the charge. A previous trial resulted in a hung jury. It is now claimed by Sigman that he was a Federal soldier at the time of the killing, and that he had the right to shoot Higginbotham for his treasonable utterances. The G. A. R. has put up money for Sigman's defense, and will do their utmost to clear him. [19]


[January 13, 1888] -

The Sigman trial has been postponed at the instance of the defendant. It seems that the defense, conscious that it has no good plea to offer, has adopted the tacts of wearing the case out. A man who could get his consent to murder a mere youth because he hallooed for Jeff Davis at the beginning of the war, ought to have long since paid the penalty. [19.5]


[January 18, 1888] -

The case of the State against Sigman, for killing Higginbotham in 1861, was called in court in Mt. Vernon, Ky., and continued by defendant. There is no use in discussing facts, the G. A. R. figures conspicuously in the case, and seems determined to acquit Sigman if money can do so, and it has been put up liberally. Mr. Halstead has averred that Sigman had a right to kill Higginbotham, because he hurrahed for Jeff Davis, but the best citizens here think Mr. H. is off his base. He and his clan may claim a victory, yet the re-action will be felt. [20]


[January 19, 1888] -

Another great outrage, in the estimation of the Republican press, is in progress at Mount Vernon, Ky., where a fellow named Sigman is on trial for murder, for deliberately shooting down one Higginbotham, in 1861, because he hurrahed for Jeff Davis. Sigman claims that he had a right to shoot anybody he chose because he was then wearing the uniform of a federal soldier. [21]


[September 7, 1888] -

The negro, Henry Smith, who murdered guard Ball some years since, is yet in jail with but little prospect of a trial. Witnesses fail to come. the case of Logan Sigman is yet on docket. He failed to show up at this court and his bond has been declared forfeited. Business is being pushed along and a good number of cases have been disposed of. More people than usual in attendance. Court will likely not hold beyond Tuesday next. [22]


[April 17, 1889] -

The Sigman Case.

Nearly everybody is familiar with the case of the commonwealth against Sigman, in the Rockcastle circuit court, charged with the killing of young Higginbotham of Garrard county, during the war. The deceased was a brother to ex-Sheriff John Higginbotham, of Garrard, and of Mrs. C. Stafford, late of this place. Governor Buckner has appointed Judge J. R. Morton of this circuit to try the Sigman case at Mt. Vernon in June. The case ought to be disposed of, as Sigman i[s] an old man, and the killing occur[r]ed a quarter of a century ago. [23]


[April 18, 1889] -

Gov. Buckner has appointed Judge J. R. Morton, of the Winchester Circuit district, to hold court in Rockcastle county, in June, for the trial of Logan Sigman. Sigman was a Union man during the war, and killed a fourteen-year-old boy, named Higginbotham, because he shouted for Jeff Davis. He subsequently fled to Missouri, where, under an assumed name, he married, raised a large family and was considered a model citizen. About two years ago his identity was discovered, and he was arrested and brought to this State for trial, which has been continued from time to time. Great interest has been manifested in the result. [24]


[June 28, 1889] -

A special term of circuit court convend here Monday for the trial of Logan Sigman for the murder of young Higginotham in the northern portion of this county November 13, 1861, nearly 28 years ago. Judge Morton was appointed to try the case, Judge Morrow having been counsel in the case before he was elected judge. It was decided from some cause Monday to set the case for Wednesday. It was called at 10 o'clock Wednesday and proceedings were opened. A jury was procured by 2 o'clock and all the witnesses for the Commonwealth were examined and some for the defense before closing for the night. It is thought the trial will be finished by Thursday evening. [25]


[July 2, 1889] -

After a delay of twenty-eight years the trial of J. T. Logan Sigman for a murder committed at the beginning of the war took place at Mt. Vernon, Ky., last week. It was concluded with a verdict of acquittal. [26]


[July 9, 1889] -

It is difficult to understand what Tanner, the commissioner of pensions, had to do with the Sigman trial, or why he should be informed of the result by anyone. A letter picked up here to that individual showing who the contrary juryman was, etc., appears rather stranger, when it is well known that all the jurymen were of Sigman's political belief. [27]


[1914] -


Judge Pearl and Senator Bradley were on terms of the greatest friendship and intimacy, which was never broken but once, and then only for a short while. During the Civil War Sigman killed young Higginbotham in Rockcastle County. Many years after he was arrested in Missouri and brought to Kentucky for trial. Senator Bradley was employed to prosecute. The defendant interposed a plea of former jeopardy, and upon this plea Judge Pearl (who had left the bench many years before) was the principal witness for defendant. He took serious exceptions to that portion of Senator Bradley's argument regarding his testimony.

At the conclusion of the speech a warm friend of the Senator rushed over to the Judge and exclaimed:

"Warn't that a great speech?"

The Judge responded:

"Tolerable, but do you know that he is now the maddest man in this court house?"

"No," replied the friend, "what is he mad about?"

"Because," said the Judge, "every man, woman and child in the courtroom have not crowded around hi and told him that was the greatest speech ever made on the face of the earth." [28]


[1] Stephen v. Brooks65 Ky. 137, 2 Bush 137 (1867).

[2] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 10, 1879. Page 2. LOC.

[3] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 15, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[4] "The Sigman Case." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 19, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[5] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 22, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[6] "Kentucky Injustice." Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, Cincinnati, OH. January 24, 1886. Page 7.

[7] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 12, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[8] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 23, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[9] Excerpt from "J. K. Polk Acquitted." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 10, 1886. Page 6.

[10] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 12, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[11] "A Lie Laid Open." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 20, 1886. Page 4.

[12] "Persistent Prosecution." Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, Cincinnati, OH. March 29, 1886. Page 1.

[13] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 19, 1886. Page 2. LOC.

[14] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 22, 1886. Page 3. LOC.

[15] Excerpt from "Kentucky Knowledge." Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. October 26, 1886. Page 2. LOC.

[16] Macon Telegraph, Macon, GA. October 28, 1886. Page 2.

[17] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 29, 1886. Page 2. LOC.

[18] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 14, 1887. Page 2. LOC.

[19] The Evening Bulletin, Maysville, KY. January 11, 1888. Page 3. LOC.

[19.5] Excerpt from "Local Affairs." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 13, 1888. Page 3. LOC.

[20] Excerpt from "News Paragraphs." The Climax, Richmond, KY. January 18, 1888. Page 4. LOC.

[21] New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette, Concord, NH. January 19, 1888. Page: 4.  

[22] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 7, 1888. Page 3. LOC.

[23] "The Sigman Case." The Climax, Richmond, KY. April 17, 1889. Page 3. LOC.

[24] The Big Sandy News, Louisa, KY. April 18, 1889. Page 2. LOC.

[25] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 28, 1889. Page 1. LOC.

[26] Excerpt from "Latest News Items." Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, MI. July 2, 1889. Page 3.

[27] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 9, 1889. Page 3. LOC.

[28] William O. Bradley, with biographical sketch by M. H. Thatcher, Stories and Speeches of William O. Bradley (Lexington,, KY: Transylvania Printing Company, 1916), 93. Accessed April 24, 2017, Internet Archive.

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