December 10, 2014

Railroad Contractor Kills Man Who Had Threatened Him, Pulaski, 1874


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[September 4, 1874] -

Joe McCabe, sub-contractor of McKay Brothers, near Cato, in Pulaski county, shot and killed a man named Callahan, last Saturday. Callahan followed McCabe up stairs, so our informant states, with a drawn knife, whereupon the latter fired on him with a shot-gun and killed him almost instantly. The act is said to have been done in self-defense. [1]


[September 11, 1874] -

Upon our return from the Coal mines on Sunday, the 30th ult, we received information of the killing of ---- Callahan, by Joseph McCabe, on the preceding Friday evening, at the residence of Wm. Bryant, in our county, and other disturbances, chiefly among the town negroes and Railroad negroes. And when returning from church on this same evening, we found 8 or 10 negroes standing at our gate in close conversation, without leave or authority, whom we ordered to move, which they did immediately, and soon after going into the house a heavy firing of guns and pistols were heard near to, and west of the residence of H. S. Porch, which explained the meeting of the negroes at our gate. The battle had really commenced between the Railroad negroes and town negroes; at least 100 shots were fired, to the great disturbance of our citizens, but strange to say, no one was hurt. On the next morning there was much confusion in town among the sable combatants, and many extravagant threats made, and wild rumors set afloat, but no more fighting until Tuesday night about half-past 10 o'clock, when about 25 shots were fired on the public square of our town, and near the Courthouse, generally supposed, by some of the same parties engaged on Sunday night previous, but with no fatal results. On the same night, some cowardly scoundrel run through our yard from the back street to our front gate on Main street, and fired one shot at Bud Singleton and Green Porch, who were quietly on their way home, and run back in the same direction which he came-- which unlawful conduct, disturbances and danger in the dark, has led to the organization of a Police force for the protection of our town and its citizens, numbering at present, 35 or 40 picked men, headed by W. S. Shepperd, as Captain who are now daily, nightly and hourly, patrolling the streets of Somerset, and we give all ruffians, law-breakers and other desperate characters, due warning, whether belonging to the railroad or to our county, whites and blacks, and advise them to behave themselves in a peaceable and proper manner when within the limits of the town of Somerset.

We prosecuted Mr. McCabe for the killing of Callahan, and upon a full investigation of all the facts, we must say that we never heard established in Court, so justifiable a killing. Callahan was a very desperate and reckless character, and had threatened the life of McCabe repeatedly, and to different persons, and had been hunting him all day, for the purpose of killing him. Told his (McCabe's) wife, that he intended to kill Joe, her husband, on sight; that she should go back to Illinois, but would not take Joe with her, and was trying to get up stairs with knife in hand to kill McCabe, when he received 32 buck-shot in his breast, the contents of both barrels of a shot gun. Callahan lived about two hours, and received a decent burial next morning. McCabe sending to the store and purchasing for his body, a nice suit of clothes. McCabe is a Railroad contractor, and is represented as being a quiet and reliable gentleman. [2]


[1] Excerpt from "Railroad Items." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 4, 1874. Page 3. LOC.

[2] Will C. Curd. Excerpt from "Pulaski County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 11, 1874. Page 2. LOC.

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