January 10, 2015

Man Kills Boy Over Canoe Horseplay, Rockcastle, 1876


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


[September 17, 1878] -

In 1876, Wm. Cundiff, aged about seventeen years, became engaged in an altercation with a negro at Livingston, which terminated in Cundiff's drawing a pistol, shooting the negro through the head, and, of course, killing him instantly. On discovering what he had done Cundiff fled. A reward of $200 was offered for him by the Governor. He eluded the authorities until last spring, when he was captured by our Deputy Sheriff. He was committed to jail, but his counsel applied for his release under a writ of habeas corpus. The court, upon hearing, granted him bail in the sum of $800, which he gave. [1]


[September 20, 1878] -

Same vs. Wm. Cundiff, charged with killing a negro in 1876; [2]


[September 27, 1878] -

On Wednesday, in the Circuit Court, the case of the Commonwealth vs. Wm. Cundiff for the murder of a negro, was called and contin[u]ed by the defendant. A like disposition was made of the Commonwealth vs. Lewis Rains. [3]


[October 4, 1878] -

The case of the Commonwealth vs. Elisha Sloan, the trial of which was in progress last week, resulted in a verdict of acquittal. The case against Wm. Cundiff, for murder, was continued. [4]


[April 28, 1879] -

Jerry Wells, colored, killed by Wm. Cundiff. [5]


[May 2, 1879] -

The case of the Commonwealth vs. Lewis Rains, charged with manslaughter, was continued for the defendant till the next term. A like disposition was made in the case against Wm. Cundiff, charged with same offense. [5.5]


[October 3, 1879] -

Since our last, the mill of justice in our Circuit Court has continued to grind. The case of the Commonwealth vs. Wat Bledsoe for killing Wm. Hicks, was tried last Wednesday and resulted in a verdict of acquittal. Same vs. Lewis Rains, an old colored man, for killing Andy Burch, another negro, in 1877, resulted in a like verdict. Both cases went to the jury without argument, the proof on the part of the Commonwealth almost warranting a peremptory instruction. The case of the Commonwealth vs. John C. Mize, for manslaughtersame vs. Wm. Cundiff, for murder; same vs. same, for manslaughter; same vs. Emmett Snodgrass and J. J. Thompson, for murder, were all continued to next term. [6]


[January 30, 1880] -

Last Thursday night the prisoners confined in the jail at this place made their escape shortly after night-fall. Their names and crimes were as follows: Wm. Cundiff, indicted in two cases for murder; J. A. Hobbs, indicted for false pretenses; Sam. Swayne, awaiting indictment for burglary in two cases, and Wm. Biley who was serving out a sentence for carrying concealed weapons. They made their escape by boring through the floor and then scratching through the earth at the upper side of the jail. Swayne was recaptured Monday night near town by Willis Adams, Jr., and F. L. Thompson, and is again in durance vile. [7]


[April 30, 1880] -

Tuesday the case of the Commonwealth vs. Wm. Cundiff, charged with the murder of a negro boy at Livingston in 1876, was called. Cundiff, who had been confined in jail, escaped a few weeks ago but came in Tuesday and said he was ready for trial. A jury was selected from the regular panel, and the testimony began. It was in substance that the negro had tried to overturn a canoe in which were Cundiff and some boys. Meeting the negro shortly afterwards, Cundiff accosted him, and after a few words shot him twice. The negro ran a few steps and fell. He died in a few hours. This evidence closed at noon Wednesday, and the argument of counsel began. Cundiff is represented by Charles Kirtley, L. A. Byon and B. F. Holman. The evidence in the Cundiff case closed at noon Thursday. The Court gave the jury the law in the case, and Charles Kirtley proceeded to make an earnest and eloquent plea for his client. Jon. Dishman, the pro tem. Commonwealth's Attorney followed in a powerful and vigorous speech for the prosecution. An hour after retiring the jury returned with a verdict finding the defendant guilty of manslaughter, and fixing his punishment at confinement in the State penitentiary for the period of ten years. Cundiff listened unmoved to the verdict. He was taken back to the jail, and will go thence to Frankfort to condone for his crime. It is not likely that any appeal will be taken, as his attorneys think the verdict is as light as it can ever be made. [8]


[1] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Ky." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. September 17, 1878. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[2] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 20, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-09-20/ed-1/seq-2/

[3] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 27, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-09-27/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 4, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-10-04/ed-1/seq-2/

[5] Excerpt from "A State of War." Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Cincinnati, OH. April 28, 1879. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

[5.5] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 2, 1879. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-05-02/ed-1/seq-2/

[6] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 3, 1879. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-10-03/ed-1/seq-2/

[7] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 30, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-01-30/ed-1/seq-2/

[8] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 30, 1880. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-04-30/ed-1/seq-2/


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