January 14, 2015

Partial List of Ku-Klux Activities in Kentucky, 1867-1871


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


When you read old newspapers and you see reference to a "ku-klux" group, that does not usually mean the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan refers to a specific group in Giles County, TN, to which the modern organization by the same name traces its roots. A "ku-klux group" refers to all groups like the KKK that existed throughout the South during the Reconstruction era, of which there were hundreds. The Giles Co TN group were only one of many un-organized, un-related bands of desperadoes wreaking havoc and terrorizing people throughout the South after the Civil War.

I think there is a misconception that there was one large secret organization to which these groups reported to, or something like that. When you read that a "ku-klux" group committed a crime in a newspaper article, it does NOT mean those men had any communication with the Giles TN group whatsoever. Some of these groups were known as "ku-klux" groups, but also "regulator" groups, "law and order" clubs, or "whitecap" groups. You'll also sometimes see "ku-kluxing" used as a verb in court proceeding articles, such as "John Smith was indicted for ku-kluxing."

Basically the word "ku klux" is being used to describe a type of mob activity, like a classification or category. Though the etymology of "ku-klux" originated from the name of the TN group, during the period in which this blog covers, it was a broad term describing/referring to any local group of self-righteous men with a messed-up sense of vigilantism, roaming around murdering, raping, and whipping people....which was alarmingly common during the late 1860's throughout the South, including Kentucky, as the below sources show.

And while I'm on the subject, "Judge Lynch" isn't a real person, it means lynch mob. It is a turn-of-phrase; a personification/euphemism used to refer to vigilante or mob justice. In the same way Uncle Sam isn't a real person it's a personification of the U.S. Government, or the Grim Reaper is a personification of death (other examples include Mother Nature, Father Time, and Old Man Winter). "Judge Lynch came to town" is a euphemism to say that the local citizens or regulator mob took the law into their own hands and hung someone. It's just a way for newspaper writers to tell stories in active voice.


The following is a letter written to the U.S. Senate and filed in the record of the Forty-Second Congress, which contains a partial list of crimes committed by ku-klux/regulator mobs in Kentucky between Nov. 1867 to Jan. 1871. Keep in mind that this letter was most likely handwritten, so there could be transcription errors when it was transcribed for Congressional records. The dashes in the list indicate to me that the transcriber could not read certain dates listed in the letter. Also the letter-writers probably gathered at least some of the dates and names from newspaper articles which could also have contained errors. 

Added 2/23/15: An 1871 newspaper article which utilizes the same list as evidence against claims made by former Governor Stevenson in a Senate speech.






The enactment of laws for the better protection of life.


APRIL 11, 1871.-- Ordered to lie on the table and be printed.


To the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled:

We, the colored citizens of Frankfort and vicinity, do this day memorialize your honorable bodies upon the condition of affairs now existing in the State of Kentucky. We would respectfully state that life, liberty, and property are unprotected among the colored race of this State. Organized bands of desperate and lawless men, mainly composed of soldiers of the late rebel armies, armed, disciplined, and disguised, and bound by oath and secret obligations, have, by force, terror, and violence, subverted all civil society among colored people; thus utterly rendering insecure the safety of persons and property, overthrowing all those rights which are the primary basis and objects of the Government, which are expressly guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States as amended. We believe you are not familiar with the description of the Ku-Klux Klans riding nightly over the country, going from county county, and in the county towns, spreading terror wherever they go by robbing, whipping, ravishing, and killing our people without provocation, compelling colored people to break the ice and bathe in the chilly waters of the Kentucky River.

The legislature has adjourned. They refuse to enact any laws to suppress Ku-Klux disorder. We regard them as now being licensed to continue their dark and bloody deeds under cover of the dark night. They refuse to allow us to testify int he State courts where a white man is concerned. We find their deeds as perpetrated only upon colored men and white republicans. We also find that for our services to the Government and our race we have become the special object of hatred and persecution at the hands of the democratic party. Our people are driven from their homes in great numbers, having no redress only the United States court, which is in many cases unable to reach them.

We would state that we have been law-abiding citizens, pay our taxes, and in many parts of the State our people have been driven from the polls, refused the right to vote; many have been slaughtered while attempting to vote. We ask, how long is this state of things to last? We appeal to you as law-abiding citizens to enact some laws that will protect us, and that will enable us to exercise the rights of citizens. We see that the senator from this State denies there being organized bands of desperadoes in the State; for information, we lay before you a number of violent acts, occurred during his administration. Although he, Stevenson, says half a dozen instances of violence did occur, these are not more than one-half the acts that have occurred. The democratic party has here a political organization composed only of democrats; not a single republican can join them. Where many of these acts have been committed, it has been proven that they were the men, done with arms from the State arsenal. We pray you will take some steps to remedy these evils.

Done by a committee of grievances appointed at a meeting of all the colored citizens of Frankfort and vicinity.

HENRY MARRS, Teacher Colored School,
HENRY LYNN, Livery Stable Keeper,
H. H. TRUMBO, Grocer,
B. J. CRAPTON, Barber,

MARCH 25, 1871.

1. A mob visited Harrodsburg, in Mercer County, to take from jail a man named Robertson, November 14, 1867.
2. Smith attacked and whipped by regulators in Nelson County, November, 1867.
3. Colored school-house burned by incendiaries in Breckinridge, December 24, 1867.
4. A negro, Tim Machlin, taken from jail in Frankfort and hung by mob, January 28, 1868.
5. Sam Davis hung by mob at Harrodsburg, May 23, 1868.
6. William Pierce hung by a mob in Christian, July 12, 1868.
7. George Rogers hung by a mob at Bradfordsville, Marion County, July 11, 1868.
8. Colored school exhibition at Midway attacked by a mob, July 31, 1868.
9. Seven persons ordered to leave their homes at Stanford, Kentucky, August 7, 1868.
10. Silas Woodford, aged 60, badly beaten by disguised mob; Mary Smith Curtis and Margaret Mosby also badly beaten near Keane, Jessamine County, August 1868.
11. Cabe Fields shot and killed by disguised men near Keene, Jessemine County, August 3, 1868.
12. James Gaines expelled from Anderson by Ku-Klux, August, 1868.
13. James Parker killed by Ku-Klux, Pulaski, August 1868. [James Baker?]
14. Noah Blankenship whipped by a mob in Pulaski County, August, 1868.
15. Negroes attacked, robbed, and driven from Summerville, in Greene County, August 21, 1868.
16. William Gibson and John Gibson hung by a mob in Washington County, August, 1868.
17. J. A. Montford hung by a mob near Coger's Landing in Jessamine County, ---- 28, 1868.
18. William Glasgow killed by a mob in Warren County, September 5, 1868.
19. Negro hung by a mob, September, 1868.
20. Two negroes beaten by Ku-Klux in Anderson County, September 11, 1868.
21. Mob attacked house of Oliver Stone in Fayette County, September 11, 1868.
22. Mob attacked Cumins's house in Pulaski County; Cumins, his daughter, and a man named Adams killed in the attack, September 18, 1868.
23. United States Marshal Meriwether attacked, captured, and threatened with death in Larue county by mob, September, 1868.
24. Richardson's house attacked in Cornishville by mob, and Crasbaw killed, September 28, 1868.
25. Mob attacks negro cabin at Hanging Forks, in Lincoln county; John Masteran killed, and Cash and Coffey killed, September, 1869[1868?]
26. Jerry Laws and James Ryan hung by mob at Nicholasville, October 26, 1868.
27. Attack on negro cabin in Spencer County; a woman outraged, December, 1868.
28. Two negroes shot by Ku-Klux at Sulphur Springs, in Union County, December, 1868.
29. Negro shot at Morganfield, Union County, December, 1868.
30. Mob visited Edmund Burns's house in Mercy County, January 1869.
31. William Parker whipped by Ku-Klux in Lincoln County, January 20, 1869.
32. Mob attacked and fired into house of Jesse Davis's, in Lincoln county, January 20, 1868.
33. SPears taken from his room at Harrodsburg by disguised men, January 19, 1869.
34. Albert Bradford killed by disguised men in Scott County, January 20, 1869.
35. Ku-Klux whipped Bayatt at Stanford, March 12, 1869.
36. Mob attacked Frank Boumes's house in Jessamine County; Roberts killed, March, 1869.
37. George Bratcher hung by mob on Sugar Creek, in Garrard County, March 30, 1869.
38. John Penny hung by a mob at Nevada, Mercer County, May 29, 1869.
39. Ku-Klux whipped Lucien Green in Lincoln County, June, 1869.
40. Miller whipped by Ku-Klux in Madison County, July 2, 1869.
41. Charles Handerson shot and his wife killed by mob on Silver Creek, Madison County, July, 1869.
42. Mob decoy from Harrodsburg and hang George Bolling, July 17, 1869.
43. Disguised band visited home of I. C. Vanarsdall and T. J. Vanarsdall, in Mercer County, July 18, 1869.
44. Mob attack Rousey's house in Casey County; three men and one woman killed, July, 1869.
45. James Crowders hung by mob near Lebanon, Marion County, August 9, 1869.
46. Mob tar and feather a citizen of Cynthiana, in Harrison County, August, 1869.
47. Mob whipped and bruised a negro in Davis County, September, 1869.
48. Ku-Klux burn colored meeting-house in Carroll County, September, 1869.
49. Ku-Klux whipped a negro at John Carumon's farms, in Fayette County, September, 1869.
50. Wiley Gevens killed by Ku-Klux at Dixon, Webster County, October, 1869.
51. George Rose killed by Ku-Klux near Kirkville, in Madison County, October 18, 1869.
52. Ku-Klux ordered Wallace Sinthorn to leave his home near Parksville, Boyle County, October, 1869.
53. Man named Shepherd shot by mob near Parksville, October, 1869.
54. Regulator killed George Tankesley, in Lincoln County, November 2, 1869.
55. Ku-Klux attack Frank Searcy's house in Madison County; one man shot, November, 1869.
56. Searcy hung by mob at Richmond, Madison County, November 4, 1869.
57. Ku-Klux killed Robert Mershon; daughter shot, November, 1869.
58. Mob whipped Pope, Hall, and Willet, in Washington County, November, 1869.
59. Regulators whipped Cooper, in Pulaski County, November, 1869.
60. Ku-Klux ruffians outraged negroes in Hickman County, November 20, 1869.
61. Mob take two negroes from jail, Richmond, Madison County; one hung; one whipped, December 12, 1869.
62. Two negroes killed by mob while in civil custody, near Mayfield, Graves County, December, 1869.
63. Allen Cooper killed by Ku-Klux in Adair County, December 24, 1869.
64. Negroes whipped while on Scott's farm, in Franklin County, December, 1869.
65. Mob hung Charles Fields in Fayette County, January 20, 1870.
66. Mob take two men from Springfield jail and hang them, January 31, 1870.
67. Ku-Klux whipped two negroes in Madison County, February 1870.
68. Simms hung by mob near Kingston, Madison County, February, 1870.
69. Mob hung up, then whipped, Douglass Rodes, near Kingston, Madison County, February, 1870.
70. Mob takes Fielding Waller from jail at Winchester, February 19, 1870.
71. R. L. Byrom hung by mob at Richmond, February 18, 1870.
72. Perry hung by mob near Lancaster, Garrard County, April 5, 1870.
73. Negro hung by mob at Crab Orchard, Lincoln County, April 6, 1870.
74. Mob rescues prisoner from Somerset jail, April 5, 1870.
75. Mob attacked A. Owen's house, in Lincoln county; Hyatt killed and Saunders shot, April, 1870.
76. Mob releases five prisoners from Federal officers in Bullitt County, April 11, 1870.
77. Sam Lambert shot and hung by mob in Mercer County, April 11, 1870.
78. Mob attacked William Palmer's house, in Clark County; William Hart killed, April, 1870.
79. Three men hung by mob near Glasgow, Warren County, May, 1870.
80. John Redman killed by Ku-Klux in Adair County, May, 1870.
82. Ku-Klux visited negro cabins at Peak's Mill, Franklin Count; robbed and maltreated inmates, May 14, 1870.
83. Negro school-house burned by incendiaries in Christian County, May, 1870.
84. Negro hung by mob at Greenville, Muhlenburg County, May, 1870.
85. Colored school-house on Glen Creek, in Woodford County, burned in incendiaries, June 4, 1870.
86. Ku-Klux visited negro cabin, robbing and maltreating inmates, on Sand Riffle, in Henry County, June 10, 1870.
87. Mob attacked jail in Whitley County; two men shot, June, 1870.
88. Election riot at Harrodsburg; four persons killed, August 4, 1870. 
89. Property burned by incendiaries in Woodford County, August 8, 1870.
90. Turpin and Parker killed by mob at Versailles, August 10, 1870.
91. Richard Brown's house attacked by Ku-Klux, in Henry County, August, 1870.
92. Simpson Grubbs killed by a band of men in Montgomery County, August, 1870.
93. Jacob See rescued from Mt. Sterling jail by mob, September, 1870.
94. Frank Timberlake hung by a mob at Flemingburg, Fleming County, September, 1870.
95. John Simes shot and his wife murdered by Ku-Klux, in Henry County, September 1870.
96. Oliver Williams hung by Ku-Klux, in Madison County, September, 1870. 
97. Ku-Klux visited cabins of colored people, robbed and maltreated inmates, at Havey Mill, Franklin County, -----.
98. A mob abducted Hicks from Lancaster, October, 1870.
99. Howard Gilbert shot by Ku-Klux, in Madison County, October 9, 1870.
100. Ku-Klux drive colored people, Bald Knob, Franklin County, October, 1870.
101. Two negroes shot on Harrison Blanton's farm, near Frankfort, December 6, 1870.
102. Two negroes killed in Fayette County, while in civil custody, December 18, 1870.
103. Howard Million murdered by Ku-Klux, in Fayette County, December 18, 1870.
104. John Dickerson driven from his home in Henry County, and his daughter ravished, December 12, 1870.
105. A negro named George hung by a mob at Cynthiana, Harrison County, December, 1870.
106. Negro killed by Ku-Klux near Ashland, Fayette County, January 7, 1871.
107. A man named Hall whipped and shot, near Shelbyville, Shelby County, January 17, 1871.
108. Ku-Klux visited negro cabin at Stamping Ground, in Scott County; forces (white) and Ku-Klux killed two negroes; negroes killed in self-defense, ---.
109. Negro killed by Ku-Klux in Henry County, January 14, 1871. 
110. Negro church and school-house in Scott County, January 13, 1871.
111. Ku-Klux maltreated Demar, his two sons, and Joseph Allen in Franklin, January, 1871.
112. Dr. Johnson whipped by Ku-Klux in Magoffin County, December, 1871 [1870?].
113. Property burned by incendiaries in Fayette County, January 21, 1871.
114. Attack on mail agent, North Benson, January 26, 1871.
115. Winstone Hawkins's fence burned, and notice over his door, "Not come home any more," April 2, 1871.
116. Ku-Klux, to the number of 200, in February, came into Frankfort and rescued from jail one Scroggins that was in civil custody for shooting and killing one colored man named Strader Trumbo. [1]


The Cincinnati Daily Gazette printed the same list in its paper on April 3, 1871, with the following commentary:

[April 3, 1871] -


The Facts vs. Senator Stevenson.

From the Frankfort (Ky.) Commonwealth, March 31.

"Perhaps during the last three and a half years that I administered the affairs of the government of that State half a dozen instances of violence did occur, not more; and what did they amount to? I know not of any secret political organization in that State. I know there are bad men in both parties; but I say, as I hope to answer at the great bar of God, as I would say at the bar as a witness, that there is no such organization in Kentucky composed of sixty men, throughout the Commonwealth, and that I do not believe it is political in its tendency."--[Senator Stevenson's speech.

The above is an extract from the speech of a Senator from Kentucky, a man of information and ability, in the Senate of the United States, deliberately made, upon a question involving the personal and property protection of thousands of the humbler and poorer citizens of the United States, and about facts with which Senator Stevenson was specially conversant by his prior attitude as Executive of the State. There is not a man nor a child in Kentucky that does not know that the above statement is utterly untrue. It is contrary to the common knowledge of the people, contrary to the official action of Senator Stevenson when Governor, contrary to his own messages and documents to the State Legislature. How then he could call his Creator to witness that there are not sixty men in Kentucky comprised in lawless organizations, or how he could say that no more than half a dozen cases of violence had occurred during the three and a half years of his administration, is to us incomprehensible, except upon the idea that to benefit the Democratic party, Senator Stevenson has launched bo[l]dly forth from the grounds of truth into the atmosphere of willful error. That he was making a speech for popular consumption, for campaign use denying the facts to promote Democracy. What an attitude for a statesman, a Senator, a man of information and culture!

The context does not alter the meaning or force of the above extract. It means what it says, and nothign else. Senator Stevenson therefore says that during the three and a half years of his adminsitration as Governor, "half a dozen instances of violence did occur, not more, and what did they amount to?" To show the utter misstatement here made, we have hastily glanced over our files during the time mentioned, and collated a number of instances of violence, not of individual difficulty or personal altercation, but general or mob like in their nature. We have not collected the tenth part of the cases, which were heralded in the public prints of the day. From these cases, it appears that eighty-one persons died by mob violence, seventy were shot or whipped, beside the innumerable number who abandoned their homes for fear of their lives. We specify briefly the instances collated: [reprint of the above list]

All these various outrages which we have collated, occurred during the administration of Gov. Stevenson, which began September 12, 1867, and closed February 13, 1871, and embrace the three years and a half alluded to in his speech in the Senate. Shortly after his retiracy, Jacob Lichter was hung by Ku-Klux in Shelby (February 16); a masked band rescued Scroggins from jail in Frankfort (February 24); and a band attacked Ballous' store, in Franklin county, and Rucker was killed (March 11).

Yet Senator Stevenson says not more than half a dozen cases of violence have occurred, and sks "What do they amount to?" [2]


[1] "Memorial of A Committee Appointed at a Meeting of Colored Citizens of Frankfort, Ky., and Vicinity."  Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States, for the First Session of the Forty-Second CongressLetter written March 25, 1871; before Congress on April 11, 1871. Pages 53-56 for Google Books version.

[2] Excerpt from "Anarchy in Kentucky." Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Cincinnati, OH. April 3, 1871. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.


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