January 9, 2015

Two Killed, Several Injured in Melees at Circus Show, Laurel/Rockcastle, 1878

Previously:

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

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[June 23, 1878] -

BAD BLOOD.

Side-Show of Native Kentuckians at a Circus.

Rifles, Shot-Guns, Knives and Pistols Freely Used.

One Man Killed and Two Slightly Wounded.

KENTUCKY SHOOTING TOURNAMENT.
Special to the Cincinnati Commercial.
LOUISVILLE, Jun 22.--A Courier Journal special from Mt. Vernon, Ky., says. A general war seems to have broken loose in our county to-day. There was a show at Livingston, and the occasion called together a considerable crowd. There has long been hard feeling existing between Dan. Bales and Lee Arnold. They were both on hand with a large concourse of friends. Some hard words passed between Bales and Arnold, which were, followed by a general melee, in which twenty or thirty persons participated, and in which rifles, shot-guns, knives and pistols were freely used. William Hicks, a friend of Bales, was killed, and William Cook, William Cundiff and another person were slightly wounded. Lee Arnold was also wounded, it is thought mortally.

It is alleged that Mat. Bledsoe was the man that fired the shot that killed Hicks. Brock Graves split William Cundiff's head with a pistol. Cook's head was also split open by a pistol.

The difficulty occurred at William Cook's house. At the beginning of it Bales retreated into the house, but as he was pressed by Arnold and his friends he came from under cover and emptied his pistol at his assailants.

G. W. McClure, Judge of our County Court, was present at the time of the difficulty, and proved himself a brave man, by quelling the disturbance. Without hesitation he went into the thickest of the fight, and catching a shot-gun by the muzzle, which was in the hands of Wick Howard, he wrenched it off the barrels and threw the barrels into the yard. 

Arnold was quickly placed under arrest, and the citizens rallying to Judge McClure's support he soon had sixteen men disarmed and in custody. Then for the first time he remembered that he was in Laurel County, just over the line. He did not release his prisoners, however, but placing them under guard, sent information of the occurrence to a magistrate in Laurel County. This action is warmly commended by all good citizens.

After he left, as I am informed by a dispatch, another difficulty occurred among the parties. Wick Howard cut Dave Camden in the face with a knife, whereupon John Camden shot Howard in the thigh, and William Cundiff returned the compliments by putting a load of buckshot into John Camden's bowels. Howard's wound is said to be dangerous.

MORE LAWLESSNESS

Information reaches me that Mat. Pike and his brother, while returning from Livingston, this evening, were attacked in the road by some daredevils from Whitley County, who shot and wounded both of them severely. The Pikes retreated to their house and were surrounded by their assailants. At this writing, 10 o'clock P.M., I learn that a crowd from Pine Hill has gone to the relief of the Pikes. What the result will be I can not tell, but I hope the gentle dove of peace will spread her wings over the land, and that quiet may be restored. [1]





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[June 24, 1878] -


In a general melee at Mt. Vernon, Ky., on Saturday, Wm. Hicks was killed, and Wm. Cook, Wm. Cundiff, Lee Arnold, Wick. Howard, Dave Howard and John Camden were seriously wounded. [2]




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[June 28, 1878] -

Livingston was the scene of a bloody affray last Saturday. A crowd had gathered to witness the show which was to exhibit there, and among them were Daniel Bates and Lee Arnold with their friends. These worthies had long entertained ill feelings toward each other, and they thought the occasion most auspicious for a settlement. Hot words were followed by blows and a general melee. Thirty persons participated, and every variety of weapons, except the cannon, was used. The result was the killing of Wm. Hicks; Wm. Cundiff and Wm. Cook, had their heads split with pistols, and various and sundry others were wounded. The disturbance would have grown into still larger proportion had not Judge G. W. McClure, of Rockcastle, been present and by his intrepid bravery, succeeded in quelling the disturbance. He was a little off of his balliwick, but with the assistance of some of the better citizens, some sixteen of the disturbers were put under arrest, whom he turned over to a Magistrate. Later in the day, others of the party who were not arrested caused another row, in which Wick Howard cut Dave Camden, for which, Jno. Camden shot him, but was in turn shot himself by Wm. Cundiff. The wound was in the bowels, and Camden has since died. The train men report all quiet along the line at this time, but bad blood is aroused and the end may not be yet. [3]













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[July 4, 1878] -

A Saturday special from Mt. Vernon, Ky., says: A general war seems to have broken loose in our county to-day. There was a show at Livingstone, and the occasion called together a considerable crowd. There has long been hard feeling existing between Dan. Bales and Lee Arnold. They were both on hand with a large concourse of friends. Some hard words passed between Bales and Arnold, which were followed by a general melee, in which twenty or thirty persons participated, and in which rifles, shotguns, knives and pistols were freely used. Wm. Hicks, a friend of Bales, was killed, and Wm. Cook, Wm. Cundiff and another person were slightly wounded. Lee Arnold was also wounded, it is thought mortally. Others were badly hurt. After this row had been quelled and a number of the parties placed under arrest, another difficulty occurred among the parties. Wick. Howard cut Dave Howard in the face with a knife, whereupon John Camden shot Howard in the thigh, and Wm. Cundiff returned the compliment by putting a load of buckshot into John Camden's bowels. Howard's wound is said to be dangerous. [4]



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[July 4, 1878] -


A Series of Bloody Battles.

Livingston, [Kentucky], correspondence St. Louis Globe-Democrat: About half-past twelve o'clock yesterday, there was quite a large crowd assembled to see the Hoffman balloon show, among them Lee Arnold and his wife. It seems that the Bayles party, or faction, have formed some imaginary grievance against Arnold, because he was one of the party that went to make the arrest. The Bayles party showed open demonstrations of ill-feeling for some time. At last exceptions were made to them by Lee Arnold, which was a general signal for a fight, in which pistols and shot guns were used. There were the Bayles party on one side, and Lee Arnold and Watt Bledsoe, Arnold's step-son, on the other side. The result was that Wm. Hicks was killed dead from a pistol-shot, and Lee Arnold was terribly wounded from a shot-gun in the hands of Howard. After the fight, Mr. Franklin took down the show and removed all his apparatus from the grounds. In the evening, after the above occurrence, some parties who had remained about the place, in discussing the matter, got into another fight. They were Wm. Cundiff and Wick Howard, who were engaged in the other fight, and the brothers, David and John Camden. The result of this fight was: John Camden, cut in the face with a large Bowie-knife; David Camden, shot in the abdomen; W. Howard shot through the thigh, and a bystander shot in the arm. There were also two brothers by the name of Pike, who, on their way home, came across a party they had some former trouble with. The consequence was they got into a fight, and were both shot, but neither of them mortally. [5]



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[August 16, 1878] -


Circuit Court convenes at London, next Monday. It is expected that the parties to the recent difficulty at Livingston, in which two men were killed, will be tried at that term. [6]



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[August 30, 1878] -

Waller Bledsoe was indicted last week by the Grand Jury of Laurel county, for the murder of Wm. Hicks, in the recent battle at Livingston. Upon arraignment, he plead not guilty, and by consent of the Attorney for the Commonwealth, the case was transferred to the Rockcastle Circuit Court. He will be tried at the next September term. [7]





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[September 17, 1878] -

One day last July was a "bloody day" at Livingston. A fight took place in which some twenty or thirty men were participants, and in which Bill Hicks and Dave Camden lost their lives, and seven others were wounded. Wat. Bledsoe, a beardless boy of nineteen years, was one of the participants. He emptied three chambers of an improved "Smith & Wesson" into the crowd, it is said, fighting in defense of his step-father. The scene of the affray was just in the edge of Laurel county. At the last term of the Laurel Circuit Court Bledsoe was indicted for the murder of Hicks. Not being ready for trial, and Judge Randall being unwilling to continue the case, and leave the prisoner in jail, an agreement was effected by which the case was sent to this [Rockcastle] court. Bledsoe is now in jail at London, and will be brought here this week. [8]



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[September 20, 1878] -


same vs. Wat. Bledsoe, charged with killing Wm. Hicks in July of the present year. (This case comes to our Court by change of venue from the Laurel Circuit.) [9] 





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[October 11, 1878] -

Among them was one against Wm. Cundiff for manslaughter. He is charged with killing David Camden, in the riot at Livingston.


In the case of the Commonwealth vs. Wat Bledsoe, indicted for the murder of Wm. Hicks, a continuance was granted, and the prisoner was allowed bail in the sum of $1,000, which he gave. [10]




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[September 26, 1879] -

There are eight murder cases on the docket, the first one being that against Wat Bledsoe, the trial of which was expected to begin Wednesday morning. [11]



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[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 manslaughter; same vs. Wm. Cundiff, for murdersame vs. same, for manslaughter; same vs. Emmett Snodgrass and J. J. Thompson, for murder, were all continued to next term. [12]





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[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. [13]



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[April 30, 1880] -


There is another case against Cundiff in this Court--an indictment for manslaughter, charging him with killing David Camden in 1878. 



Tuesday evening when the Court placed Wm. Cundiff, who was on trial for murder, in the custody of the jailer, Cundiff resisted and declared he would not go to jail. He was overpowered, however, and securely locked up. A large navy pistol was taken from his person. The affair created a considerable "breeze" and the jailer was badly scared. [14]





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[1] "Bad Blood." Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, Cincinnati, OH. June 23, 1878. Page 4. Genealogybank.com.

[2] Excerpt from "Flashes." The Cincinnati Daily Star, Cincinnati, OH. June 24, 1878. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025759/1878-06-24/ed-1/seq-1/

[3] The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 28, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-06-28/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "The South." The Eaton Democrat, Eaton, OH. July 4, 1878. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88077272/1878-07-04/ed-1/seq-4/

[5] "A Series of Bloody Battles." Memphis Daily Appeal, Memphis, TN. July 4, 1878. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045160/1878-07-04/ed-1/seq-1/

[6] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 16, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-08-16/ed-1/seq-2/

[7] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 30, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-08-30/ed-1/seq-2/

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

[9] 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/

[10] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 11, 1878. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-10-11/ed-1/seq-2/

[11] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 26, 1879. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-09-26/ed-1/seq-3/

[12] 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/

[13] 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/

[14] 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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