March 18, 2015

Articles Relating to David P. Bethurum, Rockcastle, 1889-1900


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


This is a collection of articles that relate to Rockcastle County Judge David P. Bethurum. Yesterday I posted a genealogy report on his family. Articles below include:

1889: the raid on his licensed distillery
1894: political editorials from his run for County Judge (elected), several of which charge corruption, reference other legal indictments, etc.
1895-1897: charged with forging documents for a pension case
1897: political editorials from his re-election run for County Judge (defeated), several of which charge corruption, reference other legal indictments, etc.
1900: charged with bribing a juror in the E. K. Wilson case


[November 1, 1889] -

A BIG RAID.-- News comes from Rockcastle that Float Logan, deputy collector, with a posse raided D. P. Bethuram's registered distillery, two miles south of Mt. Vernon, an captured the proprietor and eight others connected with the words, and found 37 barrels of unstamped whisky and brandy hidden under the distillery floor and in a bar and dwelling. Eight teems hauled the liquor and prisoners to Somerset. Writs are out against others supposed to be connected with the distillery. Bethuram has been running the distillery for a number of years. This is the first time he ever got caught, though the officers have been watching him for some time. [1]


[April 13, 1894] -

The republican primary was held Saturday and we have seen some few of the candidates since who were happy and rejoicing, but the majority of them seem mad and disappointed. Judge Lear who has made this county a model judge for the last few years, recieved 226 votes, James White 470, and David Bethurum 602 votes, for county judge. Dick Miller beat Lee Tate 341 for county court clerk. Will Mullins beat H. Cotten 228 for Sheriff. The question might be asked who is Mr. Bethurum, the man nominated for Judge over Judge Lear and White. The answer comes that Mr. Bethurum is the man that has been running a distillery for the last five years. And he is the gentleman that had about 22 indictments against him last court, for the unlawful selling of whisky. He is the gentleman who swore in almost all the cases that he had tried, that he had never sold the witnesses a drop in his life, and in some cases he said he had never seen the witness in his life, &c. It may be that Mr. Bethurum was right, and all those men who were witnesses against him were wrong, and misrepresented him. We are unable to say, but there is one thing that we do know and that is that there is something rotten somewhere. We feel like the democratic and prohibition parties have been outraged, by the republican party in this county, because they knew that these parties were in the minority, and had no power to resist anything that their republican brethren saw proper to bring up on them. We have been quiet and submissive to any and all things, and we have been letting them have a walk-over into every office and not a word to say, and I do feel that they were duty bound to give us a good law abiding citizen, and not get a man who has been in the courts for 10 or 15 years, for violating the common law, and say to us who can not help ourselves, that he shall be our county judge. God knows that the writer has nothing personal against Mr. Bethurum. He is said to be a clever man in his way and we believe it, for I do think there was more whisky given away during last week than was ever given to the people of this county, for the same period of time since we knew the county and it is said that the larger per cent of it came fro his house. Now one question to the fathers and voters of this county and we are done. Do you think it wise, do you think it for the good of your boys, for the morality and sobriety of your county, to elect Mr. Bethurum county judge of this county? If so, cast your ballot accordingly, and we must submit to your decision, or will you stop and consider the interest of your county, the sobriety of your boys and the sacredness of the law? And then for one time in your lives lay down party prejudice and strife and come up like christian men, and help us elect a good law abiding citizen for judge of this county. [2]


[August 24, 1894] -

I see an article written from my town published in last Friday's issue of the Mountain Echo, headed "Returned to the Fold" and signed "Subscriber." The writer begins by asking the editor if he did not remember last Spring that there was a republican convention in Rockcastle for the purpose of nominating candidates for county officers, and he says in the county judge's race there were three candidates, namely: Lair, White and Bethurum. Neither would yield, consequently Bethurum was the choice of the people. After the election he says there was a great deal of dissatisfaction in the republican ranks and adds "I myself was one of the sore-heads and I declared I would bolt, but after thinking over the matter, I have come to the conclusion that we have seen enough of the leaders in the democratic party to convince any thinking man to never again cast a democratic vote," and then he appeals to his fellow republicans who claim to be a little sore to study well their interests. He says "by uniting we have the 8th Congressional district at our command," &c, and then he says "since the convention I have visited Mr. Bethurum's home and found him a perfect gentleman. I never was treated with more hospitality in all my life than while at his house." He concludes by saying, "Mr. Editor, if you have got any medicine for soreheads, please let us have it." Now, I wish to say to the gentleman that I can not see the propriety of his letter nor of the request he makes of the editor of the Mountain Echo, for he acknowledges that Mr. Bethurum has a remedy and that one trip to the doctor has cured him. If it is really true that Mr. Bethurum can cure a man that is affected with the sore head as bad as that subscribe seems to have had it, by applying his balm of Gilead only once, I can not understand why he would ask for a medicine to be brought from London, when he can find both the doctor and medicine in and with Mr. Bethurum, for I suppose Mr. B. has had plenty of the same medicine on hand, for Mr. Thomas Austin, the U.S.D.C., told me that he had left 20-odd barrels of medicine at Mr. Bethurum's warehouse and that he had the key and that when he went back to see about it 'twas all gone except one piece of a barrel. So we feel safe in saying that if the medicine will have the same effect on all afflicted with the sorehead that it had on Mr. R. L. T., the subscriber at Brodhead, that Mr. Bethurum will be able to effect a cure on all the soreheads in this county, without going out of the county after Dr. Dyche's medicine. [3]


[August 28, 1894] -

Denies the Statement and Asks a Correction.

(To the Editor of the Interior Journal.)

In the last issue of your paper appeared a statement from your Brodhead correspondent, which is an absurdity and an untruth. And to prove to the world that the statement is an untruth I give his word and reason therefrom:

Mr. Thos. Austin, U.S.D.C., told me that he had left 20-odd barrels of whisky at Mr. Bethurum's warehouse and that he had the key and that when he went back to see about it 'twas all gone except one piece of a barrel."

Now Mr. Austin did not tell your honored correspondent any such a thing for he is too much of a gentleman to make any such remark. The records of his office show that I have not been engaged in the business of distilling for more than two years. With respect to your correspondent and justice to myself I ask the gentleman to rectify this at once.

Mt. Vernon, Ky., Aug. 25. [4]


[September 4, 1894] -


Bro. Pike Reiterates his Charges Against Mr. Bethurum and Gives Him Something More to Think About. 

I wish to reply to the statement made by Mr. D. P. Bethurum in your last Tuesday's issue. He says that Mr. Austin did not tell your correspondent what he reported for he is too much of a gentleman, &c., and he (Bethurum) calls on me to rectify it at once, &c. Now I wish to say that I have written nothing to take back. If I had written anything that was not true, I would gladly correct it, but I feel satisfied that Mr. Austin made the statements to me on the streets in Lancaster, some two or three months since? It occurred in this way. I approached him and said: "Mr. Austin, I understand from a great many people in our county, that you left several barrels of whisky at Mr. Bethurum's wine house, and when you went back it was all gone. I would like to know the facts about it." In reply he said: "I left 22 barrels, I think it was (20-odd barrels any way,) and when I went back it was all gone, except one piece of a barrel." I feel confident that Mr. Austin will verify what I have said and instead of taking anything back, I now wish to affirm and emphasize it.

I can see the hole that Mr. B. is working to get out through. He probably thinks that because the distillery was not registered in his name and because the records in Mr. Austin's hands do not show him to be connected with the business, that we have no right to say, that it is Bethurum's property, &c., but not withstanding the above may be true yet I claim that we have a legal right to say, Bethurum's wine house or Bethurum's distillery, and why? Because Mr. Bethurum swore in our last May circuit court, when on trial for selling whisky, that he then owned the distillery, and if what Mr. B. claims, is true, and he has not been engaged in the business for two years, then I would not ask him how it is that the records of our circuit court show him as standing indicted for the unlawful selling of whisky, on the following days: May 25, '93, Sept. 20, '93, Sept 25 '93, Feb 13, '94. And Mr. B. knows that the people of the county, all speak of the distillery and the wine house as his, and that is so understood.

I do not wonder at Mr. B.'s denying the charge, for I can prove by good men that he has made and sold whisky in violation of the United States laws, and the State laws and that he has denied it, in the court and out of it, and that it is nothing new for him to deny these things, and now I wish to say to Mr. B. in all good feeling, if I have said one word that I can not sustain, and if he will show it to me I will gladly correct it, for God knows that I would not do him an injustice. If he wishes this matter to stop here, all is right, and if not, I will produce the facts connected with his life for the last few years, as regards the business, and they will show whether I have exaggerated anything in connection with it or not. Respectfully,

A. J. PIKE, Correspondent. [5]


[September 11, 1894] -


He Still Says Bro. Pike is Another, but Doesn't Disprove His Statements

[To the Editor of The Interior Journal.]

In response to Mr. Pike's article in your paper, I feel that the following anecdote is necessary to elucidate or give an insight as to my opinions of Mr. P.

Several ladies and gentlemen were passing a muddy place, around which were gathered ragged and wretched urchins, when little wretches began to throw mud at them. One gentleman said, "if you don't stop I'll throw it back at you." A little fellow replied, "you can't do it without dirtying your hands, and it don't hurt us any way." Now this is the way I feel in regard to my competitor. I can't reply to this piece without contaminating or lowering myself with the people of Rockcastle county, as he is hardly tolerated in respectable society.

As he has willfully and maliciously reaffirmed the statement made by him and contradicted by me, I must persist in replying to his lengthy, though meaningless, production. Now I say again that Mr. Austin never told Mr. P. what he, Pike, says he told him, for as I stated before, I say again that Mr. Austin is too much of a gentleman to tell something that he knew at the time was false.

I do not deny that the distillery was mine and that I said in the May term of the Rockcastle circuit court that it belonged to me, but I do say that I have not been operating the distillery for over two years and can prove it by substantial men.

Mr. Pike has made what he terms strong and weighty assertions. He said I had made and sold whisky in violation of the United States laws and says he can prove it by good men. Now Mr. P. you will have to prove it if you sustain yourself, and if you fail to prove it, you have shown to the people of Rockcastle and adjoining counties that you have diverged from the truth and that your motive for writing in regard to me is to defeat me for the office of county judge at the November election.

In a former article written by him, Mr. P. says: "The question may be asked who Mr. Bethurum is." Now the question may be asked, who is Mr. Pike? He is the man who came to Mt. Vernon on the Monday after the republican convention to investigate as to whether or not the republicans of this county were satisfied with their nominee for county judge. After he had conversed with some of the best republicans in the county and found that they were conservative and faithful to their dear old party, he was disheartened and disappointed. He then turned to the democrats and asked to be their standard bearer, but he being so unpopular with his party. 

He was treated like a tramp and turned away,
And went back to Brodhead in deep dismay.

Mr. P. thinks he is doing me a great injury in writing his little fallacies but every article concerning me increased my fold, and I think if he prolongs or continues his commentaries in regard to me and my race, that I will carry Brodhead precinct by a handsome majority.

As I said before, an assertion is nothing without proof, and if you want people to believe what you have said, why prove i to them. But you know you can't do it and that is useless for you to try.

There have been several rumors in regard to me since I was nominated in April, and after the people investigated the matter they found that all that had been told was false and that every one originated in the slanderous lips of some rebel democrat. I want to say that had I been nominated by the democratic party, every one to a man would have cast his ballot accordingly. This has been the case always and there are no predictions to the effect that they will break their record.

Now Mr. P. if you desire to drop this at this point, all right, and if you do not I will in my next piece give the details of the history of your life for the last year or two. Always consider your own conditions and surroundings before trying to tear down another's character. 



[September 14, 1894] -

Bro. Pike Replies to Mr. Bethurum and Asks Him Hard Questions.

[To the Editor of the Interior Journal.]

BRODHEAD, Sept. 12.-- In response to Mr. Bethurum's long article of falsehood I wish to say, in the first place, I do not think he can contaminate or lower himself in the estimation of the good people of this county who know his record, for if he could have heard the conversation that I heard not long since between two republicans, he would have felt ashamed. When one asked the other if he knew how long Mr. B. had been married and how old he was and how old the court-house was and many other questions that I do not propose to mention in this article, but hold in reserve--I say if he could have heard this conversation and then heard the one ask the other if he could afford to vote for a man possessing the characteristics that he said the records would show Mr. B. possessed, &c., he surely would not think that he could lower himself in the estimation of any one.

2d. So far as to Mr. B.'s denying what I affirmed, I wish to ask the people of this county who know Mr. B. if they ever knew him to confess to the truth, even when it was proven on him, and I will ask both republicans and democrats if they have not known Mr. B. to stand up in open court and swear that he was not guilty, when he had been proven guilty by good witnesses.

So far as the statement I made in regard to what Mr. Austin told me, I am willing to submit that matter to Mr. Austin, and now to prove to the public that I stated facts, I will give further references. Mr. Thomas McRoberts, of Brodhead, told me that he heard Mr. Ben Slaven, of Garrard county, say only a day or two since that he heard Mr. Austin tell me what I claimed; and in regard to my statement about Mr. B. violating the U. S. laws, I will see whether I can prove it or not. In the first place, I wish to put Mr. B. on the stand and interrogate him, and if he fails to make my words true, I will produce the record, which will show all i have said.

Now Mr. B., I will ask you if you were not arrested by the U. S. officer and taken and put in prison; and I will ask you to tell what it was for that you lay in prison for so long, if it was not for violating the U. S. laws? Now, sir, if you can explain how all this happened and you were not guilty of all I claim, then I will confess that I have been a little rash in my statements. 

3d. In answer to the statement he made about me going to Mt. Vernon, and asking to become the standard bearer of the democratic party, &c., I wish to say that is all untrue. I was in Mt. Vernon on the day referred to, but not on that business and he can not get a single democrat, who is honorable and worthy of belief, who will make the statement and put his signature to it that I asked to be the standard bearer.

In regard to me being unpopular with my party, I will say that I never have asked it to give me anything that was in its power to give that it refused me. I was elected twice as justice of the peace from a district that was largely republican, and when I asked for the nomination to run for county judge it was given to me, and I carried my district by two majority, when there was one republican that carried the same district by 14 over a good man, and I was defeated by a smaller majority than any other man  on my ticket. I only refer to this to show to the public that your statements are untrue and without foundation.

So far as my article shall increase your fold, I do not care, for if the republicans of this county wish to elect you as their county judge, all will be right with me, as the coals of fire will be upon their own heads; but I must confess that I have not seen many that I call good republicans who talk like they are willing to risk you. If they do go back on their word and elect you over Mr. Fish, I think I know it will be the best thing that could happen for the democratic party in this county; for good men who love their homes, and their country, and who wish for law and order to prevail, will not submit to any party who puts such men as the records show you to be in office.

In conclusion I wish to say to you, Mr. B., if you wish to make a personal attack on my character and write me up, as you say you will do, just light in, but I wish to say to you before you begin that any assertion of your own will go unnoticed by me, and that I will not notice anything you might say, but I defy you, sir, to get the signature of any good man, be he republican or democrat, who will put his name to his statement and say that I have been guilty of a dishonest act or that I have violated the laws in any way, or that I have been guilty of any unbecoming act. I know that I have been in public life and that some foul-mouth scamps have circulated rumors on me because I have taken an active stand against crime, &c., but I propose to hold you to the record, and will demand the signature of any man who makes any statement against my character, and unless you give this, you will be unnoticed by me. 

A. J. PIKE. [7]


[October 3, 1894] -

Capt. William Stringer with two other Deputy United States Marshals, dropped in here yesterday and arrested D. P. Bethurum, Republican candidate for County Judge, taking him to London with them. That is all we know about the matter at present. [8]


[October 5, 1894] -

A sensation is promised in Rockcastle, when a case now undergoing official investigation is made public. It seems that somebody has been using the name of Willis Adams, Jr., to affidavits for increase of pensions, in which it is stated that he is a justice of the peace and has been since July 1892. An application of this sort was sent to Mr. Adams from the pension department at Washington a few days ago, asking that he sign his name in the blank, in his official capacity, to the paper in which County, Clerk M. C. Miller, of Rockcastle county, certifies that Mr. Adams is a justice and authorized to make such acknowledgements. The seal of the county is attached, which Mr. Miller says he did not attach, not having seen or heard of the paper before. As the name of D. P. Bethurum, republican candidate for county judge, appears as attorney in the case, he will be called on, if he has not before this, to make some explanations that may possible be hard to explain. There is no telling how many such documents have procured pensions, but it will all come to light in due time and somebody will do time for the crime of forgery and swindling the government. [9]


[November 9, 1894] -

D. P. Bethurum, county judge, P. D. Colyer, attorney, M. C. Miller, clerk, John Griffin, jailer, all republicans, were elected. [10]


[November 1, 1895] -

A party of citizens left for Louisville as witnesses, etc. in the trial of Judge Bethurum. Messrs. H. H. Baker, G. W. McClure, C. C. Williams and Willis Adams were among the number. [11]


[March 10, 1896] -

The case of Judge D. P. Bethuram, of Rockcastle, for forgery in connection with an application for a pension and also with filing a false claim, knowing the same to be false, was continued in the U. S. court at Louisville, after a demurrer to the indictment had been overruled. H. H. Baker, the principal witness, was absent and an attachment was issued for his arrest, with bond fixed at $500. This is the case in which Willis Adams' name is alleged to have been forged, the paper further falsely declaring that he was a justice of the peace. [12]


[October 24, 1896] -


County Judge Bethurum Establishes His Innocence.

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct. 24.-- Acquittal Friday ended a trial lasting several days. D. P. Bethurum, county judge of Rockcastle county, who was indicted in 1892 on eight counts, charging him with forging the affidavit of Mr. Dyer, in Rockcastle county, for the purpose of having an increase of pension granted to G. W. Payne, and offering the signature of G. W. Pittman, a notary public, to the jurat and the signatures of H. H. Baker and R. Heintzman to the affidavit Judge Barr said that the government had failed to sustain a single count in the indictment, and gave peremptory instructions to dismiss the defendant. [13]


[March 5, 1897] -

ACQUITTED.-- Judge B. P. Bethurum, of Rockcastle, was acquitted in the Federal court at Louisville on the charge of forging the name of County Clerk M. C. Miller to an affidavit, certifying that Green Renner had made his declaration before Willis Adams, whom he claimed was the magistrate in the district. There were a number of indictments for similar offenses against Judge Bethurum, but all except the one on which he was tried Wednesday were dismissed, for the reason that they were barred by the statute of limitation. [14]


[Several of the below articles are in reply to the Mt. Vernon Republican, however that paper is not available online.]


[July 16, 1897] -


Dear Sir: The buzzard always follows the carcass. For three months I have been baiting my hook for suckers, and low and behold I have at last caught a minnow too small to fry. In answer to an article in the Republican of July 8th, which says "no one cares for my position politically," I presume the writer is not aware of the fact that there is but few who cares for a "political ring," when it has so many belonging to it who will misrepresent a majority of its own party for its own political purpose. As to the post-office, I would rather leave the fight to defeat those who proved a traitor to me. That, you know was done by D. P. and B. J. Bethurum--and before the primary--not after, as you say. B. J. and D. P. Bethurum both told me that they would not do anything for the Jarrett family since they had lost their influence in the party after the killing of Padget. I am bound to speak as I do here, to prove my point, but, with no disrespect to Mr. Jarrett. I can't afford to throw off on any of the Jarrett family, but everything shall rest just where it belongs. The man who says "I intended to vote for all of them" knows not what he says. The way everything has been running in this county, a man can prove anything he pleases. The day of reckoning is upon you and that ring of political corruption shall be broken.

Now in regard to "blind tigers," you have owned up in  your article, that there is a blind tiger in your midst and that you have caused his arrest and fitted him $50 in two cases. Why bother me for proof, when you already have it? Now if Judge Colyer will call some of the official on oath and they will state the truth, you may find fifty times fifty cases more. You know of the tiger, now break it up. Now in regard to the "buzzard," will say that, by the time Dave B. gets through with the best men of the Republican party, who wants sober and honest men in office and "Little Dick" there will not be meat enough left on his bones for a buzzard to scent and they will be left on the potter's field to bleach. 

You say "you know of no candidate that has opposition." All intelligent people in this county now there is one Independent candidate in the fight, namely: J. W. Baker, (and R. G. William and G. W. McClure have been recognized as prospective Democratic candidates), and who has been solicited to make the race by the "Daddies" of the Republican party and is sure to win. Bolting has become fashionable throughout the State. We are determined to have better men at the head of affairs in our county; so your doom is written upon the wall. You say I voted for all the successful candidates. Admitting that I did, how long did the people for Dick Tate? He deceived the people and robbed the State of her money. And you B. J. and D. P. Bethurum have deceived the people of Brodhead, and at the November election you will get your reward. "Little Dick" will sweep you off the face of the earth by at least 125 majority in this precinct. Why do you single me out to make your fight on when there are over 500 f the very best and staunchest Republicans int his county who say that, that ring of yours shall be broken. You are trying to draw the party line but you can't whip us in. We are the head of the party and we are determined not to be ruled by a lot of unscrupulous, jug-handling politicians. We want men with more brains, more honesty, who handle fewer jugs and who will give us an honest administration of the affairs.

Now D. P. three years ago when you was a candidate, you and your sons never spoke so hard of me when I spoke so hard of me when I stood to you and fought A. J. Pike through the columns of the paper. You have forgotten all of this, and sold me for a few votes. I took you to be a man of your word, but "Oh! I must be judge again and I will trade to the best advantage for my own purpose." You say "I don't know you." Nor  did I you until the last three or four months, and don't know any good of you to tell. The next time please sign  your name like a good little boy.

D. R. TOTTEN. [15]


[August 17, 1897] -



MT. VERNON, Aug. 16. -- For some time past articles have appeared in the Mt. Vernon Signal over the signature of prominent republicans, who are dissatisfied with the manner in which their primary election was conducted March 20th last. Smarting under the strictures of one of these articles, which was pretty severe on the county officials, County Judge Bethurum, in company with County Clerk Miller, called at the Signal office Thursday and after talking with Editor Maret, Bethurum got wrothy and among other thing told the editor if any more articles or his name appeared in the Signal he would kill him. Mr. Maret is still here and says the Signal will come out Thursday. [16]

[Issues of the Mount Vernon Signal for the first two weeks in August 1897 are not scanned, so I'm unable to look up the article(s) printed by Maret which prompted the death threat.]


[August 20, 1897] -

The county Judge in company with the County Clerk called at this office on Thursday of last week, just after the SIGNAL was issued. They had taken offense at the article sent from Brodhead and printed in this paper. They inquired with reference to the article; the original article was shown, the Judge picked it up and put it in his pocket under the editor's protest, but it was later on returned to this office. The Judge became warm and threatened to kill the editor if he published any more articles with his name in them. The SIGNAL is publishing the news and will continue to do so and will print such matter as it thinks will be of interest and benefit to the citizen of Rockcastle. [17]


[October 8, 1897] -


Charge Against a Pension Attorney of Mt. Vernon, Ky. -- Disbarred From Interior Department Practice.

Washington, Sept. 30. -- Pension Attorneys Samuel B. McLean, of Pittsburg, Pa.; M. M. Chase, of Los Angeles, Cal., and D. P. Bethurum, of Mt. Vernon, Ky., have been disbarred from practice before the Interior Department. The first two named are charged with demanding and receiving illegal pension fees, and Bethurum with filing forged declarations in pension cases. --(From Friday's Courier Journal, Oct. 1st 1897.

After Dick Williams beats Judge D. P. Bethurum he will have to seek other means for his livelihood than he has enjoyed. His occupation as pension attorney is gone, the department at Washington, a dispatch says, having debarred him from practice before the Interior Department because he is charged filing forged declarations in pension cases. If Dick goes on the stump and tells that on him, the Judge won't get enough votes to count, if the Republican voters are as honest as they ought to be. --(Interior Journal. [18]


[October 15, 1897] -

The Republican of last week seems quite solicitous as to how, and by what authority R. G. Williams is running for County Judge? We will say that he is running at the request of both Democrats and Republicans of Rockcastle county, regardless of politics. He is running as an Independent and his name will appear under the Independent device (the figure of a woman with the scales of Justice in her hand.)

He is running as an honest, sober man and in favor of law, order and justice.

He is running as a man who will not decide a case before he had heard the evidence. He is running as a man who, if elected, will ever be sober and honest, both on and off the bench and who will not handle justice with an iconoclastic hand. He is running as a man who will not acquit the guilty and hold the innocent without bail. Can you say as much for your candidate? Please answer.

He is running as a man who has never been indicted or accused of any crime against the laws of God or man and has not cost the State of Kentucky in criminal prosecutions more than the worst citizen of Rockcastle county. Can you say as much for your candidate? Please answer.

He is running as a man who was never tried and convicted and served five months in Covington jail for removing unstamped whisky from a U. S. bonded warehouse. Can you say as much for your candidate? Please answer.

He is running as a man who has never been accused of forgery. Can you say as much for your candidate? Please answer.

He is running as a man who has never, in the Courts of Justice, been publicly accused of perjury. Can you say as much for your candidate? Please answer.

He is running as a man who has never been disbarred from practice before the Pension Department of his county for filing forged declarations in pension cases. Can you say as much for your candidate? Please answer.

If this is not sufficient there are other answers in reserve. [19]


[October 19, 1897] -

The Mt. Vernon Signal charges D. P. Bethurum, republican candidate for county judge, with nearly every crime in the catalogue, from removing unstamped whisky from a U. S. bonded warehouse and serving five months in jail for it, down to being disbarred by the pension department for filing forged declarations in pension cases. Forgery and perjury are common charges against him, as well as the further charge of deciding cases before hearing the evidence and of acquitting the guilty and holding up the innocent without bail. Speaking of these charges, all of which are not mere rumors, but proven facts, to a Rockcastle county man the other day and adding that they ought to send Bethurum to grass without contest, a republican who stands high in the counsels of his party, remarked, "These charges wont hurt Bethurum, but makes him stronger with the republicans of Rockcastle." Could anything better illustrate the depravity of a party better than such a remark, which we know from experience is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so far as a certain class of republicans are concerned. We do not believe all republicans are so corrupt nor do we believe Rockcastle republicans as a whole are so base as to rally to a man's support because he is both a law breaker, and a convicted one at that. The honest element of that party,w e are sure will join the democrats in electing Richard Gott Williams county judge. He is an honest and law-abiding man, capable and well qualified for the very important office and will fill it with credit to himself and constituents. [20]


[October 22, 1897] -


Charge Against a Pension Attorney of Mt. Vernon, Ky. -- Disbarred from Interior Department.

Washington, Sept. 30. -- Pension Attorneys Samuel B. McLean, of Pittsburg, Pa.; M. M. Chase, of Los Angeles, Cal., and D. P. Bethurum, of Mt. Vernon, Ky., have been disbarred from practice before the Interior Department. The first two named are charged with demanding and receiving illegal pension fees, and Bethurum with filing forged declarations in pension cases. --(From Friday's Courier Journal, Oct. 1st 1897.

We published the above telegram in the SIGNAL of Oct. 8th, 1897, and a great many believe it was a false announcement. We have procured from the Interior Department a copy of the original order and it can be found on file in this office and below you will find the order and it can be found on file in this office; and below you will find the order published in full.

United States of America.
Washington, D. C., Oct 13, 1897.

Pursuant to Section 882 of the Revised Statutes, I hereby certify that the annexed paper is a true and complete copy of the disbarring D. P. BETHURUM, of Mt. Vernon, Ky., from practice before this Department and Bureaus thereof, as it appears upon the files of the Department. 

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto subscribed my name, and caused the seal of the Department of the Interior to be affixed, the day and year first above written.

Secretary of Interior

Washington, Sept. 29, 1897. 

For good and sufficient cause D. P. Bethurum, of Mt. Vernon, Ky., will not be recognized from and after this date as attorney or agent in the prosecution of any claim or other matter before the Department of the Interior or any bureau thereof. 

Acting Secretary. [21]


[October 22, 1897] -

An article appears in this week's Republican in which the editor attempts to go into the grave of past events, which have long since been buried and digs therefrom things that should not be disturbed. Shame on an editor who would attempt to arouse the spirit of former days as he does in that article. It is the spirit of an Anarchist and every good citizen, of both parties, should frown on it--should put their foot of condemnation on such a thing. It has long since been agreed that the kuklux gang was made up of both parties. No longer than one year ago, 16 men were tried here on the charge of kukluxing and 14 of the 16 were Republicans, but yet no one should say that the Republicans are kuklux. Then what did the Independent candidate for county judge have to do with all that? Nothing, because he was but a small lad. In reference to both charges in last week's paper, we most respectfully refer the people to the records to be found in the Circuit Clerk's office and to the certificate of C. N. Bliss, Secretary of the Interior under President McKinley, which appears in this issue. Let every good citizen who is interested in electing the best men, see to it that such articles are  vigorously condemned. If the editor had denied the charges we made, we would publish them, but as he doesn't and seeks to arouse the people by false statements and thereby draw party lines, we ask men to look at the record that you all might be satisfied. We would not persecute any man. God forbid that we should say one word that cannot be fully substantiated and that by good, honest, law-abiding Republicans of our county. But we are, and should be interested in electing good men for our county offices and to that end we shall use our columns. Please select a single charge and deny it and we will then produce the record and let that speak. Do you deny that 18 indictments were returned against D. P. Bethurum in one day in 1893 by a Republican grand jury? Do you deny that he had to answer to 39 indictments at one term of the Court in 1893? If you do we will produce record and show the people that it is true? Do you deny that he has rendered judgments before the evidence was heard? We have the proof to furnish you that he did. Do you deny that he has divided jug after jug in his office? Do you deny that he, on various occasions, this present year, been down drunk? Do you deny that he has set cases for hearing and parties with witnesses would come and Mr. Bethurum never be here at all? We could mention many other things unworthy of a Judge, but we will refrain, because the people can testify themselves. We want the truth and we are in favor of the truth in print or in public speech or in street or road-side talks. Again let us say that every man that wants fair play and just dealing should rise up against such an anarchistic article because it was "conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity. [22] 


[October 29, 1897] -

In the Republican of last week the editor attempted to answer the charges we made against D. P. Bethurum. In a blaze of fury he said "the charges made are as false and void of truth as the individual who idited that screed is void of honor and manly principle." In his rage he charged all Democrats with being kuklux and charged the with all the foul crimes that were ever committed in Rockcastle; charged them with killing Charley Bethurum, when the writer knew that Bethurum was killed while resisting arrest in Lincoln county. James Bethurum was killed in a fight.

The other charges prompted by the spirit of an anarchist and a bomb thrower are so false and the people know it so well that it is unnecessary to waste time in an answer. We call your attention to the fact two years ago 16 parties were charged with kukluxing and that 14 of them were Republicans, and that two of the Republicans turned States evidence and swore they were guilty and that one Democrat and one Republican were sent to the penitentiary. We mention this fact not because we believe Democrats less guilty than Republican but merely to show that they are not more guilty. It is doubtless true and all seem to agree that members of both parties have had something to do with this disreputable business. This we deplore as much as any man.

After accusing Democrats of all mean things known to the black catalogue. He says, "They are now endeavoring to foist upon the good people of Rockcastle one of their own ilk for judge."

Gentlemen of Rockcastle, is this true? Is it honesty in the man who wrote the words? Dick Williams is 27 old and you know that when the things occurred of which the editor spoke that Richard Williams was but a child. You know that "Little Dick," as they are now pleased to call him, has ever been an honest, sober, truthful, upright and hard-working boy and young man. And as a result of his faithful labors, he easily stood first in his class in College and graduated with the valedictory. He is now recognized by all as an able lawyer, a safe councilor, and above all an honest man. The old citizens of the county know that there was a large number of indictments in the Rockcastle Circuit Clerk's office against D. P. Bethurum in 1873 an that the office was destroyed by fire and that he was charged and indicted for burning it. You also know that a part of the books and a shot gun of Dock McClary's, the Clerk, was found by James Houk and Ashley Owens in a Cave on the Bethurum farm. You know of his violating the law almost constantly since he was 16 years old. You know that nearly all these charges that you find in this paper to day were made under Judge Randell and Judge Morrow, both Republicans, and not done for political effect as they charge.

You know that Judge Barr believed him guilty of forging pension papers and brought about his disbarment.  See certified copy of his disbarment in this paper.

But admit, if you like, that he is guilty of all these charges, we do not object so much on these grounds as we do on account of the way he decides many cases that come before him.

Voters, what do you think of a judge who tells a litigant how he will decide a case before he has heard the evidence, and who will turn the guilty loose and hold the innocent?

The parties who signed the article that appears in the Mt. Vernon Republican each week, as to the character of our county officials, have been asked to make affidavits that any one charge against Bethurum is not true, but they refused to do so.

In conclusion we appeal to the voters to look to the character of Bethurum and Dick Williams. Look at their walks through life.

Look at the example they have set before your bouts and mine, and vote for the man whom an honest conscience tells you is the better man.

When you do this, Dick Williams will be our County Judge. [23]


[October 29, 1897] -

We the undersigned Jonas McKenzie and C. C. Williams certify that they called at the office of S. D. Lewis, Circuit Court Clerk for Rockcastle county and requested him to give certified copy of the indictments in his office against D. P. Bethurum and that said Lewis positively refused to do so.


Subscribed and sworn to before me by Jonas McKenzie and C. C. Williams, This October 27th 1897.

J. B. FISH, J. Mt. V.P.C.

We the undersigned certify that we did, on the 26th day of October, 1897, examine the Records of the Rockcastle Circuit Clerk's office for indictments against D. P. Bethurum, the Clerk having refused to give copy of Record and while we could not find all the books, we found the following indictments against D. P. Bethurum.

Grand Larceny, Sept. term  1873
Burning Clerk's office, Sept. term.  1873
Carrying concealed weapons, Sept. term   1873
Adultry, April term  1874
Selling liquor to minor, Sept.
Selling liquor to minor, Sept. term   1875
Stealing, Sept. term  1876
House burning, Sept. term 1876
Forgery, Sept. term  1876
Fornication, Sept. term  1876
Carrying concealed weapons Sept term  1878
Selling liquor unlawfully, January term  1880
Selling liquor unlawfully, January term  1887
Selling liquor unlawfully, 25 indictments, Aug. term   1887


Subscribed and sworn to before me by Jonas McKenzie, William Poynter, James Maret and C. C. Williams, this October 27th 1897.

J. B. FISH, J. Mt. V.P.C. [24]


[October 29, 1897] -

A certified copy of the record sent us from Rockcastle shows that D. P. Bethurum, who is the republican candidate for county judge, has been indicted for every crime in the catalogue from fornication to adultery and grand larceny. He is a sweet-scented shrub to be presented for office. Vote for Williams. [25]


[October 29, 1897] -

MARETBURG, Ky., Oct. 25., '97.

Editor Signal:

Dear Sir.-- I see a letter in the Republican from that Saintly City where no one never gets drunk and none of the county officials ever gambles in the Court House. I reaffirm that my figures are correct. These figures were made the spring prior to D. P. Bethurum's taking charge of the office and are true. A party, as a drowning man will grab at a straw, is as useless for you to attempt to deceive the people further, even if you are a patriot. No sensible thinking Republican will listen to you longer. That ring of corruption must go. To-day you are standing on the water's edge and on the first Tuesday in November we intend to push you in. We will baptise you and cleanse you from all your filthy lucre, and will confess your guilt before God and man and walk in newness of life.

Now as to the county levy, when did you change it, and for what purpose when your county is still in debt? It was for a political purpose you changed it, if not, why did you not change the county levy two years ago, or even one year ago instead of waiting until the eve of the primary election and then change it. No as long as you could keep out of elections you did not care to drop the county levy until just before the election and then tell a great bugaboo to fool the people.  Be honest and tell the people it was to gain votes you changed the county levy from 40 cents to 25 cents in the face of five or six hundred dollars hanging over your county.

Now sir, it is a grand insult to even ask a bolter, as you term us, to support that ticket you are defending. You know full well there are men on it that are not worthy of the confidence of good Republicans. We have asked you time after time to investigate the records of some of your candidates and now you come out and ask the people to investigate the records of J. W. Baker. We are willing to compare his record with that of some of your candidates. I'll vow you can't find 200 indictments against him, can you say as much of some of your candidates? We are for Dick Williams, for the simple reason he is an honest man. We are for the full Independent ticket because the candidates are of the best material in the county. Can you say as much for some of your candidates. You know the charges we have made are true and we propose to prove them, but you are afraid of us. Now in conclusion let me say there is no regular authorized Republican party in this county at present. The chairman is a fraud the primary was a fraud, the dismissal of the old county committee is a fraud. So we have no where to go at present so why not take the device of Justice rather than a device of fraud and corruption. We are tired of these 10 dollar rings in a primary to secure the nomination of candidates whom we deem not worthy of the humblest voter of this county. Now Mr. Patriot it is an evedent fact that the expenditures of 1896 under the present Judge, is far in advance of that of Judge Lair; and where has the money gone. When the appropriations for County are less than one-half they were four years ago and the expenditures nearly double. Who was it bolted the Republican party and voted the Greenback ticket and swore he never intended to cast another  Republican vote, P. D. Colyer.

Who was it that has said harder things about D. P. Bethurum than any bolter ever dare to say? Some of the same men who signed that article of Aug. 26, and it can be proven, and if you ever become a candidate, even for constable, we will lay your hides out on the fence to dry just as some of your candidates will be served next Tuesday. I understand from good authority that J. J. Hamilton who dadied that article in the Republican of October 15, and his father bolted the Republican party in Jackson county, and voted for Sam Hollensworth and defeated David Garret the Republican nominee. You may tell your tale of woe in Africa, China or some other outlandish place; You can't make a man who believes in justice believe any such slang.

Now I wish to say that if R. G. Williams is elected, he will be elected by Republicans, and those ku-klux spoken of in the Republican are not in it. I wish the gentlemen would tell me what the County Judge has to do with the finance of our country. No more than a new born babe. As the editor of the Republican has stooped so low as to souse his political pick to dig up the past thirty years I will throw him a bone. One Leonard Bethurum said in Brodhead he was opposed to kuklux but I deserved to be kukluxed for writing the letters I have against his father. You need not attempt to deny it for I have the proof by as responsible a man as there is in Brodhead. Shame on a party who will stop so low as you are stooping to save a ring of the most damnable corruption ever entered into any party. I am still an Abraham Lincoln Republican.

D. R. TOTTEN. [26]


[Issues of the Mount Vernon Signal for the remainder of 1897 are not scanned, so I'm unable to look up the article(s) from that paper for election week.]


[November 5, 1897] -

On the day of the election three men were shot at the Crooked Creek precinct. One Mr. Henry Langford is dead, while Chess Payne and John Lawrence are in a critical condition.

The election passed off quietly here [Mt. Vernon]. All parties worked like bees, but not with the boisterousness that characterized some places in the county. R. G. Williams was elected county judge by a large majority; the other officer were republicans, being Judge Colyer, county attorney; Mr. Henry Catron, sheriff; Mr. Dick Miller, clerk; Mr. George Griffin, jailer. Of the town officers Mr. W. R. McClure was chosen marshal and Mr. C. S. Franklin, police judge. [27]


[November 5, 1897] -


MT. VERNON, Nov. 3. -- With two precincts to hear from R. G. Williams, democratic candidate for county judge, beats Bethurum 265. The other two will probably reduce his majority to 200. McClure, democratic candidate for county attorney, is thought to be defeated by 25 to 50.

Collier, republican, defeats Judge G. W. McClure for county attorney by 39. Catron's majority over J. Wesley Baker for sheriff is 63. [28]


[November 12, 1897] -

The Mt. Vernon Republican has suspended. The last copy was issued the week before the election. [29]


[November 16, 1897] -

Judge R. G. Williams, of Mt. Vernon, was here [Stanford] yesterday and was congratulated on all hands for his famous victory over the Bethurum gang in Rockcastle. [30]


[February 23, 1900] -

Elisha Bullock made affidavit before court charging ex-County Judge D. P. Bethurum with offering to bribe him in case he, Bullock, was a juror in the E. K. Wilson case. A rule was issued by the court against Bethurum, citing him to appear at the May term to show cause why he should not be proceeded against for contempt and disbarment. [31]


[February 23, 1900] -


Accused of Trying to Bribe a Juror.

The following affidavit was filed Wednesday morning, in the Circuit Court by Commonwealth Attorney Sharp:

"The affiant, Elisha Bullock, says, that at the present regular term of the Rockcastle Circuit Court, he was duly empanneled as one of the standing petit jurors for said term; that about noon on Wednesday, February 14th, 1900, while affiant was serving in such capacity, D. P. Bethurum approached this affiant near the corner of old brick hotel, now occupied by S. W. Davis; that the said Bethurum requested the affiant to go around to Davis' stable with him, that this said Bethurum requested him take a drink with him, which he did; and then requested the affiant to come to the Miller House, that night and he and this affiant would talk awhile on the incoming county elections, that this affiant went to the said hotel that night, and was in the public room and the said Bethurum came in and took him out into the garden, and that said Bethurum then and there said to the affiant that it was no trouble for the affiant to win the nomination for jailer if he had two hundred dollars himself to be a candidate, and that he could do something for him. That he offered and gave affiant a drink of spirituous liquors, and then said that the boys had been in the habit of cutting the affiant off of the jury, but that he, Bethurum, was to select the jury in the E. K. Wilson case; that they had left that to him, Bethurum and that old man Wilson has lots of money and we will take you on the jury and if you will stick to us we will reward you with a hundred dollars.

The affiant says that there was at said time a prosecution pending in said Court, wherein The Commonwealth of Kentucky was plaintiff and E. K. Wilson, defendant, wherein said Wilson was charged of the crime of murder and which said prosecution was on the next day thereafter to be called for trial. That said Bethurum was at the time interested in the defense of said Wilson.


Subscribed and sworn to before me by Elisha Bullock, this February 21st, 1900.

J. F. Griffin, C. R. C. C.
A Copy Attest:
J. F. GRIFFIN, C. R. C. C.
By W. T. Short, D. C.

Commonwealth Att'y Sharp moved the Court for a rule against Bethurum, returnable on the 1st day of the May term to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of Court and disbarred as an attorney, which was granted. [32]


[June 1, 1900] -

D. P. Bethurum, charged with trying to bribe a juror at the February term of court, acquitted. [33]


For more on D. P. Bethurum and family, see Genealogy Report of Benjamin K. Bethurum and Descendants. 


[1] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 1, 1889. Page 3. LOC.

[2] Column 1. Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 13, 1894. Page 1. LOC.

[3] Excerpt from "Brodhead, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 24, 1894. Page 2. LOC.

[4] "Denies the Statement and Asks a Correction." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 28, 1894. Page 1. LOC.

[5] "Sticks to It." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 4, 1894. Page 1. LOC.

[6] "Bethurum's Rejoinder." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 11, 1894. Page 1. LOC.

[7] "Bro. Pike Replies to Mr. Bethurum and Asks Him Hard Questions." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 14, 1894. Page 1. LOC.

[8] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Notes." The Climax, Richmond, KY. October 3, 1894. Page 3. LOC.

[9] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 5, 1894. Page 3. LOC.

[10] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 9, 1894. Page 1. LOC.

[11] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle County." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 1, 1895. Page 2. LOC.

[12] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 10, 1896. Page 3. LOC.

[13] "Will Go Free." Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. October 24, 1896. Page 5. LOC.

[14] "Acquitted." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 5, 1897. Page 3. LOC.

[15] Column 2 and 3. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. July 16, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[16] "A High-Handed Proceeding." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 17, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[17] Column 1. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. August 20, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[18] "Filed Forgeries." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 8, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[19] Column 2. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 15, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[20] Column 1. Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 19, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[21] "Filed Forgeries." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 22, 1897. Page 3. LOC.

[22] Columns 5 and 6. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 22, 1897. Page 3. LOC.

[23] Columns 1 and 2. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 29, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[24] Column 5. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 29, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[25] Column 3. Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 29, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[26] Columns 2 and 3. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. October 29, 1897. Page 3.

[27] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 5, 1897. Page 1. LOC.

[28] "Hurrah For Dick!" Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 5, 1897. Page 3. LOC.

[29] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 12, 1897. Page 1. LOC.

[30] Excerpts from "Personals." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 16, 1897. Page 3. LOC.

[31] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 23, 1900. Page 1. LOC.

[32] "D. P. Bethurum." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. February 23, 1900. Page 2. LOC.

[33] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. June 1, 1900. Page 3. LOC.


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