April 4, 2015

Man Killed In His Home During Midnight Robbery Attempt, Pulaski, 1864


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


[May 21, 1881] -

Arrest for a Murder Committed Sixteen Years Ago.

ST. LOUIS, May 20.-- J. B. Love, charged with murdering Coleman Stingall, at Somerset, Pulaski County, Ky., sixteen years ago, passed through here to-night on his way to Kentucky, in charge of Wm. Stingall, son of the murdered man. Love was arrested in McKinney, Texas. [1]


[May 27, 1881] -

This community seems determined to bring to justice the parties whose conduct during and after the war made this county a hot-bed for crimes. All the crimes committed during that time are being called up and every clew is to be persistently and untiringly followed. As an evidence of this, Bowen Love was brought from his home in McKinney, Texas, Saturday to answer for a murder committed seventeen years ago. He was captured by Wm. Stigall, son of the murdered man. Mr. Love desires us to state in his behalf that he was here during the greater portion of this time, ready and willing to meet the charge; that after he was indicted he wrote back to parties here, saying that he would be at Court to answer; and that he yielded to the officer who arrested him without a show of resistance. [2]


[May 27, 1881] -

Owen Love, charged with the murder of Coleman Stigall, in Pulaski county, during the war, passed Junction City last Saturday in charge of Special Agent Wm. Stigall, en route to Somerset. From the manner in which Mr. Stigall had his prisoner handcuffed and chained down, one would have believed he had in charge a desperate man. [3]


[May 27, 1881] -

Reports come here to the effect that the people of the Big Glades precinct in Pulaski county are much exercised over the investigation of the Stigall murder, of 1865, which is being made in that neighborhood. [4]


[June 2, 1881] -


He is Brought Back from Texas by a Son of the Murdered Man, but Confidently Claims His Ability to Establish His Innocence.

[From the Cincinnati Gazette.]

In the smoking-car of the 8:30 a.m. train, leaving this city for Chattanooga, on the Southern Railway, Saturday morning, was a man heavily bound in irons. The rumor soon spread abroad through the train that a murderer was in the car referred to, and that he was being taken to Somerset, Ky., for trial. Before the train had proceeded far on its journey the car had been visited by most of the passengers on the train, among others being a Gazette reporter, who soon became acquainted with both custodian and prisoner.

The prisoner was a genuine specimen of the Kentuckian backwoodsman, and appeared to be at least fifty years of age; in fact, his grayish hair and beard gave him the appearance of being even more. In conversation with the reporter he said his name was Owen Love, and that he was but forty-four years of age; was born in Pulaski county, Ky., and had all his lifetime, save during time of service in Colonel Woolford's command in the Union army during the rebellion, followed the life of a farmer, residing until February last on different farms in the surrounding country. In February, with his wife and six children, he removed to Collin county, Texas, where he has a brother residing, and where he has lived until arrested last week by William Stigall, a special agent appointed by Governor Blackburn for the purpose of bringing him back to Somerset, Ky., to be tried for the murder of Coleman Stigall, father of the special agent mentioned, on the night of June 15, 1864, nearly seventeen years ago.

Most of the passengers on the train criticised Stigall severely for the brutal manner in which he secured Love. In addition to the customary pair of handcuffs, one end of the chain was about his neck, securely fastened by a padlock to the arm of the chair, much the same as a vicious dog would be fastened, and much sympathy was expressed for Love, whose aged and broken appearance gave him the look of almost anything else than an assassin.

The story of the murder, as related by the special agent (Stigall), was as follows: His father, Coleman Stigall, aged sixty-five years, resided for many years about ten miles north of Somerset, Pulaski county, Ky., and kept the only public house or tavern between that place and Crab Orchard, Ky. Stigall was reputed to be worth considerable money, and on the 13th or 14th of June, 1864, made a sale of some property for which he received $2500 in cash. This, as usual in country circles, soon became noised about, and between midnight an 2 a.m. on the night of the 15th of June a band of fourteen masked men, thirteen white and one colored, rode up to Stigall's house, broke in the door and woke him up. One of the party acting as spokesman, demanded that he should give them the $2500. Stigall replied that he had no money in the house, he keeping it in the bank at Somerset. No sooner than the reply had been given, the spokesman drew a huge navy revolver, and firing, struck Stigall twice, killing him instantly, almost in his own doorway. The assassins then ransacked the house from top to bottom, but failing to obtain any booty, rode off. The son, Wm. Stigall, took a great interest in endeavoring to ascertain who the person was that fired the fatal shots, and, as he stated to the Gazette reporter Saturday afternoon, discovered, as he claims, that Love was the assassin. Ever since that time he has been endeavoring to obtain Love's indictment for the murder, but failed until two weeks ago, when, as he claims, Love had left the neighborhood, witnesses were no longer intimidated, and a true bill was returned by the Grand Jury. Knowing the whereabouts of Love, he obtained the appointment as special agent, as stated, and proceeded to Collin county, Texas, where the arrest was made. 

Love, who appeared to be a straightforward sort of man, related the story of the murder just as had Stigall, but he denied most emphatically having been with the party that ransacked the house. He said he was brought up but six miles from Stigall's place, and was therefore fully aware of the circumstances attendant upon the murder. Love said he had been persecuted by Wm. Stigall almost incessantly since the war because of his having espoused the Union cause, while Stigall was one of John Morgan's notorious band of guerillas. He had remained in the neighborhood for nearly seventeen years after the murder, leaving only in February last to go to Texas, upon the advice of a brother already settled there, that he could better himself an family in that State. In leaving Pulaski county he had driven through Somerset in open day, bade all his old neighbors farewell, and, with his family and household goods, had started for his new home, driving all the way in two wagons. The moment he learned of his indictment, not being able to write himself, he got his brother to write to both the county judge of Pulaski county and the postmaster at Somerset, informing them of his whereabouts, and his anxiety for a speedy trial. Mr. Love denied ever having intimidated any one from giving testimony against him, and said he was satisfied he could establish his innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt. A cousin of Love joined him at Sedalia, Mo., Friday and accompanied him to Somerset to see that he was given "fair play." and Love's brother, now in Texas, will arrive at Somerset some time this week, and remain until after the trial. 

The best of legal talent will be secured to defend Love, and every effort used to prevent an unjust conviction, even in a Kentucky court. [5]


[July 19, 1881] -



[Special to the Courier Journal.]

SOMERSET, July 18. -- The Hunly, Meece and Gilmore murder trial created intense excitement in the country, equaled by nothing except that which has grown up over the Love-Stigall murder trial.

The particulars of the murder are as follows:

On the night of the 14th of June, in 1864, a band of masked men went to the house of Coleman Stigall, called him up and shot him, and then made their escape. The affair created intense excitement at the time, but as it was just at the close of the rebellion, when party feeling was at a white-heat, it was thought advisable to let the affair rest until the country was quiet before the murder would be investigated. At a sitting of the last grand jury an indictment was found against Baurne Love, one of the fourteen men who murdered Stigall. Love was arrested in Texas, where he had removed, and brought back here to await the course of the law. The trial began last week, with Col. T. Z. Morrow & Son, Cord & Waddle, W. B. Pettus, James May and J. L. Owens for the defense, and Capt. Welsh and Mike Saufly, of Stanford, and Col. S. A. Newell and G. W. Shadoan for the prosecution. James Stigall, a negro, stated on the witness stand, that on the night of the murder a gang of men came to his master's house and demanded admittance, and that Stigall commended him to light a candle and let them in, which he did; that when he opened the door Baurne Love appeared and demanded money, when Stigall, getting out of bed, called to Henry, another negro, to "come and put this fellow out," when Love fired a pistol leading out of the room, when Love  fired at him the second time. Stigall then fell down and died in a few minutes.

Amanda Carson, a negro woman, stated that on the night of the trouble she heard two shots in her master's room, and the voice of Mrs. Stigall calling to her to come there, "that her master was shot and dying;" that when she went into the room she saw Love standing in the door with pistol in hand, and heard him ask Mrs. Stigall "if he (Stigall) was dead; that if he was not to just let him to him and he would soon finish him."

Henry Stigall stated that during the night Baurne Love and Ceph Meece (the Meece now in the penitentiary for the murder of Millis) came to the door and called him, and told him to "stay in the house, that he was all right, and that they would not hurt him."

Mr. and Mrs. Love, parents of the prisoner, swore that Baurne was at their house all night of the 15th of June of 1864.

The case, after a cloud of unimportant witnesses had been examined, was submitted without argument, and Love was held over under a bond of $2,000 for his reappearance at the October Circuit Court. [6]


[July 22, 1881] -

Bowen Love, the alleged murderer of Coleman Stigall, in Pulaski, gave the required bond, $2,000, and left at once for his home in Texas. There is much direct proof against him, but we learn that the cruel manner in which he was treated by Wm. Stigall, who brought him from Texas, created much sympathy in his behalf, and in a measure changed public sentiment in his favor. [7]


[October 14, 1881] -

The acquittal of Bourne Love, by a Pulaski county jury, last week, for the murder of Coleman Stigall, seventeen years ago, shows how utterly impossible it is to get a jury to stand up to their oaths. It was proved, as we learn, beyond a doubt that Love and others went to the house of Stigall, in the night time for robbery, and that he committed the bloody murder; yet because Love elected to be tried under the law in force at the time of the act, which fixes death as the only penalty for murder, twelve men, rather than punish him by hanging, as he so richly deserved, said on their oaths that he was guilty of no crime; and they would have said the same thing, no doubt, had each of them witnessed the horrible murder. It is no use to conceal the fact; a white man may kill and slay at pleasure; he may revel in human gore and become a terror to a whole country, yet when twelve Kentucky jurors are called to pass on one of his many murders, they become suddenly very conscientious about the death penalty, and end the miserable farce either by an acquittal or a short term in the penitentiary. This maudlin sentiment in regard to the punishment of murderers, must undergo a radical chance. The juries should demand an eye for an eye and a tooth for a too[th], else the carnival of murder, now sweeping the State, will grow and increase continually. There have been eight murders in Louisville in the last two weeks. Will a single man hang for them? It is not at all probable. Yet if each murderer was made to expiate his crime on the gallows the moral effect would be so great that there would be no killing in that region soon, while bad men all over the State would pause before they ran the risk of putting their necks in the noose by spilling the blood of their fellow man. Public sentiment is greatly at fault in the matter of murder. It has become so common that it is not looked on with the horror that it should be. In fact, it is almost regarded as a matter of course, and in nine out of ten cases a murderer is as much, if not more, thought of than before he stained his cowardly hands with blood. We want such a public sentiment against murder and murderers as is felt against thieves and thieving. There is no trouble about punishing a man for horse-stealing or hog-stealing. In point of fact, a man charged with either of those offenses is hardly given the benefit of a doubt. Yet red-handed murders go scot free on the merest shadow of a doubt. It is a hard charge to make against the people of Kentucky that they love their property more than the lives of their fellow men, but not a Court passes but such a state of case is manifested, and the more's the pity. Let the newspapers, the preachers and the public speakers all over the State join in trying to revolutionize the sentiment on murder, or we shall soon reach that condition that emigrants will refuse to enter the Commonwealth at all. When our people learn that one cold-blooded murder does more to injure the value of their lands and other property than a half a score of hog-stealing, they may possibly awake to the importance of seeing that every life willfully taken by another, shall be atoned only on the gallows. [8]


[August 14, 1885] -

My mother was the widow Hays, daughter of Thomas Stigall, of "Stigall Ferry." The renowned Coleman Stigall, who was so foully murdered in Pulaski at his home at the close of the war, was her oldest brother. [9]


[December 10, 1886] -

Mrs. Bobbitt was the daughter of Thomas Stigall. Her mother's maiden name was Harris, a sister of Isham G. Harris, of Tennessee. The late Coleman Stigall, of Pulaski county, was a brother of Mrs. Bobbitt; another brother, Fontaine Stigall, lives in Pulaski. [10]


[1] "Arrest for a Murder Committed Sixteen Years Ago." Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, Cincinnati, OH. May 21, 1881. Page 2. Genealogybank.com.

[2] Excerpt from "Pulaski County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 27, 1881. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-05-27/ed-1/seq-2/

[3] Excerpt from "Boyle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 27, 1881. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-05-27/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon Department." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 27, 1881. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-05-27/ed-1/seq-2/

[5] "Arrest of Owen Love for the Murder of Coleman Stigall." Galveston Weekly News, Galveston, TX. June 2, 1881. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

[6] "Somerset." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. July 19, 1881. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[7] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 22, 1881. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-07-22/ed-1/seq-3/

[8] Column 1. The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 14, 1881. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1881-10-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[9] Excerpt from "Fontaine Fox Bobbitt." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. August 14, 1885. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1885-08-14/ed-1/seq-1/

[10] Excerpt from "A Tribute to the Memory of Mrs Patsy Bobbitt, by one Who Loved Her." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 10, 1886. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1886-12-10/ed-1/seq-2/


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