August 11, 2015

Child-Slayer Lynched by Mob, Russell/Wayne, 1908

Previously:

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

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*3/6/2016 update -- Thanks to Jim Garner who reached out to me via email, an additional twelve articles have been added to this post from the Louisville Courier Journal, Adair County News, and others. Asterisks in the citations section denote today's additions.



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[December 6, 1908] -

The Findagrave.com entry for Nannie Pearl Womack, the young victim in this story, has a portrait attached. She is buried in Womack Cemetery, Webbs Cross Roads, Russell County. [1]



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[December 10, 1908] -


Near Russell Springs, in Russell county, Mamie Womack, daughter of Logan Womack, was murdered while returning home from school. [2]





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[December 11, 1908] -

A horrible outrage and murder was perpetrated in Russell county, near Russell Springs, on Tuesday afternoon. Mamie Wamuc, a white girl about 13 years old, a daughter of Logan Wamuc, was returning home from school and when within about 250 yards of her home she was caught by unknown persons, assaulted and then murdered. Her head was beat into a pulp with stones. Bloodhounds from Hustonville were sent for to trail guilty parties. [3]




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[December 14, 1908] -


CHARGE MAN WITH ASSAULT AND MURDER


ELMER HILL CAPTURED AFTER LONG CHASE.

LITTLE MAMIE WOMACK HIS ALLEGED VICTIM.

MOB LAW IS THREATENED.

Columbia, Ky., Dec 13. -- (Special.) -- Elmer Hill, charged with assaulting and murdering little Mamie Womack, the 11-year-old daughter of Logan Womack, was captured this morning in an outhouse, asleep, near Sano, in Adair county. Wolford Wilson and a man named Shepherd effected his capture.

The crime was committed in Russell county Tuesday afternoon of last week while the little victim was returning home from school. Bloodhounds were on the trail for several days. Hill was trailed from the scene of the horrible crime to a number of points in Russell county and then to Adair county. When the dogs and a posse of men reached Longview, in this [Adair] county, the trail was lost, and it is believed he made his way back from this point to Russell county, and then back to Adair county, where he was captured yesterday, and landed in the Jamestown jail.

An examining trial was begun yesterday by H. H. Dunbar, County Judge of Russell county, but the excitement grew so intense that court was adjourned until this morning at 8 o'clock.

Jamestown has been full of resolute men all day, who say that the mob spirit will rule. Others think that law will be allowed to take its course. Hill, the accused man, has not given an expression as to his guilt or innocence since his arrest. [4]






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[December 14, 1908] -

MOB LAW FEARED IN ADAIR COUNTY

Excitement at Columbia Culminates In Arrest of James Hill.

COLUMBIA, Ky., Dec. 13.-- The excitement in the eastern end of this (Adair) county over the murder of Miss Mamie Womack culminated with the arrest of James Hill, a white man, near the little town of Sano. The officers had been looking for Hill for some time since the murder, and located him last night asleep at the home of a relative. He was taken before Judge Dunbar at the latter's home and given a preliminary hearing. Judge Dunbar held him without bail. Immediately afterward Hill was hurried to Jamestown for safe keeping.

The talk of lynching has been growing hourly and the Jailer at Jamestown has been warned that there is danger of a mob forming in the eastern end of Adair county tonight. The motive of the murder was criminal assault, Miss Womack being dragged into a wood near a lonely road and her skull crushed after her assailant had accomplished his purpose. [5]






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[December 14, 1908] -


LYNCHING THREATENED

White Man Charged With Murder of Kentucky Girl.

Columbia, Ky., Dec. 14. -- The excitement in the eastern end of Adair county over the murder of Miss Mamie Womack culminated with the arrest of James Hill, a white man, near the little town of Sano. The officers had been looking for Hill for some time since the murder, and found him asleep at the home of a relative. He was taken before County Judge Dunbar and immediately given a preliminary hearing. Judge Dunbar held him without bail. Immediately afterward Hill was hurried away to Jamestown, Ky., for safe keeping. The talk of lynching has been growing hourly and the jailers at Jamestown have been warned that there is danger of a mob forming in the eastern end of Adair county. The motive of the murder was criminal assault. [6]




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[December 15, 1908] -

Elmer Hill, aged 27, committed an assault on Mamie Womack, the 11-year-old daughter of Logan Womack, who lives in Russell county, and then murdered his little victim. The deed was committed Tuesday and at 2 o'clock that night Wm. Lair and two bloodhounds was on the road. The dogs took the trail readily and followed it through the rain to the house of Rufus Holt, Hill's cousin, where the trail was lost because Hill secured new shoes. Several hours later the trail was found and followed for over 20 miles. Hill was finally located, hiding among some relatives, and they, hearing of the large rewards, and caring more for that than they did for Hill's chances for freedom, overpowered him and took him to jail by a circuitous route. Sunday night an armed mob went to the Jamestown jail for the purpose of hanging Hill, but he had been spirited away. Great credit is due Marshal Lair and his bloodhounds for the capture of Hill. Clell McAninch, of Middleburg, also did some good work toward the capture. The mother of the murdered child, with streaming eyes, prayed aloud to God to bless Mr. Laid for his heroic work. [7]










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[December 15, 1908] -


Elmer Hill, the alleged murder of Mamie Womack, was taken overland from Jamestown and lodged in jail at Monticello. The officers traveled all night through the mountains with the prisoner. [8]





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[December 15, 1908] -


FEAR OF MOB


Causes Officers to Move With Elmer Hill.

PRISONER CHARGED WITH MURDER OF LITTLE GIRL.

...

Somerset, Ky., Dec 14. -- (Special.) -- Elmer Hill, the supposed slayer of 11-year-old Mayme Womack near Russell Springs, Russell county, last Saturday, was hurried from Jamestown to Monticello, a distance of twenty miles, last evening by the Sheriff of Russell county. So intense was the feeling, that part of the journey was made on foot through the rough mountain ways.

The capture of Hill was effected through the efforts of Russell county officers and bloodhounds from the Hustonville kennels. Hill has practically admitted his guilt, but has said but little. His examining trial was in progress at Jamestown yesterday, but on account of the intense feeling against him he was removed to Monticello. The fe[e]ling is also high in that place, a mob being expected to-night, and the jail has been placed under a heavy guard. [9]





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[December 15, 1908] -

Elmer Hill at Lexington.

Danville, Ky., Dec. 15. (Special.) -- Elmer Hill , the murderer of Mamie Womack, was taken to Lexington from Monticello, on account of the fear of a mob. [10]





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[December 15, 1908] -


Mob Reported Gathering to Lynch Alleged Child-Slayer

Streets of Monticello Swarming Last Night With Men Eager to Take Life of Man Suspected of Mamie Womack's Murder.

SOMERSET, Ky., Dec. 15. -- 2 A. M. -- A traveller who came here from Monticello shortly before midnight reported that when he left the county seat of Wayne county about 9 o'clock last night there were gathered in the town between 400 and 500 men from Russell and Adair counties and that the lynching of Elmer Hill, charged with the brutal assault and murder of thirteen-year-old Mamie Womack, was imminent.

He said that when he left Monticello the streets were swarming with the men from adjoining counties and the jail had already been surrounded. It appeared to him, however, that the men were minus a leader. He said that he expected upon his arrival here to learn that Hill had been strung up.

Communication Not Secured.

An effort was made at once to get into communication with Monticello by telephone, but up to 2 o'clock this morning the local exchange was unable to raise the office. It is not customary to open the Monticello exchange until 4 o'clock each morning and it is hardly likely that communication can be established before that hour.

There is a possibility that if Hill was lynched during the night, the telephone and telegraph wires have been cut.

Hill was taken to Monticello from Jamestown yesterday afternoon, the Sheriff having been in hiding in the woods with the child murderer during Sunday night to prevent his being hanged by the mob that formed at the county seat of Russell county Sunday afternoon and evening.


JAILER SAVES HILL'S LIFE.

Jamestown, Ky., Dec. 14. -- Only the presence of mind of the Jailer of Russell county prevented a lynching and possibly the burning at the stake of Elmer Hill, white, aged twenty-one years of age charged with the murder of little Mamie Womack, near Webb's store, in this county, last Tuesday.

Hill was captured by a posse with bloodhounds after a long chase and brought here to jail yesterday morning. During the day people from the surrounding country began gathering in town, the talk of mob violence becoming strong.

Prisoner Taken to Monticello.

The Jailer realizing that to leave the prisoner in jail at night would certainly result in a lynching, took him from the place secretly and succeeded in escaping to Monticello with his prisoner. Hardly had he left town when a band of 100 men, making no attempt to disguise themselves went to the jail and demanded that the prisoner be turned over to them.

The official in charge of the place declared Hill was not there and invited the members of the mob to enter and search the place. They did so, and after having satisfied themselves that Hill had been removed, left as quietly as they had come. 

Might Have Been Burned.

Excitement here is high over the murder and it is the general belief that had Hill been secured he would have been burned at the stake.

His capture was the result of a trail through the wood by the posse of Deputy Sheriffs, and the first suspicion against him came from an incident at the funeral of the child who had been murdered.

A bystander remarked that the bloodhounds were coming and that the murderer when captured would be burned at the stake. Hill, who had been watching the funeral ceremonies, got up hastily and took to the woods where he spent five days, until his capture. [11]




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[December 16, 1908] -

A HORRIBLE CRIME

Little Mamie Womack, A Russell County School Girl, Assaulted And Murdered

ELMER HILL CHARGED WITH CRIME 

A crime, the like of which, never before was committed in this part of the State, was perpetrated near Mt. Olive school house, about three miles from Russell Springs, in Russell county, late Tuesday afternoon last week. 

Mamie Wormack, a daughter of Mr. Logan Wormack, eleven years old, was a pupil in a school that is being taught about one mile from the home of her parents, and when school was dismissed on the afternoon above mentioned, she started home in company with other pupils, small girls, and they were all together until they got within three hundred yards of where Mamie Wormack lived. Here the girls turned into another road which led to their respective homes, Mamie starting alone to her house. She had not gone more than fifty yards when she was seized and dragged into the woods, assaulted and murdered, her head being beaten into pulp. The above facts were developed when Mamie failed to reach her parents home, and when she was found dead in the woods by parties who had gone in search of her. 

The whole country was immediately aroused, bloodhounds ordered from Lincoln county and placed on the trail of the murderer, the man suspected being Elmer Hill, a cousin of the little girl, and who lived in the same neighborhood. 

The dogs followed the trail through Russell county and into Adair and finally lost the scent at Long View, two miles from Columbia. 

A large crowd of determined men was with the dogs from the start, and while the trail was lost about 11 o'clock Thursday a m, the hunt for the incarnate devil was by no means abandoned and every effort will be continued until the scoundrel is caught. 

Perhaps no crime was ever committed in this part of Kentucky which aroused the indignation of more people. Hundreds of men have been searching the woods since the awful deed was perpetrated and their procedure and expressions plainly tell that Judge Lynch* would sit in judgment should the guilty party be apprehended. 

Elmer Hill, who is accused, is about 23 or 25 years old, light complected, and will weigh about 150 or 160 pounds, and has an impediment in his speech. He is a man of bad reputation. Twenty or thirty men from Russell county, a searching party, were here Thursday, and one of the leaders informed the News that there was not a doubt as to Hill's guilt. 

The parents of the little victim are distressed almost to death, and the good people of Russell county are crying for vengeance. 

It is hoped by every body that the brute in human form will be caught, and if he should be, there is scarcely a doubt as to the punishment which will follow quickly after his apprehension.

LATER. -- The accused was caught Sunday morning in an out-building, asleep, near Sano, Adair county. His captors were Wolford Wilson and a young man named Shepherd. As above stated, bloodhounds were on the trail of the murderer for several days, losing the scent at the Long View in this county. From this point it is believed that Hill made his way back to Russell county and from Russell county he went into Adair, where he was caught and landed in the Jamestown Jail Sunday morning before daylight. 

About 9 o'clock. Sunday morning an examining trial was called by H. H. Dunbar, County Judge of Russell. An examination was waived and the accused remanded to jail until 8 o'clock Monday morning when he was to again be presented to the Court. 

All day Sunday Jamestown was full of men and mob talk was freely indulged in.

Between 9 and 10 o'clock Sunday night a mob, numbering between sixty and seventy-five men, entered Jamestown, went to the jail for the purpose of taking Hill out and hanging him, but the accused had been spirited away by officers. When the mob failed to find the prisoner in the jail, the next move was to search several dwellings in the town. Failing to find the man, the mob quietly rode out of town. 

It is almost certain that the officers carried Hill to the Monticello jail for safe keeping, as it is known that they crossed Greasy creek going in that direction at 7 o'clock Monday morning. 

We learn from a reliable source had the mob secured Hill at the Jail, all arrangements had been made to burn him alive. He would have been carried to the place where the horrible crime was committed, and there cremated, Mrs. Wormack, the mother of the dead girl, having agreed to start the fire. 

A reward of $350 will be paid if Hill is convicted, $250 by the State, and $100 by Russell county. The State's reward was offered on the 12th and the arrest was made on the 13th. 

The News called Jamestown Monday morning and talked to a prominent citizen. He said that he did not think himself that a mob would visit the Wayne county jail, but that there were many who did not agree with him.

The excitement in Russell county is still very high. [12]


[*a euphemism for a lynch mob]

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[December 16, 1908] -


ELMER HILL SAFE IN WAYNE COUNTY JAIL.


Russell County Mob Abandons Expedition To Lynch Alleged Murderer.

Lexington, Ky., Dec. 15. -- (Special.) -- A telephone message received here this evening from S. L. Wright, Sheriff of Wayne county, states that Elmer Hill, who is accused of murdering little Mamie Womack in Russell county, Saturday, is still in jail at Monticello, the county seat of Wayne, and will remain there until he is called for by the authorities of Russell county. Sheriff Wright said he was not afraid of any mob and did not believe there was any possibility of one coming from Russell county for Hill, as had been rumored last night. He said he had no intention of taking Hill to any other place for safe keeping. 

The Russell county officers who took Hill from Jamestown to Monticello for safe keeping arrived there with their prisoner yesterday morning at 11 o'clock. It is at Jamestown that a mob was formed in Russell county to go to Monticello and lynch Hill, but when they reached the Cumberland River they could not get a ferryboat to take them across and were forced to abandon the expedition. [13]



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[December 16, 1908] -

MOB IS TURNED BACK BY CUMBERLAND RIVER

Sheriff Wright, of Wayne, Not Expecting Effort to Lynch Hill.

MONTICELLO, Ky., Dec. 15. -- The story of the formation of a mob here last night, as told by a traveling man at Somerset, was a bit overdrawn. The mob never reached Monticello. The truth of the matter is that a mob of about 400 men was formed at Jamestown for the purpose of taking Elmer Hill out of the Monticello jail and lynching him, but when they reached the Cumberland River, midway between here and Jamestown, they found that they could not get across because the ferryboat was on this side of the river, so they turned around and went back.

Hill has been in jail here since 11 o'clock Monday morning and Sheriff S. L. Wright says he expects to keep him until the Sheriff of Russell county calls for him. Sheriff Wright has placed no guards at the jail and says he does not expect that there will be any effort to take Hill out of his prison.

RECALLS FORMER LYNCHING

Mr. R. A. Downing, in discussing the case of Elmer Hill yesterday afternoon said:

"Within a few miles of Columbia, Adair county, forty-five years ago I saw a negro who had been literally shot to pieces for an offense similar to that alleged to have been committed by young Hill.

"The Ninth and Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry, U.S.A., under the command of Col. R. T. Jacobs and Major Delphos, respectively, were encamped near Columbia in May, 1863, when a little girl who was on her way home from school with her small brother was attacked by a negro body servant of a captain of the Twelfth.

Child Brought to Camp.

"The child, however, did not die. With her little brother she was brought to our camp by the indignant citizens of Columbia and from the crowd of some twenty-five or thirty negroes the two children picked out the guilty man.

"In less time than it takes me to tell it the negro was bound to a tree and shot to death by the soldiers of the Twelfth Regiment. The other negroes were made to take the bullet-ridden body and bury it.

"Major Delphos, who was in command of the Twelfth Regiment, was a German and such speedy retribution was not in his code. He made some objection, whereupon the soldiers quickly silenced him with the injunction that further conversation of such a nature on his part would be met with the same treatment that had been doled out to the negro." [14]



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[December 17, 1908] -


IN OUR OWN STATE


Lynching Prevented by Sheriff in Russell County -- Night Riders Busy Again -- Warrants for Callihan -- 25th Primary Stands.

MOB FOILED: -- A Sheriff's bravery and wisdom saved from lynching early this week in Russel County, James Hill, a white man, charged with the brutal murder of 13 year old Mamie Womack. Hill was caught in Adair County after a long chase with bloodhounds, being given up by his uncle. He was taken to Russel County on the rumors of a mob, and while in the Jamestown jail another mob of about a hundred formed. The sheriff took the prisoner out into the woods, and kept him there under guard. The mob broke open the jail, but finally went away. The next day Hill was taken away for safe keeping. [15]









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[December 17, 1908] -

LYNCHED BY ANGRY MOB

Elmer Hill, Who Killed a Thirteen-Year-Old Girl, Made Confession as Was Swung Up.

Special to the Herald.

Monticello, Ky., Dec. 17. -- An armed mob made an attack on the jail here during last night and succeeded in getting control and took Elmer Hill, charged with assaulting and killing Mamie Womack, near Russell Spring. The mob taking the prisoner rode over from Russell county and surprised the jailer, who offered no resistance. Hill denied his guilt until he was told by the leaders of the mob that he had only ten minutes to live. He then confessed. The mob carried their prisoner twenty miles to near the scene of his crime and hung him to a tree. [16]








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[December 18, 1908] -

McClellan McAninch, who took Marhsal Lair and his bloodhounds to Russell county to trail Elmer Hill, who murdered Mamie Womack, returned Sunday. [17]






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[December 18, 1908] -

Elmer Hill is Lynched After Confessing Child's Murder

Determined Mob Takes Slayer of His Little Cousin From Monticello Jail, Sings Hymn, Prays for His Soul and Hangs Him to Tree.

(Special to The Herald.)

DANVILLE, Ky., Dec. 17. -- Elmer Hill, confessed child-murderer, paid the death penalty for his crimes last night. As the hangmen were looping the rope around his neck, he broke down and confessed his guilt, declaring that death was his just punishment and requested that the mob which had him in charge sing one of the old familiar songs that he had often heard in the little meeting house at Russell Springs and then offer prayer for his soul.

The mob leader stopped proceedings and the determined men, at the request of the prisoner, sang, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," while one of the members followed with prayer. Hill then told his executioners that he was ready to die and his body was jerked [into] the air. The rope being securely fastened the mob quietly dispersed.

Mob Members Give Details.

Persons residing in the vicinity where Hill was hanged heard the singing and praying and the exact facts afterwards leaked out from members of the mob, which is backed by the whole citizenship of Adair and Russell counties.

When the mob appeared at the jail in Monticello, Hill prayed to his Savior, begged for mercy and vigorously declared his innocence of the awful crime, but deaf ears were turned to his entreaties. He continued to plead innocence until the rope had been looped around his neck.

The crime for which Hill was hanged was one of the most heinous ever committed in Central Kentucky and stirred Russell and surrounding counties to fever heat.

Victim His Own Cousin.

On Tuesday evening of last week he intercepted his cousin, twelve-year-old Mamie Wamock, on the county road at a lonely spot in the vicinity of Russell Springs as she was returning to her home from School at Mt. Olivet. 

After assaulting his little relative, he choked her, then beat her brains out with a club and carried her body two hundred yards into a dense thicket, where her dead form was covered up with leaves.

The body was found at 10 o'clock at night by a searching party, whose members feared that the little girl had met an evil fate. Blood hounds were hurried to the scene of the crime from Hustonville. They reached there the following day at 9 o'clock.

Murderer at Victim's Home.

In the meantime Hill had visited the Womack home, had seen the remains of his victim and appeared to be visibly affected. A bystander remarked that the murderer would be burned at the stake as soon as trailed down by the blood hounds, and that the dogs were coming. Hill, who had not been suspected, hastened from the house and fled into the woods of Russell county.

The blood hounds arrived and were taken to the scene of the tragedy and given the scent from the club with which the little girl had been beaten. From that point they went into the thicket where the body was found and thence followed the trail to the residence of Hill's grandfather, where he had spent the night. The trail was followed to the Wamock home, and then the long hunt of five days through the woods began.

Murderer Found in Adair. 

The murderer was frequently heard of in advance of the hounds, but each time succeeded in eluding the officers who were sent ahead. Finally after covering a distance of ninety miles over mountains and through dense thickets, the fugitive criminal was found in an old barn near Sano, Adair county, where he had fallen asleep from exhaustion. He was captured last Sunday morning about 9 o'clock.

The officers hurried Hill to Jamestown, the county seat of Russell county, where he was placed in jail. Notwithstanding the fact that it was Sunday, Judge H. H. Dunbar called a special term of court and entered upon the examining trial of the prisoner, but so many determined men began gathering in the little town that the trial was stopped and the prisoner returned to jail and a guard placed around him.

Officers Warned of Mob.

Before 9 o'clock Sunday night the officers began receiving messages to the effect that a mob was forming and would attempt to take Hill from the jail at Jamestown. He was quickly taken into the woods several miles east and held until the following morning. In the meantime the jail at Jamestown was visited by a mob, an hundred strong, the doors were broken down and finding that Hill had been removed, the mob began a search of the residences of the town.

Fearing the mob, the Russell county officers, instead of returning with the prisoner, took him overland fifty miles away to Monticello. On Monday night it was learned that a mob was on its way to Monticello and Jailer Ramsey and Sheriff Wright removed the prisoner from the jail and started for Lexington with him. They were intercepted, however, and informed that the mob had gotten as far as the Cumberland river and being unable to cross, returned home.

Thought He Would Be Safe.

It was then felt that Hill would be safe at Monticello and he was returned to that point. Parties were stationed at the most favorable river crossing to notify the officers at Monticello, but the mob evidently knowing of the action of the officers, took an entirely different route, reaching Monticello at 11 o'clock last night at an unexpected time.

Practically all of the people were asleep and knew nothing of the presence of the mob until this morning. The jail was visited by twenty-six armed men who called Jailer Ramsey to the door on the pretense that they had a prisoner. The officer was covered with Winchesters and forced to unlock the door and point out the cell of Elmer Hill. Crouched in one corner Hill begged the mob to show him mercy and to spare his life.

Confessed at Last Moment.

He was placed behind a member of the mob on horseback and carried to Greasy Creek, where the rope was looped around his neck and thrown high over a limb. Not until this was done did he confess his guilt. He was twenty-seven years of age and came of good parentage.

Some years ago he was arrested on the charge of assaulting a school girl, but broke jail and eluded arrest for two years. When he returned the matter had died out and he was not tried.

His body was cut down at 10 o'clock this morning by the coroner of Russell county. The mob which hanged Hill rode fifty miles over mountains and through thickets for the purpose of accomplishing its object. [18]



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[December 18, 1908] -

HILL HANGED. -- Elmer Hill, the fiend incarnate, who assaulted and murdered 12-year-old Mamie Womack near Russell Springs and who was trailed and caught by bloodhounds belonging to William Lair, of Hustonville, was taken from the jail at Monticello by 26 armed men and hanged Wednesday night. The men rode into Monticello, where Hill had been taken for safekeeping, and going to the jail drew Winchesters on the jailer, who turned over the keys. Hill was then taken to a lonely spot on Greasy Creek, six miles distant, and hanged to a tree. The mob was an unusually orderly one.[19]







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[December 18, 1908] -


LYNCHED!

Elmer Hill, Alleged Murderer and Ravisher, Strung Up by a Mob

Elmer Hill, the white man accused of murdering 13-year-old Mary Womack, who was on her way to school in Adair county, was taken from the Monticello Jail Wednesday night and hung by a mob.

It was planned at the time to burn Hill at the stake, allowing the child's mother to apply the match.

The mob without efforts at deception rode into Monticello, as had been expected by those who had watched events. It is said they did not wear masks. The Jailer was the only officer at the Jail. The mob called for the delivery of Hill and when the Jailer did not act as quickly as they thought he should, they broke the door in and rushed to Hill's cell. They dragged him forth, with the prisoner protesting his innocence and begging that no harm be done to him. The mob did not answer his pleadings, but placed him on the back of a horse and took him to Greasy creek.

Hill was told that he was a doomed man, that he had but a few minutes to live, that if he failed to confess he would die with a lie on his lips. He then confessed that he had met the girl on the way to school, had strangled, assaulted and killed her.

No shots were fired into his body and no acts committed other than the lynching.  When this had been done, the mob rode away quietly in the direction they had come. The body was cut down the next morning. It is claimed that several of the m[...] ... [illegible, paper torn] ... [20]



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[December 18, 1908] -

MEETS MAKER DURING PRAYER

Elmer Hill Pays Penalty For Heinous Crime.

Mob of Twenty-Six Hangs Hopeless Degenerate.

Exciting Story of Man-Hunt With Bloodhounds.

BEFORE DEATH, CONFESSES.

Danville, Ky., Dec. 17. -- (Special.) -- Amid pathetic scenes Elmer Hill, child murderer, paid the death penalty last night for his crimes. As the hangman was looping the rope around his neck he broke down and confessed his guilt, declaring that death was his just deserts, and requested that the mob which had him in charge sing one of the old familiar songs that he had heard at the little meeting-house at Russell Springs and then offer a prayer for his soul.

Religious Service Before Hanging.

The mob leader stopped proceedings and the determined men, at the request of the prisoner, sang "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," while one of the members offered fervent prayer for Hill. He then told them that he was ready to die, and his dangling form was pulled high into the air, the rope securely fastened and the mob quietly dispersed. Parties residing in the vicinity where Hill was hanged heard the singing and praying, and the facts just as they occurred leaked out from members of the mob, which is said to have been backed in its action by practically the whole of Russell county.

At the jail in Monticello, when the mob appeared, Hill prayed, begged for mercy and vigorously declared his innocence of the awful crime, but a deaf ear was turned to his entreaties. He continued to plead innocence until the rope had been looped around his neck. 

Crime Most Heinous One.


The crime for which Hill was hanged was one of the most heinous ever committed in Central Kentucky and stirred six counties to fever heat. On Tuesday afternoon of last week he intercepted his cousin, 12-year-old Mamie Wamock, on the country road at a lonely spot in the vicinity of Russell Springs, as she was returning to her home from school at Mt. Olivet. After criminally assaulting his little relative he choked her, then beat her brains out with a club and carried her 200 yards into a dense thicket. The body was found about 10 o'clock at night by a searching party, who feared that the little girl had met an evil fate.

Bloodhounds Give Chase.

Bloodhounds were hurried to the scene of the crime from Hustonville. They reached there the following day at 9 o'clock. In the meantime young Hill called at the Wamock home, viewed the remains of his little victim and appeared to be visibly affected. A bystander remarked that the murderer would be burned at the stake as soon as captured. Hill, who before had not been suspected, hastened from the house and fled into the woods of Russell county.

Story of Exciting Chase.

The bloodhounds arrived and were taken to the scene of the tragedy and given the scent from the club with which the little girl had been beaten. From that point they went into the thickets where the body was discovered and thence followed the trail to the home of Hill's grandfather, where he had spent the night. The trail was continued to the Wamock home and then the long hunt of five days through the woods began. The murderer was frequently heard of in advance of the hounds, but each time succeeded in eluding officers who were sent ahead. 

The Man Hunt.

Finally, after covering a distance of ninety miles over mountains and through dense thickets, the fugitive criminal was found in an old barn near Sano, in Adair county, where he had fallen asleep from exhaustion. His capture was effected last Sunday morning about 9 o'clock. The officer hurried Hill to Jamestown, the county seat of Russell county, where he was placed in jail. Notwithstanding it was Sunday, Judge H. H. Dunbar called a special session of court and began the examining of the prisoner, but so many determined men began gathering in the little town that the trial was stopped and the prisoner sent to jail and a guard placed around him.

Message Mob Was Forming.

Before 9 o'clock Sunday night the officer began receiving messages that a mob was forming and would attempt to take Hill from the jail at Jamestown. He was quickly removed from the jail and taken into the woods several miles east of there and held till the following morning. In the meantime the jail at Jamestown was visited, the doors broken down, and finding that Hill had been removed the mob visited numerous residences in the place looking for their man.

Spirit Prisoner Away.

Fearing the mob, the Russell county officers, instead of returning with the prisoner, spirited him fifty miles away to Monticello. On Monday night it was learned that a mob was on its way to Monticello and Jailer Ramsey and Sheriff Wright removed the prisoner from the jail and started en route to Lexington with him. They were intercepted, however, and informed that the mob had gotten as far as Cumberland River and being unable to cross returned home. It was then felt that Hill would be safe at Monticello and he was returned to that point.

Mob Surprises Officials.

Parties were stationed at the most favorable river crossing to notify the authorities at Monticello, but the mob evidently knowing of the action of the officers, took an entirely different route, reaching Monticello at 11 o'clock last night at an unexpected time. Practically all of the people were asleep and were unaware of the coming of the mob until this morning. The jail was visited by twenty-six armed men, who called Jailer Ramsey to the door on the pretension that they had a prisoner.He was covered with Winchesters and forced to unlock the door and point out the cell of Elmer Hill.

Hill Begs For Mercy.

Crouched in one corner, Hill begged the mob to show him mercy and spare his life. He was placed behind a member of the mob on horseback and carried to Greasy Creek, where the rope was looped about his neck and thrown over a high limb. Not until this was done did he confess his guilt.

Hill was 27 years of age and came of good parentage. Some years ago he was arrested on a charge of criminally assaulting a schoolgirl, but broke jail and remained a fugitive for two years. When he returned home the matter had died out and he was not tried. The mob which hanged Hill rode fifty miles over mountains and through thickets for the purpose of accomplishing its object.

Gov. Willson, Russell county and relatives of the murdered girl had offered rewards for the capture of Hill. [21]



---

[December 19, 1908] -

WHITE MAN

Lynched By Mob For Atrocious Crime in Russell County.

Danville, Ky., Dec. 17. -- Elmer Hill, charged with the assault and murder of Mamie Womack, at Russell Springs, was taken from the jail at Monticello at 11 o'clock last night by a mob of twenty-six armed men and placed behind one of the members of the mob on horse back, was carried to a lonely spot on Greasy creek, six miles away, and hanged to a sycamore tree. After sending several bullets through Hill's body the mob dispersed.

The mob went fifty miles to get their man and were forced to climb towering mountain and cross Cumberland river. The officers started to Lexington with Hill Monday morning, but taking up the idea that a mob could not reach Monticello without being detected, returned the prisoner to the little jail at that point.

The crime for which Hill was hanged was committed last Tuesday evening. The victim, a pretty twelve-year-old schoolgirl, was assaulted, her brains beaten out, her body carried to the woods and covered up with leaves. Bloodhounds trailed Hill five days and covered a distance of ninety miles. [22]







---

[December 20, 1908] -


Guard Youth at Somerset.


Somerset, Ky., Dec. 19. -- (Special.) -- Otho Noe, the youth who is charged with attempting to assault 13-year-old Emma Sullivan, at Bronston, this county, is being closely guarded in the Somerset jail to prevent mob violence. The killing of Mamie Womack, in Russell county, and the hanging of Elmer Hill, the confessed murderer, has greatly stirred up the people of the Bronston community. Noe declares he is innocent, but his victim identified him as her assailant, and eye-witnesses say they saw him. The families are well known in that section of the county. [23]






---

[December 23, 1908] -

THE NECKTIE ROUTE.

A Rope Placed Around Elmer Hill's Neck and He is Jerked into Eternity.

ABOUT THIRTY MEN DID THE WORK.

The expected happened last Wednesday night when a mob of about thirty or forty citizens of Russell county visited the Monticello jail, took therefrom Elmer Hill, who assaulted and murdered little Mamie Wormack, near Russell Springs, conveying him to the mouth of Greasy Creek, is Russell county, and there hanged him until he was dead, his body being left dangling from a tree when the mob withdrew. It is useless to repeat the history of the crime, as a full account of it appeared in the issue of the News of last week.

There was no trouble at the Monticello jail. Sheriff Wright was not at the jail with a posse of men. The jailer was called up and the mob made its business known. The jailer seeing that it would be useless to resist, gave up the keys.

It is said that the mob who executed Hill was made up of some of the best citizens of Russell county, who felt that they could not longer wait for the death of a man who had committed such a dastardly crime.

While a great many will say that it would have been better for Russell county if the law had been permitted to have taken its course, but very few, if any, will censure the action of the men who participation in putting to death the man who committed the most heinous crime ever recorded in this section of Kentucky or in any other State.

It is our understanding that Hill, soon after he was taken from the jail at Monticello, confessed his guilt in the hearing of a Wayne county gentleman, who happened to be up at the time. Even if he did not confess, he left substantial evidence, discarded clothing, which were found at the home of his grandfather.

It is reported here, however, that Hill's full confession was made to Mr. Cyrus Dunbar, a merchant at the mouth of Greasy creek, just before he was hanged. He was permitted by the mob to talk to Mr. Dunbar. He stated that he was guilty and that no other person was implicated. He also said that the only thing he regretted was, that he wanted to live so that he could treat three other girls in the neighborhood the same way.

We also learn from another source that Hill did not see Mr. Dunbar, and that his confession was made to the mob, but it was substantially what is stated above that he said to Dunbar. 

While the law was not vindicated, the world has been made richer, and Russell and her sister counties are happy. [24]


---

[December 23, 1908] -

Overdrew the Picture.

The Danville correspondent of the Courier-Journal overdrew the picture in writing up the hanging of Elmer Hill. In fact there was but little truth in the article sent out from Danville. The statement that Hill asked for the singing of a song, and that "Jesus Lover of My Soul," was sung, and that one of the mob offered up a fervent prayer for Hill was all bosh. Also the statement that Hill belonged to a good family. He was a bastard and a mud-eater, and had been a bad egg from a short time after he was hatched. [25] [Thanks to Jim Garner for bringing this article to my attention and sending me a transcript.]





---

[December 24, 1908] -

HILL LYNCHED: -- Another disgrace has been put on the good name of our state by the lynching last week of Elmer Hill, who, as reported in the last paper, was accused of killing his thirteen year old cousin. A mob of only twenty-five men went to the jail in Monticello, and took him out and hanged him, after a mockery of prayer and singing a hymn. Members of the mob say that he confessed, but there is no proof of this except the word of men who helped in the lynching, and who have no justification for their crime even in their own minds unless there was something more against the man than the evidence adduced. [26]









---

[December 24, 1908] -

FRANKFORT.

Governor Regrets Lynching.

"I am very sorry that Hill was lynched, although he deserved to be punished as he was if, as you say, he confessed that he was guilty of the crime with which he was accused; but he should not have been lynched," said Gov. Willson. [27]







---

[December 30, 1908] -

Elmer Hill's Confession.

A writer from the Russell Springs, who states that he was one of the mob who hanged Elmer Hill, says that Hill made a full confession. He told how he caught the girl, choaking her to insensibility with her faccinator; that before leaving her he struck her on the head several times with a club and then escaped into the woods. He said little Mamie begged him to let her alone, but he was determined to carry out his intention. The writer also says that Hill said he was after another girl, but she saw him and made her escape to the home of Milt Gaskin. He told the mob that he had gone from one crime to another until he did not care from himself nor any one else. The writer says that Hill had nerve like a lion; that he never flenched from the time they started from the Monticello jail until he was put to death. Just before he was hanged Hill was told that his time had come, and was asked if he wanted to pray. He answered, "It is no use; hell is my doom." "He was riding a mule" says the writer, "and just before the animal was led from under him, the rope being around his neck and over a limb, he asked us not to shoot him." [28]








---

[November 19, 1909] -

Somerset, Ky., Nov. 15 -- The local company of soldiers has been guarding the Somerset jail since Friday night, in order to protect two prisoners from an alleged mob, which the officers heard was forming in Russel county. One election day Taylor Sullivan, one of the most substantial citizens of Russel county, was killed at Rowe voting place by Walter Pierce, a young man. Pierce's father is also implicated in the killing. As soon as Sullivan was shot down, the Pierces fled to Clinton county, where they were later arrested and returned to Jamestown and placed in jail.

Officers learned that a mob was forming and hastened the two prisoners overland by night to Somerset. A brother of Sullivan's is alleged to have left shortly where he has since remained.

Friday afternoon the Somerset officers were notified that a mob was forming and would proceed to Somerset to take the Pierces from jail and hang them. Soldiers were promptly placed on duty and it is thought that the mob learned of their presence and dispersed. The tragedy was committed in the locality where Elmer Hill a year ago brutally murdered Mamie Womack, a school girl, and threw her body into the woods. Hill, as will be remembered was trailed down by Lair's blondhoun[d]s, and placed in the Monticello jail from which he was taken by a Russell county mob and hanged. The Somerset officers knowing the determined spirit of the Russell county people are exercising the greatest precaution to save the alleged slayers of Sullivan. [29]




---

[February 23, 1910] -

Mr. Logan Womack, of this place, says he will never forget the people of this neighborhood for the help they have given him in making up money to pay for the blood hounds that chased the slayer of his little daughter. Mr. Womack has got plenty of friends. [30]











------------

[1] Findagrave.com entry for Nannie Pearl WomackWomack Cemetery, Webbs Cross Roads, Russell County.

*[2] Excerpt from "The Latest." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 10, 1908. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

*[3] Excerpt from "In Neighboring Counties." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 11, 1908. Page 1. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052021/1908-12-11/ed-1/seq-1/


*[4] "Charge Man with Assault and Murder." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 14, 1908. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[5] "Mob Law Feared in Adair County." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. December 14, 1908. Page 8. Genealogybank.com.


[6] "Lynching Threatened." The Winchester News, Winchester, KY. December 14, 1908. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069133/1908-12-14/ed-1/seq-4/


[7] Excerpt from "Hustonville." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 15, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052021/1908-12-15/ed-1/seq-1/


*[8] Excerpt from "The Latest." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 15, 1908. Page 1. Newspapers.com.


*[9] "Fear of Mob." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 15, 1908. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[10] "Elmer Hill at Lexington." Paducah Evening Sun, Paducah, KY. December 15, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052114/1908-12-15/ed-1/seq-1/

[11] "Mob Reported Gathering to Lynch Alleged Child-Slayer." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. December 15, 1908. Pages 1 and 3. Genealogybank.com.

[12] "A Horrible Crime." The Adair County News, Columbia, KY. December 16, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069496/1908-12-16/ed-1/seq-1/

*[13] "Elmer Hill Safe in Wayne County Jail." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 16, 1908. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[14] "Mob Is Turned Back By Cumberland River." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. December 16, 1908. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

*[15] Excerpt from "In Our Own State." The Citizen, Berea, KY. December 17, 1908. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052076/1908-12-17/ed-1/seq-8/

[16] "Lynched By Angry Mob." Palestine Daily Herald, Palestine, TX. December 17, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86090383/1908-12-17/ed-1/seq-1/


[17] Excerpt from "Middleburg." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052021/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-1/

[18] "Elmer Hill is Lynched After Confessing Child's Murder." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. December 18, 1908. Pages 1 and 3. Genealogybank.com.

Also printed in: "Full Story of Hill Lynching." The Winchester News, Winchester, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069133/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-1/


[19] "Hill Hanged." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052021/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-3/

[20] "Lynched!" Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069117/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-2/

*[21] "Meets Maker During Prayer." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[22] "White Man Lynched By Mob For Atrocious Crime in Russell County." Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. December 19, 1908. Page 5. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069395/1908-12-19/ed-1/seq-5/

*[23] "Guard Youth at Somerset." Louisville Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 20, 1908. Page 9 (43). Newspapers.com.

[24] "The Necktie Route." Adair County News, Columbia, KY. December 23, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069496/1908-12-23/ed-1/seq-1/


*[25]  "Overdrew the Picture." Adair County News, Columbia, KY. December 23, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069496/1908-12-23/ed-1/seq-1/

[26] Excerpt from "In Our Own State." The Citizen, Berea, KY. December 24, 1908. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052076/1908-12-24/ed-1/seq-8/

[27] Excerpt from "Round About the State." The Citizen, Berea, KY. December 24, 1908. Page 7. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052076/1908-12-24/ed-1/seq-7/

[28] "Elmer Hill's Confession." The Adair County News, Columbia, KY. December 30, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069496/1908-12-30/ed-1/seq-1/

*[29] Excerpt from Column 1. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. November 19, 1909. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1909-11-19/ed-1/seq-4/


*[30] Excerpt from "Longstreet." The Adair County News, Columbia, KY. February 23, 1910. Page 6. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069496/1910-02-23/ed-1/seq-6/



See also:


[31] Findagrave.com entry for Elmer Hill. Jamestown Cemetery, Jamestown, Russell County, KY.


[32] “Mob Would Have Burned Hill at Stake for Crime.” Paducah Evening Sun, Paducah, KY. December 14, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052114/1908-12-14/ed-1/seq-1/


*[33] "Horrible Outrage." Hopkinsville Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. December 15, 1908. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069395/1908-12-15/ed-1/seq-8/

[34] Excerpt from “In Our Own State.” The Citizen, Berea, KY. December 17, 1908. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052076/1908-12-17/ed-1/seq-8/


[35] “Hill Lynched by Russell County Mob Last Night.” Paducah Evening Sun, Paducah, KY. December 17, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052114/1908-12-17/ed-1/seq-1/


[36] "Elmer Hill is Hung by Mob." The Winchester News, Winchester, KY. December 17, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069133/1908-12-17/ed-1/seq-1/


[37] Excerpt from “State News.” Mountain Advocate, Barbourville, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87060032/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-1/


[38] “Hanged by Mob.” The Bourbon News, Paris, KY. December 18, 1908. Page 9. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069873/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-9/


*[39] "Lynched." The Mt. Sterling Advocate, Mount Sterling, KY. December 23, 1908. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069675/1908-12-23/ed-1/seq-3/

*[40] "Mob Takes Elmer Hill." Crittenden Record Press, Crittenden, KY. December 24, 1908. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069458/1908-12-24/ed-1/seq-8/

[41] Excerpt from “Items of Interest From Many States.” The Big Sandy News, Louisa, KY. December 25, 1908. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83004226/1908-12-25/ed-1/seq-2/


*[42] Excerpt from "Through 1908, Chronology of the Past Year -- Crimes." Crittenden Record Press, Crittenden, KY. January 7, 1909. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069458/1909-01-07/ed-1/seq-8/

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