February 19, 2016

Mob Raids Monticello Jail, Hangs Arson Suspect, Wayne, 1896


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


[February 5, 1896] -


Wayne County People After a Couple of Alleged Barn Burners.

Monticello, Ky., Feb 3. -- (Special Correspondence.) -- There is no little curiosity and considerable excitement among the citizens of Monticello and Wayne county as to what will be the outcome of a barn-burning and a visit made upon a suspicious character by a band of ku-klux. The circumstances incident upon the affair are as follows:

About six weeks ago Bonnie Bates' barn, with all it contained--several head of horses and cattle, a crop of tobacco, hay, oats and corn--was consumed by fire, in the vicinity of Steubenville, inflicting upon the owner a loss of several thousand dollars. Circumstantial evidence led to the arrest and incarceration in the county jail of Fount Martin, who is awaiting trial before the Circuit Court. The wrath, however, of the outraged Steubenvillians was not appeased. Consequently, on last Friday night the band of kuklux visited the cabin of James Troxell, a neighbor of Martin, and, coaxing him forth into the night, endeavored to extort from him a confession of guilt either of Martin or himself. What information was secured is known only to Troxell and his visitors. Howbeit, Troxell's body was finally from the end of a rope and was cut down only in time for him to recover his fleeting breath.

On the following day Troxell came to town to disclose the neck wounds made by the rope and to swear out warrants for the arrest of his supposed assailants, whose identity he thinks he can establish, as they wore no mask. The persons whom he accuses of making him this most unwelcome visit are among the most prominent and influential citizens of the county. [1]


[February 7, 1896] -

Jim Froxville, a white man who lives near Steubenville, Wayne county, on being suspected of arson, was dragged from his cabin and hung to extort a confession, but was cut down in time to save his life. He has sworn out warrants for W. K. and Ed Jones, G. J. Marcus, Jim Wright, Hartwell Spann and Bob Christman and much excitement exists. [2]


[February 18, 1896] -


But Fountain Martin Was Hanged By a Mob.


Made Short Work of An Alleged Barn-Burner


Monticello, Ky., Feb. 15. — (Special Correspondence.) A mob of twenty masked men raided the jail here Friday midnight. The jailer being powerless in their hands turned over his keys, whereupon Fount Martin and James Troxell were carried off. Martin had been arrested two months ago charged with barn-burning. Troxell was a suspected accomplice and neighbor of Martin, and was lodged with him behind the bars last week.

This Saturday morning Martin’s body was found swinging from a limb in a grove near Steubenville. Coatless and shoeless, Troxell took breakfast several miles from the scene of the hanging and reported that he had escaped from the lynchers, while they were making way with his neighbor, Martin.

Troxell is the man, who was visited by a band of Kuklux ten days ago, and after being swung up was cut down again just in time to save his life. He swore out warrants against prominent citizens, but failed to appear at their examining trial sin the interest of the Commonwealth, and, in the absence of testimony, the cases were dismissed.

Subsequently Troxell was arrested and placed in jail. When brought face to face with Martin each accused the other of burning Bates’ barn, as though they had taken up the tactics thrown down by Jackson and Walling.

Troxell is still at large, but it is expected that he will be followed and swung to-night. It is said that Martin was an ex-convict, and this is the third time that Troxell has miraculously escaped lynching.

Occuring in the face of Gov. Bradley’s late message, with a living witness against them, the members of this mob must realize their unhealthy position.

Other developments are expected. [3]


[February 18, 1896] -


Masked Men Lynch Fountain Martin at Monticello, Ky.

LEXINGTON, Ky., Feb. 18. -- A mob of 20 masked men attacked the Wayne county jail at Monticello at an early hour Sunday morning.

The jailer was overpowered his keys taken away, the cells unlocked and Fountain Martin and James Troxell, white men, who were arrested several weeks ago charged with burning the bar of Bonnie Bates, were taken from the prison.

The men were carried to a point near Steubenville, where, in a little Grove, the body of Martin was found cold in death hanging from a limb.

He had no coat, hat or shoes. Troxell appeared at a farmhouse three miles from the scene of the hanging and got breakfast Sunday morning.

He said that while the mob was hanging Martin he made his escape in the darkness.

This was the third attempt to lynch Troxell. Three weeks ago he was taken from his home by a mob and hung to a tree until he was nearly dead, in order that he might confess to the burning of Bates' barn or tell who did it. [4]


[February 20, 1896] -


The County Judge Had Been Warned of the Plans of Lynchers.

Monticello, Ky., Feb. 19. -- (Special Correspondence.) -- James Troxell, who cleverly escaped the noose Saturday morning, is still at large and his whereabouts is unknown. Oil talk has for the time been eliminated, and nothing is discussed on our streets save the event and incidents connected with the hanging The people are down upon it, and regard the lynching of Martin as an indignity to the community. They deeply deplore circumstances that could lead to such an event. The laboring classes are considerably worked up over the matter and charge that the court was in collusion with the mob. While such is not the case, justice is too often tardy, and this fact may have been an incentive for the execution of this crime.

Circumstances pointed to the enactment of such a tragedy, and anonymous letters had been written intimating that such an attempt would be made. The County Judge was urged to post  guards about the jail for the protection of prisoners, but probably thinking  there was no ground for the rumor or cause for alarm, he refused to supply the necessary protection, or Martin and Troxell might be here to-day to answer for their misdoings

While the County Judge doubtless did not anticipate such an occurrence as took place here, still by the exercise of a little precaution and expense it might have been averted. [5]


[February 21, 1896] -

A mob of 20 men took Fount Martin and James Troxell from the jail at Monticello to hang them for arson. They succeeded in breaking Martin's neck, but while they were doing so, Troxell got loose and made his escape. He is the same man who was hung about two weeks ago and let down just in time to save his life. [6]


[February 25, 1896] -


A Mob Threatens to Lynch Several Prisoners at Monticello.

Monticello, Ky., Feb. 24. -- (Special.) -- It looks as if this county were going to establish a reputation, though it be an unsavory one in the way of getting rid of its criminals. The doors of the Monticello jail were barricaded Saturday night and an armed guard stationed within its stone walls to beat off another mob which threatens to lynch several of its inmates. All day Saturday a blacksmith was repairing the locks of the outer doors and getting things in shape for an attack, the cause of which dates back several months.

Last September Denney's store, on the Little South Fork, three miles below Parmleysville, was robbed and burned to the ground Six arrests were made: James and Celina Winchester, John, Jonathan, George and Rufus Troxell. The neighborhood was searched over and stolen boots, shoes, clothing and provisions were found secreted in caves, hollow logs and elsewhere. The trial was held before the October term of the Circuit Court and George and Rufus Troxell were given two years in the penitentiary for obtaining and secreting stolen goods. The other four, who are still more deeply implicated in the robbery and burning, were held over to secure, if possible more vital evidence against them. John Troxell, who is said to have ignited the building, had returned to the county only a short time  previously from "the pen." where he served out a term for robbing a store not far from the scene of the recent crime.

It is very difficult to obtain sufficient  evidence for their full conviction, but it is hoped they may be allowed to answer before court, which convenes the 2d day of next month. If, however, justice is not meted out to them by the strong arm of the law, they are sure to explain their crimes at the strong hands of a mob. [7]


[February 25, 1896] -


The Monticello Jail Heavily Guarded to Save the Troxells From a Mob.

MONTICELLO, Ky., Feb. 25. -- The Wayne county jail in this city is under double guard Monday night in anticipation of a mob from Little South Fork, which has already threatened to take from the jail John and Jonathan Troxell and James and Celina Winchester and hanged them for the innumerable robberies they have perpetrated in the Little South Fork district.

Two brothers of the Troxells have been sent tot he penitentiary for robbery and arson, but it is feared the others can not be convicted, although they are believed to be equally guilty.

A week ago a mob from Steubenville took Fount Martin and James Troxell from the Monticello jail. They hanged Martin, but Troxell got away. 

There is great excitement in Wayne county over the reign of Judge Lynch*, but a great many conservative citizens believe that the vigilantes alone can put a stop to the epidemic of crime.  [8]

[*Judge Lynch is not a specific person. It is a personification/euphemism for a lynch mob; a figure of speech like "Father Time" or "Uncle Sam."]


[February 28, 1896] -

The Monticello jail is doubly guarded to prevent a further attempt at lynching four prisoners confined there. A mob is after James and Celia Winchester and Jonathan and John Troxell, all accused of robbing and burning D'Enery's store, near Parmleysville, last September. Four Troxells and two Winchesters were arrested for the crime, and two of the Troxells were sent to the penitentiary for two years. The others are believed to be equally guilty, but the regulators, fearing that they can not be convicted, have determined to hang them. [9]


[March 16, 1896] -


Captured at Monticello by Chief Hughes, of Somerset.

SOMERSET, March 15. -- Chief of Police R. O. Hughes, of this place, yesterday captured Henry Troxell, of Monticello, Ky. Troxell is the man who, a few weeks ago, escaped from the Wayne county, Kentucky, mob. Governor Bradley offered a reward of $150 for his arrest. Troxell is now in jail at this place and will shortly be taken to Monticello for trial on the charge of arson. It is intimated that when Troxell gets back to Wayne county he will divulge the names of the parties who attempted to lynch him and prosecutions will doubtless follow.

Troxell is in no hurry to go back, as he fears mob violence. Troxell, it will be remembered, was with one Martin taken from the Wayne county, Kentucky, jail last month by a mob. Martin was lynched, but Troxell made his escape. Troxell was seen by your reporter this afternoon, and the following is his story of the lynching:

"Fount Martin and I were arrested for arson and sent to jail at Monticello. The day before the mob came I prayed to God to save my life. The mob came and took Martin and me to a gum and attempted three times to hang me. I slipped away and darted through the bushes. I know the members of the mob who undertook to hang me." [10]


[March 17, 1896] -

Henry Troxell, who escaped a few weeks ago from the Wayne county mob that hanged Fount Martin, was arrested at Somerset. He says he knows the men who undertook to lynch him and will tell when he is taken back to Wayne. [11]


[April 22, 1986] -


James Troxell Brought to Wayne County and Lodged in Jail.

MONTICELLO, Ky., April 18. -- James Troxell, who escaped from the hands of a Wayne county mob several weeks ago and for whose re-arrest and return to the jailer of this county the governor offered a reward of $150, was brought over from Somerset Thursday night and lodged in jail. His trial was set for Friday, and, in the meantime, the jail is being guarded.

The governor also offered a reward of $250 each for the arrest and conviction of persons who participated in the lynching of Martin at the time of Troxell's escape. The latter is expected to make some sensational disclosures. [12]


[1] "A Self-Styled Kuklux." The Courier Journal, Louisvile, KY. February 5, 1896. Page . Newspapers.com.

[2] Excerpt from "Of A Local Nature." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 7, 1896. Page 1. LOC.

[3] "One Escaped." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 18, 1896. Page 4. Newspapers.com.

[4] "An Angry Mob." The Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. February 18, 1896. Page 2. Newspapers.com. 

Also reported in "An Angry Mob." The Climax, Richmond, KY. February 26, 1896. Page 5. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069161/1896-02-26/ed-1/seq-5/

[5] "Troxell Still at Large." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 20, 1896. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[6] Excerpt from "Of a Local Nature." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 21, 1896. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1896-02-21/ed-1/seq-1/

[7] "The Jail Under Guard." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 25, 1896. Page 5. Newspapers.com.

[8] "Double Guard." Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. February 25, 1896. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069117/1896-02-25/ed-1/seq-2/

[9] Excerpt from "Of a Local Nature." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 28, 1896. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1896-02-28/ed-1/seq-1/

[10] "Henry Troxell." Morning Herald, Lexington, KY. March 16, 1896. Page 2. Genealogybank.com. 

Also reported in "Arrested." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. March 15, 1896. Page 7. Newspapers.com.

[11] Excerpt from "Of a Local Nature." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 17, 1896. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1896-03-17/ed-1/seq-1/

[12] "May Make Some Disclosures." The Climax, Richmond, KY.  April 22, 1986. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069161/1896-04-22/ed-1/seq-4/ 

Also reported in "May Make Some Disclosures." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. April 17, 1896. Page 8. Newspapers.com. and Excerpt from "Kentucky News." The Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. April 18, 1896. Page 4. Newspapers.com.


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