March 9, 2016

Son Kills Father Over Cruel Treatment, Lincoln, 1887


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[March 15, 1887] -


"Casey" Adam Carpenter Called Out and Shot to Death in His Own Yard.

His Son, Wallace, Arrested, Charged With the Terrible Crime.


Used as the people of this county are to blood-curdling murderers, owing to their frequent perpetration, they were unprepared for anything so diabolical and damnable as that of the midnight assassination of Adam Carpenter, at his home near Hustonville, Friday night. The news created the most profound expressions of horror, which were augmented and intensified by the later report that his own son was the perpetrator of the awful crime. About 11:30 on the night named, Mrs. Carpenter was awakened by a rap on the door fronting the pike. This was followed by two other raps and Mr. Carpenter awakening in the meantime, arose and getting his gun went out by the door facing toward Hustonville. He was aiming to get around to see who was at the other door, and had gotten but a few steps when the report of a gun rent the air and he fell dead, riddled with a discharge of small bullets, evidently hand moulded. The  fire came from the direction of the coal house and he was struck in the right side, several balls passing through his body in the region of the heart. The report awakened a hired man and soon everybody in the neighborhood village was aroused by the alarm raised.

A man without known enemies and withal a true christian gentleman, those who did not know the true inwardness of the family affairs were at a loss even for a suspicion as to the guilty fiend, but it soon began to be whispered around that the oldest son of the dead man had been known to utter bitter threats against his father and that their relations had been unpleasant for sometime. This boy, Wallace, a youth of 19, who lived since last fall with a Mr. Brown on his father's farm in Casey, was sent for and found about 3 o'clock in bed, at Mr. Brown's. He was awakened, apparently with great difficulty, but finally opened his eyes and inquired, before anything was said about him, "Is father dead yet?" He rode down to the homestead, where his actions were such as to increase the already formed suspicion against him.


In the meanwhile a negro, who called at another negro's shortly after the shot and made some remark about it, was arrested, but subsequently released, as there was no evidence against him, and the tracks left by the one who did the shooting were much smaller than his. These tracks compared with the boy's, even to the run down heel the paper was corresponded with some paper in his room, his gun showed that one barrel, had recently been discharged, the only horse on the place was wet and muddy, whereas he had been put away clean the night before and numerous other circumstances went to form as strong a chain of circumstantial evidence as was ever forged. He was accordingly arrested and placed in charge of Woody Green and Andy Cowan and a coroner's jury summoned. Several witnesses were examined Saturday afternoon, including a partial examination of the widow.


Last August Mr. Carpenter had occasion to repremand the boy for some offense, when it is said he called his father "a d--n liar." Ordinarily kind and considerate to his children to a remarkable degree, Mr. Carpenter, feeling that this was more than he could stand, proceeded to give such a threshing as the offense demanded. Thinking that he had whipped the boy enough, Mrs. Carpenter went to his rescue, when we are told, her husband pushed her aside, with sufficient force as to cause her to fall. The boy claimed that he knocked her down and swore then that he would kill his father. He ran off from home and stayed a month or two at Shakertown, where the old gentleman finally wrote to him, telling him that he was sorry for what he had done and asking him to come home, which he did. Mr. Carpenter then placed him on his farm in Casey and told him what he could make should be his. Matters went on smoothly again till last Tuesday, when the father again gave the boy a talking over about his avowed intention of marrying a lady twice as old as himself. This aroused the ire of the boy again and, we understand, he registered another vow to kill him.


The high esteem in which the deceased was held by everybody and the desire to learn more of the horrible tragedy, drew the largest crowd Sunday that we ever witnessed at a funeral. An honored Mason, the members of his lodge, supplemented with many of the order from Danville, Casey and some from Stanford, took charge of the remains, and after a funeral sermon by Elder Joseph Ballou at the Christian church, consigned them to the earth in due and ancient form, H. G. Sandifer, one of the brightest Masons in the State, conducting the ceremony in a most faultless and impressive manner. The procession was much more than a mile long and not one of the vast throng with whom we conversed expressed the least doubt of the guilt of the boy. He was permitted to drive with his mother to the burial and during most of the services kept up a miserable moan, tho' the tears failed to come, so far as we could see. He is said to have always been quite a wayward boy and to have given his father, who failed to begin correcting him in time, a great deal of trouble. It is stated that he is not a very bright boy and that his grandmother died in a lunatic asylum, and this may cut a considerable figure in the case.

The high esteem in which Mr. Carpenter was held was abundantly shown in the many expression of confidence and esteem that we heard on every side. He was a high-toned, honorable man, a leading member of the Christian church, and in every way filled the measure of good citizenship. He was just 50 years of age, and besides a wife, he leaves five children, all boys, his only girl dying a few years ago, over whom he grieved nearly to distinction. The Carpenter family is a numerous and wealthy one and it seemed that nearly everybody in the West End is either connected with the deceased or his wife, who was a Miss Weatherford, of another well-known and highly connected family. This fact probably accounts for the absence of a desire to mete out mob justice, though his family is not desirous of shielding him beyond a natural degree. Mr. J. W. Alcorn was telegraphed for to appear for the boy at the inquest yesterday and Welch & Saufley have also been retained. The opinion seems to prevail that there is another connected with the crime and that his identity will be disclosed before the case is through with.

A gentleman who left Hustonville at 2 o'clock yesterday states that the evidence adduced up to that time is nearly as we have given it above, which was obtained from conversations with gentlemen at the funeral Sunday.

At 6 o'clock last evening the prisoner was placed in jail here, the coroner's verdict being that Adam Carpenter came to his death at the hands of his, Wallace.

Mr. J. J. Drye, one of the jury, objected to saying positively that the boy did the killing, but said that the circumstances seem conclusive that way. Mr. Alcorn states that the circumstantial evidence was not so strong as he had heard before hand, but others say it left no doubt upon their minds of the boy's guilt. [1]


[March 15, 1887] -

Adam Carpenter was shot dead by night prowlers at his home, near Morehead [Moreland]. [2]


[March 18, 1887] -


WHEREAS, the life of one of our members, Bro. Adam Carpenter, was on the night of the 11th inst., murderously taken from him near the hour of midnight, by an unknown assassin, calling him out of his house and from his bed of rest, and without warning or provocation, firing upon him with a gun heavily loaded with buckshot and thereby killing him immediately, and whereas the lives of all good citizens are rendered insecure by the occurrence of such events in our midst, it behooves all citizens, both white and colored, to unite their efforts for the suppression of such lawlessness, and the speedy arrest and punishment of the guilty, therefore be it

Resolved. 1st. That in the murderous assassination of Bro. Adam Carpenter, an irreparable wrong has been inflicted upon every good citizen in the community.

2nd. That this great crime demands the immediate and united efforts of every citizen for the arrest and punishment of the guilty.

3rd. That in the life and character of our deceased brother, we have conspicuously illustrated the virtues of integrity, industry, honestly, sobriety and brotherly kindness.

4th. That in the life and character of the deceased, we recognize one who was devoted to the interests of the Masonic principles, of which order he was a bright and leading member.

5th. That in his death an irreparable loss has been inflicted upon a most worthy family, a devoted wife and mother is robbed of her husband and five children deprived of a father's wisdom and counsel.

6th. That this Lodge extend to the family of the deceased their sincere sympathy in this great trial and hereby assure them their sorrow is keenly experienced by our own hearts, in token of which we will wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.

7th. That a copy of these resolutions be furnished the family of the deceased, also a copy to the Interior Journal and Danville Advocate, with the request that they publish the same.

Respectfully and fraternally submitted,

L. B. ADAMS, J. B. GREEN, SAMUEL REID, Committee. [3]


[March 22, 1887] -

An indictment for murder was found against Wallace Carpenter yesterday for the killing of his father. [4]


[March 23, 1887] -


Some Facts Concerning Lincoln County's Latest Homicide Not Hitherto Published.

A Startling Array of Circumstances Pointing Toward the Identity of the Assassin.

HARRDOSBURG, March 22. -- (Special.) -- The recent murder of Adam Carpenter, near Hustonville, is a subject of more than ordinary interest to the people of adjoining counties as well as to the citizens of Lincoln. While in Danville attending County Court yesterday, your correspondent met a number of gentlemen who reside in the vicinity where the parricide occurred, and in an interview with a prominent professional man from Hustonville the following additional particulars of the affair were gleaned: Wallace Carpenter, the boy murderer, whose guilt seems to be established beyond a doubt, though at present only by circumstantial evidence, was a wayward youth and had often bade defiance to parental authority. The origin of the trouble between the father and son began about a year ago over the habit of chewing tobacco, which the boy indulged in against the wishes of the senior Carpenter, and in violation of repeated pledges to abstain from the use of the weed.

Adam Carpenter proposed to Wallace, then a lad of seventeen, that if he would quit tobacco and liquor and attend to work until he reached his majority he would then provide him with stock and set him up in the business of farming on one of his Lincoln county farms. This was agreed to in apparent good faith by the son, but who soon afterwards was caught by the "old man" with a "quid" in his mouth.

Young Carpenter denied using the tobacco upon being accused of it, which angered the parent and caused him to seize the boy by the chin and wrench the tobacco out of his mouth. Wallace left the premises at once, muttering threats, and went to Pleasant Hill, in Mercer county, where he remained for several months with an aunt, a Miss Weatherford, who is a sister of his mother, and who joined the society of Shakers some years ago.

Adam Carpenter, then whom none stood higher in the estimation of his neighbors, and in the Christian church, of which he was a prominent member, after consultation with some of his personal friends, sent for the prodigal to return, which the latter did, and he was received with open and forgiving arms. The broken agreement between the two, regarding the use of tobacco, was entered into again. Wallace, preferring to live on a separate farm, about five miles distant from the family homestead, the father consulted and paid his board to the tenant who was and is now occupying the house on the land. Wallace soon became enamored with a school-mistress in the neighborhood, said to be twenty-fie or thirty years his senior, and several weeks since demanded funds enough of the "old man" to get married on, which were declined on account of the extreme youth of the boy and the extreme age of the "girl." Then ensued another quarrel, and more threats.

About ten days before the killing the father became satisfied that Wallace had not reformed, but had been getting on sprees, and he sent for his son to come home, and when he arrived this time, instead of the fatted calf, it was a sound chastisement he found in waiting for him. After some preliminary remarks, the chastisement was being administered in true Kentucky style when Mrs. Carpenter appeared and began to intercede in behalf of her son. After this Wallace stated to several persons that "the old man struck my mother and I intend to kill him for it." No one believes, however, that Adam Carpenter ever struck his wife.  The circumstances of the killing, and the evidence which caused the arrest of Wallace, are already familiar to the readers of the Courier-Journal. The shoes of Wallace fitting precisely the fresh tracks of the assassin--even the run-down heel of one of them leaving its easily-traced imprint in the mud; the bullets taken from the body of the father corresponding exactly to some found in the pocket of the son; the paper wadding fired with the fatal bullets, fitting accurately the wadding extracted from the undischarge barrel of the double-barreled shotgun, which he had borrowed a few days prior to his diabolical use of it, and both these pieces of torn paper, when put together with one in possession of the accused, were found to complete the printed matter on a circular advertisement; the boy's unconcern at the news of his father's murder; his waiving trial; threats previously made, and other links in a long chain of evidence too numerous to enumerate now, are considered proof positive of his guilt. Were it not for his large and influential Carpenter connection, who, it is said, will assist in his defense upon the plea of insanity, Judge Lynch* would dispose of his case at once. [5]

[*a euphemism for a lynch mob]


[March 25, 1887] -

The trial of Wallace Carpenter, for the murder of his father, was set for the 16th day of the term, April 7th. [6]


[April 8, 1877] -

When the case against Wallace Carpenter for the assassination of his father was called yesterday, his counsel presented an affidavit that the accused could not get a fair and impartial trial in this county and that the sentiment was such that a jury brought here would be influenced by the prevailing feeling. Proof was demanded and a score or more gentlemen were examined on the subject and the preponderance of opinion was that an unbiased jury could not be obtained here. We believe ourselves that there is a general feeling from the circumstances that the prisoner is guilty, but there is no sentiment that we are aware of, in this vicinity, at least, that would prevent a fair trial, or seek to influence a jury in any way. The average man speaks of the case thus: "It was a most diabolical murder and if the boy is guilty he ought to be hung," but the latter statement is always qualified by "if." The prosecution was represented by Attorneys Herndon, R. C. Warren, Geo. Stone and D. R. Carpenter, and the accused by Hill & Alcorn and Welch & Saufley. Taking everything into consideration, Judge Morrow thought it best to grant a change of venue and fixed April 27th for the trial at Somerset, and 50 or more witnesses were recognized to appear there on that day. [7]


[April 19, 1887] -

Judge Morrow writes that he has arranged for the fast train to Somerset to stop at Moreland on the 27th, so that the witnesses in the trial of Wallace Carpenter can go on it. This will be a great convenience to all interested. [8]


[April 22, 1887] -

There is now but one solitary prisoner in jail, Wallace Carpenter, charged with the murder of his father, and he will be taken to Somerset next Monday for trial. Unless reenforcements arrive before then we will be able to say what we have not for a long time, that Lincoln county has not a single prisoner in her jail. [9]


[April 29, 1887] -


His Trial for the Assassination of his Father Quietly Progressing at Somerset.

Somerset, April 27. -- The trial of Wallace Carpenter for the murder of his father, Adam Carpenter, was called this afternoon. Very little trouble was had in getting a jury although 51 men were examined 21 regular panel and 27 others. It took only about 2 hours. The Court ordered the jury to be at the court-house at 7:30 and at the appointed time it assembled, when the Commonwealth's Attorney made a statement of the case. Mr. J. C. Huston was the first witness examined and testified that he went to the house on hearing that Mr. Carpenter had been shot and found that he was dead. This was about all he knew about it. J. M. Cook was present at the examination of the wounds by Dr. Brown and testified that they were made by bullets fired from a shot-gun.

George Brown's testimony as about as given at the coroner's inquest; about the horse being wet, dog barking, mud on Wallace's shoes, etc. He further stated that the boy had asked him to keep quiet about the threats he made against his father, as he was only in fun. At the conclusion of his testimony the court adjourned till to-morrow.

APRIL 28. -- At 8 o'clock the case began and Mr. George Brown was called to finish his testimony. There was nothing new except that the Commonwealth produced a letter which Wallace Carpenter had written to T. L. Carpenter asking him to go on his bond for $100, saying that he wished it in making preparations to marry.

D. S. Carpenter was then examined, but knew little beyond the character of the prisoner. Mrs. George Brown is being examined as I close this at 12 o'clock. There is no excitement here and the trial is progressing quietly.

E. C. W. [10]


[May 1, 1887] -


The Fate of Wallace Carpenter In the Hands of the Jury.

SOMERSET, KY., April 30. -- (Special.) -- The interest in the trial of young Carpenter increases as it draws near the end. Long before the time announced for court to convene every seat in the court-room was filled. It was the ladies' day, and two-thirds of the audience were ladies. When Carpenter came in it was plainly to be seen that he had spent a sleepless night. His face was pale and haggard, as if he had no rest or had been suffering the horrible agonies of remorse. For the first time since the commencement of the trial he was visibly affected when R. C. Warren thundered forth the convincing circumstances which linked the chain of evidence around Carpenter as the guilty party. He did it so plainly, perhaps so nearly, the way it really happened, that the defendant could no longer retain an air of sullen indifference, but but broke down under the forcible argument adduced by Mr. Warren, and wept like a child. He remained in a half-reclining position, with his face covered with his handkerchief to shield his emotion from the audience. Mr. Warren made the effort of his life in his argument, which lasted for two hours. He was followed by Judge Alcorn for the defense. His argument was very impressive. William Herndon, as Commonwealth's Attorney, closed the case. The jury retired at 5 o'clock this evening, and have been out four hours without reaching a verdict. It looks as though it will be a hung jury. [11]


[May 3, 1887] -


Wallace Carpenter to be Given Another Chance for his Life

SOMERSET, April 30. -- As I closed my last report Mrs. George Brown was testifying. She corroborated her husband in the principal particulars and said she had heard Wallace threaten his father's life and swear that he would spill the last drop of blood in his veins before he would allow his mother to be struck by his father. Wallace said he would be cleared if he would kill him, as he had been beaten and clubbed by him so much that he would be justifiable in doing so, "and if you don't believe so, ask ma." She considered Wallace's mind not sound. He was inclined to be moody and sullen at times; was a little dissipated, also.

John Elis measured the tracks found in the garden and applied Wallace's shoes to them, which corresponded exactly.

Wood Green went over to inform Carpenter of his father's being killed. He did not seem to be much affected on hearing it.

The next most important witness examined was Mrs. Carpenter, wife of the deceased. The best of order was preserved during her testimony and although she spoke very low the large audience heard her distinctly, so anxious was it to catch ever word. She has the appearance of a woman whose days have been full of trouble and had the sympathy of the audience until she showed her excessive anxiety in telling of the numerous faults of her husband. She said her husband had been a tyrant to Wallace and hadn't, in her recollection, heard him ever speak a kind word to him. She said his principal day for fault finding was Sunday; not only finding fault with him, but with every person and thing on the place. Had often seen him cruelly beat Wallace. Last summer he beat him over the head with a large stick and bruised him up terribly. She said the unpleasantness commenced with their marriage, 20 years ago, and since then he has treated her very unkindly. He would leave her at night with a pistol in his pocket and tell her that he did not know that he would ever return. This commenced just after marriage and continued until near his death; her husband did not make the provisions for her that he should have and he prevented her from attending church by not furnishing her with a way to ride and not giving her the necessary clothes. In speaking of his cruelty she told of an instance when he had one Sunday afternoon tied a young bull to a stake and would take time about beating the bull and reading his bible. Would not let his boys have fire in their room, but would make them retire without fire during the coldest weather. He would stick his knife in the horses or cattle and even shoot them with light loads of shot and used every other method to torture them. He would throw rocks at his children and hit them with anything he could get his hands on. After doing this he dared the family to mention it outside of the home circle, saying that his reputation was already established and that to say anything of his way of doing would be but to make the neighborhood believe them prevaricators. In response to the question, "Mrs. Carpenter you seem to be pretty well dressed now, were your clothes bought prior to the murder of your husband, or since?" she replied that all except her cloak were gotten before, but that she had to borrow the cloak she wore.

When Wallace was five years old Mr. Carpenter had made him mind a gap on a freezing cold day and that night when he came to the house his feet were so badly frosted that the skin came off with his socks when she took them off his feet. He had never recovered from it and suffered now from the effects of it. He had never offered to strike her, but had pushed her roughly when he was beating Wallace last summer. He always hired a cook and provided a good table.

Little Henry Carpenter, son of deceased, testified that his father had promised him and brother of 11 when a certain lot of cattle was sold to take them to Cincinnati to visit the Zoological Gardens, but when the time came he didn't want to do it and offered them $10 apiece to stay at home. They preferred to go, however, and he took them. Starting from home at 7 o'clock a very cold night, he walked them to Junction City, where they took the train at 1 o'clock. They got to Cincinnati next morning and walked out most of the way to the garden. They stayed there all day and their father bought them a lunch about dinner time. They walked back to the depot at night and got back to Junction City about midnight. He let them sleep awhile and at 3 o'clock they started through the snow storm and walked home. The only meal they got in the 36 hours was the one in the garden, although they had complained of hunger at the Junction, and the eating houses were still open. They had a quarter apiece and bought some candy with it, but their father said they ought not to spend their money so foolishly.

Carpenter was seen to smile a little when his mother was speaking of his father's cruel way of treating his father father’s cruel way of treating his family and beasts, and with that exception his expression was not changed during the trying ordeal. He was not put on the stand and although the law says this shall not be construed to his prejudice, it was by the outsiders.

The evidence produced by the Commonwealth was that the boy had made repeated threats to kill his father, that on the night of the killing he retired and was heard afterwards walking around in his room, that his horse that was put in the stable dry at night was wet with sweat and mud when messengers came to tell him of his father’s death, that he had borrowed a double-barreled shot gun from a man named Edwards a few days before, that the tracks of the one who did the shooting fit his shoes exactly, that the dog which was at Mr. Brown’s at supper was standing by the corpse when discovered and that the wad fired from the gun corresponded with the paper found in the boy’s room. With the exception of Mrs. Carpenter’s testimony and that of her son the defense produced no proof save that numerous near relatives were insane and that an uncle had killed himself in a fit of insanity.

All the testimony was through by noon Friday and the defense began its argument. L. D. Parker, a local attorney, led off in a good speech. He was followed by George Stone for the Commonwealth, who maintained his reputation as a strong pleader, and at night Judge Saufley spoke fro the defense for an hour and three quarters. He claimed that there was nothing in the fact that Adam Carpenter’s dog was seen standing by his dead body immediately after the killing, although he was seen at Mr. Brown’s where Wallace lived after supper time. It was a dog’s nature to return home, especially after being fed. The paper used for the gun wadding ought to cut no figure, as it was a piece of patent medicine advertisement that had been spread broadcast over the country.

The effect of Mrs. Carpenter’s testimony on the audience was the opposite from the one apparently desired and the jury did not appear to digest it either.

Judge Morrow kindly offered me every facility for reporting the trial and I hereby tender my grateful acknowledgements.

I had to leave at midnight Friday. Four speeches are yet to be made and the case will not get to the jury before Saturday afternoon.

E. C. W. [12]


[August 19, 1887] -

Young Wallace Carpenter will be tried once more for the murder of his father. The day of the trial is set for the 16th of October. He is confident of his final acquittal. [13]


[October 21, 1887] -


Again Faces a Jury for the Most Diabolical of Crimes.

The trial of Wallace Carpenter for the killing of his father, Adam Carpenter, was called Monday and after examining 40 or more men a jury was selected. The courthouse was well filled during the whole trial and the best of order was preserved. All were anxious to catch the words as they fell from the mouths of the witnesses. The prisoner was looking rather badly and seemed nervous during the whole trial. Only about half of the 55 witnesses were introduced and the substance of some of the testimony is given below.

Jesse Huston: I live in 300 yards of Adam Carpenter's on the opposite side of the Stanford & Hustonville pike. About 11:30 o'lock on Friday night, March 11, 1887, Hughes, a white man working for Mr. Carpenter, came to my house and told me some one had killed Mr. Carpenter. I ran over to Mr. C's house as soon as I could and found Adam Carpenter lying dead in the yard on the west side of his house. On examination I found that three balls had entered his right side. One of the balls was cut out on the opposite side and looked like a ball made with a mold, as there was a neck to it. The house faced the pike north and there was a porch and door westward. There was a coal-house south of the west yard and the garden was south and back of coal-house; Adam Carpenter was lying west of house near front of north end. Saw paper between coal-house and Carpenter's body, which looked as if it had been powder burnt. The next day I saw tracks in garden running across garden back of coal-house. I noticed that the track indicated that it was made with a shoe run down at the heel and with the spur leather hanging over the heel with a strip nailed on side of heel to straighten heel up. (Wallace's shoes were then exhibited, which Mr. Brown was sure had made the tracks.) I noticed that Wallace wore his over shoes until after the crowd left and then took them off. Wallace did not assist in search for evidence of the murder.

J. M. Cook testified that the bullet he exhibited was taken from the body of Carpenter. It was hand moulded and had a neck on it. Wallace came while he was there and cried loudly.

George Brown: "In March 1887, I lived at Adam Carpenter's Casey county farm, six miles west of Hustonville. Wallace made my house his home. I heard him make repeated threats against his father and say: 'If I kill my father I will be justifiable. If you don't believe it, just ask ma.' The evening before the killing Wallace ate supper about dark, sat around the room with witness and wife, pulled off his shoes, left them in their room and went to his room in his sock feet. Afterwards witness heard noise as if made by some one stepping around in Wallace's room overhead. His Sunday shoes which were blacked were in his room. His mare was clean when put up the evening before. When Wallace was awakened that night he asked "Who killed pa?" his Sunday shoes were muddy. The mare had mud and dry perspiration on her. He had paper in his room advertising some kind of "electric fluid" the same kind as found in Adam Carpenter's yard powder burnt. At Hustonville next day Wallace sent for witness and was found in a barroom; said to witness: 'Do all you can for me, don't say anything about those threats, I will let you have the field that father let me have to put in corn. I tell you how the mud got on Nell, I rode her through a pond.' He then offered witness some money to get whiskey with."  Mr. Brown was tangled considerably in the cross examination.

D. Spillman Carpenter thought that the tracks in the garden and up the creek were made by the shoes that Wallace had on. The tracks showed that the man was running and that the heels of the shoes were rundown. Believed that burnt paper exhibited was the same that was found between coal-house and body.

Squire John Ellis testified that he saw tracks in garden; found powder burnt paper near coal-house; paper compared with some found in Wallace's room at Brown's; traced tracks to rear of garden and looked as if they were made with the shoes handed him (Wallace's shoes) to examine; noticed that Wallace made no attempt to find clew to the murderer.

Mrs. Adam Carpenter: Was sleeping in my chamber fronting northwest; was awake with my baby when I heard a rapping, sounding as if made on the weather-boarding; did not wake my husband; he awoke when the third and last rap was made; he got up, got his gun and in going to the door stumbled over a chair; I did not wake him when I heard the rapping because I was afraid he would get hurt as he went out; we had heard noises several nights before; I told my husband not to go out, but to go up stairs and see if he could not see what it was from there; he would not do as I asked him but went out. In a few seconds I heard a shot which sounded like the report of a gun; I thought Mr. C. had shot somebody or somebody had shot him; was afraid to go out for fear Mr. Carpenter or whoever shot might shoot me; called Mr. Hughes who lived near; don't remember whether I went to the body before I called Hughes, but think I did; got a comfort and gave Mr. Hughes to spread over the body. When Mr. Huston came I saw the dog by Mr. Carpenter's side and asked him if there was any danger of his doing the body any injury; he said there was not as it was the home dog. It was a cold night and I stayed out with the body as long as could until enough men came to take it in the house. When Wallace was arrested and taken from me I told him to be a good boy and not bother himself about being accused of the murder, that I knew he could prove innocent; I advised him not to talk much. 

Cross examination: Heard a noise in stable on northeast side of house; heard somebody say "hold!" this happened before I went out; when I went out heard a horse running up Stanford pike in direction of Stanford, but could see no one. The dog never followed Wallace but once; his father objected to it; don't remember whether the dog was at home Friday evening or not. Mrs. Carpenter denied the statement of Dovie Brown and says there was no trouble at all while she, Dovie, was there. On Thursday when Wallace was at my house he got his father's gun and said he wanted to kill a wild duck he saw down on the creek and went through the garden to reach the creek. Having noticed a mental change in Wallace; heard him say on several occasions that he wished he was dead; had noticed the change since his father beat him over the head with a stick several months before the killing.

George Hughes, who was doing some carpenter's work on the place, corroborated Mrs. Carpenter in regard to the horse running in the direction of Stanford and little Arthur Carpenter testified that Wallace tried to get his papa's dog to follow him home, but failed. 

(Our reporter took down the entire testimony, but as it is so voluminous we are forced to omit all except the most important. In the main it was the same as adduced at the first trial, with the exception that Mrs. Carpenter did not testify, in regard to the cruelty of her husband to his family as before. In fact nothing was proved derogatory to the good name of the deceased whatever. Revs. J. A. Bogle, W. L. Williams and others testified to the character of Wallace, which was that he was peaceable and docile and was not known to be quarrelsome.)

All of the evidence was in by 11:30 Wednesday, when the same instructions as before, with the exception of the one on insanity, were given by the court. L. D. Parker led off for the defense and speeches were to be made by all of the numerous lawyers in the case. Your reporter left Wednesday, when he was told that the speaking would probably last until yesterday evening. The impression prevailed that the prosecution did not make out quite so strong a case as before. The jury was not the brightest looking set of men, though most of them had honest countenances.


The following dispatch was received last evening:

SOMERSET, Oct.29. -- Arguments were made by Messrs. Parker, Saufley and Hill for the defense and Warren, Stone and Herndon for the Commonwealth. Herndon closed the argument and at noon the case was given to the jury. JAS. DENTON.

The jury was still out at last accounts and the probabilities are that there is another mistrial. [14]


[October 25, 1887] -

HUNG OF COURSE. --  That the jury in the case of Wallace Carpenter, charged with the midnight assassination of his father, would hang, was generally believed, but that eight men out of the dozen could be found who would pronounce hi innocent of the charge was a little more than was expected even of a Pulaski jury. But such is the case, the other four being for life imprisonment. This is the third step to a final acquittal and the lawyers for the defense are jubilant over the gain made over the result of the first trial, when eight stood at first for murder, two not guilty and two for mental irresponsibility on the first ballot and 10 for 21 years, one for hanging and one for acquittal on the last. As we have said before the murderer of Adam Carpenter, be he his son or other person, will never be punished and no other Kentucky murderer who has the wherewithal to employ sharp lawyers with the ability to mystify the average jury called to try such cases. There will be no effort we learn for bail, as his counsel feel that he is safer in every respect in jail. [15]


[April 24, 1888] -

Jailer Sheppard, of Somerset, seems to have transcended his authority in permitting Wallace Carpenter to go at large as to make his act a fit subject of judicial inquiry. He had no right under the sun to take the prisoner to Harrodsburg to attend his sister's funeral, much less to permit him to go unattended at will. The defense will use the fact that he does not run off when he has the chance to show that he is mentally incapable of realizing his position. [16]


[May 4, 1888] -

The trial of Wallace Carpenter for the murder of his father, was called at Somerset Tuesday and both sides announcing conditionally ready a panel of jurors was obtained and examined as to qualification. But on finding that George Hughes, Will Huston and Rev. W. L. Williams would not be present, the defense produced the proper affidavit and secured a continuance, after the commonwealth had refused to agree to what could be proved by those witnesses. A motion for bail was entered, but subsequently withdrawn and the case set by consent for a special term on the 4th Monday in June. [17]


[June 19, 1888] -

Important to Witnesses in Carpenter Case

To the Editor Interior Journal.

SOMERSET, June 16. -- Will you be kind enough to say through your paper that the trial of Wallace Carpenter will be called at 9 o'clock A.M., June 25th, and that the witnesses will have to come on the 24th. Witnesses for the Commonwealth, who do not answer when called, will not be entitled to pay, though present afterwards.

T. Z. Morrow. [18]


[June 30, 1888] -

Acquitted on His Third Trial.

SOMERSET, KY., June 29. -- (Special) -- The jury in the case of Wallace Carpenter returned a verdict of not guilty at half past 10 this morning. It will be remembered that Carpenter, a youth of nineteen years, was charged with murdering his father in Lincoln County on the 11th of March, 1887. He was given a change of venue to this county. This is the third trial the young man has been given, the two former juries hanging.

The verdict was quite a surprise to everybody here, and will more than surprise the people of Lincoln County. The mother has taken great interest in her son, and spared neither pains nor money to secure his acquittal. The two left for the home of the mother, in Harrodsburg, this morning. Thus ends one of the most exciting cases upon the dockets of Kentucky Courts. [19]


[July 3, 1888] -

The third trial of Wallace Carpenter for the midnight assassination of his own father, Adam Carpenter, resulted at Somerset last week in a verdict of acquittal. This end has always been predicted by those who have watched the course of trials, where the defendant is able to employ shrewd lawyers to mystify and befuddle backwoodsmen, after running the regular gauntlet of continuances, changes of venue, &c. That the boy is guilty of the heinous crime with which he is charged is not doubted by very many people who are acquainted with the evidence, which was mainly circumstantial. The defense claims that the jury could not do otherwise than acquit. Some lay the failure to convict to the Commonwealth's attorney's speech and general management of the case, while others assert that the silver tongued John W. Yerkes did it with his eloquence. [20]


[July 3, 1888] -

Your correspondent in reference to the Carpenter trial in giving the names of the attorneys for the defense seems to have overlooked that notable gentleman, O. H. Waddle, who by the way was one of the main spokes in the wheel. The writer happened to be at Somerset and heard the arguments on both sides of the case and he is free to confess that Mr. Waddle's speech was among the best that was made on either side. [21]


[November 26, 1896] -

Wallace Carpenter, who was acquitted of the murder of his father, Adam Carpenter, got on a rampage and tried to exterminate the rest of the family. He was arrested and lodged in jail here, but no one appearing against him, he was permitted to go. Friends of the family pretended to put him under heavy bond to leave the State and he left on the early train yesterday. His mind is doubtless badly off. [22]


[1] "Assassinated." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 15, 1887. Page 3. LOC.

[2] "Kentucky Knowledge." Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian, Hopkinsville, KY. March 15, 1887. Page 2. LOC.

[3] "Resolutions of Respect." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 18, 1887. Page 1. LOC.

[4] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 22, 1887. Page 3. LOC.

[5] "The Carpenter Murder." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 23, 1887. Page 1.

[6] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 25, 1887. Page 3. LOC.

[7] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 8, 1877. Page 5. LOC.

[8] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 19, 1887. Page 3. LOC.

[9] Excerpt from "Local Matters." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 22, 1887. Page 5. LOC.

[10] "Wallace Carpenter." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 29, 1887. Page 1. LOC.

[11] "Carpenter, the Parricide." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. May 1, 1887. Page 5.

[12] "Hung Jury As Usual." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 3, 1887. Page 1. LOC.

[13] Excerpt from "Somerset." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. August 19, 1887. Page 3.

[14] "Wallace Carpenter." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 21, 1887. Page 2. LOC.

[15] Excerpt from "Local Matter." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 25, 1887. Page 3. LOC.

[16] Excerpt from "Local Lore." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 24, 1888. Page 3. LOC.

[17] Excerpt from "Local Lore." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 4, 1888. Page 5. LOC.

[18] "Important to Witnesses in Carpenter Case." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 19, 1888. Page 4. LOC.

[19] "Acquitted on His Third Trial." Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, Cincinnati, OH. June 30, 1888. Page 14.

[20] Excerpt from "Local Lore." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 3, 1888. Page 3. LOC.

[21] Excerpt from "Waynesburg." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 3, 1888. Page 4. LOC.

[22] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 26, 1896. Page 5. LOC.


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