May 23, 2017

One Regulator and Two Occupants Killed in Attack on Residence, Pulaski, 1868


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


[September 23, 1868] -


Tragical Result of an Old Feud.

Two Men and One Woman Killed.

The Full Details of the Tragedy.

CRAB ORCHARD, KY., Sept. 20, 1868.

To the Editor of the Louisville Courier:

A year or two since an unfortunate difficulty occurred near this place at a meeting-house, in which men named Anderson and their friends upon one side, and the Adamses with their friends upon the other, were engaged. In this fracas a man named Simms, son-in-law of the elder Adams, was killed and several others on each side were shot or otherwise wounded. A trial at the time of each party resulted in an acquittal of all concerned. A short time after this as the elder Adams was returning home from Lancaster he was assassinated by being shot from his buggy by some one stationed in a church near the road side.

The most deadly enmity has existed ever since between the belligerents, and many men have been suspected by the Adamses ex particeps criminis to the murder of their father. Among the the number accused, or who was thought by the Adams family to have been concerned in his death, was a man named Cummins, who lived near the Lincoln and Pulaski county line, beyond this place eight or ten miles. Threats have been made, we learn, by the Adames, upon Cummins, and last night it culminated most tragically. It seems, from what we can learn, that two of the Adames, together with three or four of their friends went to the house of Mr. Cummins, at night -- demanded admission, which was refused; and thereupon Rodney Adams broke down the door and as he entered was shot dead. The [assault?]ing party then fired, killing a young lady, daughter of Mr. Cummins, and also shot and killed Cummins. They shot at Mrs. Cummins also, but missed. It is not known whether any others of the assaulting party were injured or not. It is reported that the party took young Adams away from the house, and carried him to a house on the wayside, and left him, and that one of the party told the landlord that there was a dead man, his brother, and he wanted him to stay there until morning; and after putting a pillow under his head, he stooped down and kissed him. This is thought to be young Mack Adams, the only brother of Rodney, except a small boy.

We cannot vouch for the truth of this latter statement, but give it as we heard it. It may be proper to state that the community doubt that Cummins had anything whatever to do with the killing of the elder Adams.

The story, true or false, of Cummins having a hand in the death of J. Q. Adams, certainly did not, nor does it, excuse this party in assaulting a whole family, and [striking?] down an innocent girl, who certainly was guilty of no wrong, unless they deemed it wrong to be the child of a suspected man. There is but one remedy for these multiplied evils which daily teem the press, and it is for the "halter" applied to the culprit's neck by the slow and uncertain forms and process of the law, or if need be, to quell it by the hands of an outraged community.

We know nothing of the real facts in this case beyond what we have attempted to give from hearsay; but if  it be that this midnight assaulting party perpetrated these bloody deeds without cause amply sufficient for their justification, our community owe it to themselves, to the State, to the world of law and order at large, and especially to the stricken survivors of this afflicted family, to search out to the bitter end the perpetrators of this most hideous and diabolical outrage, and see that justice, stern and inflexible, is meted out to each and every one of them.  M. [1]

[I have been unable to find newspaper articles detailing the meeting-house killing, or J. Q. Adams' death in or about February of 1866. Please email me if you have any.]


[September 28, 1868] -


Fiendisth Murder of a man and his Daughter in Kentucky.

Correspondence (Plato, Ky., Sept. 21) of the Chicago Tribune.

On last Saturday night, the 19th instant, some eight or ten Ku-Klux visited the house of a citizen of Pulaski county, Kentucky, by the name of Stephen Cummins, and in an engagement with him killed him and his daughter. He killed one of them dead on the ground and wounded another, who I have learned has since died. The one killed dead on the ground was one Rodney Adams, of Lincoln county, Kentucky. The crowd of Ku-Klux were from Crab Orchard, Kentucky, and vicinity. After they had killed Cummins, his daughter was lamenting over her dying father, and they shot her, putting the pistol almost against her person. Just before they left they went into the house to see if Cummins was dead. His wife was lamenting over her dead husband, and they ordered her with an oath to dry up or they would shoot her, and then turned to Cummins, where he lay dead on the floor, and shot him again, remarking that there was one d--d Abolitionist out of the way. I am informed that they had sent Cummins word that they were going to come and kill him if he did not leave the country. I suppose, then, he was prepared for them. I understand that they wounded his little son at the same time.

The same crowd of fiends have been committing such and like depredations in different parts of the country for the last twelve months. They are all returned rebel soldiers, now called Democrats. [2]


[October 1, 1868] -

Some days ago a band of men, headed by one Adams, went to a man's house in Pulaski county for the purpose of killing him. Cummins, the man whom they intended to kill, shot one of the band (Adams) and killed him. The band then fired upon the house, killing Cummins and his daughter, wounded his son, and fired at Cummins' wife. The murderers escaped, all except Adams, whom Cummins sent to judgment, and followed him there to testify against him. Adams' punishment is certain by a Judge who hears all kinds of testimony. The chances are that the other parties will go unwhipped of justice. The good people of Crab Orchard, after this affair, met to resolve that the murderers don't live there, and deny also that any Ku-Klux stay about their little town. These Orchardists may be right, but we expect we could find men who say they know the members of this gang who are committing this devilment, and that they do live in, and around, and about Crab Orchard. Let us tell that good people, that the thing for them to do is to catch one of these rascals, hunt up the evidence against him, take him and it into court, convict and hang him, and then there will be no further need of resolutions to the effect that Crab Orchard is a quiet and peacable village. [3]


[April 11, 1871] -

"22. Mob attacked Cumins's house in Pulaski County; Cumins, his daughter, and a man named Adams killed in the attack, September 18, 1868." [4]


[1] "Terrible and Bloody Affair in Lincoln County." Louisville Daily Courier, Louisville, KY. September 23, 1868. Page 3.

[2] "The Ku-Klux." Quincy Daily Whig, Quincy, IL. September 28, 1868. Page 2.

[3] Excerpt from "Letter From Lexington." Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Cincinnati, OH. October 1, 1868. Page 4.

[4] See Partial List of Ku-Klux Activities in Kentucky, 1867-1871

Note: George C. Wright in his book Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940 includes this killing in Appendix A "Victims of Lynchings," where it lists Cummins', Cummins' daughter, and Adams' race as black, however I suspect all three were white, based on the lack of mention of victims' race in any of the above articles, the overall tone of the editorial commentary in Source 1, as well as genealogical reports I've seen online of the Adams family.

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