May 4, 2017

Three Sisters Arrested For Killing Sister-in-Law, Pulaski, 1876

Previously:

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

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Thanks to Jessy S. for helping with this one. Thank you! 


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[October 17, 1876] -

6.  Nancy Surber, 19, Murdered. October 17, 1876. [1]













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[October 27, 1876] -

The most horrible and bloody murder that ever startled a civilized community, was committed near Buncombe, in Pulaski county, last week. The victim was a woman, and the perpetrators of the awful crime, strange to say, are also women, and sisters-in-law of the deceased. The murdered woman, Mrs. Surber, had been left by her husband at home with her little baby, early in the morning, and it was not until four o'clock in the evening that the deed was discovered, and then by a sister of the deceased, who was passing. Certain threats and other suspicious circumstances, led to the arrest of a number of the Surber family, and at the examining trial, three of the women were sent to jail to await the action of the grand jury. The evidence is overwhelmingly against them. The axe and knife, with which the deed was committed, their bloody dresses and hands, all go to show the guilt which they do not pretend to deny. [2]





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[November 3, 1876] -

THE SURBER MURDER. --  It is now rumored that the cause of the fiendish murder committed a short time since, in Pulaski, was the fact that the robbers of Mr. Goodwin's store, were known to Mrs. Surber, who threatened to expose them. The threat cost her her life. [3]




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[November 24, 1876] -

The greatest object of interest, since we last wrote, has been the trial of the writ of habeas corpus, before the County Judge, which was sued out by the Surber sisters. Our readers will remember that they are charged with the bloody murder of their sister-in-law, some time since, and that since suspicion was direct to them, they have been confined in jail. In appearance, the young women are more than ordinarily comely, for their station in life, while one of them is decidedly good looking. When we saw them, and thought of the awful crime with which they are charged, we could scarcely believe it possible for them to have committed it. The trial occupied two days. The judge released two of the sisters, the younger ones, without bail, and sent the oldest one back to jail. [4]




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[July 10, 1877] -

SOMERSET Reporter: The called term of the Pulaski Circuit Court for the trial of equity and criminal cases convenes on the 9th inst. There are four murder cases to be disposed of, the defendants being Wesley McPherrin, Sarah Surber, Mary Kinkead, and Davis alias Red Helton, and a case for bigamy against David Rollins. [5]


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[May 9, 1883] -

[Special to the Courier-Journal.]

FRANKFORT, May 8. -- Sheriff J. H. Watson, of Pulaski county, brought to the penitentiary to-day W. R. Merritt, sentenced for life for murder, and Frank Johnson, colored, sentenced for two years for stealing chickens. Merritt's case is part of the bloody history of a murdering family. Seven or eight years ago Merritt's mother was accused of killing a man, and the testimony of one witness would have convicted her. Fountain Young, the reputed father of Merritt, killed this witness and thereby secured the release of his mistress, but brought a life sentence to the penitentiary upon himself. Three of Merritt's cousins were afterward arrested, among others, for the killing of a woman. After remaining in jail for over a year, they were finally discharged for want of evidence to convict them. Merritt himself is a notoriously bad character. His crime was killing a man with whom he had quarreled, while the latter was helplessly intoxicated. The jury at first stood eleven for hanging and one for life imprisonment, the latter penalty finally prevailing. [6]



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[1] 1876. Pulaski County, Kentucky. Page 2. Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

[2] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 27, 1876. Page 3. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1876-10-27/ed-1/seq-3/

[3] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 3, 1876. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1876-11-03/ed-1/seq-3/

[4] Excerpt from "Some Pulaski County Items." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 24, 1876. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1876-11-24/ed-1/seq-3/

[5] Excerpt from "Kentucky News." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. July 10, 1877. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[6] Excerpt from "News Over The State." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. May 9, 1883. Page 4. Newspapers.com.

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1 comment:

Eric F. James said...

Stanford Interior Journal
27 October, 1876

The most horrible and bloody murder that ever startled a civilized community
was committed near Buncombe in Pulaski County last week. The victim was a
woman, and the perpetrators of the awful crime, strange to say, are also
women, and sisters-in-law of the deceased. The murdered woman, Mrs. Surber, had
been left by her husband at home with her little baby early in the morning and it
was not until four o'clock in the evening that the deed was discovered and
then by a sister of the deceased, who was passing. Certain threats and other
suspicious circumstances led to the arrest of a number of the Surber family,
and at the examining trial, three of the women were sent to jail to await the
action of the grand jury. The evidence is overwhelmingly against them. The
axe and knife with which the deed was committed, their bloody dresses and hands,
all go to show the guilt which they do not pretend to deny.

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