September 27, 2017

Father and Son Murder Witness Against Them, Hanged by Mob, Boyle, 1866


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


[April 12, 1866] -

FOUL MURDER OF AN OLD LADY NEAR PERRYVILLE. -- We yesterday received the startling information that Mrs. Polly Bottoms, and old and highly respected lady, residing near Perryville, in Boyle county, was foully murdered on Tuesday night last, by a man named Bill Taylor. Our informant states that some time ago the murderer and two other men committed a robbery at the house of Mrs. Bottoms, for which two of the perpetrators, having been caught, were tried and convicted and are now undergoing sentence at the Frankfort penitentiary. Taylor, the guiltiest of the wretches, made his escape at the time of the robbery, and has been at large ever since. Recently he was recognized as one of the robbers by a little daughter of Mrs. Bottoms, whereupon he visited the house about 10 o'clock Tuesday night, and deliberately murdered the old lady. He could have had no other object in perpetrating this cold blooded deed than to silence an important witness against him. We fervently hope that speedy and terrible justice will overtake the unmitigated demon. [1]


[April 16, 1866] -

The readers of the COURIER will remember the account we published two or three days ago of the horrible murder near Perryville, Boyle county, Ky., of Mrs. Polly Bottom, a most estimable widow lady, aged seventy-eight years, and a sister of Judge Bridges, of Danville. A correspondent at Perryville, who will accept our thanks for his attentions, gives us the following particulars of the affair, and the terrible sequel:

Sometime previous to her murder, Mrs. Bottom was robbed by a man of bad reputation named William Taylor, living in that neighborhood. He had been prosecuted, and as Mrs. Bottom was the main witness against him, he determined to kill her in order to get rid of her evidence. From the description of the murderer, as given by a little grand-daughter of Mrs. Bridge's, who was sleeping with her when the crime was committed, Taylor and his father were arrested in Harrodsburg and at once taken to Perryville. They were kept under close guard two days and one night, and the evidence before the Coroner's jury having made it positive that Wm. Taylor was the murderer, he was on Thursday night last taken from the guard by an armed mob, variously estimated at from one to two hundred men, and hung to a tree. He continued hanging from 9 or 10 o'clock Thursday night until about 5 o'clock Friday evening before the body was taken down.

Taylor's father made a very narrow escape, as he was swung up twice, but on account of his age was let off by the mob.

Our correspondent sends us a photograph of Taylor, which he took on Friday morning, while he was suspended from the tree. Although not what might be called a lifelike picture, yet it is very graphic and suggestive one. [2]


[April 19, 1866] -

Alarm at Perryville. -- On Saturday night last between the hours of twelve and two there was a considerable excitement raised in Perryville. The bells rang an alarm; voices shouted for assistance; and several pistol shots were heard amid cries of "murder" -- all of which produced a feeling of alarm among the citizens just aroused from their slumber. Some men from every part of the town armed and resolute, quickly ran together, but no one was found with hostile intentions, and it was pleasant to learn that no one was injured.

It seems from examination that several persons were attempting to break into the Tucker House, and the inmates, being aroused and going to the windows, fired and used other methods to arouse the citizens.

Threats, we understand, have been made against the town on account of the action of the mob of last Thursday night. But if the feeling as represented to us, is correct, woe be to the parties who attempt retaliatory measures for this act. Although illegal, it is adjudged by them right and just, and under the circumstances, the only remedy for an evil which peaceable communities often before have used to abate, by a united, swift, and certain action, evils that have become intolerable. [3]


[April 21, 1866] -

Now, to the leading features in the Perryville tragedy. On the morning of the 10th inst., Mrs. Mary Bottom, an old lady of 78 years, in company with her little granddaughter, had occasion to visit  Perryville. The former, who was known over the entire neighborhood, for her estimable qualities, was cordially greeted by many of her friends, little dreaming that so fearful a doom awaited her return home, or that the murderer was near at hand, only abiding the cover of night that he might more safely fire the fatal shot. Retracing her steps about dusk, a few hours are passed in sweet communion with her tender charge, scarcely fourteen years of age, but ere she had finished this pleasant duty, and was about to retire, a heavy rail was hurled by four ruffians against the door, followed by horrid oaths as they entered the room.

"We have come to kill you, you d--d old b---h," were the first words that fell upon her ears. Overcome with fright, she sank upon her knees to the floor, and with uplifted hands implored for mercy; but the only response was a well-directed ball -- murderers depart -- whereupon, as feelingly described by a correspondent for the Danville Gazette:

"The little girl assisted the old lady on the bed, gave her a drink of water, put out the light, and layed down. Some one entered the room, struck a light, and looked into her face; She was hardly dead. After a while the same thing was done again. She is dead, and now no witness lives to prove a certain crime. After a while (during which interval a conversation is heard on the outside) some one enters, and, raising the bed, places something between. The file demons not satisfied with one murder, must, by fire, remove the only living witness, and also the evidence of the crime itself. But the attempt, through Providence, failed.

"They depart, and all is still. Through the long remaining hours of the night, in silence and gloom, lay the little child by the side of her grand-mother, cold -- cold in death. Her clothing saturated in blood; horrified by her position, who that has a heart with one tender sympathy, that would not bleed in contemplation for these horrors?"

As you have been likewise correctly informed, at the first break of day the little girl hurried to her uncle's, Mr. Henry D. Bottom, about half a mile distant, and disclosed the heartrending intelligence. Never did flames when applied to the tall grass of the wide prairie spread with greater fury or rapidity than did the announcement in Perryville that a foul murder had been committed. The little girl is questioned, and replies: "Bill Taylor is the one who killed grand-mother;" he, against whom Mrs. Bottom was the only witness for a robbery he had committed a year previous. Neighbors and citizens of Perryville flock in crowds to the now desolate spot, and upon examining the grounds for a short distance leading from the premises of deceased, the tracks of several horses are plainly visible, one in particular, leaving the print of a half shoe on the left hind foot. One party luckily hit upon the road to Harrodsburg, and there in front of a blacksmith's shop stood two men -- Bill Taylor, and the other -- his father! A comparison of the broken shoe that still lay in the shop, proved an exact fit to the same track all the way, and it was enough. Both were immediately charged with the murder, and informed they must return to Perryville -- when Bill Taylor replied, with perfect coolness: "Certainly, gentlemen, we are ready to prove our innocence." The result you know. The identification of the younger Taylor, the summary administration of justice, and the rescue of the old man, who, it is confidently believed, will receive at the hands of the law the balance of hanging he so narrowly escaped. So determined and expression from an outraged community (yet even to be regretted under any circumstances, since it is but open defiance to all legislative enactments and judicial investigation), it was confidently hoped would restore quiet to Perryville; but three days had scarcely elapsed when the church bells again sounded an alarm, and a band of ruffians shortly after midnight galloped in the town, evidently of the same gang, but were fortunately dispersed before harm was done, though pistol shots were fired in all directions. [4]


[April 24, 1866] -



Danville, Ky., April 22, 1866.

To the Editors of the Louisville Journal:

Boyle county has been very much excited for the last two weeks over the murder of an old lady named Bottoms. She lived alone near Perryville, but on the night of the murder a grand-daughter, under ten years of age, was staying with her, and it is upon the testimony of this child alone that the conviction of the person arrested depends. She designated a man by the name of Taylor as the murderer, whereupon a mob seized Taylor and his son and hung them up, but soon let the father down, and tried to extort from him a confession of guilt, but he persisted in declaring his innocence, whereupon they swung him up again, but, after a few minutes, some one in the mob more reflecting than the others, cut him down to take his chance with the law. The son, though, was left hanging until he was dead. The old man surrendered himself to the law, and on Saturday his examination before the County Judge commenced, and the knowledge that his identification depended solely on a little girl filled the court-house, among the crowd being a very large number of ladies. Insomuch as Taylor was prejudged by every one, his counsel had a hard task, but I must say that he performed it in a most creditable manner. To start with he produced the statute that declared that the testimony of no child under ten years of age shall be received in a court of justice, and of even older ones, where it is evident that they do not fully appreciate the importance of the act.

But the Court, in the opinion of your correspondent is anxious to hear the girl's testimony as any one else, decided to take her evidence. She proved to be as self-possessed as the lawyers themselves. When they would ask her if she did not say so and so, and it did not accord with what she had said, se would repeat it as she had said it before. On the night of the murder she was in bed, her grandmother being up later than usual sewing, and had not retired with the assassin entered the house. He forced his entrance with a rail, and shot the old lady with a carbine or rifle, judging from the size of the ball. After the shooting two or three other men were in the room, but the only attempt they made to injure the little girl was by placing embers between the beds on which she lay, with the expectation that they would set fire to the bed and consume the evidence of their cowardly act.

The counsel for the defense very ingeniously analyzed the little girl's evidence, and seriously impaired its value with any one not prejudiced against the accused. He showed how easy it is by a suggestion to impress a child's mind with what is in your own. There is no question that she saw the man shoot. She lay there all the night in the house alone with the corpse of her grandmother, and after daylight went to the house of some of her relatives; and on her relating what she had seen they immediately exclaimed that John Taylor did it; thenceforward John Taylor was fixed firmly o the mind of the child as the murderer. If he did it, though a very common looking man, he very ingeniously arranged for an alibi. Motive, though, can be shown for his desiring to have the old lady out of the way, and it cannot be shown that any other family in the neighborhood could have motive to do such a deed; and, taking the evidence and motive, I think it probable that he did it.

A point made by some of the lawyers I do wish to mention, to see if some of our lawyers can't blunt it. I am no lawyer, and therefore may make a mistake in settling up common sense against a lawyer's construction of a statute. The statute says that the testimony of no child under ten years of age shall be taken in a court of justice. I would construe the spirit of that to mean that the child should be ten years of age at the occurrence of the events about which it is to testify, she a child, who witnesses a murder at seven or eight years of age, may, by successful efforts of counsel at postponing a suit, become a competent witness in the case in two or three years; thus, this little girl, who will be ten in September, will then be sufficient evidence to hang Taylor on, though her evidence cannot now be taken. I think her evidence would be more valuable in this case now than at that time, for it will be a matter of daily discussion in her family until it is finally disposed of, and she will hear so many theories and speculations, that she will finally be greatly worried to distinguish what she saw from what she has heard speculated upon. The agreement in the case was not closed on Saturday night, and, as I leave Monday morning, I will not be able to give the decision of the Judge on the case.



[April 27, 1866] -


Never in the history of Perryville, whose surroundings may well be pointed out to generations to come as the "dark and bloody ground," has there been such an excitement known, and so thoroughly felt by the inhabitants of every down in Boyle, Lincoln, Washington and Mercer counties, as that experienced during the last two weeks. Indeed, so universal was the alarm (it being generally believed that a formidable band of ruffians were lurking in the vicinity of Perryville), that all businesses was in a measure suspended, and nothing talked about but the horrible deed of the midnight assassin, and possibly who might next share the fate of the good old lady, in retaliation for the summary execution of the supposed fiend. But if a sense of that dreadful night was plainly depicted upon every countenance, especially the large circle of relatives and intimate friends of the deceased who have been so sadly bereaved, the anxiety to learn every fact, however trifling, that would fasten guilt upon the real assassin, and the curiosity to hear all the evidence and arguments pro and con during the examining trial, has never been exceeded in Boyle county, or drawn a more eager crowd than that which assembled in the Court-house at Danville, commencing on the morning of the 21st inst., and closing to-day at two P.M.

For the prosecution, the Commonwealth was ably represented by the venerable Judge Durham, of Danville, whose thrilling eloquence and superior powers of argumentation and analysis during a wearied practice of sixteen years, justly entitles him to the front rank among Kentucky's distinguished advocates.

The defense, which was conducted by Messrs. Van Winkle, Harden and Kyle, of Harrodsburg, the last named, a student under that peerless orator, the Hon. John C. Breckenridge, was remarked throughout by the entire audience as a most masterly effort in behalf of the accused.


Pale, and still overcome by the late excitement and her wakeful slumbers, during those long and bitter hours, beside the cold form of her poor old grand-mother, a little child of fragile frame was brought into court. A death-like stillness pervades every part of that room as though hallowed by the memory of the deceased, as question after question is propounded, and with a clear voice, without a quiver of tongue, her response is heard -- every word a type of innocence -- every word so expressive of intelligence beyond her years, as to elicit an emotion of surprise from every spectator within sound of her voice.

Gradually a new light is thrown upon the appalling crime. The father, John Taylor, (and not the son, who has gone before a far higher tribunal,) is recognized by little Mary Bottom, as the murderer -- he who fired the fatal shot -- attired in the same blue jeans coat he wore that night, and not Bill Taylor, as erroneously reported, coming as we supposed from a reliable source, though the latter concluding links in the chain of testimony went to show, was evidently an accessory to the murderous attack. Five witnesses were next summoned who sought to prove an alibi, namely, that the prisoner was at home upon the night in question; but all ingenuity of his counsel, all the logical deductions of which they were capable, were as chaff before the wind, when fairly met by the simple statement of that little girl.

Ten long hours had elapsed before all the evidence was established, pro and con, followed by the appeals of counsel until midnight, resuming the same elaborate argument at an early hour this morning. Effort after effort is made by the defense to invalidate the competency of the only witness for the Commonwealth -- first, because she was under ten years of age, and lastly, owing to her statement that a pistol was used, when the ball which was found could only have bee fired from a carbine or Ballard rifle, thus giving the defense the basis from which to infer, that if she was mistaken in this fact, she was equally liable to mistake in other particulars of vital importance to the accused, and, therefore, no weight should be attached to her testimony. But, without going into details, the Commonwealth was satisfied, the crowd was equally convinced, and, in accordance with that decision, his Honor felt in duty bound without reviewing the evidence to remand the accused to jail, there to await his final trial at the next August term of the Boyle county Circuit Court. What the result can be, no one who heard the words that fell from the lips of that pale, said, yet truly intelligent face (she, whose young life has been left so dark and desolate,) can for a moment doubt. [6]


[November 27, 1866] -

Thomas Stephens was a resident of Casey county, and about 38 years old, strongly built, bald-headed, and was possessed of a good brain. He served in the late war as private in company G, 6th Kentucky cavalry. He was arrested not long ago, charged with robbery, and was held in jail in default of $300 bail. He was charged also with assisting Taylor in murdering old Mr[s]. Bottoms last spring near Perryville, Ky. [7]


[May 3, 1878] -


Horrible Circumstances Under Which a Parent Escaped Lynching.

To Find His Son's Body Dangling Above His Head.

A Murderer Captured After a Twelve Years Pursuit.

Last night a prisoner was lodged at the Four Courts who, for many years, has succeeded in evading the vigilance of the officers of the law. He is an old man of the name of Taylor, and is guilty of a most deliberate and cruel murder.

In 1866 John Taylor, with his son William, were living near Danville, Ky. A charge of larceny was preferred against them, one of the principal witnesses being a Mrs. Marry Bottom, an aged and highly esteemed lady. On the night of the 12th of April, 1866, Mrs. Bottom was sleeping in her house with only a little granddaughter who was in bed with her. At the stealthy hour of midnight the assassins entered the house and deliberately shot the old lady. They did not seem to be aware of the presence of the little girl, who concealed herself in the bedclothes and was not in any manner molested. The girl saw


distinctly, and she identified them as John and William Taylor, father and son. They were arrested and lodged in jail, but an infuriated crowd shortly afterwards took them from out of the hands of the officials and hanged the two villains at Perryville. Someone, however, Taylor does not know who, cut the father down before his life was extinct. When the wretched man came to, he saw the corpse of his son dangling in mid-air, while he was stretched on the ground with a portion of the rope still around his neck. The sight made him crazy for a time; he wandered into the town again in his state of frenzy and was again put into jail. Shortly afterwards, in conjunction with a colored preacher, the Rev. Holman Crawford, who was confined on a charge of hog-stealing, he


and has been fortunate enough to elude all pursuit up to the present time. In December, 1866, he turned up in Illinois, where he remained about eight months; from thence he removed to Cooper county, Mo. Here he stayed for between one and two years, when he migrated to Southern Kansas, on what is known as the old Indian trail. After a stay of one year in that place he located himself in Southwestern Missouri, remaining there two years, when he returned to Kansas, this time selecting Burbane county as his residence. He lived at this latter place for one year, when he again moved his tent to Vernon county, Mo., where he has since resided. During all these wanderings, he has gone under the name of John W. Smith, and was accompanied by his faithful wife until her death in March last. R. A. Kinkade, an Illinois detective has been on the trail of the fugitive for some time, and great praise is due to him for the


he has displayed in at last running the murder to earth. He, in company with J. Stone, ex-Sheriff of Putnam county, Indiana, and with the assistance of Wm. MacGinnis, Sheriff of Vernon county, Mo., finally succeeded in capturing the assassin on Tuesday last at Big Dry Wood Creek, near Nevada, Vernon Co., Mo. When arrested Taylor, or Smith as he calls himself, was working in the fields. The prisoner arrived here last night in charge of Detective Kinkade and Mr. Stone, and they leave to-night for Danville, Ky., where the prisoner is anxiously expected. There is no doubt whatever as to the identity of the man, and but little apprehension but what he will suffer the extreme penalty of the law. He has five sons-in-law, some in this State and some in Kansas, and one daughter in Kentucky. [8]


[May 8, 1878] -


Arrival of John W. Taylor, Alleged Murderer of Mrs. Mary Bottom -- Unpublished Scraps of Taylor's History --- ...

(Special Dispatch to the Courier-Journal.)

DANVILLE, KY., May 7. -- John Taylor, the alleged murderer of Mrs. Mary Bottom in 1866, arrived here yesterday evening and was committed to jail. Quite a crowd had collected near the jail door when the coach containing him drove up, and it was remarked by those who knew him that he did not look a day older than when he broke jail twelve years ago. Taylor is very reticent, and declines to be interviewed by newspaper men. He says that he is innocent of the crime with which he is charged, and refuses to say more. He was arrested and brought here by Messrs. Jas. Sloan, of Greencastle, Ind., and R. A. Kincaid, of Illinois.

On being introduced to the latter individual your correspondent was presented with a card bearing the following inscription: "R. A. Kincaid, Detective, Olney, Ill. Police business solicited and promptly attended to."


He also gave me scraps of Taylor's history not heretofore published. He says that Taylor, while on the way hither, informed him that after his escape from the Boyle county jail in 1866 he laid in the garret of his own house in this county for three weeks, and then left on horseback for Richland county, Ill., passing through Louisville at night. He arrived at his destination in December, remaining there twelve or thirteen months and then pushed on to Southern Kansas, to the section known as the Old Indian Trail. From there he made his way back to Southwestern Missouri, remaining in each place about eighteen months. Then he went to Bourbon county, Kansas, where he stayed twelve months; then back to Vernon county, Mo., where he remained until the 20th ult., when he was arrested. When the latter event took place he was engaged in the peaceful pursuit of hoeing potatoes. During all this time he went under the name John W. Smith, and three of his daughters were married while bearing that name. His wife died about four weeks ago, and he is now, in his old age, brought back to the scene of his great crime, after twelve years of wandering. His son, a respected citizen and Justice of the Peace of Mercer county, has already retained P. B. & J. B. Thompson, a leading law firm of Harrodsburg, for the defense of his father. [9]


[May 10, 1878] -


John Taylor, who committed murder in this county about twelve years ago, was arrested the other day in Vernon county, Mo., under the name of John Smith. He was brought to this city on Monday night and lodged in jail. "Be sure your sin will find you out." [10] 


[May 24, 1878] -

Once Hung, and Possibly to be Hung Again.

A gray headed and decrepit prisoner arrived here from the West Thursday night, in charge of Detective R. A. Kincade, of Olney, Ill., and J. Stone, Ex-Sheriff of Putnam county, Indiana. The old man was lodged in our City Jail [St. Louis], and last evening he resumed his journey to Perryville, Boyle county, Kentucky, where he is wanted to answer the hideous charge of having murdered an old and helpless lady in cold blood on the night of the 12th day of April, twelve long years ago. The record of those 12 years shows that if John Taylor's crime was a terrible one, his punishment is almost commensurate with it. Aged and friendless, he has from day to day lived the life of an outlaw -- a hunted thing who knew no home, and whose sleepless, inexorable conscience kept alive within him a terror of retribution which barred for all time any feeling of security. In his travels and his sufferings his wife was a patient sharer, until two months ago, her system yielded to the stress of mental anxiety and physical abuses, and she died where her husband was finally captured. And so it must be a very great relief to John Taylor to know that his agony of suspense is over, and that the pursuers, whom, sleeping or waking he never failed to fear, have fastened their clutches upon him. He goes back to Perryville, probably to explain his crime with his life.

In 1866, John Taylor lived near Danville, Ky., and enjoyed the luxuries of good health, little care, a fair means of living and a large family. His son, Wm. Taylor, was indicted by the Grand Jury of Boyle county, on a charge of burglarizing a country dwelling and steeling some goods, and one of the principal witnesses to be feared in his case was Mrs. Mary Bottom, a widow who lived in a farm house, with no other companion than a little grand daughter. On the morning of the 13th of April, that year, the old lady was found dead in her bed with a bullet hole in her head, and the bedclothes drenched with blood. At first the horror promised to remain a mystery, till the little grand daughter, whom fright for a long time rendered mute, made a shocking revelation. She said that she awoke about 12 o'clock the night before, and saw two men in the room, whom she readily recognized as John Taylor and his son William. She knew it meant mischief, and she quietly covered herself up with the bedclothes, childlike. She heard the rifle shot that killed her grandmother, but was paralyzed, and so gave no sign. The men did not discover her, and so left a witness to their crime whose testimony was to prove fatal. At once the father and son were placed under arrest, to be held for trial. The citizens, however, who had held the old lady in high regard, determined to brook no law's delay, and the prisoners were forcibly taken from the officers, carried to the woods and hung to a tree. The crowd remained only long enough to complete their work, as they supposed. By some agency -- possibly through a defect in the rope, the old man was allowed to fall to the ground shortly after the crowd left, and there he lay for several hours. He finally recovered the use of his limbs, but not of his mind, and went a wandering. He was of course recaptured, as he had not the wit to make effort to avoid it, and this time he was committed to jail. There he regained his strength, and two or three months later, he, with a colored hog thief, known as the Rev. J. Holman, broke jail. He made for Illinois, and found safety in the swamps of Egypt for nearly a year. Thence he went to Cooper county, Mo; thence to Kansas; thence back to Southwest Missouri; thence to Burbane county, Kansas; thence to Vernon county, Mo., where he made his final settlement, near the town of Nevada. At each of the above places he spent a year or two, leading the wretched life of a squatter, but at the last place he met with some success in tilling a patch of ground.

A couple of months ago something brought the case to the attention of Detective Kincade, and by much perseverance and exercise of ingenuity, he traced the fugitive through the long course above detailed. Having finally located him in Vernon county, he went there with Mr. Stone, armed with a requisition. Sheriff William McGinniss, of that county, who had given valuable assistance in the case previously, went with them to the farm, where they found Taylor hoeing in his potato patch. He was captured without trouble, and he has nothing to say. He has a daughter, living in Kentucky, and five sons-in-law, some of whom live in Missouri. -- [St. Louis Republican. [11]


[February 28, 1879] -

CIRCUIT COURT. -- Will be convened on next Monday, 3rd proximo. There are eighty-two indictments on the docket, including the old well-known cases of Micajah Rowsey and C. C. Gillispie for murder and manslaughter, set for the second day of the term; the case of John Taylor charged with the murder of Mrs. Polly Bottom, for the third day; case of Freeman Farris, by change of venue from Garrard, for seventh day; McAfee et al vs. J. W. Finnell, from Mercer (Ku-klux case,) for fifth day. [12]


[March 21, 1879] -

CIRCUIT COURT. -- The trial of Jno. Taylor for the murder of Mrs. Bottoms, twelve years ago, was continued till the next term. [13]


[September 12, 1879] -

Jno. Taylor, one of the cruel murderers of Mrs. Bottoms in 1866, who was hung by a mob at the time, but was unfortunately cut down by officers who arrived at the moment. He was put in jail from which he made his escape in a short time and was at large till May 1878, when he was captured in Vernon county, Mo., and returned to the Danville jail for trial. After several postponements, it commenced last week, and after continuing several days ended in a verdict of guilty, the penalty being fixed at confinement in the Penitentiary for life. On the first ballot eleven of the jurors were for the death penalty, but the twelfth was afflicted with a severe case of conscience, and the eleven had to yield to him. Of course his counsel took an appeal. It's customary. [14]


[September 19, 1879] -

John Taylor (white,) for life, Harry Andrews, John Smith, Jim Cowan and Jim Lankford, all colored, for two to six years, for house-breaking, arson and forgery, were the Boyle recruits to the Penitentiary. [15]


[November 22, 1889] -

The Commissioners of the Sinking Fund met in Frankfort last week and one of the seven prisoners whom they paroled was John Taylor, who was sent to the penitentiary for life for the killing of Mrs. Mary (Polly) Bottoms, at her home, near Perryville, in 1866. This naturally suggests the circumstances surrounding the bloody murder, probably as atrocious as any ever committed in the Commonwealth. The circumstances surrounding the case, in brief, were as follows: Taylor was accused of some theft and was to be tried for the same in Mercer county. Mrs. Bottoms was a very important witness against Taylor. One night while Mrs. Bottoms, then quite an aged lady, and her little grand child were alone at her home, the house was broken into by Taylor and another person and the old lady was foully murdered while in her bed and the bed clothing set on fire. The little girl managed to conceal herself until the murderers had departed and then she got back in the bed with her grandmother, who was dead. The child, getting blood on her hands, became frightened and gave the alarm and neighbors came to the house. Taylor made his escape, and was not apprehended until 1879, and then through the exertions of H. C. Bottoms, Esq., son of the murdered woman. Mr. Bottoms often said he could never live happily until the murderer of his mother was brought to justice. Taylor was brought back to this county from Missouri and had an examining trial before Judge Mitchell and was held over without bail, coming to trial in September, 1879. Taylor was sent to the penitentiary. The interest taken in this trial was very great, as the murder was a most atrocious one and everybody thought Taylor ought to have been hung for it. He was defended by Capt. P. B. Thompson and Alex Sneed. Judge M. J. Durham prosecuted, and Judge M. H. Owsley presided. Mrs. Bottoms was a sister of Judge Bridges. No doubt the Board was actuated in granting the parole from the fact that John Taylor is between seventy-five and eighty years old. [16]


[1] Excerpt from Column 2. The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. April 12, 1866. Page 3.

[2] Excerpt from "Tragedies on the 'Dark and Bloody Ground.'" The Louisville Daily Courier, Louisville, KY. April 16, 1866. Page 1.

[3] Excerpt from Column 3. The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. April 19, 1866. Page 1.

[4] Excerpt from "Letter from Danville." The Louisville Daily Courier, Louisville, KY. Page ___.

[5] "Letter from Danville." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. April 24, 1866. Page 1.

[6] Excerpt from "Letter from Danville." The Louisville Daily Courier, Louisville, KY. April 27, 1866. Page 1.

[7] Excerpt from "Lynch Law at Lebanon." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. November 27, 1866. Page 4.

[8] Excerpt from "Dodging Death." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, MO. May 3, 1878. Page 4.

[9] Excerpt from "Danville." The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY. May 8, 1878. Page 1.

[10] Excerpt from "Boyle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 10, 1878. Page 3. LOC.

[11] "Once Hung, and Possibly to be Hung Again." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 24, 1878. Page 1. LOC.

[12] Excerpt from "Boyle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 28, 1879. Page 2. LOC.

[13] Excerpt from "Boyle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 21, 1879. Page 3. LOC.

[14] Excerpt from "Boyle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 12, 1879. Page 2. LOC.

[15] Excerpt from "Boyle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 19, 1879. Page 2. LOC.
[16] Excerpt from Column 6. Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. November 22, 1889. Page 1.

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