December 16, 2017

One Killed, Five Injured in Election Day Row, Lincoln, 1878


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[March 3, 1878] -


Bloody Affray at the Primary Election Yesterday--Two Men Mortally Wounded--Another Shot Through the Arm--Others Injured.

[Special Dispatch to the Courier-Journal.]

SHELBY CITY, KY., March 2. -- At the primary election in Hustonville, Lincoln county, this afternoon, two men, Ely and Anderson, were shot and mortally wounded. Mr. James Moore was shot through the arm. Some others, whose names are not known, were injured in the row. [1]


[March 4, 1878] -


Election of Delegates to the Deomcratic County Convention -- Further Account of the Bloody Affray in which Five Persons were Wounded.

(Special Dispatch to the Courier- Journal.)

STANFORD, March 8. -- A serious difficulty occurred at Hustonville, in this [Lincoln] county, late yesterday afternoon, in which pistols were freely used, resulting in the serious if not mortal wounding of Michael Ely, and the slight wounding of William Grisham, Tim Fry, James Moore and Ferrell. Ely, Moore and Grisham composed one side, and two brothers named Ferrell on the other. Fry was not a party to the affray, and was wounded accidentally. The fight was the offspring of an old difficulty between the parties, a brother of the Ferrells having been killed by Ely and Grisham three years ago, of which Ely was acquitted. Grisham was convicted of manslaughter, and his just returned from two years' service in the penitentiary. A large crowd was in the village at the time, attending the election of delegates to the Democratic County Convention, and during the excitement and confusion incident to the shooting the parties, except Ely, made their escape. A Constable is in pursuit of them to-day. [2]


[March 5, 1878] -


Hope of Ely's Recovery -- Large Crowd in Town.

(Special Dispatch to the Courier-Journal.)

STANFORD, KY., March 4. -- Ely, wounded in the affray at Hustonville Saturday, still lives, with hopes of recovery.

County Court brought a large crowd to town today, but business was dull, and there was little stock upon the market. Times are tight. [3]


[March 8, 1878] -


Election day afforded scenes of a character not quite so harmonious. Matters went off pretty quietly, however, until the line had been formed, and the counting in the Assessors’ contest was in progress. Suddenly the report of a pistol was heard, followed by twelve or fifteen shots in rapid succession. The scene of confusion was at once beyond description; but intensely amusing. Youth and manhood, and hoary age, feeble attenuation, unwieldly corpulency, and tottering decrepitude rivalled each other in feats of astonishing activity. No English hunter ever cleared a five-barred gate in more dashing style—no charging squadron ever breasted with more crushing shock the obstacle that would oppose their mad career—no trained tactician ever spread his force in fan like rays with more electric speed than did the startled Sovereigns on that memorable day in Hustonville. The facts, so far as ascertained, are these: Your readers will remember that some year or more ago, a man name Ferrill, was shot and killed at Milledgeville, at the house of Mike Ely. Ely, Gresham and Hall were tried on the charge of homicide. Ely and Hall were acquitted, and Gresham sentenced to the State Prison, from which he is now returned. It is thought a feud has existed between the parties ever since the Milledgeville affair. On Saturday the belligerents, who supported rival candidates, were standing in contiguous lines. An altercation arose, ostensibly from a disputed vote, and immediately Gresham and Ely were fired upon by two of the opposing party. Ely was struck in the breast and disabled by the first fire. Gresham succeeded in drawing his pistol after he had been twice shot at, and soon cleared the street. Six persons are known to be wounded, viz: Mike Ely, through the lungs, dangerously; George Ferrell, in the forearm, ranging from the wrist to the elbow; J. Moore, in the hand; a brother of Gresham, in the arm; ---- Anderson, in the back, and George Frye, Jr., by a straggling ball, in the leg. Anderson was peculiarly unfortunate. He had taken refuge behind a large tree on the side on the street when one of the Ferrells wounded and pursued by Gresham, reached the same tree and pushed him out. Anderson, who happened to be dressed like Ferrell, fled down the street, pursued by Gresham who mistook him for the man he had been after, and fired with great vivacity, hitting him just as he turned off the Street at the Drug Store. It is strange that so much firing in so dense a throng could do so little damage. If every man who fell over gates and through fences, had been wounded, our force of Surgeons would have been inadequate. Big Jim McKinney and Dr. Fowler deserve special mention, or will do so when they shall have repaired Dunn’s yard fence. Doc. Alcorn, who is very active, sought to take refuge behind Kauffman, but Frank carried off his 350 pounds at such a rate that Doc. could never reach the sanctuary. Two or three fellows who had been deeply and boisterously drunk for some hours, were sobered instantaneously. The whole thing was of foreign growth and can reflect no dishonor on our peaceful village. [4]


[March 15, 1878] -


The trial of Gresham was commenced last Saturday, but on account of the nonappearance of important witnesses, was continued until Saturday next. The other parties are still at large. []


Mike Ely, who was shot through the body on election day, died on last Saturday night, having lingered just a week. This gives a graver character to the day's doings. [5]


[March 22, 1878] -


The trials of Moore and Gresham two of the actors in the election tragedy came off on Saturday last. Both were acquitted. [6]


[May 31, 1878] -

-- BY THE --

$250 REWARD!


Whereas it has been made known to me by Hon. J. A. Lytle, County Judge of Lincoln County, that Benjamine Ferril stands charged, by indictment, with the murder of Mike Eli, in the aforesaid county, on the 2nd day of March, 1878, and is now a fugitive from justice,  going at large.

Now, therefore, I, JAMES B. MCCREARY, Governor of the Commonwealth aforesaid, do hereby offer a Reward of Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars for the apprehension of the said


And his delivery to the Jailer of Lincoln County. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the Seal of the Commonwealth to be affixed. Done at Frankfort, the 28th day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight and the eighty-sixth year of the Commonwealth.

By the Governor;
J. STODDARD JOHNSON, Secretary of State.
By THOS. S. BRONSTON, Ass't Secretary of State.


Benjamine Ferril is 6 feet high, has sandy whiskers and hair; is light complected, with freckled face; has blue eyes, and weighs about 180 pounds. [7]


[June 18, 1880] -

CAPTURED. -- On the 2nd of March, 1878, while a primary election was in progress at Hustonville, Ben Ferrill shot Mike Ely, who, in a short time afterwards died from the effects of his wound. Ferrell left the country, and after banging around from pillow to post, was arrested in  Havana, Ill., this week, and is now held to await the orders of the authorities of this State. The murder was the result of an old feud, and it is likely that Mr. Ferrill will do the State some service, even if his neck is not required to pay the forfeit. [8]


[July 2, 1880] -

BACK AGAIN. -- Sheriff Josiah Hartsell, of Mason county, Ill., arrived Wednesday with Ben Ferrell, the man who killed Mike Ely, at Hustonville, in March, 1878. He says that Ferrill had been in his town since February last without any visible means of support and was generally regarded with suspicion. The way he managed to get a clew of his crime was by overhearing a conversation, after Ferrill had a row with someone, in which he claimed that he had killed one man in Kentucky and could "lay out" another, if necessary. After some difficulty he found out the name of the county in which the killing was done, and immediately telegraphed to our Sheriff. Mr. Baughman replied that Ferrell was wanted here, and thereupon Mr. Hartsell lodged him in jail to await a requisition. Ferrell looking a little dilapidated, and of course did not appear to his best advantage with the bracelets on, but he seemed in good spirits, notwithstanding he is to be tried for his life. [9]


[July 23, 1880] -

CIRCUIT COURT. -- The summer term of this Court will convene next Monday with 53 Commonwealth cases on the docket. Four of them are for murder: Ansel and Gillis Frederick for the murder of Thomas HatfieldBen Ferrell for the murder of Ely, and Boone Conn for the murder of Morgan. With these exceptions the cases are mostly minor offenses. [10]


[October 29, 1880] -

No case of much importance has been tried yet owing to the absence of witnesses and other causes. The case of Ben Ferrill, for murder, was set for the 9th day, and A. and G. Frederick, charged with a like crime, for the 13th day. [11]


[November 5, 1880] -

CIRCUIT COURT. -- The session of this Court was resumed Wednesday, and the case of Ben Ferrill, for the murder of Mike Ely in 1878, being set for that day, the trial was at once begun. The arguments closed yesterday afternoon, but the jury reported after a short retirement that they were unable to agree. Judge Owsley, however, ordered them to make another effort, but they had not succeeded at 8 last night. [12]


[November 12, 1880] -

CIRCUIT COURT. -- When we went to press last week, the Jury in the case of Ben Ferrell, charged with murder, were deliberating. Friday morning they came into Court, and on reporting that there was no chance for them to agree, were discharged. They stood seven for acquittal and five for two years in the penitentiary. The Court, on application, fixed his bail at $1,000, which was given with John T. Helm and J. F. Moore as securities. [13]


[April 8, 1881] -

Ben Ferrell, who was charged with the murder of Mike Ely at an election row in Hustonville in March, 1878, and who afterwards fled to Illinois, from whence he was brought by a requisition, had his second trial for the offense on Tuesday, the Jury in his case failing to agree at the last term of the Court. The trial lasted a couple of days and resulted in an acquittal. [14]


[1] "Hustonville." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 3, 1878. Page 1.

[2] "Hustonville." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 4, 1878. Page 1.

[3] Excerpt from "Stanford." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 5, 1878. Page 1.

[4] Excerpt from "Excerpt from Lincoln County -- Hustonville." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 8, 1878. Page 3. LOC.

[5] Excerpt from "Lincoln County -- Hustonville." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 15, 1878. Page 3. LOC.

[6] Excerpt from "Lincoln County -- Hustonville." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 22, 1878. Page 3. LOC.

[7] Excerpt from "Advertisements." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 31, 1878. Page 2. LOC.

[8] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 18, 1880. Page 2. LOC.

[9] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 2, 1880. Page 3. LOC.

[10] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 23, 1880. Page 3. LOC.

[11] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 29, 1880. Page 3. LOC.

[12] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 5, 1880. Page 3. LOC.

[13] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 12, 1880. Page 3. LOC.

[14] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 8, 1881. Page 3. LOC.


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