January 28, 2018

Nick Morrison Kills William Gooch, Lincoln, 1873


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


[February 12, 1873] -

A Put-up Highway Robbery in Boyle County -- The Williamson Murderers, Etc.

(Correspondence of the Courier-Journal.)

SHELBY CITY, KY., Feb. 11.

On Thursday evening last, George Gooch and William Timberlake were in our town determined to get outside of as much nitro-glycerine whisky as possible, and, after imbibing numerous potations, they started to their home in Millidgeville, four miles south. When they had proceeded about half a mile they were brought up standing by three highwaymen. Two of them, with revolvers presented, stood guard while the third went through Gooch and Timberlake to the tune of $125 for the latter and $10 for the former. The robbers then bade them move off, which Timberlake did promptly and in good order, but Gooch was anxious for a fight (?) with the robbers, and remained behind cursing and defying them. On the next day Timberlake caused the arrest of Gooch and the finding of Timberlake's pocket book and papers with $27, all of of which was identified. It falls terribly heavy on Gooch's father and family, who are respected and esteemed as good citizens, well known in this community for years. [1]


[February 14, 1873] -


A Trio of Rob Roys.

On Wednesday, the 4th instant, Mr. Wm. Timberlake, of this [Lincoln] county, was robbed on the highway, about a mile south of Shelby City, by a white man named George Gooch, and two negroes, Marshall Wright and John McElroy. The following are the facts as developed in the examining trial at Hustonville, on Tuesday, the 10th instant.

Timberlake went to Danville, Wednesday morning, to get some money from bank, and asked Gooch to accompany him. Gooch consented, if Timberlake would pay expenses. In the evening they returned together to Shelby City, and staid there until after dusk. Gooch, while there, approached several negroes and proposed that they follow him and Timberlake out of town, rob Timberlake, and they would divide the spoils. Two or three declined the speculation, but the temptation was too great for Wright and McElroy. They stationed themselves at a wod-rick, a mile from town, according to the instructions of the chief conspirator, seized Timberlake's horse when he rode up, demanded his money, and, on denying that he had any, Wright thrust his hand into the victim's vest-pocket, took it out and handed it to McElroy, who then gave it to Gooch. On securing the pocket-book, containing about one hundred and thirty dollars and a gold pencil, Gooch fell from his horse and exclaimed that it was "Bill Wilson." Timberlake put spurs to his horse and went home. Gooch's instructions to the negroes was to catch Timberlake and beat him like h-ll, and to beat himself only a little.

Timberlake, the next morning, found the negroes on the dairy farm of the Messrs. McElroy, recognized them and had them arrested. They each made a full confession of their guilt. Gooch was then arrested, and on his premises being searched, Timberlake's pencil and twenty-seven dollars in small bills were found concealed in an augur-hole in his stable.

At the examination alluded to, before Judge Lamb, a nolle prosequi was entered as to John McElroy, he being considered the least guilty of the trio, and it being desirable to have his testimony against the others.

Gooch and Wright were held for further trial, and allowed bail -- Gooch in the sum of $1,500, the negro int he sum of $500. Failing to give bail, they have both been lodged in jail. [2]


[February 28, 1873] -

George Gooch, the white man concerned in robbing William Timberlake, in this county, a few days ago, gave bail in the sum of fifteen hundred dollars, and was released from jail last week. [3]


[October 31, 1873] -

Last Saturday evening [... ...]tion took place between Nick M[orrison ...] Geo. Gooch, at Millegeville, whi[ch? ... resul?]ted in the former putting a load [...] through the head of the latte[r ... lin]gered until last evening, wh[... Mor]rison left the place immed[iately ...] fray. [4]


[January 2, 1874] -

On or about 14th of February, last, Wm. Timberlake, of the West End of the county, was robbed on the highway, between Hustonville and Danville, by George Gooch and two negroes, all of whom were arrested and held to trial.

George Gooch, concerned in the robbery of Wm. Timberlake, was shot and killed in Milledgeville, by ---- Moreland, who is now a fugitive from the officers of the law. The shooting resulted from a threat against Moreland's life by Gooch while intoxicated. [5]


[October 5, 1877] -

ANOTHER MURDERER WHO COMES AND GOES AT HIS PLEASURE. -- We learn from those who are acquainted with him, that Nick Morrison who, two years ago murdered Wm. Gooch, at Milledgeville, in cold blood, got off the train here on Monday and staid around town the whole evening, apparently as unconcerned as if his hands were free from the blood of his fellow man. We do trust that our officers will see that Stanford, at least, is kept clear of the presence of murderers and other evil doers--except to be shut up in our dismal jail. [6]


[November 9, 1877] -

ARRESTED. -- The man Dick Morrison, who two years ago killed Wm. Gooch, at Milledgville, was arrested near Bardstown Junction on Wednesday last. There are several charges against him in that region, in addition to the grave one here. [7]


[November 16, 1877] -

IN JAIL. -- Nick Morrison, who was captured last week by C. W. Roude, Town Marshal of Shepperdsville, and John W. Thompson, in a little box house near Belmont Station, on the L & N. R. R. was brought here and lodged in jail on Friday. His captors say that he had been engaged for some time past in selling moonshine whisky, and it was in his "saloon" that he was captured. The appearance of the officers was so sudden and unexpected that Morrison surrendered without trouble, although we are told that he was prepared to make desperate resistance. Since his incarceration here, we have, through the kindness of the Jailer, interviewed Morrison, who is a man of good appearance and one whose countenance would never indicate that he would commit willful murder. In answer to our inquiries he admitted the killing of Gooch, but avows that he did it in self-defense and after repeated insults and threats from him. He gave as a reason for running off after committing the act, that his friends advised him to do so through fear of an attempt to mob him by Gooch's relatives. He says that during the two years since the killing he has spent a miserable time dodging about and expecting arrest at any time, and it is a relief to him to feel that that part, at least, is over. During the conversation, he shed tears freely, and showed that he was not entirely lost to the feelings that should animate a man that has taken the life of another, no matter what the cause. Morrison is physically, in a very bad fix, being a constant sufferer from both hemorrhoids and fistula, though he says he is comfortable as he could expect to be in prison. He claims that he has no fears of a fair trial, which he will of course get. We were surprised to learn from him of the large number of good families with which he is closely connected by blood and marriage. [8]


[December 28, 1877] -

Town Marshal Rude, of Sheppardsville, who arrested and brought to the jail here, Nick Morrison, charged with murder, learned while here of the reward offered for Sam Holmes, and decided after he went home to return to this county and take in Holmes and the promised $1,800. [9]


[January 10, 1878] -


Singular Absence of a Shepherdsville Official.

A reporter of the Courier-Journal took the early L. and N. morning train yesterday, to find out something more definite about the disappearance of the Marshal of Shepherdsville. He was told that Mr. J. W. Thompson, ex-marshal, was the man to get the information from, and the following is the story as told by that gentleman:

In the latter part of November Marshal Rude left here, saying he was going down to Stanford to try and arrest Sam Holmes. That is the last I heard of him until the 13th of December, when I received the following dispatches. The first reads:

J. W. Thompson, Shepherdsville, Ky.: Come on first train certain to Hall's Gap. Bring two shot-guns. O. M. Rude.

The second reads:

J. W. Thompson, Shepherdsville, Ky.: Come to Hall's Gap on first train. Sure game. Bring two shotguns. O. M. Rude.

I had some business to attend to in Louisville that day, so I did not go. Two days afterward I received the following telegram: 

J. W. Thompson, Shepherdsville: Be sure and come to Hall's Gap to-morrow; don't fail. O. M. Rude.

I went to Hall's Gap that day, but failed to find Rude. I inquired and found that Sam. Holmes was at a ball in Stanford that night, but did not attempt the capture alone. I think we could have made the arrest if Rude had been on hand. I returned home the next day.

On the 26th of December I received a letter from G. H. McKinney, dated Stanford, saying it was thought there that Rude had been foully dealt with, and at the same time advised his friends to offer a reward for his body, and asked me to make inquiry and see if I could find any trace of him after the 15th. I took the train for New Albany, Ind., the home of his father, and found he was in that city on the 17th of December, two days after his disappearance from Stanford. My opinion is that he is now somewhere in Indiana. His accounts show a discrepancy of about $300. I think that is the cause of his disappearance.

Marshal Rude is the chief witness for the Commonwealth against Nick Morrison, whom he and I arrested last November, and for whom a reward of $250 was offered. He murdered a man in Milledgeville, Lincoln county, some four years ago. His trial is set for April 1.

After thanking Mr. Thompson for his courtesy and information, the reporter took his leave. [10]


[March 22, 1878] -

CIRCUIT COURT. -- It is but little over three weeks till Circuit Court, and then comes the tug of war. There are five murder cases to be tried: Holmes, for the murder of Sheriff Napier; Saunders, for assassinating the colored preacher, MiddletonMorrison, for the murder of young Gooch, two years ago; Jerry Brown, colored, for the murder of Mr. John Engleman, and William Oakes, for assassinating 'Squire Petre. The prisoners at Louisville, and the one at Richmond, will be brought here, and we understand it is the intention of the authorities to employ a guard of a sufficient number that will serve during the whole trials. These will be armed with the needle guns and pistols, and will be on hand at all hours. We incline to the opinion that this will be a much better arrangement than for the Sheriff to have to hunt up a special guard for each day and night, and besides it will be infinitely more satisfactory to the public generally. Of course there is no great fears of any attempt at rescue, but forewarned is forearmed, and our officers are going to profit by the experience of the past. Affairs are in good shape in this county now, and it only remains for the Jurors in the coming Court to remember their oaths and punish the offenders to the full extent of the law. We have heard of a number of cases where Juries, through fear or favor, have acquitted criminals, or what is nearly as bad, hung, and allowed the murderer to go at large. Don't let this be repeated, but show the officers you are for a full execution of the laws by doing your own duty. [11]


[April 26, 1878] -

The case of Nick Morrison for the killing of George Gooch, two years ago, was commenced yesterday evening, but after a jury was obtained the Court adjourned until this morning. [12]


[April 27, 1878] -

The testimony in the case against Morrison, indicted for the murder of Gooch, was completed, and will be submitted to the jury tomorrow. [13]


[May 3, 1878] -

The case of Nick Morrison, who, it will be remembered, killed George Gooch, at Milledgeville, about five years ago, was called last Friday, and after two days spent in the examination of witnesses and in the arguments of counsel, was given to the jury, who returned a verdict of manslaughter and fixed his punishment at two years in the Penitentiary.  The desperate character of the man killed and the physical condition of the prisoner, operated strongly on the jury in making their verdict, but as it is, it will no doubt amount to a life sentence, as Morrison, from all appearances will live but a short time. The prosecution in this case was represented by Judge Denny and H. T. Harris, Esq., and the defense by Col. W. G. Welch and Judge Saufley. [14]


[1] Excerpt from "A Put-up Highway Robbery in Boyle County." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 12, 1873. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[2] "Highway Robbery." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 14, 1873. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1873-02-14/ed-1/seq-3/

[3] Excerpt from "Local Brevities." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 28, 1873. Page 3. LOC.  http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1873-02-28/ed-1/seq-3/

[4] Excerpt from Column 2. The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 31, 1873. Page 3. Newspapers.com. (this issue has damage and is not on LOC)

[5] Excerpt from "Local Matters! A Resume of Lincoln County News for 1873."  The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 2, 1874. Pages 1 and 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1874-01-02/ed-1/seq-4/

[6] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY.  October 5, 1877. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1877-10-05/ed-1/seq-3/

[7] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY.  November 9, 1877. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1877-11-09/ed-1/seq-3/

[8] "In Jail." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 16, 1877. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1877-11-16/ed-1/seq-3/

[9] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 28, 1877. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1877-12-28/ed-1/seq-3/

[10] "A Missing Marshal." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. January 10, 1878. Page 4. Newspapers.com.

[11] Excerpt from "Local News." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 22, 1878. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-03-22/ed-1/seq-3/

[12] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 26, 1878. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-04-26/ed-1/seq-3/

[13] Excerpt from "Stanford." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. April 27, 1878. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[14] Excerpt from "Circuit Court." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 3, 1878. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1878-05-03/ed-1/seq-3/


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