February 15, 2018

George Saunders Killed in Saloon, Lincoln, 1879


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[September 1, 1879] -


George S. Saunders, a Troublesome Character, Killed in the Bar-room of the Harris House by


(Special to the Courier Journal.)

STANFORD, KY., Aug. 31. -- George S. Saunders was killed at Crab Orchard last night. He was five times shot and once stabbed, and died immediately. W. S. Myers, who did the shooting, went at once to Lancaster and surrendered himself, and was brought here today and is now in custody. Asher Harris, who is supposed to have done the stabbing, has not yet been arrested, but is expected to surrender himself to-morrow. The killing was done in the bar-room of the Harris House, no persons being present except Myers, Asher Harris and Saunders, and the immediate circumstances are not known. There had been ill-feeling between the parties for some time, and during the afternoon previous to the difficulty Saunders is said to have gone to the Harris house and behaved badly, and threatened to kill  Myers, who lives at the house, and is a son-in-law of old man Harris and a brother-in-law of Asher.

Saunders has been a troublesome character in this county for some years past. He has been regarded as the worst of the Crab Orchard outlaws, and there are numerous indictments for felonies pending against him. A Rockcastle county jury acquitted him last spring of the murder of Geo. Middleton, of color, when it was the unanimous opinion of every body in the county that he was guilty. He is supposed to have been the ringleader in the robbery of Buchanan's store in December, 1877, and was strongly suspected of connection with the party who set fire to the Harris House last Thursday night and of robbing the post-office at Crab Orchard last Friday night.

Myers was some years ago Marshal of Crab Orchard, later Deputy Sheriff, and for the last few years has been engaged in farming and in assisting to keep the Harris House at Crab Orchard. Myers' trial is set for next Wednesday. [1]


[September 3, 1879] -


A Statement from the Brothers of George S. Saunders.

(To the Editor of the Courier-Journal.)

CRAB ORCHARD, Sept. 1. -- I have read in your paper of to-day your "special" from Stanford concerning my brother, George Saunders. Now, if you will oblige me by inserting the few words I will write, you will confer a favor upon the only brother of the deceased; you will, in fine, print the truth. 

George S. Saunders was basely murdered by a troublesome character -- Stewart Myers -- who. when Tom Marshall sold whisky to minors, and then, in front of his own bar-room, fired off his pistol, and implicated some of the boys he had caused to get drunk; Stewart Myers, who in 1873 had counterfeit half dollars by the quantity, and put the same in circulation, too; Stewart Myers, the sneak, who, with that hyena smile of his, would lure a man into his den, and, if his subject was unarmed, would shoot him down like a dog, not stopping til five balls had been put into his body, as in the ease of George, while Harris, the tool of Myers, stabbed the unarmed victim in the back. All for what? My brother asked Myers for a drink, and, on being refused, he started as if going to get it, when the cowardly deed was done.

My anxiety for my brother's welfare has caused me to watch him very closely since he came home. He has never taken a drink of whisky before me, has seldom been on the street, but has spent most of his time in my family room with my sister-in-law, Mrs. K., my wife and my children, of whom he was very fond. He was not behaving badly at the "Harris House" Saturday evening, and was not drunk. Had he even been drinking to excess I should certainly not have left him to go fox-hunting Saturday night. 

Myers had an old grudge of long standing against George, and he selected Saturday night as the hour to do the deadly deed, when myself and several others were out fox-hunting.

The firing of the Harris House and the robbing of the post-office were preliminary steps to this infamous deed.

I know my brother was in his room both nights, and was not at all implicated in either affair, but Myers knows the world is prejudiced and ready to believe anything.

George has been wild, has been wayward, but, as the moonlight rests on his grave to-night, my pen can not forbear to vindicate him from charges of which he was innocent. Nor am I writing this to secure the favor of judge or jury, for all indictments against my brother will now be tried before a court where the heart is known as intimately as the act.

As is well known to many, my brother married a most estimable young lady two years ago. Scarcely a month had passed after that event when he was arrested on suspicion of having been connected with the robbery of Buchanan's store; then, on the testimony of negroes, indicted for the murder of Geo. Middleton; for eighteen months he lay in prison, was tried for and acquitted of the murder, was bailed out of jail by a noble-hearted kinsman, but after he came home his wife thought it best to wait till after his trial in September before living with him. Last Saturday some one said to George: "Dr. D. says your wife is bound to die. She can't live much longer." That was the cause of his taking a drink Saturday, but he was not drunk. He went into the bar-room at the Harris House without his coat, unarmed, and was murdered in cold blood.

I could, if I chose, relate deed after deed that Stewart Myers has been guilty of, proving him to be in very truth a troublesome character -- a sneak.

Myers may be defended in such a manner, with the prejudice against my brother, that he may be cleared, but no one can envy him his peace of mind from this time till he finishes his course, for he has by this base murder created for himself a hell upon earth that he can never escape.



[September 5, 1879] -

GEORGE SAUNDERS' DEPARTURE. --  The news of the sudden death of George Saunders, reached here an an early hour Sunday morning, and for a time there was found hardly a man credulous enough to believe it. The wires were sought and in a few minutes a confirmation of the news came clicking over them. Then the assurance was made doubly sure in a short time afterwards by the arrival of the officers from Lancaster, with W. Stewart Myers, the man who had hastened the event, and who had surrendered himself the night before, after committing the deed. He was delivered to the authorities here, and the examining trial set for Wednesday, when the case was called; Squire W. R. Carson and M. C. Portman on the bench. W. H. Miller appearing for the prosecution, and Welch and Saufley for the defense. The testimony of J. M. Higgins, who, with Asher Harris and W. S. Myers, were the only occupants of the room at the time, was, that he saw Saunders come into the bar about half-past nine o'clock Saturday night and asked Myers for a drink of whisky. Myers told him his brother had whiskey and that he must go there and get it. Saunders then jumped to the counter, saying, "i must or will (didn't recollect which) have it" and in a second heard a short. He did not wait to see who fired it, but went into the next room, when four more shots were fired in rapid succession. He had seen Saunders there during the day, and Myers had requested him a few moments before the killing "for God's sake not to leave him, that that man was going to kill him." He did not see who did the shooting. Judge Stephen Burch testified that as soon as he could get there, he went in the bar and found Saunders lying behind the counter, not yet dead. He had five bullet holes in his body, a stab in his back, and a piece of his ear was shot off. Knew nothing of the difficulty. Saunders was in his shirt sleeves when he was found, and had no pistol on when he examined him. Several witnesses testified to the apparent friendly relations that existed between Myers and Saunders. Jim Dillion, first witness for the defense proved that during the afternoon of the day of the killing, Saunders was in the bar room and made repeated threats that he would kill Myers. He was drinking a good deal and was very troublesome. They had talked over their old troubles which commenced several years ago, when Saunders with drawn pistol prevented Myers, then Town Marshall of Crab Orchard, from arresting Hiram Hiatt for shooting one Thompson. During the afternoon, Myers got a note imploring him to go to his room and stay there as danger was apprehended. W. R. Dillion testified that on the same day of the killing, Saunders had told him that "I have told Stewart Myers that I am going to kill him, but he don't believe it. I'll show him though." Dr. J. G. Carpenter said that he had heard Saunders say on two or three occasions that he intended to kill Myers, and that he had twice seen him make the attempt. Mrs. David Payne said she had seen that a difficulty was bound to take place, and had sent the note aforementioned, telling Myers to remain in his room. with this the testimony closed, and after speeches by Judge M. C. Saufley and W. H. Miller, the case was given to the Court at 5 p.m., yesterday, which, after consultation, agreed to disagree, and under the law in such cases, Mr. Myers was set at liberty. Of course he does not deny shooting Saunders, but claims that it was necessary for him to do so to protect his own life. The trial lasted two days, during which the Court-house was for the most part, pretty well filled. The Court, with commendable precaution, stationed a guard at the door and no one was allowed to enter without being searched. The trial of Asher Harris, jointly accused of the murder, is set for to-morrow. [3]


[September 5, 1879] -

A WARNING. -- The wild, reckless life and the tragic death of George Saunders, is an example of the results of whisky, evil associates and idleness, and is a terrible warning to the rising generation. Belonging to a good family, and starting out in life with fair prospects, he had the opportunity to make a man of himself had he gone to work and fixed his aim higher than to drink whisky and swagger around a country town, with pistols buckled around him, imagining that to be a man at all, it was necessary to be a "h--l of a man." From bad he got to worse, and charges of murder, burglary and other like crimes were entered against him, almost before he had attained the years of his majority. Jailed for eighteen months of his life, deserted by the wife of his bosom, and dying the death of a dog, at twenty-two years of age, his fate is an awful and terrible warning, which for the good of the county and society generally, we hope may not be in vain. [ibid 3]


[September 12, 1879] -

ACQUITTED. -- The examining trial of Asher Harris, charged with the murder of George Saunders, resulted in an acquittal. He was, however, at the suggestion of the County Attorney, and on the testimony of W. T. Saunders, bound over to keep the peace in the sum of $500. His father, Morris J. Harris, went his security and he was released. [4]


[October 31, 1879] -

W. S. Myers, although acquitted by the Examining Court was indicted for manslaughter. The Judge allowed him bail in the sum of $750, which he gave, with R. B. and E. P. Woods, and A. S. Myers, securities. [5]


[October 31, 1879] -

The trial of D. B. Carson for maliciously shooting and wounding W. S. Myers, had commenced when court adjourned last evening. [ibid 5]


[December 26, 1879] -

Aug. 30, George Saunders shot and killed by W. S. Myers. [6]


[April 30, 1880] -

On the night of the 30th of August last W. S. Myers shot and killed George Saunders and immediately gave himself up to the authorities. He was tried before an examining court and acquitted, but the Grand Jury saw fit to indict him for manslaughter, and on that charge he was tried this week, when the jury promptly rendered a verdict of not guilty, the proof being plain that Mr. Myers acted in his necessary self-defense and for the protection of his property. The verdict seems to give general satisfaction. [7]


[1] "Crab Orchard." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. September 1, 1879. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[2] "Crab Orchard's Tragedy." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. September 3, 1879. Page 4. Newspapers.com.

[3] Excerpts from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 5, 1879. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-09-05/ed-1/seq-3/

[4] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 12, 1879. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-09-12/ed-1/seq-3/

[5] Excerpts from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 31, 1879. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-10-31/ed-1/seq-3/

[6] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 26, 1879. Page 7. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1879-12-26/ed-1/seq-7/

[7] Excerpt from "Local Matters." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 30, 1880. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84038328/1880-04-30/ed-1/seq-3/


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