February 4, 2018

Railroad Telegraph Operator Assassinated, Boyle, 1904



This post also contains articles about the killing of Grant Ingram by Pulaski County Jailer Hines at the Somerset Jail in March 1905. 


[February 5, 1904] -




After Operator W. B. Rucker Had Been Killed Through a Window.

Danville, Ky., Feb. 4. -- (Special.) -- W. B. Rucker, night, telegraph operator and ticket agent at the Queen and Crescent depot in this city, was found dead on a telegraph table with a bullet hole in his head at 11:20 o'clock to-night by passengers who had come to board the train for the South.

The ticket office drawer was broken open and all the money was missing. Rucker had some change in his pocket, and it is evident that the robbers paid no attention to his valuables.

He was shot through the window while lying asleep on the table. This is shown by a bullet hole through one of the window panes.

It is not known who shot Mr. Rucker, or how much money was secured from the ticket office drawer.

There is evidently an organized gang of robbers at work here. Within the past week attempts have been made to rob the Farmers' National Bank, the Boyle National Bank and the post-office.

Mr. Rucker was about twenty-five years of age. He was married about a year ago to Miss Daisy Boyd, of Derry, Ky. He came here from Paint Lick. [1]


[February 5, 1904] -


William Rucker, Night Operator at the Q.and C. Depot. Killed and Cash Drawer Rifled of Its Contents. 

William Rucker, night operator of the Cincinnati Southern railway at this point, was assassinated last night about 10:30 o'clock by some unknown person, who fired a pistol through the office window, the ball entering Rucker's head, killing him almost instantly. The robbers then rifled the cash drawer and took about thirty dollars in money. The shot was fired through the south window of the office, and from the looks of the hole in the glass the weapon must have been put close to the pane when the shot was fired, as the powder burn was plainly seen on the sill. 

Mr. William Holtclaw, bus agent for the Fox & Logan stable, whose duty it is to meet the train due here at 11:14 P. M, arrived at the depot about 11 o'clock, and seeing the ghastly sight immediately notified the police. Nightwatchman Dunn responded, arriving on the scene in a few minutes. He found Rucker's body still warm and noticed a slight beating of the pulse. He summoned Dr. Bogle, the road physician, at once. The news of the murder spread rapidly over the city, and in a short while several hundred people had gathered at the station.

Chief of Police Logan Wood telegraphed to Stanford to James Mulligan, of Wilmore, who was in that city with his celebrated blood bound, Nick Carter. Mr. Mulligan arrived about two o'clock and put the dog on the trail. The cash drawer was found about two hundred yards from the depot, near the Danville Ice & Coal Company's plant, under a Sycamore tree. In the dead man's pocket was an envelope containing about $130, which the assassin failed to get. The dog struck a hot trail from here and carried it into Harrodsburg. 

William Rucker was a native of Paint Lick, Garrard county, and was twenty-eight years of age on June 10th, 1903, and belonged to a prominent family. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. I. C. Rucker, still reside at Paint Lick, his father being a prominent miller of that place. Mr. Rucker came to Danville about two years ago to work as night operator, and had held the position up to the time of his death. He was married about a year ago to Miss Daisy Boyd, of Berry, Harrison county, and had been keeping house on Walnut street, near the depot for several months. He was one of the most reliable men on the road and was universally liked. He, has never been kuown to have had any trouble at all with anyone since being in the employ of the railroad here. He was one of four brothers who learned telegraphy at Paint Lick, the other three holding responsible positions with the L. and N. railroad. They will arrive some time to-day to take charge of the remains. 

As soon as it was known that Rucker was murdered, Mr. John Mullins, a local telegraph operator, hastened to the depot and notified the dispatcher's office at Lexington, which immediately sent a special train from Burgin with an operator. Mr. Mullins remained at the station station until the special arrived. 

Orders were given by the dispatcher to stop all freight trains and thoroughly search each car for the robber. This was done, but nothing was accomplished. Freight train No. 31, south bound, arrived arrived at Danville at 4:30 A. M., bearing Detectives Hays and Donlin and Trainmaster Sherman. Chief of Detectives Harry Slough and Sergeant Ryan left the train at Burgin and started on foot to Danville in hopes that they might head off the robber. They arrived at Danville about 7:30 o'clock with no clue. 

Jailer Fitzgerald was interviewed and gave out the following information: "When I arrived at the depot about 11 o'clock, the man was dead, and the money drawer had been prized open and the tray taken from it. Search was immediately made for the tray, which was found about a half mile from the depot, from which place the dogs took up the scent and traced the men to Harrodsburg, up the Main street of the town to the railroad track, where two men were seen to board a passing freight train. The officers immediately wired to officials at Burgin to stop and hold the train until the officers arrived, but the message arrived five minutes too late. The men were fired on, but in the darkness escaped. The dogs again took up the scent and traced it within a half mile of Dick's river, in the direction of Bryantsville, where it was completely lost. The posse organized in pairs of two men on horseback, who scoured all the roads in every direction. Two suspicions men have been noted for two days loafing around the depot, one described as tall, wearing a long black coat, with sleeves ragged, the other short and dark, and this description tallies with the description description of the men as given by a negro who met the posse on the road near Dick's river, and also by Jumbo Hughes, of Somerset, who saw the men at Harrodsburg. The posse was composed of Chief Wood, Jailer Fitzgerald, Sheriff McDowell, Allen Kenney, Dick Gentry, George Dunn, James Moore, James Dunn and a number of men from Burgin, Harrodsburg and Lexington.

John Coffey, a colored man, who was under arrest by Detective Griffin, of Nicholasville, was brought to Danville at noon by Jailer Fitzgerald, for safe-keeping, and a large crowd met them at the depot, supposing him to be the party guilty of the murder, but quietly dispersed when learning the contrary. 

Gov. Beckham has offered a reward of $300, H. M. Waite, of the C. N. O. T. P. R. R., $100, and Judge Prewitt, of the County Court, $50 for the apprehension and conviction of the murderer or murderers.

Coroner Zimmerman impanelled a jury, to view the remains this morning,  composed of T. Y. Shaw, foreman, Phil Bernhardt, B. G. Fox, C T. Duncan, Z. T. Hughes, E. L. Hayes and Cyrus Bell, and they returned the following verdict: "We, the Coroner's jury, find that W. B. Rucker came to his death by a gun-shot wound inflicted by parties unknown to us."

Mr. Rucker's funeral servies will be held at the Baptist church, in this city, next Sunday morning at 11 o'clock, Revs. Sumrell and Vaught officiating, after which the remains will be taken to the Lancaster cemetery for interment. [2]


[February 6, 1904] -


Trailing the Murderer of Night Operator Rucker. 




Danville, Ky., Feb. 5. -- (Special.) -- Intense excitement prevails here to-night and a lynching is feared if the guilty persons who murdered Night Operator Rucker are run down. A lynching was narrowly averted here about 2 o'clock this afternoon when the officers returned to Danville with a negro prisoner. It turned out to be one, however, who was wanted in Somerset, and the detective from that place, who was a member of the posse, received the negro from an Indiana detective at Burgin and sent him on to Danville until he returned from the chase. When the officers who had charge of the negro arrived at Danville they found about 500 angry citizens awaiting them at the depot, and it was with the greatest difficulty that they were dispersed. The officers declared that he was not the man and was not arrested on that charge. 

Bringing the negro to the city at the time when the excitement was so intense was considered a very foolish act on the part of the officers. officers. The negro was quietly taken from the Jail about 5 o'clock this afternoon to Junction City, where he was secreted until midnight to-night and then taken to Somerset. The authorities thought this the best plan, as the mob seemed to doubt the story that the officers had told. 

Small groups of men are seen on every corner and the town is not yet quieted down.

Bloodhounds are on the trail of the murderer in the Dix river cliffs near here and the latest news from the Sheriff's posse is that he will be caught before very long. The posse Is composed composed of Detectives Harry Stough, Hays, Donlin and Ryan, of Lexington, and Griffin and Hughes, of Somerset, besides the Sheriff's band of about fifteen from here. The murderer was tracked from the depot down the Harrodsburg pike to within a few miles of that city, when the trail turned towards Burgin. It continued hot and led through the fields about four miles to Burgin, thence to Dix river cliffs, where it is very thickly wooded. If hiding here it will only be a short time until the murderer is run down. 

Every farmer in that section is on the lookout to-night to-night to-night and aided the posse to-day in the search. 

Was a Garrard County Boy. 

Lancaster, Ky., Feb. 5. -- W. B. Rucker, the night operator who was killed by a burglar at Danville last night, was a Garrard county boy, having left here four years ago. He was a son of I. C. Rucker, one of the county's most prominent men. A brother of the murdered man met a tragic death in his father's mill four years ago. [3]


[February 7, 1904] -


The Danville Assassins Thought To Have Been Bagged. 




Danville, Ky., Feb. 6. -- (Special.) -- With every avenue of escape cut off and armed men guarding all roads, it now seems only a question of a few hours until the murderers of William Rucker, the Cincinnati Southern agent who was killed here Thursday night, are captured. There is a well-defined rumor that the men have been run to earth in Boone's cave, on the Kentucky river, and a large posse is guarding that place, expecting to starve the men out. Ever since the murder almost the entire population of this and the adjoining counties has been engaged in the search for the perpetrators of the crime, and the country for thirty-five miles around has been scoured. 

This morning Thomas Helm, formerly Chief of Police of Danville, and one of the best detectives in the State, came to Harrodsburg with J. D. Mathews. They were joined there by R. O. Hughes and F. H. Daniel, and made up a party which started out along the river, following the clew which was obtained by Helm. At the house, of J. R. Upton they found that on the day after the murder two men, answering the descriptions given of the men suspected, stopped at the house, but were frightened away by the dogs. 

Posse Divides. 

The party then divided and took up the search for these two men. The party, headed by Helm, went to Bryantsvllle and at the home of A. R. Arnold found further trace of the two men. One of the sons of Arnold, going to the door late Friday night, saw two men pass through the back yard. He saw them plainly in the light from the room and the description he gave answers that of the men for whom the officers are searching. The next trace of the men found by Helm was at the home of William Beasley, where the farm hands yesterday morning saw a man washing his feet at the trough. He had a white handle revolver lying beside him and as soon as he saw the men he ran. This is the last trace found, night forcing the discontinuance of the search. 

Two White Men Suspected. 

The murderers are thought to be two white men, who are well-known characters in several of the towns around Danville, and it is almost certain that the police know who they are. It Is said that both men have been run out of several of the small towns near Danville. It was at first thought that one was a negro, but later evidence shows that both are white. 

The depot agents along the line of the railroad took up a subscription to defray the funeral expenses of Rucker. The funeral was held to-day, and was largely attended. The people are much excited over the murder, and nothing else is talked of here. Every farmer within a radius of ten miles is carrying a revolver or a shotgun. [4]


[February 8, 1904] -

FUNERAL OF W. B. RUCKER. -- The last sad rites over the remains of Mr. William Benton Rucker, the unfortunate victim of the foul assassin's bullet at the Danville depot last Thursday night, were conducted at the Baptist church in this city yesterday morning, at eleven o'clock, by Rev. H. A. Sumrell, the pastor, assisted by Rev. J. O. A. Vaught, of the Methodist church, and were attended by one of the largest concourses of people ever assembled on a similar occasion, attesting the esteem in which Mr. Rucker was held by all classes, and the deep and heart-felt sympathy felt for his tragic and untimely end. Many beautiful floral designs were contributed for the occasion, those from the rail road officials being exceedingly appropriate and handsome. Many of his fellow employes of the rail road were present, and at the close of the services the remains were taken to the Lancaster cemetery for interment. [5]


[February 8, 1904] -


For the Murderers of W. B. Rucker Continues. 




Lexington, Ky., Feb. 7. -- (Special.) -- The hunt for the murderers of W. B. Rucker, the night telegraph operator at Danville, still continues in Madison county. There are now about twenty-five men in the posse, and they are doing all in their power to run down the assassins. Capt. Mullikin, with his two bloodhounds, returned to his home at Wilmore to-day. The storm and rain last night did a great deal toward destroying the trail so far as the dogs are concerned. The officers think that the murderers of Rucker are the same that killed Len Cassell in Madison county, and are in the vicinity of their homes now. The men who are suspected of the crime were seen around Burgin several days before the murder, and have not been seen since. 

REWARD OF $1,350 

Now Standing For the Conviction of Murderer of W. B. Rucker. 

Danville, Ky., Feb. 7. -- (Special.) -- It was stated here to-day that the Cincinnati Southern railroad had offered $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer of William B. Rucker, the station agent, who was killed here early Friday morning. Gov. Beckham has already offered a reward of $300 for the State, and the county of Boyle has offered a reward of $50, making making an aggregate reward of $1,350, which is the largest reward ever offered for a criminal in this county. 


Over the Remains of William Rucker At Danville. 

Danville, Ky., Feb. 7. -- (Special.) -- The funeral services over the body of William B. Rucker, the telegraph operator who was assassinated last Friday, were held in the Baptist church of this city to-day. Hundreds of people crowded the church, and the procession was one of the longest ever seen in the city. His body was taken to Lancaster for burial this afternoon. The floral offerings were both beautiful and profuse, many handsome ones being sent by his numerous railroad friends. An exquisite and very costly design from the officials of the road was in the shape of a harp. [6]


[February 9, 1904] -

HORRIBLE. -- One of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in this section was the killing of Operator R. W. Rucker in the Danville depot late Thursday night. Worn out from loss of sleep, he called up Burgin and asked the operator there to call him at a certain hour as he could hold his eyes open no longer. The sleep knew no waking, for while he lay on the operator's table some fiend steathily crept to a window only a few feet from Mr Rucker's head and fired a fatal shot. The door to the office was then broken open, the cash drawer containing some $30 or $40, taken and the murderer took his flight. Blood hounds were brought to the scene and a trail was started, some 40 or 50 determined men following the dogs. The search is being kept up and will be until tho perpetrator of the horrible crime is landed behind prison bars or until every effort to find him proves futile. Rewards have been offered aggregating nearly $1,300; the railroad company, County Judge Prewitt, Gov. Beckbam and private individuals running the amount up to the above. Two suspicious characters -- one a low, dark complexioned man, the other a tall blonde -- have been seen by a number of people but the searching party has not been able to locate them. Mr Rucker, who met the untimely death, was a son of the well-known miller of Paint Lick and was a model young man. He had been married only a year or so and the young widow is well nigh heart broken over her loss. He was a strict member of the church, popular with all and his death is a severe loss to the community in which he lived. An immense crowd attended his funeral at the Baptist church in Danville and followed the remains to their last resting place in the Lancaster cemetery. Beautiful flowers, sent by friends and admirers, covered the grave of the splendid young man. [7]


[February 9, 1904] -

Seldom has Lancaster been more distressed and shown more indignation than at the foul murder of Wm. Rucker at Danville Thursday night. Mr. Rucker was once a resident of this place and his reputation was of the very best. [8]


[February 10, 1904] -

Who was assassinated at Danville last
week while employed in the office of the
Queen and Crescent railroad. [9]


[February 10, 1904] -


Some Interesting Facts Relating the Search for the Assassins of Operator Rucker. 

The Advocate, in an effort to give to the people of the community an exact statement as to the conditions which now exist in regard to the effort that is being made to capture the parties who assassinated night operator Rucker, interviewed several officers who have been prominently connected with the case and received the following statements: 


That he is of the opinion that the officers are no nearer now to discovering the assassins of William B. Rucker than they were on the night of the murder. He states that the police and all the officials and detective force of the railroad company are doing everything in their power to ferret out the guilty parties, and that in his opinion they will eventually be caught. 


"It has been reported on the streets of Danville that one Ab Maples has been arrested in Georgetown, and that he is now being held there on suspicion of being a party to the Rucker assassination. I know there is not a word of truth in the statement. The fact is, I sent a man to Georgetown in the interest of the Q.&C R. R. He located Ab Maples and telegraphed me. Torn Griffin, Capt. Crane and myself went immediately to the scene, and there found Ab Maples working in a hemp field. After interrogating him, we went to the man for whom he was working, then to Maple's wife and daughters, and to a number of the neighbors -- none of whom knew us -- and their statements were that Ab Maples had been breaking hemp every day, and that be had not been away from home for over a week, and they knew it was impossible for him to have been in Boyle county at the time it is believed by many people that be was here. Finding that there was nothing in this clue, we did not arrest Maples, as it was patent that he had nothing to do with the crime. All the neighbors in the community corroborated each other in saying that Maples had not been away from home, As to others who might have been parties to the crime, I have no statements to make. I do not know anything about Robert Turner. I went to the parties who said they had seen Turner here. Some said they saw him, and some did not know whether they had seen him or not; others only heard he was here." 


Yesterday there was quite a gathering of people at Camp Nelson, including Chief of Police Wood, and others from Danville, and they telephoned for the bloodhounds. Mr. Milligan, the owner of the bloodhounds, had received positive instructions from the Q. & C. railroad to go nowhere with the does unless ordered by their detectives, T. R. Griffin or myself. He was obeying orders and would not leave Wilmore. As soon as possible, however, Detective Matthews and myself went to Camp Nelson with the dog, and found the two parties whom it had been claimed were camping at the reservoir. We found it to be only two neighbors, one of whom was waiting for the other, who had forgotten something and had gone back for it. The party waiting had built a fire of straw, and this gave rise to the story of the two murderers camping near Camp Nelson. The people convinced us that it was these two neighbors who had built the fire at the reservoir, and so this clue amounted to nothing. The clue was unreasonable, anyway, as the fire was built in plain view of ten or twelve houses. I give this statement for the benefit of the people of Danville and vicinity, because I know, they feel great interest in the affair. " 


Joe Finley, the jailer at Georgetown, was called by phone at noon to-day, and on being asked if Ab Maples had been placed in the Georgetown jail, charged with the murder of Rucker he replied:

"No, no arrest for Rucker's murder has been made in this county, and no prisoner of any description has been lodged in the jail here during the lat ten days."


"I was the man who was sent to Georgetown bp Capt. Helm, and while there I located Maples and could have arrested him, but on the arrival of the officers they found the clew amounted to nothing, and no arrest was made." 


"I was sent here by the C. N. O. and T. P. Company to assist Mr. Helm, as he is well acquainted with this section and has done service for the company. We have instructions to use every effort and to spare no expense to run down and arrest the perpetrators of this crime. We have repeatedly received instructions from our superior officers to run every clue to its end, so they can be thoroughly satisfied, and with that end in view we have been put to a great deal of unnecessary moving through the country, following up false rumors, many of which have already been settled. While these false rumors unquestionably delay to a certain extent the investigation, they are essential to the detection of the real criminals. If it can be determined from all these rumors which is the proper one, or if we could decide such a thing, there would be no necessity at all in our going, ouly to pick up the guilty one. We want the people to understand, that we are not disconcerted by the rumors and mistaken clues they have discovered, whether they lead to tbe discovery of the parties we are in search of or not; we are only too willing to follow up the rumors, as it shows the alertness of the people and the interest they are taking in the case. Without the assistance of the community our efforts, like those of any other class of officers in the State or country, are useless. A detective is nothing more than a telephone hung on the wall; if a community does not take down the receiver and talk, his hands are tied, and we are willing to follow out anything we can hear at all, and willing to do it to a finish." 


Deputy United States Marshal True arrested a man Tuesday night, in Frankfort, who first gave the name of James Warwick and a Louisville residence, and who later said be was Serdine A. Paul, of Ironton, O., as a suspect in connection with the murder Telegraph Operator Rucker, of Danville. An ugly-looking dagger was found on him. Paul was put through the sweat box process this morning, and a letter was found on him in which he notified his sweetheart that he would be gone for sometime, but would later explain his disappearance. At the end of the process, the officers decided to hold Paul. He denies any connection with the Danville affair. [10]


[February 12, 1904] -

$1,550 REWARD 

Is the Total Amount Now Offered for Apprehension of Assassins of W. B. Rucker. 

Mr. I. C. Rucker, of Paint Lick, the father of Night Operator W. B. Rucker, has offered $200 in addition to the sum already offered for the arrest and conviction of the murderer. This now makes a total of $1,550 that has been offered -- $1,000 by the C. N. O. &T. P. R. R., $300 by. the State of Kentucky, $50 by Boyle county, and $200 by I. C. Rucker. 

Besides this the railroad is paying its detectives to ferret out all clues, and if ever a tangible clue as to the identity of the assassins can be had there will be no trouble in securing their arrest. The greatest trouble in tracing the matter arises from the fact that the assassins seem to have left not a single mark nor track whereby they can be traced. [11]


[February 12, 1904] -

This village [Moreland] was sadly shocked to hear of the murder of Mr. Rucker, who had been night operator at this place just before he went to Danville. Much sympathy has been expressed for his wife in her bereavement, and earnest wishes that his murderers may receive their punishment. Several from here attended the funeral services in Danville Sunday. [12]


[February 12, 1904] -

James Wilson, alias Serdine A. Paul, is under arrest at Frankfort as a suspect in connection with the Rucker murder at Danville. [13]


[February 17, 1904] -

RELEASED. -- Berdine A. Paul, the suspect who was arrested in Frankfort several days ago and held pending an investigation in regard to the Rucker murder, was released from custody yesterday. It was found that Paul was a member of one of the most prominent families of Dayton, O. [14]


[February 22, 1904] -

ANOTHER SUSPECT. -- A man giving his name as Jack McHumes, of Buffalo, N. Y., was arrested by the authorities in Lawrenceburg Thursday. He is a stranger, and the police think that his actions warrant an investigation in the hope of learning something of the murder of operator Rucker. The suspect is said to have acted very nervously when questioned, and the police think they have an important clue. He denies any knowledge of the killing. [15] 


[February 28, 1904] -

Danville's Murder Mystery: A Telephone Tragedy

DANVILLE Ky., Feb. 27. -- (Special.) -- "Hello, Central. Give me the Queen and Crescent passenger depot." 

In her cozy little home, which she and her husband had built and where they had lived less than a year, a young woman stood at the telephone calling up her husband. In the room a bright fire was burning and home was the first thought when any person entered that room. It had the unmistakable atmosphere of the room in which two loving people read each other's hearts and told each other their secrets. 

The young woman was of medium height and the joy of living and loving shone from her eyes, as she prepared to talk to the husband who was tolling over the instruments in the railroad telegraph station. Her intention was to cheer him and make the night pass more quickly for him; to make the interval he was separated from her seem less long. Besides this, there was the anxiety for him and the fear, always present in the loving heart of a woman, that something might happen to him, in his lonely vigil at the extreme edge of the little city. 

She stood waiting for an answer to her ring, her face turned partly toward the fire light, showing lines marked by more than usual beauty. As the time passed and there was no answer to the ring of the telephone a worried look passed over her face, and in it was the mark of fear. Finally there was an answer. The voice was that of a man, but it was not her husband's voice. 

"Is that the depot? Will you ask Mr. Rucker to come to the 'phone?" she asked. 

There was no answer, and wondering vaguely why, she still held the receiver to her ear. waiting for the loved tones to speak to her and tell her that all was well. After what seemed ages to her, she heard the receiver taken down and was jJust about to call a cheery greeting to the man she loved, when a gruff voice, strained and subdued, began to talk. 

"Yes." he said. "It is true. Rucker was shot and killed just a little while ago by--" 

That is all she heard. With a wild scream that chilled the heart of the Chief of Police who was talking at the other end of the line, the young wife dropped the receiver and fell in a swoon to the floor. 

This is the story of the murder on the night of February 4 of William B. Rucker, night ticket agent and telegraph operator for the Queen and Crescent railroad at Danville. The motive of the murder was robbery, and the murder was one of the most coldblooded and deliberate that was ever perpetrated in this State. Rucker was shot while he was asleep, the assassin standing on the outside of the room and firing through the window. Death was instantaneous. The way in which the young wife of Rucker learned of the murder almost added another tragedy to the first one. 

The Victim. 

Rucker was born in Garrard county, and only about one year before his death was married to a charming young girl of Cynthiana. He was appointed night agent at Danville and went there to live. The two rented a little house only a short distance from the depot, which is in a lonely place, at the edge of the town. No houses are near it, and its situation makes robbery an easy matter. Rucker and his young wife were supremely happy in their new life. The wife had given up a home of luxury to take up a life of comfort only, for the salary of the young husband was not large. He was conscientious and able and expected to rise quickly to a better position. His wife believed in him, confident that he would succeed. 

For several days before the murder two men were seen loafing around the depot. They were known to be bad characters -- men who would not stop at anything to gain their ends -- and Rucker was warned to be on his guard when they were around. On the night before the killing the telegraph operator was warned by a friend that the two men seemed to have designs on the cash drawer of the railroad, and that he would better not stay at the depot alone at night. In some way Mrs. Rucker obtained this information, and she insisted on being allowed to go to the station and sit with her husband during his work. He demurred at first, but finally allowed her to come, and the two spent the night in the ticket agent's room. From midnight until 5:30 o'clock in the morning they were alone, no other persons coming to the depot during that time -- at least, no other persons that were seen. They did not know that on the outside two men prowled, peering through the window, and swearing at their luck at not finding the ticket agent alone so that they might carry out their devilish purpose. Sneaking up to the window, they saw the wife with her husband, and dared not enter, for it was their intention to leave no person to testify against them after they had committed the robbery which they had planned. To kill one was all that they had bargained for, and the presence of the wife gave Rucker one more day of life. Pushing their pistols back into their pockets, the two assassins crept away to their secret lair, postponing their crime to a more favorable occasion. 

The Fatal Night. 

February 4 was on Thursday. When Mae Hatter, the day agent, came on duty he said he wanted to go to Cincinnati for the day and asked Rucker to stay on duty for him. Rucker, always willing to oblige, agreed, and he stayed in the office all during Thursday. This made twenty-four hours that he had been at work without a moment of time for sleep or rest. He had to go on at 7 o'clock for his night work, making the second night without sleep. Mrs. Rucker wanted to stay with him the second night, but when he had eaten his supper he left for work alone, telling her somebody would be around with him, and that the talk of robbers idle chatter. She was not satisfied and made him promise that he would call her up over the telephone after the 11:15 train. He agreed to do this, and if he found that he was to be alone, would let her come to the depot and stay with him. 

Worn out by the long hours of hard and brain-fagging work, Rucker listened to the clicking of the telegraph instrument until after the passage of the last local freight; then, as no trains would pass for about an hour, he told the night man at Burgin and at Somerset that he would lie down and sleep with his ear near the sounder and if his call was given would recognize it. Folding his coat for a pillow, he stretched out on the table on which were fastened his instruments, and in a moment was fast asleep. This was about 10:30 o'clock. The sleep was destined never to be broken and Rucker passed from life into death without the transition being apparent to him. 

The depot was deserted, not a living thing being in it but the sleeping operator. The murderers had a clear way. Stealthy tread would not awaken him and the report of the pistol would send with it the bullet into the living brain, making it dead. Those lips must not be allowed to speak, or they could tell a story which would send two men to spend their days behind the strong bars of the prison at Frankfort. 

Two figures appeared from the darkness into the light which shone from the operator's room. They moved without a sound. Going to the windows of the room they saw the figure of the unconscious man as he slept. One man took his stand by the south window. The head of Rucker, as he lay on the table, was not three feet from him. The other man went around to the north window and began to raise it. As he worked the first man, who was tall and thin, ragged and unkempt, cocked his revolver and leveled the weapon at the head of the sleeping man. The distance was so short that the bullet must go true to its mark. The intervening glass offered no resistance to the bullet. 

Slowly the window on the north went up. It reached the top and was held in place by a stick which the robber used. He dropped lightly and noiselessly into the room and made his way to the money drawer on the opposite side of the ticket office. Still he made no noise and the sleeping man did not awaken. With skilled fingers he began to pry open the drawer. He did not watch the sleeping figure, for well he knew that the man with the pistol would see to it that there was no resistance or outcry. Suddenly the sleeping man moved. It was not the movement of a conscious man, but rather that of a man who shifts in his sleep the position which has become tiresome. But that slight movement was enough for the nervous hand and brain of the assassin.

Shot Rings Out. 

A shot rang out and a life had been snuffed. 

The effect of the shot put life into the man at the cash drawer. Fearing that it may have attracted attention he hastily wrenched open the drawer, regardless now of the noise he made. Scooping out the money in it, he turned to the window, sprang out and with his comrade fled from the wrath which they knew would follow them. 

Half an hour later the 'bus brought two drummers to the depot to take the midnight train. They entered the waiting room and saw the inert body on the table; but the driver of the 'bus, knowing that Rucker had been on duty for many hours, thought he was asleep and would not disturb him. He and the drummers passed away the time until the train was due by jesting and jokes, all unconscious of the tragedy which was so close to them. Just before the train was due the driver went in and attempted to wake Rucker. The body was cold in death. The murder became known. 

The police were notified and came quickly to the scene. Logan Wood, the newly elected chief, had the first murder murder mystery to unravel, and he approached the task with the vim and ability of an experienced man. It was he who told the wife of the murder of her husband, but he did it unwittingly. He was in the room waiting for the arrival of the posse which was being hastily summoned and the bloodhound to be used to trail the murderers. The telephone rang and he answered it. Wood heard the voice and recognized it as the voice of Mrs. Rucker. 

She asked for her husband, but Wood could not tell her that her husband was dead. He hung up the receiver and turned away without answering the call from the woman. A few minutes later he stepped to the 'phone to talk to one of his assistants, to tell him of the murder. He was not aware that the wife was still listening, and to the policeman he told the details of the murder. Wood heard the scream of Mrs. Rucker as she fell in her room, and he called up a friend who lives nearby and asked that some one go to the stricken wife and care for her. 

Loving friends cared for the body of the murdered man, while the Chief and the posse searched for evidence that might lead them to a clew to the murderers. The cash drawer was missing, and a search disclosed it in a field near the depot. This was all that could be found upon which the police might start to work. It showed nothing, but it gave the bloodhound a scent by which he might follow the trail of the men. 

While all this was going on the news of the murder spread all over Danville, and the leading men of this little city rose from their beds, dressed and went out, bent on dealing out swift judgment on the men who killed Rucker. The crowd increased every minute, and by the time the dog had arrived from Lancaster, where it was following the trail of a chicken thief, several hundred men had gathered at the depot. It would have fared badly with the men who killed Rucker had they appeared before that crowd of angry men. 

The hound arrived, his master and trainer coming with him. He was led to the cash drawer; he sniffed it and started out at a lively gait, tugging at the leash which held him back. Behind the dog followed the posse, about a score, all armed and determined to keep on the trail until the guilty pair were run to earth. The dog ran true and with his nose high in the air, for the trail was fresh and the scent strong and unmistakable. Through the country, over rock and wooden fences, the bloodhound led the chase. At a point near Harrodsburg the beast faltered and stopped. The trail had been lost. At the railroad track of the Southern the dog ceased to run, and was at fault for the first time. 

The work must now be taken up by the men, and their brains must do what the dog could not do. Wood investigated and found that a freight train passed this point only a short time before, going in the direction of Burgin. Assuming that the men had taken this train, Wood led his posse to Burgin. Weary and worn from their long tramp, they reached Burgin and learned from the Town Marshal that two men left the freight train in the yards at Burgin. The Marshal saw them and called to them. The[y] immediately ran, and in answer to his command to halt, one of them fired a shot from a revolver. The bullet was returned by the Marshal, and several shots were exchanged, but the men were fleet of foot and escaped, going in the direction of the cliffs on Dix river.

The bloodhound was again called on and at once, with an eager yelp, took up the trail of the men. He followed it for several miles, then turned and came back to the same place from which he had started. He could do nothing more. Although an active search was made that night and hundreds of men scoured the entire country for miles around, no further trace of them could be found.

Mystery Still Unsolved.

The mystery of who killed Rucker has not yet been solved. The search is still going on, and has been taken up by the detectives for the Queen and Crescent, which road also offered a reward of $1,000 for the arrest of the guilty party or parties. The interest in the case, which excited everybody in four counties, has not died down, but when the men are arrested they will be given a fair and impartial trial before an impartial jury. Two men suspected of the crime have been proved innocent before arrests had been made. Thomas Helm, formerly Chief of Police of Danville, is now giving his entire time to the case. He is working on a clew which may lead to something. If any man can unravel the mystery it is this man, who has solved so many difficult cases. It was he who raced and caught the murderer of John Crum, the policeman who was assassinated by a negro named Reuben Quinn, and it was largely through his efforts that Quinn paid the penalty on the gallows.

A. R. DUNLAP. [16]


[February 29, 1904] -

Dr. J. W. Boyd, of Cynthiana, has been in the city, the guest of his mother, Mrs. Emma Boyd, and sister, Mrs. Helen D. Rucker, on Walnut street. [17]


[March 14, 1904] -

MAY BE THE MURDERER. -- The following special is from Somerset to the Lexington Leader: "Policeman Wm. Lair aud Deputy W. W. Huston, of Hustonville, were given an examining trial before Judge Cooper for the killing of Ansel Wilson, whom they were trying to arrest on a charge of horse stealing, and were acquitted. It was proved that the killing was accidental, as the officer only fired to scare Wilson into submitting to arrest. With the death of Wilson it is believed that one of the murderers of Telegraph Operator Rucker, of Danville, has passed to his last reward. For some time detectives have connected Wilson and a partner of his with the murder of Rucker, as the description of the murderers corresponded with the two men. The trail taken by Wilson, with the stolen mules for which Officer Lair was pursuing him, was the same as that taken by the fleeing assassins of young Rucker, via Harrodsburg and Burgin, across Madison county into Rockcastle county, where Wilson's partner was arrested a few days ago at Berea, but made a daring escape and is now at large. Wilson was pursued into this [Pulaski] county where the killing took place. He did not live long enough after the shooting to tell of committing the Danville crime, if he did do it, and if he was guilty, as the detectives seem to think, the secret is buried with him. Wilson was rather prominently connected in Pulaski county, but has spent much of his time in Boyle, Lincoln, Mercer and Rockcastle counties." [18]


[March 23, 1904] -

NEW OPERATOR. -- Mr. Dee Valandingham is now night operator at the depot. Mr. Valandingham was the man who came from Burgin on the special train to take charge of the office the night that Rucker was murdered. He has accepted the position permanently. [19]


[September 9, 1904] -

Miss Lucy Adams, of Richmond, is the guest of her uncle, I. C. Rucker. [20]


[January 6, 1905] -

Events of 1904.

[February] 4th -- Wm. Rucker, night operator at the Q. and C. depot, assassinated while at work in the office. [21]


[March 8, 1905] -



SOMERSET, Ky., March 7.-- Jailer Frank Hines shot and killed Grant Ingram, a desperate negro prisoner, at the jail last night.  Ingram made a fierce assault on the jailer when he entered the jail, knocking Hines down and almost affecting his escape.  He was placed in his cell, and some little time later, when the Jailer entered the cell, the negro again made an assault on him, when Hines, who had been knocked down the second time, fired on the negro, killing him instantly.  Ingram had served two terms in the pen, and was in jail awaiting trial for assaulting Deputy Sheriff Elrod. [22]


[March 9, 1905] -


To Murder of Operator Rucker At Danville




Somerset, Ky., March 8. -- (Special.) -- Monday night as Jailer Hines entered the prison at supper hour he was assaulted by Grant Ingram, a desperate negro, who attempted to escape. A short time later Jailer Hines entered the prison again, when Ingram made at him the second time. After warning, Hines fired upon the negro, fatally wounding him. Ingram was in jail for assaulting Officer Elrod. He had served two terms in the penitentiary. 


Grant Ingram Confessed To the Murder At Danville. 

Lexington, Ky., March 8. -- (Special.) -- It developed to-night that the negro, Grant Ingram, who was shot and killed by Jailer Frank in Somerset last night, was the self-confessed murderer of Operator W. B. Rucker, who was shot in Danville on the night of February 4, 1904. Shortly after the murder of Rucker, Ingram became engaged in difficulty with Deputy Sheriff Elrod, of Somerset, and after a desperate assault on him made his escape and came to Lexington. His description was sent out by Chief of Police Hughes, of Somerset, and he was arrested here by Sergeant Crawley, of the local police force. Upon being questioned Chief Reagan and Sergeant Crawley the negro confessed to the killing or Rucker in Danville, and implicated two other negroes in the crime. Since then the local officers and Chief Hughes, of Somerset, have been working up the evidence in the case and were about ready to take the evidence before the Boyle county grand jury when the negro was killed by Jailer Hines. 

While Sergeant Crawley was passing through Danville en route to Somerset with the negro, shortly after his arrest, Ingram pointed out to the officer the window through which Operator Rucker was shot. He stated in his confession that the murder of Rucker was committed for the purpose of robbery. Had the local officers presented the evidence to the grand jury and had Ingram been indicted they would have received the reward of $1,600 offered for the capture of the murderer. [23]


[March 10, 1905] -

Jailer Hines, of Somerset, fatally wounded a Negro prisoner named Gran Ingram who had assaulted him in his effort to escape.

A Lexington paper states that Grant Ingram, who was killed by Jailer Hines at Somerset, confessed to an officer named Crawley that he and three other Negroes killed and robbed Operator Rucker, at Danville. Not much credence is given the story. [24]


[March 10, 1905] -


Is the Story That the Murderer of Rucker Had Confessed. -- Officers Ridicule the Idea. -- Helm Talks. 

A wild and sensational story was published yesterday morning to the effect that Grant Ingram, a desperate negro, who was killed by the jailer in Somerset last Tuesday night, had previously confessed to implication in the murder of William Rucker in this city [Danville] on February the 4th, 1904. 

The story ran that Ingram was arrested in Lexington about three weeks ago and taken to Somerset by Sergeant Mike Crawley, where he was wanted for assaulting an officer. It was stated that while the train stopped at Danville Ingram told Crawley that he knew who killed Rucker and that he had received forty dollars of the money. It was also stated in this marvelous concoction of "rot" that the officers had since been working up the case and were about to bring it before the Boyle County Grand Jury, when Ingram was killed. 

Capt. G. Helm was seen by the [Danville] News man this morning and he said there was hardly a word of truth in the whole story. He stated that he was in Somerset last Sunday and talked with the authorities there, that they told him what Ingram had told Crawley. Ingram said: "What would you say if I told you I knew who killed Rucker?" and stated that he was shot from a box car. That of course was absurd on the face of it. The truth is, Sergeant Crawley placed no credence in the story told by the Negro that he knew who the murderers of Rucker were, and believes that Ingram was simply trying to curry favor with the officers in the hope of being treated well on his arrival at Somerset. On reaching Somerset the Negro was put into the sweat box and told an entirely different story, thus convincing the officers there that he was simply lying for effect. As further evidence that the officers did not place any reliance in the Negro's version, the investigation was dropped. As there is a reward of $1,650 for the apprehension and conviction of Rucker's murderers, it is plain that the officers would have followed up the clue given them by the Negro, if they had believed for an instance there was a scintilla of truth in his story. The Negro's alleged confession is laughed at in Lexington and has been the source of considerable amusement in police circles. A well-known police officer of that city in discussing the Rucker murder said that the murderers were right in Danville and would yet me found and brought to justice.

Some enterprising reporter, who had gotten an inkling of what Ingram had said, and who cared more for a good story, that would bring him a few dollars, than he did for the exact truth, concocted the story. As pointed out by Capt. Helm this morning, there were several fallacies in it however. The story claimed that Ingram had received forty dollars of the money stolen to keep quiet, that Rucker was shot from a box car. There was only thirty odd dollars stolen altogether. It was physically impossible for the shot to nave been fired from a box car and have taken effect in the top of the head. 

The greatest harm done by the story is that, should the guilty parties ever be apprehended, this report may be used as a matter of defense to create a doubt in the mind of a jury as to the guilt of the accused. Reporters can not be censured too much for sending off fake news. [25]


[March 10, 1905] -



The sensational story published in the morning paper yesterday to the effect that Grant Ingram, the negro recently killed at Somerset was the self-confessed murderer of operator Rucker is ridiculed by the police and railroad detectives. Danville people who were at the scene of the murder shortly after it was committed know well that the negro's story is unfounded when he told that Rucker was shot from a box car. A detective for the Q & C. road said this morning: "There is absolutely no foundation in the story, and not an officer who is familiar with the case has any faith in it. It is true the negro made a confession to Sergeant Mike Crawley, of Lexington, while the latter was on his way to Somerset with Ingram, who was wanted there for assaulting an officer. The truth is, Sergeant Crawley placed no credence in the story told by tbe negro that he knew who the murderers of Rucker were, and believe that Ingram was simply trying to curry favor with the officers in the hope of being treated well on bis arrival at Somerset. On reaching Somerset the negro was put into the sweat box and told an entirely different story, thus convincing the officers there that he was simply lying for effect. As further evidence that the officers did not place any reliance in the negro's version, the investigation was dropped." The defective told The Advocate that the officers were still making a vigilant search for the murderer, and if he was still alive be would be brought to justice within a short time. [26]


[March 14, 1905] -

SOMERSET -- Jailer Frank Hines was tried before Squire Gooch and promptly acquitted of all blame for the killing of Gran Ingram at the door of the county jail. [27]


[March 15, 1905] -


Grant Ingram, Colored, Confessed To the Crime.

Lexington, Ky., March 9. -- The murder of William B. Rucker, telegraph operator at Danville, Ky., committed February 4, 1904, has been solved by peculiar circumstances.  Grant Ingram, a negro, who was arrested by local police two months ago on a minor charge for which he was wanted in Somerset, Ky., confessed there in the sweatbox to the crime.  The police have kept secret their plans until an indictment could be found, as Ingram implicated two others in his confession.  He has been in the Somerset jail since and Monday tried to escape and was killed by Jailer Frank Hines.

Rucker was murdered while at his operating key through a window, and it must have been just before the arrival of a late night train, as the conductor, on going to the office to get orders, found him in his chair with his nerveless fingers grasping the telegraph key as though trying to summon aid.  Robbery was the motive.


The Prison Keeper Entered the Cell and the Negro Assaulted Him.

Somerset, Ky., March 8. -- Jailer Frank Hines shot and killed Grant Ingram, a negro prisoner, at the jail here.  Ingram made a desperate assault on the jailer when he entered the jail, knocking him down and almost effecting his escape.  He was placed in his cell and some little time later when the jailer entered the cell the negro again made an assault on him.  Hines was again knocked down and he then fired on the negro, killing him instantly.  Ingram has served two terms in the penitentiary and was in jail awaiting trial for assaulting Deputy Sheriff Elrod. [28]


[March 17, 1905] -

A special from Lexington of recent date says:

"It developed that the negro Grant Ingram, who was shot and killed by Jailer Hines in Somerset last night was the self confessed murderer of Operator W B Rucker, who was shot in Danville on the night of February 4, 1904.  Shortly after the murder of Rucker, Ingram became engaged in a difficulty with Deputy Sheriff Elrod, of Somerset, and after a desperate assault on him made his escape and came to Lexington.  His description was sent out by Chief of Police Hug[h]es, of Somerset, and he was arrested here by Serg[e]ant Crawley, of the local police for[c]e.  Upon being questioned by Chief Ragan and Sergeant Crawley the negro confessed to the killing of Rucker in Danville, and implicated two other negroes in the crime.  Since then the local officers and Chief hughes, of Somerset, have been working up the evidence in the case and were about ready to take the evidence before the Boyle county grand jury when the negro was killed by Jailer Hines."

This confession relieves the suspicion that the murder was probably committed by Bill Newcomb and Wilson. [29]


[May 26, 1905] -

[This is a line item in an accounting of the finances of Boyle County for the year ending March 1, 1905.]

[March 15, 1904] Zimmerman, Wm., Coroner inquest Rucker ..... 6.00. [30]


[August 21, 1905] -

The Rucker murderers are as unknown to-day as they were immediately after the crime was committed, and it looks very much like the perpetrators of this last one will go untouched. [31]


[April 6, 1906] -

Dr. John Boyd, of Cynthiana, was in the city a short time yesterday. Dr. Boyd is a brother-in-law of the late William Rucker, the operator who was murdered here several months ago. [32]


[1] "Assassinated." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 5, 1904. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[2] "Assassinated." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 5, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[3] "Bloodhounds." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 6, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[4] "In a Cave." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 7, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[5] Excerpt from "Danville and Vicinity." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 8, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[6] "Hunt." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 8, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[7] Excerpt from "Locals." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 9, 1904. Page 3. LOC. 

[8] Excerpt from "Lancaster." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 9, 1904. Page 1. LOC.

[9] "Murdered by Unknown Assassin." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 10, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[10] "Interview with Officers." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 10, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[11] "$1,550 Reward." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 12, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[12] Excerpt from "Moreland." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 12, 1904. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[13] Excerpt from "In Neighboring Counties." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 12, 1904. Page 2. LOC. 

[14] Excerpt from "Danville and Vicinity." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 17, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[15] Excerpt from "Danville and Vicinity." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 22, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[16] "Danville's Murder Mystery: A Telephone Tragedy." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. February 28, 1904. Page 30. Newspapers.com.

[17] Excerpt from "Personal Mention." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. February 29, 1904. Page 4. Newspapers.com.

[18] Excerpt from Column 3. Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. March 14, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[19] Excerpt from "Danville and Vicinity." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. March 23, 1904. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[20] Excerpt from "Paint Lick." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. September 9, 1904. Page 2. LOC. 

[21] Excerpt from "Events of 1904." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. January 6, 1905. Page 1. Newspapers.com.

[22] "Shot Negro." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. March 8, 1905. Page 7. Genealogybank.com.

[23] "Confessed." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. March 9, 1905. Page 7. Newspapers.com.

[24] Excerpts from Columns 2 and 4. The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 10, 1905. Page 3. LOC. 

[25] "Newspaper Fake!" The Danville News, Danville, KY. March 10, 1905. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[26] "All a Fake." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. March 10, 1905. Page 3. Newspapers.com.

[27] Excerpt from "Locals." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 14, 1905. Page 3. LOC. 

[28] "The Rucker Murder" and Jailer Kills Prisoner." The Adair County News, Columbia, KY. March 15, 1905. Page 8. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069496/1905-03-15/ed-1/seq-8/

[29] Excerpt from Column 2. Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. March 17, 1905. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1905-03-17/ed-1/seq-3/

[30] Excerpt from "Financial Condition." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. May 26, 1905. Page 2. Newspapers.com.

[31] Excerpt from Column 1. Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. August 21, 1905. Page 2. Newspapers.com. 

[32] Excerpt from "Personal Mention." Kentucky Advocate, Danville, KY. April 6, 1906. Page 8. Newspapers.com.


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