The Thornton Withers Case

Cincinnati, Ohio. , ca. 1868. April 30. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2003654043/.

The Thornton Withers case, which unfolded around the same time as the Waite-Puntenney trials and involved John Jolliffe, as well, is another example of conflicting ideas about slavery and the rights of slave owners.

The steamer Melnotte stopped in Cincinnati en route towards Virginia. Aboard were the slave owner Thornton Withers and three people he officially owned: a girl of nine, a girl of eleven, and a man of thirty-five.

On November 2, 1857, a writ of habeas corpus was issued by J. Clemens of the Cincinnati Probate Court that alleged the slaves were illegally detained. After all, it was a long standing policy that slaves ceased to be slaves the moment they reached Ohio’s shore.

Hamilton County Sheriff Richard Mathers brought the slaves to the court for a hearing. John Jolliffe, along with James Gitchell and L. French, represented the slaves’ interests. Jacob J. Dennis and Don Piatt were the attorneys for Thornton Withers.

Dennis requested that the hearing take place the next day. Jolliffe agreed on the condition that a guardian was appointed for the minor slaves. Dennis argued that the sheriff was guardian enough.

Jolliffe put forth Darius Eggleston instead, because, with no slight to Sheriff Mathers, “he should prefer to nominate an individual in an unofficial position, that the children might not be consigned to the jail . . .”

Judge John Burgoyne, who had tried to declare the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional during the Margaret Garner case, allowed the appointment of Eggleston. Eggleston had to provide bond of $50 per slave, to assure they would appear before Burgoyne again.

It must be noted that in this particular case the slaves might have actually wanted to go back with the owner. They were children, after all, and far from home. Even the pro-abolitionist Cincinnati Daily Gazette reported that they “shed tears” at being separated from their master.

The hearing was adjourned for the day.

However, the three black people would never appear before Judge Burgoyne again, not because the slaves escaped north but because the slave owner took them back south.

The day after Judge Burgoyne’s hearing, Thornton Withers and attorney Dennis went to another judge, Judge Alfred Carter, of the Common Pleas Court, and alleged that Eggleston was the one detaining the slaves illegally.

Carter issued a writ of habeas corpus of his own and had the three black people brought before him.The judge examined the slaves and asked them a handful of questions that determined the matter:

1st. If they were slaves. 2d. Who their master was; and 3dly, if they wanted to go with him. To the first and third questions they answered affirmatively, and, in reply to the second, pointed to Mr. Thornton Withers . . .

Judge Carter let Withers take his slaves. They were placed into a wagon, taken to the Vine Street ferry, put aboard the steamer Queen City, and were soon again landed on Kentucky soil. They were taken to the Barlow House in Newport.

Meanwhile, at the Probate Court, John Jolliffe informed Judge Burgoyne about what he had learned had just happened. He requested that Sheriff Mathers or a special constable bring Withers and his slaves before them.

An order was issued. Jolliffe also requested an order for Judge Carter “to show cause why he should not be punished for a contempt of this Court.” Judge Burgoyne would not go that far because, “This clashing of jurisdiction is injurious in its effects.”

Judge Burgoyne stated that he felt unable to bring a charge of contempt against Judge Carter because he believed Carter only acted within the office of Judge of the Common Pleas Court and “is responsible to his constituency for his official acts . . .”

Jolliffe replied, “If a Judge violates the laws of the land, he should be the first person punished for doing so.”

James Elliott told Judge Burgoyne that he had shown Judge Carter a transcript of the record of the initial proceedings in the Probate Court but said that Judge Carter had merely glanced at them.

Judge Burgoyne stated that Judge Carter had promised to take “no further action in the matter until the proceeding in the Probate Court was disposed of.” Yet Burgoyne was still hesitant to charge his fellow judge with contempt.

However, before adjourning for the day, Judge Burgoyne left open the possibility of a contempt charge for Judge Carter if the application for it was made in the proper manner.

On November 4, Jolliffe again laid out the reasons he believed Judge Carter should be served with contempt of court, for stepping over the boundaries of his court and Judge Burgoyne’s.

As the Cincinnati Daily Gazette put it, “There was no such thing as jurisdiction over the same persons at the same instant by two different courts. If the Probate Court had jurisdiction, Judge Carter had none.”

Judge Burgoyne redirected the matter of contempt charges against Judge Carter to the Prosecuting Attorney. That same day, James Elliott made a motion before Judge Burgoyne calling for J.J. Dennis, one of Thornton Withers attorneys, to be charged with contempt of court.

Dennis, Elliott argued, had received a continuance from Judge Burgoyne and gone immediately to Judge Carter and received a writ of habeas corpus from him with the intention of going around the first judge.

Afterward, Elliott alleged, Dennis had gone as far as personally helping load the slaves into the carriage that carried them off.

Judge Carter could plead ignorance to the entire goings ons in Judge Burgoyne’s courtroom but J.J. Dennis had been intimately involved. Judge Burgoyne charged the attorney with contempt.

Cincinnati Daily Enquirer editor James J. Faran wrote an editorial in defense of Thornton Withers rights on November 5. He argued that the slaves had never been on Ohio land until after the first writ of habeas corpus brought them there.

Faran may have had a technical point but he was biased, and a terrible bigot. He had particular disdain for free blacks, one of whom he reports was the person who requested the first writ of habeas corpus from Judge Burgoyne, and the mass of whom he wrote were “worthless”.

The same day the Enquirer printed Faran’s editorial, the Cincinnati Daily Gazette printed a letter shining light from the opposing angle. M.D. Conway, the letter write, had spent considerable time in Warrenton, Virginia, where the man and girls owned by Withers were from.

Conway had visited with the three slaves in the short time that they had stayed with Darius Eggleston. The adult had told Conway that he wished to go back to Virginia only because he had a wife and five children there.

The two girls were not relatives of his and he didn’t wish for them to return with him. He would have wanted to stay free in Ohio were it not for his family. As for the girls, Conway argued, they were not old enough to understand exactly what was at stake. 

According to Conway, that lack of maturity is why the girls had told Judge Carter they wanted to go home with Thornton Withers.

On November 9th, 1857, Judge Burgoyne learned that his daughter had died in Chillicothe, Ohio. The subsequent trial of J.J. Dennis would proceed with the Judge no doubt feeling this fresh grief. 

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Oliver Brown placed specifications charging J.J. Dennis with contempt on the 11th. Prosecuting Attorney Timothy O’Connor amended the charges on the 19th.

J.J. Dennis was tried for contempt of court on November 21st. Dennis claimed he had every right to go to Judge Carter, as well, “to try the legality” of the appointment of Darius Eggleston as guardian.

He further stated that, when appearing before Burgoyne, he had not planned to get a writ of habeas corpus from Carter. That idea came after the hearing. Don Piatt and J.R. Hallam, the other lawyers for Thornton Withers, backed up that claim.

Deputy Sheriff Glass told the court that he had taken the slaves before Judge Carter without the aid of J.J. Dennis.

Attorney Anderson defended the actions of Dennis. He further defended the rights of slave owners to have slaves in Ohio. He stated that “any slaveholder had the right to go up and down the Ohio River every day, from now until the Day of Judgment . . .”

Prosecuting Attorney Timothy O’Connor did not express an opinion on the slavery issue, as it did not actually pertain to this particular trial, he said. Instead, he argued that Dennis “ignored the existence of this court.” Thus the contempt.

On November 24th, Judge Burgoyne fined J.J. Dennis five hundred dollars after finding him in contempt of court. 

In his final opinion, Judge Burgoyne stressed that he was disappointed that Dennis’ roundabout actions prevented him from properly considering the Withers case as a legal question.

Burgoyne was to retire soon, once his term in office had expired, and he intended to leave the Probate Court Judge position “clothed with the dignity and purity contemplated by our constitution and laws.” Dennis had threatened that dignity with contempt.

However, that was not the end of the retributive trials. On December 4, 1857, J.J. Dennis went to Justice of the Peace John J. McFall and affirmed an affidavit alleging that Judge Burgoyne had “willfully and corruptly” oppressed him with the fine.

Constable McLaughlin arrested Judge Burgoyne and brought him before Justice McFall, who released him on bond of two hundred dollars to appear in the Police Court on December 9th on a charge of “oppression in office.”

At eleven o’clock, on the 9th, Judge Burgoyne and Dennis and their respective attorneys appeared before Justice McFall. Judge Burgoyne attempted to have the case moved to a higher court, willing to pay any bond thought appropriate, but Dennis insisted upon examination.

McFall, who had only been a magistrate for about a month and more or less admitted he was learning how to proceed as he went, allowed it.

After a reading of the transcript of the Probate Court proceedings, they took a recess for lunch. When they reassembled at two o’clock and found the crowd assembled had grown, the trial was moved from McFall’s office to the Police Court.

Reporter Enos B. Reed of the Cincinnati Daily Times testified first. He stated that Dennis had tried to speak on his own behalf while Judge Burgoyne was imposing his five hundred dollar fine but had been ignored. “He further remarked that if he did his duty he would disbar him.”

Thereafter, first J.J. Dennis, Cincinnati Daily Gazette reporter Thomas Shinkwin, and lastly Charles Murdock reiterated Reed’s recollection of how Judge Burgoyne had silenced Dennis.

The final decision of Judge Burgoyne was entered as evidence. The last witness was dismissed without the defense attorneys calling any of their own.

Judge Coffin lead Judge Burgoyne’s defense. He argued that “the question was merely one of law, and that evidence had nothing to do with the case; for that reason the defence [sic] had offered none.” Coffin believed that Justice McFall had no legal right to try the case. Even if there had been wrongdoing on Judge Burgoyne’s part, the appropriate response would have been a reversal of judgement by a higher court.

Judge Caldwell, who served, along with Judge Coffin and Judge Peat, on Burgoyne’s defense, likewise presented the idea that an error in a lower court, such as the prosecution alleged, should have led to a trial in a higher court, not before a Justice of the Peace.

J.J. Dennis spoke on his own behalf for the prosecution. The Cincinnati Daily Enquirer freely quoted from his oral argument. Dennis claimed Judge Burgoyne had no right to try him as an attorney. Even if he had such a right, it should have been before a jury.

Dennis claimed Burgoyne’s motives had been biased during the initial Withers case proceedings:

He (the Judge) had chosen a guardian to please Jolliffe and Gitchell, general agents and superintendents of the U.G.R.R. [Underground Railroad]

Dennis further alleged Burgoyne was aligned with Black Republicans who were always eager to interfere in the rights of “Southern gentlemen”. He stated that Judge Burgoyne was prejudiced against him from the start and would have found him guilty no matter what.

The attorney spoke for nearly three hours, and, as the Cincinnati Daily Gazette reported, “really made himself the martyr of judicial authority.”

Justice McFall, new to the job, and probably fairly overwhelmed, stated he would announce his decision on December 12th. On the 13th, McFall admitted he was still deciding, and set Wednesday, December 16th as the day he would put out his decision.

In the end, Justice McFall ruled for the defense. After a great deal of study, he came to believe that he himself “had no jurisdiction in the case.” If Judge Burgoyne had acted wrongly in finding Dennis in contempt of court, the appeal should have been taken up to a tribunal court.

Judge Burgoyne, who had been so confident in his legal position that he and his attorneys had presented no evidence in his defense, thanked Justice McFall for his decision. To quote the Cincinnati Daily Gazette, “So ends the great ‘oppression’ case.”

*

Sources

Withers case before Burgoyne.  Faran, James J., ed. “Alleged Illegal Detention of Slaves.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 03, 1857. Page 3. On microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky)

Age of slave man. “The Slave Case: A Second Writ of Habeas Corpus.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 04, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Slave girls “shed tears” at being separated from master.  “Three Slaves Brought Up On Habeas Corpus.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 03, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Carter sends slaves back to Kentucky. Faran, James J., ed. “Abrupt Termination of the Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 04, 1857. Page 3. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

How they were transported to Newport. May, Samuel, Jr. The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims. New York, NY: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. Page 81. The case covered from pages 81-83.

Barlow House, in Newport. see above “The Slave Case: A Second Writ of Habeas Corpus.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

“If a Judge violates the laws of the land, he should be the first person punished for doing so.” see above Faran, James J., ed. “Abrupt Termination of the Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

Burgoyne hesitant to charge Carter with contempt.  see above “The Slave Case: A Second Writ of Habeas Corpus.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

Burgoyne leaves possibility open. see above Faran, James J., ed. “Abrupt Termination of the Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

Jolliffe argues why Carter should be charged with contempt. Faran, James J., ed. “A New Episode in the Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 05, 1857. Page 3. On microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

No jurisdiction over same case by two courts. “Charges of Contempt Preferred against Judge Carter and J.J. Dennis.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 05, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

J.J. Dennis charged with contempt. see above Faran, James J., ed. “A New Episode in the Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

Editorial in defense of Dennis. Faran, James J. “The Late Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 05, 1857. Page 2. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Faran, as racist. Faran, James J. “Judge Carter and His Detractors.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 05, 1857. Page 2. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Letter from Conway. Conway, M.D. “The Slave Case.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 05, 1857. Page 1. Available from the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Death of Burgoyne’s daughter. “Judge Burgoyne received intelligence last evening . . .” Cincinnati Daily Times (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 10th, 1857. Page 3. Available on microfilm at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Olive Brown specifications. “Alleged Contempt.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 12th, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Prosecuting Attorney Timothy O’Connor amends charges. “The Contempt Case.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 20th, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The contempt trial of J.J. Dennis. Faran, James J., ed. “Alleged Contempt of J.J. Dennis in the Slave Trial.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 22, 1857. Page 3. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Date of Dennis’ fine. Faran, James J., ed. “A Judge Arraigned Before a Justice of the Peace.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 5, 1857. Page 3. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky). Date from Dennis’ affidavit.

Burgoyne fines Dennis for five hundred dollars. Faran, James J., ed. “Contempt of Court.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 25, 1857. Page 2. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Judge Burgoyne’s full opinion. “Alleged Contempt and Professional Misconduct in Slave Trial.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 26th, 1857. Page 1. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Ohio.

Oppression charges for Burgoyne. see above Faran, James J., ed. “A Judge Arraigned Before a Justice of the Peace.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

Constable McLaughlin. “The Judge of the Probate Court Arrested for Oppression in Office.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinatti, Ohio). December 05, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The Daily Gazette gave one thousand dollars instead of two hundred as the amount of Burgoyne’s bond.

Time of Burgoyne’s trial. “The Charge of Oppression in Court.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 10, 1857. Page 2. Available from the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Examination insisted upon. Faran, James J., ed. “Justice McFall’s Court.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 10, 1857. Page 3. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

The defense argument. see above  “The Charge of Oppression in Court.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette 

The prosecution argument. Faran, James J., ed. “Justice McFall’s Court.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 10, 1857. Page 3. Microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

“martyr of judicial authority” see above  “The Charge of Oppression in Court.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette 

McFall declares he needs time to decide. see above Faran, James J., ed. “Justice McFall’s Court.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

McFall postpones decision. “The Oppression in Office Case Not Yet Decided.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 14, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

McFall decides in Burgoyne’s favor. “The Great Oppression Case Decided.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 17, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The Addison White Affair

Kaufmann, Theodor, and Hoff & Bloede. Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law. , 1850. New York: Publ. by Hoff & Bloede. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2008661523/.

The Addison White affair was a Fugitive Slave case that led to a literal battle of legal jurisdictions in Ohio.

It began when an enslaved man named Addison White escaped from his owner Daniel White in Flemingsburg, Kentucky, in August 1856. He went north, crossing the Ohio River, to Mechanicsburg, Ohio. There he took work with Udney Hyde.

On May 26, 1857, a posse of fugitive slave hunters led by United States Deputy Marshals B.P. Churchill and John C. Elliott went to Mechanichsburg to arrest Addison White. As they approached the cabin he was staying in, Addison hid up in the loft.

Deputy Marshal Elliott fired shots into the loft after seeing a board creak. Then he began to climb up into it. As he neared the top, Addison White took a shot at him. The bullet struck Elliott in the chest but at such an angle that it apparently “glanced off”. 

The slave catcher quickly went back down the ladder. He fired up into the loft again and fled the cabin. Once outside, no one in the posse dared another attempt to take Addison, at least not before a crowd of abolitionists and people of similar mindset swarmed the scene.

Udney Hyde, who owned the cabin and had apparently admitted Addison was there readily when confronted by the warrant, had also, more to his credit, sent his daughter out to spread the news of the affair.

The posse retreated. Addison White escaped from them, and eventually made his way to Canada.

However, Deputy Marshal Churchill returned to Cincinnati and easily obtained warrants from Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt for the arrest of four men who had aided Addison White: Russell Hyde, Edward Taylor, Charles Taylor and Hiram Guthridge.

Russell Hyde was Udney Hyde’s son. Udney appears to have laid low in the aftermath of the attempted arrest of Addison White. He stayed in hiding for some nine months. 

The slave catching posse, which now included, along with Churchill and Elliott, three other Deputy Marshals plus five assistants, arrested the four men from Mechanicsburg the next day.

However, the anti-slavery men had their allies. A writ of habeas corpus was made out by the Champaign County Probate Court and given to Sheriff John Clark. The sheriff overtook the posse only to discover that Churchill refused to recognize his authority.

The sheriff went on to Springfield, Ohio, and gave the warrant to Clarke County Sheriff John E. Layton. Layton was of firmer stuff. He and his deputy Bill Compton tried to halt the posse near South Charleston.

The marshall’s men resisted. Shots were fired. Overwhelming the pair sent against them, Deputy Marshall Churchill and his men seized Sheriff Layton and beat him badly.

Then they continued on their way to Cincinnati with their four prisoners.

Greene County Sheriff Daniel Lewis tried to halt them next. He and his men managed to arrest Churchill’s posse near Lumberton. Apparently, as Sheriff Lewis grabbed the reins to Churchill’s carriage, the following exchange occurred:

the Marshal with great show of authority cried out, “hold on there old man!” Sheriff – “I intend to hold on.” Marshal – “I am an officer and doing my duty.” Sheriff – “So am I, and doing my duty.”

The four prisoners, now free, but much abused, were sent back to Champaign County while the posse, now prisoners, were taken by train to South Charleston.

Judge Christie of Springfield set a bond of $2,500 for each member of the posse. With none of them able to pay it, they were all remanded to jail. On May 29th, Sheriff Layton received an order from Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt demanding the prisoners be brought to Cincinnati.

Layton complied.

A hearing was set for the first day of June. The case “involves a direct conflict between the State of Ohio and the United States, as to whether the former has any jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. officers, within her bounds.”

It took some time for the court to make its decision. Meanwhile, the marshals were clearly released on some kind of bond. Both Churchill and Elliott were involved in the June 13th seizure of Irwin and Angeline Broadus.

The Broadbus’s were enslaved people who belonged to C.A. Withers of Covington, Kentucky. After their escape, they hid in Taft’s Building on Vine Street in a room occupied by William Connelly, editor of the abolitionist newspaper Cincinnati Gazette.

When the marshals attempted to enter the room, Irwin Broadus stabbed Deputy Marshal John C. Elliott twice. Another marshal shot Broadus and the fugitive was then arrested. Both Elliott and Broadus would recover from their wounds.

The slaves were taken before United States Commissioner E.R. Newhall. He sent them back to C.A. Withers and issued a warrant for the arrest of William Connelly for violating the Fugitive Slave Act.

As to the Addison White affair, on July 9, 1857, Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt officially discharged Churchill and the rest from the custody of Sheriff Layton. (The custody was not literal, clearly.) Leavitt declared “the Marshals to be right in resisting the state process . . .”

On October 29th, 1857, Clarke County Sheriff John Layton, Deputy Bill Compton, Greene County Sheriff Daniel Lewis, and Champaign County Sheriff John Clark, among others, were indicted by the Southern District Court of Ohio for “resisting and obstructing” United States marshals.

Those indictments appear to have gone nowhere.

As to William Connelly, the newspaperman whose room the Broadbus’s had hid in, he apparently left Cincinnati rather than be arrested. 

In February of 1858, Deputy Marshal John C. Elliott went to New York City to find him. Marshal Isaiah Rynders of New York sent one of his men to the daily paper where Connelly now worked.

Deputy Marshal O’Keefe spoke to Connelly, who said he would come with him freely, but wanted to arrange the papers in his room first. O’Keefe allowed it. Connelly, naturally, took the opportunity to escape.

Connelly was eventually arrested. He was tried in May 1858 before Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt. It was found that Withers had been in the habit of letting his slaves visit Cincinnati. The slave crossing the Ohio River with their master’s permission argument won another case.

Connelly didn’t get off scot free, though. He was fined ten dollars and sentenced to be imprisoned for twenty days.

*

Sources

Addison White refuge with Udney Hyde.  The History of Champaign County, Ohio. Chicago: W.H. Beers &, 1881. Pages 605-611. A Champaign County-centric history of the affair.

Posse comes for White. Robinson, Marius R., ed. “Slave Catchers Baffled.” The Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, Ohio), May 30, 1857. Page 3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/80608974. Behind paywall.

Elliott goes into loft. Keen, G.W., and H.N. Lewis, eds. “Arrest of Fugitive Slaves in Cincinnati.” The Wyandot Pioneer(Upper Sandusky, Ohio), June 18, 1857. Page 3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/465137061. Mostly about the Broadbus affair but confirms Elliott’s role in Addison affair.

Churchill gets warrants for men who helped Addison White. Knapp, H.S. “The Champaign Co. Slave Case – Four White Men Arrested.” The Ashland Union(Ashland, Ohio), June 03, 1857. https://www.newspapers.com/image/168477809. Behind paywall.

Udney Hyde lays low.  see above The History of Champaign County, Ohio.

The posse grows. Allen, C.N., ed. “The Rescue Case.” The Cadiz Sentinel (Cadiz, Ohio), June 11, 1857. Accessed August 16, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/339505532. Behind paywall.

The posse captured. McBratney, Samuel, ed. “The Man Hunt – Slave Catching – Resistance of Officers – High Handed Outrages.” The Marysville Tribune (Marysville, Ohio), June 03, 1857. Page 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/325418150. Behind paywall.

Leavitt demands marshals be brought to him. McKee, H.L., ed. “The Sequel to the Slave Hunt.” The Tiffin Tribune (Tiffin, Ohio), June 05, 1857. https://www.newspapers.com/image/215005014. Behind paywall.

The Broadbus case. Walker, Alexander, ed. “Frightful Tragedy! United States Deputy Marshal Stabbed. A Runaway Slave Shot.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), June 14, 1857. https://www.newspapers.com/image/32006263. Behind paywall.

Leavitt discharges marshals from Sheriff Layton. May, Samuel, Jr. The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims. New York, NY: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. Page 71. Good overview of case from pages 68-73.

Sheriffs and others indicted by grand jury. “United States District Court – Indictments by the Grand Jury.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio), October 30th, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The capture and trial of William Connelly. May, Samuel, Jr. The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims. New York, NY: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. Pages 94-95.

Margaret Garner: A More Tragic Fugitive Slave Case

The modern Medea – the story of Margaret Garner Margaret Garner, a slave who escaped from Kentucky to Ohio; her 4 children, 2 of which she killed so they would not have to endure slavery, lying dead on floor; and 4 men who pursued her. , 1867. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/99614263/.

The year before the David Waite trial, both the defense attorney John Jolliffe and U.S. District Court Judge Humphey H. Leavitt had been involved in the legal struggle concerning Margaret Garner. 

That tragedy began on January 26, 1856, when, in the middle of a blizzard, seventeen slaves escaped Boone County, Kentucky via sleigh.

After crossing the Ohio River, the fugitives split into two groups. One group successfully escaped to Canada. The other party, consisting of Margaret Garner, her four children, her husband Simon, and his parents, was more ill-fated.

Margaret and her children were owned by Archibald K. Gaines while Simon and his parents were owned by Gaines’ neighbor John Marshall. Gaines and one of Marshall’s sons tracked the slaves to the Cincinnati home of a free black man named Joe Kite.

After receiving warrants from United States Commissioner John L. Pendery, a posse including Gaines, Marshall and Deputy Marshal John Ellis, among others, went to forcibly seize the fugitives.

Simon and the slave catchers exchanged gunfire but the home was inevitably breached. Once she realized they were bound to be dragged back into bondage, Margaret Garner fatally slit her three-year-old daughter’s throat and attempted to kill her other children. 

She was stopped.

As Samuel May, Jr. wrote in The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims, “The woman avowed herself the mother of the children, and said that she had killed one, and would like to kill the three others, rather than see them again reduced to slavery!”

The fugitives were taken before Commissioner Penderey. Margaret and the other adult slaves claimed to have previously been in Ohio with permission from their masters. This was an integral claim, and one that reflects on the Waite case, as well.

Cynthia Griffin Wolff explains in her article “‘Margaret Garner’: A Cincinatti Story”:

For many years, the Cincinnati courts had consistently ruled that slaves who had been taken by their masters to live in the free state of Ohio were “emancipated” by virtue of their residence in the jurisdiction of that state.

Margaret was indicted by a jury for murder. This indictment, however, did not displease her because having to stay in Ohio for a murder charge would keep her, and her three remaining children, out of the slave state of Kentucky.

John Jolliffee and James Gitchell represented the fugitives while their status was determined by Commissioner Pendery. They were no doubt hopeful that either the murder charge or the previous trips to Ohio would sway him.

But, in the end, Commissioner Pendery refused to release Garner into the custody of the Hamilton County Sheriff. Simon and his parents were sent back into slavery while Pendery attempted to send Margaret and the children back, as well.

A legal question of jurisdiction went before Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt, who later would preside over the Waite case. After Gaines promised to make Margaret available for any murder trial that followed, Judge Leavitt decided violation of the Fugitive Slave Act trumped murder.

He ordered Margaret given to Gaines.

A last ditch effort was made to keep the Garner children in Ohio. John Jolliffe alleged the children had been detained illegally by the marshal before Probate Court Judge John Burgoyne.

Burgoyne seems have been as disposed to favor anti-slavery forces as Leavitt seems to have been disposed to favor slavery forces. Burgoyne went so far as to declare the Fugitive Slave Act null and void for its suspension of habeas corpus. He had Marshal Ellis arrested. 

But Leavitt quickly had him freed. Then he allowed the Garner children to be taken back to Kentucky with Margaret.

Once he had them again, Archibald Gaines wasted little time in selling Margaret Garner and her children downriver. In a further twist of the cruel knife, the steamboat Margaret Garner was put on reportedly crashed, sank, and took one of her remaining children with it.

Facing much outrage over how he had betrayed his word, Archibald Gaines managed to bring Margaret back to Covington, Kentucky, across the Ohio from Cincinnati, and had her jailed there. But he apparently had no intention of actually letting her go back north.

When deputies from Ohio went across the river to take custody of Margaret Garner for her daughter’s murder, they found that she had been taken away the night before. The Cincinnati Gazette reported that Margaret Garner was sent south to New Orleans to a slave market.

Afterward, in May 1857, Archiabld Gaines, slave owner, and John Jolliffe, slave lawyer, crossed paths in Covington. Gaines, hurling racist abuse, gathered a mob and assaulted the attorney. They very well might have killed Jolliffe if marshals hadn’t intervened.

Such violence did not sway John Jolliffe or intimidate him into inaction. By next November, he was back at court defending David Waite for allegedly violating the Fugitive Slave Act.

*

Sources

Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. “”Margaret Garner”: A Cincinnati Story.” The Massachusetts Review 32, no. 3 (1991): pages 427-429. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25090277.

Garner case. May, Samuel, Jr. The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims. New York, NY: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. Pages 50-62.

Jolliffe assaulted in Covington. May, Samuel, Jr. The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims. New York, NY: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. Page 67-68.

Eight From Rowan: The Waite-Puntenney Fugitive Slave Act Trials

Map of Adams County, Ohio. Blue Creek and Rome on lower right. From Caldwell’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of Adams County, Ohio. Page 69.

Technically, slavery only existed in Rowan County, Kentucky for nine years. This is because the county was formed in 1856 and, in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment closed the loophole in the Emancipation Proclamation that allowed slavery to exist in border states.

Of course, slavery had been entrenched in the areas that eventually became Rowan County, most recently sections of Fleming and Morgan Counties, from well before its creation. Likely, from before even statehood itself.

Slave census population numbers are illustrative. In 1850, Fleming County had 2,137 slaves while Morgan County, which was less populated, more mountainous and thus less suited to large-scale agriculture, only had 187.

Ten years later, Rowan County, which took from Fleming County its furthest eastern portion, held 142 slaves. Its enslaved population very well could have been 150, if, four years prior, one slave family hadn’t escaped.

A Family Escapes

On September 12, 1856, a black man named Lewis, his wife, and six children – three boys, three girls – owned by a slave owner named Squire B. Million, left Rowan County, crossed the Ohio River, and sought refuge in the home of David Waite.

Waite, an abolitionist, lived with his wife and children in the vicinity of Blue Creek, near Rome, in Jefferson Township, in Adams County, Ohio. Rome was a riverside village that straddled the Ohio River, facing, on the other side, Lewis County, Kentucky.

As anti-slavery attorney John Jolliffe later put it, David Waite “gave them [Lewis and family] such accommodation at his house as he would have given to any other traveler.”

While David Waite was clearly an unofficial conductor on the underground railroad, much of his subsequent defense circled around the notion that he did not, in fact, know that Lewis and his family were fugitive slaves.

Within days of their arrival, after learning of their presence there, Squire B. Million met with Lewis at David Waite’s home. He intended to bring his slaves back to Kentucky. He would later claim that Lewis agreed to go back with him.

However, the next day, when Million returned, the slaves were gone. Lewis and his family fled to Canada, where they could get beyond the reach of the long arm of slavery, and the terrible grasp of the Fugitive Slave Act.

The Fugitive Slave Act

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had been a clear concession to the southern slave states. To make extradition easier, and to bypass northern abolitionist interference, the Act established the office of slave commissioner before whom matters of escaped slaves could be examined.

The commissioners were vested with the authority to remand so-called fugitives back into slavery.

The Act further dealt with abolitionists and others who would aid fugitive slaves in their escape. Anyone found guilty of assisting or harboring fugitive slaves would be subject to a one thousand dollar fine and up to six months in jail.

According to Emmett D. Preston in “The Fugitive Slave Acts in Ohio”, about the Act, “It is said that more slaves were seized and returned to slavery during the first year of its existence than had been carried back during the preceding half century.”

An associated problem only grew worse. Slave catchers, who were more or less professional kidnappers, routinely seized freed black people, dragged them before federal slave commissioners, and upon the flimsiest of evidence, got them sent south into bondage.

Unfortunately, due to the rampant racism of those times, black people, free or enslaved, were not permitted to testify in their own defense.

Ohio held a complicated mixture of opinions regarding slavery. Its southern half leaned towards supporting the rights of slave states while its northern half leaned toward curbing the excesses of the institution. Vocal abolitionists were rarer. Still, many were against the 1850 Act.

The Trial of David Waite

In late October 1857, at their opening session, in Cincinnati, District Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt addressed the grand jury for the Southern District of Ohio. 

Leavitt outlined his thoughts on the Fugitive Slave Law. He instructed that in order for someone to be found guilty for harboring someone, “there must have been a knowledge that the person escaping was a fugitive slave . . .”

With that in mind, the grand jury soon indicted David Waite for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. He was arrested at his home by U.S. Deputy Marshals B.P. Churchill and John C. Elliot. Apparently, there was some talk of staging a rescue in Adams County but none came.

On Saturday, October 31st, Judge Leavitt set David Waite’s bail at one thousand dollars. James Puntenney and John K. Stout “went upon his bond.”

James Puntenney, who would soon prove himself intimately involved with the affair, was another Adams County stop on the underground railroad. His family, pioneers in the area, were, in general, “very active” and “all original Anti-slavery . . .”

John K. Stout’s father Obediah had been perhaps the first white settler in Greene Township, which just south of David Waite’s Jefferson Township, bordering the Ohio. John Stout owned a fine farm on the edge of riverside Rome.

Simultaneously, David Waite was being sued by Squire B. Million for $8,000 in damages in civil court. It is unclear how those proceedings went.

As for the criminal case, David Waite managed to secure for his defense the well-known anti-slavery lawyer John Jolliffe. Jolliffe, who was based in Cincinnati, had often argued Fugitive Slave Act cases before Judge Leavitt.

The trial of David Waite began on Monday, November 9th, 1857 with jury selection. District Attorney Stanley Matthews reiterated the charges from the indictment while defense attorney John Jolliffe outlined his argument.

The slaves, Jolliffe told the jury, had knowingly been sent into Ohio by Squire Million because he wanted to get them beyond the reach of debt collectors. Million’s brother had provided them with a written pass granting them permission to travel. 

David Waite had “merely entertained” the slave family in his kitchen, and, so far from thinking them fugitives, had even sent word to Million about where the slaves were. 

Only after Million had realized that the slaves couldn’t be taken from him to pay for his debt, since they were technically the property of his wife, had he gone to Adams County to retrieve them. Or so Jolliffe alleged.

Court adjourned until nine o’clock the following morning, November 10th.

Taking the stand, Squire B. Million testified that the slaves in question had escaped on or about September 12th, 1856, while Million had been away in Flemingsburg. After learning of their absence, he had offered a two hundred dollar reward for each slave returned.

Million denied the debt angle. He claimed “there was no judgment or execution against [him] at the time; had paid all for the negro Lewis, except $300.” He had never permitted Lewis to go to Ohio before and knew nothing of his brother previously coming to Ohio with the sons.

Million said that William Shaw, David Waite’s brother-in-law and next-door-neighbor, had stayed with him for several days after the slaves had escaped. Shaw was apparently there under the guise of looking for land to buy. 

Eventually, though, Shaw had told Million where his slaves were.

Some five days after the enslaved family’s abscondence, Million and Shaw had gone north to David Waite’s home. Million claimed that he soon convinced Lewis to return to Rowan County. However, he left the slaves there for the evening, and found them gone the next day.

Million told the court that another Kentuckian had told Waite that Million would sell Lewis if he got him.(This was the implied motive for helping them escape. It was common, cruel practice for slave owners to separate slave families by selling them off to different buyers.)

After Million left the stand, Charlotte Ham also testified on behalf of the prosecution. She lived with the Millions but it is unclear whether she was a relative or a servant. 

(The 1850 Fleming County census shows a nine-year-old girl named Eliza Jane Ham living with Squire and his wife, with other Ham households around, and seventeen year old Charlotte Ham in the nearby home of Harrison Hankins.)

Charlotte told the jury that Lewis and his family had left after supper while Mr. Million was away from home. Ham said that no one noticed the slaves were gone until the next morning.

The defense called their witnesses next. Taken together, their version of events is markedly different than Squire Million’s and provides a more vivid, if not necessarily one hundred percent accurate, portrait of the slave family’s journey northward.

George Petit operated a ferry on the Ohio River, most likely in Lewis County. Lewis and family had arrived at Petit’s ferry with a white man after sundown. There they waited, presumably making camp, until dawn. 

The next morning, Sunday, September 14th, Petit took the black family over. Apparently, only then did he think to ask Lewis if he had a pass permitting them to travel freely.

Lewis did not have one but easily could get one. Petit took him back to the Kentucky side where the white man who had come with them waited. That man wrote a pass permitting Lewis and family to travel freely and signed it Million. He also gave Lewis his coat.

William Shaw testified thereafter. He claimed he went to Rowan County to find Squire Million upon David Waite’s behalf. He told Million where his slaves were. Waite, Shaw said, wanted to double check that the slaves were indeed free, as they had “represented themselves.”

Shaw had asked Million, “what course was to be followed if the slaves were in danger.” (Presumably, from slave catchers.) Million, or so Shaw claimed, told him that the slaves should be taken away if such danger came.

Shaw also gave Million a letter from Lewis and received a dress from Mrs. Million to give to Lewis’ wife.

Squire Million had asked Shaw to take him to David Waite’s house, “so that he could furnish clothing for the children.” Shaw agreed. Along the road they met a man named Waller who had seen the slave family going north. Million told Waller that he had set his slaves free.

Along those same lines, according to Shaw, Million later told Shaw’s wife why he had sent his slaves north: to avoid debt execution.

Shaw further stated to the court that he had seen Lewis and family upon their initial arrival at David Waite’s home. They had come north with two horses and some furnishings. Furthermore, “there was no effort to conceal the slaves; they went about the usual farm work . . .”

District Attorney Stanley Matthews cross-examined the witness.

William Shaw told that Squire Million had spoken to Lewis several times after Shaw brought Million to Waite’s home. Shaw claimed no knowledge of when the slaves had left. He denied that he owned the wagon the slave family had gone further north to Canada in.

Shaw admitted that he had warned Waite to “have nothing to do with running the slaves off . . .” However, Shaw continued to assert that Million had told his wife he wanted to take the slaves back for “he had learned that his wife’s property could not be taken to pay his debts . . .”

The next witness, J.G. Sanders, alleged that he saw Lewis and his family while in Vanceburg, which is the county seat of Lewis County. Sanders claimed there was a white man who presented himself as Million traveling with the black family.

But, clearly, the man Sanders saw was not the same person as the Squire B. Million who sat across from him in the courtroom.

James Puntenney, who had earlier stood for Waite’s bail, testified then. He admitted that he first met the slaves the day they crossed the Ohio on George Petit’s ferry. He believed them to be free, seeing as they had a pass for themselves as well as for “a sorrel mare and a horse.”

Puntenney allowed the black family to stay the night in his barn. Lewis mentioned he was interested in finding a farm to rent. Puntenney’s son had just such a farm to let. The next day, Puntenney went to see him but found out the rental house wouldn’t be free for at least two weeks.

That was a long time to have to sleep in a barn. Thus James Puntenney went to David Waite’s home and asked him if the black family could stay in Waite’s kitchen until Puntenney’s son’s farm house was free.

Under cross-examination by Matthews, Puntenney testified that his wagon had not left his home the night the slaves fled from David Waite’s. He further stated that John Cox, a laborer who worked for Puntenney, had borrowed his horses that night.

A subsequent defense witness, William M. Jaynes, told the court that he overheard Squire B. Million telling several other men that he “intended the slaves should come to Ohio.”

District Attorney Stanley Matthews called forth two more sympathetic witnesses. 

James Blue, who, like Charlotte Ham, also lived with Squire Million, confirmed that the slaves initially left Rowan County while Mr. Million was gone, and that Million had offered rewards for their return.

Under cross-examination by Jolliffe, Blue promised that Million had not tried to go after the slaves until he learned from Shaw where they were. He stated under oath that he had not heard Million tell Lewis that he should go away while Million was in Flemingsburg.

Samuel Montgomery was called next. He testified simply that he had seen Squire Million while he was in Adams County and had been told by Million that he was going to see a lawyer to ask for legal advice about his slaves.

Afterward, Squire Million took the stand again. Million claimed to have never had a private conversation with William Shaw, even though Shaw had stayed at his home. He had neither told Shaw nor his wife that he had sent his slaves to Ohio on purpose. He did not authorize his brother or anyone else to take the slaves to the ferry or to give them a written pass.

John Jolliffe was allowed to cross-examine Squire Million. Million told him that the Waller he and Shaw had met on the road had told them where the slaves were. Million further said that Mrs. Shaw had told him, about his slaves, “Let the poor things go.”

In short, Squire B. Million entirely denied that he had allowed his slaves to cross over into a free state on purpose. As the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer put it, Million and the defense witnesses “flatly contradict each other.”

Both the prosecution and the defense finished presenting their evidence by noon. The court went into recess until two in the afternoon. Thereafter, the attorneys presented their closing arguments.

District Attorney Stanley Matthews asked the jury to find David Waite guilty for harboring fugitive slaves. Waite, Matthews argued, had known they were fugitives from the start. He had further “aided and abetted in their escape . . .”

Defense attorney John Jolliffe heartily disagreed. He asked the jury to find David Waite not guilty because Lewis and his family were in Ohio with their master’s permission. He further stated that there was no evidence Waite had helped the slaves escape from his house.

Judge Humphrey H. Leavitt had a clear history of acting favorably to slave owner interests. The outcome of the Margaret Garner case, as well as the Addison White affair, which was a literal battle of overlapping jurisdiction, make that clear.

Yet Leavitt still instructed the jury to find David Waite not guilty if they believed he believed the slaves had permission to be in Ohio. As The Marysville Tribune paraphrased, “slaves coming thus to free soil are enfranchised as soon as they arrive . . .”

The jury entered deliberations. The Anti-Slavery Bugle reported their initial ballot as eight for conviction and four for acquittal. At six o’clock that evening, they were dismissed for the day. 

The next morning, each ballot went nine for conviction and three for acquittal. At eleven o’clock, the jury told Judge Leavitt that they had not agreed upon a verdict and would not be likely to do so. They were hung.

John Jolliffe attempted to have his client retried as soon as possible. He told the judge that he had new evidence which would “throw much light on the issue.” Judge Leavitt, however, refused to try the case without District Attorney Stanley Matthews at hand.

Instead, a second trial for David Waite was set for December 22nd, “the third Tuesday of December”, with James Puntenney and John K. Stout again standing good for his one thousand dollar bond. That second trial does not seem to have ever taken place.

The Trial of James Puntenney

However, also on November 11th, Squire B. Million filed charges with United States Commissioner George M. Lee against James Puntenney for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. Deputy United States Marshal B.P. Churchill arrested James Puntenney. 

That same day when Waite’s neighbor William Shaw filed charges against Squire B. Million for committing perjury. Shaw alleged that, in the courtroom, after jury deliberations began, he overheard Million admit aloud he had given his slaves permission to come into Ohio.

There, claimed Shaw, “was an agreement that the negro should return, or the master should come after him, as soon as some pecuniary troubles were ended.”

Deputy Marshal Churchill arrested Million upon Shaw’s word the same day he arrested Puntenney upon Million’s word.

Squire B. Million was arraigned before Commissioner Lee at three o’clock in the afternoon of November 11th. He was represented by Judge Spooner. John Jolliffe served as prosecution.

William Shaw repeated his allegation that he had heard Million admit he had sent his slaves to Ohio in Judge Leavitt’s courtroom.

Called next, James H. Hall, who operated a flatboat on the Ohio River, testified to having had a conversation with Million the day before wherein Million had told him just how Lewis came to be in Ohio.

Supposedly, Million had sold Lewis, but Lewis, perhaps to stay with his family, had desperately wanted to be bought back. Million had done so with a hefty loan he seems to have been unable to repay. Lewis had taken his family north to avoid being resold.

William M. Jones, who had testified in Waite’s trial for the defense, now reiterated his claim that, when Million had been in Adams County looking for his slaves, he overheard him say he consented for the slaves to come to Ohio.

In the end, Puntenney had clearly incriminated himself with his testimony but Million’s crime was secondhand. Commissioner Lee dismissed his charges and postponed the case against Puntenney for November 18th.

Puntenney’s bail was set at either five hundred or one thousand dollars.

The trial of James Puntenney provides several more details about the flight of the enslaved, if the testimony is to be trusted. John Jolliffe defended James Puntenney, while Hunter Brooke stood as prosecutor.

One little wrinkle in the case is that during Puntenny’s trial Squire Million claimed that he had heard his slaves were at Puntenney’s before he learned they were at Waite’s. This seems unlikely unless he learned of their presence from someone other than William Shaw.

David Waite’s niece stated under oath that James Puntenney was not at her uncle’s house on the night that Lewis and his family disappeared.

She further gave September 17th as the date the slaves fled. (Cincinnati Daily Enquirer must have been mistaken when they wrote 1857 in their reporting. It is very unlikely that Lewis and his family stayed with David Waite for over a year. Other newspapers give 1856 instead.)

Other defense witnesses, including Waite’s neighbor William Shaw along with J.S. Rose, Joseph Newman, John and Francis Piatt, Joseph and William Montgomery, and Austin Mellis all claimed that they had heard Squire Million say the slaves were in Ohio with his permission.

Some of them alleged it wasn’t Million who sent the slaves north but Million’s brother with Million’s permission. Either way, if the many defense witnesses were to be believed, Lewis and family were not, in fact, fugitive slaves when they crossed the river.

For the prosecution, Joseph Cross testified that he went to James Puntenney on September 17th in order to tell him that Million was at Waite’s house, and that the Million intended to retrieve his slaves. Cross claimed he went to Puntenney upon David Waite’s behalf. 

Waite apparently wanted Cross to enlist Puntenney’s aid in helping Lewis and his family escape from Million.

John Cox, the laborer who worked for Puntenney and who Puntenney previously testified had borrowed his horses the night Lewis and family escaped, also appeared for the prosecution. He stated that Punteney had him drive a wagon to Waite’s with Puntenney’s son John.

Together, they picked up Lewis and his family and took them north.

Commissioner Lee apparently placed more trust in Miss Waite and the other defense witnesses than he did in the word of Cross or Cox.

He ruled there was good evidence James Puntenney had not been at David Waite’s house the night in question and also that there was no reason to believe Puntenney knew that Lewis and family were fugitives.

Despite admitting that it was improbable that Million had been so ignorant of the law as to send his slaves to Ohio willingly, Commissioner Lee ultimately seemed to buy that line of thinking.

Whoever had given Lewis and his family a travel pass had also provided David Waite and James Puntenney with a helpful legal buffer.

Commissioner Lee declared that it wasn’t unreasonable for Puntenney and Waite to have thought the slaves were there with their master’s wishes. Lee added that “Million was a very unintelligent man, and his recollections so confused that he did not probably remember . . .”

James Puntenney was thus acquitted.

The prosecution had also wanted to examine James’s son John Punteney, who also faced trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act. However, John Jolliffe objected to examining the younger Puntenney in the absence of Squire B. Million. 

Million had apparently gone home to Kentucky.

With his trial date moved, John Puntenney paid $500 bail and promised to appear before the Commissioner again on Friday, November 20th.

However, that trial did not occur then, “owing to the non-arrival of witnesses considered important by the defense.” It is unclear whether it was postponed or whether the charges were dropped. It is quite probable that Squire B. Million did not care to reappear in Ohio.

Aftermath

Perhaps no further news, which so far I have found, means good news for Waite and the Puntenney’s. Still, in David Waite’s case, at least, it appears that either his court costs or his legal bills, or a combination of both, left him in rather serious debt.

In a 1894 letter to researcher Wilbur H. Siebert, P.N. Wickerham, an Adams Countian, said Waite “was broken up” in defending the suit. Edward O’Conner Purtee, who studied under Siebert and had access to his research, later described Waite as “virtually bankrupted.”

David Waite died in 1864, one year before the last enslaved people in the border states were finally emancipated.

James Puntenney died on May 7, 1890, on his farm on Stout’s Run in Adams County. His son John Puntenney later moved to Portsmouth, Ohio. In 1895, in a return letter, John’s nephew George H. Puntenney told Wilbur H. Siebert to write to his uncle. George Puntenney said that both James and his brother S.W. “were brothers of my father and did run off n——.”

After his first wife Jane died in 1869, Squire B. Million appears to have married the same Charlotte Ham who testified on his behalf during the Fugitive Slave Act trial. She might have been his brother’s widow. Squire died in 1873.

Humphrey H. Leavitt, who had previously been a state legislator and United States Congressman, continued serving as a federal judge in Ohio until he resigned in 1871. He died in Springfield, Ohio two years later.

John Jolliffe, who “in every possible way showed his detestation of slavery”, moved from Cincinnati to Washington City, Ohio after the Civil War. In 1868, his Washington City law office caught fire and was put out. In its aftermath, Jolliffe died of illness.

Lewis, his wife, and their six children are unfortunately lost to the anonymity of history. They make up eight of an estimated total 20,000 enslaved African-Americans who, in the decade before the Civil War, escaped to freedom in Canada.

*

Sources

Rowan County formed in 1856. Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Passed at the Session Which Was Begun and Held in the City of Frankfort, on Monday, the 31st of December, 1855, and Ended Monday, the 10th of March, 1865. Vol. 1. Frankfort, KY: A.G. Hodges, State Printer, 1856. Pages 4-7.

Fleming County, 1850 Slave Population Census.  “Fleming County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.

Morgan County, 1850 Slave Population Census.  “Morgan County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.

Rowan County, 1860 Slave Population Census.  “Rowan County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, and Free Mulattoes, 1860-1880,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.

Lewis and family’s escape on September 12, 1856.  Haldeman, W.N., and Durrett, R.T., eds. “U.S. District Court. – The trial of David Wait . . .” Louisville Daily Courier (Louisville, Kentucky), November 12, 1857. Page 3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119190182/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

David Waite, living in Blue Creek.  1850 Federal Census, Ohio, Adams, Jefferson. “David Wait”. See also 1860 Federal Census, Ohio, Adams, Jefferson. “David Waite”.

Waite gives Lewis accommodation as he would any other traveler. Bailey, G., ed. “Fugitive slave cases are plentiful in Cincinnati.” The National Era (Washington, D.C.) November 19th, 1857. Page 3. http://www.newspapers.com/image/339121882/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Waite, underground railroad.  P. N. Wickerham to Wilbur Siebert, August 9, 1894, in Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection, Ohio History Connection, https://www.ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/siebert/id/1481/rec/3

Waite, underground railroad, more evidence. William Hill to Wilbur Siebert, September 18, 1894, in Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection, Ohio History Connection, https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/siebert/id/731

Lewis and family’s ultimate escape to Canada. Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 11, 1857. Page 3. Available on microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Details of the Fugitive Slave Act. Henry, Natasha L., “Fugitive Slave Act of 1850”. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Article published January 13, 2014; Last Edited September 07, 2018. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/fugitive-slave-act-of-1850

The Fugitive Slave Act in Ohio. Preston, Emmett D. “The Fugitive Slave Acts in Ohio.” The Journal of Negro History 28, no. 4 (1943): 422-77. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2714948?seq=56#metadata_info_tab_contents Quote from page 547.

Judge Leavitt instructs grand jury. Thoburn, D. “U. States District Court – Judge Leavitt’s Charge to the Grand Jury – The Slave Law”. Belmont Chronicle (St. Clairsville, Ohio). October 29, 1857. Page 1. https://www.newspapers.com/image/78679263/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Marshals Churchill and Elliott arrest David Waite. Robinson, Marius R., ed. “Our Infamous Union!” The Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, Ohio), November 14, 1857. Page 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/80609228/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Rumors of a rescue attempt. Starbuck, C.W., ed. “Daniel Waite, of Adams County, Having Been Indicted . . .” Cincinnati Daily Times. November 2, 1857. Page 3. Available on microfilm at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

October 31st, the day Waite’s bail is set. “Arrested For Harboring Slaves.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette. November 2, 1857. Page 2. Available at Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Amusingly, the Daily Gazette mistakenly said Million was from Dearborn County, Kentucky, which does not exist. It also misprinted his last name as William.

Puntenney and Stout go upon Waite’s bond. see above Robinson, Marius R., ed. “Our Infamous Union!” The Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, Ohio), November 14, 1857.

Puntenney, underground railroad conductor.  see above P. N. Wickerham to Wilbur Siebert

Puntenney family “very active” in abolition movement.  see above William Hill to Wilbur Siebert

Puntenney family “all original Anti-Slavery” Caldwell, J.A. “The Puntenney Family” Caldwell’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of Adams County, Ohio. Neward, OH: J.A. Caldwell. Page 59

John K. Stout, about. Caldwell, J.A. “John K. Stout” Caldwell’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of Adams County, Ohio. Neward, OH: J.A. Caldwell. Page 29

Million sues Waite in civil court. “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio). November 10, 1857. Page 2. Available on microfilm at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Details of Waite trial.  see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette 

Details of Waite trial, Million in Fleminsburg. see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 

William Shaw, Waite’s brother-in-law. see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette 

William Shaw, also Waite’s next-door neighbor. 1850 Federal Census, Ohio, Adams, Jefferson. “William Shaw”. See also 1860 Federal Census, Ohio, Adams, Jefferson. “William Shaw”. Both census list Shaw as Waite’s next door neighbor.

Million’s testimony, regarding William Shaw’s visit. see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

Million’s testimony, regarding seeing Lewis in Adams County.  see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 

Charlotte Ham in 1850 Census. 1850 Federal Census, Kentucky, Fleming, Division 2. “Harrison Hankins”. Charlotte listed at bottom of Hankins’ household. Squire Million’s household further up on the same page.

Ham’s testimony, regarding Million being away.  see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 

Petit & Shaw’s testimony. see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

“what course should be taken if the slaves are in danger”  see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 

Shaw gave letter from Lewis to Million. see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

Shaw got dress from Mrs. Million for Lewis’ wife. see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 

Shaw’s testimony, regarding taking Million to Adams County. see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

J.G. Sanders testimony. see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 

Puntenney’s testimony.  see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

More of Puntenney’s testimony. see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

John Cox, as laborer who worked for Puntenney.  Faran, James. J., ed. “The Slave-Harboring Case in Adams County – Jas. J. Putney Acquitted”. Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio). November 19, 1857. Page 3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/32017684/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Puntenney’s testimony, regarding Cox borrowing horses.  see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

Testimony of William Jaynes, James Blue, Samuel Montgomery, and Squire Million (again).  see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

Million and defense witnesses “flatly contradict each other” see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

Matthews and Jolliffe’s closing arguments. see above “The Indictment for Harboring Slaves – Trial Under Fugitive Slave Law.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette

Judge Leavitt’s role in Addison White case. May, Samuel, Jr. The Fugitive Slave Law and Its Victims. New York, NY: American Anti-Slavery Society, 1861. Pages 68-73.

Marysville Tribune quote. McBratney, Samuel, ed. “At the present session of the U.S. Circuit court . . .” The Marysville Tribune (Marysville, Ohio). November 18, 1857. Page 1. https://www.newspapers.com/image/325419469/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Jury’s initial ballot. “Harboring Slaves” The Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, Ohio). November 28, 1857. Page 1. https://www.newspapers.com/image/80609253/ Quoting the Cincinnati Gazette. Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Jury dismissed at six o’clock. see above Faran, James. J., ed. “The Case of David Wait – Charged with Harboring Fugitive Slaves in Adams County, Ohio.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer

The next morning ballots. see above “Harboring Slaves” The Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, Ohio)

Hung jury. Boardman, J.L., ed. “The jury in the case of David Wait . . .” The Highland Weekly News (Hillsborough, Ohio). November 19, 1857. Page 3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/70781610/ Quoting the Cincinnati Gazette. Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

Judge Leavitt refuses retrial without Stanley Matthews presence. see above “Harboring Slaves” The Anti-Slavery Bugle (Salem, Ohio)

Second trial for Waite set for December 22nd. U.S. vs. David Waits, case #31. Record Group 21 U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Order Book, 1803 to 1938, volume 3. Pages 171, 173-175. In National Archives at Chicago.

Million files charges against Puntenney and Shaw files charges against Million. see above “Harboring Slaves”. The Anti-Slavery Bugle. The Anti-Slavery Bugle reported September 20th as the date Putney harbored Million’s slaves while The National Era reported September 26th. The 20th seems more likely.

Million’s examination before Commissioner Lee. Faran, James J., ed. “Squire B. Million Arrested.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), November 11, 1857. Page 3. On microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Puntenney’s bail, as $500. see above Bailey, G., ed. “Fugitive slave cases are plentiful in Cincinnati.” The National Era

Puntenney’s bail, as $1000. “Squire T. Million, who was charged with perjury . . .” Cincinnati Daily Times (Cincinnati, Ohio). November 12, 1857. Page 3. Available on microfilm at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Puntenney’s trial, Million’s claim he thought his slaves were with Puntenney initially.  “The Fugitive Slave Case – Another Arrest – Aiding to Escape.” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Cincinnati, Ohio). November 19, 1857. Page 2. Available at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Testimony of David Waite’s niece, William Shaw and other defense witnesses.  see also “Harboring Slaves.” The Anti-Slavery Bugle.

Testimony of Cox and Cross and acquittal of Puntenney. Faran, James. J., ed. “The Slave-Harboring Case in Adams County – Jas. J. Putney Acquitted”. Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio). November 19, 1857. Page 3. https://www.newspapers.com/image/32017684/ Available digitally through Newspapers.com.

John Puntenney’s trial postponed (or cancelled). Faran, James J., ed. “The Slave-Harboring Case in Adams County.” Cincinnati Daily Enquirer(Cincinnati, Ohio), November 21, 1857. Page 3. Available on microfilm at William T. Young Library (University of Kentucky).

Waite “broken up” by court case. P. N. Wickerham to Wilbur Siebert, August 9, 1894, in Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection, Ohio History Connection, https://www.ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/siebert/id/1481/rec/3

Waite “virtually bankrupted” Purtee, Edward O’Conner. “The Underground Railroad from Southwestern Ohio to Lake Erie.” PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1932. Page 113. Available digitally through the Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection at Ohio History Connection.

David Waite, death in 1864. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 08 August 2019), memorial page for David Waite (16 May 1807–8 May 1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 40744302, citing Drake Cemetery, Blue Creek, Adams County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Debbie J (contributor 46890655).

James Puntenney, died 1890. Evans, Nelson W., and Emmons B. Stivers. A History of Adams County, Ohio. West Union, OH: E.B. Stivers, 1900. Pages 668-669.

John Puntenney, move to Portsmouth. Geo. H. Puntenney to Wilbur Siebert, December 5, 1895, in Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection, Ohio History Connection, https://www.ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/siebert/id/1574

Squire B. Million marries Ham, dies in 1873. Wimmer, Nellie Million. Millions of Virginia and Kentucky. Portage, MI: Wimmers’ Unlimited, 1999. Page 16. Available at the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library in the Kentucky History Center at Frankfort, Kentucky.

Judge Leavitt, career in Congress, death 1871. History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives, “LEAVITT, Humphrey Howe,” https://history.house.gov/People/Listing/L/LEAVITT,-Humphrey-Howe-(L000183)/ (August 08, 2019)

John Jolliffe, death in 1868. Historical, Genealogical, and Biographical Account of the Jolliffe Family. Philadelphia, PA: L.B. Lippincott Company, 1893. Pages 115-117. Available as ebook through Google Books.

Lewis and family, eight of 20,000. see above Henry, Natasha L., “Fugitive Slave Act of 1850”. In The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 7: Beckham’s Legacy

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

Beckham County, Oklahoma map. Map created by David Benbennick via Wikimedia Commons.

Land west of the Mississippi River was officially designated Indian Territory in 1825. After 1830, the Indian Removal Act was used to force most members of the so-called Five Civilized Nations (Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole) from the southeast.

The established range of the territory shrank over time as its land grew more and more attractive to white settlers. States formed up from and around it. In 1854, the northern half split off to become parts of Kansas and Nebraska.

Indian Territory was even more dramatically changed in 1889, when the Land Run opened up the Oklahoma District for white settlement. Migrants from all over the country flocked to claim their 160 acres of public land as homesteaders.

Moves for statehood sprung up immediately thereafter. The Organic Act of 1890 made a proper Territory out of Oklahoma District. As Linda Wilson writes, before then the “American Indians generally opposed federal attempts to organize them as a territory or a state.” 

However, by 1890, they were outnumbered in their own territory, as well as politically disadvantaged. The Oklahoma Enabling Act of 1906 paved the way for combined statehood for both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory. They would become simply Oklahoma.

Any new state requires new counties. But the Oklahoma constitutional convention called for dozens and dozens of new counties. It was under these circumstances that it became relatively easy to name a county after pretty much anyone.

Among the delegates to the constitutional convention was a Kentuckian named David Hogg. He happened to be a fan of Governor Beckham. Apparently, Hogg was holding out against the creation of what became Beckham County until he was given the honor to name it.

This may be folklore. A later newspaper report gives the credit to naming Beckham County, Oklahoma, to another delegate named J.B. Harrison.

Regardless, Beckham County was created along with the rest of the state of Oklahoma on November 16, 1907. It sat and still sits on the Oklahoma-Texas border. At its creation, it had a population of 10,000. 

Despite protests from Elk City, and at least partially through the efforts of merchant George C. Whitehurst, the town of Sayre was chosen as the county seat.

Whoever he was, the delegate who had gotten Beckham County its name wasn’t alone in his origins. There were enough Kentuckians in Sayre for a Kentucky Club to be organized there in 1910. Anyone who hailed from the commonwealth was invited to belong.

In 1916, J.C.W. Beckham, then United States Senator, had his portrait sent to the Oklahoma county named after him. The portrait was placed in the county courthouse in Sayre. The senator was invited to visit his namesake but it’s unclear (to me) if he ever did.

Today, Beckham County, Oklahoma has a population estimated to be over 21,709 persons. It has doubled in population since 1907. Despite being in what was once Indian Territory, its demographic breakdown is predominately white and only 3.4% Native American.

Ironically – and there is no evidence that this is more than a coincidence – one of the smaller communities in Beckham County, Oklahoma just so happens to be named Carter.

*

As for the county’s namesake, John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham served as governor of Kentucky until 1907. He had first succeeded the murdered William Goebel, then won a special election in the aftermath of that assassination, and finally won re-election by regular means. 

He would lose a United States senate primary nomination only to later win the senate seat in 1914 against August E. Willson, the Republican who had succeeded him as governor. He failed to win re-election in 1920 and ran for governor again in 1927 only to lose there, as well.

Tidying up old business, in 1912 Governor James B. McCreary signed resolutions from both the House and the Senate allowing the Globe Printing Company to sue Kentucky for reimbursement for printing done on behalf of Beckham County.

Memories must have been short. In 1904, when the company must have taken on the Beckham job, the state attorney general had sued Globe Printing Company, alleging that they had artificially inflated costs in their capacities as state printers. 

That lawsuit ultimately went in favor of Globe Printing Company but it is unclear how the 1912 one turned out.

There would only be one more Kentucky county created after the dissolution of Beckham County in 1904. McCreary County was established in 1912 from Wayne, Whitley and Pulaski Counties. It was born under very familiar circumstances.

The same area was where ill-fated Thorne County had been proposed in 1904. Proponents argued the people there were too far from their current courthouses. And, continuing the tradition, it was named for then-sitting governor James B. McCreary.

McCreary County was Kentucky’s 120th County and its last. However, there would be later attempts made. In 1916, the state senate tabled a bill to create a county out of part of Pike County that was to have been named after then governor Stanley.

In both the 1924 and 1926 legislative sessions there were bills introduced to establish a Fields County. It was to have been named for then governor William Jason Fields. Fields happened to be from the part of Carter County that briefly had been Beckham County.

Fields County was to have been cobbled together from sections of Whitley, Knox, Laurel, Pulaski and even McCreary Counties. However, neither bill for its establishment ever made it out of committee.

Even as late as 1929 there was yet another move by Olive Hill in the old power struggle in Carter County politics. That year there was a special measure on the ballot proposing moving the county seat to Olive Hill from Grayson. It failed to pass.

In 1968, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways placed a historical marker in Olive Hill about the short-lived Beckham County. It stands there to this day.

Beckham County Historical Marker, Olive Hill, Kentucky.

*

Sources

Indian Territory established in 1825. Dianna Everett, “Indian Territory,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=IN018.

Kansas and Nebraska split off. Dianna Everett, “Indian Territory,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=IN018.

Land Run. Stan Hoig, “Land Run of 1889,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=LA014.

Movement for statehood. Linda D. Wilson, “Statehood Movement,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=ST025.

Oklahoma Constitutional Convention. Niblack, Leslie G., ed. “Boundary Lines Fixed; Report Is Adopted.” The Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, Oklahoma), December 21, 1906. Page 1. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68291244/. Behind paywall. List of counties.

David Hogg, delegate, responsible for name. Beatty, Michael A. County Name Origins of the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2001. Page 412. Entry “Beckham County”.

Hogg got to name county as concession. “County Named For Beckham.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 26, 1913, sec. 3. Page 10. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119281850. Behind paywall.

J.B. Harrison, credit for county name. “How Oklahoma Counties Were Named: Divisions of State Were Formed By Cutting And Patching.” The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), April 20, 1919, sec. C. Page 9. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/448681775. Behind paywall.

Beckham County created. Kennemer, Lynn. Elk City: Rising From the Prairie. Elk City, OK: Western Oklahoma Historical Society, 2007. Page 44.

Population of 10,000. “Beckham County.” The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), March 10, 1907. Section: New State Edition. Page 1. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/440961787/. Behind paywall.

Whitehurst, role in Sayre as county seat. Stafford, R.E., ed. “Secured County Bid.” The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), January 11, 1907. Page 2. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/440948593. Behind paywall.

Sayre chosen as county seat. Stafford, R.E., ed. “Two-Thirds Vote Is Required To Change.” The Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), January 17, 1907. Page 2. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/440948593. Behind paywall.

Sayre Kentucky Club. Tillman, H.F., ed. “”A Kentucky club has been organized at Sayre . . .”” Haskell News (Haskell, Oklahoma), May 12, 1910. Page 6. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/33737378/. Behind paywall.

Senator Beckham sends portrait to Beckham County. Hedden, J.W., Jr., and G.B. Senff, eds. “Beckham Portrait: Painting of a Kentucky Senator Graces Walls of Oklahoma Courthouse.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), June 20, 1916. Page 2. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71085988/. Behind paywall.

Modern demographics of Beckham County. “QuickFacts: Beckham County, Oklahoma.” United States Census Bureau. Accessed June 1, 2019. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/beckhamcountyoklahoma,US/PST045218.

Beckham’s later political career. Harrison, Lowell H. “Beckham, John Crepps Wickliffe.” In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Page 65.

1912 Globe Printing Company lawsuit. “Signs School Bond Measure.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), March 17, 1912. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118936525/. Behind paywall.

1904 Globe Printing Company lawsuit. “State Sues To Recover Nearly $25,000 From the Globe Printing Company.” The Twice-A-Week Messenger (Owensboro, KY), December 16, 1904. Page 1. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376010181/. Behind paywall.

1904 lawsuit decided in printing company’s favor. Fisher, Frank M., ed. “Printing Case Decided.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, KY), February 05, 1906. Page 3. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71204226. Behind paywall.

McCreary County. Perry, L.E. McCreary Conquest: A Narrative History. Whitley City, KY: L.E. Perry, 1979. Pages 47-51.

1916 bill for new county. Kaltenbacher, Will S. “One County Created While Three Efforts Fail.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), December 23, 1917, sec. 2. Page 4. Accessed July 4, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119501632. Behind paywall.

Would’ve been named for Governor Stanley. Moore, Paul M., ed. “Kentucky and New Counties.” The Bee (Earlington, Kentucky), February 08, 1916. Page 1. Accessed July 4, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/529685597. Behind paywall.

Governor Fields. “Former Gov. Fields, Democratic Political Figure, Dies at 79.” The Owensboro Messenger(Owensboro, KY), October 22, 1954. Page 1 & 14. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375737996/. Behind paywall.

1924 Fields County bill. “Rules Committee Votes To Kill “Fields County”.” The Owensboro Messenger (Owensboro, KY), March 12, 1924. Page 1. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376077802/. Behind paywall.

1926 Fields County bill. Colt, C.C. “”Ripper” Bill Gets Approval of Committee.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), February 26, 1926. Page 1 & 10. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/107827801/. Behind paywall.

Carter County votes on moving county seat. “Carter To Vote On Moving County Seat.” The Sun-Democrat (Paducah, KY), November 04, 1929. Page 4. Accessed July 5, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/501594390. Behind paywall.

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General Sources

Olive Hill’s Beckham County

Crawford, Byron. “A Short Course on history of Beckham County.” The Courier-Journal, (Louisville, Kentucky), March 16, 1984, sec B. Page 3 & 5. Accessed July 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/109703599/. Behind paywall.

Rennick, Robert M. “The Post Offices of Beckham County, Kentucky.” La Posta: A Journal of American Postal History, July 1988, 33-42. Available at Special Collections Research Center in Margaret I. King Library (University of Kentucky).

Stacy, Helen Price. “Re-discover Kentucky.” The Interior Journal (Stanford, KY), July 11, 1974. Page 2. Accessed July 7, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/221218176. Behind paywall.

Newspapers

The William T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY has many useful newspapers for the topic on microfilm including J.W. Lusby’s The Herald (Grayson) and several other Carter County newspapers. 

William Goebel

Klotter, James C. William Goebel: The Politics of Wrath. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1977.

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Special thanks to Steve Middleton, documentarian, instructor, and musician, who provided tremendous help with researching this essay. From Olive Hill, he is in a very talented old time music band named The New Beckham County Ramblers.

Also thanks to my dad who made sure to point out the historical marker in Olive Hill when I was a little boy.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 6: Beard’s Bill

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county after Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

The old Ohio County courthouse in Hartford. Fordsville wanted a courthouse of their own. Courtesy Keith Vincent at courthousehistory.com.

Halfway across the state, on December 29th, 1905, citizens in the town of Fordsville decided not only to take the general idea of a new county from the failed experiment of Beckham but to repurpose its name, as well. 

A survey for their new county was commissioned and Ohio County Representative Charles Beard had been converted to the cause.

The Hartford Republican further stated that “Gov. Beckham is very much in favor of the scheme because he wants a county named for him and he thinks he sees three more votes for himself in his race for United States Senator two years hence.”

Much more critically, the Mayfield Monitor wrote that it was an effort to “perpetuate the memory of the first Governor of Kentucky who used his pardoning and appointing power to increase his personal influence with corrupt politicians in order that he might defeat the will of the people and gratify his own ambition.”

However, as was the case in Olive Hill, the movement for the new county clearly predated Beckham’s ascension to the Governor’s Mansion.

In November 1893, The Breckenridge News printed that a petition for the creation of a new county from parts of Ohio, Daviess, Grayson, Breckenridge and Butler counties, with Fordsville as its seat, was to be presented to the General Assembly. 

Talk of the new county picked up energy in December 1895. The next month, The Courier-Journal said “petitions have been signed by a majority of the voters in the respective areas to be formed into the new county.” Fordsville’s new county would lean Republican.

One year later, in 1897, the Owensboro Daily Inquirer printed a fairly negative article on the effort to create a new county around Fordsville. The points it made against the idea could have been quite fairly used against the effort in Olive Hill, as well.

Referring to the average citizen in the areas affected, Inquirer editor W.Q. Adams wrote that:

Most of the people there are poor, and while they are remote from their court houses they have little or no business there and hope for less. The building of a new courthouse and jail and other necessary improvements would cost them a great deal of money and many of them say the benefits would not at all compensate them for the outlay. Many of them do not go to their county seats once in five years, and great numbers of them can be found who have reached middle age and who have never been there on legal business.

Almost ten years later, on February 9th, 1906, Republican Representative Charles Beard introduced a bill into the House for the creation of another Beckham County based around Fordsville.

The sense of deja vu in regards to the name of the county appears to have confused even one newspaper.

The Breckenridge News, whose editor obviously should have known better, mistakenly reported:

A similar bill became a law last session, but on account of an error in fixing its boundaries it was declared unconstitutional. In fact, it is said that the boundary lines fixed in the bill would extend the county into the State of Indiana.

The House Committee on Kentucky Statues agreed to hold a hearing for the Beard’s Beckham County Bill on February 17th. Delegates for and against the idea rushed to Frankfort from the Fordsville area to make their case.

The pro-Beckham County faction, led by Hardinsburg attorney Claude Mercer and former Ohio County attorney W.H. Barnes, presented a survey of their ordering along with a 2,000 name strong petition for the county’s creation.

Opponents, including Senator W.W. Tabb, Senator Richard Owen, and Representative George Litsey also spoke.

Tabb, whose effigy would be burned in 1908 in Hardin County for voting for J.C.W. Beckham for United States Senate, insisted the counties this new Beckham County was to be taken from were pauper counties and that Beckham County would become one, too.

H.P. Taylor, Vice President of the Bank of Hartford was another figure against the proposal. He told the Statutes Committee that he had not known “how the county was to be formed to be formed until he came to Frankfort and saw the map.”

Tensions were so high during that committee meeting that when the opposition requested permission to take a look at the signatures on the petition, Representative Beard insisted they could only if they examined it right in front of him.

At the following meeting of the Kentucky Statutes Committee on February 20th, the anti-Beckham County faction, led by Senator Owen, H.P. Taylor, and former Butler County senator Nat T. Howard showed up with a survey of their own.

As the The Courier-Journal said, “they came loaded with maps, affidavits and remonstrance.”

Taylor and his associates tried to show that the proposed new county would cut off six miles from Daviess County, run too close to the Ohio County seat of Hartford, and be less than the constitutionally required 400 square miles in size.

They further alleged, with affidavits sworn, that half the names of the petition the pro-Beckham force had previously presented had been falsified.

W.H. Barnes, who was for the creation of Beckham County, said that H.P. Taylor was only against the bill because he was an attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad, and would lose jurisdiction over part of Ohio County if it was made.

The Courier-Journal reports a rather testy exchange between ex-County Attorney Barnes and ex-Senator Howard:

“I have no interest in this bill,” said Mr. Barnes, “because I am not a County Judge, County Attorney, or anything else. I am only plain Mr. Barnes.”

“Your interest in the bill is the hope that you will be made the County Attorney of the new county,” said Mr. Howard.

“And your interest is in keeping your district from becoming Democratic,” responded Mr. Barnes to Mr. Howard.

Meanwhile, another bill for the creation of Thorne County near the Tennessee border was proposed by Representatives Richard Rose and Mike Freeman. It was not expected to pass.

Concerning Fordsville, after arguments for and against the creation of this new Beckham County, a vote was taken on the bill by the Kentucky Statutes Committee.

It was evenly split, with Representatives Claybrooke, McKnight, Litsey and Morris against it, and Redwine, McLean, Dawson and Rose for it. The next morning, on the 21st, McLean and Redwine switched sides.

The following day, the Owensboro Daily Inquirer reported that the Kentucky Statutes Committee had decided “to postpone action upon it indefinitely.” The bill would advance no further.

It is unclear how Senator W.B. Whitt felt about the effort to repurpose the name Beckham County for the Fordsville area. What is clear is that he had not quite given up trying to get Olive Hill’s version of a Beckham County created. Perhaps the competition spurred him onwards.

On March 13th, 1906, The Courier-Journal reported that early in the session Senator Whitt had introduced yet another bill pertaining to his Beckham County.

This bill sought to circumvent the size requirement by giving enough of Carter County to Lewis County that if a new county was made from both of them all three would have enough square mileage to be considered constitutional.

A separate bill served as a potential backup plan. It would allow towns of considerable size further than ten miles from the county seat to serve on a sort of rotating courthouse circuit, forcing the original county seat to share the honors.

It seems Whitt would have settled for the second bill if he couldn’t have gotten the first, such was the desire for Olive Hill to be out from under the thumb Grayson. Apparently, they would have preferred sharing power with Vanceburg instead.

The courthouse bill was reported to have intrigued Representative Beard as a potential fix for his problem in Fordsville. However, even though Whitt’s bill passed the House of Representatives on March 12th, it seems to have gone no further.

From 1872 to 1904 there had been at least three bills introduced in the General Assembly to make Olive Hill the seat of a new county from the western portion of Carter County, not to mention countless more resolutions, petitions, and entreaties. 

However, all those decades of political maneuvering came to naught. Olive Hill is still part of Carter County. Expanding further, there is not a Beckham County in the state of Kentucky today.

But there is one in Oklahoma.

*

Sources


Fordsville citizens commission survey. Smith, C.E., ed. “A New County: Plans on Foot To Form Another Beckham County.” The Hartford Republican (Hartford, Kentucky), December 29, 1905. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7g1j977n6c_1.

Mayfield Monitor criticizes idea. “Political Serfdom.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), January 06, 1906. Page 4. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376071795/. Behind paywall. Quoting the Mayfield Monitor.

1893 petition. Babbage, John D., and V.G. Babbage, eds. “Want a New County.” The Breckenridge News (Cloverport, Kentucky), November 01, 1893. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt705q4rkr9q_1?

1895 new county idea. Casey, A.J., and George E. Bridges, eds. “That New County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), December 06, 1895. Page 4. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375245008/. Behind paywall.

1896 petition. “Those interested in forming the new county . . .” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 30, 1896. Page 4. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/32476322/. Behind paywall.

1897 Owensboro Daily Inquirer critique. Adams, W.Q., ed. “A New County: An Effort Being Made To Establish One Around Fordsville.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), November 17, 1897. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375204567. Behind paywall.

Breckenridge News gets the details wrong. Babbage, John D., and V.G. Babbage, eds. “At Last Introduced: Bill Creating Beckham County Has Found Its Way Into The House.” The Breckenridge News (Cloverport, Kentucky), February 14, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7r7s7hrv1d_1.

Delegates rushing to Frankfort. “Farmers in Evidence.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 16, 1906. Page 6. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119147856. Behind paywall.

Claude Mercer. “Claude Mercer Succumbs; Was Prominent Lawyer.” St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida), September 30, 1945. Page 2. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/314850550. Behind paywall.

W.H. Barnes. Matthews, Heber, ed. “Democratic Officials – Took Office Last Monday.” The Hartford Herald (Hartford, Kentucky), January 08, 1902. Page 2. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/186557229. Behind paywall.

Pro-Beckham County faction presents survey and petition. “Beckham County Bill.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 17, 1906. Page 6. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119147905/. Behind paywall.

Senator Tabb effigy burned. Frost, Stanley, ed. “Burned in Effigy.” The Citizen (Berea, Kentucky), January 23, 1908. Page 7. Accessed May 18, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7xsj19mt0h_7.

H.P. Taylor, Vice President of the Bank of Hartford. Bank of Hartford Ad. The Ohio County News (Hartford, Kentucky), April 11, 1906. Page 3. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/215002619/. Behind paywall.

Nat. T. Howard. “For State Senator: The Hon. Avlis Bennett Wants To Succeed Capt. Nat Howard.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 23, 1902, sec. 3. Page 1. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/118923648/. Behind paywall.

Anti-Beckham County faction survey. “Battle Royale Between Third and Fourth Districts Over Butler.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 21, 1906. Page 2. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119148263/. Behind paywall.

Allege the pro survey was falsified. “Six Miles of Daviess County Would Be Cut Off For Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 21, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 18, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376078756/. Behind paywall.

Barnes and Howard exchange / Another Thorne County bill. “Battle Royale Between Third and Fourth Districts Over Butler.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 21, 1906. Page 2. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119148263/. Behind paywall.

Committee vote. “Knockout For Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 22, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376078914/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County bill postponed. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Beckham County Put To Sleep.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 22, 1906. Page 1. Accessed May 19, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375327793/. Behind paywall.

W.B. Whitt’s courthouse bill. Platt, Brainard. “Clears Way: House Passes Bill Making Beckham County Possible.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 13, 1906. Page 4. Accessed May 27, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119149765/. Behind paywall.

Beckham’s Counties, pt. 5: Zimmerman v. Brooks

A seven part essay about three efforts to name a county of Kentucky’s 35th Governor.

Beckham County’s boundaries. The Courier-Journal, April 3, 1904, section 1, page 4.

Greater politics aside, the citizens of the newly made county went ahead with their lives. The first marriage license in Beckham County was issued to John Plummer and Oda Phillips on March 17th, 1904. (There would be twenty three more licenses issued.)

Meanwhile, the confusion the Post Office was having with where to locate Beckham County on its maps went from comical to potentially rather serious. As the Courier-Journal explained:

. . . it was discovered that the line described in the act creating Beckham county runs entirely across Lewis county to the Ohio river, near Romeo, and extends into Adams county, Ohio, about six or seven miles . . . In area the lines as shown by the act take almost one-half of Lewis county, including Vanceburg, which is the county seat.

Initially, it was believed that a great error had been made in transferring the findings of the survey from the initial draft for the county into the official act for the legislature. Subsequent evidence showed that the draft had been flawed from the start. 

Either way, it was an absolute mess. Naturally, Republican newspapers ate it up.

The Owensboro Daily Inquirer wrote, “Lewis County Gives Up Court House to New Fake County.” The Paducah News-Democrat deadpanned, “Ohio declines to be annexed to any portion of the sovereign state of Kentucky – not even for pauper county purposes.” 

Maysville’s Public Ledger, which was close enough in location and far enough in politics to gloat, put forth, “Not much wonder that the topographer’s had trouble in locating Beckham County when several miles of it was over in Adams county, O.”

In related news, the Kentucky Court of Appeals set the date of its hearing for the lawsuit of C.V. Zimmerman against C.C. Brooks, which had now grown to include the county governments of neighboring Carter and Lewis. Arguments were set for April 14th and 15th.

With the complications facing Beckham County no doubt in mind, as well as the fact that Thorne County would lean heavily Republican in demographics, on March 24th, Governor Beckham decided to veto the bill for the county named after Lieutenant Governor Thorne. 

Beckham wrote, in perhaps some irony, “There has been no serious demand upon the part of any people affected by this bill for the creation of a new county . . . and there is certainly no public necessity to justify it.”

Two days later, The Courier-Journal considered that in the scenario where Thorne had been governor and Beckham lieutenant governor, Thorne probably would’ve vetoed Beckham County, as well.

(Coincidentally, in June of 1899, during the lead up to the governor’s race that eventually ended in William Goebel’s assassination, Beckham had won the nomination for lieutenant governor over Thorne.)

On April 2nd, in what might have been desperation, or perhaps denial, Democrats in Beckham County met to prepare a petition for Olive Hill to be chosen as seat for the next state Democratic congressional convention.

Before the Court Of Appeals hearing, William C. Halbert, who along with R.C. Burns represented Carter and Lewis Counties in Zimmerman vs. Brooks, prepared an 82-page brief, or so bragged Public Ledger‘s editor Thomas A. Davis, whose printing house printed it for him.

Included within was yet another survey that Lewis and Carter had ordered. It confirmed the initial survey had been incredibly flawed, and that it had taken more from Lewis County than had been planned, including Vanceburg.

“Armed with his facts and figures”, as the Public Ledger described it, Halbert left for Frankfort on the eve of the first hearing, “prepared to knock the so-called new county out in the first round.”

The trial that would decide whether Beckham County would be allowed to exist or not began.

On April 14th, H.C. Brown, who represented County Judge C.C. Brooks, and Grayson attorney T.D. Theobold, who represented C.V. Zimmerman, presented their arguments.

The opening day’s chief concern was whether or not the creation of Beckham County had left Carter, Elliott and Lewis Counties with less than four hundred square miles of land, as required by law. The taking of Vanceburg was reserved for the 15th.

Beckham County’s defense hinged on the notion that whether or not the county met minimal size requirements, or was even improperly surveyed, the right of the legislative branch to create it outweighed the ability of the judicial branch to rule against it.

In the end, even though the Court decided that mistakes made in the survey should not affect whether the county was constitutional because “taking the act as a whole, there seems to be enough in it to show what was meant”, they decided against Beckham County.

The primary factor seems to have been that of size. Namely, the creation of Beckham County had left Carter, Lewis and Elliott Counties smaller than was allowable by the Kentucky Constitution.

The Court of Appeals thusly reversed the Circuit Court’s decision against Zimmerman and further held the lower court had erred in not allowing Carter County to join in on the initial lawsuit.

Judge J.P. Hobson, who, ironically, in 1900 had written the opinion approving the legality of J.C.W. Beckham’s governorship, now presented the Court’s opinion disapproving the county named after him.

Hobson outlined requirements for the county, or any new county, for that matter, to be considered constitutional:

First – No county from which any part of the territory is taken must be reduced to less than 400 square miles.

Second – The new county must be of not less than 400 square miles.

Third – The boundary line must not pass within less than ten miles of county seat of any county from which a portion of territory is taken.

Fourth – No county from which any part of territory is taken shall be reduced to less than 12,000 inhabitants.

Fifth – New county must contain 12,000 inhabitants.

Judge Hobson concluded, “If any of these conditions are wanting, the act is in violation of the constitution and void.” Specifically, in the initial establishment of Beckham County, Sections 63 and 64 of the state Constitution had been ignored.

As Thomas A. Davis, the editor of Public Ledger put it, “the new county therefore seems to be doomed.”

Technically, however, the decision did not close the matter at once. It meant a new trial in the lower courts would reconsider the issue with the condition that the constitutional requirements of the county be kept in mind.

Yet, for all intents and purposes, and even more so after the Court of Appeals decided not to rehear the case, Beckham County was dealt a terrible blow.

If the opposition to the county’s creation was joyous (“Let this be an end to this kind of nonsense.” – The Owensboro Messenger), then those who had fought so hard for Beckham’s existence were devastated. 

As the much more sympathetic Mt. Sterling Advocate put it, “Great will be the disappointment of many people in Olive Hill and other parts of the new county.”

On May 11th, the Advocate printed an item that illustrates just how small a town Olive Hill was, and just how interlocking its interests were. The Olive Hill Bank, of which W.B. Whitt had been president and C.V. Zimmerman had been assistant cashier, went national.

That same article insisted “Beckham County is a lively corpse.” Supporters believed that the facts of the county’s size and population were in line with the Constitution, and thought that the Circuit Court, upon reconsideration, would have to approve its legality.

In the meantime, the county appears to have existed in a state of limbo. Marriage licenses were issued from Beckham County over the summer but, in late May, school superintendent J.A. Porter surrendered his census of students to Carter County’s superintendent.

The next month, Circuit Court Judge Kinner ordered yet another survey of the area. In perhaps a move for neutrality, George Gibbs of Greenup County was put in charge of said survey. It was expected to take sixty days.

The Mt. Sterling Advocate reported that “the outlook for Beckham County is encouraging.” That, as it turned out, was wildly optimistic.

Once finished, George Gibb’s survey proved once and for all that Beckham County cut Carter and Lewis Counties square mileage into unconstitutional portions. In late October, Circuit Court Judge Kinner had no choice but to reverse his earlier opinion. 

Beckham County was no more.

However, as late as November 24th, 1904, there was land listed in The Courier-Journal for sale in Beckham County. On December 15th, Olive Hill attorney William Wood was apparently telling reporters in Lexington another attempt at Beckham County would be made.

The legal dissolution of Beckham County must have been a dispiriting turn of events for Senator W.B. Whitt. He had been sent to Frankfort upon that single issue and had successfully shepherded its birth only for it be undone by the courts.

Of course, Beckham County’s creation was not all that he had focused on while in the Senate: he had proposed an 8 hour work day, introduced a bill to protect labor from conspiracy laws and promoted much needed roadway restoration.

But there was also no denying that Beckham County was meant to have been his chief concern.

In 1905, the idea of somehow restoring the county that had been lost must have taken a backseat for the senator. Early that year, Whitt, along with the rest of the General Assembly, became embroiled in debate about the establishment of a new capitol building.

In June, typhoid fever took his wife.

When the idea of a Beckham County was next floated, it would be neither by Senator Whitt nor on behalf of Olive Hill.

*

Sources

Plummer and Phillips marriage license. “Beckham County Couple.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 20, 1904. Page 9. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119293693/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County marriages. Barker, Charles A. “Beckham County, Kentucky Marriages.” KYGenWeb. Accessed May 27, 2019. http://kykinfolk.com/elliott/beckmarr.htm

Beckham County survey incorrect. “Wiped Out: Seems To Be The Condition of Lewis County.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 20, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119293545/. Behind paywall.

Survey error result of transfer? Adams, W.Q., ed. “No County Seat: Lewis County Gives Up Court House To New Fake County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), March 20, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375362992/. Behind paywall.

Survey flawed from start. “Enrolled Bill Found To Be True Copy Of Original Bill.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 22, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119294696/. Behind paywall.

“New Fake County”  see above, Adams, W.Q., ed. “No County Seat: Lewis County Gives Up Court House To New Fake County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), March 20, 1904.

Ohio “declines to be annexed” “The sovereign state of Ohio declines to be annexed . . .” The Daily News-Democrat (Paducah, Kentucky), March 23, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/501602219/. Behind paywall.

Public Ledger mocks survey mix-up. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Not Much Wonder That the Topgrapher’s Had Trouble in Locating . . .” The Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), March 24, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359340/. Behind paywall.

Carter and Lewis Counties join suit. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Found It At Last! Beckham County Takes In A Part Of Ohio!” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), March 21, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359326. Behind paywall.

Court of Appeals sets date for Zimmerman case. “The April Term of Court of Appeals.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 24, 1904. Accessed May 10, 2019. Page 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119295134/. Behind paywall.

Thorne County would have been Republican. Burgher, J.E., ed. “County of Thorne.” The Clay City Times (Clay City, Kentucky), March 17, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 10, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7d7w674n2v_2.

Governor Beckham vetoes Thorne County. “Vetoed Are Eight More Acts By Gov. Beckham.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 25, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119295344/. Behind paywall.

If Thorne and Beckham had been switched. “It is possible that if Lieut. Gov. Thorne had been Governor . . .” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 26, 1904. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119295734/. Behind paywall.

Beckham beats Thorne for Lt. Gov. nomination. “Other Races Will Be Settled To-Day.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), June 28, 1899. Accessed June 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30725941/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County Democrats petition for convention seat. “Beckham County Democrats Organize By Electing County and Precinct Chairman.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 03, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 10, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119298268/. Behind paywall.

Halbert’s brief. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “The Davis Printing House, an adjunct of THE LEDGER . . .” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), April 12, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/64272318/. Behind paywall.

Lewis and Carter Counties survey. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Survey Was Wrong: Beckham County Includes Vanceburg Within Its Bounds.” Owensboro Weekly Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), April 12, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375365275/. Behind paywall.

Halbert heads to Frankfort. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Resurvey Completed: Officials of Lewis and Carter Look Up Beckham County.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), April 13, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 11, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359412/. Behind paywall.

Brown represents Brooks, Theobold represents Zimmerman. “Arguing the Constitutionality of the County of Beckham.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 15, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119302362/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County’s defense. “Invalid the Court of Appeals Decides.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), May 11, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7qz60bx446_1.

Court forgives survey errors. Zimmerman v. Brooks.” The Kentucky Law Reporter. Vol. XXV – Part II. February 1, 1904 to June 15, 1904, Inclusive. Frankfort, KY: Geo. A Lewis, 1904. Pages 2284-2292.

Court rules against Beckham County. Fisher, Frank M., ed. “Beckham County Gets Black Eye.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 2. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt75dv1ckz3w_2.

Hobson’s opinion in Beckham-Taylor Governor fight. “The Latest.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), April 07, 1900. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/30943292/. Behind paywall.

Requirements for new counties. “Law Cited: Appellate Court Acts In Beckham County Case.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376080086/. Behind paywall.

Beckham County doomed. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Court of Appeals Declares That Beckham County Is Of Unconstitutional Birth.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359475/. Behind paywall.

New trial in lower courts. Rosser, and McCarthy, eds. “Beckham County: The Court of Appeals Sweeps It From the Map.” The Evening Bulletin (Maysville, Kentucky), April 30, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71207733. Behind paywall.

Court of Appeals will not re-hear case. Davis, Thomas A., ed. “Case Knocked Out: Court of Appeals Declines To Rehear Beckham County Suit.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), May 13, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 12, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68359525/. Behind paywall.

“Let this be an end to this kind of nonsense.” “The governor vetoed the Thorne county bill . . .” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), May 01, 1904. Page 4. Accessed May 2, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376080263. Behind paywall.

Disappointment in Olive Hill. “Formation of Beckham County Unconstitutional.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), May 04, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 12, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7wwp9t305q_3?

Olive Hill Bank goes national. “Olive Hill.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), May 11, 1904. Page 7. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7qz60bx446_7.

Beckham County superintendent surrenders school census. “Beckham County Official Surrenders His Books.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), May 22, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119313510/. Behind paywall.

Judge Kinner orders another survey. “Olive Hill.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), June 22, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt7m639k4w0w_6.

George Gibbs, surveyor. Adams, W.Q., ed. “Will Survey Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky), July 15, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/375158919/. Behind paywall.

Mt. Sterling Advocate optimistic outlook. “Olive Hill.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), July 27, 1904. Page 6. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt74qr4nmb3h_6.

Judge Kinner decides against Beckham County. Davis, Thomas A. “Contrary To Law: Beckham County Again Declared Unconstitutional in Court.” Public Ledger (Maysville, Kentucky), October 22, 1904. Page 3. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/68360271. Behind paywall.

Land still listed for sale in November. “For Sale – By Columbia Finance and Trust Co.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), November 24, 1904. Page 7. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119370521/. Behind paywall.

Attorney Wood tells Lexingtonians Beckham County not yet dead.  “Still After Beckham County.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), December 17, 1904. Page 5. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376115440/. Behind paywall.

Senator Whitt, 8-hour day. “In the Senate: Three New Committees Created By Committee On Rules.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), January 15, 1904. Page 1. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119273912/. Behind paywall.

Senator Whitt, pro-labor bill. “No Right of Injunction.” The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), February 07, 1904. Page 11. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/119280430/. Behind paywall.

Senator Whitt, roads. “Proceedings in the Senate: Senate Whitt’s Resolution Laid Over – Other Measures.” Owensboro Daily Messenger (Owensboro, Kentucky), February 13, 1904. Accessed May 13, 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/376112848/. Behind paywall.

New State Capitol Building. Fisher, Frank M. “Legislators Want To Move Capitol.” The Paducah Sun (Paducah, Kentucky), January 18, 1905. Page 3. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt776h4cpv9x_3.

Typhoid fever kills Mrs. Whitt. Hedden, J.W., and B.W. Trimble, eds. “Deaths.” Mt. Sterling Advocate (Mt. Sterling, Kentucky), June 21, 1905. Page 7. Accessed May 13, 2019. Kentucky Digital Library. http://kdl.kyvl.org/catalog/xt78gt5fck6m_7.