Saturday, November 14, 2015

Five Civil War Veterans Who Survived the War Only To Be Murdered

Over 150 Russell County soldiers died during the Civil War. Post war, veterans died of disease, accidents, or old age. Five veterans were murdered.

The Murder of James M. Lee

James M. Lee was home for a visit from Baldwin's Cavalry when he was stabbed to death. The Abingdon Virginian of March 27, 1863 described it like this:

Died at the hands of an assassin, in Castle's Woods, Russell county, Va., on the 26th day of December, 1862, JAMES M. LEE, a member of Capt. Baldwin's cavalry. The deceased was at home on a visit to his family and friends, when he and one of his neighbors engaged in an unfriendly combat, when a third person stepped up and plunged a large knife into his body, which caused his death in a few moments. Mr. Lee was a quiet and peaceable man. He was thirty-one years and six months old. In his death the Confederacy has lost a good soldier, and his company one of its best members. He leaves a wife and a large circle of relatives and friends to mourn his untimely death. Rest in peace. D.

I will pay the above reward for the apprehension of SQUIRE OSBORNE, who wilfully murdered James M. Lee, in Castles Woods, on Friday, the 26th of December, 1862. Said Osborne is about 36 years of age, about six feet high, blue eyes, dark hair, round or stoop shouldered, has one little finger cut off, (hand not recollected.) He also has fresh wounds on his left arm, is quick spoken, and has a small round face, with a scar below one eye.
Jan. 22.
Chloe Osborne was born Chloe Fraley. In 1830 she married James M. Lee. Four of their children served in the Civil War. In 1852 she married Solomon Osborne. Squire Osborne was the son of Solomon Osborne by his first wife. Squire served in the 40th Kentucky Mounted Infantry, an Union regiment.

The Murder of George Washington Vicars

George Washington Vicars was murdered by Tom Bales in May of 1888 in Jackson County, Kentucky. The Mountain Echo of Barboursville, Laurel County, Kentucky has the story:

ca. 5/8/1888
For several years Thomas Bales and George Vickars, living near Annville, Jackson county, have been partners in the moonshine business, but recently they have disagreed about the division of the spoils on something else as trivial, and in fact have engaged face to face in some very bitter personalities in which Vickars abused Bales very badly, being heavily harmed and Bales having no arms. They both attended the opining of the Jackson circuit court at McKee last Monday and about 6 o'clock in the evening Vickars started home, being considerably under the influence of whiskey, when a peace officer called to him and arrested him for some cause which we have not been able to learn and started with him back to the court house, when Bales seized a stone, ran up behind him and exclaimed: "Let me to him; d--m him, I'll settle him," or words to that effect and as he uttered these terrible words he threw the stone hitting Vickars in the back of the head crushing his skull, inflicting a wound of which he died at 11 o'clock Monday night. Bales was arrested and lodged in jail, but have not been able to learn the results of the investigation by the grand jury which was in session at the time. These are about all the circumstances as we have been able to learn them.
Tom Bales, who killed George Vikars at McKee on the first day of the Jackson Circuit Court, an account of which we gave last week, was indicted for murder and made no application for bail.

The Murder of Patrick Tignor

In 1869 Patrick Tignor was murdered by William Wright. Wright first attempted to shoot Tignor, but the gun refused to fire. Wright then beat Tignor to death with the weapon. The Bristol News reported it on July 30, 1869:

Horrible Murder. - On last Thursday a man by the name of Ticknor was murdered in Russell county, under the most horrible and revolting circumstances. He had caused to be arrested and tried a negro, Harry Wright, upon the charge of burning his barn and horse. Wright was discharged by the iron-clads, notwithstanding many of the citizens assert that the evidence was sufficient to have sent him on for trial. after his discharge Wright armed himself, and repairing to the field where Ticknor and two negro men were at work, he advanced upon him saying, "My time has come now," at the same time trying to shoot him, but the gun missed fire. He then struck Ticknor across the head with the gun knocking him down, when he literally beat his head to pieces with the large stones he threw upon it. The two negroes fled at the opening of the attack and gave the alarm. Upon pursuing him, it was found that he passed his father-in-law, a white man, with whom he quarreled and cut his throat, though not fatally. He was pursued to a point in the mountains near Glade Spring. Parties in pursuit of him fired upon a man whose name, we are told, is Nelson, wounding him in the arm. The above is all the information we are able to obtain of this horrible affair. As Wright was coming in the direction of Abingdon when last seen, it is probably he may try to pass into Tennessee. He is 25 or 30 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches, very black, with a thin moustache and no whiskers or beard, and wore when he left, a white hat blue jeans pants, and a light colored coat. A large reward is offered for his arrest.

The Murder of Patton Thompson

 Patton Thompson was killed when a tramp attempted to treat his cancer. From the Bristol News of May 21st, 1878:
We learn from the Lebanon Vindicator that Mr. Patton Thompson, of New Garden, Russell Co. died last week, being poisoned by a tramp Doctor, hailing from Danville, whom he permitted to treat him for cancer. the name of this fellow, as given by him, is John Lloyd, and he used arsenic enough in the preparation to kill Thompson, in the short space of time from Friday to Wednesday, the 15th instant. Lloyd then dusted in the direction of Kentucky.
The Murder of Andrew Jackson Porter

Andrew Jackson Porter's murder created a sensation in November of 1906. The Tazewell Republican reports:


Andrew J. Porter, Wealthy Farmer, Called to His Door and Shot to Death

Frightened Woman Hid Under Porch and Was Not Injured - Murderer Went in Home and Fired Fatal Shots into Body of Victim - Robbed House of Money and Escaped.

Bristol, Tenn., Nov. 26. - Details of the sensational murder of Andrew J. Porter, a wealthy farmer, who resided near Nickelsville, Scott county, Va., have reached here.

On Saturday night Porter went to his door in response to a knock. Upon opening the door he was seized by a young man who declared that he had come to kill him.

The stranger fired upon Porter, wounding him, in the presence of his wife. He then started after Mrs. Porter, but she fled from the room and concealed herself under the porch. Losing trace of her the young man returned to the room and fired two more shots into Porter's body, killing him.

The murderer carried away the dead man's pocketbook and $40.
Mrs. Porter declares she did not know the murderer, and thinks she never saw him before.

No motive except robbery is known.

The officers are investigating the tragedy, and it is said they have a young man of the county under suspicion.

The murder was also covered by the Washington Post:

Scott County Man Killed and Robbed at His Own Fireside.
Wife Struggled with Murderer in Vain. Three Shots Fired Into Helpless Victim.

Special to The Washington Post.
Gate City, Va., Nov. 26. - At Grassy Creek, an isolated section of Scott County, near the Russell County line, Saturday night, A. J. Porter, a wealthy man, aged sixty-five years, was shot dead and robbed at his own fireside by an unknown assassin.

When Mrs. Porter opened the door in response to a knock, a man rushed past her toward her husband. Shouting, "Your time is up." he shot Porter in the breast.

Mrs. Porter seized the assassin, but he broke away from her frenzied grasp, and shot Porter twice in the back. Any of the shots would have been fatal.

The murderer then snatched a pocketbook from the dying man's breast pocket and disappeared. Porter usually carried upon his person a large amount of money, but it is not known how much he had at the time.

Charles I. Meade, accused of the murder, escaped to Wyoming, was captured and returned to Virginia, where he again escaped and was reportedly found dead in a relative's field. However, he had actually escaped again and was not recaptured for 5 years when he was arrested and committed suicide in a jail cell in Tacoma, Washington.

I have yet to discover if the murderers of Lee, Vicars, Tignor, and Thompson were ever apprehended. I'll update the post if I find out.