Saturday, September 1, 2018

Old Man Brackett

The following article is from the February 9th, 1894 edition of the Clinch Valley News.


It is reported that a sensation has been created among the people of Copper Ridge, Russell county, by the arrest of Bill Baker. an illicit distiller, for the murder, four years ago. of an old man by the name of Brackett, and the murder would, in all probability, have remained a secret forever but for the statement of a woman who thought she was on her dying bed. She was the only living witness.

Baker was indicted for illicit distilling four years ago and taken to Abingdon for trial before the United States Court. The trial was postponed and the prisoner released on bond. Old man Brackett was the principal witness against him, and was on hand ready to testify at the trial.


When Baker started home that night he asked Brackett to go with him and spend the night. The unsuspecting old man did so, and the world never saw him again.

The woman who divulges the secret was living with Baker as his wife at the time. Next morning she went down in the cellar for something, and a sight met her eyes which made her blood run cold and filled her with horror. There, under a quilt, lay a man with his throat cut from ear to ear.


She hurried up stairs and asked Baker what it all meant, and who the man was. "It is old man Brackett, who was going to give me away for making liquor." said Baker, "and I cut his throat with this knife, and will cut yours if you ever tell it." She stood in fear of him, and never told till a few days ago, when she learned that that dreaded disease, consumption, would soon carry her away from earth. She thought she had to tell it if she wished to gain entrance into the better world.

Baker will be tried for murder. He is now under arrest.

From the April 8th, 1894 issue of the Tennessean:


Had Recently Been Acquitted of the Murder of Dr. Brackett.

Bristol, April 7.--[Special.] Bill Baker, a notorious character, who was recently acquitted of the murder of Dr. Brackett, four years ago, was instantly killed on Copper Ridge, near Nickelsville, Va., yesterday evening by Jas. Minton. Three shots took effect, one passing through Baker's head and two through his body. The killing was the result of a quarrel caused by Baker's intimacy with Minton's step-mother. Minton surrendered to the authorities.

From the April 19th, 1894 issue of the Big Stone Gap Post:


Fires Two Shots With His Little "Pop" and Bill Baker Gives Up the Ghost.

On last Friday James Minton shot and instantly killed Bill Baker, at the home of the former on Castle Run, Russel county. The particulars of the killing as near and we can learn as as follows:

The property of Minton and Baker joined one another, the latter by one of his rascally schemes having come in possession of the dower of Mrs. Phillip Minton with whom he was intimate, proceded to the house of her step-son and demanded that he sign a paper in which a trespass upon his own (Minton's) property was stipulated; Minton refused and told Baker to leave his house. Baker pulled a gun and with an oath to the effect that he would make him sign it - but Minton was too quick and fired two shots, one through his body and the other his head. Baker fired one but missed his mark. The two were unfriendly, carried arms to kill one another, and the meeting that resulted in the death of one was inevitable.

Minton is said to be a peacable citizen, while Baker has a wide spred reputation as on of the vilest, meanest men that ever hardened a community. It will be remembered that he was recently jailed for murder of Dr. Bracket, who was a witness against him in the U. S. court, but as usual was let out upon the evidence of an accomplice in crime. At the recent session of this county court he was indicted in five cases and among them one indictment stood for the above mentioned murder. He is gone without regret and the comunity in which he lived is in gain rather than loss by his death. - Coeburn Herald.