Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Murder in Eddyville 1803

Vol. X of my Western Kentucky Journal contains a series on “The Other Side of the Law,” including an article on the murder of Jimmy, a Chickasaw Indian in 1803 in Eddyville, Kentucky. A newspaper article showing a slightly different view of this murder appeared in the New York Evening Post of 28 April 1803.

From a letter dated Eddyville, 10 March 1803:
“It is with extreme regret I have to inform you, that a Chickasaw Indian was murdered in this town on Monday last. The circumstances are nearly as follows:
“Six Indians of the Chickasaw Nation, who had been hunting on the south side of Cumberland, came into this town and sold a quantity of venison, turkies, etc. They went to a tavern drank pretty freely. After night two of them left the tavern, and it appears were followed by two men by the name of Cook and Furguson, with each a large club - these men concealed themselves within the yard of Mr. J.W. Throop, and as the Indians came through the gate struck them. One fell - the other made his escape. The stroke of the club was heard by Mr. Throop’s family - some neighbors were alarmed and search made for the Indian, who was at length found under a fence with his head beat to pieces in a barbarous manner. He was removed to a house and his wounds dressed by a physician, but he died the Wednesday following. The other Indian was not very badly hurt.

“On Friday a Court was called and Mathew Cook [sic], J. Furguson and Reuben Cook were apprehended - Mathew Cook made his escape from the officer - the other two were committed to jail and are to have their trial before the Circuit Court in May next.

“The other five Indians have set off for the Nation. They carried letters to their Chief, informing of the above circumstances, and requesting one of the Chiefs with an interpreter to attend the trial.

“Every kindness and attention was shewn to the Indians - the dead was decently interred, with which they seemed satisfied. But when they took their leave, they made signs that the prisoners must be hanged.

“It is said that some of the friends of the prisoners have threatened to rescue, and it is expected an attempt will be made. They are guarded at night by seven or eight men. What the consequences will be God only knows - several families who settled on the other side of Cumberland this spring, have moved back since this unfortunate affair took place.”

All three men, Matthias Cook, Reuben Cook and Isaac Ferguson, were tried and found not guilty of the murder of Jimmy

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