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A SERIES OF ARTICLES FROM THE HARDIN GAZETTE AND PUBLISHED AT ELIZABETHTOWN, ILLINOIS, IN THE YEAR 1879
Mr. Burton has asked permission to reply to the above threat through these columns in the following manner:
"I found the above notice tied to my mare's mane on the morning of the first of June. My mare's tail has been shingled and her foretop cut off by the party, I suppose who posted the notice. The only comment I wish to make is that I will not leave the country, and request the party who makes the threat to come in the day time and I will be ready to receive him. June 6th, 1879. BEN BURTON"
Comment is unnecessary. The threat given above can, we are told, be traced back to one of the Klan back of Cave-in-Rock. It makes no difference what this party had against Burton, the tendency is all the same, and shows clearly that this Klan and all others of a like character run into murder, robbery, arson and all their kindred crimes. Crush it out by the strong arm of the law,--wipe it out of existence, and
let peace and quiet once more rest upon the people. Stop it where it is, and let the peaceable and industrious citizens who have been driven from their homes return to their families and their farms. We got a letter only this week from Wm. J. Hall, who is a fugitive, not from justice, but driven away from his home by these outlaws. If our civil officers have not got the nerve to do their duty in the matter, let us apply to the Governor, for militia, to nip this thing in the bud.
We want the readers of the Gazette outside of Hardin County to understand that the Ku Klux Klan here is not a political organization, but got up for the purpose of exterminating all the known enemies to the members thereof, without any regard to religion, politics, or standing in society. Won't they have their hands full, though?
As soon as the trial was over last week against Logan Belt and others, they issued a warrant against Frank Hardin and Zed Jenkins for perjury and the trial was set for Monday. The parties on the day waiving an examination, were held on their own recognizance, to appear before the Circuit CourtHardin Gazette, June 13, 1879.
LETTER FROM EARL SHERWOOD
Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, June 20th, 1879--Editor, Hardin Gazette--Dear Sir: In your issue of June 13th you say that "We want the readers of the Gazette to understand that the Ku Klux Klan here is not a political organization, but gotten up for the purpose of exterminating all the known enemies to the members thereof, without any regard to religion, politics or stand in society. Won't they have their hands full, though?"
Also under the head of "More Ku Klux", you say that "Comment is unnecessary", that the threat of a mad boy in the northwest corner of the country against a neighbor boy on account of a pretty girl,--can be traced to one of the Klan back of Cave-in-Rock. James A. Lowry, you know in your soul that it is a falsehood.
You say that the "tendency of this Klan, and all others of a like character, run into murder, robbery, arson and all their kindred crimes." In this connection, I will say, that you have named our organization a Klan. Call it what you like. If a few honest hearers combined together for the purpose of ferreting out a crime and bringing criminals to justice can be called a Klan, then call us what you will. If the murderer of Luke Hambrink can be found, it shall be.
You say "it runs into murder, robbery and arson". I say that we endeavor to bring to justice murderers, robbers and burners, and to crush them by the strong arm of the law. You say crush us by the strong arm of the law! You say wipe us out of existence. We do not say wipe them, nor you, out of existence. You say "let peace and quiet once more rest upon the people". We say disband your army that has been in arms ever since Luke Hambrink was patricided;--make them stop terrorizing the county with shot guns by the dozen. Make them let their witnesses be interviewed.
They refused to allow Wm. J. Banks, et al., to see the widow Browning, when sent by the grand Jury, and have since then shipped her.
You say "stop it where it is, and let the peaceable and industrious citizens who have been driven from their homes return to their families and their farms". We know of no one who has been driven from their homes. The shotgun company do so from choice and an evident joint interest. Wm. J. Hall, who you say has
"been driven from home by these outlaws", was actuated by fear, induced by the mind-paralyzing lies told by the Judas who gave the medicine of his wife's former husband about one month before he married her. These lies, colored by an interested party in Wm. J. Hall's neighborhood, caused his flight. I today, read two letters from said Hall to Mr. Logan Belt, and they throw dark shadows on some who roost high.
You say "let us apply to the Governor for militia to nip this thing in the bud". If the thing had been nipped in the bud before the poor peddler, who unsuspectedly ate his dinner, and then a few trinkets scattered and his pack in the big sink; if the bud had been nipped before poor Osbrooks, the husband of Joe Adams' first wife, took his last dinner at G. W. Hollemon's; if the bud had been nipped before poor old man Hardesty, after chatting and smoking with friends, took that last dose of medicine and was bounced to the grave with a whoop and a yell; if the bud had been nipped before poor old man Hambrink was made to take the heavenly train to keep his money from going to Germany with him, there never would have been this disturbance, nor such a general uprising by certain characters, among high and low, to shout "stop this investigation-it retards the wheels of justice."
"Oh! judgment, thou hast fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason." When good men can be misled by men who have been given libels under their signature when good men cannot see the cause and the effect, the sequence and the consequence when bad men can kill stock, burn fences, assassinate men, swear lies and band together armed to the teeth to resist law, and by obtaining certain worshipped counsel, after they find it a gound hog case, oh! it is grand "coup de'teat" to shift the
origin of the excitement upon parties who deplore that our county has been despoiled by such men as comprise this shotgun gang, thereby deterring any wealthy immigration to our country. And here we will say that the "Ku Klux Klan", so much talked of, is simply this: A few men met together for the purpose of devising ways and means to ferret out the Hambrink murder, and to protect the witnesses, as the witnesses were all under the control of armed men. They took a solemn obligation to keep secret all that might be discovered until the arrest of the party or parties implicated. And, as to the report that this was Logan Belt's Klan, or in his interest if it would injure him, then it was against his interest.
I see that the papers of different states have said a great deal about this matter. I ask that they copy this, and that they do not give us a newspaper death. Let us live before the people as we live before high heaven with conscience clear, let our reputation be with our conscience. I am yours, etc.,
Earl Sherwood, et. al.
MILD COMMENT BY THE EDITOR
Earl Sherwood, as spokesman for the Klan, came to see us last week, and asked permission to use these columns to explain up matters in which they concerned, and to try to allay the excitement existing which privilege we granted, and the above is what has come of it. Verily, "whom the gods destroy, they first make mad." He upbraids us for calling their organization a "Ku Klux Klan". That is what they called it a year ago when serving notices on the Oldhams, as will be seen from one of those notices published elsewhere. He says they organized for
the purpose of ferreting out the murder of Luke Hambrink. Are they such friends of law and order as to impel them to this step? Were they such intimate friends of Mr. Hambrink as to cause them to take such extraordinary steps? Why no. In point of fact, Luke Hambrink was afraid certain members of this klan would kill him. In point of fact, Luke Hambrink told the editor of this paper over a year ago that he was going to Germany, for, said he, "If I stay where I am, Logan Belt will kill me." Perhaps Mr. Sherwood will stigmatize this as another huge lie, and in case he does, we are able to cite him to other persons, or unquestioned veracity, to whom Mr. Hambrink used the same language. It looks more like they wanted to cover up the murder of Luke Hambrink than to bring it to light. If this had been their only object, as he would have you infer, then why, in the name of all that is good, have they been bulldozing, threatening and terrifying citizens against whom they could have had no suspicion whatever? The idea that some of the parties engaged in this thing should undertake it for the purposes stated by Mr. Sherwood, is really a joke, which the people who know them best will appreciate most. We would have Mr. Sherwood, and all concerned with him, to understand that we do not wish to misrepresent any one. We are not actuated by malice, but by the desire to promulgate the truth, and shield the people from danger by warning them of that danger. If it had been our disposition to prejudice Logan Belt's case, it looks reasonable that we'd have commenced some time ago. Mr Sherwood, with a tragic air, calls up the case of the peddler who was supposed to have disappeared up in that country, and of two or three men who in all probability died natural deaths of disease. This is done for effect. Had we the power the
Witch of Endor manifested before King Saul, we could call forth the shade of Captain Gibson, of Mr. Dorris, of Lewis Franklin, of Dock Oldham, and others, and this too would be for effect, and to pretty good effect, too. We have no apology to offer for any thing which has appeared in these columns, nor shall we promise to be quiet while there is an armed band of this character in existence in this country. They may try some quieting process, but we fee1 confident, knowing this people as we do, that our fall would not go unavenged.
THE IMPENDING DANGER
The following editorial article and document was prepared for last week's Gazette, but was laid over for good reason:
The excitement occasioned by the exposure of an organized and armed band in this county has somewhat subsided, but we fear the danger is not yet past. Some of the parties say that they have dropped the organization and have abandoned everything connected with it. It is to be hoped that this is true, but if it be true, why do they still hold their clandestine meetings? Why do they still prowl around the premises of Zed Jenkins and other citizens? Why are they still trying to intimidate men against whom they have grudges? We are inclined to think the trouble is not past, and we fear that in case it ever gets another start, that they will rival the Williamson county outlaws in the number and atrocity of the crimes committed.
This county is too small, too weak, too poor, and too much dependent, to ever stand the expense of even such a state of affairs as existed in Williamson a few years ago.
The members of this gang claim that it was
organized to detect and punish the murderers of Luke Hambrink, and some of them may think so. But in point of fact, this thing was planned a year ago, and it was gotten up solely for the purpose of making capital in the Belt murder trial now pending. In proof of this assertion, we publish below a letter mailed one year ago at Salem, Ky,, directed to two persons back of Cave-in-Rock and taken out of the office by a person well known by the citizens of this town, so that the matter can be easily traced back to the reception of the letter one year ago; and the authorship of the letter can be clearly established by the handwriting, and by one other circumstance which we for the present withhold.
Here is the letter and it proves what we have said in regard to the object of this organization, and if anybody doubts any of the allegations, we propose to fully and clearly establish them by proof when occasion requires it.
At home in all places, but more especially in Hardin County, Ill. Gents: As we desire to be friendly with all parties, we want in this epistle to warn you that in the event of your attempts on our friend Logan Belt, we, the citizens of the above named place, are fully determined to hold all of you to a strict accountability for any threat or attempt to injure our much esteemed friend, a Lieutenant in the army during our last war. We, the aforesaid citizens of the above named place, are fully aware of the dastardly attacks made by the "odum stock" on account of our Lieutenant merely discharging his duty and sending one to his long home, who richly merited all he got, and as this letter means business, you had all better beware of us Ku Klux as we have eaten nothing of any consequence since the battle of Shiloh, and we are hungry! Beware of us fellows, as the leaves are now on the trees, and as we
are nothing but shadows and fearfully hungry, and as we are desirous of acting in Ku Klux style. We warn you to beware of the infuriated friends of Lieutenant Belt, who are and have been watching his welfare for some time. We are merely across the brink, but all attention, should anything occur to our esteemed friend, and be sure to accept of this as from a friend, as we do not wish to send any of you to Shut-Eye-Town, unless some depredation is committed upon the person or property of our friend. Now as you and a considerable number of your dirty acquaintances are mean enough to do anything on this earth, be sure to take this as a memento morit. And now farewell.
From your only friend on this lower footstool.
A CITIZEN OF THE ABOVE PLACE
Addressed: Tho's & Jesse Odum.
Now this clearly shows a bad state of affairs to exist. The author of the letter is a citizen of this county and a member of the Ku Klux Klan recently on trial here.
We have a law here, and the majority of the people wish to see it lived up to and executed. The people are not satisfied with this way of intimidating, bulldozing and driving witnesses and prosecutors. It has been done before in this county, and will be done again if the people are not out-spoken and prompt in breaking down this last attempt. We say again, put it down, or we shall not live to be old enough to see the end of it, nor will our property be sufficient to pay the expense it will entail.
WHAT THE PRESS SAYS OF IT
A gentleman of Elizabethtown has written
to a friend in this place that a band of Ku Klux has been terrorizing the citizens in the eastern part of Hardin County; that eleven of the gang have been arrested and admitted to bail; and that ninety men are under arms night and day in that locality.
From the Shawnee Local Record: There seems to be a bad state of affairs existing in Hardin County, but we are unable to learn the particulars. It appears that a party had organized for the purpose of ferreting out the murderer or murderers of Luke Hambrink. Another party was also organized, and there existed bad blood between the two organizations, growing out of former troubles. It is said that parties were notified to leave the county, and some did leave. The Sheriff was afraid to make any arrests. The factions hearing of this, concluded to go into Elizabethtown and voluntarily give themselves up. So they armed themselves, about fifteen or twenty on a side, with revolvers and sabers, so that neither side should have the advantage in case of a difficulty, and went in for trial. Some of the citizens of the town in fear closed up their places of business and left. The trial resulted in several parties being placed under bond of $200 each. These are subatantially the facts as we learn them at present.
From the Metropolis Democrats It would seem that the days of Murrell and Ford were again upon us, Hardin County being the especial theatre of action for these desperadoes. Just across the river and a little above Cave-in-Rock, Ill., is the little Kentucky town of Ford's Ferry, where the celebrated James Ford had his headquarters, and where Ford finally met his death at the hands of an assassin. The editor of this paper has been over almost every square mile of the county and the majority of
the people of Hardin County are as clever folks as the sun ever shone on, yet knowing the parties engaged in this Ku Klux business, I am forced to say that they have been known for years as desperate characters.
THE BAD BELTS
Correspondence Louisville Courier-Journal.
Evansville, June 12.--Old citizens of Kentucky and Illinois need not be reminded that Ford's Ferry and Cave-in-Rock, on opposite sides of the Ohio River, long since became notorious for the robberies and horrid murders perpetrated by Ford and his confederates. These tragedies have recently been revamped by some of the Kentucky papers. Your correspondent, who had occasion to make a business trip a few days ago through Hardin County, Illinois, has to speak of modern barbarities, which he ventures to say even the red-handed Ford would not be ashamed to own were he living among the desperadoes who seem to have taken their cue from him. Verily, they are fit successors of the dead monster, and are entitled to undisputed possession of his "dark and bloody" patch of ground.
Belt is the name of a large family living near Cave-in-Rock, Ill., which for years has been more terrible to the timid than were ever the names of Little and Strong, in the kingdom of Breathitt. It can be found on nearly every criminal docket that has been made up in Hardin County during the last fifteen years, and is not entirely unknown to criminal fame in several of the adjoining counties. I will begin with the last exploit of Hardin County lawlessness; will then "advance backward", and tell of the deeds of theft, assault and dark assassination that have been mysteriously withheld from courts, grand juries, and even Argus
eyed reporters for the great dailies.
On the 30th day of May last, upon complaint made by Frank Hardin and B. Z. Jenkins, a warrant was issued charging with unlawful conspiracy (i.e. Ku Kluxing) the following parties; Logan Belt, Jonathan Belt, H. J. Belt, James Belt, Arthur Belt, Elisha Morris, son-in-law of Jonathan Belt, Wm. Frailey, brother-in-law of Logan Belt, George Ratcliffe, nephew of the Belts. Frank Justice, Tom Leeper, Robert Sheridan, W. D. White, Bill Lyons and Harvey Hollemon. All, except the two last named, when they ascertained that a charge had been preferred against them, gave themselves up to J. F. Taylor, the County Judge, for their trial, which began at Elizabethtown on the 4th and ended on the 5th of this month. Hardin and Jenkins were the principal witnesses for the people, and stated substantially that by various influenced and false pretenses' employed from time to time by Logan Belt and Bob Sheridan, they were persuaded to join the conspirators on the night of the 7th of May last. The place of meeting was a sequestered gulch near the Ohio; the pretended purpose was to ferret out the mysterious murder of one Luke Hambrink, committed in that locality on the night of the first of last April. It was also suggested that a man named Covert should be whipped or killed, and that society thereabouts should be regulated generally. Speeches were made by several of the midnight regulators' grips, signs, uniform and password adopted. Their faces were to be cowled, and a light was to be carried in the hat of each during a raid on evil-doers. Steps were taken to arm all who were too poor to furnish their own weapons. The question whether a fellow should be whipped or treated worse was to be left entirely to the conscientious discretion of the klan. In the event one of the brethren should
get into the clutches of the law, he was to be rescued by pistols, drawn and cocked in the hands of disguised men. The plan adopted to escape the injury of courts and grand juries was very simple and effective--at least it so seemed to the pliable consciences of these night riders. The organization was born, but left without "a local habitation and name," in order that its members could truthfully swear that they knew of no Ku Klux organization in the county. Hardin and Jenkins, having satisfied themselves that it was the intention of the conspirators to assassinate persons who were important witnesses against Logan Belt in a trial for murder pending in Gallatin County and to commit other crimes that they were not sufficiently hardened to take a hand in, determined to disregard the infamous oath that bound the members under pains and penalties "to stick to one another until death". They resolved finally to consult W. S. Morris and J. Q. A. Ledbetter, able and courageous attorneys of the Elizabethtown bar. Trembling and in whispers, their terrible secret was revealed and the prosecution began; but they do not appear to have relieved their perilous situation, for they are kept in constant apprehension of a sudden and unexpected "taking off."
INCIDENTS OF THE TRIAL
The Sheriff took time by the forelock, and had important business up the river the day the trial commenced. Indeed, it has been stated on good authority that he declared to the Commissioners of the county he would resign his office before he would attempt to force the formidable Belts into a favorable opinion of the law. Prudent people are not disposed to blame him much for transacting long-neglected business in the
farthest corner of the county while the ferocious clans were gathering at the county seat with knives, pistols and shot guns eager to obey their leader's command. I say clans, for be it remembered there are three of them, which may be designated as the Belt, Simmons and Oldham factions, the last two having declared war for self-protection against the Belt faction. But more of this civil strife and the cause thereof hereafter. It has been estimated that not less than 100 armed men attended the trial. Near the close of the investigation, a youthful Beltite, not one of the defendants, was seen to enter the temple of justice bearing a carpetbag full of pistols. Logan Belt, a shrewd villian, with some knowledge of the criminal law"so much a long communion tends to make us what we are"--conducted the defense. He generally kept maliciously cool, but once or twice scattered fire from his lead-colored eyes, and nervously fingered a large pistol concealed in the right pocket of his pantaloons. His favorite method of cross-examination of a witness whom he disliked was to tell him he had sworn an infamous lie. A question arose as to the competency of evidence offered by the State, when he cooly informed the court that if a decision were rendered against the defendants, he should decline to make further defense. What he meant by this statement was not clear to those who heard it, but fortunately the court adjudged the evidence improper, and the trial progressed peaceably to the close. The defendants proved by themselves that their purposes were lawful and praise-worthy. Jonathan Belt, himself an indicted murderer, tearfully declared that Hambrink was a kind, good neighbor, and that, "law or no law", he intended to drag the assassin of the lamented Hambrink to justice.
To say that the times were getting equally to the court, conveys a very poor idea of the difficulties and dangers of the situation. The end came at last without bloodshed, and the defendants were held in the sum of $200 each to answer indictments. They were released on their own recognizance. Indeed, the judge seemed anxious to get rid of them on any terms, and your correspondent is not the man to censure him for it. I think I should have released them without any bail, and then set up the drinks on condition of their leaving town immediately. After old Jonathan Belt had made an ineffectual effort to get up a shooting scrape with Morris, the lawyer, who had pressed the prosecution with great courage and ability, the whole party retired to their guns, which were hid in the edge of the town, and thence retreated with their respective fastness. But they intend to give Elizabethtown only a short respite. They have had Hardin and Jenkins arrested on charge of perjury, and will return next Monday in force, to prosecute the charge.
THE PEN AS WELL AS THE SWORD USED
It was proven on the trial whenever the clan deemed it necessary, threatening letters were sent out. A number of such notices were issued, some of which were read in evidence. The following is a fair sample:
Lickport Headquarters.--To Jack Oldham and the balance of the damned Oldham clan: You have two weeks to clear out, or hell will be your doom.
Robert Hasty, Thomas Oldham and others were in like manner informed that they ought to leave without delay the homes of their fathers. A notice was found among the papers of Hambrink which threatened his life if he failed to drive
off two persons who were living on his premises. Notices, supposed to have come from the same fruitful source, since it was proven that branches of the clan existed in different parts of the country, were found about ten miles north of Elizabethtown. Ben Burton, a few mornings since, went into his stable to feed his mare, and found her tail shingled and the following notice tied to her mane:
"This is to hint the way you see your mare's tail is the what I will do for your head, and you had better get away in side of to months, or I will put a hole through you.
W. C. and gess the rest, God dam you.''
He also found pinned to his gate a card informing him, "ben burton" in substance, that he must get away in ten days or submit to the pleasureable sensation of being killed by a leaden ball or other hard substance.
PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF THE CRIMINALS
Robert Sheridan, the Captain of the nameless band, has lived in Hardin County about twenty years, and bore a very good character until four or five years ago, when he yielded to the wicked influence of the Belts. He is now considered "as bad as they make `em." Frank Justice, the second Captain, lived until recently in Pope County, where he was for a brief period, agent for some kind of patent medicine. While engaged in this business, he was mysteriously robbed of $200 that he had collected for his employers. He is now "bad medicine" himself.
Wm. Frailey has been indicted for forgery, larceny, perjury and assault with intent to commit murder.
Earl Sherwood attempted to commit a rape in Franklin County, and fled to Hardin, where he
soon got into trouble, and was indicted for a murderous assault on some person unknown to the writer hereof. George Radcliffe began his criminal career several years since by stealing a horse in Hardin County. Very little is known of the antecedents of Morris, White and Leeper. The last named is considered by Jenkins and Hardin as the most desperate villain in the clan, and they always tremble for their safety when his eye is upon them. H. J. is perhaps the mildest-mannered of all the Belts. He has yet to kill his man. He tried once, however, to achieve a bloody notoriety, and was indicted for the offense. James and Arthur Belt are scarcely grown, and have been well trained in "ways that are dark" and assassinations that are never found out. Jonathan Belt is more devotional than his fellow-clansmen. He often prays and preaches, without money and without price. His auditors have discovered that, while he talks of peace on earth, a Colt's army is concealed in his bosom, and they are, therefore, uncommonly attentive and respectful. He is a Baptist, and none of his neighbors have ever dared to deny in his presence the doctrines of close communion and baptism by plunging. Indeed, such a believer is he in the necessity of immersion that he would not hesitate to tie rocks to a heretic and plunge him into the river where the current runs deepest. During the war, he was a Captain under the infamous Payne at Paducah, but becoming dissatisfied - some say cashiered - he tried to get the position of Major in the Forty-eighth Kentucky Infantry. Failing in this, he retired to the craigs of his native Hardin, and rarely leaves them except on important business that concerns the lives of his fellow citizens. When the war commenced, he lived in Kentucky, where he got his first taste of human blood by killing a confederate soldier.
Several years since Huston Belt wee shot and killed in Elizabethtown by Capt. Frank Gibson, but Jonathan got even by sending a load of buckshot through Gibson while the latter was unsuspectingly riding along a public road.
There were two witnesses to this murder --one of them died, and the other, frightened by the Belts, fled the county. A farcical trial ended in the acquittal of the assassin. During the war, Joe Belt, under arrest at Cave-in-Rock accused of murder, was forcibly released by Jonathan and Logan Belt, assisted by persons unknown in that locality.
THE DARK PLOT UNRAVELED
Logan Belt is the central figure of the group of Hardin County desperadoes, the master spirit of all the deviltry that has lately been perpetrated by them. Every movement of the Belt faction has been made in his interest, to save his body from the penitentiary or his neck from the legal halter. He is, in some respects, a remarkable man. He possesses uncommon nerve and force of character, a pleasing address, unlimited self possession and great native shrewdness--qualities which fit him well for leading the lawless characters whom he has gathered about him. He was an officer in the Fortyeighth Federal (Kentucky) Infantry, and soon won a first-class reputation as a horse thief. He "pressed" more for himself than for the Government. A soldier of the regiment, who knew a good deal about Belt's crookedness, was found dead and scalped early one morning. The Indian who played this trick on the unsuspecting soldier has never been captured. The criminal charges that have been preferred against him in Hardin and adjoining counties are too numerous to mention in this article. Several years
since, a man named Dorris whipped Belt in a fist fight at Elizabethtown. Dorris, a short time afterwards, was assassinated at his own house in Gallatin County. Belt was indicted, proved an alibi, and escaped. His next man-killing exploit was bolder. A dancing party were gathered at the house of Tom Oldham, in Hardin County. Belt walked into the crowd, coolly shot and killed Dock Oldham, a brother of the host, and then dared any of his friends to "take it up". The indictment for this murder is the danger that Belt dreads. Hambrink, the father-in-law of one of the Oldhams, and the only moneyed man engaged in the prosecution of Belt, is believed by the best citizens who are conversant with the foregoing facts, to have been murdered by Logan Belt or at his instigation. The pretended purpose of the clan to ferret out the Hambrink affair is, therefore, a very thin falsehood, and was evidently intended as a diversion in favor of the murderers.
Logan Belt and a man named Covert were once confidential friends. Belt made damaging admissions to Covert. A rupture after this occurred between the two and Covert's life came near paying the penalty. He was waylaid by Bill Frailey and Logan Belt. Though badly riddled with buckshot, he lives to hide between courts, and now fails to turn up when the case of the people against Belt is called. It must not be presumed that Belt is ungrateful to his friends. In 1873, Aleck Frailey, a brother of Bill, murdered Arthur Price, but was easily cleared by Belt's testimony.
This dark picture has a bright side. Although Logan Belt is running at large on straw bail, the probability is that he will be convicted of felony. This will rid the community of his presence, and will break up the nest of criminals, of whom he is chief. Furthermore,
the shocking developments of the late trial have aroused and united the order-loving people of the whole county, and there is a general disposition among them to hold the Belt party responsible for every secret, lawless act that may be committed in the county. Your correspondent would not be surprised to hear, at no distant day, of a lively rope-stretching performance in the vicinity of Cave-in-Rock. X
While the main facts and allegations in the foregoing article are, so far as we know, correct, yet we do not wish the impression to go out that all the Belts in this country are bad and lawless men; for many of them are as good citizens as we have, peaceable, industrious, and lawabiding, minding their own business and having no difficulties with anyone. Further, we do not think that the impression given in this article that Judge Taylor was intimidated, etc., is either fair or true; for if such were the case, no one present at the trial could see it. No decision which was lawful was withheld, and no order necessary to be given was refused. With these corrections, we give the article to the people, as a matter of news, and also because we deem it our duty to give them the fullest insight possible into the deeds and objects of this clan.
Somebody has been prejudicing the minds of the people from the back part of the county against the impaneling of the grand jury. We do not know just what the Jury may be able to accomplish, but we do know that the murderers of one of our best citizens are still at large, and we further know that a state of affairs exists in this county, which, if it cannot be reached and remedied, will cost the people a thousand-fold more than a few days' session of a grand jury. --Hardin Gazette.
The question has frequently been asked
lately, What is the so-called Ku Klux Klan, and what is its object?"
This is a question which cannot be fully answered just now. Enough, however, has been learned to show that their objects were neither lawful nor laudable. Enough has come to light concerning this damnable conspiracy to show any sane man that if the thing had not exploded just at the time it did, they would have inaugurated a reign of terror in Hardin County, the like of which has never been seen before.
Logan Belt is spending his precious time in trying to get some to believe that they had no other object in view than to find the murderer of Luke Hambrink. This is the story he tells in Hardin. In Gallatin County he puts on a look of injured innocence and tells them that he knows nothing about it, and that he cannot conceive why anyone should try to misrepresent or injure him. But it wil1 not avail him anything to tell the people away from home that there is nothing in it, for they have only to look upon the criminal records of Hardin County to find that he stands indicted by the grand jury for the very offense he denies.
Neither will it avail him anything to spend his time and money trying to malign and break down the only man who has ever dared to gainsay his evil doings, or tried to fully expose the crookedness of his ways. We say it will do him no good; for that man has been known by the people of Hardin County from infancy up, and if he has not walked uprightly, the people undoubtedly know it. We shell not use Belt's favorite phrase, and say that he is a "malicious liar", but we simply refer him to the people. As to "infamous" insinuations, we refer anyone who does not already know the falsity of them, to the people of Hardin County in general. Below we publish a masterly effort of his, pub-
lished in his organ at Shawneetown, (The Local Record), last week, that the people in Hardin County may see the little game he is up to. He could have saved money probably by publishing it in the Gazette. It is more than probable, however, that he had it published where it will do him the most good. A man who can get away with a government mule right in open camp, without incurring the penalty, is undoubtedly sharp enough to spend his money where it wil1 do him the most good. Here is the letter referred to:
Editor of Local Record:
Cave-in-Rock, Ill., June 20, l879 --Dear Sirs Allow me, through the columns of your paper, to answer the Hardin Gazette in a series of attacks (as he says publicly that he is my enemy) on me, directly and indirectly, through certain articles printed by him, for the purpose of prejudicing the outside community in my trial, in the Gallatin Circuit Court, on the second Monday in July.
I suppose that the articles published in the Gazette has reference to me and others who were charged with conspiracy to retard public justice, and also bears the idea that we are a Ku Klux Klan.
Now, I publicly assert that if it was intended to charge me or any of my friends with being Ku Klux, he charges an infamous lie.
The excitable term "Ku Klux" has been used by my enemies against me and my friends because we wanted to know who murdered Luke Hambrink. They have stopped the wheels of public Justice by running off the witnesses, and the hue and cry of Ku Klux is raised to attract the attention of the masses to us and me, and to veil by excitement the horrible crime that was committed upon Luke Hambrink by----------.
If this charge of Ku Klux was made against me, why was it made? I do not know. But if my grandfather, who might have been charged with robbing the school treasury of several hundred dollars, or my father had been indicted for stealing a wagon, etc., or my uncle had murdered his wife and got out of the penitentiary on the grounds of insanity, or my brother was a common thief and had jumped a bond for perjury, of at least seven hundred dollars, and if I had gone on my brother's bond, and said bond had been stolen, as in another case, these charges would not have been made against me. But God forbid. But my sisters, my aunts and my cousins are not guilty of the above-mentioned things. Had they been, such indirect charges would not have been alleged against me and my friends, as we would have been in the ring.
While publishing letters, we will give one received from Wm. J. Banks this week, contradicting an assertion made by Sherwood in his letter published last week.
LETTER FROM W. J. BANKS
Karber's Ridge, Ill., June 30th, A C., 18 1879. --Editor Gazette: I see in your issue of last week that Mr. Sherwood says that "they would not allow Wm. J. Banks, et. al., to see the widow Browning when sent by the grand jury", etc. I never heard of the widow Browning before, never was sent anywhere by the grand jury to serve papers, or anything of the kind, and never was refused by anybody to see anybody.
- I am respectfully,
Wm. J. Banks
P. S. --Et. al. may have been refused--not me.
We desire to inform the readers of our
paper, once and for all, that we are not making war upon the so-called Ku Klux Klan from any feeling of a personal nature; that we do not desire to do anything that will prevent a fair administration of justice; that we have not heretofore expressed ourselves as the avowed enemy of Logan Belt, as he charges. But that crime is rife in our county is well known to everybody. The disposition of the people and the press to remain quiet has given an impetus to evil doers that has caused them to assume such open means to commit acts of lawlessness. We shall hereafter, however, be more mindful of the duty we owe the people of this county, and our voice shall be heard denouncing crime in all its forms. The duty we owe the people demands that we expose in all their hideousness the crimes which have and are still being committed in this county, no matter who the authors may be. And we say in behalf of the people of this county that the majesty of the law will and shall be vindicated, and the guilty ones brought to justice.
And to you men that have been suspected of crime, we say that the matter shall be investigated, the accused shall be brought to trial, the guilty ones shall be convicted and punished. But the innocent, if any there be, shall go unpunished, for we shall defend their innocence with as much vigor as we denounce the guilty. But remember, no amount of bull-dozing, terrorism or threat will deter the people from proceeding straight-forward to the uprooting of crime in Hardin County. The people are fully aroused to a sense of their duty, and they will see to it that every man stands or falls by his own acts, and no storm of terror that a few men can inaugurate, will prevent it. We shall refer to this subject again when occasion requires, as we have other facts to lay before the people when the proper time shall come.
Friday, July 11, 1879
Charley Kruppert, a German living near Capt. Tyner's, on the Ohio River, below Cave-in-Rock, was shot while plowing in his field Wednesday. The ball glanced his side just sufficiently to draw blood. He stumbled and fell just as the pistol fired, and the would-be assassin, Ellis Monroe, thinking he had killed him, threw the pistol at his head. Kruppert scrambled to his feet, snatched up the pistol and fired one shot at Monroe, who was by this time about sixty yards away in full retreat.
The pistol captured by Kruppert proved to be Jonathan Belt's, and it was soon ascertained that Belt had given Monroe the pistol and told him to shoot Kruppert with it.
To give the reader an idea of the cause, we shall have to go back a few weeks, and state that Kruppert told certain persons that he had caught Jonathan Belt in the act of adultery. Belt, hearing of this, tried to make him contradict his statement, but failed. Since that time, Kruppert has been threatened with death if he did not leave the country. He has been threatened with summary vengeance at the hands of the Klan, but has stood his ground, and his life has nearly paid for his bravery.
Judge Taylor issued writs against Jonathan Belt, Ellis Monroe, William Monroe and Lucinda Monroe, but who will serve them?
Mrs. Elizabeth Dossett, widow of J. H. Dossett, shot and probably mortally wounded George Miller last Wednesday. Miller was cultivating a part of the Dossett farm back of Cave-in-Rock, and his wife and Mrs. Dossett quarrelled about a cucumber patch, and Mrs.
Dossett struck her. Miller's wife went to where he was gearing up the team and told him what had happened, and he went to the house and commenced a quarrel with Mrs. Dossett, when she struck him with a broom. He wrenched the broom out of her hands and tried to get both of her hands into one of his, when she jerked loose from him and retreated into her room, snatched up a shotgun and fired, the charge took effect in his lungs. He is hardly expected to recover, Mrs. Dossett came to town and gave herself up.
ASSASSINATION IN HARDIN COUNTY
Hardin County is now afflicted with organizations similar to those that cursed Williamson a few years ago, and the people are in much turmoil over it. There are three bands, armed and at enmity towards each other. The origin of the situation appears to have been a murder committed to get a witness out of the way, a combination seeming necessary to the assassins to prevent the ferreting out of the murderers. The man murdered was an inoffensive German in good circumstances. Two of the three factions organized seem to be purely for defensive purposes against the third, which is terrorizing the country. If this dreaded band makes many more demonstrations, the other two are likely to get after it and produce much bloodshed. Leading citizens who are standing up for the law and order are living constantly in apprehension of assassination. The local paper nobly performs its duty in the emergency, but the editor evidently thinks he is in a precarious situation. A culmination of the trouble is likely to come soon, and people need not be surprised to hear of a series of murders, perpetrated in rapid succession, in Hardin County soon.
From the Shawnee Local Record, Friday, July 18, 1879.
Cave-in-Rock, Ill., July 9, 1879. --Editor Record; As my trial is to commence next Monday at Shawneetown, it seems my enemies have flooded your paper and others with a series of the vilest slanders and most wicked and baseless falsehoods, in the hope of prejudicing the minds of the people of Gallatin County against me, I solemnly assert here that I am not guilty of the offense for which I am to be tried; that what I did was in my own necessary self defense to save my own life, which, at the time was being assailed with great violence. I ask the people of Gallatin County to suspend their judgment in the case until they hear the evidence from the lips of the witnesses in court, when they will be satisfied that my action was in my own self defense, and that I am not the inhuman monster my enemies have painted me. In this I am only asking what the law freely accords me - the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. I desire (and it is my right, as it is the right of all men accused of crime) to be tried by sworn testimony, in open court, when I can meet the witnesses face to face, when I can have the unprejudiced Judgment of twelve unbiased men upon the testimony, rather than by vituperation, innuendo, falsehood, slander, and ridiculous rumors scattered through the newspapers immediately preceding my trial in court, by known enemies who are hounding on my trial and seeking my destruction.
I desire, however, through your columns to call attention to a few of the shameless and miserable falsehoods published against me in a letter written by an enemy of mine, citizen of Hardin County, to the Louisville Courier Journal,
and published in your issue of last week. The coward who signs himself X says, "He (Belt) was an officer in the Forty-eighth Kentucky Federal Infantry' and soon won a first-class reputation as a horse thief.
This is a dark and cowardly falsehood, as Jo Robinett, one of your citizens and a member of my command, will readily testify. I could refer to a number of others who were with me and who were brave soldiers, if I thought it necessary.
X further says: "A soldier of the Regiment who knew a good deal about Belt's crookedness, was found dead and scalped one morning."
Now mark the lies: No soldier of my regiment or command was ever found dead and scalped: I never saw any soldier living or dead that was scalped in my life!! Never knew such a soldier! Now for the facts: There was a soldier, so I was informed, utterly unknown to me, who belonged to the regular Army, and whom I never saw or knew, that was killed and scalped at Bowling Green, Ky., for his money. Elisha T. Oldham, now a citizen of Hardin County, and a member of the Oldham family who are persecuting me today, and two others of my company were arrested for the murder and turned over to the civil authorities, and who were retained in prison until after the war was over, and until long after my company had been mustered out of the service. James A. Lowry, editor of the Hardin Gazette, who has been making such vicious attacks upon me, knows the above to be true as gospel, and all the members of my company know the same facts.
X further says: "Several years since, a man named Dorris whipped Belt in a fight at Elizabethtown. Dorris a short time afterward was assassinated at his own house in Gallatin County. Belt was indicted, proved an alibi,
The only thing true in the above is that Dorris was cruelly, and in cold blood, assassinated at his own house near Equality, in 1870, by some desperate midnight assassin. It is false that I was ever indicted for the crime. I was arrested simply because he had lived in my neighborhood before, and we had quarreled. I had an examination before ex-Judge Robert D. Pearce, at Equality, and the people having failed to produce an iota of evidence against me or even the breath of a suspicion, and it appearing on the trial that I was eighteen or twenty miles away at the time the fatal shot was fired, I was discharged, Judge Pearce giving me voluntarily the following certificate:
"This is to certify that Logan Belt was arrested and had an examination before me on the 27th day of February, 1870, for the murder of Samuel H. Dorris, and that there was not the slightest evidence against the said Belt, but to the contrary, Belt proved positively that he was in Hardin County, some 18 or 20 miles from Equality, at the time said Dorris was shot. February 28th, 1870 R. D. PEARCE, J. P."
"I certify that the above statement by R. D. Pearce is correct. Alfred Smith, Constable of Gallatin County."
Thus falls to the ground this vile slander hawked through the newspapers to injure me in the approaching trial.
The anonymous correspondent X has a great amount of slush hashed up about the Belts being organized into a Ku Klux Klan, all of which is infamously false, and has no foundation in truth. The writer hereof has proposed time and again to his enemies that if they would produce one single respectable witness, that he (Belt) or any of his friends had been seen in Hardin County, either day or night, under arms or in
disguise, or in a band together for any purpose, that he would then admit there was some foundation for such rumors. No such witness has been nor can be produced, and these anonymous scribblers well know it.
On the other hand, I have proposed to prove, not only by one, but dozens of honorable, high minded men, that my enemies are banded together with shotguns and pistols in numbers from six to eighteen in one gang. Not a friend of mine is with them. They roam the county both night and day, carrying terror and demoralization to the quiet and peaceable citizens of Hardin County.
Why is it, my fellow-citizens, that myself and my friends suffer continuously from poisoned dogs, poisoned horses, burned fences, burned houses and all such devilment too tedious to mention, while no one can point to a single one of this gang who have ever been injured to the amount of one cent, either in person or property? Echo answers: Why is it?
I will give a reward of one hundred dollars for any reliable proof that myself or any of my friends have ever left any threatening letters at any place, seeking to drive any persons away from their homes.
That such letters have been written and sent, I do not deny. I have received such letters myself, and can show one now in my possesion, which I have retained, and perhaps fortunate I did so. The one found in the papers of poor, unfortunate, murdered Hambrink, is in the same handwriting as the one received by myself. The letter to me warned me to do certain things if I wished to enjoy life and property in Hardin County, and was signed "Regulators."
The editor of the Hardin Gazette, though an avowed enemy of mine, while publishing the infamous X article, recoils from its false, slanderous and reckless charges, and says editorially:
No one knows better than this editor that the X article was conceived in inequity and born in corruption. He knows its statements are as false as hell itself. He knows the object of the author was by slander, falsehood and abuse to so poison the minds of the people of Gallatin County that it would be impossible for me to receive a fair and impartial trial. He knows the article had been spread, broadcast over Gallatin and Hardin counties, so that the slime of the slanderer should do its deadly work before the facts could be elicited on a fair and impartial trial before a jury.
But, Mr. Editor, I thank God that:
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers;
But error wounded writhes in pain,
And dies amid her worshippers."
I feel sir, and I think I know that the sober judgment of the people wil1 not be swerved from right, truth and justice by the wicked venom of the anonymous slanderer, but they will judge of me and my actions as all men should be judged by the irrefragable truth as it will be developed from the mouths of the witnesses on the trial of my cause.
No honorable man should ask for more; no honorable man should be content with less. LOGAN BELT
We have but little comment to make upon the foregoing appeal of Lieut. Belt. He says:
"I desire, however, through your columns to call attention to a few of the shameless and miserable falsehoods published about me in a letter written by an enemy of mine in Hardin County to the Louisville-Courier Journal, and published in the papers of your county." Belt evidently does not know what he is talking about, and so we propose to give him a little gratuitous information, by which he may possibly profit. We have learned that the Courier-Journal artical was not wirtten by "an enemy in Hardin County", not even by a citizen of Hardin County. It was written by an occasional correspondent of the Courier-Journal who was present during the famous "Ku Klux" trial, and heard the facts from the mouths of witnesses and creditable citizens. He had been previously acquainted, however, with Belt's doings and character in Kentucky. If there was a single citizen of the entire county who knew that such a publication was going to be made before it appeared, we do not know it; and if Belt knew who wrote that article, he would not use such language as "the coward who signs himself X says", etc. No; Belt would not dare to face that man and use language unfit for one gentleman to use toward another. But we leave Belt and X to settle these matters, as we have no interest in them whatever, and proceed to notice the statement of Belt that a man killed at Bowling Green, Ky., was scalped, and that it was the only one he ever heard of being scalped in his life. In this, Belt has the usual bad luck in telling the truth, which attends most of his other statements.
He knows that man was not scalped, but had been struck on the head with a rock, and he also knows that the parties he mentions were arrested on suspicion, simply because they were seen drunk together the evening before. Belt knows
that Lewis Franklin was shot and scalped near Princeton, Ky. --and Belt knows more.
The "Lieutenant" further says: "James A. Lowry, editor of the Hardin Gazette who has been making such vicious attacks upon me, knows the above to be true as gospel, and all the members of my company know the same facts." We refer to the above statement because there are twenty or thirty members of the "Lieutenant's" company who are readers of the Gazette, and we ask them to refresh their memories in regard to the matter.
In regard to the Dorris assassination, we do not desire at present to make any statement whatever. The matter has been talked of for nearly ten years among the people of the upper part of the county, and nothing the editor of the Gazette, or Belt either, could say would change their minds about who assassinated Dorris. Clay, the man who stopped with Belt awhile before the assassination, may be found, in which case we may have some thing to say upon the subject.
There is one point in Belt's letter to which we desire to call particular attention, as it may prove to be the clue by which the murderer of Luke Hambrink may yet be brought to justice. He says: "I have received such letters myself, and can show one now in my possession, which I have retained, and perhaps it was fortunate I did so, for the one found in the papers of the poor unfortunate murdered Hambrink is in the same hand writing of the one received by myself," etc. It may be so; it probably is so, and thereby hangs a tale. We do not wish to waste time and space commenting further upon his letter. If it is good, we have no wish to detract from its merit; if it is bad, we would not add to his weight of guilt.
There is one thing, however, that we will say to Belt and to the people. We are not responsible for the exposure, trial, and subsequent indictment of the conspirators who have struck such terror to the hearts of the people. We are not to blame for any one of the many charges of crime against Belt. On the other hand, we have neglected a solemn duty to the people and have had nothing to say whatever during all these long years of Belt's crimes and crookedness, until the last straw which breaks the camel's back was laid on in the shape of this hellish conspiracy. Then and not until then, did we essay to show up their crimes and warn the people of the danger likely to result from their felonious organization.
Belt may be acquitted of the charge of murder in the Gallatin Circuit Court this week. Indeed, it would be strange if he did not, after having the license he has had shown him by the public officers. But whether he is convicted or acquitted, he stands charged before the bar of public opinion with heinous crimes, which time will never efface. The people would rather have him let his last crime be the last one, and in the future, if he has his lot cast in our midst, live as an honest and law-abiding man should live; and if he cannot make amends for the mischief he has done, he can at least resolve to add nothing new to the catalogue of his crimes.
THE DUTCHMAN AND THE BELTS
The Kruppert assassination case, like all the others in that direction, is becoming complicated or mixed up. Since Kruppert was shot, he has been scouting about most of his time, and last Saturday evening he was in town and met The. Belt, a son of Jonathan Belt, the man who
hired Monroe to kill Kruppert. The. Belt beckoned Charley Kruppert into the hall of the McFarlan brick, and told him that he had heard that he had a pistol supposed to be his father's, and that he wanted to look at it. The Dutchman unsuspectedly handed it over, and The., instead of looking at it, slipped it into his pocket. Charley demanded its return. The. swore he'd keep it, whereupon the Dutchman knocked him down and took it away from him. Just as he was getting out at the door, Joe Layoff, another desperado, covered him with his pistol and ordered him to "give up Belt's pistol", but instead of doing this, he brought it to bear on Joe's cranium, with the remark, "I don't haf to." Joe retreated in good order and the Dutchman got clear of them, but he lost the writ against Belt and the Monroes in the melee. Monday morning the State's attorney had another warrant issued from, before Esq. John Jackson, leaving out Jonathan Belt, and gave it to the Constable Carr to serve. Judge Taylor, when he came down to his office Monday morning, issued a duplicate writ for Jonathan Belt and the Monroes, but it now turns up missing. Taylor says he will issue a third, but it is no use. We are now willing to bet all our interest in O'Neal's watermelon crop that Belt will never be arrested and that none of them will ever be punished for this dastardly attempt to murder. The Dutchman is trying to sell out to get away, and it is the best thing he can do, as he will get no protection here. It is hard to be run off like Col. Parker was, but it is better than being made a target of. If we were not afraid, we should feel constrained to ask, like the Detroit Dutchman, "Vell, vat next!"
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